There is an art within vulnerability.

There is an art within vulnerability.

The willingness to share exactly what is going on in your life. To let someone in on the struggles, the complications, the mess that you sit in. To share your heart and know that it will get hurt. To let someone see the real side of you that you hide from the world. We live in a world focused so much on the highlight reel that we forget that aside from the highs, people live lives that are filled with secret spaces.

I am realizing within my own journey the need to share aspect that others would otherwise push aside. But, I am the type of person that can’t handle ambiguity. Honestly, it makes me uncomfortable and can create situations within my mind that get out of control. And when I stop to think about it, to sit with this unsettling, I’d like to think that ambiguity drives most of us slightly nuts. It creates unseen situations in our heads, hands us unrealistic expectations that we place on others, and is the driving force between what is reality and what is made up in our mind.

Sharing with others is also something that I am not good at. And this realization has taken place over the last few days. I am realizing that I like to keep people at arm’s length. To have the ability to let someone in to my life and mess on my terms and in my own timing. Yet, my own timing causes me to feel isolated, burnt out, and in dire need of community that I didn’t realize I was pushing away.

These aspects of reality are part of the mess that I seem to be in and that I can’t just shimmy my way out of. I have to take the time to sit with what is going on, the way things currently are, the place I find myself, and allow time for processing and questioning.  Questions like “What is God up to?”, “How did I end up here?”, and “What is next when everything seems so challenging at this moment?”. The types of questions that no one likes to ask themselves, let alone let someone else in to help them answer. Thanks social media for creating a world of highlight reels to compare our lives filled with non-highlight reel moments. You have made expectations and reality hard to grasp, causing people to think their life is worse than a majority of our own friends, when the reality is we all have our own mess to sit with and deal with.

I can’t lie within the walls of my own heart. I am searching and seeking right now. What is happening is all in the perfect timing of a perfect God who cares so much about me. I know that there is purpose for everything going on. I know that through the various things I do, clarity will come. God is walking people directly into my path and setting up divine appointments that I couldn’t even imagine. Though this time is challenging, I am thankful. Thankful for those who are walking alongside me, those who get that my means of therapy are running, those that are ok with letting me sit in silence in front of them even when it seems uncomfortable, and for those that can tell with one look at me that I am in need of love.

I’ve said it before, but community is the biggest thing that keeps me going. It’s the people who step in and reach a hand down into the pit and remind me that I am not alone. This is why I am always sharing that people need to find their community. The people who get them, who reach out, who sit and listen, and challenge with what is next. Find your people and love them hard. Don’t be afraid to share the depth of your heart and ask for help. And don’t be afraid to go for a run when you should be asleep. Sometimes the best therapy after an emotionally trying day is an “anything goes” run and good conversations with friends.

Until next time
-Be fearless, go boldly

Going in blind

Last weekend I had the privilege of joining many people, from all walks of life, in the Snoqualmie Valley Half Marathon.  Not knowing exactly what to expect for this race, I went in with the intentions to have the best time possible. Simply because if fun is not had, why am I even running?

To my surprise, this race is actually more of a trail race. It starts off with a lovely 1/2 mile through the Tolt MacDonald Park in Carnation, WA, but quickly changes terrain from there. We dipped under a bridge and hit a section of very large loose rocks of 1/2 a mile, until we reached the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. Little did I know that this trail was compacted dirt and gravel, not a paved trail like many that I train on (shout out to the Sammamish River Trail!).

To say I was shocked is an understatement. Nothing on the race page has said this is a lovely out and back on a unpaved trail. We were just informed it was a lovely out and back…. and trust me, I am the type of person who does more research then necessary to feel confident in what I am doing. That research lead to nothing in regards to this trail being an unpaved path.

You might not know this, but running on a paved path is completely different then a trail. Trails provide many unknown variables and use up a greater amount of energy. I set into this race knowing that my times and strength have improved greatly over the past eight months, so I expected a pretty good PR. That was quickly tossed out the window. But surprisingly enough, I did pull off a 30 second PR from my last half marathon, which was the Seattle Rock n Roll last June.

Though this race was not what I expected, I still greatly enjoyed it. Since it is on a trail, there is no need to worry about cars. The trail crossed one main road, and a very kind police office was monitoring it for us, as well as giving out cheers and high fives. Support was minimal since we were on a trail, but the views were amazing. There is something about being amongst the evergreens that just gives me chills and warms my heart, all at the same time. Its the simple things that made me fall in love with this course.

You see, my goal for next year (Yes, I am already planning for next year) is to play in the trails more. I want to do a 50k trail race. But I didn’t know that a similar experience would kick off with this race! This race showed off beautiful views of the valley, river, farmland, and crossed paths with many cyclists. Its false flat course was a slight challenge till the turn around, but it allowed for great opportunity to work on my mental game.

The out and back allowed for cheering of the lead runners, as well as everyone else. Since my goal is to have fun during races, I always make an effort to give out high fives, cheer others on, and just be a bit goofy. Like I said- if I am not having fun, why am I running? When you cheer others on or give high fives, you get to see their face change, and realize the impact you are making on them when they may be struggling in their own race.

Overall, this race was good. If anyone is up for a challenge, I would suggest running this race. Don’t forget your trail running shoes, if you have them. But be prepared to fall in love with Western Washington and trail running. Thank you Orca Running for this opportunity. You put on some amazing races and give out the best race photos. Oh, and did I mention the really cool medal and race shirt?! Yeah, all around this was pretty great, even though I did go in blind.

I am still on the hunt for a road half marathon, simply to see where I am at currently. My next big race is on September 30, running the Bellingham Bay Marathon. But, I am always up for more races, especially during this next training session. If you have a suggestion on a fun half, send it my way.

And as always, I can’t wait to see you all out on the road (or trail!).

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

Why I am proud of you

It’s not often we tell each other that we are proud of the effort we put in. I have started to realize this when I tell people who have given their full effort and fallen short. I share with them how proud I am of them for trying, for the dedication and work put into what they view as a failure, and I tell them that I am proud of them. The look I commonly receive is one of puzzlement. Why would someone be proud of a failed attempt?

I keep thinking to the saying “The hardest part of taking the leap of faith is jumping off the cliff”. And it’s so true. When you take the first step to try something- running, singing the national anthem, training for a huge race- the hardest step is believing the possibility of doing it and placing the thought into action. And this is where I am proud of you most. You see, its easy to fall, its hard to trust that the fall with be worth it.

I am proud of you for taking the first step. For continuing on the tough days, when everything seems worthless. For showing up on the day of the big event. And for giving your best effort. Yes, you may succeed and you may fail on the big day. But when you start to view each day as a gift and another opportunity to give your best effort, you never actually fail. Even if you mess up the song, miss your goal time, or have a DNF.  If you give your best and remember the work you’ve put in to get to this point, it is never a failure. NEVER.

So for those of you who have struggled (which is all of us!), know this: I am so proud of you! You have done something amazing, regardless of the final result. Be proud of yourself and where you have found yourself. You are the strongest version of yourself today. And you should be proud of everything you have been able to do. Now get out there and keep chasing down the impossible, regardless of the outcome.

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

We all need to feel connected

I cant understand why some people feel the need to ignore those they know. If I have learned anything over the last few years, its the power of community and the need to connect deeper with those we know. Wither its asking to meet for coffee, hanging out in groups, or simply saying hi to someone you kinda know when you see them around town. Community is important.

And in a time where we seem to be better connected with our phones over people, the need to connect with others is even great. But how can we actually take them time to put away our phones and make real life connections? How can we shift our ever evolving culture from what it currently is back to simpler times, like when we had to use a land line to call someone and we didn’t always know what people were up to?

I have thrown myself outside of my comfort zone over the last few days. I have decided to stop thinking about doing things that sound interesting and actually going after them. Last night I joined the local volee team and many people from out of town for the Thursday Night Flight Club at the Oiselle flagship store. I don’t know well with new people. I do not run well with people. And I feel that I am beyond awkward. Cue an interesting night. But I ran into a few people that I know from my team. I got to connect with them, I met a few new faces, and I went on a short run that impacted me in more ways then I thought it could. All because I decided to take a risk and stop living through my phone.

I remember the first time I went to November Project, the unsettling feeling of meeting new people AND being the slow person. There really are just something that you can’t overcome. But I met a few people and felt connected like I never had before. And I let it change my life. Week by week I continued to show up and let this community change me. They showed me what it meant to trust the goodness in others, how to try your best regardless of speed, and they empowered me to continue to chase my dream. All because I put my phone down and started making real connections with those around me.

Here is my challenge for you. Next time you are at a coffee shop, grabbing a quick lunch, or simply on a run, look up at those around you. It is easy to get trapped in our own mind, to scroll through the socials why we are in line, or to look down when we are running. The reality is we are all feeling lonely and in need of community. Strike up a conversation with the person in front of you. Say hi to every stranger you meet on your run. AND for goodnesssakes, say hello to the people you know when you run into them around town. Even if you are not best friends. Even if you have not seen them in years. Even if you wish you could shrink into a fly and leave quickly. Say hi, acknowledge their presence, and continue on your way. You might just change their entire day.

-Until next time,
Be fearless, go boldly

Kirkland Shamrock Run 5k

The Kirkland Shamrock Run will be a race I do not soon forget. My official start to the race season of 2018, this race did not disappoint.  As you may recall, I am on a mission to reach my long term goal of a 5k in under 30 minutes. My previous time was 30:50, at a turkey trot and it took everything out of me to get to this time. I’ve spent an entire off season working on strength, form, and my mental game. All to get me to the point where I can make this goal a reality and turn 2018 into my strongest race season yet.

I showed up on race day knowing that I would not reach my 30 minute time cap. Thank you allergies and the beauty of Spring. But my one goal was to have fun and make the most of the day. If I gave the race my all, I would come out a winner.  Race day graced us with unexpected sunshine and I could not have been happier. Joined by a few friends, we set off to warm up for the race and get into the starting line up.

Separated with just the right amount of distance, I joined the back of the running group, knowing that these would be my fellow people for the rest of the race. The race began and the energy was electric. It was almost as if the entire city of Kirkland joined us for this big day. Running out of the marina parking lot, I knew what was waiting for me just around the corner: the dreaded 1 mile hill up to the Kirkland Corridor. Yes, you read that right. A 5k that started with a 1 mile hill climb. But as they say, what goes up, must come down.

I powered after the hill, knowing that hill repeats and stairs have been a big part of my off season training. I could feel my strength as I continued to climb. Yes, I did take a few moments of walking, but played the mental game of “Walk to this light poll and then get back to running”. You know that game… we all play this game. Once we got to the corridor, I knew the worst part would be over. Yet somehow I forgot about the rolling hills for the next two miles that would lead me to the finish line.

I think the fact that I had beautiful views of downtown Kirkland, Seattle in the distance, and Lake Washington made up for the fact that this was a challenging course. But regardless of the challenges, it was an amazing race.

59966443_race_0.7997274444375654.display

I crossed the finish line in 30:55 and felt amazing! Not only did I just complete a challenging 5k course, I felt strong. The energy coming into the finish line just as strong as the energy finishing the race. And I knew, without a doubt, that reaching this 5k goal would be mine within a few months. The friends that joined me on the course also had an amazing time and had a few PR’s as well. Overall, the Kirkland Shamrock Run was a great day for all of us.

From the seamless setup and transitions, to the support on the course, a great after party at a local pub, and awesome FREE race photos, there are so many things to love about this race. I am excited about my next 5k and reaching my goal of a sub 30 minute time, but I am also excited to return to the Kirkland Shamrock Run next year.

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

The act of leadership

It struck me last week that leadership is a beautiful thing. It is not just something that we do or that is thrust upon us. Its the act of caring so much about something you are doing that you are willing to lead others in the way you do it. And in addition to showing others how you do this thing, you encourage them to find their own way within it.

And that’s the beautiful thing about leadership and those who take on the potential it holds. When they have a vision and understanding of the greater movement and work to pull it together. I have first hand seen what this kind of leadership can do. They way it can take hold of a group of people and form them from strangers to friends, creating ties that resemble family, and helping people find new meaning within their own stories.

This type of leadership is better known as servant leadership. Getting on the same level of those they lead, a leader takes the time to get to know their followers, teaching them how to lead, always willing to step off of the podium to allow others to test their skills, and consistently seeking to serve those among them, even when their followers do not realize it. It’s not leading with a sense of fear that someone else is going to replace you, its leading with the hope that one day you will not be needed as the leader. To do your job so well that others rise up among you and step forward to the challenge of wanting to change the tides. It’s in the simple acts that this type of leader understands the power of leadership and its meaning that expands far beyond themselves.

I have had the privilege of witnessing this type of leadership in a few people. And every time I see it, I am always in awe of how I can replicate it in my own life. How do I serve those who I lead and encourage them to continue to grow to a point where my leadership is no longer needed? How to I make an impact in the lives of everyone I come into contact with without being overbearing about it? And how do I love everyone I meet, regardless of circumstances? How do I show compassion, grace, and encouragement in just one sentence? These are the questions I continue to ask myself every time I meet someone who is a servant leader. And these leaders continue to help shift and change my life, without even knowing it.

My current search in how to properly thank someone who has helped me grow as a leader? How do I help them know just how much of an impact they have had on my life, among many other lives? And as they reach the final day of their impactful leadership, how do we as followers truly send them off? I guess I will tell you after tomorrow, when this fateful day arrives.

I know that when I wake up tomorrow, the day will already feel heavy. That driving into Gasworks will hold a different meaning, and the bounce on top of kite hill may be filled with a few tears. It’s not every day that you hold a retirement party for the founder and co-leader of November Project Seattle. It’s not everyday that you realize exactly what this one person did for a city through their acts of servant leadership. And it’s not everyday that you send them off in style. But it is a common occurrence that we celebrate those among us who have helped shape this movement, both leaders and followers.

So here is a toast to you, Casey. Thank you for taking a chance on this movement and bringing it to Seattle. For getting to know everyone who dared to #justshowup and encouraging each of us on our own journey. You have been a cheerleader, ringleader, instigator, change maker, and Seattle-freeze halter in a community that so desperately needed it. You have helped bring up other budding leaders and shown them how to grow where they are planted. Your loud voice at the top of the hill will not be forgotten, nor your enthusiasm over burpees. Granted, we will still see you on Wednesday, but if you miss a workout here or there, you won’t be subjected to the torture of “We Miss You” like that fateful day last Spring that we all refer to as Where is Casey? (Just over a year ago, mind you!).

Thank you for helping me find a community. For encouraging me in my journey and always asking how I am doing. You have helped change my life in an impactful way. May your retirement be filled with a few warm vacation days, trips around the city, and grand adventures. You will always have this community to lean on, regardless of where you are in the world. And we hope you will continue to #justshowup and spend early mornings with us.

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly

 

Reality with a side of life

Setting goals and chasing dreams is a huge aspect of my life. In fact, I think it is a huge part of everyone’s life. If we are not setting goals or chasing dreams, are we really living our best life?

But there is a dark side to chasing dreams and goal setting. And that is the cold hard fact that life will always get in the way. We will be thrown an obstacle that we cannot overcome or something will come up that we did not even plan for.

As most of you know, I am currently chasing a dream of running a 5k in under 30 minutes. And much to my surprise, my training and planning for reaching this goal has gone very well. So well, that I am almost afraid for how much I am going to crush this goal. My speed training is paying off, I am learning how to pace myself more evenly, and everything is really clicking currently. Last week, being two weeks out from my first attempt of 2018 I was excited to see what could happen. But then life came knocking at the door.

If you live in Seattle, you have seen the transition from Winter to Spring begin to happen. The flowers are popping out of the ground, the sun is shinning a bit more, and the trees are starting to show signs of life again. You may be thinking “Thanks for the updated, Jenn, now get to the point…”, but there is purpose in this statement. You see, over the last six years or so I have developed an allergy to tree pollen. This is a common thing that can happen. But over the years, it has gotten significantly worse. To the point where random people will stop me to make sure I am OK, because I look like a wreck… Yeah. It’s that bad.

So the significance in all of this is that over the last week, the tree’s are working their magic that make Spring a wonderful time in Seattle and I am sitting in a corner trying not to lose all hope. This is the side of life that is challenging my reality. Today, I forced myself to have the tough conversation with my PT on if going all out next week is a smart thing to do. His response was perfect: “Go have fun with this one. When you are back to normal with your preparatory system, find a race and go all out for that PR!” While my heart sank a tiny bit, I was reminded that I will have many opportunities to chase this goal. I am fortunate that my livelihood does not depend on my success in races. In fact, nothing about running is a risk to the life I live. I get to do this because I love it and want to it.

In the midst of this slight week of challenge, I am realizing that beauty in rest and accepting that life is going to get in the way of our dreams and goals. It is a known fact of life that regardless of how hard we plan, nothing will go the way we want it to- Nothing. EVER. Get used to it now people, because the sooner you learn this lesson, the easier life gets. For now I am beyond grateful that I still get to run. That my training has gone well and my off season proved to be the best thing that was ever forced upon me. My goals will always be there, no matter when I try to accomplish them. Though it will not be this next race where I step up to the challenge, I know that it is going to be an amazing day. We will see what happens in the next week and the goals I want to accomplish in this upcoming race, but for now, I am on a slight break with room for growth, knowing that everything will be OK.

I hope this helps you remember that you can do anything, regardless of the delays that life tosses your way. Keep in mind that you are strong, regardless of the obstacle. Eventually you will reach your goals and dreams. Have flexibility in what life throws your way and remember to keep chasing your best self each and every day.

Until next time
-Be Fearless, Go Boldly