I am an adventure seeking wife and mother first! Travel, and endorphins are my best friends. I will try anything once, unless I know
I would be in danger. I have a crazy love of God, running, triathlon, the outdoors, dirt, wine, friends, good Vegan food, Yoga,
animals, happiness, and life! I truly believe the only limits in life are the ones set by ourselves. So get out there and expand the limits!!
~~Only she who attempts the absurd can achieve the impossible.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Forty and the Firsts!

Ever have the feeling you are in strange movie? In a time warp? Maybe, in a hot tub time machine? Haven’t seen the movie, but I am having that feeling this week. Not going BACK in time but forward. I am usually always the girl looking forward, in a sense that I leave the past in the past, but not looking too far into the future to worry about things out of my control. But this week, I feel like I have been transported. Here’s the thing that I thiiink may be the main culprit of this feeling; I AM TURNING 40 THIS WEEK! Now, to me, just the mere utterance of that makes me feel like I just moved forward in time, oh…about 10-15 years. Seriously! My parents were 40. My in-laws 40. My brother and sister-in-law 40. Greg is 40….but me??? Not that I have any hang ups about it. BBBAAHHAHAH! In all seriousness, I don’t have hang ups about it. I mean, I don’t feel 40. Don’t always act 40. I have heard rumors that the fourth decade of my life will be one of the best ever.
We had a little get together for Greg’s B-day, which happened to be last week, and we had a discussion about the 20’s, 30’s and now 40’s. I know, I would never want to go back to my 20’s. That decade was a huge struggle for me. School, marriage, young parents, no money, barely any jobs, moving from California, where I grew up my whole life to Idaho, built a home, and really searched for who I was, and who I wanted to be. In my 30’s things mellowed a bit. But that is the decade we agreed was the “character building” decade. We had established careers, kids were older, we moved to Minnesota, I quit work, bought yet another home, moved again (back to Idaho) bought another home, Greg changed his career focus, started working from home, got a kid graduated, and another this year, we started traveling more, and I decided it was Ironman time! I guess that in itself is something to look forward to in my 40’s. First Ironman at 40! Wow! Many of my friends have looked at 40 as a big bummer. The old, over the hill. That’s hard for me to do. I am the happiest I have been, ever. My kids are amazing, I am married to my best friend, I am back living in a place I feel is paradise, and I am in probably the best shape of my life. I am happy, healthy and blessed. So far, I am thinking I agree with those who have come before me, this fourth decade may just be “Alright!”
I will be celebrating my big 4-0, camping in Montana. Winter camping. Hmmm, now this is the part of the story that I start to cry. Kidding. My Grizzlyman Adventure Race is coming up in a couple of weeks, and we are going over to do some training. We don’t actually know the course, per say, and won’t until the night before the race, but we are going off of last years area for kayaking, trekking, mountain biking, trail running, and orienteering. This race has also snuck up on me. I mean, I have been training, but here we are…almost race day. Another 1st! Adventure Racing! I will be huddled up in a mummy bag, with some good friends in the Montana forest, eating a Mountain House Blueberry Cheesecake MRE for my birthday. Really this is so apropos for me. It’s funny, and will make a great story, and that’s how my life rolls, usually.
I am excited about Grizzlyman, even if I feel like it too came at me quickly. This training will be a great indication of how the race will go for us. I am most concerned about the white water kayaking…yet another 1st!
Maybe 40 will just continue to be a year of 1st’s for me. I guess if I look at it that way, the sky is the limit, and possibilities are endless. When I look forward, I can look at it with great expectations, excitement, enthusiasm, looking forward to the next great adventure. Isn’t that the way life should be lived anyway???
Here’s to 40 and the 1st!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rain, rain, go away...and take your friend Wind with you!

It’s been one of those weeks. Spring is in the air, and training is going wonderful! The ups and downs of training, I swear, is like being on a roller coaster. I have said this before, and will say it many times again. Roller coaster.
Not that I am a fair-weather trainer, but c’mon, when it’s nice weather usually my workouts ROCK. Not so much sometimes, when it’s not good. This week was no exception. Great workouts up until Friday. Friday, I always have a long ride, short run. It’s my longest bike day of the week. Thursday of this week…and in fact most of the week, it was gorgeous. Friday morning broke that cycle, with it’s wind, rain, clouds, and cold. Really? Friday was one of those days that my head was just not in the game to begin with. I slept wrong the night before, my back hurt, and it was miserable outside. The mere thought of doing a 3 ½ hour ride in the gym or on my trainer was like a bad nightmare. But as I looked outside, I thought…maybe over 3 hours on the trainer won’t be so bad. HA! I had a million reasons why I should just skip the workout. I was easily talking myself out of the whole thing. But then there is that little naggy voice we all hear. “How will I feel later if I miss the workout?” “How much will I beat myself up if I don’t go?” “What if this is the workout that makes or breaks Ironman for me? “What if I bonk on the bike course during my race, will I think back to this workout with great despair?” So as any of us would do, I put on my big girl panties, shut up the bad voices telling me it was ok to stay home, and hopped on the bike. THIS day was not going to be one of those days that I was SO happy that I decided to go. Nope. Not on the bike, anyway. This day was just down right bad. The weather was mean. The wind was ripping through me, cold. The rain was coming down. Quite frankly, I was a little nervous on the bike with the rain. Slippery roads scare me. But definitely something I am getting used to, and need to get over. The whole ride was miserable. The rain did eventually stop, only for the wind to kick in slightly more. No matter which direction I was headed, the wind so kindly shifted with me, to offer a fabulous head wind. It was ridiculous, until I decided to get off my bike, after a slow 3-hour and something ride, cutting it short by a few minutes, to get my run on. I transitioned off the bike, put on my Newtons, and off I flew. Fingers up to you Mr. Wind (and you know which one’s I am talking about) My run went great. Which made me happy to have started the workout in the 1st place. The run was that ray of sunshine in that day that I needed.
Of course Saturday rolled around with it’s gorgeous sky of blue, and sunshine everywhere. Why was Mother Nature in such a foul mood Friday?? I guess that’s how it goes sometimes, right?
Sunday I was able to have a great ride and run with some awesome friends, and a few others racing IMCDA this June. It was nice to meet them, get a good workout in, and “talk shop” a little. 90 days out and counting!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Half way to Ironman

Half Way!

I can hardly believe that I am at the half way point of training for my first Ironman Triathlon. No one will ever understand the magnitude of this race in my life. I remember watching highlights of Ironman Kona many years ago. At that moment, watching those athletes run, walk, and crawl across that finish line, I knew I wanted to join that small group of people to do an Ironman. Luckily now, Kona is not the only Ironman to race.
What does it take to start and finish one of these races? Who are people that do these races? I have met a few people now that have done Ironman. They are people with HUGE determination. Fortitude. Courage, conviction, and fearlessness. With just a sprinkle of craziness. They are happy to put in hours of training for a year, for one day of glory. Or the possibility of not even ever crossing the finish line. Is that person in me?
Going into this race was of no small consideration. I am not going to lie and say it has been an easy walk for me. It has taken me 10 years to “talk myself” into this. Not that I haven’t yearned to do it, but was scared to death. Literally. More afraid going into this, than anything ever before. That’s huge! Will I conquer my fear?
Finally after years of telling my husband I would do one before I turned 40… my time had come to “put up, or shut up!” I will turn 40 this year.
Making this decision took a lot of help and support from my family. They are my first regard. Sitting down for long discussions with Greg, and my kids. Talking about what it will take for me to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles in a day. Talking about errands that I will not be running some days, rides to school, gymnastics practice, swim practice that I will need help with giving, and everyday chores, like grocery shopping, laundry etc, that may be skipped some days. Being a stay at home Mom has given me tremendous freedom, but on occasion this freedom would be compromised. Instead, my time would be taken up working on training plans, out running, biking and swimming, working on nutrition, and sleep. That has to be thrown in somewhere, right? Greg was on board. And so were the kids. They were SO supportive, and have been so supportive, it is amazing. This huge goal/dream of mine, has also become one of theirs as well. They are my biggest fans, and cheerleaders! I race this not only for myself, but for them as well.
Mariah started to drive, which has helped out a lot. Greg working from home has been a Godsend. I have had it pretty easy, as far as the help. My entire family gave me this year, dubbed “The Year of the Paula” in order to train and race. Next year if I decide to do another Ironman, I hope I get that lucky. But I may only have the chance for one YOTP. Over and above the training, came a huge sense of guilt for me. Because even though I joke about the Year of the Paula, it is hard for me. I am sure every Mother out there can relate. I am not selfish by nature, and Ironman takes alot of selfishness. It just does. A person cannot go into it thinking they are not going to act out selfishly during their training/racing time. It is long. Long days away from my friends and family. I am always being pulled by my emotions about this. And even though my heart wants to be with my family and friends I just know I cannot on some days. Will I dedicate myself to my goal, every single day?
I had decided early on that my training, which is 6 days a week, would start Mondays, and end Saturdays. I started with a Base phase, and am now into a Build Phase. Sunday is my one day off. Monday through Thursday, I swim, bike and run, everyday. Some days, swim/run, some days, swim/bike, some days, bike/run. Friday and Saturdays are set-aside as my long training days. Friday a long bike day. Currently I am riding 4 hours on Fridays, followed by a shorter run, but that will be increasing up to 6-7 hours. Saturday is my long run day. Right now at about 2 hours, increasing to 3-4 hours. Saturdays are my favorite. Running is my passion, and truly, it is easy for me to run 2 hours. Or even 4 hours. I love being able to go on a long run on Saturdays. I think that one day, is the day that saves my sanity. The one day I can run for miles, and dig deep emotionally about what I have chosen to do. I talk myself off the ledge on Saturdays. It is the day for me, to not only train, but also mentally prepare for the following week to come. The mental aspect of Ironman in tough. Dealing with the selfishness, long days, missed events, time missed with family and friends, deciding which things I can allow time for during the week that is not training time, training alone some days, some days with a partner, knowing everything you put into your mouth needs to be used as fuel with no exceptions, making sure my fluid intake is up to par, and the list goes on….. Saturdays are my days that it all falls together. Thank goodness for Saturdays. My other training days I am doing a mini-evaluation on everything done in that day. What did I eat, drink, did I bring enough food for during and after my workout? As I am swimming, I am thinking about what fuel I brought for afterwards, and how long that will last me on my bike or run. And so on. And the positive self-talk, which can be hard at times. Allowing myself to "talk" myself into feeling good, feeling powerful, feeling strong. I am constantly in my head, talking to myself. If I didn't, it is easy to defeat yourself before even starting. So while I swim, bike and run, I am "talking" and before a workout I am "talking." Trust me some days, it would be easy to talk myself out of doing the workout. Rainy, cold, windy or snowy days. The thought of jumping into a cold pool, and then head out into the wind for a run....easily could be put off. I tell myself, "YOU wanted this. You want to be an Ironman, and Ironman is no place for wussies!!" I always feel better after the workout, no matter how cold, how sick, or how much I didn't want to do it.
Sunday. My one rest day. The day you think, I would throw caution to the wind, is still spent making sure I am eating properly for the upcoming week. Sunday, I write out my training for the following week. I only write out one week at a time. And I only then, the following week, try and look at only one day at a time. If I don’t, it looks too overwhelming to me. If I skip ahead it makes my mind go crazy thinking about how long training is, and that I won’t be able to do it. Even tough by the time the day would get to me, I would be prepared. It is mentally exhausting. One day at a time has been my mantra. Has to be.
Some nights, I sit, and meditate on the craziness of my decision to do IM. I am, in one hand, fulfilling a dream, but on the other hand, I think, “What the Heck!” It is a roller coaster. And then I think, “It is one year out of my life.” One year to race, what will probably be the biggest race of my life. 140.6 miles in a day! One year to fulfill a dream, and cross the finish line to become an Ironman. To even SAY those words out-loud gives me chills. I will be an Ironman. Amazing. You talk to people who have succeeded in reaching this goal, themselves, and they say it changes who you are. You are never the same person again. The self-discovery that happens, and going from believing something is so impossible, to actually possible, is amazing. I whole-heartedly agree. It has changed me already. I can’t imagine when I cross that finish line. That's what keeps me going.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Attitude Adjustment

Coming back from a trip/vacation always seems to throw me out of whack. I am not sure if it is the “let down” of coming back from this amazingly tropical, warm, sunny place to cold, rain, snow etc. OK, yep…pretty sure that’s it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Coeur d’ Alene, it is an amazing place to live, and would never live anywhere else in the U.S. but love the warm sun just a tad more. I am a warm weather lover. And cherish every amount of sun, I can get. I do love the snow too. Skiing/snow boarding, snow shoeing, and the mountains. Can’t get enough of the mountains. But sun = happy me!!
Coming back this time, I am having a small bit of sadness in my heart, missing a place I feel is "home" and am having a huge lack of motivation. I ran every day that I was in Costa Rica, but haven’t since I have been home. So, 3 days, no running, biking, or swimming. I DID get out for a great hike yesterday in the sunshine, which made things better, but am still feeling…blah. I am always the upbeat, motivator. Always encouraging, uplifting, happy, smiling, so this is a different place for me. I woke up this morning, and logged on to read some of my favorite blogs. My Running Mom’s are amazing, and I laugh, cry, and feel grateful that I know them, and that they give me such great encouragement. Thank you. You know who you are!! Not to mention, my other friends, and family that support, motivate and encourage every step I take. You all ROCK!!
I took some time to look over my training plan today. Gave myself some meditation time. Had a couple cups of coffee, and think I am ready for this new week. I see it as a gift. This week, set-aside just for me. My strong body, ready to take on anything that comes my way. Or maybe I need to be looking at each day. Really be more in the moment. Sometimes, I can be overwhelmed looking too far ahead….or backward, and that is why I am in this place of apathy. I am dwelling too much on my missed workouts while I was gone than focusing on what is to be for this day and week. Because even though I ran, did Yoga, and swam while I was gone, I did not bike. I missed a few great long rides with my training partner. That’s what is on my mind. And my swimming was not technically “training”.
I need to let it go. Look forward, not behind.
I am half way through my training for Ironman, which is freaking me out a bit too. The training is going fantastic, but HALF WAY!!! It has gone too fast. HALF WAY?? In the blink of an eye, I will be doing the biggest race of my life. There is no time now, to have any lack of motivation. I need to get back in that pool, and “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming” get back in the saddle, and work up that butt callous again, and get into my bright pink Newtons, that have missed my feet, and hit the road running. Not to mention, that I have GMAR coming up here in a few weeks.
I need to re-focus. See this day as a gift. A new beginning. Fresh. Out there waiting for me to enjoy. Think of what great things will come my way today. Why am I waiting? Get up!! Get out!! Attitude is everything!!
How are you staying motivated today?

Look at everything as though you are seeing it for the first time, with eyes of a child, fresh with wonder. 
 ~ Joseph Cornell

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

When life gives you lemons or a traffic jam....you may get to see a cool volcano!

We have been in Costa Rica now for 2 weeks. This is a place that never ceases to amaze me. I always look forward to being here. The perfect weather, sun, surf, and some of the nicest people anywhere. What more could I ask for? The pace here is so slow, and really speaks to my “hippie” spirit. My inner soul that loves a slow, casual, “don’t sweat the small stuff” kind of life. Our time here is mostly spent being in the ocean, surfing, boogie boarding, hiking some awesome rain forests, Yoga, barefoot running, and some fantastic meditation time. The last time we were here, we tried…..tried to make our way from the Central Pacific Coast of Esterillos Oeste, to the Caribbean Sea on the other side of the country. Looking at a map, this seems a very simple task, by our American standards. About a 5-6 hour drive, heading thru the capital city, out the other side, and onto the “highway” to Limon. The first time we tried this, we drove around the city of San Jose for 2 hours, before aborting mission. Roads we thought were on the map, were not, roads that showed up in front of us, were not on the map, and no street signs. Nada! We were determined this time to make our way. And again this country taught us a good lesson in patience. Even though I love the slow pace of this amazing country….this started to try even my wonderful patience. Luckily, a friend of ours here, gave us great directions to Limon. And even with those, we were looking at one another constantly, and saying, “Is this the right way?....Couldn’t be!” Crazy, tiny, narrow lanes to turn down, unreal traffic, into “unsavory” parts of town. Looking for this Highway. Well, we should know by now, “highway” here is not “highway” there. We finally knew we were on the right track, and the drive was GORGEOUS!! Through some of the most beautiful rainforest anywhere. Huge, amazing waterfalls everywhere. The only thing, we were sharing this tiny, barely 2 lane highway, with big semi drivers, crazy Tico’s that drive fast, and make passing one another a sport. They don’t have any problem, making one lane into three, so they can pass one another. They are not doing this in a mean-spirited way at all. And will often, honk and wave during passing. People walking or riding bicycles with sometimes 3 on a bike, Dad, Mom, son, and sometimes, baby. Also, darting over HUGE, deep potholes, that could have swallowed our miniature sized SUV Terios. It reminded me of Mister Toad’s Wild Ride. At one point, we were cruising along, and everyone started stopping and slowing down in front of us. Seems as though 4-5 semi drivers needed to relieve themselves. They stopped traffic, hopped out, had a good pee, a quick conversation, and hopped back into their trucks, and we were all off again. Could you imagine that happening in the States?
We finally made it to Limon, and then down to Puerto Viejo. What a great little Caribbean town. Completely different from the Pacific side. Like a whole other country. A very Rasta/Jamaican feel. A different dialect and different people. This town was full of fun, backpackers, and beatniks. We met a guy from MN that opened the coolest coffee shop, with some of the best coffee I have ever tasted. The first night, we found a little bungalow, near the beach, and just out of the downtown area. No glass windows just screened in to allow the Caribbean breeze to blow through. We ate amazing seafood (yes, even me the Vegan….I couldn’t resist) bought some very cool things, and just hung out with all the other happy, backpackers. The second night we found a great little hostel owned by a little, old, German couple. Same thing, full of pack packers, a shared kitchen, and bath. All outdoor eating, open windows, mosquito nets over the bed, and hammocks everywhere, which we really enjoyed. Especially Alli. =)Could we have stayed in a hotel and not a hostel, sure, but to me this is sometimes the best way to meet the coolest people, mix with some locals, and really see the true-ness of a country. Not being "locked down" into a resort. We did a fantastic hike in Cahuita National Rainforest, played in the ocean, and just enjoyed the vibe in this little part of Costa Rica. We saw Pizotes (Coatimundi's), monkeys, and Toucans. The day came for us to leave. We took off out of town, headed back towards San Jose. About 2 hours out of Limon, we could see lines of cars, trucks, motorcycles on the highway. Tico’s hangin’ out.. talking. We drove into the mass of cars, and sat. And sat. Finally Greg decided that we were going to drive to the front of the line where the policia were standing and blocking the traffic. Turns out, there was a huge mudslide somewhere on the road through the rainforest, THE DAY BEFORE. Had these people been waiting, hanging out and talking since yesterday? Some, possibly. The people here have no issue doing that. Everything is ok, and in no hurry. No one was angry, or honking, just sitting, smiling, talking…. We asked to drive up to the Areal Tram for the rainforest and they allowed us. We got up there, about another 10k, and found a great guy to help us maybe find another way through to the city. He took our map, showed us another way, and off we went. Turning on another road to take us around the rainforest, and back into San Jose. About an hour and ½ on this road….you guessed it, road is blocked. Big line of cars, trucks, everyone out of their cars chit chatting. We went up and talked to the guy ahead of us. Accident. Truck VS motorcycle, and they were waiting for the policia, which we knew, and he confirmed, “could take hours” He said, he knew a back way. Ok, now, I am very trustworthy, sometimes to a fault, but I kept thinking, “should we do this?” Of course we should!!! Why not?? Off we went, following a Tico and his wife out on a dirt, farm road for a good hour at least. I am having flashes of the movie Turista. These sweet, innocent, helpful, people are driving us out into the middle of NOWHERE, to what? I was very happy when we saw the main road, and were able to avoid hours sitting waiting for the polica. At this point the man told us he was only going so far, and was going to be turning off for his home destination, and he could point us in the right direction. Turns out, when we got to the turn in Aguas Zarcas, I looked at Greg and said, “I have been here before” We were close, about 2 hours from La Fortuna, and Volcano Arenal. The kids and I have hiked this active volcano before, but Greg hasn’t. Lets go!! So off to La Fortuna we went, spent the night, hiked the volcano, although unfortunately she would not show off her lava flowing top, because of clouds, it was still a beautiful hike. We left to drive home, fed some Pizotes on the way, which we had known were there, and stopped to get bread for. Stopped at our little German Bakery, that we love, and headed back to home in Esterillos. I laugh about this trip. (and every trip we have taken in this country) Patience is a fantastic virtue here and anywhere really. But you really learn good patience in another country. The ability to make the most out of every situation is a wonderful souvenir. When life gives you lemons or a traffic jam….you may get to see a cool volcano. To be able to adapt to everything, is a great gift. To take the road less traveled, head out on a limb… that is where the good, unexpected fruit is. You just never know what exciting adventure lies before you!! Pura Vida!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Smiling, naked, feet!!

So we are back in Costa Rica again. Got here last Wednesday, on a horrible over night flight. I figured I would get plenty of sleep, and am unsure if it was due to the fact that there were too many lights on in the middle of the night, or if I was just anxious to get back to one of my favorite countries. I knew as soon as we landed, my tiredness would be over-taken by my “want to hit the ground running” personality. We met our little Tico guy, and got our tiny little rental SUV. By tiny I mean, if we ever needed to, Greg & I could probably pick the thing up and move it. We loaded our backpacks, (side note~~ we did in fact stick to the back pack plan, and only brought what would fit onto our back) and were off on the drive over to the coast. We knew that since we had been here the last time 2 years ago, they had completed a new road from San Jose to the Pacific Coast, that was supposed to cut an hour or so off of the drive, because you don’t have to go over the mountain passes. Think we found it? NOPE! You would think, new highway leaving from the capitol city, maybe some signs…NOPE! So we took the usual route. The route that we knew…over the mountains. It takes while, but it is stunningly, beautiful.

We got to our little village of Eserillos Oeste, and to our little beach house. It was still early, since we had landed at 6am. I could not wait to get into the water. I have an odd and amazing relationship with the ocean. I swim, boogie board, and surf, all the while being intrigued, in awe, and extremely afraid of the ocean. I respect her awesomeness. I fear the power she has. However, I cannot stay out of her briny waves. She is like a seductress to me. Luring me in. I am cautious, but absolutely cannot stay away. I can’t help myself.

After splashing around a bit, tasting the salty waves, I looked down the beach. No one. Not a sole. Which is exactly how this beach is all the time. I had to get out on a run. I changed into my running clothes, put on my Inov-8’s, and headed out. All the while thinking and knowing I really wanted and longed to run barefoot. I am fascinated by barefoot running, and have worked my way down to more minimalist shoes over time, but have never had the guts, to pull off my shoes. I took about 10 strides, and thought, “I HAVE to do this” Free the feet!! Free the feet!! I thought it would be easier starting out on a sandy beach instead of a road or trail, which I know many have done. My hat goes off to all of you “true” barefoot runners. I will get there someday. So, I took my running shoes off, stashed them in some dead palm tree branches, HOPING they would be there when I got back. My feet were tender, timid, afraid, to take their first virgin barefoot run. I started slow, but it felt so good. So freeing. Like I was naked. I picked up the pace. My feet were smiling, and so was I. I did an easy 2 miles that day, and have worked my way up to 5 barefoot beach miles. My calves, arches, and Achilles have been achy in protest. I did find a great Yoga class right here on the beach which has helped with some of the soreness. My feet remain tender, and know they will for some time. And I am trying not to think about the day we go home to Coeur d’ Alene, and they have to be confined back into my running shoes.

So for now, I will continue the beach running on my smiling feet until we leave on March 5th to backpack up north in the country, and over to the Caribbean. I know over on the Caribe side, I will again be free to run without my shoes, and I already look forward to that. Like being lured by the Sea Seductress, I just can’t help myself!!