I am a runner

I am a runner.   That has been my athletic identity since high school.  Running didn’t require any flying objects, no deep water, nothing complicated.  It just required a decent pair of running shoes and a place to run.  I have never been a fast runner.  In high school I was generally last.   I placed once in three years of high school track (we didn’t have most sports my senior year of high school due to a failed millage).  I continued running for a while in college but I didn’t have a goal or purpose so I gave it up.  I returned to running when I met Sam in 2010.  I recall telling him that I wanted to run again.  I recall thinking he was looking at me like I was crazy but he didn’t say that.  I have written about starting running already so I won’t repeat my first attempts.  I’m back to that place again though.   I have finished a number of races since 2011 and I have even earned a couple of awards, not just finishers medals.


Running is not easy.  It wears on my knees and my ankles.  I have had running injuries throughout my life but I always come back. Running, no matter how slow, is one of my happy places to be.  I have heard a lot of condescending remarks about my running, especially over the past five years.  People seem to think I should feel awful and like a total failure because I am slow and because I am generally last or near last.  I don’t though, for the most part.  Running has given me gifts.  It makes me feel good.  It has provided an opportunity to hang out with family members and friends.  It has allowed me to meet some really great people and run in the streets of some very cool cities.

Augusta 70.3 in 2014 was the race that almost ended my running.   I made it 9.1 miles in the run at Augusta.  I was so very close to finally crossing the line but I knew that my body was not going to make it across the finish line. My ankles just were not going to last on that day.  For a few weeks I tried to act like it did not defeat me.  But it did.  I had trained but my training got interrupted by family issues so I had several weeks of almost no training at all.  It was too much and it cost me the race, the finish line that I had worked for over the previous two to three years. Since September 2014, I have not wanted to run.  I tried to begin again a few times. I talked about running.  I looked at races finisherand I was registered for a few triathlons that I did not do.  I made a few attempts on the treadmill, thinking I would build up to where I had been.  But it didn’t last .

Three weeks ago I began Iron Tribe 101.  Most of the workouts include a run.  I wasn’t happy about that at first. None have been long – 100-400 so far.  I’m always last.  I’m slow.  I’ve had some pitiful looks thrown my way and some “you can do it” remarks thrown my way. What no one (except maybe Sam) knows is that I don’t feel all that pitiful as the last one.  Yes, I’m slow.  I’ve always been slow.  I will probably continue to be slow by everyone else’s standards.  But I am running again and not stopping.  There will be days when I hate running even 200.  But there will also be days like today when I felt a personal accomplishment from running again.

Don’t count me out just because I am slow, just because I am last.  I began again.  I will keep running, one foot in front of the other.  Last doesn’t bother me for the most part.  I grew up being told that someone has to be last so it might as well be me.  I never quite understood the point of the remark, but somehow it helps me when I am out running.  I’m not sure where my running will take me this time but I am looking forward to finding out.

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My new deep end: Iron Tribe

In 2011 I conquered the deep end of the pool – 20 feet doset no limitswn to the bottom of the pool. Sam and I never did have a tea party on the bottom of the pool like he promised though.  Then I moved on to conquer open water swimming, which took  a little longer but I feel fairly good in the open water these days.  These were two big fears that I never imagined I would conquer. I did though. Now I’ve met my new deep end.

Tonight I finished the second week of Iron Tribe 101.  A lot of what we have done so far is familiar to me.  There have not been many movements that I haven’t done in some way with Sam over the past five years.  I am the slowest one in my group but that is really nothing new.  I’m always slow and that doesn’t really bother me because I keep going. I am back to running for the first time since Augusta 70.3 in 2014.  It’s not far yet but I now have hope that I will return to running. But I almost walked out last night because it felt like a big mistake.

We finally got to the pull up bars and jumping rope.  Neither may sound daunting but I have never (I mean never) liked or been skilled at jumping rope.  I was not one of those kids who just loved jump ropes on the playground. Sam tortured me with a lot of things  I didn’t particularly enjoy but jumping rope was never one of them.  I hate jump ropes with a  passion. But I did ok with jumping rope and I will improve over time.  Pull up bars arIMG_0290e another matter.  First of all they are high and require climbing on a box to get to the bar.  Then you hang from the bar and pull yourself up.  My shoulder just doesn’t do well with that movement.  I was already tired yesterday from things going on at work plus post-yoga teacher training weekend exhaustion.  It was too much when I could not get on the box  to get to the bar so I picked up my stuff and walked.  But what happened next is one of the reasons I decided to try Iron Tribe in the first place.  Leslie, one of the coaches, followed me.  She did not let me walk out the door.  We took a few minutes and then went back and modified the pull ups with ring rows, which are not easy either.  Those I can do and I am getting something similar, though not exactly the same.  Everything is scaleable, and that is another key to Iron Tribe.  I will get to the pull ups but my shoulder may need some rehab or to get stronger first.  They are my deep end and I will conquer them.  I will also conquer some of the other movements that I don’t quite have down yet.

Sam has been with me the whole journey so far.  Leslie reached out to me, not only when I was about to leave but later in the evening.  That meant a lot to me. The 101 group I am with has been hanging together through the workouts.  We are at various stages but the support we have for one another can be felt.  At the end of the workout last night while I was still feeling discouraged, I read some of the things that are posted in the gym.  Yes, there are leaderboards and competitions but there is a different feeling and vibe.  The coaches want everyone to succeed and want to make sure you understand what you are doing. It is a tribe, a group that is supportive, and we are stronger together.  I’ve got this.  I’ll conquer my new deep end because I am part of something bigger that is going to make me better.


Posted in #whyItribe, challenges, change, choices, exercise, Iron Tribe, mental toughness, Sam, training | Leave a comment

Month 9: Yoga school graduate, moving to a new chapter

This past weekend I finished yoga school.  I am now a 200 hour RYT graduate of Melissa Scott’s Sacred Glow Yoga Teacher Training  (2016 datesIMG_0284 are on the website).

I made wonderful friends this year.  We have supported one another and I know we will continue to do so.  It’s more than yoga.  These women are a very special part of my life.  You don’t spend 9 weekends sitting on the floor of a yoga studio without forming bonds.  We’ve read, we’ve talked, we’ve practiced, we have taught one another, we have laughed and cried together.

I IMG_0281love seeing how much everyone has changed over nine months. Yoga teacher training truly does transform your life.  I am really still reflecting and reviewing what I have learned.  It will be a process that will take several months, or longer, to fully comprehend.  I know that I am a different person than when I walked into the studio the first night.  I have done many things over the years and pursued many avenues for training and education but this was one of the best choices I have ever made.

Over the coming weeks I will add reflections on training and teaching.  I’ll also add reflections on what else I am pursuing.


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Restored: A week at Kripalu

IMG_0128Last week I took another step in my yoga journey.  I spent the week at Kripalu in Lenox, Massachusetts in a Restorative Yoga Therapeutic Teacher Training with Jillian Pransky.  Yes, I have added another certification to my list of certifications and degrees but the week was not just adding another certificate.  It was a truly transformative week.

It was a week of deep healing for me.  I knew I was tired as I traveled to the training.  I did not realize that I was completely exhausted until after I arrived.  The week provided an oasis, free of computers and nattering about minutiae, where I could step away and experience a deep rest.   I reconnected with nature and with my inner sense of direction and purpose for my life.  I walked to the lake and through the woods at least twice a day. I experienced sitting in the woods watching the wind bend the tree tops, followed brilliant sunrises to full daylight and watched the sun move across the mountains, walked the paths and trails, and listened to the geese as they flew over the lake.


An inspirational group of people came together for this training.  Yoga teachers, body workers, and therapists gathered to learn about the benefits of restorative yoga therapeutics.  There were several people in the group who already were teaching restorative yoga and work with people who have trauma or illnesses.  Listening to their stories and experiences was so beneficial.  There were many good conversations over meals as well.  This did not feel like a group of strangers who met a little over a week ago, but a group of compassionate teachers who formed a cohesive community to support one another through the training and beyond.

We worked in the morning, afternoon and some evenings.  Jillian is one of those rare teachers who provides so much content in such an easy way and makes it easy to remember and apply.  She weaves instruction in meditation, queuing techniques, anatomy and propping together without just lecturing.  I absorbed and learned through observing her teaching and leading us through exercises. I feel that I absorbed what Jillian was sharing instead of just taking notes and learning by rote. We learned by observing Jillian and one another as we practiced.  There was a distinct moment when I realized that I didn’t have to do it “right” because there isn’t a magic answer.  We were learning together and if I didn’t have a prop in a right place or if I needed to see how to make an adjustment in a different way that it was all part of learning.  The greatest gift was spending a week looking at all the different bodies in the room and observing, talking about and practicing how to prop each one in various asanas.  Every situation will be different, even when working with an ongoing client, because it will depend on the day and the need.  I definitely know a lot more about the pelvic floor and the psoas than I knew before. The training provided a confidence about what I know and the reassurance that not knowing is also part of the process.

This practice provides a deep level of relaxation and rest that is badly needed in today’s world. I look forward to finding opportunities to offer restorative therapeutic yoga to people.



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Month 8: Exploration


I spent Friday with Big Magic and dark chocolate instead of with my yoga sisters.

It’s month 8 of yoga school.  I find it so hard to believe that I am almost finished with the part of my yoga journey but also not hard at all to believe.  It has just passed so quickly.

I missed Friday night because my flight from New York was delayed.  It was disappointing but much better to finally get home, re-group and get some sleep before heading into Saturday and Sunday.  Thank you to Melissa Scott for encouraging me to go home and get some sleep. This month was our sampler weekend and we were so fortunate to have several guest teachers come and lead us through various kinds of yoga.

On Saturday we had three guests. Nancy Roberts teaches Fat Girl Yoga.  She draws on her rich background and training in ashtanga, kundalini, restorative, yin, chair and curvy yoga to provide a unique class that is accessible while also being challenging.  Do not let the title of Nancy’s class fool you.  It is not just for fat girls.  It is for anyone who wants a great class and experience.

Melissa and Nancy



Natalie Sydes

Natalie Sydes joined us for Restorative Yoga.  I have taken classes from Natalie since I returned to yoga last fall.  Her classes are full of wisdom, stories and compassion.  She challenges students while providing a healing, calm environment.  I love all that Natalie includes in her classes and teaching.


Shannon Hancock

Our last guest of the day was Shannon Hancock, who introduced us to Kundalini yoga. This is a style of yoga that many people start out hating, including me.  I have tried kundalini a few times and it never goes well, which Shannon explained is normal.  It is a style that is so different than anything else I have done.  Yet, even as I write that I haven’t really enjoyed it, it is a style of yoga that energizes me.  One of the aspects that takes me back, or makes me think about going back to a class, is that everyone I know who practices kundalini yoga on a regular basis is so content.  It is one of the most challenging styles I have tried.

We wrapped up the day with a treat from Melissa:  SOL Lights out Dancing.  I was so happy – best.thing.ever.  I have been wanting to go to a class but just haven’t been able to make it to Birmingham or stay after a class for a session.  We had 30 minutes of dancing in the dark.  It was awesome.

20151018_135258Our final guest on Sunday was Annie Damsky, owner of Villager Yoga and teacher of prenatal and kids yoga, among many other things.  Annie helped us understand what to do if a pregnant woman came to one of our regular classes, how to help modify poses, and when to help someone realize that a particular class might not be a good idea.  She led us through a short kids yoga practice, which was as fun as it sounds, and then talked about what to be aware of when teaching children.  There are many benefits for children but we also need to be aware that they are still growing so at certain times there are poses that may just not feel good or may not be good for them to do.  Annie also talked to us about running a yoga studio and provided some insight from her experience. 20151018_153109

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In addition to our exploration of yoga styles, we explored the topic of ethics and yoga teaching and how to write a great bio.  My bio needs to be re-written!

The weekend was a good introduction of the many ways that yoga is taught.  There is a style for everyone and a teacher for everyone.  Go explore.

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Back at it: Trying to regain my fitness

I’ve been off schedule this fall.  I haven’t worked out as regularly as I had been and I have not been paying as close attention to my diet as I had been.  Part of it has been my schedule but part of it has been accountability.  Sam moved to a new job and I lost the person who keeps track of me.  I should be able to do this on my own.  Really, I should.  But I haven’t been as consistent as I was when I was working out with Sam and with others.  I have kept up yoga through teaching and classes but I need more than yoga.

So, yesterday I went and met Sam at his new place, IronTribe.  When he told me he was moving there I said I wasn’t changing gyms because I just couldn’t imagine myself there.  But as the weeks have passed, and I have realized that I really do need to have other people around who are looking for me and who I am looking for, I decided that I needed to give it a try.  I officially start in November because there is a 30 day introductory class that everyone starts out with before they go to other sessions.  This actually works well with my schedule.

It will be hard.  But I think this will be a good change.  I’m looking forward to being part of a group again.


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Month 7: Mindful and mind full

Sorry for the silence for a month.  I’ve been over here blogging and working on developing this site.  It is also the beginning of the semester and the end of another fiscal year so it is my busy time.

I can’t believe it is already month 7 – or to more exact, that I just finished month 7 of yoga teacher training.  In March this point looked so far away.  September featured mindful eating and living, more work on adjustments and a discussion about the business aspects of yoga.

Fun with adjustments 

11951442_10206243320894664_6895335138796399867_oWe have11864787_10206243312494454_7146492739318678656_o fun working on adjustments, but know they are serious.  Adjusting can be a tricky issue because you have to make sure that students don’t feel like you are saying they are wrong.  Adjustments are meant to help people get into better alignment or to help them get deeper into a pose.  Sometimes they are just a touch or a short massage, which always feels good.  And we need to be sensitive to people who don’t want to be touched at all.

Mindfulness and eating 

Emilie Maynor, one of my favorite people, was our guest teacher this month.  She led us in a lovely vinyasa class and then talked about mindfulness, mindful eating and led us through an exercise.  One of the first workshops that I took at Villager Yoga was Emilie’s yoga of eating workshop.  It was really interesting and touched on several of the same topics that she talked about on Saturday.  2015-09-12 10.49.11

Much of what Emilie talked about centered on awareness. How aware am I when I eat? How often do I just sit at my desk and eat lunch?  (way too often) It’s always good to be reminded of this.

Emilie’s work is one of my inspirations.  She teaches and coaches through her business, Emilie Maynor Living, and also teaches yoga around the Birmingham area.  Check out her classes, series like 40 days to free and workshops at Villager Yoga.


On Sunday talked about business. legal issues and other matters that most of us don’t think about on a regular basis. There are lots of issues to consider, depending on what one plans to do after teacher training.  Business accounts, licenses, LLC, Sole Proprietor, contractor, etc, etc.  We are fortunate to have a lawyer in our group who helped demystify a few things. We also have members who run other kinds of businesses and had tips and things to consider.  There are so many things to think about.

Teaching again 

The weekend wrapped up with teaching for 45 minutes to partners.  On Saturday we went to the park and taught in pairs.  I was not feeling well and being out in the sun, even though it was not hot, felt like the last thing I wanted to do.  I felt much better after being outside and practicing though.  It was an interesting experience because we had dogs, children and other people around us the whole time.  I had a dauchshound come to my mat and investigate.  On Sunday we stayed in the studio.  It feels like such an accomplishment to put together a 45 minute class. (see note above – the months have flown!) I really enjoyed both teaching sessions this weekend.


We left the weekend tired, but flying high on what we have learned, how far we have come, and what everyone is already doing. I’m looking forward to next month.



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