Women and the hats they wear…

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So, the photo is just to get your attention. Sort of.  But it is also illustrates the juggling I do every day–as a woman, mother, wife, and daughter.  I am a runner, a sister, an aunt, a friend, an employee, a student, a care taker, a mentor….the list goes on and on. Think about it. If I asked you right now how many roles you played (“hats you wear”) in a day, what would your “hat count” be in total?

I really started thinking about this “hat count” when I saw a conversation recently in a Women For Tri group.  The original post was from an athlete talking about finding, and losing, a balance of her roles when training for an Ironman.   She poured her heart out on camera, in the middle of her living room floor with piles of laundry, a dirty floor and  mounds of back to school paperwork surrounding her. She had just returned home from her race the day before and was exhausted.  Instead of eating, resting, recovering, this woman was faced with the task of picking back up where she had left off weeks, probably even months, ago.  She broke down on the camera and said she just wanted to revel in the one thing she had ever done in her life for herself–train and complete an Ironman–and she could not because, well, life was calling.  She was very frustrated, but at the same time, she was very proud to have accomplished a life-long dream, all while being a single mom, raising a child with special needs, and working full-time during her training.

The comments that poured in to her were amazing and supportive. Women who did not have children, women who had supportive families, women who were going through the same things she was–they were all there saying “Keep your head up.  If you can do that, you can do anything.” “You are amazing.” “You are inspiring.”  “Let the laundry wait.” “Who can help you with the paperwork?”  “Stay strong.”  It gave me hope. Hope for this woman to eventually get her child enrolled in a new school, find her living room floor again, and even rest eventually.

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The other thought I had when reading this woman’s story and the comments, was “Wow. These women are amazing.”  The women coming to her support were all different levels of athletes, but they were surrounding her and lifting her up in a way that I personally don’t see women do enough.  We are talking women with MANY hats. They didn’t have to be there supporting this woman, but here they were, telling her she CAN do it. Telling her she WILL do it.  Telling her to BE KIND TO HERSELF.  Telling her to STOP and REVEL in this one thing, even just for a moment. These women are the kind of women I want to be like; the kind of women I try to surround myself with for so many reasons.  They were not saving her by telling her to take off some of her hats (i.e. giving up something she loves being), they were gently reminding her how to balance her hats.

Her post reminded me that even on the days when I might struggle to balance training with all of the other things life hands me, I can do what I need to do to meet my goals and not necessarily have to give up any of my roles. 

So many times we are busy taking care of everyone else, we put ourselves last. I am grateful I have a supportive family, but I am also grateful for the women I have met through my local running group.  The ladies of Moms Run This Town/She Runs This Town in Louisville GET ME. They know what I am trying to do and they have my back on the days when I am having the hardest time keeping all of my hats balanced.

Ladies, if you are struggling and don’t have women like this in your life, go find them. They are out there waiting for you. They will understand and appreciate you far more than you realize.  And, they will help push your hats back up on top of your head when they see them leaning a little too far to one side.   

 

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Trying in Indy- my first sprint triathlon!

If you’ve been following my journey this summer, you know that my first attempt at a triathlon was unsuccessful (due to weather the swim portion was cancelled-read more about MingoMan Triathlon here)! So, I decided to give it another “tri” and headed to Indianapolis for TRI Indy.  I signed up for the sprint distance again as this was my first attempt and I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew!  Turns out, I surprised myself in a few ways…

 

My husband I arrived in Indianapolis and headed straight to packet pick-up, which was a breeze. We snuck into the 101 course for newbies and listened to race organizers give last minute tips and tricks and tell us about the course. I recommend if you are new to the sport or aren’t familiar to the course to attend a clinic if they offer it at your race. You will learn at least one thing that is helpful for your race day!  After the beginner’s clinic, we headed to find my training partner and her husband and walked the course to get familiar with the swim portion and the transition area.  The swim is in the canal through downtown and both Transition 1 (T1) and Transition 2 (T2) are in the same grassy area of the park. The course is actually quite beautiful! After walking the course, my training partner and I were a little sad we didn’t sign up for the Olympic option as my husband did.  After walking the course, we went back to our hotel to get some rest.

Race day morning was uneventful in terms of logistics–parking was a breeze and getting our bikes racked only took minutes.  We had read that the swim start was a walk so we made it there early and took our time. I walked my husband to the Olympic swim start, said good luck, and headed back to find my training partner as we did not start for another hour.  We were able to watch the Olympic racers swim by, which was exciting!

 

The weekend had been cool and the water temp for that morning was around 72 degrees at 7:30 am, making it wet suit legal. For the swim portion, you corral yourself in a line and then every 2 seconds, someone jumps from the platform into the canal, so it took us a good 20 minutes to get into the water. As you are in the line waiting, you were given the option to get in the water to warm up. Neither my training partner nor I had on a wet suit, so we declined the warm-up as people were in the water with teeth chattering.  Looking back, this could have been my first mistake!  Finally, it was our turn to take to the platform and jump in-my friend went first and I quickly followed suit behind her.  As my body hit the water, I immediately realized I was not prepared for how cold the water actually was and it immediately took my breath away. For the next 250-300 meters I struggled to find my breath and swim correctly – it was HORRIBLE.  My friend’s husband was walking along the canal and could see that I was not happy and came back to walk along beside me and talk to me.  I was so grateful for his support and his encouragement to keep going forward.  I stopped twice to flip over onto my back and catch my breath: once I even stood up in the canal to try to calm my heart rate down! Finally after what seemed like 40 minutes, I got it together and swam correctly the remainder of the way, but it was still slower than I wanted.  I am not a fast swimmer, but was hoping to do my swim in less than 15 minutes. Instead I got out of the water in a little over 19 minutes! Regardless, I was done with the swim and ecstatic to move on to the bike and warm up.

My T1 time was at two minutes and then I was off on the bike!  I loved this bike course, mainly because after my last race my friend helped me make a minor adjustment to my gears, which made a huge difference this time! The bike course is a 12 mile loop and it is quite rough.  They do warn you about this, so mentally, I was prepared and just hoped I didn’t pop a tire.  I smiled most of the bike, knowing that the swim was behind me and I was one leg away from finishing my first tri!  I said hello to people on the course, thanked the volunteers and police officers (they had a great presence on the course) as I rode by, and cheered on the runners as I came back into the transition area.  My bike time was at 39 minutes, totally smashing my average pace and speed from my last race!

In transition, I jumped off of the bike and threw my visor on and went for it!  I did not take any nutrition during the race up to this point, so I did take advantage of the aid stations during the run portion (one each mile with lots of smiling faces).  It was hot and I wanted to make sure my strongest event stayed that way! The 3.1 mile loop was beautiful, although a little tight in the beginning.  After the first mile, I got through some of the Olympic racers on their second loop and felt more comfortable.  The run was not my PR for a 5K, but it was certainly right where I wanted it to be for race day, thanks to my brick work-outs.  A respectable 26 minutes and smiling the whole time due to the exhilaration of knowing I was finishing my first triathlon-it was an amazing feeling for sure.  My friend and her husband were waiting for me at the finish line. We had done it and we couldn’t stop grinning!

 

Lessons learned from this race:  I think I should have taken the option of warm-up prior to swim start. Looking back, if I did get in for warm-up, I might have given my body time to adjust to the water and it would not have shocked my body so badly when I jumped in to swim.  I need to think about investing in a wet suit if I am going to do other races with open water swim.  I also need more practice in OWS, which I already knew, but this race was a good reminder to get out there during training and put myself in conditions similar to race day.  I might also consider taking some nutrition on the bike portion of the race so that I don’t need to worry about that during the run portion of the race, especially if it is a hot day.

Most importantly, I have learned that triathlons are really about the individual athlete.  It is different than a single event race!  I had women in front of me that dusted me on the swim, but I passed them on the run. I had men behind me on the swim that passed me on the bike. You cannot compare yourself to another athlete in these cases; everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but one thing is for sure, we are all there to improve in the ways that we can during race day.  Overall, I placed 5th in my age group with a time of 1:42:46.9 and I am happy with the outcome. Moreover, I am ready to take on more races like this with hopes to take what I’ve learned and apply it for an even better finish.

 

Things I wish they had told me about triathlon training…

Well, it happened. I signed up for my first sprint triathlon this past December, with a race date of June 25th. I had been curious about the sport and thought it would be a great way to ring in my 41st birthday (the same weekend of the race).  Little did I know how much I was going to learn about the sport, and about myself, in the process.   Full disclosure:  the most swimming I’ve done in my life included a lake, some floating chairs and a cold adult beverage.  I mean, I could stay afloat or swim casually to the other side of the banks, but I was in no means trying to break any records.  I had never, ever, set foot in a lap lane before I started triathlon training.  As for biking, well I had owned a few bikes in my lifetime, but never anything that was going to carry me through a road race (think banana seats and mountain bikes up to this point).  I say these things because I never, ever though in a million years I would do a triathlon. Never say never.

Here are a few things I wish other people had warned me about before I started training. I am passing them on to you in case you are thinking about training for a triathlon (because if you have the yearning and will to do it, you will):

Swim with the big dogs. (And I don’t mean doggie paddle).

  • It is intimidating to go to the pool and start your training.  At first, I tried to find the times when the pool was the least crowded. I didn’t want to have to share a lane at all.  Guess what? You need to get over that.  Whether you are doing an open water swim or a pool swim for your race, you need to try to recreate the elements as best you can. This means crowded, choppy waters in a less than best case scenario.  So, go to the pool when it is crowded. Jump in the lane with the chick who has the Ironman swim cap on or when the swim team is practicing (or both!).  Find swim/tri groups in your community that have open water swim practice for added safety.  You need to be able to swim in water that mirrors race day conditions, so seek it out and go for it. It will build your confidence and make you best prepared for race day.19055350_10212933734956664_1888282938666851018_o

Don’t worry about how you look in  your race attire.

  • Great news – You don’t have to spend a fortune on race attire if you don’t want to, especially if you are starting out with a sprint or olympic tri. At this level of racing, you will see everything from swimsuits to skinsuits to sports bras & capris to tri kits.  Pick what works for your budget.  Practice in it often.
  • Even better news — NOONE cares what you are wearing or what you look like in it on race day.  Do you know why? Because you trained just like they did and you showed up to do an amazing race very few will ever attempt to do.  You have arrived.  And you are going to rock whatever you are wearing, regardless of your shape and size.  

Don’t underestimate the bike portion of your training. That old saying, “It is just like riding a bike” is misleading.  It is NOT just like riding a bike. Unless you are actually riding a tricycle or a bike with no gears and a basket on the front, it is MUCH HARDER than JUST riding a bike. It is riding a bike at what feels like breakneck speed, knowing when to gear up/down, sometimes in traffic, with Ironman contenders flying past you.  Don’t underestimate it. Find a group to ride with on your training rides; learn the rules of the road, even if that means finding a safety course, and respect the bike portion of the tri.

You may feel out of your league when you arrive on site for race day.  My friend and I showed up for our first triathlon and looked like wide-eyed children at Disneyland for the first time. Keep in mind, between the two of us, we had run our fair share of foot races up to marathon distance.  We had been training for many months.  The race atmosphere is magical, but also overwhelming. There were so many people there with expensive gear. There was transition set up at 2 separate sites at our race.  There were many classified as elite racers using this race as Ironman training.  My friend turned to me and said “All of the sudden I don’t feel like I belong here.” I turned to her and said, “Not yet. But you will soon.” Don’t let that feeling shake you on race day. Remind yourself you have put in the training time and you belong there like everyone else!

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Remember nothing is impossible!  A good friend of many in the local running community, herself an Ironman, reminded us in the days surrounding this first triathlon:

“Don’t surround yourself with limits, but be realistic about your weaknesses to improve them. If you want to do one {Ironman/triathlon} (or any other scary goal)- put in the training, learn from others, be optimistic….” ~Jeanette Dunlap

 

This is some of the best advice I’ve received from another athlete, and it really applies to any goal in life.  Happy Running my friends. Here is to the next goal!

Endnote: My triathlon on the 25th was changed to a duathlon due to high waters and flooding. You can read the full race review here.  At the time of publication, I am signing up for my second triathlon, with hopes to finally get that open water swim under my belt as part of the race.  

 

 

 

Team Clowns in the Woods – Ragnar Relay 2017

The Ragnar Trail Kentuckiana Relay 2017 was amazing! My team members were some of the most amazing women and men I could know. As their captain, I have to say I assembled quite a super team.  If you haven’t experienced a Ragnar Relay race, there are trails or road options and I highly encourage you to try it once.  We had a blast! I could write about it, or you could watch the short video below and see all you need to know.

Click here to see Team “Clowns in the Woods” experience!

 

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Color Me Happy – Running for Rettsyndrome Awareness

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I ran the Color Run this year to raise awareness for Rett Syndrome. This is not a 5k for serious runners-the race is not timed and there are no awards for age groups! What you will find are MANY happy volunteers and participants. In particular, myself and three other Moms Run This Town leadership team members decided to volunteer the day before the race, with proceeds going towards Rettsyndrome.org  and we had the BEST time! We worked registration check-in and packet pick-up on Friday. We were so touched to hear how excited people were to run this race. Many were running a 5K for the first time or were running with their children, which I think are such amazing milestones! I remember both of these “firsts” for myself and I can still feel the excitement and sense of pride in both!

This race is great for little kids, strollers, adults and those who want to run a fun, stress free 5K. There are water stations on the course for those that need it. The course is flat and you go through 4 color stations and a foam station before hitting the finish line party. The finish line party includes a HUGE color explosion every 15 minutes and great music. It is generally a fun, positive atmosphere.  I ran with my friend who had never ran this race and she was smiling the entire time! It was so fun to see everyone having fun, running for a great cause AND getting exercise.

The swag is great- a cool t-shirt, snacks, coupons, etc. And we even received a unicorn medal at the end *for those that love  that race bling, this will be a great addition to your collection**.  We all had a great time and can’t wait to do it again next year!  A special thanks to all of my motherrunner friends who came out to volunteer and help raise money for Retts.  Jessica and her family truly appreciate it as well.

To read more about RettSyndrome and how you can help raise money to help fund research, visit  https://www.rettracers.org/2017-pfp?tab=0&frsid=5621

 

 

My family of 4 means everything to me. Today, I spend time loving them.  While I am a lover of running, I am also an advocate for women’s health and the midwifery model of care.

If you are so inclined, you can see the love that was given to me during the labor and loving birth of my second son. Indeed,  a happy Mother’s Day to me.

 

 

 

Think you aren’t a BAMR? Think again!

For those of you who don’t know, BAMR stands for bad-ass mother runner

It is not a special term reserved for certain mother runners. It is a term for ALL mother runners. If you are a mom and a runner, consider yourself a BAMR. Not convinced? Let’s break it down.

Bad Ass.  When you hear the term, you might have a specific image in your head.  Maybe a woman who clean jerks 200 lbs…a runner who does 100 milers and breaks time records…an Ironman. Yeh, those might be all good examples of  badassery. But, what about the things moms have to do every day? On an average day, you juggle your own work while maintaining the health and well-being of tiny humans. This means preparing meals, avoiding stepping on legos, and kissing boo-boos all while carrying at least one child on your hip…and that is just the first hour of every day.

I say all of the time, there should be an Olympic event category – “Mothering“.  Mothering would be categorized as an endurance sport, by the way.  There are no sprints here.  Imagine it – athletes would have to complete regular daily mom activities in a 24 hour period all while being sleep deprived AND wearing their heart on the outside of their body.   The event would certainly have lot of hills and at least one toddler would be climbing up your back for a portion of the event.  Regular athletes would not stand a chance. Moms, though, we would gold-medal the sh#t out of that event.

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Mother.  Once we become a mom and we bring that first sweet child home, we officially become sleep-deprived for life. It is part of the job. We know it. We take it on without badges or a parade.  And, we learn how to function in this place where we might not ever feel well-rested again.  We adjust. We figure out ways to get it done.

Runner. Eventually, we decide we are ready to run (again).  And, we do it tired. We train tired. We go home and fall to bed exhausted. We race tired.  And we get up and do it all over again the next day.  Being a mom is hard. Being a mother runner is even harder. There are no true rest days when you are a mother runner.  And, admit it-you wouldn’t change it for a thing.

Bad Ass.

Mother Runner.  

Before I was a runner, I was a Mother.  Mom. Mah-mah. Mommy, Mama…I became a runner because I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to be active. I wanted to set an example for my children.  Now that I am surrounded by other mother runners in my Moms Run This Town group, I realize we are all BAMRs.  You don’t have to run “fast”, or even run a race. You just have to be a mom that loves to run.

This Mother’s Day, do me a BAMR favor and take some time for yourself to get out and run.  It’s what BAMRs do.

For the love of running,

BluegrassBAMR

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