Honest advice from a friend…

My good friend and fellow trail runner, Jill Puleo (check out her YouTube chanel) gave me permission to share this recent conversation we shared on Facebook.  It’s personal from both sides of our stories, but her advice to me…?

Holy cow.

Her advice to me is too damn good to keep to myself.

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Jill (rockstar in the picture above!) and I have only met ONE time in person. Yet we have both worked to build a strong and growing friendship based initially on two simple things: Curly hair and trail running. 🙂  We met at Western States Camp 2015 waiting for the run for day two to start.

Our friendship essentially started from a three minute conversation at the start of a run.

How awesome is that!??

Here’s the Facebook conversation between Jill and I recently.

Betsy:

So the day you checked in with me?

Thank you following your gut or intuition or whatever was guiding you Jill. I had had a rough day.

Longish story as short as possible? Spencer had a run/stride analysis with a local coaching/Ultra-running/Guru that we all love and respect, Joe. Spencer loved it, gained a ton from it – and was quick to tell me that I should get one done as well. I made some comment at the time about ‘I’m not fast enough to have a stride.’ and dismissed the idea.  Spencer would bring it up every once in a while… ‘Are you going to get your stride looked at by Joe?’ and I would say something benign and dismissive like ‘I’ll think about it’ or ‘maybe’.

Well this past weekend we had a full weekend of training. I am starting to ramp up training from an extended recovery period.

Spencer says he is only going to suggest to me one more time to seriously consider getting my stride looked at and then he’ll drop the topic but do I understand that this  would be a really beneficial thing to do?

So I say yes, I’ll go see Joe. (I’ll admit I said it with the unmistakable tone of bitchy, forced, pissed-off….)

I email Joe and get an appointment.

I go.

Joe is AMAZING. SO much patience and knowledge.  And it turns out I do have a stride and it’s kind of messed up or least could be a lot more efficient and ‘healthy’. He appreciates that my goal is to be running when I’m 70 and that I want to invest time in building a ‘healthy’ stride since I’m fairly new to running. He spent over two hours with me talking about what was weak/strong and how to work to fix some of the things he saw to get me to a healthy stride.

Here’s the deal… And this is what ALL of my resistance was about… He videos you running at different speeds and from different angles. And then you get to watch in ((slow-mo)) while he shows you your legs, angles, back, feet, arms… I assume it’s fascinating and instructive had I not been totally and utterly horrified at seeing myself running on video.

I saw a woman who looked fat, lumpy, flappy, floppy — her hair looked horrible and she really, really needs a new bra. I was so heartbroken at how I looked on that video I could barely hear what Joe was telling me.

And then we go through some range of motion exercises and cues — and we run/tape again. Again…. I’m watching the videos totally transfixed with how fat and awkward and horrible I look.

In my mind I’ve thought I looked happy and solid and like maybe even just a teeny, tiny little bit like an athlete when I run. Seeing the video removed ALL postiive thoughts I had about my body while running. I think deep down I KNEW this is what would happen which is why I was defensive and avoiding it all…  I drove home choking back tears the entire way in self-pity.  I know that Spencer knows something is wrong well beyond the stride analysis thing and me ‘not being fast enough to have a stride’.  And I’d just about rather cut out my own tongue that explain that I just didn’t want to see myself on video…

Seeing myself on video running was actually far worse than I imagined.

Jill, please tell me to grow up. And that everyone hates their self on film. That I need to get over it – so I can get working on what really matters – which is a healthy stride…

I’m stuck in horrified, defensive and bitchy mode.

I want so badly to have a different body than I do… And that makes me sad. I know you will understand that because we’ve talked about body image issues before. And I KNOW that learning to love my body as it is, is a process.

I always seem to know exactly what to tell others who are struggling.

But if you would have seen the video of me running — you would understand my current horror and sadness…

Jill:

The video: YES I UNDERSTAND.

I understand so, so very much.

I am still suffering from seeing pictures of myself that my friend posted of me from her wedding in which, I look like a puffy old crow with a hooked nose and thick calves.

I am not going to tell you to grow up.

I am not going to tell you to “practice self care” (whatever the eff that means…I HATE THAT PHRASE) and I am not going to tell you that it doesn’t suck. Your body was made in a way that doesn’t please you and you fight it every day. Being flippant about that and telling you it will all go away with a journal and a cup of camomile tea is epic bullshit.

Secret?

OK here’s a big one: Although I believe in the Body Positive movement, I don’t really get some parts of it. I feel like there are many good points, but it also seems like there are a lot of excuses being floated around. You know what I mean…?

It’s those people who don’t want to feel ANYTHING uncomfortable. Well you and I both know that if you don’t feel anything uncomfortable, you are not growing. You are also not challenging yourself. I would like to sit home today and eat M&Ms. That would make me VERY comfortable. And the body positive people would say that after multiple days of doing this I should love the body that results. BUT NO. Because that is NOT FRIGGING HEALTHY.

So, my idea is this: I like to think of my body like I think of my my sister in law…I have to accept it for what it is, even like it sometimes, but I don’t have to love it.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOVE YOUR BODY.

But, I do think that you have to love what it does for you, and that’s where I choose to focus my thoughts. Or at least, I try. I know I am not a fabulous runner. I mean, I am not fast and I will never win anything. I do have this pretty amazing talent for long distances. I get more comfortable the longer I go and feel better doing it too. I think to myself that I like this about my body and I thank it for getting me this far.

BUT I DO NOT THANK IT FOR THE CELLULITE I’VE HAD SINCE I WAS 10.

I don’t care how much goddamned tea I drink I am never going to love my cellulite. I don’t know if this helps, but your body has done and will do a lot of things.

Maybe it’s a partner, a co-worker, a sister in law…

It doesn’t have to be your true romance.

BUT YOU…you, on the inside…well, you’d better love that part because inside that package is a heart and a mind and a soul and all of it is pretty spectacular.

As far as the video/photos go…you have the choice to never look at it ever again or watch it over and over. I try to think to myself: which of those options will allow me to be who I want to be once I stop watching? Like, I don’t want to be a total bitch all day, so I should probably NOT go through my high school yearbook, you know? Not without vodka, anyway.  

You don’t get an award for being OK with watching your body flop around on a treadmill and being OK with it. But, it is nice to feel good and treat others well (aka: NOT be a bitch after said viewing) so in this case: YOU ARE JUSTIFIED and welcome to not ever look at that video again.

Don’t say “I should get over this” because that diminishes your feelings. Say “I will get better at handling this” because unlike the self-help/life coach/body positive ladies, I do not believe that this feeling will go away.

I think that instead of wishing it away, ya better cozy on up…because if you want to get through it by making it ghost, you’re in for a world of shit when it comes crashing back unexpectedly.

So, think about what you like about what your body does for you and focus on that. LIKE it. APPRECIATE it. But, don’t feel like a failure if you end up giving it the side-eye most of the time. You’re allowed.

That being said, be sure that you are not comparing your body to other bodies. I am pretty sure you don’t do this, but scrolling through Instagram can be incredibly defeating. All of those gorgeous bodies in front of gorgeous mountain ranges can be hard to watch…

OK that’s enough full frontal Jill for now…haha

Sending love as always

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

You are never alone.

Deeply grateful for you, our friendship and your stellar, blunt, authentic advice.

Thank you Jill.

Diabetes doesn’t go on Holiday…

img_4329-jpgI had to pull out my glucose testing kit this week.

It’s been in retirement for 3 years.

I am not gonna lie.  It was a bit of a low moment.  I was sad and a little scared.

I had a sudden flash of fear that Type 2 (T2) Diabetes was back or trying really hard to creep back in. I was noticing some things…  Things that seemed disconnected, but hauntingly familiar.

Fuzzy thinking. Thirsty. Sleepy. Insatiably hungry. Irritable out of the blue/out of porportion. Craving sugar.  Feeling ‘puffy’.

Not just the normal things that happen in life, I mean, the ‘symptoms’ were out of place given what was happening in my life.

All of the sudden it dawned me WHY these were familiar…  This is the crap that happens when my blood sugars are out of whack.

I hadn’t felt these symptoms in these odd clusters in over three years…

Holy crap.

It was time to test and see what the numbers had to tell me.


I tested as soon as I put the pieces together and realized I was possibly experiencing some blood sugar issues. My post-prandial (2 hours post-meal) glucose was 111.  For me — that’s a solid, if tad-bit high, number.  But respectable.

Whew.  Little breathing room and stab of relief.

I tested a fasting number the next morning and it was 110.  Exhaling in relief.  On the high side, but arguably good.

Yesterday was 100.

I’m in a ‘safe space’ with the numbers I’m seeing and recording.

They’re not as low as I would like, nor are they as low as I can make them when I’m keeping my diet ‘tight’.

While I’m clinically in a non-diabetic range, I still felt pretty clearly this was a wake-up call.


After Mountain Lakes 100 miler back in September, I had a revelation of sorts.  The conversation in my head (and out loud to Spencer…) went sort of like this:

‘I just ran for 100 miles, for close to 30 hours and fueled that effort with about 5,000-6,000 calories of SUGAR.  And while that’s pretty typical running fuel for ‘normal’ folks, uh…  You aren’t normal.  How horribly WRONG/DUMB/STUPID/RIDICULOUS is that equation for someone like YOU??!  Can I remind you that you used to be morbidly obese, insulin-injecting, T2 for two DECADES.  HOLY CRAP BETSY.  You’re a reformed T2 diabetic and you just ran (which you can only do because you are no longer morbidly obese) eating pure, easily accessible to your blood, sugar. This.is.utterly.asinine. You can’t keep doing this.  It’s a recipe for disaster.’

So I made the decision that I needed to change some things.  Immediately.

It all has to start with my day-to-day food plan.


There’s a health condition called ‘Insulin Resistance’.  It also gets talked about as ‘Carbohydrate Intolerance’.  I’ve done a ton of research on it, and I have come to understand that I am no longer T2 Diabetic, but I am still insulin resistant.  And I always will be. I can certainly manage it, but it’s not going to go away. While it is not an entirely accurate description, I kind of think of it as being ‘allergic’ to carbs.

((Here’s the disclaimer in all of this:  I’m an experiment of one. I lost over 200 pounds, reversed type 2 and somehow fell head-over-heels in love with the endurance running world. Turns out that there aren’t a lot of people like me out there, and the ‘normal’ rules for food/nutrition/fueling just don’t ever seem to work well for me. My solutions and chosen paths are not likely to work or make sense for anyone else.))

I’m well aware that if I eat too many carbs {ANY KIND OF CARBS – YES… Even the ‘healthy ones’}  I get swinging blood sugars.  If I keep carbs {even the healthy ones…} to a minimum — my glucose stays in a horizontal and largely stable line.

‘My body hates carbs!’ — me

‘No.  Your body loves carbs.  It loves them to DEATH.’ — Deb, my sister.

So…

Good-bye to my plant based diet that I loved and enjoyed for almost three years. (Averaging 300 – 400 ish grams of carbohydrates per day with a healthy balance of grains, fruits and veggies.)

Hello again to my old friend, no-and-low carb. (Averaging 40-70 grams of total carbs per day.)

I’m tightly restricting my daily carbohydrate load. ANY carbohydrate source.  Aiming for whole, non-processed foods. And I am most especially vigilant for any of the added or hidden variations of sugars/corn syrups that were truly and absolutely my worst enemy as a T2.

I know how to do this.

I just willingly and knowingly strayed from the basics that got me ‘here’; I strayed from the food plan that helped me lose weight, become non-diabetic, learn to run…  I mean I reversed T2 Diabetes — I suddenly felt FREE and healthy enough to try new things with food, fueling, diet.  So I did!  I’m totally OK with those experiments and what they have taught me about myself and the way my body works.

I just find it humbling and interesting that I am back where it all started.

Back to the very basics of what worked when I first started this crazy journey.  Back to low carb, NO SUGAR, low glycemic indexed foods.

((For my running friends who are wondering about fueling during training and events that this dilemma now hands me…  Well. Join the crowd. Me too.  I’m lost and little bewildered with it all at this moment in time.  But I am deeply driven by the knowledge that if I want to stay healthy and running; I have to stay the course in managing this or T2 Diabetes could possibly win this whole freaking thing. I won’t, can’t let that happen.  So let the new fueling experiments begin. 🙂 )) 


This week has been a solid reminder that T2 diabetes is still chasing me 365 days a year.

It never takes a Holiday.

But, guess what?

I have NO PLANS to take a Holiday either.

My pants are getting tight…

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These were my old 26/28 or 5X pants.  In this picture I’m about 170ish pounds and a size 10-12 L/XL.  Just for reference.

I have gained some weight since early August.

No it’s not muscle, not fluid retention.  (Nice try.)

It’s plain, ol’, legit weight gain.

I have to own it for what it is…

I’m trying not to panic. I’m trying to remember this is ALL part of the process, the adventure.  Life.

But the idea and process of gaining weight – even a little –  terrifies me given my history.

My brain – multiple times a day – chimes in with something along the lines of…

‘One pound?  Might as well be 200 pounds Bets!  You’re gaining weight. Slipperrrryyyy slope. This might just be the time you can’t stop it…’

I KNOW that gain/loss are normal parts of this whole process.  And will remain consistent, persistent company for the rest of my life.

I have been rallying with…

‘This is about being healthy. Fit. And being healthy and fit for a lifetime. You know what to do, you’ll get it done. You’re worth the work.  ‘

This is more than a single pound.  Yet, I’m not entirely sure exactly how much weight — since I don’t rely on the scale anymore.  I am working to use ‘environmental cues’ so that I do NOT get caught in that ‘weighing myself 5 times a day’ craziness that has plagued me in the past.

One day about 4 weeks ago I noticed that my pants were fitting tight.  I felt a tickle of panic.

The past 3 weeks it has been noticing new things daily… My rain coat, race shirts, work shirts are all snug.  I’ve spent the past 10 days or so trying NOT to panic. And trying to figure out exactly what to do about it all.

Weight loss, maintenance, fitness. Not a single one of those is linear or given or constant. You gotta keep working at it.

Every.single.day.

I know this.  Yet I haven’t been paying it the attention it deserves or demands.

Training for and running the 100 miler was extraordinary. I’m hooked. I am already eyeing the next one. 🙂  The reality for me is that between tapering, resting an irritated achilles, ample recovery from the actual 100 miler, a post-race infection…  I’ve actually had about 6 weeks of very, very low activity.  And let’s throw into that mix that I never reigned in my eating.  I was eating like I was still running 100 mile weeks.  Plant-based, healthy, BUT TOO MANY CALORIES.  So while the ‘tight pants predicament’ is disappointing and slightly frustrating and panic-inducing – it is in NO WAY an actual surprise.  I have been eating more and moving less for weeks. And that equation is exactly how I got to be 400 pounds and Type 2 diabetic in the first place…

I need to focus on eating whole, nutrient-rich foods, in appropriate serving sizes and get back to moving more.

That simple.

And that freaking HARD.

It’s hard to get things back on track.  Being off track is so ‘easy’ and fun.  Until it’s not.  And then it’s just daunting, hard, tireless work.

Here’s my plan for the next 21 days to get my habits back on track…

Accountability communicating regularly with a handful of friends who get my goals, my compulsions, my excuses, my food/fitness levels and history.

Tracking.  Write everything down. Not just what I think looks good, appropriate or healthy.  All.the.foods. Write them all down.  (True confession. I used to lie in my own food journals. Especially at Weight Watchers when they used to review the journals at your weigh-in. I would lie BIG TIME, then we would all act SHOCKED when I had a weight gain, because my food journal was perfect… Please tell me I’m not the only one who has done that…)  Tracking makes me more mindful and intentional.

Apples. If I am hungry and cruising in the kitchen/pantry for food during non-meal times, the rule is I can eat an apple. And if an apple doesn’t sounds good?  THEN I AM NOT TRULY HUNGRY.  Time for a gut check. Or a glass of water.

Check my thinking. I really did think I was ‘cured’ of my compulsive thinking and behaviors about and around food.  Uh… Yeah… No.  No way. That stuff might take a hiatus, you might have some tight control over it a while and you can even ignore it for short periods of time. But it never goes away. I’m working through this with a dear friend and mentor who battles eating compulsions as well,  she reminds me to take things minute by minute, NOT even day by day.  A day is a BIG, HUGE CHUNK of time when you’re managing food!  She will gently and then not-so-gently remind me that I need to focus on what I can do in the next 5 minutes to help myself…  Maybe 30 minutes, maybe an hour.  But thinking in small, manageable ‘bites’ of time.  Be mindful.  Breathe.  And we agreed that I need to only eat when I can really think about what I’m eating and doing and limit all distractions.  (No more eating in the car,  while walking across campus, mindlessly at the computer or standing at my desk…)

Routine. I will get back to running soon, which will help body and soul. 🙂  But there are other things that work well that have fallen by the wayside.  Packing snacks and lunches.  Keeping easy to eat, healthy items, visible and up front in the pantry and fridge.  Using a part of my weekend to roast veggies and get things ready for a successful week.  Making my health a priority, not an after thought.

No hoarding or hiding.  This one is hard to admit. I was SO, so, so good at hoarding and hiding – ninja level for decades. And I have found myself recently hiding food. It was subtle and I was trying to justify it to myself as ‘I’ll need food after a run/work, so I’ll just keep it in the car.’  I’m really hiding it from Spencer, my roommate.  I don’t want him, or ANYONE, to know the quantity of what it is that I’m actually eating. He would never judge or comment. He just wouldn’t.  BUT I am fully aware that what I’m doing is eating way too much of something that is best in small quantities or probably best not being in my daily diet at all; and I don’t want to get ‘caught’. When I’m hiding food and worried about what someone is thinking, I KNOW I have a problem.  The other giveaway about hoarding/hiding was this week I realized I’m keeping things hidden in three different areas in my office, so that if I open one cupboard, any given person only sees about 1/3 of the total stash I have squirreled away. Granted — this is all plant-based, healthy stuff.  I’m not hoarding snickers bars. 🙂  But none-the-less, it’s stupid and self-defeating and self-sabatoging. It’s the behavior, not the food that is the core issue. I’m the only loser in this game.  I stopped it for over four years and yet in the past four weeks I can see it slightly, quietly, trying to creep back in.   I’ve talked to my accountability team. Have taken everything out of my car.  At work on Monday — I’ll consolidate all of the food in one spot.

I’m using the time between now and the end of the year to get this train back on her tracks.

…Running back in the mix, plant-based foods at the core, sugar GONE, walks with friends instead of food, apples front and center in the fridge, kicking meditation up a notch, spending time with friends who are working toward the same goals…

What do you do to get things back on track?!  

I would love to hear other helpful tips…

 

Ditching the b*&ch. (Finding joy.)

We’ve been home from Transrockies (TRR) for 3 weeks. I’m still thinking about the incredible experience, missing my new friends and wishing I could just live in a tent and run all day, every day.  I told Kevin Houda, the event organizer, he ruined reality for me. 🙂

This is what I put in my journal as if I was writing it all down for my friend Wendie.  She was hiking in Yosemite at the same time I was in Colorado and I wanted to share all of this with her. So you’re really reading my note to one of my dearest friends.


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This would be the day that I found joy.  Right after finding a Yeti.  A cheerleading Yeti named Fitzy.

If we’re being honest, I know I have been a grumpy bitch when it comes to running for the past year and a half.  NOT overt, at least most of the time.  And not usually aimed at anyone but MYSELF. But I would so easily and quickly go to the negative if something went wrong, or less than perfect, instead of going to my normal optimistic/positive frame of mind.  I really hope no one on the outside noticed this personality shift, but I am afraid they did.

Well, I ditched that nasty bitch on the trails today on stage 3 of Transrockies.

I have just had, for the 3rd day in a row, the best day running.  Ever.  This just keeps getting BETTER.  I have enjoyed each and every step of each and every run so far.

I’ll set this up for you a bit, in the same way all seemed to click into place for me…

You know I have been working for two+ years to get to the point that I could endure and enjoy six days of running.

This event is 120 miles, 20,000 foot of vertical climb. At significant altitude. (Which, for inquiring minds, does make it kind of hard to breathe when you train at sea level.)

I’m in a tent village of 550 trail runners from around the world, by a perfect/picturesque lake, at Novo Guides/Camp Hale Colorado. Every single person here, from runner to volunteer is 100% supportive of, engaged with and part of the trail and ultra world.  So — I’m surrounded by people who get me and my desire to run really long distances for fun and they want to do the same.

I.  Am.  In.  Heaven. 

Back track a few weeks.  I had that training week from hell.  By design.  I had to do a big volume week to get ready for the 100 miler.  So it was close to 100 mile week – which I have never done. I know that I allowed the fatigue and negative energy from that week of hard physical and mental work to cascade down about six weeks…  To where I finally had a full-on meltdown and told Spencer I never wanted to run again.  I think I also said things like I was selling all of my shoes, never wearing a running shirt again and un-friending anyone who posts about running on Facebook.  It was pretty epic. Totally ridiculous NOW of course, but in that moment – I FELT IT.  Joyless, exhausting and scary as hell.  I felt apathetic.

And apathy, as you know, scares me more than ANYTHING.

So here’s where I have to be really honest with myself.  If I back track a year or so, I have been caught in a low-grade, persistent comparison trap.  ‘She’s thinner’, ‘they’re faster’, ‘he climbs better than I do’, I didn’t hit my pace, I barely finished that run, they logged more miles than I did this week and we’re doing the same race. Oh how I wish I could grab that time back from that grumpy-comparing-bitch that I was. I drove myself crazy.  I drove Spencer crazy. I probably drove you crazy. I’m pretty sure there are some people who I have met in the past 18 months or so who think that this comparing, self-denigrating, self-loathing is my permanent disposition.  It’s not…  REALLY! I’m a pretty happy, optimistic person at my core.

However, when it comes to running this past year/year and a half, I have to admit that I got caught by the throat in this horrible cycle of comparing and beating myself up.

So today… Today I willingly, forcefully, ditched that grumpy, nasty piece of work in a creek as I ran. She made a big splash when she landed. I totally took her by surprise. 🙂

I was running and just sorta started piecing it all together and realized what I had allowed to happen. Realized that this was my chance, my choice, to grab my happy, joyful self BACK.

The creek was cold and swift and beautiful and was the ideal place to let that ugliness quickly and quietly wash away without contaminating anyone else in the process.

I am so happy with that choice and that moment. Goose-bumps, ear-to-ear grin and profound relief. 🙂  I felt free and light and happy and could only think over and over and over again…

‘I FOUND MY JOY AGAIN!  Man.  I missed her! I missed her so, so much!’


I started running for the joy of it all four(ish) years ago to lose weight, gain health and to be part of a community that embraced the lifestyle I was chasing.

I started trail running specifically because…

  • There’s no judgement in trail running.  If you have feet, shoes and desire to learn; SOMEONE is going to be eager to convert you to our dirty side of the world. 🙂
  • You do what works for you.  Period.  I mean, you have to figure it out  – but no one cares what or how you go about it.  It takes ALL kinds. 🙂
  • And you can NOT tell a trail runner by looking at them. There’s a ‘type’ that the elites MIGHT look like, but usually a trail runner is identified solely by their HEART.  It’s what is INSIDE their chest and brain that sets them apart and makes them who they are.

Trail running and the ultra world seem to be full of people working to heal themselves, find themselves, grow, change — those are JUST the kind of people I want to be around.

I ran 24ish miles on Tuesday. Then climbed Hope Pass Wednesday.  Stage 3, Thursday, my legs felt good when I woke up; no aches and pains.  None! And even better?  My MIND was excited to see what the trail was going to be like,  who I would meet on the trails and what I would learn. Today was about legging out another 25 miles in the best fashion I could with some hills and rolling terrain.  No time requirement, no judgement and no real plan other than I would give my best and practice what I have spent the past few years learning. I met GREAT people. I took a pictures.  I just ran, with no Garmin beeping at me, no real plan, no expectations…

I just ran.

And I ran straight toward the joy I used to have in my early days of running.

She welcomed me back like a grateful, forgiving and long-lost friend.


The night before we started to run TRR, Spencer gave me his coaching brief. It usually goes something like this…

‘DO not stop and pick up rocks. No selfies. Limit the conversation – if you can talk while you’re running/hiking, you aren’t working hard enough. Eat often and plenty. Stick to the plan.’

So when he said…

‘Bets, I want you to just breathe, listen and do not respond to what I’m going to say…  This week is going to change your life if you let it.

And then he proceeded to tell me to meet people (ALL the people!), pick up heart rocks, take pictures, talk to volunteers, and just work to enjoy each and every step of the journey…

I listened.

With my whole heart, I listened.

Stage 3 felt life-changing, healing, like a reunion of the happiest kind.

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THESE women know joy.  Michelle and Andi.  Happy, strong, brave, trail sisters. 🙂

5 years.

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It’s been 5 years since I started this whole wild, crazy, life-saving journey.

1,825 days spent working to change my ways.

Most of those days I worked hard, got it right, or at the very least I tried to make the smartest choice I could at any given moment.

Some of those days I just held on for dear life.

A few of those days were walks backwards. Regressions, lessons, pity parties and more than a few tears…

I am 5 years in today — with hopefully many, many years in front of me.  I am cherishing the time that this lifestyle change bought me; time I plan to continue to use to love, adventure, run, grow, LIVE…

I have been handed a second chance at life and I am not going to waste a single moment.

Five(ish) years ago my doctor basically told me I could be dead in 5 years if I didn’t make a serious change in my life.  Obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol were taking their toll.

Here we are 5 year later…

And I’ve made some serious changes.


I love when someone close to me — who KNOWS what I have been through says … ‘Five years ago would you have ever guessed…?’

The answer is always ‘no.’

Always.

I knew things had to change. But let’s be honest… I really had NO idea how this whole ’embracing a healthy lifestyle’ thing would go.

Or what I would gain.  Learn.  Love.

How radically different my life would become.

There are inspirational quotes that speak to this — but in reality that time was going to pass anyway.  Each day was marching forward no matter what. I could have used those 1,800 days to hone my skills with needles/meds/glucose monitors and gotten to know even more fast food drive-thrus and bought more ill-fitting clothes in the largest sizes possible.  I could’ve kept marching toward a sure and early grave, merely treating the disease as I gave up trying to save my own life.

Not to be all dramatic or anything — but seriously?  That is exactly what I was doing…

Instead…

I woke up July 2 five years ago and I began to fight.

I built and then clung to a team of support people.

I was fiercely determined to find a way to make this work.

I started to eat less and move more.  I started losing weight and gaining control of my blood sugars.

A year in, I kicked diabetes to the curb.

I found running after a lifetime of saying I would only ‘run when chased’.  And then fell head over heels (pun intended, although I really have fallen on my face a few times…) in love with running.  Trail running to be specific.

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I’ve worn tight/short spandex shorts in public.  Many times. 🙂 I’ve even run in just shorts and sports bra.

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I can cross my legs. I can see my feet. I can fit in an airplane seat. 🙂

And then there’s the whole bathing suit thing… 🙂

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I still have to watch portions.  I still fret over the scale. I still feel like a 392 pound woman walking around some days. But I NOW have tools and people and goals that make all of those issues seems less-important and way less all-consuming than they were even a year ago…

Nothing happened overnight.  It was tons and tons of little baby steps on a wild roller coaster ride.

But I never, ever could have guessed where this was all headed or how my life,  body and health would change.


If you would have told me 5 years ago that I was going to be able to use my story of being morbidly obese, Type 2 Diabetic, inactive, really just ambling around and waiting to die….  If you would have told me that I was going to be HELPING others to try to reclaim their lives, I would have told you that you had lost your mind.

And yet that’s the biggest gift of this whole endeavor.

Meeting people like me.  People facing triple-digit weight loss, stern orders from Docs to ‘do or die’ and the inability to even know how to take that first horrifically-frightening step forward to save their own life.

I know how they feel.

I was THERE.

I remember going to bed on July 1st terrified out of my mind at what I was about to embark on.  And yet MORE terrified of what my life would be like in 5 years if I didn’t get started.  I don’t remember sleeping very well that night. 🙂  But I remember that when I woke up on July 2, 2011 — my feet hit the floor and I KNEW in my heart and soul that this time, this TIME, I was going to be successful in making some big changes. My life depended on it.


I’m not done.

I committed to this change for life.  I’m still learning and growing and changing.  And it’s not linear. There are still good days, bad days and habits that have to be shaken off or replaced.  I’m really not done. 🙂

But every single day is a gift.

The people in my life are blessings beyond words.

The people who started this journey with me, the ones who run beside me now and the ones in between at every cross/turn/bump who supported, cajoled, questioned and supported me.  It’s an entire, bustling village full of people who got me to this point.

This girl has a heart bursting with gratitude and joy.

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Fat in California…

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American River and the town of Auburn are behind us. Spence and I are heading out to run the Quarry Trail.

I am a California native.

In thinking about it on todays run… I spent all of the time I was an adult and working in California obese, inactive, eating all the wrong things.

I am not really exaggerating.

There were times where I would start a diet, try to get active, only to give it all up in a freaking hurry. As soon as I got hungry or sore – I would quit. And then gain even more weight. Like probably 30 different times. Hell. Maybe 50. Or more. You get the point.

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Easily 350 pounds and 20 years ago.

I see California as my ‘fat’ young adult years.

It’s where pre-diabetes walked in the door and would soon refuse to leave. I don’t have memories of California that aren’t of me as an obese adult. Happy, but the obesity and type 2 Diabetes were escalating rapidly.

Doing something new that I never knew existed always makes me introspective… And this time doing something new in California – in a place I drove by for decades – made me sappy, happy, grateful. I mean this is a place that could have been my stomping grounds had I been in any shape to have been stomping around.

Spencer and I along with our friend and fellow ultra-runner Josh Hough are in Auburn, California this weekend to run in a training camp.  We will run 70 miles of the Western States Endurance Run 100 course over the next 3 days.  Spencer and I did this training camp last year and it is ahhhmazing.  Running a historic course. Non race event, just long training runs that are supported. Surrounded by amazing athletes and folks passionate about the sport of trail running.

This year our road-trip brigade came down a day early to get our bearings, get set-up and simply spend one day relaxing.

Turns out that none of us are very good at relaxing. 🙂

Spencer and I went for a run this morning on a new-to-me trail that is right off of a highway I traveled for decades with my family and during College.

I was telling Spencer that my life is just still so surreal on a few levels.

Being in California, eating plant based, running…  Those are all things I could NEVER, ever have imagined when I was living in California.  I found myself thinking  about 6 different times this morning… ‘WOW! Is this really my life now?!’

I’ve driven by this spot for 20+ years and never thought for a split second about trails in all the years we drove by.  This specific freeway off-ramp had ALL the good fast food you could possibly want before heading up 84 to Tahoe.  I know those locations by heart.

I never thought I’d be back here one day and parking at a trail head so we could go run alongside the American River for a few miles.

Who knew?

I never imagined I would want to climb the trails in the Sierra’s, or run on them, or care deeply about treading the ground of a historic running race.

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Yet, here I am.

And I’m loving this view and experience of California that requires me to get off of the roads, explore  and eat healthy and move along under my own power.  And explore!

I am happy and healthy and do NOT take any of that for granted for even one second.

I have been given the second chance at life. Not everyone gets that chance.  I won’t waste it.

I will use this weekend to build new and healthy memories in the state that I grew up in.

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I love the Cali trails.  And they loved me right back. 

Mac 50K and Laziness

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Josh, Alan (ran his first ultra!) and me.  Running from Ridge, toward Horse.

Mac 50K this year was fantastic!  Cool, rainy, muddy, friends, laughter, perfection…

Mac is my favorite race, in one of my favorite places in the world.

I approached the race as a long and supported run to practice for the event I have in September. I was testing gear, making sure of my shoe choice, practicing my new-found downhill skills and I HAD TO WORK on fueling. This was my chance to put it all together and watch it work.

In the back of my head I knew I had run this race in 8:04 in 2015. So I’ll go ahead and admit that yes, I had a trying-to-ignore-it-but-it-was-out-there goal, to try to break 8 hours. I was trying not to think about that. It was NOT the point of the day.

Ultimately, I nailed everything I set out to do.

SOME MAJOR WINS!

Fueling was better than it has ever been.

Gut stayed intact.

Loved my Altras. (I still have all my remaining toe nails!)

Comfy with my hydration pack and know where to stash everything.

FINALLY got to run an entire 50K with my friend/running partner Josh.

Spencer placed 8th overall.  He had a fantastic run and wrote a great blog about it. Read it here.

Wendie paced Josh and I the last 5 miles, after cheering and crewing for us the entire day.

It was a perfect day.

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Patrick! An important part of our Novo Veritas team. He was at the start line this year to cheer us on.

From ‘The Saddle’ (last aid station) to the finish line is about 5 miles or so.

Everyone was muddy and tired. The finish line was really looking good at this point. I’d slipped and gone down in the mud at least 3 times. I was an unharmed, total mud ball head to toe. 🙂

Josh knew my not-talking-about-it-goal. I could see him assessing the situation. He knew we were in a race against the clock to break 8 hours.  We were appropriately tired, but totally healthy.  We COULD pull it off, if we picked up the pace.

I knew it.

I was just pretending to ignore it.

A portion of my brain was totally fine with not finding that goal.

To hit that goal would mean that we would have to run consistently and fairly hard for the remainder of the course.

That’s a lot of hard work at the end of a whole lot of hard work.

It had been a day of huge wins ALREADY. I didn’t even have to cross the finish line to have felt like the day was a smashing success.

But as I was starting to push the edges, with Josh speeding up, my brain was busy trying to convince me that we just didn’t need to put in the extra effort to hit that goal…

‘Bets. Just walk.

You’re going to finish close to last year’s time anyway. Close is good.

It’s fine to ease back now, Spencer and Josh and Wendie are still going to be proud of you no matter what.

This was a tough course. Take it easy. You’ve earned easy.

Just being out here is enough.’

I recognized that my head and her subtly negative voices were trying to shut things down.

‘Head’ management is very much part of the training for ultras. You literally have to practice making sure your head doesn’t talk you out of completing what needs to be done.

This is always scary and fascinating to me. Sometimes my brain drags out ‘the big guns’ and I really have to fight to just keep breathing and moving.  This time – since this race was essentially a practice run and I was surrounded by friends I trusted deeply – I decided I would just watch and see what demon/trick/weapon my head was going to try to drag out into the light…

My brain went straight for it’s old friend laziness.

‘Take it easy, you’ve earned easy. There’s no harm in just walking at this point…’

I have had years of practice being lazy. Honestly, it’s the natural go to for me.  And at this point in the race – 26ish miles in – my legs and back were screaming for me to just. stop. running.  My belly wasn’t thrilled.  My feet hurt.  I had these OBNOXIOUS and painful adductor cramps violently grabbing hold of my upper, inner thigh – and stopping me dead in my tracks a few times.

My body was doing it’s part to try to stop me.

My brain just joined in on the chorus.

I’ve done a few races at this distance, so I can now say that I have been here before in some form or fashion. This is the point where I simply have to buckle down and keep moving forward as best I can. And I have all kinds of tricks stashed away to IGNORE or quiet the chatter in my head that isn’t productive or healthy or nice. I usually just kind of blank out without fully defining whatever weapon my brain has chosen, count steps, breathe, and try my best to ignore whatever tricks my head is playing.

But this time I instantly recognized laziness.

And it was really pretty cool to define it, understand it and then just accept it for what it is.

I didn’t bother trying to evict or ignore the thoughts.

I sure as hell didn’t give into it.

I just decided to run with it – and tire it out.

Here’s where my thinking went…  When I’m on a training run – and my coach has given me parameters – I always go straight for the middle or low end of whatever it is that I’m being told to work on. Unless specifically told to do so, I rarely push to the outer, upper  edges or beyond in training on my own.

It’s a subtle, persistent form of laziness.

I mean training to run ultras is hard work in and of itself.  I’ve done a lot of hard work to get to this point and lose weight and reverse T2 diabetes. So does it really matter that I’m just a tad bit lazy about some aspects of training?

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Camera covered in mud and rain. Josh pushed me to give my all in the last 5 miles. I mighta, sorta threatened to throat punch him at one point.  Re-enactment at the finish line. 🙂

To be clear – I’m not being hard on myself or beating myself up.

I ran a freaking great run.

And this ‘work’ going on in my head around battling and understanding laziness was fantastic and constructive.

I ultimately kept on Josh and Wendie’s heels and PUSHED hard to the finish. I put down faster miles at the end than I had most of the day.

I’m just acknowledging that I recognized the voice screaming in my head as my long-lost, best-forgotten, crappy ex-best friend named laziness.

And I decided that I don’t want to be friends anymore.

So I just ran away. 🙂

I ignored the normal long-run pains and tiredness and just PUSHED hard to the finish. My training allows for that. My body was working her butt off. And this really was a training run – so why not PUSH hard and see what happened?

As I ran, in the back of my head the idea was clanging around that I am SO FREAKING CAPABLE of being and doing so much more.

If I’m given the chance to push hard, do I always give it my all? Or do I get lazy?

It’s an idea that I just can’t let go of…

What exactly would I be capable of, if I refused to let laziness win?

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I got home and Spencer and I were debriefing the race.  I walked through the pieces that went great; fuel, shoes, handling the wicked leg cramps.  Spencer and I both agreed that we could clearly see the core and strength work we’re doing with Jordan paying off as I was able to manage the slides and the muddy, steep terrain really well.  And then I ran faster miles at the end…

I was really proud of the effort I gave at Mac.  I’d had a good day.

I also told him that I recognize I get lazy in some of the targeted training runs during a training cycle. I cheat myself and aim for good enough/middle of the road. By doing what I’m told – instead of really testing the limits. I told Spencer I was going to work on learning to push myself harder when given the choice. I confessed that I know that I  sometimes let myself off the hook when I really should be capitalizing on the opportunity to push to another level.

The last few miles of the Mac I kept thinking…

I’ve come so far and I’m more in love with trail running and my body is doing things I never, ever thought she was capable of. And I know without a doubt that I am capable of still more strength and more growth and more change and well… just more good stuff.

Laziness isn’t going to win this race. Not this time. I’m going to keep training to out run it.

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My friend and pacer Wendie.

 

 

Docking the boat.

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I walked miles.  Each day.

End of an amazing, epic adventure!

As I sit in the airport waiting for the flight home — I still feel the rocking motion of the boat.  I’m told this is a phenomenon called ‘Jimmy Legs’. 🙂

I’m soaking in the memories of the experience and the bittersweet feelings of saying goodbyes with new friends.

Yet I am finally headed home.

Such a wonderful mix of feelings…


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I spent a LOT of time in my bathing suit. 🙂  I was either ‘sweating (walking) or swimming.’ most of the time on days that we were at sea.

I spent a lot of time sitting by the pool (saltwater pool!) working on this blog. I was slathered in sun screen since I skimped on ‘solar cream’ on day one and seriously sunburned my rear-end…

Lesson quickly learned. 🙂

This whole experience?

An incredible gift.

We’ll start with the short version

I stayed active. Made the best food choices I could given the situation. I’m thrilled I was entrusted with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity from my university. I met some incredible friends.  I’m so happy to be headed home.

Win, win, win!

The longer version?

I came on this cruise intent on doing the best job I could for OSU and also to work on testing my lifestyle in a new environment.

You’ll recall that I shared in my previous blog that I was worried about gaining weight, getting lazy and going bezerk with the unlimited food.

I really wound up learning/re-learning some critical life lessons.

I realized about three days in that there was a massive amount of accumulated life wisdom on this boat regarding health, wellness, business, adventure, relationships….  So I shut up. Listened intentionally. Observed. And tried to ask some good questions when I had someone’s ears.

Here’s my top ‘lesson’ list straight from my journal:

Age is simply number.  There were 55 year olds who are marching steadily toward the grave with an attitude of having given up.  There were 85 year olds kicking up their heels, laughing, having the time of their lives with each of the days they have left. Age is only a number.

Size matters. European food portions were served on this ship. Not American super-sized versions of portions.  There was a dazzling array of foods — at seemingly all hours.  Elegant and intentional presentations. Food and the dining experience was treated with respect and care.

Size REALLY matters.  Again, this is a European ship. Smaller towels, smaller showers, smaller chairs.  It is built for a non-obese/normal weight population.  A large (pardon the sad pun) portion of the inhabitants of this ship were overweight or obese. They struggled with some of the accommodations.  Watching their struggles served as a good reminder for me. The old me, 392 pounds, wouldn’t have fit in my shower stall in my room. Likely wouldn’t have been able to use the commode that was wedged into a tight corner.  I couldn’t have sat in the dining room chairs, worn the luxury robes provided and would not have been able to share a stairwell with anyone. That’s just naming a few of the reminders I saw that put my old and new lives in perspective.

Friends. Friends are where you make them and where you take them.

Accountability. I found new friends on the boat who quickly and happily agreed to being accountability partners. Meeting for walks/stretching/running, grabbing extra ice waters and focusing on great conversations; not on food. I shared my goals and ideas — they shared theirs!

Kindness knows no language.

Listen.  Two ears, one mouth.  I listened a lot on this ship.  Heard incredible stories of strength and determination and heartbreak.  I consciously tried to make sure I walked away from a conversation having listened more than I talked.  I mean, I know I talk. A lot. And I recognize that it’s a bad habit. This ship was good practice for me to re-learn the value of listening.

Drink water.  The older runners on board make plenty of water a daily habit.  Sparkling eyes, great skin, general good health. They were laughing at me when I finally strung together all of their advice and told them the only thing I could find in common with all of them was that they wouldn’t give-up, had worked to make sure running stayed a habit in their lives and they drank plenty of water. Everything else they suggested/lectured me about was a wildly mixed bag of contradictory advice.

Blowing a snot rocket on the boat deck is a) not acceptable or appreciated and b) super tricky with cross winds. 🙂

Rest.  I got great advice from a guy named George on day 12 of this adventure.  He had my number as far as my cheerleader/extrovert/go-go-go personality.  He said ‘Take ‘me’ time for you. Rest, recharge your emotional self.  Not just your body. Or you’ll crash.’  And MAN WAS HE RIGHT!  That sounds crazy given that I was on a luxury cruise ship in the middle of the ocean.  And resting and relaxing is like ninja-expert-professional level sport.  BUT I hadn’t been resting or relaxing for me…  So I took a day and slept in.  Hard.  Woke up after about 14 hours of sleep.  Ate a good food.  Worked on this blog.  Just kind of ‘hid’ and took care of myself all day long. Even extroverts need some quiet time now and again.

Routine.  Routines are powerful.  I spent time thinking about whether the routines I have created were being used for good/health or comfort/excuses/control. 🙂  Shaking up my routine has helped me evaluate those elements that I want to embrace and those that perhaps weren’t serving me best after all.

Be present. So hard for me to remember. But I had plenty of time to practice breathing and enjoying only what was in front of me.

This time on a ship was good for me to realize I can stay active and make smart food choices.  It did NOT look at all like the activity and food that would be my ’norm’ back home, and it honestly took me about 8-10 days to be OK with that.

I kept portions under control. I took stairs. I drank water. I mostly stayed away from the desserts (Fresh sorbets… Man. They were amazing!). I kept the focus on people and good conversations instead of food. By the time we docked, I knew every nook and cranny of that 1/13th of a mile track on the top of the ship. 🙂

I am reminded that I really do have the best of both worlds.

I loved this trip, new friends, the countries, the Panama Canal crossing, the fire-testing of my lifestyle in a totally new environment.

And yet I am thrilled and excited to be heading home to my family, friends, healthy foods, trails.

Cruise.

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392ish pounds on the left, 190ish pounds on the right.

‘Travel far enough, you meet yourself.’ — Cloud Atlas

I am leaving for a 16 day cruise.

Like…  I’m in the Portland airport and waiting for my plane to board.

This cruise is for work.  (I know, I know. I’m LUCKY and I really do have a great job!)

It’s a freaking once-in-a-lifetime-dream trip on a luxury cruise ship! Where do I get to go?!  From Florida through the Panama Canal and up to San Francisco with stops in 7 AMAZING countries and ports!  I am so lucky and truly honored that they would entrust me to represent our university and work with a bunch of adventure-seeking alumni.  I want to make the most of this opportunity!

So, I’m sitting at the airport and waiting for my flight to board.

And I’m fighting some anxiety. I have been for a few months.

I love travel and adventure and meeting new people and seeing new places.  That’s not at all what this particular anxiety is about…

This cruise is going to be an extended test of every piece of my lifestyle that I have worked so hard to cement, embrace and put in place.  It’s seriously shaking up my carefully crafted, intentional routine.

There will be unlimited, gourmet food.  No set routines.  I’ll be ‘unplugged’ for 16 days.

Did I mention the unlimited food?

Sounds like a version of heaven-on-earth that most of us dream of — right?!

I’m not entirely sure as I get ready to board the plane. I’m a little scared about this adventure.  But I think I’ve done my best to prepare.


This is really my first big trip since losing weight, reversing Type 2 Diabetes, learning to run and adopting a plant-based lifestyle.

I can’t help but compare the old/new me from time to time. In getting ready for this adventure I noticed a few really, really cool things about my new life:

  • I didn’t have to worry about packing insulin, needles, prescriptions bottles.
  • I got to buy a 2 piece bathing suit. (Polka dots!)
  • My running shoes were the very first thing given space in my suitcase.
  • I bought a sexy little cocktail dress that’s uncharacteristically daring for me.
  • I won’t be needing the seat belt extender on the plane. 🙂

When the advertising pieces for this luxury cruise were sent out there was a lot of emphasis on the food, french pastries, buffets, restaurants, eating…

So of course, as a former 400-pounder, that’s what I’ve been worried about for the last four months.

My former self would have CHERISHED this opportunity to gorge, indulge, over-eat, have food be a central focus, try ALL the new foods with NO EXCUSES needed.

I have spent the last few months making sure ‘that girl’ doesn’t show up on this trip.  She’s not invited. She’s not part of my life anymore. I know she lurks in the shadows at times, sometimes she sneaks back in beside me and I have to remind her to go away. 

I knew this would be a test. A really solid opportunity for me to see how all of these changes in my life can work when I’m out of my carefully crafted routine.


They told me I had been selected to go on this cruise.  And…

First, I panicked. (Hey. I’m human. This process of embracing a radically different lifestyle is NOT linear, as much as I would love it to be. How would my ‘new’ life work in this environment?)

Second, we reached out immediately and put a food plan in place with the boat. They know I eat plant based. They wrote me a really cool note telling me they were thrilled to be preparing food just for me.

Third, I have spent weeks reaching out to a handful of friends and asking for their support, encouragement, ideas. I got just what I wanted and needed from these wonderful souls because, well, I have amazing friends.

Here were their best advice and reminders…

  • One meal at a time. That’s all I have to focus on. Make one smart food choice at a time.
  • BE MINDFUL. Think about the food you choose to eat and make sure — each time — that it aligns with the goals you have for your life off of the boat.
  • BE PRESENT. Relax.  Enjoy.  LIVE.  Embrace the adventure. This is NOT just about food… Don’t make it all about food.
  • Stick to an activity plan, but get creative and USE the boat, new friends and the port visits to keep moving.
  • Journal and track your food. Those tools work for you, and they’re totally portable. 🙂

I’m boarding the plane and headed for the boat.

The trip of a lifetime.

I’ve packed and prepared and I think I am as ready for the adventure as I can be with good advice and a fabulous new polka dot bathing suit.

I’m ready to put this all to the test and see what new things I learn about myself in the process.

Bon Voyage!

 

 

 

Breakthrough.

IMG_6855-webI ran downhill Thursday night.

Not my normal, guarded, stiff-legged bounce that I have used for the last three years when running downhill.

I flew.

And no, it was NOT a dream.

I ran an entire mile at a 7:32 pace. For me — that’s fast!

HOLY SMOKES was it an amazing, unreal feeling to be flying down the hill on my own two legs!

I felt strong, solid, happy.  And well… I’ve never quite felt like that in all the running I have done up to this point.

I felt capable and confident. Those two words don’t get used a lot when I’m thinking about/talking about my own running.

Thursday night?  I nailed the downhill portion that I was working on.

All the pieces came together.  And something really important just finally clicked into place…


Back up for just one moment…  When I first started running it was simply about getting one foot in front of the other more than a few times in a row.  Like — very literally — the width of a driveway.  That was how I started my running career.  I was a walker, not a runner.  I was just dabbling with the idea of running and not sure I was even going to like it.  So I didn’t tell anyone I was trying to learn to run just in case I tried it and hated it.  Then I wouldn’t have to explain it to anyone. 🙂

Some days putting one foot in front of the other is still very much the goal.

But I am to a point with running where I want to work on some specific techniques, and learn some new skills. I am working on the parts/pieces/things that are going to help me keep running for years to come. The things that will help me avoid injury, run faster, run longer.

This is the really FUN stuff to be learning.

This is the hard work that I don’t mind doing.

Spencer and I were running off of McCullough Peak Thursday night. Spencer was running with me and he said we should work on some downhill running.

I have a short, choppy, guarded gait.  Especially on the downhill.  I’m kinda/sorta afraid/terrified of falling on my face. My gait shows that I’m guarding with every single footfall.

I tend to hit the ground and use my legs as shock absorbers — NOT springs.

I should be using them as springs.

‘Running downhill is not really running, it’s more of a controlled fall.’ — Spencer

Spencer and I have been working on my downhill technique/skills/abilities for close to year. Last year in May at the Western States Training camp in California we realized that I really didn’t know how to run downhill very well.  We’ve been working on it ever since.

Spencer has tried all kinds of things to help me learn to run more smoothly, efficiently and comfortably downhill.  We have talked about cadence, gait, stride – we have worked on core strength and building all the right muscles. All the things that I should be focused on to help make my downhill running (running in general) better.

So why was this run different?

I don’t really know how to explain it except that the words Spencer said clicked and something FINALLY made sense.

For a split second my legs understood what my brain seemed to refuse to comprehend.

And then you know that moment when your brain gives a big sigh of relief because you finally, finally understand something with perfect clarity?

This was one of those moments.

We were running downhill.  Me short/choppy, jabbing kinds of strides and Spencer says ‘open up your hips’.

I asked him what exactly that meant.

Spencer says try running from your hips, not just from your legs.

I did.

Those words made sense to me…

I took a few more steps that were short, stiff. Then I tried striding out with my hips ‘open’. My glutes were engaged in the whole process (hello butt!).  It was very suddenly NO LONGER just about my legs and knees…

All of the sudden I was really moving comfortably down the hill.  Faster, efficiently, with my legs more springy.

It. Was. Amazing.

I felt really strong and confident and fluid.

I was mostly keeping up with Spencer on the downhill, which NEVER, ever happens. 🙂

I ran for about .75 of a mile with keen attention to keeping my hips open and running from my hips.  And that .75 of a mile was fast!

I can only imagine some of Spencer’s frustration/elation/satisfaction given that THIS is what he has been trying to get me to do for about, oh… 8 months now.

That night, for some reason, the words and directions he gave me while we were running downhill FINALLY made sense to me.

Everything clicked.

And I ran.

And I felt like a freaking powerful runner for the first time in a long time.

Actually, maybe, I finally felt like a powerful runner for the very first time.

It just felt so damn good to fly down the hill with confidence.


*Coach’s note from Spencer:

The most impressive part to this .75 mile stretch was the fact that Betsy finished the last .25 mile at a 6:15 pace. The fastest I have ever seen her run, ever, is right around an 8 minute pace on downhill. 

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