Hiking boots, shirts, videos and marathons

It’s one of those days filled with a bunch of notes which don’t readily appear to create a coherent story line. But this is much more than a link dump. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my journey, it’s that everything is connected. So how do new hiking boots, a women’s athletic t-shirt, a crazy track nutrition video and an inspiring marathon story relate to each other? I’m not sure how it will play out either. So, let’s proceed.

My new boots

About a month ago, my Best Running Buddy Sue invited me along on a trip to the West Coast in October. First stop, Vegas. Second stop, Mt. Whitney. The feature event of the small-group adventure is a day pass at the highest peak in the contiguous United States in addition to a few other hikes in the Inyo National Forest. Even before much research, I was in. Hiking is my original sport. Before my failed attempt at junior varsity basketball, before I discovered morning exercise shows, yoga or even the all-American kid activity of riding bikes, I went hiking. My dad took me for walks in the woods. It’s probably one of my earliest memories and I absolutely loved the hikes. Even as my weight ballooned, I still loved hiking. There are days when I wonder how my life might be different if I had defined hiking as a “sport” and me, as a hiker, an “athlete.” My narrow definition of an athlete in my youth included only those who played team sports or Olympic athletes. Not a very encompassing view and one that kept me from fully embracing my passions.

Ah, but now, I know differently. And in between training for one sprint triathlon (to keep me fresh with built-in cross training) and training for my final “A” race of the season (the Winelgass Marathon) I’m preparing for my hiking adventure out West. Training doesn’t have to be just about the race, it can be about the adventure, the experience and the challenge. Oh, and new gear, including my amazing new hiking boots and big-girl backpack. I know it’s a bit materialistic, but new gear makes me smile.

What does a female athlete look like?

The latest fashion offering from Women Talk Sports.

The answer, if you’re female and reading this is YOU. There are no predetermined shapes, sizes, body types or skin tones that serve as a prerequisite for a female athlete. Hell, you don’t even have to wear a pony tail to be successful anda media darling anymore. (See: Abby Wambach). Celebrating the many faces of female athleticism is a t-shirt offered by Women Talk Sports, a women’s sport media outlet (of which I am a proud blogging member). “No matter your size, sport or level, you can and should be a walking representation of your female athleticism,” the site says. “Because ALL OF US can wear the shirt, but NONE OF US fit in a box.” Yep, loved those lines so much I ordered me a shirt. In pink. Check out the Women Talk Sports website for details on ordering your own.

Talking track nutrition

It had been a long day: a track workout, followed by some weight training, a quick trip to the airport to drop Mark off for his great summer adventure then an afternoon filled with writing and researching college football. You know those days when you just need a really good laugh? Enter this video I came across from DeeDee Trotter, the two-time Olympian who won goal as part of the 4×400 relay team at the 2004 Games. In this clip, DeeDee answers a popular question: What do professional athletes eat? It’s not only what I consider a solid approach to nutrition but personally, I found it, well, just too freaking entertaining not to share:

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmsvnIUYBsQ]

Run for Dad

My friend, Ryan, recently completed his first marathon. Only he did it on his own. On purpose. For an amazing cause. The background: When he was 14 years old, Ryan’s father died from complications from End Renal Failure. “Since I took up serious training two years ago, I knew I wanted to run my first marathon on my Dad’s birthday away from the craziness of a normal marathon,” he wrote on his blog. And so, on Aug. 9, he did just that covering 26.2 miles (actually a bit more) in his personal “Run for Dad Marathon.” But he didn’t do it just for himself and his father. Ryan is also raising money for Comfort Zone Camp, a free camp offered in four states to children ages 7-17 who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling or primary caregiver.

Anyone who takes on an athletic challenge gets my respect. Anyone who uses their talents to raise money for a cause dear to their hearts also gets my respect. But for those who create meaning and opportunity not just for themselves but for others as well, that humbles and inspires me.

The common thread

New boots, a female athlete t-shirt, entertaining nutrition advice and running for a cause. What ties them all together? it’s all about authenticity. What’s do I mean by authenticity? For me, it’s about being true to who I am. It’s about embracing life — from big things to every day things. It’s about understanding that I control how I define myself. And once I embrace myself, my passions and my own self-definitions, then what I do (my actions) flows naturally from there. I have examples of being authentic from DeeDee Trotter’s video (seriously, can’t you just tell she is being herself) and from my friend Ryan, who created something amazing out of embracing his life, even the difficult parts. As for me, I’m creating and embracing my identity as a female athlete and expanding my definition of what an athlete does and what one looks like. Passion and authenticity don’t have to be look big. In fact, it’s living passion and authenticity in small daily moments which builds the experiences of a rich life that is uniquely my own.

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