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Ainsley's Angels

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Things I Learned...31 Miles for 31 Heroes

Originally posted August 2015 after a 31 Mile ruck run (with 31#) in honor of the 31 Heroes killed in Afghanistan 6 August 2011.

Over the past two weekends I've been honored to run and work out for causes. Specifically men and women that have died in the cause that is the United States of America. Here's what I learned.

Don't invite infantry Marines to endurance events. If you've ever doubted the physical capabilities of these assholes, let me cure that. They are stubborn. They are competitive. They are the very reason I joined the Marine Corps. I respect and admire how they've forced me into humility. They are beasts. You deserve the very best in leaders.

Working out for a cause, whether it's a WOD, a marathon, a 160 mile run, or a 31 mile hike, is the most humbling and amazing experience. I've often wondered why we do these things in honor of people. Some is it is to honor the fallen, the heroes. Some of it is to remind the families that their heroes are alive and well I others' hearts. The joy and the closeness at a mile marker is enough. But even more than that is the bond we formed through shared hardship. I would never say that running or rucking a mile is equal to the pain of losing a loved one's life. There is no physical pain that can equate to that. What we do in their honor will never bring them back. It'll never cure the pain. In fact it's actually quite selfish. We do it for ourselves. The bonds we bond in physical suffering connect us. They create communities. And that's the crux of human existence.

We all want to be connected to people. It's why communities form. It's why countries exist.

Powerful things shake us. They are phenomenal. We want those things. We at the very least want to be connected to those things. Those people. Those communities.

Confessions, I struggle with inadequacies. I don't like people telling me I'm not good enough. I don't know, blame my dad. Credit my dad. Shit credit my mom. But today and every day I start to realize that we can overcome our inadequacies by being better. Trying harder. Sacrificing more.

Strength and calm. Strength is calm. And vice versa. What an incredible lesson.

I rucked, shit ran, 31 miles with a group of people that had never ran that before. Yeah they did it for the 31 heroes that lost their lives, but they also did it for the guy or girl next to them. The built a community with honor today and for that I could not be more humbled or proud. I've done some incredible physical endeavors, with some amazing people. Never have I've ever been so in awe of the men and women beside me. Military and civilians. Passionate endeavors fueled by passionate ideas. This wasn't the hardest thing I've ever done, I never hit my low, I was never desperate, but it, combined with the memories of my lows and desperation, might have taught me the most about my purpose in life. For that, I'm eternally grateful.

This video captures my thoughts. All of these things made me who I am. I'm no where near perfect. But I love who I am. And I'm so thankful for everyone that pushes me to me better. I have no haters. Everyone in my life seems to support and love me, and they make me who I am. And there aren't enough to words in any language that describe that. Come up with new words.

Keep learning. Keep growing. Be humble. Be humbled.

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Things I Learned...Mojave Death Race and Rock-n-Roll San Diego

Originally post Memorial Day Weekend 2015

The desert doesn't cleanse you. It burns you. Your hubris, arrogance, false exterior away. Much like running doesn't fix you. It simply strips away the external. It highlights your problems, your mistakes, your past. It tells you what you need to change, deal with. Keep coming back and it'll give you clues, but it's not the solution. I'm a Midwest girl at heart and always will be but the desert speaks to my soul.

When you're struggling or looking for something, spend some time with your friends. They know you. They'll make you laugh.

I miss running as a duo.

America's favorite marathoner has a hero. It's his Dad.

Things never go exactly as planned. Sometimes (more often than not for me) you overbook. Sometimes you need others to execute your precisely timed plans. Sometimes you don't communicate. When things don't go as you like, remember that you are not the center of the universe and anger and frustration should be fleeting emotions. Take what time you can get from the people and things you love the most. Take as much as you can from all of this.

Sometimes life is just fun. Go with it. Don't overthink it.

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Things I Learned...MCM 2014

Originally written after October 2014 Marine Corps Marathon/Wicked 10k Weekend

About 6 years ago my friend bet me I couldn't run a marathon, specifically the Marine Corps Marathon. And 3 years ago I showed up to run my first Team Hoyt race.

Countless races and dozens of marathons later I can't think of a better way to spend my anniversary weekend than doing what I love with the people I love. All because  decades ago Rick and Dick Hoyt lined up at the MCM to qualify for Boston.Things I learned...

I fill out a male sailor's  uniform better than any female Marine uniform.

The world is small and random and the connections you make, the friendships you cultivate have infinite power over where you end up, what you do, who you become.

Some of those people you connect with are just plain amazing. When you meet these people, you just want to be in their presence. You don't need to speak or do anything, you just want to be with them.

Mashed potatoes, red wine, and 15yr scotch seem to be the right combo for a pre-race meal.

Whirlwind weekends are stressful, but when conquered, and you collapse into a bed or bath or floor, you just feel amazing. Like you're the luckiest person in the world to have the problem of too many people to see in a world of too many things to do. Like procrastination, I've resigned myself to the fact that I'm always going to over book. I'm going to be on a tight schedule, and generally going to be stressed...at least I'm not bored.

Sometimes things just line up. Metros come on time, people are efficient, things go as planned. We never hear about these times. I've got to be better at noticing these times, and appreciating them.

Jenny Rainey is one of my favorite running partners. The girl just gets me. We're motivated by the same things, know each other's paces and looks and dark places.  We make each other better. We didn't even touch the iPods.

Running at it's core is selfish. And that's ok. Runners at mile 25 are so inside their own heads, fighting their own battles, concerned about their own finishing that they often fail to see or hear what's going on around them....to include chicks with a hot pink racing chair screaming "WHEELS." And that's ok, running puts you inside yourself and you gotta go there sometimes. You need to know yourself before you can ever  expect to find a place in the world. And when you get good at this running thing you effortlessly toggle between your own battle and those of others. It's a good thing I didn't need my iPod because I would have missed the countless words of encouragement or moments of assistance from runners on their own personal journey. Running may be selfish, but the runners today were anything but.

Hokas are amazing shoes. Goofy as hell, but amazing.

MCM has the weird effect of making you smile like a madwoman while holding back tears for 26.2 miles...if this is what a race does to me, I'll be a wreck whenever I get pregnant.

The shorter the shorts, the less the chafing. It's just science.

Teamhoyt running chairs are just awesome. Plain ole, wonderfully, PR-setting awesome.

If the day ever comes where I get married, I'm sure I'll love and celebrate my anniversary, but just between us, never as much I do this one.

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