Saturday, January 25, 2014

Spring semester returns...back to the studio!

January 21st, 2014...
THAT didn't take long! Just as I was beginning to settle in to a 'normal' routine again (working and running and sleeping) the Spring semester crept up and cracked my reality like a well placed towel snap!
Fortunately I made the wise choice of dropping the online class that had me at 18 credits for the semester to bring that number to a more respectable 15. I have become aware of the fact that yes, I need to have a life outside of school... even if that life is running upteen miles in the woods through the snow, it is what keeps me grounded. Ultra running has been such a big part of my life over the past 4 years that I found myself REALLY getting bummed out last semester when I got to the point where I was barely running at all. I just was not myself, and was practically miserable. I had less energy, weaker focus, and my ambition was running low. By the end of the semester I was feeling a little burned out. I am sure  many students hit this point, and since this is my fifth year in school now it is not all that surprising if I experience moments of blah...thats where the refreshing trail runs come in! The training, the racing, the energy that comes from spending time training in the outdoors (specifically the natural world, not just running around town). It is a healthier way of life, and I truly needed to bring things back to balance in order to stay successful and  happy while still making my way through Architecture school. I am sure there are many people out there that find that life gets in the way. Reminds me of a quote, "If you are too busy to run, then you are too busy." Amen to that.

Having more of a balance in my life has really helped me to appreciate setting goals and then reaching them, and then setting more. I think this is important, to feel that feeling of accomplishment, of attaining new heights in our lives. TRY something NEW! You just might surprise yourself! At the wonderful age of 35 I feel more compelled than ever to try new things, although with the time commitment to school and my job at Stephen Perry Smith Architects it is really small things, almost more like 'refinements'. If what you are doing is working, but you are stuck or need a little jumpstart, then refine some things in your life. Take inventory! What can be improved? Look at your diet, HONESTLY look at it. Do some research! Omega 3's and Omega 6's...BIG difference there. Find out what you are eating and what it is doing to you. Can't drop weight but are eating healthy? Could be the foods  you are eating are loaded in Omega 6' me, I recently had  someone fill me in on all of this, and I found that a lot of what I was eating was considered very healthy, non gmo, organic, etc, but was LOADED with Omega 6's which slows your metabolism, and you will gain weight. Quinoa was high on this list, as was many grains. If you don't balance the 6's and the 3's, this will lead to imbalances and significant weight gain, sluggish behavior. You cannot just eat more omega 3's, you have to reduce the volume of food that you are consuming that is rich in the omega 6's in order to restore balance to your body. The suggested ratio is 3:1 ( 3's : 6's) while the average American diet is 1:10...I could go on and on but hey do some research yourself! Educate yourself, and then tell your friends and family. This is how we as a community stay informed and help each other stay healthy and happy...okay, that quite the tangent but it was very relevant to my day today so I had to throw that in here for anyone who maybe can benefit from such information, which is EVERYONE. So please take the time. This was super interesting and directly effects our quality of life, so it is worth the time looking into. Invest in yourself!

That is what going back to school was for me, and what ultra running is, and what drinking green smoothies and going to the gym and quitting alcohol etc. all is...investing in myself. I honestly feel the best I have EVER felt, in my entire life and I am 35 years old. I feel blessed to be able to say that, to be waking up each day excited and full of energy. To be generally happy all the time, to be grateful for clean air, to try and pay attention to life's little wonders that are amazing and all around us every day. And still, I try to refine. I continue to learn, and to pay attention to those that know things that I do not, or have another side to the story. I question what I hear or read by pitting it against my conscience and against what I know to be right in my heart. Stand on that feeling, always. Never be afraid to better yourself, or be a better person to others who just may really need it. In this current age of YouTube and flashforward thinking with all the info at our fingertips people forget to refine what they have, or who they are. The tools are there, take a chance on yourself. Don't dwell on mistakes, you will make less of them the farther you go. If you don't, then you need to refine. Go for a walk in the woods, spend some time in your natural habitat, away from the distractions and the noise and the cars and all the stuff. Find a quiet place where you can hear the wind in the trees and spend some time there. Hell, spend a lot of time there!
You will be pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Thank god for snow shoers!

So this past Saturday Jodie and I went running in the Southern Kettle on the IA starting at Emma Carlin and turning around on top of Bald Bluff. Aside from the occasional crow or chickadee the woods were quiet, peaceful. The only other tracks I came across were the snowshoe tracks and my tracks from last weekend...(thanks, at least the trail was blazed) which brings me to an interesting point- where the hell is everyone? I am simply amazed that these trails are not packed down more with the comings and goings of trail runners! Such awesome trails, close to hot coffee at Backyard Bikes, with a changing station right at the parking lot, and I feel like only a select few of us are taking advantage! I guess thats a good thing, since it is nice to be able to go out there and just lose yourself in the solitude of the pines and allow your mind to settle with the rhythmic crunching of your footprints...
This will be 3rd winter running year round on those trails, and I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to there in an hour from where I live. I find the deeper snow, and unstable footing is wonderful training for ultra runners, or any athlete I guess as it strengthens the stabilizers and core and helps to improve balance. I love flying down the hills and breaking through the drifts and sliding around corners...its play, really. Like one of my favorite quotes: "I am at  play in the fields of the Lord"...

Since I am still on winter break I have been taking full advantage of the extra time available to me on the weekends. The Southern Kettle Moraine has been my go to spot for training, and just to reconnect with my natural environment. I plan on doing a few ultras this year, with Chippewa coming up in April. What better place to train then out there? I have to get out in the Northern Kettle yet this winter, I will post a report on that soon. For now, the trails are great in the Southern Kettle, and any of you trail runners putting miles on the dreadmills, shame on you! You don't know what your missing :)
Guess I am one of the lucky ones...