My Sheepdogs

Do you ever find yourself in those moments where you ask yourself “how did I get here?”…not in that waking up lost and hungover with a bruise on your leg and you don’t know how it got there…but let’s be honest that has totally happened to me. No, I am talking about the kind where you take a really self-aware look at your current situation or surrounding, smile really big, and thank the universe for bringing that wonderful thing into your life. That’s exactly the kind of revelation I had this morning sitting amongst my sheepdogs.

Who are the Sheepdogs? Well, they are my workout group. My tribe. My inspiration. The people that push me and make me laugh and make me lift heavy things and get me up at 5am three times aweek and they just get me. We are all collectively insane and we train hard, sometimes we drink beer together, we compete in stupid-hard events, and we support each other. in this insanity. We call ourselves the Sheepdogs because in life, there are sheep and there are wolves, and then there are the protectors of the sheep against the wolves – the sheepdogs. They are fearless, strong, protective, and they use their power for the greater good and not for evil. The symbolism is really powerful, if you think about it.

A brief (personal) history of how I found these weirdos, if I may. Back in November, I did my first GoRuck event and discovered an enormous community of people with the same brain deficiencies as myself, aka they love to masochistically push their limits through physical feats of strength, and they like to party just as hard (hello soul-mates). The more time you spend doing events and around the community, the more folks in this “world” you get to know, and that’s how I found the Sheepdog crew. My first month working out with them (as the only girl, mind you) kind of reminded me of joining some sick secret society. I was in an ongoing conversation with the head honcho, on trial for a month, and then I had to read through a whole manual on what it meant to be a Sheepdog and why the training we did was so important…and then I finally got indoctrined. I won’t lie, part of what was so exciting about this group was that I really enjoyed being the only chick working out – and holding my own – with a bunch of super strong dudes (we have since added another badass lady). We work out thee times a week at 5:30am, and Troy, our “leader”, is really methodical in how he puts together various SealFit/CrossFit style workouts. We consider each other’s event goals, injuries, personal goals, etc. We sweat hard and get strong fast and basically empower one another to get better every day…not only that, but these guys are hilarious and we actually enjoy each others company outside of the workout room. It’s basically the best little fitfamily one could dream up.

While my goals personally range from a GoRuck HCLS (a 48 hour event) to a ½ Marathon to a full Ironman, next year, I enjoy the strength training I get to do, and I feel insanely powerful. Compared to many other workout groups, it is pretty impressive how hard we work. We set the bar pretty high overall, making it an incredible group to be a part of! These guys are there to support and push me in getting better, faster, stronger; I’ve learned that training is not just personal, and it is never meaningless. We apply the mental, the situational, and the diversity into our training that allows each of us to achieve each goal with a very high level of preparation. It’s a mindset that is really apparent in each member (there are roughly 10 of us), and it is one of the most inspiringly positive groups of people I have encountered.

This morning, the Sheepdog crew all gathered at 6:30am at a café instead of a gym to celebrate one of our members’ participation in GoRuck Selection. Selection is often referred to as the toughest endurance event in the entire world, and it is not for the faint of heart. Stephen’s courage and drive to even TRY competing in this is beyond admirable, and he not only participated, but he made it to the final 4 contenders – unbelievable. So we, with eager ears and pride for our teammate, dined over eggs and waffles while we listened to his stories, his trials, his victories, his thanks for our support, and we offered up as much praise and support as we could muster through words. I truly cherish my time with these guys always, but this morning hit home for me and inspired me in such a way that I took a step back while sitting at the table to really be thankful for having these people in my life. Stephen’s incredible story, alongside the overall greatness of each person there, reminded me that I am doing something right in this life. They say you are a by-product of the top 10 people you spend most of your time with…

I have chosen well.

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Summiting Mt. Diablo, sidewalk blisters & discovering Yoga to the People

I had decided that after my body-ruining bender weekend at Outside Lands the weekend prior, this next weekend was going to be completely dry, full of healthy eating, and super action-packed with runs and yoga classes and hikes and lots of sleep. Well, true to my nature, I managed to pull a change-up and break those rules, sneaking in a little (ok a lot) of grapefruit beer and wine and cookies in. But a crisp Chardonnay, you guys (wow I am so my mother’s daughter). Also, seriously, grapefruit beer…how have I not discovered this until now? It is quite possibly the perfect summer drink, and since all of the Bay Area – San Francisco included – was blessed with some blazing hot summer weather, I justified a few of them while lounging by my mom’s pool giving my dog swim lessons and getting a real tan. Whoops.

I did in fact manage to keep most my promises to myself though, and got moving quite a bit this weekend. I revisited an old favorite, got some unexpected exercise in, and discovered something new!

Saturday morning was spent running 6 miles with my dog to sweat out a hangover from Friday night’s antics (this is a necessary evil, in my book), so I called it even-steven and loaded Lucy up and drove out to Danville to spend the weekend with my mom and get away for a while. Mom and I had lunch at a darling pub restaurant downtown in the bubble (Danville) – this is where I discovered the grapefruit beer that will forever change my summer booze lineup. We laid by the pool, swam with the dogs, chatted, and later had my brother and his fiancé over for a fantastic home cooked meal and chocolate chip cookies made with a banana instead of an egg. They were incredible, and I ate 4 of them (ugh) – take note of that banana trick, if you ever find yourself midway through baking and realize you’re out of eggs! I was in bed by 9:30. Why? I had aspirations of an early wake-up, I was off to summit Mt. Diablo in the morning before the heatwave hit.

I’ve climbed Diablo a few times, and every time I seem to “forget” that the last 2 miles are relatively, and by relatively I mean terribly, hard. Although if you keep coming back for more, the pain you experience must not be SO bad that you forego the activity altogether. But still…they are hard. The hike is a 5.5 mile uphill battle that begins at the South Gate of Mt. Diablo National Park. You take the Summit Trail all the way up, so as far as navigation goes, it is a piece of cake.

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The route has a decent amount of exposed trail and almost zero water stops along the way, it is 80% uphill with a few flats thrown in to string the hills together, but it’s gradual enough to make it manageable. My super awesome Spotify playlist and I left the trailhead at about 6:45am, still vey cool and I was feeling anxious to sweat. The thing I really like about hiking solo is that I don’t have to stop. I really, really genuinely hate stopping mid-hike. There is something about the momentum that I crave, that fast-paced and almost impatient feeling when I am climbing. It’s like an adrenaline rush, and when you have to stop, it’s a buzz kill. I had set out to get 2 straight hours of HARD, and it felt so incredible to do just that. I sweat through everything on me, probably smelled terrible, but I felt so great blazing that last killer mile to hit the top (3,300 ft. total elevation gain). Done, yay! I am SUCH a junkie for the high after you push yourself really hard, like “I feel like I can take on anything and life is beautiful and tell me all your problems I can solve them all right now and…wait, do I have to hike down now? Oh man, that is the worst…nah. I’ll hitch hike.” So I did. 🙂

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From the Summit!

I ended up getting a lift down to my car from a lovely gent named Jim who was visiting from GA because he works for Cisco. His daughter was a senior in high school and looking to study engineering at Gerogia Tech. I definitely got on my post-hike high/recruiter soapbox and told him his daughter needs to join a fellows program and get an internship at a tech company like mine and oh how great, we need more female engineers. Always be closin’, yo.

After my hike, my mom and I grabbed lunch at another Danville watering hole and got manicures & pedicures (ahhh, that calf massage after a hike) before Lucy, a plate of taunting chocolate chip banana cookies (no Lindsey NO), and I headed back to scorching San Francisco. I took her to Ocean Beach to run around and play fetch for a while; the little rascal cracks me up. She has no fear of running up to a random stranger and plopping the ball right down in front of their feet like “so you gonna throw it, or what?” She’s so cute that typically most will oblige and humor her. Funny little baby.

After an hour of getting sandy, we walked back to where I THOUGHT my car was, but because I had exhaustion-brain and was probably texting half the time I was supposed to be paying attention to the streets I parked on, I totally forgot its whereabouts. Lucy and I literally walked all over the sunset looking for my car, meanwhile my sandals broke and I now had to walk barefoot, freaking out that it got towed for some stupid “only in San Francisco” reason, raking in sidewalk burns on my feet. But we kept walking…and walking…vigorously…and about 45 minutes, another workout, and a few blisters later I finally found it (doh). And then I ate a cookie. I gave Lucy half. We deserved it.

Heart rate now back to a normal pulse rate, I headed to the store to get ingredients to go some baby tomatoes my mom sent me home with from her garden. I wanted to make homemade pasta sauce; there’s something so comforting and soothing about cooking on a Sunday evening to me. It takes away the Sunday blues a bit. Add a little Buena Vista Social Club jam session in there and you could have put that little scene in a movie. And the sauce turned out phenomenally!

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…to this! It was like a soup, no pasta would be needed (there will be pasta, that is just ludicrous….but gluten-free pasta). I miss cooking. I need to do more of it. I need a man to cook for. I’m conducting interviews, by the way, so please send referrals. 😉

After sauce crafting, I was off to evening yoga, semi-begrudgingly because I was tired and settling into the fact that I got to sleep soon, but was meeting a coworker and really, these tight lats of mine needed some love. So off I went, and WOW am I glad I did. We did Vinyasa at a place called Yoga to the People in the Mission…the view…no seriously, the view…

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The icing here was also the very good looking chap behind me that I got to sneak a peak at every time we down-dog’d. We sweat, released, stared at the gorgeous SF skyline…’what a beautiful, needed couple of days’ I thought to myself! More health in my life! More hard hikes! More beach days with Lucy! More cute guys at yoga! You are going to rock this work week! (are we noticing a trend here? Exercise gets me annoyingly positive).

This weekend served as a helpful reminder for a few things. My takeaways: sometimes unplugging, letting go of the pressure we self-inflict, and just being exactly who we WANT to be in the moment is a really valuable thing…that to do the things you want to do and eat and drink because you know what, you just WANT to, is ok. It’s ok to not be perfect, and it’s ok to mess up a little bit. Learn to be present with each minute you have, and allow yourself the opportunity to discover new things by leaning into opportunities to say yes. Slowly but surely…

…and I sit here writing this blog post insanely hungover, even after a workout this morning (insane decision, by the way) I decided that Monday night was a GREAT night to go out and listen to live Bluegrass and drink at 3 different bars and stay out until 1pm and eat 2nd dinner and basically act like it was Friday and I am immune to the effects of alcohol.

I guess I call that…balance. Because you know what, I wanted to.

What a Weirdo

One of my favorite things about a kick in the ass by life is the few days/weeks you take to “re-evaluate” yourself. I literally can’t tell you how many times I have “re-evaluated” myself since the last time I posted something. I am quoting this because I try to approach this with a sense of humor and an air of lightness; life is supposed to be fun no matter how many times we pivot, right? I’ve been much better lately of letting go of rigidity, and it’s made my life a lot more enjoyable. Over the past year I do more flying by the seat of my pants, acting out of character and being ok with it, and letting myself give in to that “beautiful disaster” side of me because frankly, it isn’t going anywhere so why resist it? I’ll always be an extremist, but really it comes down to letting go of expectations in general. Mom, you were right. Again (ugh).

Anyways, below are a few take-aways since it seems as though I’m treating this “I’m back!” post as a reflection before I dive into way more fun topics like my favorite podcasts and talks I’ve heard, or the weird and crazy workouts I’ve been doing, or that I actually got a tattoo, or my obsession with the Iron Cowboy. Consider them updates on me, if you will, since my last time hanging out here on this blog.

-I signed up for a FULL IRONMAN. Next year. 2016. In June. Oh heck yeah (oh lord help me)

-I picked up yoga. Not like the boring, “this is supposed to be relaxing but I hate it” type but the “this room is heated and my legs actually hurt and I’m sweating my tail off” kind. I go to Yoga Flow SF, and I am obsessed. I feel great, move better, they play funky modern music and my favorite teacher, Howard, knows me by name. Never in my life did I think I’d be a yogi. It’s quite fun.

-I lost my Aunt Sandy and my Grandfather, which has taught me (or rather enlightened me) about how important my incredible family is and just how lucky I truly was to have meaningful relationships with 2 of the most amazing people that ever came into my life. Also, how much I miss them.

-My brother got engaged and I’m getting a beautiful, amazing sister. Along with her comes another insanely large and fun family. That totally outweighs the unfairness that the younger kid is getting married first, right?

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How cute is she and how lucky am I?

-I spent my big 3-0 at Stagecoach, and made the LA Times for the 2nd year in a row!

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(my father was so proud)

-I joined BetterWorks as the only recruiter and have found not just a great job, but a FAMILY. I’m in love with the people and my role, and have grown my career and presence in this tech world an insane amount.

IMG_6038  BetterWorks team at our first ‘Goal Summit’

-I spent probably more $ on my car this year than I paid for it. Please, please don’t ask my why or how many things happened but they did. It was very real. And it was not super awesome.

-I found GoRuck, and thus an enormous community of weird fitness enthusiasts like myself who now are a huge part of my life in San Francisco

-I’m planning a solo trip to SE Asia in December, a bucket list trip of a lifetime, and I literally can. Not. Wait.

I want to talk about GoRuck today. So what is it? I get this question all the time. Well technically it is a branded line of military-esque backpacks/gear created by formal special forces folks. The company is now really well known for the challenges it puts on, led by a Cadre, that are either 6 (the “Light”), 12 (the “Challenge”), or 24 (the “Heavy”) hours in length. You carry weighted packs around (20# for girls, 35# for guys) and do all sorts of long-mileage walking, everything is about teamwork, you carry really heavy crap like weighted sandbags and logs, etc. It sounds really hard and masochistic, and it totally is, but is it SO fun. Fun for weirdos, you might be thinking (you might be right). Go Ruck allows you to meet some truly amazing people (we call ourselves “weirdos”, rightly so), you get really really…really tired, work hard, learn a lot about yourself, and get a taste of what it is like in the military.  Here’s a few GoRuck event shots…

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Memorial Day GoRuck class in May. This was an amazing and super athletic crew of weirdos!

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They call this the “welcome party”…an hour or more of physical challenges to tire you out and test your grit before the event “begins”

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The ladies and our Cadre (Doug) of GoRuck Reno Challenge in June

Since last November I have been hooked on the events and the community of people. I’ve literally never been to a Christmas Party that gets as rowdy as that group does. A bunch of work-hard, play-harder people? In. It is also how I found my workout family, “the sheepdogs”, but they deserve a post all their own so I’ll explain more about that later.

I’ve done 3 of the “Challenge” events (the 12 hour ones) this past year and I’ve got a 4th on the way. The holiday events (Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, September 11th) are quite special because there is a significant presence of honoring the fallen throughout the event. My 4th is the September 11th Challenge. It will be a great, hard 12 hours as well as a reunion of many of my GoRuck friends! I am also signing up for my very first HCLS – ready for this? Heavy, Challenge, Light, Scavenger. That is quite literally 42+ hours of working out. Do you see why I love this stuff? Nothing gets me more excited than really fun people doing crazy hard things followed by a crazy fun party (well sleep then party, but you get the gist).

On that note, it’s Friday and I have a lovely weekend ahead of me filled with excessive sleeping, long runs with Lucy, swimming the bay, yoga-ing, and drinking wine with my mom. 🙂

It’s great to be back. Cheers to more writing in my life!

Happy Weekend e’rybody