Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Four friends, a group of Veterans, and a day to remember

Words cannot express today. Today, on the anniversary of the tragedy of September 11, 2001 we celebrated and thanked the women and men who served our country and protected our freedoms; we being three amazing friends and myself.

Nancy Wallace, Renee Hoyt, Lauren Wallace, and I all showed up at the New England Center and Home for Veterans in Boston for the opportunity and pleasure to serve lunch to approximately 118 Veterans.

Nancy, Lauren, Renee
We not only served the meal to the Veterans, but we had the honor of thanking every single one of them for their service.
One gentleman not only thanked me (which surprised me) for the special meal and told me how much us being their made their day, but he came back after eating his lunch, shook my hand, and told me that our support put a smile on his face. I have to tell you his man brought tears to my eyes.
It wasn’t all tears. There were hair nets, and gloves, aprons, and grins. There were a lot of laughs, and, handshakes, a lot of getting trays so a Veteran could pile on the dessert (cupcakes from http://nancysmarshview.com/) or carrying trays to a table if someone needed help. 
Cupcakes for dessert

It was tugging chocolate lollipops from their stands or handing a Veteran extra sodas so he could stick them in his toiletry bag and take back to his room for later.

There were discussions of football…thanks to all of us girls wearing New England Patriots’ T-shirts. Quite the icebreaker.
Ice cream line
At one point when I was handing out ice cream, CJ Beck, the Philanthropic Officer at New England Center and Home for Veterans (community.support@nechv.org) and organizer of the hosted meals program and I were chatting and he asked me what I thought. With no thought necessary, I responded, “Who wouldn’t want to do this every day.”

You will walk in nervous, excited, and not knowing what to expect. You will walk out feeling as if you just spent the best few hours of your life with the most amazing men and women you will ever have the privilege to meet.

New England Patriots' shirts
If you are tempted to do this and I hope you are, you will find it an amazing experience for yourself and the Veterans you will be serving. These folks are deserving and thankful knowing that someone really cares.

Honestly, there are no words to express this experience other than maybe honor, respect, humbling, emotional, and the best thing I have ever done.

I cannot wait to do it again! And we will, in December. If you would like to contribute to that event and be a part of thanking our Veterans, please go here and make a donation: https://www.youcaring.com/new-england-center-and-home-for-veterans-578096

Packing for the event
Just because!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

I know why God is not a woman

You ever drive down the road, pretty much on autopilot, and all the sudden an epiphany strikes you?
Yeah, me neither.

Okay, what I’m about to say is not meant to be a conversation about religion, religious beliefs, but just my odd sense of the universe smacking me upside the head, and saying, “Duh!”
God said, "He would create Man in His own image and after His likeness"…or close to that.
This leads everyone to question is God a man or a woman.

I’m here to tell you the answer is simple. NOT a woman. He is a man.

GASP! Okay all you feminists…just chill. And think about it.
Do you really think if God were a woman she would prefer an inny to an outty? No, seriously!

Come on, ladies! How many times have you wished you could pee standing up? That you could just whip it out when and where necessary. That you did not have to practice the pee pee dance or wait in the long line at a concert. Or beg your father to stop at the nearest rest area only for him to drive three hours more while your eyes turn a neon shade of yellow. Or you could pee in a cup WITHOUT getting your hands all wet.
If God was a woman, do you believe she would haphazardly smite all women and say, “Every 28 days you shall bleed.”

Heck, no! Not even to your worse enemy would you wish to be wearing white pants and all the sudden have a red stain in a certain area. Or that you would have a big beach vacation planned only to be SURPRISED! by ‘mother nature’ arriving early. Let’s add to that the bloating, cramps, and headaches, not to mention irritability to the mix. No, no woman would do that to another.

Let’s not even mention the whole giving birth scenario. While it is very cool to bring another human being into this world, do you imagine that a female God would vote YES to shooting a watermelon out a hole the size of a lemon? What is she a masochist? No, I don’t believe it.
And MENOPAUSE! Really? I do not think so. No way would a female God wish that on women. First, we suffer for years with the regularity or irregularity of our menstrual cycle only to have it taken away, but not all at once. No, we have to spend YEARS with mood swings, ever more irregular cycles, HOT flashes, and then not be able to have any more children. While a man at the age of 70 can still get it up enough to get a twenty-something year-old pregnant.

This was a man’s doing!

Only, here’s the good part. It backfired!
Little did HE realize that all these things make us the stronger sex. While women may not have balls…OURS are definitely BIGGER.

So, while I have just discovered the truth as to the sex of God, I have also discovered that the joke is on all men.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Listen up, politicians!

I don't normally go on tirades so I apologize in advance.

The middle class is fed up. Tax paying citizens are fed up. One party is all about pleasing the wealthy and the other party is all about giving everything to the lower class. No party is interested in the middle class, the class that pays the taxes because they don’t make enough to use the loop holes, the class that makes a little too much to utilize all the freebies the government has for the lower income. We’re the ones paying for the so-called affordable act, but cannot utilize.

You’re all fired!
We voted you to office so you would look out for OUR, EVERYONE’S interests, not what the political office can do for you. We didn’t put you there so you could get paid for doing nothing for the rest of your life or so you didn’t have to pay for better healthcare than what the American public can afford. We put you in Congress not to follow your own agenda and to stall any proposed legislation that doesn’t follow your party’s agenda. We didn’t put you in the Senate to change the way you would vote because it was easier for your time in political office.

We voted for you to make a difference, to do what is best for us, the American public, and that includes the middle class, the tax paying people. Not your special interest group.
The fix is simple. It’s multi-stepped, but simple!

Let’s start with the political office first:

1.     We no longer want a two party system. Your time is done. The donkey and the elephant are out.

2.     Money cannot be used to gain office. If you can’t pay for your running for office, then don’t. The so-called donations and ridiculous fundraisers are corrupting the system. They are out!

3.     Only working people can be voted into office. We want people in office, whether President, Congress, Senate, or any other political office who have worked for a living, who have lived paycheck to paycheck, and who have to pay for their insurance like the rest of us.

4.     If you have done something illegal like hiding government emails on a personal server, you are out! Go to jail and DO NOT collect $200 or your political fundraiser money. We do not want you! Even if the FBI does not have the BALLS to go after you, we the people do not want you. You belong in jail. If you defrauded the public with fake charity donations (LIES) then you are out. If you have a filthy, disgusting, offensive mouth that degrades every person on the face of the planet, you are out! We do not want you as the leader of our country. Heck, we don't want you leading anything. Put you in a closet and muzzle you.

a.     We want politicians or people that hold political offices to be honest with us so we can make accurate an well-informed decisions.
b.   We want people who care and understand about the issues the American citizen are facing and is willing to work on realistic solutions that will not put us into greater debt or offend our allies or citizens.

5.     Term Limits are in! There are no more free rides. You come in, do your term and then you are gone. We do not want stale leaders who can’t think beyond themselves. Term Limits will help get new blood into office who want to make a difference for the American people.

6.     No more free anything! When you leave office you get a job like the rest of us. We will not pay for your livelihood for the rest of your life. We will not pay for your healthcare or your family’s healthcare for the rest of your life. If I can’t afford healthcare for my family, why should I pay for yours?
Now let’s address the overall issues the American people are facing:

1.     Put an accountant in charge of the budget! I’m not sure why this is so difficult? Maybe it’s because as stated above the politicians have never had to work and therefore do not know how to balance a checkbook, but math is easy. If more goes out than comes in, we have a deficit. You learned this in the third grade.

2.     Stop sending jobs overseas! It’s not cheaper. For every dollar you think you are saving, it costs you more is cleanup and support of the garbage that was built or developed by “cheap” labor. My mother always said, “You get what you pay for.” How do you not know this?

a.     Fine every company that outsources jobs overseas. Oh, look, if some CEO of a company decides to go that route then we have just gained tax money that can be put toward our flailing Social Security or our current debt.

b.     By sending jobs overseas you spend more time interpreting the requirements. More time cleaning up what was not understood. More time trying to take it back when you realize they can’t do what you want. It takes more time to do the work overseas because of these things, which equates to more cost.

c.      You also run the risk of the code that you paid for being used by the outsourced company for another company because they do not have the same, if any, intellectual property laws of the United States.

3.     Speaking of overseas, let’s talk non-US citizens. I’m all for letting people come here to follow their dreams. What we, the American people are not okay with, is paying for that dream.

a.     You come here, great! You want to stay, you pay. Stop paying for these folks’ healthcare, education, and whatever else we giveaway. Part of following the dream is paying for it! If I have to pay my taxes, then so should everyone else.

4.       Speaking of taxes. Get rid of the upper class loop holes.

a.     Flat tax. Everyone pays and everyone pays the same rate. Wow! There you go, another avenue to put toward that gigantic debt and a way to repay the money borrowed from the flailing Social Security.

5.     Following the dream in many instances is getting a higher education. Yea, for education! Should it be free? Maybe, maybe not. However, if you borrow money, like many of us do then you should pay it back.

a.     I had student loans when I went to school and you bet I paid it back. That is part of the responsibility of growing up. It’s part of the higher education dream. Could we do something about the high expense, like the $30K or more per year to go to college. Yes!

b.     Make it reasonably priced. Why can you take the same course at a local college and it costs 1/3 the price of a major 4-year university? Fix this!

c.     The loan repayment fees, meaning the interest rate should be low so a student just out of school who will probably end up back at home for a period of time and searching for a job can repay when they get their first job that barely meets their cost of living and the gas to get to the job.

6.     Healthcare and the affordable care act is a crock! The cost of healthcare today is triple what the monthly cost was just ten years ago and the deductibles are outrageous. We don’t have healthcare. We have catastrophe insurance. This can be fixed.

a.     The Affordable Care Act is illegal. The Federal government cannot mandate a policy that is state owned. Meaning, since we are stuck using whatever insurance is available in the state we live in, the Affordable Care Act is illegal.

b.     If you take it back to being state owned, which it truly is anyway, as stated above, because you can only choose from the options your state has available then we open the market to interstate commerce and the insurance companies vying for your business. The price goes down and the value goes up. Supply and demand. Right now that does not exist because the Federal government interfered where they have no business treading.

c.     Now, if you also want to fix this then go after the pharmaceutical companies that charge a fortune for a pill that someone has to take every day. Make it affordable. Wow! There is your affordable care act.

d.     Make the price of a doctor visit between one place and another the same. Why should one doctor charge $75 and another charge $150 for the same routine checkup? Same thing with a visit to a hospital or a special test. Why should we, the consumer of the mandated insurance need to shop around for a better price? Here is your affordable care act. It’s actually cheaper for these services if you do not have insurance and you pay cash at the visit. The increase in cost is largely due to the overhead required by the Affordable Care Act. Obviously a misnomer in the naming.

e.     Let’s talk more about the pharmaceutical companies. There are already drugs out there that can cure diseases and certain cancers. Nanotechnology exists that can target a cancer instead of chemotherapy that basically kills everything in the body. Why is the government letting the pharmaceutical companies not sell these and sell these at a reasonable price? Why should we, the consumers, have to keep paying exorbitant prices on any drug and for insurance so they can keep doing more and more research?

                                                               I.      If you follow the information above, we, the American people are good at fundraising and donating. We want people to live happy and healthy lives.

                                                             ii.      If you received the taxes you should be getting from the upper class, then you could afford more research and lower the cost of drugs that actually cure something instead of address symptoms.

f.      Back to the overseas topic. Actually, let’s discuss the topic of allowing foreign owned companies to buy American companies. This is a disaster and you know this.

                                                               i.      These companies do not know our rules and regulations, nor do they care to. They only care about their country and their regulatory reporting.

                                                             ii.      They structure their organizations in a way that they do not have to pay the taxes that they should and the government knows this but for some reason has not enforced the laws to get the taxes. Wow! The debt is getting lower and lower.

                                                           iii.      These foreign owned companies take advantage of the vacation visas. 50% or more of the people that they bring in from their country to work at a US organization are not here on work visas. They are here on vacation visas. Is that being looked at? What amount of money are we losing here? What laws are being broken? Hmm…Taxes are not being paid here.

                                                           iv.      The owners of these companies bring in people from overseas to work at higher wages than the token US citizens they hire.

                                                             v.      They do not follow our labor laws. For example, one bank only allows the hourly worker to enter in 8 hours into the online timesheet system, which is illegal.

                                                           vi.      They do not pay overtime or they try to tell you they will only pay $50 for 8 hours of work, which is illegal if that does not cover the hourly rate of the employee.

                                                          vii.      Speaking of employees. These same companies do not do all the work here in the US. As a matter of fact, they tend to want 50% or more of the work to be done in their country. Again, we are losing US jobs to this, not to mention tax revenue.

                                                        viii.      Do you know where your personal and confidential data is? Depending on the type of organization your financial information is being sent to another country and depending on the type of business and information this is in some instances against federal regulations. These companies are not being regulated and told to fix this. Remember what I mention above, some countries do not have the same intellectual property laws as we do so once your data is overseas, it’s free reign for them to use it however they want.

                                                            ix.      If you want to allow a foreign company to buy a business in the US, then make them pay the taxes as mentioned above for every person they bring in from another country to work as that is taking a job away from a tax paying US citizen.

                                                             x.      If you want to allow a foreign company to buy a business in the US, then be sure they follow ALL the US rules and regulations and don’t just fine the company, enforce the rules.

g.     Veterans are people too. Listen up, politicians! These are the people that went out and put their lives on the line for our safety and our future. It’s time to pay back. They deserve better healthcare and if we aren’t paying for you all for the rest of your lives then we can afford to take care of the men and women who have sacrificed, served and deserve good healthcare.

h.     As far as healthcare is concerned, let’s dive into genetically modified organism (GMO) and Monsanto. We don’t want it! It is causing cancers and other health care issues. It’s a known fact and yet, you, the so-called politicians and government of the people do not seem to care that these foods are killing US citizens. This is all about the mighty dollar of big corporations and politicians, not what is right for the public and our health.

                                                               i.      I have an idea, fine or tax the producers of GMO foods. There ya go, we’re lowering the debt even more.

i.       Guns! You have no right to take away our Constitutional right to carry weapons. If you want to make the process of owning a weapon more stringent then by all means do so. But do not think that the Federal government or even the state government (CALIFORNIA) have the right to rewrite our Constitution and take away our rights! Get over yourselves.

                                                               i.      We, the tax paying CITIZENS, have the right to protect ourselves and our homes.

                                                             ii.      Most violence is done with illegally obtained weapons. What are you doing about that? These people are the reason you should make the process of obtaining weapons more stringent. NOT to take away our RIGHT to carry weapons.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

What books inspired you?

Whether you read fiction or non-fiction, I believe books inspire. They inspire you, the reader, to learn something new, or to reinforce something you already believed, or maybe, just maybe they open your mind to explore. Books give us an opportunity to not just escape from our everyday lives, but to give us an opportunity to experience new places, new theories, and new people without leaving the comfort of your favorite chair.

However, I think a good book will also introduce you to and inspire you to want to explore and experience something in real life. Not just while sofa surfing.
What do you think?

What books have made you get up out of the chair and try something new or to learn something more?
There are several books that stand out in my lifetime of books that have inspired me to expand my horizons, go in search of new adventure, or just to experience something new or different.

Nora Roberts book, Born in Fire had a character who was a glass blower. I had never heard of such a thing so of course I had to look into it and then proceeded to take two classes. The result is I created several glass paperweights that I still have today, and a glass rose.
While reading every book I could get my hands on written by romantic suspense author Linda Howard, I decided I wanted to write a novel. Talk about inspiration, not to mention aspiration! Well, not only did I do it, but I wrote six novels, five of which have been published. This experience gave me the opportunity to explore a creative side I didn’t know I had, made me some great friends along the journey, and learn more of the craft of writing and the publishing industry.

Another book that got to me was a book written by Carla Neggers. The timing of me reading this book was so amazing that I swear to you it was a sign. I wanted to go on an adventure. I wanted to go to Ireland. I just didn’t know where in Ireland. I started searching and one day while online I saw this cottage, this stone cottage in Kenmare, Ireland. Hmmm…where is Kenmare, Ireland? I discovered that Kenmare was in southwest Ireland and is beautiful.
Then I opened the book I had been reading, The Whisper by Carla Neggers, and turned the page to Chapter 26 where the first thing I read were the words; Kenmare, Ireland.

Seriously! If you do not believe in signs then you should. My fate was sealed. I made my reservations that day to stay in the stone cottage in Kenmare, Ireland. I’ve gone back for a second visit where I explored even more of Ireland, ran a half marathon in Dingle and took a one day photography class. Yes, there will be a third visit to Kenmare, Ireland, my home away from home.
One day two years ago a woman in my office gave me a book titled Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. She gave me the book because I love running. Well, it’s actually a love/hate relationship. Depending on the day it can be painful, but when you are out there the mind clears and the feet just like to move. Anyway, at first I was not going to read this book. Sorry, Christopher McDougall, but it’s true. I didn’t want some book to change my new found love. I could not have been more wrong!

There. I admit it. I was wrong. (Don’t get used to it.) Born to Run expanded my horizons. I learned not just about a tribe of amazing runners called the Tarahumara, but I learned about ultra running. What is that you ask? That is a run any distance longer than a marathon. What?! Yeah, exactly my point. I became fascinated. And this book led me to read more books related to long distance, endurance running. And of course…my first ultra marathon. This year I will make my first attempt at a 100-mile run.
Another friend recommended the book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History written by retired Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen, and Jim DeFelice. The book is the memoir of CPO Chris Kyle, U.S. Navy Seal. If you have not read it, I highly recommend American Sniper. You will get a feel for what our men and women of service go through, and how they struggle to deal with “normal” life when they return home, not to mention what it is like when deployed and on the battlefield, plus a whole lot more. It was this book and the tragic death of Chris Kyle that inspired me to spend the next year running to raise funds for his foundation, Guardian for Heroes Foundation.

Guardian for Heroes Foundation provides free, in-home fitness equipment, facilitation of donated health club memberships, individualized programs, personal training and life coaching to in-need veterans with disabilities, and those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) from combat deployment. With this mission, it seemed only natural that I, a runner, a supporter of our Veterans, find a way to give back.
I encourage everyone to give back. Find a way.

I have always donated to various charities, none more than our Veterans and children’s education. Every year I donate to a local business various gifts that our retired military men and women who live in a home need. They ask for the simplest of pleasures; a new comforter, a tin of cookies, sugar free candy, and everyday toiletries. It is my mission every year on Veteran’s Day to grab several names from the Veteran Tree and make certain those folks get their Christmas gifts.
As I reflect back, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History inspired me beyond just that one year of fund raising, which by the way I am not good at. It inspired me to do something more, to want to make a difference in this world.

That’s where my next book comes in play.
I have been having health issues and it has become more than obvious that much of it is related to stress. Stress on the body whether mental or physical is still stress and the body does not like it. In my case, the universe and my doctors are telling me that my job is toxic. How do you like that word? I’d say that is very descriptive. And I agree, but I’ve known this for four years and have not done a thing about it. Well, I have, but not the right thing. Not the thing that is going to go after the root cause. Not the thing that is going to change my life and put me on the happy path.

Part of that is fear, because let’s face it; we all have to pay bills. But fear is not usually something that holds me back. As my friends and family will attest, I like to go. I like to try new things, new adventures. Part of what is holding me back is the people that work for me and our accomplishments. We do perform some work-related miracles and make a huge difference. But that difference is only affecting the organization for which we work. Not making a difference in the world. Not making us happy.
So here sits me, or maybe it’s running, and I contemplate, and think, and consider, and search…for that thing, that passion that will help me make a difference, help me find my calling. After a ten-miler last Sunday I was sitting in my house or should I say bouncing off the walls. I couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t focus. Since I had already gone for a run I didn’t want to do that so, when all else fails I went to the bookstore.

BAM! That’s when the title of this book hit me in the face. Okay, not literally, but seriously, how can you not pick up a book titled Do Cool Sh*t by Miki Agrawal.
I read Do Cool Sh*t in three days. It would have been one if I did not have to work. And wow! I resonated with Miki. At one point in her book she started having stomach pains and I knew exactly how she felt because I have the same thing. Gosh darn processed foods!

Anyway, because of Miki’s book, Do Cool Sh*t, I have new inspiration to go after my dreams and it is not to work for anyone else. It is to jump tracks and start something that will make me happy and make a difference…even if only in a small corner of the world. Her writing inspired me to the point that I signed up for a class this morning in the hopes that this class will help me shift my focus and learn something new that will benefit me in my search for my passion.
To the authors mentioned above and to all the others I've read but could not possibly list, I thank you! Thank you for inspiring!

What about you? What books have influenced and inspired you? Why? How?



Monday, February 15, 2016

Iron Horse 100

There’s an acronym in ultra-running called DNF. It stands for Did Not Finish. Last weekend I received my first DNF.

Am I disappointed? Yes.

Am I upset? No.
First, let me tell you about the race. The race is the Iron Horse Endurance Runs (www.ironhorse100kmclub.com) held in Florahome, Florida. I was signed up for the 100K. For those of you that are not runners, that is a total of 62 miles.

I was stoked for this race for a couple of reasons; the first that it was in Florida and near my parents. I could visit with family and they could come out and enjoy parts of the event. They had never seen an ultra-running event and I thought they would like to see the difference between it and a shorter road race.
The second reason I was excited is because this was going to be my first 100K and since I had 28 hours to finish there was no doubt I would.

Finally, I was excited because after the Marine Corps Marathon I came back with a wicked kidney infection and all kinds of issues that took a toll on my body. I could see the end was in sight and this was my reward for suffering for more than two months.
Then I went for a walk the week before the event and all the sudden my knee decided to have sharp pain. Sheesh! Seriously? I begged to get into the orthopedic doctor and told him no matter what I was going running. Thank goodness some doctors actually understand this mentality.

Up until the morning of the start my knee was still swollen and achy, but I was ready to go. My dad drove me to the start line where he watched me get all my gear ready to go and then we hung out at a burn barrel trying to stay warm and chatting with other runners and support crew. It was a chilly 30-something degrees at 6:30 in the morning.
The race itself consists of paved rail trail, dirt, and sand. Trail shoes (www.altrarunning.com) and gaiters (www.dirtygirlgaiters.com) were a must and thank goodness I found that out before the race.

The first 7.5 miles are on a paved rail trail. I went out on the first 3.5 miles of out and back with just headphones and then met my dad back at the car where I picked up my hydration pack. I gave dad a kiss goodbye, he wished me luck, and we decided I would text him when I hit mile 21 so he could meet me back at the start for loop two.
The next 14 miles were a combination of dirt and sand and minor hills marked with yellow pie plates and pinkish ribbon. There was one section where you had to puddle jump, but coming back down this stretch I found a way to walk around it.

Anyway, I went in with the mindset that I was going to walk the majority of the dirt, sand stretch. My ONLY goal was to finish. To help with this I packed two MP3 headsets. One with music for the time I needed a pick me up and the battery on the other one dies, and the other one to keep me slow I had two audiobooks on it. It was fantastic!
First, let me jump in here and say that the volunteers and aid station workers were top notch. Every time I hit a station I my number was yelled out so it could be jotted down and I was guided to whatever I wanted/needed at that time, whether water or soda, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or the antiseptic wipe stuff for after porta potty use.

At the third aid station I didn’t exactly follow the arrow the right way so a young Navy kid came running for me to tell me I had to approach the aid station from another direction. Because of my blunder he decided that he should stand down by the arrow and guide other folks until they had all gone through at least the first time.
(This is what some of the runners termed sugar sand. Very fine dusty sand that did actually get in shoes but didn't disturb the feet).

At aid station three I met Tina and Jennifer who we all started back the second part of the first loop together. We chatted about everything from the running group called FUR (they were both wearing visors), to the Marine Corps Marathon and them doing a half marathon the next day, to politics.

You see, here is one of the differences between ultra-running and shorter road races. Road races are about getting to the finish. Period. In ultra-running you want to get to the finish as well, but it’s about the voyage, not the ending. It’s about the camaraderie, the strangers you meet, and the views.
When we hit aid station two again at Mile 21, I grabbed water and soda, and a handful of M&Ms. Before heading back down to the start to finish loop 1, I texted dad. When I reached the four miles of rail trail back to the start I ran into another runner named Ryland. We chatted about various topics and kept each other company back to the start line where my father was nowhere to be seen. Since he hadn’t arrived, I decided to go on ahead to the out and back 3.5 mile stretch and catch him on the return trip.

Once again, I listened to music in this section and just enjoyed the fact that it was warmer now. After the return I met my father, mother, and nephew at their car at about mile 29 where my dad had the Band-Aids and the duct tape ready to go to deal with the blisters that had started.
My father noted that I was doing really well and was well ahead of what I had anticipated. Again, I had gone in with the mindset of just finishing and walking most of it. But yes, I was cranking. I was having so much fun I was just moving right along.

At mile 29 the rain had just begun. It was only a little drizzle and I debated whether to put on my waterproof jacket or not and in the end decided to wear it. Very glad I did. Because of the rain, my parents and nephew decided to meet me at the top at aid station two just in case I needed anything before darkness set in.
(Here is a stretch past aid station two before the flooding rain. It's what the majority of the trail looked like. Looks like a Jeep or truck travels through quite a lot.)

I reached aid station two in good shape and not too wet. I couldn’t say the same for some of the people I saw coming back down. I saw folks wearing trash bags. Lots of us were not prepared for rain. By the time I reached the second aid station the first time I was ready to put my mid-length tights on over my running skirt. It was getting chilly. Thank goodness my dada and nephew were there with my drop bag. I quickly tugged them on, grabbed a little fuel, and then was ready to go. Oops! I had to run back and yell for my nephew because I almost went off into the woods without headlamps.

We agreed I would text them again when I reached the same spot so they could bring me whatever I would need to make it to the end of the second loop.
Now it was raining! I went out on this six mile section that would take me back to aid stations two thinking it’s all good when I quickly realized I was basically running to avoid puddles. As the sun set in this section I was also trying to determine where the puddles were in the dark with the use of a terrible headlamp and then miss them. The rain was so bad at this point that what was the point of puddle jumping? All I was going to do was screw up my knee. My feet were wet. My feet were soaked and they were going to stay that way. I saw runners coming toward me and instead of the usual friendly wave or quick hello people were vying for higher ground. There was none.

I was less than a mile out from the return to the aid station, thirty minutes slower than I had been on the first trip when I made the decision to stop. Was it a tough decision? Yes. I was doing so well, and even in the rain was still having fun, but I was not prepared for this weather.
I did not have waterproof socks or shoes. I will now be ordering a pair. Puddle jumping was not going to be a long-term solution and my knee was needed for future runs.

I texted my father to meet me.
I really hoped I would change my mind by the time I hit the aid station, but the rain was coming down harder. Dad met me at the aid station and as much as I didn’t want to do it, I threw in the towel. The volunteer who was tracking runners asked me if I was sure and I did hesitate because now I wasn’t. I was offered some hot soup. I declined both offers.

I packed it all in and my dad and I headed back to his car where my nephew had the car running and warm, dry shoes sitting in the footwell.
Am I disappointed? Yes.

I was actually bummed because it was such a great course. My legs were loving it. My feet, in spite of the blisters on toes were surviving. Found out afterwards that I had a huge blister on heel probably due to the rain. I was so thrilled for this race after being so sick for so long and I felt like my body came back. My body wanted to be out there running or walking.
Did I make the right decision? Yes.

After 40 miles, I am pleased to say that I DNFd (Did Not Finish).
Here’s the thing though, I learned from this DNF. I walked away from the race knowing that yes, I could have finished, but what was going to be the physical repercussion if I kept on going? Another injury or illness that would take me out for months? It was not worth the risk when I have more to do.

As of today I am still recuperating from the cold I got from that race. My blisters are healing and I am probably going to lose a toenail or three. But hey, these are all recoverable in the short-term.
I learned I have to be more prepared for the weather changes. Having my waterproof jacket was brilliant. Not having waterproof shoes – not so brilliant. Well, I’ll take care of that.

I also learned that I am one tough cookie. I went out in this race after having been ill and not had enough training since the end of October when I became ill. I learned that sometimes it’s not about your physical strength, but the heart that can get you through a run.
Could I complain? Sure. But what’s the point?

I just went out and did 40 miles in a better time than I anticipated after no training for months. After being sick for months. I got to spend time with family. And I met some wonderful runners and terrific volunteers at a race that I cannot wait to do again next year. I had fun!! You can’t beat that.
Oh, yes, count me in. And next time if it rains, I’ll be prepared. I already have rain ponchos for my dad and nephew…just in case.

Thanks to the folks that put on the Iron Horse ultra, the many volunteers, and my family for playing race crew. It was a great day!

Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year's Resolution of Kindness

Happy New Year! and Welcome to 2016!
How many of you make a New Year’s Resolution? I’m guessing there is a large show of hands. And of course you have every intention of keeping them. I can tell you the first week of the New Year and sometimes even the first month is packed at the gym. But then it dwindles.

The dreaded New Year’s Resolution.

How many of you keep your New Year’s Resolutions? I’ll bet there are a lot less hands in the air. Or maybe you keep some but not others. Hey, some is better than none, right?
Me? I like New Year’s Resolutions for the opportunity to take on a challenge. Do I stick with them? Yes. Why? A resolution to me means growth, personal growth.

Each year I like to learn or try something new, something to take me out of my comfort zone and expose me to new people and new adventures.
This year I’m doing something different. This year it’s not just about my own personal growth, it’s about giving back, paying it forward. It’s about random acts of kindness. It's a New Year's Resolution of Kindness!

Yes, this year my plan is to do at least one random act of kindness a week. That’s 52 random acts of kindness in 2016. If you are afraid you can’t do it every week then pick one month and do one random act each day of that month.
On my birthday I will perform one random act of kindness for each year in my age. Nope, do not ask. I will not tell you my age. Let’s just say it will be a very busy day giving.

I would love for this idea to spread and see more of you do this so please pass the word and let’s make 2016 a year of giving.

Below is a list of some ideas to help you get started. Please share your own ideas or acts of kindness.

 Ideas for Random Acts of Kindness:
  1. Start a piggy bank for a cause
  2. Leave a copy of an interesting book on a train, bus, or in a coffee shop
  3. Pay for the drinks on the next table at a café or restaurant
  4. Call a grandparent
  5. Thank a police officer or firefighter
  6. Share your umbrella
  7. Pick up groceries for a neighbor
  8. Bring co-workers a special treat
  9. Help someone load groceries into vehicle
  10. Bring flowers to someone
  11. Pay the toll for the car behind you
  12. Leave a generous tip for a server
  13. Help someone with yard work
  14. Thank a volunteer
  15. Adopt a soldier: http://www.adoptaussoldier.org/
  16. Adopt a platoon: http://adoptaplatoon.org/site/
  17. Read to the elderly or a child
  18. Return a shopping cart
  19. Volunteer at a food bank
  20. Leave change in a vending machine or parking meter
  21. Use your vacation days
  22. Hold the door open for someone
  23. Let the person behind you go ahead of you in line
  24. Donate clothing
  25. Leave quarters at the laundromat
  26. Buy a lottery ticket for someone else
  27. Buy a cup of coffee for the person in line behind you
  28. Write a thank you note to a co-worker
  29. Give up your seat for a stranger
  30. Say “please” and “thank you” … a lot
  31. Send a gift anonymously
  32. Compliment a waiter/waitress/server
  33. Give another driver your parking spot
  34. Give a landscaper a bottle of water
  35. Treat a friend to the movies
  36. Pick up rubbish in the road and put in a trash receptacle
  37. Tell your family how much you appreciate them
  38. Leave warm clothing on a bench with a note letting the finder know that it’s theirs to use or giveaway
  39. Donate to your favorite charity or donate to my site for Team RWB, which supports our Veterans.   Denise's Team RWB donation site
  40. Tweet a compliment about a vendor
  41. Put your cell phone away
  42. Give chocolate…generously and often
  43. Stop to have a conversation with a homeless person
  44. Write a positive review for a book or a product
  45. Adopt a rescue pet
  46. Leave a bag of microwave popcorn at your local Red Box movie rental stop
  47. Listen to the person sitting across the table from you
  48. Donate a race entry fee to the next random person
  49. Plant a tree or flower
  50. Make two lunches and give one away
  51. Give directions to someone lost
  52. Donate canned goods to a food shelter or at your local grocery store
  53. Buy lemonade from a kid’s lemonade stand
  54. Leave a nice comment on a blog
  55. Wash your neighbor’s car
  56. Keep a pen on hand – lend it to people when needed
  57. Call your mom
  58. Give someone a hug
  59. Smile. . .a lot


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