I write this with joy in my heart. A tired joy, comfortable and welcome. I set everything aside yesterday and played hooky from work (using up leave time) to spend the day sans phone and any responsibilities with my son.

I can get too caught up in my goals, keeping the house clean, walking the dog, paying bills and all the rest of it and forget to enjoy the whip smart, silly kid I’m raising. I know a good chunk of the rest of the world can’t just turn things off for a day, but I can only live my life.

We spent the day in our swim gear at the Winds N Waves Waterpark, and it was quite simply one of our best days in a long stretch, and badly needed. We swam in the vortex pool, flew yelling down the water slides and relaxed in the crowded hot tub. Never once did I have to raise my voice or an eyebrow; we just hung out and enjoyed each other, only giggles, no cross words or chores.

On the drive home we were both quiet, sipping our Dutch Bros drinks and trying not to fall asleep. I was happy, and so was Kade. I was happy, without reservation or worry or anxiety.

I hadn’t realized how big the weight I’d been carrying as a result of my job in the psychiatric hospital has been. Now that I’m leaving, I can finally take a deep breath. Not only have I turned in my two weeks notice, but the job I’m going to is a complete 180 from the hospital. I’m supporting my old boss and doing the work I’m discovering I’m best at, logistics and organizing and making things smooth and straight forward. It’s a relief to be working for someone who thinks I kick ass, instead of those who hate the change I bring.

Joy is also tasty homemade food with best friends, hitting up the nickel arcade and super tasty ice cream to announce and celebrate our upcoming elopement.

Life is rainy but good!

Embarressing ride story!

I’m part of many endurance ride related groups on the old Facebook, and in one I mentioned my twin ride goals for the season of completing my first 50 mile ride and not embarrassing myself in ride camp.

I realized that while I wrote up and shared the story of last year’s sad attempt at Grizzly, I’d never shared it wider than the PNER newsletter. So here it is again in all its glory, or don’t follow the Bad Idea Fairy!

I’ve had better weekends. I’ve had worse weekends. Overall, I’m chalking this year’s attempt at the Grizzly Mountain ride up to the as the ever exciting ‘learning experience’.

I first tried to complete Grizzly for the first time a few years ago, on Nicole Miller’s incomparable Arab Cid (who had given me my first ever endurance completion at Home on the Range earlier that year). I ended up pulling out via rider option at the first vet check, as through nearly 18 miles and a 30 degree temperature change, I hadn’t really drunk any water & ended up with heat stroke.

This year, Nicole had the amazing patience and trust to offer me another of her Arabs, this time Reno, to again attempt the LD at the now first ever EDRA ride. I felt quite a bit better about things this time; I’d been riding almost every weekend for months, including solid rides on a beautiful Appy/Arab cross (many of you may know him; Vicki Nelson’s Jokker is a stand out kinda guy!). I had my Camelbak all packed, my riding clothes dialed in, neither too hot nor too cold, I’ve been biking to work for months so I felt stronger than I had in years, & I was familiar with the rhyme and rhythm of Nicole & Jala’s work, if not Reno himself. I’d even brought two friends along, Adriene & Sarah, lifelong horse people but endurance newbies to volunteer, crew & provide what turned out to be critical emotional support.

So it should come as no surprise that Murphy bit my ass hard, in the form of the valuable maxim “Never do anything new on ride day.” I hopped up on a horse I’d never ridden, in a saddle I’d never seen, to do a nice 30 mile ride in the sunshine with friends.

I should take a moment here to fill a gap: I’m a catch rider. I have no horse of my own currently, so I’ve tried my best to build a solid reputation as a good horse person, a decent rider and a trusted friend. I was two of those three things at Grizzly. It’s only due to the open generosity of the endurance community that I have horses to ride at all! I always try to go the extra mile, from cleaning tack, stalls & trailers to working on any training issues as asked. There’s a delicate balance between my desire to ride endurance, the need to put conditioning miles on an ‘extra’ horse, and not straining friendships.

Back to the ride report that turned out not to be: We blitzed out of camp after Reno nicely bucked me off as his test (failed that one but popped right back on), took a wrong turn, futzed with my stirrups while Nicole’s Dancer lived up to her namesake, then crossed the highway & headed up the road for my one sweet spot of the ride, Reno alternating between a Hackney pony trot & a beautiful canter that I loved. As soon as we left the road I knew I was in trouble. I couldn’t find the sweet spot of the stirrups; either too short & they popped me up with every stride, or so long I couldn’t sink my weight into them. Reno’s saddle had a tree, but I’d been riding almost exclusively treeless all winter. I felt perched above his movement, & coupled with my shiny but comfortable running tights, I had no grip on the saddle & lost my balance with every shift, unable to sink into the saddle & wrap my legs around him as I normally did.

At the first real downhill at the trot, I did the predictable thing & came off again, this time rolling over his shoulder in painful slow motion. After a stunned moment I collected my glasses & left my pride on the trail. Nicole & Cassie headed on & I took my sweet time hiking back to camp, explaining to every rider who passed that I was an idiot & not to worry about us. Of course the first rider to pass was the woman who got me in to this dang sport in the first place, Brenda Casebeer! I will admit, I didn’t feel so bad about leaving the proper place on Reno’s back when I learned Brenda’s up & coming gaited mare, Grace, had also dumped her a little farther up the trail.

I will be honest, even though only Reno saw, I did cry a bit on that hike back to ride camp. I’d never encountered a saddle I just couldn’t suck up & deal with, at least for a few miles. It was just a bad combination, & an expensive lesson to learn. By the time I handed in my ride card, I’d at least accepted I had made the right choice for the horse. We avoided a sore back by not hauling around an unbalanced rider, & not holding up my friend’s ride. My friends back at camp talked me through from sadness & self-guilt to the mentality of ‘lessons learned, you lived to ride again another day, here’s some things to try’ via a trip to Dairy Queen in Madras.

The main lesson I took from Grizzly is I have to control everything I can, so ride day is as smooth as possible. Things I can’t control are always getting a pre-ride in (due to distance between me & the offered horse), or the saddle (which endurance riders are rightly very specific about). I did go out & find a new pair of actual riding tights (slightly sticky seat Kerrits & half chaps on the way from the UK, the only company to make them in my size), find a seat fleece, & pick up dressage lessons again.

To follow up the ride that wasn’t, I had a fantastic ride the following weekend on Vicki’s Jokker. We managed a nice 13 mile ride at a decent clip, in a saddle I love on a horse I adore, only getting hailed on at the end of the ride. Heading up a long gravel road at a just right trot, just me & the big spotted horse in the woods following Vicki on her mare, was one of those sweet spots which remind me why I’m putting in the work to make myself a better rider.

I strive to keep people trusting me with their amazing horses & the open trail, all in pursuit of a completion & a nice t-shirt. I’ve been biking ten miles round trip to work several times a week since January; riding as often as I can; filling in walks around campus & Wii workouts (Dance games & Biggest Looser) during the worst of the winter weather, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, & wearing my Fitbit & tracking what I eat. These actions have helped me drop 30 pounds & turned my calves into rocks, & I’m hoping adding in dressage lessons will get me closer to this season’s goal of my first fifty mile ride.

From my end, the trickiest part of being a catch rider is the relationship building. I’m lucky enough to ride mostly with people I also consider friends, which makes it a little easier to keep the conversation flowing on long rides & the communication open during trickier moments. I always offer to pay full ride fees & half gas & food for any trips or events, & I fully embrace the “take what you need as it works for your current horse, store the rest for later” policy around any advice I give or receive. I take pains to question & learn as quickly as I can how each owner handles their horses, their setup & routines; the goal is to minimize aggravation on both ends & maximize riding time.

Mr. 2Spooky

(Setting the scene: sitting in my beloved Emerald Queen, still at work, waiting for the World’s Best future husband to come rescue me and my non independent woman self from a super flat tire, and a spare tire I can’t get out from under the vehicle cause I’ve never practiced on this truck yet).

After looting the local 4H tack sale with two far fetched friends on Saturday, I put the new to me tack to use on Sunday.

My proudest score of Saturday was a almost brand new Equipedic pad for $100, which is totally worth boasting about and bonus, Ray had no issues with it!

A still relatively new to me riding partner and I headed out for a long slow ride, as we’re aiming to turtle Grizzly together. I have always ridden with others much more experienced than I, both with endurance and the local trails. Yesterday I got to be the ‘senior’ riding partner, and we never once got lost! She mentioned several suggestions I had that I’ve picked up from others (hopping off every 10 miles or so to pee and stretch and adjust tack, letting horses graze for a few minutes every so often, and walking the last bit I to camp/the barn) were super helpful, so thanks to all those who’ve instilled good habits in me!

While it was a good 12 mile ride (no rain!) I was reminded once again that Ray is a different horse than super laid back, goofy Jokker.

Mr. I’m actually a teenager spent a good chunk of the ride just super casually glancing around, going full giraffe at random moments, and not quite fully jumping sideways at Every. Single. Culvert. I rode every moment of the ride, working to not let my emotions rule because Mr. I’m not actually trying to dump you tried to pretend he was a super spooky four year old.

I kept the image of mile 18, trotting easily down trail halfway back to camp and a well earned completion award and roaring bonfire in mind as I again reminded Mr. I go so fast than no, you can’t bolt all the way home, and please don’t tailgate the peeing mare.

Rather than being terrified, I enjoyed the challenge of pushing myself to match the horse, and not get sucked into his attempts to weasel out of work. He did eventually accept the notion and we settled down and enjoyed ourselves (minus the redhead eating culverts).

Lessons learned: definitely going to try a Kimberwick or at least a running martingale next time; he has a habit of sticking his nose straight up when he disagrees with the riders chosen speed. “Neener neener, can’t tell me what to do now!” Shortening my stirrups was both good and bad; my seat was much better, but it tired my right ankle our faster and forced me to constantly reset my bad balance (something I’m hoping Celena can help me with at her clinic in two more weeks!)

My proudest moment was also the scariest; we were cantering back home and I could feel myself tipping forward over his neck, reins not short enough to do any good, and if he’s stumbled or shied I would have been dumped, just like I fell off Reno at Grizzly last year. Fortunately this year I heard some old trainer’s loud ass voice shout ‘Sit on your ASS!’ so I did and we came back to a more controlled canter that I cowgirl whooped my way through cause yeah, super badass enough to correct that mistake this time!

The only thing I really need to work with Mr. Fastest Possible Speed is rating, which I know will be worse the first five miles out of ride camp. My twin goals are dialing in his bit/martingale combo and working on my core strength so I can keep with him for those long miles.

We can do this and we can enjoy doing so, even more when the sun decides to shine! Hows everyone else’s conditioning coming?

View from the ground

Life has tossed a few loops at me this summer, from Kade's second broken arm, job loss and Tom hopping back and forth to Phoenix, not to mention the unreasonable heat and wildfire smoke hanging over everything. I'm writing this on my friend's living room, PNER Green Bean mug full of coffee in one hand, kid playing on his iPad and stuffing his face full of bagels and remarking on the ducks once again taunting the dogs.

I picked up blogging (again!) as a way to remain somewhat publicly accountable for my new exercise plan. Since my last post I've only put in two solid bike rides, although I've been working out a different way; horse back riding, schooling horses in the ring, on my feet or in the saddle a good chunk of the day.

I have so many horse people I look up to, from the newly Tevis buckled Jala Neufeld to my old Fjord and Dales farm owner Marcy Baer, still going strong in Vermont. I have long held an educational view, accepting I will never know everything about horses, but by golly I'll spend a lifetime trying. Due to this I always look around the horse world from a learner's mindset, hoovering up everything and filing things away for later. I rarely toss anything out as complete hogwash, always mindful of the
occasionally huge leaps between disciplines.

There are a few basic things I hold to as someone whose goal is to be called 'horsewoman', mainly being mindful of the horse's point of view in what we ask them to do; letting predators on their backs, trailering to strange places, tolerating everything we toss at them, and always trying to keep their comfort levels in their terms in mind.
So for someone who still and always views themselves as a learner, it's taken some doing to gracefully accept that in a small way, I do have some wisdom and knowledge to share.
(I swear this isn't a humble brag post, stick with me!)

Since my day job was cut, I've been spending the bulk of my days helping a friend with her still relatively new boarding facility up in Washington. And by helping I mean giving lessons, evaluating horses, and giving horses some tune ups. Me, giving lessons! Helping other people not only be better riders, but figure out how to enjoy their horses more.
Despite the heat, long hours on my feet, a general weird feeling to be teaching people *cough* mildly older than myself, and a weird case of what was probably pink eye…. I've loved every moment of it, of watching concepts click in someone's mind or seat, of hearing owners gush over how much calmer their horse is. Even Tom has seen how much calmer and happier and flat out excited I am, and is fully supportive of trying to make this training concept work, however we can.

I've been in full on research mode the past few weeks, reading and plotting and mulling ideas about *gulp* setting up an actual horse business. I have already identified my niche- kids and reriders or older new riders, people who want to work on themselves and making their lives with their horses easier and more enjoyable. I know where my gaps are as a rider and horse person, which is why I'm as dedicated to learning as ever. I still have big goals for myself (Tevis 2020 anyone?) but this doesn't discount what I do know.

Part of this post was to finally process how I feel about the whole experience (weird! Excited! Happy!) but also toss my little shingle into the wide ring of horse people in the Pacific Northwest. If you find yourself looking for lessons or boarding near Olympia Washington, give T and A Ranch a look. It's the facility I would build given the time and inclination, and it's a fantastic place to learn to ride or keep working on things 🙂

See ya on the trail!

Back in the saddles!

Are we going to talk about how long it’s been since I last posted? 

Nope, except to say that life is busy as it is for everyone, and I have a new job that demands so much more brain power than my old one…Which, unfortunately, I am loosing after this week due to budget cuts. I am, of course, going through the stages of grieving over it, since this is the best team I’ve worked with since college.

No, the reasons I’ve decided to devote some time to writing here are many, mostly focused on self improvement through accountability. If I can consistently post here, doing so will help keep my goals and steps towards those goals front and center, where even people outside my immediate circle can help keep me accountable ttowards them. 

My primary goal for this endurance riding season, the real goal that pushes everything else, is to complete a 50 mile ride. It’s July and the PNW season ends, more or less, in October. I have completed one 25 mile ride and felt great, fully embeddeding the endurance bug once again. 

A large part of my success at that ride came down to two main factors; a wonderful mentor and an utterly forgiving horse with a build that carried a heavyweight rider without issue. Jokker is amazing horse and I’m privileged to be able to ride him, but as a catch rider I would like for a few more doors to be open to me. Expanding my options entails loosing weight (my eventual goal is to ride as a midweight, preferably by next season), gaining strength and riding ability. 

As I am facing uncertain employment, I can’t shell out for lessons right now, but I have all the tools available to work on the first two. Through extensive trial and error, I’ve found what works for me to keep moving towards those goals; primarily hiking and biking. I loath running; I just can’t stick with it, as sweaty and slow and jiggly as all the various bits of me right now. Swimming costs money to belong to a local pool, being stuck in the gym around strangers is boring and unmotivating, and even plain walking is just ugh. 

Thanks to a birthday gift from my parents, I’ve discovered I actually love biking, as it allows me to go a lot father and faster than my own two feet, carrying more gear, with a lot less jiggly and rubbing parts. The one issue is it’s not super cheap, between maintenance and new gear to make things a bit more comfortable. I weigh every purchase with a thought to my ultimate goal; will a new bike seat help me get more miles in to be fitter for a 50? 

I am also lucky in that Canby is a surprisingly good town to bike ride in. There are certainly some roads leading out of town I’m not up for trying yet, but most roads have bike lanes or wide  shoulders, plus their is a beautiful multi-use path without cars that cuts right through town. I can just hop on the bike and go, without having to drive somewhere and park (which I still do if only for variety). 

I am also keeping a private journal in Evernote, which I use everyday for tracking mental headspace, measurements, food and workouts, as well as various apps such as Map My Ride and My Fitness Pal. I’ve started and lost motivation on several workout plans over the years, but most of them were running based. I think having a clear and attainable endurance goal in mind and a biking based workout plan will help get me there, as well as more public accountability. 

My next possible endurance ride is Santiam Cascade in a month, with the incomparable Jokker once again on deck. I also want to be prepared to jump on any chance offered, without doing a disservice to any offered horse. 

For now, Santiam is in my sights and I can’t wait!

Not there quite yet

I usually exercise at night, after work, sometimes before dinner, sometimes right before shower & sleep. But Friday morning I say “screw this” & joined a local runner’s group, hauling myself out of bed before 5am, fully dressed. I creeped out of the house with my Camelbak waist hydration belt (which I love/hate, since it never stays put). I drove to the local elementary school & met two people who also dragged themselves out of bed & into the dark, rainy morning.
I made it four blocks before they left me behind. Beginner runners, my lovely large buttocks.
Although I didn’t do too badly personally-1.2 miles in 15 minutes-they still were long gone by the time I had worked out the kinks & warmed up enough to continue…just in time to have to get back home so Tom could go to work, & I could do dishes before waking the kid up & beginning the day.
Despite how much that experience totally sucked, my day rocked. I ate well under my calories for the day, & I felt like I had a coffee buzz all day, alert & sharp & endlessly moving forward. I usually feel this for a few hours from 9am to noon or so, but exercising before work keeps that feeling up all day. Which is a hard thing to remember in the warm, soft, cuddly dark of the bedroom, kid & cat & boyfriend snoring away & the sun isn’t even a thought on the horizon yet. What insane person wants to be up & sweating that early?

I do, I just have to remind myself of this every morning the alarm goes off at such an ungodly hour, how well it sets me up for the day. I have also started following runners blogs and Instagrams as another way to get motivated, and trying to narrow down to one or two half marathons to try this summer. 
In other news, I’m now hunting for my third hydration pack. I have two Camelbaks, one a belt, one a backpack. They both ride up/don’t stay put. I want a vest, possibly, something I don’t have to fumble with a bottle but that will stay in place without rubbing & bouncing. Time to hit up REI again & see what they’ve got. It’s not such an issue on the treadmill, but I much prefer trail running (I don’t sound so loud outside at least).

Horse Dirt

While I can’t really ride right now (see ‘a laughable lack of core strength’, scheduling & access to a trained equine) I have found something almost as awesome: volunteering for Sound Equine Options, a local equine rescue which is tied to the Oregon Humane Society (which means their reputation is solid, they aren’t backyard rescuers, & their volunteer program is excellent). Their horses in training are boarded at a Mustang Millions trainer’s barn in Eagle Creek, & we get out there once or twice a week to muck stalls, groom horses & join a ground training class taught by Stacey Riggs.

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Carlos! He’s green (should be grey) but such a personality!

And I say “we” as in the kiddo & I-yes, finally a barn I feel (mostly) okay bringing him too! Stacey, the trainer who owns the barn, has kids of her own not much older than Kade, & actually has a room set up full of toys & a TV! So between that, the iPad, the gravel piles & puddles, Kade has a blast & stays out from underfoot for hours. But I did finally have to break down & buy him his own pair of Muck Boots (just like the ones I’ve had since my first year of college & still going strong 10 years later…only purple because that’s the last one Cabella’s had on sale!). Kade has never met a puddle, especially the deep ones, that he didn’t feel compelled to become one with. So Muck boots will help keep his feet a tiny bit drier & warmer & hopefully avoid changing his pants three times in one barn session.

So while I’m not riding (yet) I’m getting the rest of the package, once again working with horses & building core strength mucking out stalls! I spent over a half hour detangling a mare’s wretched mane yesterday, which wouldn’t have been possible without Cowboy Magic Detangler (stuff is magic, trust me!) This wonderful mare stood & sighed & didn’t even flinch as I teased out snarled braids & brushed out half her mane, even with the rain pouring down in buckets on the giant metal roof & horses playing & bucking & farting in the indoor arena.

Fitness Tracker-read on only if interested!

My workouts & ability to actually do them each week are improving. I run three times a week, hit the barn once or twice, & fit in random other exercises as needed-such as Wii Fit or Youtube videos of Biggest Looser workouts. We also go on a hike about once a month, & once the weather gets better we’ll be camping as well. I’m aiming for at least one marathon this summer, & possibly a ride & tie if I can find someone with a horse who’s interested & not overly impatient, as I still have a 16-17 minute mile overall. I ran three times this week & managed three & a half miles in just under an hour without crying or falling on my face-watch out Flash, I’m catching up!

I track everything I put in my face with MyFitnessPal, & so far almost every day I’ve managed a calorie deficit (helps that I’ve cut out soda completely, & try to drink only tea & water & my morning coffee).  One of my best purchases so far as been a FitBit Charge HR (I had a basic Fitbit but it just didn’t go far enough). The Charge is just what I need in a tracker for now-it keeps track of distance, pace & heart rate throughout the day so I can figure out where my base is. It can also track my actual exercise, & lets me know my recovery is actually pretty good. A minute of walking & drinking in the middle of a workout sets me up for a 10 minute jog-which is better than when I started over a month ago, I had to walk for 2 to jog for 5, so progress!

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Tryon Creek crazy selfie

My next step is going to a store to get fitted for running shoes- I have two pairs now, a lighter ‘street’ pair of Nikes & a trail pair of Saucony’s which I love but are too heavy for the treadmill. In both pairs I can feel myself landing on the outside of my foot & pushing in, & that starts hurting the outside of my legs at about mile 4, so I hope to find something to help support that until I loose some weight.

Now time to burn calories by cleaning the apartment top to bottom, clearing old toys & clothes out of the kids room, & heading to the mall to run the crazy out of said kid!

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He built it all by himself! *sobs* He’s growing up!

It’s mostly a rhythmic thump

I was trying to come up with a clever, almost witty first post, but since this is my third attempt at semi-regular blogging, who am I kidding? My sarcasm exists mostly in my head these days, as it’s “not office appropriate”, it flies right over the kid’s head, and World’s Best Boyfriend (aka Tom) is too involved in a new video game to engage in witty repartee.

Besides, intros are boring, & if they are super necessary, that’s why there’s an about me page! Plus, while I was chugging along the love/hated treadmill in my apartment complex’s gym tonight (mercifully alone, for reasons we’ll get to) a post popped fully into my head (finally…I only decided to start blogging again two weeks ago!)

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Right now, I’m engaged in my first ever attempt to loose weight/get fit. I kinda sorta trained for the Beat the Blerch marathon…last year? The year before last? Calendar dates are not my thing. I finished the half marathon, barely upright and with a wicked rub burn in places where a newly not-single girl does not wants such things. But the medal still hangs in my cubicle & the Red Jeep of Sexiness bears the magnet proving that I was once capable of such things, so I must be able to again.

My fitness coach put in beautifully, after hearing me ramble for all of ten minutes; I want to be me again. Before child, I was an outdoor leader, a summer camp counselor, a horse logger, an all around stable rat. Even while pregnant, I was sliding 60 pound bales of hay across the snow to feed the horses (much to my midwives dismay). The thought that, post child, I’d have to make a long haul, concentrated effort to regain things like strength and muscle didn’t even cross my fluffy, post college, hormonal mind.


Fast forward four years later, and now I’m an office peon who would like to be paid more, but who also likes not shopping in the “plus size” aisle everywhere, who gets mildly winded climbing the stairs every morning, and really likes the boyfriends Midwest style of cooking way too much. But the thing that really spurred me to get a fitness coach, to find a good pair of running shoes, and figure out how to start tracking my food and exercise, was the thought that I can’t ask a horse-especially a borrowed horse, the only kind I have access to right now-to carry me around. Not only am I simply heavy, but I can feel all my marvelous core strength that could hold back four 2,000 pound horses and cut down trees with is simply melting away. Which means that while riding, my body remembers how to ride in a light, balanced way-but the strength needed to not be a giant sack of potatoes is lacking, and that isn’t fair to any horse.


Paired with this thought is an echo from way back in high school, when I had several long, mind opening conversations with a mentor of a friend of mine. The conversations themselves were hugely important to me, even more so now in the overly politicized, sound bite world we live in; covering such topics as the Bible, geopolitics, and the importance of a scientific frame of thought. Not that I’ve always faithfully applied such thinking, especially when confronted with my deadly trifecta of horses, chainsaws & boys, but nevertheless handy to lean back on when confronted with pretty much every issue, but I digress.

This mentor is now a motivational writer, among other things, but back then, looooong ago when high school bored me and sports kept me sane, he mentioned something along the lines of “You’ll go far, young Padawan.” I’m phrasing with a faulty memory, obviously, and since Kade’s dad and I split up and I accepted a job with an actual cubicle, I’ve started to think I haven’t gone far at all. But looking to loose a good 60 pounds and run a few more marathons this year (or however long it takes to get back in the saddle) I’m starting to remember there’s more than one direction to go in. Am I changing the world? Of course I am-but on a much smaller scale than college perhaps prepared me for. It’s just taking me a lot longer than most to realize it’s equally valid, and hugely important for that fart loving, lego building, mud puddle finding blonde child of mine that I’ll go as far as needed for him, and that includes keeping myself sane and healthy and happy.

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