Running

Autumn, Running and Rambling

When friends start checking-in with me with random “Send up a flare every now and then why dontcha’?” and “Hey girl, just checkin’ on you” and “Here’s a picture of some flowers from my garden, just because I thought you may need them” (Michelle is just the sweetest, I swear) type of messages, I start to think that maybe I should poke my head out of my hidey-hole cave to say, “I’m here! I’m alive! I’m sober!”

(And, wow, how is that for a long sentence?)

I just posted, what, a couple of weeks ago? But maybe y’all are picking up on some vibes I’m sending out without my even knowing I’m sending them out. I mean, just because I totally change the theme around here from a colorful header to a stark black and white theme, remove a few posts, and go MIA from commenting, doesn’t mean I’m isolating and withdrawing into existential angst again, does it?

Or wait. Maybe it does.

I think it has something to do with the change of seasons. Especially Autumn. Spring too, I realize, but Spring usually finds me depressed and longing; Autumn turns me inward–like the petals of a sunflower folding into its self–and more introspective. Autumn reminds me that everything is transitory, that everything in nature has a life-span. Falling leaves, dormant plants, less daylight. Things grow cooler, wispier, and I realize that I do too.

As a creature of extremes–remember, moderation is not my strong suit–I think it’s these “in-between seasons” that throw me off. Give me the freezing temps and the windy, desolate ice storms of Winter, or give me the blazing sun hot enough to fry an egg on the hood of your car, flowers in full bloom, sunburns and heat stroke of Summer. I want my seasons to take a stand. All or nothing, baby. Just not this in-between, ho-humness of a season that can’t make up its mind that leaves me trapped in my own head thinking of the past or the future, but not of the present.

But there’s a good thing about being trapped in your head. You spend a lot of time thinking. My creativity levels are off the charts; I see poems everywhere, and characters, and plot lines, and I see the passing of time . . . so many things slipping through the hourglass. I see reinvention and rewrites and renewal. I see second chances. My head is not a bad place to be these days, as opposed to the past when it was dark and dismal and suffocating. I’m in a good place. It feels strange to say that out loud, but it’s true.

There are some really awesome things going on for me . . . and I want to tell you all about them. And I will, in time. There are also some incredibly scary things going on too. Changes and things I can’t control and some stories that aren’t mine to tell. And I know that’s incredibly cryptic, I’m sorry–I hate when people are purposefully cryptic, but just know that while they’re scary, I’m not scared. And know that the awesome far outweighs the scary right now.

But because I feel bad about being cryptic, and because you’ve read this far . . . I’ll share one of the awesome things.

I’m running again. Like seriously running again. I’ve been off and on all year, but I have my eye on a May marathon, a special and sentimental one, so I don’t want to go into it half-assed or unprepared. I’m literally starting over from scratch. When I started training a few weeks ago, I could barely run five minutes without tiring. I’m up to 20-minute running segments now, but nowhere near the five hours (plus?) I’ll be running in May. It’s been humbling, extremely humbling. And you better believe that monkey-mind was chattering non-stop when I started, but then I remember that I did it before–I can do it again.

I can’t compare myself though to who I was a couple of years ago. She was filled with enthusiasm and excitement and a bit of arrogance too. I guess it was sobriety’s pink cloud equivalent. After the marathon, I grew a bit complacent in my running, aimless without a goal, and ran less and less. Ha! I was setting myself up for total running relapse . . . It was bound to happen. I used life and stress and grief as excuses to stop running; the same excuses I used to make for drinking. Instead of falling off the wagon, I had fallen off the treadmill.

When I started back running, in essence, I was at Day Zero. I still have that enthusiasm and excitement. I still feel a bit arrogant when I jump from a ten-minute running segment to a fifteen-minute segment. But I’m also remembering, rediscovering, how fun it was just to run and sweat and feel exhausted at the end of a run. And the music! Oh how I’ve missed just blasting the tunes and zoning out. What’s new this time? Spotify. Hello? Why did no one tell me about Spotify before? I’m in running playlist nirvana! The endorphins are really nice too. I highly recommend them.

Another awesome thing? The movie The Equalizer. I highly recommend it too. In one of my favorite scenes:

“I’m going to miss your stories,” one of the characters says.

“You have your own stories now,” Denzel’s character replied.

Thanks for being here, thanks for reading, and thanks for caring. I’m grateful for you. And I’ll see you soon. I promise.

So many stories of where I’ve been and how I got to where I am.
But these stories don’t mean anything
When you’ve got no one to tell them to . . .

 

Are you running? Do you like Autumn or Spring, or do you prefer Winter or Summer? Feeling creative lately? Seen any good movies? How in the world are you? 

16 Miles With Pi, a Monkey, and EJ’s Kidney Worthy Playlist

That has got to be one of the strangest titles ever. Welcome to my brain on the residual effects of Ambien. I hate that stuff, I really do. I hate not sleeping even more though. So I get a few nights of sleep, and you get a few weird titles and comments from Christy. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Well not for everyone. Stupid Georgia. Living with a Dallas Cowboys football fan, you’d think I’d be used to heartbreaking fourth-quarter losses. But no. Watching my Georgia Bulldogs play is like being stuck on the world’s largest rollercoaster, one with lots of upside down loops that make your stomach lurch and invariably make you want to toss your cookies. (Which is a waste of good cookies.) Georgia lost its football season-opener to Clemson on Saturday night, so not only did I stay up too late watching the game, I couldn’t sleep afterward because I was so depressed.

I ended up sleeping late on Sunday morning, which normally is okay, but I really wanted to run outside. What do you do when it’s already 100 degrees at 9 am though? Yeah, I made a date with my treadmill for later. I may be weird, but I’m not stupid. (um…)

So I spent Sunday morning being lazy, drinking extra coffee, reading a blog post or two. I stopped by Paul’s blog and left a short comment on his Spiral Bound post, before he asked me ever so politely, “I thought you weren’t going to be on the computer this weekend?” Oops, busted. So I took that as my sign to exit stage left and get ready for my run. (I later blamed it on my doppelgänger.) Friends don’t let friends put off their long runs, thanks Paul!

Sixteen miles was on the schedule for Sunday–my longest run of the season so far. I actually settled in to it pretty early; I started slower than usual, cued up some good tunes, and channel-surfed until I found the visually stunning movie Life of Pi to look at. I rarely actually watch movies while I run–I’d rather listen to music–but I do enjoy looking at them. Life of Pi, a brilliant book, was one of the more enjoyable movies I’ve looked at during a run. I highly recommend it, though, yes, the book was better.

Speaking of books, I had plenty of time to think about what to read next. I just finished up the Divergent series (think dystopian, Hunger Games, sort of future world) and was considering either The Returned (poet-author returns loved ones from the dead) or The Shining Girls (time-traveling serial killer, touted by some as the next Gone Girl). I’ve decided on The Returned, though I was so blessedly tired Sunday night, I didn’t get further than the first chapter.

Most of the run eased pleasantly along, as pleasantly as long runs can. I finished up the movie and then, needing some new tunes, I headed over to EJ’s blog (“the Seinfeld of blogs“). EJ is a new blogging friend, and he has seriously awesome taste in music. He had posted an incredible set of artists all appearing at Bluesfest 2014. In fact, his set list was so incredible, I asked him if I could steal it for this week’s running playlist. And because EJ is awesome like that, he said, “Absolutely! I love the idea!”

thighs cheering

My thighs and I applaud you, EJ. Thank you for the awesome playlist!

Head over to “Kramer’s” blog post “Bluesfest 2014” to see embedded videos from artists such as Iron & Wine, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Morcheeba and Dave Matthews Band. Be sure to check out both Allen Stone and Valerie June, as their voices blew me away. Oh, and he included my guitar crush Gary Clark Jr.! See what I mean about awesome taste? You’ll understand about the kidney reference after you see his post.

After listening to EJ’s set, I still had two miles to go, so I turned to a few tried and true mash-ups from BootieMashup, including mixes with Run-DMC, Justin Timberlake, and Death Cab for Cutie. There’s also a badass mix with Lady Sovereign that I may turn into my NSFW last-mile theme song (“if you love me then, thank you, if you hate me then…”).

The day after my run finds me with sore legs and chafed arms. Don’t ask me how I managed to chafe under my arms, that was a new one for me, but I have one word: OUCH!

grumpy cat sore workout

The always motivational Grumpy Cat.

Still though, I’m oddly excited about next weekend’s seventeen miles. Maybe I’ll wake up early enough to go visit my cheerleading prairie dog friends at the park.

Speaking of prairie dogs… I got THE CUTEST video of my white dog barking at prairie dogs on the television. I also have some pictures and video of Baby Donkey. I plan to share them on Thursday. It should be a fun family-friendly post, no mention of asses, so feel free to watch with your kids.  As far as Amazing Gracie … well let’s just say it will be pretty amazing if she turns out not being a he. You’ll have to let me know what you think after you see the video.

Oh, and here’s a monkey picture. Just because.

Monkey_riding_pig

from pmlol.com

And this, my new friends, is a more typical post for me. If you found me via Grace, welcome. I hope you like monkeys and music. There’s a lot of that around here. Every once in a while, grace intervenes.

So… what are you reading right now? Have you been exercising? Are you excited about the return of football? Who’s your team? Are you a Seinfeld fan? Do you like monkeys? Do you think Mighty Mouse could beat up Superman?

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Music:

Bluesfest 2014 by That EJ (click title for blog post and videos)

DJ M.I.F. – Tricky Sandman (Run-DMC vs. Metallica)

Party Ben – Hung Up On Soul (Death Cab For Cutie vs. Madonna)

Sexy Peek-A-Boo (Justin Timberlake vs. Siouxsie & the Banshees)

DJ Jay-R – Sweet Sovereign (Lady Sovereign vs. Eurythmics vs. Shiny Grey) NSFW

(I can’t find a full video for the above song, but if you click the title, you can listen the .mp3 file.)

All four mash-up songs, and more, are available for free download via bootiemashup.com.

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Playlist of selected songs: HERE

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Make It Funky (Funk playlist, c25k, and shout-outs)

Since I got a little long-winded on my last running post (all that extra endurance from my long runs, ha!), I decided to split off the music into another post. I funked out on my last fourteen-miler; there’s nothing like some groovy music to break you out of a funk. Hope you enjoy. Feel free to share your favorite music, fitness progress or any shout-outs in the comments.

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Couch-to-5k: If you’re interested in beginning a running program, the Couch-to-5k (3.1 miles) is probably the most popular program out there. Find out more HERE. They also have a treadmill plan and downloadable apps or podcasts for your smartphone or music players. There is a C25k support forum with tons of information and others starting the plan any given week. Hal Higdon offers a 5k plan HERE–best I think if you have some running experience. And DJ Steveboy from Podrunner has an excellent Interval Podcast page with music for just about any distance you want to tackle.

Also, Lilly who blogs at OneTooMany is planning a late September 5k, and is organizing a check-in group for others who would like to start 5k or even 10k training. Watch her blog for updates as this plan takes shape.

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Shout-outs: Jessie, who blogs at SoberJessie, is doing her first triathlon this Sunday! I told her she is already a winner–this is just her victory lap. Good luck, Jessie!

Karen, who blogs at Mended Musings, is celebrating two years of sobriety today! Karen was one of the first bloggers I followed, and it has been a privilege watching her journey. Congratulations, Karen!

Edited to add: I was so distracted by funk music that I forgot to mention…

RunningFromTheBooze is training for a 10k (6.2 miles) on September 22, yay!, AND she is also new to sobriety AND is taking on Belle’s 100-Day Sober Challenge. Life-changing goals… I wish her the best of luck!

RunningFTB and SoberJessie are both new and talented bloggers, so check them out, especially if sobriety and/or running are interests.

and I saw on Lilly’s blog that Kate at SoberJournalist is in training for a September half-marathon. Kate recently successfully completed the 100-day challenge and she is opting to continue her sobriety. Congrats and good luck Kate!

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Motivation: One of my favorite blogs is The Oatmeal. I had no idea Matthew was a long-distance runner too. In fact, he even has his own monkey, though his comes in the form of a fat flying cherub named The Blerch. His Blerch is fond of cake and Netflix and verbal assault. I should introduce it to my monkey! Then they can eat cake and banana pops and watch Game of Thrones and verbally assault each other. Anyway, after reading “The terrible and wonderful reasons why I run long-distances,” I was in literal tears from laughing so hard. I could also relate to about 97.6% of it, except I don’t like grape soda. I dunno… maybe my monkey does. Click below photo to read more:

From TheOatmeal.com

From the hilarious TheOatmeal.com

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Dancing: Thanks to SageDoyle for this fun dancing video set to The Killers’ All These Things That I’ve Done. If you’re not at least tapping your foot along, check your pulse!

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Music:

1- Funkier by Information Society

2- Renegades of Funk by Rage Against the Machine

3- Stop Funk’n With my Head by Infectious Grooves

4- Squeeze Me Macaroni by Mr. Bungle (NSFW lyrics; this is a strange-as-funk song, genre defying, but it’s great to run to.)

5- Play That Funky Music by Wild Cherry

6- Atomic Dog by George Clinton

7- Brick House by Commodores

8- Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker) by Parliament

9- Can You Picture That by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem (yes, the Muppet Band…! C’mon, it’s fun!)

10- Show Me Your Soul by Red Hot Chili Peppers

11- Funkytown by Pseudo Echo (#LongLiveThe80’s) (original by Lipps Inc HERE)

12- Word Up by KoRn (original by Cameo HERE)

* Video sadly missing: Kiss by Prince. He doesn’t allow his videos to stay up long.

Looped YouTube playlist

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Rambling Running Thoughts (On Spot, Paul, Polls, BBB and ‘Smashed’)

Remember how, when I started marathon training last month, I said some posts may be shorter or more rambly than others, especially if I was exhausted from running?

This is one of those posts. I’m exhausted. But I have a lot to say, so it’s more rambly than it is short.

Running has been going very well these last two weeks, and I’m back “into the groove” of things. (Sorry, had to throw in another 80’s reference for Guap and all the other 80’s music lovers out there. Seriously guys, thanks for all the support and comments over at Guap’s on my 80’s music guest post, it was way more than I could have hoped for!)

I had a thirteen miler that rocked last Sunday, and this Sunday I did a fourteen that didn’t rock, but it did roll, so I can’t complain. I’m tired today though, and I can’t seem to form complete sentences, so bear with me please. Or is it bare with me? Either way, I had lots of time to think on those 27+ miles…

On Spot: Spot had her final chemo treatment last week! I cannot believe she has been fighting lymphoma for over 20 weeks. I think it was late January she was diagnosed? I wrote about it HERE. Spot had her ups and downs with chemo; she did mostly well early on, but as it got to her last few treatments, her little body just wasn’t happy. The chemo has already given us more time with her than we would have had, so for that I am grateful. I’m nervous now though, because her cancer could come back any day, but I’m trying to focus on the positives. She’s happy, spunky, talkative, and most importantly, in remission!

Spot coming home from her last chemo treatment  with a big ole smile on her face.

Spot coming home from her last chemo treatment with a big ole smile on her face.

Spot wanted me to be sure to thank Madame Weebles and Char & Ginger for continually thinking good bacon-licious thoughts for her.

On Paul: Most of you know Paul from Message in a Bottle blog. But I’m not sure if you know Paul has recently been recognized by WordPress and has received their “Freshly Pressed” honor for his post Back When the Beaver Hit the Bong. This was especially wonderful to see because not only is Paul a great friend and supporter, but, gasp, Paul blogs nearly exclusively about alcoholism and recovery from alcoholism.

It was nice to see the topic highlighted and featured. I truly believe the more we talk about addiction and bring it out of the shadows, the more we remove the stigma by attaching real identities and everyday faces to addiction and alcoholism. So a big thank you to WordPress and to Paul for “carrying the message” and raising awareness. Be sure to read Paul’s post and the outpouring of touching comments he received.

On Polls: Thanks for taking the time to answer my question on if you prefer embedded or linked videos. The majority of you prefer embedded, so I’ll keep on keepin’ on. (I will still try to hyperlink for those of you who read only via e-mail.)

Embedded it is then.

Embedded it is then.

On BBB: Did you catch ByeByeBeer’s guest post here, Go Do? Thanks to her, I’ve had the T’Pau song “Heart and Soul” stuck in my mind all week. I’ve also been introduced to Sigur Ros, who contrary to my thinking, is an Icelandic post-rock band, and not a fancy-shmancy champagne. I love that BBB shared songs from her running playlist and the why behind each, and I’m glad that so many of you enjoyed her post too. You may see this again sometime as a feature–do you like the idea?

On the movie Smashed: I learned about the movie “Smashed” (click HERE for trailer) when Le Clown mentioned it in his post “A Paler Shade of Beige.” I stuck it on my Netflix list, then forgot about it until it arrived late last week. To be honest, I’m still working through my thoughts on this one. It’s about a married female schoolteacher (Kate, portrayed by Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who, after having some scary things happen as a result of her drinking, decides to sober up. It’s not a walk in the park for her though; her husband does not quit drinking and resents her involvement in AA, and life gets different for her before it gets better.

I watched the movie with my husband, and I’m not sure if that was a good idea or not–though I think ultimately it was–because many of the scenes were uncomfortable reminders of my not-so-long-ago-drinking-past. One scene in particular when Kate has a drunken argument with her husband had me feeling sick to my stomach because I couldn’t help but flash back to similar occurrences with my own husband.

After finishing the movie, neither one of us said anything for a while… Then my husband said, “I don’t think they showed as bad as it was in real life.” Which threw me for a loop, because I kept thinking about the scene that I had thought was pretty damn realistic and still makes my stomach do somersaults. But of course he was right. It’s impossible for a 90-minute movie to capture the good, the bad and the ugly of alcoholic life pre, post or during recovery.

But the movie got us talking about our reactions and stereotypes and how I was thankful he quit his social drinking when I quit my drinking-to-obliteration and how it would have been a lot harder for me to quit had he not. Seriously, friends, I have tons of respect for those of you that quit while your partners chose not to; I know that no matter what you say, that had to be hard and it probably still is.

Would I recommend the movie? Yes. But probably not to those that are brand new to sobriety, because they do show some party scenes that could be triggering. And probably not to couples where one partner still drinks, unless the sober partner previews it first, because it’s likely to dredge up some discomfort if you watch it together.

At the end, Kate says, and I paraphrase, “I am so grateful for my normal and very boring life.” And to that, I have to raise my glass (of plain boring water) and say, “I’ll drink to that.” In fact, make mine a double.

On music: I listened to tons of music, but this post is getting pretty long, so I’ll post a special playlist later this week. I will leave you though with two awesome songs that my friend Victoria from N℮ür☼N☮☂℮ṧ shared; they, without a doubt, contributed to my kickass thirteen miler and to a very good day.

From Oceanlab’s On a Good Day:

Been talking to myself forever, yeah
And how I wish I knew me better, yeah
Still sitting on a shelf and never
Never seen the sun shine brighter
And it feels like me
On a good day

Care to ramble along with me in the comments on Spot, Paul, Polls, BBB, Smashed or music? 

On a Good Day by Oceanlab:

Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap:

Go Do, A Guest Post by ByeByeBeer

I am thrilled to host not only one of my favorite bloggers, but also one of my favorite persons, ByeByeBeer. She and I share a love for running, cookies and sherpa-coated monkeys; we both tend to ramble, though she does so a bit more gracefully than I; and we both have been sober for over two years now. Despite having her hands full with vacation and new kittens, ByeByeBeer graciously agreed to share her fitness story and a few songs from her running playlist. I hope you enjoy–please share some love in the comments or check out her blog if you haven’t already.

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Before I started running about a year and a half ago, I used to joke that the only reason I’d ever run is if someone chased me. I never realized that someone would be me.

I’d exercised regularly for years, but I never stepped on a scale; I ate and also drank far too much. The thing about self-destructive habits is they eventually catch up to you.

When I finally found running, I was six months sober and 20 pounds overweight. I had excess emotions and energy, but no self-esteem. I couldn’t run farther than a couple of blocks without stopping and looking back for the lung I was sure I’d misplaced. The Couch to 5K program helped me get started running because it was simple to follow, plus the soothing voice prompt that told me when to stop running and start walking was like the voice of God.

Once I could run a few miles without stopping, I started listening to music on a hot-pink shuffle that clipped easily onto my shirt. It could even apparently be worn in the misting tent at the end of a long, hot race when I was sure my head was on fire and all I could think of was putting out the fire.

The downside of a beat-up shuffle is I can’t see or choose what I listen to, so I do a lot of skipping. Due to mild OCD or some nostalgia-based loophole, there are songs I rarely skip past. I never really thought about why until now.

Here are some songs that get a free pass, and why:

Reminds me what I’m running from:

I usually know where the dirty road is taking me, thanks to GPS-powered running programs and such, but Waiting Around to Die (The Be Good Tanyas) is a powerful reminder of where I came from. The banjo is also catchy as hell.

Reminds me what I’m running for:

Ocean Man (Ween) is a weird song and I love it. It reminds me of a shirtless David Hasselhoff morphing into a speedboat, which, if you haven’t seen the Spongebob Squarepants movie, just trust me this is even more disturbing than it sounds. It also reminds me of the beach, which is why I keep it on my playlist year round. I lost those 20 extra pounds through a combination of exercise and generally making smarter decisions about what I eat. I credit running with both. (Runner up: LMFAOs Sexy and I Know It.)

Reminds me that I need to keep on running:  

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger (Daft Punk) became my running anthem. Do it faster, work it harder, make it better, make us stronger. All true. Our work is never over? The most important part. The only way to get better, faster and stronger is to keep going. This doesn’t feel too hard or tedious since I’ve found a variety of activities I enjoy.

Entertains:

One of the main reasons I run is to escape the incessant chatter in my head. What better way to lose myself than in a song that tells a story? Stan (Eminem) gets bonus points for sampling an old familiar song (see also Like Toy Soldiers), plus the end tugs my heartstrings and the only thing more therapeutic than a good run is a good cry.

Takes me down memory lane:

Heart and Soul (T’Pau) takes me back to 1987 and the boy I met on vacation and was sure I was in love with until he totally ignored me at the lake. Later I realized it wasn’t him at all but his older brother, who I swear could have been his twin if he hadn’t been two years older. Ah, young love.

Makes sure I don’t stay, though:

When I didn’t have my shuffle on shuffle, The Winner Is (Devotchka) came on right after Pounding (Doves), which has a great tempo but unfortunately reminds me of a painful time and leaves me feeling angry and sad and powerless every time I hear it. Anger can be good fuel for running, but not so much with the sadness and powerlessness. Recently it occurred to me that I was giving these feelings too much power, so I deleted Pounding and kept The Winner Is because that makes me think of a happy family memory and sweet, sweet victory.

Just makes me happy to be alive:

I’ve never experienced runner’s high during a run, but for several hours afterwards I feel amazing. Fact: strenuous exercise boosts endorphins, our body’s supply of naturally occurring opiates. Happy-go-lucky songs like Go Do by Jónsi, the lead singer of Sigur Ros (one of my favorites), seem a natural springboard to build on and appreciate the many gifts of clean living.

Running on Sober was one of the first sober blogs I followed and the first powerful connection I saw between running and recovery. It’s like the whole sugar addiction many of us ex-drinkers seem plagued with, only in reverse. Running gives so many of us a healthy outlet, plus it’s interesting and satisfying to follow bloggers like Christy as they train for a marathon, something I was sure I’d never be able to do.

I still haven’t run anything close to 26.2 miles at a pop and I’m not sure I ever will. The difference is I believe I probably could run a marathon if I put in the long hours and hard training.

My husband took this photo at the finish line of a recent 4-mile run (I am on the far right). I have no idea who the two women are next to me, but one of them yelled RUN! and that is why we’re blurry. Someone else yelled RUN LIKE A KENYAN! and that is why I am smiling, even though I wanted to throw up at the time. It rained hard throughout the whole race, so I left the beat-up shuffle at home, but it was still my favorite race to date.

Running gives me the perfect balance of challenge, humility and reward. It meets me where I am and takes me where I want to be if I put in the work. If I’m only looking to unwind and get out and enjoy the weather, it’s great for that too.

Like the last line in Go Do:

We should always know that we can do everything.