Adventure Mamas Must Adapt

Day-pack stocked with provisions, water bottles filled, sunscreen on, hats, helmets, Xtracycle loaded, scooter in too! Adventure is on for me and my seven and eleven year old sons.  What is adventurous is relative and, as kids grow from infant, toddler, to school age adventure mamas have to learn to adapt. Things that previously were far from a challenge or an adventure suddenly become so when adding kids’ wheels and human power. A casual bike ride down an asphalt trail turns into an epic day with active “big kids” heading to Soccerfest followed by bike park. The xtracyle ( a cargo bike that can carry both my boys on the back) is both back-up when they poop out AND strength training for my self-care day of mountain running.

My boys and I know that the journeys we take are not going to be cake walks. Talking with them ahead of time prepares them when things are inevitably difficult or tiring They have come to expect challenges like big climbs, tired legs, hungry tummies, and short tempers, and have fun despite them. For me, it is teaching them the character- building joys of “type two fun”.  

Ultra Running to Ultra Moving

Communities exist that are centered around being active outdoors, in nature, everyday.  I have longed to move our family away from the increasing congestion of the urban home to one that values and embraces the outdoors as a way of life.

This summer  we did it. We didn’t plan on it being this summer. It just happened. More serendipitous activity fell into place than didn’t and we now find ourselves living the mountain life in Truckee, California, where there are mountains, elevation, and trails for days.

In June, I was in Tahoe supporting the super bowl of the ultra-running world, The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Race. It is a spectacular feat. While not a one-hundred mile endurance run through the mountains, I did just accomplish what feels like a massive ultra-endurance feat of strength, relocating. Relocating a family while still taking care of the emotional and physical well-being during such a time of change is a huge feat.  This was done while also holding down a full-time job, pivoting a career, emptying a house, moving everything owned into storage, buying a house, a work trip to London , fixing a house for sale, selling a house, then moving everything out of storage to the new house – in two months time.  Anything is possible once you put your mind to it and start grinding it out.

To make the most of resources and time, the move happened at a  pretty grueling pace. My crew was tough and kept us moving forward.  It also came  with many tough ascents and descents.  We planned enough to keep organized  while keeping it loose enough to adapt to the inevitable unknowns as they unfolded rapidly before use.

It might not be a coincidence that I set our family off on this seemingly abrupt change the day after witnessing fierce, strong, and courageous athletes face their demons while running one-hundred miles from Squaw Valley to Auburn.  Every one of them toed the line as  prepared as one possibly can for a journey rampant with unknowns.  Yet, they didn’t let thoughts of fear or doubt sway them from putting themselves all out there on the Western States Trail.  Without knowing exactly how it could turnout they went for it. In doing so they gained experience and insight they will carry into their next challenge.

We may feel comfortable and safe in one place but, even then safety and security are not certainties. We might as well step into new experiences, prepare, train,  learn ,and run with it to squeeze the richness out of being on this tiny planet.



The Organized Circus

The “organized circus” is a phrase I recently used with a friend inquiring about how things were going.  This means  that there are many moving parts of the collective adventures in being a mother, writer, runner, wife, and employee right now that are loosely planned. Last Thursday night, in a very late night and organized fashion, I packed up the car t for a weekend in Tahoe with my kids while my husband was out of town. This was an ambitious adventure in its own right but, the plan also included spending Friday at my office with kids and puppy in tow on our way to the mountains.

There is no denying this was highly ambitious  but, it seemed worth a try.  We had also just spent the week packing up of our entire house so it could be painted.  It was probably the lack of sleep that lead to my inevitable tears of defeat a few short hours after attempting to manage at an office that is also an organized circus of dogs and business.

Once I had recovered from my sob fest and the realization that the only thing my kids had to eat this morning were day-old donuts and a CLIF BAR, I accepted defeat and hightailed it to our happy place.

As my organized circus pulled out of town my thought was it is all a part of the family adventure and, it is all training for something.


Sitting Still Sitting Still

In the book It Is Hard to Be Five  there is a part in the story where this five year old boy is using every bit of effort and might he has to sit still in morning circle. Sitting still. Still. Sitting still. SIT STILL. He is struggling quietly in his mind to stay sitting still because that is what his job requires. We teach children that there is a time for movement and a time to sit still.

As I sit here with a sore back from sitting, writing, reading, watching, learning, and computing I know  we sit too much. Our work and society has us chained to the act of sitting.  Movement is wrong or something you do when you get punished. Sitting however, is the real punishment.

I certainly feel like I am being punished when I am forced to create power point slides that could be communicated better with a photo and some written words while I jump from point to point around the room.

I respect stillness and a time for it but, we have flipped to far on the scale as society that rewards sitting over movement. We have to consciously schedule time to move instead of moving naturally like we are built to do.  We are told to get up and take breaks in our desk-job sittingness…..problem is these movements are just a reminder of a sad state of sittingness. They aren’t fun or productive.

I have a “desk” job sort of. I am so tired of sitting so much however, that I have been doing everything in power to think creatively about accomplishing things without a desk, chair, or computer pulling on me like anchor. Technology is so that we can move and work at the same time if we get creative.

I wake up every day thinking about how I can incorporate as much movement into my day as possible. I am not opposed to rest. Rest will happen because we must sleep but, unless  I re-think how I function each day it is quite possible there could be no movement at all!

Can I do a walking meeting instead of a sitting meeting? Can I ran to an appointment? Can I bike the kids to school? Can I literally “run” and errand. The answer is most often yes! I will rest when I must finally sit down and jam out a power point for all those who want to sit and listen to it….I however will stand to deliver and jump around the room because it is that exciting.

Periods, Running, and a Household of Boys

For years I have fought with the natural cycle of my body. My period would arrive and I would be like, “Ugggh one more thing to manage around everything else I am doing.” Now instead of resisting and fighting with my body’s natural cycle and the inconveniences it brings to running, mothering, and working…… I work with it. 

Once a month my cycle acts like a siphon of much needed energy for my brain and muscles. It stresses my nerves, patience and hijacks my sense of humor (ask my husband about that one!). During this regular scheduled monthly occurrence I am afraid to be around anyone for fear that I have been possessed by someone unrecognizable to the outside world who will wreak havoc on my skills and relationships. 

Then, one day the light bulb came on. I don’t know if it was when I was trying to manage stuff  in the bathroom with my little boys busting in and out, or if it was talking with my amazing coach that enlightened me to to stop fighting the cycle and work with it instead.

One week out of every month since seventeen years old I have lackluster energy and little desire to exercise let-alone train for anything. Yet, I muddle through with junk miles and poor recovery for fear of losing fitness. Ha! The irony is that the junk miles hurt me more than helped. Once my period had passed and energy level returned to normal my body was stuck recovering from the slog the week prior which hurt more than helped.

I complained about this to my coach and she proposed what today seems so obvious. She said, “Listen to what your body is telling you. Slow down. You feel tired and overwhelmed. Slow down everywhere, and offer yourself  the kindness and understanding you give to everyone else.” So I did. Now I schedule training on a three-week cycle. On the fourth week I give myself permission to “do” and run less. I run no more than three miles, three days that week. I also got really honest with people I deal with on a daily basis about my cycle and instead of taking on more I take on less. 

The first time I did this I was nervous about it hurting my ambition and fitness. It didn’t. In fact, I came back stronger, faster, and more organized. It sounds too cliche to be true but it is the truth. Instead of putting my body in a hole that I needed to climb out of I maintained. I gave my body time to adapt and it worked.  

Each month when the lack of energy (which is now more intense than it was when I was seventeen ) begins to set it I count the days on the calendar and prepare to move into an easier gear (pun for you bikers intended). Of course, there is a moment where I lament this forced slow down but than I remember how much better I feel when I work with my cycle instead of fighting it.

Working with my cycle also means being honest with the boys in my household about what and why mommies sometimes need a little potty break …..alone.  They get it. They also now know it isn’t their fault when I don’t laugh at something I would usually find funny. Why fight nature? Being upfront and honest about womanly needs that enable human existence in this world is really not too much to ask.