I am frequently asked, "What is Yin Yoga?" I teach Yin Yoga on Sundays from
4:30p-5:45 at West Hartford Yoga. During a typical Yin practice you will hold moderately challenging yoga poses for 3-5 minutes. The challenge is both physical and mental. The longer holds benefit
the connective tissues of the body, your bones and your joints. The practice
also gives the mind an opportunity to be slow down and be still. Yin Yoga
offers a perfect balance for athletes and those who engage in a "type A" or Yang
I went to a Yin Yoga class about 5 years ago. I was not pleased... frankly,
I hated the class. I heard the teacher instructing us to go into various
uncomfortable yoga poses and get calm. Seriously? That was my
warped perception of the class.... Honestly, at that
time in my life I did NOT have the emotional or physical perseverance to sit
with discomfort or growth. I was completely out of balance. I was racing
competitively, doing strength training, and power yoga. Hello?! You expect me
to sit still? yeah.... right.
Fast forward a few years............... My life was turned upside down and
around again. I lost 2 very dear friends to cancer and I was plagued by
injuries that virtually stopped my competition in triathlon. However, I was
blessed with a new community. I completed my Power Yoga Teacher Training with
Barbara Ruzansky at West Hartford Yoga. The teacher training required me to
participate in 2 additional yoga teacher training programs. I took a yoga
teacher training program that enabled me to teach Yoga to Athletes with Sage
Rountree. I had one more training to do and the only training that would fit
into my schedule was the dreaded Yin Yoga..... I was NOT happy about this. I
actually dreaded the training. I was miserable because I thought that I was
going to have to sit still for a week and be uncomfortable. I complained a lot
going into this training. I had no idea what I was in for. I had no idea how
wonderful it would be! It is really nice to be wrong sometimes!
I trained with Sarah Powers. Learning about a different approach to yoga
changed my life. I acquired a new tool! If you have met Sarah, you know how
insightful she is. I quickly learned why I initially hated Yin Yoga so much.
My life was completely out of balance and I had no idea. This new practice, and
new form of exercise enabled me to recharge. It is NOT gentle yoga, it is not
easy, and it didn't kick my butt like power yoga does. Instead, it recharges me.
I now practice Yin Yoga regularly. It compliments my running, cycling, and
Give it a try..... it won't hurt- I PROMISE! You can come to my class. And
if you are nervous or have concerns contact me before you come to class. And
for my frugal friends, there is an open house at West Hartford Yoga this
weekend. I am teaching a FREE CLASS on Saturday
October 22nd from 3:30p-4:30p. Come and check it all out!!!
Reckless Kelly performing "Wicked Twisted Road"
Greetings friends! I was very moved last night, when I saw the
following note on my Facebook page from Pema Chodren.
We are told about the pain of chasing after pleasure
and the futility of running from pain. We hear also about the joy of awakening,
of realizing our interconnectedness, of trusting the openness of our hearts and
minds. But we aren't told all that much about this state of being in-between, no
longer able to get our old comfort from the outside but not yet dwelling in a
continual sense of equanimity and warmth.
Anxiety, heartbreak, and tenderness mark the
in-between state. It's the kind of place we usually want to avoid. The challenge
is to stay in the middle rather than buy into struggle and complaint. The
challenge is to let it soften us rather than make us more rigid and afraid.
Becoming intimate with the queasy feeling of being in the middle of nowhere only
makes our hearts more tender. When we are brave enough to stay in the middle,
compassion arises spontaneously. By not knowing, not hoping to know, and not
acting like we know what's happening, we begin to access our inner
Yet, it seems reasonable to want some kind of relief.
If we can make the situation right or wrong, if we can pin it down in any way,
then we are on familiar ground. But something has shaken up our habitual
patterns and frequently they no longer work. Staying with volatile energy
gradually becomes more comfortable than acting out or repressing it. This
open-ended tender place is called bodhichitta. Staying with it is what heals. It
allows us to let go of our self-importance. It's how the warrior learns to
love. (Pema Chodren, From The Places That Scare You)
I am so antsy right now, I want to run. OK, yes, I pretty much always want to run. yeah yeah yeah. I
struggle with this whole "in the meantime" concept. I struggled with it all summer (see earlier blog post.) Those of us who engage in endurance activities are often asked or rather told that what we do is an addition. Have I traded one addiction or another? Is that why I love endurance training and events? I don't consider what we do to be an addiction. For me, completing an Ironman or running 100+ miles is an opportunity. For others it may be a 5k, or completing a power yoga class. It doesn't matter what IT is. Do you have something that you are totally passionate about? If not, stop now.... go find it immediately. I believe that endurance events allow us to transcend being human. Pushing through struggles and not giving up is success. This is the way of the warrior.
I've been challenged by life lately. Life as of late has been a wee bit of a tsunami for me. Contrary to my fantasies, my body will not allow me pull a Forrest Gump and run across the country. Although, I
often sorta joke that if you see a crazy chic dressed in business casual running wildly down the highway that would be me... and yes I lost it, please just let me run it off! OK, maybe I needed a
tsunami.My head and body will allow me to push through incredible things. My life was completely wrecked this summer, and now I am in what Pema Chodren is
referring to as "the meantime." My meantime includes 4 children, a demanding job in government relations, a husband that is recovering from multiple brain surgeries, my recovery from 4+ months of caregiving, and a piriformis and sciatic nerve that have a lot to say.
My "in the meantime" isn't bad. But, it's very uncomfortable. I don't have the physical outlet of running and biking my double digit miles that I normally do. For now, I am running single digit
miles, swimming under 1 mile, and using my yoga for strength and recovery. I am also heavily relying on prayer and meditation. I will eventually compete again and kick ass... mark my words. Now, I am recovering and learning all over again.
"Fragile" in Tuscany on September 11, 2001
To say that this summer didn't turn out as planned would be an
understatement. But, really- all's well that ends well- right?! I feel like I
can't complain. No entitlement here. Please see my last blog if you have no
idea what I'm talking about.
I raced only once this summer. I competed for the first time in one of the
Terramungus Sprint Triathlons. These triathlons are run weekly throughout the
summer in Marlborough, CT. I planned on competing in a number of sprint
triathlons, The Mossman Triathlon (Bridgeport, CT, Olympic distance), and I had
also planned on two 70.3 Ironman Triathlons- Syracuse and New Hampshire. My
training and racing was put aside to care for my husband.
At the end of the summer my piriformis muscle began giving me problems and it
was irritating my sciatic nerve. This is called piriformis syndrome. Brief
anatomy lesson.... The piriformis is a muscle that travels behind the hip joint.
and it works to externally rotate (turn out) the hip joint. The sciatic nerve
and the piriformis tendon cross each other behind the hip joint, in the deep
buttock. When the piriformis muscle and the piriformis tendon are too tight, the
sciatic nerve is irritated. It really made my lower back, and hips very very
I had been ignoring this pain and running through it. Until one day, while on
the trails I noticed I was running funny. My form was really messed up as I was
trying to compensate for the pain in my back and hips. This only made things
worse and I had to slow down. I took a week off. This was killer! I engaged
only in yoga and walking. And the following week I stepped my routine up just a
little bit of running, more yoga, and swimming. I feel better physically, but
emotionally I turn into a spaz when I can't run or ride.
My yoga routines have been very specific to my injury and it has made a big
difference. However, the missing piece in strength training. It is not a big
deal to me to go out and run double digit miles, bike in excess of 50 miles, or
swim over a mile. If it sounds like I'm bragging I'm not, I promise because I
cannot engage in the kind of exercise without the strength and flexibility to
back it up. Sometimes what you CAN do and and what you SHOULD do are much
different. The flexibility piece is easy for me to work with because I love
yoga. I teach and I practice regularly. I have been trained to teach yoga for
athletes, power yoga, and yin yoga. It has made a huge difference in my
endurance training. Strength training though.... YUCK. I suck at it. I am
tall and skinny and I have to work for every bit of strength I have. I don't
want to go to a gym. I don't want to do this... insert temper tantrum here!
I'm going back to square one, and starting over. I am building a base. This
base will have strength as a large part of it, and I know that the strength
combined with yoga specific for athletes will allow me to be strong enough for
my running, cycling and swimming.
I am committed to doing things differently. I will let you know how the
whole strength thing works out. I am not enthusiastic about it, but I'm
committed. Sometimes you have to just suck it up. It is what I have to do today
to race effectively in 2012.
Enjoy the weekend!
I want to honor and thank those that have supported me, my husband Bill, and our family. Let me
start at the beginning.
In June, Bill and his friends ran a relay across New England. They ran from Rhode Island to Maine.Bill had a tough race. He wasn't feeling well but the team finished well. I am hoping to join them next year! Bill came home on Sunday night and took care of me as I was recovering from a stomach bug. Bill took Monday off from work. As I was sitting at my desk at work on Monday, I got a call from the emergency room at the UConn Hospital. The emergency room staff told me that Bill was riding his bike, he fell, and he was most likely dehydrated. 911 was called and Bill was transported by ambulance to the hospital. To say I was a little angry would be an understatement. How could that moron be riding his bike after the difficulties he had at the race this
weekend?! I was fuming. I asked the nurse if I HAD to come get him or I could leave him there.I
was mad at his poor decision making. A "normal" person would rest and recover.Take a nap for cryin' out loud! I was yelling four letter words on my drive to the ER.
When I was ranting about how crazy Bill was to get on his bike, after running all weekend, my best friend Chrystal flatly responded, "Well, that sounds exactly like something you would do." To which I responded, "Shut up. No one asked you." Only one best friend to another could get away with speaking like this! I love you Chrystal!
When I arrived at the emergency room, I was quickly pulled aside and the staff told me that Bill had a "small brain bleed" and needed to have immediate surgery. After my initial anger and shock wore off, I was blessed with an emotionally robotic ability to cope with this crisis. If Bill hadn't been riding his bike, he would have died. I kept repeating, "his insanity saved his life." I said this again and
again.I later learned from Bill that while he was riding past the reservoir in West Hartford around lunch time he thought a rock was kicked up by a car and hit him in the head. Heof course had a helmet on! He pulled over to the side of the road and saw and felt a flash in his head. He had stopped his bike but didn't have the time to get his feet out of the toe clips. He spontaneously vomited and fell over.Thank you to the passerbys that called 911.
Bill was at Hartford Hospital on the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit for a week. I lived there for 3 days in a chair in his room. I jumped at every cough, change in pulse, rise in blood pressure. After 3 days, I realized that I needed to sleep. I was going crazy. I began to sleep at home and then I would spend my days in the ICU.Two things allowed me to feel happiness: 1. my daughter Maeve and 2. my daily runs with Hunter, my 13 year old son. I would typically arrive home in the early evening and put Maeve in the baby jogger and drag Hunter outside with me. For 30-40 minutes each day I felt happy. I was able to pretend I was "normal" person.
Bill came home after a week. He worked from home for a few weeks and was planning to go back to work on Monday July 11th. Yeah! We had a quiet weekend as our 3 older kids were camping with their grandmother in New Hampshire. Bill, Maeve and I spent that Sunday at Pennwood Forest. We had a great day. Life is good!
That evening, Bill fell asleep before me. I believe the military has bestowed on Bill the amazing gift of sleep. Unlike his insomniac of a wife, Bill can sleep anywhere at any time. He also falls asleep in 5 minutes or less! As we were lying in bed I felt Bill jerk very quickly. I put my hand on him and he felt weird. I quickly turned on the light and I saw that he wasn't breathing.
I began to yell at Bill and I tried to shake him. No response. I slapped his face. Nothing. I had to access what was going on. What do I do? Bill wasn't breathing. I checked for a pulse and it was very
faint. I made the quick decision to call 911. I believed I had the time to do this. He could go without oxygen for a few moments while I made the call. At least he had a faint pulse.
A slight interlude here.... as a yoga teacher I am required to be CPR certified. I know the importance of this training, but hey- it's a pain in the butt. I get the certification grudgingly. I never knew I'd learn how important it is. I highly recommend it for everyone.
To say I "spoke" with the 911 operator would be ridiculous. I yelled, screamed, and I put the phone down while I held my husband in my arms. I thought he was dying. He was dying! I kept screaming that I didn't know what to do. "What do I do?" "What do I do?!" "What do I do?!!!"
I saw first set of headlights pull up to the curb in front of my house. At that moment, Bill took a
breath. It was more like a screaming "GASP!!!" It was excruciatingly loud. Painfully loud. At
that point Bill began to have a seizure. I wasn't familiar with seizures, and this wasn't what I would have imagined. He was stiff as a board and couldn't move at all.
West Hartford uses the Fire Department as the first responders.A t my house, within 5 minutes, were firemen, EMTs, police, and God knows who else. My street was blocked with trucks, police cars, and the like.When they arrived and the emergency personnel started working on Bill, I called my brother, Randy and sister in law, Val.To let you know my state of mind and being, Val thought she was being prank called. All she heard was screaming over the phone and that she thought that she was being prank called in another language.I was hysterical, to say the least.She and Randy got to our house and I left in the ambulance with Bill. It was the slowest ride ever.... I swear we were crawling.
Randy met me at the hospital and we waited in the emergency room for over 12 hours. Insanity began to seep in as the adrenaline wore off.It was freezing in the ER. Randy wrapped himself in a blanket and looked like Obi-Wan Kenobi. Randy attempted to sleep while sitting on a rolling stool and I nodded off for 5 minutes at a time in the chair I was seated in. Bill was in and out of consciousness. He was also vomiting. Bill would ask the same series of questions over and over again.... usually in 10 minute intervals. He would open his eyes and ask:
1. "Where am I?" Response, "You're at the
2. "Why?" Response, "You had a seizure."
3. "I had a seizure?" Response, "Yes."
4. "Why?" Response, "They believe the seizure was a result
of the brain bleed and stroke you had a month ago."
6. "I had a seizure?" Response, "Yes."
7. "Where was I?" Response, "In bed at
8. "With who?" [note we still laugh at this question]
Response varied.Initial response, "You
were with me/Meghan." As time progressed, response was that he was with,
"Beyonce" or "Tyra Banks" or "Cindy Crawford" or any other famously beautiful
woman.Note, you have to laugh... if you
don't you will go crazy.
9. "Oh. Am I going to die?" Response, "No, sweetheart/Bill
you are not going to die.You are safe
This series of questions repeated, and repeated and repeated.I thought I would go insane. I
would break in tears. I would laugh. If Randy or I deviated from Bill's ordered questions he would get even more confused. We attempted to answer all of the questions in one efficient shot for him, and he just became more irritated and confused and ask the questions again until we answered them properly in the above order.
By now the rest of our family knew what had happened. Bill's brother came to the hospital from Boston. Bill's mom was camping with 3 of our children New Hampshire. I cannot imagine how she felt. This was her child, her baby. She was hours away at a remote campground in New Hampshire, with children, and crappy cell phone reception. Although, it did provide me with a level of peace knowing that the kids were with her and safe. They were isolated from our torture. However,
Bill's mom was beside herself. I was worried about her driving to Connecticut.She decided to stay in New Hampshire for a few more days to attempt to take care of herself and our 3 children.
Randy and I waited in the ER for 12+ hours until Bill was moved to the 9th floor on the neurosurgical unit at Hartford Hospital.After more painful waiting Bill had a catscan. We learned that his prior brain bleed was potentially an aneurysm. It was about 1 millimeter and Bill would go into his 2nd brain surgery (of 5) the following day.
I learned there are 2 main ways to treat a brain aneurysm. Clip or Coil. The Coil method
can be done through an angiogram. During the angiogram, a catheter is inserted into the groin and threaded up to the brain. A small metal coil is placed inside the blood vessel and left there to hold it open. The Clip method is done when a Coil can't be done. With the Clip method, the skull is opened and a clip is inserted on the aneurysm. In the 3rd surgery the Clip Method was used. The
4th and 5th and brain surgeries were angiograms to make sure that everything was appropriately taken care of.
Bill was in and out of his brain surgeries for 2 days. Again, my brother waited very patiently with me during these surgeries. What I didn't know was that as Bill was going into his 2nd brain surgery that I wouldn't be able to speak with him for weeks. After brain surgery #2, he remained disoriented and asked me again and again if he was going to die.I told him that he would live a long and healthy life and that everything would be fine. I also told him that I'd see him and talk with him after surgery. My comments seemed beyond appropriate at the time. But, they would cause me significant guilt
Bill's aneurysm had grown to 4 millimeters by the time he had his 2nd surgery. And when he went into his 3rd surgery and had the Clip procedure was performed, the aneurysm had grown to 8 millimeters. I met with the Neuros (my nickname for the plethora of neurosurgeons, neurologists, etc) after Bill's surgery they explained Bill's situation in detail. When Bill had the initial brain bleed in June, the aneurysm was quite small and hidden by the blood. It couldn't be identified.And in fact his current aneurysm (now Clipped, thank you very much) wasn't in fact an aneurysm. It was what the Neuros were calling a "pseudo aneurysm." It was not a "real" aneurysm. The "pseudo aneurysm" most likely formed from a trauma to Bill's brain. This trauma was most likely caused by a bicycle accident. Bill was hit by a car about a year ago(yes he was wearing a helmet) while riding his
bicycle by a young girl who was lost and talking on her cell phone.
I was asked if I was seething in hate for this girl whose actions later would almost kill my husband. I was a bit surprised by my answer. I answered, "No, not at all." It took me a while to figure this out. She didn't hit Bill on purpose. At this point in time, she has no idea what has even happened. And the scary thing is that, I could be that girl. I have all too many times, been a distracted driver. Thank you to God that I have not hit anyone. Please drive safely everyone.
My guilt began to set in. I had promised Bill repeatedly that everything was going to be fine and that he would wake up and be better. After his second surgery, Bill didn't wake up. He was intubated, or on a respirator. Even after surgeries 3 and 4, Bill wouldn't wake up. I waited and waited but he couldn't wake up and they could not remove the respirator. Bill also had feeding tube(s), an arterial line, and more cords than I could count.
Again, Bill was on the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit at Hartford Hospital.I became all too
familiar with the staff. 99.9% were wonderful. The remaining .1% almost got their asses kicked. I was yet again living at Hartford Hospital. Initially, I stayed in the ICU all day, went home for a few hours sleep, and then back to the ICU. My sister in law was staying at our home with our toddler. After about a week, my mother in law returned with the kids and stayed in Connecticut. She and
I would come and go from the ICU. I spent about 12-18 hours a day at the hospital. As I sat there, I usually would listen to my iphone with my earbuds. The sounds in the ICU are horrible. Moaning, suction, and varying crisises were too much for me to hear. I became very fond of a few podcasts. Must mention UltrarunnerPodcast.com, The Moth Podcast, The Chaos Chronicles, and Endurance Planet. I also played Words with Friends- thank you to my Scrabble buddies! I read Facebook and Twitter. I looked at friends' lives and pictures and I envied what seemed "normal." I avoided the news at all costs. I was so emotionally unstable, hearing a tragedy on the news would cause a
Bill was required to have regular neurological checks. The definition of regular was quite relative. The checks were attempts to wake him up and test various neurological functions. Bill was on more drugs than I think I could list. However, these neuro checks would upset Bill physiologically and psychologically. The medical staff would decrease his sedatives and painkillers. Bill's blood pressure would increase, his heart would race, his oxygen levels would decrease. During one attempted "neuro wake ups" Bill's blood pressure was 298/180. I didn't know that blood pressure could go
that high. It was frightening to watch.B ut, I wouldn't miss a "wake up attempt" in case this was the time that he actually woke up. Bill was still intubated and had a feeding tube.He would try to pull out any and all tubes and cords. He would fight and moan. It was horrific. He was not only restrained at all times, but had to be held down in addition to the restraints. This lasted for over 2 weeks.
We began to see slight improvements in Bill's vital functions over time. This meant that his responses to the neuro wake ups weren't as severe as they were initially. I was called one Friday evening at 11p and the nurse told me that Bill's respirator would be removed. YEE-HAW!WOW!!! I RACED to the hospital. Racing was unnecessary. I learned relatively quickly that NOTHING moves quickly in a hospital unless someone is about to die. 12 hours later, Bill's respirator was removed.
It's funny, I lived in the hospital as I lived in life. When X happens everything will be ok. For example, when Bill is admitted to the hospital and out of the ER, we will be fine. When Bill has his cat scan, everything will be ok. When Bill is out of surgery it will all be OK. When the respirator is removed, it
will be ok. Bottom line, that's a bunch of bullshit. Why do I live like this? When I get my promotion I will be OK! When I finish an IronMan triathlon, I will be OK! Life is the "in the meantime." The In
the Meantime, included tears, medication, the threat of death, legal issues, wills, family, work, and the like. How do I make peace with the meantime? I have no clue. But, what I know saved me was
acceptance. What saved me is that I developed the ability to adapt.
Side note, prior to Bill's medical woes, I was listening to an interview on Endurance Planet Podcast with the race director for The Death Race. The Death Race http://www.youmaydie.com/ is a 48 hour endurance race. Total insanity and majorly cool. It is a brutal race and very few who enter even finish. And of the few that finish, many are those that you wouldn't predict would finish or
even win. The race director was asked what the finishers and winners had that those that weren't successful didn't. His answer surprised me. He answered, "The ability to adapt." Those that succeed in the Death Race have an ability to adapt. Things will go wrong. It is guaranteed. However, how one
chooses to deal with obstacles determines their potential for success. HA! Bill and I spoke about this podcast months before all of this happened and I clearly remember telling him that I would fail
and not even bother to attempt this race. I told Bill, "I don't have the ability to adapt. I like things like I like them. Period."
I have since done an emotional and spiritual complete 180. I now get what the race director was
talking about. I have learned in the past few months, during these crisises, that adapting is the key to success. I can kick and scream and demand, but nine times out of ten it just makes things worse for me, and those around me. Adapting is acceptance. If it's cold, put on a sweater.I f someone
is annoying, just walk away. If your husband is in restraints and his face is swollen from repeated brain surgeries, kiss him on the head and put a cool washcloth on his forehead. Now, with this said, I can completely identify with the Shirley MacLaine "give her the drugs!" scene in the movie "Terms of Endearment." Sometimes, one does have to take names and kick ass. It happens, but it is few and far between. I did have to take names and kick ass at times, and rest assured, I did not do it
alone. I was never alone. Always supported.
Back to Bill.... he didn't have the speedy recovery I imagined. It was a slow road. He would be awake at times, but he was so drugged and out of it that using the word "awake" seems inaccurate. However, little by slowly he came back. It's the little things that indicated healing. I noticed one day that he would follow me with his eyes when he was awake. His blood pressure stabilized. He didn't need to be restrained. He began to try to talk. He remembered my name at times. Little by slowly.....
The final week in Hartford Hospital continued with challenges and little improvements. Bill
had to have 24 hour supervision, as he attempted to get up and leave and pull out any remaining tube that was connected to his body. He was still very very confused. At one time, Bill was asked my name and he slowly responded, "The Huntress." Again, you gotta laugh... if you don't you'll
Bill was discharged to a rehabilitation hospital. Bill's physical improvements were amazing.
Yet, challenges remained. Bill's cognitive function was not OK. He had trouble speaking and he had some trouble with thought processes.
Another side note here, being a caretaker is an odd role. I have never been in such a position. As I mentioned, I was, and still am TOTALLY supported. I had hugs, groceries, dinners, offers to babysit, my gardening was done, and I have very tolerant friends and family to talk me off of the ledge when I got there. With this said, it is very very lonely. I missed my husband. He was alive and sitting next to me, but he wasn't there. I wanted my friend and partner back. I wanted my children to be able to talk to their father. I didn't know if that man would ever come back. So, I go back to the meantime!How do I make peace with the meantime? I choose to adapt, and accept. I was also in a nearly constant state of prayer. I learned how to live in the now.
We moved closer and closer to Bill being discharged from the hospital and I was scared. He still
wasn't all there. But, he believed the rehab hospital to be pure torture. Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" song was constantly in my head."they tried to make me go to rehab, but I said no no no!" We needed to get him home. As scared as I was, it was the best decision for us. Bill would be able to sleep, eat whole foods, and be in his own surroundings.
As I type this blog, Bill has been home for 1 month. Progress is slow and steady, but its progress
nonetheless. The doctor that is in charge of Bill's rehabilitation told us that in his 20+ year career he has never seen a recovery as amazing as Bill's. I understand this. Bill could have died. As I held him in my arms I screamed, "I don't know what to do! What do I do?" We made it through multiple surgeries, recovery, and rehab and I still don't know what to do. Does anyone really know what to do? Frankly, if you tell me you have all the answers I am going to run like hell as fast as I can away from you 'cause you'd be full of it.
And speaking of running......in case you're wondering..... During the first hospitalization I ran every day. I used the runs to process my grief. I was stone cold solid together, during the first hospitalization that is! After the second hospitalization, I lost it. I could barely walk, let alone run. After a week or so in the Neuro ICU, I began taking the 9 flights of stairs to Bill's unit. I needed the movement. After a while, I began to practice yoga and meditate as best I could. I was registered and had just begun training for the Marine Corps Marathon. Both Bill and I are deferring our entries until 2012. I couldn't eat, sleep, or function. I did the best I could. And that was the best I could do.
Do you know what kept me going? As hokey as it may sound, I would visualize my future. I fantasize
about the Badwater Race, the 134 mile race across Death Valley. I couldn't wait to hit the trails... I fantasized about the triathlons and ultra marathons that I will run. I dreamt about fiercely qualifying and competing in the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon. These goals aren't where I am today, but it sure as heck is where I'm headed. I can't wait to sit on the beach with my husband and kids and talk about this "story." I know Bill and I will sit with our grandchildren someday and this will all be a long ago memory.But, I pray that I hold on to these lessons I've learned.
Today, I am yet again a yogi and running fool. I am still very tired from the ordeal. But, I feel blessed. Bill and I can't wait to run the Metacomet Trail through Connecticut- 62.7 miles. As soon as he is able to we will do this together and I know we will have the support of family and friends.
I've learned that being kind is so important. I've learned that accepting life on life's terms is the easier softer way. I've learned that we are all struggling in some way- so please be kind to one another.I know that without the support of my friends and family I would still be sitting in a crying heap on the side of Washington Street in downtown Hartford. But, with the love and support I got up, or more accurately, I was lifted up, and I brushed off and put one foot in front of another. That's racing, that's life, and that's "in the meantime."
Love and Peace.
Appeared on http://triathlon.competitor.com/
August 18, 2011
Spending time stretching and focusing on key areas will help you gain
more flexibility, strength and balance. By: Meghan Collins Fanning
Yoga will make you a better athlete. Spending time stretching and focusing on
key areas will help you gain more flexibility, strength and balance. It will
also help you become stronger mentally. Yoga can also help to prevent injuries.
You can benefit by adding a few yoga poses to your training. The following poses
will strengthen and release your IT band and your back. Also, don’t forget your
recovery. Your next workout is only as good as your last recovery.
Hold each of these poses for 1 minute. Breathe and don’t force it. Avoid
stretching at your maximum as you move into a pose. This will only further
stress your muscles. As you loosen up and relax, your body will naturally fall
deeper into the pose.
The Iliotibial Band or IT Band extends from the outside of the pelvis, over
the hip and knee, and inserts just below the knee. The IT band stabilizes the
knee during running and cycling and may become inflamed and sore with repeated
Standing Wide Leg Forward Fold
Spread feet wide, bring your hands to your waist, inhale and lift your chest,
when you exhale fold forward keeping your back flat. Place your hands on the
floor and hold this position. If you are not a very flexible person, spread your
legs VERY wide. This may seem counter intuitive, but it will allow your hands to
touch the floor. If you are more flexible, bring your feet closer together.
Hands should be able to touch the floor. For a variation, take both hands and
grab your right foot or shin and hold. Repeat on the other side. To move out of
the pose, place your hands on your waist and inhale back up to standing.
Our back muscles can take a beating during a workout. Tight chest muscles and tight hip flexors can contribute to back pain. Strengthening back muscles and increasing the flexibility in your spine is very beneficial.
Lying Spinal Twist
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Bring your arms
out to the side for support. On exhalation, allow your knees to drop to the left
while keeping the right side of your shoulder and upper back on the floor. Feel
free to adjust your arms so that you are comfortable. If you would like an extra
stretch in your chest and upper arms, you can place your arms at 90-degree
angles at shoulder height in a goal-post position. If your shoulders aren’t
comfortably resting on the floor, lower your arm(s) to avoid shoulder stress.
Breathe. Repeat on the opposite side.
Giving the legs a break after a workout can refresh circulation throughout
your lower body.
Legs Up The Wall
Sit straight with one hip touching a wall with your legs out in front of you.
As you lie back, swivel around and slide your legs up the wall. If needed,
wiggle yourself a bit closer to the wall. You can position yourself with your
legs straight up the wall with your buttocks against the wall while lying flat.
Spread your arms comfortably wide. For a variation, spread legs wide. To move
out of the pose, bring your knees to your chest and roll to one side.
As a competitive runner and triathlete, Meghan Collins Fanning brings a
level of understanding to the practice of yoga that athletes thrive in. She
received her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Certification from West Hartford Yoga. She
has also trained with Sarah Powers in Yin Yoga and Sage Rountree in Yoga for
Athletes. Meghan is a USA Cycling Level 3 coach. She received her Bachelors and
Masters Degrees in Counseling Psychology in Austin, Texas. Fanning is an
accomplished runner, triathlete, adventure racer and an avid outdoors junkie.
She uses her knowledge of yoga, physiology and psychology to teach and train
beginner and experienced athletes.
Me (I am very pregnant), my husband Bill, my oldest son Hunter, and Dean Karnazes
Hello! And welcome to the ZenduranceNow blog. I appreciate your interest and your reading. Please contact me at any time!
Since I was a young child, I was an athlete. I don't know that I remember my first race, but I am sure my father does. In my childhood, even before I was officially racing, my favorite things to do were playing outside, running around in the woods, and riding my bike. I can't help but smile and remember playing "Evel Knievel" with the neighborhood kids. Not much has changed except that I don't play "Evel Knievel" anymore... although this could be debated with some of the mountain biking I've done. I am a runner, a triathlete, an adventure racer, a yogi, a teacher. I can also add wife, mother, employee, friend, and all around good gal!
I am writing this blog to link together endurance sports (i.e. running, swimming, biking, etc) and the practice of yoga. I started practicing yoga after the birth of my son Hunter, who is now 11 years old. I found that yoga was
a great way to transition from birth and recovery to racing again.
In the last 5 years, I have discovered how I could use yoga to perform better in my sports. Athletes are a different breed- do I need to tell you this? Not only are we extremely competitive, we tend to be rather inflexible. This makes yoga very tough. When I go to a yoga class, I inevitably set my mat up next to the most beautiful and uber-flexible person. Sigh.... But, our bodies are different! For me and most athletes, strength is our thing, flexibility, well... yeah... I've been working on that!
I discovered on my path, that there are teachers and athletes out there who have successfully learned how yoga can benefit the athlete, and more importantly how to teach to that athlete. That was the point when I wanted to do what "they" were doing. I received my Power Yoga Teaching certification from West Hartford Yoga and Barbara Ruzansky http://www.westhartfordyoga.com/, I trained with Sarah Powers and learned the beauty of Yin and Yang Yoga http://www.sarahpowers.com/ , and just recently I trained with Sage Rountree in North Carolina http://www.sagerountree.com/ and I was taught the specifics of how to teach yoga to athletes.
In short, I could have said... I want to share this all with you. I love to teach and I love to RUN! I now understand how the body, mind, and spirit and be balanced. When we get this balance, even it is for just a moment, we get strength. I understand this now and I hope to share this with you.
Last but NOT least, I have to tell you.... I am still on a bit of a high.... I had the chance to meet and talk with Dean
Karnazes. Ah! He is such an inspiration! He is also known as Ultramarathon Man. And if you haven't heard of
him, I encourage you to check out his website http://www.ultramarathonman.com/ He has completed the unthinkable: he has run 350 miles consecutively, ran 50 marathons in 50 consecutive days, in 50 states, run across the South Pole, I could go on and on. I got a reminder from Dean last night that I really needed.... TRY! You can do it, whatever it is. And if you can't run, walk, and if you can't walk crawl. And never never give up.
It has been a while since I posted. I am happy to report that I had my baby.
Maeve Ryanne Fanning entered this world on January 19th and she weighed in at
6lbs 13oz. I am just now surfacing for air!
I have begun exercising again. I forgot how difficult it is to get into
shape. And I must report that I am extremely humbled. I wasn't able to run
during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of my pregnancy. However, I did ride my bike
on the spinner for a while. I also practiced and taught yoga until I was placed
on bedrest at 30 weeks. I do believe it was the bedrest that took it all out of
When I went out for my first run, it hurt. It was not fun. I asked myself the
entire time why I do this. I don't have an answer. I just know that there is a
drive in me. That drive pushes me to be better and stronger. I have learned over
the past few years how to work with my body's strengths and limitations.
Interestingly enough, post-pregnancy running hurts because I am so flexible.
During pregnancy, a wonderful thing happens to allow the baby to come into the
world. Your ligaments and tendons become very pliable. This is great for birth,
but not so great for excercising. I have been very very very careful when
running. I have also been swimming. Swimming is great because when I am done
there is no pain! I also have to be very careful with yoga. Again, it is so so
easy for me to push myself.
I am also loving the warm weather. How can you not want to go on a trail run
or a mountain bike ride when it is this beautiful outside? I am putting one foot
in front of the other, and hopefully I will see you out there!
Happy Holidays everyone!
I just realized how long it has been since I last posted. Sorry..... time has
gotten away from me.
First, a piece of good news to share is that I am now certified as a
USACycling Coach. http://www.usacycling.org/ I am very excited
about this. It was a little bit more challenging than I expected. After studying
and taking the exam, I passed the background check and my check cleared... so it
is official! I am here to help you with your Yoga, Cycling, and Athletic
Endeavors. I will be teaching and training athletes again in 2010!
As I write this blog I am 36 weeks pregnant and on bedrest. I am on bedrest
because at roughly 30 weeks I began having contractions and early labor. I was
hospitalized twice and given some crazy medication to stop my contractions. I
use the word crazy because the medicine was successful in stopping my
contractions, but it makes my heart race. I got jittery as all can be. It felt
like I had about 600 cups of coffee. I have been on bedrest since the beginning
of December. It has NOT been fun times, and at the same time I am amazed at how
quickly the time flew by.
A few tips for you.... if anyone you ever know gets put on bedrest DON'T
and the Art of Endurance Sports. It is about not wanting to be where you are in
life. Reality. It is about wishing you had another experience besides the
reality that is sitting at your feet (feet that I can no longer see when I look
down.) It is about making peace with life. And most importantly it is about
being grateful for life on life's terms.
I looked outside yesterday and imagined how incredible it would be to go on a
muddy trail run or mountain bike ride. I also read all my Facebook friends' post
about the latest yoga class... sigh... I miss everyone. But, that is not where I
am right now. I have been charged with bringing this wiggly little girl into the
world. That is my job now. It means that biking, running, yoga, swimming,
climbing, and the like are temporarily put on pause. The bedrest and days alone
mean that I have to be OK with me- body, mind, and spirit. You want to get in
touch with type A control issues... try bedrest! Most importantly, I have never
been so grateful. Whenever, I feel sorry for myself, I immediately do a mental
checklist of what I am grateful for. I have so many things on this list that it
I expect this baby to arrive any day now. This blog and my life will easily
turn into the busy zendurance life that I am so familiar with. I will race,
train, and teach again very soon. In the meantime, I wait for this baby's
arrival. I will sit and be as still as I can. And when I'm not, I know the
family and friends that visit my home will immediately tell me to SIT DOWN and
Happy New Year! Be grateful, be still, and enjoy life. This is it, right here
and right now. Make the most of it. Be kind and make it worth it!
How do you deal with burn out?
Things have changed so much for me recently. I am and always have been a chronic over-doer. My response to being tired physically has always been to push harder. My reaction to feeling overwhelmed emotionally has been to work harder, stronger and faster. It is next to impossible to feel things when I am maxed out. Well, that is until I crash. And over the past few years I have had some severe crashes. These messes are always blessings in disguise. I believe it is the universe doing for me what I cannot or will not do for myself. Take for example, I was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease. For those who don't know, Celiac Disease is a disease that causes allergic reactions to gluten, wheat, and oats. I had been plowing through the symptoms of this disease, including severe joint pain, skin rashes, and gastrointestinal distress, and I had NO idea. The diagnosis has been a blessing in disguise. Sure, it is challenging not to eat wheat, oats and gluten, but I now know that this simple diet change has pretty much given me a new and improved physical body!
I am also 8 months pregnant. I'm due in January. I am still working my day job, however, I recently phased out all of the yoga classes that I teach. Please understand, I love teaching yoga. And I already miss my wonderful students. However, I began to dread teaching because I could not do what I wanted to do physically. I mean, this is VERY understandable. I know this. But, it burned me out. I thought that not teaching would enable me to take more classes. Well, maybe I need more than one weeks time to feel this difference. But today I don't want to do yoga. I don't want to ride my bike (on the spinner of course.) I don't want to run. And the pool? Ha! I haven't been there. I am walking daily, but I truly wouldn't be walking if it weren't for the longing eyes of my German Shepard.
I have gotten jealous of my husband, friends, and children for the activities that they can do and I can't. Yes, sad but true. These thoughts quickly shift though. I have a person inside of me. I have a little girl that will be here with me in 9 weeks. Not everyone gets to experience this. And this will be my last pregnancy and I want to hold on to it. It is special.
My attitude on burn out has changed over the years. I have learned so much from my triathlons, adventure races, and yoga. I am going to go with it now. I am going to do what I want to do. I am going to eat what I want to eat... and LOVE it. And when this baby girl is born, we will run together... I look forward to pushing her in the jogging stroller. I don't think we were put on this earth to be miserable. We are supposed to be happy. A suggestion for you.... make a gratitude list. Remember what brings you joy. And if it doesn't bring you joy- don't do it. See what happens and let me know!
In the meantime, I am craving fruit smoothies and caramel apples. I'm going to enjoy them, and take the dog for the extra long walk today.
Yoga Will Make You A Better
True confessions time . . . when you think of yoga, what comes to mind?
Incense? Hippies? Being asked to put your leg behind your head?
I am here to tell you as a triathlete and a yoga teacher that yoga will make
you a better athlete. Yoga will help you gain more flexibility, strength, and
balance. Spending time on your yoga mat will also help you become stronger
mentally. Yoga is also a tried and true way to prevent injuries, if that yoga is
done specifically for athletes. You can benefit by adding a yoga practice to
your training plan by specifying your yoga practice to your current
Yoga is typically regarding by athletes as a stretching routine – indeed,
visions of Cirque De Soleil may come to mind. However, a yoga practice designed
for the athlete will help lengthen and stretch tight muscles. This will promote
the use of your full range of motion. Tight muscles are prone to injury,
especially when we engage in activities that use repetitive motions such as
swimming, biking and running. Stretching will help your body process lactate
after exercise and will improve muscle oxygenation.
Yoga will also help you strengthen your body as a whole. A yoga practice for
athletes involves poses that use “static holds” – such as holding your body in a
push-up position – and poses that “flow” from one to the other, such as a Sun
Salutations. A crucial component to strength for an athlete is your core
strength. To build core strength in, you can use static holds, flowing from pose
to pose, along with specifically targeted sit-ups. It is very important to
practice all poses with correct alignment. This will promote joint stability by
not only by strengthening the muscles in your body, but also the ligaments and
tendons that are connected to those muscles.
Holding challenging poses will strengthen your mental fortitude. Learning to
use your breath to relax will hold you firm, and help you to endure the
immediate physical and emotional challenges. When you take yourself out of your
“comfort zone” and hold a challenging yoga pose, you will actually learn how to
endure. Learning to relax while facing discomfort will promote better
performance and a more efficient recovery.
Yoga will teach you balance. It will teach you balance by engaging you in
balance poses. You will also learn the value of being in the moment. How do you
deal with hitting a wall? What motivation do you tap into when you lace up while
it’s still dark outside and temperatures are frigid? Why do you do what you do
when you just don’t feel like you can? Being in different yoga postures, whether
you are standing, sitting, or upside-down will bring these answers to you.
Most of the injuries that athletes experience are from the repetitive motions
that are typical of endurance sports. Even a slight imbalance can pull the body
out of alignment. The subsequent “pounding” that our bodies experience can lead
to inflammation and damage to the ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Engaging in a
regular yoga practice designed for athletes will help you develop symmetrical
body alignment, and it will correct any physical imbalances that may be
developing. Also, yoga will allow you to develop a more holistic view of your
body, meaning you will begin to feel and intuitively know when you are out of
Where you practice yoga is key to your training. Practicing yoga in a class
or in a private lesson will allow you to work with a teacher who will point out
imbalances that you may not know exist. A solo practice is a great opportunity
to work with the strengths and weaknesses that you have identified. If you
considering beginning a yoga practice, it is recommended that you use both
classes and your own practice to fully complement your training. And it is
important to speak with your medical provider about beginning and developing
your yoga practice.
How can you use yoga to complement your athletic training? Simply put, the
intensity of your yoga practice should be in inverse proportion to the intensity
of your mesocycle. In the low intensity of your base cycle of your training you
will benefit from a vigorous yoga practice that includes a power yoga class or a
home practice that includes a strong flow through the strength building poses.
The heat of a strong yoga practice during your base cycle will complement your
work for aerobic gains and also develop muscles, tendons and ligaments by
promoting full range of motion. At the same time, you will build your core
strength and promote balance.
It is beneficial to decrease the intensity of your yoga practice as you enter
your Build Cycle. This is the time to switch to gentler stretches and enjoy
spending more time on the floor. Focusing on hips and hamstrings at this time is
warranted. The goal at this point in training is to maintain what you have
gained from your Base Period while promoting flexibility and encouraging a
speedy recovery as the intensity in your training increases. As your body-mind
awareness increases, yoga will give you the opportunity to notice if an injury
is forming and if you are overtraining.
When you reach your Peak Period, it is appropriate to eliminate intensity in
your yoga practice. Overdoing it will affect your race performance. This is a
great opportunity to practice restorative yoga. Restorative yoga uses long
relaxing holds and often uses various props for support. You can also use this
time to focus on the breath and meditation to calm any nervous energy that may
Using common sense is of the utmost importance. If you are going to a
vigorous and hot class, treat this as a strength workout that you would
typically do on a “light day.” Schedule a gentle or restorative class on days
when you have completed a tough or brick workout. Make sure that your yoga
practice complements your daily training. For example, if you’ve been swimming,
engage in a yoga practice that includes shoulder work and lateral stretches; if
you have been biking, running, or skiing, focus on your hips and hamstrings –
moreover, the off-road athlete will benefit from a yoga routine that
incorporates balance and core-strength. Just as we work with limiters in our
endurance training, we work with limiters in our yoga practice.
If you’re ready to begin a yoga practice, find a local gym or studio that
offers classes and show up! Make sure to speak to the instructor before class
and tell the instructor if you are a beginner, have any injuries, and where you
are in your training cycle. If you would like to begin with a home practice you
can keep it very simple and usable. To warm up, you can use very gentle
stretches, core work, and balance to get your body ready for your workout. After
your workout, when you are warm and most pliable, use some hip-opening poses,
forward folds, and twists to cool down. Please note that workouts lasting longer
than 2.5 hours should only include a very gentle stretching routine. Your
ligaments, tendons, and muscles have already been taxed; there is no reason to
further tax and potentially damage your body.
The most important thing to remember – Have Fun! Enjoy your training and
don’t take yourself too seriously. Work hard, play hard, and honor the value of
rest and recovery. I hope to see you out there!
Good Luck and Namaste!
P.S.: This article appears in Al Lyman's Endurance Scoop newsletter.... check