It’s been a busy year. But really have I been busier than anyone else? Don’t we all have stuff going on in our life that takes us away from our regular routine? A change in job, a change in location, a sick family member, financial stress, personal health issue, marital problems. We all have stuff. My stuff included a new job in a new state, living apart from my family, living alone for the first time in ages, selling a house, living in a camper, buying a new house, moving into the new house and now, finally, starting to settle down into a normal routine. As much as I like to pride myself on being spontaneous and living in the moment, there is definitely something nice about having a routine. It provides comfort and security. And now that we are getting a routine established again, I can start doing the things that I enjoy with more regularity.
Running was the first routine that needed to be reestablished. Although I never completely quit running, my mileage quickly dwindled as the chaos started. I could feel myself gaining weight and my moods becoming more sporadic and unstable. The quality of my sleep was suffering and my mental health was becoming questionable at best. I’m thankful for my friend and running coach, Denny Krahe, who just kept encouraging me to do what I could and take things one day at a time. I would read my Twitter feed and see people running races and doing 12, 14, 18 mile long weekend runs, and it was all I could do to just get 2 miles in more than once a week. It was hard to not get discouraged. It was hard to think that just over a year ago, I ran the Desert Rats trail marathon; and 18 months ago I ran my first ultra at the Bear Chase. I started feeling like maybe I shouldn’t call myself a runner, let alone a marathoner or ultra runner. Maybe I shouldn’t wear my “Ultra as Fuck” shirt until I earn it. Wayne reminded me – not so gently – that I did earn it. I did run those 31+ miles and those 26.2 miles and just because I can’t run them today, doesn’t mean that I didn’t earn those medals or those stickers on my Subaru – which by the way got traded in on a truck. I’m thankful that I have people in my life that help me keep my mind right and encourage me.
Those same people helped encourage me as I celebrated my 48th birthday last week. 48 isn’t exactly one of those big celebration birthdays, but I try to treat each one like my own personal New Year’s Day. Somewhere along the road on one my recent runs, I decided to give myself a birthday present this year – which turned out to be the only presents I got this year. I got to thinking about my “50 by 50 goal” – my goal to run a 50 mile race by the age of 50, and realized that I have 24 months to realize that goal. 24 months!! About the same amount of time to grow a baby elephant! The clock is ticking. I’ve been hanging on to this goal and can’t wait to feel that sense of accomplishment that comes from achieving something that at one point in my life felt completely impossible. My birthday presents to myself were chosen to help me reach that goal.
My first present to me is to reestablish my eating routine – not that I haven’t been eating on a regular basis. I’ve been eating pretty much whatever I want, whenever I want, and boy howdy can I feel it in my jeans! After eating a mostly vegan diet for 3 years, I started eating meat, cheese and eggs again. It started slowly, and before I knew it I was eating a definitely NOT vegan diet on a regular basis. I’m not going to debate the benefits of a plant-based diet over the standard American diet with anyone. I know how much better I feel when I eat a plant-based diet and that’s all I need to know. If I’m going to run another ultra, I’m going to have to fuel this body with the best fuel that I can – and for me that fuel is plant-based.
My second present to me is a summer of no alcoholic beverages. Like the vegan eating, this is in part for me to fuel my body the best that I can. But this present is for other reasons too. I drink a beer or a glass of wine or a martini or something every night when I get home from work, and every time that we go out for dinner. Every time. It may only be one, but it’s usually two…and sometimes three. That ends up being 10-20 drinks per week. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says men should not exceed 4 drinks per day or a total of 14 per week and women should not exceed 3 drinks a day or a total of 7 per week. The consumption of alcohol is directly related to increased risk of heart disease, liver disease and cancer, as well as a contributor to many other health issues. None of those are a path that I want to go down.
During the summer of 2013, my oldest daughter, Breanna, came home from college to live with us in California. As a bonding mother/daughter activity, I decided to make that my “Summer of Vegan Eating” – and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It started me on a path of healthy eating and successful running I had never thought possible. This summer, my youngest daughter, Chelsea, is living with us in Nevada. She hates alcohol. Hates it. There’s several contributing factors to her passionate distaste and I have the utmost respect for her opinion where alcohol is concerned. Much like the summer of 2013, the summer of 2017 will be a mother/daughter bonding activity known as the “Summer of Sparkling Water” or maybe the “Summer of Sobriety”.
I call them presents to myself, but really they are presents to my daughters – an investment in myself to be an example to my daughters. To show them that I value their opinions and demonstrate that I can learn from them as much as they can learn from me. To be an example of healthy and conscious living – living with a purpose – to lead by example. To show them that they are never too old and it is never too late to change for the better. To show them what it means to be a strong woman and a woman of her word. To be healthy and happy so I can be alive to love on them and their families for years to come.
Happy Birthday to me…the best is yet to come.