Just a little road ride adventure…

Now, I know that I normally write to you about wellness, fitness, food or something else in the health industry. But once in a while, I like to invite you into my life, what I do for fun, and what the non-running/biking weekends look like. I like to share how we live life on the edge, manage to live in one pair of clothes for 4 days, and just go with the flow.

It has become a yearly tradition that when I am tapering for a marathon or ultra, my husband and I take a long motorcycle trip. In previous years, we’ve ridden the motorcycle Zion, Bryce, Capital Reef, Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and other places. We tend to choose the warmer, desert states.

This year, we chose to stay in Colorado and do a large loop around the bottom of the state. The main point of our trip was to visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

How does this relate to wellness? It’s simpy that I want to share the fun adventure of feeling free from things in general – like, what it’s like to go in one set of clothes, and only take one other pair of running clothes and a swim suit. I literally packed everything for 4 days in a gallon size dry bag. But, that was all part of the adventure and just feeling free and well.

The packing: The packing is always left up to my husband. The case on the back of the bike is about the size of a carry on. In that, we managed to fit a few snacks, a couple water bottles, a change of clothes for each of us (which was our running clothes and swim suits) and flip flops. And, one hiking pack for us to share had we decided to hike along the way.

Usually, that amount of gear is fine for us for 4-5 days. However, this trip we encountered more rain, hail and storms than we’d like to talk about. There was a day of just drying out clothes over and over again.

Do I drive? Hell no! I don’t drive a motorcycle. I get the pleasure of riding passenger on back, taking photos and videos along the way. Riding that motorcycle is my husband’s first love and passion, so he gets the joy of riding, taking the curves too fast, and enjoying the scenery. It is always great to spend a weekend focused on his hobbies, rather than mine. That’s exactly what our motorcycle trips are.

On this particular trip, we rode Telluride to Durango in one shot, and stayed the night their. The next morning we attemped to make it through rain storms from Durango to Pagosa Springs, where we stayed a second night. The ride to Pagosa was wet and cold. Very cold! Luckily, Pagosa Springs is home to some of the best hot springs in the state and we warmed up right away. On day 3, we rode Pagosa Springs to The Great Sand Dunes and then To Alamosa.

Riding over Wolfe Creek Pass was one of my favorite sections of the trip. It was stunning – cold, but very stunning. Wolfe Creek Ski area had loads of snow, so it was chilly. But with the green ground and blue skies showing through, the colors radiated energy. It made coming off the pass a great experience.

We reached the Sand Dunes just before storms started. Much different in color than Wolfe Creek Pass, it was still beautiful. We aren’t usually into riding sandy or rocky terrain, but…. how could you pass up the opportunity?

Day 4 was our longest ride: 250+ miles in one stretch. It was also the best weather day. We rode Alamosa to Gunnison, via beautiful canyons. From Gunnison, we headed back to Telluride.

It was a glorious trip – highly recommend even if you do it by car. Absolutely enjoyed every bit of it – other than the rain.

May we all continue to be well (part 2)

Last week my husband and I were talking about summer, races, events, training and more. We started talking about what summer was like last year. He mentioned that I was running a lot, training for my 50 miler, and outdoors more than I was indoors. For the first time since my ultra training, I expressed to him that “training for a 50 miler was the loneliest thing I have ever done.” He looked at me ready to listen. I explained to him that when you are ultra training in the mountains, on single track trails, in the back country you are literally alone for hours on end. There aren’t people there to listen, no one to chat up with. It is just you and the serenity of nature FOR HOURS – from sunrise, sunburn, sunset. Most days, that is great and well. But after 6-7 days in a row, 6-8 hour at at time, that is the loneliest thing I have ever done in my life. Not to mention, when you aren’t alone – you don’t have the energy remaining to interact and engage in conversation Then, I was explaining to some friends that some days when I just want time to myself to relax and reconnect with my thoughts, I go on an 8 hour run. My friend replied, “most people choose a massage and spa day….. not 8 hours running alone.” That’s when I realized that it’s super odd to spend that much time alone, lost in your thoughts, and sometimes lost from the world.

I share that situation in order to share how lonely this past year has become. Most days I don’t feel lonely and lost. I have great friends and a fantastic online tribe of women. I connect with others on facebook groups, zoom workouts, hikes and runs. But, there are days that I do feel alone. It is time to stop covering up how lonely 2020 was and how difficult it has been for some people to re-connect with others. I have spoken with enough women about this topic to know that I am absolutely not alone on this sentiment. There are many people struggling to overcome their loneliness and reconnect on a positive note.

With it still being the month of May and mental health awareness month, I think it’s just as important as ever to acknowledge these struggles. After one year of isolating, staying home, quaranTEAMing, and vibing with your tribe, it is important to recognize your own level of comfort with gathering back up with people. And, I am not talking about social distance, masks, groups, gatherings. I am talking about your ENERGY – the level of introvert, your level of enthusiasm, your level of ambition to interact. No doubt, interacting on a positive note takes both energy and enthusiasm. It’s not easy to do. And re-interacting with others is going to take stimulation out of what vitality you have to give to others. You have to be able to gauge your level of stimulation, but also respect yourself when enough is enough. And, we all have to respect each other’s level of stimulation.

Furthermore, what I am seeing is that as the world begins to open up more and more, some people are more anxious than what they realized they would be. The anxious energy is creating various forms of emotions from self doubt, to hatred towards others, hatred for going out, meanness, stubbornness, or just solid rudeness. While there really isn’t a good excuse for this, we also have to learn not to take it personal. (myself included) Each and every human is approaching new territory these days; it is territory that we haven’t experienced. We have to work together to chart these uncharted waters.

While I don’t have the answers for this uncharted territory, my best suggestion is to take small steps. Start by getting together in outdoor groups with people you know and trust: hikes, run group, outdoor fitness classes. Progress forward by joining up with friends of friends that you know you could trust. And as awkward as it sounds, hug someone or shake hands or high five. But physically interact with someone and mean it. Let that hug teach you it is okay to bring the human touch back to reality. And, if that physical touch is too much, take back to the good ol’ smile. Just smile.

We are all in this together! For the last two weeks of May Mental Health Awareness month, I encourage you to come into connection with your mental health and smile to others around do you. Recognize your strengths and weaknesses in this area. Offer the energy you can, and come home with a happy heart.

May We All Be Well

With May being Mental Health Awareness month, I know that there are posts, blogs, videos, podcasts and resources all over the internet with sources of help and suggestions. While I’d like to offer some sort of solution, help, or assistance with Mental Health, that’s just not me and my credentials. I am all about wellness, working out, eating right and feeling healthy in our own bodies, but the coaching about mental capacity is a tad bit different. Though, I am always happy to offer up my story and my life.  You can see my full video here, as well as read the blog post below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDsKRl_X3wI

In honor of mental health awareness month, I thought I should offer you a little insight into my life that I’ve been hesitant to share over the years. In my 34 glorious years on this planet, I have only considered myself “healthy” for the last 6 years. Prior to getting healthy, I did dabble in the world of nightlife, partying, drinking unreasonable amounts, and smoking my fair share of hooka. During college and in my first “big girl job” I was a city girl. I went to college in Saginaw, MI and then moved to Doha, Qatar. City life, right? My idea of fun was beach days and disco club nights. 

In 2014 I decided it was time to get healthy. I started running more and I enrolled in a workout program. Over time, nutrition became important to me and I started learning how to eat for the healthiest version of me. Long story short, the last six years have been the healthiest years of my life. But, just like a virus, I am not immune to mental health concerns or struggles. 

I’d like to say that I don’t struggle often or that anxiety attacks are a thing of the past. However, a year of social isolation from my family and a lot of my friends has been a challenge for me, just as it is for everybody.   For the last couple of months I’ve been struggling with some other health issues, sleep, anxiety, irrational fears, emotional roller coasters, crying for no reasons, and other drama that a year of isolation has brought on. Like many others (even if they don’t want to admit it) one of my largest mental struggles this year has been choosing a vaccine.  And, I was really scared to admit and share that. I wanted to be that person, who looks out for others, cares for the good of all. But I really struggled. A lot. Spoiler alert: I did get vaccinated.

But anywho, I’ve really struggled with the idea of vaccinations, medical experiments, what’s authorized, versus approved. I’ve struggled with deciding on a vaccine, and the fear of adverse effects. I’ve struggled with all the “what ifs” that could negatively occur with or without a vaccine. Honestly, (and yes, selfishly) I struggled/feared about how to manage my anxiety if adverse effects make it escalate. I honestly didn’t know how I could manage.  It’s been a long hard internal battle for a while. And, I know I am NOT alone, so I am sharing in hopes of others relating to this as well. 

While this past year has been extremely difficult, it has also been wonderful as far as finding myself, finding a great group of “quaranTEAM” friends, discovering an online community of like minded women, and realizing that outdoor events are great.

However, I’ve spent a full year mainly gathering outdoors for hikes, runs, biking, paddle boarding, camping. I really haven’t participated in many indoor gatherings. I’ve run/biked over 2,000 miles in the last year, mostly solo – which is some of the loneliest minutes you’ll ever have. I’ve spent more time in my own head than I ever have, and it’s not always great for my mental health (hence, we are honoring Mental Health Awareness Month). 

So, needless to say, even a coach like myself struggles with the mental health piece of wellness. It’s hard. There are hard moments, there are hard days. Sometimes there are hard weeks. The truth of the matter is that hiding these hard times won’t make it any better or any easier. It is important to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. It is okay to say to a friend “I am in a funk, and that’s really hard as a coach to admit.”  Your friends will understand and be there for you. And, quite honestly, your clients and co-workers will be, too. 

In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, I encourage you to recognize one thing going really well for you right now and capitalize on that. And, also recognize a thing or two that aren’t perfect and talk about it with someone. Choose to talk about it instead of holding it. If you’re a mom/grandma/daughter/sister/friend to someone, reach out, say hi, ask them how they are doing. Just talk with no agenda. Go for a walk. Get outdoors. Just get together.