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    Portland, OR

    I am originally from Rochester, New York.  I loved running and being a dirt bag from the beginning.  If you ask my mom, she’ll confirm that I was born with a desire to get muddy. One of my earliest muddy memories was hiking with my family at Mt Monadnock in New Hampshire.  It had been a relatively dry summer but rained the day before leaving a spattering of muddy puddles along the trail.  Before the hike, my mom reminded us we had a long ride home and it was our responsibility not to get muddy.  As usual, since I ran before I walked, I raced ahead of my family the entire way up and down.  I wanted to stay clean, but going fast has long been a passion and it far outweighed any other concern – for safety or for mud.  I ran headlong into a giant mud puddle right at the trail head about 500 feet from the car, skidded through it and fell flat on my face.  I wasn’t a little muddy – I was completely covered!  And no one was surprised. 

    My passion for mountain running began in the east.  The call of the mountains out west grew louder and louder each year until it was finally too loud to ignore.  I packed bags mostly full of running gear, put my dog in car and drove to Portland. After a few years living there, I moved to Bend – my playground and home.  My favorite trail run in Bend starts at Green Lake, summits South Sister and then Broken Top.  This loop provides gnarly climbs and amazing views, plus a green lake. 

    A few months ago, my life changed dramatically when my little sister faced a life-threatening health crisis.  Before this family emergency, running gave me a chance to prove myself, be tough and learn and push my limits. I thrived on challenges – the harder the better.  And the harder the race or the terrain, the more likely I was to be there, out front rising above the pain and the struggle.  Now running has become a way to connect to the earth and be thankful for what I have.  It allows me to travel with the power of my own body to amazing places.  I see running now as a celebration of the strength of the self.  It is a moment that allows me to pause and appreciate the strength of my body.  It also reminds me that this body is my temporary home.  Facing a family crisis drove home an idea that I had only ever appreciated in the abstract.  We truly don’t know when it will be our last opportunity to surround ourselves with the people we love, in the woods we call home.   

    To explain further, a few months ago, I rushed to the East Coast after I was informed my sister had a large and likely life-threatening mass in her abdomen. An emergency room doctor told our family to come immediately, that the news was grim.  I remember the phone call with such clarity.  My body completely shut down.  I felt ill myself.  I cried until I had nothing left to cry.  I talked until there was nothing left to say.  The fear of losing my sister paralyzed me and I sunk to the earth.  In past, I would have just laced up my shoes and run.  But I was so paralyzed by fear, that I almost forgot to pack my running shoes.  I don’t know how they ended up in my suitcase this trip.  I had no desire to run. 

    Once I landed back east, sleep eluded me and I needed something bigger to center me.  It was an innate calling of the earth and the trail.  I laced up my shoes and headed out for the trails and the woods.  Running isn’t the answer, but it helped me reattach to the bigger meaning of the world and the universe. I found gratitude in being able to be with my family and some peace in a moment of complete and utter chaos. I thanked my body for knowing how to come back to homeostasis and for keeping me connected to something greater than myself. Nature welcomed me with open arms and allowed me to just be. 

    In a moment, this experience dramatically changed how I look at races and running. It is still important to me to have goals, to compete and to challenge myself.  Yet, it is also important to recognize how fleeting these moments and opportunities are. Each day, we GET to make a decision to start a race and determine how we look at those challenges during the race. Not every race is going to be a wonderful experience, yet we are alive! We are running!  Our feet are connected to the earth and we are part of this strange and magical journey.  How amazing is that?  I remember staring at my sister in her hospital bed, her body weak and withered from surgery, understanding innately that someday I too may face such weakness.  My legs may wither and my heart may falter.  But, not today!  Today my legs are strong, my body is whole and my heart is full. 

    As runners, we get the opportunity to have bad races and try again. I have preached the importance of perspective as a coach and social worker and yet, even for me, this concept was so hard to comprehend.  It was not until I was in a position to witness death did I truly understand.  The gift is the race, the run, the climb – not the outcome or the time. This does not mean it is ‘silly’ to feel disappointed or frustrated when races or runs don’t go your way.  Rather, it is part of a journey.  Running can heal or harm us.  It is up to us as runner to decide what we take away from each race.

    I graduated from Saint John Fisher College with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and received my Masters of Social Work from the University of Oklahoma. Following the completion of my degree, I worked at a behavioral health clinic and Psychiatric Mobile Crisis Team.  During this time, I worked as an adjunct professor at the local college and a running coach.

    Currently, I work at a therapeutic boarding school in Bend, OR.  I specialize in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and motivational interviewing to help create positive change in my student's lives. My private practice, Inner Drive Athlete (http://www.innerdriveathlete.com) works specifically to help athletes with their training and performance. My programs help to increase athlete’s mental endurance, resiliency, and positive self-talk. In August of 2019, I will complete a certificate of Sports in Social Work. My recent coaching certificate in Road Runners of Club of America assists me understanding specific training goals and helping athletes be mentally prepared to cope with a variety challenges that can arise