Involve the Family

family

Family and Friends want to be a part of your life and join in the experiences that you love as much as they can. They want to share your joy and success. There are many ways that they can join in and support you in your running. Races are always in need of volunteers.

Operating an aid station for a race gives you a real appreciation for the accomplishment of running. You watch runners struggle and keep going. Most runners are very courteous and grateful to volunteers. Races would not happen without the volunteer support.

Many races give their volunteers race swag such as t-shirts, coupons, and samples of sponsor’s products, similar to what the runners get. Most importantly volunteering allows them to see you, their runner, out there on the course, which can be difficult for trail running courses. Volunteering may also motivate them to give running a try or not.

Family can be at the starting line to see you off, meet you along the course to cheer and hold up signs, and then chant your name as you cross the finish line. This is easier to do on a longer course where there isn’t the chance of missing you coming into the finish because they don’t get back in time. If it is a short course, which loops around itself it can be done as well.

Many race websites post the course and the best places for family and friends to see their runners. Crowding into an aid station is not a good place to be. Some runners stop at aid stations to get their water, Gatorade, or gels. Many runners slow down as they pass through the aid stations. Family and friends will only add to the congestion. It is better for them to be at another place on the course, particularly for races with a large number of participants.

Runners are packed together for the first few miles of a marathon or half marathon, which makes catching their runner’s eye or giving a high five more difficult. After the halfway point, runners spread out and seeing a familiar face is all the encouragement a runner needs to keep going to the end.

As a runner knowing that I have someone at the finish line cheering for me, encourages me the whole race. I want to come across that finish line looking and feeling strong. When I am at a down point or want to walk, knowing that I have people waiting for me gives me just one more reason to keep going.

As soon as the finish line is in sight, runners are looking for their personal fans, pulling their shoulders back, and picking up their pace as much as they can. You know that once you cross the finish line your loved ones will help you get a chair, ice, water, a banana or just take off your shoes.

Fountain of Youth

running kids

My oldest son, Jazz, turned eighteen on Friday July 10. Everyone says “time flies” and we all know that it does especially when we are having fun. And, all in all, watching my son grow into a man has been fun. Yes, he still acts and thinks like a teenager and he will for four or five more years, but he has successfully launched.

When our children reach another milestone along the journey of life, we ask ourselves, “What was I doing when I reached that point in my life?”

At the age of eighteen, I had a child of my own. I was trying to finish my high school diploma while taking care my son. Jazz and I were going through boxes a week or two ago and came upon a picture of him and me. He was 18 months and I was 19 years old. He said, “You look younger now than you did then.”

I have to admit I get a kick out of every time I am mistaken for his sister or one of his friends. He laughs about it now but he didn’t when if first started happening. People have made the mistake of thinking I’m about fifteen years younger than I am, even when my son is not around.

Some people just age well, I suppose, but running keeps you young. It is the fountain of youth. I’ve met many runners who look much younger than they really are. Running keeps you relaxed in other areas of your life and it helps you deal with stress when you are stuck in frustrating situations. Stress can add years to your appearance.

Running also keeps the bones and joints healthy. I know a lot of people (non-runners) say that running is not good for bones and joints, but all the science proves otherwise. Runner’s bones are more dense than people who are not active. This protects them from factures as you age and the bones become more brittle. Joints stay healthy when they are used, keeping the blood flowing to them.

Running also helps keep the extra weight off. Carrying extra weight causes joints to break down more quickly and hinders cardiovascular and respiratory functioning. If you take your running seriously, meaning you run three to four times a week and seek to improve your performance, you food choices tend to be on the healthier side such as fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.

I’m convinced running keeps you young not only in physical appearance but in the heart too.

Be young, enjoy life, and run.

 

100 mile race plan

Pony Express 100
Pony Express 100

Above is my dad and I at last years Pony Express coming over Dugway pass about 35 miles into the race.

I met with my race crew to go over the plan for Pony Express 100 yesterday. Last year, I made it to mile 72 and had to drop from the race because of pain in my knee caused by a high ankle sprain I had not allowed to heal sufficiently. Last year I vowed to come back and finish the race. This year, I’m coming in injury free, I have one 100 mile finish under my belt, I have trained better, and I am on the low carb diet. 

 

There is a thirty-hour time limit on Pony Express 100. That means you have to maintain an 18-minute mile to finish the course before time runs out. But, I don’t want to be out there for thirty hours. The longer you are out there the harder it becomes to finish because you are tired, ache, and want to be done.

It takes six months to train for a one hundred mile event, at least for normal people who have a full time job and family to care for, and failure to finish after training for that long is a disheartening blow to say the least.

So you have to plan for every possibility that you can think of happening out there. One hundred miles is a long way and a lot can happen. I’m not saying that you need to be prepared for the zombie apocalypse, although I wouldn’t fault you for it, but each possibility that is within reason.

Pony Express is a great beginner’s race because you have to have your own crew and they can access you at any time during the race. There is only one aid station provided and it is at mile fifty. It is the finish line for the 50-mile runners and dinner for the 100-mile runners and their crew.

The major issues you have to consider are weather conditions, problems with your feet, and problems with your stomach. The best course of action is to do everything you can to prevent any of this by training well. And then be ready to deal with it when it does occur out on the course.

I have a blister kit to deal with any type of blister situation that arises, and I have a “medical kit,” which contains solutions to stomach problems that may arise. I pack the full gamut of clothing for Pony Express because daytime temperatures are around 75 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperature drop below freezing.

Once I have all the gear I need, I have to teach my crew when I will need it. For this, I meet with my team before the race and go over a list I put together of what I will probably need and when. This list includes any important rules my crew has to follow, the food I have available, when I should change clothing, and any time cut offs for the race.

My parents are coming out for this race, which is exciting for me because they are not able to be at the finish line of many of my races due to work schedules and life events. They are pulling their camping trailer out to the race start and taking care of my son Sky (13) and my dogs while I run.

My dad is going to be my daytime crew. He will meet me along the road as my mobile aid station from 5:00 a.m. until about 5:00 p.m., which will be from the start to mile fifty or sixty depending on how I am feeling. Last year I had my crew meeting me every ten miles during the first fifty of the race, but this year I may cut that to every five miles.

Swiss Miss and another friend will by my nighttime crew performing the same duties that my dad did, but from 5:00 p.m. until I cross the finish line anywhere between 5:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

Both my daytime crew and nighttime crew may become pacers at some point in the race to help encourage me to keep going or to provide me some company out there on the flat as a pancake western desert. J$ will be coming out to pace me from mile 75 into the finish line, which is what he did for the Salt Flats 100.

My goal for the race is 28 hours, but just finishing is a huge achievement and I will accept a 30-hour finish with open arms as well. I am really looking forward to crossing the finish line where my mom, dad, Sky and a few of my best friends will be. I cannot imagine a better way to spend an October day.

 

When it rains, it pours

goats

I hate when old adages settle into your life, kick their feet up on the coffee table, and never leave.  This one, “When it rains, it pours,” is only 110 years old and was given to us by the geniuses at Morton Salt. Yeah the salt people.

Its original meaning was positive, however, over the years it has become negative. Morton Salt developed this as an advertisement gimmick. Back before 1911, whenever there was humidity or a rainstorm everyone’s salt turned into a clump. It didn’t sprinkle out in beautiful white crystals over our food or when thrown over the left shoulder.

Morton salt decided to add a few things to salt like magnesium carbonate, which prevents it from clumping. So the slogan “When it rains, it pours,” meant that even when the humidity was high your salt would still come out in beautiful crystals wherever you wanted to toss it.

Currently, it’s used to mean that when one bad thing happens many other bad things follow right on its heels. An English Proverb, “It never rains, but it pours,” means just that and was used in the US and UK prior to Morton.

Personally, I like the Morton version better than the proverb because it gives you a little warning. You know that when it starts raining you should prepare yourself for a torrential down pour. Where in the proverb, there is no warning the sky just opens up and you should have built your ark, but if God didn’t warn you, you’re screwed.

So why the tangent on this? Whenever I think I’m getting ahead financially and have an extra paycheck (because I get paid every other week so twice a year I get three checks in one month instead of two) something comes in and sucks it dry. Every time, it never fails.

I find it rather entertaining at this point. There is a sense of excitement about it.

Extra check in August extra expenses:

  1. Registration for school 300$
  2. School clothing 600$
  3. Court clothing (low carb diet made new court clothing necessary) 200$
  4. Jazz’s car needs new breaks back and front and a few other things 650$

I consider myself lucky that these two events coincided and have in the past as well. Sure, I’m not getting ahead, but I’m not falling further behind either.

This prompted a conversation with Jazz about why he should have an emergency savings account in case the English proverb applies to his life rather than Morton Salt. He is quiet fond of reminding me that he plans to move out in a year. So I try not to waste valuable opportunities like this to teach him a life lesson.

So, what’s with the goat picture? Nothing. The goats make me smile every morning that I run past them because they are always on top of their house.

Innocence

courthouse

Men in black and grey suits stood on the street corner across from the stone white courthouse checking their phones and watches. Rays of sunlight streaming over the peaks of the mountains ricocheted off the curved glass windows. The walk light blinked on. The dong of the clock tower sounded 8:45 am. I stepped off the curb tugging my rolling briefcase behind me.  It rumbled across the red brick crosswalk. My hand tightens around the handle as I step over the train rails and pull my briefcase across.

A few steps from the curb, a boy and girl hand in hand rounded the corner. A smile tickled the corner of my mouth and erupted in my eyes. So young. So innocent. To me, they are perfect and out of place.  They weren’t be more than fourteen years old.

His brown hair was short with a rounded neckline.  He wore a light blue button down short sleeve shirt with flecks of sea green, untucked from his khaki shorts that hung below his knees.  My smile widened to impossible depths when I noticed he was wearing almond dress shoes with black laces, no socks.

She wore a white short-sleeved dress decorated with crimson poppies that hung just below her knees.  Her brown hair swept past her shoulders and fluttered at her elbows. She had rouge on her cheeks and light blue eye shadow, makeup that was wrapped in pink princess wrapping paper for her birthday.

Despite it being late summer, both are pale skinned without any tan lines. Not sickly pale, but pale as innocence, one who has not been burned by the world passing around them.  Christmas morning fills their expressions as they glance around and at one another.

It’s a full court calendar this morning, a parade of what goes wrong in children’s lives drugs, violence, poverty, and worse. I watch the two cross the road away from white stone of the courthouse.  Locking their image away safe in my mind, I drag my case files up the ramp to the revolving door. I lift my briefcase up on the conveyer belt to go through security.

People in front of me set off the security sensors, but I don’t. I’ve been through it too many times. Nodding to the police officers, I set my briefcase on the floor and pull out the handle to its full length. It clicks out a familiar rhythm as I cross the marble tiled floor to the stairs.

I lean to the left to offset the weight of the briefcase as I climb the stairs to the second floor.

Perspective

lenses

The lenses through which we see the world are colored by our prior experiences in life. We are able to choose how we see situations and how we respond to them.

Choosing one’s perspective is one of the most powerful and effective parenting skills I have ever learned.

My arms were full of books, my lunchbox, and writing materials. I struggled to get the backdoor open. The dogs darted out the door between my feet. I pushed my way in and dumped my stuff on the dining room table.

“Hi bud, I’m home,” I called into the house.

“Are you ready to go Sky?” I asked my thirteen-year-old son. He stared at me blankly from the walnut brown loveseat.

“You have a doctor’s appointment in fifteen minutes,” I said. “Get your shoes and socks on, please. We need to leave.” I tossed him his shoes. He stood up and then stopped.

“I’m not going unless you take me to Game Stop,” he said. (Game stop is a video game store).

“You don’t have money for Game Stop.”

“Grandma gave you my twenty dollars yesterday.”

“Sorry, you owed me that from a month ago when you used money without asking.”

“You can’t just take my money.”

“I’m not just taking it. We talked about this when you earned it from grandma, and you agreed to give it to me because you took my money without asking. Get your shoes on we need to leave.”

“I’m not going.” He folded his arms across his chest and plopped into the couch.

“You will have to pay the cancelation fee.”

“I’ll only go if you take me to game stop.”

“I’m not taking you to game stop and I am leaving.” I walked out the door. I called for the dogs to come into the house.

The dogs ran into the house when Skyler opened the door to get in the car.

“I’m not answering any questions, and it better not take very long,” Sky said slamming the car door and buckling his seatbelt.

“Okay, but it will take longer if you don’t cooperate.”

In the lobby of the office, he sat curled into a ball on a chair in the corner lips pursed and eyebrows knitted together. He wrapped his arms around his knees glowering at everyone who walked passed.

“Hello, Skyler,” Dr. Davis said. Skyler stalks past to the office.

“Sky we need your height and weight come back in this other room, please,” I said and beckon him with my hand.

“No.” He sits in a chair in the hallway, folds his arms, and crosses his legs. He smiles.

“Has he grown? He seems a lot taller,” Dr. Davis said from in a small room with a scale.

“Yes, he has grown a lot actually,” I said.

“He looks thinner too,” Dr. Davis said. “I’m not sure how this measures height.”

“I can do it,” Skyler says popping out of the chair.

“129 lbs. 5 feet and 4 inches. Wow, you’ve grown two inches,” I said. “One more inch and you will be as tall as me.”

“Then I can pat you on the top of the head,” he said.

“Yes,” I said wrapping my arm around his shoulders.

He answered all of Dr. Davis’ questions, and we were able to leave within fifteen minutes. He didn’t ask about Game Stop the rest of the night. He was happy and compliant.

Skyler frequently demands that other’s met his needs in this manner.

Some parents and most people looking in from the outside of our family would see Skyler’s behavior as disrespectful and manipulative, and it certainly is that but it is also much more. It is a hurt child trying to get what he wants in an immature and hurtful way. I can choose to see him as a disrespectful manipulative child, or I can choose to see him as a child who is hurting and lacking in skills.

I can choose to respond to Skyler’s words, tone, or to the emotions underlying both of these. If I want to change my son’s behavior in the long run, I have to respond to his emotional need first and then address the words he uses and finally his tone.

What did Skyler need? He needed love and attention. He had been home by himself (13 years old) while I was at work, and he needed to know I cared about him. For Skyler, gifts make him feel loved. So, that was what he demanded to fill the void created by being alone.

If I had yelled at Skyler and demanded that he treat me with respect, he would have lashed out at me, and he would have felt rejected and unloved. He would not be willing to listen to me about how to ask for things in a more appropriate way.

By addressing his emotional state first, I free up his mental resources so he will able to hear and respond to what I say about the words he uses. The tone will have to be addressed at another date and time. Baby steps.

Good Morning KFKD Fans!

I submitted the first twenty-five pages of my memoir to a literary agent about six weeks ago. Their website says to give them eight weeks to respond. I haven’t heard anything, and my mental radio station dial began to play KFKD (KFucKeD) last night. You know the station. It’s the one that tells you that you should have worked on the memoir another year before submitting it. The one that tells you that you’re not quite good enough to be a published author, and spirals down from there to the depths of maybe you’re not good enough to be anything.

I mean, who wants to read a book about a thirteen year old girl who gets sucked into a vampire cult in Salt Lake City, Utah(Mormon capital of the world) only to escape her controlling adult boyfriend to join a band of hippies dealing drugs and hitchhiking up the coast of the western United States, right? Long sigh. I would, but I love memoirs about people who have fought back and overcome what appeared to be insurmountable odds. My friends who have read it, say it’s great and an amazing story, but they’re my friends what else are they going to say?

Out on my run this morning I remembered a quote I read recently in Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, she was quoting from the movie Cool Runnings, which is about an Olympic bobsled team.

Their coach says, “If you are not enough before the gold medal, you will not be enough after.”

This echoed inside my head while I ran through the drizzling rain. Slowly, it became louder than KFKD, and I realized, there are a hundreds of literary agents out there. If this one decides not to respond, I will just move on to the next one, and then the next. If no one wants to pick up my memoir after a year, I will self-publish it. There are tons of people self-publishing now, and there are contests for the best self-published book each year.

I think this quote speaks volumes and articulates a foundational problem we see in many teens. And adults for that matter.  We spend so much of our time and energy striving to be better than others, sometimes at things that don’t even matter to us personally.

My youngest son, Skyler (13), struggles with this in a profound way. Strapped with anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and multiple learning disorders, he constantly compares himself with “normal” kids and in his mind never measures up. He also compares himself to his honor roll socially adept older brother. I constantly reassure him that he is an intelligent, compassionate, and determined person and that he just needs to “run his own race” and stop competing with everyone around him. But that is easier said than done, because most of the world looks at him through those same lenses comparing him to those around him.

I can practically see KFKD playing in his mind, and it shatters my heart. This weekend I am secretly putting vinyl letter on his bedroom walls that say, Brave, Strong, Courageous, and Smart. I want these words to be his the moment he opens his eyes each morning, and the last thoughts in his mind each night.

The book I am working on now is called, Reaching for Sky. It’s about Skyler’s and my journey through his childhood, dealing with his explosive and wretched emotions, and struggles to make the world see the greatness that is in him. As I said, I love stories about people who have fought back and overcome insurmountable odds.