My Roller Coaster I Call Life

I have been missing in action for a couple months now.  Life has a funny way of throwing curve balls at you and saying not so fast now.  After heart surgery, it was quite the roller coaster ride to get to a normal health routine.   Your body adjusting to a pacemaker is a whole new game your body isn’t used to, they also have to figure out how to put the settings on a pacemaker installed in a “healthy” 33-year-old. The statistics are staggering 84% of people with pacemakers are over 65. So, they won’t be in the same health or have the same resting heart rates as someone who is 33 and was an avid runner up until I had the heart issues.  That was the biggest issue I had to deal with is that my resting heart rate is in the 50s.  They set the low setting to 60 to start with which in turn made my pacemaker go off like crazy, and I got next to no sleep because it was constantly kicking my heart rate up to 90 bpm.

Due to the time, it takes for my heart to get used to the pacemaker I got told I wasn’t allowed to run because my heart would in turn go too fast.   I had joined a running team to help me get back on track, you know me balls to the wall or nothing at all.  The first two races of the year were great.  Here comes race 3, I was pacing great at about a 10-minute mile maybe a little less, half way into the race my heart went crazy and it was over 190 and I couldn’t get it to drop or slow down.   I had to walk the rest of the race, I would have kept running if it weren’t for momma Trudy and Anna, slapping some sense into me.   Anna walked the rest of the race with me, it was a blow to my ego I finished dead last.  At the same time, it was humbling, I knew I needed to ease my way back into racing, I couldn’t just jump back into running sub 9’s and be ok.

So, in the meantime of no running allowed I decided to focus on power lifting.  I needed to find my escape. I knew lifting would be good for me, I could work on my strength at the same time and not get my heart rate too high.  I met an amazing trainer in Colorado Springs at Gold’s Gym. Max was my power lifting coach for three months, and in that time, I was amazed at how quickly I gained my strength back.   I had found the perfect coach who would discuss sushi with me while I lifted heavy.   I told him three weeks before my first power lifting competition, oh by the way I have a competition in three weeks, on Father’s Day.  With focusing on my diet and building all my muscles, I competed in my first power lifting competition on Father’s Day of this past year.   I was nervous and excited.  I had so many amazing people come and watch me:  my momma, Kym, Trudy, and Jen.  They all came to support me which is so amazing and I cried a little bit.   For my first competition, I hit 270 lbs on back squat, 280 lbs on dead lift, and 115 on bench.   I lit a fire in me and now I wanted more and more.

Once again life has other plans and after my competition I ended up taking almost a month and a half off, I moved out of Colorado chasing my career.   I moved here to Texas to follow a job opportunity that seemed just too good to be true.  It’s been the best move I could have made.  This job is taking me down paths and opportunities that I wouldn’t have had in Colorado.  It was scary to leave my friends and family but something I needed to do for me.  I want to be a manager in the engineering world one day, helping to show other women that we can be successful in the engineering world too.

Back to it, after moving to Texas I had to find a new cardiologist.  Working with the new guy and my cardiologist in Colorado I finally got cleared to run.  So, what did I do?  Turned around the same day and signed up for a Spartan Beast race.  Seems legit, right?  I turned around and was dedicated to the gym and lifting.  I would lift for an hour and jog/walk on the tread mill for another 45 minutes. I was bound and determined to be good and finish this race. The irony of this is that the race fell just two days after the one year anniversary of getting my pacemaker. There are so many reasons why this race was important.   I have lived so much of my life having doctors tell me that this health condition or that health condition isn’t going to allow me to do the things I love. I am a stubborn ass I will admit that and I am not going to let a doctor’s “diagnosis” be the final tell all. I didn’t with Lupus and I wasn’t going to now that I had a pacemaker. Getting a pacemaker brought me through some serious bouts of depression and lows. Lows that had me questioning the will to continue to fight.  But something inside me said I couldn’t give up and had to keep fighting.

So here we are race day October 28th.   An amazing lady, Lacey, signed up to race with me on short notice.   I can’t even put into words how thankful I am that she ran with me to keep me in check, let’s be honest sometimes I need a leash to keep me from going faster than I should be going.  But for 14.7 miles she was not only my cheer leader but she also kept me in check so I wouldn’t overdo it.   I was determined to try at least all the obstacles.   We came upon Bender, a metal elevated inverted wall, I was going to do it, well I achieved to get myself stuck at the top, and thank god for the volunteer who talked me down and was just about ready to climb up and get me.   But holy hell I did it all by myself.  I was proud of the accomplishments I made on that course.  Was I able to complete every obstacle, no.  I also found out that the only time my heart rate spiked was when I did my burpees, I knock them out to fast and end up way too dizzy.  I need to learn to slow down so that I don’t pass out.

Long story short, we signed up for the ultra beast next year.  Two laps of the beast course.  I am focusing on me and continuing the battles that God hands to me.  I am training for the next adventure in my life and can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.  Back to blogging now that I am out of my slump.  More to come in this journey of my life.  Who knows maybe I can find another power lifting competition in between now and then.

 


What It’s Like Getting Back to It

I haven’t written in some time.   I had heart surgery, got a pacemaker at 32.   Went back to the dark place I was in when my lupus was bad, because I couldn’t do anything for the longest time.   I had to “take it easy”.   Yes the pacemaker saved my life and I am forever grateful for that.    I needed to have it put in to keep on keeping on.  However there is another side of the story.

Not being able to do the things I love took a toll on me, let’s admit I got depressed for some time because my passion was taken away from me.   Not many will understand this but to have the one thing you love taken away from you so quickly and not to get it back right away.

It’s taken me since November to get back to my happy place.   It’s taken this long for me to get back to my happy place.  You can see me smile and be happy, but deep inside I am fighting a battle.  I want to be back to the old happy working out me.   I want to be back to the go go go.

It’s taken this long for me to realize I needed to just push myself to go.  To get back to my eating routine.   To get back to the routine that I love so much.

Now these past few weeks, I am finally getting back there I am finally getting back to doing what I love.  Getting back to lifting all the weights, being in my happy place.

I know I may have let some people down while I was fighting my own battles, and for that I am sorry.   I had to fight a battle that for me was extremely difficult.   It’s not easy fighting a disease that is basically out to get you every single day.   It’s not easy knowing that you never know what it may attack next.   I fight this battle and sometimes I forget that I have so many others that are willing to support me.

I am working back to being the old me.  I am working on being back to the person I love with some limitations but I will get back there eventually.   I look back at my old pictures and realize how far I have come and don’t want to go back there.

So just wait I am working on getting back and posting new posts.   Working out and competing in a weight lifting competition.

The battles I have fought have made me who I am.   The struggles that I have been challenged with are part of my journey called life, no it hasn’t been easy, but yes I am working on making my way back.


Roadblock of 2016: Heart Surgery

2016 started out as an awesome journey with some great accomplishments, like my first 50 miler.   Towards the end of the year I started having dizzy spells and passing out.   I tried not to think anything of it until I passed out in front of Paul and hit my head.  He had to get me to wake up.   It was that incident that triggered me to go to the emergency room.   I had been on such a great streak, I hadn’t had any problems, I hadn’t been to the emergency room in I don’t even remember how long it had been.

img_2538

They decided that I needed to be put on a heart rate monitor to determine the cause of the passing out.   Keep in mind up until this point I had no symptoms or problems with my heart that I was aware of.  I wanted to continue my lifestyle, I wanted to keep working out with the wires attached to me.  I was always tired, no matter how much I slept I was tired.   No matter how well I ate I was tired.   I worked out and it would kick my ass.

img_2589

I wanted to find the solution, I wanted to know what the hell was happening to my body that made me feel like crap all the time.   The day before my 32nd birthday the heart monitor phone rang twice that morning, they notified me that I had an “episode”.   That I needed to go to the emergency room to get checked out.    Sure enough they caught what my heart was doing.   It was better explained to me by my cardiologist but sums up to be this:

The lower half of my heart periodically doesn’t receive the electrical impulse so it knows to pump the blood.  This in turn deprives my body of the oxygen rich blood I need, hence me passing out.   It had been fixing it self.   They problem that bothers me the most is that they can’t explain WHY this is happening just that it is.   I had only one solution that would fix my problem, heart surgery to have a pacemaker installed.  This would involved having electrodes inserted in through my arm pit and attached to the upper chambers and lower chambers of my heart.  The pacemaker itself is placed under my boob, yes I know TMI, but there is a reason they did this.   I do crossfit and I sure as hell wasn’t going to stop doing crossfit because of this.   The typical placement is right below the collar bone, right where the bar bell would hit, potentially causing damage.  I am glad that my doctor was willing to work with me and make an alternate placement so I could continue my lifestyle I love.

The day of surgery I was nervous, hell they were operating on my heart.   Not exactly a simple surgery but know its one that is done on a regular basis……to 60 year olds.    I find it hilarious that the nurses didn’t think it was me that was supposed to be having surgery, or at the doctor’s office to get checked up.   Your young to have a pacemaker is my new phrase I hear all the time now.   In order to be placed under sedation, they have to put in two IV lines.  No matter how much water I drink, I am always a hard poke.   It took two nurses and 6 tries to get two IV lines in not exactly comfortable locations.   Paul had to work so my mom was there for me.    Post surgery I wasn’t allowed to move my left arm much so that scar tissue could build up and keep the wires from moving.

Needless to say post surgery I hurt, a lot.   I was so thankful so have so many people come visit me in the hospital in my drug induced state.   I am grateful I have so many people that care and wanted to check in on me.   I truly didn’t expect that many people to come visit me for a one night stay in the hospital.

img_2966

Post surgery was going great, then randomly my incision in my arm pit started hurting A LOT.  I had three layers of stitches below the skin and then my skin was glued together.   It was hot and sensitive to the touch.   It finally got to the point that my clothes touching it even hurt.    I know my body doesn’t handle infections well so I was slightly concerned about what could potentially happen if I didn’t get this taken care of immediately.   I went to the emergency room, got admitted yet again.   The first cardiologist scared me because she told me that they would have to take my pacemaker out and replace it.   When my cardiologist finally got to the hospital he explained to me that is an extreme measure and would only do that if the infection was on the wires.

The next morning I went in for another surgery to cut out the infection.   One of the disolvable stitches didn’t dissolve.   He cut out the infection and was in the hospital for a couple days on antibiotics.

I am now back to normal and will be hitting the gym back at the beginning of January.   I am excited to get back to it and see what I am able to do with this bionic heart of mine!   I know it will be slow to get back but I will get there!img_2667


36 miles of fun in the Mountains.

I am in a different place than I once was when it comes to running.  I am stronger than I used to be I have learned from my failures and trained properly.

13333010_10210810466044103_1149794169153657089_n

Ragnar Trail Snowmass 2016 happened this past weekend.  It was going to be interesting I knew that going into it.  We had another Ultra team from Colorado Obstacle Racers lose a person the night before the race.  Being the crazy person that I am, I volunteered to go run extra loops to help them out.

13396648_10100286087959961_1656645157_o

I started for my team at 10 am.  It was already hot out and for most people this is a factor that hits them hard when it comes to running a race.  I would much rather have it be hot than cold.  It was hot, I had my hand held water bottle that I was using and drained that two during the green and yellow loops.   On a positive note however I was killing the trails, I didn’t have anyone pass me, which for once in my life I was happy for that.  My first two loops I was averaging 11 min/miles going up hill and 9’s down hill.  This obviously shows me that I need to start working on hills.  I need to get working on hills more, obviously I hate them and it shows when it comes to racing.

13396803_10100286087974931_2142022164_o

I had to do these two loops again for another team a couple hours later, it was hotter.   The heat drains your energy pretty darn quick so I was thankful for the wind/breeze.   I knocked that out a little bit slower than I did my first two but wasn’t too bad considering it was the heat of the day.

13350952_10100286087920041_1638156768_o

I was thankful my second run for my team happened at night.   Before heading out for the run however Glenn and I had set in motion the opportunity for James Finch to run the green loop the next morning.  He was volunteering on the top of the red loop where I was heading.  We video taped the announcement and I was able to show him the video at the top of the red loop, it was my goal to hit that peak before he finished at 8 because I wanted to be able to show him.  He was most definitely surprised.  However James said something to me that I will never forget.   Upon showing him the video and of course taking a selfie, James goes you know the reason I am fighting as hard as I am is because of you.  You never give up and always fight no matter how sucky or hard the situation is.  You truly inspire others to realize that they could come back from anything and come back stronger.   Ok on this note I did end up crying after I took off running.   I never truly realized the impact that I may have on others.  I never realized people look to me for strength and motivation.  This touched my heart and I will never forget it.

13340524_10100286087999881_1483695873_o

Have I mentioned how much I love flying down trails at dusk going as fast as my little legs can take me?  It’s pretty awesome.   I never used to be able to do what I did this weekend.  Hell the first time I ran Ragnar trail I was slower than a herd of turtles through peanut butter.  But here I am now.  Stronger than I once was an able to run.

13389151_10100286088184511_1584094560_o

My final leg came early in the morning.  I can pretty much no sleep, as is typical of Ragnars but I needed it desparately.  The sun had drained a lot of my energy the day before and I was running on empty.   Lupus doesn’t like when you run on empty.   I headed out for my last two loops.   Yellow and Red.   Yellow kicked my ass over and over several times.  My body was done I couldn’t do it.  I have been struggling with my arms and legs going numb.  The doctors can’t tell me what it is or why, but whenever I work out for some reason I go numb.   Still trying to figure out why, but yeah that was part of me not being able to continue.  I am still beating myself up for not being able to finish the red loop and having to get help.  Do you realize how hard it is for me to ask for help?  Yeah I don’t like it one bit.  I see this as failure and the ability to not be able to do what I needed to do.  But thanks to some awesome teammates we still got it done.

I have to thank my teammates for being so awesome!  Jeff, Jason, and Carrie you three are pretty amazing and have that fight that I completely understand.

13340704_10100286087930021_1616791451_o

Another race in the books, it’s funny I keep telling myself I will never do that again.  But somehow I always manage to go back to signing up.  I must be addicted or something.

13388909_10100286088149581_456393527_o

As another side note, yes I know I am scatterbrained, Colorado Obstacle Racers had over 100 runners participating in the event!!.  That’s a lot of runners! And its remarkable how much everyone was willing to help each other out.

13327652_10154290024375972_4419177386239583002_n


It was just 4 half marathons…….50 Miler Redemption

a2165a63808a7de85f753a6716a6ccd4

This weekend was a weekend of redemption on so many levels.   Last year in May i attempted my first ultra marathon a 50k.   Everything went to hell and I ended up not finishing that.  I learned my lesson, I don’t run two laps at a Spartan race the day before and be smart about training.   Things have changed.

IMG_0435

I was bound and determined, I don’t take failure well.   It lights a fire in me that many may never understand, it was just a race, but to me its so much more than that.  I have to prove to myself I can do this.  I have taken my fitness to a whole new level recently.   I have dialed in my diet, diligent about Crossfit, and added in weightlifting three days a week.  I toned back my running to twice a week.   The results are amazing what happens when you dial everything in, focus, and are driven. The results of doing this are amazing, from not only feeling better, but looking better.  And also performing better in terms of my workouts and running.

Alicia and I took off on our journey Friday morning.   I am pretty sure we were both a basket of nerves, I know we had trained hard and smart, but its the whole idea of running 50 miles.   Most people don’t even like driving that let alone running it.  As typical OCR Chicks would do we were on the look out for some tires, didn’t want to come home empty handed when there were lonely tires sitting on the side of the road.   Saw a huge pile which unfortunately was on the opposite side of the highway so didn’t snag one like we would have liked to.   There was wind, a lot of wind.   Let’s just say I don’t think I ever want to live in Kansas, too much wind.  And of course we did burpees at the “Leaving Colorful Colorado” sign. Would you expect anything less of us?

Getting to Ottawa, Kansas on Friday night it all became so much more real.  We picked up our bibs and shirts.  Go figure I got number 13.   A number most feel is unlucky, but one of new favorite numbers, you will see why.   We talked game plan with John, who has ran about a billion of these, and knows the ins and outs of racing.   We knew what to expect but its still that whole idea of running 50 miles that is still hanging over our heads.

IMG_0431

At the hotel room, I realized I had no long sleeve jackets or shirts, they were on my bed in Colorado.  Go figure, I would forget something that is kind of important for those early morning hours.  Luckily there was a Wal-Mart close, I found a jacket and shirt to wear so I didn’t turn purple. Crisis averted.  We got our drop bags ready and packed everything.    That’s when the nerves for me really set in.  Holy shit I was really going to go for this whole redemption thing.   I was going to run my first marathon, 50k, and 50 miler all in one day.  Talk about over achieving things, but I like going all in.   Go big or go home right?  That evening I got a surprise, Anna a friend from high school lives really close to the race and was going to come and support me.   It’s hard to explain how thankful I am in regards to this because seeing a familiar face boosts your spirits so much its crazy.

Race Day:  well oh shit we are doing this aren’t we.   Met up with Jeff who was also running his first 50 miler.   Nervous excitement as you could definitely tell who had never done this as we may have been overly prepared with our packs and fuel.   More on that later but would rather be overly prepared then run out of something and suffer.

IMG_0440

Pacing is a problem for both Alicia and I.   We tried that running slow thing at the last half marathon we did together and instead of running 12’s we ran 8’s.   We both have been training hard and have found a faster pace to be comfortable and easily done, so 8’s aren’t terrible but not for an ultra marathon.  We knew we needed to stick to 12’s in order to be ok throughout the whole race.

They had us line up at the start line, chatter among all the runners.   We moved to the back of the pack for obvious pacing reasons we knew we didn’t want to keep up with the speed demons at the front.  The nice thing about an ultra marathon is that everyone runs slower than they typically would due to the sheer amount of miles we will be running.  Starting off we knew we needed to maintain a 12 minute pace.  This was a good place to start.   We talked about strategy but never really decided on the run and walk scheme.   We ended up running the first 6 miles straight without a break, at a solid 12 minute pace!  We were feeling great, so switched to the run 3 miles and walk 1/2 a mile.   All this time we were maintaining the 12 minute pace.

IMG_0437

As a side note, 12 minute pace is what my fastest used to be, I couldn’t hold a conversation while running this pace.  I was basically dying to run at a 12 minute pace.   We held steady conversation this whole time and I was fine.  This just holds to how much Crossfit, weightlifting, and my training has done for me.

The best part about running with someone is keeping each other in check.  Something we promised to do at the the beginning of the race.   This comes to fueling, drinking water, and salt tabs.    We did good on this throughout the whole race….minus the last three miles.  More on that later.

The nice thing about running a 12 minute pace is you are able to easily hold a conversation with someone.  I am pretty sure there isn’t a subject we didn’t cover, including how in the hell some women walk out of a work out with perfect hair and perfect makeup.  We determined that we both look like a hot mess when we work out, sweat everywhere, snot running down our faces, and hair in disarray.  We both agreed that’s the way to be, a sexy working out mess.

The nice thing about the beginning of the race that there was no wind like we thought there was going to be.   It was a nice day, but as the time went on it definitely got much warmer, you could tell the heat started taking a lot of our energy, we both decided walking for a bit and eat something.

On a side note I am thankful for the volunteers.  You meet a lot of wonderful volunteers while racing but the volunteers at this race took it to a whole new level.   They were kind, wanted to make sure you were ok, and provided everything and anything you needed.  You don’t realize how much of a difference the volunteers will make when you are getting down about the race.  We had encountered a woman who was running with no fuel and a very small hand held water bottle.  Once we reached the first manned aid station she proceeded to yell at the volunteers for not having more aid stations, which is completely unfair to them.  She was the one who was unprepared.   At one point in the race she asked Alicia and I to tie a rope to her and pull her along.  Yeah not going to happen.

We finally hit the “half way” point, which was actually 27.2 miles, and we hadn’t died.   On a side note by hitting that distance, meant that I had officially ran my first marathon.  That’s right I had never ran a full marathon before officially in a race until that day and point in time.   First marathon in 5:30 which I can’t complain about for my first marathon, considering I wasn’t even trying to set a record for pace on that one.

IMG_0441

my ohhh I just ran a marathon face 🙂

IMG_0443

Anna was at the half way point, and little did I know my twin from another mother was on skype watching me come in.  These two ladies mean so much to me, we have been friends since kindergarten.   Katy, my twin, got to see me not only at the turn around point but at the finish.

IMG_0445

So, half way point, I was hungry, yes I had been eating, but I was burning a lot of calories.  And guess what ??? They had BACON!!! and pickles…..and oreos.  I had put a 1 qt of pedialyte in my drop bag, this is my go to for getting everything back to normal and trust me it works.  I chugged the whole thing, 6 slices of bacon, 3 pickles, and 4 oreos (pretty sure there is photo evidence of this one).    We both changed out our socks and continued on.    It’s amazing what a little break will do for you.    We realized at this point the numbers of the miles left were going to be decreasing and soon enough in single digits.   That definitely boosts your spirits.

IMG_0444

So the whole first half of the race there was no wind.   None.  Sure enough as soon as we leave the turn around point we are faced with a pretty strong head on wind.   We both decided it wasn’t worth fighting the wind and to walk.   Not exactly happy about having to walk but not worth wasting the energy to fight the wind.

Our spirits had changed at that point.  We were on a higher note, and felt great.   Which neither of us expected to do.  We expected to be sore or our bodies fighting what was going down, but they weren’t.   So side rant.   This is why hard and smart training pays off and I will elaborate more on that later.  However 4 solid months of smart training definitely does wonders when it comes to race day.

Now we just had to make it through some aid stations and we would be done.   5 hours or so more of running and we would have completed our goal.

Mile 31 meant a lot for me.   That is a 50k.   That is the race that a year ago i couldn’t finish.  But sure enough I finished this year.   I passed that distance without any toe nail problems or blood.   I had done what I couldn’t do one year earlier.

Running with Alicia was a blast.  I realized how much more alike we were on our view points of the world and what people do.  It’s nice to know that there is another female who is just as driven as me in terms of conquering the goals we have put in front of our selves.   Also not letting the thoughts or actions of others effect us in any way.  We are so much stronger than that.

3204524ac6c1f7c14a166f5ee726954f

Mile 40 was a rough one for Alicia.  I could tell she had started hurting and I could tell by her demeanor she was starting to doubt herself.   I couldn’t let this happen, we had come so far and there was no way in hell that I was going to let her not finish, even if I had to carry her! I told her to take ibuprofen and salt tabs and eat something.   We walked more than we ran.  I know at one point she told me to go on, to which my reply was “Hell no, we are finishing this together.”   I kept her spirits up by talking, about random things.  I honestly don’t even remember what we talked about at that point but knew talking was keeping her distracted which is what she needed till the ibuprofen kicked in.

Once that ibuprofen kicked in she was good to go.   We were truly in good spirits.  We had gone media silent, minus a few people we were texting to let them know we were ok.  We hadn’t posted anything on facebook since mile 27.2, and the suspense was killing some people.  We wanted the finish to be a surprise, because of the sheer greatness of the accomplishment.

The last aid station, we had caught back up with this awesome lady that had been doing so great throughout the race.   She had mile long legs and her walking pace was Alicia’s and mine running pace.   She was dropping from the race because of a blister on her foot.   Keep in mind this last aid station was only 7 miles from the finish and she still had almost 12 hours to do that.   We both tried to convince her to continue and just push through and finish.  But she wasn’t having it and just wanted to finish.  I know I have been there and been in that mindset.   It was at that point which Alicia and I both said oh well then we both will see you back here next year and finishing it.   Kind of ironic that at the beginning of the race we both said this was a bucket list item, and would NEVER do it again.   Funny what mile 43 does to you.  This was the best station in terms of volunteers they were so awesome!

We left that aid station knowing we had only 7 miles to push through.   7 miles until we had accomplished our goal!   I was still feeling great at this point, which let’s be honest made it even more surreal.  I have never ran a race where I didn’t hurt, where my lupus wanted to fight back, where I wanted to be in tears because my body was beyond livid.   it just didn’t happen at this race, how is that possible ?? Oh wait training!

IMG_0447

The last 7 miles were definitely slower than the first 43 but we were still moving and pushing closer and closer to that finish line.   We were still in good spirits!

The last 3 miles were the point to which my body finally started feeling the pain of the race.  But holy hell I had made it 47 miles without issue, I am pretty darn proud of that when a 5k race used to kill me.   So proud of that.

As we reached the finish line we could hear the music and knew we were finally closer to being done and almost there.    Anna was at the finish line with Katy on Skype.  I will never forget what Alicia said, “It’s never been so nice to see someone I didn’t know at the finish line supporting me!”

So I could barely run to that point and I saw that finish line and “sprinted” , which I am sure was not fast by any means but it was a sprint to me.   We crossed that finish line.  We did it.  We didn’t die.  We were officially ultra marathoners.  HOLY SHIT!!!!  And yes there were fireball shots involved!

IMG_0458IMG_0457

Ok some closing thoughts.   I really achieved what I set out to do, despite any thoughts that may not have been possible from doctors or whomever doubted me.   I did it but I didn’t do it for them, I did it for me.   I am on a mission to prove to myself that I am not defined by the debilitating disease I have.   I am on a mission to be a better me.

IMG_0453IMG_0454

So proof that my training paid off, is that by Monday, two days after the race I may have had cankles but was fine besides that.  I wasn’t sore and broken or needing to recover.   I didn’t have the muscles that are typically angry after pushing your body for so long.   And for that alone I am thankful and in awe.   Makes me ask myself….wait did this really happen?

But it did, and we both crossed that finish line.    Now onto the next event I want to train for.  So many options, so many opportunities to push myself to see what I am capable of.

IMG_0460 IMG_0466 IMG_0461

 


What makes you passionate about your dreams?

Icd35f4560de1b6a306200c7871dd1d19

I have been told multiple times that I have an incredible amount of drive and passion for everything I care about in  this world.   Yes, this is true, but shouldn’t we all be this way?  Shouldn’t we attack everything we want with a deep passion that most would think is crazy.  Shouldn’t we be passionate about the things that matter to us in life?   Shouldn’t we live life passionately?

I truly believe that if more people lived their lives this way, that the world would be a better place.  The world wouldn’t be so self consumed in their cell phones, but trying to live life to the fullest everyday.

So what makes you passionate?  What are you missing if you are not passionate?  These are questions that truly need answering.

fdb478de2987eebb5a160dc44aa3b8ee

For me there are a few things that make me passionate about everything I do: racing, work, and relationships.  I am passionate about those and give my all because of a few things:  my parents and lupus.  Giving your all in everything you do changes the game so much.   With racing, I may not be the one standing on the podium, I may never be, but I give it my all out there and for me that’s good enough.  For work, I love being a nerd, I love designing new and innovative equipment for space;  I may face challenges at work, but I am thick skinned it will only drive me to be better and stronger.   And with relationships, this is where I think you should truly be passionate and give it your all?  Why?  So that the other person knows you truly care.  Having that one person that truly cares with everything they have could make the world a better place for that one person, and in my opinion this the best reason to do that.

df175c1f8fb67f4d7b7ce8f7022634ef

Let’s start with my parents.   My parents raised me to be the best I can be.   I look back and remember when I was in the lowest level of math for my grade, because I wasn’t learning the same way as the other kids and struggled.  I couldn’t do math.  It was hard because I would try so hard and yet failed constantly.   I had a math teacher my 6th grade year, Shannon Riggins.  I will never forget her, because she taught me how to learn math.  I almost have to thank being an engineer to her and my parents.  They wouldn’t let the fact that I was struggling be the reason I gave up on math.  The reason I didn’t want to succeed.  They both just encouraged me to push harder and try harder.   I am thankful that they all did that, because now I am an electrical engineer.   I don’t think I would be where I am in my career today without the drive that my parents instilled in me.   When things got tough or difficult, my parents taught me to try a different approach, think outside the box.   By thinking outside the box I was able to conquer whatever it was that was hard.   So to my parents I am thankful for being raised in a house where failure wasn’t an option.  I am thankful that they pushed me to test my limits.  I am thankful for them and what they did for me while growing up.

9f3bdc94129e26e117d680803249a78c

Secondly, lupus.   Some of you may think I am crazy for putting this down as something that would make me passionate but it truly is my other driving force. Lupus had knocked me down and was trying to kill me, literally.   I was in a dark place when I was first diagnosed with Lupus because I had stopped thinking outside the box.  I had stopped giving my all because I was so sick.   I didn’t think there were any other options because of what doctors had told me my prognosis was.   I just didn’t.   When you finally have others that encourage you to try something that the doctors once thought you couldn’t do is when you realize that yeah you really can do those things.  Was it painful? hell yes.  Was it hard?  hell yes.

84b86cb51542951416a70c3a160f6c63

Slowly but surely I got my confidence I once had back.  I was able to acheive things that the doctors told me would never be an option.    I ran a mile, then two, then a half marathon.   I completed multiple obstacle course races.   I ran multiple Ragnars.   Did the lupus fight back at times in protest?  Yes!  Did I listen?  Yeah not so much.    Every day for me is a battle against a disease that has no cure, and that I will always have.   There is always something new that is presented to me because of this disease and I will take that on head on and fight.

e695b0429581ac35361d22b42260e3e3

So why the post?  This weekend I am headed to Ottawa, Kansas to run a 50 miler.   Crazy.  I get goosebumps thinking about this.   Because 5 years ago, I never even dreamed of being an ultramarathon runner.   I never imagined that I could even attempt something like this. I never.   But now I know I can and I will.  I have trained smart and am ready as ever to take on this next step in my fitness journey.   Will it be hard?  Hell yes.  But it will be worth every step.  Because with every step I prove to myself that you are NOT defined by your chronic illness.  I will not be the disease I have or let it control my life ever again.

So what are you passionate about?  What drives you to be passionate?  Are you living your life with a passion that can’t be matched by others?  If not….what should you change?

 

d9467dd6c891e73aa8a9b326a8c03bc8


What Crossfit showed me this year so far……

Today I finished the set of 5 Crossfit open workouts, and I can honestly say I am much prouder of where I stand today than the results of last years attempt at doing the workouts.   Last year’s workouts were eye opening, to say the least, I was no where near at the fitness level I am today.  And my results from this year have shown that.  I was able to RX 3 of the 5 workouts, for me that’s huge, I once thought I would never RX a work out……EVER.  I would never be strong enough or capable enough to do any of that.

Let’s relive the workouts:

16.1

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 20 minutes of:
25-ft. front rack walking lunge
8 burpees
25-ft. front rack walking lunge
8 jumping chin-over-bar pull-ups

Men lunge 45 lb.
Women lunge 35 lb.

due to my inability to chest to bar pull ups I had to scale this one, ironically I can do chest to bar pull ups 4 weeks later….. go figure

Any workout that involves burpees is a win for me.   I won’t deny that I love them.   This work out even though it was scaled I was able to do 217 reps, my disappointment as I am a hard ass on myself now was the inability to do chest to bar pull ups.   I have been working for a really long time at trying to get the pull ups and the chest to bar and it just wasn’t working for me.   That’s hard for me to accept when I am always pushing myself to be better.   But as I mentioned 4 weeks later I can hit them, hadn’t even tried them until one night after the WOD I was like what the hell I will give it a go.   Sure enough, look what I can do.

16.2

Scaled (Scaled Men, Scaled Masters Men 40-44, Scaled Masters Men 45-49, Scaled Masters Men 50-54, Scaled Women, Scaled Masters Women 40-44, Scaled Masters Women 45-49, Scaled Masters Women 50-54)

Beginning on a 4-minute clock, complete as many reps as possible of:
25 hanging knee raises
50 single-unders
15 squat cleans, 95 / 55 lb.

If completed before 4 minutes, add 4 minutes to the clock and proceed to:
25 hanging knee raises
50 single-unders
13 squat cleans, 115 / 75 lb.

If completed before 8 minutes, add 4 minutes to the clock and proceed to:
25 hanging knee raises
50 single-unders
11 squat cleans, 135 / 95 lb.

If completed before 12 minutes, add 4 minutes to the clock and proceed to:
25 hanging knee raises
50 single-unders
9 squat cleans, 155 / 115 lb.

If completed before 16 minutes, add 4 minutes to the clock and proceed to:
25 hanging knee raises
50 single-unders
7 squat cleans, 185 / 135 lb.

Stop at 20 minutes.  This work out shows another weakness of mine, I had to do the scaled version because I can’t do double unders, I would have spent the entire 20 minutes trying to get the double unders and would have ended up beyond frustrated and pissed off.   So scaled I went.   I made it through 262 reps on this work out, despite going scaled it was still an ass kicker for sure.   Made me realize my strength weaknesses.   And what I need to work on.   Improvements will come.  However there is a glimmer of hope I can do two or three double unders in a row.  It’s crazy what when you decide to enter a competition like this, what you are truly able to do.

16.3

Rx’d (Rx’d Men, Masters Men 40-44, Masters Men 45-49, Masters Men 50-54, Rx’d Women, Masters Women 40-44, Masters Women 45-49, Masters Women 50-54, Teen Boys 16-17, Teen Girls 16-17)

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 7 minutes of:
10 power snatches
3 bar muscle-ups

Men use 75 lb.
Women use 55 lb.

Went RX, because why not I can snatch 55lbs and get more points for the reps.   Let’s not even discuss bar muscle ups, those are far far far away from being achieved.  I hope to actually get there one day but this year is not that day.  Still counts as RX even though I only got 10 whole reps.

16.4

Rx’d (Rx’d Men, Masters Men 40-44, Masters Men 45-49, Masters Men 50-54, Rx’d Women, Masters Women 40-44, Masters Women 45-49, Masters Women 50-54)
Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 13 minutes of:
55 deadlifts
55 wall-ball shots
55-calorie row
55 handstand push-ups

Men deadlift 225 lb. and throw 20-lb. ball to 10-ft. target
Women deadlift 155 lb. and throw 14-lb. ball to 9-ft. target

RX baby, because I can deadlift 155lbs.   This work out is more intimidating than it appears.  It wasn’t necessarily the weight, but the sheer amount of reps.   55 reps at 155lbs gets heavy, and heavy fast.   I started out strong but dropped to doing 5 reps at a time.   I pushed through that.   I haven’t discussed this much but dealing with my arms going numb recently, they don’t know why, but it happens, of course during a work out.   The wall balls sucked for this reason because my arms were half way numb and I wasn’t exactly coordinated.    It was hot as hell in the gym, hopped on the rower and knew I needed some strong pulls on the rower to get my reps in.  I finished 136 reps for this workout, wasn’t exactly thrilled about this score knowing I probably could have done more.  But it is far from something I needed to be upset or discouraged about.

16.5

21-18-15-12-9-6-3 reps for time of:
Thrusters
Burpees

Men use 95 lb.
Women use 65 lb.

Ok burpees again.  I love burpees.   We all know that, but when you combine burpees with thrusters, life sucks a little bit.   I was definitely sucking air on this workout.   Burpees were my breather for the workout as that many thrusters will wear you down, and got no rep’d a few times, and that means I need to work on this more.   Ensuring that I actually get the depth on the squat.   But it will happen.  Not going to lie I was excited about this work out I knew it was going to suck but it would push my limits and push me to a dark place and show that I truly can do it. I finished in 18:36, pretty damn proud of that considering 5 years ago walking was a task.

I have come a long way and have a long way to go to get to where I want to be.   I am healthy yes, but now I know that I can keep making progress.   I am able to do things that I never thought I would be able to do.  This year’s crossfit open was able to help me realize that I am capable of doing things.

Next week I will attempt something else I never thought I would be able to do a 50 miler.   This will be a true testament of my capabilities and endurance.  I won’t give up easily and will have a great friend with me along the way.

So my Crossfit rant.   I have made so many strides in terms of my fitness.  I am proud of how far I have come, but really want to make sure I make more progress.  I don’t want to give up and stop and let the lupus win. I am going to continue working out till I am old.   This is who I am now, and this is what I do.  Yes I am dedicated to the gym, yes I am dedicated to working out, but it saved my life.  Wouldn’t you be the same if it saved yours?  Maybe it could save yours.


Looking back on who I USED to be……

image1

Social media is always a great source for reminding you of what was happening in your life in the past.  Ironically 6 years ago today, my gall bladder basically exploded and I ended up in an ambulance and having surgery.   I lived in the hospital six years ago basically.   I was always there.  I had added that to the normal of my life.   It’s what my doctors told me repeatedly that I needed to get used to.  That is what my life was going to be with the diagnosis of Lupus.  That I didn’t have a optimistic outlook on what my life would be.  Lupus is a terrible disease.   It slowly tries to kill you from within with your own immune system.   It attacks your skin, your organs, your well being.  It takes everything to go on every day knowing that your own body is trying to kill you.   Knowing that you don’t know if you will go into liver failure, kidney failure.   Not knowing if you are going to have a stroke or a heart attack because your risk of blood clots is so high.  So you accept it and deal.  You deal however you can.   I worked three jobs when I was first diagnosed and was in school full time getting my engineering degree.   I would work and sleep very little.   And used to drink a lot, because when I drank I didn’t feel the pain.

It’s ironic that God sends people into your life when you need them the most.   Moving to Denver for a new design job 5 years ago was probably the best thing that could have happened to me, because it changed my whole perspective on what my future would be.   I was convinced to start working out.  Did it hurt ?  Yes like hell.   The first year of working out was miserable because my body had started deteriorating my muscles and joints.   I had to fight to get back to being healthy.  This journey was not short however.   Its taken 5 years to be healthy.   Five years of fighting everyday the urge to stop and give up.  Five years of failures on certain things but not giving up.  Getting back up and trying again.

image2

Looking back this morning, I was brought to tears.   At 5 this morning when I saw my “memory” on Facebook of the ambulance ride and emergency surgery, I had to take a moment to thank God for the opportunity to be healthy again.   The opportunity to help others who are going through the same hell I went through.   It’s not easy going through hell when no one truly understands what its like to have your own immune system, which is intended to protect you, trying to kill you.   Going through chemotherapy and losing all your hair.   Having to wear a wig and a fake smile on your face knowing none of that was real.   But now I am smiling for real, for so many reasons.  And I am here to help others that need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to complain to, someone to just listen and truly understand.

image4

These past two months I have made so many strides in my physical abilities.   Things that five years ago I never thought I would ever be able to do.   Things that my doctors told me I would NEVER do.   Not going to lie, I truly enjoy proving people wrong.   It’s kind of my thing now.

Hell would I have thought I could back squat 215 lbs 5 years ago?  Hell no.   I could barely walk around with my own body weight let alone that weight.   Did I ever think that I could run a sub 9 minute mile?  Hell to the no.  I could barely run a mile, would have to stop and walk.   My point in this is we all have to start somewhere.   And where you start doesn’t matter.   It’s about the dedication and heart you have in it all.  You are doing this for you, no one else.  Ok maybe to prove some idiots wrong but still this is for you.

I work out for me.   I run for me.   Most people call me crazy, but wouldn’t you be doing the same thing if 5 years ago it took everything you had to walk up a flight of stairs?   Pretty sure you would have the same mindset.

I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.   This is who I am now!

image3

 


Ninjas, Snakes, and Missing Goldfish…….

10399396_10100247088330531_1780641818641612403_n

The best part about Ragnars is that I can join a random team, and have a lot of laughs as we run 200 miles from Wickenburg, AZ to Mesa, AZ.   Some people find it odd that I would join up with people I don’t even know and go run a race, an Ultra Ragnar.   There were six of us in the van.  Most of us this was the first time meeting, but instantaneously we became friends as we knew we had to go out and run a lot, and be stinky, and cranky, and tired in the same van for 34ish hours.

We were a little late to the start line so didn’t start at exactly the time we were supposed to but it was still fun.   I in customary form, had to do burpees at the start line.    They don’t call me burpee queen for nothing! While after doing my first 10 burpees, one of the Ragnar staff goes wait can you do that again I want to post it on social media…..sure why not.    In the social media post I got called crazy….imagine that.

I haven’t posted a blog about racing in awhile, in my down time since my last race last October, I have been focusing on my diet and training.   Things I never truly concentrated on just kind of went with it.   I have a focused training plan and diet that I am trying to stick to as best as I can, yes I still have cheat meals.   It happens.

Ashley took off on her run, out number one runner.   She unfortunately was attacked by ninjas and had to fight off a snake that smelled her blood and wanted to fight.  It happens the ninjas come out of no where as I would learn with my final two legs of the Ragnar.   The unicorns got her bandaged and gave her lucky unicorn poop and she kept on running.  (Trust me we aren’t crazy!)

First leg of Ragnar Del Sol…….I ran this one last year……so I have a decent comparison as to what I was and am now….. I took just about 30 minutes off my time from last year.   I finished 13.5 miles in 2 hrs and 10 minutes.  Something I NEVER thought possible.  I ran sub 9 minute miles for awhile during that stretch…….crazy that I even did that.   But this also proves that training is paying off. That the lupus still is in remission and won’t be winning anytime soon.  Ok side rant, this is huge for me in so many ways.   I ran into JC one of the guys who actually got me into running by making me do a Tough Mudder.  Go figure I love it now….. and am a hell of a lot better off than I was 5 years ago.

12745532_10100246748047461_3403702056255586780_n

No I am not the fastest or strongest by any means.  But for me this whole racing is more about proving to my doctors that I can and to myself that I can do this.   There also comes the part that I am able to help motivate other people whom suffer from lupus.   It’s a very hard realization to hit after being diagnosed that your immune system is broken and you will have a rough life ahead.  The doctors paint a very dark picture of what your future will be like.  I was once there, didn’t have any one that truly understood what it was like besides my mom, whom has lupus as well.   I was angry and having a support group that would just understand makes the world of a difference.  So I have made it a point in my life to ensure that the women that read my blogs are motivated and know they have a friend that they can turn to.

As the day passed, everyone was doing amazing running strong and kept the laughs coming.  The whole enjoying the time you have out there is what is the most important thing.   I see this as not being a in it to win it thing.  Why should it be, I am not a high schooler in the prime of my running career, hell I didn’t even really run in high school.

Ragnars are about having fun and possibly helping someone along the way.  Such a broad spectrum of people go out and run these races, the fittest to the just getting started.   My perspective while being out running is to tell people “good job” or check on them if they look like they are struggling.   There was a woman on one of my runs, I never got her name, but looked completely defeated as to what she was doing.   I walked with her for a moment, encouraging her.   She told me this was the hardest thing she has ever done in her life and wasn’t sure if she could finish.   I reassured her that she took the first step to get here and was going to make it to the next exchange in her own time, and that is something to be proud of.  Little things like this is also why I race.  Helping those who are just starting off, because I was once that girl.  I was once the girl racing and crying because I physically was struggling to walk the course let alone run.  Words of encouragement from complete strangers do miracles when you don’t think you can do it.

12593711_10100246909384141_6987622070315517566_o

Unfortunately my next two runs didn’t go quite as planned.   It happens and my shin is beyond angry still, but will do it again and get stronger knowing what I need to change.

12729262_10154508936953368_7628691984691343832_n

Between the missing goldfish, may he rest in peace, and the crazy ninjas on the course it was an epic race.   It was the first of many this year.   The first of me being what others refer to as crazy.   All of this racing is currently in preparation for my next big event.   I signed up to run a 50 miler.   Craziness, yes I even admit that is the case, but why the hell not.  Why not prove that I can do this.   Five short years ago I couldn’t, so I am going to do what I love and run.

12748081_10100246868386301_8872699576300933097_o

More blog posts to come on a regular basis since race season has now started 🙂

 

 

 

 


What Do You Want To Be Remembered For?

10420064_966063309951_5740202980247150525_n

Recently some things have come to mind, this is jumble of a blog post but all has meaning, love it, like it, or hate it, but it speaks the truth.  This is very quote driven.  Quotes that I have stumbled across very recently

The effect you have on others is the most valuable thing you can own.   It’s not a fancy house, it’s not a fancy car.   It’s not the money you bring home.    The effect that your actions have on others is truly something you should take into account every day

Stop whining and complaining, you are only given ONE life, why waste your time doing this when you could be shooting for everything you ever wanted

If you want to be great at what you do, obsession is a necessity

BE AVAILABLE IN THE MOMENT, DON’T LIVE IN THE PAST!

Sometimes your history determines the fierceness with which you fight for the future

If you are number 1, continue to fight like you are number 2.

We live in a world where everyone is mostly concerned with themselves and not helping each other.    Mocking or ignoring that homeless person on the street corner, freezing and starving.   Making fun of someone who has tried so hard to work out but struggles getting there and not being mocked by someone who is always at the gym.  Let’s remember we have all started somewhere and at one point you were that person, struggling to work out, embarrassed by what you were able to achieve.

People criticize those standing on the street corner.   Saying that they don’t need the money but maybe they really do.    It’s not your right to judge those people.   It’s not right that you mock them. Maybe we should all be concerned with how to help these people.   Even if its a simple sweatshirt that you give them out of your car so they aren’t cold.   Or a couple dollars in cash so they could have a hot meal.    We shouldn’t be worried about how to judge them but how to help them get out of the situation they are in.

Life is precious.   You never know when your last day will be, our lives are a gift from God.    So why would you live your life complaining how terrible it is, when there is somewhere out there that is more than happy to have your bad day over theirs.    If all you do is complain and whine about how miserable you are, why don’t you do something to change it.  Take that first step and make some progress to something that will make you happy.   All it takes is that first step and you are on your way.   Complaining and whining is going to get you NO WHERE in your life.   Now don’t get me wrong I used to complain about being sick all the time, I hated it and was miserable, and depressed.  But I took that first step and signed up for a race I had no right doing, but did it anyway.   Now I don’t complain, I am thankful I was given the opportunity to help so many people by sharing the story of over coming a disease that was bound and determined to kill me, but it didn’t I am still here and stronger than ever.  What will it take for you to take that first step to happiness??

I get criticized often for posting about my workouts and achievements in the fitness world.   There is logic it to that, I have many people that follow my story so they will get up and go do something through the pain they are suffering through, knowing that I was once there.  I was once unable to even walk a mile without stopping because my body was screaming at me and telling me that it was the stupidest idea I have ever had.   The slightest encouragement to others may make a world of difference to them, once again referring back to my initial statement of helping others and how you want to be remembered.  Also comes into the fact that yes I am obsessed with my fitness goals.  I want to see what I am capable of and that drives me to try my hardest at everything I do.   So criticize me there but obsession for bettering myself is nothing to be ashamed of.

So often, and we are all guilty of this, we live in the past.   We live in the what if’s or what could I have done.   While you living in the past your life is passing you by, and referring back to the you don’t know when your last day will be so you might as well live in the moment. Living in the moment allows you to enjoy and experience everything that is standing right in front you.   The people that have come into your life out of the blue.  The opportunities that are presented to you that you may not necessarily see at first.  Enjoying what has been offered to you in this life is the best thing you can do in order to be able to enjoy every minute you have on this beautiful planet.

More on your history and past though.   It can’t be completely forgotten because your past has made you the person you are today.   The fight that you have in you now is determined by your past there is no denying that.   I wouldn’t be the person I am today, without the pain and suffering I went through for so many years.   I wouldn’t be the stubborn ass and hard headed woman I am today, had I not hit rock bottom and realized that I deserved to live my life fully.   Your past experiences teach you something, whether you realize what that may be or not, they  are there to teach you something and one day you may finally realize it and then the fire from within is finally ignited.

Last ramble, notice how these are all based on the quotes above.   Even when you achieve your goals and are number one at something, you can’t back off and stop the fight.  You must continue to fight like you are in second place.   You have to give it your all in everything you do.  Half assing something is not going to get you anywhere.

So finally I ask you how do you want to be remembered?  Do you want to be remembered as the person that complains about everything and anything?  Do you want to be remembered as the indiviudal that went out and gave their all to accomplish their goals?  Do you want to be remembered as the person that was always willing to help others?

These are questions you can only ask yourself!   Stop for ten minutes and think about that.  Think about how you are living the one life given to you.   Do you need to make changes?