Things I’m Currently Loving

  • Agent Carter: If you like Action movies with badass female leads? Then this is will be your new favorite TV show. She’s an independent badass who has to fight one helluva patriarchy in her workplace environment. It seems that I might be the only person watching this show – if the ratings are any indication – so get yourself to Hulu where I think all episodes are still free, even if you’re not a Hulu Plus subscriber. And I’m 90% sure you can watch them on ABC.com. GO! There are so many crappy women characters on television – go watch one that kicks a whole lot of ass.
    agent-carter-tv-show
  • The Subtraction Project: I know I’ve talked about loving this here before, but there are so MANY ways to love it now I wanted to talk about it again. There’s the 30-day challenge but it’s ON Demand! And there’s a podcast! And there’s a book coming out! As someone who has been downsizing her “stuff” for years so that she can EVENTUALLY downsize her house (we may die in this very empty house before it ever even makes it on the market) – your life can ONLY be improved by subtracting. There is no better feeling than just letting go. Whether it’s getting rid of half of the 12 giant serving spoons you have (REALLY? When was the last time you needed ALL 12?) or narrowing your 15 pen cups to 3…you’ll be lighter with every prompt, I guarantee you.
  • U.S. District Judge Callie Granade: She has ruled FOR gay marriage TWICE in the last week in Alabama. And while there have been copious amounts of negative responses…they have been WAY overshadowed by positive responses. Even when I’ve perused comments on local news Facebook pages, the negative stuff is no where near as common as then, “Holy Shit. So we may not be the 50th state on this wagon after all!” type of comments. People are shocked, but in a good way. And while there’s a stay and many are not optimistic we won’t see our way out of it, I’m still super euphoric that this happened to begin with. This judge was appointed by Bush. These cases were on no one’s radar because no one expected them to be ruled on in this way. AND SHE DID IT TWICE. Gay marriage may not be legal in our state at the end of this stay, but Judge Granade did her part and she did it beautifully and I will forever be grateful for her.
  • Afterlight Photo Ap: If you like playing with actions in Photoshop? This app will give you what Instagram never could: CONTROL! I can adjust temperature, sharpness, light, AND it gives a bunch of awesome filters. I still upload my photos to Instagram, but I don’t use the filters or anything anymore, I do it all in Afterlight. I love it too because you can leave the photos the size they are, or crop them to a different size, and THEN you can add the white background around it to make it square. I don’t want all of my photos to be square, but you have to in order to put them on Instagram. Now I can make them any size I want, or leave them the original size, and then Afterlight just adds the white border around it to fill in the area to make it square. BOOM.

    We don't often get a chance for snow pictures, so glad Gregg Gelmis got this shot yesterday!

    A photo posted by Kim Holmes (@misszoot) on

    This picture is the perfect example. Because it had other people in it, I didn’t necessarily want to put it on Instagram without their permission (I try to avoid that if possible, unless it’s a big group shot that I’m seeing other people share across their social media) so I cropped only myself and made it square in Afterlight! Way easier than trying to work within Instagram rigid square framework.

So! What are you loving right now?

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Normalizing Mental Healthcare

We bloggers talk about when our kids get the flu or colds, we discuss how long they’ve been sick and how much medicine we gave them and whether or not they puked on our carpet. But when I talk about finally seeking help for Wes and his anger issues, I get thanked because it’s kinda rare. And so I’m going to keep writing about it in hopes to normalize it a bit. I won’t talk specifically about anything Wes said in appointments, but I’ll talk about the general experience and anything helpful we learned.

The first thing Wes asked me when we talked about seeing an “Anger Doctor” was, “Did you ever see an anger doctor?”

I told him that no, I didn’t, but when I was little things were different and I didn’t really know or understand such things existed. I explained to him that anger wasn’t my issue as much as stress and anxiety and sadness. I explained to him that I might start seeing a similar doctor for my issues if his doctor does a good job helping him! I told him how many friends and family I have that go to those kind of doctors and that there’s nothing to be afraid of or embarrassed about.

When you cut your eye we went to the eye doctor. When your foot was hurting we went to a bone doctor. This is a doctor for when your feelings are hurting, basically. Some people go when they’re too sad and they can’t get happy. Some people like me go when they get so stressed over stuff that it hurts their body. Sometimes they can give people medicines that help their brain work with those feelings better, or sometimes it helps things called “glands” that make hormones. We’re hoping to find a doctor that can talk to you and talk to us and teach us how to help you cope with anger. Just like when Daddy went to a doctor about his back, they taught him a better way to sit? It’s the same thing. This doctor is going to help us learn a better way to deal with anger.

So, last week we met with a Psychiatrist for an evaluation. If you’ll recall, it’s in an adjacent city because our insurance doesn’t cover anyone in Huntsville. The only appointment they had was at 10:30 so I kept him out of school that morning and by the time we were done and ate lunch there was no point in sending him back. THIS is the sucky part about an hour an 1:30 minute total commute to a doctor. The school day is only 7.5 hours long. The appointment took over an hour, then we had to eat lunch, so I need to figure out the best time to schedule the appointment to get the maximum amount of school in. 10:30 was not the ideal time, but that was all they had.

He talked to Wesley for awhile, just general questions, obviously looking for signs of any wider compulsive behavior. I was very nervous seeing a psychiatrist first because I was worried he would just say, “Here’s a prescription! Be on your way!” I wanted to try counseling for a LONG time before anything else, so I was a bit worried when I felt like he was looking for a medicatable diagnosis. BUT! That didn’t last long. We didn’t think Wes fell into any “diagnosis” either, just a simple anger/aggression issue.

He asked Wes if he knew why we were there. Wes did, he even told him some of his bad ways of processing anger. The doctor talked to me about who all Wes crossed that boundary with. Just me and his sister. Never his Dad and never at school. The doctor said we came at a good time. Obviously, because he doesn’t reach that point at school or with Dad, he has boundaries there. Maybe fear of punishment, maybe respect of position (sometimes kids are more respectful of teachers than parents), but either way – there are boundaries there that he doesn’t cross. We just need to get those back in place for everyone else.

He got us in to see a counselor and we go today. It will be interesting. In some ways, I feel like it’s already helping because I’ve been able to stop a few of his episodes just talking about how we’re learning how to deal with anger better. But then, it’s also gotten worse. Leaving our first appointment with the psychiatrist last week (and I swear to you, the timing of this is REAL LIFE, not a comedy script) Wes got mad I wouldn’t give him his DS and he threatened to jump out of the car and run away. AND HE WENT TO JUMP OUT OF THE CAR. Now, we weren’t moving, but just the idea of it scared me to death. Jumping out of the car AND running away. So, what if that was just his “Go To” reaction now that he’s learning not to hit?

And then last night he punched me again when I was carrying him away from a situation that had unfolded. And then he said he wanted to kill himself.

Yep. That really happened. My 6-year old said he wanted to kill himself.

Let’s just say I would have rather run that really exhausting 31 miles all over again, 10 times in a row, than ever hear those words.

We talked awhile but it was a touchy situation because he also says/does stuff sometimes he KNOWS will upset me, mainly because he wants the reassurance of the love I give in return. So now I’m trying to talk to him about THAT. “If you are upset and need some love from me because you’ve done something you know upset me, can you think of a way to just ask for it instead of talking about killing yourself?” We talk a lot about asking for hugs in this family. Instead of acting out, if you just need some love, ask for it…it’s okay. And that has actually been kinda helpful and I think that’s what he was trying to do last night. He knew he screwed up. He knew he hit me, hard, often. And I think he just wanted me to hold him and remind him that losing him would break my heart. No matter what he does, I’ll always love him. I think that’s what he NEEDED so he said something extreme in a hope to garner that love.

But it was still really difficult and something I have no idea if I handled well or not.

Looks like our counselor has a lot to look forward to, today!

So! First counselor appointment: Today! I’ll keep you updated on my experience. If I’m there for any part of Wes’s sessions, I obviously won’t talk about those, but I want to share anything we learn that might help anyone else in similar situations. Some kids take longer to learn how to ride bikes or swim. Some kids need extra help with their emotions. There’s nothing wrong with talking about that like we talk about when our kid gets the flu.

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My Mountain Mist 50K Race Report: A Love Story.

Let me start by saying that I have lot of words to say about lots of things relating to yesterday. Those things are all eloquent things like the previous sentence. I think the best way to split up everything, however, is between the race itself and the Grand Slam adventure as a whole. That means you have TWO long-winded posts to look forward to about running and trails and mud and how happy all of it makes me. CALM DOWN, I KNOW YOU ARE EXCITED.

(Unless otherwise noted, all photos are taken by Gregg Gelmis and We Run Huntsville. They link back to the gallery pages if you wan’t to look at more photos.)

This week saw me with a tough groin strain that seemed to cause me various levels of problems every day. Lucky, I woke up Saturday morning and it felt the best it had felt all week. A little pain with certain, very specific motions, but nothing more. Based on those motions I felt like some of the steep climbs might cause me problems, but that should be it. However, we all had another concern: MUD. Several trails get severely muddy after rain and it had rained all day Friday. Also? Trails not usually muddy can get muddy on a race day when 200-300 people are running over them. So, combine those two facts together and we were all bracing ourselves for a substantial challenge in the trail surface.

WE WERE NOT WRONG.

We got to the lodge and there was a light dusting of snow on the ground and palpable excitement in the air. I peed three times just because I wanted to make sure my bladder was COMPLETELY empty. I have no problem peeing in the woods, but when it’s cold? I’d rather avoid it if possible.

SIDENOTE: I also have no problems with port-o-potties. But this was my first time ever stepping inside of one at a muddy race and when I opened the door and saw the mud on the floor? I almost threw up because my brain’s first thought was not “mud” it was “diarrhea”. BUT IT WAS MUD. (I hope.)

I haven’t run with a GPS in ages but I wasn’t even running with a watch yesterday. I had my phone in a zipper pocket to check at aid stations and that was it. I needed to keep an eye on my progress because I only have about a natural cushion of about 30 minutes from the final checkpoint, and I knew I might lose some of that to the mud. So, if my times/distances are not exact in the upcoming report? That is why.

My plan was just to run based on how I felt. I know the trails, I know my speed on them and how it feels. I was going to run fast/strong on the flats and downhills, but walk/take it easy on the uphills. Spoiler Alert: The plan worked perfectly and I stuck with it all day.

(I thought I’d include a photo of the lead pack of runners so you can see the badasses that show up for the race. I doubt they carried 6 packs of applesauce like I did.)

We did 2-3 miles on the road and wider trails as a means to get the crowd to thin out a bit before the first major descent. This gives you a good chance to find a good place in line before you have to deal with a potential bottleneck downhill. My group did have a bottle neck around two icy/muddy spots on the downhill, but I didn’t stress because it was early in the race and the crowd was running as SOON as it got around the two kinda bad parts, they weren’t walking the whole downhill, so it wasn’t too congested. One girl (I didn’t recognize her, so I’m banking on her not being local) did mutter something about, “We’ve got 30 more miles, we can’t walk at every mud patch…” which definitely sat wrong with me, but I let it slide and tried not to think about it again. I didn’t need that kind of negative energy bringing me down.

I kept a pretty strong pace all the way to the first aid station, making my “A” goal there with 5 minutes to spare. I didn’t want to kill myself banking time early, but if I still wasn’t pushing too hard and could bank some, I knew I’d be glad later when I got to the muddier parts.

The next stop after the first aid station was the trip down Warpath and the top part of the downhill is really technical and it was the first time I thought Oh, man. I’m going to very much prefer uphills to downhills today. And right as I thought that? This guy in front of me bit it and slid about 5 feet downhill in the mud. I like a good downhill and I’m decent at them but even I was a bit gentle on the downhills as it was so muddy and I found myself sliding even on flat ground, without the added pull of gravity.

Once you get past the technical part at the top, though, you get a nice stretch of fast downhill. Of course it was muddy, but not uncrossable. I also learned a valuable lesson I would return to several times, the traction was actually better in the puddles. If there was water on the trail? I stepped into that instead of the mud because the mud would just slide with you.

Once we bottomed out we came to the chunk of miles I was dreading the most: Powerline and K2. I dreaded them partly because that chunk is not accessible during a lot of training season so we don’t really get to train on it, but partly because I knew it would be terrible conditions. The Powerline trail was a huge mess of mud and it would get caked on and it would suck you in and while it SHOULD have been runnable (because other than mud, it’s not too technical) but I wasn’t moving as fast as I had hoped/wanted to be. Then we got to K2 which is – as the name would imply – a very long and very steep uphill. It was probably the lowest I got during the race, although I blamed that partially to hearing a very negative conversation behind me. Again – I didn’t want that kind of energy so I made sure to separate myself as soon as I could.

Once we got on Goat Trail I was in familiar territory again and just pushed through the next 5’ish miles looking forward to getting to the Red Gate at mile 17 which was – in my mind – when the fun started. I made it to the 11-mile aid station 5-10 minutes OVER my “A” goal which got me down for a bit because I had banked 5-minutes on my “A” goal before and it seemed impossible to have already lost that much time. But, I pushed on and tried to push the negative aside. I had some good conversations with friends to pass the time and eventually found myself on the Mountain Mist trail where I knew I’d be seeing Nikki for the first time. My knees were bothering me from sliding around on the mud so much, and because of the periodic negative thoughts, I really hoped that seeing Nikki would give me the boost I needed.

And it did! But it also made me cry like a baby.

At that point I knew I was less than a mile from the Red Gate which was what I was looking forward to. I needed my hydration pack filled and I wanted to see my friends and get started on some of my favorite trails on the mountain. I got there 5 minutes shy of my “A” goal which made me feel a little better. I really had no hope of meeting the “A” goal finish time, I knew there were really bad muddy points on the back half that would slow me down, but I knew the closer I stayed to the “A” goal, the further away I’d be from missing cutoffs.

The people at the aid station filled up my pack and helped me fix my nozzle which I could not get to turn off. Aid station workers at ultras are angels from heaven. And I don’t believe in angels or heaven, but I did yesterday.

I ran with another friend for awhile, which gave nice conversation to get me distracted before I got to my favorite trail: Bluffline. Once we got to Bluffline, I kicked it in. I’ve run that trail a dozen times in the last few weeks, trying to get better at it, and it really paid off yesterday. I felt great coming down the really technical parts that used to slow me down to a crawl. When I got to the next check point I was 10 minutes lower than my “A” goal but still 5-minutes faster than my “B” goal so I was feeling good. The cool thing about this aid stop is that my friend and Nikki were there again! I wasn’t even expecting them. I could hear Nikki cheering before I even got there and I started crying. I gave her a monster hug, grabbed some peanut butter pretzels, took some more ibuprofen and Excederin, and kept going.

I hit Railroad Bed and was still feeling energized. Railroad Bed is another one I run really well so I tried to bank some time there. The only problem is, there’s a few bridges on that trails, and something weird happened: When I took the steps up on the bridge, I started getting twinges of calf cramps.

I get twinges of Quad cramps often, and sometimes the pain brings tears to my eyes, but rarely do I get that in my calves. It was a new ailment I didn’t know how to deal with. I kept running but whenever I hit an incline on the trail, my calves would twinge so I started dialing it back. I was walking all of the “real” uphills but now I started a fast walk/jog even on the slight uphills, trying to keep the cramps at bay. I was only 4 miles from the last checkpoint/cutoff so I needed to just hold steady.

And that worked fine, I was going a little slower than I wanted due to the teaser of calf cramps, but I still was running chunks. And then we started the HUGE hike up Waterline which – eventually – leads to hand-over-foot climbing and a final really steep climb to the top of the trail. The whole way up I felt my calves just teasing cramping and I was getting nervous. When I finally made it to the top of the trail I pushed on the next trail which is mostly a creekbed with a good bit of water in it. At that moment? I took a weird step and then SCREAMED in agony and collapse as my right calf had finally cramped up fully.

I fell in the creek in the middle of the trail and I was so embarrassed. I told everyone, “I’m fine! Don’t fret!” but I was actually blocking the guy behind me because I was in the middle of the trail. He offered to help me up but I knew I couldn’t stand and was trying not to cry so I apologized from blocking his way and just asked him to go around.

I forced myself to stand up and try to walk it out as it loosened up. I was .6 miles from the final cutoff at that point. I needed to push as hard as I could. Unfortunately, that wasn’t very hard because I was terrified of the cramps coming back. I had taken 3 salt pills in the last 2 hours so I didn’t think I needed more salt, but maybe I did.

I got to the final cutoff 5 minutes SLOWER than my “B” goal of a sub-8 hour finish. I asked my friend about the cramps and she told me it probably wouldn’t do any good to take anymore salt. Stay hydrated, stretch, just keep moving.

And that’s what I did.

The last 10K of the course does not have a lot of runnable portions for the average runner. There’s some crazy steep downhill (“Suicide Drop”) there’s a sucky climb (“Crybaby Hill”) and there’s a chunk called “Slush Mile” on a GOOD day, so I knew yesterday it would be TERRIBLE. The steep downhill is called Natural Well and it was a lot muddier than I expected. So there was really steep drops where I would slide on my butt on purpose, but there was also large quantities of mud. The people in front of me were from out of town and thought their chances were pretty good of getting the last 5 miles done in an hour. I hated to be the bearer of bad news. We talked a bit about what was upcoming and they discussed that they sometimes overlook 50Ks as challenging races, sticking mainly to 50-milers. But our race completely changed their mindset on that. “This is harder than several of the 50-milers we’ve done.”

I ran with other friends for awhile during that last 10K and it was nice to have people to commiserate with over my various ailments. I was still running the flats and downhills, but my run was a lot slower. And there were a lot of flats/downhills I just couldn’t run because of the mud. I got to the base of the LAST climb and realized I might could still meet my “B” goal of a sub-8 hour finish. I hiked that uphill as fast as possible. I got passed by two guys on the hill and I yelled at them both saying, “Dammit! There goes someone else after my #344th place finish!” I was trying to stay light and enjoy the experience because it was almost over.

There was a local runner waiting just a hair down from the last aid station. She’s a badass and she recognized me as Grand Slammer. She congratulated me and I started crying. AGAIN. I got to the top at the aid stop and they offered me beer. I almost took them up on it, but was feeling a little queazy and knew I needed to keep it together to try to push that sub 8-hour finish.

I spent the last 1.5’ish miles crying over what I had done. I ran a lot of it, but still walked the inclines because I didn’t want to cramp across the finish line. I could hear Nikki cheering before I even got there. When I rounded the corner and saw all of the people at the finish line I just could not contain my pride or excitement. And the finish line said I was sub-8 hours which made me SO happy. With the trail as sloppy as it was, still hitting my “B” goal was a miracle. Nikki ran with me across the finish line which I didn’t even notice until I crossed and then I hugged her and cried. Some more.

I’m beyond proud. Everyone local who can qualify, should do this race at least once. It’s insane. It’s wonderful. It’s difficult. It’s powerful. I loved every second of it, and even when I was hurting, I never really got in too negative of a headspace. I stayed focused. I trusted my body.

I fell in love with this race yesterday. I already loved the trails…but the course itself, the atmosphere, the other racers, the volunteers, the 31 grueling miles all wrapped into one race day package? THAT – I fell in love with. The tears, the mud, the cramps, it’s all part of a wonderful experience that I wouldn’t trade anything for and it made me committed to the race like I’m committed to donuts. I can’t see my future without the race as a permanent spot on my calendar…just like I can’t see my future without donuts.

That’s how you know it’s true love…when I compare it to donuts.

Bring on Mountain Mist 2016.

And the donuts.

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Placeholder Race Report

I want to take the time to write a real race report, but we didn’t get home until 5pm yesterday and we had a sitter coming at 6 so we could go enjoy the post-race celebration shindig. And this morning? I have a No Runner Left Behind trail running group! That I’ll be sweeping :)

But until I do a full race report, know this: Yesterday was the hardest race I’ve ever done, but also the most wonderful. This whole season has been a lesson in what my body can do and how I can be in charge of my own headspace. I was in more pain at several points yesterday than I’ve ever been, but my headspace was never bad. I was always happy to be there. Happy to keep running. Or walking. Or, at one point, rolling out of the creek bed I had collapsed in so that another runner could pass.

This was my face at the finish line. It looks TERRIBLE. But I promise you, those were tears of joy. I cried for joy several times yesterday. Let’s hope my face didn’t always look like this or else everyone who saw me probably thought I was dying. (And don’t get me wrong, I was hurting in various ways all day. But the tears were always for joy.)

More to come!

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I know I have a goal race today but…

#TearsOfJoy

A photo posted by Kim Holmes (@misszoot) on

And Judge Grange wrote about it SO BEAUTIFULLY:

Alabama’s prohibition of same-sex marriage detracts from its goal of promoting optimal environments for children. Those children currently being raised by same-sex parents in Alabama are just as worthy of protection and recognition by the State as are the children being raised by opposite-sex parents,” Judge Granade’s ruling reads. “Yet Alabama’s Sanctity laws harms the children of same-sex couples for the same reasons that the Supreme Court found that the Defense of Marriage Act harmed the children of same-sex couples.

And then – one of my favorite points as someone who struggled with infertility:

There is no law prohibiting infertile couples, elderly couples, or couples who do not wish to procreate from marrying. Nor does the state prohibit recognition of marriages between such couples from other states. The Attorney General fails to demonstrate any rational, much less compelling, link…the laws in question are an irrational way of promoting biological relationships in Alabama.

Y’all…There was no stay placed on the ruling. We could, conceivably, have same-sex marriages in Alabama on MONDAY. Y’ALL!!! Y’ALL!! Y’ALL!!! My kids can now marry in the state of their birth! If this is not the best omen for my race today, I don’t know what is.

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a little bit of everything.