Overwhelm….and the 90 Day Year


Looking for Todds 90DY videos and don’t want to scroll (links at bottom too)?

OW vs WOW Video  –  90 Day Engine Video  –  8 Phase Plan video  –  His field reports page


I had a melt down. In my therapists office.

Usually I arrive on time, ready to do some head work, explore my feelings, etc. But this Monday I walked in, sat down, and cried for about 50 minutes. The last 15 months I have had this interesting relationship with the concept of “overwhelm”. Everyone says starting a business is hard, that you will work a lot, and they are right. But it’s uncommon for people to really get down and nitty gritty with what happens when you have had too much. Well, let me tell you. For me, it starts with zero productivity. I will sit there just staring at things. My eyes glaze over, and then I feel anxiety or like my body is humming. I described it the other day as the bottom of a square. Then the waterworks. Tears, lots of tears. And picking fights with people, and reclusiveness, and a huge feeling of aloneness.

So, as I explore my relationship with overwhelm I start to see some trends, thank you therapy. First off, and thanks to my amazing soul sister and bizznass mentor Katie Den Ouden, she straight up told me my overwhelm is what I say I feel when I feel like shit and I don’t know why. When there is too much and I’m stuck and I can’t figure it all out…I call that overwhelm. It’s a placeholder for deeper under the surface crapola.

So, what’s under there….

1st – The first is my perfectionist gene.

This is a gene that we work on a lot in therapy. I grew up thinking that if I got perfect grades, ran fast, and was the daughter all my parents friends wished they had, that nobody would find fault with me. Nobody could criticize or put me down. Do you know me, have you met me? I’m nice as shit. I really am. I have like a huge page full of testimonials to prove it. And I care deeply about people. But to be honest, there is inner nice (me sometimes), and there is nice due to the fear of people seeing you as “not nice” (or as an elitist….a huge hot button for me). They are two different things. One is a hustle for approval (I call her the nice-hustler), the other is integrity (inner nice).

Of course when I’m nice or in nice-hustler mode, I still get criticism, and that can really feed the perfectionist in me. To this day, when I get feedback and criticism I respond in one of two ways….I let it go with compassion (inner nice girl coming out) or I tell myself I need to be more perfect (nice-hustler mode). And the truth is, all that feedback and criticism is actually kinda bull shit.

“Feedback and criticism doesn’t tell you about you, it tells you about the person giving the feedback”  -Tara Mohr

(PS This quote works for positive feedback too…it’s not really about me, more about what the person giving the praise values, you can read more in Taras book: Playing Big)

So I know all this in my noggin’, but when when I’m stressed it’s like my autopilot turns on, and I go right there, the hustle for nice comes out. Remember how sometimes the car just drives itself home when you are headed to Target…. like that!

When I have many things on my plate (as we all do) but I don’t move them off my plate because I am trying to man-handle the results (wrestle a large bear….the Revenant comes to mind) then OVERWHELM is the answer.

to move past it…. I have to repeat over and over

  1. “Punt that shit” <— a quote from my assistant which means ask others to do stuff for you, get tasks off your plate. Because the deep inner me values people and their contributions. The minute I hand something off to someone else I tend to love what they do with it. I love people, I love how they make things their own.

  2. “Perfect is the enemy of good”  <— truth bomb… repeat… repeat… repeat

2nd – Under there is my big fatty FEAR friend.

Ahh, I hate my darn fear friend. Here’s what my fear friend likes to scream “YOU ARE YOUR RESULTS” and he looks like this:

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(When I was little I called this guy the CREDIBLE hulk…..haha, makes me laugh every time)

I’m wicked afraid of failure. I think we all are to some extent, in our own way, kinda hard-wired for it, ya know? My major fear around failure is that of abandonment. I’m afraid if I don’t train my coach won’t want to work with me, if I fail as a coach my athletes will leave, if I fail as a business women both my athletes and my assistant coaches will leave, if I fail as a wife my husband will leave, or if I fail as a parent my daughter will leave me. Abandonment is a big one with me and so often when I am screaming “OVERWHELM” the deeper thing under the surface is that I think if I don’t do everything on my to do list I will let people down, and they will leave me. I attach results to relationships. And again, my brain knows thats dumb. My brain knows that relationships are built on how you treat people, your integrity, your ability to relate, etc. But as stress creeps up, and I want to let go of half the tasks in my life, and the first thing my brain screams is “The people…they will leave.”

The result is that in times of overwhelm I often neglect myself, feel like a slave to business, slave to training, slave to household chores, slave to others. Thank you big fatty FEAR friend.

(asshole)

To move past it….this is what I gotta throw down:

  1. “You are responsible for your results, but you are not them”  <— I remind myself I am responsible, I have power in this situation, they are not me, they are outcomes.

  2. “Put your oxygen mask on first” <— people can read self sacrifice on you in 2 seconds flat. We teach people how to treat us. bottom line.

3rd – I let my systems wall get breeched.

We all have systems in life. Routines, systems, trends, whatever… For a long time I was a self proclaimed hater of habit. Bleh. But what I have come to understand is that you have to be a hater of habit when you are in the mode of attending to everyone else’s needs before your own. They say business is the fastest path to self discovery, and it’s true, I’ve learned more about myself in the last 15 months than I had in eight years of triathlon. I realized very quickly that I needed systems in place to run a successful business, I learned that in month 3. I never even thought that way about the rest of my life because I spent it being an integral part of other peoples efficient systems. So I researched some systems, I picked one, and I threw myself head first into it.

In comes Todd Herman and the 90 day year.

I put his systems in place in my business, and then my training and home life got wrapped into it as well. Overwhelm comes up when I think  I’m good enough to leave the system. If I simply wake up, meditate, eat, plan my day, block and tackle, prioritize tasks, do the hard stuff first, and run on 90 day year cycle I have set up for myself via the 90DY, I chug chug chug away at life, training, business, etc. and overwhelm isn’t a part of my life. When my systems get breeched…  I get overwhelmed and then #1 and #2 start directing the lifetime mini-series. “Sonja…overwhelmed to death…. my life as a Lifetime movie”

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Todd is in the middle of his big June launch. He’s actually sharing so much of his content that I had to pay to see a year ago. I can’t imagine what he’s creating for us after the doors close, since he has already made public so much of what contributes to my current systems. Excite. If you want to watch, here:

OW vs WOW Video

90 Day Engine Video

8 Phase Plan video

His field reports page

I run my life, training, business, etc on 90 day cycles now. I even put together the most BADASS planner for myself to help. Todd’s work on “context switching” is one of the most rockin’ business educational pieces I have ever received. In July I head to New York City to work in a small group with Todd for 24 hours. It’s a different kind of endurance event!

So, what landed me crying in my therapist on Monday? I had let my systems go for a few days, was winging it, and running after all the little to dos in life. I was letting the finer details scream at my perfectionist gene and I was contemplating dropping out of my races this year because I don’t have time to train 25-30 hours a week any more. Seems silly when I write it, but when my fear and perfectionist minds are barking their heads off AND I ditch my systems, this is what results. At the end of that session we had quieted the perfection brain, it was already lighting up with things that I needed to punt and hadn’t. My fear brain was reminded of the very recent talk with Coach Muddy and how our relationship is more than coach athlete at this point. He’s a father figure, and a mentor whom I can lean on regardless of training hours.

And I came home, logged in to Trello (I heart you Trello) reprioritized my control panel (death to the to do list….I work with a control panel these days) and I got the heck on with things.

It’s not about the falling down, we are all falling down often, it’s about having the quickest and most efficient method to get back up. The fall is inevitable, but learning how to limit the time you are laying on the floor…that’s the secret sauce…

I’m a triathlete/entrepreneur…who knew?

Wow, what I ride I’ve been on this last year. So this triathlon blog has really taken a hit these last few years. It started as a mommy blog, then took a left turn into triathlon land, and Ironman! I think I said pretty much all there is to say about triathlon/Ironman over the years, maybe there are a few more nuggets in there that I can continue to explore, but yet again I find that my life has taken a turn.

I started a business a year ago! YAY Business! After 2014 and 2nd in Kona, Coach Muddy and I agreed that 2015 would be a no Kona year. I had been pushing my body really hard for 5 years and it was time for a break if we were going to go for the top spot on the podium.

The problem is, I don’t really know what a break is. I didn’t realize it at the time, that I was actually incapable of a true “break.” I heard “break” and thought about all the things on my bucket list that weren’t an option when I was chasing Kona. The first thing was starting an official coaching business. I actually wanted to start a business that built a mental skills training program (which I will do soon as part of RTTC), but as with business, ideas morph and change, they grow and double, and intertwine.

There were also things like Norseman and more 100 mile run races on the list too. I didn’t even dare ask muddy about a 100 miler! haha! I checked off Norseman last year, it was a wild experience, as you might have read about here. I had a magical day at Ironman Lake Tahoe and an awesome sufferfest at Ironman Los Cabos. All really cool experiences on less training than I was used to (but apparently enough..who knew?). I really had to rely on my wisdom!

I got a few of those bucket list items checked off, but really, something else emerged, a passion, a passion for business… yea, it shocked me too! I don’t have a single entrepreneur in my family that I know of. I come from a long line of people with jobs. Educations, and jobs. Not businesses. I had no idea what I was doing.

Starting a business has been a challenge like nothing I have ever been through, in the best of ways. Granted, I have gained some weight (insulation) and a year later I’m just now starting to get a handle on how to train and be an entrepreneur at the same time (a true lesson in self compassion) but wow have I learned so much, and here’s what I realized… I love business! I really love the business aspect of the coaching world. I love interacting with other business owners, especially in the coaching space (whether it’s life coaching, nutrition coaching, or sports coaching) and I really enjoy Vanilla Flavored Tootsie Rolls putting the pieces of a new business together (sorry, my mind wandered there…squirrel…), the products, the systems, the social media, the value adds, all that wild stuff.

So I look at this blog and I think…. does anyone want to hear about the triathlete turned entrepreneur? Are there other triathlete/entrepreneurs out there who are juggling similar balls? (Where are you friends, I need you) Are they still training at a high level? Most people I have talked to say it’s not really possible, but I’ve never listened to the “not possibles.” I love this sport so much and really don’t want it to take a back seat in my life.

Another thing I know, my new coaching company Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching, has the best atheltes. Sorry folks, it’s true, in one short year this tribe has amazed the heck out of me. And when I sit back and think that it wouldn’t actually be a TRIBE if I hadn’t stepped off the safe and manageable ledge, I get pretty proud. As I step more and more out of a one on one coaching and move into creating systems and training for new atheltes and new coaches the RTTC atheltes have supported our wonky little business (not actually wonky or little) tirelessly. Have I been in over my head at times? Absolutely. Have I worked my way out of it? Every Time! Yes, I pulled some all nighters, and yes I crashed two computers along the way, but hey, go big or go home!

So, if you all are game (and if not, you can just quietly float on to the next blog) for me transitioning this blog as my life has yet again transitioned, well, I would like to continue being vulnerable out there on the internet…and continue telling it like it really is. After all, I have always had the heart of a teacher, and there is just too many great ahh-hahs these days that I want to share.

One year in this business and here’s what I can say. This shit is hard, it’s really hard, and just like training for an Ironman, it’s really awesome too. The work is never ending, it requires a boatload of ACTION. Unlike training for Ironman where you go do the workouts on the training plan and then you are DONE, and can go relax, in business the workouts never end! You have to chunk it up for yourself, and that’s HARD!

I hope this blog can still provide some laughs and maybe some poop stories too…you all seem to love those! I’m headed back to Kona again this year, and I honestly have NO IDEA how I’m going to get in good enough shape to compete there, but I will tell you this, I have faith.

Faith in myself, faith in my tribe and my support network, and faith that I can figure shit out. I’m still learning, and I know that this year will deliver some hefty lessons (I’m going to fall on my face more than a few times), but I’m more excited and alive than I have ever been!

Onwards…

P.S. Why oh why do we not have a female triathlon coaches symposium, or association, or at least a flipping webinar series?? Am I right?

Complete Blog Failure

Much like my training this season so far, my blog had a MAJOR meltdown in the beginning of 2016. It all started a month or so ago when I decided it could use a redesign. The old template had seen better days and I needed a new look to get inspired to start writing again. I hired someone at first, that didn’t work out in the slightest. I put together my own redesign and was pleasantly happy.

Then one day WordPress asked me to update to the newest WordPress software. My blog is hosted through BlueHost, and I clicked the button to update, like I have done for 6 years now, and it took down my blog (first time in 10 years). Like total system failure, I couldn’t even log into my blog dashboard. It was GONE. And I had just posted about Grandpa Joe, our new, awesome, really old, runs great, burgundy Volvo.

I begged my Rising Tide website design team to help me get my blog back going and in a few hours they had it back up. Except my last back up was back in early January, pre redesign, pre Grandpa Joe post. But the blog was not dead so I was happy.

On my (really long) to do list was the task to redesign the blog again, and oh yea, figure out how to update the WordPress software that crashed everything in the first place. But, I had massive coaching work and a trip to Costa Rica planned. So I couched it.

Fast forward to today. I get an email from Bluehost that they are deactivating my site due to a Terms of Service Violation and something about my site causing performance problems. It was a very scary email and my site was down (second time in 10 years).  I call customer service, wait for 38 minutes for my call to be taken and I find out that my spam comments are taking up too much server time, so they took me down. He runs some code, deletes my pending comments and I’m back up and running.  He also upsells me into purchasing my own server space rather than sharing like I have been, something about speed, Site Lock, and this Backup PRO product that will help me …I fork over the CC.

I get logged in to see what’s up and over the course of an hour I figure out that ever since the first time my blog went down about 14 days ago, I have been getting 2,000 spam comments a day, and my blog has been approving them rather than marking them as spam. Even though my spam plugins are activated….literally there are 21,000 brand new spam comments all over my blog…watches, porn, viagra, seo optimization, handbags, you name it!

I start the process of hand deleting the comments, 100 at a time, any more and my blog crashes. The backup PRO software I purchased from Bluehost doesn’t seem to be working so I call customer service again. 58 minutes of hold time and I’m connected. Because I now have my own server space the Backup PRO app thingee doesn’t work, so I have to do a manual backup and if I need to restore from the backup, I have to call customer service, that’s what I’m told. I make a backup.

I continue to delete the comments until they are all gone, 3 hours later. I update all my plugins, delete all the excess themes, make sure everything is ship shape, and I go make another backup of my blog…manually. I now push the dreaded button to update the WordPress version, and boom, white screen of death, blog completely wiped again, dashboard gone, blog gone.

I call customer service to restore the backup. On hold for 49 minutes, but the dude I get is good. He restores my blog, it works and none of the evil deleted comments come back. We deactivate all plugins, and change my blog to a generic “can’t go wrong” template. We hit the WordPress update button (AKA the button of death) AND IT WORKS. I cry a little tear. Then we change my blog back to my template and it crashes. So, I figure out that my tried and true, old, trustworthy template is now an out of date, not maintained, POC. I stay with the generic template while we update every plugin and reactivate every plug in. Ahhh, it works.

Then the customer service rep transfers me to billing to get the charge removed for the Backup PRO I got upsold, 24 minutes later I get a guy who is actually “contract breaches” not “billing” so he transfers me to billing, more holding and 29 minutes later I get billing, who reverses the charge in about 22 seconds.

After that I sit down and redesign my blog, it’s easier because I find the template I used before the initial crash and am able to get it back going again with some enhancements….like the fancy rolling sponsor area, and my favorite font Montserrat. Mmmmm, I heart Montserrat.

So, all in all, I learned tons, cried a few times, banged my head on the table, got a headache (no connection there), spent about 3+ hours on hold with Bluehost (seems a bit uncool), lost an entire day of work productivity (I’m so sorry athletes), AND didn’t train. BUT, I have a blog that is up and running. It’s on current software, it’s happy, spam comment free (for now), new designed template, and ready for some serious words to get thrown down.

Whew!

 

 

Emotional, Smart and Creative

Untitled design (1)This week has been a whirlwind. Lots of leaps of faith taken this week. We launched IronTide and now have 14 (yes I couldn’t figure out how to close at 10 people and watched the registrations flow in as I was figuring out how to close it). It’s closed now, and I think the universe had my back because each of the last 4 people are people I need in my life! Who knew?

Troy is traveling for work this week and I don’t know about you if you are married, but sometimes we have the best conversations on the phone. We chat like we are teenagers. I was telling him about the success we had with launching IronTide and he was telling me about some recent work successes. We were discussing our differences in personality. See, Troy and I started our relationship off in the same room. We were both incoming PhD students in Mathematics at CU..neither of us got PhDs. It’s a really hard long process and neither of us cut it quite frankly! Our first few years we learned a lot about each others learning and working styles as we attended the same graduate classes, shared an office, and TAed calculus together. Troy and I would do mathematical proofs and I would work them from one end, and he would work them from the opposite direction. We literally would come to the same conclusions from opposite directions. It was almost frustrating at the time because we could hardly follow each others logic.

When we got into the job market, Troy soared. He is cool calm collected, professional, smart, creative. I was energetic, emotional, connected, smart and creative. I remember getting an evaluation at one of my jobs and it was one of those 360 degree things where everybody talks about you from their point of view. I remember sitting in the back yard reading that thing with tears streaming down my face as I got chastised and criticized for being too emotional. The smart and the creative, either I wasn’t showing it, or they weren’t seeing it. All they said was emotional, emotional, emotional.

I remember a few months prior to that evaluation sitting in a meeting where one of the bosses was going to town on one of the other individuals in the meeting. It was heated, and heavy, and the tension was thick. The individual getting it handed to her started crying and because she started crying I did too. I’m an empathetic cryer. I knew that was going to come back and bite me.

I never recovered from that evaluation. I left the job not long after to a job I could do easily, got pregnant with Annie and nine months later had Annie and didn’t go back to work, never to return. I definitely felt like I left corporate America looking like a dog with her tail between her legs. Just too emotional.

Why am I telling this story? Well, today when I was discussing what I have built in Rising Tide, the behind the scenes stuff, Troy sat there, listened, and said….you are so smart and creative.

And a lightbulb went off.

Coaching is the one place I have found where first and foremost I must use my emotional strength. Being invested and caring, showing empathy, being in someones corner, being concerned with how athletes are feeling through the process, that’s my superpower. It really is. I love it, and it’s that same power that was shot down and criticized in that consulting position. Yes, I might not have harnessed it the best back then, but this is where a little nurture could have created an asset for my previous employer.

Here’s the kicker though, with the emotional side of me FINALLY at work, I’ve been able to bring out the smart and creative side. It’s like it was only possible when I was fully able to lean into my superpower.

The other Ahh-hah I had was that it was hard for me to know what I was really meant to build and create for my life when I had a lot of people telling me what I should do. I am sensitive to external expectations, VERY sensitive. When I was busy trying to fulfill other peoples agendas, there was no way I could soul search enough to figure out my own agenda. This year has really been all about that. What do I want to build and create, who do I want to share knowledge with, and what needs to happen for me to answer those questions?

I’m thankful to finally feel like I am on my own path. It’s hard, I choose it that way, but it’s worth it and I feel like it’s taking everything I’ve got…in a good way!

Thank you to the amazing, talented athletes that have joined my RTTC family this week, and also to the athletes that have been with me for the RIDE.

From here…we keep truckin’!!

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Norseman Final Thoughts

The Norseman Video for 2105 that the race puts on has come out. I’m in it, at the beginning talking, and then also at the end crying with Andrew.

I knew I wanted to write one final post on Norseman, but man, I knew it was going to hurt. Maybe not so much for you, but definitely for me.

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Before I get into that, some gratitude is in order. My sponsors this year have been terrific. Liz and James at Tribella helped me out in such a huge way for this race. James completely overhauled my bike, changing out both cassettes, installing lights, and dealing with new wheel sets, only to change everything back a few weeks after the race. It was a huge amount of work. Also, not a sponsor, but equally as helpful was Mo Zornes. Coeur is still in process for developing true blue cold weather gear but Hincapie has a full line and Mo got me set up with a full set of cold weather gear, and sublimated Coeur logos everywhere so I could rep my beautiful sponsor with my printed t-shirts. Thank you Mo with Hincapie! QR got me a bigger size frame this year which I am so very thankful for! Osmo and Honey Stinger have made nutrition decisions second nature and my gut is happy. Who can ask for more? And lastly, I need to thank YAY, for reminding me constantly why I am in this sport….unbridled enthusiasm!

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My deepest gratitude goes to my husband Troy, daughter Annie, and my good friends Laura and Andrew. They really made this race happen for me. I wouldn’t have a black shirt without all four of them and I am deeply grateful for that black shirt. My whole team deserves that shirt. Also a huge thank you to Muddy and to Andrea who have been there for me this year like no other.

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Okay, the nitty gritty. Lets do this.

People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses”

— Brene Brown (Rising Strong)

Reading this quote this morning is what made me put my book down, turn on my computer, and begin to crank this post out. It’s been rolling around in my head without the guts to get it out. Hopefully I’ve inserted enough cute pictures…my go to when talking about stuff that scares me.

A few things have been going on in my life the last 9 months. I’ve been in the trenches of life. I’ve lost relationships this last year, and it F*&$%ing hurts every day. I’m an outgoing social girl by nature, and I care deeply for the health and happiness of those around me. The loss of close relationships has beaten the shit out of me.

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And over this year as I tried to work through the changes, I also started Rising Tide Triathlon Coaching. I’m sure it comes as no surprise to know that I love coaching others in the sport. I wanted to use this down year in sport to build a new business, with a new framework, and to move beyond one on one coaching the 12 athletes I have stuck to for the past few years. I needed to bring on help, lots of help, and Audra, Andrea, Mikki, Mo, and KDO, etc have really risen to the occasion, I thank them daily!

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When I look back on the last 9 months, I feel like I have done zero work, and boatloads of work, all at once. I feel like I have little to show, and yet, I know the invisible structures that needed to be built are there. A strong business has a strong foundation, and I’ve worked hard on that this year so that rolling out flashy products over the next few months is now becoming possible. Yay.

As I was building my biz, I was training for this big Norwegian race and I was at odds with myself. I could not for the life of me figure out how to find balance between training and working my business, something I ask every single one of my athletes to do on a daily basis. I could not live what I preached and I was really down on myself over that fact. In recent weeks I have started to see some success on this front, after having tried about 5 different daily plans. I must say, to those of you with family, full time jobs, or your own businesses, and triathlon lifestyles, I am deeply bowing down to you….deep bow.

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Through this time period, everyone was asking me what I was training for and I found myself telling them about Norseman, how hard it was, how much climbing, how cold the water was, etc. I called it the hardest single day Ironman in the world.

As the race got closer and I went to San Jose to train for several weeks, I was a mess. Frankly, I had lost a boatload of fitness, in my mind. Now, coach got me back in a good place for Vineman and I surprised myself there, but I continued to reinforce the feeling that I wasn’t fit enough for Norseman. I didn’t really even know how much fitness I needed for Norseman, it’s not like I had completed the race in the past, but I was still at odds with myself on the fitness front.

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So, with that background laid out, here’s where the shit gets real.

I found out 10 days after Norseman, when I finally was able to make it to the doctor in the states (try finding a doctor in Norway….impossible…we tried) that I had pneumonia and two sinus infections. Now, I didn’t race with the sinus infections, those developed after the race, but I did race Norseman with pneumonia. It took me a month to recover from having done so, and the weeks after the race were pretty rough. I pretty much emotionally lost my marbles in the most gorgeous country in the world.

As I processed what happened, I realized a few pretty shitty things.

One, I spent a lot of time telling people how hard it was going to be. Two, I believed deep in my heart, despite what came out my mouth, that I couldn’t compete at the top.

And a quick aside about that. I had this ahh-hah the other day. Whenever you are placed in a situation of vulnerability you always have deeply held beliefs about your capabilities. You know, in the SOUL, what you feel deep down? And often times, what comes out our mouth is different than those deep beliefs. Example: I can feel confident in my soul and then chose to say “I feel confident” or I can oppose that confidence and do some posturing like “Oh, we’ll see how it goes, it might be ugly.” Right? So sometimes our soul is in alignment with our mouth, and sometimes they are in opposition. Sometimes we use the mouth to try to convince our soul to believe something different.

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I had this going on with Norseman. When people asked me, my words were “I’m going to try to win” but my soul was in the opposite place, it didn’t think I could compete at the top with the training I had done (or failed to do).

So my Ahh-hah the other day was that the SOUL ALWAYS WINS and your words can either help it out, or they can simply represent bullshit. Words in misalignment with the soul are bullshit. Sometimes we call it humble, or sandbagging. Really, it’s misalignment. The soul doesn’t lie, and I’m telling you now, what I deeply believe, is the outcome I seem to get….every darn time.

So, getting back to the main subject here, and the telling of the truth about my story, here’s where I got to in the end.

I’m not this badass (or stupid girl as some have told me) who raced Norseman with pneumonia. It’s not unfortunate, or bad luck, or the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. It’s not something to be commended, or added onto the race with an *.

I got exactly what I believed I deserved. I put into the universe, at a soul level, two things: ONE that it was going to be the hardest single day event of my life, and TWO that I couldn’t compete with those at the top. And low and behold the universe gifted me pneumonia which made the race: ONE the hardest single day event of my life, and TWO rendered me unable to compete with the girls at the top.

I flipping upper limited myself with my thoughts, and the way life works, I got exactly what I put out there. I’m not a girl who got pneumonia and raced anyway. I’m a girl who gave herself pneumonia because she was too scared to surrender to what the experience had to offer her.

And you know, getting down to that nitty gritty…sucked.

To realize that I brought that miserable experience on myself, and that if I had only remained open (in my soul) to many different outcomes, and many different possibilities, maybe the race day and experience would have looked very different, well, I kick myself over that one. Opportunity missed.

Going forward, I learned a big lesson here. I take with me the reminder to be very mindful of my deep beliefs. To guard and nurture those beliefs like my life (and my life experiences) depend on it, because they do. It took a really hard and tough experience to net me that nugget of awesomeness, but I won’t waste it. It was hard fought for.

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And with that huge chunk of vulnerability on a Friday morning…I’m going to go swimming in Lake Tahoe to shake it all off! Peace out friends!

Clutching the Compass

This week I was reminded of a major tenant I have in life which is:

Don’t Clutch the Compass.

Until recently I didn’t have a name for this, but thanks to the eloquent Katie Den Ouden I now have a handy phrase.

I find myself doing this and I see it in my athletes all the time, so I thought I would share.

We all know the value of having a large goal out there in the future, the BHAG! The goal, the destination, the point of arrival, it matters. We all have them whether we say them out loud or not. I’m talking about the: win my age group, qualify for kona, win kona, make partner, land a big client, finish a memoir, make a million dollars, coach 200 athletes, kind of goals. Having that destination gives purpose and motivation to the daily tasks. It’s exciting, and challenging!

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Thank you Scrivle for that gem!

But there is a double edge sword here. On one hand, I love watching my athletes set a huge goal like nabbing a PR in a race, or qualifying for the big dance in Kona and then attaining that goal! So sweet! On the other hand I have watched people not hit their goals and get frustrated and down on themselves when they were actually making great progress. Goals are a double edge sword.

The way to ride the edge of the sword when it comes to Big Hairy Audacious Goals is to remember: “Don’t Clutch the Compass.” What this means is that you want to put your goal in your minds eye, and you want to keep the awareness that this is where you want to land.

Then you want to let go of how you are going to get there.

You want to remove dependence on the WAY and PROCESS that you take to get there, I also suggest putting yourself in the hands of a capable coach to craft the program, if it’s athletic!  Every once in awhile you want to dig out the compass and take a bearing and check in to make sure you are still heading in the right direction towards your goal. But what you want to stay away from is obsessively checking the compass every step of the way to make sure you never head a single inch off path.

I see this happen all the time with athletes. They are so fixated on the end point, the perfect path to take, the power, the heart rate, the aligning every one of life’s details to add up to the ultimate personal success where rainbows abound, puppies are everywhere, and the Sound Of Music theme song is playing.

They clutch the compass in their hand, tapping on it every so often, and all the while, life and scenery, and the big picture is flying on by.

I see this in a few different ways:

  • Many athletes constantly look at every training session as a litmus test to prove to themselves that they are on track towards their goals. When a session went poorly, they see it as being off path. This is clutching the compass. 
  • Many athletes refuse to diverge in any way shape or form from the most direct path to the goal. Sometimes going around a mountain is better than the direct path that leads up and over. This is clutching the compass.
  • Most athletes who are chasing a BHAG utterly refuse to take a purposeful diversion off path just for the joy of it. They walk right past something amazing that would add to their life story because they are too focused on arriving. This is clutching the compass.

I have so been here. I see it in my training, and I see it in the ways I’ve chosen to grow my business. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed in the details…ahhh the about me page of the website is all messed up…when in reality, I’m here to help people cross the Ironman finish lines. The about me page is small beans, don’t clutch the compass Sonja.

What I’ve learned through Ironman racing is that attaining the BHAG is really pretty cool, for about 48 hours. But what you will look back on in life and smile about, are the times that you put the compass in your pocket. The times where you took a bearing and headed off west, in search of yourself, and experiences that would take you one step closer to learning valuable lessons. Keeping a relaxed attitude and checking the compass only every so often feels really scary at first if you have any of the TypeA blood in you, but I promise that after a few dances with success you will start to feel more comfortable. If you don’t put down the compass, and look around, you won’t get any practice, and you’ll just hang onto that thing like Tom Cruise in Castaway with Wilson.

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Don’t Clutch the Compass!

Or better yet, hire a travel guide, and enjoy the scenery!

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How do you bake your cake?

You know when you hear a reference or a certain quote twice in a short period of time? Oh, coincidence. Ha! I think not…the universe speaking up is what I say.

Yesterday I was in Book Club and we are reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown which I read a few years back. It’s interesting to pick up a book like this again, I’m reading it with a completely different lens. At the beginning of book club we do a clearing. It’s a time where we go around the circle and give everyone the chance to spew about what’s impacting them on that day so that we can discuss the books content with a clear mind.

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I was 15 minutes late to book club that day. I hate being late. My inner perfectionist has an absolute conniption fit when I’m late. If I know I’m going to be late and I’m driving somewhere, I will stress and have anxiety the entire drive. I’m constantly worried while driving that I’m going to be late, even when I’m early. It’s not unlike me to call someone I’m meeting to let them know I’m going to be late, only to arrive right on time.

Well, I was late, so I was feeling very rushed and behind. When it came to my time for clearing, I just offloaded how overwhelmed I feel these days. I’m used to training for big races, I’ve done that for years. And I’m used to coaching my monthly one-on-one athletes. At times those two things, plus being wife and mom, really fill up my life. Well, throwing in my new coaching company RTTC has really taken things to a new level. I’m delivering much more content to my athletes these days and really stepping up the communication factor with them. At the same time I’m developing a new coaching product called IronTide which I’m totally jazzed about, but holy moly, it’s so much work.

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The nice thing about book club is that we are all trained to hold space for each other. This means nobody jumps in to solve my problems, they just listen, nod, and ask questions that might help me get to the bottom of what I’m experiencing and how I feel about it. It’s a really safe place to open up. Their questions and dialogue helped me to really drill down further.

” One of the most universal numbing strategies is what I call crazy-busy. I often say that when they start having twelve-step meetings for busy-aholics, they’ll need to rent out football stadiums. We are a culture of people who’ve bought into the idea that if we stay busy enough, the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us”          —Brene Brown

My entire clearing could be summed up as crazy-busy but my next question is “what if you are crazy-busy because your life is so full of everything you want in it?” I’m not numbing, I’m trying to SLAY LIFE. Is filling my life with what I want in there helping me to not deal with some of the hard bits? I guess, yes, but I often tell Troy “I’m overwhelmed by the awesomeness of my life.”

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Discussing that with book club and bouncing these ideas back and forth I came up with this: I think this stuff is like a recipe. Baking a cake shall we say. I have the right ingredients sitting on my counter. I’ve worked really hard to realize that I don’t need hot peppers or spinach in my cake. I put those back in the fridge. I’m looking at all the right stuff in front of me. But, I don’t have the ratios right yet. My cake still has a bit too much flour, it’s missing an egg, and I don’t quite have the baking soda, baking powder thing down because it’s either flat, or over-puffed.

This was such an ahh-hah. You can have the right stuff in your life and still feel out of alignment, out of whack, overwhelmed, anxious, and ready to throw in the towel. At times I just want to clear all the ingredients off the counter with one swift act of aggression.

 

Today I saw this tweet from Mary Beth Ellis that made me realize I had to post this blog because it adds another layer (pun intended) to the situation.

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Ahhhh, another cake analogy!

As I seek to get the ratios correct in my life recipe, I’m still looking at yet another obstacle, and that’s temperature and time. I can get all the right ingredients, and get them all in the right amounts and then the oven is too high, or too low, and I can leave that cake in for too long, to take it out too early, thus rushing or stalling the process. The possible pitfalls are endless, but thinking about things this way I started to get a little clarity.

This is life. LIFE IS NOW. It takes constant evaluation. If you wake up every day and endeavor to make the best cake you can, after some fixed amount of time you will probobly have a darn nice cake on your hands. If you however wake up every day, go into the kitchen, throw some ingredients in a pan, with little regard to what you intend, then the likelihood that you will end up with a cake in the end is slim, much less a tasty cake.

It comes down to knowing what kind of cake you want to bake, and waking up every day with that goal in mind. But then backing up enough to know that there are a lot of moving parts to success and it’s a constant experiment. It’s also about trying something, and then looking back and writing down the lessons learned and tweaking from there the next day.

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I realized I’m frustrated and overwhelmed because I wake up in the morning, get out all the right ingredients, put them together in ratios that I think is right, pop it in an oven that I think is the right temp, and my cake comes out a mess most the time. That piece of reflection from day to day is missing for me. I’m waking up the next day, and trying a different mix of ingredients, a different oven temp, and getting a different type of crappy cake. Where I am missing the mark is getting deliberate with what ingredients are too much, what are too little, and incorporating MINOR tweaks so that I can really see the outcome of those tweaks.

This requires a deliberate assessment of the now. What’s in, what’s out? What is the current ratio? Getting real with now is the first step before I can start experimenting in a deliberate and calculated way. And we aren’t talking about a cake, we are talking about life, and the difference between thriving and spinning my wheels. It’s not an easy assessment, but I think having my newly developed cake analogy is going to help me put some processes into action.

I’m wondering if this resonates with any other athletes who are balancing jobs, training, families, etc? What happens when you toss in an extra ingredient? Does your cake get all gross for awhile?

#girlscamp

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After the Coast Ride #girlscamp began! This was a first for Muddy, but last year I sensed that his girls would really like to get to know each other more, and I was excited to incorporate some of my girls into the group as well. Three of my athletes: Mikki, Ellen, and Mo attended. Mikki and Ellen did the Coast Ride so they were a little tired. Getting the spark of Mo on Wednesday was much needed! Coeur also helped me get “girl kits” made for the Muddy gals since his kits are kinda dude like. The ladies were so excited to pick up their kits. We kept it simple with a heart with ML in it for “Muddy Love.”  If you know Muddy at all, you know he’s all positivity. I can’t wait to see the ladies racing around in them this year!

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Camp started off Tuesday morning with a 5K on the “dirt track.” This is the track that Muddy and I come to when I’m in town and it’s a special place. It’s not a nice track, there are holes in it, and it’s a good symbol for just getting the work done! I have been recovering from a knee injury so I ran one mile during cool down and then coached. This was really cool for me, to be coach instead of athlete. It took a little getting used to and it wasn’t until the end of the week that Muddy and I were better able to say “coach this workout” and “be an athlete during this workout.” It’s all just part of the learning process when you are coach/athlete and trying to balance that in a camp situation where I can’t just afford to not train for 5 days. A delicate balance!

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Watching the girls have so much heart during that 5K was inspiring. Brynje is just a gazelle and Eileen was 2 minutes faster this year. Rock on! Any sadness I might have had due to not participating was quickly replaced with the joy of watching their fierceness!

Tuesday after the 5K we swam at the fun pool and worked on drills and stroke and “pulling more water!” Everyone was ready for bed that evening!

Wednesday was a sleep in morning and then swimming and doing a coached spin class that evening at La Dolce Velo bike shop. What a great group! Muddy coaches spin on Wednesday evenings and it was a blast. I love sessions like this with a focus on form and strength building, so important!

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Thursday was such an exciting day. All the girls got to run up Sierra Road! This is a 3.6 mile climb that is super super steep. We ran over there, that was 4.75 miles and I ran with the girls. This was my longest run in a month and I felt like an uncoordinated hippo but I was running and that made me so happy! Then I got in the truck while everyone else SLAYED Sierra Road. It was really cool to see Mikki come alive on this run. She’s a pretty stoic girl and this was the run where she just let loose and let her heart sing.

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It was visible and made me smile from ear to ear! I hopped out of the truck and ran home another 4.75 miles with everyone after Sierra because I just wanted to hear the stories of the experience. The two hour swim that evening was hard but everyone just kept swimming and remembered what the end of an ironman swim feels like! There were some great surprise performances on that big hill by Mary and Jenesse (our resident Aussie), these ladies have FIGHT!

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Friday was a big day as we climbed Mt.Hamilton on our bikes. We did this after an all out swim set that had everyone on the ropes at one point or another. Afterwards they ran off the bike, but my knee was sore from 9.5 the previous day so I was benched. It’s all good. I loved that Mikki ran her 20 minutes and then Mo came in off the bike and she ran Mos 20 minutes with her too. The girls were just so supportive of each other!

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Hamilton was where Ellen really shined. She had me on the ropes the whole climb and just motored hard core up that thing. I was really proud of my little skipper! It was cool from a coaching perspective to see how each athlete coped with the fatigue of the week, some wound up, finally relaxing into the work, and others got increasingly tired as the week went on. I think it’s really important to get yourself into these sorts of environments as an athlete so that you can learn more about yourself. As a coach, this kind of time with my athletes is priceless. I eat it up! I also loved getting to know Mary T better. She is coached by Muddy and this was the first time we have spent time together.

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The top of Mt.Ham is always worth the climb, the view does not disappoint. It was great having Muddy there running SAG support. We could not have done this without him.

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The final day of camp was long run day and this was something I knew everyone was dreading. The legs are tired, the body is tired, the mind is tired, and long runs are always a little bit of an unknown. Then throw in an unknown environment and that adds to the stress, but boy did the ladies step up. Mikki and Mo ran less because they were doing a trail race the next day (that report is up next). I ran 4 miles and was totally stoked to have no pain during or after. My favorite part was biking with the girls during the last half of their run. I really learned a lot about Ellen as a runner, and I have great ideas of how to get the most out of her in future races. Brynje and Deirdre just cruised!

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Everyone left camp happy, tired, ready to eat for three days and with some new lessons learned. Huge thanks to Muddy for recognizing the value of community among women. He has some great ladies in his stable and I feel thankful to have gotten to know them through the years! Again, I’m just continually inspired by women who show up fully present, ready to train hard and to push their previous boundaries. #girlscamp was a safe and supportive place to do that!

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

Stars

This last Saturday…well yesterday, I helped Erich during the Leadville 100 by pacing him from mile 50 to 72.5. Some might ask what pacing is? In fact, when I joined Erich at mile 50, this being his first 100 miler, he was like “I’ve never had a pacer, I don’t know what I need”. Hahah! Luckily I have done a 100 miler (4+ years ago…sad) and paced (2 years ago…Emily at Leadville…happy), so you know, I’m an expert (not). According to me, a pacer is just someone who runs with you during the hard parts, keeps you eating, drinking, moving, and mildly entertained. They are just a “more” sane person along for the ride and usually trot along beside or behind you. When I did Moab 100, they were my saviors. Michelle, Tony, and Keith still have a special place in my heart from that one day.

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Running along with Erich, he was doing very well. He is somewhat of a glutton for punishment and I asked him at one point why he was doing this race. He said that he searched out all the hardest endurance races in the world, made a list, and is going about doing them. What a man after my own heart. So he had done the Leadville 100 mountain bike the weekend before, and here he was pumping through the run. To ease your suspense, Erich simply gained steam through the race  (in comparison to others), although his speech did get more and more slurred and quieter, and he busted a major move going 23:23 and earning the coveted sub 25 hour buckle…by a long shot. At one point around mile 60 he asked me if I thought it was possible for him to go under 25, and I was like “Heck yea”. He did more than just that and his performance inspired me.

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So, I got to run 22 miles out in the woods. Okay “ran” is glorifying it a bit because at least half of it was power hiking, but all the same…I moved along the trail for 22 miles with him. It’s really rare these days that I get to do this and the only reason is that Erich is coached by Muddy and the guy needed pacers! Huge thanks to Mikki as well for pacing him for 14 miles after my 22.5 miles were up. Mikki is really one of the most selfless people I know and she’s always happy to run all night in the woods with a complete stranger who’s already run 72+ miles that day.

We ran along rather quiet for some long stretches of time…quiet for me, since I usually won’t shut up, and I got to tune out a lot of the distractions of life. When you are in the woods there is a lot of air. It’s clean air and smells like pine and there are no cars, and not many people, and it’s peaceful, and the colors are easy on your eyes. During trail running you mostly focus on where the heck you are putting your feet and it’s a hard enough task to keep your brain busy, but mindless enough to cut out most all judgement, or nervous thoughts. It’s easy on the brain, meditative, rejuvenating. I needed this. I’ve had a really tough last few weeks and I’ve been searching for that sense of calm and peace and just couldn’t locate it. My compass has been really off.

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Out there in the woods I felt like I got my ducks back in a row and Mikki and I talked the whole ride home about it. Granted it was 2am and we were pretty loopy, but sometimes those are the best conversations.

What is it about some days in our life? This was my ahh-hah. Most the days of our life, they just go. Poof, gone, no memory. We go through the motions just grinding through. Maybe we do it peacefully or calmly, but they still leave almost no mark. Then there are some days in our life, yesterday was one of those for Erich, that you will never ever forget. It’s just one day, just like the rest, 24 hours, just like the rest, but you will tell stories about it, you will savor it, and live it over and over for the rest of your time on the planet.

I think that most people don’t have a lot of these days. They are few, the marriages, the birth of children, some of the devastating days. But those days, when you do get them, they are the first sentences of the chapters of your life. That opening line. When I look back at my life that’s what these days are for me. With them came new awareness, about myself, about my journey, about my purpose. They foreshadow where I was headed. They are hardly EVER destinations, but more new beginnings of a new way of thinking and living.

Recently my chapters have been long. The highlight days have been more few and far between. The chapters are more developed, but they are long, and sometimes not heading the direction I hoped.

Getting out there on the trails yesterday reminded me that these big important days were always why I seek endurance sports. These experiences, however hard and brutal they may be have been the stars in my constellation, the highlights that form the picture. So to get off my lazy butt, I used this website to find hiking boots and went off on an adventure.

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And out there I realized that I want more stars, and I want a more detailed picture. I want to get back to my roots, and I really don’t like how sore I am today from my little jaunt in the woods yesterday. It was like a wake up call out there, a reminder of where my heart lies. Not just in ultra running, but training for and executing some hard gnarly days, record book days, stars in my constellation. And when I think about it that way, it’s easy to see the muck. It’s easy to see the times when I’ve gotten off base, and now I understand why those things have caused me so much angst.

Right now I’m training for Hawaii, my 5th in a row, and for 5 years it’s been my North Star, the dominant star in my galaxy, the one that everything else revolves around. But very clearly I knew out there on those trails yesterday that Hawaii will not be my North Star for much longer. Where am I headed exactly? Well, Kona for now. But then, somewhere neat and cool and different and fun. Towards other stars to enhance the constellation of my life.

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