Running Rim to Rim to Rim

Choices are hard sometimes . I had already begun to imagine the dirty trail beneath my feet, the view, the exhaustion, and the gab session when my running-mom-partner-in-crime (Lisa) asked me a random question to distract us from the inevitable fatigue that would set in while running the Rim to Rim to Rim (R2R2R) of the Grand Canyon. I just couldn’t make it happen this round.

Perhaps the decision not to join in the R2R2R fun was what propelled me to plop down on the couch with a glass of wine with my laptop and proceed on a race registration “bender”. Late August I put another set of challenges of no less equal magnitude on my race calendar: The North Face 50km, Cal International Marathon, Seven Summit Series by Ragnar, The Truckee Half Marathon, and the furthest out and most outrageous, Comrades Marathon in South Africa (running-mom-partner-in-crime from college made me do that one – Stephanie).

Some people online shop in the late evening hours after their family is in bed; I sign up for races.

More than the wine, it was having to decline the great adventure of running the Grand Canyon. The R2R2R, I have discovered,  is one of those things runners do not as an organized race but rather, a collective challenging adventure that produces stories and memories for years to come. It is roughly forty six miles of rough running down, across, up and back again in one of our countries most beautiful, natural landmarks. It sounds ridiculous but, it is available to all who of the desire to see the entire Grand Canyon on foot. Last April another running crew I associate with went out as a seventieth birthday party with our high school cross country running coach we are all still in touch with.

Tomorrow morning my running friends from CLIF embark on this great adventure, starting before sunrise.  Not joining them was  tough decision. Instead, I am on a different kind of adventure, exploring the nutrition and running communities of Chicago and bringing new insights back home from a nutrition conference. Blah, blah but, don’t worry. I will make those insights worth it.

This R2R2R crew is so on my mind that last night I dreamed I had the weekends mixed up and that they were actually running it next weekend instead. I could join the after all! Alas, it was  a dream. It is impossible to “do it all” after all.

Given I have a an ultra and a road marathon coming up I will be putting in some miles between nutrition sessions. My Grand Canyon crew on my mind all the while. Just knowing they are out there will motivate me to cover the twenty two miles on my training plan tomorrow while I think of them having to go twenty-four more miles to meals, showers, and bed (likely in that order). Enjoy every spectacular minute!

 

Selfies in London Continued: Riding Bikes

I could think of no better way to see London for the first time than riding a state-of-the -art road bike on the closed-to-cars streets past some of the world’s most recognized landmarks. Actually, I could think of a better way, running on foot.

I am not a cyclist so when I learned that my role at the Ride London event was to ride forty-six miles with a bunch of athletes and journalists while spouting off nutrition information, I was a little nervous.

The curly handle bars, pointed seat, and narrow tires on paved streets with pot holes and who knows what else are discomforts and fears that have turned me away from road cycling towards other athletic pursuits.  Those things aside, this actually sounded like an opportunity of a lifetime, and no place for irrational fears. So I saddled up for a different kind of an adventure. The ride was everything you could imagine cycling through and around London without worries of cars to be, complete with a finish in front of Buckingham Palace.

What struck me most is the thousands of people who also showed up to cheer, ride, and celebrate despite real fears about would could happen. London has been terrorized by a few but, the masses prevail despite fears by still taking part in the joys and challenges life presents. Happy riding.

P.S. Ignore the amateur hour off-kilter helmet #hownottowearyourhelmet

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.

Selfies in London Day One

Rise and shined from my morning nap to hit the streets to see what I could see. It has been a long time since I explored a new city and, even longer since exploring an international city. I contemplated running my sleepy self around. Then I thought I again. Why hurry through? This is time for meandering.

My Mom has a fascination with the stories of Henry the VIII and his wives.I am embarrassed to say that thanks to the HBO series, The Tudors, so do I. Who needs history class when you have dramatized fiction based on history? So Mom, you will be happy to know The Tower of London was first on my list of attractions this afternoon. I crossed the Millennium Bridge, breezed by the free version of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and footed it over to The Tower. Much to my surprise The Tower is actually a compound of structures and tours with history and exhibits worth multiple visits. I got my money’s worth today though and covered broad ground with a close of the Armory exhibit. I also got a close up of the encryption  in the walls of a tower that kept ‘prisoners’ through the centuries.

After my tour I continued my walk across the iconic Tower Bridge and looped back for the comforts of my hotel.  Walking back during evening commute I caught many runners with backpacks obviously combining their commute and their run. My novel idea is not so novel here. It makes perfect sense. Urban run-commuting through London is probably the most efficient use of time.

I did find myself lonely and thinking of my family often. Man, I can cover a lot of ground on my own but, it just isn’t as fun as sharing it with my people. They make everything more interesting for sure. They also make everything more challenging.  I literally had to pee for like two hours before I found a bathroom and, I was starving! No kid of mine tolerates that for ten seconds. Nor should they. It isn’t good for a person. My boys keep me on track.

When I as trying to figure out how to reach Aaron through hangouts I stumbled on this gem:

Just a Normal Week

First of all my Ridge Run training is in the pooper this month. Second of all, I can’t afford the time or money to run it this year as much as I want to. My Mom says I have to make choices. Admittedly, when I was young choices were not my forte but, I have improved. So the choice was made.

Why can’t I take our family on our annual summer pilgrimage back to my Montana homeland? Well, because I am learning what it means to buy a new house, move completely out of our home of the past nine years, fix it up to bay area standards , and list it all while continuing to work and parent my very active and emotionally-in-transition boys all in the span of one month plus an international work trip! My training goal at this point is to just maintain fitness to salvage some of the fall running fun. And if that wasn’t enough, I am traveling to London for work.

What could a dietitian working for CLIF, steepeded in parenting, adventure, and running nutrition possibly be needed for in London?

Good question! I will be providing nutrition news and education to some of London’s food, health, nutrition journalists, mingling with British nutrition experts and get this….riding a bike for forty six miles representing CLIF and bikes at Ride London. 

Now, let’s be clear, I own bikes for commuting and jigging around mountain trails but, a road bike? This should be interesting given running forty six miles sounds more comfortable. Show me what you got London.

Human Powered Priviledge in Snow Shoe Running

Being a mother of two very active, young boys who thrive on experiences in the outdoors, I am always looking to adapt and evolve my own need for athletic challenge to our current  environment. Committed to introducing my boys to the art and skill of alpine skiing I often find myself scheduling  winter weekends around road conditions, ski lessons, storms, and unfortunately traffic. The rewards of family time in the mountains, doing something we all love outweigh these challenges to be sure. Not to mention, I kinda thrive on a good challenge. This however, makes endurance training for spring marathons harder because my weekends are spent in the deep snow with not a lot of opportunity for the long, slow, run (LSR).

Last year, when training for Boston Marathon I had a moment of genius. Snow shoe running! By nature this activity is slow (for me) and it should have the same effect as the LSR, especially at seventy-five hundred feet elevation.  On top of that, our little ski cabin backs up to one of the largest cross-country ski trail systems in North America AND connects to the alpine ski hill where my family indulges  for down-hill adventure.

So let the adventure of this new endurance activity begin!

Slow, cumbersome, awkward. Those are the words that describe this new, exciting activity. Excited yet? Now, some may say, “why run?” Why can’t you just walk like most people out there. Two reasons. One, my heart rate doesn’t go up enough to deliver me the endorphin kick. And reason two, it is numbingly boring by myself. Then there is a third reason, actually. It takes twice as long, leaving no time to do some down-hill with my boys.

So I persist, as we all do when something is important to us. I equate this first snow shoe running experience to the first time I stepped out to run while pushing my child in a stroller. It is not easy. There is a learning curve. It does however, get easier and that is when the real fun begins.

A year later, snow shoe running is such a part of my routine that I ache to do it. Even just a one hour spin through the woods can suffice. It has also opened up my winter home to the same human-powered freedom running offers me. It is freedom to know that by my own  human-power I can go where I want, when I want, and at whatever pace suits me. I am not stuck because of weather, closed roads, a closed chair lift, or other humans.  I am limited only by my own strength, will, and capabilities. When all else fails, I always have options.

Since adopting snow shoe running I have also sought out other “modes of human power” transportation in my expanding winter playground. Nordic skiing (both skate and classic) can take me places in the mountains even faster and, have introduced me to an entire new endurance sport! Next up? The back-country! I see the gates to the snow-filled back country I explore in my running shoes in the summer time, and I want to go through them. The only thing stopping me from my next adventure is avalanche safety training and AT gear!

I did successfully finish the Boston Marathon. Did snowshoe running help me out? Well, it certainly didn’t hurt. The real reward out of adopting a new form of sport however, was not fitness. It was freedom.