Running

May 15, 2018 – Crazy Goal 40 by 40 (Update) 

1 race to go.  Nothing like getting down to the wire (my 40th birthday is at the end of the month).  I had thought by this point I would be sitting with 40 races under my belt but Mother Nature had different plans this winter. Couple that with an injury and I am scrambling to finish this challenge up.  Saturday I ran my 1st race of 2018 at the Apple Creek 50k.  Cellcom Green Bay Marathon will hopefully be my 40th race.  Ironically this is race that started my journey into ultra distances.  I was inspired at the Chicago Marathon to “try”, but ultimately Cellcom was my 1st in 2007.  I never in a million years thought that I would be here today working to complete #40.  Back in 2007 as I crossed the finish line I said “NEVER AGAIN”.  Well, never say never!  So I’ve crossed my fingers and toes this weekend will be a success – 40 by 40 or BUST!!!

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May 11, 2018 – Taper Craziness

Taper craziness is in full effect with the Cellcom Marathon a little over a week out.  As the mileage dials back my mind speeds up…all the doubt floods in.  This may not be my 1st marathon, but the restlessness feels just like it did 11 years ago.  Regardless of the number of races one has done the days leading up to an event bring out all sorts of unexpected thoughts and emotions.

After a disastrous winter of training with the ridiculous weather and hip injury I am questioning if I have what “it” takes to finish the marathon.  Can I go the distance? Will I hit the wall? What will the weather be like? Do I have my nutrition dialed in? What should I wear?  These unanswered questions have been swirling in my head. Typically I would go for a run to quiet the crazy in my head, but with the mileage waning in the taper weeks leading up to race day my head is swimming in uncertainty.  Yikes!!!

Miles with friends are good for the soul & keeping doubt at bay.

My family is all well away of the transformation that occurs leading up to a race.  I turn into a mad women of sorts. I am edgy (dare I say moody) and sleeping becomes a fruitless task only adding to my moodiness.  If food is not nailed down I ingest it at a rapid rate – HANGRY is a real thing, just as Taper Craziness is!  Watch out folks a marathon runner in the weeks leading up to a race is to be handled with care at a safe distance:)

So I have come to terms with this state I have found myself in and tried to recognize the silver lining in all of it. Taper time means that the adventure of Cellcom is almost upon me. I have endured for this race, worked through hardships, forged new friendships, and most of all I have fallen back in love with running. These days will grind on (slowly), but race day is coming!  I cannot wait to line up at the start.

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April 7, 2018 – NOT Running Sucks

I’ve been told that a minor setback paves the way for a major comeback.  It has been advice that I agreed with, but did not have a ton of use for being that I’ve been lucky in my running journey thus far. So, I filed away this sage wisdom and carried on with my life.  Flash forward to “Winter 2018” and I found myself in a place that I have not traversed before.  The murky waters of injury have challenged me in ways that I did not anticipate.  The physical was one thing, but the mental aspect totally knocked me for a loop.   I will be the first to admit I have a Type A personality and struggle to be patient in many areas of my life, running included. I’ve pushed hard for 3 years and keep searching for ways to challenge myself.  When I returned to distance running I plunged in full speed.  Don’t get me wrong I did my research, remember I’m a control freak. When my goals got more intense I hired an amazing coach (Nora Bird – Team Bird Training) to help guide me through the rigors of ultra running.  I nailed down my nutrition and explored new gear.  It was a wild, awesome ride and I loved every minute of my journey.  What was not on my radar was taking care of my body and it caught up with me in a game changing big way!

I have taken tumbles in races and hurt myself, but I’ve never been out of a training cycle for long.  A few days of TLC and I was always back on track. When training for my first 50 mile event I struggled a little with aches and pains, but nothing that shut me down fir very long.  Navigating all these years free from injury left me out of touch with the agony that can come from not running.  The mental clarity I get from running was overshadowed by the accomplishments that I was racking up.  Living in this dream world I lost perspective of how important running is to my life.  Sometimes when things are really good we take them for granted and don’t nurture what got us to that great place, dare I say that we become apathetic.  Brutally put, I got lazy.

All the miles without all the self care is a recipe for a major catastrophe.  Initially I ignored the symptoms my body was communicating that indicated I was headed towards disaster.  Spoiler alert the body will not be ignored and I was shut me down in the form of noninfectious trochanteric bursitis.  I pushed off the pain until it was so intense that I could not sleep, let alone train.  Cue the violins and set the table…pity party table for one.  I had to face the reality of my situation was that I was injured and could not for the first time in my life do the things that I wanted to and train. I had strayed from taking care of myself…mind, body, and spirit.  Not good and the consequences were severe.

With a treatment plan in place (lots of rest, ice, and anti-inflammation medications) and guidance from Nora my Spring races may still be possible.  I’ll be honest I’m nervous in a way that I have not been in a really long time.  I don’t know where my fitness level is at or what my body can handle.  I have my fingers crossed and I don’t know if I will able to finish the races I  have planned…I have never DNF’d. There are days I go out and the pain stops me cold in my tracks.   This is a new head space for me, I cannot just power through this like I have in the past. It has been years since I’ve been scared to step up to a start line.  I did not anticipate the lack of confidence and how it would feel.  Over the years I have entered challenging events and come out with a deeper understanding of my capabilities. The foundation I built gave me the assertiveness to be bold in ways I did not appreciate until now.  I’m shaken and I feel like I am starting over.  What. The. Heck.

I’m raw at this stage of my running journey. I am physically weak and mentally in a weird place. I wish I could sugar coat it and say all will be fine, but I don’t have a crystal ball to predict how things will work out.  What I can do is try to learn from this experience and salvage what I can from this crappy winter training cycle.  I rode the sob-story bandwagon for a long time and tried to down play how bad I felt, but that didn’t get me anywhere.  My lackadaisicalness bit me in the butt (or should I say hip) and clarity is coming from this jolt to my life. I am learning to lean on others and be open about my insecurities.  I know that taking care of myself cannot be an after thought or something I will get to eventually. As a mom, wife, and teacher that is easier said then done.  Being there for others feels comfortable and automatic and to slow down over winter has shifted my behavioral patterns and cognitive perspective.  Not running really does suck.  I’ve had to scrap my “old” approach and start new, but when life gives you lemons toss  them back and ask for coffee! My goals may have evolved and I am still adjusting to the flexibility that I need to have in my training…don’t count me out just yet. I’m stubborn and armed with a great support system, plus a boat load of caffeine.

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January 31, 2018 – Happy Tears

I should probably start with a little background before we dive into this topic…I am not an overly emotional individual. Which, I get most people say they are that way.  To give you an idea where my head space is in regards my emotional state, I’m not a hugger.  I know most people gasp at this and wonder if I have a heart of stone or black soul, but truth be told I’ve never been big on the whole hug thing. I also not very expressive and keep my emotions to myself as much as possible.  However finishing a race seems to turn me into an soft, squishy human being.  In my head I react at the culmination of a massive goal like the Grinch did when he realized the Who’s down in Whoville finally got the meaning of Christmas.  Yes, cartoon version and all the emotions come pouring out of me.  Finishing a race is a big deal. I underestimate how I will feel when I cross the finish line EVERY SINGLE TIME and that is the most amazing part of running, I wouldn’t change it for anything!

When a runner who had completed several events told me that I would forever be changed when I finished my 1st marathon I honestly did not believe them.  At that point I was half way through our training cycle, had been putting in the miles, working through blisters, and the other unsavory aspects of training and kind of just wanted the whole thing to be over with.   What I was missing was the purpose of the whole thing.  I was slugging it out – day in and day out, not truly acknowledging how I was “feeling” with each run.  I was so focused on the end goal of the marathon that I was blowing by all the nuances of the training that were amazing in and of themselves.  Along this journey I was changing, physically and emotionally…I just couldn’t see the forest for the trees at that point.

I was in a really dark place when I began training for my 1st marathon. Many things in my life were out of control.  Running was the only thing that made sense and allowed me to shut my brain off (or so I thought).  What I did not realize was that I was connecting with individuals who would change me, bring me back from the brink.  My confidence and sense of self came back.  It wasn’t until I entered the last mile of the marathon that all of these realizations and emotions hit me.  It was uncomfortable and too much to handle.  I broke down in that last mile and cried, like watching the last scene in the “Titanic” kind of cry.  Crying and running don’t mix well. I had to slow down to be able to breath, but by slowing down I got to take it all in.  The journey was far greater than the actual moment of the race (don’t me wrong it was pretty darn cool to finish) and in the last mile put two and two together…running gave me back my life.

I’m an ugly crier so it was obvious to all those along the course that I was having an epic meltdown. I had to reassure my family and friends that I was “fine” – that they were tears of joy.  I was happy! Like, truly, deeply happy.  Maybe it was the rush of serotonin (aka runner’s high) or the sheer exhaustion from running 26.2 miles, but I was vulnerable in a way that had always be tough for me.

I kind of figured that this emotional roller coaster would be a one shot deal.  Being that this was my 1st marathon I did not anticipate to feel this way again, but it has happened every single race.  Be that I am not always a hot mess I still get choked up at the finish line.  The ability to run is not something that I take for granted and each accomplishment is a reminder of that…the tears and emotion are a powerful expression of that.  This is a sport built of struggle, determination, and heart. So if our paths cross at the finish line of a race expect me to be a squishy, puddle of joy…I promise you they are happy tears!

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December 7, 2016 – Now What???

In the past 2 years I have run A LOT!  I’ve gone from race to race and constantly been in training mode.  After the Fall 50 though I pledged to take a break to let my body rest.  As I crossed the finish line after completing my 1st 50 mile event I was overcome with emotion.  The rawness of that experienced changed me.  To be expected I felt accomplished, but what caught me off guard in the days following was the feeling of emptiness.  I was lost.  I had set my sights on this event and tailored my life around it.  Countless hours running, racing, preparing, and sacrificing had gone into finishing.  Now that I had I was left without a direction.

No one talks about this feeling in running, it is our little hidden secret which is not so little.  The depression that followed the Fall 50 was heartbreaking and set me off my game.  I did not realize how much of my daily functions were designed to support my training.  My free time was no longer filled with running or preparing to run.  I did not need to stay on top of my supplies or track the weather to hit optimal run time.  The “now what” or “what’s next” question ripped through me like a knife.  I always had my answer ready – the Fall 50, I didn’t have that anymore and I felt like less of a runner…like I was fading into the background of my sport.

My relevance in the sport was challenged. I felt like all eyes were on me and the pressure to figure it out weighed a ton.  This seemed so silly and ridiculous, but I could not shake this feeling.  I was losing my identity as a runner because I did not have my next big race figured out. I wasn’t training or pushing towards a goal.  I scrambled and struggled to grasp at something to ignite my soul like the Fall 50. Searching websites, Twitter, and Facebook I desperately wanted to find an event that awoke my heart and soul, but found nothing.  Why?   I just completed something I thought was impossible. Why was this feeling of emptiness haunting me?

The Fall 50 was special to me, it represented the impossible.  In my wildest dreams I never thought I would be able to run 50 miles. Even after training for months I hesitated to register doubting I could do it. When all was said and done I crossed the finish line, but the sense of accomplishment that I anticipated was fleeting.  The days following I replayed the event in my head and was distracted by an empty feeling.  The race had tested, drained, and almost broke me, but I survived it…why could I not focus on that? I am not one that is good with expressing my emotions.  I put on a smile and faced the questions of how the race went knowing that something was off.

My running and life track record is to bury these type of feelings and move on, full speed ahead until a clarity was achieved or I had something new to occupy my mind. The pattern seemed to serve me well, but to be honest I didn’t enjoy the way that I was feeling after the Fall 50.  I had accomplished a dream race and was not grateful for all that had gone into helping me get here. I did not find pleasure in the struggle while pushing through each obstacle. I was acting and responding like a spoiled brat!  Now what?  Now what?  Now what? This conversation in my head was loud and overbearing. I was searching for my next star to hitch my wagon to in order to stop how I was feeling yet I could not pin point what I was exactly feeling.  I could not put into words what my heart and head where going through. When the questions came from others of “what next” I just about lost it.  I did not have an answer.  Should I have an answer. Is a big race or goal needed to hold onto my identity as a runner?  Did I need to best my experience and showing at the Fall 50?  These questions swirled and haunted me.  But why? Why did it matter?

Answering the question of “why” I felt so lost after the Fall 50 became my focus not “what next”.  I had worked so hard to achieve one specific goal and I did not enjoy the accomplishment of it.  That bothered me.  I was racing through the journey to get to the end prize that did not fulfill me in the least bit.  I anticipated this unbelievable result to feel a certain way and put blinders on to get to the finish line.  I had missed the joy in the process to get to the finish line.  Sadly this is how I approach many things in my life.  I put my head down and move. Getting the job done is my strong suit. I am known for my determination, work ethic, and perseverance…it is costing me though the enjoyment of the little things.  Which brings me back to “now what”!

Well, life is to short to bulldoze through just to accomplish a task, especially if one cannot enjoy the end result because the “what next” question supersedes all other thoughts.  I need to flip my script.  It is not about the medal, but the journey to achieving the medal.  Following the Fall 50 I took several weeks off from training. I ran when I wanted to and how far I wanted to.  My passion for the sport needed to be restored.  I had forgotten why I loved to run.  Pulling away and taking a break was needed in more ways than I even realized. My fears of becoming irrelevant in the running community were dispelled, my body was able to rest, and my soul missed pushing hard towards a goal.  Still there was not a race that spoke to me like the Fall 50.  I registered for the Zumbro 50 in April hoping to ignite a desire to get back into the mix of training, but it did not wake my heart.

Black Friday I met up with a group of trail runner friends to #OptOutside.  I was in no way ready for the beating I was about to take.  My ankles were not strong and I stumbled on the uneven surface of the trail.  Running up the hills made my lungs burn and my legs ache, I was struggling like I had not done in awhile…it felt amazing! Not once had I thought about what was next for my running journey. On the this run I was in the moment.  I am huge believer in things happening when they are suppose to.  I needed to sit in my discomfort and emotions after the Fall 50.  I had gotten over confident as a runner and the race beat me into a vulnerable place during as well as after.  Sitting in that feeling of uneasiness though was something I had to do.  My “what next” was not meant to be until I settled up in my head what I truly desired.  It is not that a race would speak to me and excite me it is the challenge of the unknown that I was looking for, that next task I viewed as crazy or impossible.  When I finally submitted to this on the drive home from the Black Friday run I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders.  I was a runner regardless if I ever raced again.  It wasn’t about finding a further distance or proving I was a tough runner, it was about enjoying every moment…chop the wood and carry the water.

So what is next for me…well I did find my next big race, the Marquette Trail 100k in August.  I could not be happier to put in the time to get prepared for this grueling event.  It doesn’t scare me that I’ve never running anything remotely as difficult, it excites me! The journey to Marquette will be filled with challenges and I intend to embrace all the ups and downs.  Running is so much more than putting one foot in front of the other, it is a metaphor for life and the lessons are priceless. Onward friends, the best is yet to come…

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January 2, 2016 – Opt Outside

As a reformed treadmill junkie I must admit getting outside was a cumbersome task, but looking back I now wonder what took me so long to break from the confines of my basement and experience the joy of outdoor running.

I’ll be the 1st to admit I’m an wimp.  I don’t like being cold and wet.  Frankly though who does.  I’m the last person anyone would every dream of inviting to go camping, hiking, skiing…you get the gist.  Truth be told I trained for my 1st marathon primarily on a treadmill. The only outdoor runs I did were are our group long runs on Saturday and I even skipped one of those to do 12 miles on the treadmill when we got a foot of snow the night before.  If that isn’t evidence of my wimp status I don’t know what is.

Fast forward a few years and I now have the pleasure of wiping down my treadmill every week because it collects more dust now than miles.  In the last 365 days I have used the treadmill a total of 3 times and no I am not exaggerating. I have come to hate the treadmill, its not broken or boring…I just have fallen in love with outdoor running.  As my friends would say I’ve toughened up.  I look forward to the wind in my face, the sounds and smells of the trail, the peace of a moonlit night, and the adventures that I stumble upon.  Outdoor running is where it is at!  Coming from a self-proclaimed indoor snob this is a really big deal.

There a a few things that I can attribute this new love of the outdoors to:

1) I got over myself. I was a prissy, spoiled person who did not like to get dirty or be bothered with having to dress for the elements.  I sucked it up found some all weather gear and took the plunge. Granted on some cold Wisconsin runs I look like the State Puff Marshmallow, I just don’t care and would rather look silly than miss out on a great run.  Christmas night this year was a perfect example.  I ran 16 miles in the beautiful cover of night, but was dressed in multiple layers that got a few weird stares by cars driving by.

2)  I found cool courses.   I researched trails in my area. I’ve lived in the same town for several years and up to this year never ran on the Ahnapee Trail. It is literally 1 mile from my house.  I find myself going for runs and adding miles with ease because I get caught up in the beauty and peace of the trail. Now that I have explored it I’m sad when I cannot run on it. What a difference a year makes!

3)  I bought a GPS watch.  In the past I would run the same course because I knew the course and mileage.  I was comfortable, but bored.  I didn’t have an adventurous spirit and the guts to explore.  Staying on the treadmill was just as mind numbing so I chose that over outside.  Getting a GPS watch changed this for me. I am now able to go off course and still track my miles.  I find myself in cool places that I never knew existed and have a new sense of freedom that I adore.

4) I started treating my runs as “me” time.  If I stay at home and run on the treadmill I have a million distractions and the chances are I will cut my run short or not run at all. If I schedule a run and plan it outside I am committed to getting outside, especially if I’ve changed into my outdoor gear.  It is my time to be alone, center myself, clear my head, and push my body.

Don’t get me wrong I will use my treadmill this year. Maybe 3 or 4 times (hopefully), but come rain or shine I will get outside if I can.  Running on the treadmill is not a sign of weakness and is an awesome workout, but for me I need to get out of my house. I crave the outdoors and need it to be happy.  If you would have asked me this a few years ago I would have responded very differently.  I’m not the same runner I used to be, I’m not so self absorbed and I have in large part connecting with nature through running to thank for that.  In the coming year as you set your goals considering scheduling a few runs outside…you may find it enjoyable, I know I did (I’m still surprised by that).  Granted you won’t catch me camping quite yet, but who knows what 2016 will bring?!?!?!

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November 9, 2016 Crazy Goal 40 by 40 (Update) 

Just finished my last marathon of 2016…Milwaukee Running Festival (Milwaukee, WI). That brings me to a grade total of 22 marathons & 8 ultra marathons. 10 more events to go to reach my 40 by 40 goal!  Not to shabby.  It has been a wild ride since May 2015 when I decided it was time to get off the couch and back on the road. At that time I had completed 4 marathons in my lifetime.  I never would have expected that a year from then I would be where I at today.  My life is completely different and I am grateful for the kick in the butt to get me out running again.  At 38 years old I am in the best shape of my life, but more importantly I am the happiest I have ever been.  Life is too short not to live each day to its fullest and I embrace that concept everyday.  Now to lay down plans for 2017!!! Big dreams = big goals…stay tuned.

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July 17, 2016 – Crazy Goal 40 by 40 (Update) 

Half way there! I completed #20…Grandma’s Marathon (Duluth, MN).

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April 1, 2016 – We all have to start from somewhere.

The ladies at Oiselle have cooked up another great challenge to help get the bird squad up and moving.  It was once pointed out to me that I often discredit some of the races that I run or miles I put in by prefacing them as “only”…”I am only running a half marathon” or “I only ran 13 miles”.  In my mind I have done a minimal effort, but lets me honest, 13 miles is a ice chunk of mileage to be putting in and a half marathon is no small feat.  I have worked to change my mind set and also speak differently when referencing my racing and running efforts.   Recently in a Facebook runners group that I belong to a huge blow up occurred among its members when individuals were complaining about people posting about 5ks.

Have we lost our minds and forgotten that we all started somewhere and I am pretty sure that it wasn’t at 13 miles out on our 1st jaunt.  I remember getting back into running last year in March and jumping on my treadmill to run 2 miles.  I felt like I had run a marathon when I finished and the next day I struggled to hobble around school.  My fitness was awful and my motivation to stick with things shaky at best.  Without the support of friends who are crazy nutty runners I don’t think I would have stuck with it and fought through those beginning weeks…I’m so glad that I did stick with it though.  My life is so different as a result. I have meet wonderful friends and experienced awesome adventures as a result of running.

Life is tough and we tend to judge each other harshly, so let’s knock it off – supporting each other is way cooler!  The April #oisellefullhalf challenge is a great way to do just that and in turn challenge ourselves.  WE can stop referring to things as “half” or “less than” and instead put forth a efforts that we can be proud of.  Personally I am pledging to run 13 miles/13 times & do 13 push ups each day in April.  In addition I am going to drag anyone that I can find along the way to join me in these efforts to jump start their Spring exercise routine.  This year I will take on several new challenges, but none of them would have been possible without the help from my friends…we all start from zero – let’s make this a great month together and complete the #oisellefullhalf.

Update 4/8/16 – 8 days into this April challenge I have completed a 13 mile run, but fallen off the wagon with push ups.  Time to dig deep and get back into things.  Having a group of awesome individuals also striving to complete this challenge is a welcomed support system and way to stay accountable.

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February 15, 2016 – Supersitions

Are runners superstitious, sentimental, or a little of both? When I pondered this question recently I realized that I do have some very ritualistic behavior surrounding my running/racing adventures.  Here are a few of my habits: I have turn my socks inside out, I drink a Sugar Free Red Bull before every race, and my favorite of all…I ALWAYS wear a piece of jewelry from my sister when I run.

Creating this list led me to dive a little deeper and ask the question…why? Why do I religiously do those things before I run or race?  As I worked through each action I realized that some of them are superstitious. I have turned my socks inside out since high school Track & Field in 1995.  It just so happens that by accident I put my socks on the wrong way before an 800 meter race and won my heat.  From that day forward I have worn my socks that way for “good luck”.  Part of me is terrified to not complete my race rituals, but the logical part of my brain chimes in and reminds me that these exercises in superstition are not going to make or break my run.  However, I keep doing them.  The brain is a mysterious entity that doesn’t always take logic seriously!

Not all of my behaviors can be explained by superstition or nerves…drinking Red Bull has worked for me for 9 plus years and frankly if something is working with in my racing pattern I rarely change it. I have spent countless hours of experimenting with products to find the items that I like and help me to be successful I don’t want to throw that all away on a new fad that has come about in the running community.  When I do try new products it is after careful research or a new need that has emerged. For example I am starting to register for more technical trail races and need shoes that will be able to aid me in taking on the obstacles within these courses.  If it were not for this change I would be rocking my Saucony Kinvaras  or Zealots as I have for 2 years. I am now dabbling in the world of zero drop with Altras & Skoras to find the perfect trail shoe.  This is way out of my comfort zone…I know weird, but I’m a creature of habit.

To add to all this craziness or as I like to think of it function I am also slightly drawn to (obsessed) with the number 7.  So much so that I got it recently tattooed on my wrist.  Now I am not insane, promise!  There are many wonderful things in my life that have been connected to the number 7…I ran my 1st marathon in 2007, PR have occurred when I had a 7 somewhere in my race bib, I met my husband in 2007, my 1st 50 miler will be my 7th ultra, every dance or cheer team I have every tried out for I have worn the #7 at tryouts, and  in 1997 I sought out treatment for my eating disorder beginning my road to recovery and healing.  There are many more times that the number 7 has surfaced in my life its all part of the overarching question – am I more superstitious or sentimental. I would like to think that when I look at my next race bib if it does not have the #7 in it I will give up hope of a great race, but I know part of me always hopes to see it when the volunteers hand it over to me that I will see my “lucky” number.

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In exploring this topic a realize I’m a little bit of both and have a sneaking suspicion that most runners probably are too.  My bizarre rituals work for me and my sentimental attachment to them in a weird way helps to motivate me as well.  To each his or her own as long as you get out there are chase your dreams.

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February 12, 2016 – Crazy Goal 40 by 40

It is time to come clean and fess up…one night I may have had one too many glasses of wine with a friend and announced that I wanted to run 40 marathons by the time I turned 40 years old. My goal prior to turning 30 was to run a marathon…one!  I accomplished this goal in at the Green Bay Cellcom Marathon in 2007.   At the time I made my 40 by 40 declaration I was 33 years old and had run 2 full marathons (my second being Cellcom in 2010).  My very sweet friend looked at me and nodded her head as any good friend would, but I could read her facial expression  and it went a little something like “sure whatever…have another glass of wine”.   To prove to her how serious I was I immediately when over to my computer and registered for the Las Vegas Rock & Roll Half Marathon 2011.  This would jump start my training! All well laid out plans rarely unfold smoothly.  I did in fact train for the half marathon in Vegas, but ended up getting pregnant in addition to earning a finishers medal.  What happens in Vegas apparently doesn’t always stay in Vegas.  This derailed my plans to run a full marathon and complete 40 by 40, but I did not forget about it!

Life got busy and crazy with 3 kids, a full time job, and I was finishing up my Master’s degree in Special Education at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh…training landed on the back burner.  A few years passed and my friend forgot about my goal, I however did not.  I dabbled in running and completed a few half marathons, but never got back into marathon shape.  In 2014 I decided I wanted to give the Fox Cities Marathon a try.  I trained in consistently throughout the summer of 2014 and decided to attempt a small marathon prior to Fox Cities to make sure I was ready.  I registered for the No Frills Marathon on a whim, traveled up to Minoqua, and ran one of the worst events of my life.  I underestimated the toughness of a marathon and it kicked my butt!  There were a few weeks in between the Fox Cities so I did my best to keep building a base and hoped for the best.  Fox Cities did not go much better than No Frills and I was ready to give up my 40 by 40 goal.  I rationalized that I had only told my friend, no harm to foul.  The problem is that I knew that I wanted to accomplish this goal. It was in my heart and kept whispering to me…quietly at first but it began to get louder throughout the year.  In May 2015 I ran the Cellcom half marathon.  After finishing I stayed to cheer on runners and wait for fellow Luxemburg teachers who were running the full marathon to cross the finish line.  As I stood there clapping and cheering it hit me…that should be me, not that it could be me, but that it SHOULD be me!

The next day I began training with a new found passion and focus.  I searched out plans, started following inspiring runner on Twitter and Facebook, and signed up for the HFM Maritime Half Marathon a few weeks after Cellcom.  I was going to run a marathon in Fall and it was going to ROCK! I refused to feel like I did after my 2 previous events.  I would trail consistently and respect the marathon distance as I had not done before.    I select the Lakefront Marathon as my goal race.  I had signed up for this race before, but did not train or show up.  Not this year. I was going to do this.  A few days before the HFM Maritime race my good friend Katie who was running the marathon got hurt.  Katie is the definition of a Bad Ass.  She is one tough runner who I respect greatly.  In talking with her I was worried that she would be out on the course and something would go wrong.  Her husband Tait was also running the half so we chatted about how we could help her.  I don’t know why the words came out of my mouth but they did I offered to switch to the full and start with Katie.  I run quite a bit slower than her and would be able to trail behind her in case she needed help.  At my pace she would be able to finish even with her injury.  The plan was to have Tait run the half and then find us on the course if something went wrong.

Crap! I was running a marathon 1 month after I ran the Cellcom half.  I had time to throw an 18 mile and 20 mile training run in (I did my 20 the week before the marathon and have continued to run high miles the week before every marathon I have run to date…it works for me, I know it is not typical).  To say that I was terrified was an understatement.  The morning of the race I was nervous.  At the start line Katie began together and stayed together for about a mile. She took off and I followed.  I saw her on the turn around and she looked strong…I continued to plug along.  The great thing about a marathon is that it gives you time to think.  Around mile 17 my nerves finally subsided and I began to think maybe 40 by 40 is possible.  Between mile 17 and 20 I did the math…I would have completed 5 marathons when I crossed the finish line, that meant would have 35 left to go in 3 years, roughly 12 events per year.  I don’t know if it was the joy of running or the exhaustion, but I believed that it was possible to achieve my 40 by 40 goal.  After the marathon I did not mention my crazy idea to Katie or Tait, but when I got home a signed up for a Fox Cities Marathon, No Frills Marathon, and Summer Solstice 6 hour Ultra.  I however did not say out loud to anyone that I wanted to run 35 more events before I turn 40.  This I have kept to myself.

So why now, why fess up and announce to the world that I want to run 40 marathons.  Well to be honest over the last few months I have changed. Running has provided me with the confidence to live more boldly, believe in myself, and challenge what I once thought was impossible.  As part of the Oiselle running group 2016 is all about being powerful and going big. So it is time to #WOMENUP! I am scared to fail and not reach my goal, but I refuse to let paralyze me.  I have 14 fulls & 2 ultras under my belt to date – 24 more marathon/ultras to go! 2016 is going to be EPIC, watch out world this bird is about to take flight.  (Sort of freaking out a little bit to post this…here goes nothing.

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February 2, 2016 – What a difference a month can make!

It has taken me several years to make peace with the chaos that my eating disorder has caused and find the guts to put my story out into the world.  Even when I did begin to blog and talk about my past I did not tell many people.  I’m feel embarrassed about my past even though I logically know that is foolish to feel that way.  I have always prided myself on having my “crap” together and presenting to the world am “I have it all” image.  Part of the process of recovery has been to let others in and stop trying to weather the storm alone.  I will be honest…I suck at that! I’ve always been independent not because I am strong, but used this approach to hide my issues.  It isn’t until recently that I have began to publish my blogs on Facebook.  I was very hesitant to do so and had a mini-meltdown when I did.  I was scared of being judged and looked at differently by those who knew me as the well put together version of myself.  Through the years I have learned that the steps you take that scare you the most and put you at the greatest risk of failure are usually the most rewarding.  I did not expect the out pouring of support and messages from individuals regarding my story.  I have been caught off guard numerous times by the messages of kindness and understanding.  Each and everyone has touched me deeply…it takes a lot to warm my Grinch like heart & I’m pretty sure it has grown several sizes over the last week.  I know that not everyone will love what I post, but for those who do read and relate to what I’ve been through and struggle with please know your support is appreciated.  I have said this numerous times to anyone who will listen – 2016 is going to be an EPIC year…it is off to a pretty good start and no doubt the BEST is yet to come!

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January 12, 2016 – Transformation Tuesday 

Sorry to disappoint if you anticipated seeing a side by side image of a dramatic, fantastic, awe-inspiring transformation.  Truth be told I am not a fan of these images, I applaud those who have made incredible changes in their lives to promote physical transformation, but I question the mental transformation that occurred.

Call me cynical or negative, but it is concerning to me that those who have made a change such as weight loss need to seek approval through social media to validate what they have accomplished.  Coming from a place of pure concern I wonder if there has also been a mental transformation as well to sustain the loss/change.

Personally for me to get my eating disorder under control my transformation had very little to do with my physical body (once I was at a safe weight) as it did the thoughts that were associated with it.  My transformation was not visible by others and could not be “liked” in a way that I see transformations acknowledged today.  Calling into question the value we place on surface vs deep change.  Are we striving for something that someone else can “see” or looking to make changes that we can embrace with longevity?

Before you write this post off I ask you to stick with me for at least one more paragraph.  This is the time of the year that we created grand plans to change our lives, complete overhauls of all that we do to evoke a new sense of self…most of which is tied to our appearances.  We are well intended in doing so but are we making changes for approval of others or to truly be better than we were the day before?  Internal transformation cannot be posted, liked, retweeted, ect.  therefore it may not be easily acknowledged, this can be defeating.  However, in my opinion, the changes we make to our thought processes can have a far greater and lasting impact on an individual than a drastic appearance change.

Having strength to transform in a way that may not receive immediate recognition by others is challenging. By today’s standards many will not attempt to do so unless they can document their progress for others through social media.  I totally get that!  Believe me, there is value in being able to look back visually at pictures and see how far you have come.   Actions though have power and many movements come with change from within, a brewing of positive cognition and self love.  As my thoughts began to transition so did my life.  I found balance and peace in a way that I had never experienced before.  I cannot snap a picture to convey this, but I am a different person than I was 20 years ago and continue to emerge as a better version of myself each day.  So on this day when expectations are set as you view the images that others post about their physical morphing, know that your progress doesn’t have to be measurable or “post-able” to be valuable.

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January 3, 2016 – Mistakes of 2015

We are officially 3 days into 2016.  Only 363 to go (yes, I can do math…leap year people there are 366 days in 2016). I have spent the last few days of vacation and relaxation to reflect on the highs of 2015, but also the lows.  I had an awesome year full of adventures, accomplishments, and lessons.  Many of the mistakes were hard earned and I would like to not repeat them.  Part of my 2016 New Years Resolution is to “pay it forward” and hopefully my failures will be useful not only to me but also others.  Time to bear all my oops moments, here goes nothing…

  • Bonkfest.  I was a mess when it came to nutrition while running long.  I found myself countless times mid-run with no get up and go.  I was spent and frustrated.  It took a ton of trial and error to get to a comfortable place with nutrition while running.  My advice to new runners is to play around with your training runs. I tried lots of products and finally found what works for me.  I have learned to eat early and not wait to feel drained.
  • Carb-Loading.  I have for years binged the night before a race and thought I had my bases covered.  WRONG.  Carb-loading needs to happen 2-3 days before a big run.  Even after running as many marathons as I have I still from time to time make this mistake.  Milwaukee Running Festival in 2015 was a prefect example. I had a crazy week at school and did not eat properly, let alone carb-load the days before.  Crash is an understatement the day of the marathon.  It was a rough day and I could not make up what my body needed while running.
  • Hydration.  Drink early and drink often.  Again, learned that the hard way.  When you feel thirsty while running you are already behind the 8 ball and heading down the path of dehydration.  Duh?!?! I did not know this until a fellow runner pointed this out to me.  Now that I drink often in races and training as well as early I have fared much better.  Another lesson that I learned in 2015 was combo up at aid stations…drink 1 glass of electrolytes & 1 glass of water.  For me the balance is needed and keeps me on point especially when it is warm out. Another game changer was to buy a hydration system. Having fluids with me on long solo runs has been a freeing experience and helped to improve my performance.  I used to drop bottles along my course, but had a few stolen (yep, hot commodity in Luxemburg).  Being without hydration is dangerous and limited me.  Not anymore!
  • Just wear shorts.  I’m a very modest person, who through the years has not been kind to my body. After years of starving myself I have done damage that cannot be reversed.  I’m embarrassed that I am so fit, but don’t have the body to match.  This was a vicious summer in Wisconsin, hot and humid, and I tried to wear running tights to cover up, but it was an epic failure.  I had to get over my insecurities and find a pair of shorts to fit so I did not overheat.  My advice for those that are in the same boat and hate to wear shorty-shorts – look for a pair with an inseam that is 3.75 -4 inches.  This has been the sweet spot for me, not to long that they chafe but not to short that your butt will make an appearance during a run.
  • Lube, lube, and more lube.  It only took me one race to figure this out, but it is a lesson I will NEVER forget.  I have not cried like that since my children were born and I honestly believe that was less painful than the wound I endured on my back after the No Frills Marathon.  I used body glide in the typical areas, I however forgot to lube up my hydration vest. The rubbing and sweating of the bladder (I froze it to keep me cool) created an awful situation.  When I finished my arms were bleeding and I had a huge sore on my lower back.  For weeks I had to wear band-aids and shower with care.  It was awful!  Lube up people…and when you think you have enough put another layer on. You can never have to much on to prevent chaffing.
  • Trust.  I’m generally a loner when it comes to life. I like to keep my circle close and small…which included running.  I was afraid to ask questions, get involved, and put myself out there in the running community.  I stumbled a lot, but had individuals along the way step up and help me get become stronger and more knowledgeable.  Man I wish I would have done so sooner. There are wonderful people in the running world and I am greatly enjoying getting more involved.

2016 is going to be an amazing year! I cannot wait to see what adventures unfold and what new lessons I acquire.  Each step forward is a way to learn & improve.

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January 2, 2016 – Failure is not an option!

It has been quite awhile since I posted. It is humbling to admit that I have found myself struggling with my eating disorder and pulled away from blogging.  In all the training and preparing for the Fall racing season I felt like I was truly on track and had things under control.  What I did not expect was the comments and feedback that I would receive from others around me.  I pride myself on being a very strong person, but one can only hear “I thought you would be skinnier with all the running you do” so many times before it starts to ebb away at your resolve.  Couple that with seeing race pictures (trust me very few people look good mid-run, especially in a marathon) and it is a recipe for disaster.  This is me fessing up that I feel back into my old ways.  I loved how it felt to deprive myself and quickly see results in the mirror…but my running suffered and so did my sense of self.  My last marathon was a wake up call.  I was slow and exhausted, not how I wanted to finish out 9 weeks of racing.  It was a reality check that I had let 6 months of training and countless miles fall fade into the background and the number on the scale dictate how I felt about myself.  I’m 37 years old – this should not be an issue anymore! I have dealt with this disease for 20 years I thought I had escaped this black cloud.  The hard truth is I will never be free from anorexia and it is time to accept that.   My heart is healing and I am back on track. I’m not perfect,  I will fall down from time to time, but failure is not an option!

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December 30, 2015 – New Year, New Goal

If you goal doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you! And let me tell you the Fall 50 scares the living daylights out of me.

So I should probably start with I am a hot mess as a runner. If you tell me about a cool event chances are I’m in…no questions asked, but when my good friend Katie brought up running the Fall 50 solo this year to say I was hesitant is an understatement.  I have been running forever, but didn’t get serious (or obsessed as my husband would say) until this past year.  I ran my 1st marathon 9 years ago.  Between 2007-2014 I ran 3 more marathons, then in 2015 I decided I wanted to put my money where my mouth was and finally get back into running with consistency.

I started back at things and ran the HFM Maritime Marathon in June 2015 followed by 8 more marathons and 2 ultras (6 hour & 50k) between July-November of this year.  I didn’t really have a plan I followed that was formal.  I run 5-6 days a week with one long run usually Saturday or Sunday.  I built my miles with a 10% increase each week until I got to 20 before HFM.  Then maintained with an 18-26 mile long run each weekend for the remainder of the summer. I took a break and backed off my training after my last marathon November 1st and now I am building up for the Phoenix Marathon Feb 26th.

So why so hesitant about the Fall 50???  I’m not fast, but super stubborn.  My marathon PR this year was 4:34, but my average marathon is more like 4:40.  In the 50k I did this summer I ran a 6:50, which makes me nervous for the cut off of the Fall 50 at roughly 11 hours.  I’m not a spring chicken anymore (37), but I handle high miles well and recover relatively fast, still this time crunch concerns me.  I was given excellent advice once by an individual to challenge myself with the the things that I think are impossible…the Fall 50 feels like an enormous goal – perfect for 2016.

Katie (gulp) – I’m in! Let’s do this. Fall 50 solo here we come.  Training will for sure challenge us and crossing that finish line for sure change us.  I’m terrified and excited.  Let the fun begin.

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December 26, 2015 – Peace, Joy, & 16 Miles

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As the festivities of the holiday season came to a close with all the presents opened, dinner consumed, and the kids peacefully playing I was able to sneak out for a run.

I had every intention of taking my time and soaking in the beauty of the full moon and stars.  Most nights when I head out for a run it is pretty late, all the Christmas lights are off, people are settled in for the evening, and I am trying to just log the miles so I can get home. It was refreshing to see the decorations, run into a few fellow runners, and reflect on the past few months of insanity.  As I headed back for a 2nd Main Street loop I got into a rhythm and felt the stress of the holidays start to melt away.  Running truly is the best therapy!

Loop 3 my mind began to wander, my favorite songs began to pop up in my playlist, and 4 more miles clipped by.  Before I realized it I was 12 miles into a very relaxed, but quick run.  I was forced to take several weeks off after my last marathon in November due to a blood clot and have been questioning my ability to get my distance legs back underneath me.  There is still a lot of work to be done to get ready for AZ in 60 days, but I finally feel like I am on the right track.

The 4th and last Main Street loop had me in a reflective mood.  2015 has been a crazy year.  I have met some amazing people as I put myself out there and began to challenge my running abilities.  My confidence has been strengthened and my resolve for a positive outlook on life renewed.  I thought 2015 would be a year to remember, something to look back on and be proud of (don’t get me wrong I’ve never felt this accomplished) but instead of looking at 2015 as a chapter closing I see it as the beginning of a much bigger life to follow.  I was looking at things all wrong, achieving a goal is not about seeing what you can accomplish with a finite ending. Life is about testing yourself to see what you are made of and each accomplishment a stepping stone. Completing my goals in 2015 is not the end of what I am capable of it is just the beginning.  2016 is going to be a great year, but more importantly each day of my life whether it is 2016, 2017, 2018 or beyond will be great…life is too short not to savor each day, push your limits, and challenge what you once thought was impossible.

I rounded the corner to come home completing 16 miles total. My legs were tired and I was cold (it was 25 degrees out) weirdly though I felt recharged and full of energy.  The best is yet to come.  I cannot wait to see what adventures unfold in the coming year.  Viva La Vida!

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December 2, 2015 – Runners Rut

I find myself often times getting into a rhythm and continuing to do the same things over and over again because it may have worked once or twice. I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not the only runner to do this.  Now don’t get me wrong it is good to stick to  what works. Heck that is the golden rule of distance running, don’t change anything the day of a race! That’s not what I’m referring to though when I say I’m in a “Runner’s Rut”.  My goals have changed yet I find myself doing the same things that I did before expecting a different result…that’s the definition of insanity. So why am I so afraid to mix things up? Isn’t that the point of all the training runs that I do? I thought long and hard about this today on my run.  For me it boils down to the fear of failure. Silly I know, we are not talking earth shattering type of  adjustments…a new brand of shoes, strength training, or nutritional supplement isn’t life altering, but just maybe will improve my running performance.  My running life is parallel to my daily life, I tend to not take risks. I see now that I often times miss out on experiences that don’t come around often.   This was a light-bulb moment for me! The question becomes now what am I going to do about my ruts (life & running)!?!?

Making changes is a commitment. One that I am willing to venture into at least in my running life. I want to get the most out of every single day that I am on this planet,  but change for me is uncomfortable so I’m going to start small… I bought a new brand of shoes! I know to most this is pathetic and totally WIMPY,  but I have wore the same brand of running shoes for over 10 years. I know it’s not much but I’m trying to take risks in running so hopefully that adventurous spirit carries  into the rest of my life. Baby steps! Life is too short to get stuck in a rut.

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November 25, 2015 – Runcation

Now that Fall running season has come to a close in Wisconsin it gives my running brain a chance to  wander and dream of all the possibilities in the coming months, so…what’s next?

Considering that we are days away from the snow starting to fly here in the Midwest, I’m intrigued by the concept of a “runcation” (vacation that incorporates a race).  If you have ever spent a few days in Wisconsin in the dead of Winter it will quickly become apparent that this is a cold location.  Now don’t get me wrong we are a tough breed and extremely proud of that fact.  As runners we tough out frigid temperatures, snow, ice, sleet…you name it and we will train through it, but the thought of warming up for a weekend race is quite alluring, but is traveling so far away for a race going to be fun, stressful, or just plain nuts?!?!?

Internet you are such an evil temptress..after a few hours of combing through all the races available I find myself drawn to the warmth of Arizona.  I adore Phoenix! As a current ASU graduate student I jump at any chance I can get to visit campus and touch base with my professors.  Add the opportunity to run in a marathon in a warm location – I’m in!  Phoenix Marathon 2016 here I come.

Just a few other factors (besides the weather & ASU) that helped to sway my decision to select this marathon:

  • Early start 6:30 am. This gives me time to enjoy the post-race party & have time to sight see after before flying home.
  • 1000 feet of net elevation loss. Could make for a potential PR.
  • Lots of sponsored hotels with transportation to the start of the race. Booking a hotel was a quick, easy process and the rates were not outrageous.
  • Parking spots available around the finish. Which makes my husband happy when he has to come pick me up.
  • Beautiful scenery along the course.
  • Every picture I have seen from 2015 people are smiling, laughing, and having a blast, plus there is music along the course. PARTY!
  • Registration cost were reasonable in comparison to other races I have entered this year and the swag is impressive.
  • 6 hour finish time. I typically run a 4:40, so this gives me plenty of time to complete the course in case something goes wrong.
  • Race charity partner Phoenix Marathon Foundation which aims to provide scholarship funds for high school runners in pursuit of higher education. As a high school teacher I LOVE this!
  • Phoenix5 – For the next 5 years participants in the full or half marathon can earn the bird and all 5 Cs (Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus, & Climate) themed medals that all fit together.

I’m spoiled…most of my races I have the ability to drive to the location giving me the freedom to pack whatever I would like.  Now that I have to fly to Phoenix this opens up a whole host of questions and challenges. Packing to travel to a race with limited space in my suitcase is something that is new to me.  I get nervous before races and like to know that I have everything that I could possibly want or need.  That is not going to be an option for this runcation.  I am going to have to really be specific with what I pack.  This kind of stresses me out.

Here are a few tips that I found during my research to help me prep for this new adventure:

  • Plan ahead and test everything on training runs. Clothing, nutrition, shoes, ect.  Know what works for you so that are not left guessing before the race & struggle when packing.
  • When traveling with gels or liquid put them in a ziploc bag in case they leak.  You don’t want your clothing to be sticky and gross. Also if you are only taking a carry on check the ounces to make sure they fit with FAA regulations & include them in a clear quart bag for ease through security.
  • Charge music, watches, ect before you travel and make sure you pack chargers.  Having them ready to go prior to packing will ensure they work so you don’t find out race morning that there is a problem.
  • Bring a waterproof or large ziploc bag to put stinky running clothes in when you head home.
  • Check the weather forecast before selecting race day attire.

I’m sure there are many more tips out there to help make the most of a runcation.  Please feel free to comment below. I will continue to update this post to include them. Let the fun and training begin!

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November 18, 2015 – Fall 2015 Racing Recap

IMG_1594When there was still snow on the ground last year and I was less than in shape, I began registering for races scheduled in Fall.  Before I knew it I had signed up for 9 weekends of events (7 marathons, 1 half marathon, & 1 50 mile team relay).

9/6/2015 No Frills Marathon Minoqua, WI
9/12/2015 Tunnel Trails Big Apple Marathon Elroy, WI
9/19/2015 Community First Fox Cities Marathon Appleton, WI
10/4/2015 Lakefront Marathon Milwuakee, WI
10/11/2015 Chicago Marathon Chicago, WI
10/17/2015 DPR Trail Marathon Libertyville, IL
11/1/2015 Milwaukee Running Festival Marathon Milwuakee, WI

To be honest I had no idea if this was possible. Thank goodness I was to naive to know how crazy this plan really was.  November 1st 2015 I completed my last race the Milwaukee Running Festival Marathon. My favorite part of this crazy journey had to be all the wonderful runners I met.  We all line on race morning with different goals, stories, passions, but along the course we become kindred spirits.  I will never forget this racing season.  I proved to myself and all naysayers that even the wildest of goals are worth pursuing.

The big question now is…WHAT NEXT?

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July 16, 2015 – Packing, UGH…

Time to get organized. I thought running was suppose to be a minimal activity that was easy to jump in to…you need shoes, clothes, and motivation. Clearly I was wrong! As I pack for my next running event I am overwhelmed with all the STUFF I need to take with me. Lots to take into consideration – hydration, comfort, fuel, ect. So here are a few of my favorite running supplies that I will be taking with me on my next adventure.

In researching for my upcoming races I came across a great GEARLIST that the Orange Mud people put together and posted to their site. I love it so much that I figured I would pass it along. Just click on the link above and you can download it for later use.

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June 25, 2015 – Hello Blogging World!

This is my very 1st post and to be honest I’m not entirely sure what to say.  I have contemplated blogging for several years, but never truly had the courage to lay out my story for the world to know.  We all have a story to tell, a struggle that we are facing, an obstacle that we are traversing…I didn’t always believe that mine was a message that others would want to hear.  See self doubt comes with the territory of an eating disorder (as it does many other issues individuals face in life). The voices we have in our head often overshadow and drown out the truth that exists, and in my case I have finally found a way to trump the negativity.  This blog is as much for me to chronicle my journey as it is to quiet the self doubt.  For most of my life I have battled the demon of anorexia, but through years of work and now running, I have found the strength to live with this monster.  I’m not a mental health professional, I am a person who has come to some realizations in my own life that have made living with this disorder much easier…you never truly are “cured” but to be healthy and focused on happiness is a blessing and huge accomplishment.  So hello blogging world – I’m excited to join you.

 

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