|Thanksgiving sunset from Tunnel Creek Road - a lot to be thankful for this year!|
My husband Andrew has a question he poses to everyone on
their birthday. He asks it of dear friends at birthday parties, as well as the
woman in front of him in the lift line if he happens to learn it’s her
birthday. He wants to know, “What was the high and low of your year?” I find it
to be a dauntingly personal question, but he always gives people the out of “just
thinking about it.” Surprisingly, they usually give an answer, even if it takes
a bit of time, often trusting us with intimate details of their lives.
It’s the “thinking about it” that turns out to be the
important part, in my opinion. I’m big on reflection, and often I don’t think
we examine our lives enough so that we can learn and grow. Also, it’s fun to
relive the good moments!
For myself, I am horrible at answering this question. I can
never narrow it down, and I certainly don’t want to reveal anything painful in
front of a bunch of strangers. As far as I can tell, I’m in the minority on
My low is something that has stretched on for the entire
second half of the year: my digestive woes. I thought things had healed up
after Hardrock since I felt great all through August and the beginning of
September. It all came back with a vengeance this fall though, and to sum it
up: it sucks. Being in pain is totally crappy, and it keeps me from running
which makes my mental health even worse. You know who deserves the most
sympathy in all of this though? My students. I am not a fun person to be around
when I am in pain, and my temper is short. Sorry, kids!
I even spent a month on the Whole30 program, which Olga tipped me off to, in an attempt to heal. (As a side note, if you’re looking for
inspiration for your next crazy goal, Olga’s blog is a pretty good place to
hang out. She’s always got something going on!) The Whole 30 is basically a
30-day super strict paleo diet. I ate only veggies, fruit, meat, and eggs. No
grains, legumes, dairy, or anything processed or with added sugar, preservatives,
etc. No alcohol, and although coffee is permitted, I thought it best to skip
that as well since it could be an irritant to my digestive tract. In other
words, it was total deprivation.
This isn’t the kind of thing I would have ever considered if
I wasn’t trying to solve a health issue. Whole30 does not choose foods "because that's the way our ancestors did it," (which, frankly, I don't find to be a convincing argument for anything) but rather, based on their nutritional value. I did a lot of reading about it and learned why consuming a lot of foods that we normally consider to
be healthy could possibly be causing me problems. I can’t help but believe that
my intestinal pain can be healed by simply choosing the right things to put
into my body. If only I can figure out what those things are!
It was actually a great experience, even though it didn’t
turn out to be magical solution for which I’d been searching. (I had a flare-up
of pain in the middle of the month.) I slept so much better, my energy levels
were more stable, and I didn’t get hungry all the time. The hardest part came during
the first week with all the meal planning, researching what I could make for
myself, grocery shopping, and cooking. Eating healthy takes a lot of time! I
became dependent on my slow cooker, and made more frequent trips to the grocery
store. Of course, grocery shopping became a quicker affair as I didn’t need to
bother visiting about ¾ of the store – just the produce and meat departments
for me! I cooked fabulous dinners, and Andrew, who was initially bummed about
this endeavor, became a huge fan of the paleo meals.
Even though I went off the program after my 30 days were up,
I learned a lot and it has definitely changed my eating habits for the better.
I am still eating “Whole30 style” for breakfast, lunch and snacks. I’m mixing
paleo –friendly dinners with occasional other meals and I feel good about it.
My biggest indulgence since going off Whole30 has been a lot of sweet treats.
It’s a tough time of year to avoid that. But for me, that's true all the time. I love sugar!
Although weight loss was definitely not a goal for me on
Whole30 (I was still hovering around racing weight when I started the program
and didn’t have any weight to lose.), I somehow lost 3 pounds and ended the
month with 16% body fat. I found this to be pretty surprising since I was doing
only moderate exercise that month, consumed a ton of yummy food, and was never
hungry. If weight loss is your goal, I’d say this is a pretty healthy way to
I’m thinking of going back on Whole30 in January, with the
exception of allowing sugar for fueling and recovery of long runs. My one long
run on the program (4 hours) was an interesting experiment in fueling without
Gu or any of those other things. I ate mixed nuts, avocado, and those
squeezable mashed fruit pouches they make for kids. I refueled afterwards with butternut
squash (yum!) and a little Udo’s Oil/turmeric cocktail (yuck!). It felt pretty
good, but it was a very mellow pace, and I could tell I couldn’t have gone any
harder without bonking.
Anyway, as far as the
gastritis-gall-bladder-who-knows-what-the-problem-is thing, I did return to the
doctor. He was fairly unhelpful, except to refer me to a specialist which will
take me 3 months to get in to see. I’m finding the whole experience to be a bit
frustrating. It’s no wonder people just walk into the emergency room for
medical care. Alas. I’ll let you know if I figure anything out.
And now that I’ve told you all about my tummy troubles, I’ll
share half of the truth: That’s not my real low. But it’s low enough, and it’s
all intertwined, really. Life is complicated, you know? It’s funny how your
physical health can be a reflection of your mental health, and vice versa. I’m
well aware that without difficult experiences in life we’d be unlikely to grow
as individuals. Still, sometimes I’d rather skip the really hard experiences and
just remain static and shallow.
Enough! On to the high(s)!
I have to include Hardrock as one of my highs. Honestly, I
can’t remember anything about this year prior those two days in July.
Did anything else even happen? Because even if it did, it was all consumed by my obsession with Hardrock. Racing-wise, I was happy with my performances at Napa and Sonoma (It was a
wine-country year for me!), but those events weren’t soul-digging like
Hardrock. That one will stay with me for a long time. I think it’s the only
race in my entire running career where I was immensely proud to simply have
finished. It was a race where one of my faults (my ability to be
single-mindedly stubborn) turned out to be my greatest asset. Anyway, I’ve
already spent enough words on this race. Suffice it to say, it’s an experience
I wouldn’t trade for anything.
|HRH, somewhere in the last 25 miles.|
My other big high is Andrew graduating (near the top of his
class, no less) from the Fire Academy. It was an epic summer for him. I wish I
could tell you the stories, but they are not mine to tell. The best part: Two
weeks before graduation he’d already landed a part-time job at Northstar Fire,
just fifteen minutes from home. His second day on the job he came home all
stoked about his first 911 call. It makes me so happy.
|Graduation night, downtown Sacramento.|
Looking back is always something that helps me look forward.
For 2013, I’m thinking about shifting my racing to a little later in the year
so I can spend my winter skiing instead of worried about getting in my long
runs. I don’t have any 100-milers on the schedule. If I decide to enter one, it
probably won’t be until the fall. I’m just not prepared to think about that
kind of training any time soon. I’ve got a few 50Ks and at least one 50-miler
on the plan, and that feels like enough for now. I love this time of year
because all the time away from racing has me excited to get back to it again!
Even if it’s not your birthday, it is nearing the end of
2012. I’d love to hear about some of your highs and lows, so please share in