Friday, December 15, 2017

The Mask of Masculinity - Book Review

I've been pretty happy with the progress of my goal of reading a different book each month this year.

It's been really sustainable and I've FINALLY gotten all those books off the shelve and actually read them instead of using them as decoration.

I don't remember where I heard of this book, but it intrigued me. The author isn't a doctor or anything, but writes this book through his own experiences and based on the hundreds of interviews he has directed where he stared to see patterns.

He writes directly towards men, but states that these masks can be applied to any gender. But mostly he speaks to men. I think because that's what his experience is in, and what he feels comfortable comparing the antidotal stories.

The masks of masculinity are:

The Stoic Mask - The idea of being mentally and physically (but mostly mentally) strong. It can result in the people around you feeling locked out of your life and don't knw who you really are. He interviews and references several successful people who have used the Stoic Mask in their lives. Captain Dale Dye, Phil Knight, Robbie Rogers

The Athlete Mask - Where we get higher than average feedback on physical strength and skill. It's where being a man is equal to how good the person is at sports. It's where the Nerd vs. Jock idea comes from. He references interviews of Joe Ehrmann, Steve Cook as well as many sport icons.

The Material Mask - This is when people use... you guessed it...material things to give themselves a sense of worth. It's more important to LOOK successful or rich than to actually BE successful or rich. That's not to say that people with the Material Mask can't actually BE successful or rich, it's just that those are the only markers they use to measure their value. The time and effort that it takes to get maintain the mask gets in the way of developing and maintaining personal relationships. It doesn't matter how much you have, you can't buy real friendship. He interviews Tai Lopez, Alanis Morissette to talk about this mask and how it affects those around you.

The Sexual Mask - This is pretty intuitive. It's when someone uses their sexual prowess to feel like they have something to offer and have value. Men in particular are given value based on how many people they have slept with. He talks about how sex has the immediate gratification aspect, but that not nurturing the emotional aspect leaves an individual feeling empty. Neil Strauss, Chris Lee are authors that he has interviewed on this topic.

The Aggressive Mask - When aggression is used as a protective mechanism.  Stick before someone else strikes you. This can result in criminal charges, or some find ways to channel that aggression in ways that society finds more acceptable. Sports lets people be aggressive in ways that they are rewarded. Football, cage fighting, the military...but when aggression is used as a protective mechanism and breaks free from those acceptable boundaries it keeps people from being emotionally healthy. Andy Cohen, Ray Lewis, Randy Couture are a few of the people and athletes that he spoke to.

The Joker Mask - When everything is a joke and the individual hides their pain and sadness behind a happy go lucky mask. Robin Williams is a really obvious example, but it can be at a smaller scale. "The effects of making another person laugh are reminiscent of a fast acting drug: you feel instantly better - and the results are addictive. Sad people make careers out of making us laugh." Apparently comedians are wildly unhappy, unbalanced people that desperately need therapy. Zara Barrie, Edward Dreyfus, JP Sears, Jamie Masada were some of his interviews and references.

The Invincible Mask - Daredevils often wear this mask. The need for the rush that you can do ANYTHING is addictive. Shoplifters also often hide behind this mask as well as work-oholic. "If you push yourself past what is reasonable often enough and long enough, well, you might as well be chasing down tigers and base jumping off skyscrapers. Because  your overwork can lead you to run the same risks." Travis Pastrana, Jonathan Fader, Richard Meth, Dan Harris were a few of his sources.

The Know-it-All Mask - It's about over compensating and filling those moments where we would learn more by listening rather than talking. Not knowing equals weakness and weakness can not be tolerated. When you don't feel like you can ask answers without losing face, that's a problem. When you aren't open to new information, that's a problem. Mike Rowe, Rick Fox, Paulo Coelho lent some of their experiences and knowledge on this mask and how to combat it.

The Alpha Mask - Being in control is the most important thing to someone wearing the Alpha Mask. Being confident isn't a problem. Not being able to change your course and adapt in a situation because you won't be in charge is where the problem arises. Being Alpha is often equated with being "a man". Chris Voss, Glenn Harris
 spoke of this mask.

Overall I enjoyed this book and found it to be a pretty easy read. I would have found it interesting to go more into depth on the topic. He kept things pretty surface level with the descriptions and their causations. The book is also written directly for men, and it would have been more engaging (for me) if it was more gender neutral. I think that the masculine and feminine roles cross  boundaries and genders, so it would have been more interesting to delve into why people hide behind these masks rather than just men.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I believe I can fly!

...Or maybe I'm just falling with style.

YEARS ago I bought a Groupon for the Emerald City Trapeze Arts studio in Seattle. No one would go with me. It expired.

Then some ladies I know through running decided to go and I managed to latch onto their group and try it out.

In fact, we had enough fun to purchase their "Catch & Release" package of two additional classes.

...and then I never went back.

The other day I found the card in my wallet and decided to just go alone if I couldn't rustle up anyone to come with me.

It was really fun!

There was a wide range of abilities in the class, which was REALLY cool. I got to watch some advanced students as well as some that were more midrange and really see the progression of what I was learning and what you can do with it.

The teachers are wonderful. They're engaging and easy going so that you don't get too stressed. (Maybe that's just me)

I always forget that I'm actually kind of scared of heights until I start these activities. But I know how much fun they will be so I do them anyway:)

There is a teacher on the ground with your training wheels/safety rope. It's attached to a harness belt at your waist that is VERY securely cinched.

There is another teacher up on the platform that gets you set up and ready to swing.
This part is probably my least favorite, because you have to stand on the very edge of the platform. Your toes are hanging off the edge and then you have to lean WAAAYYY out with your hips. It feels like you're going to fall. The teacher is holding onto the harness at your back, so you won't actually fall, but it still feels really unsecure. You're also holding onto the trapeze bar with one hand and it's much heavier than you'd think. It's fine though. You're clipped into safety leads, and there is a giant net underneath if you do end up being the fluke that falls off before swinging.

The teacher on the ground calls out every move they want you to make WHEN you need to make them.

Over the course of 2 hours, I got to swing 9 times, which was plenty. It's more tiring than you would think!

I also got to do two transfers!

The teacher catching was like a ROCK. The first time I didn't get my grip quite right, and it didn't even matter. I could feel I was locked in by his grip.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Salty Half Marathon 2017 - Recap

I make no secret that I hate how expensive races are these days (Runners World agrees with me)
so when a couple of months ago I saw a friend on facebook post about a nearby half marathon that was under $30 I jumped at it.

Yoshi, Dennis and I signed up and carpooled to the start line in Seattle at Alki  Beach.

We also met up with Melissa, Nari, Steph and Jules at the starting line.

Me, Steph, Dennis and Yoshi at the start

Pro tip: if the location of a race says "beach" there is a good chance you're going to enjoy a nice flat course. Which we did;)

The weather forecast was calling for drenching rain and low temperatures.

Nari, Melissa, Me, Steph, Dennis and Yoshi

Luckily the state of Washington doesn't believe in weather forecasts and does whatever it wants.

We got 40 degrees and only the lightest of drizzles.

I wasn't really planning on "racing" the event, which was good because I didn't.

I ran a bit slower than normal in part due to the fact that I overslept that morning and didn't get my regular "morning routine" taken care of...and then for some reason I kept thinking "I should go get in line for the porta pottie's...nah I'm fine" even though I KNEW it was likely to be an issue.

We're talking 3 separate times.

But I didn't, and it was an issue. Not a HUGE issue, but enough that while was running and passed bathrooms I thought "I should stop and use that bathroom...nah, I'll be fine."

Finally at the turn around I decided that I had been ridiculous for long enough and should  stop and take care of business. Which is where I was reminded another reason to take care of things before running. Getting sweaty tights back on right sucks.

I had to jump twice because I took the photographer by surprise, but I
think it was worth it:)

I really did enjoy this race. For lots of reasons

The course is flat and fast. It might be a slight false flat uphill about mile 4, but it's an easy out and back with some awesome volunteers with water, sports drink and snacks/Gu. There were two 10/12 year olds at the water station at the turn around who were really enthusiastic. I like enthusiastic volunteers. Enough to take a bag of gold fish crackers even though I didn't want them. I just carried them for the next 6 was fine:)

There  were only  two things I didn't like...

#1 It's an open course so there are other runners out and about. It's hard to tell who is in the race and who's just out for a run. That means you might think someone in front of your is out for a jog when actually they are in the race and you need to put on some speed.

#2 There is a section of the course that has chipseal side walks which was oddly slippery. It's an out and back course, so you it happens twice on the course.

At the finish line there were plenty of spectators that cheered for all the runners. I like that. I think it's creepy when people just silently stand there and watch runners just because their person hasn't come in yet.

We got to pick out our finisher medal! A local artist creates one of a kind pressed glass fish for each of the runners. I picked one that looks like a Koi:) They also had fruit, chocolate milk and Halloween candy!

I would definitely run this one again:)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Where Dreams Go To Die - The Ginger Runner

On Friday I went up to Seattle to meet my friend Blake to grab dinner before we headed over to the University of Washington for the showing of the movie/documentary from The Ginger Runner.

Where Dreams Go To Die
featuring Gary Robbins

I am so glad I didn't listen to that voice in my head as I sat in Tacoma traffic that said "go home...Blake will understand"...


It's kind of amazing that Ethan was able to create an engaging and gripping story when he wasn't allowed out on the trail with Gary. But he did.

Where Dreams Go To Die is what was written on of the bibs that Lazarus Lake (the Race Director) gave him during the race.

To give a little back ground about this "marathon"...Lazarus heard about the 1977 escape of James Earl Ray (the assassin of Martin Luther King Jr.) from the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary. It took Ray 55 hours to cover 8 miles. He figured he could have done AT LEAST 100 miles in that amount of time. Soooo he created the race and named it "Barkley Marathon" after a longtime friend and running buddy Barry Barkley.

Read more about it here!

(I'm not naming a race after you Amy. Sorry)

This race is INSANE. 5 loops of approximately 20 miles each through the back woods of Tennessee in the Frozen Head State Park (that name is super inviting isn't it?) with NO aide stations, NO pacers, and you have to find 13 books that you tear a page from to show you ran the entire loop...'cause the course isn't marked. Oh, and each loop has a12 hour cut off and the race has a 60 hour time limit.

Since 1995 only 18 people have finished the race. FINISHED.

Gary ran in 2016 and dropped in loop 5, so he was determined to finish what he started and came back for 2017.

Gary Robbins and I

The big story is that he made a wrong turn in loop 5 and ended up running the wrong trail (even though he found all  the books) and finished in 60 hours and SIX SECONDS. It was heart breaking to read about but even more to see on a giant screen. (Blake and I knew how the story ended, but we were still on the edge of our seats with our hands over our mouths just WISHING he would get what he had worked so hard for.)

Gary's opening statements were hard to listen to, because it was so clear that this race has broken his heart. He was emotional just reading from his pages. I wasn't sure he was going to get through it without breaking down.

It reminded me of the Tucson marathon in 2010. I ended up calling my sister Abby (she was the only one out of FIVE that answered) on the course and breaking down crying because it was going so horribly wrong.

I can't help but wonder how I would have felt if I had to multiply that by FIVE LOOPS and sleep deprivation. Never mind the amount of training that he suffered through just to get there.

He did sound much better after the movie and he is determined to go back in 2018 and make it happen. He said he would go back as many times as it takes...his wife was sitting on the side of the stage and wasn't as stoked for that. :) But she's an ultra runner as well, so she knows how important this is for him.

She was a rock star support crew for him as well. WITH a baby the first year, and 2 year old the second year...all those training

This will sound kind of awful, but there is something really positive in seeing such an accomplished runner struggle with the same issues that I (and every runner I've spoken to) struggle with.

Our mental voices during the run...
Our motivation during training...
Remembering to hydrate properly and eat enough calories...
Needing everything to be the way you planned it to be, and then changing your mind at the last second.

I will say that seeing him drink ketchup straight from the bottle made me gag. Just thinking about it now, makes me gag.

We had about an hour for a Q/A after the film and I could have happily listened for another hour. Both Gary and Ethan were really great giving well thought and thoughtful answers to everyone's questions. The energy from the event was just awesome. I could have watched the movie over again the same night.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Deschutes River Ranch XC Open 5k 2017 - Recap

My favorite kinds of races are the small races where I'm not bumping into everyone around me.

I like knowing that my race entry is actually making a difference AND that difference will be for a local cross country team. In this case it was the Black Hills Wolves Cross Country team.

Which is nice, because running programs in the United States are horribly underfunded, and I like running so I like it when other people like running and I'll clearly pay to make that happen;)

The race was on Friday and started at 6pm so it was a bit tight for me, but I made it with 15 minutes to spare!

(Another plus, of smaller races, is the ability to register for a race in the 15 minutes before the starting gun.)

Another reason I ran this race is that they offered a trophy for the Largest Team and the Fastest Team. Megan at Pints Pavement Pounders is a sucker for a good competition so we couldn't disappoint her:)

Martinho, Me, Dennis, Julie and Sheila!

After a quick look around at the runners waiting for the start, I knew we wouldn't be snagging the Fastest Team. BUT...we had a chance at the Largest Team. (Guerilla Racing Club snagged the Fastest Team...again.)

I'll let you in on a poorly kept secret...I have a horrible sense of direction. I can get lost in a box with one end open.

The race director gave us a detailed description of the course and assured us that it was well marked and there would be course marshalls and we wouldn't have any trouble.

Challenge ACCEPTED.

I don't want to toot my own horn, but I almost made the wrong turn twice on a two loop course.

The very alert and enthusiastic XC kids managed to stop me, and I noticed  on my next lap that they proactively conned off those options:)

Seriously though, those kids were awesome. They cheered for everyone (even if they DID tell me I was "almost there" one mile into the race) and were alert and made sure that we were all going the right way. They were super cute, even though that's probably the last thing they want to be described as.

During the last loop I found myself thinking..."5k's take FOREVER...why am I still running?!...out of all the different terrain options cross country races are at the bottom of my list...I should probably try and remember this BEFORE I end up in the middle of the race..."

But I do like trail runs...I live a complicated life...

I did manage to snag the 4th overall woman, 14the overall runner which was pretty cool.

And P3 got the Largest Team! It was fun, even if I don't like 5k's OR cross Country and I'll probably run it again next year:)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tunnel Lite Marathon 2017 - Recap

I was worried about running this years Tunnel Lite Marathon not only because I really didn't train for it, but also because of all the forest fires in the area.

The shirt was kind of a miss for me this year, I thought it looked like a basketball
and another friend thought it looked like a spider web. Now the totally delivers every year!

The Jolly Mountain fire was particularly concerning. Even though it was west of the starting line AND we were running the opposite direction I was worried about the air quality come race day.

After running during some Orange air quality days this summer I knew exactly how horrible that would, be as well as dangerous and I don't even have asthma.

BUT morning of it was perfect running weather with clear skies!

Dennis and his wife Linda (it's Tradition!) drove up with me the night before so that we could get settled and be up bright and early because the race had a new improved earlier start time of 7:00am

(In past years there was an early start at 7:00 am for the runners who expected to finish in over 5 hours. The rest of the field started at 8:00 am.)

I think they changed it because it's been so hot on race day for the last several years. It's meant scrambling at the last minute in order to change the start time so that the runners can take advantage of cooler weather and be safer overall.

I like the change. 8:00am always felt strangely late to start a marathon.

Can you see me? Nope? I'm right by the should of the 3rd dude in blue. I have a knack
on being able to miss photographs.

Another change was a concerted effort to keep runners from parking at the starting line because...?
I dunno. They threatened to disqualify runners who did park there. I have no idea how they planned on enforcing that and based on the number of cars that morning a lot of runners felt the same.

We started at 8:00am sharp!

That 100 meter flip around will never stop cracking me up:)

I was also super excited to wear my headlamp. It's awesome! 180 degrees of illumination and it makes me look like an angel:) Put and end to tunnel vision and feeling like you're going to trip over something.

That headlamp rocks!

I knew better but I wore a long sleeved shirt over my tank top because it was a little chilly that morning. By two thirds of the way through the tunnel I was sweltering and that shirt GOT TO GO!

There's a 2nd drop bag pick up when you exit the tunnel so that runners can drop their head lamps and any other gear that they don't need anymore, so I had the chance to get rid of the offending shirt and my headlamp. The volunteer was awesome and packed my bag for me so I didn't lose time.

That's when I accidently turned off my Garmin...which I didn't realize until a couple of minutes later so I ran the rest of the race not knowing how far off my watch was from Gun Time. (I found out afterwards I lost 1:20).

Speaking of Garmins...I did manage to remember to charge mine for a change, BUT I forgot that Michaela had been pushing random buttons the week before and changed the display data. I don't know how to adjust that issue during a run without deleting the current run. So for the duration of the race, I didn't have access to my overall average or mileage. Go me!

This was a weird race for me.

I've been having trouble with my race nutrition and ended up only eating at mile 3 and mile 9. Normally I eat something every 3 miles, but I really just wasn't hungry at all. I worried that I was going to bonk hard in the latter miles, but I still really didn't want to I didn't.

I also forgot my salt tablets. I drank Gatorade at each water stop  to make up for it. It worked out OK I think.

My hydropack is wearing out and I can't seem to get the straps balanced so that it doesn't chaff my shoulders or even better...bounce around and fall off one shoulder the ENTIRE race.
I think this was the cause of the extremely painful neck and shoulder muscle cramps I had around mile 8? I wasn't sure I could run an entire marathon with that going on, but they went away when I decided to ignore them. The story of every run ever:)

This course really is just gorgeous, so it was pretty easy to distract myself until the issue went away.

Bridges Catherine! We run over like three of them.

It looks like this, for pretty much the entire race.

It was the PERFECT day for running. 60 degrees, with a bit of sun peaking out...The air was just fine despite the odd pocket of smoke.

It makes me so mad at myself, that because I didn't train right I couldn't take advantage of the absolutely PERFECT racing conditions.

It really is infuriating to know that you ruined something because you didn't suck it up and get the work done.

I DID get an amazing race photo though, so that helps ease the sting a bit:)

I saw the race photographer coming up so I decided that since my time was in the tank I was going for the jump shot.

He missed it the first time.

So I jumped again and BAM!

Photo credit: gccphotography

It's so perfect.

I'm looking right at the camera, I'm not sticking my tongue out or making a weird face or anything!

Pro tip: Keep your knees together and kick your feet out to the side. It's both slimming AND you don't look like your legs got cut off.

My friend Randy said "Awesome photo! Although that looks like a prelude to you falling on your face in spectacular fashion."

Because he knows me all too well. I didn't fall, but I did get a rock in my shoe:)

Dennis was awesome and got some finish line photos of me and fetched me little Dixie cups of Coco Cola? It wasn't gross, so I don't think it was Pepsi but I hardly ever drink soda pop and taste buds go all weird after marathons. It really could have been anything brown. Whatever it is, a little bit of cola does wonders after long runs. I have no idea why.

Linda was awesome (it's tradition!) carrying my stuff and doing all the driving for us.

They were BOTH awesome putting up with my wandering away multiple times because I saw someone I knew and because that's what happens after someone runs a marathon. You either sit down and discover you will never be able to stand back up again, or you end up wandering around like someone with short term memory loss.

My G.U.T.S Ragnar Ultra ladies! Shelly and Larissa! They both crushed the race!

I really can't stress it enough. It sucks to run a marathon (or any race really) under prepared.

You miss opportunities to do your best which eats at you and everything is harder. You also end up sore for more days than you should be. And when you're bedroom is upstairs that adds up.

I couldn't pull a BQ this time, finishing in 3:41:30

It kind of cracks me up that next year that time would get be a BQ AND a cushion. Go birthdays!

Friday, September 01, 2017

Creating The Perfect Running Playlist

I'm gearing up to run my marathon in two weeks and I realized during my last Long Run that I am so TIRED of my playlist!

I didn't fact-check this. You're welcome.
I don't run with music very often, so I really shouldn't be tired of the songs but I there you go.

I'm not a huge fan of running with music just because it can pose some really big safety issues when you can't hear what's going on around you.

I only wore one headphone so I could still hear what was happening around me.
...Or when you inadvertently run my dad off the road while he pushes my niece in a stroller because you can't hear him call out that he was passing.

She so cute! How could you run  her off the road?
I would much rather have a good long run chat with my running buddy than have music blaring in my brain.

These poor souls discovered what my father and sister already knew...I like to talk while I run. (Dad once commented that he could tell when I was struggling or running out of steam because I would finally shut up.)

I mentioned a race where no one was talking to my friend Larissa and she was flabbergasted. "I'm running too hard to talk during a race." I told her "I guess I'm not, because I like to talk while I run". We might have discovered why my race times don't match my projected times...

I created my first pace specific play list in 2014 for my potential Boston Qualifying marathon Light at the End of the Tunnel. (I also had my mother who is a certified Hypnotherapist lead me through a meditation session the night before the race. I also had some amazing friends pace me. Yes, I pulled out all the stops!)
It worked! 3:37:48 for a Boston Qualifying time!

I use the website to input my target per mile pace and it pulls up an extensive list of music that has the right beats per minute to match my per mile pace goal. Then I create the list in Spotify with the songs I think I'll like and listen to it multiple times at home to see if I hate any of the songs. My playlist is very...eclectic.

There are songs in it that when people hear them, I feel the need to explain and make excuses about why I'm listening to them:)

"Mamba #5" anyone?

Logic doesn't make many appearances in marathon running.

It took some tweaking but in the end I have a playlist of songs I like that will help keep me on pace!

If you want to check it out click here! "3:20" (Because I'm super creative with my usernames.)