April Groves – The Journey of ... Me (and other stuff!)

Introducing Ultra Runner Supporter, Dreena Burton

I have been writing this post for three days.

Ok, obviously it would be more correct to say I have been TRYING to write this post for three days (which is painfully apparent by this amazingly weak intro)…

But I have just never done this before…

And I am not really sure how or where to start…

Look, I only started running about 2 years ago…I am not the best, I am not the fastest, I am not the tightest…

And that is okay. I am proud, strong, and completely in love with my fellow runners.

I am passionate. I am dedicated. I am happy. And I want you to be happy.

Sometimes, that is better than first.

And every once in a while you get those folks that believe in you. Those folks that come alongside you, see that they can help, and offer to walk – or run! – this way with you a while.

THE Dreena Burton has done that for me. Author of four vegan cookbooks, I first became acquainted with Dreena after my Vegucated collision. After a whirlwind Twitter romance, I was thrilled to learn she was more than a chick with a spatula. She cared about the food, she cared about the bodies, she really, really cared about the kids.

PP15coverDreena makes being vegan fun. She helps me introduce it in fun, unassuming ways to my family. She encourages me to try new things. She never judges, often suggests, and always, always comes from contribution.

Now, in addition to being my champion in the kitchen, Dreena is my cheerleader on the trails! If you have ever entered into any kind of organized run, you know they cost a bit of money. If you enter into a lot of them, you know they add up. If you enter into a lot of them and the nature of them are such that advanced nutrition, hydration, supplementation, and gear become factors – you know it gets downright expensive!

Dreena believes in plant powered athletes and she believes in me…again, not because I am the fastest or the first, but because we are all in this together to

make choices that encourage our bodies, minds, and spirits to say “Thank You!” ~TTSW

In celebration of this new relationship, Dreena has offered a free copy of her brand new Plant Powered 15 eCookbook!

The Plant-Powered 15 is a collection of fifteen whole foods vegan recipes, all oil-free and flavor-full. Recipes include: “Mac-nificent”, “Sticky Almond Blondies”, “Umami Sun-dried Tomato and Almond Burgers”, “Creamy House Dressing”, “Wonder Spread”, “Black Bean Soup with Sweet Potatoes”, “Almond Zen Granola”… and more!

Vegan, veggie, paleo, oreo…whatever you eating pleasures are, this eCookbook compliments them all.

Seriously…Umami Sun-dried Tomato and Almond Burgers… Yeah – you know you want it…

***a Rafflecopter giveaway 

Finding Success in the Failures

success-consists-of-going-from-failure-to1There is something interesting about that word “failure”. Actually, there is a lot interesting about that word. Rest assured I am not in the mood to get into all of them right now. It can be kind of a downer for a Monday morning and seriously, who needs that?

The interesting thing that I am thinking is as often as I still use the word, I rarely ever mean it as a soul crushing defeat description anymore. I am, thank God, getting to the point where I don’t really have those very often anymore.

What the word is becoming to mean the majority of the time is

I had a goal of “A” but I only got to “B”. What do I need to do about that differently?

Now don’t get all excited. I am not jumping on the “everybody gets a trophy” bandwagon. What I am saying is that if striving to be an Ultra runner has taught me anything, it is this

If you continue to define yourself by one moment, one meal, one training session, one run, one goal – good or bad – you will miss all the wonderful things that ultra running, that life, offers. The joy is in the fondness of memories, the seizing of the day, and the respectful preparation of the future.

Last week I did something I never do – I set written, short term, measurable goals for myself and published them here. I thought it only proper to report of how the week looked compared to how I actually did.

Track all food and drink

This went beautifully! I learned that I am not taking in enough calories to compensate for my activity. The problem is I drink a lot of water and I eat a lot of food. However the food is big bulk low calorie coupled with the water – I feel full most of the time.

I am also at my target weight/body fat. Therefore I have nothing to pull from when I am empty. Couple that with a poorly planned fueling strategy this weekend (which I will talk about in a sec), I am the poster child for a great article written about the importance of taking in enough calories by Madeline. (I can’t find the article – Madeline, will you link it in the comments?)

**Note – The Lose It app takes into consideration exercise into the daily calorie counts. The calorie count you see is a net of what I ate minus what I spent. The budget is based of calorie allowance for weight maintenance. 

15 minutes of stretching every day

What can I say? I find stretching painfully boring. Yes, I realize it is super important. Yes, I know i should do it any way. I did manage to do the stretching routines 3 times this week. And that is 3 more than last week. AND I have scheduled myself a fantastic Yoga class on Friday at Awaking Yoga studio  in Richmond Hill with the fabulous Jillian Stafford! Progress, baby!

N TC3 Nike Training Club Workouts

This one I did too, although not without some serious discomfort. If you have never used the Nike Training Club app, you really should consider it. I was thrilled when it finally became available for the Android after being exclusively iPhone for so long. It is free, it is easy to use, and it is hard on the body.

After the first workout, my suspicions were confirmed. My lack of cross training was seriously affecting my overall ability to stay fit. My runs were suffering. The morning after the Drill Sargent workout my whole body hurt. I expected my upper body to be sore, but my lower half? I am a distance runner for goodness sake! Couple squats and I’m walking funny? Yep, gotta use those muscles in all kinds of different ways.

Log my first +40 run week

I didn’t quite get here. But I am am a better runner for the short fall. I picked up three key points that I did not really have cemented in my mind. They, for me, are big ones.

  1. Speed work is important. I am never going to get faster and stronger if I don’t work faster and strong. 
  2. Planning routes does have its place. While there is a lot of freedom is going out and just running, some days there is comfort in knowing just where you are going to achieve your desired goals.
  3. Preparation is key. I can’t make up for water I didn’t drink, food I didn’t eat, training I didn’t do yesterday today. It doesn’t work that way. I also have to remember that my life now requires that spur of the moment trip packing requires more than just a toothbrush. I no longer live out of a drive through window or on chips and salsa. Before I zip up the duffel bag, I need to remember what it take so give my body the best chance to do what I need it to do.

The biggest success this week? Goal setting works. And I don’t mean it works in the global sense. I mean I am making it work in the personal sense. There were quite a few times this week when I thought about cutting corners. But I knew that I was tracking the progress. More importantly, I knew that you would know. Accountability is an amazing thing.

I appreciate you all being here for it.

Week of April 29, 2013

  1. Log my first +40 run week to include 2 speed work sessions
  2. 3 Nike Training Club Workouts
  3. 15 minutes of stretching every day to include one Yoga class
  4. Plan and track all food, drink, and supplementation


**Quote Photo from Lifehack.com

“I’m Bored…let’s find something hard to do!”

My dear husband swears this is the mantra of my life…

I’m bored…let’s find something hard to do!

The first time he said it, I wasn’t sure if it was a compliment or him making a bit of sport at my expense. The third time, I realized it was a loving little bit of both.

I thought about it for while as this perception is not necessarily one I wanted to communicate. However, I first had to figure out if it was true.

And, at its root, it is.

He didn’t say relaxed, comfortable, having a bit of downtime. He said bored.

And if I am bored, then there is no challenge. If there is no challenge, I get lazy. I get lazy, I become a lesser version of myself.

And, no, I do not care to be a lesser version of myself. 

So while it may look like I just enjoy the hard, the more true thing is that I would rather discover all the God given potential I have been blessed with. I would rather see exactly what I am a capable of – then try to do more.

I didn’t realize I had gotten bored. But I did. Just a little.

I blamed it on the weather…when it is cold, I have a hard time getting out of bed and outside for my early morning runs.

I blamed my schedule. I am still adjusting to working a 9-5. The gym time that I used to switch up my routine and add in some cross training has become nonexistent.

I blamed my sudden change in diet. While it wasn’t really that big of a change or that sudden, it was pretty profound and for reasons I had never had to deal with before.

I blamed it on a lot of stuff…and with blame nearly always comes complacency. Complacency cannot run 50 miles in Beaufort in July. Complacency cannot care for her family. Complacency is not healthy.

And I have come to far to go back to being unhealthy.

Combating complacency will be different for everybody. It just depends on what areas of your life have been affected the most. Mine are schedule and diet.

Because my time is under some pretty hard constraints, I find myself wasting a lot of it. My brain says, “there is no time to do anything productive, so let’s not do anything at all.” Yeah that works.

Because my eating habits can be seen as faddish, extreme, difficult, unhealthy, unnatural, and temporary, I have forgotten that my food is my business – not a result of an online poll. True, I share (and I will more in the immediate future) and I ask the masses. But not for permission or validation, rather a constant evaluation of being my best self. I have allowed myself to make exceptions without structure. This leads to irresponsibility, guilt, and a useless 5 pounds.

So, I’m bored…let’s find something hard to do. 

Life ChallengesBlock schedules kill me. Tracking drives me nuts. It just triggers a part of my brain that rebels against the structure.

Goal writing scares the shit outta me. Especially the little, timed ones. The big, long distance ones are less scary. There is room for error, procrastination, catch up. But the other, especially the weekly…those require pretty intense focus and allows for very little sway.

So, without further fear or hesitation, my first set of weekly goals made a bit more serious by the sheer act of publicly publishing them…

Week of April 22, 2013

  1. Log my first +40 run week
  2. 3 Nike Training Club Workouts
  3. 15 minutes of stretching every day
  4. Track all food and drink

Now, let’s see what happens 🙂


**Photo credits
Believe to Achieve
…and Spiritually Speaking

Why I Run…

For whatever reason, this question has come up a few times in the last couple of weeks from a couple of different angles.

Masumi, a runner who blows my brain on a regular basis, seems to be his usual contemplative self.

Why do you run?….was curious….three reasons why you run please in no specific order….I’ll comment on mine later….no doubt we all have some of the same reasons….and also some contrast….carpe diem

Then there is Carey, owner and Ultimate Badass Warrior of Daughtry ATA Martial Arts.

I have a lot of FB friends who run. I don’t see what is so great about running… it seems boring and tedious to me… (then again, I like to punch and kick stuff) but there has to be more to it for so many of you to do it. So, I’d love to know why you enjoy it, why you do it…? I’ll tag as many as I can recall, but I know there are more of you… I’d love to take a look into your world… because you have me curious. Would you please share? 😀

Did you notice that little smiley thing at the end? She put that there because she just knows she talked smack about my sport. Which I love. And then tagged me in the post. But I will overlook it because she really doesn’t mean it. And I love her. And she can kick my ass.

The answer is kinda hard and it took me a while to chew through it. Truth is, I still don’t think I have the answer yet. More specifically, I don’t think I will ever have the answer. It, unlike the finish line, is a constantly moving, sentient being with its own existence. Sounds a little woowoo, I know. Distance running is a little woowoo.

I started running because it was the simplest thing I could do. Upright? Check! Ready? Check! Go? Check! That’s all it takes. If anyone tells you any different, they are selling something. Or trying to squash something. Or trying to pretend to be something.

I have, at the moment of this writing, narrowed it down to three things as requested by Masumi. And no, they are not three things I mentioned in response to his original facebook post

  1. Shoes
  2. Beer
  3. Zombies

Not necessarily in that order…while important…however, of course I jest.

I run for…Runner’s Ass

Seriously. This is a condition that directly counteracts another condition known as “I was born a long time ago and I have a ton kids” Ass. I was working on the latter. I prefer the former.

In all seriousness (even though I said “seriously” just now when I was being less than serious), running reminds me that my body wants to be strong. Whether it is or not is a choice I make. Daily. My body wants to be healthy, capable, prepared, ready. My body wants to channel Gus from that Kevin Costner baseball movie. Not Bull Durham – the other one.

The boys are all here for you. We’ll back you up, we’ll be there, because, Billy, we don’t stink right now. We’re the best team in baseball, right now, right this minute, because of you. You’re the reason. We’re not gonna screw that up. We’re gonna be awesome for you right now. Just throw.

So I just run.

I run for…Runner’s Spirit

This is not to be confused with its sister condition, Runner’s Brain. I wanted to clarify this distinction as many folks outside of the running community – especially outside of the ultra running community – regularly doubt the idea that we have one. Throw in the fact that you are training for a 50 miler, in Beaufort, in July – all doubt ceases.

There is something about running distance. Something about working your body that hard for that long. Something about being alone with yourself in that state for extended, regular periods of time.

It is damn near impossible not to eventually have the “Am I a good person?” question come up in your head. Any runner who says different…well, I think that’s just not likely.

This question is usually accompanied by…am I good enough… am I strong enough…have I earned it…was I wrong…did I do it right…can I do it again…interestingly enough, the subject of these questions are hardly ever about running.

If you don’t have answers to your problems after a four-hour run, you ain’t getting them.
~Chris McDougall, Born to Run

I run for…Runner’s Family

This trait is multifaceted.

First, there is the DNA family. Few things are cooler than watching your husband beam with pride when he tells your last race story. Or your 6 year old finishing her first 5k and the 15 year old her first mud run. Or your rockstar sister calling asking for running advice. Or your Pops considering it for himself. Or your sister in law showing more heart and determination than she thought she was ever capable of. Seeing these things and knowing you had a small hand is rewarding to say the least.

Then there are the support folks. The poster board makers, the crowd cheerers, the road liners. There are the aid station folks. God bless the aid station folks. Being able to see unselfish behavior that strives to do nothing more than raise up and support the ability of another. Yeah, that’s living.

Then there is my mileage family. Those folks that will get up at dark to go with, bring the Fizz when you forgot, cry with you when you are injured, console you when you are down, kick your ass when it is time to get back up, drive for hours just to race with you, wait at the finish line to cheer you on when they themselves are so tired they just want a bath. I believe being around greatness is a key to being a better person…these folks make me a better person.

So, for today…I am going to go for a run…and that’s kinda why.

Post Script ~ before the baseball gods descend on my calves during my run, yes, I know that the movie is called For the Love of the Game. It is, in fact, one of my all time favorite movies. But that didn’t feel nearly as funny…

My Fairy GodPops

I’ve been thinking for a while about moving the old posts from My Beautiful Chaos over here to kind of consolidate my writing. Not because the two purposes are the same – they aren’t. But I am so disorganized in this regard that there is no one real place I keep everything I have written (stupid, I know).

But if you are friends with me on Facebook, you may have seen that my Pop’s 60th birthday was yesterday. That’s kind of a cool day. Then, in a completely unrelated circumstance, San Diego Keller Williams Realtor Jeff Kayle posted this ~

Real men know how to sew.

And, well, the signs don’t get any clearer than that…from April 2007, here is what I had to say.


I absolutely love getting dressed up and going out. However, as you can imagine, with four kids, it happens very rarely (read “never”). There is that time when the stars are aligned and the moon is producing the right gravitational pull, this opportunity presents itself.

It was to be an awards banquet on the beach. I wasn’t getting any awards, but who cares! I was getting an incredible dress (no more maternity clothes!), great shoes, and an appointment at the nail salon.

Get ready. Well, almost ready. Mark’s dressed, my hair and makeup are done. As an experienced Mommy, I know to wait and get dressed at Mom’s house. She’s watching the kids and I am sure I will get some kind of kid goo on me in the process of getting over there.

Ok, honey. Zip me up. Damn! Is that the zipper in your hand? Yep. What do you do about that? You don’t go. My heart breaks. My wonderful husband works on that zipper for 20 minutes. We were already running late and I am incredibly disappointed. He is really sorry. It’s not his fault. These things happen. Doesn’t change it. I go in the pool room with Mom and Dad to fix a drink and sulk.

I hear my Dad say, “If she wants to go, then she’s going.” He gets up and leaves the room. Mom and I look at each other. “He’s going to fix that dress. I hope you’re ready,” she says.

Dad can fix anything, but I am not getting excited. We are already late and my heart has already been broken once.

Half hour later, Dad comes out with the dress. He pulled stitches, reran the zipper, and stitched it back up! My dress was fixed. “Go get ready,” he tells me. Mom zips me up this time as Mark doesn’t want to tempt fate.

There I am, ready to go. Amazing! I walk out of the room and there is my Dad, beaming. Mark and I gather our stuff and walk out the front door.

Ready to hear about the great time I had? On the front porch, I stop my beloved and tell him I don’t want to go. He is obviously confused. I explain that my men had rallied around me and my crushed expectations; Mark, with his warmth and compassion, and my Dad, with his determination and a sewing kit. There was nothing more I wanted to do than stay here, in this house, and be with them.

Those who know, know that I put my husband first in all things, but I am still a Daddy’s girl. What an awesome Daddy he is. I wonder if he knows how special he makes me feel. He should – I must have told him a thousand times that night, and that was only half the times I thought it.


I Like Being Vegan – and I Already Have a Full Time Job

As you saw from my last post, I am doing a 21 Day Sugar Detox with The Paleo Mama (who is a rockstar, BTW – go check her out). Quick recap for my non clickers – it isn’t about weight, it is about blood pressure.

I won’t say I made a mistake in taking on this challenge. I am always up for a great experiment. I can also see where someone who is eating a traditional McDonald’s, up and down the grocery store aisles diet could seriously benefit from a total reboot.

…aaannnndddd with that last sentence, I am going to remind any new comers, folks that don’t know me well, nose lifters, drama makers, and trolls to read this first…before you start calling names and insist that I am a judgemental twit that really doesn’t know anything. You find that I have already conceded to one and will make you feel silly about the other.

But I don’t eat that way anymore. Don’t misunderstand, I did for a long time. But I don’t now. And this isn’t horn tooting, it is just the way it is. Over the past year I have gotten what I put into my body at about 99% plant-based, mostly unprocessed, 40% raw.

**I just deleted a whole bunch of stuff about my diet, which, in hindsight, I probably should have cut and pasted to save for another post. But I pulled it from here because that is not the point…I will get to the point…….NOW!

In my last post, I told you about Sugar the Bitter Truth at 90 minutes and its 12 minutes counterpart. I apologize to all of you. Screw the 12 minutes, do not be lazy like I was. Watch the 90 minutes. Yeah, it gets painful in some spots. Do it anyway.

Just like we learned when we flunked The Tale of Two Cities in freshman Lit class because we discovered the Cliff’s Notes, there are some important tidbits in the full length feature.

After consuming the whole thing, I am convinced that what most of us already know is true; diets high in processed, chemical, added, refined sugars are seriously bad for us. However, there is more that I learned (or was reminded of).

  • all calories are not the same – where you get them from matters
  • fruit, in moderation, is good – I think his phrasing went something like “God created the poison and the antidote (referring to fiber) in the same package.”
  • Fruit juice, even the whole juice kind, is not great. The removal of the fiber takes out a crucial component for the body’s use of these sugars.
  • Not all sugars are the same. Interestingly enough, while this was the whole premise of the talk, even the presenter occasionally seemed to lump.

During the first week of my 21 Day Detox I learned a really cool thing – I don’t eat a lot of sugar. I didn’t have symptoms of detox. I didn’t crave any of the foods I typically eat and couldn’t have (except the wine maybe). My diet didn’t change all that much with the exception of my grains and my fruit (neither of which I eat a ton of).

The not cool thing is that this means it is probably not what makes my blood pressure high.

But I did go back and do some more research…and here is what I found (mostly)~

Side A says that their way is the best because they have lost tons of weight, gone off of all their meds, feel fabulous and the research says that they are the smartest people on the planet.

Side B, C, D, and E all say the exact same thing.

Here is my two cents (and it is honestly worth less that that because seriously, what do I know?)

  • I am a vegan. I like being a vegan. It makes my body and spirit say thank you.
  • I eat (what I consider to be) a wonderfully varied diet that is mostly whole, natural, and responsible.
  • I have a full time job and it is not as a biochemist, nutritionist, government lobbyist, farmer, rancher, guru. I just help people find a new home.
  • I could research this thing until I am blue in the face. At the end of the day, it will come down to me deciding which person, whom I don’t know, whose agenda I have no way of properly ascertaining without a ton of research, I will believe on any given day. Because I can, on the next day, go find a whole other research paper that completely contradicts and calls conspiracy on the other guy. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

what vegans eat chartThe Paleo Mama is amazing and what she has is working for her. Better than that, she started so much sooner than I did and her kids now have a way better shot (those kids eat great!) Paleo didn’t work for me (I know, I have tried it), but that doesn’t make it wrong. It doesn’t make me wrong either.

I am going to leave you with this little comment that I made on Facebook after I shared this awesome graphic (there was more to the conversation, but I have decided that can wait until I can discuss Marc’s point – not seen here – more fully).

LOLS! I do!! There are also the pastacarbosugartarians…And the allIeatisfleshandfataleos…And the drivethroughwindowvores … long and short – Eat what you eat … be excited if your body and your spirit thank you for it, change it if it doesn’t, and quityerbitchin’ otherwise.

Paleo and Vegan Brave a 21 Day Sugar Detox

About 6 months ago I had resigned myself to the idea that my high blood pressure was genetic. I mean seriously, I quit smoking, went plant heavy (and later dietary vegan), lost +30 pounds, -20% body fat, and I can run an ultra marathon. But come off of my high blood pressure meds and I am right back to +150/+100.

So, I figured it must just be my Pop’s fault (genetics you know).

Until Paul from Lowcountry Coaching  says, “Hey, did you see that video?”

sugar Nope, I had not seen the video, Sugar: The Bitter Truth. But I had briefly seen something about the adverse effects of sugar on some NetFlix TED video type thing. (it’s actually Jamie Oliver’s TED Talk – watch this!)

But they must mean processed, artificial, unnatural sweeteners, right? Hell, I had cut those out some time ago. Processed and unnatural was the first thing I did with my diet over a year ago. Besides, my issue is high blood pressure, not body fat or diabetes.

“Well, you should check out the video.” Did you know that damn video is NINETY minutes long? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

But, I settled into watch it. And got distracted by the “suggested video” which claimed to be the condensed version. Twelve minutes. I am in.



The short of it…because of the chemical stuff that sugar – real or otherwise – does in your body, the component that keeps blood vessels dilated can be depleted. This causes restriction. That, my friends, can lead to high blood pressure.


So maybe this isn’t it, but I have to at least test the theory, right? I will think about that tomorrow.

Tomorrow happens and The Paleo Mama posts on Facebook about a 21 Day Sugar Detox she is fixing to start…and I just can’t ignore the signs…everything that I need to get excited about an idea is there

  • A serious challenge
  • Possibility of self improvement
  • A neat friend to do it with
  • An interesting angle (a Paleo and a Vegan doing the SAME eating plan??)

So, I am in. 21 Day Sugar Detox starts Monday. Right now I kinda love Paul, The Paleo Mama, and Diane Sanfilippo (author of The 21 Day Sugar Detox).

Of course it ain’t Monday yet…


**Sugar photo Credit

April’s First Ultra Marathon Brought to You by the Letter “P”

Porta potties, while not preferable, don’t really bother me. Especially when you need one.

Hovering is WAY  harder after you have run 31+ miles.

That little gem is one of the many things I learned Saturday. The Ledesma Sports Medicine Savannah Rails to Trails Ultra 2013 will forever be logged as my first Ultra Marathon.

If we are friends on Facebook, or if you have seen the recent WTOC news story by the beautifully talented Dawn Baker, you already know that I injured myself about a month ago. In fact, writing this post, I have just realized that Saturday was a day shy of a month since it happened. There was a lot of back and forth on whether I was going to do the 50k, 25k, or even be able to run at all.

Ledesma Sports Medicine Rails to Trail Ultra MarathonI ran completed the whole thing. It took an exhaustive 6 hours, 22 minutes, 34 seconds.

“Hell, a 15:48 pace to finish? You can walk that!” is WAY  harder than it sounds.

Six and a half hours on your feet, in the heat (temps hit a record high of 75), averaging a 11:45 pace will take your brain (and your heart) to a bunch of places.

That time sucked. I should have been able to do it a full hour faster. More if I had not been injured. I missed out in a couple of key areas. Please notice I did not say “failed.” Nothing about Saturday was a failure.

But if we don’t learn to make better, we are wasting life’s experiences  So, in addition to learning a bit more about peeing in porta potties and pace, I also came to some conclusions concerning procrastination, preparation, perspective, and perseverance.


Making a firm decision about Saturday before Saturday was something I absolutely did not want to do. So, I didn’t. I was at the starting line answering the “whatcha going to do” question with “I dunno yet.” I was even heralded by another runner during the first 25k that my method of freeing my mind to whatever possibility happened was enlightened and so smart.

And maybe it was. Maybe there was some hidden genius to relaxing and simply committing to showing up. Maybe the method of deciding on all or some at the half way point was part of my success. But even if that is so, the decision was made poorly.

You see, there is a big difference between deciding not to decide and putting off making a decision. I employed the latter. Procrastination is never the answer. My focus was on my injury. It was on whether I would punk out, hurt myself again, garner yet more creatively worded “I told you so”s. All of those things cause doubt and anxiety. What you focus on expands. Doubt and anxiety expanded. I froze.

While it appeared that I had decided not to decide, I had actually refused to make any decision at all. When you don’t decide, you can’t have a goal. When you don’t have a goal, you cannot prepare. When you aren’t prepared, things take a whole lot longer to finish, if you finish at all.

Please read that last paragraph again. It is the most important thing outside of the porta potty gem in this whole piece.


Before my first marathon, I was prepared. Seriously prepared. The day before was spent eating, drinking, breathing, living the runner lifestyle. I had my clothes ready, my fuel strategy planned, the cooler pack, the departure time scheduled – everything. I was in bed at a decent hour and woke alive and excited when my alarm went off the first time.

My first Ultra, not so much. I tried not to think about it most of the day. I worked late. I went to bed late. When the alarm went off, I hit the snooze – a lot. I wasn’t sure what clothes to wear. *Note – shorter runs, this doesn’t matter so much. When you are running long distances, it is a game changer. I didn’t know where all my gear was. I didn’t check the weather. I hadn’t packed a cooler nor had I planned the fuel for the day. I ended up grabbing a thing of peanuts and a half eaten box of cereal and leaving the house an hour late. Yeah, that works.

Because I procrastinated about the decision, I never moved into the place in my brain where that voice says, “Okay, we have a goal. Let’s get after it!”

Ledesma Sports Medicine Rails to Trail Ultra MarathonPerspective

What I should have questioned was my perspective. What is the focus? In truth, regardless of the situation, focus always seems to narrow itself down to “make it better.”

Being a wife, mother, professional, citizen, friend, family member, runner – whatever – the decision is a win if it makes whatever situation we are dealing with better.

Because I came at Saturday from the perspective of fear, defeat, doubt, and negative commitment, I refused to make a decision, I could not get prepared.

Had I remembered that fear, defeat, doubt, and negative commitment are all a product of perspective, I would have been able to come at it differently.

Saturday was an amazing reminder that the goal every day is to appreciate and learn from who I was yesterday, be the best I can possibly be today, and set myself on the path to be awesome again tomorrow. There is the perspective. That should be the focus.

The process should have been

  1. I am deciding today to focus on learning, excelling, and preparing
  2. I am prepared to either run 31 miles or encourage those who do. If it is a stellar day, I will be able to do both.


But, it wasn’t. I was mentally wonked out, physically under trained, and totally unprepared. I started anyway. I finished anyway. Because that’s what we do.

I wish it had been easier. I could have made it easier. I take responsibility for the wrong decisions and appreciate the lessons I have learned from them.

But, at the end of the day, I, you, we, still have heart. And that trumps it all.


“If you’re drivin’ down the road and you look over and see a truck in the middle of a field, you know what happened.. Liberation.” – Jase

Duck DynastyI freely admit with pride that “Duck Dynasty” is my favorite show on TV. And Jase is my favorite personality (it is a pretty close call between him and his daddy though). As fate would have it, this quote came at about the same time as this post by Amanda from Run to the Finish.

And, as life is oft to do, it clicked and there it was.

My 2013 word. LIBERATION.

Now if you are not a “Duck Dynasty” fan, first, that’s just weird. If you aren’t acquainted with the background of the above quote, let me see if I can sum it up quickly.

The Robertson family have accumulated quite a bit of wealth through Willie (son) creating a million dollar business out of Phil’s (dad) duck call (which was already doing really well). Phil is serious backwoods, salt of the earth, pioneer man. He is very mindful of the “yuppiefication” of his children and grandchildren. Willie is probably the biggest offender. A $100/hole bet between Willie and Jase (brother) leads to Jase discovering the plethora of bullfrogs at the country club golf course. Jase decides a group needs to go catch those bullfrogs after dark, however country club security disagrees. Phil makes off safely with the bullfrogs, Willie has to come pick the rest of the crew from security. Willie is not happy. His reaction brings criticism of his qualification to wear the beard. Having had enough of the ribbing, Willie pulls off into a field and proceeds to get some mud on the tires.

“If you’re drivin’ down the road and you look over and see a truck in the middle of a field, you know what happened.. Liberation.” – Jase

2012, if I had to be honest, was full of a bunch of backseat riding. There was a ton of metaphorical “no, I am not going frog gigging today.” All too often I would be afraid of the country club security. Seriously? I mean really, I can run faster and my gun is bigger.

  • Liberation ~ the act of liberating…the state of being liberated
  • Liberating ~ to set at liberty
  • Liberty ~ the quality or state of being free, the power to do as one pleases, of choice, freedom from physical restraint, arbitrary or despotic control, the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges

Hell yeah.

mudThere is a lot of power for me in that idea. And understand, “liberation” does not equal “reckless.” But it does encourage a bit of confidence in one’s decision to make more “to hell with the box” choices. It begs the opportunity to harness the big ideas and ride the wave of possibility for a while. It shuns the notion of reserved and safe. It downplays the need for subtle. It urges the bright pink toe shoes and 100 mile races. It pokes in the side for large professional accomplishment. It shouts to the roof tops “HELL YEAH!”

For far too long I have been concerned about the whispers of the unknown masses taking personal inventory of my journey. They aren’t there. I have long been convinced that there is a group of commentators working my choices over in the press box. They are obviously not. However, if they are, pop tall ~ I am about to take 2013 in a way that makes Clowney’s Outback Bowl hit look like a preschool game of “Red Rover.”

“If you’re drivin’ down the road and you look over and see a truck in the middle of a field, you know what happened.. Liberation.” – Jase

Teed Up for 2013

There is a ton of anticipation for 2013. Ok, so there was a lot of anticipation for 2012 that didn’t quite bust the bubble it was supposed to.

But there is a difference…and I am feeling totally teed up.

Personally, Professionally…Privately, Publicly…Awesomesauce!

Trying to make this idea flow, inspiration comes from a very typical source ~ my smart as hell friends. Madeline wrote this amazing post. Then I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with her (aka we went on a run together). It took me more time to get my heart rate up than it did to realize she is a wonderful person. I love it when that happens with my blogger buddies.

So, because I like her so much, I am stealing it 🙂 The answers to these questions form my tee box…and I am super ready to swing away 🙂

1. Best Race Experience 

My blog – I am picking 2. CrimeStoppers Azalea Run 10k and the Color Vibe 5k.

I picked up 2 notable running buddies this year. My beautiful sister in law and my amazing 6 year old.

Melissa and I started working out together early this year. By some manner of deception, I convinced her to start running with me. By May, she was hooked and agreed to her first race, CrimeStoppers Azalea Run 10k – no baby steps for her 🙂 Now Melissa routinely leaves me in the fetal position crying in the gym. On the open road however, she struggles with temperature regulation and hydration balance. What she doesn’t struggle with is heart.

That 6.2 miles was not the easiest thing she had ever done. It was a cake walk for me. She ran the better race. She accomplished the bigger thing. She was the better runner.

Mel and April and EmilyWatching her do what she did inspired me to not be a wuss. There is no improvement, no heart, no accomplishment in doing that which is easy.

2013 has been given the inspiration and the example to go big.

Being with her reminded me that go fast, go hard, go best does not always equal winning. Sometimes being that team player is the best thing you can do. How appreciative I am of Taryn, Madeline, Tony, Dan, and my other runner family members who turn off their bionic abilities and pretend to be mortal for me so that I can get better.

2013 is the year of community of helping hands.

My last race of the year was one for the books. My Turtle (her nickname bestowed far before we realized she was a runner) ran her first 5k! She ran that race with an average pace of 12:57/mile. And it was fun!

PorgieI have loved being a mommy at every single stage of the journey. And I really love babies. But I don’t have any babies any more. That milestone was crossed when I sat on the kitchen floor and cried when the baby lost her first tooth (which caused Porgie to cry because she had made mommy sad – it was not my finest moment).

But my children are becoming (far too quickly) people. They have interests and abilities and talents. They can be involved in very real ways.

2013 is the year that I commit to seeing my children with better vision and involve myself more fully into thriving – not just surviving.

2. Best Run

Marathon2012 was the year of my first marathon. I was supremely nervous. The training was going great until I fractured my right heel. Then I got nervous…really nervous. Then the demons started lurking in my head. Could I really even do it? Am I really a runner? What was I thinking getting into this running business anyway? Well meaning folks didn’t help very much. There was a lot of “consolation” and interestingly worded “I told you so”s. I don’t count it against anyone’s character. Most folks really were trying to be helpful and concerned. They didn’t realize that they were feeding the witch that was already in my head.

As race day got closer, I couldn’t help but remember what it looked like the year before. I resolved to run the race. I figured I could to it in under 5 hours. After my first run back, I settled on a goal time of 4:30. After my last long training run, my mind dared to toy with a sub 4 hour time.

I finished 3:59:43. 7th overall from Richmond Hill. The 1st 31324 woman across the finish line.

2013 is the year of confidence and self esteem.

3. Best new piece of gear

On Valentine’s Day my husband bought me the Breville Juice Fountain. What? That doesn’t sound like running gear to you? I assert that it absolutely is. This piece of kitchen equipment is the symbol of my commitment to take better care of this body God has given me. There have been some monumental changes in my approach to health. Those changes have positively enhanced every single area of my life, not the least of which is being a better runner.

2013 is the year of follow through. Great changes are only effective if they become habit, not fad.

4. Best running advice you received

“Honey, you seem a little irritable. Maybe you should go for a run.” ~ Love, The Husband

2013 is the year of remembering my spirit and nurturing my heart.

5. Most inspirational runner

I am going to admit, there is a laundry list I could put here. The running community that I have had the privilege of being involved with includes some of the most amazing people I have ever met. Along with those already mentioned here, I also have come into the amazing presence of

  • Tim Waz, the ultimate cool kid who takes the time to make everyone else feel like the cool kid too
  • Victoria Hickling, who I am convinced doesn’t even know the meaning of the phrase “negative thought”
  • Dawn Baker, embodies the word “tenacity” and single-handedly made me the coolest big sister. Ever.
  • Gary Davis who has the keenest ability to place encouragement in the perfect way, at the perfect time

And I could continue…for quite some time.

And as long as I went, I would come back to Sandra. An unexpected blessing in my life, Sandra opened a natural running store, Georgia Game Changers, right here in my little town. The store would be freaking awesome just because of its inventory. But its owner makes it exceptional. If ever an individual could be described as coming from contribution, it would be Sandra. A lot of folks will say it’s not about the money. Sandra is one of the few times I believe it.

2013 is the year of professional focus. Good business changes lives.

6.  If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

Teed Up