29 December 2013

More to Explore at 44…

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
– Sophia Loren

Here’s to another year above ground – clink clink – and what a year it has been! This year I ran two marathons along with nine ultras ranging in distance from 31 to 85 miles. Five of those ultras were at least 48 miles or more. My Garmin says I logged over 1,500 miles and 273,000 ft of elevation gain in 2013. Dang.

Other than when my first child was born, it’s hard to imagine a year full of more change and adventure than this one. I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to have legs that work, mountains to play in, friends to run with, my husband's support and the flexibility of schedule to enjoy the trails. I'm grateful for those I've met in the ultrarunning community that want to keep exploring the wild places and their own limits. I've long felt like a 25 year old in a middle aged body and for once, I don't feel I'm alone in my need to pursue these sorts of physical challenges. There are so many mothers over 50 that are running strong with no thoughts of stopping, I can't help but be inspired. 
Deb Pero* - bonafide Hardrocker
Marvelous Mimi* - Record-Setting Granny
Meghan Arbogast* - The Queen
To name a few.

Just 'cause there's snow on the roof doesn't mean there's not a fire inside.” 
– Bonnie Hunt

I’ve been reading a lot of Year-In-Review blog posts the past couple of weeks but had no particular inclination to post one of my own, mainly because I have already chronicled it thoroughly during the past 12 months. My offseason however – which began three weeks ago – has given rise to reflection as I look ahead to 2014. Not running (along with a birthday and new year fast approaching) leads to contemplation about running and life in general.

It’s clear I’ve tapped into something that has me wanting to explore the limits of what I’m capable of as an ultrarunner. While I don’t expect to run as many ultras in 2014 as I did this year, I really want to see just how well I can perform with proper training. I’m not “a natural” when it comes to endurance running – my large muscle mass is better suited for sprinting. But I prefer the longer distances, so I’ll stubbornly work to make myself better at them. Could I eventually become a mid-packer? It’s anyone’s guess. That’s what I want to discover though -- my potential.

The challenge in 2014 is not just pushing my limits athletically; it's figuring out how to train and race when finances are tight and my future in the workforce is hazy. With no positions locally in my specific field and the closest opportunities an hour away, it seems I need to make a shift of some kind. The kind of opportunities that abounded for me back in 90's and early 00's seem to have disappeared as I've seen nothing in the past three years that resembles them. While I am capable of doing many jobs, the pay has to justify the additional childcare costs that are required. This is why you won’t see me working as a barista at Starbucks or selling shoes at the local running store.

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
- Wendell Berry

I'm called to work and use my natural abilities, strengths and skills to make a contribution to the culture. I'm just not sure where I will do that, outside of the home. I have a few ideas brewing that I'm going to pursue. I get a lot of satisfaction from taking care of my family and managing the household affairs -- keeping things running smoothly. It may be that this is my calling for now, along with spending more time with my kids.
Hoarfrosted Trees
So, I’m learning how to navigate through this season of my life. As a planner, I'm being stretched to live each day in the present, appreciating its gifts and opportunities, rather than fearfully imagining a future disaster. It’s easy for me to imagine a series of cause and effects that has our family living in a cardboard box under the overpass, as silly as that sounds. Balancing the strong desire to pursue my running goals against the growing need to get back to work has been really difficult. As you can see from my sidebar, I want to finish my first 100 miler in Sept. It’s hard to plan that far in advance not knowing how flexible my schedule or finances will be. So, there’s a few question marks in my mind as to whether I’ll get to all those races this year or not, but I’ll do my damnedest to do so and try not to make too much of it if I need to take a step back. The races aren’t going anywhere.

So what have I been doing these past few weeks of not running? Cycling on a trainer for starters. I’m doing four 90 minute sessions per week, aiming for 90 rpms and ~145 -150 HR. Additionally, I’m doing some core work (planks, situps, bridges) and hip/leg stability exercises (single leg squats, deadlifts, lunges) and various yoga poses to increase my hip and general lower body flexibility. All of this is useful in combatting common running injuries, such as the bursitis I’m pretty sure I had by November.

I’ve registered for some shorter local races in Jan/Feb that will supplement the speedwork I’ll be doing each week. The first race is in two weeks (7 miler), so in honor of my birthday, I kicked off a new season by running easy for 44 minutes and with the exception of an SI joint niggle, felt great. Looking forward to adding some dirt to my workout each week, along with the cycling.

Scenes from today's jaunt around Ute Valley:

Happy Trails,


*Photos courtesy of Chris Black, Mimi Anderson & Meghan Arbogast.

09 December 2013

TNF 50 San Francisco

One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak. 
- G.K. Chesterton 
What's worse than a DNF at 100 mile race? A DNF at a 50 mile. 

I had high hopes of a good day for the first 20 miles or so. I felt great, was running the initial climbs and enjoying the views and some conversation with the other runners. Met several guys that were running their first 50 miler, including Joe Jackson, who works for Outside Magazine. He as well as Samantha got it done -- congrats to both!
Samantha and I warming up at the start
As I began the climb up to the turnaround at McKinnon Gulch (23 miles), I began to worry that my pace may not be enough to skirt the cutoffs. Samantha was returning when I saw her about a mile from the AS. By the time I got to McKinnon, I was only about 45 min ahead of the cutoff. 
Redwood Trees
I was hoping to get into Stinson Beach (mile 28) between 11-12 and I arrived at 12:15. Parts of the descent from McKinnon to Stinson were not runnable for me because of the technicality/erosion of the course, but I ran as much as I could. Jill was waiting for me and after grabbing a little something from the aid table, we took off. 
Picking up Jill at Stinson
My stomach had been a little off during the climb up to Cardiac as well as McKinnon, but the climb out of Stinson up the Dipsea trail pretty much did it in. I kept trying to reset it using the old finger-down-the-throat method, but got nothing but dry heaves. So, I ran the flats & descents and slogged up the climbs, bringing down my pace even more. By the time we got to Old Inn, I missed the 2nd hard cutoff by a few minutes. Blerg.
Had my stomach recovered, I would have been fine continuing the course and finishing unofficially. But knowing that there was plenty more climbing ahead, I didn't think that was wise. I felt bad for Jill, having only a slow 8 miler with me, but she decided to run back to her car at Tennessee Valley and taking the scenic route, managed to get 23 miles in after all. 

I realized afterwards that I was very dehydrated. It's not unusual for me not to pee during a race, since my pee isn't dark when I do. This time, not only did I not pee in 10+ hours, but it didn't become clear until this morning. While the beer Sat night and coffee Sunday morning didn't help, I did drink a lot of water in addition to those tasty beverages. I'm thinking that my nausea may have been induced by the dehydration. Lesson learned: drink at least a full handheld between aid stations, even when it's cold. 

I think the other thing that bit me was just being tired and not able to get adequate training in this time around. I've spent much of the past three months tapering or recovering from several hard efforts and the 5 weeks I devoted to preparing for this race was wrought with difficulties. Kids being sick a lot, lack of childcare and being unmotivated to train at odd hours all contributed to it being a sucky training block. I simply wasn't prepared for all the climbing and still keep a descent pace. I pushed myself more than I had at other ultras, but it wasn't enough. Was my failure due to over racing or over training? Possibly. I won't have this long of a season ever again. 6-8 months of racing is about it for me.

So it was a tough end to a really great first season of ultrarunning. Since I had more climbing at Quad Rock and cleared those cutoffs, I wasn't as concerned with this race. Having done this distance several times before it feels even worse to time out. Finishing within the cutoffs feels like such a low bar already.   

As I've reflected on this race, I wonder if my enjoyment of running 50+ miles will diminish if I am not able to increase my speed to the point of clearing cutoffs. As much as I enjoy the trails, I hate the stress of feeling like I'm going to get pulled. The joy of the day drains when I do get pulled. I certainly don't want to spend money entering and traveling to races that I can't complete because I'm too slow. 

I'm still trying to figure some of this stuff out, but what I do know is that I need a break. I want to remember the season with all of it's joys and not dwell too much on this particular race and it's disappointment. When I start running again sometime in January, I hope to be in a better frame of mind. I'm going to be concentrating on increasing my speed with the hope of having a season of no DNFs.

I was happy to see that Jill got in to Hardrock next year. I hope to help her in some way while I'm there, if I can.

For now, I'm going to sign off of the blog and enjoy some quality time with the family and celebrate the Advent Season. Unless some unexpected inspiration hits, I'll be back to writing sometime early in the next year. 

I love Sufjan Steven's Songs for Christmas and this hymn cover just slays me. Worshiping God is a great way to pull myself out of my navel gazing. I hope you enjoy it too. 

"Christmas is the end of thinking you are better than someone else, because Christmas is telling you that you could never get to heaven on your own. God had to come to you." - Tim Keller

"The Christ child in the manger is forever an indication of the great lengths God will go to reconcile his creation" - Ravi Zacharias

Merry Christmas and Happy Trails,


04 December 2013

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

There's no such thing as bad weather, just soft people. -Bill Bowerman

Damn, it's cold.
T-3 to TNF 50. Finally.

I'm pretty burnt out from training for the past year and can't wait to do something else for a month -- or however long it takes to get the stoke back. Strange things are happening on my runs, even the ones in which I'm feeling good. For instance, about 90 minutes into last week's long run, I just stopped suddenly, because I was done running. I didn't even realize what had happened initially, puzzled by why I was just standing there. I manually restarted myself and finished the run, but it only confirmed what I've been feeling for months. I need a break.

I'm happy my next long run will be a race, with new views, new people and new experiences to drink in. I'm always jazzed at races -- if I could, I'd race every couple of weeks just because I enjoy being there so much. I've never felt the lack of enthusiasm for running in that setting so I'm not expecting it on Saturday.

One thing that has had me concerned the past few weeks has been some nagging hip pain. My chiro-huz has been adjusting me and after putting me through an exam, thought it was probably bursitis. I think he's right. It hurts in that spot every time I run and it's worse after I've done steep climbs or long runs. I'm expecting TNF to be uncomfortable all the way through and that I'll be hobbling for a couple of days until things loosen up a bit. But hey, I'll embrace every horrible minute of it, cause I'm crazy that way.

One thing I realized as my beloved chiro was assigning stretching exercises is that my hip flexibility is terrible. It's so bad that sitting cross-legged is painful. Running has only made this worse. I've begun sitting cross-legged a lot now to stretch things out and it's been improving. I've also started doing some yoga poses that are specific to runners and that's helped ease the pain too.

Once my off-season starts, my initial plan is to focus on doing yoga, core work and strength training to help with muscle balancing to heal the bursitis and keep it from becoming a recurring theme. I also have my bike set up on our trainer so I'll get some cross training in while enjoying some Netflix picks that I've had no time to enjoy this year.  

As I think about TNF 50, I am pretty excited to get to run these storied trails on Saturday. It looks like I may have an author-blogger-adventurer joining me as a pacer for the last 22 miles too. While I think it's silly for an elite runner to have a pacer for a 50 miler when 10k is up for grabs, I'm happy to have the company and allow Jill to have a long run with aid station benefits. Being as I've never run an ultra with bursitis, I'm just hoping to keep the pain management at bay so I can be my normal happy self out there in the Marin Headlands. I want to finish too and well before the cutoff. 

I picked out my TNF outfit and in the spirit of cutting my hair, decided to go hat-less and jewelried, presuming the 40-50 degree weather holds.
In the midst of today's frenzied packing for San Fran, a friend who is also running TNF 50 sent me this course preview, which really got me excited for running the Pirates Cove descent, Matt Davis and Dipsea trails. I'll repost for your enjoyment:

Happy Trails,


28 November 2013

Counting My Blessings

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” 
- A.A. Milne 
This year I decided to do something that friends of mine have been doing for years -- taking note of at least one thing to be thankful for every day in November. This year with the lack of a stressful job, the time and energy to enjoy my family, a church we love with new friends to get to know and an incredible inaugural year of ultrarunning I've had, it hasn't been too difficult to tick off one blessing after another. Some were daily realities; some were specific to the day's circumstances. I started posting them up on my facebook page and I'll repost them here:

Day 1:  With a day-long headache and girl with stuff coming out both ends, "Thanksvember" didn't start off well. More like "Mama's Extra Grumpy November". Blerg. However, my parents restocked us with fresh Alaskan moose meat, so we'll get to enjoy our favorite burgers this winter. Thankful!

Day 2: After Funk Friday, I was thankful for a new day full of delights. Getting out and enjoying the gorgeous weather, I got a run in, spent time with Grammy & Poppa, found an awesome playground and if that wasn't enough, I got a date night with my favorite dude. 

Day 3: Thankful to see Grammy & Poppa from Alaska every fall now that we live in CO and they snowbird in AZ!

Day 4: Thankful for afternoon tea with my baby girl. 

Day 5: Despite a very rough morning with the kids, thankful for friends like Sheila, who enable me to do speedwork on their dreadmill when I'm without childcare.

Day 6: Thankful that my dear huz has a job that he truly loves that also pays him a steady paycheck. (He's the chiropractor for the Air Force Academy.) He loves his work, his patients, his colleagues BIG and they love him right back. What a gift to do what you love & get paid for it too.

Day 7: I'm thankful for the gift of a sweet, goofy, smart boy that God blessed me with 6 years ago. He loves me something fierce even as I learn how to understand him (he's mildly autistic) and strive to be a better mom to him.

Day 8: I am thankful for legs that work and joy when I run. The ability to run up, down and around mountains has been a delightful gift to me here in Colorado, countering the sadness of leaving New England and my peeps almost three years ago.

Day 9: I am thankful for our new house. It came as an unexpected opportunity to own a place of our own again & I certainly feel more settled here in CO now.

Day 10: I'm thankful for our community at Westside Church, a bunch of big sinners who believe in an even bigger Savior. I look forward to corporate worship with them each Sunday. 

Day 11: For all those who serve(d) our country in the armed forces, my deepest thanks.

Day 12: I'm thankful for the opportunity to take piano lessons as a child, the joy I receive from playing/singing and being able to use it in corporate worship for three decades and counting.

Day 13: I'm thankful for my sweet, lovable 3YO baby girl and the opportunity to enjoy more time with her these days.

Day 14: With a child sick again (7x in 10 weeks!) and only 3 hrs of sleep, I am thankful that our bodies can recharge on a 1 hour power nap. New mercies...I felt like a new woman!

Day 15: I'm thankful that my runs into bear & cougar country have been uneventful to date. The Mt. Herman kitty that gave Sheila a good scare two days ago was no where to be seen today, as well as the honey-feasting bear that a hiker saw this morning.

Day 16: I'm thankful for long term friendships that though they become long distance ones, remain close thanks to commitment & Google Hangouts.

Day 17: While my kids are dealing with persistent stomach/GI issues for the past 10 weeks (on average, one or both every week) I'm so thankful that I don't have a day job (to do or ditch) compounding the day's stress. This week they both had it twice, just days apart!

Day 18: I'm thankful that my son enjoys reading to us. Our new routine is for him to read at the dinner table and it makes my heart happy.

Day 19: I'm thankful for all the awesome ultrarunners that I have met this year. They have encouraged me and made my freshman season such a blast. I look forward to racing and hanging out with them more in 2014!

Day 20: Thankful for Jesus, who saw my heart to the bottom and still loved me to the skies. His saving grace undergirds the hope I have in this life and in the life to come. The most amazing adventure in the wilds can't top that. Hallelujah.

Day 21On cold, snowy days, I'm thankful for a garage and more importantly, safety to & from school on icy roads.

Day 22I am thankful for excellent road conditions from the Springs to Moab and the beauty of the frosted trees, mountaintops and canyons to enjoy along the way.

Day 23Thankful for the beauty of the seasons that at times, counteracts the discomfort that I feel as I'm out running. My brumous, snowy, muddy run in Moab was tough and made tougher with GI issues, but one look up and around at the desert beauty provided an immediate balm. No regrets getting out of bed and heading out there for the afternoon and I'll take those beautiful memories with me to my grave.

Day 24Thankful for a reliable vehicle that has safely taken me & my family on long distance trips with no breakdowns.

Day 25On this, my grocery shopping day, I'm thankful for the daily provision of food and the ability to help those who are in need this season.

Day 26I am thankful for my husband, who loves me & the kids real BIG, supports me in my crazy ultrarunning adventures, keeps the household stuff operating properly and cooks really good food for us. And he loves Jesus to boot! God knew that if it were up to me to feed the family, we'd subsist on Eggo waffles, pizza, cheese & crackers and Hungry Man dinners.

Day 27Nov 2003 was a hard month in a hard year. I'm thankful for the reminder that out of death, comes life. Beauty can rise out the ashes. It never always gets worse.

Day 28: I'm thankful for my extended family and though we must celebrate apart from one another, if we could be together, it would a no-drama time of feasting and enjoying each other. I love my family and miss them all.

I know it won't be hard to come up with two more prior to month end. I'm thankful for eyes that can behold the beauty of art -- both man-made and God-made in nature, for ears that enjoy beautiful music or the sound of rushing water as I run, a nose to enjoy the smell of and a tongue to taste so many culinary delights, and the ability to feel kisses, hands held, snuggles and hugs from my family. I hope you are able to count your many blessings today, even in the midst of difficult circumstances. If we are alive and have people to love who love us in return, we can give thanks.

Seek to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life. - Alexander MacLaren

In closing, the song that I hope will be sung at my funeral, covered by the amazing Buddy Miller:

Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours!


27 November 2013

iRun(kinda)Far Behind the Rocks

“Even in the mud and scum of things, something always, always sings.” 
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Hunter Canyon
The massive winter storm that moved from CA across the desert southwest last week should have clued me in that my run in Moab might be even more adventurous than I had planned. Here in the Springs, we had sub-freezing temps, icy roads and strong winds to give me added incentive to get out of town asap. 

Meghan had put me on notice that it may be a snowy run so I came prepared. The drive through CO and UT was uneventful with the roads being in great shape and the snow-frosted landscape incredibly beautiful. I captured some of the scenes on my phone and posted on Instagram here, in case anyone's interested.

About 10 miles outside of Moab, the clouds and spitting snow told me that "weather" had arrived. The huge flakes that greeted me in town began to accumulate that night and by the morning I had over 6 inches sitting on top of my car.

Let me pause and mention that we met for dinner Friday night at a fantastic sushi place called Sabaku where I had the Sunshine Roll with the pineapple habanero sauce that's usually put on the Devil's Garden roll. Oh my, was that tasty. If you like sushi, go there. 

Meghan lives at 6,000 feet (Moab is at 4,000) and was pretty much snowed in that morning. She ended up running 4 miles down the road from her cabin where I picked her up and we headed in town for breakfast at the Love Muffin. Since the temps were supposed to warm up into the 40s and the snow was already melting, we decided to head out to the Canyonlands to see if the roads were passable and perhaps stick to our original plan of a 28-ish mile loop in the Island in the Sky district. We found at least a foot of snow near the park entrance and with snow accumulating and the roads not yet plowed, we turned around and headed back to town.

Meghan then suggested that we run a loop in the Behind the Rocks Wilderness Study Area, which is conveniently located near town. We headed out Kane Creek Blvd and parked near Jacksons Trail. The plan was to do around 12-13 miles, much of which was part of the Moab Trail Marathon course which would take us through Pritchett and Hunter Canyons. With the late start to the day, we thought we could get it done by dark. We did... barely.

I had woken up with GI issues (thanks to my kids) but despite the periodic pit stops, difficulty eating, the ankle-deep snow, it really was a glorious afternoon in the canyons. I always find that the visual beauty will be a balm when I'm physically feeling lousy. I have nothing but beautiful memories of the day, so I guess there was enough awesome for me to forget the rough patches.

Some of the photo-worthy moments:  
Meghan, happy to be running finally!
Birthing Scene Petroglyph
Kane Springs Creek

Looking for the hard-to-spot cairns 
Sometimes, you scramble up bum-first

Happy Canyon Runner (Photo: Meghan)
Meghan gapping me after a pit stop

One of several waterfalls along the route
Pritchett Canyon
Sadly, had to pass on this little detour (Photo: Meghan)
Miles made harder by snow!
Tough travels but still smiling!
Descending into Hunter Canyon
The "Vermont" Keyhole
Where the mud began

Mud & slickrock don't mix well

Making nice with the mud
Thanks again to Meghan for showing me more of the canyon beauty around Moab. I feel lucky to have gotten to run there four times in the past year, two of those times with her (see Feb post). Wishing her happy training days as she prepares to defend her title at Marathon de Sables next April.

As for me, I'm counting my Thanksgiving blessings (my list will be posted tomorrow) and tapering for TNF 50 next week. With the onset of training fatigue and some hip pain I've been tending to, it's been a more challenging training cycle. More on that next week.

Lastly, I'll share my new favorite running tune, thanks to my pal Sam. You're welcome.
Happy Thanksgiving!


15 November 2013

B2Bs, Brains and Blessings

“I often lose motivation, but it's something I accept as normal.” - Bill Rodgers
Palmer Park
I’m recovering from my first 5 hour training run in over three months. The plan to run with my friend Samantha yesterday fell through when my eldest got sick, so I was on my own today. As with most of my runs here at the end of the season, I didn't have the desire to run solo, especially for that long. I went to Mt. Herman and got it done and I'm resting up for tomorrow's B2B.

Sheila saw a cougar at Mt Herman two days ago. I've never seen kitties or bears there, but they are known to roam around. I put some bells on my pack just in case. Some snaps from today's run:
Climbing up the southern slope
Dropping in to the Limbaugh Canyon
In the Canyon
Sweet single track on the eastern slope
Red is my favorite color
I'm glad that my next two long runs will be with other people. I'll have the fine company of Meghan Hicks in the Canyonlands next week and the first Boulder Fat Ass Run of the season the week after. Hallelujah.

I really miss having a coach. I liked being told what to do each week for training and now I have to go back to figuring it out myself. It gets trickier when I have a 5 week training cycle.  I find myself doubting my training plans for the first time all year. With such a short time to prepare for TNF 50 after tapering, recovering or resting for the past two months between races, I’m not as decisive as I’d like to be. 
Pikes Peak from Barr Trail
Case in point: Last weekend, I did my first B2B long runs of this brief training cycle. I stupidly did my hilly run/hike on day 1 and on day 2 did a more runnable course. Experienced ultrarunners would put their palm to forehead, knowing that I had it backwards. By running up the Barr Trail (3,600 ft of vert in 6 miles) and then back down, I basically trashed my legs. My run the following day over the beautiful, rolling 13 mile Rampart Reservoir course was pretty much a sufferfest after mile 5. It took 2 days to recover. Sheesh.
Rampart Reservoir
My fitness is not where it should be and I don’t have much time to bring it up to snuff. I fear that TNF 50 will be another sufferfest to ensure I clear the cutoffs in time. I can't wait to be fast enough to not to have to worry about those anymore.

In addition to building mileage on my B2B runs, I’m focusing on speed work. With kids sick two weeks in a row on my medium long run day, I ended up with an additional track session to squeeze something in at night. I can’t remember the last time I was on a track, but with my tunes blaring in my ears, I’ve enjoyed every lap. In the past, I’ve primarily done 4-6 mile tempo runs, but will be mixing in some short intervals & progression runs for something different.

You can see what I'm dreaming up for 2014 over on the right sidebar. I've got my goal race of the Bryce 100 and all the training runs/races lined up to get me there. Did you see that I'm going to run an ultra in Kansas? I like running in new and different places, so why not? Sheila's in as well so should be a fun trip.

So while I'm dreaming up my 2014 race schedule, job hunting and spending time with family & friends, I’m also trying to get back in to reading again. During the training season, I was reading a bit of non-fiction that related to running/training/nutrition each night before bed. When the season wound down, I wanted to get back to some good fiction and I set my sights on ingesting The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. When I pulled out my copy and started reading Fellowship of the Ring, I discovered that I’m not able to sit still and read for longer than a few minutes anymore. This was very troubling to me. As an ISTJ (albeit a lazy, spontaneous, goofy one), my brain and personality are designed for sitting still and focusing for hours on a task. Somehow, my media usage over the past few years has rewired my brain in such a way that I can’t do this anymore.

After listening to a very enlightening podcast by The White Horse Inn and picking up a book by Nicholas Carr on how our internet usage can reroute neural pathways, I decided to make some changes. First, I’m going to retrain myself to read for more than 15 min at a time. The encouraging word from neuroscientists is that even the adult brain has plasticity, it just takes training (hmmm… to an athlete, that sounds familiar!). Second, I’m going to set aside certain times (morning & evening) for checking email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs rather than availing myself to it all day long via my computer, tablet or smartphone. This will be challenging as I find myself constantly looking for the distraction and wanting to interact with others through these means. However, I want to be more mature and responsible with how I manage my time and attention so as I train my body physically, I’m training my mind as well.

The other thing I'm doing this month is writing down one thing that I'm thankful for every day. I'm posting them daily on Facebook and will repost all of them here after Thankgiving. It has been a good exercise in remembering how blessed I am each day.

In tribute to composer John Tavener, who passed away earlier this week, I'll share his most famous piece -- Song for Athene -- played at the funeral of Princess Di. Hauntingly beautiful. You're welcome.

Happy Trails,