Sunday, June 30, 2013

Keep Your Head Up My Love....

Have you ever had one of those moments when you are like "I am such a friggin idott!"?

(Yeah, I know you have...admit it...I won't hold it against you.) 

Well, I did a few days ago while sitting on the couch discussing the upcoming Cruxy Half Marathon in Vail, CO at the end of September. *cheers*

Now, I am an educated woman who likes to think she knows a thing or two about the country she lives in. I am well traveled and have friends who live all over this fine land. I also have a cable package that includes The Weather Channel. So why the f*ck did I think I would be running in extreme heat in Vail, CO at the end of September?! Hello, the high is like 66 and the lows are in the 50's! 

Perhaps a better question is "Why didn't any of YOU tell me how stupid I was being?!" (Thanks a lot...hehehe)


Sorry, inner drama queen coming out (but I can explain). 

Earlier this week I had reached a point where I was looking around thinking "WTF?". I don't want to use the phrase "burned out" but I had started to reach "that point". I was running and really enjoying myself but at the same time my dreams were starting to fade. I was starting to look at myself and think "too are never going to do it". The heat was killing me and I was trying to justify it by saying that I would be all set for Cruxy.  It was a bummer....and had me starting to second guess myself. 

But like the saying goes..."When life throws you lemons...make a drink and follow the WS100 Endurance Run!!" (Well....maybe not....but still...)

As we all know...this is my run. It is my dream run. To me, this run is better than any other run out there. Race day is a day where if you don't like running then you stay away from me. It is a day where "what mile are we at?" is the only question that comes out of my mouth! I view this race with such childlike innocence. 

You don't believe me? you go....

 I'll admit it....I'm not ashamed. I hit the trails and mentally pretended that I was running the race myself (and pulling out a "never before seen...who the hell is this?" victory.) Is that so wrong? I don't think so. Dream big or just stop! It could happen...who knows! Sure, my mental scenario was that the weather was too much for all the Elites...but that I had trained in all the bipolar weather Kentucky had to I was just killing the course. I believe at one point the North Face, Inov8 and Salomon teams were sooo impressed by me that they came out to pace me along the way. The folks at IRunFar were speechless! At the end, yes, even Kilian Jornet left the finish line just to find me and experience the amazing run I was making. It was history...never before seen power!  Laugh if you wish...but when you are in the 90 degree heat with like 99% humidity and you just realized you forgot your get desperate and find motivation wherever you can. Survival of the fittest people! It could have been worse...I could have been singing along the way (just ask the people on the trails that day...not good).

Pure power people!

Anyway, back to the race. I was not disappointed. Everything I did involved having my twitter feed on constant reload (shout out to IRunFar!) I actually tanned while keeping up with the race. I ate while keeping up with the race....I....never mind....I just kept up with the race. It totally broke the funk I had been in. At one point I was all like "it is so hot out" and then I read that it was over 100 degrees there and they were still going. Holy Motivation Batman! After that there was no complaining. 

So I am back on track. I am training in the heat at just about zero altitude for a race that will be on the cooler side in a mountain. No problem there. I smell victory a mile away. This will be EPIC. 

Just kidding. Yes, I am still concerned about the altitude...but the nice thing is it is flat...up...flat...down. That works. Get past the first 5 miles on the mile flat...and try not to blow up on the ride down. Plus, home is in Breckenridge and I will have a week to train. Don't kill my vision of this people...runs like this are just mental. Brain over brawn. 

Yep...that just about sums it up....brain over brawn. And for the next few months I will be training on raw emotion. 

On July 9th it will be two years since my mother passed. It still hurts like hell. It is a loss I can't describe and I am just now accepting that the void will never be filled. She is not here to witness this stage in my life. I feel like she is missing so much. No matter how long I run...the pain never goes away. No matter how exhausted I am....I still miss her. I lost my best friend and I hope her energy is still hanging around (most likely shaking her head in disbelief) and giving me the energy to keep going and dream big. If you still have your mother...then you may not fully comprehend the impact she has on your life. The bond people...the the saying goes...."you were fearfully and wonderfully made." When that bond is is a shock. To whisper into your mother's ear and tell her it is "ok for you to go" is just not fair. the end her memory and the guidance she provided makes you be a better person.

As if July didn't suck enough...August follows up with a nice doozey of it's own. I have often said I feel the "energy" of those I have lost while on the trails. Being in nature kind of gives me a "connected" feeling with them. August 26th is my nightmare. 7 years ago someone made a pretty crappy decision. I always say the one thing that sucks about suicide is that someone has to find you when you are done. Well....that person was me. He decided that I would be the person who would have to live with that vision for the rest of my life. That memory is something that fuels some runs when I feel like I have nothing left. It is a vision and experience that makes me want to run. Sometimes it is not always pretty views and wonderful experiences that motivate. Sometimes it is the vision of someone hanging from the door frame of the apartment. It is that raw guilt you are left with once they leave a letter blaming you and your inability to change. It is the selfishness of others and the reminder that the human race can be pretty f*cked up sometimes. As much as I still hate him for what he did...he always said to do "what makes you happy" and to "be good to yourself first". That friendly advice has really helped me the past couple months as I work to get myself on an equal nutritional playing field as everyone else. The whole situation reminds me that I am lucky to be alive...lucky that I was not there that night...and that I can live my dreams and life like there is no tomorrow. I can still love...hurt...miss...and enjoy all those around me. My life is amazing and I owe it all to his decision NOT to take anyone with him.  Plus...I am pretty sure my training will have me in good enough shape to knock his ass out when I see him in whatever "afterlife" there may be. 

My mother, Mary Alice :)

Too much information? I don't think so. Both these events have really shaped who I I interact and how I love. I am very open about them because so many people have experienced similar situations. To loose a parent is horrible. To be blamed for some one's misery (when you know it is not your fault) because you cannot be who they want you to sucks a little less...but still a great deal. Both July and August will be challenging because it is hard to train when you are emotional. It is the next step. The next challenge. I will get past them like I always do. The pain will come and then lessen but not leave and I will be stronger than a year ago. You just wait and see ;) Now if I could only be a little braver in life...well then I would be set. Sometimes I am such a shy little girl!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"Nutella Is Good On Everything You Know...."

(Yeah....more on that in a minute....and this will be a random entry)

But before that...the countdown is on!

3 months until the Cruxy 1/2 Marathon in beautiful Vail, Colorado!!

There it is...(credit: USDA Farm Service Agency/Google Earth)

Words cannot describe how excited and nervous I am for this race. I have been looking at the race profile everyday for about a week now. I cannot wait to be out there and am already planning the training runs near the house I will do in Breckenridge the week before. You may be asking why a simple 1/2 marathon would be so important to me so I will tell you. This is the first real "non-mostly road" 1/2 marathon I have done and it will be out in an area I love. I also consider it my first real step to my dream...the WS100!!!

Now, I will admit that training for this one has been tough. As we all know...I am working on the nutrition thing and while I am still not "rocking it out", I am making some big changes which seem to be helping. (No food = bad. Yummy organic KJ V8 juice type shake for meal = good. Yummy organic KJ V8 juice type shake that can have vodka added for instant Bloody Mary = very good. Mexican food before a long run = really bad.)

There is a ton of stuff in this!

I am also trying to get out in the heat as much as I can so that my body can acclimate and I can start to master the Art of Hydration. So far this has been going pretty well. (Water = good. Powerade =vomit mid run....but I keep going = good. Hydrating on only iced coffee and then going for a run =exhaustion after a few having Starbucks in my Camelbak is out. ) all honesty....I am working hard on getting my body up and running where it needs to be from a nutritional stand point and once again...thank you all for the support. I say it all the time. I never really thought anyone would give two sh*ts about this blog...but so many of you tell me you enjoy it and I hope that when the day comes and I toe the line at the WS100...that you all are out there with would mean the world. (Well...except for my European...Australian....South American...and Asian and Middle Eastern peeps...that may not be possible...but for all the other "State Siders" would be nice :) )

So anyway... to get ready for the race I have been hitting the trails as hard as I can as often as I can. Since it has been really warm they have been fairly empty. This has allowed me to go as carefree and fast as I want.

Dry and fast baby!

It has also left me to meet those who have no business on the trails or in nature (in my opinion). guessed it.....another "OMG did that really happen on the trails?!" moment brought to you by Andi!!!

Now, I can honestly say that trail runners, and runners in general, are the nicest group of people I know. When I run road I see a ton of people and we all wave and say "hi". The problem with where I am is that there are not many trail runners. I see lots of hikers...and they are great...but unless I bring someone with me, I will never meet up with another where we can discuss our runs, the trail conditions or anything like that. It is kind of a lonely feeling. Yes, I love to run alone but at the same time I am getting to the point where I am tired of being looked at like a freak because I choose to run a different terrain than most.

So with that.... on to today's adventure....

But wait!...Before I continue I want to take a moment to address the gentlemen in the audience.

Please know, all women love to be complimented. If you are genuine and kind (and truly mean it) we can tell and it thrills us to no end. We may not show it at first...and you may not get to see it ..but we are all smiles once it happens and will think back on it for days. It is something you should do on a regular basis. It shows respect and appreciation towards us and maturity and confidence on your end. You may not think we notice, but trust me, we do. To have a man take the time to tell us we look beautiful...or that some part of us is "stunning" is so powerful and attractive. It does not matter if you are her lover, friend, or total will never get old.

With that being said, I will continue with the story...and the total opposite of what is mentioned above as wonderful...

So.. about midway thru my run today, I arrived at my usual resting spot a total mess. Actually,  a "hot mess" may be the best way to describe it. It was wicked out...almost 90 degrees and the trails were dusty and dry. I was literally dripping in sweat and covered in dirt. I am pretty sure I sounded like the "Sharapova" version of a trail runner...with the high pitch "argh" escaping my lips as I made my way down the last few rocks to the landing overlooking the river. As if that was not enough, I was in a panic to get my IPhone out of it's holder so that I could stop my Map My Run. I have concluded that I really need to get a Garmin, because after getting my IPhone out of it's holder, I noticed that when I turned my music on it paused my GPS...which killed any chance of knowing how I did on the first half of my run.

Oy!! It was at this point that I went from exhausted to irritated. What happened next did not help at all...

Now, I am used to people asking me if I "just ran" the trails when I take breaks. I tend to see a few runners when I am out, but for the most part people just hike and enjoy what nature has to offer. Normally the conversations are short and friendly. This afternoon...not so much. We are just going to refer to the individual I ran into as "Mr. T". He was with others but they were respectful and spent most their time just looking embarrassed.

Mr T:  "Did you just run down here?"

Me: "Yes."

(Now this is where the conversation should have turned to something like "oh...are you training for something?....but noooo...)

Mr T: "So you like it all dirty and sweaty?"

(At this point in time I really thought about decking the kid....but when I looked was just me and them.....)

Me: "Really?"

A few moments went by and I started to hear people make their way down the trail. Once I heard voices I felt comfortable sitting down and waiting for them to arrive. That is when the lad really turned up the heat...

Mr T: " Would you like some (offering me some of his snack)?" You know...this is good on everything....everything" (eyes looking up and down)

Me: *eat shit and die look*

Shortly after this was said, the young couple I heard came into sight. It was at this time that my "Inner New Yorker" came out. I quickly took him up on his offer and stuck my middle finger into his Nutella. I pulled it out and stuck it in my mouth...glaring at him the whole time...making sure he saw which finger I used and what I thought of him. I think I made my point. The looks on their faces were priceless. I was pissed beyond belief. People like that should not be allowed on the trails. I didn't stay long. I didn't get to rest and enjoy the beautiful views. It totally messed up my time and made the run back a living hell as my brain was replaying what happened over and over again. I could never get back into my running "zone". The whole afternoon had gone from "awesome training run" to "epic fail."

Now...I know what you are all thinking. Was it the smartest thing to do? No. Was I acting on pure emotion? Yes. Could I have handled it differently? You bet. Was I brave because others were around and I felt safe? Of course. Do I look back on it now and realize that I was just as immature as they were? Yep. Was it fun? Well....just think about it ;)

Was it the final straw that has broken the "Don't Run Alone" camel's back? Unfortunately, yes. I was not touched and they made no attempt to. In fact...they were sitting with their feet over the cliff. I had a better chance of pushing them over then they had of getting a hold of me. But that is not the point. The point is that while I always thought the trails were the safest place I could be, I know that humans are the most destructive animals on this planet and if they are on them...they are not 100% safe. I have started to run with friends and think that from now on I am going to take some of them with me. After all...I was raised to share ;).

So that is it. That was my day. I had to share...maybe because it is bothering me. If you all could have heard the tone. It was just totally disrespectful and gross. The beauty of nature was robbed from me today.

Other than that wonderful experience...I hope to continue training for Colorado with a few runs here in Kentucky as well as some more cross training. I am getting ready to start up Barre Amped..which uses the ballet bar to build lean muscle and improve the core. Yoga is still a lifesaver and rock climbing is still #1 on my list to start. To top if all off, I just watched that Skywire Live on Discovery Channel, which has reminded me that my slackline trees are calling in the backyard!

Look out climbing world!! No...not really.

More later. Until then...stay cool ;) Wait...Holy Shit....speaking of Discovery Channel, has anyone seen Naked and Afraid?! I am watching it now and this is just unbelievable. This is awesome. DC has really gone "balls out" on this one. I don't watch much TV but this is amazing. I am SO watching this. I wish I could do this!!! This chick is a red head and completely naked except for a nose ring!! I love humans...

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Can't We All Just Get Lucky?!

I'm sorry....Daft Punk seems to have the song of the summer and I just think the lyrics are so catchy...and let's face human. The song has literally been stuck in my head for a week and now I am sure it is stuck in yours. Welcome to my world :)

Anyway, the later part of this week has been one of rest. No, I am not injured. I am just being lazy, which I often get when someone comes to visit me (this weekend it was my Daddy!). It has allowed me to catch up on some trail running reading and begin to plan and dream about my race out in Colorado in four months time. While I have missed the trails...I really can't has been enjoyable and I can always start back up running tomorrow ;)

This break has also given me plenty of time to reflect on the sport I love and all sports in general ( we go!). It all started while discussing my race with a friend earlier in the week. I was explaining how I was going out to Breckenridge a week before my race to acclimate to the altitude when they asked a simple question: "Oh! Why don't you just get one of those tents to sleep in to get used to the altitude at home?". Now, I am just about 110% sure the question was in jest but I still responded with "no...that would be cheating" (not to mention too scary and out of my budget!).  It is what she came back with next that left me a little deflated: Why? It is not a drug or anything is it?

That "why?" left me with a lot to think about. Now...I don't want to get started with the whole drug doping thing. Lord knows we beat the subject to death on an almost daily basis in the world of sport. It is a topic that gets people very angry and I have found that not many are easy to forgive. It hits people on a very personal level and has kind of left me questioning the whole meaning of "sport".

Not following? Let me explain....

When we are young and start playing sports...everything is simple. It basically breaks down into two groups: those who have talent and those who have to work for it. In most instances, this is obvious from the start and basically weeds out which kids will continue to play a particular sport and which ones will "move on". It is almost nature's "Survival of the Fittest" in the sports world. Now, I don't mean that kids who work hard at a sport they are not naturally "gifted" at don't succeed and become awesome players...they do....but for the most part many of those who struggle move on to find other things to participate in.

This leads me to a simple question: Why does this change when we get older? 

Why do we go from the most simplistic form of which humans at the most basic level compete without any assistance for enjoyment... to trying to modify our bodies to perform and recover better for competition? Think about it...what would modern day sport be like if it was just humans at a basic level...without the assistance of ANY supplements, drugs, stimulation, enhancements, modifications, sponsorships, etc?

I think it would be amazing and it angers me that you can hardly find it anymore. Even in my beloved sport of trail running you constantly hear rumors of doping and races having to actually come out and say "no EPO's of any sort." Now you may be asking...what kind of doping can there be in long distance trail running?! Well, I have read everything from altering the body's ability to oxygenate blood (I mean really...what the f*ck?!) to taking recreational drugs to both ease pain and "become more connected" with nature (dammit...I never get to do drugs!!). It really has me just looking around going "if you can't find pure sport in trail running...what they hell is left!?"

That "purity"  has me forming opinions about many of the things that make up the culture of trail running (both the good and the bad). Trail running is starting to do more drug testing..which I think is a good thing. A positive "peer pressure" is taking hold and making runners think twice about what they do before races. The growing popularity of the sport in general is having both a positive and what I view as negative impact. It is introducing more people to running in nature and enjoying how the body works in a natural environment. It allows for friendships to be formed between people who care and respect the environment. It is getting more people off the couch and outside where they belong. However,  at the same time it is also causing more people to want to compete in the sport....the call for more money to be brought in....and more companies competing to get their market share and profit. As someone who majored in both advertising and public relations, this is what has me deflated.

Even if we can get all the drugs out of sport....I am almost at the point where I want to say "get everything out of it!". I mean everything. Let the friggin human body run like it was meant to. I see more ads for supplements, powders, recovery equipment and stimulation then I know what to do with. I watch these people who have a love for a very natural sport become involuntary dependent on what I almost consider "Corporate Doping". I see athletes who have a genuine love for the sport not be able to compete because 75% of the budget goes to the athletes who bring in the most money. Trail running is a very passionate sport and some of the people who love it most are insanely emotional about it but can't get to 99% of the races to share their experience with others. It is sad and I think it may be hurting the sport because it is not allowing for a level of competition that could allow for progress and "evolvement" (that may be an Andrea-ism).

Now you may be like "WTF?" at this point but hear me out. For me, trail running is enjoyable because it is human and nature...with nature and sometimes against nature. It is a very primal sport. However, when the sport becomes nothing but running advertisements, it becomes disheartening. What is worse is it is not even the fault of the runner.

 Trail running is becoming a global sport and that is a wonderful thing. At the same time, it is an expensive sport that leaves one wanting to travel all over the world to participate in the different races. Travel is something that almost every trail runner wants to do because it allows you to see so many different environments and feel what nature is like in places other than your own backyard. At the same time it is too expensive and those who have a 9-5 job really can't give all that up for their enjoyment. After all, happiness does not keep the lights on. That is where corporations come in. Yes, here comes the word...sponsorships. Right now, I think they help the sport and cause it to loose its basic meaning.

Woah now...hear me out! Once a runner gets a sponsorship things can change in a major way. They can experience things they may have never thought possible. They can all of the sudden afford the travel and expenses and focus on what they love the most, which is running in nature. At the same time they become a walking billboard for profit. Even if the relationship between the sponsor and runner is amazing and they love and support the athlete the end there has to be a profit to be made or it is useless. Any sponsored athlete would be naive to think that there is not someone behind some computer in some meeting giving some report on how much revenue that athlete has generated. After all, this leads to consumers running out and purchasing the items they see being used. Eventually, this leads to more companies wanting to get their share and more products being introduced. In the end,  a runner, who has never taken an supplement or used a recovery device, is all of the sudden using the products because the sponsorship is making a dream possible. I see it all the time over here in the US. Everyone is pimping their recovery and supplement products on FB and Twitter. Perhaps they really work and that is great. But if they that not creating an unfair advantage on a basic cellular level? Is that not altering the way the body is working? Is that not on some level cheating? It is really allowing the body to act in it's most natural and basic way? Do muscles really recover better with electric stimulation and if so...why are we allowing that in sport? Why can't sport just be the body recovering and performing how it is meant to....and if you are not strong enough at that time you do not win? If your body cannot adapt and perform better over time,  then why is it not just "the name of the game"? Should sport not constantly evolve as humans naturally evolve? Shouldn't everyone get a fair shot to participate? Is this not on some level a definition of doping?! I almost feel bad for the 1% of the trail running field who get 99% of the global attention....their basic love for nature and simplicity....trying to share a sport that is becoming so commercial so fast, and it is all our fault. We live for the product. We are being convinced that it will help us downhill better or recover quicker. I guess it is the same in all sports. It is a double edged sword....get to do what you love but literally live with a brand tattooed on your chest. I sit here and complain but would have nothing to complain about if there were not sponsors because I would not know about all the races on a global level.

All these questions have me a little deflated. The sport I love is so basic but the interest and popularity is making it more complicated then I would like. I would love to see one time when the best of the best get together and run without their corporate identity. I'm saying "strip down boys and with what your mother gave you!!!"  I'm sure that would never happen....I don't think it is possible. I really don't think they can break away. My sport is quickly becoming nothing more than "OMG...What shoe is he/she wearing and when can I buy it?!?!". It sucks....(and I mean it....I was following a race on Twitter the other day and the person had to take time and literally answer questions on what shoes an athlete was wearing because that was what all the questions were about.)  I don't give a damn what shoe they are wearing and I am becoming a little concerned as I don't think any of them purchase clothing that does not have their sponsor all over it. Is that really healthy for an individual? At what point are they lost and nothing but the name on their chest? How can they keep it separate and how can can children who idolize any athlete tell the difference?  I get it. I understand the "bottom line" of profit but it still does not mean I cannot express my dislike. I know I would not be able to enjoy my sport at the level I do in terms of spectating without the influence of sponsors. At the same time I am left confused. Trail runners are very basic people....sometimes it is disturbing how basic they are (brushing the hair is 99% optional on some days ;) ) but I love it. They have the same love I do for nature and if given the choice would most likely just live primal in it. They love being with friends and sharing their experiences just like I do. But it seems like at the same time competition and corporate influence is causing multiple levels of doping to occur....from drug doping to money doping. That is what I don't like. I think it is making the common consumer a bit idiotic. If you think I am wrong just go on your favorite athlete's FB or Twitter page. People literally think these guys are G*ds. They literally think they are the best and most amazing people in the world. I don't understand it. I look at them and am like..".ok...your body is obviously made to run". It is your basic natural make-up and instinct. It is what nature decided you would excel in. You are not curing cancer. Those people have to fight night and day for "sponsorships" and they are the one's that I will consider G*ds if they can come in first in their race.  After all, it was a former customer who introduced me to the world of trail running....and while I "loved him to death" like I did all my customers, at the same time he was a very basic human when we were in contact. He is sponsored and he is influenced like many of the elites in the sport but to me in the end he is no different or better than I am. If he is the same as me then why can't the sport compete on the same level I do when it comes to the subject of doping (which is nothing....unless you count beer....because I do run at a brewery one night a I guess that is a recovery doping ;) ) Why can't we all just get lucky when it comes to sport and go basic body to basic body (hey now!) ? I makes the world go 'round. Without Salomon there would be no Salomon Trail Running Team....without North Face there would be no North Face Trail Running Team....which would mean no sponsored price way for the athletes to survive financially....which would mean people like me would have no form of porn to enjoy (have you seen their bodies people?! Actually...never mind...I am the only one who likes it....and all my friends agree ;) ) Thank G*d for side projects (SOML).

I say we all strip down people....strip down to our basic natural abilities and we are made to do! 

*Disclaimer* I do want to make it clear....I am not attacking any athlete or sponsor. I am sharing my opinion on the sport as a whole. Many of the elite athletes in my sport are also pursuing other projects and are not relying on corporate sponsorships for many of the reasons I have mentioned...and I find that very respectable. 

That is all. I am now stepping off my soapbox. Sorry if you found this to be obnoxious. I just can't stand the idolization of things sometimes! I am a basic person living in a way to complicated world!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Going With The Flow

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."  ~Albert Einstein

I love this quote!

It perfectly describes what trail running is to me and often fills my head when I am out exploring. It is more than a quote to me. It is almost a directive and I believe it to be 100% true. I think if everyone took the opportunity to look deep into nature....then perhaps the world would be a slightly better place. If only we did not spend so much time trying to change it...fear it...dominate it...and control it.

"Looking deep" has been something I have spent a good amount of time doing the past few weeks as I have been exploring trail running and myself like never before (not like that people...oy!)

On a trail running level I have tried to become more with nature. Now, when I say that I do not mean I have stopped showering or anything...I just mean I have tried to be apart of it instead of just observing and appreciating it. Usually when I run I stop a few times and look around. This leads to me taking quite a few pictures (which you know if you are friends with me on FB or Instagram). I always try to take in everything around me from a silent and still point of view. When I do I feel like nature is watching me. I feel like she is happy I am there and is embracing and thanking me. And each time I am also thanking her for the opportunity to be a part of something so special. 

This has been a wonderful thing for me. It brings quite a bit of "inner peace" that my busy life lacks on a regular basis. Being still is not easy for me and to have something as beautiful as nature around me as I attempt it is a blessing. I say it often....I am so fortunate to have been raised with parents who have/had a love for nature and who thought it was so important to pass that love on. Not only is it good for the environment...but it is good for the human soul. 

Now, while observing nature on the trails has been wonderful, as of late I am left with the feeling that I am missing something by stopping so often. I really can't explain why this bothered me. It kind of had me feeling lazy. Yes, I was taking in all these amazing views...but was I really "being one" with my surroundings...or was I just a casual observer?  It made me feel like I was not looking deep enough. The feeling made me want more out of my interactions with nature.

Soooo....with weather in the mid 80's and 76% humidity I decided to change things today (if you know me...this comes as no surprise!) This afternoon I went down to Raven Run for a couple hours of running. It had been days since I had been on the trails and I was eager to reconnect. I planned out my routine with one major change: my phone was going to stay tucked away. Usually, I run with it so that I can take pictures of all the beautiful things around me. Not today. Today I told myself that I was going to run the whole a consistent pace. As you can imagine, this was a challenging task! (I am one who likes to take my time on the uphills and fly downhill with childlike, reckless abandonment.)

I will admit it took work, but once I got my pace down the experience was wonderful. Sure, I didn't have time to look around and see everything but the feeling of running "with" instead of "in" nature was amazing. This afternoon I felt like I was apart of it all. As the birds were flying and the streams were flowing...I too was making my way. Instead of taking it all in I was a part of it. I did not stop and listen to birds like I normally do. Today, I got to learn how they sounded in flight while I was in flight. I got to run with the squirrels and chipmunks and noticed that when you stay running they do too. When you stay in motion, nature stays in motion and you get to really feel the balance that exists. It was a magical afternoon. I am not sure anyone else there really understood what that feeling was like. I can only imagine what they thought when they ran into me making my way up and down the path. When I finally took my shoes off at the car and looked at myself I almost could not believe it. I looked like I had fallen into a stream. My hair was dripping wet. My grey shirt was completely black and clinging desperately to my body. I had not realized it at the time... but 2 hours of running around in that humidity had made me sweat so much that my clothing had become a cooling source for my body. I think staying in constant motion for that long allowed my body to finally adapt to the heat. Of course, the 3 bottles of water may have also we all know I am working on my hydration :)  

The second picture...that is all I got...after I jumped into the Envoy and kicked my shoes off.

In the end I may have looked like a wreck...but I was blissfully happy and conquered a new distance on trail. I felt like I could have gone on forever.  Right now...not so much...I feel like I have been hit by a truck....but I would not change it for the world! I think this is the new way I am going to train. I am going to become just another creature out there...just trying to fit in :)  On a side note...I have to give a shout out to all the people at the Richmond Rd Starbucks. They constantly see (and probably smell) me come in covered in sweat and mud...and they still seem excited that I am there! It makes a girl feel pretty good :)

On a personal level things have been changing as well. I am not going to lie and say things have been perfect when it comes to nutrition and my tendencies. I have had my ups and downs...but on my internal mountain I feel like I am no longer hanging out at base camp. I have acclimated and am starting to stage an attempt. The support has been amazing and I am so grateful for all you wonderful people! I spend quite a bit of time looking at myself...but instead of looking harshly like I have in the past...I am just trying to "see" myself. Each night I look at myself in the mirror.  I took at my muscles. I have never really done that before. To breakdown ones self in a positive way is a beautiful thing. Like when in nature, we all have things about ourselves that we do not notice at first...but when we find them they are almost mesmerizing. For me it is my eyes. I can look into my own eyes forever. People have always told me my eyes are pretty...but I am just starting to really understand why they think that. I think I am finally starting to appreciate my muscles. In the past I always wished for skinny little legs...but running has really made me love my muscles. My legs can carry me anywhere I want to go...and when I just sit in the shower and flex them I find my calves to be sexy, beautiful and strong. Sure, I have a ways to go...and it is new to me. It has me feeling shy when it comes to myself...and I am anything but shy. I never understood shyness until I forced myself to come face to face with "me" in the mirror. I now understand shyness. I now know what it is like to look at someone and be like "hi" in a really meek is different. I now appreciate shyness. I never had any real experience with it before. I am a social personality. In the past I never understood how if someone wanted to be my friend...or had a question about me...why didn't they just do it or ask it...I'm a pretty nice person...I like people and I like to interact.  Now I know and at times it sucks. I hope to get over it one day and be like "yo! whatup! when I stand in the mirror...but for now I will kind of stare at myself quietly ( a lot of that seems to be going on as of late)....waiting to see if I look at myself and am like "hi...I like you...I feel like we know each other and you are really neat."

I find myself looking at this picture a lot because 1) my eyes and 2) as I get older I start to look more and more like my mom

So that is it. The trails are great...I am great....and "Hi....yes you....I think you are neat and we need to be friends".  :)