3.18.2016

Here Comes the Sun

Instead of picking a New Years Resolution this year, I decided to pick something new to focus on every couple months. For January and February, I made my physical health my priority. I had just switched to a new insurance provider, so I selected a new primary care provider, got over my fear of the dentist, and went to the dermatologist for a skin check. Those last two agenda items made me the most nervous.

While I was proud of never having a cavity as a kid, letting my anxiety keep me out of the dentist's chair for a couple years left me with 3 cavities that I had to get filled. It was obviously not fun, but I'm glad that I got it all taken care of before things got much worse.

But on to the real point of this post... I had long dismissed the recommended annual skin check as not all that important. Then, a friend my age told me about her own experience with skin cancer, and I decided I just needed to put on my big girl pants and go. As an athlete, I spend a LOT of time in the sun. And I hate to admit that I've never been a big fan of sunscreen. When I was a young swimmer, I frequently had pretty serious sunburns because I refused to let my mom put sunscreen on me. I never gave much thought to sun protection -- I just figured I was too young for it to be a serious issue.

I'm sure some of you are cringing right now. Or you're yelling at me through your computer.

But, I had my wake-up call last month. The dermatologist found a spot on my back that she found very suspicious because of its color and irregular shape. I kept telling myself it was probably nothing, but I was pretty panicked while waiting for the biopsy results to come back from the lab. I was convinced I was going to get a call telling me I had skin cancer.

When I heard back from the doctor that the spot was NOT cancer -- the official diagnosis was "benign neoplasm of uncertain origin" -- I was relieved and made a commitment to be much better about protecting my skin from the sun. Now, I've tried many brands of supposed sports or active sunscreens, but hadn't found one that didn't run when I sweat or get wet. Plus, I'm not exactly thrilled about the idea of rubbing a bunch of synthetic chemicals into my skin. I have to live in this skin for the rest of my life, so I wanted to use a product that would be good for my skin.

And here's where this post turns into an advertisement, but be assured that it is a sincere and heartfelt advertisement. :-)

I have been very fortunate to partner with RocketPure, a company in Bellingham, WA that makes natural bodycare products for athletes. I met up with their founder Alex when I was in Bellingham for the US Trail Half Marathon Championship last fall, and he gave me some of their products t to wino try. Over the next few months, I plan to tell y'all more about why I love their products, but I thought I would start with the sunscreen because of my little scare and because we're getting more sunny, warm weather lately, so it's the perfect time to talk about sun protection!

RocketPure's sunscreen (available in 1oz and 3oz tubes, paired with lip balm) is made with all-natural
ingredients (as are all their products) and has an SPF 30. The active ingredient that protects you is Zinc Oxide. Yep, that zinc oxide is the sunscreen that leaves your skin with a whitish tint. Remember the lifeguard by your childhood watering hole putting white goop on your news? Zinc oxide. My major concern was that it would run and get in my eyes. I was particularly worried about how it would perform in the chlorinated water at my swim classes.

So, what's the verdict?

No sunburns, and no sunscreen in my eyes. I've tested it in a variety of conditions, and it has never let me down. I was a little hesitant about how I thought it would make me look like a ghost, but the whitish hue really isn't that pronounced. If anything, it's actually a bonus because it makes it easy to see if I've missed a spot!

In short, protecting your skin is SUPER important, and I HIGHLY recommend checking out RocketPure's all-natural sunscreen. Because I'm really excited about this and I want to help spread the word, I'll be giving away a Suncreen-lipbalm combo to one of you! Just comment below or tweet at me (@allterrainrunnr) to tell me about your favorite way to play in the sun and I'll enter you to win! Winner will be chosen randomly on March 31 from among the entrants and if there are enough entrants, I'll probably offer more prizes. At the natural bodycare party, the more the merrier!  :-)

2.07.2016

Re-Boot

It's been a while. Where have I been? Well, I've been rehabbing this stubborn hip injury I've had since the US Trail Marathon Championship exactly 3 months ago, and I didn't figure people were too interested in hearing about what I was doing while I was injured. I've spent a ton of time swimming, getting treatment from my chiropractor, working, starting grad school, and running on the AlterG (anti-gravity treadmill) at less than my full bodyweight. It's been a long, tedious process, but I've been surprised at how much I've started to enjoy swimming now that I'm getting better at it. Honestly, even though these 3 months have been frustrating, I think this time has been a really good re-boot for my body and mind so that I can start trail training fresh.

In the grand scheme of things, this isn't a terrible time of year to be injured. My first big trail race of the year isn't until July, so I have plenty of time to cautiously ease back into things and build up in a smart way. It has been difficult to be stuck inside when I love running in the snow, but 2016 is the year I will finally make rational decisions about my running instead of always getting so emotional about everything. In the past, I've frequently made poor decisions that have led to me getting injured or overtrained, and I'm really making an effort now to think about what is actually best for me in the long term. I think having an experienced, knowledgeable coach who can help me make those decisions is really key, so I'm finally ready to announce who my new coach is!

After several months of talking to various coaches and weighing the pros and cons of each, I've selected Scott Elliot to guide me in the next phase of my trail running career. Scott himself won the Pikes Peak Ascent 8 times and coached Kim Dobson to a new Pikes Peak Ascent record in 2012. After talking with Scott at length about where I've come from and where I want to go, I'm confident that he has the know-how to get me there. It's going to mean a lot of very hard work, but I'm really excited to get started.

12.18.2015

Last-Minute Christmas Gifts for Runners

Since it seems like every blogger and every company does one of these, I felt I should put together my own list of great gifts for the runner in your life. (Or for yourself... I'm fully in favor of getting yourself a Christmas gift!) It's also a good opportunity for me to promote gear that I use and love. Full disclosure: there is a bias to this list, as some of the companies sponsor me.


 

The Clifton is one of my favorite running shoes of all time. I've worn it to race a fast mile and I was also planning to wear it for the marathon this fall. But it's also a great shoe if you're planning to spend a lot of time on your feet (ex: you have a standing desk at work) and just want more cushioning. Pro tip: If you're looking for something similar but with better traction, the HOKA ONE ONE Challenger ATR is the trail equivalent.


2. Rocket Pure - $13-$19
I still need to get around to writing a post just about Rocket Pure, but that will happen soon… Anyway, a lot of runners are really careful about what they put IN their bodies, but not as much thought seems to go into what we put ON our bodies. Rocket Pure is a line of all-natural body care products for athletes. The foot deodorizing spray is fantastic, but giving it as a gift kind of says “Hey, friend, your feet stink!” But, with how much time we spend out in the sun what runner doesn’t need a good sunscreen? Even in winter, your face needs protection! If your runner friend has a marathon or other big race coming up, I highly recommend Friction Therapy Natural Anti-Chafe Balm. Despite the sand and rocks that found their way into my shoes in Moab, Friction Therapy protected me from any kind of blister emergency! Honestly, all their products work great AND smell great, so you should probably get something for your friend and one of everything for yourself. ;-)
 

I'm a big fan of variety packs. Really, who doesn't get tired of the same flavor, day after day. Sure, I could probably eat curry every day of my life and not get bored, but I'm not normal. Plenty of people I know have a hard time drinking as much water as they should, but Nuun Hydration makes it easier with light, delicious flavors and an added boost of electrolights. You can’t lose! 


4. Racxers - $25 for a pack of 4
I wrote about them previously, but Racxers are the magnetic option to replace safety pins for your bib number. No fuss, and no holes in your expensive technical running gear!


5. Subscription to Trail Runner Magazine - $7 per quarter, $22 for one year, $33 for 2 years
 If your friend is one of those crazy types who loves playing in the dirt, a subscription to Trail Runner might be the perfect gift! They have gear reviews, advice on training and nutrition, interviews with elites, and lots of gorgeous trail pictures that will make you start pricing plane tickets.


So, there you have it. Amanda’s suggestions for last-minute Christmas shopping for your runner friends (or yourself)!


Have a very Merry Christmas, everyone!

12.13.2015

Every Day Feels Like A Year


Mom and me at the 2014 Omaha Leprechaun Chase
The last time she saw me race.
I'm glad I could win that one for her.



Today is a day I've been dreading. Exactly a year ago, I held my mom's hand as she took her last breath. But, honestly, despite how much I've wished this day wouldn't come, today doesn't feel any different than yesterday or any of the days that have passed since then. Several people told me to expect this day and others like birthdays and holidays to feel harder, but for me the hardest moments are smaller and often more ordinary.

Using up the last bit of the perfume she gave me...

Accidentally spilling curry on the pajama shorts she bought me with whales on them...

The first big race where she wasn't at the finish line to give me a big hug...

Having something exciting happen and picking up the phone to call her...

Moving into my first apartment that she'll never see...


The list just goes on, and I don't want to bore anyone. I'm really surprised at how quickly this day arrived. The passage of time is a funny thing. I've noticed that each day feels like a year in itself, so how did the year fly? Where did it go and how does time take me away from her so swiftly?

This cutie grew up to be my mom!
That's the big fear I still face, really -- losing her. That feels strange to say from where I sit now. But, with each turn of a calendar page, I worry about losing more of her... Forgetting the sound of her voice or how her hugs felt. I'm scared that every single day of the next 50+ years (or however long I have left without her) will be just as hard as the last 365 have been.

Does there come a point when I'll be able to look back on the happy memories and not feel shattered into a million pieces? Or will I just get better at pretending? Would I even want to get better at pretending?

I'm sorry that this piece is so dark. Most of you know that's typically not how I am. But grief is a very real thing that most people experience at some point that it seems like nobody really talks openly about. As a child, I remember going to funerals of some of my grandma's friends and a few people from my church, but it was never someone I was close to, and at the end of the day, nothing in my life had changed. I'm sure you've been there too. You went to a funeral and then you went home (great piece from Courtney Fitzgerald that I saw a few days after my mom's funeral). But, when you find yourself as the one dreading going home, everything feels so backwards.

For the first few days, it feels like your friends and acquaintances are in the same boat. They grieve with you. A few days or weeks later, they go back to business as usual, and you're left wondering what's wrong with you that you can't just snap out of it and move on. But, of course you can't! There's a hole in your soul that can't be healed with an ice pack or a band-aid. Life is different now.

Riding the chairlift at the Flagstaff, AZ Snowbowl
So, that's where I am. I'm getting ready to pack up my car for a week back in Nebraska with my dad for Christmas. To be completely honest, I don't want to go. My week will be spent sorting through old photos, trinkets, and clothes so my dad doesn't have to live surrounded by boxes and piles of old stuff. My family moved to Lincoln in 1991, so pretty much every single thing there reminds me of my mom. I'm scared to go back to the church where her funeral was held (when I went in March, I had very vivid flashbacks of the sights, sounds, and smells of that horrible, cold morning) and I feel nauseated thinking about visiting her grave for the first time. There's nothing I want to do less than making this trip home. But I will. My dad needs my help and I can't hide forever.

I've mostly avoided my hometown since my mom was diagnosed in 2010 because I felt like I could pretend nothing was happening if I wasn't there. I've been a really terrible friend and pushed away people I deeply care about because I was too scared to face my mom's illness. I even missed the wedding of someone who has been a dear friend to me since kindergarten. While I can never go back and change what has happened, it's time to apologize to those friends and begin to repair my relationships. Maybe it'll even help to heal my heart in some way. I don't know, but I'm tired of hiding and bottling everything up. That's no way to live, and I'm ready to try living again.