KonMari What? It’s Magic!

I year ago I heard some buzz about the #KonMari method of decluttering. Marie Kondo wrote a book called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and I had a few friends that were raving about it. A little before the beginning of the year my friend Andrea brought it up and for some reason (fate…luck) I instantly pulled it up on Amazon and downloaded it to my kindle.

I read the first chapter, was amazed, and then read it to Troy and Annie. They looked at me, and both said “Let’s do it.” Troy does not buy things, he’s a self proclaimed minimalist. I, however am a maximalist, and so is Annie. We like our STUFF, but sometimes we make hasty decisions and accumulate stuff for the sake of it. We don’t have a large house, about 2,000 sq feet, and it’s not packed to the brim or anything, but there was lots of stuff just hanging about.

Also, wherever women go to learn about how to make a house pretty, I missed that lesson. Our home has always been 100% utilitarian, I’m afraid to paint walls, or buy nice things because I always feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, and would rather spend my money on yet another airplane ticket somewhere fun. I’m not good with color, or fengshui or knowing what furniture goes where.  Not my thing. But I do wish for joy, comfort, and tidiness. Clean tabletops, and things put away make me feel grounded.

Marie has you declutter your entire house in one fell swoop, as quickly as possible. You are not allowed to “put things away” until all the decluttering is complete. And there are a few simple rules. One, you declutter by category, not by room, and there is an order: clothes, books, papers, kimono (which has a ton of sub lists) and mementos. She suggests you declutter as quickly as possible and says it takes most families about 6 months (Yea….it took us three and a half weeks…not really surprising if you know me).

There is one rule you have for deciding whether to keep or toss and it’s to hold the item and ask “Does this item spark joy?” Now I know that your brain is coming up with all the “but what about taxes”…yes, you keep taxes, but the other 99.9% of stuff is subject to the joy constraint. When you decide to get rid of something you thank it for it’s service and send it along to its next life journey. The thanking part is really important, if you neglect this step you will feel hollow and empty at the end of the process.

After you finish decluttering your entire house, you find a home for each and every object, and you treat your objects like they have feelings. So you don’t put objects on top of each other (because the bottom ones would get squished and feel sad), you ask clothes if they prefer to be hung or folded, and you keep like things with their friends. Shoes with shoes, scissors with scissors, sheets with sheets. 

So, as a family, we dove in! We don’t currently own a kitchen table so we cleaned out the kitchen area and used the floor as our collecting area. First clothes. That was fun, we were trying on things and asking the joy question. We got through those and felt a deep sigh. The clothes we actually put away via the KonMari method of folding (it’s a thing…and it’s amazing…google it). I took 16 bags to the goodwill of clothes and shoes. Our closets felt really spacious and we were smiling when we got dressed.

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The after is quite amazing!! A full dresser with everything folded and upright!

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Then it was on to books. We had books in every single room in the house. They were everywhere and there were a ton of them! Annie and I both went through the joy test pretty quickly and I ended up with I think 17 books and Annie about 25. Troy was another story. We had to read the chapter on books to Troy 3 times…outloud. At first they all brought joy to Troy, but then, when he really really looked at why he was hanging onto them, it was something else that he needed to face. He went from about 400 to 84 really joy inducing books. And now when I see him walk by his books, he smiles.

Bye Bye books! They filled up our entire car (before she went to car heaven)…

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The purpose in life of a book is to be read. So if you read it and then put it on a shelf for the rest of it’s life, you essentially put it in prison, it can’t live it’s purpose ever again, sad book. It wants to be read, so we had to send most of them along on their life path, so they at least had a chance of being read again and fulfilling their purpose. It felt good to give them another chance at life!

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We donated them to the library, and when I went to throw away an empty cup from our car in the library recycle dumpster do you know what it was filled with? BOOKS! I never thought about the fact that the library gets so many book donations that they throw away dumpsters full of books. I tried to put that out of my brain when we drove away. Bye Books, good luck!

Troys books now, in the happy hallway!

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After books is the category: PAPERS. It was impressive. We pulled every single piece of paper from the house and put it in the kitchen. It filled up the entire floor, boxes and boxes and bins and bins. And one by one, we went through every piece of it and asked the joy question, then asked the “required to keep” question. This was the most liberating step because really, there were only 2 pieces of paper in all of the papers that brought joy, our wedding certificate and Annie’s birth certificate. TWO! We now have one small box of papers that had to be kept, and we each have one small box for work. We also weren’t afraid to take photos of papers and store them in ibooks on our ipad. Things like hand written recipes and school calendars, but crazy enough there are only 32 papers that we felt needed photos on the iPad. Not many.

These are now all the papers in the house except a small box in each of our offices. Ahhh, it makes me so happy.

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After those three categories are done you breathe this huge sigh, because you are getting the hang of things and your joy meter is getting honed (warning: if you are in a place of depression, Ie: having a tough time finding joy, you are going to throw out a lot of stuff, so be careful)

By this point we are in hook, line, and sinker! Next up is Kimono which there is some fancy definition but to me meant “all the other categories except the special stuff.” We tackled category by category: bathroom stuff, linens, toys, games, camping stuff, luggage and travel items, triathlon, and electronics.

This is the bathroom stuff. It’s ridiculous. We have two small bathrooms. Never again!!!

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Then we each worked on our own personal stuff, but not the “special stuff”, that’s saved for last.

By now the neighbors were asking if we were moving because we had a HUGE pile of stuff outside the front porch. Troy kept telling them “My wife read a book!” He totally threw me under the bus. Stinker!

I got on Craigslist and called a man who calls himself “The Junk Guy” and asked if he could come take our stuff away. He said yes, for a price, and asked if he should bring his trailer. We shouted YES! We didn’t have enough stuff to need his trailer, so I looked at Troy and said “We have 5 hours to fill his trailer”

So…we attacked the garage. And by attack, I mean attack. We were thanking things left and right and out it was going. Five hours later, by the time The Junk Guy came we filled his truck, his trailer and still had an entire truckload left over. We had emptied our box of 56 black plastic giant trash bags I had purchased for the task. This was half way through the garage! This pile doubled before The Junk Guy came! Thank you swimming pool, thank you tag-a-long, thank you broken Christmas Tree. Thank you thank you thank you!

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It felt good. The stuff that was left was really stuff that sparked joy and it was a cool process to go through and find all the treasures! Many things brought short term joy but when asked “have you served your purpose?” the answer was yes, so off it went to it’s next life, but only after a deep thank you.

From there it was time for the kitchen. Books to Troy was like kitchen items for me. So much attachment for me, but when I really held the items and asked if they had served their purpose and were ready for their next adventure, most of them said yes. I did have a long conversation with the skillet I make my eggs in every morning. I don’t like it, but if I tossed it I couldn’t make eggs. So I told it that it could stay, and I promptly ordered a new one on Amazon, and crazy enough, that’s the only new thing I bought through this process. When the new one came, the old one went along it’s way, Thank You Skillet!

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Once the kitchen was done we pulled the mementos we had been saving and dealt with them licity-split. I was dreading that part, like Baby Annie clothing, and keepsakes from trips and what not. There were lots of great memories and many things were kept. It was actually a joyful process, and pretty much the exact opposite I thought it would be if we had started with these things. There is a reason you save the special stuff for last.

Photos were all put together into one bin and I still haven’t gone through them. There is a whole KonMari process for photos but I’m not emotionally ready for them, so they are staying in their box for a few more weeks. And yes, they aren’t happy about it.

Now it was time to find a home for everything. We had little piles of JOY all over the house and it was time to put everything in place. The funny part about this was that it took like 2 hours to put our entire house in place, and most of that time was spent repurposing some shelving that had to be removed and put up somewhere else. It was simple really. There was so much space, all the closets were empty, it was easy as cake to designate a category to a closet or a shelf, place what was left in there, and be done with it.

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Annie turned her closet into her reading nook, she loves to hang out there now.

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All in all, to do our entire house, from start to finish in the KonMari method, took us about 3.5 weeks. We were diligent and we worked every night on things and during our lunch hours, sometimes a little in the mornings too. The result is beyond words. For the last couple weeks we have just enjoyed with wonder our house, and the space that has been created. Literally every shirt we pull our of our closet and every cup off the shelf is a smile. There is space and so far, not a single thing is missed. There hasn’t been a single “If I only kept…”

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Our belongings have taken on personalities. The other day Annie came into the living room and said “Mom, your snow boots are sad” and I was like “why?” and she said “they are in the bathroom all alone away from their friends.” I said….”ooh, that is sad” and moved them back with their friends.

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Things that haven’t been put away immediately feel out of place and I feel this duty to them to put them back in their home. My purse gets unpacked every night and all the insides put back away. And you know what, our house is happier. I feel like the light shines a little brighter in it, and my clothes stay a little cleaner, and my food is a little tastier. Who knew?

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I will say, that I would not consider myself a tidy person (duh). For 14 years Troy has had to get used to what he calls “Sonja piles” because I seem to like to make little piles of things all around the house. I didn’t grow up in a tidy house and I always felt that there are more adventurous ways to lead your life than to spend so much time “cleaning.” But now, I don’t clean. Things have a home, and I take them home at the end of the day, and when I see an area collecting some dirt or dust I feel sad for it, and I take care of it, so it’s happy. Dishes get done within a few hours because we only have a few now, not even enough to run a full load in the dishwasher anymore. Everyone has one coffee mug, and one water glass. There are a few spares for guests. That’s it. I have 6 cycling water bottles. 6 is 3 more than my bike fits!

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It sounds silly, but this process has helped me tap into my emotions. I had to hold things and really decide how they made me feel. Lots of generally benign things brought up some heavy emotions based on who gave it to me or when/why I procured it. Some of the things I had been hanging onto because they were worth something went right out the door when I held it and felt it. Like a hot potato. Sometimes I cried! But many other times I laughed and nodded.

If you are looking for a space transformation, I suggest picking up her book and giving it a read. You will know right away whether this is something you are ready for, or not, and I would say, don’t force the issue if you aren’t. Pass the book on to a friend and see if it was meant for them! When I posted on Facebook there were lots of responses from others who were digging her method as well but not a single person said they had completed their whole house, so I just want to note something here. The feeling of completing the project is the best part. Knowing every single item has been handled and sorted, and thanked or recognized for it’s joy brings some pretty serious zen action. So if you have done a few categories and fallen off, I’m urging you to hop back on the train. The ending is divine!

**this was the post I published that flatlined my blog a few weeks back. Troy was able to save the words and I’m just now posting it again.

It’s been a little over a month since we finished this project and I can’t believe what a game changer it has been. Our house has not gotten dirty or junky a single time since. The things that weren’t working really stuck out like a sore thumb. For example, our electronics got stored in this:

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I thought it was pretty organized, each of us had our own shelf, I love this little shelving unit and I love all the electronics in it. But I hated the cords being everywhere. I had an idea, but didn’t know if it would work. A few weeks ago I went for it. I bought a little set of drawers and I drilled holes in the back of all of them and mounted an electrical strip and a USB strip on the back of the set of drawers. Then I fished all the cords into the back of the drawers and now every electronic has a home and gets put to bed at night.

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The fact that everyones iPads, iPhones, Computers, headphones, tablets, readers, goPros, you name it have a home and a bed to rest after a hards day work makes me really happy. I’ve also been trying to get electronics out of our bedroom and this project sealed the deal. They get put to bed like Annie does, like we do.

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We also bought a kitchen table. It took us 5 hours in the store to make a decision. We sat at every one, many times, and finally decided on one with two benches and counter height. We all love it lots, it’s a major joy sparker.

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I would love to hear others experience with KonMari and her books. If anyone has been through the process for some time now, I would like to know if it all sticks? Do things stay this way forever or does the clutter creep back in?

Figuring Something Out

Whelp, December turned into one of the longest and hardest months I’ve had in the last 35 years. I spent a large part of it in bed, really unable to drag myself out on more days than I would like to admit. I managed to get some things under the tree for the munchkin, thank you Amazon. Most my workouts, I just skipped. I got an injury in my knee that will prevent me from racing any of the ultras that I signed up for in January and February. That didn’t help me get out of bed. Whenever I go though these times I tend to hole up. I hunker down, usually in covers. I had depression…have depression…had a bout of depression…heck I don’t know what to call it. I felt sad, and acted sad, and left the house very little, and watched a lot of pointless crappy shows on hulu, read a few books, stayed up all night, slept all day, you name it.

Why so glum chum? Well, I think many people who have had times where they were off balance would agree that there isn’t really a cause, just a consistent darkening that they can’t seem to pull out of. I would agree. I have good things in my life and I have sad things in my life, just like everyone else on this planet (aka tiny ball of dirt spinning around in the universe). I would just say that I stopped putting up the good fight against the sadness. I just stopped, and then I kinda just got headed down that path.

I had a lot of talks with Troy through this time. Sometimes I couldn’t talk to him for days, and sometimes I had to talk all day. He’s an exceptionally patient man. He listens, and he doesn’t tell me things like “you need to fix this.” He just tucks me in, checks on me a lot, and encourages me to do more of the things that seem to make me happy in the moment.

I quietly hoped that all that time being down would eventually turn back up and that I might learn something in the process. I kinda felt like I just had to wait it out. I thought about a lot of stuff while I was chilling. Mostly stuff about my daughter. My daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia over a year ago and that means that I worry constantly. If you know me, you would not peg me as a worrier but in this case I worry and I worry, and then I worry some more. All the confidence I have in other areas of my life seems to just be gone here, it’s my baby girl, and I can’t fix the struggle for her. And the school, and the teachers, and the right path, it’s all a problem, it’s all a worry, daily. You would think this is a known thing in these days, and that there is a clear course and clear options for her, but I’m here to say “nope.” Getting any follow through on the items in her IEP is akin to pulling teeth. But we have a great tutor, and we have money. So we are using those as well as we can.

Just typing that last paragraph may seem kinda tame to you with your personal problems that don’t look like mine, but I just put that out in the world forever. And that is literally the definition of airing your dirty laundry.

But I promise this post isn’t all doom and gloom. Because while I was down, things in my brain were stirring. Why the heck am I even here, on this blob of Earth? What’s the point of it all? Why the pain? I have asked myself this over and over and over during the last few months. What’s my responsibility to this fleeting life I have, to my daughter, and to my family? What’s the flipping point?

A little angel sent me an email with the link to a blog post a few days ago. And in the space of a few hours I started to see the light. I started climbing out, and I started to get clear, real clear, on all of these things. And the clearer I got, and the more nodding I did, the better I felt. I started combining it with other stuff I’ve read through the last year, and things just really started coming together for me, my I’s started getting dotted and my T’s started getting crossed.

Here comes the “I think” part of the post. I wonder how many people ever voice what they think? If you have I would pat you on the back, because even this over sharer is finding it really really hard. What you think probably isn’t what I think. I think that’s cool. Some of what I think may intertwine with some of what you think, that’s pretty darn cool too. I may have at one point, but I no longer have any judgement on what you think. Since figuring out what I think, that judgement just went away. You think stuff, I think stuff, it’s all good stuff. So, here goes.

I think that we have a mind; this consciousness/soul/spirit/essence/heart, and I think we also have this body, and the two are really pretty separate. Something I read that really stuck with me once, was that 10 seconds after we die, we still weigh exactly the same as we did 15 seconds prior, but something is gone, something in us is really really gone, and that Something doesn’t weigh anything, but it’s a Something. It’s a big Something. I think that Something is me. That’s me. And because I think that, I tell Troy that when that something is gone, just burn me up, and scatter me around somewhere pretty.

I think that Something is vast, and I think there are other Somethings, like the one in you, and I think the different Somethings have gone through different experiences that have lead to different levels of consciousness. I think the something in a bug is the same kind of something that is me, but the bug might not have gone through as many past experiences as me. Maybe I did my time as a bug, and now I’m here in a body, and maybe after this I get to go to another physcial form next. I think that there are “somethings” that know a lot more than I do, I think there are a lot of them, and I think some of them are here on Earth, but a lot of them are elsewhere in the universe. This is what I think.

I think my something decided to take a ride in a body, on this Earth. Woo, Hoo. It wanted another experience in it’s path of development and it went for a human. Go me. I think that our time here on Earth is itty bitty. Just a blip, a blink, hardly a postscript. When I think about “what’s the point” I think about “legacy.” Thinking about legacy really gets me thinking about people who’s deeds stuck around after their something moved on. They are few. Really few. What famous caveman do you know? Most of the deeds that most of the somethings do with their bodies are just actions, that don’t really matter. When I really went down this line of thought, I got a little sad at first. Nothing I do will live on. Even if I become the next President, or I set a gajillion world records, or I help raise a super amazing kid, or I start a huge great company, in time, it’s all gone. And then I thought, Hummm, I think that means that those things must not be the point. You know “the point”…you know what I mean.

When I was thinking about this, I kept coming back to a petrie dish. It’s a petrie dish, we’re in one! I remember in High School science putting the little bacteria cells in, and watching over several days as they went about their business which was purely based on their environment. I, as the researcher, was watching them in their little petrie dish planet do their thing. Some of them didn’t play nice with others, some of them gravitated towards each other. They were such a product of their environment. And what was their role? What was their responsibility? To me? To themselves? It was just to “do their thang.” Were they supposed to please the researcher? Um, they didn’t have that level of consciousness. They were there to go about their business in the tiny petrie dish world, getting the most out of their current environment and experience. That resonated with me.

I know that I don’t know a lot. I know there is tons of stuff on our planet that I don’t know about, but then taking it outwards into our universe and beyond that and not only do I not know, but we here on Earth are clueless about the majority of what’s out there. Can the bacteria in the petrie dish understand the depth of my love for my daughter? I’m pretty sure not, and therefore I think there are vast amounts of stuff out there that I’m not capable of really getting either.

So what’s the point? I think I’m experiencing these 80 (hopefully) trips around the sun to see what the human thing is all about. I’m doing my time in the petrie dish of Earth, and I think this is probably my only chance at a little human body. And it’s a short trip.  In the grand scheme, its just a blink of an experience for me. Once I got to that place, I started to feel really good.

“If you knew your potential to feel good, you would ask no one to be different so that you can feel good. You would free yourself of all of that cumbersome impossibility of needing to control the world, or control your mate, or control your child. You are the only one who creates your reality. For no one else can think for you, no one else can do it. It is only you, every bit of it you.”

– Esther Hicks

Humm, okay, what to do now? That’s when I started to get really clear. I get this one chance, and I think the point is to experiment and explore the potential of the human body/experience. I am just a lump of atoms, running around on some dirt, colliding into other lumps of atoms along the way. Meander, collide, meander some more, collide again. Some collisions are good, some bad, some are wrong place wrong time, some are right place right time. But my purpose is to explore potential, the potential that is: My “something” in this “body”.

When I think back on the things that felt good/fun/fulfilling/truth/destiny, it was always when I was searching for that edge in human capabilities. When I was in school and I was getting to the limit of what my brain could compute (I have a degree in Pure Mathematics and grad school was literally brain ironman on many occasions) I was like Wowah…this feels really fulfilling. Same with triathlon, testing the limits of my human form, and this last year using more mental tools, and tapping into my something to get more out of my physical body, I was like “there are some limits I’m finding here, and that process feels like what I was meant to do on this Earth.”

I am here, for this short duration, to experiment with the limits that come from the combination of my “something” and my body. I have explored math, I have explored triathlon, I’ve explored marriage, there are a lot of things left to explore and there is no check list. I am free and capable to explore any direction I want to. I can head towards art, towards music, towards making money, towards more physical outlets. I like the physical outlets. Those really speak to me, so I think I’ll keep heading in that direction for now. Anything on this planet is open for exploration, and I’m not going to get to all of it. I’m only going to get to the things that I want to. Oh Yea, and it’s supposed to be fun.

That’s another one of the “I thinks”…

I think it’s supposed to be fun and enjoyable. Yup. I think that.

Also. With this ah-hah, I had some clarity on being a mom. I started with “What’s my responsibility to my daughter?” It’s a special thing, at least I think it is, to birth a new life into this Earth. It’s cool beans, and it changed me, it changed my “something” big time. But, I also realize that I am just a something (right now she is called Sonja) with a 26 year head start on another something (whom I chose to call Annie). We are the same thing, and we have the same purpose on this planet: to experience the human form. I just get to help this little one, and we are the same, I just have a head start.

Coming to these conclusions has really stirred something deep inside me. Suddenly I feel like a sponge who wants to travel around the Earth picking up bit of color from all the unique places that are out there. Possibilities seem very open and at my core I feel grounded in the fact that I am here to explore potential. I want to taste all the foods, visit all the places, hear all the noises, smell all the smells, and also push this body to the limit while doing so.

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

– Hunter S Thompson

Le Poudre

Yesterday was one of the best all around days I’ve had in a long time. PIC Michelle and I went on a riding adventure. We headed out with Troy and Annie for SAG support and aimed for the Poudre River. It was so neat to go from point to point on a 4 hour ride. It was hot and we were overdressed so Annie was super busy handing out new bottles. The final 20 miles of our ride were downright nasty with multiple 12% grade climbs. We were in the middle of nowhere, it was super rad.

Annie trying to tell PIC where to go, and about to miss a bottle toss

It’s a great time to be in Colorado, warm temps this week in the 80s and yet the leaves are changing on the trees. I’m always amazed at all the great roads we have to ride around here and Buckhorn Canyon did not disappoint!

When PIC and I made it to the Poudre River we were pretty jazzed. We did our run off the bike down the canyon with the wide green/blue river rumbling over the rocks to our left. We even had to skirt through a tunnel dug out of the rock. It was an adventure.

The best thing about riding to a river is the post race ice bath. Never have I had an ice bath is such a serene, calm, blissful location. After the initial shock (and it was shocking) my legs numbed up and we just sat in the river…happy…contented.

It’s not the first time I’ve dragged Michelle into freezing cold water all in the name of icing our legs. I secretly have an obsession with really cold water. I love it!

At the end of this ride, I looked at Michelle and I said “We’re ready.” I think we are. As long as we continue to do the right things these next two weeks I think Chuckie has really guided us to putting the right work in. There is still the whole matter of execution, and it matters, a lot. However, I think I will have that pretty ironed out by the time race day rolls around.

After grub and dropping off Annie at grandparents house, and dropping PIC off at here car, I had a great surprise planned for Troy.

I had purchased (on the sly) tickets to TEDxBoulder. Sadly I can’t actually remember the last time Troy and I had a date night, but I knew he would love this since he watches TED videos all the time. Do you know abut TED?? If not, you have to watch some. After intermission he leaned over and whispered in my ear “this is the best gift I’ve ever been given” and my heart melted just a little bit.

I walked out of Mackey Auditorium 4 hours later inspired, uplifted, challenged, and excited. The speakers were amazing, stunning, and thought provoking. It was awesome, and we will go every year, hands down. It was great to see a spark in Troys blue eyes, to see a genuine smile on his face. Such a great night!

Now, go watch some TED and tell me what you think!

My Top 10 Tricks for Crunch Time

If you train for Ironman distance races (or maybe for your first half Ironman) there seems to be a tipping point in the training where if you don’t have your act together, things start to fall apart! A friend told me a couple weeks ago “Where I think you are strong is your ability to buckle down and execute when you need to.”

Ahh, if only she knew! It’s not necesarily my abilty to buckle down, but more my ability to plan and clear the schedule so that when training load turns upwards, I have space, and I have a plan. For me, this is all about: Stockpiling, and Planning.

Today I will share my top ten tricks for surviving crunch time. These aren’t year-round habits, although you may keep a few of them around. These are part of my master preparedness plan for success.

#10: Put your schedule on the fridge. Chuckie taught me this one. It seems like a little thing, but when you are in crunch time it’s surprising how easily you can forget the details of your workout. Stop checking training Peaks 100 times, just print that bad boy out and pin it up to the fridge. Chuckie sends us our work in email, sometimes PIC and I’s are combined, I print that too, so I know what she is doing and therefore what we can get together for. Chuckie often puts in tidbits of inspiration, so I like to have that visible too.

#9: Stockpile the inevitable. My mom used to say, always buy the biggest package of toilet paper, you’ll eventually go through it. Well run shoes, tire tubes, goggles, water bottles, gels, etc. These are all things we go through as an athlete. Buy 2 or 4 of everything and create your own tri shop in your closet. I have 4 pairs of goggles just waiting for me to wear out my current pair.

#8: Make laundry easy. I tend to send the laundry straight to the washer. You are doing more loads than the rest of the family so forget about the laundry basket, go straight to the washer, when it’s full, do the load. Embrace nudity between the laundry room and your bedroom, you’ve worked hard on your body!! Also, I did away with folding and putting away things. It’s all about bins. Run shorts bin, cycle shorts bin, sock bin, etc etc. It’s just going to end up right back in the washer, why waste the time to fold and put away? Sort and be done with it.

#7: Adopt he Food Purse. You may think it’s a purse, but hidden within are snacks/nutrition that I take with me everywhere I go. It doubles for a purse carrying my phone, camera, and wallet too. I always have a tupperware full of EFS and one with Ultragen in it as well. This thing is always full. For the ladies check out Sachi, for the dudes, maybe an Igloo or something will work for you?

#6: Get organics delivered to your door. I use Door to Door Organics and I am in love with their service. Just today they sent me a “local box” full of organic veggies that were locally sourced.

When fresh veggies are delivered to our door every week we eat them. Sometimes its all that is in our fridge. If you are in Colorado, the Kansas City area, Michigan,or the Chicago area check out their service. I find that food shopping is one of the first things to go out the door when training kicks up. Usually it gets replaced with eating out, and eating out means you tap your tri budget, you overeat, and you have no control over oil, fat, and sneaky cooking methods. When I get the box off the porch, I immediately pull everything out and cut it up for storage. The leafy greens all go in a HUGE tupperware in the fridge. If you eat your greens (which you should) you need a huge tupperware. They stay fresh this way.

#5: Stock the freezer: It’s amazing what $250 at Costco can do to your freezer. Before crunch time I do one big shop for protein that will last 8-10 weeks. I alert Troy that this is “training food” and needs to last and he helps me dole it out sparingly. I also get organic frozen berries for smoothies. Now, a stocked freezer, Door to Door organics, and a slightly stocked up pantry, and honestly, we don’t have to go to the store but once a week if that. This is just in crunch time mind you. Think of how free you would feel if you only had to visit the grocery store for a few little things once a week?

#4: Consistent charging center: We have iphones, ipods, garmins, heart rate straps, bike computers, cameras. Before I figured this out I was always forgetting a heart rate strap, or a garmin, or my garmin wasn’t charged. Now I plug it all into a power strip and it all gets put there every night. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to be functional, this is for crunch time…you can forget to charge your garmin in the off season.

#3: Make a list of success. Since I train in Boulder several days a week, I am always packing a bag for 2-3 workouts. I have one swim bag, and one bike/run bag. Chuckie suggested that we have a “Boulder bag” but that didn’t work for me since I was always stealing stuff from the bag. So I have a “Boulder list”. I go through it every time I pack for Boulder and don’t even think about it any more. It’s all on the list, and if I have it all, I will have a successful training day (next to the Boulder list is my travel race list). The list sits in my closet, so I pull everything from my bins and throw it in my bags.

#2: A plan a day keeps failure away. Every night before I go to bed I write out the next day in calendar form. This scrap of paper lives on the kitchen counter for all to see. I keep a separate scrap for “chores” that need doing. The beauty of the scrap is you can lay out the perfect day, and then when you wake up you just have to hit play. Last night Annie showed signs of a cold so Troy and I wrote up two plans, one for if she was sick and couldn’t go to camp, and another for if she was well. That way sickness wouldn’t get in the way of success. When we woke up, she was sick, I threw away one plan, and we launched into the other one.

#1: The answer is probably “no.” This one is the most important. If you are making all these preparations to simply life while the crunch is on, then the icing on the cake is learning the word “no.”  It’s time to chase your goals, it’s not time to be superwoman or superman, it’s time to get really good at one thing…training. When you have extra time use it to chill or prep food. Relax on the couch with feet up. Replace “let’s go to lunch” with “why don’t you bring me a healthy picnic lunch at the end of my run.” If your friends aren’t willing to do that, then….

But honestly, making the time to relax and not adding too much into my life is what has allowed me to train at a higher level. It’s my “not so fancy” way of eliminating stress (good stress, bad stress, any stress that isn’t training stress).

I hope you have pulled a few nuggets of wisdom out of this post, maybe you have some of your own tactics that you want to share? Feel free to post them in the comments. Happy training!!!

 

I’m Intense

I just am. I’m intense. When I do something, I go all in. I push all my chips forward and say “double down”. It’s not that I’m risky. I’m just intense.

So, in 2010 I unleashed my intensity on a rather daunting race schedule: 100 miler (because I wanted to) and 3 Ironmans. And when I qualified for Kona I focused (all) my intensity on training to do well there.


Nothing more intense than red Jellyfish! Annie, Mom and I viewed these at the San Francisco Academy of Sciences, can’t really tell that they are jellys, can you?.

After IMAZ I got really sick. I had warded off several colds towards the end of 2010 with Zicam, and Chuckie tea. So when I got sick after IMAZ I just let myself get sick. I said “Body, go to town, just get as sick as you want and I won’t even try to mask your symptoms, I will just let you do what you want for once”.

So I focused (intensely) my efforts into the couch. I didn’t really leave the couch. There were a few days I didn’t leave my parents house. Sometimes I went from couch, to hot tub, to bath tub, and back to couch. I was focused in my lack of activity. Thank goodness for grandparents to entertain Annie. Although we did get in lots of mommy/daughter snuggle time.


More cool jellys from the Academy of Sciences

By the time 10 days of that rolled around I was healed up and ready to delve into “the next thing”. Where could I heave my intensity into next? I totally knew what it would be.

FOOD! I love food. I love good food. By the end of last season I was getting very basic in the food department. Troy was doing a lot of dinner duty, and I was doing a lot of Whole Foods salad bar duty. I was craving good food. Being that it is the offseason, I am taking this opportunity to explore some aspects of FOOD that intrigue me. For once I’m not going to need to worry that my daily eating will impact my training adversely. I can explore for once.


Holiday Mixed Grain Pilaf with Red Chard from Rich Rolls cookbook Jai Seed

You may be thinking cookies, and baking here, but it’s quite the opposite. I love healthy, fresh, good, clean food. I’ve been intrigued by athletes like Rich Roll, and Scott Jurek who are bad asses and are vegan (even though I eat meat regularly). I’m intrigued by the term macrobiotic, and I don’t even really know what that means.


Deep Dish Greens with Millet Crust from Terry Walters book Clean Start

So, I’m taking the Type A, intense, individual that I am, and I doing some dabbling into food. So what if I don’t get “adequate protien” for a few days, so what if I don’t get all my B12 in. I’m learning the way I like to learn, which is “hands on”. I ask questions, I seek answers.

Seek first to understand.
-Stephen Covey

I really love learning new things. I like to broaden my horizons. I don’t like to make long term changes unless I am convinced that they are the right path, but I sure like to dabble, to learn, to get my hands dirty. I don’t pretend to know anything, I just endeavor to learn, to ask questions, that’s all.


Lemon Coconut Breakfast Bars from Julliemorris.net

So, this week I went plant based. It’s fun to monitor how I feel without trying to process the training stress along with it. It’s a bit easier to eat something and see if it’s enough, or not enough, makes me feel good, or not good when I’m not logging 22+ hours of swimbikerun. It’s a fun outlet, I’m learning things…like what “complete protein” means.

wikipedia: a source of protein that contains an adequate proportion of all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for the dietary needs of humans or other animals. Some incomplete protein sources may contain all essential amino acids, but a complete protein contains them in correct proportions for supporting biological functions in the human body.


Vegan Mashed potatoes, again from Jai Seed

The offseason is about lots of things, detraining being one of them. But I would hope that I can use my off-seasons to set myself up for good on-seasons without contributing to burn out. Food is a good start I think. Learning some new healthy recipes, learning more about nutrition, feeding my body some absolutely marvelous vegetables, those are all good things right now.

Oh, and lastly, I just signed up for Door to Door Organics and received my first box of veggies (delivered to my doorstep). Oh my goodness. I had signed up with them about 4 years ago for several months, and wow was I surprised at the quality of veggies this go around. They have really stepped up their game, and I was super duper jazzed to get my box on Friday. If you are interested (and live in Colorado) and want a referral email that is good for 50% off your first box, let me know. I’m not affiliated with them, it’s just something they let you do once you sign up.

Happy offseason, Happy eating, Happy learning!

Sacrifice

As my training for Kona is winding down, I’m having more and more time to think about the experience thus far. I saw Chrissie Wellington out training yesterday. She was coming down the hill I was about to head up and she gave us a shaka. She was bundled up all warm, just like me, and it suddenly hit me. She and I, we are both training for the biggest race of our lives. She and I will be floating up to the same starting line, looking at the same coral, biking the same road, and running identical stretches of molten hot Kona asphalt. She and I are dressed warm to prepare our bodies for the heat, and she and I both have 16 days to go.

Last year representing Team USA and traveling to Australia to compete in the Olympic Distance World Championships was really awesome, and Clearwater 70.3 World Championships was a spectacular experience for me as well. But this, this has blown that out of the water. Kona really is the big dance of triathlon, and just the experience of training for it in Boulder, amongst lots of professionals who are headed to the same event as their numero uno race of the year has taken on a whole new level of coolness for me. I know Kona comes around once a year, as does every other race, but this year I feel like I am “involved” and “included” in what really is triathlon’s biggest TO DO. It’s the race that defines our sport, and year after year, it’s the race that shows us the depth of the human condition, of man and womans ability to excel and also their ability to simply continue moving forward. And this year, I am a part of that, and I feel so lucky.

Last night Troy and I were talking about the concept of sacrifice and you know, I think the best athletes don’t really have this word in their vocabulary.

sac·ri·fice? ?
[sak-ruh-fahys] noun, verb

the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.

Troy said something very Yoda (as he often does). He said that with everything in his life whether it’s work, family, or personal he tries to not make sacrifices, instead he makes lifestyle changes. To sacrifice something means it’s gone, you are doing away with it, in order to chase something else. I asked him if he thinks things like “Let’s just get through Kona, and then….”. His answer was “no”. He said that he takes every week and tries to get through it in a way that is repeatable.

And I really do agree. It makes me sad to think that Kona will come and go and that it may mean that I don’t get to train like a pro on Wednesdays anymore. I love my Wednesdays, I love the level of work and fun that I put into the sport and the training right now. I’m not “getting through” every day, I’m loving every day, and wishing that every week could be like these last weeks have been.

It’s become my lifestyle and I don’t see the changes that have been made as sacrifices. It’s just been a shift. Like going from a 2 car family to a 1 car family. It’s not like we sacrificed a car. We just decided to do away with it, so life would be better. And that’s “better” in our little view of life, not meant to judge others in any way. Everyone has to find their own “better”.

Troy brought up the example of taking actuary exams (about the same amount of study time is spent studying for an actuary exam as is spent training for Kona, 20-30hrs/wk). He said he knows a couple who sacrificed their communication with each other for the exam studying. She took care of exerything and he studied. And the problem was, after the test was over, the communication was still gone. If you sacrifice important things in the short term for long term success, you might not be able to get those things back…ever.

So, I guess my point here is that being successful at triathlon, or test taking, or whatever, I’ve learned that it’s important to create a life, and to sacrifice nothing that you may want back later. The way I see it, do not put things on the back burner that you aren’t willing to burn. Find a way to have everything you want in your life on the front burners.

To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Pre

As Pre said, don’t sacrifice your gifts in life. Don’t put aside the relationships and financial security that you have built. Create a life that looks how you would like it to and put aside the word “sacrifice”.

Just some thoughts. 16 more days!

33 Day NO SUGAR Challenge

My friend Laurie over at “The Making of a Trophy Wife” blogged today about quitting sugar. I personally struggle with sugar and with indulgences, especially during training lulls, or stressful emotional times. When I am training extremely hard I tend to loose my appetite and don’t tend to indulge but when the volume decreases or the intensity is toned down I find myself hitting up sugar based desserts in the afternoon and evenings.

So, here it goes. Other than during training gels and bloks, no SUGAR…33 days.

I’m looking forward to the more even insulin levels, to the decrease in mood swings, and to the extra pep in my body. Not to mention the decrease in headaches that have started to become a little too common. How about you? Interested in joining me? You can do anything for 33 days right? Or…are you addicted too?

Here is a great blog about a lady who quit sugar for an entire year and blogged the entire way through called My Year Without Sugar.

Need another reason to join Laurie and I? How about here.

Beyond The Epic Run

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Last Thursday I attended a pre-screening of the soon to hit theaters “Beyond the Epic Run”. Annie had come down with the sickies, so Troy agreed to stay home with her while I went. I was calling all my friends last minute to get some company and was ecstatic when my good friend Laura agreed to ditch her hubby and her kiddo to come watch the movie with me. Totally last minute, what are good friends for?

We arrived about 15 minutes before the start of the film and were treated amazingly well by Jennings PR and Advertising. We were taken to meet Serge who completed the running in the film, and Oh my, he was quite the character. I asked him what advise he would give to anyone wanting to incorporate more adventure into their lives, he said that “You Just have to be willing to pay the price for your dream. I was willing to die for mine”. Serge didn’t die, and neither did his wife Nicole who followed him around the world for 25,000 miles on a motorcycle with all their gear.

Laura and I with Serge
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After meeting Serge we ran into Simon from www.runcolo.com. I absolutely love his blog and read it religiously. He also has a super cool race forum, and his site is generally really top-notch, you should check it out. We hadn’t met in person, but we kinda know a lot about each other because we stalk each others blogs, so it was great to sit with him and chat for awhile before the movie started.

The movie was a bit late to start, and I forgot to get some popcorn, but other than that it was a pretty awesome night. The filming for the movie was done by Nicole and so it’s a bit home movieish, with a few fun shots. The editor did a good job of piecing together the clips into a story. What was caught on film that was a learning experience for me was the contrast of the different people around the world. All the shots of the couple with the children of the world were awesome. Serge, although he is an awesome and amazing athlete took care of himself a lot better than some of the other Epic running films I have seen recently. Despite a diet of pasta, coke, and his pipe, he seemed to barely fluctuate in weight, kept a very toned physique, and seemed to maintain a level of balance that I have yet to see in such Epic Adventure films. It was refreshing. Less suffering, and more travel. Less about the miles every day, and more about the total miles covered.

At one point Nicole said, “this movie is about a fast runner and a very slow motorcyclist”. I loved that. The feat Nicole completed was no small task and rather than it being a film about a supported runner, it was very much a film about a couple that traveled the world, one on foot, one on motorcycle. They both supported each other. They both got Malaria (still battle with) and they both ended up hospitalized at one point. But, they would put the motorcycle in storage, heal up, and push on. It took them 5 years to cover 25,000 miles. What an epic journey.

The audience asked Serge (pronounced “Surge”) if he still runs? He said “Just about 3 times a week for good health and good attitude, I have other things I want to do with my life”. He is an alpine guide in the Swiss Alps, and they own a Breakfast Cafe. He was also asked about his mileage during the trip and he mentioned never running over 40 in one day, and taking the 7th day to rest and let his body recuperate. He had a sustainable attitude about the whole thing. This film was all in all quite refreshing, and reminded me that I too can chase my dreams…I just have to be willing to pay the price.

100 Thing Challenge…errr 500??

Have you heard of the 100 Thing Challenge? I was reading around on one of my new favorite blogs: ZenHabits, and was clicking on tons of different posts and somewhere in there I clicked over to a different blog called guynameddave and the 100 thing Challenge.

The general concept…can you limit your personal items to 100 things? The blog post author came up with his own set of rules…he’s married and so certain things he designated as community items. I read several of the posts out loud to Troy and he was ready to go. I barely finished reading and he was in his closet tossing out all sorts of things. He’s minimalist at heart.

I LOVE the idea, and then I got into my closet and the idea got a lot harder. Spring is here and it’s time for spring cleaning, and also time to reassess all the stuff I have accumulated in the last year. But…..I just procurred two new bikes.

So, here I am throwing things outside of the closet and all along I’m asking Troy “Can I count 2 bikes, helmet, bike shoes, bike tools, aerobars, bike pumps, CO2 cartridges, and spare tubs ALL as one thing?” He just laughed.

I have so many hobbies. I do triathlon, which is like 6 hobbies all in one: running, swimming, biking, ultra running, winter running, weight lifting. Then there is the skiing, the camping, the hiking, the rock climbing. I have a set of AT ski gear, two pairs of mountaineering boots, 3 pairs of gaiters, and 4 ice tools (ice ax for climbers). “TROY, can all these count as one item?”

Don’t forget the crafts…I sew, I crochet, I knit, I’ve dabbled in needlepoint and hemstitcing. From that comes copious amounts of yarn, fabric, batting, stuffing, thread, notions, and patterns. “Ahh, Troy, we have a problem”.

Books? Ekk. DVDs, and CDs, rah-roh.

BUT, thank goodness we are a low tech family. We don’t even have a TV. HAH!! I have not one, but TWO iPods, THREE if you count the iPhone. I’ve got 2 digital cameras, a broken GPS, and a SPOT transmitter, and an iMac, complete with a printer and all that comes with that. Oh yea, and Troy and I both have Nintendo Gameboys. Ooh, and don’t forget the portable DVD player. Yea, we are soooo low tech.

Man, I really want to do this 100 Thing Challenge. I just need to come up with the right rules so that I can keep all the stuff I want to keep. Well, I figured I had to start and maybe it would all just come together.

So, I started spewing stuff out of my closet. 4 hours later…

Our spare room is FULL of stuff that I am done with!

Suddenly, our house looks VERY clean (minus the spare room). My closet? Immaculate!

Did I get down to 100 things? Um no, did I get down to 500 things? Maybe. 1000? Definitely. I still have to do my final itemized list.

However, if you are looking for clothes, or craft supplies, or some electronics, It’s time to come over for tea. You can visit the spare room and go yard sale-ing…for free. In fact, need something? There is so much stuff I wanted to get rid of, but would rather give it to a good home, rather than just Goodwill it. So, if you’re in need, let me know!

Did Troy hit 100 things? With a few rules (clothes counts as 1, books count as 1, and collections count as 1), he hit it easy. Stinker.

Does this sound crazy to you? Could you do it? Would it make you feel relieved? Sad? Broke? Rich?

Core Concepts Sale

It just so happens that the same day I received my most recent Core Concepts order, they issued a fancy email with a 40% off sale on base layers. the coupon code for their online store is: BASE0209

I ordered the Firefly Long Sleeve in blue and it’s super cute.
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I have been drooling over the Full Tilt Zip Neck for some time, so I ordered myself up one in Plum. I love love love the off center zippered neck. It’s cute zipped up or down. The fit is really similar to the Cadence Hoodie.
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Lastly, I thought their Bamboo shirts were super adorable, so I grabbed the one with the fancy little bike on it.
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Interested in some Core layers for yourself? 40% off is pretty sweet, the online store is here, the coupon code is: BASE0209