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!


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


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 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:

Can Any Body Be an Athlete?

Anyone can be an athlete. It is true. Not having enough time, only have one leg, or fear of swimming can all be overcome. I have met climbers missing fingers, mountain runners with one leg, Olympic marathoners who previously lost their ability to walk and they are doing it. It is in us if we want it.

Then there are the busy people – really busy – like full-time jobs and five kids busy – who make it happen because they want it that bad.

When someone says to me “Oh, I could never do that” – ‘that’ being something seemingly out of their reach like running a five kilometer race, climbing a mountain, getting up every morning and running ten miles on a tread mill – I don’t believe it.

I have had the privilege of getting to some of the world’s best athletes. What they all have in common is something we all have within us. That is the gift of perspective on limitations. Limitations don’t become boundaries. Instead, they become challenges to what is possible. See here for one of my favorite inspirations. No, I don’t climb but am none-the-less inspired.

The professional athletes I have met are dedicated to their sports. They prioritize it. They may seem special and different but, like a movie star they choose to focus on this, and that what makes the so good at what they do.  Genetically, they may have some advantages that push them to the top. We can all however, learn to change our perspective , being the best we can be in context of our own genetics and goals. There is an athlete in all of us, it is a matter of prioritizing fitness, food, and self-care within our own circumstances to find the athlete within every body.



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!



Performance Nutrition Behavior Number Two: Determine Your Higher Purpose

Here is something for the next person who tells me “all this running can’t be good for you” to read. It is also an example of a man who truly gets how running is training for life.  Not only that, he does not look his age at all. In this Forbes’ article it says he runs to stay fit for a higher purpose. He doesn’t run to be skinny or prove himself. He runs to stay fit for doing “whatever he wants”, which is also how he defines retirement.

Nutrition is no different.  Eating for the purpose of achieving a certain weight, body, or blood lipid level isn’t enough to overcome the barriers keeping so many from eating in a way that they intuitively know is healthy. Eating for a higher purpose  can help. Are you eating in a way that helps you accomplish what it is your want to do?  If not, why not? Maybe it is time to identify a higher purpose to the food you choose. I want to eat in a way that enables me the freedom  to use my own human power to see amazing landscapes and connect with people who inspire me.

Hits from the “Debunking the Diet” Archive: Fools for Fiber

For some the word diet is a four letter word that means deprivation, restriction and missing out on the sexy food in the world. To me, diet is simply a word describing the food that goes into the body each day.

This little video was made as part of a “Debunking the Diet ” campaign I did for LUNA BAR several years ago. While the campaign is long over, the nutrition information and humor still stands.

What also still stands is LUNA’s mission to empower women to rise above, and be the leaders our world so desperately needs right now. We are not trapped in this world that white men driven by power and wealth have created. Today, more than ever before we need the sensibilities of the feminine nature in leadership.

Yeah, kind of a hard to follow that paragraph up with a video about fiber. It isn’t just about fiber. It is about using humor to ditch the obsession with how our body looks, and to start being proud and grateful for the body we have. This would free our minds focus outside of ourselves and share our gifts for a greater, collective impact on things most important to our future.

In making these videos  I achieved my dream of having the scene counter clapped in all its black-and-white chalkboard greatest in front of my face. I also was treated with patience as the non-actor of the group by Erin and the director. The director said , “Teach me Tara. Friendly teacher me.” That was her exact direction. Perhaps my gift is to friendly teacher.

The Girl Who Runs

She is confused. She is distrusting and unclear herself about what will be enough. In her confusion and obsession to “fix” this and get on with living a full and meaningful life, she begins to question everything. She becomes afraid. Afraid she can’t trust her own instincts. Afraid of greater loss. Not only is she afraid of losing love, but she is  also afraid she is losing herself to the overwhelm and chaos.The resentment and anger are slowly suffocating her. She begins to feel she is sacrificing happiness with her children during  their youth. Her own ambitions for in love, acceptance, and health are suffering.

She TAKES responsibility for herself and her process to heal. She longs for the subject of her pain to do the same.She hits the wall. She is weak  and drained physically and emotionally by everyone and everything around her. She says stop. Stop the confusion.  She slows down. She begins to see she needs rest. She needs space. She can’t keep pushing herself and being pushed for attention and love she is not right now capable  of providing.  She is tapped. What does she need? She needs to run. Run long and far to the places of sanctuary that fill her with  comfort,peace,and safety. She runs home to her mother, to her brother and to her life-long friends. She runs to the Mountains, she runs in search of safety. She runs away from everything  feeding her fears of experiencing more loss and pain. She runs away from what she can not trust. She runs in search of meaningful, new experiences and in search of wild places not just outside herself, but within herself.

But now she is  feeling even too weak to run. She is tired. She is so tired that she dreams of curling  up in a dark room and sleeping for days. So many responsibilities need her attention. So many people depend on her.   There is nowhere to go. She has to lean on someone somewhere. So she does what she has always done. She focuses inward and leans on herself. Every run starts right there.

The Passion of an Athlete

Anyone can be an athlete. It is true. Don’t give me excuses like there is not enough time, you only have one leg, or you can’t catch a ball. When someone says to me “Oh, I could never do that” – ‘that’ being something seemingly out of their reach like running a five kilometer race, climbing a mountain, getting up every morning and running ten miles on a tread mill – I never believe it. My response is always, “yes you could.”

In my work I get to meet people doing amazing things. They are world class athletes gifted with a body and mind where limitations are not boundaries but rather challenges to work through to get where they want to go. See here for one of my favorite inspirations. No, I don’t climb but am none-the-less inspired.

I used to get so nervous talking to these celebrity athletes because they seemed so untouchable, like a movie star. Then as I worked with them more I start being less star-struck and seeing them as people like you and me.

One of the coolest realizations I had in the past few years was that if I trained, I too could do things my most admired athletes do. Certainly my skill level will be far behind them and I will be the slowest to the top but, I could do it my own way. It is like realizing that if you had people dedicated to you hair, make-up, and wardrobe you too could be beautiful on the red carpet.

You may not reach as far or as high as the famous ones. This is not because you can’t but, because what you do is scaled to your own individuality. My individuality currently tells me to keep my feet firmly on the ground. I want my Mom to know this in case she is reading. But think about this guy’s Mom!

Athlete’s accomplishing incredible feats inspire me to get out there and find the adventure that feeds me and get’s me thinking “maybe I can do that thing I once thought I couldn’t do”.

What drives this trail running Momma? It is teaching my boys that they are capable in their own bodies. Being a good example of this drives me to run, pushing my own limits to a place that brings me both awe and comfort.

Some day they may say, “Hey, Mom did all that training and was able to run far in beautiful places. So I can do it too”.

Hope, Peace, Joy, & Love

We went to church last Sunday. We actually made it past the children’s sermon this time despite the boys outward disagreement of who got to play with Action Chugger during the service. You see, usually when we go to church it goes like this: we arrive late to miss announcements. No need to waste Eric and Noah’s young boy short attention span on announcements. We sit down shuffling who sits where, try to sing a hymn, and then they go up to the alter for the children’s sermon. They LOVE the children’t sermon.

Today Noah got to place the sheep in the nativity scene and Eric got to bring Joseph along his journey across the room. After the children’s sermon, the children are invited to a play room with Birdie. Noah and Eric have outgrown the play room and want nothing to do with it. I am lucky to get through the readings let alone the sermon before these boys need to move their active bodies. So I usually feel satisfied with the lesson they have received and we retire to the backyard where we play kickball until community coffee hour which is perfectly aligned with snack time.

Today we made it through the entire service! Being it was the fourth Sunday in advent, the 4th candle was lit. After all my years going to church with my mom and watching the candles being lit, today I actually took in what they meant. Hope, peace, joy and love. Whether or not you believe in Jesus or even God for that matter, these four things are something everyone can strive to believe in and celebrate over the holiday. It is hope, peace, joy and love that bring us together. I was touched today by the sermon and that “belief” is faith in something even though logic, knowledge and science can’t make sense of it.  Humanity can not survive without hope, peace, joy, and love. Yet, it takes faith to accept them into your way of being because they come with uncertainty, unanswered questions. Hope, peace, joy, and love often defy logic, yet everyone needs them.

Christmas is the celebration of our Savior, our belief, our faith in all things good in this world all centered around the birth of a child. To me it through our children we learn to accept hope, peace, joy and love into our life. As adults we must re-ignite the child within us so we can be parents. We jump into parenthood with all its uncertainty and accept the challenges. This is true faith in action. There is a Carter’s ad that says when a child is born, so is a new mom. We learn side by side with our children. As the grow into themselves we grow into our parenting-selves.

For this Momma it is through all children I can see true hope, peace, joy and love.

This is my understanding of what Christmas is. Bless the birth of all children.