I felt irritable and crotchety. This is an excerpt from a piece I wrote last spring…

No specific reason, but generally I’m irritatble. I have been consistently exercising, and eating well for the most part. I’m getting enough sleep. The kids are doing as well as can be expected despite the pandemic and limited social interaction. They are finding ways to seek and spread joy. (And play all the computer games.) We are reading at night, spending as much time outdoors during the day as is possible, anxiously anticipating the warmth of the coming months.

I feel like sandpaper. A coarse grit sandpaper rubbing on a rough plank with lots of slivers stuck up every which way. While I know the plank will eventually be smooth, right now it’s a matter of knocking the little flecks off and rounding off the sharp edges. The edges lately have been words like COVID, pandemic, restrictions, ‘We’re in this together’, and all of the 9568 emails regarding school schedules and plans and contingency plans and plans for after the contingencies. I’m tired of the monotony. I think like many of us, I just want to feel a kind of normal. Not what was. Not the going backward to the “before times”. Just a new even keel. Whatever that is, just some kind of way that doesn’t feel uncomfortable and scratchy. The now is definitely uncomfortable, awkward and like the scratchiest pair of pants.


As a trainer, I used to tell clients to get comfortable being uncomfortable. That’s where the magic happens, where change resides. Holding a squat or sprinting on a bike lasts for minutes at a time. Minutes – even a class – of uncomfortable, we can sit in and endure. Not a dang year. People-ing is hard. People-ing lately is pretty darn uncomfortable. A year of the uncomfortable is exhausting. And grating….frustrating, and, and, and….all the range of the covid coaster of emotions. I’m ready to be done with the sandpaper edges. For the slivers to be dust on the floor, the smell of the sawdust a distant memory.

I laugh at the then-year that had passed. It’s been 18 months of the not-normal. We camped and played all summer. It was a nice little break, but now that the kids have been back in school (and in person, with masks and distancing) it all feels so incredibly real and heavy once again. I came across a post from a teacher friend that for a 7th grader, 4th grade was their last uninterrupted “normal” school year. It came in the form of this graphic:

It took me a second to figure out that it was in fact the spring break of my son’s 5th grade year and my daughter’s 4th grade year that spring break we all went home and it hasn’t been normal since. Now in 7th and 6th they have adapted, as we all have – though knowing that none of this is ideal. In addition to the coarseness that I felt in the spring – I would add a numbness to it, too. A friend and I were recently discussing that it feels never-ending. Monotonous. Tiring.

Endurance is my jam. I can hang with the low and slow crowd forever. Running long distances was a love of mine for a long time. Now that I cycle more, endurance rides make me feel amazing without blowing up my legs. This covid era feels like a race where the finish line keeps getting extended. How long is the race? Dunno. How long will it take? Not sure. Water station? Ehhhh, they may be all out. Apparently we just have to keep going in spite of not being trained for this.

I’m not sure I need the finisher t-shirt for this particular race.


The Question

“Do you love running those long miles?” she asked me in an ongoing text conversation. We do swelfies (sweaty selfies = swelfies) with each other as an accountability check for both of us. It’s what battle buddies do! It was a question that hit me like a ton of bricks.

I thought to myself, “Wow. I hadn’t even considered if I love it or not, I just do it because that’s what the training schedule I mapped out says to do.” If I want to be prepared for this race, I need to do the training so it won’t end up being like last time where my legs give up at mile 14 and give me the finger. “I just want to improve my time,” I texted back. Which was true, but it got me thinking deeper.

I sprained my ankle a few weeks ago, (and after a 2 week break) have since been running, but it’s still not 100%. It gets aggravated by longer distances. During this busy fall season, adding in long runs in addition to work schedules has been proving more and more challenging while maintaining sanity and time spent as a family. (Not to mention what not ever being home does to laundry piles, kitchen floors and dogs denied their usual overflow of attention!) Do I love running those longer miles? Honestly? I love the way I feel when I’m done. I like knowing I can do it. This time around, the training and the timing has sucked the fun right out of the whole thing.

I gave myself the weekend. A weekend to mull it over and really contemplate whether training for and running this marathon would be worth it. Do I love it? Am I having fun? Aren’t these extra things supposed to be fun? We went to the movies as a family. We went to church. We played outside. What kept running through my mind was, “If I decide not to run, doesn’t that make me a quitter?”


I took the training runs off of my calendar and felt physically lighter. I had no idea I was feeling pressure at all. Isn’t what I tell clients applicable to myself? Find something you love to do…

Is one race worth it?

Is it worth being crabby and tired and overextended time-wise? Is it worth the time away from family? Is it worth risking a more serious injury to this ankle? Is one race worth risking not being able to run over the long term? My gut reactions came back fast and furious; no.

There will be other races. There will be another marathon in my future. The timing just isn’t right yet. Sometimes the best we can do is exercise good judgement and evaluate just why we do what we do. I wouldn’t call myself a quitter. A postponer, perhaps, but not a quitter.

I want to continue to love running. For a very long time.

What about you? Ever have to cancel a race due to injury or other circumstances? How did you wrestle with the question of whether or not to continue?

Trepidation and Encouragement

On Tough Mudder eve, I’m feeling nervous. Like every new race, I’m always nervous. Anxiously reviewing the list of preparations, questioning whether there was enough training, enough sleep, enough nutrition….the list goes on and on.

I have never regretted trying new things. Ever. I may have been in pain, achey for days, occasionally disappointed, and sore in places I didn’t know existed – but never regret. This race, perhaps even more than the marathon, makes me VERY nervous.

On this race eve, as I pack and prepare and we head south, my husband comes in the with the mail and hands me an envelope. I open it, noting the return address from a fellow DumBell Fitness recruit. They left Hawaii before we did. She was always very motivating standing next to me during those grueling workouts.

I open it up and find this:


On a day I can really use a boost, I get one. Big time. The fellow recruit that sent this to me had saved this sticker for me from the time we had had a conversation in the parking lot over 2 years ago. 

Ultimately, the only thing we take with us or leave behind is how we impact other people. I am so touched that she remembered, followed my races, and reached out to encourage me (and I’m sure many others along the way.)

That I may have impacted anyone else the way that she, and so many others have influenced and encouraged me, I will call myself very lucky indeed.

Thank you so much, Melissa. You have no idea how much I needed this today.

“Everyday try something that scares you. Push yourself beyond the limits you thought were impossible. Do not stay in your comfort zone, but learn to see what lies outside.”


It’s funny what wakes her up. A hint of warm weather, seeing other runners, looking at events online to plan out the race calendar all start to stoke those sleepy embers.

Today it happened to be a bottle cage for her bike.

water bottle cage side
water bottle cage side (Photo credit: billjank)

My inner athlete has been simmering and quiet for a while. Having to be content with garage workouts, dreadmills, and repetitive videos – she’s itching for the adrenaline of race day. That palpable energy of competition, encouragement and wondering if her preparation was sufficient. (And if it wasn’t, no problem – she’ll just fake it ’till she makes it! And have the t-shirt/bragging rights!)

It’s been a long deployment cycle. Winter has been long for her; too long. It’s time to get up and get moving. She’s getting antsy. The light at the end of the separation tunnel is now visible.

So she signed us up for the Warrior Dash and (drum roll please…) Tough Mudder. This inner athlete and I argue. Frequently.

Her:  “C’mon! You know you want to!!”

Me: “I dunno, do you think we can?”

Her: “DUH!”

Me: “Okay….but-“

Her: “No buts! Just sign up for the damn thing and figure out how to get through it!”

Me: Sigh. “Okay – here goes nothing!”

And she’s right. (Don’t tell her I said that!) Every time I sign up for something I’m unsure of, I do it, have a great time, and have never once had regrets.

And even though we’ve done marathons and mud runs together, there is one other thing she is dying to become:


A triathlete.

The seed was planted when she spotted the sticker on the back of a fellow bootcamper’s car. She even stuck a toe in the water with a couple of biathlons shortly before leaving Hawaii.

She went and did it today – we are signed up for the Whidbey Triathlon! (I think she may have forgotten just how much she will have to practice swimming! Hello, biathlon trauma!) Yeah, and a wetsuit will definitely be needed. Even in August!

My inner athlete is awake and ready for swimming, biking, running, icy waters, and a little electro shock therapy.

Let’s do this!

Watch me!

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