Tuesday, November 30, 2010


So, my last post was about my weaknesses, and a determination to take lessons and create strengths. What are my natural strengths, though? Well, first, being who I am, my tendency is to take a strength and prove that it is still a weakness. But not today. Today – my strengths.

I am a soft engineer. What does that mean? I love the analytical, but remember soft details. Why remember a formula when I can remember where to find it in a book? I can’t look up that a friend likes a certain food or has a passion for a specific hobby. I remember where I had lunch with someone I worked with over 10 years ago (Burger King – he had had a heart attack, and was on a good diet, but every once in awhile he splurged (called it a fatburger!) and he did that day. Nothing major – just enjoying enough. With Joel I went to Wendy’s where I first learned about feta cheese and how much he loved it!). I remember the how I felt when my parents told me my Grandma Wehrle and Grandma Fiske died, and the weather at my Granddaddy Fiske’s (snowed in Richmond, VA and my uncle shoveled snow at the church that morning).

I am loyal and dedicated. It takes a lot for me to not do something that I said I would do. I hate breaking appointments or agreed meetings. I most likely will come through.

I am determined. If I decide I want to do something chances are, I will do it, as long as it respects those around me and myself!

If you ask me for help, if it is within my abilities I will find a way to help. It could be to help organize an event, serve at a party, go for a run (or walk or wander) or just listen.

I love to volunteer.

I love a challenge - whether it is personal or professional. There is something excited about taking something that's in parts and an idea, and make an end product.

This is not a complete list, but a good start. A good place to build from.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Weaknesses, a bit of emtional house cleaning, and a Resolution

Yesterday I told my boss of 5+ years that I had another job offer and, more than likely, I was going to take it.

I was afraid it was going to become a bad situation. It could have become a bad situation. It started to become a bad situation with my boss going in to his usual defense mode (he is, after all, defending his growing company). I fell in to some of my usual behavior, but not all. And that, I believe saved it from becoming a bad situation. I kept emphasizing his strengths and the company strengths, and that we need to get a transition down so it can continue to succeed.

And then he started asking why: beyond the “I want to grow” and “I am looking for opportunities”. And then I said it: I had become afraid of him. It surprised him, but also made him curious: how and why. And we started to talk. And we listened. And I made sure that I was not making him a villain. He isn’t. It’s a two way street. I was fully aware of what was happening at work, and felt unable to change things: afraid to speak up.

It is easy, in retrospect, to ask, “Why didn’t you talk to me?” my only answer is, when you are afraid you avoid those situations. I hid. I would cringe when he asked to talk to me: who was going to show up? Dr. Jeckyll or Mr. Hyde? Would he try to engage me in a “debate” about anything? I dreaded having to ask questions – wondering if he would help or send me on my way with a quick synopsis with a topic I needed a handbook to resolve and I would feel dumb and too afraid to ask more?

I know my weaknesses (but if you see any please let me know – I can always learn and grow): I lack confidence in the work place. The fact that I state freely that I felt dumb probably speaks volumes on this matter. I am not dumb, but do not do all things well. Some things I do very well. I am human. Enough said. My boss remarked that he was surprised, with all of my marathons and triathlon training that I wasn’t more confident. I thought about that one and realized that, at work, I felt as if I had to hide my personal life. So, it is possible that all that self-esteem building work didn’t come through at work. It remained hidden.

I also tend to project my expectations from someone (likely a reflection of my own fears) on to them before I ever approach them. Kind of like a teenager who gets in to a car accident and only thinks “My parents are going to kill me” when in reality the parents are just relieved their child is OK. I build anxiety when there may have never been a reason. Glorious! I have tried, judged and pronounced myself not worthy before ever speaking with anyone about the true issue. This must be resolved.

A friend of mine once commented that she thought I looked for compliments from others, and asked how can I expect positive remarks from others if I don’t feel confident myself. Although I disagree with her assessment of seeking compliments from others, I agree with her observation of confidence.

And so, aware of my self confidence at work (the lack thereof), that I have been apathetic for two years at work, and that I can immobilize myself by projecting fears on others, I will be starting a new job in most respects soon.

My resolution is to take these lessons I have learned about myself and instead of building a pattern; that I break free and return to my motivated self and bring in that self confidence I have built with my training, and interactions with friends in many spheres of life. I resolve to do this without returning to minimizing myself (physically and emotionally). Ghad zooks. And so I take a deep breath. I take the lessons I have learned. I resolve…because if I waited for the New Year to change – I could put it off another day!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Good Fit

This past weekend I was at my alma mater: the University of Michigan. It was only my second visit since graduating. I LOVE Ann Arbor. I LOVE U of M. I love the feeling of the city, and the energy of the campus. It is amazing. When I am there I am home and comfortable.

And it is also where I tried the hardest I ever tried to fit in to a group that was a “bad fit” for me.

This realization came about after finding a group that is a “good fit” for me, and has accepted me for me, and is happy to have me there. The difference is amazing.

I realize now how bad of a fit it was for me in the organization in college. I wanted to be there. I was energetic and excited. But as hard as I tried, I never made progress. I worked my ass off, and it was never good enough. The officials in the organization never learned who I was, never acknowledged me, never spoke with me, never said thank you. I was one of a nameless group. I tried. I did what people said: I always volunteered, always helped, always worked my ass off. It was never good enough. They only asked for more. In short, they broke me. Even worse – I let it happen. I should have realized that and realized that surrender is acceptable, but I didn’t – and it got me in to trouble.

I was so yearning for acceptance, and eschewed acceptance from so many other areas at Michigan – other friends, other organizations. I kept trying (volunteering, trying out for subgroups), and kept getting rejected. I loved the organization, but apparently love wasn't enough. It was just a poor fit.

I still tried because many others were like me, and succeeded. But not me. I failed. I struggled. I lost control. I lost sight of what was important. I worked such that I think people were afraid of me. I stopped joking around. I focused, and I still failed.

I didn’t participate in the organization my last two years: I did a co-op one year, and couldn’t bring myself to go back the next year. I remember that, as I walked to the information meeting the year after my co-op I started crying. One of my roommates – Melissa – talked to me, comforted me, and helped me to realize that it was OK not to go back. And I didn’t.

It was many years before I joined any organization again.

And then I found Team in Training. And there I found a good fit. And there I healed a lot of hurts in the past. I have learned that you can not avoid judgment by others, but you can only do the best you can do. And there I met a group that slowly showed me that it is safe to open up, showed me that it is OK to try; that I can have goals without losing sight of what is important because there is a mission much bigger than you are. I have met the most amazing people – all ready to cheer you on, share moments of joy and disappointment with you, and share a celebration. And you want to do the same.

As I have grown and gotten stronger I have taken on new challenges, and will continue to do so. I get to cheer friends on each time they do an event - and there are many events that go on within TNT and even more outside of it! I am grateful. I am proud. I am growing, and going beyond the safety of the organization, but not beyond the lessons I have learned, mission that keeps me grounded and not beyond my friends. In fact, it seems that we are all growing and changing and exploring new areas. And that is expected! It's exciting to be a part of so much activity.

Looking back I see the mistakes. And accept I can not change them. And am thankful that, even though I didn’t always do right by me, it has brought me to where I am and now I can do right by me. And I can make changes today. I have learned.

I need to be able to go in and be honest with myself – whether something is a good fit for me or not. If it is – great. If it isn’t – I need to know that it is OK to let go – that I will not disappoint anyone, and it is more important I stay true to me so I can affect the most good and enjoy what I do, instead of getting lost.

It has been a tough lesson, and I learned it the really hard way. However, I think the lesson was invaluable, and will serve me well as I continue to grow and love what I do, and explore new possibilities. I am excited again!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Richmond Marathon

I chose the Richmond marathon because I had heard good things about the race and because my mom’s side of the family lived there. It had been a long while since I had been to Richmond, and I thought it was a great reason to go. So, I put it on my list to do in 2010. It was a good choice.

We are staying at my Aunt Judy and Uncle Eric’s. They have an old home in Richmond – a bit drafty and cold, but very warm and welcoming in the heart. They have been terrific – opening up their home to us, making sure I ate correctly (for me) before the race and getting me to the race and helping Carlos get around – I saw Carlos and Eric 5 times during the race!

My parents arrived on Friday. They drove up from Michigan. Eric is my mom’s brother – so again – the Richmond Marathon was a good reason for a family gathering! They also made the rounds on the race course – but after mile 13.1 (where I saw them for the third time) they decided to wait at home. Spectating is a LONG day. I am always impressed when people make the rounds of the full course, and am grateful to Carlos for his continued support.

I slept well on Friday – heck – even slept in compared to almost any other day (woke up at 5:30 a.m.).

The weather forecast called for sunny skies with the race starting in the 30’s and ending in the 60;s: perfect.

I was there early – the 8k started at 7, half marathon at 7:30, and full at 8. They were pretty punctual all around. While waiting I chatted with a few people, but pretty much just waited quietly.

I was racing to my heart rate for the first time. It’s a pretty good strategy, but I think I still need to practice some more. Usually my heart rate rockets when I start, and then comes down somewhere between mile 1 and 3. So I was expecting 10-10:15 minute miles for the first 2-3 miles. Today this was not the case. It stayed low – even at the start. So I started with a sub 9 pace. Lesson learned – have to pay attention to my heart rate AND my pace. More about that later.

The course is mostly flat with a few hills along the way – most notably miles 9 – 16. The course is also very pretty. You are taken through some very scenic places along the river in Richmond, and the leaves are in their splendor. All in all – a great course. Even the ending is downhill – which is awesome!

For the first 13 miles or so I played tag with the 4 hour pace group. The leader was loud, motivating and did a great job. I preferred keeping ahead and/or behind as it was a bit crowded around him.

I was having a strong race, and then about mile 13.5 (right after seeing my family for the third time!) noticed that my quads were starting to burn – as in how they feel after a hard workout. Hmmm…not good. Luckily, I had this happen after mile 18 in Atlanta, and knew that I could run though it. Cycling and training for Augusta also taught me I can work through it. I slowed, but ran through it for the next 12.5+ miles.

I saw Carlos and Eric for the 4th time about mile 18 and let him know what was up – that I knew I would finish – it was just going to be slow. And on I went.

Richmond had terrific water stops – every 2 miles up through mile 20, and then every mile after that. I walked each – after mile 20 walking a little more at the stops, and a little more slowly for each. They had gels at two stops, and two junk food stops (including Coke). I was self sustaining for foods, and skipped it but it was well run.

After mile 20 I started running it one mile at a time. That was my goal – and I did. I kept the walking to just the water stops.

I even picked up my pace for the last 2 miles or so. The last half mile is down hill. I picked up my pace, but could not sprint. Bother. I saw Eric at mile 26, and Carlos right at the finish. I had never gotten to see Carlos so many times during a race. It meant a lot to see my family along the way. This was my first event without a gaggle of TNT family along the route. Blood family did a pretty good job, though!

I finished with a PR – 4:09:27. I wasn’t expecting that. In my mind I was thinking it was a good way to end marathoning for a year by not PR’ing as then I would not have the siren call in the back on my head, calling to try for another soon. Oh well – and so I will go in to triathlon training and get stronger throughout the year and come back in 2012. So much I want to do…it is funny that my running/event schedule is filling up through 2012. Of course, things are subject to change (injuries, life events, et cetera) but for now – I am fully booked for 2011 and working on 2012!

The real adventure was getting home. Carlos and Eric had agreed to meet on Franklin Street at some tower. However, Carlos forgot the second part of the directions. We walked a fair bit looking for Eric. Eric, apparently, walked quite a bit looking for us. We never met up, and Eric does not have a cell phone. Carlos had his, but I did not put mine in my post-race bag, so I was phoneless (and I have most of the family phone numbers). We ended up stopping at a Double Tree hotel and hanging out in the lounge for 3.5 hours waiting for traffic to die down. During that time we used a computer to get Eric’s home phone, called home and spoke to my parents. They offered to get us, but we told them traffic was horrible, and we should wait until the roads open after the race. I had warm clothes. We had food, drink and college football. We were good to wait. About 3:30 Eric and my mom picked us up – no worse for the wear.

We got home, I took an ice cold bath (their cold water is cold enough that there is no need for ice!), cleaned up, and relaxed. People who ran that day and are a part of Judy's church came over for dinner, as did family. I got to speak with new runners and a new group of people and loved it. The new runners said they would keep going! Yea! I got to meet my cousin Jason’s children for the first time (they are now 6). I got to meet my cousin Cameron’s girlfriend. I got to see my cousin Brice for the first time since my wedding (7 years ago).

Overall, I would say this has been a pretty fantastic weekend. Richmond marathon is a terrific course. I have gotten to spend time with my family which has been pretty special. I also got a lot of support from my TNT family as I trained for this event. Overall, I know I am a fortunate woman. I am grateful. Thanks to all who made this a special event.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I recently went to a day of motivational speeches. It was fun, and paid for by three organizations selling their “get rich and be financially independent” programs. I listened – and they were nice. However, I also realized that my goals are not in line with theirs. Yes – I want to help myself. Yes, I want to be able to go for my dreams. Yes, I would love to be able to train almost any time I want instead of strange hours and fitting it around work. Yes, I want to retire comfortably some day. But (and here is the kicker) I want to work. I want to work at a job that I LOVE. I want to be one of those people that looks forward to going to work every day and enjoys (loves) what they do. I want to enjoy the work environment. I want to be productive. I want to enjoy where I spend a bulk of my time they way I enjoy my free time (and training).

But I am not. And that makes me sad on a daily basis. I do not like my job. I do not like the work environment. I do not really like the way my boss manages the office. He’s a good guy – and I like him. We have worked together and it is like a bad marriage. We are both to blame. And I – I want out. I want to find something new.

I would not trade in my time here or coming to my current job. When I started here it was a great job for me and my needs at the time. But it has been 5 years. And I have grown. And I want more. And I do not see that more where I am now. I want a job that doesn’t keep me at my desk 40 hours a week.

I want a job where I get to interact with clients and other personnel. From that description I could be working at a bookstore, or as a maid, or a janitor. I think I want more than that, but if I ended up doing those jobs until I find my passion, so be it.

A part of me is still searching for that ideal job. I am not sure. In my mind I would love to work at a not-for-profit. I am an idealist at heart. I am not so concerned about salary – as long as I am happy, and I see opportunity for growth and expansion in my experiences. Another part of me wants to use my love for business to grow someone else's business and following their passion: Doing the ground work to get a dream going. I have a few other ideas along the same vein: business development. Those are the two areas that interest me...right now.

The more I think about it, the more I think I need to leave where I am – whether I have a job or not. And just gamble. This scares me a little (OK, a lot). But some things you just need to do. I spend too long at the office to be as unhappy as I am here. I know it scares Carlos, but he swings back and forth – when I get really miserable he literally tells me to quit that day. Other days he says “You need to keep working.” I know he trusts me in that I don’t want to not work – but I want enjoy where I work – to find my passion (the way I did with running). I think he just gets nervous about me finding it.

I am putting this out here because if anyone knows of an organization that is willing to work with someone who will work hard, has a lot of skills to offer, but has a lot to learn, and you think it may be a good connection let me know!

I am putting this out there because I want to talk with people who have followed their heart. I would say dream, but I am still working on that. Right now it is a feeling in the heart.

I am putting this out there to ask my friends – are you working at a job you love? If so, how did you discover your passion? What is it that you love about what you do? I am searching for my answers, and looking for guidance from those who are on different paths from me….which is just about everyone!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Richmond thoughts

I sit on the verge of another marathon. I am not nervous or scared. I am looking forward to running another marathon. A part of me is sad as I know this will be my last marathon until after Ironman Arizona, if I get in to IM AZ (that is a whole other subject – IM FL sold out before it opened to on-line registration. Anxiety about this, but also taking it in stride). Back to marathons for now.

So, it will likely be my last marathon until after IM AZ. As much as I love swimming, biking and running, and as much as I love getting to train intensely for 11 months, I will miss pure running. I will be setting aside a few other goals to do this one. But, I plan to work on getting faster and going farther while away from marathons. I doubt training for an IM will make me weak! I just won't get to test it in a pure running mode. Both goals are pushing my boundaries, both are goals. Both, for me right now, are fun. Both are also pushing me away from my minimalist ways. I am learning that it is OK to have dreams. It is OK to go for them. That I will incur judgment from others (heck – with IM AZ too: spending so much money for an ego trip).

Regardless of the direction I go – I need to go for me. I must be dedicated to what I do as I will have people telling me it is the wrong direction. Many friends are going in other directions and I miss them already. I am a bit jealous of where they are going. I am also excited about where I am going. Never in a million years did I expect that I would consider an ironman. But, I can tell you that 6 years ago I never thought I would run a marathon.

And so here I sit.

Part of me is wondering if the era of PR’s is over. If it is – no big deal. It isn’t why I run. However, there is something intoxicating about hitting a PR. I feel strong – cross training and hill work outs. A part of me would love the “reward” of a PR. However – who knows. I don’t. I feel strong - and that is a pretty good feeling, regardless of the outcome.

A part of me is excited about the adventure of what will happen before, during and after the race:, weather, if my body will cooperate or not…and who and when I will see along the course (will Carlos get up early? Will my parents be there early? Probably not but…with each race there is the opportunity), where will my aunts and unless be? It is a bit of an adventure to find people you know. .

I am excited that I get to share something that I love with my family – they have never seen me run for an event (few family members have). Most of my family still associates with me in terms of college and college activities, especially since my Granddaddy and Grandma Fiske went to the University of Michigan. This is something new – my first real ‘adult’ recreational activity.

This is also my first event without Team - even ING this past for which March I trained on my own, I knew a lot of Team people along the course. This one is just me. I am not worried, but it will be different. I love running alone, so I am not worried. There is so much going on when running I do not get bored - I love reading my body, listening to what it says, and working with it and my surroundings. However, seeing friends and family along a course is always exciting - spreading happiness.

And so, as with any new event there is a passing, opportunity and a beginning. I am looking forward to all three.

Monday, November 1, 2010

In the middle before I realize I am even there

Half the time I am in the middle of something huge before I even realize the impact it has on my life. Not that I am totally oblivious. It is because I see it every day, and you do not always notice the changes every day until one day you catch an unexpected glimpse from a different perspective. All of a sudden things change and you see it for so much more or so differently. All of a sudden you have story and not just an event.

I don’t mean to be the accidental tourist in life, but a lot of times there is so much going on I do not realize where I am until I am deep in the woods – for better or for worse. It has been good (Team in Training) and it has been bad (eating disorder).

Sometimes it is because I am so focused on the goal I do not see what is happening around me. Sometimes it is an unexpected consequence of my focus on a goal.
Sometimes it is because I am having so much fun with friends I never noticed everything else. Honestly – the latter is the most fun, and the most scary – opening myself up to rejection, losing a goal because I took my eye off the ball to have fun…you name it and that’s why it is scary.

Much of my life was spent on the former. I am just starting to warm up to the latter…and loving it. As I said, though, it is also scary. You can control yourself (or at least think you can!), but can not control others: what they think of you, what they say about you, if they invite you to go out, et cetera. However, the joy you feel from celebrating the accomplishment of a friend, from enjoying a drink or pizza with friends, from experiencing something new as a memory with people you love, from just hearing a warm hello and getting a hug is very much worth the risk of being hurt by other’s actions (usually not deliberate actions either!). I will admit, I am still awkward sometimes about hugs….but have realized that a slight hesitation on my part can be quickly overcome! People are usually open to a warm welcome!

And me? I am grateful for the second chance.