Jackpot Ultra Running Festival Race Recap

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Many people know the story of #4Bunny.   Many do not. If you don’t, I suggest you read this first:

https://coachkristie.com/2014/10/18/4bunny-2/

If you choose not to, in a nutshell, I made a promise to my Mom (Bunny) on her deathbed to find my joy again and to go back to ultra running. To go after the elusive 50 Mile I had been wanting and training for back in 2012.

#4Bunny

In October of 2013 I had unexpected spine surgery.   This surgery takes approximately a year for the body to completely heal. I walked a lot for rehab, and 90% of my training in 2014 was on the elliptical to reduce impact and allow my body to heal completely.   It wasn’t until after October 2014 that I finally kicked the elliptical to the curb and was able to hit the trails, the treadmill, and pavement again.

In February 2014 I went for a walk at my favorite new park, just down the street from my house. I arrived to see a bouncy house and tents everywhere. It looked like a big ole carnival. Turns out it was the inaugural Jackpot Ultra Running Festival. I took a few laps, chatted with people who were in their darkest hour and helped to keep them moving forward. I was hooked. Went home and made a note to register for 2015 as soon as registration opened.

Training and nutrition was spot on for this race. My only setback was coming down with the flu 3 weeks before the race.

I kept pretty quiet about everything publically. Only a few close people knew what I was training for and my goals. Whenever I make a race public or talk openly about my goals it implodes. It’s my own personal curse. I also don’t like the pressure that other people’s expectations and unsolicited advice that public discussion of my races brings.

I originally signed up for the 12-hour race, but really wanted to fulfill the 50 Mile promise to Mom. I knew that if I got to 12 hours and missed 50 I would be livid with myself. So I upgraded to the 24 hour. Having that time cushion was really freeing. No pressure. Goal was to be vertical at the finish. In my head, if I reached 50 and was still moving I would go for 100k but after 50 Miles, the promise to Mom would be fulfilled.

Pre race calls with my Coach and business partner Rebecca Adamson and registered dietician Dina Griffin had me pumped up.  Thank you Rebecca and Dina for everything you both did to set me up for nothing but success in this race.

Fuel prepped and ready to go for race day (GenUCAN, Nuun, PB/Honey/See Salt Sandwiches, Pickle juice, Lara Bars (ended up not using them), Salt and Vinegar chips (didn’t use them), Peanut Butter pretzels (also ended up not using), PlowON gum, peppermint gum, and BCAAs (my secret weapon):

bottles

Went to bed and slept amazing. Best night’s sleep before a race, ever.

Race morning I sent my husband and son off to CA, my son had a hockey tournament I was going to miss (sad panda).   They also would not be there for my race (double sad panda). After I sent them off I had my breakfast and loaded up the car. I got to the race an hour before the start. My crew chief, teammate and close friend Kathryn Bruce was there with bells on. We set on to set up base camp. Fellow Idiots Running Club running buddy Heather Rowley set up her base camp next door. This was going to be awesome.

base camp

The atmosphere was electrifying. The weather was GORGEOUS. I am a local so unseasonably high temps expected to reach 80 was still lovely to me. I felt bad for those from other places. It was going to be hot. When they felt great at night, I was going to freeze.

The starting siren sounded and that’s when my heart went to my throat. Showtime!

Quite literally as I crossed over the start line off to the right was a huge group yelling, “Go Kristie” a huge surprise of a group of people from my son’s school. Had to stop and give hugs all around. What a big surprise! One of them snapped this shot on one of my first laps (thank you Amy Tassin and family!)

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The racecourse is familiar. I train here. It was a 2.38-mile loop. My son learned to ride his bike here. I walked here during rehab after surgery.   I was “home”.   I was in my element.

One of the best pieces of advice I received before the race was if something hit my radar, address it immediately. Do not wait.   I trained in the shoes I was wearing race morning with no issues. None. No blisters, nothing. Perfect shoes. 3-4 laps in my feet hit my radar like a missile. Something was wrong. Very wrong. My shoes didn’t fit. My feet had swollen (my guess from sodium load the night before and the increasing heat on the course) and I had hot spots starting all over both feet. There was no way I would make it 24 hours in these shoes, let alone 4.   I hopped into my tent and put on my backup pair of shoes.   UGH. Too big.   I was sliding all over.   Made it one lap, came back, tried on other shoes, nope. Ok. Pair number two was going to be it. I slathered more body glide on my feet, reapplied sunscreen, and off I went.

Kathryn had a sheet of paper, a fuel tracking log on my table so each lap I could check in and document what I was taking in and to serve as my brain because literally after 2 laps my brain cut off and I was on autopilot. She also had a sign where she was writing down comments that people were sending to me via social media. Seeing this each lap was energizing.

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Many races I have run have been motivated completely by demons. Anger, resentment, feelings of having to prove myself, and self worth. While I had some demons for this race, this race was different. It was so positive and uplifting. I can tell you this race was the first one where it was all surrounded by positivity and support. No pressure. Just support. My friends, family, Storm Hockey Family, #TeamNC buddies, Idiots Running Club buddies, KR Endurance sponsors and KR Endurance teammates were all so supportive and encouraging, I felt unstoppable.

lap8

Friend Bobbie Davis showed up (time I have no clue) and would be there for the duration.   She and Kathryn were my rocks for this entire race.

Teammate and friend Teri Radke was at the aid station volunteering, seeing a familiar face on each lap was great. She would come back and take a couple laps with me after her shift and a couple at night. The most memorable was in the middle of the night we were completing a lap and coming to the Start/Finish line and the song “Best Time of My Life” was blasting. We started singing and dancing. It was awesome.

me and teri

Teammate and friend Jennifer Teft and family showed up and surprised me.   Moments like this in an event like this give you energy to keep moving forward.

jenteft

Ice buckets were on the course so you could (as in my case) dunk your visor in and/or pour cold water over you in the heat of the day. This was a nice touch for this race. Also hats off to my volunteer buddy who handed me ice to shove into my sports bra every lap.

The day hours went in a blur. I put my headphones on and listened to tunes and enjoyed the scenery.

Charlene Ragsdale, who I had not seen since RNRLV 2013, came at the 11th hour and we did a few laps together.   Laughing, chatting, and catching up right where we left off. She captured a funny moment after a pit stop I took. Yes folks, this race was at a park, there were BATHROOMS with soap, water, soft toilet paper, and hand dryers. If you were feeling nostalgic you could hit the porta potties if you so desired too. The race directors were AWESOME and thought of everything.

potty

Let me go on record that I great big puffy heart pickle juice and duct tape.   In the heat of the day I would take swigs of pickle juice and it tasted like the greatest thing ever.   Duct tape was my friend after lancing blisters- “we’ve got a squirter!!” and taping up my feet. I would NOT have made it without duct tape, thank you Kathryn for bringing this. Our base camp ended up being the location of blister lancing and duct taping for other runners on the course too.   If you have duct tape…. they will come…

I talked to my husband and son at some point, I vaguely remember. But it kept me moving.

Some time in the middle of the night it happened. I reached the 50-mile mark. To mark the moment my crew, Bobbie and Kathryn greeted me on that lap in a way that had many thinking they were hallucinating.   When I saw them I doubled over laughing. I love you two girls. So much!

best crew evah

I had prepared myself for “the darkness” that would hit my mind and I would battle at a race of this distance. It never came. Not once. I smiled and had a blast the whole time. Even at night when the course was lonely and my feet were screaming. Still then every runner who passed waved, high fived…. lap after lap, after lap, after lap.

The darkness may not have come, but the cold did. Boy did it ever.

I did not plan for cold enough. I didn’t. My spine surgery left me sensitive to cold. I did not pack enough clothes.   One lap I sat down at base camp and Bobbie and Kathryn loaded me up with blankets. Blister lancing session #2 also took place. Kathryn stripped off her fabulously floral toasty warm leggings, bundled me with 2 fleece jackets, and gloves. Warm and toasty and feeling good again Kathryn and I set out for a few laps.   She kept me entertained and distracted.

One memorable lap, as we were circling the lake, the birds started waking up. You would hear the chatter. A look off to the east you could just see the dawn barely hinting on the horizon. I looked at Kathryn “holy sh$t, I am going to do this, I survived the night”.

Dear friend Fatima Valeras showed up and relieved Kathryn of pacing and took over as my anchor. Another rock in my life I am thankful for Fatima.   We set off. Chatting.   Catching up.   The sun started coming up. I saw lap after lap my goal of 100k was approaching.   I was going to do this. I was.

Layers of clothes came off as the sun came up.   Seeing the grit and determination of people still on the course as the sun came up was amazing and inspiring.   Some running, some limping, some being held up by their pacers.   All, smiling, even through the pain.

Let me tell you from the start to the finish everyone on the course was friendly, supportive, amazing. Lap after lap after lap.   If I had a dollar for every “good job” I heard out there, I would be a millionaire.   I can honestly tell you this is the first race I have ever experienced anything like that.

So the joke was on me.   I wanted 100k, which is 62.1371 miles.   Lap 26 would be 61.88 miles. Seriously? I would have to tough it out to lap 27.   I had 3 laps to go and was figuring all this out.  I had plenty of time to do them. I was going to sit and rest 15 minutes between laps. Fatima was pushing me, 3 laps, get it done then sit down and relax until the 24-hour mark.

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A few feet from the Start/Finish line, which would be my finish, at lap 27 I was at roughly 22 hours.   I wanted to make sure if I went through the finish and had the lap counted that I would not have to come back and do another.   Basically when I reached 64.25 I wanted to be done.   Finished.   My crew found the wonderful race directors Stephanie and Ken, they said absolutely when I wanted to finish, I would finish. I could go home.  MUSIC TO MY EARS.

I said, “Oh ok then” and in anti climactic fashion sauntered through the finish.   Stephanie (race director) put my medal around my neck.   Then it happened, my brain freaked.   I started melting down.   It’s as if my brain said “and we’re done”.   People were trying to take pictures of me. I tried to collect myself. I couldn’t. I was trying to block photos.   It was bizarre.   Bobbie got in my face looked me right in the eye; don’t remember what she said but it snapped me out of it. A couple photos were taken.   The best one captured my shock of what had just happened

shock

I went back to base camp, my crew had packed it all up; I didn’t have to lift a finger. They made sure I could drive home.   Then in parking lot, it hit me what just happened and I started bawling.   I had done it. My first “official” ultra and I did 64.25 miles (my 50k was an unsupported virtual for skin cancer awareness). I could not have done it without all the support I had from amazing people.

We stopped for a minute and took a selfie and I drove home:

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Trying to document 24 hours of the most painful fun I have ever had is difficult, timing is approximate because things start running together, and there was so much awesome I am sure I left things out.  Accept my apologies if thank you’s weren’t big enough or if I left something out.  After 24 hours of punishment, the brain goes a wee bit bonkers.

I also wish I could mention every runner out there on the course. I felt like we all bonded and became friends.   Truly an amazing group of people. Thank you again to Stephanie and Ken for a great race.   Thank you to the volunteers, you were all amazing.

I got home from the race and was hobbling. Immediately got my post race recovery fuel and went to the backyard and stuck my feet in my freezing cold cement pond (pool) for an ice bath.

ice bath

I couldn’t stand back up. My feet hurt. My ankles hurt. I crawled to my pool fence and pulled myself up.   I was thankful my family was not there, but then thought oh boy I may need them. In the end this was a good thing for them not to be there. It made me keep moving.

I took a nap. Maybe 2 hours? WHAT? I had been up for 27 hours and couldn’t sleep more than 2 hours. Got out of bed and was certain I was going to need crutches.   Something.   Hobbled back down the stairs and back out to the backyard for more ice bath.   This time I was able to stand up.   I kept moving and then went to the store for my post race pizza I had been dying for this whole training cycle. Bonus with my husband and son out of town I would not have to share.   Came back from the store moving fairly easily, back out to the pool again for another ice bath.

Insert bragging Mom comment here. Remember why my son and husband could not be there? My son had a hockey tournament.   They WON!

miteymite

Monday morning I got up. Moving well.   Feeling REALLY good. Easily going up and down the stairs. Went to the chiropractor, nothing out of whack.   He worked on sore ankles.   Many thanks to Dr. Easton of Dr. Easton Family Chiropractic who not only diagnosed my neck issue resulting in spine surgery ridding me of the pain, but he put me back together again. No WAY could I have done this without Doc and Martha.

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Tuesday I got up, not sore at all. Nope. Nothing. Ok, didn’t I just run 64.25 miles? C’mon at least give me some satisfactory DOMS. But you know what? This is what strong training and nutrition looks like, before, during and after a race.   I had a 90-minute sports massage Tuesday evening.   All was well, just a little tight here and there, but all good.

Wednesday morning with the blessing from family and Coach Rebecca, this happened

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To prevent from imploding I won’t say what race distance/time I signed up for, but I will say this, Jackpot thank you for one of the most memorable moments of my life.   Lord willing and the creek don’t rise…I’ll see you next year.

I’ve thanked a lot of people in this recap, but thank you is not a big enough word for what people did for me. Two people however need a special thank you. My husband Joel and son Ty. Without their support during training for this race, I would not have been able to do it.   Patience during training patters, nutritional patterns and taper madness I love you both to the moon and back. Thank you both for being my sun, moon and stars.  I love you.

 

 

 

Training in the heat- tips to be smart and safe

IMG_7253-1Summer is fast approaching, days getting longer, and temperatures will begin to rise.  Training in the heat is inevitable and in some cases practically unavoidable (I live in Las Vegas where heat is “normal”).  If you are faced with training in the heat there are a few things to consider keeping yourself cool and safe while training.

The sun is at it highest point between the hours of 10am and 4pm. It is best to avoid these times. Always wear sunscreen and reapply. Wear white or light UV protective clothing (the Coolibar cooling fitness shirt is a perfect example) to reflect the sun’s rays.  Dark colors absorb the heat. Wear a hat and UV protective sunglasses.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Know your sweat loss rate.  Weigh yourself before and after a workout to know how much sweat you lose and replenish with this amount as well as taking in electrolyte sports drink during activity. Cramping is a sign of mineral loss so make sure you are taking in an electrolyte sports drink to keep you hydrated and replenish minerals lost in sweat.

Help keep the body cool by pouring cold water over pulse points in the wrist and back of the neck.  Also pouring over the top of the head.  A majority of the body’s heat is released through the top of the head.  That being said if wearing a hat be sure to wear a ventilated one so heat can escape and is not trapped.  There are cooling neckbands you can wear.  In extreme heat situations I have frozen wristbands and worn them and continued to pour water over them. The absorbent nature keeping the cool water on my pulse points.  I have participated in extreme heat races and they have provided ice towels and cooling stations.

Be aware of warning signs of heat stress and have an emergency plan in place (carry a phone, wear an ID bracelet with emergency contact information).

Warning signs of heat stress and heat related illnesses (dehydration, hypernatremia, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heat cramps) include but are not limited to: muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, weakness, headache, dizziness, confusion, cold and/or clammy skin, fainting, fast or weak pulse, hot red dry or moist skin, and even unconsciousness.

Keep in mind there is nothing wrong with playing it 100% safe and taking your training indoors.  You won’t skip a beat in your training and you can train safely without worry sun damage and heat related stress and illnesses.

Be Healthy, Train Smart, Have Fun

 

*this post can also be found on the Coolibar Sun Protection blog, an original article written by me for Coolibar UV Protection clothing*

 

 

Why I prefer *gasp* the treadmill

Runner treadmill ILLUS.jpgI have a reputation for being the “Treadmill Queen”.  I wouldn’t call myself a Queen; Court Jester would be more accurate.  When it comes to the treadmill go ahead and prepare to call me freak, sick, strange, crazy, whatever name you should choose but in all honesty I prefer to run on the treadmill.

There.  I said it, the “anti” runner statement.  But it is true.  On a brisk 40-50 degree day (“perfect” running weather) you will find me on the treadmill.  Shoot, pretty much most of my runs, you will find me on the treadmill.

In an attempt to get 99% of the running community to take a glimpse into my alter universe I will provide you with the multitude of reasons as to why I personally prefer to run on the treadmill, in no particular order:

  1. No dogs off leashes.  Well, there is one.  But he snoozes on the yoga mat beside the treadmill and the worst thing he does is pass gas.  I have been chased over walls, had ankles and the back of my leg bitten by all shapes and sizes of dogs, cats and oh I live in the desert…. don’t get me started on Coyotes.
  2. No stoplights.
  3. No rattlesnakes.
  4. The nearest bathroom is 3 feet away, it is clean, not a bush or tree that I hope is wide enough to hide me, has toilet paper stocked (well, that can remain to be seen as I am the only female in my house, but at least I know where the spare rolls are kept), it also has really pretty smelling soap in there.  BONUS.
  5. I can wear a sports bra and shorts and not worry about looking like a busted can ‘o biscuits hanging out everywhere in the land of Cirque performers.
  6. No cars.
  7. No motorcycles.
  8. No creepers that seem to be lapping the block over, and over, and over, and over. Shudder
  9. No random poles, stop signs, light posts that jump in front of me and crash into me.  I mean really?  The nerve.
  10. No rocks or other objects to trip over.  Or the desert hare that ran in front of me with comedic timing and ended up getting punted.  Let me tell you something so cute can REALLY give a mean stink eye.
  11. I like to run light.  The treadmill holds my water bottles, cell phone, fuel, snot rocket towel, HR monitor watch, and sweat towel.
  12. Can’t step in poop.
  13. Temperature and climate control.
  14. I can watch TV or a movie if I want.  I never have, but I could if I wanted.
  15. If I take it to the puke zone the trashcan is next to the treadmill or refer to #4.
  16. I listen to my iPod and don’t have to worry about hearing my surroundings, I can get lost in my music.  I can also sing out loud without crazy looks, well, unless the family is home.
  17. I can control my pace, timed surges, etc. without OCD checking my wrist.  Just a quick glance at the dash and touch of a button.
  18. If my clothes are stained, don’t match, ugly, stinky, only person to bother is me, and or refer to #1 the dog with gas that sleeps on the yoga mat.
  19. I can control my elevation gain.
  20. Sun safe!  Sunscreen not needed.
  21. I can’t get lost.
  22. No chance of accidental bug ingestion.
  23. Can’t get pooped on by a bird or have one crash into my head (yes this has happened to me twice).
  24. I can completely zone out and not have to be aware of my surroundings.  I solve the world’s problems in my head.  And well, think of blog posts like this one….
  25. When my son was a newborn and my husband worked graveyard shift and slept during the day we did not have a fancy stroller, it was my only way to regain sanity.  Without it for MANY years no treadmill, no run.  For anyone who calls the treadmill the “dreadmill” I want them to be faced with the harsh reality that if they want to run THE ONLY way they CAN is on the treadmill. How quickly they will appreciate the treadmill.

Do not get me wrong.  I love to run outside, in nature.  The sights, the sounds, the smells.  But given a choice I will take the treadmill thank you.

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NV Games Race Recap- Part 1 of 2- Before the Race-Getting Oxygen

Woman Wearing Oxygen Mask
Take something for granted, typically what happens. It goes or gets taken away.

That is exactly what happened to me. I was stronger and getting faster than I have ever been, and then….unexpected surgery in February (an outpatient fairly routine surgery mind you) resulted in my body, going on strike. I will not go into details, but leading up to and after surgery my running was put from fast forward, to ground zero. I was starting over.

Running was no longer easy. It was hard. My strength was gone. Training was mental kick in the teeth. Every workout was hard. Trying to remain positive and upbeat was difficult. I have a fantastic Coach (yes Coaches need a Coach too), loving family, good friends, and supportive teammates, but I kept my misery quiet. I had to fight this battle, my way, privately.

This was to be a big year of firsts for me. Instead it started out to be the big year of DNS’s.

The biggest thing that happened to me during this time after surgery was an attitude or well, “life”, adjustment. A big one. I was stressed, to the max. Everyone and everything wanted more and more of me and I had increasingly less of me to give due to the increased demands. I was burning the candle at all 6 ends.

Someone one day asked me how I was, and for the first time, this was someone who asked the question and sincerely wanted to hear the answer, not just a canned “fine”. Not to hear me say “fine” and then turn me into their personal therapist, but someone, who truly wanted to know and truly, listened. I unloaded. Boy did I ever unload. They told me something that I will never forget “you have to put your oxygen mask on yourself, before you help someone else with theirs”. She said “you can’t breathe because you are giving all your air to everyone else”. I heard what she said, but didn’t take it in. She also told me “people will never respect you until you respect yourself first, you are basically letting people disrespect you, and it is ok. No, it is not ok”. I heard her but it didn’t hit or sink in for a while.

I got up one morning, came downstairs, and poured a cup of coffee. Checked my phone just as a text message came across. Went to the bathroom (TMI here, but for the first time didn’t take my phone with me). When I came out of the bathroom I had a text message, a private message on Facebook, and a Twitter direct message all blasting me for the lack of response to the text that was sent. The span of time had been….18 seconds. Seconds. Bear in mind the nature of the text was a general greeting, not a 911 emergency. Wow. And this isn’t the first time this happened, and it happens from different people. All. The. Time. It stressed me completely out. It was happening daily. And sadly, I did this to myself. I allowed people to have unrealistic expectations. It was ok to demand my undivided attention 24/7/365. I worried too much about being available and making others happy, that I myself, had become completely miserable.

So I stepped back and day by day started giving myself some oxygen. It wasn’t easy. My family supported me. A lot of people didn’t like it. They still don’t.

The irony, one result of my surgery was for me to be able to breathe, my oxygen intake would be so much better. My doctor’s said my athletic performance was going to show dramatic improvement with this. Funny. It didn’t improve from the surgery as we had all thought. It didn’t start happening, until the one morning I got up and the first thing I did was put my oxygen mask on first.

Stay tuned for Part 2: NV Games 5k Race Recap

I am Me

I am not selfish. I live my life around others. I find out their schedule and work mine around theirs. I get up early, stay up late, work through or run errands on breaks, I multi task like no other. I work, pack lunches, make sure laundry is done, homework is done, clean the house, coordinate play dates, cook dinners, carpool, shuttle to soccer games, and work hard. My wants and needs come last. In the wee hours of the morning when no one needs me, when others are sleeping…I am…me.

The runner, the triathlete, the athlete. I swim, I bike, I run, I lift weights….I do this because it is my passion. Not because I am a freak. Because outside of everything I am, a wife, a mother, and a friend, I am…a woman, a woman who is an athlete. Would I rather sleep in? Yes! But if I did, I would be sacrificing myself. I live myself around others, so in order to be myself I have to do what I have to do, even if that means getting up at 3am, or going to bed and waking up and running 20 miles in the middle of the night while my family sleeps (and yes, I have done this, more than once).

I am not a martyr, nor am I trying to be, I am just stating the facts. I am a wife, coach, friend, Aunt, Sister, Mom, etc. Myself as a woman comes last. But I’ll be damned if I will let that part of me go. That is why I train, and race with all I have. Because, that is, all I have. Me. Without me, there is….no me.

Identifying Energy Expenditures and finding Balance in Your Life

vaseHow many Vases do you have?

Vases can add beauty to your life. A vase with fresh flowers can brighten a room, lift a spirit. Some vases come to us bearing special meaning or sentimental value.

Then there are vases that have a tiny hole in the bottom, so no matter how much water you put in them, it is never enough.
You can venture to guess where I am headed with this. How many vases with holes in the bottom do you have in your life, and do you know when to stop trying to fill them up before you get dried out? How do you find balance on just how much of your water to give to each vase?

Water is your energy. Vases symbolize work, tasks, training, races, friends, family, and school, among many other things. Basically, anything that takes your energy is a vase.

Look at your life. What vases brighten your day, lift your spirit, support and enhance your life? What vases require energy, that you give and then more is demanded each time, or worse yet, it is never enough? These vases drain you. They do not enhance your life. Identifying these differences can help you to find and realign balance in your life.

Some examples below to just get you thinking, but not all inclusive:

Work. Big deadlines, short staffed. You work through lunch, and extra hours. Are you appreciated and rewarded or is this now expected and/or more extra time demanded?

Races/Training. Do you enjoy training, find yourself happy, energized relishing race day? Are you over training, racing too much, or training for something that is just too big to fit in your life (this is a hard one to realize, you may have the physical ability, but not the time required to train/race)?

Friends. Do they bring joy, laughter and support to your life? Do they demand so much attention that they demand more and more attention and enough, is never enough?

Once you identify your vases. You have to make an important decision on the ones with holes. How much water (energy) are you willing to give so you do not dry out (exhaust) yourself? This can be a difficult decision. Sometimes it takes a lot of evaluation on what you need for balance in your life. It can also cause negative reactions as you pull back your energy and things/people around you adjust. Just remember in the end, you are doing this for a happier, more balanced life.
Coach Kristie