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.