A Bumpy Ride

Something I have always wanted to do but honestly have been too scared/nervous to do is  to buy a mountain bike and actually pursue biking.  I’m a runner and have been for over 20 years which means that I like my feet on the ground and like to have total control. However, about a month ago, my husband and I decided we wanted to find a hobby that we can do and get better at together, so we both got new bikes. Biking scares the you know what out of me because I don’t know what I’m doing and there are so many other factors that play in to riding that are out of my control. So we have been building my confidence by riding the streets in our neighborhood and riding the Greenways near by.

Well, today we decided that it was time to take that huge leap outside of my comfort zone and hit the mountain biking trails. We headed out to a hidden gem in Raleigh, Harris Lake. Not going to lie, my heart was beating pretty fast as we entered the parking lot and started on the beginner trail.

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The beginner trail provided plenty of roots and rocks to practice getting comfortable riding over. There were several spots that were such a tight turn that if you move just an inch the wrong way, you were for sure either hitting the tree or falling off or maybe both. 🙂 Therefore, I took it nice and slow.

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After riding the beginner trail twice, I was feeling pretty comfortable and decided to try the intermediate trails. Another step outside of the comfort zone. Well let’s just say it was a bit more challenging and technical than the beginner trail. I learned how important it is to trust yourself and the bike you’re riding. There were times where I felt I should brake because there was a tree coming up or a root, but that’s when I learned that it was easier to pedal through that part and face it head on.

Kind of like life, sometimes there are obstacles that pop up and I am so quick to put my brakes on and analyze how I’m going to get through it and it takes FOREVER and sometimes I don’t even face it. When really all it takes, is belief and to keep pushing through head on as fast as you can no matter how hard or scary it is. Don’t get me wrong, there may have been a few curse words that flew out of my mouth and a doubt in my mind, but I pushed through and learned why it was so important to keep going.

There were some incredible views while we were on the trail, we made sure to take the time and enjoy those views.

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So grateful for my patient husband who was an awesome coach. We had a blast and I honestly wanted to keep riding, which I guess is a good sign.

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What are you going to do to get out of your comfort zone this weekend?!

 

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Day 6: A leap of faith

3:45 couldn’t come soon enough this morning because I got to see my husband, Andy. He drove 9 hours from NC getting only 3 hours of sleep and sleeping in his car just to be able to spend the day with me. Now that is true love!! It was so incredible to have him here by my side.

Today was dedicated to my faith and my incredibly supportive husband Andy. I truly believe God has a plan for all of us as long as we listen. So grateful that I listened to Him when He put Andy in my life. He is the most supportive, positive, and adventure seeking person I know. I am a better person because of you, Andrew. Love you

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I wore different shoes today that I really didn’t like during my training but they are ultra running shoes, so they have more cushion. My legs were a mess after yesterday, so I decided to give them a try today. Holy cow did they make a huge difference. I didn’t feel my blister and I ran most of the day.

It was another incredible sunrise and was actually chilly as I started running, so of course I wanted to get as many miles in before it got blazing hot out again.

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Today was full of some awesome rolling hills. Some were definitely a bit more challenging than others, but it reminded me of being back home in Raleigh during my training so I stretched out my stride and dominated those bad boys. My legs were enjoying it so much they told me to keep going, so I busted out 28 miles so we would have less to do tomorrow!!

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My reflection today was all about taking a leap of faith.There is so much that we all are faced with in life and we all face very different things. However, one thing I have learned in the past but truly forgot until the last 6 days of this incredible journey, is in order to grow as a person and have an impact in this world, we all have to take a leap of faith and believe that we will be given wings to survive. There is no way I would be where I am today if I did not put myself out there and hope, pray, and believe that God was going to take care of me.

Faith has always been important to me, but is something that I definitely lost and grew away from for the past several years for many different reasons. About 6 months ago, Andy and I took a huge leap of faith and stepped WAY out of our comfort zone and decided to join a small group of young couples from our church. We knew no one and had no clue what to expect, so we went in with an open mind to give it a try. All I can say is that we are so glad we listened to a calling that we were very unsure of but felt right. These are some of the most down to earth, incredible people who met us where we are in our faith, and are walking with us along our journey. It’s all about taking a leap of faith wherever you are in your life.

I definitely took a leap of faith opening my life up to Andy. It was not something that was easy but he made me feel so comfortable and it was like we knew each other for years after meeting each other once. He is one of the most incredible people I know. I couldn’t imagine anyone else by my side. It was so great to have him here today to see what my journey has been like over the past 6 days.

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The biggest thing I have learned this week is to be in the moment and to truly appreciate it. Put your phone on silent, put aside the schedule and just live right now in this moment. Even if it’s just for a little bit each day. None of us know what the next moment may hold so enjoy it NOW!

Here are some fun photos from our day:

I have gotten used to dogs coming down the drive way to protect their house but definitely not a goat
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This is some of the farm equipment that I have seen more than cars over the past 6 days

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I passed this little produce stand where they have the honor system and you pay and take. I had $2 on me so I was tempted to get some squash and zucchini but then I quickly remembered I’d have to carry it 4 miles.

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Tim found some cans for my dad’s collection.

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There’s always time to stop and pose on a bridge

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It was such a relief when I looked down the road and saw this awesomeness coming towards me

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I think this is the closes I’ve come to a horse in about 15 years. Horses and I don’t always get along. See it’s all about getting out of your comfort zone.

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My mom, Grandma and Aunt Ginny drove from Indianapolis tonight to be here for the finish tomorrow, so they brought us a little picnic dinner at our campsite!! So excited to see my sisters and in laws tomorrow!!!

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It’s so hard to believe that I have only 1 day and 19 miles to go. You all have been with me every step of this journey and I couldn’t be more grateful. I truly couldn’t have done it without you.

We don’t have to be up until 5:00 tomorrow!! Yippee!!! Have a great weekend!!

Day 5: Life lessons learned on the road

4:00 am came awfully early this morning and I had a very hard time falling asleep last night so needless to say all I really wanted to do was stay in bed. However, I remembered that I wasn’t the only one in this fight so I put one toe after another onto the ground and got my butt up. That doesn’t mean I was in a good mood though. Definitely feeling a case of ‘I woke up on the wrong side of the bed.’

As we drove to the starting point for the day, I was still feeling real grouchy. It was one of those moments where you just want to break down and cry. So I gave myself one mile to cry and let it all out, but once I hit that mile mark it was time to dry those tears up, suck it up, and remember why I am doing this. I definitely felt better.

Today was dedicated to all of the incredible people who have come into my life after college. My Tahoe friends who taught me how to truly appreciate the outdoors and extreme sports as well as living out of my comfort zone to become a better person. And all of my NC friends who I have met the last 5 years. You all taught me how to get out of my comfort zone and enjoy the little things in life. Love each of you for making me who I am today.

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The day was by far one of my most favorite days I’ve ever run. The temperature was in the upper 60’s lower 70’s, very low humidity, big puffy clouds, and a nice wind blowing. At one point, I almost put on my long sleeve shirt, but I didn’t want to jinx it so I just walked/ran a bit faster!! There were some awesome rolling hills for most of the day!

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Dad was here for another day of biking and running when he could; therefore I had more time for running along, so I used today as a day to reflect and be grateful. I thought about all of the lessons I have learned about life, running, and my body after 5 days of this incredible journey.

Here are some of the lessons I have learned over the last 5 days:

1. Sometimes you just have to experiment with things to see if they work. My stomach has been pretty upset the past 2 days during and after running. The thought of eating another protein bar or gummy makes me feel sick. So one of my crew members, Kendra, suggested that I may be eating too much. After experimenting throughout the day, that did the trick. I was eating too much, who would have thought. haha Kendra saved the day and my stomach!!

2. Stop to talk to strangers. I met Pepper today after she came running at me with all of her teeth showing. I thought for sure my leg was going to get bit. Turns out she just wanted some lovin. She looks a lot like our dog Sierra!!

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We finished at a golf course and were telling two men what we were doing. They each donated $20. It was pretty incredible.

3. Take some time to stop and smell the wild flowers. There were a ton of wild flowers on the side of the road which reminded me of my Nanny. Whenever we go hiking together, she always knows all about the wild flowers. Thanks for running with me today, Nan!

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4. JT and I scoutin out the port o’ corns. We found some good ones today. They were a bit shorter than the other days!! JT was definitely by my side today. Thanks buddy.

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5. Sometimes you just have to look at life in a different perspective. As dad and I were running, we stopped for a stretch break and took this picture upside down!!

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6. Dad taught me all about the difference between hay and straw and how to tell in the fields. I also learned that there is a different smell between pig, cow, and chicken manure. Quite frankly it all smells like shit to me. 😉 It was definitely intriguing to hear day share his knowledge of growing up on a farm. I think I’m ready to be a farm girl. hahah NOT!!

7. Dad set a new PR. On our last 4 mile walk he was able to collect and hold 15 cans all at once. It was a big day for Toddo. He tried to get me to help pick them up but I knew if I bent down there was no getting back up.

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8 Sometimes the hardest part is taking that first step. I am one of those people who has to have everything planned out exactly how it needs to happen, have everything packed (with lots of snacks;)), get flustered when I think that it’s not going to go exactly how I want it to go. Therefore, I don’t always take that first step. Well sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and trust that God has your back and will put wings on you to fly. I was drained today both physically and mentally today so it took everything I had to take that first step. And yes it was insanely painful and I might have made some pretty crazy noises, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Taking that step after the 15 mile mark was not as easy so I decided to listen to my body and walk the last 11 miles and enjoy the AMAZING day.

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I am exhausted so time for some rest but it’s incredible to think that Day 5 and 130 miles are complete. 2 more days and 47 miles. So excited because my husband will be here to run/bike with me all day tomorrow. You all keep me going and get me out of bed in the morning. Love to you all.

Day 3: Inhale strength, exhale weakness

Phew, what a day. Another early morning wake up call at 3:45am but once again, I was incredibly grateful to be out before the sun came up and enjoy as much breeze and coolness that we could. The sunrise was absolutely incredible over the cornfields today. iphone pics Day 3 MSRUS 004 iphone pics Day 3 MSRUS 006

Today was dedicated to all of my fellow MS Rockstars who are fighting the challenges of living with MS right along with me. It’s a fight every minute of every day but it’s all in our attitude and mindset. You all keep me moving and give me hope that we WILL find a cure.

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Today was definitely a day that built up my mental toughness. I could definitely feel my legs getting stronger. My friend Jamie wrote me a card for this morning and the first thing in it was “pain is weakness leaving the body.” That’s exactly what I told myself all day long. Thanks, Jame!  My middle sister sent me a challenge to think of a memory of each chapter of my life while I was running today which kept me occupied for awhile and also gave me some good laugh out loud moments! Thanks, Morgs!! My youngest sister had her students that she works with make some encouraging signs and cards which definitely made me start crying. Thanks Lolen!

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We finished 13 miles by 9 am and it felt awesome!! Thank you all for posting, texting, emailing any orange that you were wearing. Keep it coming!!

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While the flat roads are awesome, a challenge is there is very little shade. So when it is blazing hot and no breeze it can be very challenging and take every ounce of mental strength that you have. Heat and MS don’t work well together for most people and I am one of them, but thank goodness for my crew team that took care of me. Kendra ran the entire day with me which was incredible and Tim was awesome with the ice, food, finding shady spots when possible, and applying biofreeze to my legs!!! I couldn’t have done it without them today.

Sometimes this was about at much shade as we could find.

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The last  5 miles were by far the hardest miles I have ever experienced running or really doing anything physical. At about mile 22 I was ready to curl up in a cornfield and call it quits and then I thought about all of the other incredible people I have met over the past 11 years who are fighting this fight with me. So I quickly inhaled some strength and exhaled a lot of weakness and pushed through. It was probably one of the best feelings to know that we just kicked some Ohio backroad bootay in the blazing hot heat which means we are kicking some serious MS butt.

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Things I am getting used to after 3 days of running on back country roads in Ohio:

1. The smell of cow manure and dead animals

2. Seeing more dead animals than people

3. Using cornfields as port-o-pots

4. Embracing every bit of shade possible. It starts to become a game after awhile. Run until you find shade (that’s why we ran most of today because there wasn’t a whole lot of shade to be embraced).

5. Truly appreciating the incredible farmland. Being able to see for miles is not something you can do in a lot of places and when you truly take time to embrace the quiet beauty, it’s incredible.

All I have to say is the love and support from so many of you is just incredible. You truly got me through my day today and will be the reason I get up in the morning. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!

This was another quote that got me through my day…

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I feel this sums up what facing the daily challenges of MS can be like. Embrace what you can do and go live it up today!! Love and sweaty hugs to you all!

 

Bags are packed and emotions are flying

It’s so unreal to think that 8 months ago, I received the acceptance card from Ashley to be a part of the 2014 MS Run the US relay team. I remember thinking, “oh that’s in July, I’ve got a really long time.” Well, my friends, July is here and I begin my segment in just 2 short days!!!

As I have been packing and preparing for this incredible adventure, I have been, once again, reassured that I have some of the most incredible, supportive, encouraging, positive, MS butt kicking friends and family.

My friend Erica has been helping me so much with strength training, stretching, coaching, and just keeping the nerves calm. When we got done with our last session this week, Erica gave me this awesome care package. You’re the best, Erica!!

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On Wednesday, I went to lunch with Monica and Paula from the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the NMSS. These two women are the main reason I even found out about MS Run the US when they invited me to attend the National MS Leadership Conference this past year. Everyone at the entire Greater Carolinas Chapter has been so supportive and encouraging and they all came together and made this awesome care package. Thank you everyone for all you do for this fight!

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Then, after lunch, I came home to this very unexpected package from 3 of the guys who have kept me active, keep me laughing, and remind me to live life to it’s fullest.  It’s a bravelet bracelet and part of the proceeds go to Can Do MS foundation. Thank you Scott, Kyle, and Craig for this incredible bracelet and for your friendship.

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Needless to say, my emotions have been flying, and I am overwhelmed by all of this love and support, so to top it all off, some of my running girls and great friends all chipped in and made me the BEST gluten free/running care package a girl could ever get. Thank you, Kristin, Jackie, Katie N., Katie P., Jen, Jenny, and Leigh for your thoughtfulness and awesomeness!!

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And now my wrists are filled with incredible, meaningful bracelets. photo 2 (1)

My left arm muscles are going to be extra strong by the end of the week. 😉

This morning, I had coffee with one of my college girlfriends and she of course got my emotions going again. Thanks Jame for my 1 card a day. I will be sure to share those tears with you every day!! Love you.

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So for now, we have a quick pit stop in Columbus, OH for our friends Shannon and Jon’s wedding and to see my little sister and her boyfriend!

Stay tuned for many more updates. You all ROCK MY WORLD! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

 

It’s all in the mindset

Phew…month one of training has been completed and oh boy what a month it was. This by far was one of the most challenging months that I have had physically, mentally, and emotionally.

So here are my top 10 take aways from my first month of training for my segment of MS Run the US.

10. Sierra, our dog, is a fabulous running partner who is always up for the challenge of a long run in the dark. She’s always ready to protect!!

9. Stretching and Strengthening is HUGE. Because of all of my running in the past and not taking the time to stretch, I have been in extreme pain in my piriformis (because of weak glute/ core muscles) for the past several months. This has made sitting, standing, sleeping, walking and running very painful. Therefore, I decided it was time to check myself in to physical therapy. After learning different stretches and strengtheners, I was able to graduate within 2 months!!! Thank you Select Physical Therapy for your guidance and knowledge.

8. The strength of my legs and arms is extremely important, but one lesson I have learned this month is the importance of the strength of my core muscles because they affect every movement I make. By incorporating core exercises after every run, I can feel my core getting stronger every day!! Along with my legs and arms.

7.  Stress Management is key to good health. As I have started running again, I figured out where I carry all of my stress and tension…in my neck and shoulders. I have also figured out that I need to find a way to manage my stress because I can’t always rely on running. I have incorporated weekly yoga and incorporating daily personal development to start which is helping.

6. Being a strong runner doesn’t happen over night like I want it to. The Olympics really helped set this straight in my mind. It takes a great amount of hard work, dedication, discipline, and determination to get where I want to go.

5.  I’m not weak, I’m putting strength back into my body.

4.  I truly love how running is a time of reflection and deep thinking for me. It is when I have some of my deepest thoughts and most amazing ideas. Now I just need to start running with a recorder :).

3.Nutrition is HUGE. It doesn’t matter what I do physically if I bomb it with my eating. Thank goodness for Herbalife!!

2. I have the most amazing, supportive, open minded husband who I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without. I am very grateful to have him as a teammate on this amazing journey.

1. Not only is running truly a mindset, but so is life. It can be so easy to let the negative thoughts race through my mind. But what’s even more amazing is when those negative thoughts are kicked out and completely reversed by encouraging, motivating, positive thoughts that will do nothing but make me a better runner and all around person.

I’m so excited to see where this amazing journey takes me, and I can already tell it’s going to be amazing.

Here are a few photos from month one.

photo 1As I was teaching shapes to my first graders, we came across this template. Of course I had them all complete it!!

photo 2Pre-run with my furry child, Sierra. She could hardly stand still for the picture. 🙂

photo 3A little post run pose from one of our late night runs.

photo (1)My reflection from month one to push me into the upcoming months.

Bring it on Month 2…