Healthy Doesn’t Look Like an iPhone

When forced to figure out how you can afford to be healthy, you tend to just give up.

People rarely talk about the fear, the blind terror that is living with an untreated disease. Today, a group of privileged, entitled politicians will decide whether or not to plunge me back into that fear.

For context, I have a disease called Hereditary Angioedema (abbreviated HAE) that causes random episodes of mass swelling and anaphylaxis. It looks like an allergic reaction, but it is not caused by histamine and is not in response to any food or drug. It just happens. Without treatment, it is debilitating and terrifying. 

Because of this and other health problems (asthma, pelvic congestion syndrome, inguinal hernias as a teenager), I spent my whole life before the ACA passed either begging my insurance provider to cover claims they routinely denied, or I couldn’t get health insurance at all. The only healthcare I received was critical care for anaphylaxis in an emergency room.

As I got older and the severe episodes became more frequent, I became fearful.

I was afraid to be alone in case it happened. I was afraid to be with people for the same reason, the massive swelling freaks people out. I was afraid to sleep. I developed extreme anxiety and depression.

6 years ago, I had one of these random anaphylactic episodes while driving alone, out of town. I managed to get myself to an urgent care clinic, but there’s very little an outpatient facility can do to treat HAE, and I needed an emergency room immediately. 

So as I lay there, struggling for air, about to be intubated, the doctor told me “We’ve called an ambulance to take you to the hospital”.

And I began to cry and gasped out “No, please, I don’t have insurance!”. 

Just… try to let that sink in. 

I didn’t know where I was, I couldn’t breathe, I was completely alone, yet most overwhelming was the thought of having to pay for an ambulance, emergency room, and hospital stay. 

In a moment when I should have been focused on simply trying to force air into my lungs, I had to consider how I would pay for the treatment needed to save my life.

Now tell me I should have just planned better, should have saved up for a potential exorbitant medical bill because my body doesn’t work right. 

Tell me it’s just a matter of budgeting. 
Say it’s my fault for spending money on anything except necessary, life saving care.

Having to afford (or not afford) to be healthy is…. crippling in ways that can’t be fully explained. 

When you know that the cost of a routine checkup for asthma to get your inhalers refilled is around $500 out of pocket (spirometry test, appointment with doctor, and the inhaler), you tend to sort of… skip those appointments. Even if you’ve budgeted, even if you’re fortunate enough to have the money to pay that, it’s still just…. demoralizing. 
You had no say in being born broken, you have no choice in having to get treatment, and having to pay so much just to stay breathing is literally debilitating. It makes you feel like you aren’t worth the effort and you don’t deserve healthy.

Try to imagine what it would feel like if your weekly grocery bill was $500 dollars. Not because you splurged, just if that were what it cost for basic necessities to keep your family healthy and alive. 

How overwhelmed might you be? How depressed might you become? How worthless might you begin to feel because you have to pay so extremely for something you must have to survive? What corners would you begin to cut, maybe not buying things you do need to be healthy, but can technically survive without?

Healthcare will never be a luxury, and if you think it is, you are beyond out of touch, you are willfully ignorant and arrogant.

Healthy Doesn’t Look Like an iPhone 

This is a picture of my grandmother, my sister, myself, and my mom. Under the proposed AHCA, every one of us are at risk of losing our health insurance.

Recently, Jason Chaffetz was quoted as saying: “So maybe, rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they want to spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest in their own healthcare.”

When I read this, my blood boiled. I felt sick, I felt violent. How utterly out of touch must a human be to even think such a thing? I didn’t know there was a type of person so removed that they could genuinely make a statement like that. 

So to Mr. Chaffetz, or anyone else who lives in the same bubble he does, I want to tell you a story. 
For context, I have a disease called Hereditary Angioedema (abbreviated HAE) that causes random episodes of mass swelling and anaphylaxis. It looks like an allergic reaction, but it is not caused by histamine and is not in response to any food or drug. It just happens. Without treatment, it is debilitating and terrifying. 
Because of this and other health problems (asthma, pelvic congestion syndrome, inguinal hernias as a teenager), I couldn’t get health insurance as an adult before the ACA passed. The only healthcare I received was critical care for anaphylaxis in an emergency room.
6 years ago, I had one of these random anaphylactic episodes while driving alone, out of town. I managed to get myself to an urgent care clinic, but there’s very little an outpatient facility can do to treat HAE, and I needed an emergency room immediately. 
So as I lay there, struggling for air, about to be intubated, the doctor told me “We’ve called an ambulance to take you to the hospital”.
And I began to cry and gasped out “No, please, I don’t have insurance!”. 

Just… try to let that sink in. 

I didn’t know where I was, I couldn’t breathe, I was completely alone, yet most overwhelming was the thought of having to pay for an ambulance, emergency room, and hospital stay. 
In a moment when I should have been focused on simply trying to force air into my lungs, I had to consider how I would pay for the treatment needed to save my life.
Now tell me I should have just planned better, should have saved up for a potential exorbitant medical bill because my body doesn’t work right. 

Tell me it’s just a matter of budgeting. 

Say it’s my fault for spending money on anything except necessary, life saving care.
Having to afford (or not afford) to be healthy is…. crippling in ways that can’t be fully explained. 

When you know that the cost of a routine checkup for asthma to get your inhalers refilled is around $500 out of pocket (spirometry test, appointment with doctor, and the inhaler), you tend to sort of… skip those appointments. Even if you’ve budgeted, even if you’re fortunate enough to have the money to pay that, it’s still just…. demoralizing. 

You had no say in being born broken, you have no choice in having to get treatment, and having to pay so much just to stay breathing is literally debilitating. It honestly makes you feel like you aren’t worth the effort and you don’t deserve healthy.

Try to imagine what it would feel like if your weekly grocery bill was $500 dollars. Not because you splurged, just if that were what it cost for basic necessities to keep your family healthy and alive. 

How overwhelmed might you be? How depressed might you become? How worthless might you begin to feel because you have to pay so extremely for something you must have to survive? What corners would you begin to cut, maybe not buying things you do need to be healthy, but can technically survive without?
Healthcare will never be a luxury, and if you think it is, you are beyond out of touch, you are willfully ignorant and arrogant.

Rare Disease Day

People often don’t talk about the fear, the terror, that goes with undiagnosed diseases. How it can make you go insane. How it can take everything, everything, away from you. 

I was born with a disease called Hereditary Angioedema. Have you heard of it? Most people haven’t. Heck, I’m a Medical Laboratory Scientist and I had never heard of it before I was diagnosed 5 years ago. I’m happy to report that I am super healthy these days, strong and getting stronger, thanks to finding a treatment plan I can consistently maintain. But that definitely was not always the case.

So what is Hereditary Angioedema? 

“Hereditary angioedema (Abbreviated HAE) is a rare, autosomal dominantly inherited blood disorder that causes episodic attacks of swelling that may affect the face, extremities, genitals, gastrointestinal tract and upper airways. 

Episodes may be triggered by trauma, surgery, dental work, menstruation, some medications, viral illness and stress; however, this is not always readily determined.”

Sounds fun, right? Yeah, it isn’t. It’s as creepy as it sounds. Various parts of my body randomly swell up, sometimes to massive proportions. One eye will swell to the point that my eyelids start turning inside out. My GI tract and abdomen will swell so badly I look like I’m a few months pregnant. It is painful. 

Now, as stated, I was diagnosed only 5 years ago. My parent’s insurance denied claims for the specialists I needed to see, then I couldn’t even get insurance as an adult. All thanks to Pre-Existing Conditions, I lived my entire life with improper or no treatment.

Although HAE causes swelling and anaphylaxis, it is not caused by histamines, it’s a plasma factor malfunction (You don’t want the full explanation. No, really, you don’t. I study human blood for a living, and I barely understand it.). So even though it looks like an allergic response, it is not, and drugs like Benadryl are completely ineffective against it. 

Let me paint you a picture here.

Every few months, more or less, I would have an episode of mass swelling. Not the daily kind of stuff I just dealt with where I couldn’t eat food cause of the gastric swelling or couldn’t close my hands because of the extremities swelling or couldn’t clear my lungs of heavy congestion. No, The kind of swelling where my lips and tongue and then throat would swell up and I couldn’t breathe.

I would use an EpiPen, then get to an emergency room. They would throw Benadryl and steroids and more epinephrine at it for hours, puzzled that the drugs weren’t working right, then suddenly the attack would subside (on its own, as it turns out). 

Doctors called it “Spontaneous Anaphylaxis”. Doesn’t that just sound great? Could they have come up with anything more awful? Telling a young girl “None of your allergy tests were positive, so I guess you just randomly swell up and die”… can you imagine the impact of that?

As I got older, the acute episodes became more frequent (HAE can be triggered by hormone changes), and I became fearful. 

I was afraid to be alone in case I had an episode. 

I was afraid to be around people for the same reason, the swelling freaks people out and that embarrassed me. 

I was afraid to drive alone after I had an acute episode in the car by myself.
I was afraid to eat, because what if the allergy tests missed something? I began to obsess over what I ate, drank, touched, breathed, trying to figure out what was causing the swelling. I developed extreme anxiety with bouts of depression. 

It so consumed me I stopped trying to even live, just worked on surviving. I went to college, graduated, got a job, got married, moved to Colorado, and kept trying to just survive. 

My life was a minefield of blind terror.

Then, during a particularly bad episode where I had to be admitted to the hospital, the doctor taking care of me said “Hey, I know what’s wrong with you!”. He had seen a patient with HAE before and he recognized the one-sided swelling. 

The next week, I was able to get full insurance coverage, thanks to the ACA. I was referred to several specialists, there was so much testing, turns out I have a form of HAE that’s harder to treat (of course), but in time we all found a treatment plan, medication and diet and a tubal ligation, that has worked.

My disease is treatable.

Yes, I still have rare episodes of more minor swelling. If I have wine or a cookie or anything else with a bunch of sugar, I’ll wake up the next morning with a puffy eye and swollen hands. Situations of extreme stress cause varying degrees of gastric swelling. 

But I haven’t had an acute swelling episode in 4 years. I have a life now. I’m not afraid! I work and I have friends and I do IronMan Triathlons! I have all of this because I was finally able to access health care. 

People often don’t talk about the fear, the terror, that goes with undiagnosed diseases. How it can make you go insane. How it can take everything, everything, away from you. 

So if that’s you right now, if you’re living in fear of your own body, I want you to know you aren’t alone. You aren’t crazy. My heart hurts for you. And most of all… there’s still hope. I promise there is. I refuse to go back to that life of fear, and I will stand with you. 

Don’t allow yourself to be bullied, and do not ever give up on finding your healthiest self. No matter how many people try to take that away from you, please don’t give up. 

Born To Be Mighty


I have recently been bombarded by ads and commercials showing Before-and-Afters of “I lost 50 pounds in 3 months!!” and other similar stories of immediate achievement of goals. I want to share with you a different sort of Before-and-After. A long, slow, painful one. 
This is not a comfortable thing for me to do, I don’t like to look at old pictures of myself at all, but if it can help one person stick with finding their healthy then it is worth it. 
When that picture on the left was taken, I had no appetite due to the constant pain and nausea caused by uncontrolled Angioedema, what little I did eat wasn’t being absorbed, I couldn’t clear my lungs of heavy, ever present congestion, I had no energy, and fought extreme anxiety along with depression. At 5’6″, I weighed 98 lbs. 
I wouldn’t be diagnosed with Hereditary Angioedema for another three years. It would be a year more of testing and trying medications before finding a treatment that worked. Then after that began the 4 year long process of working, every day, to gain weight, build muscle, and become strong. 
That’s right, 4 years. That’s how long it has taken. 4 years of working *every day*. And I am still not all the way there. I have to try again, every day, try harder. Eat enough, do my respiratory therapy, take my meds; hell, I spent most of last year rehabbing a femoral fracture. 
It is maddening and painful and crushingly discouraging some days to work so hard to reach less than halfway to where the next person doing the same thing would. But when I see those pictures side by side… it is overwhelming how far I have come. How changed my life is. How healthy I am compared to that tiny girl, how full my life is now, what I am capable of doing or even just reasonably considering. 
The steps I can take are not big, they are minuscule, but you know what? They still add up. They still cover distance. They will still get me where I am trying to go. 
Please don’t ever give up because your steps are small, they are still carrying you forward.

We Hold These Truths 

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another […] a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Democracy rests on the ability of a society to make its voice heard, and trust that voice will be honored; any disregard of such a voice should only occur after all possible consideration. 
To reject a public vote is to walk an immensely fine line between duty and dictatorship, however, when a society unites in a desire for destruction, a willing belief of falsehoods, and a demand of discrimination against others, those with the power to stop them are bound to do so. 
History has shown, over and again, that just because a society agrees on something does not mean they should be allowed to act on it. 

The forcible removal (by penalty of death) of Native Americans from their land. The right to own another human being and force them to do whatever you see fit (a large number of people went to war to demand this). Racial segregation of schools and public services, not even under the guise of public safety, just pure bigotry. Prohibiting women from owning property, voting, and working, based solely on their gender. Imprisoning Japanese-Americans for no reason except their race. All of these things were enacted by laws, many of them were campaign platforms of elected officials, put into place by public popular vote.

Now the time has come again when a large, loud voice calls for something that simply cannot be allowed. It elected a man whose only desire is endless personal power, who speaks hatred of anyone not like him, who refuses to hear counsel, who promises to harm many groups of people, who boasts about his moral depravity, and who instantly, viciously attacks anyone that disagrees with him. Before even taking office he has already shown an arrogant disrespect of the job and, through his cabinet appointments, a frightening desire to surround himself exclusively with people who will make him feel powerful, regardless of the impact on our country.  
To confirm such a man as President would be beyond reprehensible, it would be irreversibly destructive; not because of something so trivial as disagreeing with politics, but because doing so would be compromising one’s humanity. We are all obligated to prevent this from happening, no one is exempt. The fight is a daunting one, but do not let your fear prevent you from doing what you know is right. 
I charge us all now, speak truth, boldly, loudly, even when it feels like you are doing nothing more than shouting into the noise. Someone always hears you. Your voice may give courage to their own. 

Stand now unmoving in the way of hate and destruction, I promise you do not stand alone.

The Good Samaritan

Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as god has forgiven you.

Can I confess something to you? I am exhausted. I can’t remember ever being this weary. The thought of disappearing to some remote mountain range has never been more appealing. 

The past year, my country has turned into a teeming mass of hatred and fear and just downright nastiness. A great wave of demanding “rights” that prevent others from living their liveshas swept across this culture, a sudden lack of care for anything but self, a nasty side of religion emerging to instill fear and push agendas. Do anything, say anything, doesn’t matter who you hurt as long as you get what’s yours! 

Every day, I see more and more ugliness, selfishness, embracing of fears, and staunch refusal to see the other side. Whatever the issue, the general attitude seems to be “My pride is more important than your pain”.

It makes me think of my grandfather.

Edsel Ford (Poppa, we called him) had probably more reason to demand his right to things than most people. As the child of a father with alcoholism, he had to quit school at a very young age to work and help provide for his family. He and his siblings grew up with nothing and spent many days hungry. 

This could have made him a, very understandably, bitter and selfish man. 

Yet the exact opposite was true. 

Poppa spent his entire life serving others. He housed, fed, clothed, and funded countless people. He gave freely, without thought, of himself and his possessions to anyone who needed them. And I’m not talking about people who were “comfortably” in need, individuals who few others would even approach. Dirty, hopeless, destitute souls. From brief interactions of giving someone whatever money he had on him, to months long care of providing them jobs and a bed to sleep in. He gave constantly, not only without any hesitation, but with complete joy.

He was taken advantage of too many times to count. People stole from him, lied to him, manipulated him for their own gain. Many of those who knew him said he should be more careful, more discerning, that he should hold on tighter to what was his, but no matter what happened, Poppa never stopped giving. Nothing belonged to him if someone else needed it more. With all of his heart he believed that he was better than no one, did not deserve things more than anyone else (even if he worked to earn them), and that he had no right to keep anything if someone else needed it.

When he died two years ago, he had little money and almost no possessions. By this culture’s standards, Edsel Ford was a failure. A brilliant man with no education who taught himself to be a mechanic, built and opened his own auto repair shop, then “lost” it all because he was “too trusting”. 

But my Poppa was the most successful man I have ever known. 

He knew what it meant to love his fellow man, every single one of them. Poppa loved his neighbor as himself. He taught me to love, without qualification, holding nothing back. He showed me that nothing belongs to me alone, we are all here to share with one another, and that it’s not up to me what someone does with what I give them, my only job is to give. He showed me that, where there is love, there is no room for fear. 

At his funeral, the story of The Good Samaritan was read because it was in every way his life story. He gave freely because he did not fear what would happen to him. His legacy was one of love, service, mercy, charity, and faith. He knew what held real value in this life.

To live unafraid like that can be crushingly hard, an immense mountain to climb! We are all required to do it, there is no way around, one step at a time, each day a new set of challenges to go through. Yet we don’t climb these mountains alone. We belong to each other, in every way.

So today, now, in this world of Presidents and CEO’s, of demands and definitions of rights, of fear and selfishness, of pride, I challenge us all to be like Edsel Ford. “I may have faith to make mountains fall, but if I lack love I have nothing at all.”

Hate is Fear in Action

All humans feel fear, it is natural and instinctive and there is nothing wrong with feeling afraid, but believing your fear will keep you safe is a lie. It causes you to act on fear, clutch tightly to it, defend it, cater to it, and demand that it be served.

We are here, together, for one another, yet trusting in fear makes us selfish and mean, all shouting demands of rights and possession and feeling safe. It leads us to turn on one another, to see our own comfort and rights as more important than the safety or justice or freedom of another life.

Then, not too far at all down that road, lies hate, just waiting to take your hand and tell you “This is where your power is found!” and that there is nothing more important than you feeling safe and comfortable.
How can we not see that this is a lie? Fear gives handles, footholds, doors and windows in for every evil in the world!

Fear is instinct, letting go of it is one of the hardest things you can do. But the truth is, love is stronger than fear every single time, in every single way. It seals every door, it crushes those footholds, so evil cannot touch you. It can’t even get close! When love is your power, nothing can defeat you.

It is only when we sacrifice our fear to love that we become strong.

Choose to Fight

image

“Success has been and continues to be defined as getting up one more time than you’ve been knocked down”

This week has been really difficult.

Finding out that the injury I’ve been pushing through all season, telling myself it wasn’t so bad, is in fact a stress fracture in my femur hit me hard. I have spent the last few days depressed, angry, afraid, and overwhelmed, skipping my workouts and hiding.

Today I dragged myself to the pool (3 hours later than planned), telling myself it was okay to only put in half the set, your leg is cracked it’s okay to back off. My head hurt, my muscles were stiff, the water was cold, and I just wanted to go home. Stroke, stroke, stroke, whine… I hate this. This isn’t fair.

300 meters in, I became furious. With the situation, with myself, with Hereditary Angioedema, you name it, I was probably mad at it. Swimming faster, blindly harder, fighting back tears under my goggles, arms burning fiercely, then one stroke with my left arm, and I saw it. The words inked into my arm, where I can’t get away from them, that never stop being true. “Step follows step, hope follows courage”.

When I got to the wall, I had to stop and clear my goggles (seriously, do not cry while swimming, flooded goggles are a bitch) and I decided then… This will not defeat me any more than anything else has. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe… all part of this journey. I am so surrounded by support and inspiration and endless amounts of love, how could I not succeed?

So I finished my set, all 2,000 meters, and with every stroke more anger drained from me, washed away and gone. I left it all in the pool and came out on the other side with my mind healed.

This is Ironman. Yes, it’s a lot of work and discipline and sacrifice and strength, but that’s what you give to it. Today was what Ironman gives back. A whole mind and heart, the strength to continue fighting on, the beauty of that fight. Ironman won’t let you escape, refuses to let you hide from yourself.

I cannot control what the universe decides to make a part of my journey, but I can sure as hell control my response to it.

Today, in a pool with goggles full of tears, I chose to keep fighting. Tomorrow I will make that choice again. And again and again, however many times I have to.

If you want to be pretty, don’t do triathlon

“I don’t want to be told I’m pretty as I am, I want to live in a world where that’s irrelevant” -Laurie Penny

It is astonishing to me how many people comment to females about how they look.
Strangers, family, friends, lovers, it seems that, without fail, within the first few sentences of being with someone you hear “You look….(fill in the blank)”. Sometimes it’s a compliment, other times a criticism, or even a statement of “You’re just as pretty the way you are”, but it seems like the way you currently look is the most important thing about you.
I spent most of my life feeling like I didn’t look “right”. Growing up, I was just different; simple clothes, short hair, not a big fan of makeup, and because I was born with a genetic disorder, I was always very small and even frail at times. More often than not I heard “You look tired/sick/skinny/weird/bony/bad”. All of my life. 
And as much as I said I didn’t care what people thought (and I said that a lot), it really got to me.
So when I began treatment for the Angioedema and started to slowly get healthy, the first thing I wanted to do was be beautiful and athletic, like all the girls I grew up with. My mom is a badass triathlete, I decided to train for a short distance Tri with her.
But there was something I had yet to learn….
Triathlon will not make you pretty 
Triathlon will give you scars from bike wrecks, bruises from running, and tattoos that no one understands. Fried hair from chlorine, more freckles than anyone deserves from hours on the trail, deep tan lines that never quite fade, and you don’t even want to know what it does to toenails.
You may absolutely kill those skinny jeans now (two sizes larger, thanks to your new hamstrings and glutes), but getting them on is harder than the last two days training combined and your arms are so tired. 
The longer the distance, the more muscle you need, and when did my midsection get that wide? Your arms get big, your butt even so much bigger. You stop wearing heels because, hell, I don’t need those to stomp on the world, I can do that barefoot. You gain 15 pounds, cut 18 inches off your hair, and forget what nail polish even is because you never have all 10 toenails at once. 
You will be dirty, sweaty, sunburned, and have the hairstyle of “I swam then put on a bike helmet” a lot of the time. Triathlon is not a pretty sport, not the training or the competition, and it forces you to let go of that supposed measure of your worth. No amount of masks or facades or meeting societal expectations will bring you to the finish, only your true self will take you there.
So you terrorize your hair and your skin, you live in gym clothes or pajama pants, get another tattoo that no one understands, and wear nothing but tennis shoes. You move further and further away from cultural definitions of “Woman” and “Pretty” and “Ladylike”. 
Then one day it dawns on you as you’re training for your second Ironman race…
You don’t care. 
In the countless hours you’ve spent alone with yourself out on the trail you have learned who you are, intimately and with brutal honesty. You know your worth as a fellow human. What you look like is so far down on the list of things that actually do really matter that you barely even remember it.
Triathlon did not make me pretty.
What it did make me is fierce, brave, strong, genuine, healthy, empathetic, lovely, true, focused, passionate, driven, willing, happy, assured, radiant, independent, and honest. 
It made me step outside the bubble of “pretty”, and here’s what I found: There is nothing more beautiful than a human who knows their true self. Now, I’m trying to change the conversation, and stop telling women “Pretty is the most important thing you can be”. 
Every unique facet of a person is equally desirable and, yes, beautiful. We are awe-inspiring creatures! I am striving to acknowledge that. I want to create a different environment, a different conversation with different words, where all facets of a person are equally desirable; where we build each other up in the truest of ways.

The one where french fries saved me

Today the “Post Race Blues” came crashing in.

For those who aren’t multisport athletes, let me explain… Maybe it’s a little different for me because I have Hereditary Angioedema and that makes every race finish extra emotional, maybe it’s exactly the same as everyone else, but either way every athlete goes through some version of this.

The first two days after a race, you’re flying. Endorphins coursing through and you feel no pain! While you’re likely a little too tired to actually physically zoom around, your mind is going “Wheeeeeee!!” nonstop. It’s glorious. On day three, you start to feel just what you put your body through in the form of soreness and that blister the size of a ping-pong ball on the bottom of your foot. And then on the fourth day… You know that emoji? The one that can only be described as “Waaaahhhhhh…..”? That’s what you turn in to. You roll around in the floor and cry. Lifting your arm to reach your water bottle 5 inches away is impossibly exhausting, forget actually walking anywhere. Your skin feels weird and you don’t want anything while simultaneously wanting everything. And then you cry some more. 4 days ago, I was finishing an Olympic Triathlon in 92 degree heat and blazing sun. With a huge smile! Suddenly I don’t have the energy to finish a sentence…

Now enter my precious Kendal. Initially she tried to cheer me up by us starting work on the new wall canvas in the basement (one of my favorite things), but I was too tired even for that and, after doing about 60 seconds worth of work, I proceeded to sit on the floor staring listlessly at the empty can of spray primer in my hands. I can confirm it was as pathetic as you’re imagining. We needed more supplies, so a trip to Home Depot came next. Getting out of the house and forcing myself to do something helps sometimes. Not today. But then on the way home… magic happened.

Kendal said “Stop at McDonald’s, we’re getting fries.” My one true weakness… Brilliant woman. In the drive through it was decided we should get a soda as well. I took the bag through the window, the smell alone was enough to begin to revive me. We got home and pulled out a jar of homemade green chili and threw it under the broiler with cheese. Are you getting the picture now? As we sat down and dove into our treasure, salt and fat and sugar all combined into glorious perfection, I felt the weight lifting from me. Sure, I was still worn out, but the oppressive exhaustion and depression all began to melt away. Childhood and adulthood meeting in the middle, calories and energy and “Oh god I earned this”, IronMan triathlete plowing through a mountain of fries and chili and cheese with an extra-large soda.

We train so hard, every minute of every day starts to revolve around the next race, hitting the next goal. It isn’t a bad thing! But how often do we stop to enjoy the reward of that work rather than feeling lost in the completion of the goal? To embrace the soreness, the exhaustion, hell even that blister? To dig in to a plate full of green chili cheese fries? It’s just as important a part of your training as any of the miles spent on the trail. Thank you for reminding me of that today, Kendal.

cheesfries