Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Sinking In

I've been doing a lot of body self awareness lately. My motivation is in hope of alleviating the persistent lower back pain that resurfaced over the holidays and I've found it so much more rewarding. It's been eye opening to see how tight my quads, hamstrings, hip flexors and psoas are and how stretching them help tremendously.

One thing we noticed today (as I worked with Yoga Medicine extraordinary Allie Geer), is that my body is so used to quickly doing movements that I don't really let it sink in and let gravity do its magic. I'm so used to quickly getting on the bike, quickly moving into a pose, moving to get from point A to point B. In a way, that's my protective mechanism. A survival instinct. Do it quickly and efficiently and figure out how to fix things later. 

Which worked great for a long time. Until it didn't. 

So I started asking questions... Why would you willingly put myself in pain? What if sitting and feeling into those sensations was a way to move through them? What if you stop labeling something as hurtful or ouchie and just got curious about the tightness in one side verses the other?

What if you just let it sink in?

Ah... I think we stumbled upon something. I could see the lightbulb go off in Allie's eyes as she recognized that I understood exactly what she meant. 

So now instead of going through the universe without stopping to really feel into things, I'm going to slow it down, really let it sink in.









Yes, please. Try it on for yourself and see what happens.

Monday, January 29, 2018


Two summers ago we were riding on the Monon Trail in Indianapolis when I got stung be a bee on my forehead between my sunglasses and helmet. In the past I've had mild allergic reactions to stings - but nothing life threatening so while it hurt badly, we didn't go to the emergency room and drove from Indianapolis to Chicago for Intelligensia Cup.

Four hours later after napping in the back of our van, I woke up to a very swollen face. We arrived at the race venue and Ben started warming up. I decided to walk down toward registration and even with sunglasses and a hat on, my friends didn't recognize me. I was a little scared that my throat could close up so while Ben raced his race, I opted to skip mine and see if an ice compress and the benadryl I'd taken would make any difference.

The next morning I woke up even more puffy so we headed to a walk in clinic. I explained the situation to the medical staff and got a ration of shit for not coming in sooner. They administered an epi pen shot and prescribed a steroid to help with the inflammation. I checked the banned drug list and sure enough - not even a TUE (therapeutic use exemption) would make it okay to race.

I had a choice to make. And it was an easy one. I'm a coach and athlete and I believe in competing clean at all times. As a leader in my community, it's super important to lead by example. Even though medically I had a pretty good excuse, there's no way it would stand up in an arbitration and I made the easy choice of not racing. Yes we had traveled all that way - but that wouldn't make it right. Taking a prohibited drug and competing is never okay.

My experience came flooding back to me after a local female racer was handed a four year suspension this past week. You can read more about it here. She claimed she was taking testosterone for a medical reason and tried to file a TUE. But the drug she was on is on the prohibited list and she was caught with it in her system while competing. It's up to you as an athlete competing to know what's on the prohibited list and what's not.

To see if the medications or supplements you're taking are prohibited, visit The Global DRO is a great resource to see if the specific medications you're on are on the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited List. A quick check is all it takes.

We all have choices to make. It is your duty as an athlete and coach to know the rules of play and to play by the rules.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Turning 40 and waking up.

I woke up startled this morning.

I've been having a deep sense that I'm curious if most people have who are about to turn 40 feel. The one that wakes you up and makes you ask - did I do everything I was supposed to in my life? Am I living the life that aligns with my values/hopes/dreams/beliefs? Is my time running out?

And sitting dormant, quieted down by days, months, years of routine is the simple fact that I've left one thing unresolved. One thing that I regret not doing. One thing that I know deep in the marrow of my bones needs to get out there: my story. My story about Ryan and how grief has shaped me into who I am. It's as though I've built an iceberg around those emotions and feelings, locking them away, forgotten about.

Then this week, I woke up to the unsettled uneasiness I have about turning 40 realizing that it's linked to my story. And I felt a crack deep into the heart of that berg, loosening up unresolved feelings.

Yet, I'm not scared. I'm not afraid of that ice melting, exposing a pain and feeling so real and urethral.  Grief is a journey that has so many layers that no wonder it isn't talked about. No wonder we have a hard time encompassing it's depth. But more than running straight into the unknown, I'm more afraid that I haven't shared my story with others so that it can help them with their ice bergs of humanness.

My time is running out. I've got to give this everything I've got. I've got to get my story out that's burning a hole into the middle of my iceberg.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Mind The Gap

2017 marks nine years since Ryan died. Nine years of tears, laughter, love, heartache, and a big healthy dose of perspective.

You only live once.

Live in the now.

Less is more.

Follow your dreams and chase your passion.

Make sure those you love know it.

Talk about taboo subjects.

Embrace your values. 

Give thanks and gratitude, everyday.

Over these past nine years I've searched for ways to make sense of what it means to suddenly loose someone you love. I've searched for ways to express that sadness and loneliness around the empty space in my heart with other people who have no idea what it feels like, yet. But there are gaps. A grief gap; a living gap; a what is the meaning of life gap.

I've been searching for answers to the gaps in my life, all my life. Maybe you have too. Gaps exist when you see where you want to be but have no idea how to get from here to there. It's easy to say you only live once. But does that help you dive into something you're apprehensive about? Why do those gaps exist? How can we close those gaps? Do gaps give us hope? Are gaps necessary to help you strive for what you want to become?

I wanted to bridge the gap between experiencing grief and sorrow of losing my spouse and looking at grief as a gift. But I had no idea how to at first. So I started searching.

What I discovered about grief is that everyone processes it differently at different times. I understood that right away when Ryan's mom had a dark immeasurable cloud blanket her movements. Or when an insensitive friend said, "it shouldn't be that bad. You guys were apart most weekends anyway." I had a college friend come visit and stay with me within the first few weeks of Ryan's death and insisted I take down his vibrant pictures I had put up around the house. I could understand if the pictures were morbid and dark - but they were of him climbing and doing something he loved. Why was it wrong to commemorate the person I love in my own home? Was it wrong to miss someone deeply even though we were apart on the weekends? Was it wrong to feel a different grief than someone else? And why does it feel like other people are putting judgement on the way I grieve?

The more answers I found, the more questions I had. I mean really, why hasn't someone written an idiots guide on how to grieve losing your loved one?

I've also come to terms that our language around death sucks. Before Ryan died, I didn't understand how hollow saying, "I'm sorry" would feel for the receiving person. I didn't know what someone should say but I knew that "I'm sorry" wasn't cutting it. What I longed for was for someone to ask me how it happened: why did he die? How did he die? How does it feel to be human?

So, we're left with these gaps in our lives. Gaps that may never have answers. Gaps that may swallow us whole or that might give us hope. And while we may never figure out why those gaps exist or what they're there for, accepting those gaps for what they are is healthy.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Ambition Gap

"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone had told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is a gap. For the first couple of years you make stuff, it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not. But your taste, the thing that got you into this game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it's normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close the gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I've ever met. It's gonna take a while. It's normal to take a while. You've just gotta fight your way through."  - Ira Glass

This is so true. Every time I re-read and re-work my book, I encounter the gap. I know it has potential. I know how good it can be but I'm in fighting mode right now, just trying to bridge that gap. So I continue with the 7th re-write.

To those fighting the fight in the murky, mucky middle - keep fighting. I'm right along side of you, slinging mud and covered in it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Growing out of Plateaus

  1. 1
    an area of relatively level high ground.
    synonyms:uplandtablelandplainmesahighland, coteau
    "a windswept plateau"
  2. 2
    a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress.
    "the peace process had reached a plateau"
    synonyms:quiescent period; More
reach a state of little or no change after a time of activity or progress.
"the industry's problems have plateaued out"

I coach an athlete whose code/safe word for "it's not working" is plateau. We jokingly landed on it during our last conversation of sorting through her work/life/exercise balance.  I'm grateful to write her training plan and she does an exceptional job adhering to it despite her hectic work schedule, motherhood, wifehood and helping others be the best they can be. She is a giver, through and through. And because of that, she often has a hard time taking time for herself. 

Sound familiar, anyone?

Forgetting to take time for ourselves is common. Especially for caretakers. 

So when this athlete sent another plateau text recently, I knew she was ready to have "the talk". And no, I'm not referring to analyzing data or annual training plans. This talk was going to be about what's really going on. A talk that goes beyond periodization and tapering and figuring out how hard to go during intervals. 

She was cautious at first when we first started talking so I dove right into it. We talked about unshakeable sense of something not sitting quite right.

We all have plateaus in our lives: staying at job because you feel comfortable but know you could be contributing more to society; getting that book published but not finding the time; wanting change but not making the time or effort. Stale moments in life happen despite being super busy and juggling a million things. It's the realization that something isn't working and that your forward progress has halted. 

The good news? Overcoming plateaus is up to you. You can change things. You can put in the time and energy to make a difference in your life. The first step is recognizing that you want change. Then it's figuring out how to make that change and coming up with a game plan. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Becoming An Expert On Living

Every day is an opportunity to live a fulfilling and satisfying life. Yet it's easy to get swept up in the everyday routine, the struggle, the push to produce and keep up with your workload. And it's just as easy to get complacent and settle into a comfortable routine that no longer challenges you. It's easy and potentially satisfying. I assume that we all do it at some point or another.

But I keep coming back to the same question, over and over again: am I living life to the fullest?

Things will get busy and the routine will swallow the hours in the day, quickly fading into night, and into weeks, months, years, and gasp - decades.

No matter how much times passes though, that question keeps bubbling up.

Am I living life to the fullest? 

Are you living your life to the fullest? When you close your eyes and think about what it is that you really want to be doing in work and in life - are you doing it now? What's preventing you from striving toward that goal? What do you need to overcome in order to pursue your dreams? What's holding you back?

I figure once you land on that dream, then chances are you'll stop asking yourself if you're living your life to the fullest. Or at least that's my theory.

If someone has a road map on how to get there - can you please share it with the rest of us?