Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Thank You... To The Exes

With each heartbreak, I come away learning something about myself. There's always that initial sadness. The feeling of failure and hopelessness. It's taken me months to pull my thoughts and feelings together and I've figured out what I want to say. It's thank you. Thank you to the exes.

When a relationship ends we often find ourselves going over and over in our minds how things could have/should have been different. I question whether I should have paid more attention to the red flags. Seen the man for who he really was. But, I tend to look for the best in people and am more forgiving of their faults than I should be. And yet, at 35, I realize that without the experiences and heartbreak, I could be in a very different place than I am now. But I like where I am now, so that's okay with me.

I was married for 11 years. It feels like a lifetime ago. I got married at 19 and thought I knew everything. Only now do I realize how little I actually knew. It was a convenient relationship, but not a great one. I loved him because I knew nothing else. And then he cheated, and my world turned upside down. Pregnant with our first child, I was terrified of being a single mother before I'd even given birth. I was afraid of trying to make it on my own financially. We tried to make it work but in the end, the relationship did not survive. Trust, one of the only things we still had at that point, was gone and not coming back. Six years after the affair, we divorced. So to him I say thank you. Thank you for teaching me that I can stand on my own, that I can provide for myself and my son.

There were a handful of other guys that I dated, but then I met "Guy" (my brother's not-so-affectionate nickname for him) and thought I'd found love. He was sweet and loving and also a raging alcoholic. Never having dealt with such drinking before, I tried hard to be better; to not make him angry. It didn't work. I stayed in it too long, but eventually realized that this wasn't love. This was hurt and pain and heartbreak. I ended it just in time... before I lost myself completely. Thank you for the lesson that abuse is unacceptable and that love shouldn't hurt.

Emotionally broken from Guy's verbal and physical abuse, I found in "Hippie" (another sibling nickname) a quietness and gentle spirit. He reminded me to not sweat the small stuff and to get outside and enjoy the world around us. Unfortunately, that tendency to focus on the good qualities and overlook the bad resulted in me falling for yet another alcoholic and drug user. "Is this the best I can do?" I asked myself. Of all the relationships I have been in, this ending was the most difficult one for me to deal with. The connection that we had was uncanny. I saw such potential in him and our relationship but in the end, in spite of him professing his love for me I realized that for him it was just the convenience of a place to live and a person to adventure with. He had taken advantage of my giving nature and tender heart and when I asked him to stand up, to grow up, he bailed on us immediately. The realization of that was devastating. It took months of self evaluation and reflection for me to realize that I owed him thanks. For reminding me that not all men are abusive, to enjoy life and to not stop seeking love.

Some of my well meaning family and friends have poked fun at my bad choices in men over the years. They joke that they need to approve of the next guy that I date. The reality is while I may regret the amount of time spent in the relationships, I could never regret the relationships themselves. They each provided valuable, though often difficult life lessons. Life is what you choose to make of it... I just happen to choose to make the best of my choices - and my mistakes.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Search for Perfection.. and a Giveaway!

When I started running six years ago my goal was to run a half marathon distance. My training consisted of a few short to moderate distances a week. I tried a couple of different arm bands for carrying my phone in because I have to have my music to jam to while pounding out the miles. I'd sometimes use gels or chomps on my runs but not often, so it wasn't too big of a deal. Fast forward a year and even though I'd sworn I would never run a marathon, there was this nagging question in my mind... could I conquer the 26.2? With the support of a fantastic group of friends and family (Known as the "Hot Runners"), I started training for my first marathon. My bad-ass aunt, who runs 3-4 marathons a year, laid out a training plan that involved numerous long runs gradually increasing to 20+ miles to prepare. Now that I was doing longer distances I realized that I would need to start carrying with me my own fuel to eat during the run. I became obsessed with finding tops and pants that have built in pockets, because my arm band could only carry my phone. I made it through my first marathon and the training and completed several more, always trying to find the best, most comfortable way of carrying my phone and fuel. A couple of years ago I found a waist belt that would fit my near tablet-size Galaxy 5 phone (not an easy thing to find, btw) but it just barely fit and didn't leave much room to squeeze anything else in there.
But, like I always have, I made it work.
I hate things bouncing around while I run and this belt stays put.
Earlier this year I was contacted by the makers of the SLS3 Dual Pocket Run Race Belt about testing out their waist belt and offer my opinion. Always on the search for a better way of carrying my shiz on a run, I jumped at the chance to try it out. So far I've worn it for quite a few runs ranging from my quick 4 milers to my Saturday long run of 20 miles. More and more, I find myself reaching for it instead of the old one I'd been using.
What I normally will pack with me on a long run. That's a lot to stuff in what looks like an itty bitty belt.
Luckily, the pockets stretch out and fit all of it!
It even holds my enormous Samsung phone. Don't mind the random dog hair. It's everywhere.
I love this belt for a few reasons. The seams and the inside are waterproof which is perfect for me since I sweat so much while I run, especially when the temperatures get warmer. I have ruined a couple of my phones just from sweating through arm bands or belts, so this feature alone is a definite plus for me. I also dig that it doesn't shift on my waist or bounce while I'm running. The elastic used is good quality and more firm than some of the other pouches I've seen which is why I think it stays in place so well. In addition, the fact that it has two separate pouches that I can carry stuff in is great. I even managed to stuff my gloves in there when the temperature had warmed enough that I didn't want to wear them anymore.

My only criticism about the belt is that the zipper pulls for each of the pockets seem too small in my opinion. Most of my runs are early morning and, in Utah, that often means wearing gloves for most or all of the run. I find that I have to remove a glove in order to be able to grasp the zipper to open the pouch, which can be difficult to do while running. If the zipper pulls were a bit bigger/easier to grab, this would be the PERFECT waist belt. But that being said, I still use it as my go-to waist belt for my runs.

I liked the belt so much that the good people who make it have offered to give one away as part of a raffle - and who doesn't like free stuff?! If you're not selected, you can still get a belt for a sweet price and 40% off any of their other cool stuff on their site by using the code BLOG40.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  SLS3 sent me this belt to review. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Year of Adventure Continues...

Jobs fill your pockets. Adventures fill your soul.

This month marks an important milestone in my life. A year ago I pledged to spend the year doing things that challenge, scare and empower me. Coincidentally, I embarked on this journey with an amazing guy who I had just started dating... we clicked immediately and started planning our life. It was as if the entire universe had conspired to bring us together at just this moment in our lives. He is a perfect partner for me in every way imaginable and an amazing father - both to his own son and to mine.
I have seen and done more in the past 12 months than in all the rest of my adult life. Each adventure brings a smile to my face as I remember the inside jokes, the shitty hotel rooms and the last-minute changes that still somehow resulted in fun to be had.
I'm naturally a pretty independent person. In Brett I have found that while I don't need a man in my life, having one who is my best friend, confidant, lover and the one I want to spend all my time with is pretty damn awesome.
And while it seems completely unbelievable, we've managed to navigate the waters of our first year together without ever fighting. Not once have we raised our voices or spoken condescendingly to one another. It is the first relationship I've ever been in where that is the case and I can tell you that it is incredibly refreshing to be able to have conversations, even the difficult ones, while knowing that it's not going to result in a blow-out argument. That's not to say that we haven't had our share of serious chats, but each one has been done lovingly and without any kind of verbal abuse - and I love that about him.
One of the things I love most about this man is his excitement to share the outdoors with our boys. We make a point to take them to explore every chance we get.  

These two are inseparable when we visit Seattle.

 We celebrated a year together in the place where it all began. A year ago for our 3rd date, we spent a weekend in Moab together camping and rock climbing. I was apprehensive going into the trip because, although I was very interested in him, I also knew that it would go either really well or really badly. And if it's the latter, the last place you want to be stuck with someone you aren't getting along with is out in the middle of the Moab desert in January. Fortunately, we had the best time and have since returned to Moab at least half a dozen times. We even discussed, as we lay in exhaustion from laughter in our hotel room, making it an annual tradition of ours to celebrate the years together there. I very much look forward to it.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Let me tell you a secret...

I have a confession. 

I'm in love... with my life.

I didn't think it would happen again... but instead of questioning or fighting it, I've decided to let it envelope me like a warm blanket. I emerged from an abusive relationship with an enormous wall that
I'd erected and my share of issues to work through.

As I have gathered the broken pieces and mended myself, I discovered a new passion for life. 
And I fell in love with it. 

I had spent the past 18 months tiptoeing around him and suppressing my real self. So 2015 has been dubbed #theyearofadventure. I have been introduced to the wildly addictive sport of rock climbing and I find it both terrifying and thrilling all in one. It is challenging both physically and mentally and forces me to focus and problem solve. I love it.

I've seen some beautiful things in the first seven months of the year. Climbed in 3 different states.

Visited our nation's capitol and run on the Mall.   

Star gazed on a slab of redrock with a man who has changed my life and given me 
a renewed sense of joy and purpose.

I have never been so at peace with life and the ups and downs it brings.

I have been blessed with being able to share some wonderful moments 
and make lasting memories with this little man. Many more to come. 

We've been welcomed into an amazing family and never felt more at home.

We've soaked in the views and restoring water of countless waterfalls.

Climbed a mountain or two...

...and stepped out of my comfort zone to try things I never imagined I would do.

My birthday is in a week and I am excited about the adventures that await me in my 34th year. I often have people comment about how they are jealous of my adventures, the places I visit and the things I do. 
My response is to pull them in close and whisper:
 "You can too - you just have to make it happen." 
Life is incredibly short if you think about it, so why spend the better portion of it wishing you could be out there living?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Life... Love... Loss... and the Run.

I'm a creature of habit. I crave routine and while I enjoy spontaneity, I am always eager to get back to my comfort zone. When I started running five years ago, it was a last ditch effort to try and lose weight and find myself. Somewhere along the way it became a constant in my life that I could always escape in and find solace, even when things were going to shit.

A year and a half ago I started dating someone who seemed like a dream guy. Like most people in new relationships do, he started out sweet and thoughtful and he made me feel like the luckiest girl to have him in my life. Our relationship moved quickly and within a short time, he was living with me and my son. It took a couple of months before the true colors started to come out. It started with a stupid, explosive argument in Wendover, which was the first time I saw who he really was. He didn't hit me, but he may as well have, with his biting words and belittling comments. Over time, I started noticing that it didn't matter how I phrased things or what I said, he usually had a sarcastic, hurtful and snide remark about whatever it was I had to say. I learned to bite my tongue - which went completely against my normally outspoken, blunt nature. It was, however, better than yet another argument.

One of the things that I initially really enjoyed about him was how much fun we would have with a glass or two of wine. While at first it didn't seem like a big deal, within six months I was noticing how much he would really drink. It was foreign to me. As a marathon runner, I am focused on training and rarely drink, certainly not to excess. There were many nights when I would go to bed and he would stay up and drink. Quite often he would come into the bedroom in the middle of the night to talk to me, waking me even though I would have an early morning long run planned. Those were the good nights. The bad ones, he'd drunkenly come charging into the bedroom to scream at me about a variety of grievances. Maybe I left some dishes in the sink or messed up the kitchen after he'd cleaned it. It always varied but it inevitably left me frustrated and hurt by his cruel, painful words. The next morning I would usually find 2-3 empty wine bottles or an empty case of beer. I tried really hard to be understanding. I gave him every benefit of the doubt. I'd rationalize his behavior with any number of excuses that I could come up with. The truth of the matter is that he was an alcoholic, and an angry one at that.

The thing I could always rely on was my running. Some days I would cry for part of it, other times I would find myself venting to my running friends, though I never really divulged just how truly unhappy I was. That was a secret I shared with only the road.

Then one day he hit me. It was in the middle of another one of his rages, this time he was on the verge of getting to the point where I knew he wouldn't remember anything. I lay in bed, trying to ignore the awful things he was saying to me. Finally I snapped back at him and he reached out and hit me on my thigh out of anger. I was shocked. He fucking hit me. I'd never been hit by a man before and I was always that girl who said any man who hit me would sorely regret it. Yet, here I was, in the thick of it and I had no idea what to do.

In the months that followed we tried counseling, which helped validate my feelings about his drinking and the verbal/emotional and now physical abuse, but it didn't really leave me feeling like we were getting anywhere productive. In training for my two fall marathons, I contemplated my dilemma over the hundreds of miles that I put in. I came to realize that I no longer loved the man who was slowly but surely breaking me. I realized that I knew what I needed to do, it's just the doing of it that is the difficult part. Several days after my seventh marathon, I sat him down and told him that it was over. It was hard, but the weight that I felt lifted following the conversation was relieving. The next month proved to be nearly as difficult as the initial conversation, as dividing up the things you collectively accumulate over 18 months is arduous. He was not easy to talk to before the breakup and it definitely got worse after. It got to the point where his tone in conversations and text messages made me afraid he might act out in anger at me or my son. I hated that I was afraid of him. I decided to take back control of the situation. Luckily, I have an amazingly supportive family and group of friends who have helped me. From my dad helping me change the locks on the house to my brother sending his police officer friends over randomly to check on me, I slowly started to feel safe again. After consulting with a police officer friend, I decided to file charges on him for hitting me and sought a protective order to keep him away from me and my son.

It may have taken me longer than it should have to come to my decision, but I do not regret the relationship if only for the lessons it taught me. I am stronger than I realized and I can carry on. It's okay to ask for help and it's okay to stumble so long as you get up to keep running. It is not the mistakes we make that define who we are; it is how we recover from those mistakes. I'm finding my way back to myself, to my comfort zone... and it feels amazing.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Reflections of a Runner Turned Triathlete.. Or Something Like That.

This year has been frustrating and disappointing for me to say the least. Following my amazing PR results with the 2013 Big Cottonwood Marathon, I was excited to spend the winter working on my speed and decreasing my pace so that I had a shot at qualifying for Boston with the 2014 Big Cottonwood Marathon. Unfortunately, my body has had other plans and I've been forced to scale back my mileage trying to rehab bursitis in one of my hips and knee pain (in what was previously my good knee. Eff.). This means instead of focusing on fun things like intervals and fartleks, I have been subjected to less fun things like cortisone injections, foam rolling and icing. I have very nearly approached my Sports Med doc about just amputating the damned leg and turning me into the Bionic Woman. That seemed like a much more expedient result to me.

Which brings me to my point.. it's easy when you have a goal in mind to get frustrated and give up. It's harder to step back, assess the situation and reevaluate goals for the current situation. So Boston Qualifying for me this year is pretty unlikely - it'd take a miracle for me to shave 25+ minutes off my time. Rather than throw in the towel, I decided that maybe I should expand my horizons by exploring the world of triathlons. Keep in mind I've never been a cyclist and just went on my first road ride ever a few short weeks ago... a 50 miler with some friends because God forbid I start with something more reasonable - sorry I'm not sorry. Swimming is a skill I have always known how to do due to a brief stint on a youth swim team which I bailed on because, let's be honest, what 11 year old fat kid wants to spend the summer in the pool doing laps rather than eating Hostess in front of the TV? Not this one I tell ya. But I digress.

Enter Jen. A good friend of mine from my college days at the University of Utah, she has plenty of experience with triathlons, is a personal trainer and an all around bad-ass friend to have. She's always up for an adventure and when I approached her about doing a Tri with me, she jumped on board immediately. We made a plan to do the Rock Cliff Tri at Jordanelle Reservoir near Park City, Utah. If you have to pick a first triathlon to do, you don't get much more beautiful than this place. To prepare, I had been swimming laps at a community pool once a week on my lunch hour and worked my way up in the course of a month to doing a mile non-stop. Pretty good if you ask me! My running training must have helped with that because swimming continuously is a lot harder than it looks.
Jordanelle: Cold as hell but nice to look at.

This is apparently my terrified, "WTF have I gotten myself into" face.

Please tell me that everyone looks/feels as awkward as I do in a wetsuit.
I had no doubt that I could easily complete each individual portion of the race, it was just a Sprint after all. But the thought of swimming in open water in a restrictive wetsuit (which I hadn't tried out before - stupid mistake #1) and transitioning between the events were daunting tasks in my mind. With no experience in this triathlon thing, I had no idea what to expect for any of this. I'm so grateful for Jen and her experience and confidence to help me in preparing and completing my first Tri. We had discussed our strategy beforehand and although we easily could have split up (and possibly placed in our individual age groups - it was a small field), she agreed to stick with me for at least the swim portion in case I freaked out. Which I did. I was so concerned with getting the swim done quickly and not disappointing Jen (who is a freaking rock-star in the water) that I panicked the first third of the swim. She reassured me that I was ok to take my time and gave me some pointers to get me through it. I've never been more happy to have someone I trust with me than in that moment!

Once we finished the swim and peeled the wetsuits off - which I'm pretty took as long to do as the entire stupid swim did  - I was elated to be getting on the bikes. We headed out and found ourselves riding into a wind tunnel of extraordinary force. I'm pretty sure I didn't drink even a quarter of one of my water bottles because I didn't dare take one hand off of the handlebars for fear of crashing. It got so bad at one point when we'd turned that the wind blew my bike from the shoulder of the road into the center of the two lane road. Which is unnerving when you're riding in open roads with traffic! Still, I was on dry ground and just happy to be cruising along.

My favorite part of the entire experience, however, was the run. This is my arena. I swapped shoes, grabbed my water bottle and we were off for our quick 5k run. It was an amazingly beautiful course that varied between bits of trail, boardwalk and road. My legs felt fantastic and I was grinning the entire 3 miles. We came in to the finish line and I had forgotten all about my frustration with myself on the swim and immediately blurted out "That was AWESOME! I want to do it again!!"

Going into this experience I wasn't really sure if I would like the whole triathlon thing. I have been running races from 5ks to marathons for four years now and have gotten comfortable with what to expect from them. They feel "safe" to me. I'm so happy that I decided to step outside my comfort zone and try something new and different. I loved it so much that Jen and I are planning on tackling a Half Ironman next fall together. It will be a new experience for both of us and while I still plan on doing not one but two marathons this fall, I am looking forward to the tri-training immensely. Because for me, the race is just the icing on the cake. It's the hours, miles and conversation that add up to make the journey worthwhile for me. This is my life, and I love every minute of it.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Go Bigger!

When I started this journey four years ago, my biggest goal was to lose weight. I never dreamed that I would have turned something I formerly hated into a passion and addiction. Not surprisingly, weight loss is only one of the many benefits I've gained from this hobby of mine. One of the most notable is the friendships I've developed with people from all walks of life. Runners are a funny community and no matter where you go, once you find out that you share that common bond, there is a connection made.
 My running peeps. Plus my uncle Matt, our bodyguard and photographer, who hates running but loves my aunt.
I think back to before I ran and what my life was like and it's amazing how much fuller it seems now. Simply making the choice to take back my life [and that's how I look at it - I was a prisoner of my own apathy and laziness] has opened up so many doors for me. More than ten years ago I tried snowboarding and remember despising it. My legs were weak and I was on my ass more than I was standing. I gave it several attempts before I finally decided that it was too hard. Fast forward to today and I have grown to love it nearly as much as I do running. So much so that I bought a pass to Canyons Resort last winter so that I could go up almost every weekend. Let me tell you, there's nothing more terrifying and exhilarating than conquering a double black diamond you've never tried before.
Snowboards are heavy bitches, for the record.
When half-marathons and marathons started to seem like less of a challenge, I decided to up the ante. Surely a Tough Mudder would be the answer to what I seek, right? 
Electric Eel. Just after I blacked out. You heard that right, fucking BLACKED OUT.
When I started running I also started working out with a group of people at a local boxing gym, known as Fight For Your Life. I found that I loved competing against myself and my friends at the gym. We would do killer circuits and it was there that I learned the art of boxing and found it an amazing way to take out frustration. Sadly since the gym is a side gig for my friend Heath, the schedule changed and with no morning classes offered, I found myself needing an alternative workout that would challenge me in the same way.
Heath Haraki. He is Maori, the sweetest guy and not nearly as scary as he comes across. Plus he lets me punch him. Bonus.
When CrossFit started growing in popularity, my FFYL friends and I scoffed at it. A ten minute WOD? We would laugh to ourselves and  say "I want more than a 10 minute workout." But desperate times call for desperate measures and I found myself walking into CrossFit West Jordan, which is only .8 miles from my house. [I know this because I ran by it all the time and my brain is weird like that. Don't judge me.] I remember feeling SO intimidated by these uber fit people. I didn't realize it at first, but the 5:30 am class has a reputation as being the most intense and hard-core group to work out with. What I found surprised me... Not only did I learn the movements quickly and love the workout, but I was welcomed by each person and immediately felt at home. I am amazed at the progress I've made since starting over a year ago and find that I seek out the new faces to welcome them just as I was welcomed into the box family.
Started with the bar, now I currently can squat clean 105 lb and improving every day. Boom.
I suppose the take-away is this: be open to trying new things, even if it's something that scares you or makes you get out of your comfort zone. So often I hear people turn down an offer to try something new and I think about all the missed opportunities and friends I would have never made if that had been my attitude. I'm always seeking improvement and approach life with an open mind.

We have a finite amount of days here, so why wouldn't you want to make the most of them?