Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Gettin Real (Close)

Plane tix are bought and just looked at the path we'll follow sortof-ish. This trip is getting real close! Once it's mapped, it's not a dream, it's a plan! :)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Beached Body

In life we always talk about being in “deep water” when you are in trouble, but what if the trouble appears when you least expect it? My trouble didn't start in deep water, in fact it was the opposite. I found trouble in shallow water. Very shallow. On Sunday I paddled 10 miles today in 4 hours. Pretty stoked about that. 

Trouble in not-so-deep water
The entire day was awesome except for this one surprise. I took a path between an island and the shore that I’ve taken several times. The difference this time was that it is mid-October and the water levels are going down on the lake. I beached my boat within the first 20 minutes of the paddle. And when I say beached, I mean I ran it aground pretty hard b/c I was warming up and moving at a pretty decent clip, and then suddenly find myself sitting. Not on (or near) the shore. I beached it out in the middle of what looks like open water. Stuck. Alone. A little pushing with paddle. Nothing. Water not deep at all – but was deeper than the top of my waterproof shoes.
Boat Scoot Boogie Selfie

 It was a breezy mid 50’s day, and I really didn’t want to get out and start the long day completely soaked. I was also worried that I would get stuck in the awesome clay bottom of Logan Martin. A few more pushes in either direction and then I was suddenly scared I might break my paddle. Barely a mile from the dock, and I really didn't have a plan B. So I started scooting. Literally, scooting. Similar to when a baby scoots across a floor on their bottom. Yep, that same move – but in a kayak. A technique that I had used a few weeks ago during a precarious launch maneuver. The progress wasn’t much – but it did move. I looked like an idiot, but only the herons were watching. So I kept scooting.

It would have certainly been a shorter distance to back up – but seriously could not figure out how to make the boat scoot backwards. So onward it was. I could see where the water got deeper again, and that may have been the longest 30 yards of my life! I literally “boat scooted” myself to deeper water. Was an awesome ab workout and cardio!

Luckily the rest of the day was drama (and scooting) free. Even managed to pick-up my pace and get faster as the miles went by. Which I hope means I’m ready for the Keys because I’m there a month from today! If you are interested in donating to a cause that means so much to me, I promise the money doesn't fund my trip. It goes directly to the organization that supports so many survivors!. If you want to donate - just push that gorgeous green button in the right-hand corner of the screen. :)

See my split time for mile 1 was 30+ minutes? 12 of those were spent doing the Boat Scoot Boogie! 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Gray skies, ominous clouds, constant drizzle and a whippy little wind - not exactly the conditions that make you want to drag the kayak to the water. But when you have a training deadline of a three hour paddle due - and an insane work week ahead that is more portentous than the skies above, you pull on your big girl pants (or in this case a trash bag) and hit the water.

Does this garbage bag make me look trashy?
I'll admit it, I wanted to stay in bed. A cool rainy Sunday and my family all tucked-in tight and still snoozing was pretty hard to resist. But The Hubs had been awesome enough to drive up to the lake the night before and dump all the rain out of the boat. I'm strong  - but not pull-a-kayak-full-of-rain strong. Luckily, he is.

The hardest part of the day (after getting out of bed) was attempting to get into the boat without getting my feet wet. Starting out my "Three Hour Tour" with soaked socks and shoes would have taken the paddle to a new level of suck. All I can say is that I'm glad no one was around. I wouldn't recommend the launch technique, but I only needed it to work once! ;)

So really the hard part was behind me. Now was just a matter of passing the time, but I quickly grew bored. I tried to stay close to shore in case of rain, but it all started looking the same.  Usually I have other boaters and general activity on/in the water to occupy my attention. But today, was just me and a few fishing boats. Seemed like an hour passed when my tracker announced I had been 1 mile in 20 minutes. This paddle was going to get LOOONNGGG....
Warm-up goal - head to Bird Island 

So I'm a person that needs a destination as a goal, and I wanted to paddle in the river current, so I decided to ignore the dark gray clouds and head towards the river section of the lake. And of course the further away I got from the safety of our bay and dock, the darker, windier and chillier it got.

I just gave myself short assignments like paddle hard as you can until you reach x. Or don't stop until you round the bend. Really the clouds were mostly all bark and just a little bite. I got rained on maybe about 10-15 minutes, and that was of course timed for right when I was out in the middle of a main channel. Thanks to a garbage bag as a skirt, most of my legs stayed dry. Only flaw to that plan was the occasional runoff water that slowly drenched my shins/socks/shoes. By the time I reached the safety of a cove, the wind had died down and the rain was reduced to a mist.

I was one hour in but really needed to cover new ground (or water) if I wasn't going to go bonkers with this assignment - so I headed back into a section of the lake that I had never explored. I had the best time! As soon as it was "new" scenery the time/miles started ticking by. I stopped paying attention to the weather and started enjoying the rarity of being truly alone. I'm not alone very often, and it's not something I seek out very often. But today, although I knew I was kayaking alone, it didn't occur to me that I was alone for the first 1.5 hours. My thoughts were so busy with worry about conditions, where to go, how much longer, what all was I going to have to get done at work this week and the family back at the house. So it's funny that the next 1.5 hours went by too quickly. I was actually sad the last 30 minutes, because I wanted to stay out on the water. I startled countless herons, paddled through grassy areas and became super curious about a few islands that are filled with bird houses - I even managed to run aground once b/c I was too busy looking around to notice that I was running out of water.

The end of the paddle, I was stoked for a few reasons. 1. I had completed the assignment. 2. I didn't let weather deter me. I'm not going to be able to control weather conditions in the Keys in November so why let weather impact training. 3. Three hours in and I felt great! Other than being hungry - I could have kept going.

and I will. 

So many people have been really encouraging to me these last few weeks. But I have certainly run into critics as well. Amazing how people feel entitled to share their opinion about my life, but I guess that is the trade off to sharing on this blog. Of course people will have opinions, but when brought to my attention, I will address. I've been told that I'm selfish for the time and money away from my family for this trip. But I would argue differently.

The hours and miles spent training for the Grand Canyon are some of the best memories I have with The Hubs, b/c he did all the training hikes right along side me. And he taught me. I had never really hiked. I wasn't "outdoors" type. When I announced that I wanted to hike the Grand Canyon, I had lived most of my life indoors. I was completely over my head, and he taught me how to be comfortable outside. We paid a fortune in babysitting back then, but my children had a blast with their sitters. It was really a win/win. But it's more than just QT during training. I've learned so many life lessons from preparing for endurance events and so much about myself through these trips. I'm excited to go on another adventure with Project Athena Foundation. Instead of being viewed as selfish, I'd like to think that getting up on a rainy Sunday because A). I have made a commitment with stated goals and B). I am striving for an active/fit lifestyle are both positive examples for my children. As for the money - we could all easily make a long list judging each other how we manage our finances, but the truth of the matter is this event is a priority for my family. My husband doesn't just simply go along with these things, he wholeheartedly encourages it (because he's awesome). Some may spend hundreds of dollars aimlessly shopping for anything/everything; we spend it on gear/supplies for activities, gym memberships and crossfit classes. One isn't better than the other, except one is what works for you and the other is what works for us. And the bonus to all my "selfish" activities is that my children are exposed to these activities and are becoming involved. My four year old can out-hike most kids twice her age. My 8 year old is pretty awesome managing an adult-sized kayak. So with that, we feel good about the time and money spent as a family. My weekend may look different from yours, but that doesn't make me selfish.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Key to the Keys

The last few years I have raised money for Project Athena Foundation an amazing organization that encourages women who've endured life-altering medical setbacks to unleash the Athlete and Adventurer within and complete the journey of a lifetime—whether that's to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, cross the finish line of an Ironman Triathlon, or fall into the arms of a proud family at the end of a local 5K. Project Athena provides travel expenses, entry fees, coaching, equipment and, most importantly, the encouragement and inspiration to help strong, amazing women make that life-affirming transition from Survivor to Athlete.
We’ve learned that people who are battling illness or injury often find their struggles overwhelm their identity. Through Project Athena Foundation, I have been blessed to realize that survivors can change that and be identified by their triumphs and accomplishments instead.
My commitment is to raise $2,500 for the future women who will benefit from Project Athena. I’ve been blessed to be a part of several excursions with this organization, and this year I will join three more survivors for a 100+ mile paddle/bike/run from Key Largo to Key West. These amazing women are using training for this trip as part of their recovery and regaining their sense-of-self.
My trip is in November 19-21, and my fundraising goal needs to be met by end of October. Contributions of any size are welcomed. While I love supporting this amazing group, I’m actually quite horrible at asking for money (which is why I’ve failed miserably at meeting my fundraising goals so far). 
But I love this organization so much, and I’m honored to have been a small part of their past adventures. If interested in supporting this group, the easiest way to donate on my behalf is directly on my FirstGiving page http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/pamelaharris-white/florida-keys-to-recovery. I want to be clear – I personally cover ALL of my travel, gear and training expenses related to the actual adventure. 100% of the money raised goes directly to Project Athena Foundation which is a 501c3 non-profit foundation.

I Suck at Blogging

It's been a year since I've sat down to write a post. Pretty certain that officially means that I suck at blogging. For the radio silence - I'm sorry. I've missed you. I've missed over-sharing all my struggles and accidental accomplishments with you. It's not you. It's me.

Here's the deal, life has been filled with blessings and a lot of insane chaos. I'm not going to whine about blessings, it's just in all the moving parts of the day - sitting down to journal is one of the easy gives to my schedule. But doing that meant a week turned into a month, which turned into 12 months... Here's the thing, Harder2Kill isn't my day job. I love my day job, but here's the odd part. I write for a living and work on social media campaigns during the day, it does seem like I should be better at keeping up with this blog. 

But even though my lack of posts might make one think I haven't been thinking about Harder2Kill - it's actually not true. It's a constant thought. It just keeps rolling over to "tomorrow's list." But its not just a lack of time. 

The move to Alabama was a homecoming for me, but it's been a complete life change for the entire family. One that has taken A LOT longer to settle in to our "new normal" than I would have ever guessed. Another change in the family dynamic is that I no longer travel for work as extensively as I used to (which is super awesome), but now it's The Hubs hitting the open road most weeks (a super bummer b/c the kids definitely seem to lose their minds each and every time he's not home! :) With all this, nutrition and fitness certainly took a backseat. So blogging about nutrition and fitness certainly didn't seem appropriate anymore. I'll get back to that. Past few months have been a blur of juggling work, life, family and training. 

So if you've met me - you know I have this peculiar aversion to moderation. Working out to workout - doesn't really work for me. I seem to need a larger-than-reasonable goal to work towards. So once again - I over committed myself to another Project Athena event. In November I'll join some amazingly awesome people to paddle, bike and run from Key Largo to Key West. 

So The Hubs is back to being my trainer and making completely gorgeous and detailed spreadsheets that seem to get tossed out the window every other day. Logging hours on bikes and in boats is certainly a challenge to anyone's bandwidth, but we are getting it done. A lot of other things have to give on the list. I really don't see anyone that I don't live with or work with. I'm not going to win any mother of the year awards anytime soon, and Southern Living will not likely knock on my door for a photo shoot, but I do believe my children are once again witnessing the importance of training for a large event. I'll cling to that as the upside. 

But let's revisit the intention of Harder2Kill. I said earlier that it was about nutrition and fitness - I'm not sure I really did that anyway. Harder2Kill is more just a journal of my struggles, desires and lessons learned (mainly the hard way) about nutrition and fitness. So with that creative license - if you'll have me, I'll try better to not suck at blogging any longer :)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Guest Post: Vanessa Spiller on Finding Your Grit

Vanessa Spiller. Grand Canyon '12
I've shared before that harder2kill was born from a combination of life events and meeting a few inspirational people along the way. One of those people is Vanessa Spiller. I met Vanessa in 2012 when she was the Survivor accompanying the trekkers on one of Project Athena Foundation's Rim to Rim to Rim Grand Canyon treks. From the moment I met her, she re-defined for me the meaning of Survivor. I'm blessed to count her as not only a friend, but also as a coach and mentor. IMHO she's a complete Badass - a term I only use in the highest regards and esteem - because that is what she is to me and so many others that know her. Vanessa is a breast cancer survivor! Who better to write a guest post during Breast Cancer Awareness Month than her? But she didn't just survive - she's a thriving example of living with intent, living with purpose, living with perspective and living with joy after cancer. 

She's an endurance athlete. Since meeting her in '12, she's checked Boston Marathon and NY Marathon off her list. She's completed multi-day adventure races, paddled/biked/ran from Key Largo to Key West and trekked R2R2R of the Grand Canyon like a boss! Although she's quick to dismiss any fuss made about her athletic accomplishments, her day job as a certified nutritionist and trainer certainly helps others to achieve their fitness and athletic goals. Last year she offered to go on a hike with me when training for GC trek #2 - I invaded her home for 3 days while she coached me, inspired me and lovingly kicked my booty on the Roller Coaster portion of the Appalachian Trail! 

I'm so glad to introduce you to Vanessa, we are all blessed that she is #harder2kill 


Finding Your Grit

grit \'╔írit\ noun 
courage and resolve; strength of character.
Synonyms:  courage, bravery, backbone, spirit, strength of character, steel, nerve, fortitude, toughness, hardiness, resolve, resolution, determination, tenacity, endurance.

This is how Mr. Webster defines grit. How do you define grit? I want you to really take a moment and think of the last time you demonstrated courage, a backbone, or endurance.  It doesn’t have to be something physical. Maybe it was facing a difficult conversation with a loved one. Or, maybe it was going outside your comfort zone at work. Or, maybe it was something physical like training for a marathon or any other endurance event that you just didn’t know how you would make it to that finish line. I challenge you to think about what life experiences have allowed you the opportunity to find out what you’re made of?  I’m guessing each one of us would have a different answer to that question. There isn’t any right or wrong answer—just an awareness.

I found my true grit three years ago when four words were spoken to me by a breast surgeon. “You have breast cancer.”  Like most people who have had this said to them will tell you, “I didn’t hear much of anything else after that.” I decided when Pamela asked me to write this for her harder2kill blog post that I didn’t want it to emphasize my personal story, but rather emphasize awareness of the disease and that there is life after cancer.

As most know, October is breast cancer awareness month. I’m ultimately grateful that there is a month dedicated to reminding people about this life altering disease.  Getting diagnosed with breast cancer, or any cancer is life changing and the healing doesn’t end when treatment is over. Over the last three years I’ve put my energy into helping women just like me understand that there is life after cancer.    

A cancer diagnosis made me sit up and take notice and find my grit.  What makes you dig deep and find your grit? Think about it, say it out loud, carry it with you and let it serve as a motivation to be the absolute best you can be. Think about what takes you courage to do. When do you most need a backbone? Where do you need or want to be more determined in your life? Where can endurance play a healthy role in your life?

I’d like to humbly dedicate this post to the many women whose lives have been touched by breast cancer. Here’s to them and to finding our grit!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Eat Naked (food)! Why I'm doing the October Unprocessed Challenge

October Unprocessed 2014

I did it last year, and I'm doing it again. It is a perfect nutritional reset before diving into the madness of Holidays. If you are miserable, unhappy, tired or feeling like crap. It's likely your food. I won't get all preachy - y'all know my love/hate relationship with food. I'm barely out of the nutritional gutter myself, so certainly not in a position to preach from a soap box.

The truth is - I can vouch for how I feel when I eat clean. I can also describe how I feel when I'm wallowing in the nutritional gutter.

The experts explain it here. It'll take commitment and planning, but they give you the recipes and the shopping lists. That has always been the hardest part for me.