Do-Over

Stop.

Go back.

Rewind.

 

 

 

Please.

 

 

When I was little, I loved playing with toy rollercoaster sets, toy farms–miniature life setups. I felt if I could just wish hard enough, I’d shrink and transport to this new world of adventure, swooping around turns, playing with sheep and cows, flying down descents in a corvette.

 

Twenty years later I find myself doing something eerily similar. More than once this past week I have felt that if I tried, I could will time to reverse itself. You see, I am desperate for a do-over.

 

Oh no. Please no. Was all I could think as I ran into the back of the car in front of me. Exhaustion from a day of travel instantly replaced with adrenaline.

 

I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine. Crap. Roll into the ditch before that car comes. My last thought as I came careening across the pavement with my bike.

 

In one week I have totaled my car and wrecked my bike and body. I have stitches in my chin and leg, a chipped scapula, a minor separated shoulder, and contusion in my jaw, not to mention road rash that resembles pepperoni pizza.

 

All I could think to say was “I’m so thankful it wasn’t worse.” I’m so thankful the 7-year-old girl in the car in front of me was unharmed. I’m so thankful I have all my teeth, that I wasn’t knocked unconscious, that the car behind me left enough distance that I had time to roll into the ditch instead of getting run over.

 

In general, I think I’m good at finding that silver lining, and I tend to have a positive outlook on life. If I’m wearing a bandaid on my face to cover my stitches, I’m going to make people call me Nelly. I’m also going to be thankful for the people who rally around me when I struggle. For friends who come and wash my hair for me, for friends who change their plans to be “on call” incase I’m unable to drive myself to the hospital. I am so thankful.

 

But really I’m sad. I’m angry and frustrated that these things keep happening to me.

I want a do-over. And I want one because I don’t like how things keep turning out. I don’t know why I get so excited to take one step forward only to get punched in the face and fall back down.

This is good, people tell me. Resilience. You will be stronger for it.

But really, will I? What am I learning here?

I am learning not to get too happy when good things happen, when I feel like my body is healing and finally moving the way it used to, because you’ll just eat s**t on your next bike ride and it’ll f**k everything up.

That’s what I’m learning.

 

I am angry.

I want a do-over.

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Idaho

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Idaho is full of friendly people and beards. While this seemed to set my trip up to be a great success, all in all, it was a disappointment.

Each day I spent three or more hours in the University of Idaho clinic, running through movement pattern assessments. The athletic trainers were great and I felt like I was in good hands. But it seemed something would get corrected and I would feel ok, only for things to revert back to its old pattern.

I gave these guys a hard case. I walked in on crutches, with a boot, not knowing what was going on in my right foot, and having less of an idea of what was causing the pain in my left leg. I was the definition of a mess. I can honestly say they did all they could to help me. This last week I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my foot. It’s been a long 5 weeks so far of no running, especially since I had built up my volume to the highest it’s been in years, and I was feeling stronger.

This is, by far, the hardest part of being an athlete. Over the years I feel like I take 2 steps forward, and then 3 steps back, only to have no idea what step I’m actually on anymore. But I’m not upset. Sometimes you have to eliminate possibilities before you can find the right answer.

I’ve been reminded of the many blessings that are consistently being poured over me, even now. I have a job I love. How many people can say that going to work actually makes their day better? I can ride my bike and swim all day long, which are two of my favorite things. I have people who love me and people to love. I have food to eat and a roof over my head.

And you know what I am most thankful for right now? I’m not a professional triathlete. My elite license expired at the end of last year. Due to these injuries, I deliberately didn’t race on a national scene. So why am I thankful for this? It’s allowed me to take a step back and evaluate the bigger why. And it’s stopped this feeling of “I have to be doing this” and “I’m expected to do that.”

I’ve had time to answer my why and I’ve come up with a plan going forward.

My plan starts with getting healthy. I’m able to bike and swim and I will do so to my heart’s content with the understanding that I can keep myself relatively fit. I am well aware this isn’t proper training.

Just because I can’t run, doesn’t mean life can’t be great. Somehow this was hard for me to grasp.

I’ve decided I would rather turn a new leaf mentally fresh and a few steps behind in my fitness than slightly fitter and mentally dragging.

I have no expectations to live up to from sponsors. No points to chase. Of course that’s what I want–to chase that podium as an elite athlete–but I’m going to be here, until I am there.

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All man kind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.” ~Benjamin Franklin

 

I haven’t stopped moving, I’m just finding my own way.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me on this journey. Your encouragement means the world, and I’m so happy to have you in my corner.

Happy training!

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Only Happy in the Sun

I’ve been quiet lately. Let me try to catch you up on what’s been going on.

 

The other day a friend was out running and told his buddy, “She can only ride in ‘pretty’ places!”

He’s right.

I love sunshine. When I was 7, I named my pet duck Sunshine. “You are my Sunshine” is one of the best songs ever (if you don’t believe me, watch this). I’m 99% solar powered (the rest is coffee). It just so happens that the sun shines in the prettiest of places-usually near a beach, with dolphins and mountains and open spaces with long roads I can get lost on for hours. What triathlete doesn’t love that?

But I haven’t always been this way. My first winter training for triathlon, I spent a majority of my time in my friend’s basement on his computrainer and treadmill. For some reason I thought it was a good idea to leave Santa Barbara for winter break and spend 4 weeks back in the arctic tundra of Chicago (note: I never made this mistake again). When Mike was there, he would help me get the computer set up, along with a movie (Kung Fu Panda like 8 times), and leave me to my business. When he wasn’t home, though, I could never find the light switch, and couldn’t figure out how to get the movie or music to play. So I’d sit in the dark for 3 or 4 hours, pedaling away.

And I got faster.

And you know what?

I loved it.

I loved being in that dark hole by myself, sweat pouring down, where no one knew to find me.

Fast forward to now. I sit on my bike and grind my teeth. The pain is so excruciating sometimes I cry, or just give up. It’s been three years. I have seen more doctors, PTs, ATs, chiropractors, orthopedists, and masseuses than I can count, and am no closer to resolve.

I can sit and spin for hours without much problem, but as soon as I put in effort, I’m in a dark hole of pain, so different from what I experienced before. I can go on to tell you how this has affected my training and racing, but I think it is obvious that I haven’t seen improvement, on my bike or run. What isn’t as obvious is how it’s affected my mental state.

It’s worn on me. I look back 3 years to the day on my training peaks account and see the same comments of pain. For some reason my love always outweighed my frustrations, and I’d keep training. I’d focus on what I could do-pedal for a long time and not go hard. The only way I have found compensates for that happy exhaustion I used to feel, is pretty places. When my leg starts acting up, I can look around and say, “You know, I’m okay. This is beautiful and I’m okay.”

I’ve waited three years for stars to align. On Friday, I was offered the opportunity to fly out to Idaho and work with a clinic at the University. Yes, I’ve been told I could be fixed before, but this time I was told they wouldn’t let me come out for nothing.

On Monday morning I’m flying out with a bike box, suitcase, crutches, and boot. I’m staying at a random hotel and will be working with clinicians for 5 days. I’m putting a lot of faith into these strangers’ hands, and can only hope for the best.

My love for this sport has never waivered. It’s morphed into frustration, yes, but the fire is still there. More than anything I want to be able to do what I love, whether it’s in the prettiest of places, or a dark basement.

I’m going to try and keep this updated over the next few days and weeks with what I’ve learned and where I’m going from here, so check back!

 Happy Training!

Moose

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Misconceptions

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Mickey the Moose on my plane!

My final days on traincation were fabulous, and, as always, it was incredibly hard to leave. Santa Barbara is my paradise, simply put.

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This is NOT easy!

Coming back to Colorado Springs was an adjustment. Not just the altitude (though I’d like to write on that at some point), but life in general. Things are different here. Sometimes it feels like I’m coming home, and sometimes it doesn’t. Proof I’m still finding my footing. It was great to go back to work and see my kids. It’s pretty special that my day gets better by going to work. My first day back I told a swimmer to keep her head down in breaststroke. “But I just want to smile at you!” she told me. Precious. I was also fortunate to spend a weekend in the mountains where I tried snowshoeing for the first time. I must say I don’t recommend going from 0 ft on Wednesday, to 8000 ft on Friday unless you want your watts to match your heart rate, but I don’t regret it.

A few more weeks and weekends have passed. More training, more work, more life decisions like choosing to go back to school and become a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC).

Life is weird like that.

It sneaks up on you.

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I traded mountains for this?

Today wasn’t a great day. It started last night when I bit the bullet and decided to go back to having bangs. Hang with me here. This is a REAL commitment for a female athlete. They’re a pain in the butt for training, but are fun and I’ve always liked them. Well, as it turns out, in the year and a half since I’ve grown my hair out, I’ve developed a cowlick. I now have fringe that sticks straight out from my forehead. Splendid! My house key later slid between my car seat and center console, burying itself under the tracks on which your seat slides and is forever gone. This left me digging through 7 inches of snow to squeeze through the doggie door in order to get back into my house. Joy! Now my sister is flying in to Denver to spend a lovely weekend visiting and it’s dumping snow. Since my car didn’t make it up the street, there was no chance I’d make it to Denver to pick her up, so I booked her a shuttle back to the Springs. Fantastic! I don’t have snow tires, I can’t find my inhaler, I lost my watch and my paddles, and I had a crappy swim. AWESOME!

So when it was 20 degrees and there was 7 inches of snow on the ground, I was not excited to go for a run. I considered bailing. I was tired and hangry. But I had gotten Yak Tracks for Christmas and was almost looking forward to trying them out. The first step is always the hardest, right? I grabbed my cell phone and started a timer (no watch, remember?), and just went. My face turned into an icicle of sweat and snot, frozen in a disconcerting expression. Soon I relaxed. The snow was so fun, like running on clouds. My face thawed and twisted into something resembling a smile. I passed an older gentleman and commented on his shoes (racing flats, no socks, 7 inches of snow!!). We struck up conversation, I turned down the pace, and we ran together, both of us further than we’d planned.

We talked about sport. The joys of it. The way it can be so healing. The way it can tame demons, or help you run from them; but if you run, how they always catch you. We talked about past experiences, how far we’ve “made it” in sport. And we talked about the selfish nature of it all. To this I told him it was a common misconception, this belief that we must be so selfish to be our best. Yes, the successful ones are generally Type A, but we tend to forget what it’s all about. I told him there was too much joy in what I’m doing to do it alone. I was happy to slow my pace and talk about life. We’re made to be in community and connect with others, and I love the way sport allows us to do just that. He shared with me how he wished he had learned his lesson sooner. He found so much more joy in running now, for fun, than he ever did as a nationally ranked marathoner. His smile boogered face said it all. We parted ways, shaking mittened hands, and I ran off in such better spirits. How easy to have run on by him. How thankful I am I didn’t.

I turned off to another trail in the direction of my car, and caught up with some sledders/snowboarders. “Want to make a snow angel with us?!” Yes I sure did! The snow over my head and down my back was worth it. “Cool! Enjoy your run!”

Couldn’t have been better.

 

Happy Training!

Moose

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Traincation Pt 1

For a myriad of reasons, I called my mom and told her I wouldn’t be home for Christmas. “Home” is a little different for me. I remember a few years ago when I told my mom that Chicago wasn’t “home” anymore. She cried. Harsh words, but they weren’t meant to be hurtful. When you leave home at 16, by the time you’re 24, it’s just the place your parents live. I don’t have many friends there, things are refurbished and reconstructed, torn down and rebuilt. It will never be the same. So for the first time I chose not to go back to my parents house for the holidays. With a wrench thrown in my life plan, I found myself wanting to retreat to a safe place that wasn’t the arctic tundra.

And I booked a flight to Santa Barbara for a few days.

And then I saw this.

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Paradise

And I extended my stay.

And I invited a friend, John O’Neill, to come play, too.

And I’m so glad I did!

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Phil doing what Phil does best!

As soon as I landed in Santa Barbara, my favorite person, Tina, took me down to see Phil at Hypercat Racing (I wouldn’t trust any one else with my fit!). With my new steed in tow, I was ready to feel comfy and ride the crap out of those mountains (which I’ve done lots of!)! After catching up, we discussed proper position, pedal stroke and efficiency, then christened the steed Sully, and called it a night.

The days have since flown by! It has been such a blessing to be here and catch up with friends, ride in the mountains, run on the beach, and swim next to the ocean. I have lots of favorite things here and I love to share them with others. It lights me up. I remember someone explaining this to me, comparing it to a father and his son. The father loves the son and wants to show him all these great things that bring him joy. So he takes him out to play catch in the backyard and teaches him all about baseball. He wants to share this great and special joy he feels with others that he cares about.

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Swimmin’! I’m the far right, doing aqua aerobics ;)

I think maybe that has been missing in my life for a little while. It was nice to have it back.

I’ll be here one more week. I’m stuffing in as much of my favorite things as I can. Like riding out to my favorite grocery store for a gluten free vegan scone, that just happens to be 85 miles away. Typical.

I’m so thankful to be able to do this; it’s hard to put it into words. Last night as I laid in bed, I couldn’t help but think with the passing of each year, the list of things I am grateful for increases tenfold. That is pretty neat.

Happy New Year! Happy Training!

Moose

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‘Tis the Season!

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I love Christmas. It’s my second favorite holiday to my Birthday. Which, no matter how much you want to debate, is a holiday. 

I know what you’re thinking. It sounds selfish, right? Yep! But there’s more to it, I promise.

One of my favorite questions to ask people is about “love languages.” It sparks great conversation! Based on the book by Gary Chapman, there are 5 love languages. Our love language is not only how we communicate with others and show we care for them, but also how we want to be shown love. This makes sense-you give others what you hope to get in return. The 5 love languages are: touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. 

Touch is pretty self-explanatory. Interestingly, I have only met one guy who didn’t say his love language was touch. Words of affirmation go something like “I’m so proud of you!” “You’re such a hard worker!” “You look great today!” Quality time (QT) is also pretty self-explanatory. As is gifts. And acts of service means going out of your way to help another person (I love this one. It seems so selfless to me.). 

So think about it. What is your love language? You can only choose one. What is your friend’s love language? Your spouse?

Once I found out my mom was words of affirmation, our relationship was completely different. I went from battling with her, feeling unloved and speaking awful things to her heart, to understanding. I was able to use words and tell her what an amazing mother and friend she is to me. Her cooking is delicious, she has the most amazing legs (thanks for those!), and is so loving. It may not work for me, but it works for her and she deserves to hear it.

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Possibly my least favorite wrapping paper of all time.

Now can you guess why I love my Birthday and Christmas? That’s right, my love language is gifts. It kinda sucks. I feel very material most of the time. But I absolutely love to give people things they wish for, things that are personal and show I am listening. You can tell me nice things, hug me, hang out, or help me with my car, which is all well and good and I am thankful for that, but when the UPS man comes to my front door with a package for me (bonus if it’s edible!), I light up like a kid on Christmas morning! Wait…

It may be the season for gifts (YESSS!!!) but it’s also a season when people really show their love for each other. So I encourage you to think about your love language. Try to decide what your friend’s is, and then ask them to see if you’re right. Then do something about it. Make an effort to show them you care, even if it’s awkward for you. They may really need it. And they sure as heck deserve it.

Merry Moosemas and Happy Training!!

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Seasons

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So excited about life.

It seems to me that I post on this topic a lot; the idea of seasons. I lived in Santa Barbara for 4 years and our seasons ranged from june-gloomy (60-75 with dense fog in the morning) to sunshine (70-80). That’s right, a range of about 20 degrees throughout the year. Colorado is…different. The “real feel” was -34 on Friday. So that was awesome. 

I think I’ve been writing about this because there has been so much change and uprooting in my life as of late. It is unreal the metaphors of life and sport. I’ll revisit one of my favorite trails, and now, covered in snow and impacted by the seasons, it is completely new and different. Not better or worse, just different. And you get to learn it all over again. People change, life changes, and you can either be pissed things aren’t the same, or you can get excited about the new. That trail hit 50 degrees and you bet I frolicked through the snow in my sports bra and shorts, which very well may be my new favorite thing!

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Before the fall

More than the weather has changed in my life. I took a break from training after the Fearless Pro Super Sprint in San Diego (where I crashed and broke some ribs). For 17 days I did relatively nothing. Housemates would leave for work and come home and I was still perched over the puzzle in the living room, or playing solitaire (which I lost multiple times a day for 17 days straight, before realizing I was missing the queen of diamonds), or watching LOST from season 1. Getting back into things was rough. I think most athletes, and especially females, can understand. Your body changes pretty quick. I remember in high school, my assistant swim coach said “fitness is hard to gain, but easy to loose!” Wise words! But the time off allowed me to do some really great reflecting.

In the midst of all this, a huge relationship in my life ended. As an endurance athlete, dating someone outside sport can be really difficult. There are countless memes and blog posts about it. We eat a lot, smell, go to bed early, and spend a majority of our day on the roads and trails, in the pool, and at the gym. This change has forced me to take one day at a time, but I’m realizing it’s not necessarily as bad as it sounds. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more confident or happy with certain parts of my life as I do in this moment. What is the most fabulous, is training. It is one of the best gifts God has given me; an escape of endorphins and joy. It can be a chance to get out of my head, or a chance to put all my thoughts back into place and reflect. It is a chance to see the metaphors of the trail ahead of me and the changing of the seasons. 

But it’s time to jump back on the horse! Relationships are hard, but dating is weird, and blind dates are scary! My family’s advice was to wear snowpants and have an “out”. My housemate offered me her pepper spray. I was told no yoga pants, no parka, and that I had to wear a real bra (I can hardly believe I own any). I didn’t like any of these things! But I did what I was told, put on a huge smile, and remembered I like most people.

Now boys, here’s some advice if you go on a date with a triathlete, or me. Please don’t tell me how little body fat I have, or do the “you must eat really healthy all the time” thing. Because it’s going to get weird when I tell you how I’ve adopted this habit of eating dessert after breakfast. It’s awesome. 4 cookies as I write this. I also really don’t care to hear about the no-carb diet you went on. You ate 100g of cabs every day for a month and lost 8 pounds? I eat 100g of carbs every hour that I train. This may also explain your “hanger” as we get lost trying to find our way to dinner. Be smart. Have a snack.

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Really?

So you see, there are going to be flops, like my baking. And I’m going to get kicked off that damn horse more than I stay on it. But come snow, -34 degree temps, or bad dates, I’m going to enjoy the dang ride!

Happy Training,

Moose

 

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