There are No Rules

Last night I had quiet dreams, which was a stark change from the previous two nights. I had dreamt of a conflict with a good friend, who was so arrogant that she couldn’t even acknowledge that I was upset, which was infuriating. In reality, there is a conflict with a friend, but in my dream the conflict was misdirected. And in reality, I suppose there is no actual conflict. We’re simply no longer friends. 

The second night I dreamt of Steve Gleason and the debilitating effects of ALS. This was no ordinary dream. I dreamt from his perspective, not being able to talk or walk or move, or even breathe without the assistance of technology. How frustrating and isolating that must be. I woke up, relieved it was over. When I fell back asleep, I was trying to help his wife catch up on daily tasks, which were mounting with the responsibility of a disabled husband and a new son. She didn’t want my help, and that was frustrating to me. I woke up, relieved. When I fell back asleep, I was Rivers, growing up with a dad who was wheelchair bound. This pattern continued throughout the night, me tossing and turning, waking and falling back into another perspective on this horrible disease. 

I woke up depressed. Two nights in a row of conflict in my dream. I feel down. I’m exhausted. I fear going back to sleep because I don’t want to enter into an unknown nightmare that even I can’t get myself away from. 

Last night was better, but I was in New Hampshire and those dreams usually leave me feeling a little hopeless. I like New Hampshire just fine but I don’t want to be there. I want to be here, in Bend. Disease- and conflict-free. 

If you haven’t seen the film Gleason, I highly recommend you watch. With tissues. With the knowledge that 6 years after his diagnosis, Steve Gleason is living a life of purpose and he is happy. There is little reason to take on the depressing thoughts without his permission or request. 

On to me. I have been doing well overall, but I can tell that when I start to feel bogged down like this, it’s time to process. Thankfully I have an EMDR session today, but I decided to also blog. This blog is for me, not for you. I do appreciate you reading, but I’m not here to share insights so that  you may walk away enlightened. I write this blog to help me process my own thoughts. Knowing that someone may read them helps me to keep them coherent. And if you do walk away with a nugget of enlightenment, well then it’s a win-win. Great teamwork. 

Today is March 14th. Rob’s 50th birthday. I had been buried deep in a quilt for his birthday when he casually asked me to pray for discernment about a job he was considering in Washington state. Just writing this causes a physical reaction in my body. It still really hurts. 

Of course, being in a relationship and working on trusting others to love me and care for me was challenging for me, but I was doing great. I was excited to put my creative energy into his birthday present. It would be meaningful to both of us. 

When I found out he was moving and that he regretted telling me because I was “going off” on him (apparently to him, sharing that I would miss him, and that I would go with him if he asked, that I loved him, is “going off”). It really hurt. We haven’t spoken since. 


The point of bringing this up today is because I have had two friends tell me “the quilt is so thoughtful!” — followed up by — “you should give it to him anyway.” 

I’m learning to not take others’ opinions to heart. But this one really got me. I just got done saying the man ripped my heart out of my chest and in so many words told me I never mattered to him and that my love for him was annoying. 

Enter every single emotionally, physically, or sexually abusive relationship I’ve ever been in. 

Just keep showing your loyalty to them, even though they just got done telling you what a worthless piece of shit you are. 

MAIL HIM THE QUILT ANYWAY. 

I don’t ducking think so. I’ll let autocorrect win on that one. Keep it rated G, Katy. 

No, I am not going to give this quilt away to the person who has already successfully broken my heart a dozen times since last June. 

I’m keeping the quilt for me. I suppose it was mine all along. I love this quilt. I love the representation of our long and cold and snowy winter here in Bend. I love the trees. The cabins. the campfire. The picnic tables and bench. And I love most that I get to keep it. This is the second quilt I’ve been able to keep for myself (well, 3rd.. but the first I only kept because it was too ugly to give away. lol). 

I have been feeling lonely lately. It’s a combination of working from home and no longer having a car. Both lifestyle changes I really enjoy, but it also means I spend the majority of my time alone at home. Loneliness coupled with depressing dreams and opinions from others on how to spend my heart.. I’m exhausted. 

Lastly, I’m trying to decide how/if/when/why to communicate to my dad why I no longer wish to have a relationship with him. My overly empathetic heart is putting him first, and forgetting all the pain and distortion he’s caused me. I guess it’s similar to giving Rob the quilt anyway. Why should I expend my limited resources on someone who will just waste them, and leave me depleted. 

I would write to him if it would guarantee that he leaves me alone for the rest of his life. But I am afraid that writing to him will open the line of communication and I don’t want to talk. Not now. Possibly not ever. I cannot read the future but I have no desire to be hurt by the people who are supposed to love me. 

Oh, one more thing. I am done feeling frustrated by my weight. I’m done trying to calculate every calorie I consume or burn into a smart phone app and wondering why it never translates onto the scale. What has worked for me in the past—my whole life—has been an intuitive balance of diet and exercise. I’m going to stop obsessing and just start living. My weight, albeit frustrating, and something I want to change, is technically not hindering me from doing anything in my life. I have healthy cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, cardiovascular recovery, etc. I can run, bike, walk, lift, yoga… I should just get back to life as it has always been for me, which is to enjoy daily activity and enjoy healthy foods and let the rest fall into place. I can’t stand the pressure to constantly remain perfect, which is what happens to me when I am trying to log every bite. I’m over it. Deleting the app as soon as I publish this blog post. 

Off to the start of a new day.. wish me luck, send me hugs.. I’m in need of a good long hug and possibly a long, hard cry too. 

A Healthy Self-Care Plan

Have you ever heard someone say, “you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else?” 

…before you can take care of someone else?” 

Maybe I’m different, but I take that to mean the only reason it matters to take care of yourself is if you have someone else to take care of. 

Hey, listen. I give of myself every day in my job. I’m very caring. Empathetic. Understanding. Giving. My job is 100% about other people and their wellness. 

I would like to declare war on that sentiment that you must take care of yourself before you can take care of someone else

Hello! 

You must take care of yourself.

There is no other reason than because you matter. Your wellness matters. Your health matters. Your happiness matters. Your ability to get the most out of life all day, every day matters. 

Self-care is not a pre-requisite to a bigger cause. It is the cause. 

Have I made myself clear? What you choose to do with your taken-care of self is your business. But I beg of you.. understand that if you choose a life of caring for others, having a self-care plan is essential. Because no matter who they are, or why you know them, caring for others will drain you if you do not care for yourself consistently. 

I have been working on creating functional space at home for my office, without it completely taking over my living room. Today I made a lot of progress, and in the process I dedicated space for meditation, stretching, yoga, foam rolling and a multitude of other physical/emotional wellness practices. I’m looking forward to making it a daily habit in some way. 

At my desk I dedicated space to my journals, and the current book I am reading. Journaling is very therapeutic and I would love to make it more of a daily habit again. There was a time in my life when I journaled every night for three years straight. It’s a habit I’d like to get back. 

With better dedicated work space, and finally the opportunity to catch up on some of the elbow-grease duties (moving crap, and then moving it back), I will be able to dedicate time toward researching and writing awesome wellness topics for my newsletters, which will help feed my intellectual wellness. 

Oh, by the way. Here’s a tip for you.. something I’d like to share. It’s an important part of self-care. 

Analyze your wellness. 


This is my wellness wheel as of yesterday. It’s not balanced in the least bit. I need a lot of work. But you know something? I wouldn’t have known what exactly to work on had I not filled this out. Do a few google searches on each of the dimensions of wellness to fully understand what they all mean. Create your own wheel and fill it in. And then when you get the bigger picture, create goals to improve the areas that need them. 

Intellectual wellness and occupational wellness are struggling for me right now, and I have decided I could spend a little more time doing some research and maybe that would boost my desire to be challenged intellectually, and hopefully it would flow over into improving my occupational wellness. 

I’ve been running regularly and biking for transportation. I even got a new bike that fits much better and feels much better on my neck and shoulders. 

I will continue plugging away at everything else and take care of myself, not because someone else needs me to be my best, but because I want to be my best. I deserve it. And so do you! 

In it for the Long Haul

It’s been a long, arduous week. It was my first work week without a vehicle, and I woke up feeling rather sick on Tuesday morning. On my bike ride back from the office, with a heavy laptop in my backpack, I stopped at Natural Grocers to pick up some Zinc. On my way out the door, I pulled my back and then, barely able to breathe, hobbled into the kitchen area and strained through the back exercises my chiropractor had given me until I thought I was limber enough to get home. I went straight home.

I had a stressful meeting with my boss that did not end well, and then had just enough time to run two miles to my therapy appointment, where I got caught in a freak blizzard, soaking my clothes through to the skin. The appointment was fruitful, which means it was difficult and exhausting, and I ran back home to nurse my back, my neck, my chapped skin and frozen bones back to life.

I’ve been thinking about quite a few sacrifices I’ve made this week, this past month, and further back that will hopefully become investments into a healthier, happier, more financially stable future. Above all else, is the commitment to EMDR therapy and overcoming the lifelong trauma I’ve experienced through emotional abuse.

Selling my car.

Frankly, no, it is not easy going without a car. This week proved that to me with cold temps, snow squalls, rain, a head cold, and a hurt back. I guess all this means is that I am not taking the easy way out. Just because it isn’t easy, doesn’t mean it can’t be done. The benefits of not having that car right now still far outweigh the challenges. And, what’s more, I leveled up in “badassery” by biking to Costco, and carting back everything I needed in my bike trailer. Man, I love that thing. I even biked home with eggs, and was surprised to learn that I could, in fact, fit 30 rolls of toilet paper with plenty of spare room. It was cold outside. I had a cold, and not very much energy. I still managed to feel incredibly awesome about myself when I got home. It was physically challenging, and I was in the easiest gear through some of the sections, but again, I’m not doing this to take the easy way.

Insider tip: people are more likely to stop for you if they think you’re carting around children. 

bike cart costco.jpg

katy-bike-cart.jpg

Going Gluten-Free

I decided to test a theory this week, after months upon months of frustration with my weight, feeling gross and not responding to training and healthy eating. I was talking with someone over Twitter, who was sharing her food allergies and frustrations whereto for. I started to actually look past my own frustrations to remove the emotion and I started thinking like a scientist. I’ve had sores on the back of my tongue for months now. They seem to clear up quickly, so I was ignoring them, but as we chatted, I had a painful canker sore on the floor of my mouth. A quick google search revealed that mouth sores (among many other causes) are very commonly caused by food intolerance and sensitivities. I was intrigued, and kept reading. Next on the docket was weight gain due to inflammation. It took peeling back only those two layers to help me recognize that I have blamed stress for a lot of my ailments. Stress is so easy to blame, isn’t it? We’ve all got it! We can’t always control it! And it’s invisible! It can’t fight back. It can only just take the blame over and over again, making the problem bigger, and giving opportunity to pile on more blame. The stress of it all unraveled and I decided it can’t hurt to try.

Within 36 hours, I could tell this was going to make a difference. And now, with the bloating gone, and with it eventually the inflammation, my digestion will improve. The sores in my mouth cleared up a few days later. I can start focusing on good nutrition once again, and give my body what it needs to thrive athletically. I can focus on drinking the right amount of water. I’m pretty excited by the possibility that all along, a little wheat protein was harming my efforts. To some of you, cutting out gluten may sound like the end of the world, but in my mind, it’s a very easy fix to a long, and very frustrating problem. I’m happy (and hopeful, whereas at this point I’m not 100% sure) that this is the solution. What do you want more, that bagel or to feel good? I personally have spent far too long feeling bad to care to ever eat another bagel so long should I live.

burrito

No TV/No Netflix/No Microwave

I don’t know why exactly I’m throwing this last bit in here, but to say that as soon as I connected my roommate’s TV up in the living room, TV (particularly Netflix) became my staple every day/night. It has definitely interfered with my productivity and creativity. The TV is gone now, and Netflix is canceling at the end of the month. I removed the microwave because I don’t like the big hunk of junk and instead will eat cold food or reheat on the stove or in the oven. I’m not going to get into a big philosophical debate about whether microwaves damage foods, or damage our bodies. I just wanted the counter space and decided I could get by without the microwave. Like my car, it just seemed to drain a lot of resources for the very few times I actually used it.

I’m Growing my Hair Back

What a silly thing to blog about. I love having short hair. It’s fun. A lot of people think it looks good on me (and I agree). But I don’t like spending $55 every 6 weeks to keep it looking fresh. Also, I want my long hair back. Many times in the past year, I’ve attempted to grow it back and got to a certain point where I couldn’t stand the shagginess and I’ve gone and cut it off.

The last time I sat in the chair at the salon, my stylist (who is great–she’s done an incredible job on a head that is riddled with cowlicks) she was telling me all of the great benefits of exercise. I had been at the beginning of this journey toward self-love, and I was (and still am, many days) drained from the process of EMDR therapy, where I am finally facing the damaging effects of my childhood. I sat there and listened to her preach to the choir. She was unaware that I have a Masters in Exercise Physiology, that for 6 years, I studied the positive and negative effects of exercise, and lack of exercise, on almost every system in the human body, at every stage of life. I looked at myself in the mirror as she talked; she raved about exercise as if perhaps I had never considered giving it a try. I was grateful I was covered by the cape because the memory of my belly jutting out over my jeans when I sat down was making its way to the surface of my brain. It’s no wonder why she thinks I’ve never exercised. I didn’t look the part in the least bit.

By the way, in case you don’t know me.. I’ve run 3 marathons, a 50k ultra marathon, a half Ironman (70.3), several shorter triathlons, a couple handfuls of half marathons — one of which, I won — and I ran all four years of college and 3 years of high school. Yet as I sat in that chair, getting my hair cut very, very short, I did not recognize myself in the mirror and I began to believe that no one would ever peg me as a runner if they saw me.

Yes, I know, it doesn’t matter what other people think of me. It matters what I think, and in that moment, I wasn’t happy. Now doesn’t the gluten intolerance theory and the removal of gluten from my diet seem like a good idea? I am a runner. I am active. I am aware of all of the health benefits of exercise. Yet my body has been unable to reap those benefits. Hopefully, maybe, because of something so simple as an intolerance to gluten.

Anyway, my point of this section was to say that I am finally willing to endure through the ugly stages (which could last months) to grow my hair back out. And yes, I want my hair back.I want my body back. I want my fitness back. I want my financial wiggle room back. I want the Katy Murray I once dubbed as capable of anything back.

I am finally willing to endure whatever sacrifices I have to make to get there. When you start weighing where you’re at now, with where you want to be, anything you give up to get there doesn’t feel like a sacrifice at all. It feels more like a successful removal of an obstacle. Home free…

Self-Reference | Finding your Why

This blog is about my journey toward self-love. When I started it, I had just discovered that my childhood was emotionally abusive. Maybe that sounds like a “duh” moment, but like so many victims of abuse, I didn’t recognize that the treatment I was receiving in my own home was abusive. I trusted my father to love me unconditionally and to treat me with care and respect and to set positive examples of how to treat others. And so, when I finally learned that it was all abusive and this abuse explained a lot of distorted views, and negative self talk, low self-esteem, lack of belief in myself and what I deserve out of life, it was, well… painful. 

The topic of self-referencing has been coming up quite a bit lately. In my own life and in the struggles I see others facing daily. It’s so easy to get caught in the tangled web of other people’s opinions and criticisms, and the only way I know how to get out of it is to self-reference. Define your why, as another psychologist called it. I’m still learning this technique and recently had some big opportunities to practice it. 

When I sold my car, I faced quite a few opinions and even more opposition. In the end, I pushed them all aside and made the positive decision to sell my car and to be freed from some smaller debts, and to embark on a more active and environmentally friendly lifestyle. 

Then it was time to buy a new bike. If ever you thought opinions about cars were far and wide, and way too many, go buy a bike. Better yet, shop around for a bike in a town that has 14+ bikes shops. Yes. That many. 

One thing I learned from this experience is that I don’t like or appreciate when people tell me what I want or need, especially when they haven’t even asked questions. I especially don’t like when people tell me how much money I should spend on something and pass off all other choices other than what they’re offering as idiotic. 

I thought about my wants and needs, considered my budget, perused the choices available in town and I made a choice that makes sense to me in all capacities. 

I bought a bike from REI. Next March, I’ll have $50 from that purchase waiting for me in my annual dividend (SCORE). The bike is my size, which was in fact the number one priority since my back has been hurting on the bike I’ve been riding around for the last (almost) two years in an overstretched position. The bike has disc brakes, which means I can attach zip ties to the tires if/when it gets icy for extra traction. The bike is black and pink, which makes me so happy. I’ve always wanted a pink bike, or at least a touch of pink. 


I am excited to get it Friday. I might pitch a tent in front of REI as I wait for its arrival. 

I chose to buy this bike for $500 rather than a bike that is all tricked up and customized for a random customer (not me) for a few reasons: 

  1. It’s a commuter bike and it will get locked up all over town. Locked bikes do get stolen and I would rather not invest $900-$1200 in a bike that I would be afraid to lock up. This is my transportation for the foreseeable future. 
  2. I want to customize the racks and panniers and bells and lights. I don’t want a bike that comes so completely finished that there’s no room for me to make it my own. 
  3. Even if the bike that was tricked up and all complete and everything was awesome, I wouldn’t buy it because the guy who built it told me that it was what I wanted, needed, etc. He basically put down my ability to make my own informed choices. He lost credibility in my mind by knocking mine down. 

This is self-referencing. Making a choice or setting a value based on your own beliefs, experiences, desires, goals, limitations. 

So who cares if someone thinks I bought a “cheap” bike because I bought it from REI (when did REI lose its credibility as an outdoor retailer, anyway?!). I’m riding it, not them. I paid for it, not them. And this decision allows me time to sell my commuter bike and my triathlon bike to invest in a nice road bike. 

And guess where I won’t be going when it’s time to start shopping? 

You guessed it. 

Free Agent

For the past several years, I’ve worked hard to become a brand ambassador or part of a team in someway. I just wanted to belong somewhere, and being attached to a brand name gave me a sense of belonging. Or at least I had hoped it would. 

In the end, my first two attempts to belong were both fruitless and frustrating mistakes. I won’t share which brands, but I will say that any brand who wants me to become advertisement for them better offer more than a 20% discount on their product. They also better give half a damn about me as an athlete, and as a human being. 

I learned the hard way that most businesses who have brand ambassador programs are about selling their product and tooting their own horn. When you’re not even given space to provide feedback, or make simple humanitarian requests, I was the wrong choice to promote that brand. 

I am human, and I am an athlete for fun. I like to push myself, train smart and race hard. And the gear I wear, the food I eat and the hydration supplements I choose to propel me in my sport are done carefully. 

This year I decided I wouldn’t apply to be an ambassador for any brand. And then I applied for one, got turned down and felt very rejected. I applied for a second and got accepted and immediately regretted even applying. I don’t use said product, so why am I promoting it?! Why, in fact, did they select me as an ambassador? My guess is they just wanted live bodies. My twitter feed was inundated with ambassadors for this brand, and I felt like such a sham. I eventually emailed the company and told them I wouldn’t be able to be part of their ambassador program this year. They never wrote back, but they did cut ties. Again, confirming for me that I made the right choice. I want a relationship with the company I’m repping, and a simple acknowledgement was apparently beneath them. 

Moving on. 

The one company that I really did want to rep turned me down because of the line of work I’m in. But with that rejection came a bigger perk: a bigger discount without the need to promote their product. So it was a win, even though the sting of rejection still reverberated for a while. 

Today I ran in my Altra Lone Peak 3.0. I had their gaiters on to keep the cinder and mud out, and they were awesome. I wore my Nathan hydration vest and loved it. I drank Herbalife 24 CR7 drive, which I hate the taste of but it was what I had, and I needed something beyond water. 
It’s nice to be a free agent this year. To wear, eat, drink, and promote what I want to, when I want to, because I want to. 

I don’t have to post scripted Instagram and Twitter posts. I don’t have to be part of Facebook because it’s the only way a group communicates. I get to do what I want, and share whatever love I want about products. 

And here’s the thing.. because no one is offering me a measly discount to spout my manufactured love for their brand, I get to be honest: 

I love Altra running shoes. They’re all I will wear. I can’t run in anything but Altra, and I can barely get through the day in anything but my Altra running shoes (so much so that I wear them till they literally fall apart). Zero drop, extra wide toe box. Lots of freedom. “Zero limits”. And frankly, they make me feel bad ass. 

I love my Nathan hydration vest. I have tried on packs in the past and didn’t understand why people ran in them. Uncomfortable, ill-fitting, bouncy. Why? And then I slipped on this Nathan Vapor Airess and it was so awkward I couldn’t even get it over my shoulders. Then when I turned it right side up, it slipped on and fit like a glove (er, a bra). It was so comfortable and so fitted, I was immediately hooked. I was shocked. 

I made myself try on one more but decided to trust my instincts, and I bought the Vapor Airess — ran with it today and am in love. 

I got home after a long day of running and bike commuting and slipped on my PRO compression sock. Singular because I can only find one. And it made me realize how much I love these socks. The fact that I feel at a loss by not being able to locate the second one. My left calf is being completely neglected. 

If I got to choose which brands to align myself with, I would choose Altra Running shoes, Arc’Teryx running clothes, and Skratch Labs hydration. The thing about Skratch that makes me come alive is the creativity behind it. Developing recipes, flavors, sharing and teaching, inspiring. I love the company and I love the product, and I especially love how much they have encouraged me to be proactive about my own race nutrition. 

Honestly, I’ve only ever worn one pair of Arc’Teryx running shorts but they were the running shorts — and then they got stolen from me at a hotel. I don’t want to buy too many running clothes right now because I am working on dropping 30 pounds. Right now I’ll just make due with what I have, which is plenty, and deal with poorly fitting clothes until I get closer to my goal race weight. But when I’m there, I’ll be hitting up the Arc’Teryx racks at FootZone. 

Altra running saved my feet. I had trained for a marathon mostly in New Balance (never again). I switched to Mizuno but the damage had been done. And Mizunos fitting like a sock didn’t leave much room for my toes to move. And I developed a bad case of metatarsalgia. My feet were so bad, I tore holes in my shoes because my toe was lifting up to make up for lack of flexibility in the rest of the foot. I couldn’t run without shooting nerve pain, and so I started running with my toes curled. 

I tried Altra one day against the advice from the shoe sales person. I took them out of the box and ran a half marathon the next day. And, as they say, the rest is magical history. My toes healed. My feet got stronger. Wider. More stable. The nerve pain is long gone. 

I can’t get over how Altras promote my running, and I am excited to have 2 new pair to rotate as I embark on my 50k training. My calves are thankful. I am thankful. 

What’s more about Altra, and about Skratch (I don’t follow Arc’Teryx, so it could be true about them too, but I don’t know) is that they are invested in athletes. They take on a whole new dimension by sharing progress and awesomeness of athletes (not necessarily “their” athletes). I am inspired by the humans that use the products that were intended for athletes. 

And so I do feel incredibly grateful to be a free agent this year. To be able to open my eyes to the brands I love. To share my honest opinion, or to keep my opinions to myself. I can be me, and find what works for me, and love and appreciate what I know works for me so well. 

#ZeroLimits, #MadefromSkratch

I Exchanged my Car

If I were to have said, “I sold my car,” (which I did) you would have likely said, “are you getting a new one?” or “why?!” 

Instead I’m choosing to say I exchanged my car for financial wiggle room. Three weeks ago I found out that my car had a bad head gasket leak and was 10,000 miles past due for a new timing belt. One shop quoted $2,000 for the repairs; another $1450. 

No way in hell do I have that much money laying around. In fact, the opposite. I have big debts (student loans) and small debts (credit cards, loans from friends) that I’ve been trying (fruitlessly) to pay off. 

Frankly, I’m tired of my car being “more important” than me. I’m tired of getting looked down on because I let my car go too long between oil changes. I have other things to take care of besides fuel, oil, insurance, repairs, tires, brakes—good Lord, I need to feel at least as important as a hunk of gas-guzzling metal. 

I parked it so I could think. I dropped my insurance down to “storage” and saved a ton of money doing so. 

Then I got some financial news that jarred me and suddenly the solution was in front of my face: sell the car! 

I listed it on Craigslist and just as fast as that, it sold for $3,000. I paid off my credit card. I paid my friend back. I paid for my chiropractor visits through the next two weeks. I bought a new commuter bike. I bought new running shoes. I bought a hydration pack. I bought a bright headlight for my bike. 

Selling the car allows me freedom to make choices to sell what I have and don’t want, to get what I do want and don’t have. I’ve lived a life feeling like a victim of my circumstances and finally, I’m in a place to make some changes. 

I’m selling my old commuter bike, that served me well. I am selling my triathlon bike so I can upgrade to a road bike. 

I plan to be on foot or on 2 wheels for the next several months. Maybe in late October or November, I will consider purchasing a different car. By then my financial situation will have improved. I will have had time to improve my credit score and set some money aside in savings. 

But right now I get to invest in me. Every time I need to be somewhere, endorphins are released instead of gas burned. I am set up to bike, walk, or run anywhere I need to be in the foreseeable future. For big grocery shopping trips or to transport my dog or other big items, I can use my bike trailer. If it snows again and the roads are not safe for biking, I will walk (or run). If it’s raining, I have gear. If it’s cold, I have gear. The bottom line is, I don’t need a car. And frankly, right now, I don’t want one either. 

I feel free. Sustainable. Environmental. Happy. Healthy. Active. Capable. Independent. Strong. Wise. 

And boy, am I glad I am physically capable of getting around without a vehicle. It’s really a rewarding way to live. 

The End of the Beginnings

Tonight I’m going to bed feeling healthy, rested, nourished, hydrated and armed with the belief, knowledge and courage to begin my last beginning. 

I’ve had a series of false starts over the past several years, and it’s about to come to an end. Tomorrow is the last beginning. This one is going to stick, and I will then be able to resume a life of fitness, adventure, competition and awesomeness. 

It took me a while to get to where I am tonight. It unfolded slowly, as I worked through layers of life issues. The therapy I’ve been going through to break the cycle of emotional child abuse is just part of it. I’ve been working through issues at work, where my job is to guide others and offer support in the development of their own wellness. 

This past week I slowly started to peel back on my triathlon ambitions. It went from 2 Ironman 70.3 races to one, then down to only Olympic and sprint races to only sprint to none at all. 

I decided I would focus back on my roots: running. I had no idea when I started to contemplate my 2017 race goals that I had found the padlock that held the invisible chains tight on my legs for much of the past 8 years. 

What the heck am I even talking about? 

Thanks for wondering. 

Crazy thing is, I didn’t even know what I’m talking about until this weekend.  As I researched and wrote out my race agenda — all running events, all trail, and all longer than 10 miles — the excitement in my body started taking over my every cell. I started reading Performance Nutrition for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald, and even bought new running pants from TJ Maxx. I took “before” photos from the front, side, and back. Not because I like the way my body looks with thirty extra pounds (it’s disgusting and I don’t understand how people allow it to get worse than this). I did it because I believe this is the last false start, and I will look back and wish I had taken the photo the day before #demoday, once I see the lovely transformation. (Do you like my Magnolia reference? Thanks, Chip!). 

Here’s the story: 

In January 2009, I bought my first triathlon bike. It was a Giant Aeryn and I fell in love immediately. It’s the bike I still ride today. It was a graduation present to myself after a challenging, yet rewarding completion of my Masters program in Exercise Physiology from Syracuse University. I earned it. And I wanted it. I was pumped

I was ready to get a great job and dedicate my personal time to training for triathlons and compete in my first Ironman. I believed I could take on the world. I was in great shape. I had just run a marathon at Disney World, and things were good. 

Unfortunately, the good didn’t last long. I started dating the man who sold me the bike, and our relationship turned tumultuous from the very beginning. He was emotionally abusive and for the first time in my life, I was able to recognize his abusive nature despite still not understanding that I had been abused my entire life by my own father. 

As all victims of emotional abuse tend to do, I allowed the abuse to continue. I allowed his negativity to permeate my being. I believed the horrible things he said about me, and worst of all, I adopted his way of thinking. Paranoia about other people. Over criticism of others, and mostly myself. I believed I was never going to be good enough for anything or anyone. I eventually stopped trying, despite the desire still there, and as fierce as ever. 

It took me an entire 11 months, but I did escape that relationship. My car actually rescued me. I bought my Subaru, after my old one crapped out on me, and that Subaru was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. Because, in his opinion, I wasn’t even worth the car loan I had to take out to finance the purchase. I simply didn’t deserve it. (As if someone gave me the car). 

When I escaped in January 2010, I moved into a room in a house with a complete stranger and slept (like a baby) on an air mattress until I couldn’t sleep anymore. I worked 3 jobs — as a personal trainer at the YMCA, as an instructor at Syracuse and as a sales associate at Target. I was busy. But I was not too busy to keep moving forward. 

What I didn’t understand until this past week, when I decided to push pause on triathlons, is the deep rooted scars of his abuse and the impact they have had on me, long after I’ve picked myself up and moved on. Long after I moved across the country and started over. Long after I landed a great job in my field where I am respected by the clients and cared about by my employer. Long after I paid off that Subaru, and long after I completed 2 sprint triathlons, 2 Olympic triathlons and an Ironman 70.3. Long after I had developed and worked through a bunch of other life problems, this disbelief that I had what it takes or deserved success, still lingered like a cancer. 

I never understood why triathlon training was so stressful for me. I never understood why the race itself felt like a war where I was taking on everyone and their opinions of me, and why no one was helping me fight the battle. I never understood why I could not apply the same mental toughness I had relied upon across thousands of miles of training and racing as a runner, to the sport of triathlon. I didn’t understand why I had become so soft, literally and figuratively. Why I allowed myself to quit so easily. Why I never gave myself a fighting chance. 

I never understood until this weekend that triathlon had become about proving myself to Brad, and that has never been, nor will ever be, a driving force for me. I do not run or swim or bike or any combination of the three to prove myself. I run and compete for me, and that’s it. And finally, I can release that incessant need, and I can move forward. 

As soon as I let go of the triathlon season, and rededicated myself to running, I heard the click of the padlock opening, and I felt the chains around my ankles release. I took the first step, and then the second. And then I felt the weight of the past eight years lift off my shoulders. 

My head cleared. I can think. I can envision myself fit again, wearing running shorts instead of spandex because my legs don’t rub together with an extra coat of excess fat. It isn’t there. I am lean. I am strong. I am fast. I am fit. And I can run effortlessly across miles and miles. And I can push harder and harder to get myself where I want to be. The world is my oyster, and I have nothing holding me back. 

Along with this break from triathlon, a sport that was and still will be a dream of mine, I discarded years of negative self talk. Years and years of internal strife and misunderstood struggle. 

I finally feel ready to work on me again, in a way I completely understand and believe in. 

I do look forward to toeing the sandy beach of my next triathlon, but not until I have found my Katyness. Not until I have learned to believe in me again. Not until I have completely buried the voices that have taken so much from me, without permission. 

Tomorrow I will wake up and run my first run of many, many miles in 2017. I am not running to become better equipped to race triathlons. I am running tomorrow, and  for as many days thereafter, to find the me that I have lost and have dearly, dearly missed. 

Today I sat down and with a clear head read the first two chapters of Matt Fitzgerald’s Performance Nutrition for Runners. For the first time in maybe ever, I feel equipped to hit on every area of my life to get the most out of all of it: I’m understanding my past, which is helping me to sort through way too many confusing emotions. They’re less confusing every day. I’m understanding nutrition with more clarity and determination. I’m sleeping better, and with the help of some minor supplements  (vitamin D-3 and Omega-3), I’m feeling more energized every passing day. 

So here is to the end of the beginnings. Tomorrow morning is day one of the most wonderful journey I’ve ever embarked upon, and I so thank you for following along. 

So long, Brad. I wish you the best. You no longer have me in your ugly, self-deprecating grip. 

I’m free.