Basically I’m Asking You To Do This Stuff With Me. PUHLEASE?

If at first you don’t succeed?

Have you ever set out to reach a goal for the millionth time and just thought: What is the point? I keep failing! Why do I keep trying again? Here are some examples:

  • I’m not going to yell at my kids anymore.
  • I’m going to run a 5K.
  • I’m going to quit drinking Diet Coke
  • I’m going to lose weight.
  • I’m going to organize my life.
  • I’m going to volunteer more at my kid’s school.
  • I’m going to shower every day.

I swear…I’ve tried all of those at least a million times. Except the “organize my life” one. My life is pretty organized…THANK YOU VERY MUCH. But the rest? Oh, man. Over and Over and Over and OVER AGAIN. WHY DO I KEEP TRYING?

Have I ever talked about emotional eating before? I can’t remember.

Well…Here’s another one…I would REALLY like to spend this summer breaking my emotional addiction to food. You know – the tendency to cope with all emotions: happiness, sadness, anxiety, exhaustion – by eating all of the food in all of the land. I would REALLY like to try to take a stab at that habit this summer.

You know, because I’ve never tried to break that habit before.

There have been books and diet plans and nutrition challenges and apps and blah blah blah. I’ve tried everything at this point, haven’t I? And there is a huge part of me that just wants to GIVE UP ALREADY.

But here’s the thing…a habit like emotional eating? Is a BAD one. If I didn’t run so much, I’d be 100lbs heavier. And this summer, I won’t be running so much because summer is Donnie’s season. He is training for an Ironman. I’ll do what I can around his schedule, but there will be no 30-mile weekends this summer. So I need to REALLY try to focus on breaking that habit before I gain the 100lbs.

But then, like a movie I’ve already seen, I look in the future and see myself eating 14 peanut butter and honey sandwiches one night when I’m stressed. Or maybe 12 bowls of cereal. That’s how it always starts. Binging on something relatively healthy. Because I don’t keep junk food around. And then…BAM! I’m back to where I am right now. Again. AGAIN. Why bother? I have failed the 200 times before, what makes me think I’ll be successful now?

I have no idea. Honestly. I’m more stressed than I’ve ever been with a husband training for an Ironman, looking for a job, and going to school. This is going to be E’s last summer at home as he’s getting an apartment in the Fall. I have to figure out how I’m going to keep my sanity working from home this summer with the kids underfoot. We have get our house ready to sell.

I AM STRESSED. Which means the urge to eat all of the foods in all of the land is going to be right under the surface every day.

Which is why I feel like I’m already seeing the failure before it starts.

[insert long dramatic sigh here]

If you set 14 million goals, surely you reach one, right?

I had so much fun with that month challenge Subtraction Project in April, that I decided to try something similar in May. It worked out VERY well that the subtraction project is focusing on the BODY this month. Less Loathing – Way More Love. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? It’s like a subtitle written from my brain. Because I really feel like if I loved my body more, I’d treat it better. Or at least treat it horribly LESS OFTEN.

And then..the other challenge I’m doing? I blame entirely on Linda. Because – THIS challenge? Has SCARY MUSCLE LADY on the front of it and there is nothing that makes me avoid something more than anyone with THAT little body fat and THAT much muscle definition. I DO NOT WANT THAT BODY. That body doesn’t enjoy beer or donuts in the quantities I like. Why would I want a life without beer or donuts?

I DO NOT WANT THAT LIFE.

BUT! I trust Linda. And she did the Betty Rocker Bodyweight challenge and really enjoyed it. And Linda’s fitness journey was instrumental in inspiriting my own – with her marathon training and her triathlon…so why shouldn’t I trust her now? Even with a scary muscle lady leading the charge. I do want to get stronger and faster this summer to prepare for all of the racing that starts in the Fall. I do prefer bodyweight strength training over everything else. I don’t have to leave my house, which means childcare isn’t an issue.

SO! Two challenges in May (Less Loathing – Way More Love and Betty Rocker Bodyweight Challenge) aimed at focusing on my body. And then…you know…to add a few more things on the list of SHIT I WON’T STICK TO THIS MONTH:

  • I’m going to either do a tempo run or hill repeats once a week. (This is to help me work on speed.)
  • I’m going to save my beer drinking for ONE night a week. Either Saturday or Sunday. NOT BOTH. And NO drinking during the week.
  • I’m going to try Yoga. AGAIN.
  • I’m going to drink more water. Or maybe I should say: SOME water. I only drink water in preparation for races. I’m going to try to drink water every day!
  • I’m going to get my Diet Coke drinking back down to one 16oz (or 20oz) bottle a day.

In theory, it may seem like I’m setting too many challenges. But I’ve decided to take the shotgun approach to May. Surely I’ll hit SOMETHING, right? I mean, if you set one challenge and you fail, then your month is shot. But if you set 432 challenges and fail, you still have 431 left to succeed at! BAM! LOGIC!

There are TWO things I’m certain of:

hashtag1. I’d be more successful if we did it together.
We’ve bonded a lot about these body issues we all have. It’s not about losing weight. That’s a goal, of course. But it’s about look at food differently. Not as an emotional crutch. And also look at our body differently. Loving it so that we don’t want to eat an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting. We’ve all talked about this before, so maybe you all could look to May as the month you try to work on these things too? And we can chat about it? Hold each other accountable? If you have a blog I would love to read what you’re writing about it. If you have an instagram or twitter, maybe we can bond over it there? Maybe we should hashtag things? Like #GettingMyShitTogetherForRealThisTime? That’s probably too long, isn’t it? Either way…if you set some of your own body image type challenges in May, I’d love to commiserate with you about it. Somehow. I haven’t thought that part through yet, obviously.

SMOKE SIGNALS!

2. Today I will be eating all of the food and drinking all of the beer in all of the land.
I mean, seriously. I’m setting all of these goals staring on THURSDAY. Today is WEDNESDAY. In true “I have a bad relationship with my body and food” fashion, I will be binge eating today. Getting it all out of my system, obviously. Because that’s how someone like me rolls.

Stupidly.

SO! Do you want to set some goals in May that help you look at your body and food differently? So that exercise and eating well don’t become chores but they become something we maybe want to do? And maybe find different outlets for our stress besides abusing these bodies that we hope will keep us going until we’re at least 80? How should we communicate with each other? Are you on Twitter? Instagram? Do you know morse code?

BUT SERIOUSLY. I’m sick of failing. And I’m sick of one bad day ruining an entire month. I’m sick of eating a pizza on day 5 and looking at that as an excuse to eat 4 more on day 6. I’m sick of hating my body. I’m sick of coping with stress in the kitchen. I’m sick of it all. Life is not going to get any easier this summer. I need to form new habits and kill the bad ones NOW, before I’m writing an entry about The Summer I Gained 60lbs.

Are you in?

All is well.

If you’ll recall, three years ago (almost to the day) tornados hit Alabama and took out a node of our electrical distribution and we were without power – as a city – for five days. And that was the least of the problems in the state. Yesterday we had non-stop storms again, and the schools all let out early and the city basically shut down. As far as I can tell, as a whole, South Huntsville is okay. Mississippi to our West was not as lucky. The adjacent county to our West – Limestone County – got hit hard and sustained fatalities. Other communities in North Alabama got hit hard too, but no fatalities. West Huntsville saw a lot of damage. And we’re all supposed to stay “weather aware” again today.

But we’re okay. Thank you for asking. I’m going to spend the day trying to get caught up on my life on my work and on my family. I’m still behind on laundry and shopping from our trip this weekend. I’m going to try to be settled in more in case we have any more severe weather today.

Our county was under threat of tornados three times, which means we heard the sirens three times yesterday. This one time, it was the far northwest side of the county while we’re northeast, so we didn’t shelter in place. I did take the time to record the sound though, if you’ve never heard it.

It’s scary. I spent almost a decade not being too scared of storms, and even still sometimes they don’t faze me. However, since it’s the same time of year, same type of storms, as the ones that did so much damage three years ago – I’m a bit more frazzled than usual.

My thoughts are with in the path of the storms today. Stay safe, my friends.

Grand Viduta Stage Race: Weekend Race Report

GVSR_Logo_J-process-s450x396Short Version: The Grand Viduta Stage Race was 43 very difficult miles with beautiful weather in three days. It went as good as I could have dreamed and I can’t wait to do it again.

And now for the long version.

Preface: My training buddies and I did this together so a lot of my report will be using the word we. Please don’t think I’ve had a schizophrenic breakdown.

We had one main strategy going into this weekend: Take it easy and have fun. Pacing yourself for three days of racing is not something any of us knew how to do, so we decided erring on the side of caution would be our best bet. We wanted to make sure we finished day one feeling FANTASTIC so that day two and three would not be so daunting. We wanted to stay together the whole weekend because running for three days and 43 miles alone sounded DREADFUL. We wanted to end the weekend with a desire to come back next year.

(SPOILER ALERT: We can’t wait until next year.)

As always – all photos were taken by Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville. If you want to check out the three days of BEAUTIFUL scenery you should check out his whole album of photos here.

Day One: It’s All About The Waterline

I’ll be honest. The first day was the one I was looking forward to the most. It was the set of trails that were the newest to me, and therefore the most exciting. But also, there’s a lot of history on those trails, as a lot of them are where the old railroad used to be that went up the mountain to a huge hotel that no longer exists. Since our race logo revolves around the train and that railroad, I thought Day One would hold the most significance. We had the blessing of perfect weather as the temps were moderate and the skies were clear.

I had Donnie drop me off at the parking lot where the race was to start at 6:30am. The excitement was already palpable as most of my running peeps had never embarked on a three day stage race before. My two friends that I trained with and I decided we’d demonstrate how serious we were taking this by wearing matching shirts every day. I think people thought we were joking when we told them we did actually plan it. (After the third day? They realized we were NOT joking.) We all got our bib numbers (we were to get new bibs every day), gathered around for the pre-race instructions, and started off on our journey.

My allergies were my biggest problem and my first three miles were very difficult. I haven’t been sleeping well so I felt like I just couldn’t get going. I was the caboose on our train and it was a struggle to keep up. About 30 minutes into the run one, of my peeps suggested some nutrition. Even though I had my normal pre-race breakfast, and some great pre-race mashed fruit, I thought she might be right. I popped open a salted caramel gu (my new favorite fuel) which also has caffeine, and sucked that baby down. She was right. It was EXACTLY what I needed. I felt better the entire rest of the day.

We weren’t worried about the cutoff time on Day One. It was 13 miles in 5 hours. It was being touted as the Hardest Day even though it was the shortest distance. We knew it would be hard because it had the steepest climb of the weekend: Waterline. That climb was somewhere in the middle and by the time we got to that, we were still feeling really good. It hadn’t gotten too hot, we were all hanging in there energy-wise, and we were pleasantly surprised to find they had put ropes there for the race day. We had never climbed Waterline with the benefit of ropes before. SCORE!

Of course, we were the tail-end of the 50-racer group, so the ropes were quite slack and therefore useless. No big deal, however, as we had trained on that climb enough to each have our own strategy for conquering it.

The rest of the run was relatively uneventful. There was a lot of proclaiming about the beauty of it all, none of us are used to running when there’s actual vegetation covering the forest floor. It never go too hot. I didn’t take any during-race salt, only took the one pre-race tablet and that was it. I stuck with water in my pack but got powerade at the aid stations for the added electrolytes. The aid stations were perfectly located and well-stocked. Donnie was working the one at mile 8 and that was a WONDERFUL pick-me-up.

As always – all photos were taken by Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville. If you want to check out the three days of BEAUTIFUL scenery you should check out his whole album of photos here.

When we started rolling in towards the finish-line we were all actually shocked because we felt GREAT. We had taken it easy enough that we all felt like we could have run more miles, no problem. My one friend and I are in the same age-group so we intentionally crossed together, even though we knew there were plenty ahead of us to take the prize. Overall? Great day. Great run. Only mild issues early on and felt great at the finish line.

(One way to gauge trail difficulty is to look at the elite racers and compare their road pace with their trail pace. Day One’s winner did it in a hair under 2 hours, but his 13.1 road time is about 1:20. That means the course made an elite runner slow down about 3-minutes per mile, which is a big drop in speed which is a good demonstration of the difficulty.)

Day Two: Most Miles, Shortest Cuttoff.

As always – all photos were taken by Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville. If you want to check out the three days of BEAUTIFUL scenery you should check out his whole album of photos here.

Going in to Day Two our biggest concern was the cuttoff time. We knew the trails would be “easier” but the distance was longer (16 miles) and we only had 4:30 to complete it. It took us about 3:40 to do the 13 miles the day before, so we weren’t panicked about finishing on time, but we were more concerned than we were about Day One.

Before the race started, I was hit with a HUGE allergy attack. I could not stop sneezing and could NOT clear my sinuses no matter how often I blew my nose. I started panicking a bit because, not being able to breath through my nose seemed like an awful way to start the race. I packed some napkins from the Post-Race Food Table and headed out. Again, the first few miles were ROUGH. My voice was off too, as the cough and sneezing had taken a toll on my throat. I sounded sick. I took my Gu as the race started on Day Two, hoping that the push of caffeine would help.

One funny note: We started out the race that day in the camp site portion of the park. THere were tons of people getting up for the morning after camping and I don’t think they knew what to make of our group. Trail runners are usually decked out in neon as they were running gear and running gear is often bright. We make for a weird vision if you’ve never seen a group of trail runners. Especially at 7:30am outside your tent. It was very entertaining.

After about 2-3 miles, my sinuses cleared up (thank GOD) and all started going well again. The trails from Day Two were not too new for me. There were two stretches of trails that were unfamiliar to me, but nothing major. And they connected trails I knew well, so it wasn’t too foreign. The one main difference from Day Two is the temperature was higher and we were getting more direct sun. Trail running is often shadier, and it was definitely not as direct as sun on the road, but the skies were clear and that side of the mountain was at a more direct sun angle than the day before. I took my pre-race salt but also took salt pills two other times during the race.

We started Saturday much faster than we started Friday. This was mostly due to the trails being easier. One of our early miles was actually under 11 minutes which was good since this was the day we were worried the most about the cuttoff time. We banked some good time on the easy trails which helped us when we were walking the harder trails later in the day.

I was doing something different with my salt this time, I was biting into the capsules a bit before swallowing. I’ve had problems in the past with my stomach getting upset after taking a salt tablet, so Donnie suggested I do that to make sure to aid in the breaking of the capsule. I think that might have been the key to why the didn’t bother me this time.

Another difference in Day Two, I didn’t eat any of the “real” food in my pack. I usually pack peanut butter flatbread because I like real food on long runs, but Saturday I just wanted Gus. It was weird, I had never wanted that kind of fuel before, but those things just hit the spot. I think it was the caffeine I was loving from them.

Saturday was also when we noticed that 3 of the 4 of our group were doing a good job of taking turns having alternating downswings. This worked out well because we would rotate our running order in the pack and it the members feeling good could help encourage or make sure the one feeling crappy was getting what they needed: Salt, Fuel, Fluids etc. You can’t really plan your downswing on a race, but if you can not ALL have them at the same time, it works out better.

Donnie and the kids were working an Aid Station about the halfway point of the day again. It was AWESOME to see them and they were taking it VERY seriously. They each were manning one cooler and filled our bottles and packs for us. It was great. I highly recommend having our family volunteer at your race, seeing their faces gives you a great boost.

Saturday was also the day some in our group learned the joy of a properly time cup of Coke. I’m not a Coke drinker but it really hit the spot for some in our group (although it wasn’t quite flat enough and caused some burping) and gave them the pep they needed to finish off the race.

The one bad thing about Saturday was someone stole some of our course markings. We actually got a little stressed and slowed down to discuss the course a bit once we noticed we hadn’t seen flags in awhile. Luckily, we knew those trails, and we kinda remembered the course map, so we never fully went into panic mode. Evidently others that day weren’t so lucky and did panic a bit more.

We did a bit more doubling up on trails on Day Two than any other day. I didn’t mind it too much, but it’s never exciting to revisit a trail. That’s the only downside to running local races, because if you were not local? You probably didn’t even notice that the trail we climbed up at the end was the one we ran down earlier.

There was a small bit of road running we had to do towards the end of Day Two and none of our legs liked that. Luckily, and before we really started to hurt from it, we headed back on the trails for one last bit of unfamiliar scenery for me. I’ve never been on the chunk of trail that took us to the finish line which was interesting because I didn’t exactly know when to expect to see the finish line. We crossed just a hair under four hours and definitely were feeling tired. Not too tired so that Day Three seemed impossible, but we definitely were starting to feel the effects of the 29 miles we had already logged.

Day Three: Powerline, K2, Warpath…OH MY!

As always – all photos were taken by Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville. If you want to check out the three days of BEAUTIFUL scenery you should check out his whole album of photos here.

Even though the race directors were saying Day One was the hardest, we were more worried about Day Three. We knew there’d be TONS of elevation gain and we’d be on REALLY tired legs. It was 14 miles but we had one LONG (1-mile) climb I was worried about, as we typically hit that 1-mile stretch of trails going down since that’s how it’s run in the 25K we train for in the late winter. We had never gone up it before. We were also a bit worried about the mud as we knew the trails on Sunday to be some of the sloppiest on the mountain.

I started day three with a little more pep than the previous days, actually hit my downswing later on Day Three. Overall, the day was the hottest of the three. I was taking salt regularly and still feeling really zapped. There were several challenging chunks of trails we were worried about, some going down, some going up, and they all hit us pretty hard. We were just feeling tired as a group and were definitely feeling the downswings more often than the previous two days.

I think the course was mapped out well, though, because I was most worried about K2 (down) and Powerline (up) and Warpath (up) but all of those were in the first half of the day. This was probably key as, once we went down Rest Shelter and headed out for the last 6ish miles of the weekend? My mood dropped substantially. I was just tired and ready to be done. If the course had been switched and the front half been in the back? It would have been a lot uglier of a finish.

I think the hardest part was the 1-mile climb UP Arrowhead. The climb is not steep at all, but it’s just so LONG and we knew the aid station was at the top which made us count the steps uphill even more. Also? This was the first time all weekend I felt one of the negatives of running in trails warmer weather: BUGS. The horseflies would not leave me alone. I joked that it was because I smelled so bad they thought I was dead. I have never been SO HAPPY to be at the top of a trail in my ENTIRE LIFE.

Once we got to that aid stating we knew we had 2-3 miles left. One tough climb down and one HELLA climb up. We knew we’d be ending the day on Death Trail, a climb we know very well.

Going down the techinical part of Natural Well was tricky as we all had very tired legs and there was a lot of sitting on big rocks and sliding down because we weren’t sure our legs could handle the jumps or stretches to climb down a more athletic way. We had hit the 40-mile over the weekend mark at this point, we were zapped. But we made it down Natural Well and enjoyed the last bit of runnable trails before hitting Death Trail. Once we got to the base of Death Trail we knew we were almost home. All of our GPSes hit the 14-mile mark early on Death Trail so we figured the finish line would be right at the top. We celebrated passing each of the named points on Death Trail: Superhero Rock, The Columns, Beyonce’s Butt and then got a burst of energy when we heard the cheering at the top.

TWO semi-unfortunate things happened right at the finish.

1) We realized all of the cheering was not for us when we heard them yelling, “GO DADDY!” We laughed and told the guy finishing with us, “Man! We though all of those voices were cheering for US for a minute there! They’re all for you!”

2) The finish line was NOT at the top of Death Trail.

They diverted us around the top of the trail a bit for some final running before leading us in to the finish. We all might have cursed a little bit during that last bit, “WHY ARE THEY MAKING US RUN MORE?” It was actually kind of funny because there was an Earth Day festival going on up there and we’re running around these people looking desperately for the finish line and when we finally saw it there was an audible sigh of relief from our group. THANK GOD, WE ARE FINALLY DONE.

The Wrap Up

All in all? It was definitely one of the most fun weekends of my life. I owe this to several things:

  1. An awesome running team that stayed together every mile. Seriously. I could not have done this alone. Or, I could have done it, but it would have SUCKED.
  2. An excellent running community of fun friends. Not only was my foursome that I ran with the whole weekend simply AWESOME, but we had tons of other friends running there every day. We saw them before and after and we laughed and just had a great time. I could not have asked to go to battle with a better group of 50’ish people. There were also several friend who popped in for 1 or 2 days of the weekend and that was great too. I was just happy to be surrounded by so much awesome this weekend.
  3. Perfect weather. We could NOT have asked for better weather for a 3-day race weekend. Not too hot, clear skies, dry trails.
  4. A well-planned race with well-planned and challenging courses. The trails were not boring and there was PLENTY of support. They had to deal with the challenge of idiots stealing our trail markers on Saturday, but they handled it well and only a few people were inconvenienced because of it.

I’m proud to be a Charter Member of the Grand Viduta Stage Race. I hope I can do it every year.

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I am giving you permission to roll your eyes when I brag about my kids…

That was my contribution to a twitter conversation going on yesterday about how sometimes, just being proud of your kids, can be seen as “bragging” on social media. I have ALWAYS been guilty of both things. I brag about my kids online, and then I get grumpy about parents who do the same. But – the grumpy response – it’s all in my head. It’s a subtle and very short-lived mental eye-roll that says, “Yep…there she goes again…on and on about her perfect children…”

You see…here’s the thing…I know that is ALL ME. I know that, deep down inside, I am constantly in fear of screwing up my kids. So, if it seems someone else is demonstrating how NOT screwed up their kids are, then of COURSE my defense is to say to myself, She’s just bragging…jeezus…pipe down already. And if she’s bragging about an achievement my kids can’t or haven’t made, I immediately justify it in my head as well. I figure out a shift in the perspective so that I’m still the better parent, or at least a shift so that I can say, “Well, my kids would be an archery champion too if we had the money to spend on such nonsense.”

(I don’t know any archery champions.)

One of the things that triggers my insecure parent reaction is the name-dropping of gifted classes. Here, the gifted program is called “SPACE” (Maybe it stands for something? I don’t know…MY KIDS AREN’T IN IT) and whenever I hear someone name-drop SPACE, “Well, Biff’s SPACE teacher says…” or “We were working on Lucille’s SPACE homework…” I roll my eyes SO HARD. Like, NICE SUBTLE BRAGGING ABOUT YOUR GIFTED CHILD THERE.

But here’s why…it’s because E fell into a peer group of super-smart kids in middle school. They hung out together and ate lunch together and it was all great. Except that all of those kids were in SPACE or Such-in-Such Honors Class and he wasn’t. He was in Honors English, but none of the other stuff. And I would just get so irrationally angry about it. MY KID IS AS SMART AS THOSE KIDS. WHAT IN THE HELL? But, of course, logically? I know that’s not what it’s about. It’s about how you test. And what KIND of smart you are. And it totally depends on your grades. And E never tested well. He wrote novels every summer (Seriously. NOVELS. He even sent on to a publisher once.) and read every book he could get his hands on, but he didn’t test well. That’s why we dumped big bucks into getting him ready for his ACT, because THAT test matters. The rest? Just help you get into the honor’s programs.

But I was super defensive about it. And to protect myself, I would judge the other parents. WHICH IS SO STUPID, I know.

Another reason I would get all eye-rolling about parents who brag about their kid’s being in honors classes? Because I was in honors classes. I made straight-As most of my life and tested well. I was the textbook SMART KID with the GREAT GRADES. I was on the Math Team. I reached all of those academic goals parents brag on their kids about today.

And my first year of college I did a bunch of drugs and also got pregnant. So, you know…YAY! HONORS MATH!

I mean, we all know my life turned out great, but it has nothing to do with Honors Math or the gifted programs I was in…nothing at all. So, I would constantly remind myself of that when I would start to feel like other parents were bragging about their kid and their honors programs.

MY POINT: I roll my eyes and call in “bragging” when any parent seems proud of accomplishments their kid made that my kid did not. I then find ways to justify why my kid didn’t, He’s a bad tester! We can’t afford private school! They’re too busy to take extra classes on fluid dynamics after school!

And all of this? ALL HAPPENS IN MY HEAD. I never vocalize ANY of it because I know – in a very real sense – that it is all my own insecurities as a parent. My own fears that I’m screwing up my kids. So, yes, I may roll my eyes wen you post pictures of your kid’s calculus graphs in the 4th grade, but it’s because I’m terrified my own kids are permanently screwed up because I didn’t teach them calculus in fourth grade. So – I roll my eyes, I tell myself: They’re just bragging…but then I acknowledge it’s my OWN insecurities as a parent that makes me react that way and then I move on to the very important step:

I feel sincere pride in my friends or my family and their children.

Because I can see that my defensive insecurities are all in my head? I can THEN move on to being proud of the children in my community. I CAN GET OVER IT. I don’t vocalize it, I don’t whisper with my friends or my husband, I think the negative thoughts and then I move on because I know that perspective is not real, it’s insecurities in my head.

AND HOW DO I KNOW IT’S ALL IN MY HEAD?

photo (13)

Because I am the QUICKEST to brag about my own kids. I mean, how many pictures and statuses do I post about E and his theatrical achievements? Or the chair positions he holds or the offices he’s been granted in his fraternity? EVERY DAY I BRAG ON THAT SHIT. And my daughter? She just reached her 200 AR points and I posted that picture with that brag ALL OVER THE INTERNET. And Wes? I bragged about every soccer game he played in last fall because he scored like a million points per game.

I AM THE BRAGGINGEST PARENT OF THEM ALL.

And because I am CONSTANTLY rolling my eyes when YOU brag about YOUR kids, I give you permission to roll your eyes when I brag about mine.

Because I know that – deep down inside – we’re all just terrified we’re screwing our kids up. We find ways every day to interpret their achievements (or lack thereof) as failures on our part. So, when other kids reach goals our kids don’t? It’s natural to make ourselves feel better by mocking their talents. The key is, don’t try to fool yourself into ACTUALLY believing that

A) You’re a crappy parent because your kid can’t play the cello OR
B) They’re a crappy parent because they make their kid play the cello instead of baseball where your kid excels.

Brag about your kids to your friends and family, OR quietly roll your eyes when your insecurities have you irritated that other people brag about their kids. But then leave it all there. Don’t constantly look to your kid’s AR points as the reason you are the BEST PARENT IN THE WORLD, and don’t look at your friend’s kid being in the gifted program as the reason you are the WORST PARENT IN THE WORLD. I think, as long as we all know that deep down we’re all doing our best, and we don’t resent other parents or lift ourselves above other parents, then it’s okay to periodically roll your eyes at the video of the 3-year old doing her times tables. And it’s okay to post pictures of your child’s straight-A report card.

It’s a natural first-instinct to get defensive when other people excel. And it’s a natural first-instinct to showcase the excellence when you excel. But in the end? We all still need to recognize that – in the big picture – none of it matters. What matters is that, when push comes to shove, we all support each other as a community. We keep the annoyed whispers in our head and recognize them as a manifestation of our own insecurities, we don’t carry those whispers out into our community where they can snowball into divisive forces amongst parents.

48 Hours To Get My Sh!t Together.

In 48 hours I start my first ever stage race that will culminate in three days of trail running and 43 miles of some of the toughest trails on Monte Sano. I decided to prep for this by A) Gaining 10lbs and B) Giving up sleeping.

I’m imagining Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman talking to those snobby saleswomen after her successful shopping spree and saying, “Big mistake. HUGE.” But, instead of holding up bags of expensive clothes, I’m talking to my reflection (who has bags under her sleep-deprived eyes) and I’m holding up trash bags filled with empty ice cream containers, Cadbury Creme Egg wrappers, and Krispy Kreme donut boxes.

Big mistake, Kim. HUGE.

6 Donuts In 10 Minutes. DO I WIN SOMETHING?

6 Donuts In 10 Minutes. DO I WIN SOMETHING?

I first heard about “stage races” when I did my first trail marathon in May 2012. The course I did that day was used being discussed a lot by participants because it was also going to be seen during the Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race. Three days of back-to-back-to-back trail racing. People evidently camp for the event or even stay in a type of hostel Chattanooga has. I thought the entire experience sounded like SO MUCH FUN. Three days of trail racing? Camping? Two of my favorite things.

The problem was/is – it was/is in June. I truly love Chattanooga, and I love the on trail race I did there, but I hate running long distances in the summer and I really hate snakes and poison ivy. So, I kinda pushed the idea to the back of my head. There turns out to be one in September in Birmingham which is a better time of year, but I’m not sure if I could talk anyone into doing it with me. And the thing about that kind of race is – you really need company if you’re like me. It eases the anxiety of getting lost and it makes the three days not feel as lonely. I still considered it as an option, but since I knew runners my pace who had done it and felt REALLY along, I put it on the back burner as well.

BUT THEN! Several months ago the rumor started spreading that there was going to be a stage race HERE on MY mountain! The second I saw the signup page and confirmed we had no conflicts, I rented a cabin on the mountain for the family. We’ve been looking for an excuse to staycate there for awhile, and this seemed like a good one. BUT – I didn’t sign up for the race yet because it wasn’t being officially promoted and no one I knew was up for committing yet.

Fast forward several months and some friends and I start training for our favorite local trail race – McKay Hollow 25K – and the time on the trails gives us time to discuss the stage race and before I knew it? SEVERAL of my running friends were up for it. Two in particular – the same two who help me on the Sunday trail runs. We decided we’d sign up, promise to stay together to make sure no one gets lost or sees a snake, and we’d just have a GRAND OLE TIME. So…BAM! We all signed up. GRAND OLE TIMES COMING OUR WAY!

It starts in 48 hours.

In 48 hours I will be expected to run 43 miles over the course of THREE days on ALL of the toughest trails on our mountain. Seriously. You talk to any trail runner and ask what THEY think the toughest trail is? And it will be run on one of those three days. And it starts at 7:30 Friday morning.

A lot of my favorite trail running peeps will be out there and I’m certain we’ll have fun…BUT…the problem is this: I’ve not had a good night’s sleep in seven days and I’ve put on 10lbs in four weeks.

You know how I often say, “I eat my feelings.” Well, this is very true, but this time I’m eating Donnie’s feelings. Basically, 4+ weeks ago he found out his company was relocating, and for the next week while we had NO IDEA what that meant for him, and then the next week when he had to decide whether or not to move, and then the two weeks since we decided to stay when he is now trying to find a job to take after the company moves in June…ALL while he’s taking one college class and training for an Ironman…HE IS VERY STRESSED. He was up until 1am last night. He has finals next week. He’s doing two-a-day workouts meaning some days he’s exercising more than 4 hours. ALL on top of college and hunting for a job.

SO…of course I can’t really whine about any anxiety I’m feeling because – you know – he’s getting it full force. So, to be strong for him and to TRY to cope with my own anxiety, I’ve taken to eating the worst diet in the world over the last 8 weeks. You name it? I’ve done it. A pint of ice cream for lunch: four times. An entire pizza. Bags of potato chips, fast food drive thru meals, milkshakes, french fries…EASTER CANDY. I’ve been cramming it all in my face and the result is I put on 8lbs that I worked SO HARD to finally lose. And of COURSE that makes me MORE stressed which makes me eat MORE.

photo 3 (8)

AND THEN…as Donnie starts to feel a little better this week, school is almost over, job prospects are out there, and I get my annual ALLERGY ATTACK FROM HELL.

I’ve basically not slept for more than 90 minutes at a time for a week. Last night, I woke up around 11:30 and went back to sleep around 1:30am. I’m taking all of the medicine I can and some of it helps some things, but not others. But I’m still too miserable to really get consistent sleep. And the thing that makes me eat my feelings the MOST? It’s not stress, it’s not anxiety, its not sadness or anger…It’s EXHAUSTION. When I’m so tired I can barely keep my eyes open, but I have stuff that needs to be done, I eat ALL of the food to try to wake myself up.

That, my friends, is how you gain 10lbs in 4 weeks when you REALLY don’t need that extra weight on your joints for a weekend where you have to run 43 EXTREMELY difficult miles over the course of 3 days.

Big mistake, Kim. HUGE.

SO…I have 48 hours to get my shit together. I’m not going to lose 10lbs in 48 hours, but I can try to clean out my system a bit. I’m going to drink water constantly to try to flush out some of the shit I’ve ingested, and I’m going to try to eat as clean as possible. Even though I’m exhausted, I’m going to try to get back to drinking my ONE 16 ounce Diet Coke a day (I’ve about tripled that to cope with the inability to stay awake this week) and NO BEER at all. I’m going to try, try, TRY to get some sleep. It’s really hard, but I do think maybe I’m wrapping up this allergy fest. The congestion is waning (a little bit) and I think the cough might be waning as well (hopefully) so I’m going to do my best to get some sleep over the next two nights. Of course, one of those nights is in a cabin so! We’ll see how well THAT goes!

There won’t be internet on the mountain, but I will have my phone and will update through Instagram if you want to follow me there. I will come home every day at least once because I’ll need to get my epsom baths in, and the kids have school on Friday, and we need to get groceries for a cookout on Saturday, and we need to feed our cats. That’s the nice thing about staycating, you can still rely on the comforts of home if you need to. So! Hopefully I’ll post updates, but if you want to keep up with the stage race, Instagram is your best bet. We race Fri, Sat, and Sun mornings at 7:30am. We’ll do a total of 43 miles over the weekend. It should be FUN if the rain holds off for us.

Wish me luck. I can’t undo 4 weeks of insanity in 48 hours, but I can maybe at least get my body in the mood to NOT GIVE OUT ON ME. Because right now? It’s just all about survival.