Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

           

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

Blog

What Do Our Priorities Say About Us?

Sarah Stanley

Priorities.

Habits.

Our habits say a lot about our priorities, what we value in life and what is important to us.   

What if we woke up everyday with the priority of loving more?

What if we made letting go of that which does not serve us and keeping that which does a priority?

What if we woke up with the first priority on our mind was “how can I be the peace/joy/love/kindness in the world today” instead of “where’s my coffee?”

If our value system were based on our priorities and what’s important to us, where would we fall?

Not all priorities are benefiting us. Some habits need a makeover. Taking a closer look at what is important to us and being honest with ourselves if it’s helping or hindering our mind+body+spirit+earth.

Can you picture a world where our priorities breathed life into others?!  

Perhaps we need a priority detox...

My 2016 Birthday Celebration Plans!

Sarah Stanley

On the eve of leaving for my birthday project! A mix of emotions for what is before me. Excited but also remembering that mountains alway make the rules (namely, weather!).

For those who don't know me that well, I celebrate my birthday with an athletic+charitable challenge. There have been some epic adventures over the years!

For 2016, I'm taking on this: to climb some more challenging peaks in a short period of time and to help Bill Middlebrook complete his fundraising efforts for CFI! I figured why not combine my love of the mountains?

You can directly donate here: https://www.coloradogives.org/cfi2016billm

And when donate, send me a screenshot of your donation receipt and I'll send you a birthday card on YOUR birthday!

Here are the mountains on my agenda:

Mt. Wilson

El Diente

(Possibly summiting Wilson Peak again)

Wetterhorn

Matterhorn (not a 14er but linking up these 3 together)

Uncompahgre

San Luis

Pyramid

Capitol

Maroon Bells Traverse

Some 13ers on the San Luis day

I'm looking forward to climbing with some great people along this celebration journey. I'll be posting photos and updates pending phone reception. :)

What Does A Training Week Look Like?

Sarah Stanley

Preface

I haven’t written explicitly about my ultra endurance training over the last few years. Partly due to the fact that I’m juggling training full time in addition to running (no pun intended) a business, another startup, along with all of other life’s responsibilities!

However, I’ve missed looking at my training and figured it was time to pick pen and paper again. Plus, perhaps you’ll find it useful in your journey wherever you are at.

---

My Type A personality wants to go back and recap my athletic training these past months and years but that would be impossible so I’ll bring you up to speed these last few weeks. Cool?

In April 2016 I ran two 50 milers. The North Face Endurance Challenge D.C. and New York. Both races had their own set of unique challenges. Looking ahead two months to the 3rd race of The North Face Endurance Challenge Series (July 16, 2016) I knew I needed to revamp my training strategy. Several weeks later I was reading an interview with Jared Campbell (3 time winner of the Barkley Marathons) who mentioned doing 20,000 to 50,000 of gain a week. There it was. Get my legs on as many mountains as I could the next 7+ weeks and climb my heart+soul (plus lungs) out. I felt very confident in this training approach.  

 

The week leading up to July 16, 2016 was chaotic and one of my training essentials, i.e. sleep, was jeopardized. I had jam-packed days starting at the usual 5 a.m. and going to 10 p.m. 11 p.m. That Friday (July 15) I left my house at 6:30 a.m. and didn’t arrive in Toronto, Canada till 7:15 p.m. By the time I cleared customs, picked up my rental car, made a quick stop at Whole Foods Market for the few items I wasn’t able to bring with me, I didn’t start the nearly 2 hour drive up to the Blue Mountains in Collingwood, Ontario till 8:30 p.m. To say I was pretty tired was an understatement. I never like going into a race sleep deprived!

 

There was a light drizzle of rain on the drive up to Collingwood and I prayed that race day would be clear. It’s one thing to train in the rain, it’s quite another to race in the rain! (It rained/poured/hailed/snowed/sleet during the entire race in D.C. in April and I did not wish for a repeat of that!)

After arriving at Blue Mountain Resort in the darkness of night and checking in, I collapsed into bed (literally) at 11 p.m. after setting my alarm for 3:30 a.m. I could sleep in! The race start was just across the way and I was stoked about that.

However, at just before 3 a.m., a fire alarm went off. I stumbled half naked out of bed, not entirely sure if it was my alarm or a nightmare! After peaking out into the hallway, it was indeed a fire alarm and the whole hotel had to be evacuated. Slightly panicking about my race that was to start shortly, I quickly dressed in my running clothes, grabbed a blanket and headed outside to wait the all clear call. After the fire department checked the building we were cleared to go back inside. So much for “sleeping in” and a peaceful start to my day! But rather than becoming mad at the circumstances, I chose to remain happy that I was safe and was going to have a great race no matter what!

 

5 a.m. came and the race was underway. To make a long story short, I had a really great race. I felt strong almost the entire way. My nutrition, electrolyte and mental game were on point and I as replied to another runner earlier in the wee hours of the morning, I felt “spunky” throughout most of the day given a somewhat challenging course- with many hills! I finished with a smile and gratitude for running my 11th 50 miler. (Or because I was in Canada, 80k.) :)

 

The next day (Sunday) I took an active recovery day that included 4+ hours of walking, hiking, some laps in the pool, a nap and some scrumptious organic juice and food from Press Juice Co. I honestly did not feel like I ran just ran 50 miles up and down ski hills hours previously!

 

Monday morning I got up and spent 2 hours on the trails before driving back to Toronto via Barrie, Ontario so I could visit RIPE Juicery. I felt fabulous! That evening I did a lot of casual walking and a visit to Kupfert & Kim.

 

Tuesday morning I was up early-ish and sightsaw Toronto via a 30k bike ride. With a stop at The Organic Press. I love so many things and traveling while being active and healthy is at the top of the list! Regrettably I didn’t have a chance to check out any yoga studios- next time! Later that afternoon it was a mad dash to the airport but not before satisfying my craving for a Green Matcha Mylk at Village Juicery. There were several flight delays so by the time I landed in Denver, took the train to my car, got home and fell into bed, it was 1 a.m. No rest for the weary as I had to get up at 5 a.m. Welcome to Wednesday!

 

I was really looking forward to receiving chiropractic care that morning so I could continue 2 more months of intense training. In September I have two 50 milers, 6 days apart and the later race is in Park City, Utah. I ran this race last year and the course is not easy. I want to run strong again and my goal is 30,000 feet of gain a week for the next 6 weeks.

 

A long nap (yay!) that day with a few hours on the trails rounded out the rest of my Wednesday. I was still in awe of how great I felt! Thursday and Friday were easy days of training that included trails and yoga. Friday I also got a much-needed massage at LoDo Massage.

 

Saturday morning I did two repeats of a small mountain for a total of about 3000 feet of gain. It was also a very hot morning. I was craving yoga but my body wanted sleep. So much in fact that my nap was 4 hours! Over the years I’ve learned to pay attention to my body and honor what it desires. It wanted sleep and sleep was achieved. Remember, it’s only been a week since the race!

 

Sunday morning I was back to my weekly summer goal of riding (road cycling) a nearby mountain. It was a good gauge on my recovery. My legs felt tired riding up. It’s a 7 mile hill climb with 2115 of gain when all is said and done. I raced back home, made a quick plant-based shake and was on my yoga mat by 11 a.m. Whew. A glorious nap in the afternoon and then I hit the trails that night for a 2 hour run up another mountain. Must get that vert in! With that run I ended up with 3,751 of gain for the day.

 

Monday, July 25, 2016

 

Barely 12 hours later I was back on the trails for a 2 hour run with 1,281 of gain and elevation going up to 7,893. This run was followed by chiropractic care and a very productive afternoon and evening.

 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

 

This morning was catching up on work and yoga studio trade for cleaning followed by a yoga class, ran a few errands, back to the chiropractor, stopped at Natural Grocers, made organic plant-based shortcakes for Fresh Peach Shortcake, quickly packed and out the door to drive up to the mountains for a group Alpine run that evening (6 miles, 1,345 gain, starting elevation was 10,600-ish).

 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

 

A few hours of restless sleep (one can only sleep so well cramped in the back seats of a small car!) before it was time to go run up another tall mountain. I started a little after 5:15 a.m. and made swift time (1:29 with 2,850 of gain) to the summit of Mt. Bierstadt (14,060 feet) with a few pauses for photos to capture the sunrise. I ran back quickly to the trailhead as I wanted to make it back to Denver to lift at the gym by 9:15 a.m. This was a 7 mile run.

 

I scarfed down a delicious bowl of my organic, plant-based, made-from-scratch, fresh peach shortcake and started driving. It was just past 8 a.m. and I was feeling mighty accomplished and proud of it! I was on the weight room floor by 9:30 a.m., lifted upper body for 45 minutes (plus a few deadlifts- one of my favorite moves) back in the car for another wonderful chiropractic adjustment and home by 12 noon to clean the car, do a load of wash and prepare for one more workout of the day and more mountains in the early, early morning.

 

I finished up today’s training with a 27 mile ride (road cycling) on my weekly hill climb. I was delightfully surprised at good my legs felt!

 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

 

It was another early 3 a.m. wake up call to head back out to the mountains. Initially, my climbing partner and I were to climb another route, however, I had to be back at certain time and we didn’t want to make hasty decisions on a technical route so we opted for Bierstadt. We made quick time on the ascent and descent, I even ran into a good friend on the way down, which was very surprising and fun! Summiting this 14,060 foot mountain twice in less than 24 hours was surreal. I had a pretty long nap (yay!) later that day along with a much needed yoga class.

 

Friday, July 29, 2016

 

I didn’t feel like running a 14er today so I opted to run 13ers instead. [Insert laughs here.] I explored a new-to-me mountain trail with great views of 14ers. I ended up with 4,000 feet of gain (all 2 miles above sea level) and beautiful scenery to go with it.

 

Saturday, July 30, 2016

 

This morning began at 4 a.m. followed by a 2+ hour drive out to Twin Lakes, Colorado. I was soooo sleepy, I stopped and pulled over right before Leadville to close my eyes. I didn’t want to fall asleep on my bike!

 

The morning was gorgeous and the clouds were sitting low in the valley making for a beautiful backdrop. I put my bike together, clipped in and began my journey riding up Independence Pass. Oh boy. I made it to the top of the pass and the Continental Divide faster than I anticipated- which was a nice energy boost. I motivated myself with getting a photo on the return summit. I know- some people choose beer, I choose a photo.

 

Riding down Independence Pass into Aspen wasn’t as fast as one might think. Hairpin switchbacks, rough, narrow roads plus motor vehicles on your back, let’s just say I was braking way more than I cared for. However, I didn’t feel like becoming road kill so safety first and foremost. Before long I arrived in Aspen. 50% of my ride complete. I guess I know many people because a guy from my yoga studio walked by! Small world. He gave me words of encouragement and without too much lingering, I was back on the saddle and pedaling my way back up the mountain.

 

Riding up from the Aspen side is a little more challenging as you gain 4,400 feet (as compared to 3,100 on the Twin Lakes side).  Nevertheless, I kept my mind's eye fixed on the Continental Divide summit. The ascent intense as the heat of the sun. A few groves of Aspen trees along the winding road were refreshing. I continued to pedal up the mountain and before I knew it I was on the final approach to the summit! Oh glory hallelujah! Once on top of the summit for the second time, I wearily unclipped from the bike and walked around a bit to give my legs a different position. Man, did that feel good! Another cyclist reached the top and we chit-chatted over our handlebars. He asked what my time was up to that point and he replied “that is really, really good”. That felt really good to hear. A few other random people congratulated me, refilled my water, gave me a organic (I kid you not!) banana and even a hug. I was so grateful for all who celebrated what I did. I rode down into Twin Lakes in awe of what I had accomplished. It was a huge athletic challenge as well as having the mental fortitude to keep climbing when I was weary. Yes, many life lessons out of this ride for sure!

 

74 miles with 7,600 feet of climbing (all at 2 miles above sea level remind you)!

 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

 

I woke up still in a fog (a ride hangover perhaps??) and went to a very much-needed yoga class. Boy, did that feel delicious! I had a long nap and finished out the week with a 10 mile run in the evening.

 

This week totals were:

150 miles

24,000+ thousand feet of gain (to put that in perspective, Everest is 29,029 thousand feet.

---

As I was driving and reflecting on the past week plus, I realized it was time to put down what “I do” on paper. I’m so grateful that my body is able to do all the training I set my heart on! Might I also add that I take no Rx or OTC drugs, I eat real, organic, plant-based food and see a chiropractor regularly. :) 

Life Is Not a Microwave

Sarah Stanley

The other week during a wellness counseling session with a client, I spoke these words “life is not a microwave’.

This quote was in response to how the majority of people want instant results for their long-standing problems.

  • Have to lose 100lbs? Schedule a surgery.
  • Can’t sleep? Take a pill.
  • Unhappy with the color of your skin? Stand inside a booth with artificial light.
  • Don’t have time to make dinner? Sit in the car and order from the drive-thru.
  • Need your caffeine high? Push a button.
  • Office on the 10th floor? Stand on the elevator.
  • Rushed for breakfast? Throw something in the microwave.
  • We can read the news (term used loosely) with a flick of our finger.
  • We can swipe right or left to find a date.
  • We can have our groceries delivered in less than an hour!
  • Which is closer- by mere minutes- Uber or Lyft?  

The examples of instantaneous “results” are too numerous to list! I’m sure you can think of some as well. However, the results aren’t authentic results. They are convenience-based results versus life sustaining change. Life is not a microwave. Life is not about hacking, cutting, grinding, counting or cheating. (All popular terms that are used to describe how many people eat, exercise, live life.)

The problem with living in this microwave mindset is that it sets people up for unreasonable expectations and major disappointment. People want what they want when they want. (Say that 10 times fast!) Then one day they wake up to the fact that they are in debt- financially and health-wise. They’ve maxed out their cards (literally and figuratively) and their results have lend them to being stuck, sick and sad. How tragic!

Results transpire when we work diligently, have a positive mindset and maintain healthy habits. It is unrealistic to expect results instantly for something we’ve been negatively contributing to for years.

  • It took _ years to put the weight on, it will take time to lose the weight.  
  • It took _ years to get into debt, it will take time to get out of debt.
  • It took _ years to have sleep problems, it will take time to build healthy, peaceful, restful sleep habits.  

Sooner than later the microwave mindset will burst and people will become sick and tired of being sick and tired. In order to shift from the microwave mentality to a place of peace, we need to look at how we’re living life.

Symptoms have to be healed in order for the problem to be resolved. Most people want the problem (sleep, health, relationship, wealth) to be fixed but fail to change the course of their lifestyle (symptoms) that lead to their problem in the first place!   

Here are three questions to ask yourself to shift from the microwave mindset to a mindful mindset.

No.1) What are my beliefs?

I talk about this in my book, Live Freely, that our beliefs must be detoxed in order to live the life we desire and were created for. If our belief system (i.e. the thoughts we think) is rooted in fear, worry, anxiety, jealousy or doubt, then we will make choices based out of those negative emotions.

If our internal belief system is based on the lies we’ve been told (not good enough, not an A++ student, or that our self worth is based on the amount of education we have or how much money is the bank account), we will continue to live a unfulfilling, sad, doom and gloom life.  

No.2) What am I focusing on?

What are you focusing on? Where you focus is where your energy will go. So, if your energy is focused on “life sucks, the world is out to get me, I can never lose this weight, I’ll never be able to have restful sleep, I’m never going to be happy, I’ll never find a life partner, there’s never enough money….”, you will get exactly what you are focusing on! Be super mindful of what you are focusing on because that is where your energy is going. We go in the direction of where think. Read the first question again. If your thoughts are negative, pessimistic and unhealthy, you will obtain a negative, pessimistic and unhealthy outcome! Are you more focused on just getting rid of the problem or actually changing the way you live and think about life? Weight issues will rarely be resolved if the focus is simply on just losing weight. The weight that was lost will almost always be gained back again because the symptoms (lifestyle behaviors) were never dealt with. A person in debt can’t simply focus on paying off their credit cards without changing their behaviors (habits) that got them into debt in the first place! If people don’t change their behaviors they will end up right back in debt. A person in disease (debt) can’t simply focus on their problem (sleep, weight loss, chronic fatigue) without addressing the behaviors (habits) that got them into disease in the first place.

No.3) What has more room in my life?

What has more room in my life?

  • Worry or peace?
  • Fear or love?
  • Anxiety or contentment?
  • Regret or hope?
  • Sadness or happiness?

In order to shift from the microwave mindset to a mindful mindset, we must take inventory of what is taking up space in our minds and subsequently, our lives. If we are constantly filled with worry, fear, anxiety, then we will stay worried, fearful, anxious! Now, does that sound fun to you? I sure hope not!

Begin to fill your mind with healthy and helpful practices such as meditation (check out Headspace), take deep, calming inhales and exhales when you are feeling overwhelmed or worried, take up a yoga practice to empower peace and serenity into your mind and life, surround yourself with positive, uplifting friendships, remove anything from your life that does not bring you joy, peace and happiness. Lastly, every time you feel a negative emotion surface, replace it with a truth affirmation statement. (Get a copy of Live Freely for some examples.)

 

Over time- if you are dedicated to truly changing the way you live life- you will discover that your quality of life will improve and the problems you once had are either less frequent or non-existent all together. Imagine that!   

love+light

 



 

I Am You and You Are Me

Sarah Stanley

I am you and you are me

As I pulled up to the red light earlier the other evening there was an older lady holding a cardboard sign. There's been an uptick in the homelessness in this area recently. :(

Much to her delight, I hand her a bag of food and wished her a goodnight.

Here's the cool part: the car to my left started honking. I look over and they are giving the lady money! My simple gesture of kindness started a chain reaction. A positive domino effect.

Daily my prayer is that each one of us will remember that we are all connected, I am you and you are me. There is much that tries to divide us. Walls are built, literally and figuratively. We are more disconnected than ever.

We must remember that we are snowflakes in a grove of Aspen trees: each divinely and uniquely put on this earth in harmony and connection.

There are no two snowflakes alike.

Aspen trees are always in groves. There are no solo Aspens.

May we use nature to remind us of our connection to each other so that we can build bridges instead of walls, pathways instead of dividers, open doors instead of locked gates.

Feedback Of Our Life

Sarah Stanley

Working out, running, exercising, hitting the gym all the while consuming processed junk products is like driving a Prius as they smoke and throwing the cigarette out the window. One healthy behavior doesn't cancel out a terrible habit.

Many people fall into this way of living and then wonder why they are chronically sick, injured, tired, fatigued, can't recover from workouts, always sore, have allergies and sleeping problems.  

Well, the answer lies in the choices people are making, i.e. lifestyle. When you are feeding your (amazing, wonderful, beautiful!) body trash, of course you’ll have health problems. This is your body’s way of expressing itself. Be it headaches, chronic pain, sleep problems, [insert your health ailments here], our body is constantly giving us feedback. The feedback can be in the form of a headache or clarity, fatigue or energy, insomnia or peaceful sleep. Our bodies are so incredible but sadly, many are so used to numbing out the second they feel pain or discomfort. Again, pain and discomfort is simply feedback. We can take that feedback and turn it into (inspired) action for how we’re choosing to live life. Or we can continue to suppress that feedback and keep living stuck, sick and sad. 

I encourage you to take a look at your current nutrition and lifestyle choices and start making changes to it so you can live well, run long, jump, push, pull, lift, move your body without pain, sleep well, look great and prevent disease!

Healthy Hunt: Feb. 2016

Sarah Stanley

Sarah Stanley Healthy Hunt

It's here! Our February 2016 Healthy Hunt is a fun 'scavenger hunt'. We will be placing 'hidden' Healthy Hunt words on certain places around the site and on free downloadable content. There will be one Grand Prize winner and three Runner Up winners. All you have to do is find them all and send them in! Easy, right?

Visit the Healthy Hunt page to see a list of what is included in the prizes and for all other info (How to Play, Hints, Answer Submission, etc).

Real Is Not What You Think It Is

Sarah Stanley

Believe it or not, you can be human and make excellent choices.

Believe it or not, you can "be real" and crave real, organic, nutrient-dense food that nourishes the mind+body+spirit.

Believe it or not, I live the same way whether I'm with 10,000 people or by myself. I still eat real, organic, nutrient-dense food. I make my own toothpaste. I brush my teeth with a bamboo toothbrush. I cook the majority of my food from scratch. I crave organic veggies. I crave real organic foods that nourish me fully. I sleep on organic sheets. I use organic coconut oil as lotion. When I travel I bring the majority of my food with me (organic of course). I've never owned a TV. I've never had a Pepsi, Coke, etc. I can count on one hand the number of drinks I've had in my lifetime. My life doesn't revolve around "happy hours" (I want a happy life, not just hours). I drink 1-2 gallons of reverse osmosis water daily. My non-plastic reusable water bottle goes everywhere with me. Everywhere. I don't subscribe to junk magazines. I have reusable bamboo utensils in my bag at all times (I have 2 sets actually) so I never have to use plastic. 

This is my "normal". I don't really think about it. It's simply how I live life.  

For example: yesterday, I ate a raw organic cucumber while in the car driving. Today, I had a huge whole bowl of raw organic mixed salad greens while in the car again. 

My body craves what is good for it. The smell of disease is repulsive to me. Why would I put that in my temple (body)?!  

I honestly do not like candy or unhealthy junk. Why would I put junk in my temple (body)? If I want a "sweet treat" I MAKE sure it's organic, ethical, usually made from scratch and with ingredients that do not cause disease. 

I train daily- 20-30 hours a week in fact. [I'm a multi sport, ultra endurance athlete.] I rarely post on social media about this. My physical activity is not dependent on if I posted the latest update or not. 

I don't cheat on my mind+body+spirit.

I don't cheat on my health.

I don't "moderate" my life, what I eat. I eat real, organic food that NOURISHES by mind+body+spirit.

I don't "hack" my life, my health, my fitness. (There are no shortcuts to the top.)

I don't feel guilty about my life and the wellness/food/health choices I make!

Why don't I hack, moderate, feel guilty? Because I've developed and built discipline into my entire life. Discipline is one of the major components missing in our culture today. We have too many people living toxic junk-filled lives. From relationships to TV to magazines to "food" to drink, few are disciplined to remove the junk from their lifestyle. 

Am "I real"? You bet.

Am I human? You bet.

The difference is that my bulls eye, my center, my VERY laser focused belief that guides me day in, day out to make decisions that align with my ethics, morals, values. Every. Single. Day.

I do not live by the status quo that in order to "be real" I must be living a different life when no one is watching. Or that surely I must be craving junk! Or that I must only be posting the good choices I make and hiding something in the closet. I know this might rock your world, but I live the same day in, day out. Making excellent choices that align with my ethics, morals, values. Making choices that will make my health excellent. Making choices that will leave the earth, land, air, water excellent. Making choices that will leave a healthy legacy for generations to come. Making choices that I'm "proud" of vs choices that leave me feeling guilty or that need justification. [If a life choice requires justification then you know it's not a good choice. Excellent choices do not need justification.]

Believe it or not it is very much possible to live an organic lifestyle day in, day out, authentically, with integrity, with the utmost love in everything I do.

I despise the notion that somehow, in order "to be real" I must be eating/consuming junk in private or living a different life when no one is watcing. Nope! You can be real and still eat/live/move/breathe that honors your temple (body). You can be real and make choices that honor our only earth. You can be real and make choices that honor people.

I am real. 

My body+mind+spirit is a temple. 

I don't live the status quo. Join me! 

It's all organic all the time. 

The Elephant In The Pews

Sarah Stanley

This is a rhetorical question, but begs being asked regardless. Why do Christians complain about their preventable health conditions and then pray to be healed but do nothing (or the very minimum) to change their toxic lifestyle?

Spirituality is plural, not singular. Sitting in the pew for 1 hour of our week but living haphazardly the other 167 hours of the week leads to being sick in the mind+body+spirit. 

What we chose to eat/drink/read/watch/listen/hang out with can either nourish our temple or harm it. 

It's going to be difficult to be in a happy mood when we are doped up on coffee, sugar, donuts, little sleep, barely move our body... We may not need prayer for our condition but instead ACTION to clean up our lifestyle so it is congruent with what we say to profess.  

Obesity, sleep apnea, Type Two diabetes, cancer, mood, heart disease, stroke, energy, etc...are all preventable diseases by the proper lifestyle choices.

Honestly, how can we complain about our health when we aren't taking care of this temple to begin with??

It's like complaining that the car won't run or is always breaking down but yet we never put gas in the fuel tank, changed the oil, fixed the tire...or these examples:

It's like complaining that it's raining while standing in the driveway of a mansion when someone is standing in the doorway screaming for you to come inside. But you just ignore them and keep asking God to rescue you.

This also reminds me of the man on his roof in the rising waters of a flood. As he was praying for rescue, a boat came by. He said, no thank you, God will rescue me. As the boat sped away he continued to pray and a second, larger boat came by and threw a life buoy. He screamed, "That's okay. God will rescue me!" Standing firm in his resolve he stood with his hands to the sky in fervent prayer as a helicopter approached and lowered a basket. The man sent it away as well. 

When the flood waters overtook him, he drowned and stood before the throne of God in heaven. Perplexed, he said, "my God, why did you forsake me?" He answered sternly, "I sent you two boats and a helicopter, what more did you want?" 

And so it goes with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and on and on and on. "Lord heal me while I kill myself."

Dear professing Christians, it is (past) high time that we start living out our faith by taking the utmost care of this temple: mind+body+spirit.

This 'elephant in the pews' is a topic that the church is largely ignoring and it's killing us. Literally. But not on my watch. I want to use the time that I've been given to help those in the faith community learn how to live well in mind+body+spirit. 

The Truth About Sugar Substitutes

Sarah Stanley

Food Fact Friday! 

Many people are still under the impression that Truvia is Stevia or worse yet, a 'health food'. This couldn't be farther from the truth!  

Today in Food Fact Friday you'll learn two truths about popular sugar substitutes.

First up is Truvia.

Let me shout it from the roof tops: Truvia is NOT a health food!

  • manufactured by Cargill Chemical Company 
  • not Stevia 
  • contains Erythritol (a sugar alcohol) which leads to a host of different health problems and contributes to disease
  • Truvia Baking Blend is: Erythritol, Sugar (GMO sugar beets), Stevia Leaf Extract  
  • highly processed (Stevia is a green leaf...how does it turn into a white powder?!)
  • if you have this product in your home, toss it out ASAP

The second one is Agave. 
Also a popular 'health' food but it is not. 

  • highly processed (again, how does a green plant turn into syrup?)
  • higher in fructose than HFCS (!!!)
  • because it is so high in fructose it leads to many health problems including diabetes

I don't recommend agave as a sugar substitute.

The only sweeteners I recommend (and use myself) are 100% pure maple syrup (none of the fake syrup crap please!), organic coconut sugar, raw (local preferably) honey. Organic applesauce, organic dates, and organic fruits are also great ways to sweeten baked goods. Or if you're on a run, bike ride, physically active.  Basic rule of thumb: if God made it and man didn't tamper with it, it's good for you. 

This should go without saying, but please don't use white sugar (GMO sugar beets) or the blue/yellow/pink sugar packets. Splenda will destroy your health. 

Does honey have fructose? Yes. But the amazing thing about raw honey (again, not to be confused with conventional, pasteurized, filtered honey) is that the fructose found in honey is metabolized differently by the body. God knows what our body needs! There are many health benefits to raw honey. [see resources below]

If you have Truvia in your kitchen, go throw it out right now. And then take a photo of it in your trashcan and share with me on any of my social networks! 

A few brands that are Sarah Stanley Approved:

Big Tree Farms [coconut sugar]
Really Raw Honey

Resources:

>> http://www.drweil.com/…/…/Whats-Wrong-with-Agave-Nectar.html 
>> http://www.dietitiancassie.com/the-truth-on-truvia/ 
>> http://butterbeliever.com/is-honey-really-healthier-than-s…/ 
>> http://www.benefits-of-honey.com/

The Connection Between Money and Your Health

Sarah Stanley

Money and health closely parallel each other.

Frivolous and careless spending leads to debt, perhaps even bankruptcy, stress.

Being frivolous and careless with what you eat and how you treat your temple (body) leads to sickness, disease, stress, general unhealthiness. It's bankruptcy in the wellness department. 

Think of your health as an investment that gives you a return even after you pass away. Because how you live today impacts the next 5-6 generations, some choices even 1000 years (using plastic bags)!

You can go into debt for that fancy handbag (that's made from an animal and unethical labor) that will rip and tear OR you can buy a Global Mamas handbag that is made with fair trade labor and supports ethics and values. 

You can buy that processed cheeseburger and shake (that violates ethics and morals) that will contribute to your disease OR you can go to your local organic farm/farmers market/health food store and buy kale+hemp hearts that will contribute to your overall prevention of disease.  

Everything is connected together. From what you think, from what you eat, from you hang out with, what you listen to, what you read- it ALL has an effect on your wellbeing!

If your health (or spending) is out of control, take a serious look at the fright train heading your way. Please don't wait till it's too late. 

Think before you spend. 

Think before you purchase disease. 

How To Be Who You Want To Be

Sarah Stanley

Do you seek transformation in your life?
What do you long for in 2015 to finally become a reality?
Is there a negative habit you want to break free from?
Where do you want to be 2 years from today?

In order to change who we are we have to change who we are:

#1  Break Bad Habits
In order to change who we are we have to change our behaviors. Maybe you want to quit smoking or perhaps you want to eat better, drink (more) water, move your body, etc. In order for you to change negative behavior to positive behavior (habits) we have to look at what causes us to do the bad habit in the first place. Is it stress? It's been a habit for so long you aren't sure why anymore? What's the trigger for doing what you're doing? Once you get connected to why you do what you do, you can begin to break free from bad habits to live a positive life! 

#2  Become Who You Want To Be
What kind of person do you want to be? Kind, joyous, healthy, a better leader, compassionate? In order to be who you want to be, you have to live who you want to be. Take for example if your desire is to be healthy, then you need to change your lifestyle. This can include where you shop, who you hang out with, your daily schedule. Maybe it’s getting rid of the TV (yes it can be done!) so you can do healthy things like getting quality sleep, or making healthy friends who practice physical activity on the weekends instead of “going out”, or listening to positive, encouraging music. Who you want to be is based largely on the company you keep and your habits. All the “little” things we do will influence our behavior so it’s wise to look at how we’re currently living and determine if that is setting us up for the life we want (and meant) to live.

#3  Believe That You Can Change
Many people sabotage their life by thinking negatively and inwardly believing they can’t change! You are what you think and you live what you believe. Often subtle beliefs about oneself can destroy or greatly derail their life. It can take some work and digging into our past to figure out what we believe about ourselves and separating the truth from the lies. When you begin to change what you believe about your life, your life will transform and you’ll find freedom and joy that you’ve always longed for.

LIFEWORK: How can I change my behavior to live the life I meant to live?

The Secrets To Weight Loss: Part 1

Sarah Stanley

Many people struggle to lose weight and unfortunately have fallen prey to the myth of "burning calories" as the answer. Actually, exercise is a verysmall piece of the wellness and weight loss puzzle. Stress, sleep, hormones, and toxins are four areas of wellness that don't have calories but have a major effect on your wellness and weight loss goals/weight management.

Let's talk about hormones. Both men and women have them. To understand hormones we need a little anatomy lesson first. The thyroid (located near Adam’s apple) is a closely connected with adrenal glands (located just above your kidneys). All of these endocrine glands affect your hormones, metabolism, weight, and so much more. Think of the thyroid and adrenals as a gas pedal and battery in a car. The thyroid is the gas pedal and the adrenals glands are the battery. You need both to drive a car and you need both to have a healthy, balanced body!

When your cortisol levels are high (from stress, intense and overdoing exercise, what you eat, drink, consume) this plays a part in your hormones and weight loss goals. Everything works together (thyroid, adrenals, blood sugar, cortisol) to keep your body either well or sick.

Fight or flight- these two words are crucial to understanding how to workout smartly and effectively. Because the thyroid and adrenals work very closely together, when they are off, everything is off. Exercising is fantastic but when the body is overstressed at a biochemical level our fight or flight sympathetic nervous system kicks in.

And when we exercise on overstressed adrenals, unbalanced hormones, health problems will occur.

Many people think that they if just work out harder or faster (watching TV shows like The Biggest Loser doesn’t help matters) they will lose the weight. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! Read this real life story.

I had a client who was determined that spending more time on the Elliptical was the answer to her weight loss problems. As much as I tried to educate her on the adrenal/hormone/cortisol/sleep/stress element of weight loss, she didn’t understand it and never lost weight during that period. Why didn’t she lose weight? Because she wasn’t sleeping, her adrenals were shot, her cortisol levels were through the roof- her body was in the fight/flight mode! Her body thought it was being attacked by a lion constantly, it could never let go. It had to hold on [to the fat] because it never knew when it would have to flee for dear life.

Exercise is not always the answer! In fact for many people a protocol of gentle, physical activity is advised over intense, mindless exercise. Once the body and endocrine system is stable they can slowly re-introduce more intense functional workouts.

Of note: many runners wonder why they can’t lose weight even though they run x miles day/week. Why can’t they lose weight? Because their body (adrenals, hormones, endocrine system) is in a constant state of fight/flight. Remember the lion example above? That’s why. If a runner actually did gentle physical activity to repair the endocrine system they would see results (as well as proper nutrition). Running is not always the magic solution to losing weight.

If toxic meat, processed/GMO products, and too much fructose are consumed this will cause havoc on hormones and have negative effects on weight loss. Endocrine disruptors are everywhere. Know what they are. (Read this website, we've written about this topic.)

Want to lose weight? Struggling to maintain weight?  Here are some tips for you:

  • Be physically active throughout the day vs 1 hour pushing yourself at the gym (that will only raise your cortisol levels and actually hinder your goals).
  • Eat only organic, grass-fed meat and limit consumption of it.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Get quality sleep. (We'll cover this in part two.)
  • Stop eating processed/GMO products. (I can't tell you how many of my clients have lost weight simply by switching to an all-organic lifestyle!)
  • Eat organic, whole, real foods
  • Take organic herbal supplements to help the adrenals and endocrine system: AshwagandhaHoly BasilMacaadrenal support.
  • Work with me. I’d love nothing more than to help you live well in mind+body+spirit!

Cover photo credit: Michael Gil

Living An Environmentally Conscious Life

Sarah Stanley

We are days away from opening the door on 2015 (wasn't it just Y2K?!) and with every passing day we have more challenges and but also more opportunities to make environmentally-conscious choices. The first step to living an environmentally-conscious life is to be connected. How connected are you to what you purchase? Living an environmentally-conscious life requires us to be connected to whatever we are doing. From what we buy to what we eat to how we live, our choices not only impact our earth but also our fellow mankind.

Questions to ask yourself:

- Do I know who made this?

- Do I know how it was made?

- Do I know how far it traveled?

The second step to living an environmentally-conscious life is to be knowledgable. Knowledge is power. And when you are empowered you take action to live a better life. Did you know that chocolate and coffee are two of the top crops that are grown using unfriendly environmental methods (pesticides, endangering rainforests) as well as slave/child labor? Palm oil is another crop that is destroying our precious rainforests. Big Food companies routinely harm our earth as well as our health. Your purchases have power to create change or they have power to keep people sick and harm the environment.

Questions to ask yourself:

- Where does my meat come from? How was it grown, raised?

- Where does my chocolate come from?

- Where does my coffee come from?

The third step to living an environmentally-conscious life is to be aware. When we are aware that our actions and choices are impacting so many things, it forces us to make conscious choices. Are we leaving lights on in the house needlessly? Leaving the TV on in empty rooms? What kind of products are we buying? Can we buy local? Can we get to know our local, organic farmer who doesn't use toxic pesticides and support them?

Questions to ask yourself:

- Can I buy local this Christmas season?

- Can I turn off the TV and go outside for a walk?

- Can I buy products that support my values and ethics?

Learn more about enrollment in Windsource!

Cover photo credit: Najarich

 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Xcel Energy. The opinions and text are all mine.

4 Apps To Encourage and Grow Your Faith

Sarah Stanley

Wellness is plural- mind+body+spirit. We are what we eat (absorb), drink, think. Faith and spirituality are an integral part of my life. (Note: spirituality is not the same religious.) Believing in something greater than yourself is what enables us to get through the difficult times in our life. It makes life have a purpose. Meaning. The first 5 minutes of our day set the tone for the next 900 minutes of our day! Instead of cursing at your alarm, checking email, cruising social media, start your day with meditation! Here are 4 apps that I start my day with and reflect back to during the day.

Strong faith. Strong body. Live well in mind+body+spirit!

Echo app
Echo app

1.) Echo. This is a great app for tracking prayer requests. I love looking back at prayer requests and seeing how they were answered!

PAYG app
PAYG app

2.) PAYG. This is another great app to start your day with!  Music, scripture, reflection, help set you up for positive day ahead. Get it here.

Bible app
Bible app

3.) Bible. YouVersion has made it possible to have the Bible available in your hand, pocket! Every translation, devotionals, social and friend community, verse of the day, this is a great app to download. 

DVO app
DVO app

4.) DVO. This is probably one of my favorite apps. It's not only beautiful, but inspirational and makes me think. The beautiful images can be saved to your camera roll and shared or used as screen savers. Get it here

Cover photo credit: ActiveSteve

How To Manage The Holidays (Without Losing Your Mind)

Sarah Stanley

Today we released our 2014 Holiday Wellness Guide. Be sure to get your copy of this beautiful guide. It's packed full of practical and helpful insights (plus a fair trade gift guide, recipes, workouts, how not to get sick) to help you get through the holidays. Get yours here.  ----

Once a month I get the honor of co-hosting Everyday Health #HealthTalk on Twitter. Today I talked about how to have a healthy holiday. Here's the recap for your benefit!

----

  1. One of the keys to having a healthy holiday is to make your health a priority. Eat real food, drink filtered H2O, move body!
  2. You don't have to let parties and dinners derail your health. Every choice we make adds up. Make wise ones. :)
  3. Instead of trying to force yourself to stay on your "diet" rephrase that to eating real food. Bring your food to party!
  4. Be the healthy example at holiday parties and family gatherings. Setting the positive example is empowering!
  5. Keep blood sugars balanced! Always have a healthy fat, healthy carb, healthy protein when eating to do so.
  6. If you are making dishes, read the ingredients before cooking/baking. Use real (organic) food ingredients to cook with!
  7. Shift the focus from unhealthy food to making organic real food meals/dishes and spending time with those you care about.
  8. No box mixes, cans, plastic packages, okay?! Use organic sprouted grain bread to make stuffing. Buy organic fresh green beans.
  9. FYI: the whole moderation thing is a myth as it always refers to toxic food-like products. Eat real organic food & find freedom!
  10. Make daily, physical activity a natural part of your life! When it's as natural as breathing, you won't even think about it!
  11. You don't need a fancy gym to be active. Walking is free! And 3 at-home workouts here.
  12. Don't put so much pressure on yourself to "do it all"! Less is more. Stress happens when things are out of order, control.
  13. Tip 2: don't cram so much into one day. Give yourself enough time to do one thing well. Do you really, really have to_____?
  14. Breathing really helps when feeling overwhelmed. Stuck in traffic? Focus on your breath. Running late? Focus on your breath.
  15. Incorporating an vinyasa yoga practice into your life is also very beneficial. Get upside down to gain a new perspective.
  16. The first 5min of your day set the tone for the rest of it. Mediate, pray, journal, breathe. Set positive intentions/actions!
  17. Try kombucha! It's a probiotic drink that has all the health benefits but none of the impacts of alcoholic drinks!
  18. Happiness doesn't come from a drink, remember. Ask yourself why you **have** to drink. There are way better options for you!
  19. Here's something you can try: non-GMO Mocktails.
  20. There's a reason why we do what we do. But often we are disconnected from the why. Spend time figuring out the why.
  21. Organic herbal tea is also a fantastic choice! Boil water in a tea kettle...get back to the basics. :)
  22. Organic cold-pressed juices are also wonderful! Have a juicing party. :)
  23. Holidays can bring up a lot of memories, some good, some painful. Find healthy ways to cope and manage them.
  24. You have control what goes in your mouth. When at a party be in charge of your health, your body, your legacy!
  25. Organic healthy fats keep you full: avocado, ghee, coconut, nuts, seeds, Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts. Eat daily.
  26. Don't go into a party starving! This will only sabotage your goals, life, wellness. Keep food with you (nuts, seeds, veggies, clean meat if you eat it) with you. Always be prepared. 
  27. If you need help managing the holidays in healthy ways, I'm here to help you live well in mind+body+spirit! 

 

Cover photo credit: Heather Cowper

 

 

Beauty Care 101

Sarah Stanley

“If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin.” Did you know that your skin is the largest organ of your body? Your skin absorbs at least 60% of what you slather on it and is absorbed right into your bloodstream. Store shelves are filled with toxic products which includes beauty products. Even many “healthy” people don’t realize what they are putting on their skin. Up to 95% diseases are preventable (NIH) and they are preventable through lifestyle. What you put in your mouth (cigarettes, gum/mints, alcohol, Rx & OTC drugs, artificial ingredients) and what you put on your skin is directly related to either sickness or health. Many people do not bother to read the ingredients on non-edible products and don’t realize they are putting carcinogens right on their skin. Wellness and healthy living is not exclusive to just one thing.

IN THE
IN THE

Wellness is many holistic things: drinking pure, filtered water (not from a plastic bottle), fitness, eating organic food, supporting local organic farmers, massage, chiropractic care, sustainability, making sure our purchases care for the earth, acupuncture and using non-toxic skin care products.  When buying beauty products i.e. shampoo, conditioner, face cleanser, lotion, cosmetics, toothpaste, mouthwash, lip balms/chapstick, baby products, body butter, perfumes, deodorants, tampons, be sure to read the labels carefully. Ingredients to watch out for and to avoid at all cost:

  • Benzoyl Peroxide
  • FD&C Color and Pigments
  • DEA (Diethanolamine)
  • MEA (Monoethanolamine)
  • TEA (Triethanolamine)
  • Parabens (Methyl, Butyl, Ethyl, Propyl)
  • Propylene Glycol (PG)
  • Butylene Glycol
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
  • Dioxin
  • Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
  • Triclosan

Personal products also include tampons and pads. Conventional brands (Tampax, Kotex, Playtex, o.b.) that use toxic ingredients in their tampons include dyes, bleached GMO cotton, synthetic materials such as rayon, polypropylene, plastic. Our friends at Veeda tell us more “pads often contain blends of chlorine-bleached pulp that include dioxin, a substance not only linked to TSS, but also to cancer, endometriosis, immune system depression, infertility and hormone disruption. Dioxin is a carcinogen that settles in fat cells and builds up over time.

Many forget that they are literally what they put in their body!

The average woman uses 12 personal care products a day exposing herself to 168 chemicals such as formaldehyde, phthalates, parabens, that have been linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption.

Here are some Sarah Stanley Approved brands that are good for your health, the planet, and won’t contribute to disease.

Pads/Tampons

OrganycVeedaSeventh Generation

Face Care

Balanced GuruThe Orange Owl

Lips

Eco Lips

Deodorant

Primal Pit Paste (great for men too!)

Shampoo/conditioner

Desert Essence

Toothpaste

Revitin (great for everyone!)

Soap/body wash

Flagstaff Soap Company

----- Cover photo credit: Liga_Eglite

Sweat, Blood, Tears + A Birthday For Clean Water

Sarah Stanley

August 23, 2014

12:45 a.m.

I cursed into the pitch black of the night. The wind was gusting at 30 miles per hour. My hip flexors were on fire. I was relegated to a fast walk. Oh! What was that noise? A mountain lion? No, just the wind in the trees freaking me out. Was that a snake I just about stepped on? I assured my mind that it wasn’t. It’s funny how the scrapes on the trail looked like snakes. I kept moving forward. Tiredness was beginning to takeover. All I could think about was sleeping. For days. Maybe at the next aid station I could lie down for a few minutes and close my eyes. I was closing in on mile 70.5 and my head was messing with me. Why was I running 100 miles again?

—–

It all began about 21 years ago. I had always been active as a kid (growing up and toiling on one of the country’s first organic vegetable farms was a natural fitness playground) and running was a part of that. A particularly horrific personal life event catapulted me into running full time. Despite taking care of my younger siblings, working on the farm 15+ hours a day, I woke up at 4:30 a.m. most days and ran. In $13.00 Velcro shoes no less. Sometimes I ran barefoot. No one supported me in my running. In fact, several family members made fun of me for running. I brushed the negativity aside and ran anyway. Other things may have been taken away from me but running wasn’t going to be one of them.

As the calendar turned and the years marched on, I continued to run. I experienced more loss and mourning. Sadness and grief. Throughout these really tough circumstances, I continued to run. It was the place and time where I could talk with God, process what I was going through, and rejoice in the freedom I had recently found. Running helped to heal my soul.

—–

After I ran my first marathon I said I would never run another one again. My running coach told me that whatever I said in the first 24 hours did not apply. And he was right. Because a few weeks later I decided that I wanted to qualify for the coveted Boston Marathon. After a few setbacks and injuries, I started running on trails full time and fell in love with them. This is where I belonged. Naturally, when one starts running on trails 100 percent they sign up for a 50K, right? Well, that’s what I did. I finished that race strong. Two weeks later ran a road marathon and qualified for Boston Marathon. Two weeks later, I ran my first 50 mile ultramarathon. That following week I was running on the trails and thought about my milestone birthday coming up in a few months. As I ran, I thought of all I had endured, survived, escaped from. I wanted to celebrate my 30th birthday in an epic way. What better way to celebrate it but by running a 100 mile ultramarathon?

And that’s precisely what I did. August 22, 2009, I ran my first 100 miler and finished in 24:58 (that’s 24 hours, 58 minutes). Following that epic celebration of sweet, blood, and tears (sadly, no birthday cake or ice cream!), I bit the ultra endurance bug from that point on. Hard. I took four weeks “off” and then preceded to run in a 24-hour relay, three marathons, and one half marathon. All in a four week timeframe. Marathons became “easy” and I thought back to what I said after I ran my first marathon. That running coach was right. 

It would take almost 2.5 years, however, to run my second 100 miler. The scars and trauma from the first 100 miler ran deep. That race turned out to be my first DNF. At mile 80. After running for 24 hours, 1 minute, no less. That one (ONE!) minute put me past the cut off. I mentally recovered from that DNF and a little more than a year later, I once again stood apprehensively at the start line of my third 100 miler. This particular course was very challenging. It was in the remote backcountry of Bryce Canyon, Utah. Deep sand, having to use hands to climb up some sections – the course was brutal. Injury finally took me out at mile 45. Another DNF. It didn’t sting as much as the first one, but I strongly dislike not finishing what I start!

——

It was late Spring 2014 and I knew my 35th birthday was rapidly approaching. I knew that without a shadow of a doubt, I would regret if I wasn’t at the start line of the 100 miler that started it all. Could I run 35 miles (the previous year I ran 34 miles to celebrate my birthday)? Sure, but I knew that I would not be happy with that choice. And so I set plans in motion (no pun intended) to go back to the place that started it on.

I like my endurance events to be an extension of my life and part of that is to support worthy causes that truly make a positive difference in others. And that cause is Blood: Water. What better way to celebrate my 35th birthday than by running 100 miles to provide access to clean water for Africa?!

Friday, August 22, 2014

 

The birthday, 100 miler ride! Thanks, Silvercar!

My birthday! Silvercar sponsored the ride to South Dakota from Denver International Airport. My friend, Erich, also flew in to crew me during the race. During the trek up to Custer, South Dakota I thought about the last five years and everything that happened in them. The hopes, the dreams, the disappointment, the ups, the downs, the DNFs, the time spent training, and the precious communities in Africa that I was running for. Somewhere along the drive north, the clouds gave way to sun and I fell asleep (I knew I would be thankful for this nap come the next day!) and since Erich was driving, I caught some shut eye.

 

Sweat_Blood_Tears-2.jpg

LH100 pre-race meeting.

Upon arriving in Custer, I picked up my race packet, chatted with the race director, Royce, and then sat in on the pre-race meeting. As the minutes kept ticking away the nerves began to grow. I thought about where I would be tomorrow at this time. Back at the hotel I ate the food I brought with me. I knew that this little town would not have organic, plant-based, real food options so I brought all my food that I would need with me. My birthday and pre-race meal consisted of quinoa, assorted raw veggies, some legumes, Hemp Hearts, and a kombucha. Delicious. It was a wonderful meal. I turned the lights out and prayed for good sleep. It’s always hard to sleep hours before a big event like this!

Saturday, August 23, 2014 

 

WY Welcome Center en route to Custer, South Dakota

4:00 a.m.

The alarm rang. D day was here! I checked the weather app right away. I had heard heavy rain during the night and I really did not want to run another 100 miler in the rain (the 100 miler in 2012 was in the rain) and I was delighted to see that the forecast called for clear skies. It was going to be a good first day being 35 years young!

I had some organic chia oatmeal, a few sips of kombucha, water, and we drove to the Custer high school track where the race would start. I posted a few quick updates on social networks, chatted with some other runners, tried to calm my nerves down, and at 6 a.m. the gun sounded and we were off!

One of the things about running 100 miles is that you pretty much know you won’t see the finish line till 24 hours later. If you think about it too much it hurts your head. So I pushed that thoughtout of my mind and enjoyed the first few miles.

The course was brand new this year compared to the one five years previous. We were warned about the “false flat” but in those first few miles you forget about that because well, you feel pretty good. I talked with the other runners around me and we watched the light break the darkness. I arrived at the first aid station feeling way too good and told Erich I was running too fast. He reminded me to slow down. I had some sips of organic tart cherry juice, a few bites of the organic sprouted grain bread with organic sunflower butter + raw honey + organic cinnamon + organic ginger + organic maca sandwich. Hmm, was it good! It was still pretty shady so I didn’t need my hydration pack refilled. The aid stations were fairly close together for this 100 miler and for that I was grateful.

 

My favorite drink besides water!

The course took us by Crazy Horse and I searched for it in the midst of the heavy fog. I never did see it. The next aid station brought back painful memories. It was where I had my first breakdown five years ago with horrible blisters. Erich gave me more of my organic food and refilled my hydration pack. 10 miles in and only 90 more miles to go! As the runners spread out (there was also a 50K, 50 miler, and a 100 mile relay happening at the same time) we were all running pretty much by ourselves as is very typical for a ultramarathon. The sun was beginning to make its appearance and I prayed it wasn’t going to be as hot as it was last time. That was Mile 15.1 and Hill City Aid Station came quickly and I was still on good pace for a sub-24 hour finish. After some organic carrot juice, organic tart cherry juice, Yukon Gold Potatoes with Celtic Sea Salt, organic turmeric (I choose these foods for their anti-inflammatory properties, energy, adrenal support), I was trudging down the road again. My goal was to make aid stations quick and effective. During the latter stages of the race it can be hard to leave them as they are not only sources of nutritional nourishment, but also moral support and encouragement.

The next few aid stations went by without much incident. It was starting to get hot so I took my shirt off to help keep my body cool. I also made sure to take salt caps whenever I saw Erich. As I was running, I kept a mental note that I would be running back during the dark on these sections. This wasn’t a technical course (thank God), but there were historic tunnels that dark in the daylight and I could only imagine how spooky they would be in the real darkness of the middle of the night! I pushed those thoughts away and kept running.

 

It all looks so easy on paper!

By this point, I had talked to several runners and got some advice for running a “false flat” course. Because most ultras are run in mountains with massive hills that force you to walk, running a course with no visible hills already was playing mind games with me. Remember how I was feeling good those first five miles? It would come back to haunt me. I very rarely run with headphones, but at the 50 miler last month, Joel (an aid station captain as well as 100 miler veteran) told me to listen to something. So at mile 24.8 I requested my iPod and started listening to worship music. Mobile phone coverage ended around this point as well so it was good timing. I tried to take some photos along the way, but keeping the mind happy, the body moving, it’s hard to stop and take pictures when you know that the sooner you finish the sooner you can sit down (and not be forced to get back up!)

I could feel hot spots on my feet and told Erich at mile 33.8 that at the next aid station we’d need to address them. The weather was overcast again and even a slight dampness in the air. I was just thankful it wasn’t blazing hot!

It was about 2:21 p.m. when I got to mile 37.5 and the Rochford Aid Station. Collapsing into the chair I started to peel off my compression socks and shoes. Erich taped them up, put on new socks, same shoes. Oh how I hate, hate, blisters!! I had some more organic, anti-inflammatory foods as we were tending to my feet and gave my iPod to Erich as it was starting to rain. After I left the comfort of the aid station I regretted giving my iPod because I had a long “false flat” section to conquer.

 

During the first hour of race

As the sun began to set I knew the real race was about to start. At this particular point in the race I passed some gorgeous homes – no, more like estates. It sure was beautiful on this August Saturday, but I shuddered to think what it must be like on a Monday morning in February!

 

Do you know how hard it is to squat and take a photo after running 50 miles?!

Because it was an out and back race course other runners began to trickle past me ( “heading home” as I like to call it). I only had a few more miles to go to the turnaround and they felt like forever. There was an aid station at mile 49.3 with the turnaround 0.7 miles further. This was my least favorite part of the race. I opted to not stop at this aid station on the way out but throw my hydration pack to Erich to refill so I could keep on running, get to the turnaround (I did manage to take a quick selfie with the turnaround sign), and run back to the aid station and refuel. It was 6:25 p.m.

Do you know how hard it is to squat and take a photo after running 50 miles?! After briefly sitting and forcing myself to eat, I got up and muttered “100 milers are freaking insane” and trudged back up the incline. I won’t call it a hill but after running 50.7 miles even a mole hill felt giant!

Erich jumped in to pace me and it was so very good to talk with another human! It helped take my mind off the intense pain I was in. We shuffled and talked and caught up on what transpired in the last 12 hours. At this point I was making good time and even a sub-24 hour finish time was still within reach. We kept leap frogging a few other runners. It was dark and we didn’t realize it at the time, but we running (like, really running) on a gradual downhill that would end up coming back to bite me.

 

In the early stages of the race. It was (thankfully) overcast.

It was a little after 10 p.m., and the soft light and chatter of the Rochford Aid Station beckoned us. We began to map out a strategy. Erich would go get my warm clothes, I would begin stripping all my current clothes off (literally), redress, eat while doing this all, try not to cramp, refill hydration pack and last but not least, get in and out of the aid station as quick as possible. I knew the longer I wasn’t moving it would really hurt to get going again.

Erich and a female aid station volunteer helped me undress (do you how difficult it is to take off a sports bra after running 62.7 miles? Pretty much impossible!) and then redress. It was good to have on warm clothes on. With gloves, hat, a fresh sports bra, compression shorts, long sleeve shirt I felt like a new woman. I was already losing my appetite, but forced myself to have a few bites of organic Yukon Gold Potatoes with turmeric/coconut oil/Celtic Sea Salt mixture. The organic tart cherry juice still hit the spot though! (I was later told the cross country team- volunteering at this aid station- were making s’mores. Even though I am an organic and plant-based gal, I would’ve had one!)

Ten minutes later, I was on my way down the lonely, dark trail with my headlamp lighting the way. Erich ended up running about a half marathon with me and he went back to crewing/sherpa-ing responsibilities.

 

The Mickelson Trail

This is where things started to go south. I was mistakenly told that the next aid station was mile 80 and if I kept the pace I would for sure make the sub-24 hour cutoff. But as I was shuffling down the trail I was doing the math and knew that the miles were miscalculated. That was discouraging news. This also where the “fast” miles began to hurt me. Literally. I trudged into the next aid station and didn’t want to eat a thing. I had some lukewarm organic matcha tea, some fruit, the steadfast organic tart cherry juice. The pain was gradually increasing. All I wanted to do was sit. Getting out of that chair was the last thing I wanted to do. My hip flexors would not let me run. I tried to break into a trot and it simply was not happening. I left mile 66.3 and knew in my gut it was going to be a long night. Just how long a night I did not know.

The course was on the Mickelson Trail and for the middle sections of the race course there were gates (I guess to keep cattle in??) along the trail. You had to pause running and open them up. During the daylight this wasn’t a problem, but at night I kept fearing I would run smack dab into one. The line “things go bump in the middle of the night” took on a whole meaning. Thankfully, I never ran into one.

It was cold. The wind was fierce. I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was sleep. Forever. I kept telling myself I could take a little nap when I got to the next aid station. Warmth and closing my eyes sounded so heavenly!

 

One of the tunnels along the trail (daylight here).

I kept walking at fast pace, hip flexors still not cooperating, shuffling down the dark trail. Why was I doing this again? Oh that’s right! To provide communities in Africa access to clean water. I kept this mental picture in my mind every time I wanted to stop.

I soon saw the faint lights of the Mystic Aid Station (mile 70.5). I came in worn out and ready to drop. I was fighting exhaustion big time. They say that you can die sooner from sleep deprivation than from starvation and I believe that. The wind was howling. And the wind chill made it about 29 degrees. I told Erich I wanted to close my eyes “just for a little bit” and preceded to get in the passenger seat, recline the seat back, and go away to dreamland. Well, that didn’t go according to plan. My body somehow knew that we were not finished with what we set out to do about 18 hours previously. So I sat back, practically fell out of the car, and stared into the deep, dark, dreadful night. Running alone on this section (remember the spooky tunnels?) plus the cold, the dark, the exhaustion, the pain … oh how I wanted to call it even! I shed a few tears. Grabbed some more layers (did I mention it was freezing?) and verbally said “I’m done”. Another runner, Norb, and pacer, Brian, came into the aid station. Erich was doing his best to get me going and I wasn’t so sure of this plan. Brian came over, took me by the arm and said “run with us”. “We’re going to do 20 minute miles.” Knowing I would be with two other people lifted my spirits and soon the three of us were on our way. It was 1:25 a.m. on Sunday morning, August 24, 2014.

 

Approaching tunnel during the daylight hours.

Within the first couple hundred feet I dry heaved and I remember Norb saying “oh no”. I told myself to pull it together and march on. And that I did. Norb and Brian talked and I was still in a brain funk and kind of out it. I remember Brian asking me questions, but that’s about it. I was still dreaming of a warm bed!

I’d be remiss to mention one important detail. Peeing. For the last several hours the Mickelson Trail had my DNA all over it. I must have peed what seemed like a couple hundred times. It can be a variety of things (cold, electrolyte imbalance, other) and I didn’t really care, to be honest. I was happy I was peeing because being dehydrated can be worse! I laughed to myself internally as I realized my squats were getting less and less low. But I still managed to pee on the ground and not myself. (Can I put that skill on a resume?!)

Mile 75.3 came and my appetite was long gone by this point. Nothing sounded good. I was tired of eating, swallowing, chewing, thinking, moving. I was over this 100 miler. I knew I needed to eat something and as much as I hate to write this (you won’t believe it) the only thing that sounded remotely good was soup. And the only option was ramen noodles. NOT my first choice in a 1000 years. Being a real, organic food advocate and eater I cringed at this. But it was 2:30 a.m. and told myself to eat something. It was 100 miles for Pete’s sake. And so I had a few lukewarm swallows of ramen. Yuck. I can’t remember the last time I put processed “food” into my body. (**If** I run another 100 miler – and that’s a big IF – I’ve already thought of a way to have hot “Sarah Approved” soup for me to eat.)

 

Still running…late afternoon on the 23rd of August.

It was also freezing at this aid station. The volunteers were wrapped in blankets and told us to get in and out as quickly as possible. It was the highest point in the race plus exposed and the wind was making conditions miserable. There were even some slight snowflakes falling from the I left that aid station and kept telling myself “one foot in front of the other” and “mind over matter”. Both of these quotes took on a whole new meaning for me during the course of this race. I was still only able to power walk with a few attempts at “running” with no success. It was faster to walk at this point. I told myself I would keep moving till I crossed that finish line. Repeat quotes. I did have my iPod on and listened to the worship music. Having good, positive music is one of my keys to staying positive when everything around me is falling apart. One of the songs that played was by Jars of Clay Run In The Night. I chuckled to myself. If only they knew how literal that song was!

I had pulled away from Norb and Brian at this point and arrived at mile 80.1. Less than 20 miles to go! It was now 4:35 a.m. I drank some of the organic tart cherry juice and hobbled on. The pain was intense. I thought back to my first marathon and a nurse telling me that childbirth is so much easier. If that was the case, that showed just how difficult running 100 milers is. I told myself I could do anything. I knew by this point I would not be finishing in sub-24 hours. In fact I would be lucky to finish at all! I was ahead of the cutoffs, but they were always in the back of my mind. Oh how I dislike cutoffs. Strongly dislike.

 

Beautiful sky heading into sunset.

I knew I would arrive at the next aid station just as the sun was coming up. My second sunrise to behold without sleeping. Why was I doing this again? Yes, that’s right! The communities in Africa who long for the luxury so many of us take for granted: clean water. I power walked (marched) on.

Sure enough, at 6:15 a.m. I arrived back at Hill City, mile 84.9 and it was light out. I had been running-moving-shuffling-hobbling; whatever you want to call it (just not dancing) for over 24 hours now. I thought back to five hours ago of when I wanted to end it all, curl up in a little ball and just sleep. But yet here I was, still moving forward despite the excruciating pain I was in. It wasn’t pretty, but are 100 milers supposed to be pretty?

 

One of the last photos before heading into darkness.

This aid station was at a park and I got to use a real restroom for the first time in over a day! Using a toilet seemed strange. Once again I thought of this luxury that so many of us (me included) take for granted. Yes, I was glad I kept going when I wanted to stop at 1 a.m.

Even with the sun coming up it was still cold but the wind had died down so that was a welcome relief. I wasn’t eating much but I the organic tart cherry juice and organic carrot juice were still appealing so I drank that. I was paying as close attention as my weary mind could to how I felt nutritionally. And this intuition was good. I forced myself to have a few more bites of the solid organic food Erich had ready for me and swallowed what I could. I knew I only had a few hours left to go and I’d make it. I wasn’t too worried about calories at this point because A) I wasn’t running hard and B) it wasn’t hot out. If I kept my head in the right place (clean water for Africa, clean water for Africa, clean water for Africa), I’d make it across the finish line in one (but badly hurting) piece.

The whole sleep deprivation thing kept creeping up on me and I kept pushing that out of my mind. Mind over matter, Sarah, mind over matter. One foot in front of the other, one foot in the front of the other. Those were the phrases that were running (no pun intended) through my head for hours.

 

I made it! (You can’t see the tears streaming down my face.)

I trudged on, somewhat demoralized I wasn’t finished by now, but also happy I wasn’t pushing the cutoffs! Mile 89.9 came and I couldn’t eat anything. I still had 10 miles to go and I just wanted to cross that darn finish line and sit in a chair and not move. Erich refilled my hydration pack and I continued to march dutifully on. The next 5.7 miles were all uphill, although not technical, it was still uphill. My legs and feet were still on fire. They had been like this for hours.

I grimaced at the pain and kept the communities of Africa in my mental vision. If they could walk 35 miles for water – not even knowing if it would be clean or not! – I could most certainly suck up the fire raging in my body and finish this race. It seemed like the last aid station would never come into sight! The sun was creeping higher in the sky and I could feel my face getting sunburned. It was still chilly though and I had all the clothes I had put on 12 hours previously. I passed another runner, Dale, who Erich and I had leapfrogged way back between miles 56 and 62. He was in rough shape. His body was in a half moon shape on the right side. Not in a straight line. I hated to see the pain he was in.

 

MY SHOES ARE OFF! Notice my “missing” little toes.

After what seemed like hours, I finally approached the very last aid station. I believe I grunted a few tears. I told Erich I somehow had a pricker in between my big toe and the second toe. I had been running on it for about 10 miles now and the pain was unbearable at times. He asked me how I got it and I replied “I have no idea”. I didn’t want to stop, sit, take off socks, shoes, survey the situation, fix it however we could, and then put socks and shoes back on. Time was a precious commodity! I was **this** close to finishing. And **this** close to collapsing into a chair and not having to get up for a long time. Before Erich sent me on my way down the trail he asked me what I wanted at the finish line. All I could think of was to get my feet out of my shoes!

With 4.4 miles to go, I tried to run but it was apparent that my hip flexors had enough and I agreed them. The sun was burning my face up. I longed for a visor. Some shade. A chair. A bed. AND FOR THESE SHOES TO COME OFF! It was like running on hot coals with splinters. It was a new level of pain for me and not one I’ll soon forget. My feet hurt so bad at times, I even contemplated tearing my shoes off and hurling them in the woods. Running barefoot seemed like a good idea. But since I knew I probably wasn’t rationally thinking I left them on.

 

Erich getting ready to tend to my poor feet.

I passed another female runner and this lifted my spirits. I told her and her pacer good job and we both kept moving forward. Clean water for Africa, clean water for Africa, clean water for Africa. Suddenly, I thought back to what Erich asked me and I remembered the ice foot bath I had when I finished this race five years ago. That. Was. What. I. Wanted!

Those next few miles dragged on. I thought for sure they moved the finish line to the North Pole and didn’t tell me. A 50 miler runner and her family came up the trail to witness the last few hours of the 100 miler. They proceeded to power walk with me and talk. I couldn’t exactly think straight and who knows what I was saying, but they stuck with me those last few miles and their presence was much The finish line seemed like a mirage. I kept thinking I was hearing the cheers and celebration of the finish line area but it wasn’t. The minutes ticked by. I could not believe what I had just put my body through. The excruciating pain I fought through. The long, long night. Two sunrises. And zero sleep. Words flooded my brain and yet I felt numb to what was happening.

Then out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of the high school where I began many, many, many hours ago. Was it still 2014? What was my name? Birthdate? I saw Erich and tears filled my eyes. “When I turn 40 please remind me to go to the spa” I told him. The last 400 feet finished on the track where it all began. The small crowd at the finish cheered and clapped. I attempted to break into a hobble, but it was not happening. I succumbed to the shuffle I had been doing for the past 13 hours. With what energy I could, I lifted my arms into the air, tears filling my eyes and crossed the finish in 29 hours, 11 minutes, 45 seconds. I did it.

 

Much gratitude to my feet! They went through a lot to get me across the finish line.

And just like that it was all over.

As soon as I crossed the finish line I fell into Erich’s arm and wept. From the roots of the hair on my head to my poor, aching feet, my body was trashed. Other crew members and runners came over to congratulate me (this is what I love about 100 milers and small races!) and helped to pull my shoes off. What I thought was a splinter were really blisters. In fact, my feet were COVERED in them. I was missing both of my little toes – they had been taken over by blisters. People came over to ooh and aww and offer their condolences to them. Soon, someone brought a dishpan with ice water. Even though I was shivering it felt good to get my feet out of those shoes and into fresh air and cold water (to help with the swelling).

The various crew members, pacers, and other support people all helped the runners trickling in. It was an overwhelming sight. Every time a runner crossed the finish line we all cried together. Each one of us saw what we had been through and to see them finish was an incredible experience.

Dale, the runner I mentioned earlier, was the last runner to officially finish. We all cheered for him as he made his final lap down the track. He had started this race two (or was it three?) times before and this time was his first finish. I got goosebumps watching him cross the finish line.

It’s so interesting how you tell the body to do something and it listens. And then you cross the finish line and you can.not.move. We had to make our way to the awards ceremony and that was an eternity away. Erich and another kind guy helped me stand and walk, but within the first step we knew that it would be years before we ever reached the area so they hoisted me up into their arms and carried me a short distance to the room. I was in an exhausted, emotionally spent state of mind, but oh so very happy to be a finisher. Ironically, I managed to win my age group!

My feet needed attention, so Erich and I left the race and headed to find a drugstore. The medics had given us some supplies to aid in the blister care. Erich kindly tended to my feet (and mentioned that it was the grossest thing he has ever done) and bandaged my poor feet up.

Every time I looked at them I cried. They had been through so much. Even as I write this (three weeks post finishing) I have tears in my eyes.

Before leaving, we wanted to use our $10.00 coupons that was given as part of the race. We could use them almost anywhere in the little town of Custer. I had my eye on The Purple Pie Place before the race began and I used that as motivation several times during the race. We were in line when a rowdy kid STEPPED on my foot. I screamed, clutched the side of the counter a little harder and sobbed. After all my feet had been through, now this? It was more than I could take.

We had to drive back to Denver and that ride was brutal. Going straight from running 100 miles to sitting in a car wasn’t ideal, but we made the most it. We were both thankful it was a Silvercar. 

We stopped at two rest areas on the way back. I knew that movement was key and as much as I didn’t want to move, I had to. It took everything I had to lug myself out of the car, hold onto the side of car, step up on the curb. There was a plot of grass and I fell onto it. I tried to make it look like I was doing a cow/cat pose, but I’m sure I looked ridiculous. In fact, I know I did.

We made it back to Denver and Erich got a hotel room for us. I had to use a wheelchair to get to the room. Walking was oh, so very difficult. At this point I had been up for over 40 hours with 29 of those hours, running. When I saw the bed I almost cried. The other thing I wanted to do was to brush my teeth! Boy, did that feel good. Taking off my sweaty clothes was also another treat.

I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to sleep (the body might have stopped moving, but the muscles still keep going sometimes). I was also still going in and out of extreme hot flashes. I could not get warm. It’s almost like being really, really sick – fever sick like. But I didn’t have to fear not sleeping. I slept hard for about 12 hours.

August 25, 2014

The next morning was Monday and Erich was gone. I had to somehow get out of bed, get a shower, and get down to the car. I gave myself plenty of time to get these simple tasks done! I felt (and probably looked) like death. And concluded that all 100 milers should have a personal assistant for at least three days.

This was also the first time that I looked in the mirror. The wind and sun (and stress) even took a toll on my lips. It was like a Botox injection gone wrong. It took about a seven days for them to heal. Yup, my whole body was a wreck.

It’s weird to have accomplished something pretty significant and the rest of the world keeps on ticking like nothing even happened. Every time I thought of those 29 hours, 11 minutes I wept. Running 100 miles is a very emotional event.

I still didn’t have an appetite, but knew I needed to eat something (I did have a plant-based recovery shake right after finishing and some bites of pie but that was it). I saw a sign for Chipotle and thought that sounded good so I hobbled in. I was still feverish and could only eat a few bites. So much for that idea.

I finally arrived at my friends, “walked” in the door and fell on the floor. Every step I took wore me out. I slept fitfully the rest of the afternoon. The car needed to be cleaned out and it was clear that I was in no shape for that task so my friends graciously hauled in everything and cleaned it out.

The kicker was that I had to fly out to Canada the very next morning for a work trip to Manitoba Harvest. I had no idea how it was going to happen, but I was determined to make it happen.

Tuesday morning came and I unpacked just to repack, washed my hair (even blow dried it!) and was promptly worn out. I still had to return the car and fly. I was in no condition to walk so wheelchair it was. My feet were still in bandages so it was clear that “something” happened. I got a few inquires about them and the people were in awe of the feat. I flew to Canada, arrived in a wheelchair and the next 2 days were rough, but at least bearable. However, that Tuesday evening I got my appetite slowly back and enjoyed a meal for the first time in four days. On Thursday, I was able to put on shoes (TOMS) again for the first time in four days. By Friday. I was able to walk (slowly) and got to go to yoga. And then I slept almost the remainder of the day. I couldn’t get enough sleep. Saturday I was feeling really good and walked for about five hours with a TRX workout I discovered at a nearby gym Yoga Public with a good afternoon nap in between walking around Winnipeg. That evening I was really sore and in some pain and I knew I overdid it. The following day was Sunday and I didn’t move a whole lot.

But Monday morning I wanted to get in a workout and even though I was traveling, I got up and walked to Yoga Public at 5:45 a.m for yoga and TRX. Yup, I was feeling back to my old self again and that felt good.

I was drinking plenty of muscle recovery tea, eating really good, organic, whole, anti-inflammatory foods and this really helped with my recovery. I discovered the only organic cold-pressed juice shop in Winnipeg and that was a Godsend. I kept walking and I was surprised how good I felt physically just a week out from the race.

The emotional side of recovery was (is?) a different story. There will be times I will just tear up for no reason. Not being an emotional person this is unusual for me. It’s teaching me to be extra kind to myself and give myself love, grace and self care.

——-

As I was running the race I told myself I wouldn’t run another 100 miler. Since finishing I’ve had several people ask me when my next one is. Having been at the start line of now four 100 milers and finished two of them I guess I’m not exactly going to stop this sport anytime soon. I’m also a “young” 100 miler. The average age of a female 100 miler is about 45 years. So while I can not answer that question right now – the emotional and physical scars are still healing – it’s probably safe to say I’ll be embarking on more 100 milers in the future. Hell, five days before the race I was looking at one of the ninth toughest ultramarathons (Fat Dog 120). Is that an indicator? It might be.

If you’d like to help communities in Africa have access to clean water you candonate directly to Blood: Water here.