Mile 30.99 of the Glacial Trail 50k

Mile 30.99 of the Glacial Trail 50k
Almost Done!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Future's so... Bright!

What if you were able to look into a crystal ball to see your future, would you want the news? If you are still not sure let’s up the stakes a little bit, let’s say there was some science to support the future you saw and that it was very likely that the fortune teller’s prediction could come true, now would you look? I recently received a future of my own and in terms of being an endurance athlete it is probably some of the worst news you can hear. You can’t tell by looking at me but I am already a misfit when it comes to the endurance world, the “runt of the litter” you could say. One of my legs is shorter than the other, I have a bone spur in one foot which will probably require surgery, and the recent gaze into the endurance crystal ball shows that I have a very crooked pelvis which is starting to wear more on one side than the other. You could compare me to a car with one flat tire and a bent frame, a good “grocery getter” not quite suitable for the family vacation!  I am not even 30 and my thoughts immediately went to the future, what will this picture look like in another 30 years? Will I even be able to walk let alone run 100 miles? And for the first time in my life I was told, “Your body just might have a limit.”
Your body just might have a limit”… this phrase has haunted me now for the last few days. Never once had I considered that I might have to back off or even give up on the thing I love the most. As a personal trainer and endurance coach it is my job to tell people that they can keep going, that there is no limit to what they can accomplish.  Am I a hypocrite for having a body that might just hold me back someday from doing what it is I set out to do,  and do I slow down now to try to change my physical future? Like a train barreling down the tracks to the edge of a cliff, do I put the brakes on now to avoid tragedy?
To answer this question I looked to a friend of mine, we will call him John.  John is 35 years old and at the age of 29 was in an accident which paralyzed him on one side of his body. He can no longer live on his own nor do the things he loves the most like drawing, working on cars, and skateboarding. John might never have the opportunity to raise a family… John might never be able to tie his shoes by himself. When I run, I think of John. He will never run, or do the simple tasks that many of us take for granted. What if he had seen his future before it had happened, would he have locked himself in the house to try to prevent the accident from occurring?
The truth is that although we sometimes get glimpses of the future, there is no crystal ball for any of us. I could slow down now to reduce the stress on my crooked back, or I could live for today and make each moment a moment to remember? To me the question is rather easy to answer. So going back to my Doctor’s comment that, “your body might just have a limit,” I disagree!  Today, there are no limitations! And as I am running along the mountains of Colorado this summer, I am going to throw that crystal ball over the biggest cliff I can find!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"You Call This a Storm"!?

My early morning run this morning got me thinking...
It was pitch black, with 40mph winds, pelting rain, and an occasional tree branch crashing somewhere around me way to close to my brain. I could have easily slept in, or just as well have gone to safety of the treadmill at my friendly neighborhood gym,  but sometimes in endurance sports, and in life, we need to put ourselves through a little hell!

The nice thing about endurance sports is that we can usually choose what hell we put ourselves through. Sure, occasionally we get caught in a race where the conditions are not exactly adequate but we always have the option of stopping and getting picked up by an aid station volunteer! Unfortunately, life usually does not work the same way. As much as I would like to raise my hand and say, "hey, you know this struggle that I am dealing with right now, yeah, I have had enough of it so I choose to DNF!" I wish it were that easy!

Maybe by participating in endurance sports we don't just train our cardiovascular system but our system of coping with the challenges that life throws at us? Does doing an Ironman suddenly make you an emotional rock, or can it actually heal a void of the heart? Although I know the answers vary from individual to individual I am in constant amazement of what I have seen endurance sports do for the people around me, most recently a friend of mine who did his race in honor of his brother. Although he had some interesting setbacks throughout the day, including a seat that was 4 inches to low for most of the 112 mile bike ride which caused his legs to cramp for the entire marathon, he finished strong with a smile on his face! If that does not answer the question of endurance sports and human spirit, what does?

So going back to my run this morning, if you happened to hear in the distance a crazy women calling out to the pelting rain, "you call this a storm?"; that was me! I just hope that I can call on this strength when it matters most!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ignoring the Internal GPS

There comes a time in one's life where a change of direction is in order. Sure, sticking to what is comfortable and familiar would be the less stressful way to go but a little stress and chaos is a good thing, right? Or maybe it is just a good thing for me? Regardless, I am going for it and here is why!

After finishing 9 Ironmans it starts to become your identity. People who know me refer to me as "the girl who does Ironmans." I have no problem with this title, in fact, after my first couple finishes I really bathed in the lime light which, if you have done an Ironman, you are entitled to, trust me!  I would also get the question, "how long are you going to do this?", to which I would respond something like, "until this horse dies", or " until I don't love it anymore". So the big question is, the horse is not dead, and I still love it so why would I take the year "off"?

There are several answers to this question... "Ironman is becoming to commercialized, I am sick of biking so much, Perpetuem sucks, my wetsuit has given me a rash 1 to many times"; but the major reason that I am changing teams this year is that I have found another love, The Ultramarathon! You see,  if we compare the Ironman and the Ultramarathon to men, Ironman would be the high maintenance man with expensive taste driving the sports car, and our Ultramarathon man would be the slightly scruffy guy in a t-shirt driving the pick-up truck or maybe... the 1998 Subaru Outback?!  Ironman is full of frills and glamor and the Ultramarathon usually consists of about 50 to 200 people tromping around in the woods all day long finishing to a backyard barbecue in a park shelter. It took me 6 years to realize that I need to hang out in the woods for a while.

So changing directions is a good thing but it is really scary! I admit, my internal GPS is screaming "re-calculating" in that annoying British accent, and I am doing my very best to ignore her! Her battery will wear out eventually...

100 miles, here I come!