Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Space Between

I love Dave Matthews…one of my favorite songs is called “The Space Between” 
One of my favorite lines from the song goes like this, “The Space Between our wicked lies, is where we hope to keep safe from pain.”
I know this is a love song, but seeing as I’m not currently in love, I find other meaning. I’ve been thinking a lot about the “space between”.
The space that is a canyon between what I am doing and what I should be doing…
I am struggling. This is nothing new.  However, it occurred to me that I needed to really say what I should be doing. Say it out loud and make it real.
Maybe, just maybe, if I put it in the universe (aka this blog) rather than leave it hanging around in my head, where it jangles around like loose coin reminding me that it’s there but if I don’t spend it it is not really worth much, I will move closer to what I should be doing and further from what is actually happening now.
1. I work out- Maybe an hour a day, with one or two rest days depending on the week.  One day of Pilates, a few days running, maybe a spin class.  I’m not targeting anything. I’m not working until utter exhaustion. I’m simply burning calories.
 I should WORK OUT! – I need to change it up, find what will burn the fat and build the muscle.  I need to learn to get up early to get in a work out.  To really feel the burn!
 2. I take vitamins- a multi-vitamin and a fiber gummy.  That’s all
 I should take supplements- I start taking fish oils, glucosomine and other recommended supplements to go with my vitamin “regiment” and always stop.  (Start strong, slowly decrease until you’ve quit is gonna be a theme here.)
3. I am a bad sleeper- I get sick with worry and anxiety  while in bed.  My bed is a place to be horizontal and to watch Netflix and play solitaire, not a place to rest.
 I should sleep- I should make my room a place for rest and relaxation.  I should make a bedtime and stick to it, then make a wake up time and stick to it.  I should get 8 hours a night.
 4. I am unorganized- Work? Organized.  School work? Organized.  Volunteer  work? Organized.  Running plan? Organized. 
Bedroom, closet, car, laundry,  shelves, etc. etc.   A FREAKIN’ MESS!
 I should make it a goal to clean up the places I spend the most time.
 5. I eat what I want, when I want- I spend too much money eating out. I often put unhealthy food into my body.  I do not spend time fueling my machine for what I want it to do (be lighter, go faster)
 I should….shop for healthy foods, prep meals, eat clean. Treat food as fuel rather than something I have to do because I’m hungry or get to do because I’m happy, sad, lonely, etc.
 I need to bridge the gap.
I need to think about the words to Dave’s song as a long song to myself.
"The Space Between what’s wrong and right is where you’ll find me hiding, waiting for you."
I’m waiting here, for me to make changes.  If I’m going to do it, it has to be me.
That’s all,

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Case Against the "F" Word

The worse thing a person can call me is “fat”.

Even though I constantly call myself that when I look in the mirror or can’t fit into my pants or am running too slowly on the treadmill, I would be heartbroken if I overheard this word being directed towards me.
Even though it’s true, I feel like this word is so offensive.

This is why I can’t bring myself to understand the torrent of Facebook pages, blogs and books where a woman applauds herself for being a “Fat Runner”.

*Note- I’m about to do something I rarely do and that’s hop on a soap box.

Why do we continuously put ourselves down in the name of empowerment?  Please, tell me the reaction you would have if your daughter or sister or friend, someone that you love unconditionally, was described to you as your “fat daughter” or “fat sister” or “fat friend”.

I recognize that “fat” is in the eye of the beholder and we all have our own body dysmorphic issues, but many of the women who write these blogs and books are not even fat.  They feel uncomfortable in their own bodies.  Many of us do.  But here we are, perpetuating the myth that if your body isn’t perfect then you’re fat.   And what is perfect anyway?

When I think about the positive adjectives that describe me or the titles I’m proud to wear, I choose NOT to negate them by adding another descriptive.  Sure, I’m fat. According to any BMI scale you will find, I’m obese. 

But if someone asked me to describe myself I would say, “I’m a daughter, a sister and an honorary auntie.  I’m a coordinator, a volunteer and a caring community member.”


And I don’t need to call myself derogatory names to get my ass on the road.  I just go do it.
It is a matter of believing in yourself because you can, not because you can in spite of how much you weigh.

Please understand, I have read the books and the blogs and I feel a fierce connection with many of these women, I just don’t agree with the label.

My dad is not the most eloquent guy.  He wasn’t coming up with gems throughout my childhood to teach me lessons or make me think.  He is a straight-forward dude and he once said something to me that I have never forgotten:

“Heather, don’t call yourself bad names.  Enough people in the world will put you down.  You don’t need to do it to yourself.”

Let someone else try to hurt my feelings and call me fat. 
I, on the other hand, am going to try my best to be a kind person to everyone, including me.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Be Your Own Advocate!

I have been preaching the theme, “Be your own Advocate” to my Summer Intern.  I use this for business so he will network and feel like he has gotten the most out of this summer.

I’ve also said it when discussing my very frustrating running injury.

The universe has decided that today is the day it is going to drill this lesson in my head.


I am in Grad School and I really like my program.  However, I chose this program both for what it offered and its convenience.  The local community college in my area offers a University Center where accredited colleges from all over can offer degrees to those who live here so they don’t have to commute. I am in one of those programs. However, the last two terms they have not offered any courses I have not taken.  Luckily, last term I was able to find an online equivalent for my classes.  I was not so lucky for Fall 2014.  
Not only did they not offer anything at the local campus or online, but they also didn’t have anything new at the next closest campus 20 miles away. (I live in Southern California, these are “LA Traffic” miles so we're talking a 45 minute drive). 
The only place I could go was 34 miles into downtown LA.  
Once I resolved myself to the course I would have to take, got ready to go to my boss with some difficult decisions about in and out times and stopped breathing like a dragon, I emailed my advisor.  I let her know that I knew this was not her doing, but I was very frustrated and would like to know who I could send those frustrations to.  I told her I understood that these changes would not come immediately, but I hoped my feedback would make the “powers that be” a bit more cognizant in the future as I highly doubt I am the only one with these issues.  The courses are not rotating properly and anyone who started around the same time as me, has to be having the same problem.

Within 30 minutes she replied that she had spoken to her boss and they had chosen to change out one of the courses with a different one.  One I actually needed…


I’ve had to be my own health advocate the last few months.  You may or may not know about my hamstring struggles.  We all know our health care system is a maze of messes and my insurance is no exception.  These are the steps I took to get a diagnosis:

  1.        Make appointment with doctor 3 months out
  2. .       Have work call a meeting the same time, try to re-book doctor, get pushed another month, choose to go to Nurse Practitioner
  3.       Tell her about hamstring injury, get referred to PT
  4. 2 weeks later finally get PT appointment, have to leave work early because PTs hours are exactly the same as work hours, have Therapist tell you that you have the absolute wrong body for running and that this first appointment –the consultation- counts as one of your 6 visits
  5.  Go to your next 5 visits, put in the work, have nothing change, get recommended for 6 more
  6.  Go to the next 6, have nothing change, email doctor in a panic, get doctor appointment
  7. Doctor refers to Ortho, takes two more weeks to get Ortho appointment, no more PT for now because you’re out of visits.
  8. FRIDAY 6/27: Finally get into Ortho, they request MRI
  9. WEDNESDAY 7/9: Never get MRI referral, email (and in the email write that you will email every day until you get your MRI) get MRI appointment that day
  10.   LAST FRIDAY 7/11: Two days later have Physician’s Assistant read MRI and tell you that you’ll need Cortisone Shots and you could probably run as little as 10 days post shot
  11. TODAY 7/14: Get a call two days later to come in for a consultation about the glorious shot
  12. Orthopedic Specialist Doc tells you that the shot is a bad idea. It’s too controversial and if it gets messed up even a little, you may need surgery. Recommends 8 more weeks of specific physical therapy. 
  13. 13.   Wait for PT referral…

I’m so terrified they’re going to send me to the same PT as before that I started googling all of the PTs on the list outside of my network and sent the Orthopedist an email with this fear and my video from the LA Marathon so she wouldn’t forget me.  I told her that I was going to find the absolute best person on this list and hopefully she could back me up and get me in.

Runner’s World

That brings me to the last thing.  I may not run for a long time, but my dream is to get back at it.  I want to run…far and fast.  

Runner’s World Magazine is doing a contest to be on their cover and I want that dream too!

Won’t you take a moment, click this link and vote for me each day until August 15th.  I would love to be in the Top 20 and right now I’m about 100 votes from there.

You can visit http://covercontest.runnersworld.com/entry/438/4hvtuhep73e4om2e26k0j10qk0 to help me make this dream come true!

If I learned anything at all today it is how important it is to advocate for yourself.  Rules are in place for a reason, but when dealing with your education or your body, use every power at your disposal to get what you need for a better future.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

It's Not Easy Being Green

I LOVE Kermie!

Today, it hurt.

Not my leg, it actually feels okay, but my heart.
Since being sidelined with something nutso happening in my hamstring, I’ve struggled to articulate how I feel because all of my emotions were defeated, sad and negative. 
But this morning, I was driving to work and I was watching strangers run in this perfect weather.  June gloom is in full effect, even though it’s now July.  It will burn off later and be scorching.  But it is perfect weather for a 7am run. 

And today’s emotion was easy to pin point.
I’m jealous.
I’m jealous of people who get to run. 
Jealous that they’re logging miles, wrecking shoes and burning calories.
I’m jealous of their sweat, of their aches and pains, of their loads of laundry.


In my mind, I know I have to take it easy and heal.  I am having a hard time convincing my heart that this is necessary.
I haven’t run in 64 days and I’m not sure when I’ll be back.
But today, with a leg that doesn’t hurt too badly, an MRI in my future and a swim planned for after work, I feel hopeful for the first time in a long time.
This has been a really rough couple of months.  Not being able to run has taken a toll on my emotions as well as my body.  

But I’ve learned a few things as well.
I learned that I like to swim, I just get bored easily.
I learned that I have to advocate for myself.  I’ve told at least 3 doctors and half a dozen physical therapists my story.  “I’m a runner”, I say, “I know we’re the worst and we don’t stop when we should, but I want to be better. I want to be healthy.  I need to run again.”

This has helped me stop comparing myself to others because no one I know has this injury.
And although it was a long time coming it has reminded me to take it easy on myself.

I was actually glad to be jealous this morning.

Jealousy is the first emotion I’ve had in the last few weeks that fired me up rather than defeated me.

So, although it’s not easy, I intend to stay green with envy until I can make someone else jealous of my miles logged, my shoes wrecked and my laundry pile growing.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Life Lessons From My First Ragnar Relay

I decided to run a Ragnar Relay on a whim. With a click of the mouse and a signature on a check I became Runner #8 in Van #2 for Team 514: The Dread Pirate Runners

And thank God I did, because I had the time of my life at my first Ragnar Relay.

It takes a lot of organization to do a Ragnar.  This appeals to my Type A, OCD, list-making side.  I loved researching what to pack, being the navigator, figuring out where we were going next and how we could fit a food/real bathroom stop in there.  More importantly, I was immediately comfortable with this ragtag group of strangers I spent 36 hours with.  I really believe that good people attract good people and our Team Captain, Cassie, is one of the best.  She recruited a really diverse, fun and easy going group of people who didn’t need to have a history to enjoy their present.   I have a pretty good feeling I’ll be running with the other Dread Pirate Runners in the future.

I was going to write a play by play of how the weekend went, but I think it is more important to talk about the lessons I learned or needed to be reminded of.

1. Strangers are just friends I haven’t met yet- I had never met anyone from Van #2 prior to this race and Van #1 left way before us.  It didn’t take long for the 6 of us to become friends and have a great time. In fact, I’m pretty sure many of us are coming back for the next one.
2. You are capable of way more than you think you are- Running in the middle of the night? Spending the night in a car?  Hitting that sweet pace so you don’t make everyone else fall behind?  You can do it. 
3. You are NOT too old for this sh!t- One of my favorite episodes of How I Met Your Mother is  “Murtaugh ”.  In it, Ted has a list of things he’s too old for saying , “I’m too old for this sh!t” ala Danny Glover’s character,  Roger Murtaugh, in the Lethal Weapon flicks.
The average age on my Ragnar Team was probably somewhere in the late 30’s and we all ran, slept in a Suburban, laughed and had a great time.  Although I am at an age where I prefer the nicer things in life, there are some things I’m glad I’m not too old for, Ragnar is one of them
4.   Everyone is rooting for you- No, really.  Everyone.  It could be 10am or 3am and people were cheering as I ran into the exchanges.  The cool thing about running people in general is that we all want one another to succeed.  Winning is finishing and everyone wants everyone else to be winners too. 
5.  Communication is key-  That one time my team mates moved the car and forgot to tell me?  Oh yeah…that was scary.  Making sure you let your team know that you’re a mile out so they’re ready.  Communicating with the other van so they know your ETA.  Just like communication is key in life, it is also key at Ragnar.
6. Appreciate your surroundings-  Many times when I run a race, I miss the beauty around me because I’m concentrating on finishing.  Ragnar takes you through cities and areas you wouldn’t normally see and gives you the opportunity to enjoy it while you and your teammates are running.
7. Pizza and beer are the perfect end to a race- No, really. PERFECT!

I also learned a couple of new things:
1.    It is possible to take a “Baby Wipe Bath” in a porta-pottie and not touch anything gross
2.    Headlamps, reflective vests and tail lights can be sexy or not.
3. A nice, hot shower and sleeping horizontally are things I take for granted
4. Running can be a team sport
5. I would TOTALLY do this again

All in all, I really LOVED my Ragnar Relay experience.  I’m certain I’ll do it again, sooner rather than later.

Team 514:  Dread Pirate Runners Van #1  Bryan, Arian, Brian, Sami, Cassie (missing-Randee)

Team 514:  Dread Pirate Runners Van #2 Kim, Susan, Shallu, Heather, Tasha (missing-John)

Our Ship-The Interceptor aka Van #2 aka Kim's Suburban
Runner #8 Leg #8 4.1 Miles- 12:22 minutes per mile
HIGHLIGHTS-John running to me to bring me my water bottle...rockin' the downhills

Runner #8 Leg #20 3.8 Miles- 13:20 minutes per mile
HIGHLIGHTS-It was sprinkling, it was cold, it was uphill, then it was downhill!!! :)

This motivational sign comes with me everywhere!!!!

Torreypines Glideport-where we slept
Meeting other AWESOME SF Ambassadors at Exchange 30 before my last leg

Runner #8 Leg #32 2.8 Miles- 13:00 minutes per mile
HIGHLIGHTS- Running a mile to get to the exchange to run 2. 8 miles, the guy behind me yelling my name (it was on the back on my shirt) to motivate me

Dread Pirate Runners!!!!  34hrs 45 min 12 secs. 582/724 overall. in our mixed regular group we were 415/510. Not too shabby since 10 of the 12 of us were Rookie Ragnarians!

Finish Line!THIS IS HOW I DO!!! 

Napa anyone?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

LA Marathon March 2014

People keep asking me how the LA Marathon went.  All I can think to say is, “It was hard.”

I know this sounds a little bit obvious but it is the only way I can describe it.
I guess I should change my answer to, “I had a hard day”, but alas.

Some days you just don’t have a great run and unfortunately there was the perfect storm of situations that made this true for me last Sunday.
It’s a mixed bag of emotions.  I didn’t think it was possible to be so happy and feel so accomplished at the same time as feeling so disappointed.

I REALLY wanted to do well this year.  I didn’t expect miracles.  I wasn’t trying to do anything spectacular, but my body and the weather had other plans.

BUT -and there is a BIG BUT here- I still feel excellent.

For all the sweat, tears, chaffing and disappointment, there is this sense of invinsibility.
It never occurred to me that I wasn’t going to finish.
Not when the temperature hit almost 90 degrees.
Not when my weak hamstring started giving me a hard time.
Not when I started crying for the umpteenth time.

And here is why:
A month before the marathon, I started a list.  This list was of 26.2 people who have inspired me in some way.  Each person has touched my life in some way and I thoughtfully  assigned each person a mile.
Then I sent them a card that told them what mile they were assigned and why I chose them for a mile.
It actually worked.

When I was running, and then walking (the wheels fell off the wagon about Mile 17ish), and I started to think I was defeated, I switched my thoughts to my Mile Inspiration.  I looked at their name on the index card that was in my pocket and I remembered the things they do that make me proud to be their friend and blessed to have them in my life.

Because of this, I could not quit.
Because of them, I accomplished a goal.

Many people came and saw me along the route or encouraged me via text and I would be remiss if I didn't mention:
Sara and Vicki with their "coffee" at Mile 6
The Criner's and the Mangione's in front of the Pantages - this is when I lost it the first time, but they offered water and fruit and hugs....just what I needed
Laura and Vayden's awesome signs at Hollywood and Highland
Ditto and Litto in front of the El Capitan
Brandi and her pretzels and words of encouragement at Mile 18
Deb, Staci and Mel's texts as I ran!

Although I was saw many people and received a ton a texts, a marathon can be a lonely day and I spent the better part of 7 hours and 4 minutes alone.

But I was never really alone, my 26.2 were with me. They were moving my legs forward. They were the voices in my head telling me I could do it. 

They were in my heart bringing me peace and for that I will forever be grateful, not just for how they got me through the day, but for how they get me through EVERY day.

My cup runneth over and I will spend each day trying not to forget this.

Because no matter how difficult March 9, 2014 was, I still felt like this after and it was ALL because of THEM!

10 Reasons Why I Love To Run- SF Marathon Blog #2

Everyone runs for a different reason.  What started for me as a way to lose weight has become a way of life.  There are many different reasons why I love to run, here are my Top Ten:

1.       Black toenails are a badge of honor                              
I’m a girl.  I’m a vain girl. I keep my toenails pedicured and painted….but my favorite moment at the salon is when I get that shot of pain as the poor person working on my feet takes of my nail polish.  I look down and see the gorgeous victim of my hard work and training…a black toenail and I post a picture on Facebook or send it to my RBF (Running Best Friend). 
In fact, after our first half marathon, she texted me pictures of her black toenails while we were lying on different beds in the same hotel room because we were both too tired to move.


2.       MY RBF
Speaking of my RBF, running gave me Ditto (aka the other Heather).   I’d like to believe we would have become friends regardless, but we bonded over training for our first 5K together, decided to run our first 10K together and rocked our first half and full marathons with one another.  We run together at least twice a week, even now while she’s building a person in her belly!  I’m so blessed to have found a friend like her and I have running to thank!

3.       It takes a village
I am so lucky to have a large group of friends who run and/or support my addiction to running.  This year while training for the LA Marathon, my friends who didn’t need to run the kind of mileage I was doing took turns during my longer runs to support and help me.   A typical long run looked like this:
5 miles from my house to meet
Ditto who is pregnant and ran 5 miles with me to
Marcy who ran another 5-7 miles with me while pushing her two year-old twins in the running stroller
It truly takes a village!


4.       Have you seen my sweet buns?
 I am not “Model Hot”, I’m not even regular “Hot”.  I’m overweight and a little lumpy.  However, my gluteus maximus is F.I.N.E.   I mean like high and tight and sweet.  As I said before, I can be a bit vain.  If you ask me my favorite body part…it’s my butt.  See above for proof of it’s sweetness!

5.       Yeah, I downloaded Ke$ha. 
Wanna make somethin’ of it?  I am forty years old.  I love music, but generally like stuff like Dave Matthews and James Taylor.  I’m an easy listening gal….except when I run.  My running mix runs the gamut from Incubus to the Foo Fighters to the Beastie Boys to Jay Z.  If it pumps me up, I want it on my mix! Running gives me the excuse to download music that might be considered a guilty pleasure for someone of my age.
…uh, no…I’m not listening to Miley Cyrus, I just downloaded it for my running mix.

6.       Eggs and Oatmeal and Pizza and Beer
As someone who is constantly at war with my weight, I make a conscious effort to watch what I eat on a normal day…but after a long run?  I crave eggs and bacon and oatmeal immediately after.  I’m sure this is due to the fact that Ditto and I started doing breakfast after our Saturday morning runs back in the day.  But after really long runs (half marathon or longer) I want the breakfast after the run (regardless of what time I finish) and pizza and beer for dinner.
And I don’t feel bad giving in to those cravings when I’ve spent the better part of a day burning calories!

7.       Your outfit is soooo cute!
Ohhh, where’d you get your running clothes?  So what if I’m getting all sweaty and gross I still want to look cute, especially since running pants make my butt look so good.  I love finding the perfect pants (pockets for nutrition and Chap Stick and a drawstring), the perfect shirt (long enough to cover my gut, cut for a girl!) or  cute accessories! AND I wanna match!  The perfect running outfit not only makes you adorable, but it makes you faster…its science.

8.       Oh the places we will go…
Want an excuse to go on a cool vacation?  Sign up for a race some place you’ve never been!  I have run in San Diego, California, Dallas, Texas and Dublin, Ireland.  Running a race in a dream vacation spot makes you feel a teensy bit less vacation guilt!  How about a run through San Francisco this July?

9.       The RUNGASM
It may sound weird, but it happens.  You hit a certain speed or mileage and you suddenly get the chills.  Goosebumps creep up your arms, butterflies rock your stomach and a huge smile creeps up your face.  It might not be like the real thing, but it’s the closest you’re gonna get with your clothes on.

10.   It makes me look and feel like this…

Experience your own rungasm on July 27th and sign up for one of the fabulous races at the SF Marathon!