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October 22, 2013

Through the Fire

Through the FireSky Fire

“What is to give light must endure burning.”
~ Viktor Frankl


There is an old saying in the world of fitness:

No pain, no gain.

There is an old joke in medicine that goes like this:

Doctor, it hurts when I do this,” said the patient.
Well, then don’t do that,” said the doctor.

Like an angel and a devil sitting on each shoulder, I often hear both voices at the same time. Yesterday I was at CrossFit™ and our workout had one exercise that just hurt. The weight was too high, the movement too awkward, the feeling was wrong even when I slowed it down. The one voice in my head says It’s just 4 rounds – do it…and then the other voice says that’s 80 reps you crazy woman you will not be able to walk tomorrow.

In the end, the desire to do the workout despite the pain won. It took me longer than almost everyone else, it hurt, and I finished it. But I know the risks. I have had enough injury to know that pushing too hard can do real damage. I have also done enough exercise to know that often, my greatest gains come from finding that edgy space right between pushing hard and pushing too hard and working right there.

Pain, in theory, has a protective element to it. The doctor joke is only half a joke…pain is partly a signal to stop doing the thing that hurts. That said, we can condition ourselves to override some of that. We can raise our pain threshold so that it takes more and more stimulus to get to that place of “stop.” We can convince ourselves that pain is good.

And sometimes it that is fine. Continue reading…

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August 14, 2013

To Fail Better

To Fail Better

Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

~ Samuel Beckett

I don’t do failure well. OK, I know that sounds funny. After all, failure is failure and it’s not meant to be beautiful or graceful. Failure more typically looks clumsy and awkward, right?

Tonight at CrossFit we were working on Power Cleans (PC) and Snatches. I was getting comfortable working up to a heavier weight so when we went to start a timed workout that was going to call for 15 PCs and an equal amount of Front Squats, I lightened the weight a bit and figured it was going to be fine. It was the plate push that killed me. Why or why pushing a weight across a stretch of turf make my thighs feel like jelly is still a mystery to me…but I did that plate push one time and the weight I had easily cleaned 5 times just a few minutes earlier wouldn’t get over my knees.

One time. Two times. Three. Nothing.

I put the bar down and stare at it for a minute. Everyone else moves on to the next rep without me.

Eventually I change out my plates and finish up at a lower weight. But inside a part of me hurts. It’s some mix of frustration and anger and embarrassment. I feel a little betrayed by my body and maybe even more betrayed by my mind that somehow could not overcome the obstacle and see a way through. Continue reading…

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July 23, 2013

What’s My Age Again?

What’s My Age Again?

CandlesMy friends say I should act my age

What’s my age again?

What’s my age again?

~ Blink 182

I turned 44 not long ago. Quietly and without fanfare. It was not that I was trying to avoid it, but maybe just trying to let is sneak by unnoticed…

Earlier this year, my friend Larry and I had a conversation about age. It went a lot like this:

Me: I’m still young, lots of time!

Him: What’s your definition of young?

Me: A state of mind, heart and body?

Him: So that means a bright active 85 year old runner is young even though he doesn’t have plenty of time…

Me: Ok, so at what age is someone no longer young regardless of attitude or health? Who is young? Are you young?

Him: No – I am not. Is a 30 yr old young? A 20 yr old? Who is young? And middle age means just that, I won’t live to be over a 100 so I am not middle age I am older then that.

Food for thought right? We live in a youth-oriented culture. Young is a commodity, and aging is a thing we hide at the cost of hair dye, Botox, and perhaps even self-deception. Think about this carefully now: are you young? Really?

Regardless of how we see ourselves, our age is our age. It’s a real number. Just like others that we try to avoid.

I could tell you that one motivation for me to keep up with a pretty aggressive exercise regimen is to stave off time – and there is truth to that. Physical aging happens more quickly in those who don’t actively exercise. And being frankly sedentary will – as many studies now tell us – kill you sooner than otherwise expected.

I rarely feel old, and I am used to being told that I look younger than my years…enough so that sometimes I can fool myself. But if you exercise enough – long enough, hard enough – your age will become more clear.

The first day I walked into a CrossFit class it was intimidating. There was a lot of gear I had never seen and finishing up was a class of exhausted, sweating looking people doing things that I was pretty sure my body was not designed to do. But this is me…I’ll try anything once.

Twice even. Continue reading…

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July 21, 2013

New Days, New Goals, New Challenges

New Days New Goals New Challenges

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
~ Goethe



I sort of stopped paying attention to this blog some time ago. Life gets busy and writing seems more like a thing that get in the way than…well, than much of anything.

Plus sometimes I think to myself, this thing has served its purpose. I ran for a year, I wrote for a year.

End. Of. Story.

But perhaps not. I think that part of what happened here – and those who followed along bore witness to this, is that I started to really enjoy running – it became part of my life. I still like it now and I still run and it’s now just kind of part of who I am. In the eyes of some, that might be a successful experiment. It has been for me. The minimal learning here was that at least in my life – busy, chaotic, full, but with a priority to stay healthy and fit – the age-old advice that you should chose an activity you like for your regular exercise because you will be more likely to do it – proved to be untrue. What I found – and this might help others too – was that what I really needed was an activity that I could actually accomplish regularly despite my life. Running fit. So I ran with committed effort. I ran and it changed me. At least it made me a runner.

I think it also made me a better person.

I will never be a great runner. I’m not going to be fast, I’m not going for super distance. As a 5 foot tall woman with asthma, I really wasn’t build for this sport. But it gives me results, it gives me a stronger, healthier body – and frankly, it gives me a healthier mind. And once I learned all that, it could have been the end of the story. And perhaps for running it is.

Then there was CrossFit.

I am probably about to make a terrible mistake in writing what comes next. Continue reading…

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March 10, 2013
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Where I Run (16)


A cloudy day near 36th St. Newport Beach, CA.

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March 8, 2013
March 3, 2013
February 26, 2013

Fits and Starts

Fits and Starts

We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.
― Joseph Campbell


I had sort of abandoned this blog. Still, after all these months, the notes trickle in…we miss you, where did you go, when is it coming back.

There are things we have to do for ourselves, not for others.

After my back injury, I was really frustrated. I healed a little, ran a little, hurt some more. I think I did that for months. I eventually thought I am not going to run again – that was a fun experiment, but my body has called it quits. I rode a bike, went back to yoga, walked, stared at my running shoes. Continue reading…

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April 15, 2012

Sore Feet in Sydney

Sore Feet in Sydney

Day two in Sydney.

No run, but took a trip to Bondi Beach in the morning – we walked the beachside train from Bondi to Bronte and back. Then the boys took a dip in the amazing ocean pool.

In the afternoon, climbed the Sydney Harbor Bridge. I definitely recommend doing this – we saw the sunset over Sydney as we were descending and it was spectacular.

It’s Monday in Australia. I have completely lost track of what day and time it is in California. Just in time for my vacation to be over.

Happy Sunday or Monday or whatever day you may be enjoying.

We are off to the Blue Mountains.




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April 13, 2012

The Joy of Foreign Treadmills

The Joy of Foreign Treadmills

Rather than run through the streets of Darwin in the searing afternoon heat, I opted yesterday for the hotel treadmill. As I have noted before, one thing that brought me to running was the “portable” aspect. Minimal gear (not to say that I have not amassed an assortment…), and can be done just about anywhere.

I wish I had a picture of every treadmill I have ever run on. Some of them are seriously dangerous, funny, or placed in really strange places like behind the hotel kitchen, in a converted guest room, or – I swear – a storage room. But they seem to be almost everywhere, so if I can’t run outside for reasons such as weather or safety, a treadmill always seems to be an option.

In the US, we are remarkably attached to our imperial systems of measurement. We stubbornly stick to pounds, gallons, and miles while the rest of the world (at least most of it) long ago moved to metrics and uses kilos, liters, and kilometers. So mostly we are disadvantaged when we travel abroad – we don’t know how far apart things are or what on earth the temperature is.

But there is one, very small advantage. And really, you can only call it an advantage if you can suspend disbelief for a little while. I have a great imagination, so this completely works for me.

You see, treadmills in places like Australia or India are 100% in metrics. So when you run you you see these astonishing numbers…and at the end of 30 minutes even though I know somewhere I have only run about 3 miles or so – it like I have run twice that (is that why we use kilometers for races in the US when nothing else is that way?) and it also looks like I have been running really fast – because my speed shows km/hr.

And yeah – I know it’s silly, but I really do feel like a superhero when I see those numbers even though I know they are all in my head and I am not going any farther or faster.

So here is to being a “dumb American” – if only for a day.

It’s Friday the 13th here in Darwin, Australia. Hope you are feeling lucky.

Next time from Sydney.



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