Thursday, February 27, 2014

more letters to the pile

Just a short update in between day after day of brilliant sunny sweaty being the last one up (but the first one down; bless you, off-season) the mountain on the bicycle.  
Last summer when I started building my life towards a place where I could be coaching full-time, I did some research to figure out other ways I could continue to develop my education of the body.  My oft-injured past has given me relatively basic knowledge of the names and functions of the better part of the posterior chain, but it appears that most humans have quite a few more muscles than that so I eventually settled on the National Academy of Sports Medicine - Certified Personal Trainer course and exam.
I chose this one because of the recommendation/certification of a few trainers I know and trust, and it seems to be one of the higher standards for personal training in the US.  There are a lot of different packages available on the website that include different levels of instruction as you work your way towards the exam.  I chose the most basic one, where they mail you a book, a backpack, and a good luck with that, you can upgrade if you fail.

The website does a fairly convincing job of terrifying you into studying hard with their "40% pass rate" gibberish.  I already have a large pile of degrees and certifications still in their mailing envelopes at the bottom of my filing cabinet, so I launched myself back into the same old study/review/test cycle that is how everyone on earth learns.  When you sign up for the course, there's a finite time period that passes before you must either take the test or pay for an extension.  I got a bit busy ("busy") over the winter and studying dropped there, but finally a few weeks ago I called and scheduled the test for the last day before I expired, this past Monday.  I spent the last few weeks brushing up on the material, then most of Monday morning stress-eating my way through a few practice tests and a rather large portion of Phil Maffetone fudge before a quick leg-yanking sesh (most on this soon...maybe) and then I toddled off to the exam center.  Obviously I wouldn't be discussing this if I had royally flunked the exam, so it's safe to assume that I passed, which I did and no, the car was not in motion when I snapped this shot and my god, do I need a haircut.
There are at least four million blog posts talking about how to study for and pass the exam, so I won't waste too much wit on that, but I felt like the exam was appropriately difficult and covered the hot topics of the course well.  Whether or not I had passed the exam, the knowledge that I gained by moving through the education process has been extremely valuable to me, both as an athlete and as a coach.  (I hear the faint sounds of my athletes groaning about strength workouts ringing here).  I know that most coaches have strong opinions one way or another about where when how much strength training to include in triathlon training, and I personally believe that it makes for an athlete that is more durable year over year.  I don't have a strong public opinion about how it is involved in the training load and I'm not even going to twist my mouth to mention Crossfit because I have no interest in contributing to the war being waged on rhadbo by people with less than 8% body fat.
So, more letters, bigger brain (snort), extra liability insurance and I'm out the door to deepen the seam imprints on my battered special places.  Please to pardon a higher level of typos and misplaced words than usual due to the fact that the part of my brain that spell-checks blog posts is on hiatus until the sores revert back into calluses.  And when I'm bitching about saddle sores you know that I am having about as much fun as a girl can have.

Friday, February 21, 2014

so I used to talk about running

January got to a slow start, coming off a month of inactivity was rough on the body.  I think it took maybe two weeks of head-to-toe creakiness before I felt back up and moving cleanly again, before I could get out of bed in the middle of the night to pee without limping.  A thirty minute run covered less than a mile and required ninety minutes of foam-rolling to be able to walk the next day.  The first time I swam over 2000 yards I needed a three-hour nap and let's not even talk about the first trainer ride and what it did to the place where I once had many many callouses.  
I do remember the first really "big" day of training I did, I went down to Denver to train with Sonja.  I think we did a forty-ish minute run (me gasping for air WAIT UP YOU GUYS), noon masters which is a short-and-sweet wham-bam awesome punch of swimming, and then maybe ninety minutes of riding with some hill repeats.  The next day I woke up so sore I could barely roll over to grab the phone and post about it on twitter.  After ten minutes of warming up at masters with my usual coach, he stopped me at the wall and said, in a caring and slightly worried fashion, sooooo...what's going on today? in the way that you know actually means you should probably get out of the pool before you kill someone.  And I laughed, because of the day - on paper - that put me in that kind of hole.  It's amazing how quickly the body adapts to sitting on your ass eating cookies.
But the body also comes around, grudgingly, and mine did.  The swim started showing up first, which was surprising because of my yeah, you probably broke it and actually in a few places elbow situation, or maybe because I am just more stubborn about kicking the ass of swimming with my friends in the water, but whatever the reason, it started to feel good again after three or four weeks.  I've only been riding my road bike since the first of the year and most of my rides have been on the trainer due to the would you like 6ยบ weather or 85mph winds? Colorado winter experience.  So I literally have no idea what is going on with my bike fitness except for the fact that it's alarmingly easy to get my heart rate up but it's starting to get more challenging to keep it there and the ceiling is coming down which I suppose probably indicative of ..something.  And I have made so much peace with the run.  Perspective is everything but my first couple of runs were at a pace that was a good...many minutes slower per mile than what I was running back in November before ironman.  The honest and probably a little bit crazy truth is, I was glad to see that, it means my body got the deep rest it needed and it's kind of fun, starting over on the MAF house.  It also means I get to party like a rock star at tiny milestones that mean nothing, like the first time I ran an hour and didn't have to walk to keep my HR under MAF, that kind of thing.  I know I sound like a sadist but I enjoy the work of rebuilding and have finally almost learned not to give a flying fuck about pace.  
I raced a 10K at some point in January, it's not even worth a race report, just a couple of comments.  There was a yeti, I think that's the most important thing to talk about.  I know he looks tough but I am pretty sure I could whip his yeti ass if I had to although maybe we could reschedule that for April.  
The day was warm so we were treated to some pretty excellent winds AND the course changed last-minute to include running up a huge hill in mile 6, which is a favorite trick of race directors everywhere, post some crap about construction and then put the line of cones in the worst path you can find back to the start line.  I got to run a bit hard, it was nice to see pace in the single digits again and also get a quite-starling wake-up call about the status of my body when it is in less than 5 layers of ski pants/pajamas/yoga pants.  That status was a big red light with a sign over it that said maybe you drank a bit too much wine in December after all.  Although according to this picture I won the race, let's pretend together. 
Racing in January, good for the part of the ego that needs to get hit with a hammer, WHAM.  I kept on running, training, la tee da, and my run just wasn't coming around the way I expected.  I didn't worry about it, other than to mention it to Sonja in conversation to make sure she wasn't worried about it (nope), and kept plugging away, knowing that it will pop up one of these days and I honestly don't really need it until April and really I could do without it until August, so, whatever, RUN, stay asleep if you want.  I did a lot of running, some of it relatively hard, in the week leading up to my first half marathon of the year, and mostly it felt okay.  After spending an entire day sitting in the Denver airport watching planes for Atlanta depart without me on them due to the rough weather on the east coast, I returned home and did the shake-out run that was supposed to be the last one before the race but would instead kick off a weekend of just regular old training.  And there they were, the run legs, feeling good and saying hi, just a little.  That Sonja sure is sneaky.  
I've always been a big fan of functional strength, lifting has been a part of my lifestyle since the first time I got laughed out of a PTs office after a squat assessment.  Last year, however, I was phoning it in more often than not, I was letting it get pushed out of my life by stress and fatigue and "busy."  I kept up the basics for injury prevention, but wasn't pushing myself or trying new things or sometimes doing much more than laying on the floor mat and calling it a plank.  This year I've been working much harder in the weight room, it coincides with a big scary test I am studying for quite well. It was also time to educate myself better about what my body needs, what a triathlete's body needs, and how to continue to keep it fresh and new and sore.  Now that I have a bit more time to devote to these sessions, I am really enjoying this work and what that is doing to my body (translation: I fall flat on my face/ass/floor/Bosu much more often).  My strength is starting to feel less protectively functional and more like actual strength, and I'm excited to see where this tiny part of my journey will take me and clearly no blog is complete without a picture of my still-recovering-from-the-off-season-large-and-in-charge ass.
I've always enjoyed training more than racing, that is true and it probably is wrapped up in fear somehow that I don't want to devote any words to untangling for the fifteenth time right this moment.  Despite that, after a few years of chasing PRs and faster this and faster that, I think I'm finally looking forward to honest strong races.  I know that I say all the time that I don't generally care what is on the clock, also true, but last year I feel like I still had a beef with some finish lines.  I wanted to get a solid half marathon on paper, I had some things I wanted to do in the 70.3 and ironman distance, some goals for legs that kept me motivated when training got tough.  This year I am more motivated by the work, I'm not sure if I can even explain it but this is a blog so obviously I am going to try because rambling about their feelings is what bloggers do best.  Wanting to crack X time on the IM swim or the 70.3 run kept me motivated to train hard and on race day, kept me chasing.  This year I feel like I'm more interested in the reveal, like I talked about back in January, I want to uncover whatever is inside and not settle for simply a PR being good enough.  I'm not satisfied with hitting times or splits or whatever in training and saying, okay, that's all I need for an X half marathon but instead I'm chasing the deeper dig.  When fatigue starts to show up, I think it's easy to recline back onto the good enough instead of hunting around a bit for the best that can be pulled out that day.  
(Picture stolen from Sonja's blog but I heart it so much that it should be on the internet twice).  I've seen that in the pool sometimes, I saw it late in the fall, there were Monday mornings where I got into the pool absolutely beyond smashed after a big weekend of training, and when I let all those thoughts go and just promised my body that I would try, I was consistently surprised about what I could pull out of my ass.  And I know I have room for that on the bike and run, I know that I have soft-pedaled it in at times when I should have blazed forward, looked for the edge.  If there was something (ELSE) that I wanted out of this year, that would be it.  To rise to the surface when hard work gets hard, instead of backing off just a hair and calling it enough.  I've been spending more time training with Sonja (training with your coach is the awesomest of awesome) and I think this is one of the best positive pieces that are rubbing off all over me, second only to a weird new craving for ridiculous hats.  Or maybe it's just because when you train with someone else that is so much stronger than you, the little baby inside your head doesn't want to get dropped all the time, but either way, I'm lucky to have it.  
Next week I'm heading out to California to train with Anabel and a little bit of Yasi which I'm sure will be another really fun weekend of yelling WAIT UP WAIT FOR MEEEEEEEE just like it was last year.  After that the poet and I are going to Utah to race our brains out and then I'm off to another race with some of my athletes as long as I can actually get on a plane and when I look over the next few months of my life and see all the amazing experiences that are waiting for me, well, I just can't find anywhere in my heart that wants to say OMG I don't want to run you guys somebody make me goooooo because I am just so very full of gratitude for my life.  
Graham says hi.

Monday, February 17, 2014

what goes in the piehole

My eating, diet, nutrition, time in the kitchen, whatever you want to call it, has been in a constant state of evolution, most of it tracked right here on these snarky purple pages.
When I first refocused my life on health way back in the dark ages of the blog, I started it by looking at labels and counting calories.  I don't really advocate for this approach, but it was a very enlightening several months.  I had no idea there were so many calories in bread!  Yogurt!  CHEESE!  My precious Doritoes!  It opened my eyes to how much I was eating.  I don't remember a lot about my diet back then, other than when I finally decided to start eating breakfast for the first time in my life (except for in college when I drank a diet coke every morning), I started every day with a huge bowl of dry Cheerios and a large glass of chocolate soy milk.  And I ate a lot of chicken alfredo and grilled cheese sandwiches.
As I turned the speeding bullet disaster train of my life around and chugged towards health, I tried to only make small changes.  I had a lot of friends who were quite good at eating that were willing to help me learn how to cook things that I had avoided my entire life (mainly, vegetables).  I will say it in public, until I was 27 years old, the only vegetables I ate were baby carrots, usually dipped in ranch dressing, or a bowl of microwaved frozen peas.
So I started experimenting with vegetables.  Heather was a fun texting partner in the WTF is this vegetable and how do I cook it game.  Kirstin introduced me to my first spaghetti squash.  I ate a tomato and did not die.  Spinach was a game-changer.  Emily moved in for a few weeks and put butternut squash and eggplant on my precious pizza.  I learned that strawberries are really really delicious in a salad (and any two ingredients, if one is green = salad).  My friend Sarah cooked quinoa for me despite my high level of suspicion (it looks like tiny condoms!).  I ate my first sweet potato not covered in melted marshmallows.  
After a few months of skeptically tasting weird things that came out of the ground with a large glass of water to chase nearby, I decided I wanted to try and take meat out of my life.  So I became a vegetarian, for a while, maybe a year?  Maybe longer?  It forced me to taste and cook the extremely weird white block of protein goo that I feared in the supermarket.  It also forced me to try tempeh (still can't figure out how to cook it so it doesn't taste like a foot), as well as those weird protein crumbles that puff up and have an abbreviation that sounds like an STD or a heart condition. 
Not everything was a success.  The poet loves to tell the story of when the (gas) stove caught on fire and I threw water on it (who knew?) and then ran out into the front yard shrieking call the fire department! while the fire fizzled itself out.  There were a few times when I plated a bizarre recipe and we looked at it, looked at each other, and called out for a pizza.  I still offer the same prelude of doom before serving up a new recipe, I found this on the internet so it might taste awful but at least I was cooking.  Eating.  Exploring.  Discovering that my adult palate was quite different from the one I had at age 6.
I gave up on the vegetarian diet after the poet started describing dreams he was having during marathon training about chewing on cows and I realized that he was probably becoming iron deficient since he wasn't binging on spinach like I was.  We still only eat meat a few times a week but it's in there, I only gave it up to see if it made a big difference in my life and it didn't.  There was the time I tried the carbohydrate depletion method while tapering for a major race, not recommended unless you are looking for an excuse to get divorced.  I tried the "two smoothies and a square meal" method for a while but I decided I didn't like sloshing around all day with a headache and a stomach full of pureed fruit.  Very recently, I decided to overcome one of my biggest food fears/dislikes, the EGG.  The Facebook internet was quite eager and helpful to recommend ways to eat it that don't result in the yuk face and I've cooked and eaten a frittata (after learning what it is) twice now without barfing.  
I've read a lot of books about nutrition, about nutrition for athletes, for regular humans, I am lucky to have plenty of people in my life who are experts or merely extremely well-read on nutrition, I have asked questions, I have experimented.  For the past few years, I've adopted a "90% rule" that is quite common: I make sure that 90% of what goes in my body is healthy, quality calories that are balanced, and when I step outside that, I chalk it up under the other 10% and don't stress about it. I've done a lot of work to repair my relationship with food and my own body, I'm still a work in progress on all of this but yes, there has been progress.  
I train and coach by the MAF method, and Dr. Phil has a lot to say about the inflammatory effects of food on the body.  The first time I read the big yellow book, I discarded a lot of the information he presented about various foods with the I'm an athlete, I need to fuel my body, I burn it all off anyway so it doesn't matter what goes in mentality.  That was hard for me to get over, still is hard to not chalk up treats to how much I am training.  I was having some pretty serious breathing problems two summers ago and many people suggested that I try giving up dairy to see how my body reacted.  I tried quite hard, many times, and I failed.  I couldn't make it through more than a day or so without reaching for the cheese or the ice cream.  And you know what?  That failure is okay.  I wasn't ready, and I accept that.
Last July we moved, just across town, but it was still a move, and it happened almost exactly 30 days out from ironman.  And when you move, you eat through all your food so you don't have to pack it and then you are too busy unpacking and yelling at each other about who put the toilet paper in which box to get in the first major grocery shopping trip, especially when you are training your ass off for ironman.  Those are excuses, yes, good ones but they are still excuses.  So for the month before ironman, I fell into a pattern of not having any food in the house and coming home from a big training session and, finding that early-morning me had still not cooked anything while I was out riding, trotted down the street to Mad Greens (decent) or Noodles (no) or Qdoba (double no) just to satisfy the part of my brain that was DEMANDING calories at the top of its tired little depleted voice.  The solution to this problem is preparation, but I chose to take the easy answer instead of taking the time to prepare healthy food to have when I needed it after training.  Not a good choice, just the choice I made.  And that's okay too, failure, lack of movement, stubborn refusal to continue evolving, those things are PART of evolution. 
So I stood at the line for LP a bit...bulkier... than I usually was, and then I went through the post-ironman binge and my habits never really straightened themselves out through Cozumel.  I was eating healthy food, and a lot of it, but I was also eating plenty of other things that weren't healthy.  It was hard to break the gas station junk food party habit on my long rides, so I didn't.  I was tired (we're all tired!) and reached for the whiny answer, the easy one.
Once Cozumel was over and I couldn't do much, I gave myself the rest of December to enjoy the things I felt like I wanted to enjoy.  But after a few days of margaritas and candy cane jo-jos, it just wasn't enjoyable anymore.  I stood in the kitchen and whined to the poet, I have all these boxes of cookies to eat and I am supposed to want to eat them but I don't.  So I put the cookies in the freezer, filled the fridge with vegetables and started to turn it all around.  That is a really quite large picture of my face.  
As I started training again in January, I started up again the practice of tracking my daily weight.  Now, I don't believe this is essential, especially for those athletes who have emotional pasts attached to the scale, but I'm able to do it in a detached fashion, so I do.  I don't think that weight is the be-all and end-all of health and nutrition and training, but I do like to see the ups and downs against the build and rest of my training, so I step on the scale, note the number, and then move on with my day without attachment.  And in January, that number doesn't mean much.  But as I started thinking about dietary health, I realized that my "90% rule" had become more of a "60%" rule.  The past few years, I have eaten in a healthy fashion the majority of the time, I believe that.  I have made good decisions when filling the piehole.  The questions I started asking myself, though, were whether or not I could be making better choices.  And could those better choices lead to a healthier life?
There has been a lot of buzz and chatter in the last year or so about sugar, grain, dairy, and the effects of those things in the diet, and I finally felt ready to listen, absorb, make changes around those things.  I went back and read the yellow book sections on nutrition.  I read the big red book.  I read Eat Move Sleep, which was mostly a case of nodding along with every single page, yes I should be doing that, yes, that too, yes yes yes yes yes.  One of the best pieces of information that I pulled out of that book was the fact that when your blood sugar drops because you haven't fueled correctly, your body craves high sugar, high glycemic foods because that's the fastest way to fix it.  But if you can stall your body with something high in protein or healthy fat, that craving will drop away.  How many times do we hear people say well my body was craving X so I ate it because obviously my body knows best?  When what actually happened was I didn't plan well so my body got out of whack and called 911 to the pantry for the fastest fix.  This was such an AHA moment for me, a big one.  So how do I stop the 911 call from the liver?  Preparation.
The poet and I, in the interest of both our tummies and our pocketbooks, have made the decision to stop eating out unless we are doing so as part of spending quality time with friends.  And when we do go out, eat out, we aren't going to fuss about who or where or that bean sitting on my plate doesn't go with my [special name of current trend] diet.  Eating out with friends is good for our social health.  But since we've made this decision, we've eaten at home FAR more than we have in the eight months since we moved and created unhealthy patterns.  
We've also decided that, as we toddle off to the grocery store each week, we aren't going to buy dairy or grain or sugar to replace what we've eaten.  Now, that doesn't mean we are launching into a diet of none of those things, mostly because I'm not going to throw away my entire pantry and half the fridge, but as we use those things up, we aren't replacing them.  The cheese and ice cream were some of the first things to go, and other than throwing the lingering bits of goat cheese into the crazy egg dish I made, I haven't reached for it or missed it.  Does that mean I am never going to eat any of these things again for the rest of my life, or become the twitter sugar police?  No, not at all.  But if we are eating most of our meals at home, and I am trying to continue my evolution towards health, these are our next steps.  I also realized in my own self-examination that my "7-10 fruits and vegetables a day" was generally "7 fruits and 2 servings of spinach" per day, and that high glycemic hit from all the fruit is part of why I feel hungry every few hours, so I'm working to bring the vegetable number up there and moderate the fruit.  Another bit of an AHA moment for me.
My point is, I suppose, that I've been my own science experiment on nutrition for many years now, just like many of us are.  I don't like putting labels on the way I eat, the most important factors in my diet are, in no particular order: tastes good, fuels training, is healthy for the body, and that I am never hungry.  Because a hungry Katie is a convicted and jailed Katie.  
Through all of this, I have learned a lot about myself.  I know that I should not ever say, I am never eating X again! because I may very well decide to eat X again in a month.  Two summers ago I wasn't ready to give up dairy, to even really try, and now I don't even notice it's gone.  I've stopped putting sugar in my eight daily cups of tea and after the first strange cup, I haven't missed it.  Small changes, baby steps.  I am curious and I am ready.  And none of this is because of how I look in the mirror.  I am not mad at my body, I am not trying to punish my reflection.  I care about how I look, sure, we all do.  But the bigger question here is whether I can change how I FEEL day in and day out, how much energy I have, how well I sleep, how I can positively affect my mood and general state of being.  So my evolution continues.  Onwards. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

you are not a jackass whisperer

There's really no way to talk about a (yet another) big scary life change, even when it's three months into the past, especially in such a public fashion as printed words on the internet (they last forever, I won't forget).  But so much of my life has been logged here, and I love that, and in fifty years when I'm rereading all my blog posts from my wheelchair and shouting at the poet because his hearing aids don't work all that well, I will probably wonder why the F I didn't talk about it.
Way back in November, I left my job and moved into coaching full-time.
For a lot of reasons, it was time.  My family of athletes had grown into the point that my life was becoming an unmanageable blur of phone calls, texts, emails and schedules all spread out into the hours that I wasn't trapped inside an office building, doing the same menial tasks, daily, and experiencing zero professional growth.  I was starting to feel like I was doing my athletes, this family, a disservice by so tightly managing myself.  And when it comes down to it, in my life, I would much rather take the scary leap into the place where I think I can grow, I can learn, I can better myself as a human, as an athlete, and as a coach, than stay in the place where I felt like a flowerpot in a dark, musty closet.  No sunlight, no food, no growing, no life.  So I leapt.
I'm not exactly sure why I didn't want to talk about it right away, other than the fact that making an exciting and terrifying change makes it hard enough to face yourself in the mirror every day.  Fear, that's it.  Hard, I said it.  It's hard to nag your poor spouse who has to live through the roller-coaster of many weeks of "OH GOD WHAT DID I DO," to worry about the finances of a household that has not always been stable through employment change, to face the fact that while all my MBA colleagues are off opening bagel shops that get franchised and make them millionaires and winning prizes for their departmental brilliance and crowing about their promotions to C-level execs, I am putting all of my knowledge and self-worth on the line and standing, alone.  No boss.  No W2.  No health insurance and company kitchen, no easy one hour with TurboTax and then a year is done.  Instead, just you, and your spreadsheets, and your books and your internet and your brain.  
And your people.  I am lucky to have many smart, intuitive, brilliant coaches in my life, I am surrounded by them, they rub off on me with their positive influences, constantly.  I don't ever want to stop learning, from coaches, from athletes, from the incredibly many resources that are available in this century of immediate deliverance of information.  I've been reading Brene Brown's book, Daring Greatly, over the past few days, and it speaks, loudly, to exactly where I am in my life right now.  There are so many quotes that I could pull and post and discuss, but the one that makes me laugh the hardest is the one I will repeat.  Don't try and win over the haters; you are not a jackass whisperer.
Every time I read it, I laugh.  Because how much of my life have I wasted, trying to learn how to be a jackass whisperer?  Lots, probably, especially in the last few years since Graham got sick and I have walked the earth trying to shake off my shame.  Brown talks so precisely about shame, watching her TED talk rang about a billion bells all over my body, I almost couldn't deal with myself, I wanted to hide from the honesty of what she was saying.  But she says If we’re going to find our way out of shame and back to each other, vulnerability is the path and courage is the light.  So here I am, being vulnerable, talking about the big leap, the life change that has brought me more professional happiness in three months (not to mention the past two years) than I can remember a "job" ever doing.  
Being your own you, that's scary.  Telling the world, I am my own me and my own me is good enough! - give that a try and then see how well you sleep the first few nights.  But there goes another thing I learned last year: my playing small does not serve the world.  So here I am.  I am a coach.  I am a young coach, I am a good coach, I am a learning coach, I am a student and teacher both, and I am going to let my own light shine.  
I've also been reading lots of material by various entrepreneurs over the past few months, and the common thread that spins through all of their experiences is the speed at which you will make mistakes, especially at the beginning.  That's a hard thing for a type-A OCD perfectionist to accept, but I am making a dogged attempt to do so.  I will make mistakes.  Just as I've made them all over the everywhere in life, I will make them in business, and I will learn from them and (hopefully) not repeat them.  
Another big part of the reason why I wanted to wait to talk about this, was that I didn't want to put up a post that was thinly veiled as a naked grab for more more more athletes.  My athlete family, my stable, for right now, it is full.  One of the first hard decisions I had to make on my own was how many do I take on, how big do I grow, and I decided early on that I would much rather be able to devote quality time to each athlete that I have than to see how much I could expand in the first year of doing this full-time.  And one of the first hard lessons I learned was about making sure to take on athletes that are a good fit for me, athletes that I know I will work well with, athletes that are ready to do work, athletes that I have the tools to guide.  The only thing quantity would be good for is the bank, and I've discovered over these past three months that if we are careful and continue to make good financial decisions, we will be just fine, as we are now.  Going full-time meant that I was able to add a few that really spoke to me, and right now I am talking with one or two more, but I think that growing beyond that would start to become a situation of negative expansion.  
And the athletes themselves, the heartbeat of this whole operation.  The people who have bravely decided to bring me on-board with their journey.  Some of them have been with me for months, years, and some of them are brand-new, but they each bring their own special light into my life.  I never have days that seem like work, instead I feel lucky that I get to be a supporting role in their path.  Someone to lean on, someone to learn from (yes, you actually should eat vegetables every day), someone to share the highs and lows and frustrations that come from training, the lessons that bleed over into your whole life, chasing health, working through periods of struggle, finding joy.
And if I could be remembered for just one thing, at the end of it all, it would be that I helped people to make their lives better.  Not that I helped someone finally PR her marathon or qualify for Boston or Worlds or break X time in a 5K.  Those things are important, having goals, training hard for success, nothing makes me happier than when someone calls me, so happy about a race that the words are all coming out at the same time in a clump.  But what really matters is that just as I've experienced through training, my athletes themselves can find health.  Happiness.  Peace.