Running Out of Gas

The last two months have been a practice of going inward and reflecting on everything from career, parenting, running, and relationships. This has resulted in no recent posts. No apologies necessary. This is just a time of year I go inward.

My career coach, mentors, and long-top therapist have all said in separate instances that ” it is time to get out of your head and into the world.”

Nothing proved their point more than the circumstances that brought about this photo!

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Let’s just get to the point. My car ran out of gas thirty-five miles outside of my mountain home. I was returning home after my weekly working-in-the-office-stint in the Bay Area, listening to Jenny Blake’s Pivot Podcast, and reflecting hard on my next career move when they car began decelerating up the mountain pass.

I quickly realized that the car was dying still, with no idea why, pulled over, called my husband and said, “Something is wrong with the car.” He says, “How? It is a brand new car.” It was then that I saw the gas light. “How many miles do you have? Do you think you can make it to the gas station?” Nope. The indicator says “zero miles” and the car won’t start.

I had driven nearly two hundred miles to this point and stopped mid-way to fill up my body’s tank and get groceries. Not once did I get out of my head long enough to think about gas for the car. Indeed, it is time to get out of my head and into a new year where I will get back to posting stories on nutrition and adventures both mountain and in the day-to-day.

So, there I sit at the bottom of the exit ramp off Interstate 80 calm as could be on the phone with roadside assistance. As roadside was attempting to find my mountain pass location a flatbed tow track came backing down the I-80 on-ramp like a mirage out of the darkness ( it was 9:30pm). Wow, roadside, that was quick!

Turns on this kind man and his wife were traveling east on the highway and saw my hazards when they decided to reverse down the on-ramp and see if someone needed help.

That someone was me! “Let me just throw your car on the truck for free and drive you the one point five miles to the gas station. You will wait forever for roadside.” Roadside highly advised me to wait for their service provider but, I took a chance on the kindness of this man and his desire to help. Indeed I was taking a chance on humanity but, it was going to save me at least sixty minutes so I went for it.

The next day I had a call with my career coach. I knew that running out of gas meant something. I took away a few things from this:

  1. Grandpa Eric is right, “It is just as easy to fill up the top half of the tank as it is the bottom half.” Don’t wait. Just fill it
  2. People do like to help people with whatever means they can
  3. It is time to move out of the thinking mind and into action
  4. When something goes wrong, I will know what to do

 

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”.  

Eleven

Eleven. My first born son is eleven years old. Everyone says it goes by so fast. That statement always makes me sad and anxious.  I want to savor moments, take deep breaths, and hold on so I feel and experience the miracle of this child before me. It is true that time can not slow down; and it is also true that time does not speed up. It is constant.

None of that changes the fact that Eric is and eager early bird in just about everything. Mornings he is especially bright, cheery, and early. On the morning of his birthday he was so eager to get to school he asked to walk over early and play on the playground (which I can see from my back window). Little did I know that he would head to his classroom where his teacher told him he can’t arrive an hour before school starts.

His early arrival in life is just who he is. It certainly has presented challenges, particularly at his birth when he arrived fourteen weeks early!

He weighed one pound fourteen ounces when he was born. He couldn’t breath on his own, our open his eyes, I couldn’t hold him which was fine because his paper thin skin scared me a little.

He started the fifth grade this week in a new school.  He is confident, excited,  and enthusiastic to begin making new friends. Some days his start in life is so far from my mind that I let mundane annoyances get to me instead of looking at him and reveling the fact that today he does things so ordinary they hardly seem like the miracle they are. Things  like putting on a seat belt, chewing, swallowing, breathing, playing video games, brushing his teeth. Even now he just got himself up out of bed, went to the bathroom, and then knocked on my door to say good morning.

Happy birthday buddy! I love you.

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.

 

 

Selfies in London (with Friends) Day Two

Today’s selfie infused run (that started out as six miles for me and ended in eleven miles) was joined by my superstar colleague at CLIF, Serena and her husband Sean. We looped the Thames River and reveled in the opportunity to be here, running together before we Ride London in a few days. Last winter Serena and I also worked hard promoting CLIF and nutrition at another amazing opportunity space – The World Ski and Snow Board Festival.

Reflecting on opportunity, my mind has been turned inside out.  It isn’t our jobs that afford us opportunities. Our jobs are simply a means of expressing the opportunities we create for ourselves. Thankfully, my company brings people together who seek opportunities and have creative curiosity about what we can accomplish together not because of our jobs but, rather through our jobs.

It will be important for the next generation not to measure their worth and value on the job, position, or title they hold. These things are not only fleeting but, also less important in a digital world where opportunity is increasingly accessible.  In this world our true value (skill, knowledge, talent, creativity)  can shine.

It is my hope that I can teach my boys they each have unique gifts, skills, and talents to contribute so the can be ever more confident and conscious of their value and worth much earlier than I was.

Then they will see, that every conversation, calculated-risk taken, or challenge accepted is what opens us to opportunities like running and biking around London to make observations and connect my company to the culture. Carry on.

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.

 

Mother’s Days. Adventures Are On!

Mother’s Day doesn’t seem right unless I am on the Northern California Coastline unplugged and with my dudes soaking up all the outdoor adventures we can squeeze into a long weekend of car camping. Some moms long for breakfast in bed, pampering of the nails, or brunching fine-dining style.  Those things are great but, me? Nah, I ask for a family adventure. Even car camping is an adventure when you add kids and a new puppy to the mix!

I wouldn’t have Mother’s Day any other way right now. Last year we opted for a Mother’s Day of regularly scheduled little league and a nice home cooked dinner. It was great but, we all longed to be under the oak tree near the stream hiking, biking, trail running and roasting s’mores. So this year we went back to the tent.

This time of year Mama is usually training for some kind of mountain running/scramble race. My sights are on running the  Broken Arrow 26km which, covers some of Squaw Valley’s  famous terrain ascending to elevation of 8750 feet covering nearly 5,400 feet of vertical or, vert as the cool kids call it. Take a look at this fun!

Broken Arrow Sky Race Short from Jon Rockwood on Vimeo.

Needless to say my Mother’s Day gift this year was a long training run on the trails. Or as I like to call it “the gift of bliss”!

What does an adventure mama  dietitian do to prepare the night before a training run on an epic family camping trip? Well here is the run down:

  • The night before:  Cold-leftover-fried-chicken, salad, followed by S’mores and an unmeasured, seemingly bottomless tin cup, of wine  while reading in front of the campfire. Before snuggling up in the family-size sleeping bag I fill up my hydration pack and stock it with the necessary energy chews and gels. Then I put on my running clothes to sleep in so I don’t have to think about changing in the chilly morning. Just up and at em’, shoes on, and out! Not quite.
  • The morning of:  I woke, crawled out of the tent to find my main man dressed for his mountain bike ride while our boys slept.  Me being a slow starter and preferring to poop, pee, and enjoy a cup of coffee (not necessarily in that order) before running, I let him go first.
  • Before my long run: Being the good sports dietitian I determine  I also had time to top of glycogen (AKA stored energy) in my muscles with the recommend breakfast of running champions – oatmeal mixed with a spoonful of delicious sunflower seed butter  and mashed banana –  with ample time to digest before he returned.

Now, if I had my sights on winning races the wine the night before would probably not be something I would recommend to myself, or cold store-bought fried chicken (gross), but we are camping on Mother’s Day after all.  Given my goals are set around middle of the pack kind of running, a relaxing night by the campfire is just what this dietitian adventure mama ordered (no cooking, cleaning, or giving a care).

 

Three Principles to Rethinking the Workout to Get It Done

I have four full-time jobs.  I am mom to two beautiful boys, I am in a committed relationship, and I have a career in nutrition. Each one of these things requires my full attention. How on earth do I have time to train for trail races in the mountains?

This isn’t a question of why I feel compelled to add one more “thing to do” into the mix of overwhelm that sometimes spins around me. It is about prioritizing  self-care, soul care, to diffuse the overwhelm so I can properly prioritize my attentions.

Adventures in the mountains, kicking up dirt on the trails, breathing in that low-oxygen air, and moving in whatever silly ways my legs will take me feeds me so that I am able to show up to “work” each day.

I must train and prepare to adventure out in the wilds. How do I possibly squeeze it in? I re-think my workouts, which also brings a little urban adventure into my day!

Three key principles to rethinking a workout:

  1. Get creative. For example, I run commute with work-gear in a pack sometimes! It adds weight and builds strength right?! Yes, some days run with a laptop, fruit, and wallet on my back.
  2. Choose quality over quantity. For example, I skip ineffective junk miles when I am feeling overtired and, instead get good rest so I can run hard the next day.
  3. Be adaptable.  Sometimes I need to opt for bringing my kiddos along on run in order to get it in.  So, I adapt the workout to make it fun for all. For example, I will take the to the track and race them down the straight-aways while they count laps. Another good one is giving them the stop watch to do timed sprints while they follow along on their bikes.

 

Not only do these three principles help me get in the training, they also make it a whole lot more adventurous (fun).

Here is a photo of me run-commuting the hills of San Francisco back to the train after a meeting, with my lap top and lunch in my pack. This is how I get er’ done!

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At the Dentist

A funny, and not so fun, thing happens when I take my kids to those dentist appointments where they put the silly-gas mask on their face. When I see them lying there with all these instruments and health professionals my chest gets tight, my heart aches all the way into my mouth, and this horrible sense of dread flashes through my body. In other words, I panic.

Today I am here with Noah, my youngest, for a simple but uncomfortable procedure. He is getting sealants on his molars, something I wish my mom had done to protect my teeth. So why the panic? The same experience happened a few years ago when Eric, my older one, went through this. (deep breaths here)

I hear him whimpering through the nasal mask, and I see his body squirming. I want to reach for him. I want to tell him I am sorry and that he will thank me later for protecting his beautiful, perfect teeth from the very decay I have to have drilled out and filled in my own teeth next week.

The panic, my panic is a post trauma reaction triggered by the environment and this yuck nasal mask! This simple, uncomfortable procedure is setting off memories and feelings I experienced in with Eric in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit over ten years ago.

Enough time has passed that the triggers are few and far between. Enough time has also passed for me to learn to recognize what is happening when the panic comes over me seemingly out of no where. I would however, be remiss in believing that it has been ONLY the passage of time that helps me today recognize it is not the dentist working on my son that I am panicking about.

Years of learning and working to understand the true nature of my feelings and eruptions has enabled me to see this. Seeing it then gives me options. I can acknowledge the feelings and memories in a knowing way. Knowing they are coming, remembering, and be grateful. Then I can come back to the present moment right here at the pediatrics dentist office, and see the good mom I am and, be the good mom telling him how proud I am of HIS courage to do this.

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.