My “Old Life”

Six years ago this weekend, I showed at my last horse show. I had just finished my internship at AQHA and was about to move out to Oklahoma for my job at NRHA, but I had three weeks to be home. So for two weeks I rode Nino, my great Palomino Quarter Horse gelding that I had won the 2004 PHBA World Championship on, and prepped him for our favorite horse show circuit during Memorial Day weekend.

A photo from our last horse show together: Skip’s TuTuffTu and myself, May 2006

I don’t remember much about our rides, just that I was happy to be with my “horse show family” and riding my wonderful horse. Dally was along for the ride as well, and everything was perfect to me that weekend.

Flash forward six years later, and I’ve since moved to Lexington and am lucky to sit astride a horse once a month or so. The only horse shows I attend are for work–whether it’s to write an article or to work as a show secretary. Nowadays my competitive needs are fulfilled with dog agility trials and running.

My competitive drive used to be sustained by fast speeds around a set of barrels and poles, but now by fast speeds around an agility course or on the road course.

Never would I think that I’d be where I am right now.

It’s hard to look back on the different events that shape our lives into what we are today and decide if they were the right ones or not. I had full intentions to move Nino back down to Lexington, but he passed away the first week I lived here. I had started to look into purchasing a new horse, but then the realities of being able to afford purchasing a horse and boarding him became clear that it was going to be difficult on such a limited budget. It wasn’t a smart thing for me to do at the time.

Unfortunately, things haven’t gotten any easier and I’m still horseless in Horse Country. It has always been my dream to continue my life on the horse show circuit even while living the “grown up” life of a full-time job and a significant other. When is it time to stop trying for that childhood dream?

Is a childhood dream meant to stay in your childhood?

After spending three days back home on the family farm working my horses and spending time in the barn, I finally felt relaxed and truly happy. Feeling the wind whipping across my face and hearing my horse’s hooves pounding the ground with her fast, hard breaths while we sprinted across the pasture was the most exhilarating feeling you can ever feel. It was then that I felt careful and pure happiness for the first time in a long time. So much has been going on in my mind and in my life that I needed that reminder of who I really am.

So how do you recapture that old life? Or is it your old life because you can’t bring it back?

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Thankful for My Veteran

Tomorrow is more than just a day off, but also a day of showing gratitude for the freedom to do whatever we want to do on that day off–whether it’s hitting the lake, hitting the mall for sales, sleeping in, or just spending time with whomever you wanted. Memorial Day is about remembering those who gave their lives for the United States of America and for our freedom.

Now I’m not going to go into crazy patriot mode or start preaching the history of our country. I just want to point out that we need to be thankful for our veterans and those currently serving everyday, not just on Memorial Day or Veterans’ Day. These days aren’t meant to be just an extra day off from work (if you’re lucky to have it off), but to celebrate our country.

I’m extremely thankful for those in my life that have served, or are currently serving, in the U.S. armed forces. My grandfather was an engineer in the Air Force after WW2. My fiance served in the Air Force during and after 911. One of my best friends served in the Marines after high school during and after 911. And another friend served in the Army for many years before and after 911.

I wish our country honored the homecoming of our veterans like we used to. I remember seeing movies of ticker tape parades when our men and women returned home after combat. Nowadays, they come home to yellow ribbons and smaller gatherings of family and close friends–no big celebrations or keys to the city. It’s like it’s old hat. But is it really old hat for someone to completely alter their lives (and some times their family’s lives) to serve a country of millions? It never is.

There are many reasons why someone would sign up for the military: Maybe they’re not the college-type and need a direction in life after high school; maybe they can’t afford college until after using a big benefit of military service (i.e., the GI Bill); maybe they’re extremely proud of their country and want to fight to protect it; etc. The possibilities are endless, but no matter the reason, we know that they give at least five years of their lives for service. And for that, we should be eternally grateful.

I know I’m grateful for my veteran. Are you?

Can You Imagine Running 50 Miles?

A quick post for today. I have to send you to my Twitter friend, Eric’s, blog as he prepares for the Leadville 100–that’s right, a 100 mile race!! Wow!

Over the weekend he ran 50 miles and then posted about what it was like to run those 50 miles. I still remember every feeling I had while running the half marathon earlier this month, let alone 26.2 or even 50 miles! It is inspiring to me that he pushed his body that far and he is still so positive about running and adding on the mileage. Go Eric, go!!

Read for yourself: So, What’s It Like to Run 50 Miles?

My “Evening Job”

Last year I started another second job (since I already freelance write on the side and work as a horse show secretary a couple weekends a year). This is more of a seasonal outdoor job that lasts from late April until early October, rain or (sun/moon) shine. The pay is decent, the co-workers are fun, and some times the “customer” can get a little too rowdy…

I ref sand volleyball games at a local German bar. It’s a lot of fun, but the hours can be long. Last year I worked almost every evening, which was hard on my physically and hard on M and the pups because I was never home. This year, however, I’m only working three nights a week, which is much better. However, the hours are still long. On Tuesday nights, for example, my first game starts at 6:10 pm and my last game starts at 12:30 am. Yep…I basically work my 8 am until 1:30 am. (My “career job” is from 8-5.)

It’s a fun gig to have because of the eclectic groups that sign up to play volleyball. You’ve got the players that played in college and even travel to some of the bigger beach volleyball tournaments in Florida, and then you have the group of girls who just thought it’d be fun to get a team together and drink…and every once in a while hope they score a point. There are times when the players get on your nerves–quite a few will argue calls, and some will make their own calls that you perhaps didn’t see, but you just say “OK” and go on. But, for the most part, it’s fun.

The big negative is just the toll it takes on my sleep. Monday nights I don’t get home until about 12:30, close to 1 am. Tuesday nights, it’s closer to 1:45 am. So of course, I’m dragging all Wednesday. Some times I can go to bed early that night, after my agility class, but because my body gets used to staying up so late, it’s hard to relax and go to sleep earlier.

Because of this, my whole schedule is out of whack, but more on that in an upcoming post.

Anyway, I just wanted to explain why I’ve been quiet a little lately–any extra free time at night is no longer, so I have to squeeze in time to do just about anything extra (wedding planning, workouts, etc.) when I can.

The courts at the German bar I ref sand volleyball at.

We have two courts going at once–so lots of action!

Random: Relaxing Video from Lake Tahoe

In March I traveled to Reno, Nev., for the AKC National Agility Championships and I was able to take some time to do a little sightseeing. After spending a good part of one day viewing what we called the “ugly mountains” (the desert part of the Rocky Mountains), we spent the next on the “snowy mountains” and travelling to Lake Tahoe.

Even though it was a cold, and very windy day at the shoreline, I absolutely loved hearing the waves crashing along the shore. So, I took a video of it to keep for those days that I need some relaxing noise. I decided to share that today (not that I’m particularly more stressed than normal today). I hope you enjoy:

An Athletic Female’s Body

I finally went to a sports medicine doctor about my left foot that’s been bothering me again since the half marathon. Turns out it wasn’t a stress fracture (thankfully), but tendonitis instead. A relief? Yes, but still frustrated because there’s not much you can do about it but rest for the most part (and I don’t do that well).

One thing the doctor said, though, really struck me and has bounced around in my head all week. He was explaining that I needed to take it easy when it came to the amount of running. He explained that my body wasn’t really the “type” for a runner–I wasn’t a “petite” female runner, but rather a “large, athletic woman.”

So I might not be as thin and toned as some runners are…

Wait…excuse me?? I’m still not sure how to take that comment. I understand I’m not a waif of a woman–I never have been, and I know I never will be (it’s not in my blood). I’ve always been a little bigger than most girls, in more ways than one, but that’s why I’ve always been a gym rat. I grew up on a horse farm, so I spent my summers throwing up 50 pound hay bales in the barn and sweated away the hours working horses.

When I played volleyball in high school, even the varsity coach made the comment how I didn’t have the “typical volleyball player’s body.” Well, that’s true, I never did–I am tall (5’8″), but not as tall as some of the best front row players can be, but I wasn’t as long and lean as some of the other players.

And now, more than ten years later, I have someone else saying I don’t have the typical athletic body build. Funny how some things come back around…

So it got me thinking…what is the “typical athletic female body”? Is it the thin, waif of a runner you see wearing a sports bra and spandex shorts running along the road in the middle of the day? Or is it the muscled body of the weight lifter at my gym? Or what about the average girls (size 8-12) who play sand volleyball at the bar?

And perhaps I’m not as cut as this weight lifter (but boy would I kill for her arms!)…

Lately there are so many different body types, and while we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic, there are those who are fit and healthy, but not extremely thin. And there are extremely thin women who struggle to run even just a mile.

And there’s always that debate as to is there a “healthy fat” or an “unhealthy thin”. I’m not meaning to make this some huge debate about can you be healthy while overweight. I just wondered what others thought?

For myself, personally, I know I could stand to lose a few more pounds to be at a solidly healthy BMI (I’m high borderline healthy), but I’m pretty proud of the weight I’ve lost over the last year. I love the compliments I’ve been getting from people telling me I look good–I’m the lightest I’ve weighed since I can remember, and I’m proud of my loose-fitting clothing (although it can be a bit annoying, and pricey, having to buy all new clothes). I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish with this newfound fitness (ahem…who da thunk I’d run a half marathon!?). I want to continue to push my body to new heights, and continue on the road to healthy living. (I do have a pretty big deal coming up where people expect the bride to look pretty awesome in a white dress…)

So does what the doctor say bother me? A little. Will I let it get to me? Well, I’m trying (just depends on the day). But, for now, I’m using it as my motivation.

Another Running Letdown

Throughout the week I was looking forward to this morning when I was planning a simple, no-stress long run of around 6 miles–my first long run since the half marathon.

Friday, however, I started to feel more pain in my IT band. I woke up early and did a yoga DVD, hoping that the stretching would help it out some. It didn’t. I woke up throughout the night feeling pain in my right hip and IT band.

When I finally did wake up today, it hurt to even swing my leg out of bed. I thought maybe I could at least hit the 2.5 mile loop around the park by our house, and if I felt alright, do a second loop for 5 miles, but just walking around hurt.

So like a good patient, I decided it best to not run and not stress whatever was wrong. It was just disappointing because this weekend might be one of the last weekends in a while that I have the time for a long run, and I don’t want to get out of practice/shape because it can be so hard to get it all back.

Meanwhile, my foot is feeling much better. I had an appointment with a sports medicine orthopedist earlier in the week to look at it, and he deemed it tendonitis. Not much you can do for that, except rest…and we all know I don’t do that well.

My Next Running Adventure: Becoming A Warrior

So now that I’ve tackled a half marathon, I needed something else to look forward to and train towards. Luckily, back in April, a co-worker of mine approached me with an event in mid-June that, after looking at the couse map, I knew I couldn’t pass up.

I’ve heard about the Warrior Dash before, but there was never an event near Lexington. That is, until this year. On June 23 they’ll be having an event in Lebanon, Ky., which is a doable drive for the day.

If you haven’t yet heard of the Warrior Dash, my fiance put it best, when he said it reminded him of something they’d do in basic training for the Air Force. The Kentucky event is 3.4 miles long through an equestrian center. After the start line, you run for a while and then you come upon different challenging obstacles. These obstacles include running through tires and up and over old cars, over rope ladders and solid wood walls, under barbed wire, through mud bogs, and over fire lines. Crazy? Maybe. Fun? It should be a blast!!

When you cross the finish line, you’re awarded a finisher’s medal, a warrior’s helmet, cold beer, and a turkey leg. Yep…a turkey leg. I’m excited for the medal, helmet, and of coruse the beer, but I think I’ll donate the turkey leg to a hungrier soul than me.

And did I mention that the co-worker that mentioned the event to me, and signed up a day before me, is in his 60s?? Tom is crazy awesome. We worked out together when I went to the YMCA and he always motivated me–if Tom could do something, so could I. We’ll be completing the course with a few others from a boot camp training class I used to do at the Y, so it should be a lot of fun.

So now, on top of my usual running training, I’m getting back to incorporating more cross training to work on my upper body strength, which I know has always been a little lack luster. It’ll be interesting to see how it holds up pulling myself up ropes and such.

Have you ever competed in a Warrior Dash? I hear there’s debate over which is harder–the Dash or a Tough Mudder. There aren’t any Mudders in my area, so for now I’ll give this a whirl!

The First Saturday of May

Every Spring the excitement builds in the office, until that last week of April, and the first Saturday of May when the “greatest two minutes in sports” occurs and another superstar is crowned. I’m talking about the Kentucky Derby and Thoroughbred racing.

I grew up watching Thoroughbred racing on television whenever they had it on–the Triple Crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes) and the Breeders’ Cup (Thoroughbred racing’s world championships). Nowadays there are two cable television stations that air racing all day long–HRTV and TVG. My dad loves to turn on the racing on the weekends and watch races from Kentucky, California, Canada, and even Japan.

Anyway, I’ll be busy this weekend working at the Kentucky Oaks (Friday) and the Kentucky Derby (Saturday) with the photographers for The Blood-Horse, a weekly Thoroughbred magazine that is part of the media group I work for. I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to spend time in the background of Churchill Downs. I’ve been on the track as Zenyatta zoomed past in her last race in 2010, and when Animal Kingdom came from the pack to surprise the crowd in last year’s Kentucky Derby.

I love the sound of the pound hooves, the quick breaths taken through enlarged nostrils, and the feel of the ground rumbling underneath your feet as you’re holding your breath as millions of dollars of horse-flesh zooms past you. It’s an exciting thrill, and one I wish I could share with everyone close to me.

I’ll try to share some photos after the race with you. But until then, be sure to check out BloodHorse.com for the most up-to-date news and information about the race. Happy betting!!

First Runs Post-Race

After work Wednesday, I ventured out for my first run since the half marathon–a hot, sweaty, but speedy 1.8 mile jaunt near my gym for a warm-up in 15:53 (8:49 average). it felt great to really get out and sweat, stretch my legs, and breathe some fresh air.

Then this morning I ran with my morning running buddies on another loop for 4.71 miles. The air was hot and humid at 5:30 already, and since I am battling a bum foot (once again), and running with a couple of others, it was a slower rate of 10:22 average pace (though I did have a negative split at the end when I broke off on my own). The runs felt great–I loved stretching my legs and getting back into the groove (of course the 5 am alarm was hard to appreciate after long nights of reffing volleyball at the bar). Now if I can just battle this pesky foot…

I’m sure you’re all aware of the different injuries I’ve endured training for my half marathon last weekend. I recovered from my left foot injury, and then I strained my right hamstring a week before the race (foot recovered). My hamstring recovered in time for the half marathon, and my IT band bothered me during the event. Thirty-six hours later, my left foot struck again after wearing flip-flops while having a cookout with friends.

Now, days later, my foot still hurts, and I can’t walk barefoot or even in regular shoes without my ProSteps (and even now lately, it still hurts even with the insoles). I’m so frustrated.

I have a call into my doctor and I hope they can send me to a specialist or maybe a sports medicine specialist in the next week so I can get some answers. If it’s a tendon that needs me to go back into a walking boot (which I loathed wearing for six weeks last year when I fractured my right foot) for weeks, I’m going to go crazy! I can’t imagine having to take time off from my training (running and dog agility) right now.

Have you ever felt like there are way too many things battling against you to achieve your goals?