The Path

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Sometimes the path is rough. It’s not laid out like you may have planned.

Improvisation may be necessary.

That broken log? That’s just a way made by those who have gone before you. Be grateful.

See those rocks? They may look like stumbling blocks, but they may also be in just the right place to get you where you need to go.

Those pilings to the side? Perhaps the road not taken; for reasons we may never know.

The water may be cold, but how will you know if you don’t even try?

Can you make it to the other side? Can you take a chance? Even if the entire plan is not laid out for you to see?

Just try…

You are more capable than you believe.

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V-8 Running

With a 5 mile training run to do today, I had to make the decision to either trudge along on the treadmill again (I’ve been doing that all week and I really don’t like it, but it’s a necessary evil at times) or brave the weather and do an outside run.

Let’s just say that this old 80’s commercial of the sideways walking dude was EXACTLY what I looked like trying to run in the 20+ mph wind today. Running along the sea wall, the ocean was literally slamming the rocks and splashing up over the sidewalk! It was funny, and I actually laughed and giggled at what a ridiculous sight I must’ve been. As I type this a few hours later, it’s still windy but the rain has stopped and the sun has decided to finally appear, if only for a moment. Go figure.

While running, leaping over puddles, and trying to breathe as the wind gusts literally made it difficult to get air into my lungs, I kept thinking about how this pursuit of fitness, and even a single run can be such a metaphor for life.

Everyone has hardships, life throws curveballs and unexpected events happen. It’s part of life. In a military family, we deal with all the same stuff as our civilian counterparts, but often it’s while our spouse is away. We have to say goodbye (again) to dear friends, and teach our children, as well as ourselves, to continue to keep an open heart even at the risk of it breaking.

We all have a backstory and hardships to bear, and it’s important to not compare life’s hurts. There is no “I have it so bad” because really, do we ever really know what someone else is walking through? Or if they have the skills to deal with what life can throw?

While running sideways, V-8 style, rain pelting me in the face and trying to keep my feet underneath me, it occurred to me that life is the same way. I can either choose to sit on the sidewalk, bury my head in my lap and get rained on, or I can do the best I can – put my head forward and run into the wind with the best of my abilities. I can’t control the weather or life, but I can control how I react to it. It always boils down to a choice.

Today I chose to run into the wind. It was a great run, I felt good and what started as a 5 mile training run that I wasn’t looking forward to, turned into a fun and windy 10k.

It was a good day to run outside. Even if it was a little stormy!

Do you prefer treadmills to cold weather conditions?

Am I Ready For Some Football?!

Ah, football season is here again. Or, as I like to call it, the season of non-deployment-alone-time-with-minions.

Despite the hard time I give my husband about his “habit”, I secretly (shhh! don’t tell him!) love how passionate he is about football and sports in general. Not only did he take the time years ago to explain football to me (I grew up in a fairly non-sport family), but he went further and explained why he loves sports so much. And it’s not what you might think.

To a non-sport enthusiast (when we were first married) I just didn’t get it. Sure he’d be umpiring this game or that, he earned some extra money, and he got to do something he enjoyed doing. I think it’s healthy, and necessary, to have some hobbies and passions that we do separately. While he has never come right out and said it, watching any and all sports-themed films over the years explained for him just why he is so passionate about sports, football in particular.

Movies like Hoosiers, Major League, The Rookie, Tin Cup, The Legend of Bagger Vance, We Are Marshall, Cinderella Man, Coach Carter, Remember the Titans, and of course Field of Dreams, all speak to the sense of community the given sport inspires. The town rallies around the underdog, the team overcomes obstacles, the athlete pushes through circumstances and triumphs. That verklempt feeling you get just as the story reveals it’s climactic moment:

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My fitness journey, and subsequent passion for running, really is a more individual expression of the same concepts. Perhaps that’s why I can appreciate his love for sports and officiating now more than ever.

It’s been a long 2-year wait for him to be able to don his stripes, and I think that ear-to-ear grin says it all:

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I sat on the bleachers with the minions and attempted to help them understand what and why Daddy was out there “in the stripey shirt”. What night of football is complete without the “I need a cracker,” and “I need to go potty,” and racing up and down the bleachers 379 times?

Oh. Maybe that’s just us.

Here’s to another season of football, bleacher sitting, and a husband with a permanent grin on his face!

Dash Recap: A Day in the Life of a Warrior

Ahh, Warrior Dash day! I love the energy of race day! It’s just fun getting out there with other folks to play!

On the way down to the “battleground”, I stopped at a Starbucks to get some coffee and one of those spinach feta egg white wraps. (I love them!) I then had to stop at REI to check out their triathlon suits, as I will be needing one in a few weeks! I had a nice conversation with the lady helping me and then I was on my way. I decided that since I live nowhere near a Nordstrom, I should probably stop to check things out before the race. After perusing the Anniversary Sale, I picked up a couple of shirts and headed to the counter.

I have never received bad service at Nordstrom. But today was just a bit off. The person ringing me up wouldn’t look directly at me, was a bit curt, and seemed to want to be done with the transaction. “It was pretty busy with the sale,” I thought as I made my way to the car. Getting in, I looked in the rear view mirror and was suddenly horrified. I had the biggest spinach leaf in my tooth!

Similar to this:

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I have come to the conclusion that despite my best efforts – I will never be cool. Nordstrom is great, I love their clothing, but I definitely fit in better with mud and sweat-soaked peeps conquering obstacles and pushing past comfort zones.

Whatever. Cool is overrated. Down to the dash!

The camaraderie at these events is palpable. It really is so much fun! When you arrive, you see the warriors all clean waiting to run, and then the muddy ones that have already completed their race. You can tell they’ve done it by their swagger. A “Yeah, I did the Dash” strut. (Think John Travolta a la Saturday Night Fever, but with mud and sweat instead of chest hair and bell bottoms.)

They changed up the obstacles a bit this year, but still included lots of mud, barbed wire, and fire jumping. There is one obstacle I call the “‘Get over that wall Seagar!’ wall”. (As in Louis Gossett, Jr. yelling at a flight school candidate to get over the rope wall. Yes, most of my military references are from Hollywood.) I take a running jump, grab the rope and walk the wall. In my head Louis is yelling at me to get over that wall. Have I mentioned I’m not the biggest fan of heights? Well, I got to the top and was okay, but there were people next to me so I sat straddling the top waiting for my opportunity swing my leg over to rope climb back down the other side, you know, without giving anyone a swift kick to the head. I must’ve looked panicky because two guys came up the wall, one in front of me, one behind, and exuberantly patted me on the back and said, “C’mon girl, we got you! Swing that leg over!” Then we all climbed down simultaneously – high fives at the bottom and off we went! That’s just how it is at the Dash – everyone helps everyone and we’re all there to have a good time. And I LOVE it!

And then I saw others approach obstacles and not even try, but just decide to walk around. “Nah, forget that. I’m walking around.” Not trying. I guess you could say they “did the dash”, but do you really do something when you half-ass it? I know my nature and I knew right then I would do EVERY obstacle. I am not a quitter.

Try. Get dirty. Get messy. Get into life!

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At the cargo climb obstacle (above), I saw a woman who looked to be between 60 and 70 years old shakily sitting on the top, unable to make herself climb down the other side. Her fellow warriors were at the bottom hollering up encouragement and trying to guide her down. “One step down!” “You can do this!”. Ever so slowly she moved her quaking legs down each rope to the ground. Then immediately she covered her face with her mud-caked hands. She was crying. Probably from relief, but hollered an over-joyed, “I did it!” through her tears.

“I did it!”

At the top, we all clapped and wiped away the sweat that was suddenly leaking out of all of our eyes. Conquering fear is universal. Watching someone be brave in their life is stunning to behold.

Then there were monkey bars. Monkey bars about 10 feet over a giant mud pond. (This, other than the electrocution, is what I’m the most nervous about for the Tough Mudder race in October.) Monkey bars represent upper body strength – which is not my strength. I watched as others grab the first few bars, get into the middle, lose their grip and then plunge into that cold muddy water. (Even a few really buff dudes!)

Then it was my turn.

I climbed up to the first bar and mentally started to figure out how I was going to plug my nose when I hit the water. I started to remember the people who didn’t even try, but walked around the obstacles. I gripped my first bar, and swung out to grab my second, then the next, and the next. I kept looking up at the bars and decided that I shouldn’t look down, but instead kept chanting, “I will NOT fall into the water!” “I WILL NOT fall into that water!” I made it to the other side and practically screamed, “I DID NOT FALL INTO THE WATER!” There wasn’t anyone around to celebrate with, so I high-fived myself and ran on to jump over the fire. (More of that “never being cool” thing.)

Whatever. I did the dang thing and didn’t fall into the water! That’s gonna carry me for weeks!

Tough Mudder – I’m getting ready for you!

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Getting into life. Conquering fear. Being brave when life’s obstacles seem too challenging.

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I WILL own one of these!

Bring it!

St. Patrick’s Day Fun!

The gym at NAS Whidbey Island periodically has fun runs, a 1.5 mile, a 5k and a 10k. I ran one of the 10ks last year and thought that perhaps Jake would like to run the short race, while we push Hannah in the stroller.  I would be over the moon if at least one of the kiddos falls in love with running. No biggie if not, but I do hope they each find something active that they can be passionate about. (Of course secretly, I hope it is running!)

After blowing some St. Patty’s day bubbles in our festive green, we head to our race!

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“C’mon, cmon! Let’s go!”

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Before we left, Jake decided that he didn’t want to run, but would rather ride in the stroller. Hannah then decided she would like to run the race with mommy.  Okay – off we go!

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Baby girl all signed up and ready to run!

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We get about 10 yards past the start line, and Hannah and Jake switch. Hannah is tired, and Jake wants to race, now that he sees all the other runners. Okay – let’s chinese fire drill it baby!

After just a bit, Jake starts whining and says he doesn’t want to do it anymore. (Inside, I want to scream, knowing this would probably happen.) He’s 4 years old. It probably is a lot to ask of him, but thought I’d give it a try. Like the saying goes, “Total failure is better than never trying”.

After counting to 10 and taking a breath, I told him that when he decided he wanted to run the race, he needed to finish it. “We don’t quit. We can walk when you need to catch your breath and go at your pace, but we finish what we start.” What a metaphor for life, huh?! Then I realized how this principle has played out over and over in not only my fitness journey, but in parenting as well. I used to be a quitter. I quit when things got too difficult, or just didn’t try if I wasn’t sure I would succeed. I want better for these little ones. I’m glad they won’t know the old me.

I walked on slowly, letting him take a moment to realize that we weren’t going to quit, make up his mind and catch up. And he did. We walked at first, then he saw other runners and said, “I’m ready to run, now mom! Let’s go fast!”

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And fast we went!! It will definitely go down as one of my favorite races! Watching my little guy cross that finish line was so great and seeing his huge grin at the end as other racers were high-fiving him was priceless! So proud of him!

Yeah. Hannah fell asleep! Poor thing! It was a long 1.5 mile!

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Later we hit the St. Patrick’s Day parade in town – bundled up of course, because it was rainy and cold. (What else would the weather be like in Washington?!)

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When I asked them what their favorite part of the parade was (thinking the pirate ship, the bagpipes, or the cool old cars) they both screamed “THE CANDY!”

Duh. Should’ve known!

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Happy St. Patty’s Day weekend!

Wonder Full Wednesday: Perspiration to Inspiration

I am never more alive then when I’ve just completed a workout, I’m sweaty and what I like to call “all wrung out”. For some reason, I’m never more clear, more focused and more sure of myself as I am when I am doing something physically strenuous. More often than not, much of my writing inspiration comes from random thoughts while running.

I distinctly remember on more than one occasion standing in line with other recruits at bootcamp class waiting nervously in line for our turn at the agility course. Mind you, the instructor has just walked through and explained (yelled) what to do, but for some reason – I always doubted. I doubted I could do it, I doubted I could do it right, I doubted I could even remember what she wanted us to do.

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Agility (Photo credit: John Carleton)

Every time as I stepped up to my turn, on the balls of my feet anticipating my start, my mind would go blank and I would just GO. (Now this isn’t to say that I always did it all perfect, but the level of doubt I had was not proportionate to my skill.) That “blankness” that “just-stop-getting-in-your-own-way-and-do-it” thing happens all the time when I do something and show myself that yes, I CAN. I am much stronger than I think. I just have to stop thinking about it.

When we get to the end of ourselves physically, when we are completely spent, that’s the moment we tap into clarity. We go beyond our bodies and tap into the spiritual. Perhaps that’s why it makes me smile a bit when people ask either how I lost weight (if I have a magic pill or the latest fad diet) or how I have the motivation to keep working out. It makes me smile because if I’ve learned anything over the last two years, it is this: it is really not about the physical. Yes, it’s part of the process, yes, it’s exercise and eating clean and all of that, but the majority of it for me has been my personal growth; my growth in creativity, as a parent, as a friend, as a wife, and as a person.

Perspiration leads to inspiration. I love being inspired! That “not regretting a workout” platitude is cute, true, but definitely not the whole story. Smaller jeans are nice, but it’s not the bigger picture.

The bigger picture is taking what you’ve learned, passion and inspiration, and passing it on and sharing it with others. When its true passion, it can’t help but be shared.

For this passion, this being inspired while perspiring; I am grateful.