Thank You Gadget Gnome

gnome

Graditude:A feeling of thankfulness and appreciation.

Gratitude is in short supply these days. People go through life with a sense of entitlement to all of their basic needs and much more. They walk through life believing that others should step aside for them and provide them with all they desire. I see this in nearly every aspect of my life.

Without my friends and family, I would fall flat on my face more often than not. Even with their help, I struggle at times. I know I don’t tell them enough how much I appreciate their assistance, their ear, and their advice.

We fail to realize how interdependent we all are, especially in this technologically advanced world. In the United States, there are few truly independent self-sufficient people. We depend upon one another for our food, shelter, safety, entertainment, and health.

I have a small garden, but it would not feed my family. I own my home, but I can’t do everything to maintain it nor did I build it. I rely on the police and military to maintain the safety of my neighborhood and country. Movies and books are my primary sources of entertainment. I can be aware of what I eat, and my exercise habits, but if I feel like crap I go to a doctor to make it better.

In this ever increasingly interdependent world, I want to say thank you to all of those who provide those little things that go unnoticed by so many on a daily basis, including by me.

My friend, Gadget Gnome, knows a lot about many different things because he has worn many hats during his lifetime. He embodies all of the typical gnome characteristics: always smiling, welcoming, willing to lend a helping hand, always has the right tools or knows where to get them, and watches out for your best interest.

Treat your Gnomes well so they don’t rebel.

strike gnome

During my inaugural triathlon adventure, he has been a fountain of information. He introduced me to total immersion swimming, watched me swim, and provided advice for my technique. He has given me advice on my cycling and helped maintain my bike.  He put together this list of things/gear to consider for a Triathlon for himself, but shared it with me and said I could share it with all of you.

swim gnome running gnome bike gnome

IN CAR:

Pump for bike tires.

Bike tools.

Cash for parking.

 

CHECK IN:

Registration receipt.

Pre-race food, nutrition, drink.

Identification or Driver’s License

 

T1 BAG:

Bike shoes (may be running shoes?)

Bike socks.

Bike gloves.

Rear-view mirror.

Sun glasses or riding glasses. Glasses in a case. Have rear view mirror already on glasses.

Aero water bottle.

1 water bottle.

Several packets of electrolyte replacement.

Several GU packets.

Water to remove mud/sand from feet if needed.

Small towel to dry feet if needed.

 

 

T2 BAG

ID belt. With number already on it, several GU packets in pocket.

Running shoes.

Running socks (may be socks from bike ride).

Running hat or visor or hair control band.

1 water bottle.

Several packets of electrolyte replacement.

Several GU packets.

OTHER SUPPLIES:

Put these in the transition bag.

Safety pins to put number on belt (they do not always have them).

Sharpie (to put number on if line to long).

Sun lotion.

Bug juice.

Nutrition

Jacket/clothing per weather.

A few bandages.

Spare car key in bag.

Wallet and/or phone (in bag or friend).

Spare swim goggles.

Spare swim cap.

Spare socks.

Some cash.

Paper and pen.

Some bike tools.

Possibly a small brush to clean transition area.

Towel(s) to put on ground to protect helmet and possibly sit on

Flashlight to setup in the dark.

5 gallon jug to sit on and carry stuff

Water bottle to spray water on feet, or bucket to wash in.

 

 

Believe the impossible is possible.

I never thought I would say this, but I am glad that this week is a rest week. I am dropping my miles by 25% to let my body recover and rebuild. I normally loath rest weeks and try to fit in as much as possible regardless of what is written on my training schedule (not recommended).

This last week, however, has left me exhausted. I was once again the on call attorney for my day job and now hold the record for the most cases to come in over a one-week period. I’m always worried I will miss an emergency call in the middle of the night, so I never sleep well during my on call week. While at the office, I usually get some down time to just wrap my head around what is going on, but not this past week. I was constantly working on some new problem from the moment I walked until after I left for home.

Sky(13) was camping with his grandparents, which would make you think that life was easier since I was short one child, but it didn’t. I tried to get more things done since I didn’t have to worry about leaving him home. Jazz(17) works weekends and spends a lot of time away from home with friends and sports. I track him by text and phone calls.

After work Friday, I went to the store to buy everything to make breakfast pizza (recipe below it’s awesome) for my relay team meeting on Saturday. Once home, I made dinner and the breakfast pizza.

Three bags laid across the floor in the living room, while I gathered all my trigear. Bike helmet, shoes, gloves, and glasses went in one. Running shoes, garmin, hat, race belt, and road ID went in another. Wetsuit, swim cap, and goggles were tossed into the third.

Tossing all the bags into the front of my car, I popped the trunk and pulled the latch allowing the back seat to lie down. My bike slid in without any problems. I went to bed around 11:00 pm. Jazz came home from work at 11:30 pm sending both dogs into a barking whirlwind from under the blanket.

“Mom, can I go to Belle’s (named changed to protect the innocent), it’s her birthday and we are going to have cake and ice cream with a few people,” Jazz asked. Belle is his girlfriend.

“Sure Jazz, but don’t be too late,” I mumble from the dark.

12:10 am Jazz came home, whirlwind of barking dogs began again. Who really needs more than three hours of sleep anyway.

Saturday morning I rolled out of bed at 330 am to get a 25 mile run in. I was out the door by 4:00 am. Finished my run at 8:00 am, I chugged some whey protein and coffee down, showered and pulled on my triathlon suit.

I was supposed to be to Swiss Miss’s by 830 am, but I didn’t make it until 910. We went for a three mile run with Foreman Grill around the park. We had to be back by ten for the relay team meeting.

second runLeft to right: Swiss Miss, Foreman Grill, and me.

Breakfast pizza, an omelet roll, watermelon, muffins, and raspberry pastries were set on the table. Plates were passed around and a silence came over what was a very chatty group only moments before. After shoving food in my face, I went over the rules for our next relay and answered questions.

From there Swiss Miss and I drove up to East Canyon reservoir, so I could try out my wetsuit. The beach was crowded with kayaks, paddleboards, and people. I realized that there was nowhere for me to be able to practice the transition from swim to bike and bike to run.

I pulled on my rubber duck suit and the shiny new bright yellow swim cap Swiss Miss bought for me. She wanted to be able to see me in the water oh and the boats needed to see me too. Having never done many open water swims, I had not realized that a bright colored swim cap was important. Duh!

rubber duck

I swam back and forth in the swim area of the reservoir for about an hour dodging children, paddleboards, kayaks, and a bunch of teens on a ginormous blow up island with slides. Two hundred other swimmers will be getting in the water with me at Spudman Tri, so the obstacle course of boats and people was great practice.

After the swim, we met up with some other friends and went downtown to try to ride the Slide the City 1000 foot slide set up in the middle of the street. Slide the city 2  Image at KSL.com

Unfortunately, you had to have tickets and an appointment to be able to slide. Not knowing we needed them, we were unable to slide. We will have tickets for next year.

Swiss Miss wanted to do some shopping so we walked through the mall and then went to the sidewalk sale to have unicorns drawn on our arms. UnicornsThat’s me smack dab in the middle. Why Unicorns? Because you have to believe the impossible is possible. This was the second unicorn of the weekend for Swiss Miss and me.

I finally got home around 7:00 pm made dinner and crashed.

At 4:30 am I got up and ran 15 miles, loaded the dogs into the car and drove 4 hours to pick up Sky from my parents. I had lunch with my parents and realized how much I needed a break in the quiet of the mountains listening to the wind blow through the aspen trees, the river rumble over the rocks, and the smell of the pine trees.

Sky and I finally got home at 6:00 pm, I made dinner, and enjoyed my youngest son’s company, which I had missed for the past five days.

Breakfast Pizza

1 lb pork breakfast sausage

large tomato chopped

2 scallions chopped

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

3 eggs whipped

1 cup smoked gouda cheese

Directions: Turn Oven on to 350 degrees. Press breakfast sausage into bottom of 8×8 baking pan. Dump whipped eggs on top. Sprinkle with tomatoes, mushrooms, and scallions. Top with cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Labor and Deliver don’t make you a Mommy

Birth

Getting pregnant and giving birth do not make you a mommy. Many mommies never go through these experiences, and many women who do go through these experiences repeatedly never become mommies.

July 10 is my oldest son’s birthday. In a sense, it is also my birthday. It was the day I was reborn. The day he gave me a reason to reclaim my life. His gift was much greater than mine.

Some people believe that being a mom is instinctual. Maybe it is for some animals, but not for humans. For human’s, it is a choice. A choice one must make every morning upon waking.

Today I will love you more than I love myself.

Today I will put your needs before my own.

Today I will sacrifice my desires for yours.

Today I will work my fingers to the bone to see you smile and hear your laughter.

Today all that I do, I do for you with no expectation that you will provide something for me.

All birth parents love their children, but it is not always enough to overcome their own demons of addiction and violence. I have come to understand that love does not conquer all the dark and challenging things. In my corner of the universe, birth parents choose partners, drugs, gangs, fetishes, crime, and violence over their children.

Some will argue that it is out of love that a birth parent makes the choice to not be a mommy because they know that they are unable to do so for such and such a reason. I am not saying that relinquishing one’s parental rights to a child for adoption is not a noble and loving act because under many circumstances it can be. I have the utmost respect for a person who recognizes they are not in a good place to be a mommy or daddy and chooses to provide a better life for their child.

Through their choices, some parents cause irreparable harm to their children, who are drug along for the ride. As parents, all of our choices affect our kids, even the small decisions have a ripple effect. But most especially the big ones such as who to allow into our lives and the lives of our children.

Mommies are the gatekeepers for their children, twenty-four hours a day. We filter the world, its people and ideas, that come in contact with our children.  As our children grow, we stand guard alongside them and then we hand over keys to the gate. Our children learn who and what to allow in and to deny based upon our prior decisions.

So guard the gate well.

Ideas in the Dryer

On good days, the internal status of my head is similar to a rolodex. My attention flips through the roles and responsibilities of my life: Mom, Attorney, Runner, Writer…

Today it is more like a clothing dryer. I reach in, randomly pull things out to attend to, and then restart it.

A few things have been rolling around in my mind over the last few days. First, I signed up for my first triathlon. It is on July 25, 2014, the Spudman in Burley, Idaho. It’s an Olympic distance tri, so the swim is 0.93 miles (1.5k), the bike is 24.8 miles (40k), and the run is 6.2 miles (10k). I’ve been blabbing about breaking into the triathlon world for about a year, and I am finally doing it. Granted this is a little concerning, knowing my personality and personal mantra of Go big or go home. I don’t do things in a small way.  What does that mean? An Ironman is likely to pop up on the horizon is what that means.  Short term this means my butt needs to get back to the swimming pool and soon. My strength training is going to have to be sidelined for the next month until the race so I can work in swimming on Monday and Friday and cycling on Wednesday and then sometime on Saturday.

The second thing rolling around in my head is that one more of my runners has dropped from my relay team. The race is in less than a week. The chance of finding a runner who fits well with my team, has $130 laying around, and can run one of the hardest legs of the race is zilch, nada, zero. Even if it was possible, do I truly want another runner? We have a trailblazer, which is going to be a tight fit with six runners. It would be more comfortable with five runners. The opportunity to run Wasatch Back as an ultrarunner is too hard for me to pass up. I can pick up the extra miles. In fact, I would love to. It would make my total miles for the relay race jump from 20.8 to 36.3 miles.

The third thing is whether I start a second or even a third blog. I go back and forth on this. This blog is dedicated to life as a single mom and ultrarunner. But as you can see, if you follow it or flip through some of my prior posts, my writing life has snuck in through the back door. Other aspects of my life are clinging to the windowsills trying to claw their way in as well. The second blog could be dedicated to my writing life, but then I also like to post about being a mom of a bipolar child. Do I start a blog about that as well? That would take a lot of time. It would be easier for me to post everything on one blog, but then people who follow this blog for the running would be turned off by the writing and bipolar child posts, or would they? Then I get on my soapbox and tell myself, “It’s my freaking blog I can post what I want!”

It gets more complicated when I throw my day job into the mix and want to post something about advocating for child abuse and neglect victims and teens who are charged as adults and sent to prison (another issue I’m passionate about).

What it will ultimately come down to, is what my readers think so, please comment.

What are your thoughts and experiences on this issue? Does anyone know of a theme I could set up my blog to post on different threads and my readers could just click on whatever they are interested in? Or should I just keep it all in one stream?

Suffer Well

rhinoToday was speed training. My miles went up this week, which means I had to throw in not just one more 800 repeat, but two. Joy of joy’s! Thankfully, my exercise induces rhinitis decided not to rear its horned head today.

I was tired when my alarm went off at 5:00 am. I stayed up late talking with my 16 year old until 11:30 last night. I knew the whole time we were talking that it would make it hard to get up and moving in the morning, but he is such an insightful kid. I enjoy hearing about what goes on inside his head. So, I listened.

The morning was crisp and cool. I ran over to the high school track and finished the first five 800’s. On the sixth one, my legs started to burn during the second loop. On the seventh one, my legs were burning on the first loop. It was well worth the burn, and it would have been worth the rhino too had it shown up.  Having taken a two-year hiatus from speed training, I have actually enjoyed getting back into it. Sure, I don’t like it when I’m headed over to the track telling myself how much it is going to suck, how my lungs and legs are going to burn. I try to bargain with myself and negotiate my way out of it.

I have a quote on my office wall that reads, “If you ran without sacrifice, congratulations you just jogged. Running hurts. It always has. Wooly mammoths didn’t just roll over onto a plate and serve themselves up to prehistoric man with fries and a shake. They had to be caught—and running down a woolly mammoth was a bitch. Guess what? Running is still a bitch. But one with purpose. It teaches us that good things do not come easy. It teaches us that we are capable of more than we think. It teaches us that hard work will be rewarded, and laziness will be punished. Don’t expect to learn those life lessons from running’s shiftless stepchild: jogging. Next time you suffer on the roads or trails, suffer proudly. It means you run like an animal.”

No one wants to suffer. No one wants to watch those we love suffer. But suffering is the greatest teacher. It is a tender teacher because things could be so much worse in every case, but it only gets bad enough to make the change happen that needs to happen. No one gets off this planet without suffering. No one. Suffering levels the inequities between us all. I don’t care how high your mountain of greatness is, suffering makes it obsolete. You find yourself staring eye to eye with those you probably looked down upon during another part of your life. Suffering bonds us all as participants in this great human race.

All life-altering decisions contain suffering on both sides. It doesn’t matter if you make the right decision or the wrong one you are likely to go through a period of emotional or physical pain. And if you don’t learn what you needed from it, you’re going to do it again and again.

I watched a video on the Barkley Marathons, which is a wicked 100-mile or so race without a defined course and 65,000 feet elevation gain. You get an incredible sixty hours to finish the race. In thirty years, only 14 people have finished the thing. On the video, the race director shakes the hand of a participate who has dropped out after finishing two of the five loops and he says, “I only regret you could not have suffered longer.” I thought it was a fitting statement (Here’s the video if you want to watch it http://vimeo.com/97270099).

Suffering is an opportunity to get stronger, to face your fears, to reach out to others, and to learn about who you truly are and what makes you tick. So suffer well.

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.

Reaching Youth

A good friend of mine asked me to speak to a group of teens who are graduating from drug treatment and juvenile drug court. I’ve been thinking about this over the last week trying to figure out how to bridge the gap between the teens and me. I know that I can’t walk in there as the attorney and ultrarunner that I’ve become. If I cannot bridge the gap, nothing I say will even register in their minds.

But I haven’t always been an attorney and ultrarunner. My specific pits of despair are very similar to those kids including substance abuse, living on the streets, running away from home, drug dealing, teen pregnancy, teen motherhood, high school dropout, gangs, and more.

Life has never been along the straight and narrow path for me. Life has never been along the straight and narrow path for me. The one thing I have in common with them is their struggle. The struggle for life and the discovery of self-purpose.

So many of our teens lose their belief in themselves, it flies out the window along with their ability to dream ambitious and crazy childhood goals. I prevailed over my struggles because I rediscovered my belief in myself and one other person never lost her belief in me, my mom. I have found that the farther you go in search of who you are, the farther you get from it, because it’s right where you started from in the first place.  

Reigniting the fire of their dreams and childhood goals can be very difficult. However, it is easier than rebuilding their belief in themselves. One little talk from me is not going to leave them with a fully reconstructed self. It might, if done right, lay a brick in the foundation, if I’m lucky.

What I can give them is an external anchor until they rediscover themselves. I can show them that it’s possible to come back, to rise against all the odds stacked against them. Running, for me, is a confirmation of my inner strength and determination to continually face my fears and never back down from the struggle.

Long distance running is a metaphor for life. You chose to get out of bed and face your run, sometimes not knowing the route you are about to head down. At times, it is dark, and you can’t see what or who is coming from the other way.

 

You come to the foot of a hill or a mountain, and you chose the best or worst path to take, up and over. Sometimes it is too big, and you decide to try to go around which results in you being utterly lost. Puddles appear, and you happily splash through them or skip around them to avoid the miserableness of soggy feet.

 

At twenty miles, you hit the infamous wall. Your mind is telling your body it cannot go another step, but you do, and you get stronger. After a mile, you feel your strength return. You hit another wall at thirty miles and then forty miles. You know they will keep coming, but you know you can keep going because you have done it all before.

 

Some days you hit your zone gliding on top of the world, flying down hills, or floating over the mountains. Some days you trip over rocks, roots, and your own feet, falling on your face. But, you stand back up, and keep going. Life has its mountains and walls. You choose how to deal with each, and sometimes you glide, on top of the world.