Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The road less traveled.

Well it has been a long time since I even thought about blogging.  I went through my blogs from 2009 and it was shocking to say the least how much has changed in my life.  It was bewildering to think that when I started that blog I was married, nowhere near an athlete, completely happy living in La Grande and no idea of what was about to change in my life.  Three years later I am divorced, 7 time All-American, National Champion and 2 time National Champion runner-up, living in Portland.  Things are different and I decided to do a blog on the last few years to update people that may be interested.  It has been a whirlwind ride and not limited in drama or unexpected turns; I created a good ride for myself as I always do.  So much has been learned and I don’t look over my shoulder without a big sigh of relief things are going in the direction they are now.  So where to start?  I decided to do recap of my life after leaving Denver because it seems as though my most pivotal moments have been since I decided to try something completely new and move to a city I had no connections in, Portland, Oregon.
In 2005 I made one of the hardest decisions in my life, leaving a person I loved dearly and starting a life that included following dreams of my own.  I had spent a year in a really rough spot romantically and geographically due to being 1,000 miles from home, living in Golden, CO.  I left Golden with tools that brought me exactly where I needed to be, for that, I will be eternally grateful for those people in my life.  When I arrived in Portland I literally didn’t have a place to live and I crashed on a friend’s couch for a month until I figured out what I would do.  I found an apartment in Vancouver, WA that was much cheaper than any place near my massage school….for a reason I might add. 

After only a few short weeks, or perhaps a month I met Nathan Coffey.  I can remember seeing him a couple of times at the 24 hour fitness I went to before I moved to Vancouver.  He finally approached me after one of my workouts and tried talking to me while I was intently working out.  He clearly did not know me.  I finally took out ONE headphone and asked him, “What was that?” He said, “You missed a spot.”  Thinking he was referencing my obnoxious tan line I said, “Oh I’m a cyclist….”  To this day we haven’t decided what he was referencing because it wasn’t about my tan line, as he was an elite cyclist and knew that tan line.  We started dating that October and by February we were living together.  On June 30, 2005 I found I was pregnant moments before we were planning on going for a nice long ride in the mountains.  Our worlds were changed in an instant and so were all of our life goals.  I know now that I didn’t have to change my goals, dreams or aspirations, but perhaps just modify them.  We ended up taking a long road that didn’t always involve the smartest decisions, but we’re where we are now and it is turning out just fine.

Moments after he was born.
After Eliott was born in February of 2007 we moved back to La Grande to be close to family and raise him in a more rural area.  We bought a house, got a dog and started living “the” life.  Funny somehow we lost each other in it all and our path started forking and we each chose our own bumpy road.  After three years in La Grande Nathan and I separated and he moved back to Portland while Eliott and I stayed in La Grande.  One of the roads I went down in La Grande was going back to school and as a result when he left for Portland I had obligations in La Grande that required I stay there for at least two more years.  After returning back to school I was told that due to my athleticism I should contact the cross country/track and field coach, Ben Welch.  So I did and it was an adventure I never expected to go on that would fulfill so much in my life.  I was always an athlete or active but this love of running was something I can’t even begin to explain.  It’s a true relationship with ups and downs and Ben Welch introduced it with confidence and hope for a great future.  

First cross race 2009.

                Stepping on the starting line of my first cross race I had no idea what was in front of me.  I treated it like any other race I had watched or been a part of on the bike.  With no experience as a runner I started my first season with a 17:58 5k and felt very proud of that accomplishment.  I was laying the foundation for great things to come and building relationships with teammates and people that would forever change me.  Here are the stats of my first season at Eastern Oregon University:
Cross Country
NNU 4k: 14:39 (3rd)
Pre-Conference 5k: 17:58 (2nd)
Willamette 5k: 17:58 (16th)
Conference 5k: 18:00 (2nd)
Nationals 5k: 18:27 (12th)
Indoor Track and Field
University of Idaho 3k: 10:32 (2nd)
Outdoor Track and Field
Home Meet 3k: 10:30 (3rd)
SF State Invitational 10k: 37:28 (6th)
WAOR 5k: 17:47 (4th)
Oregon Relays 10k: 36:04 (6th)
Conference 5k: 2nd can’t find time
Nationals 10k: 36:44 (6th)
                So for the first year of running, being a two time All-American was a huge success.  The next year was probably the hardest year of my life considering I was trying to figure out my personal life, school, being a single mom, and running.  I struggled quite often and I’m sure there were plenty of skeptics out there making harsh judgments of my life.  I feel like I took everything in stride and did the things I could with what I had.  I spend most of my summer working and training with Doug Benson and making huge investments into my life of running, but always feeling like I was falling short somewhere.  Turns out that was a legitimate feeling and after a year of battling anemia, weight loss and fatigue I found out that I had Celiac Disease.  By definition: A disease in which chronic failure to digest food is triggered by hypersensitivity of the small intestine to gluten.  I began to switch my diet and get I.V. iron infusions and the next season brought forward great rewards.  That year of my life I was lucky to have someone like Doug in my life because as hard as those months were on both my marriage and my relationship with him I grew so much from the battles we all faced together.  My son was by my side the entire time and formed an intense bond to Doug as someone he could rely on and that is something beyond valuable for Eliott.  No one would ever love Eliott like his Dad does but Doug was a figure in Eliott’s life that kept his eyes shining bright despite what was going on with his mama and daddy. 

                So what did my 2009-2010 cross country and track and field seasons look like?  Well here are the stats!
Cross Country
NNU 4k: 13:58 (1st)
Pre-Conference 5k: 19:01 (1st)
Willamette 5k: 17:37 (4th)
C of I 5k: 17:38 (1st)
Conference 5k: 18:34 (1st)
Nationals 5k: 17:46 (2nd)
Indoor Track and Field
BSU 3k: 10:11 (1st)
Nationals 3k Prelims: 10:17 (4th)
Nationals 3k Final: 9:55 (1st)
Outdoor Track and Field
Willamette 10k: 35:07 (1st)
Oregon Relays 5k: 17:00
Conference 5K: 17:00 (2nd)
Nationals 10K: 35:02 (2nd)
Nationals 5k prelims: 17:21 (3rd)
Nationals 5k finals: 17:14 (4th)

2011 3000 meter NAIA Indoor National Champion

                My real challenges came with running the following year, which was this past year.  I had one of the best summers of training, getting my running mileage up to mid-70s which was great for me as a Celiac.  However, my body really didn’t respond well come fall.  I was out my most eagerly awaited season for 6 weeks with a hip injury I couldn’t get on top of.  I was a favorite going into Cross Country Nationals and I simply didn’t have what it took to fulfill my goal of winning Cross Nats.  Here’s an article that was published right before Nationals:  With an injury that left me on the bike for the majority of my season it just didn’t turn out well for me.  Here are the stats:
Cross Country
NNU 4k: 14:59 (3rd)
Willamette 5k: 17:42 (5th)
Conference 5k: 18:?? (1st)
Beaver Classic 6k: 21:29 (3rd)
Nationals 5k: 17:42 (3rd)

Indoor Track and Field
UW 3k: 10:07
Nationals 3k: 10:05 (4th)

                Ending my collegiate running at Eastern Oregon was a very difficult decision but after a hard year training alone and watching my results plummet, I knew it was time to leave. I have spent the later winter months until now changing my training drastically and focusing on the goals I’ve always wanted to attain and now more than ever they are within reach.  With much contemplation and consideration I felt it was in my best interest to finish my under grad and look into a master’s program that would allow me to finish out my eligibility in the NAIA.  I competed out of uniform this spring on my own a few times and I will continue to do so in cross and indoor this coming year.  Spring of next year I will be in uniform at Concordia University Portland and I am freaking excited!!  Randy Dalzell has been incredibly helpful in developing me as the athlete I’ve always wanted to be.  This year I have taken 16 seconds off of my 1500 meter time, 3 seconds off of my 800, 3 seconds off of my 3k, 20 seconds off of my 5k and 23 seconds off my two mile!!  It’s so exciting to see goals that weren’t ever reachable being reached.
Here are the stats from my out of uniform season:
Oregon Relays: 17:25 (ouch!)
Pacific: 4:43 for 1500 meter
Miler’s club: 4:43 for 1500 meter
Portland Track Festival: 16:40 for 5k
I raced very little this season and focused on some development I didn’t have before now.  The road will continue and I can’t wait to approach my next season in Uniform with an outstanding team!
Hill Workout

                Outside of running being a huge part of my life, I have been overwhelmed with adoration for the little person on this journey with me.  My son has been the most resilient, witty and remarkable person to have around.  Through many battles, because there have been battles, he has always just stayed vibrant and ready to take it on with me.  He is five years old now and he has just grow so much and always kept me on my toes.  I love living in Portland, working as a massage therapist, barista at Starbucks, but most of all being a mom to this special person.  He is what keeps me grounded and remembering at all times what really matters….and guess what?  He is what matters at the end of every single one of my days.  Sir Eliott, El-Roy, El Man, Monster Man, Boozers, etc… little man are the light in my world.

Being us.

Always there with Mama.

Eliott being himself.

Telling us how we should have raced.


Monday, October 5, 2009

The Race is On....

Karlee, Nancy, T-Money, Alma and Sierra Cascade Conference Preview
This year has been a pivotal year for me. Many changes have happened and one of the changes has been taking on running and putting the bike up in the garage (except for Sunday strolls). I have discovered immense things about myself in my running career so far, first of all I have learned it's time to trust myself and believe truth about my abilities. I never realized until now how much self doubt I actually struggle with, and in competition on your feet you have no time to doubt the work you've done.

One of my favorite races so far was when I was relaxed and having fun, running through an acorn orchard and rain was falling on our shoulders. Hardly any spectators were around and it was myself chasing down the first place winner....when I had the ability to realize what I was doing and focus I had a blast.

My results so far have been 14:39-4th place on a 2.5 mile course at NNU, 17:58-2nd place on a 5k course at Conference Preview, and 17:58-16th out 241 at Willamette Invite.

This last race at Willamette provided the most testing race thus far. I have had one of the hardest weeks in training with a gruesome chest cold and injured foot (thanks conference preview), completing all my mileage on a mouse trap called a treadmill I was apprehensive putting on my number to race. As we got on the line I looked around seeing close to 250 other women wondering how I was going to make it into the top ten. When the horn went off I sprinted to the front coming close to blowing up, once on the course I felt as though my chest was going to tighten until combustion. After settling into the first mile my right foot started to hurt pretty bad, I looked down and realized the right shoe had come untied. You can't exactly stop and tie your shoe so I worked through the pain and made it to the finish.

I can't complain with the results. I didn't regress in time, and frankly the course this week was ten times harder than the previous weeks race. I can learn from this point that you have to ignore things like shoes coming untied and remain focused in order to get good results. I also realize that I need to shut the bull shit off in my head the days before my races.

I love this sport and look forward to pinning on the next number!!

NNU meet 9.12.09

Monday, July 20, 2009

Shoot---ain't I lucky?

About a month ago we took the boys fishing. It was splendid fun until we caught the fish. Seth adamantly told us to put the fish back in the water and Eliott just said, "hurt, back in the water." As we were watching them I was in complete awe of how fast this whole life process occurs. It seems as though it were yesterday that I looked in disbelief at the positive pregnancy test; and in the same breath it seems ancient that I was an incubator for this small child only two years ago.

I just had my ten year reunion and let me tell you---it was entertaining, although I am looking forward to the twenty year reunion much much more. I think we were still in high school a smidge---so most cliques remained and a few people scoffed at one another as if the halls of LHS were still around us. I will be honest, it was a little fresh to feel insecure for a moment because of who you considered yourself to be in high school and SHIT you are right back where you left off. Ten years is really not that long.

I say these things only because a few of my own resentments were permeating around me as I saw old faces that I was hurt by in my adolescent years. Oh how cruel children are to one another. So as end result I see my growth now after this reunion and realize how dramatically different I am, and my life is. Thank GOD! It was refreshing to laugh over old stories and see people that I still hold dear, but all too haunting at the same time.

In other news I am entering my second year of school this fall at EOU. It is a reminder how fresh those high school memories are when you are surrounded by young faces all over again. I will be running cross country this fall and track this spring---marathon specific. My goal is to hit a 3:00 marathon time that will bust the record for women up at EOU. I think it is unbelievably attainable and I feel very lucky for the people speaking into my athletic life these days. I also am so serene about the fact that I waited so long to pursue this endurance athleticism later in life...after childbirth and growing pains I have a new tolerance to pain that will enable a better performance.

Other than that I am staying busy at my new location of 1425 Washington Ave. in La Grande building my massage client base. I'm not doing a whole lot---just being a mom, wife, student, massage therapist, athlete, sister and friend. I look forward to my upcoming aspirations and all that life has for me---on life's terms of course.

PS-I am approaching 90 days of sobriety this week....I can't believe what my HP and the people in the program have enabled me to do!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

To eat or not to eat...... the question. Well those of you who know me, know some of my main struggles. I've often wondered why I ever blog, I keep up with everyone on facebook or email. As I have recently been faced with choices I decided I needed to utilize this blog as an outlet for an eating disorder that tries to grip my life daily. This disease is something I keep private but I know the only way to conquer it is to come forward and recognize it to the full extent.

I recently joined an Eating Disorders Anonymous group as well as Alcoholics Anonymous. I myself do not suffer from alcoholism per say, but I am an addict and I have the tendency to be addicted to anything really. As we sat in a circle at the last EDA meeting I was amazed at how we each felt unique in our problems, yet we all sounded disturbingly similar. I kept thinking to myself that I was the only one who drove myself into the ground---

I have spent close to the last 15 years of my life in bondage to self-hatred, self-doubt, and fear of complete failure. I had a brief flicker of light when I was pregnant and the six months postpartum. I have tried to figure it all out and 'fix' it but it's been an endless battle with endless therapists...

A couple of interesting things I have learned recently and understand about myself is that I use the control of eating, and over exercise to completely control my anxiety. I also utilize it to numb myself from the intensity of my feelings. I think I fear what I might be or be capable of if I allow myself the freedom of feeling. I think that the twelve steps are amazing for a million other things than alcohol---just what exactly is your bottle? So on go the steps of recovery....

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

thoughts on winter.

So I don't want to be a drag but I hate the winter.  I have tried the last couple of years to really embrace the winter months.  With out these months I could not enjoy the other months as much as I do, right?  wrong.  very wrong.  When the sun is going down after I am finally coherent, I have a hard time with that embrace.  

Not only is the winter hard for me as a neurotic germaphobe (sp?), I feel it really wears on my relationships and emotions.  I tend to suck inward even more than I do naturally.  I begin this long winter introspective thinking pattern, which can be good (see previous blog).  Perhaps it is because we are pent up indoors and have immense amounts of time for reflective thinking.  I think I spend this reflective thinking period on memories and what could have been, should have been.

When picking up the literature for alcoholics anonymous it tells you to live in the now.  So this is what I will begin making an effort on.  Living now, not tomorrow, or last night, or ten years  It's funny to think how many of us don't do this.  I don't.  I am thinking about the next bike ride, run, event that will gratify my selfish desires.  I know I miss moments with my son, or family because I'm somewhere else in my mind.  I know it's time to make my paradigm shift even more than my creative desires.  

There is more to life than going, doing and becoming.  Breathe.  Take everything around you in, because in a second it can and will be gone.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Selfish Introspect?

Seven years ago I thrived on my creative process. Riding a bike for four hours at a time, or running a marathon were not on the forefront of my mind. In fact, they were no where in my mind. As I recall my first time on a road bike I was terrified of the speed----even at 10mph. Pushing myself to the limit or making ridiculous athletic goals were no where on my list of endeavors.

This particular period in my life I was learning about good wine, cheese and chocolate---french films and real music. The days of sipping on coffee at 'The Market' in downtown Denver, sketching in my notepad. Oh that's right, I was pursuing art and creative writing at 'that time'. My journals were full of introspective thinking, a bit of sulking if you will. I think I had the ability to feel pretty well back then.

A shift occurred in the year 2001. My focus shifted dramatically from what mattered, to what I had to prove. I met valuable people that have challenged me mentally, even more so physically. I began riding bikes, racing, training, then consuming cycling 24/7. With this shift I lost all of my creative desires. I was numbed, drained and wasted from driving myself into the ground. As the years have passed I have realized that this athletic pursuit has become my anti-depressant, evolving into my addiction.

When running the Marathon in November I had a lot to consider during those 26.2 miles. Why was I doing what I was doing, and what happened to me? I felt as though every mile ran, every pedal stroke in the last 7 years I had lost pieces of my core being. Was there a way to be an efficient athlete and artist? I had drained myself of all emotion as a self avoidance mechanism. A week ago I decided it was time to face the music.

In all my self-image issues I decided to do a self portrait, perhaps even a series of them. Not only to take inventory on how I viewed myself, but to practice those long lost art skills. Come to find out when I save some physical energy I still have a creative process, and the joy from that is more fulfilling than completing 26.2 miles on foot.

Here is the first draft of the portrait. I share this photo with all of you that are important in my life, it's a vulnerable state that I wish to stay makes me a better person, friend, wife and mother. I hope to become a more successful artist and efficient athlete as well.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"I'm not that hardcore to just go in my pants"

November 30th came and went......well not just like that, it was a staple in my identity crossing that finish line. The finish line I am talking about is the Seattle Marathon. The marathon that mind you is NOT a P.R. (personal record) course. So much so that at mile 21 they place a staircase hill right in front of you to run up---really people are we trying to kill the competitors?

Through out the training of this marathon I didn't follow the program as I should have, I realize this now. You have weekly speed work outs, short runs, tempo runs, long runs and rest days. Well because of my history as a bike racer I decided to supplement bike in place of speed work outs, as well as a lot of cross training. Okay, so I ran two times a week one of those runs being a long run. Needless to say at mile 20, the mile marker I stopped training at, I crashed.

The race started brisk. I stayed with the pacers for an 8 minute mile, 3:30 marathon time. Like I mentioned before I felt strong until mile 20.....only to be faced with a treacherous hill at 21.....not to mention all the "rollers" before that. So at 21 the pacer and a few other runners slowly ran away from me. I struggled for a couple of miles and then pulled my head together to finish strong. Allowing me to finish in 3:33 instead of 3:30. This is a time I can only be proud of considering it was my first marathon, on a slow hilly course too!

At the finish I reveled in what I just accomplished, hoping to be in the top ten of my division, well I guess I will settle with 14th in my division--as well as 33rd out of all 773 women! Now on to a more disciplined structured training program, I hope to have a 3:15 time in Eugene, and maybe 3 hours in Portland. We'll cross our fingers. Needless to say I am addicted!!

About the staple in my identity. I have always related fitness to bike racing and thinking that is what I need to succeed at to be a good athlete. An old friend introduced me to the sport and he has excelled above and beyond, my pre race jitters and fear of speed all kept me from excelling in that sport. So when I crossed that finish line I realized that all that base fitness from the bike totally prepared me for a new life in competitve racing----running. New doors open and I see myself as a new individual with nothing to prove to anyone but myself.....race on!

El giving me a post race massage!!

Just finishing.....exhausted.

Family photo before the start!!