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Guest Post: Finding My Forever Family

IMG_4559Hi! My name is Coaly and I am a one year old, black lab mix.  I am guest blogging today to give my mom a break!  I wanted to share a little bit about my story and how I met my new family.  I hope you like this and, if you do, I’ll write every once in a while to tell you what I’ve been up to.

I don’t like to talk about the beginning of my life so I am just going to start from when I first came to Colorado…The nice people from the The Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue made plans to move me from Arkansas to Colorado in hopes of me finding my forever home.  So, on September 28th, 2016 I was put into a cage early in the morning and loaded in to the back of a U-Haul with a ton of other barking, yappy dogs.  I didn’t really know this was the start of my long journey to find my forever home, but it was definitely a big change from my days in the pound.   We rode all day, picking up new pups along the way, until we ended up in a parking lot in Aurora, Colorado.  There was a Petco close to where the U-Haul stopped so I already had a good feeling about this place!  Once we had arrived a volunteer got me out of my cage, walked me down the ramp and there were two goofy people waiting for me.  They seemed really excited to see me but I was a little skeptical – who were these random people standing in the middle of huge parking lot waiting for me?!  I had no idea who they were or where they were going to take me, but I was pretty excited to be off the hot, stinky, U-Haul truck.  The goofy people were super nice to me and they had TREATS so I decided to play along and see where this relationship was going.  I was on my best behavior while the rescue checked me out and microchipped me and before too long I found myself getting in another car!  I thought my travel was over for the day!  But, this car was much nicer and the goofy guy stayed in the back seat to keep me company while the goofy girl and a giant, furry dog sat in the front seat.    We drove down a highway with lots of lights and buildings for about an hour and then the car slowed and pulled into a driveway.  We got out of the car and the goofy people took me and the furry dog to the backyard of a house.  The yard was HUGE!  There was lots ofIMG_4572 room to run and a big apple tree.  I was so excited to be out the car I just ran and ran and ran.  I did stop to check out the furry dog who I found out was named Paterno.  Paterno seemed cool, but maybe a little lazy.  He liked to play for a little bit but seemed to get tired quickly and always wanted to lay down.  After we played in the backyard for a while the goofy people took me inside the house.   Inside there was a couch, some comfy chairs, a bed, and a basket full of toys – this place seemed alright.  The goofy people took me in a room where there was a cage set-up just for me.  It had a big fluffy blanket inside and even though I had no intention of hanging out in the cage it was nice that they had set it up for me before I got there.  I was a little upset that my cage didn’t seem to be in the same room as the goofy people and the furry dog, but I could work on that later.  After I checked out my new digs IMG_4564I found that there was a bowl in kitchen just for me.  The goofy people put some Puppy Chow in the bowl and I scarfed it down – and then I ran over to eat Paterno’s food too.  The goofy people seemed a little upset that I was eating Paterno’s food but I was REALLY hungry.  Remember, I was in that hot truck all day and I was super skinny – you could see all my ribs – of course I was hungry!  For the rest of the night I explored the house and the yard and decided this was a pretty nice place to be and the goofy people and the furry dog seemed pretty nice and they seemed to be really excited to have me in their house, so I would give it a try.

I have to admit I was not very clean when I met the goofy people.  What can you expect after riding in the back of a U-Haul for over 12 hours?  After I had settled in to the house a bit the goofy people got a hair brained idea that they would give me a bath.  Before I could even realize what was going on I was in the bath tub with the goofy girl and the goofy guy was standing guard to make sure I didn’t try to jump out of the tub.  I pretended that I didn’t really like the bath but it felt SO good to get clean and the belly rubs and scratches behind the ears were heavenly.  After it was over the rubbed me all over with a clean towel and I felt amazing!  I ran all over the house rubbing my wet body on all the furniture.  It was so much fun!

Once it got dark outside it was time to go to bed and the goofy people took me to the room with my cage in it.  I was less than excited to get in the cage, but I finally did and the goofy people said good night, turned off the light, and closed the door.  Now comes the embarrassing part – I started to cry and whimper and I just couldn’t stop.  I was so lonely and scared in this new place and I couldn’t help myself!  Luckily, the goofy people took pity on me and came to visit me in my room.  While they didn’t let me out of the cage (Rats!) they did stay and keep my company.  The goofy guy even laid next to my cage for the entire night so I wasn’t so scared!  I think I might like it around here…IMG_4568

While I was a little nervous at first being in a new place with new people and a new dog, it didn’t take me long to decide that this family was pretty cool and I would adopt them.  I love my big brother, Paterno, and I while sometimes he acts like I bother him I know he really loves me and I am keeping him young by playing with him ALL THE TIME!  I love the goofy people too and they keep me pretty busy too.  I run with my mom and go for hikes with my mom and dad.  I recently heard them say that next year they think I’ll be big enough and strong enough to tackle my first 14’er.  I’m not sure what a 14’er is, but I am really excited!  I may be bad every once in a while,  but it’s never on purpose, and I am trying really hard to be better.   But, I do have to remind my people that I am still a puppy and I still have a lot to learn.

Thanks so much for reading my first blog post about how I met my family.  I can’t believe I’ve been with my family for almost a year!  My life might not have started off good, but it’s definitely great now!

Do you have anyone in your family that found their forever home?  What was their story like?

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What a Pain in the….FOOT?

In running you are always warned about doing too much, too fast.  When a problem or injury occurs, it comes back to the reasoning that you did too much, too fast.  While I absolutely believe this reasoning – it’s true to many aspects of life – hearing these wise words while you are in throws of an injury is just ridiculous.  I’ve already done the damage, now what?  I don’t want to hear about what I should do in the future, I want to know what I can do right now to stop this pain.  And then, HOPEFULLY, I will remember the wise words as I ramp up training again (but, then again, I am a runner, so I might just forget them when I tie up my shoes for my next 10k training run).

So, you might wonder what my most recent rant is about, and what I abuse I have caused my body recently.  So…let’s start from the beginning….

In mid-Spring I decided I wanted lighter, faster running shoes.  I went to my local running store and talked to them about my gait, running preference, etc.  They watched me on the treadmill and came back with several suggestions.  I understand that finding the right shoe is extremely important in avoiding injuries in the future and that you need to find the right shoe for you because everyone is different.  I was up to the challenge to find my next dream shoes.  I diligently tried each of the suggested shoes.  Making repeated trips from the shoe area to the treadmill and running about a quarter mile with each new pair.  After about eight pairs and two miles on the treadmill I had narrowed down my choice to the Newton Motion V.  The shoes felt great and I was intrigued by Newton’s Action/Reaction Technology. There are lugs near that ball of your foot that, in Newton’s words, “creates a responsive, trampoline-like cushioning system that provides quicker bounce-back and loses less energy than a traditional foam-core running shoe.”   The sales person explained that this bar of lugs would improve my running form and help me to run on the balls of my feet inside of the back of the foot where I tended to run (but have deligiently been working on changing).   I admit the shoes felt pretty weird with this raised bar across the ball of my foot, but I was promised I would get used to.  I was super psyched to get out with my new shoes and I have to admit my first runs in the shoes I felt lighter and was clocking faster times.  So, I was a convert.  The Action/Reaction Technology still felt strange but I was ready to get used to it for the results I was getting.  After runs I did feel some tingling and numbness in my toes, but thought that was pretty normal and the feeling always went away, so it wasn’t causing me any concern.

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We are headed past the llamas to the top of the mountain at 15,000+ feet

Fast forward to June 2017.  My husband and I are taking our dream trip to Peru.  The plan was to fly in to Cusco, Peru, acclimate a little to the elevation and then do the Lares Trek and head to Machu Picchu.  The Lares Trek is an Inca Trail alternative that is less crowded and while it doesn’t take you directly to Machu Picchu, it takes you over a 15,000+ foot pass and takes you completely off the beaten path where you see stunning mountains, lakes and valleys and get to walk through villages and meet the people who live in the Lares Valley.  While I was most concerned about making it from 8,000 feet to 15,000 feet to the top of the pass that actually turned about to be the easier part of the trek.  (Yeah for no altitude sickness – living in Colorado really does pay off!)  The air was definitely thinner but I felt comfortable scaling the mountains to reach our pass.  The trip from 15,000 feet back to 8,000 feet is what took the toll on my body.  The trail was made up of loose rock and at times was pretty steep.  The constant pounding on the ball of my feet left me with the familiar numbness and tingling in my toes (just on my right foot).

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We came down from the top of that mountain, a 7,000 foot descent.

One the third day of our trek when we finally made it to Auguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu we were dirty and exhausted and so excited to turn in our hiking boots for flip flops.  After one of the best showers I had taken in my entire life I noticed that the numbness and tingling in my right foot was not getting any better.  I mentioned it to my better half and we decided that it was just the pounding I put on my foot as we descended 7,000 feet.   I didn’t really give it much more thought because we were in an amazing place getting ready to see a wonder of the world the next day.

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Beautiful Auguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu

Fast forward again to August 2017. It’s been almost two months since we got back from our amazing trip and we have settled back in to the dull drums of “regular” life.  Pretty much work, work, and more work.  Unfortunately, my toes were still feeling numb (just a few toes on my right foot) and I decided I needed to suck it up and find out what was going on, so I set up an appointment with my primary doctor.  My health insurance requires you always start with your primary doctor for any problem and they will refer you on to a specialist if necessary.  I completely understand the reseasoning behind this, but when it’s hard to find an hour to sneak away from work it’s even harder to find a couple hours on a couple different days to see a couple different doctors.  Anyways, I went to my primary doctor and she was a little stumped.  She sent me to go get x-rays to see if there was a stress fracture (there wasn’t) and then referred me to the orthopedic doctor.  A couple days later I found myself at the orthopedic doctor and he briefly looked at my foot and diagnosed me with metatarsalgia.  From my understanding, and the wise words of WebMD, metatarsalgia is a condition in which the ball of your foot becomes painful and inflamed and can be caused from running, jumping, or wear shoes that don’t fit right.  After my diagnoses, I decided to take it easy on my foot for a while.  I have cut down on the running and have been following the majority of the doctor’s suggestions, but I haven’t had any relief.  My toes are still numb and sometimes my foot feels like its cramping up.  Since my trip to the doctor was less then satisfactory I decided to do some of my own research on metatarsalgia and found quite a few articles about how switching from traditional running shoes to Newton’s can actually cause this problem.  While I thought it was from our hike in Peru, it turns out the problem had probably already started long before our hike and the 7,000 foot descent was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I found the following on Newton’s blog “Forefoot pain, also known as ‘Metatarsalgia,’ is a condition indicated by pain and inflammation under the ball of the foot. This is increasingly prevalent in runners who are making a change to minimal footwear, barefoot running and Newton Running Shoes. As with virtually all running injuries, forefoot pain is a result of doing too much, too fast, too soon.”  The blog then goes on to explain that I shouldn’t blame the shoes, but rather something I did, or something wrong with my foot that was there long before I switched to Newton’s.  This is kind of frustrating because they obviously know this is an issue, but no one at the running store who sold me the shoes said anything about it.  Yes, I should have done more research prior to my new shoe purchase but I was also hopefully that if this was an issue someone might have mentioned it to me.

Fast forward to today.  My toes are still numb.  I’m still trying to figure out how to make them better.  But, they are numb whether I run or not so I am going to lace up my good ‘ol, trusty Brooks (with new arch supports that will hopefully help), and get back out there in hopes I can salvage my training for the Lake Powell Half Marathon in October.

Has any one else has similar issues with their feet?  Any suggestions or words of wisdom you can share on what you did to make it better?

disclaimerDISCLAIMER:  This is not an anti-Newton’s story.  I honestly really liked mine and wish they worked for me – I just wanted to share my experience in case anyone was going through anything similar.  This experience has definitely opened my eyes to how shoes can have such a huge effect on our health and injuries and is going to change how I approach my next shoe purchase.  

A Prisoner in My Own Home aka Snakes in the Mother F*!#ing Yard

DSC_0019I used to love my backyard.  It was my oasis, my getaway.  After a long day of work, I would love to hang out in the backyard with my better half and the pups.  Grilling and eating dinner on the patio, setting up the pool to cool off with the pups on a hot summer day, and lounging in the hammock and reading a good book.  This summer everything changed.  This summer I could count on my hands the number of times I’ve just hung out in the backyard.  That is because of the invasion of the Plains Garter Snake, scientifically referred to as, Thamnophis radix.

exclamation markIMPORTANT NOTE:  I almost passed out doing a little snake research to make sure I was telling you the exact type of snake that has been terrorizing me and now I feel the need to burn my computer just because of all the snake pictures I saw, but I did it all for you!

It started in early summer when my better half saw a garter snake near the foundation of our house while he was on the patio brewing beer.  He took a picture of it and that picture seriously gives me nightmares – I didn’t even see the live snake, the picture was enough!  From that day, I knew that there was at least one (possibly HUNDREDS) of snakes slithering around my house and yard and it gives me the serious Heebie-jeebies. 6957636  I seriously haven’t been able to go into our backyard very often.  I will briefly go out when I get home from work to let my better half know I am home and will venture outside if the dogs need my assistance, but other than that I has been a prisoner in my own home.  Just writing this post is causing me to break out in a cold sweat thinking about those little buggers hanging around my backyard.

Yesterday I was letting the dogs out and there he (she?) was…slowly slithering across the patio towards the grass…another garter snake!  I had worked for weeks to convince myself that the snake that was hanging around months earlier was long gone.  My better half, who was so kind as to chase the snake out of the yard so I could let the dogs out, let me know that while he was chasing the snake he saw another one (HORRORS!) and that it definitely wasn’t the same snake as before because it was much smaller.  Leading my mind to come to conclusion that it was the baby of the first snake and that again there were HUNDREDS (a garter snake can have 30-40 babies at a time with the record being 98 babies at one time…98)of snakes hanging out around my house.

From my short (and terrifying) research on the Plains Garter Snake I have found that they indeed live in Colorado and that they could potential terrorize me year round because Plains Garter Snakes do not hibernate, but instead partake in brumation (AWESOME!).  I did, however, some across a list of the Plains Gartner Snakes predators.  It appears that I am now in the market for some hawks, birds, skunks, raccoons, foxes, badgers, minks, bullfrogs, and a house cat.  Domesticated dogs were nowhere on the list of risks to garter snakes – thanks for nothing Paterno and Coaly.

So where did these little buggers come from? For almost five years I have found our backyard to be a safe haven to everything going on in the world and now it’s been taken over by a slithering enemy.  It appears we live in a prime snake area.  Garter snakes are commonly found living near water sources such as streams and ponds, but can also be found in urban areas and vacant lots.  This pretty much describes our current yard situation.  We live next a goat farm who has been flooding the irrigation ditch between our houses all summer and the vacant lot behind our house is currently being turned in to a Starbucks.  So, next time you see a cute goat or enjoy a nice beverage from Starbucks remember the terror they are causing me!

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Okay, so why I am sharing this really strange phobia with you?  Well, because my Year of Yes. This year I am going to be braver and I’m was going to try new things, but I have realized that there are certain places I have to draw the line when it comes to putting myself out there and snakes is one of them.  So, while I am still committed to saying yes more, I am still saying no to hanging with the garter snake in the backyard and I’m sure as hell saying no to ever stepping foot in to the snake house at the zoo.

question markSo, make me feel better – what’s your phobia that you are just going to live with?

 

 

 

 

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

00000-liarIn my last blog post (remember the one WEEKS ago when I said I would write more), I wrote “if you have time to complain about being too busy, you obviously have some free time.”  Apparently writing this simple little sentence made someone, somewhere, very angry and they decided to put me in my place.  I’ll start by admitting this one of the busiest times at work.  A new semester means wrapping up an old one and starting a new, all at the same time.  It means freaked out student who need career guidance NOW.  And it means that there is so much energy and excitement that you can get caught up in which may cause you to over extend a little.  Over the past week, I have gone in early, stayed late, and worked weekends.  I worked almost 60 last week and my endless to do list just keeps growing and growing.

I haven’t gone for a run, strength trained, or been to the gym in over a week.  I haven’t felt like cooking (this isn’t much of a surprise), going out after work, or even turning on my computer to even look at other people’s blogs in the evening.  I have become a couch potato who binge watches old ABC Family shows on Freeform and goes to bed before it gets completely dark outside.  Then, the next day I am up when the sun starts rising and I start the same routine all over again.

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In just under 9 weeks I have my third half marathon in Lake Powell.  I am woefully unprepared.  I know I need to train.  I spend time each week updating my training plan, erasing the previous week when I only finished maybe one training session.  As I plan out my new training plan I tell myself that Monday I will start and nothing is going to stop me from my plan.  I will get up early and run or workout before work.  I know it’s going to feel good, that it’s going to set the stage for the rest of the day, but when the alarm goes off I tell myself that the plan can wait another day, I’ll start tomorrow – today I will just enjoy another 25 minutes of sleep and then I’ll go in to work early.

When I sat down to write this I thought I was going to prove to myself that you can be too busy, you can complain about it, and you can prove you don’t have any time for anything else.  But, instead I just feel like a whiney twit who, if they can write this post, obviously has a little free time.  So, no more excuses.  No more do overs.  No more waiting until Monday to start again.  The writing will get more regular because I realized I have a lot to share.  I haven’t even started to tell you all about our amazing trip to Peru!   So, I leave you with a picture from a Peru and a promise to fill you in on the details of our trip.IMG_5987

My Year of Yes

This past summer I have been making a concerted effort to try new things and stop saying no to things that take me out of my comfort zone.  Overall, I feel like I have been pretty successful.  The start of my new philosophy started by backpacking through Peru (my second time backpacking in my entire life) and I have been trying to embrace the new idea since my return.

A week ago, I turned 38 (and to be honest, that was a little rough) and I decided I needed to commit even more to my new philosophy…so this is my year of yes.  I’m going to try new things and push myself throughout the year.  What exactly that means, I’m not 100% sure but I’ll excited to see as the year progresses. 20727830_10212032582227700_8240620203770065957_n

One thing that I have always wanted to do was be a writer.  I started writing as a small child (I remember my first book was called Mall Madness and was about some kids that got locked in the mall after hours…it won an award in a third-grade writing contest), continued writing for my high school and college newspapers, and even majored in Journalism in college.  But, as I went through school and learned more about the “news” business, writing became a chore rather than something I really enjoyed.  The reality of not be able to work in the field after graduation also soured my taste towards writing and I just stopped writing all together.  (As a Career Counselor now I am shocked that none of my instructors or advisors ever thought it might be a good idea to mention that written journalism was a dying industry and finding a job doing what we wanted, where we wanted, was going to be near impossible.)

I write occasionally for work and wrote a lot while working towards my Master’s degree, but rarely wrote for fun.  Several years ago, I started a blog thinking it would be a perfect outlet for my desire to write, but it seemed like a hundred things would get in the way of me sitting down and writing and posting.  But, during my year of yes there are no more excuses.  I need to just stop whining about how busy I am and just sit down and write (because really, if you have time to complain about being too busy, you obviously have some free time).  I want to get back to my writing roots and remember why I used to love sitting at my word processor (see, I really am 38) and cranking out stories.  So, my hopes are that my blog will be the outlet for my writing.  I am hoping to write as often as possible and post blogs much more regularly.  We’ll see how it goes…

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Writing is just the beginning.  I have so many more plans for my year of yes.  I WILL learn how to drive standard.  I WILL learn how to rock climb.  I WILL learn (for my husband’s sake) the difference between then and than.  And I WILL say yes to things that scare me, intimidate me, or just make me want to run and hide.

So, I invite you to come with me during my year of yes.  If you have any challenges of things I should try, please throw them out, I am open to all new ideas!

Remembering My Best Friend

thumb_DSC_7248_1024A year ago today I lost my best friend – today I fondly remember my best friend.  A year ago today was a horrible, awful day – today was a rough day, but it was a lot better.  A year ago today there were constant tears that felt like they would never end – today there are still occasional tears, but there are many more smiles and laughter.  A year ago today I never thought the pain would go away – today there is still pain, but the pain is dulled.  A year ago today I felt weak and helpless – today I feel strong and hopeful.

Throughout her life Nittany taught me so much and in her passing she has continued to be my teacher.  The most important lesson she has taught me in the past year is that I am so much stronger than I ever imagined.  It took strength to do what was best for Nittany and to make sure she didn’t live in pain anymore and it took strength to wake up each day in the days and weeks after she was gone and continue living.  After I lost Nittany I lost a piece of who I was.  It takes a lot of strength to come back from that dark place, but I did.  But, once you do, you realize your own strength and that you are capable of a lot more than you ever imagined.  I just kept telling myself that Nittany would not want me to be sad and cry all the time, she would want me to continue living and so, as hard as it was, I found the strength to keep moving forward.

Today, and every day, I remember Nittany and what a powerful impact she had on my life and how lucky I was to have been her dog mom.

Lazy Lab

Planting the Seed of Doubt

In mid-May after a winter and fall of not following any sort of training plan and honestly mostly only running on weekends I decided, on a whim, to sign up for the Colfax Urban 10 Miler.  I had done the Colfax 5k and Marathon Relay in the past years and the thought of not participating in a race on Colfax weekend was starting to get me down.  So, I signed up on Saturday for the Sunday 10 miler.  The most I had run at one time since last year has been about 6 miles, but I was confident that, even if I had to walk, that I would be able to finish this race.  I was pretty excited because the race started in my neighborhood (the undesirable West Colfax) and ran east on Colfax, through the Broncos football stadium, up the Platte River, through downtown Denver to Denver’s City Park.  The beginning of the race was almost all downhill adding to my confidence that I would be able to finish the race.

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For the first couple of years of running I was strictly an interval runner.  I would do a 3:00/1:00 run to walk interval and had gotten pretty comfortable with this routine.  Last fall I decided to push myself at the Rock-n-Roll 10k to see if I could actually run a race straight through without intervals and shocked myself that I actually could.  Apparently, my training had paid off and I was becoming a “real” runner.  So, for the Colfax Urban 10 miler I decided that I was going to run the first 6.2 miles straight and see how I was feeling.  Depending on how I felt I would just continue running or switch to a 3:00/1:00 run/walk interval.

 

IMG_5523At the 10k mark of the race, when I was going to make my decision on how I would finish the race, I was feeling really strong with my running and was pretty sure I would just continue running straight through when suddenly my left hip was in excruciating pain.  I had been having issues with my hip all year (and had issues with my other hip last year which only resolved after getting a cortisone shot) and at that moment it felt like someone was shoving a nail into my hip.  At that point, the decision was made for me and I had to switch to a run/walk interval in hopes to get the pain under control.  I was still making good time and keeping up with the group I was running with, I had just switched to the run/walk interval to give my hip a break every once in a while.   I was feeling really confident that even with the change of plans I was going to have a great race.

 

IMG_5524During one of my short waking intervals a stranger came up behind me and started giving me and the woman I was running near encouragement.  Telling us that “we could do it, we just needed to put our minds to it and we could finish.”  While I usually like encouragement from fellow runners, there was something about this particular encouragement that just pissed me off.  For one, the woman that I was running with was an older woman who was absolutely rocking it.  And secondly, I didn’t have a doubt in my mind that I was going to be able to finish the race and I didn’t need to put mind to it because my mind was telling me I was going to finish – until he planted a seed of doubt in my mind.   Yes, I was walking at the moment the stranger offered up his encouragement but it was part of my plan, not because I wasn’t able to run.  I obviously looked like someone who needed extra encouragement, which kind of sucks because I was feeling really good about my race.  This stranger’s words, which I am sure were meant to be encouraging, suddenly made me feel horrible and sent me in to a spiral of self-doubt.  I immediately started thinking about how I wasn’t a “real” runner because I didn’t look like a typical runner (ie.  I am not super skinny or particularly athletic looking), I don’t run fast and did run/walk intervals, and that I would never be in the front of the pack.  All of these things never really bothered me before but these words of encouragement from a complete stranger really got to me and really made me think about how others look at me when I’m running.  I wish I was a stronger person who wasn’t bothered by these kinds of things.  I know that it doesn’t matter what my time was or how gracefully I ran, I still ran 10 miles, which is a lot more than most people do on a random Sunday, but it still planted that seed of doubt in my mind.  And obviously, because I’m writing about almost two months later, it really stuck with me.

 

IMG_5527I’m not sure what the morale of this story is.  I think encouraging others during races is great, but I am definitely going to be more mindful about the words of encouragement I share with others.  I would hate to make others feel the way that someone’s words of “encouragement” made me feel.  I can only speak for myself but the fact that I get my ass out of bed and get to the start line of any given race is a huge accomplishment for me.  If you would have told me five years ago that I would be running a 10 mile race I would have told you that you were crazy.  We’ve all taken different roads to get to the starting line and it’s important to make sure we are encouraging each other in the right ways.