Running & Flowing Free

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Aug. 2019 Finishing The Elkhorn Hurl Ultra

After running The New York Marathon in 2018 I wanted to train for an ultra-marathon, but change my  training to maintain full range of motion in my legs.  During The New York Marathon I was unable to make my goal time because my outer legs, knees to hips, became tight about 2/3 in.  A combination of my nursing mind’s whole body approach to training, and my yoga body work training lead to a successful training routine and ultra-marathon outcome!

That tight, decreased range of motion, feeling was some IT band, some Q.L (Quadratus Lumborum), and some TFL (Tensor Fascia Lata).

IT Band – outer leg from knee to hip

QL – origin: iliac crest; insertion: 12th rib and L1-L4

TFL – origin: ASIA (anterior superior iliac spine = front hip); insertion: IT band

When you study body movement the connection between the back, hip, and knee become obvious.  The TFL inserts at the IT Band and the QL connects to your back and hip, and is your lateral stabilizer.  There are beautiful pictures of the muscles you can find on the internet or Pinterest.  Notice where the muscles mentioned above originate and where they insert.

So, strengthening my QL and TFL became a big part of my training.  I did several exercises to strengthen them almost every day.  I was able to finish the ultra-marathon, here in Montana, in August of 2019.  It was on trail with much more elevation gains and descends than New York, and I finished with positive splits and full range of motion.  I even walked another mile to meet my husband for pick up.  I felt great at the end!!

Schedule a yoga less in person or Skype to see my routine.


Homemade Fresh Lemon or Peach Ice Cream




As summer comes to a close in Montana we enjoyed some homemade ice cream.

Forager has organic dairy-free half & half!   I modified a recipe by Sunkist:

2C Forager Half & Half.  For dairy version use heavy cream or whipping cream

1C sugar

Grated peel of 1 lemon

1/3C freshly squeezed lemon juice.  For peach (6) fresh peaches in food processor w/ half & half

Lemon Burst Cookie or waffles (optional)


This easy-to-make lemon, or peach, ice cream doesn’t require a machine.

Combine half & half with sugar; stir, medium heat, on stove to dissolve sugar.  Blend in lemon juice & zest (for peach version, I left the peach skin on).  Pour into shallow pan & freeze until firm, about 4 hours.  Serve with Lemon Burst Cookies.  Garnish with fresh mint leaves.  Makes 6-9 servings (about 3 cups).



Leslie Lake


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Running Diary – 9/1/2019

Leslie Lake from Elkhorn, MT

GREAT trail run and even better fishing!  10 miles, decent elevation gain >3000’

Collected sage, juniper, & purple daisies for new smudge sticks.

Went around lake and entered in from the top; more difficult side for quad.  A lot of water is coming in from top, trail is beautiful, mossy, and wet.

Racing downhill to (music) GREASE – You Better Shape Up –  uneven, large rocks, used the heck out of my poles – so fun!!

Form improvement – lead with my heart, pull with hamstrings, head up.

Fly Fishing hubby – fish look at flies before they bite; they take a swim by – Matt loves.

Hot sun on my back and legs, cool breeze circling my knees

Great food and coffee at the lake (love my Jet boil & Mushroom Coffee mix by Four Sigmatic) #foursigmatic

Can-Am Quad fan – challenging ride –

A bright purple quad wrecked up the trail.  She had flipped a few times before we got there.   Matt helped her with our Can-Am’s winch.  She has a shoulder strain.  She “lost her breaks at creek prior to difficult area.” #CanAm

Recovery – have perfected yoga flow for this runner.  #yogaforrunners #artfulblogging

#runmontanatrails #powertoyou #upagainsttheropesyoga #geochristie #GRLPWR




Drugs and Addictions

To everyone who  is struggling with addiction, & especially your parents:

I am drawn to write this because we have friends and family that have lost their children to drugs.  I am truly sorry.

As an Emergency Room RN, in an area that has a lot of methamphetamine and heroin patients, I see this terrible disease many times in a twelve hour shift.  Patients that don’t seem to recognize the power drugs have over them.  Their amygdala, a basal region of their brain overriding their prefrontal cortex (higher region of brain).

I want to try to somehow lessen your grief & guilt.  Parents are fiercely protective of their children, but kids ultimately make their own decisions.   Like migratory animals that travel thousands of miles every season……… we were born to run; or at least walk.  Just as you cannot stop a baby from walking,  some studies state “because it involves basic brain functions, everyone will become an addict if sufficiently exposed to drugs or alcohol.”  And, in many cases, the effect drugs have on human’s innate physiological processes in the body, addiction cannot be overcome, even for love.  The information provided below is meant to show how, down to the cellular level this disease works.

“Drugs of abuse co-opt the very brain functions that allowed our distant ancestors to survive in a hostile world.  Our minds are programmed to pay extra attention to what neurologists call salience – that is, special relevance.  Threats, for example, are highly salient, which is why we instinctively try to get away from them.  But, so are food and sex, because they help the individual, and the species survive.  Drugs of abuse capitalize on this ready-made programming.  When exposed to drugs, our memory systems, reward circuits, decision-making skills and conditioning kick in – salience in overdrive -to create an all-consuming pattern of uncontrollable caring.”  I quote this again, “some people have a genetic predisposition to addiction because it involves these basic brain functions.  But, everyone will become an addict if sufficiently exposed to drugs or alcohol.” Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of NIDA and pioneer in the use of imaging to understand addiction.  (TIME: Your Body A User’s Guide, Time Inc. Special, 2008)

In addition, young people exhibit pleasure seeking behaviors many times over adults that are a little older.  They are the age group most susceptible to addictive and harmful behaviors.

Below is a link (Scan0050) to a diagram from The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) for TIME by Kristina Dell, Massey and Joe Lertola.  This article and diagram have stuck with me for 11 years.    Notice how the heroin and morphine block the release of inhibitory neurotransmitters and cocaine blocks reuptake of dopamine in the third synapse picture.  “If dopamine receptors are the gas, the brain’s own inhibitory systems act as the brakes.  But in addicts, this natural damping circuit, called GABA appears to be faulty, so the brain never appreciates that it has been satiated.” (same TIME article)



This YouTube explains the Japanese tradition Wabi-Sabi.  I have seen tea bowls mended with gold infused glue and they are truly beautiful.  The tea bowls, and tea cups, that get broken over the years are repaired and continue to be used to enjoy tea.  Their history is often a heart warming memory.

Wabi-Sabi resonates perfectly with yoga and the Yamas and Niyamas.  One of my favorite books is The Yamas and Niyamas by Deborah Adele.

Seasons of Life




It’s a special feeling when the world shifts and your child is grown up and teaches you a life lesson.  The papers below are that shift for me.  My world shifting for the better, thanks to a few papers my daughter, Julia, wrote in college last year.  They changed my world.

I am a quiet, private, shy person by nature.  When we learned my husband had cancer, I couldn’t talk about it.  It was hard to say the word CANCER.  I didn’t want to talk about it with friends at work.  I tried not to think about it, but I was scared to death.  I was just coming to terms with empty nesting.  Getting used to a quiet house, smaller meals, no homework, two less goodnight hugs and kisses, two less before bed prayers and tuck-ins.  These things I loved.

Then, as you can see in my previous post, I learned we need to talk, share, and sit with our fears.  I’m taking baby steps at this and Julia writes these papers and posts them on her blog!!!  I really admired her and wanted to be like her.  I still have work to do because I’ve been wanting to post this for months.  But, it’s still hard.  We are all works in progress.

My husband is fine.  After many trips to The Huntsman Cancer Institute in Utah and THE GRACE OF GOD, he is cured.  When I shared Julia’s papers with the surgeon’s nurse at The Huntsman and they requested a copy!

My friend just had surgery at The Huntsman Hospital last week for her cancer.  The Huntsman is an amazing place.  The hospital is full of LOVE.  You can feel the love there.  Husbands and wives walking arm and arm pushing a chemotherapy pole.  So different from the feel of the emergency room I work in.  It often has a feel of anger, physical pain, crisis, and overdoses. People trying to die while those at The Huntsman are fighting to LIVE.

Julia Cox

CRWR 212A-01

20 February 2018


My mother sat in front of me, heart heavy, gazing out at the summer rain. The air smelled richly of coffee grinds. The whir of the grinder should have been back ground noise but was prominently taking center stage of our “conversation.” I didn’t know what to say. I focused on the weather. We could feel it that morning, the weight in the air, the breeze starting to pick up and then boom!

“I don’t know what to think,” my mother whispered, “I don’t know how this happened.”

“I know,” I replied.

“I’m angry, like really really pissed. I would do anything to change it, to make it so that it wasn’t him.”

“I think we all would, I know I would trade places with him instantly. He’s been through enough.”

My mother returned her glistening gaze to the table that sat stretching far between us. I felt like people were staring at us. My teary eyes glanced up to survey the Café. No, nobody was. After all, nothing was wrong in the world, everything was wrong in ours.



My tiny fingers gripped tightly to my father’s shirt collar. I was flying through the trees, so high up on my father’s shoulders. Bare branches whipped by my head, my giggles lost in the breeze. I was not afraid – I should have been. Up so high in the air, upon my father’s shoulders I felt like nothing could touch me, I was invincible. I was invincible because he was invincible. We slowed to a walk next to my mom and brother. My chubby cheeks bright red from the breeze, hurting from the smile that would not leave my face. I felt a stutter in my father’s long, steady stride. It didn’t concern me at the time. He continued on, carrying me through the clouds. My father had to get surgery a little while later.

“Why mommy?” I asked, as I impatiently waited to see my father again.

“Your dad hurt his knee,” she replied calmly.

My father tore his ACL carrying me through the woods that day. He did not falter.



I sped along the freeway, music blaring, drowning out any thoughts that kept trying to appear, like a snake popping its head out of the pond we used to swim in, showing us just for a moment that maybe it wasn’t safe beneath the surface. I tapped the steering wheel nervously, ate everything in my passenger seat even though my stomach was in knots, counted the mile signs, anything to keep my thoughts from wandering to what waited when I got to my destination. I pounded the steering wheel, feeling the pain shoot up my palm and wrist. I tried making my eyelids barriers to the crashing sea, they were not effective and the flood pushed its way through.

I dialed my best friend, waiting and waiting as it rang and rang and rang. I hung up. I reminded myself it was pointless anyways, he didn’t want us to tell anyone.  My brother called me right after.

“How’s the trip going?”

“Oh, you know,” I replied. Glancing to my left, I saw his black truck towering next to my little car. He waved goofily at me as he passed me again. His little game for the trip. He was probably trying to occupy his mind too, I thought.



“It’s the last meal shirt!” I exclaimed, ripping open the bright red wrapping paper. My boyfriend looked at me like I was crazy and glanced around at my family to find out that he was the only one that didn’t understand the cruel inside joke. It was just a plain T-shirt, bright baby blue, V-neck, with the Blue Iguana logo stamped on the back.

“I don’t get it,” he said, looking around for an explanation.

“It’s from our trip to Salt Lake,” I replied, hesitantly looking at my father.

“Oh, gotcha. Was it a good last meal at least?”

“There guacamole tasted like boiled eggs” my brother recalled, grabbing another present from under the tree. We all laughed at the humorless memory.



Besides the trademark stale, sterile smell that fill my nostrils instantly as I expected, I first noticed the windows. They made up the entire entrance, from top to bottom, spread side to side, just a full wall of windows. Maybe this was designed to be cheerful, open, warm from the natural light that flooded in. It felt cold. Every sign had the word “cancer” on it, an unwelcome reminder we were all nervously and uncomfortably skating around, yet there it was unashamed, “cancer,” everywhere we looked. It was unavoidable now, we couldn’t turn the corner or run back the way we came without seeing it – “Cancer.” It was unescapable, even though the endless wall of windows made it seem like we could easily break out, run, never look back. It wasn’t that easy, we found out. The windows were very deceiving.



I stared at the double door, waiting. My mother sat beside me, a book lay open in her lap, but I could tell she wasn’t actually reading it. My brother stood beside us, constantly moving with impatience. We talked, but I can’t remember what we were saying, it was all a way to keep ourselves sane. The door swung open making my heart jumped into my throat, but it wasn’t our doctor. My mother’s face visibly fell, making my heart hurt even more. Finally, he came out and approached us.

“Will you come with me into the private room?” He asked, his voice giving away nothing.

We all followed. Everything felt numb as I walked. Thoughts were swirling around in my head faster and faster, a hurricane of fears destroying everything in its path. Why were we going into a private room?

Once in the private room the Doctor explained the surgery to us. My father was alive. He made it through the surgery and was doing well. He launched into details about the surgery and the tumor that was removed.  I wasn’t listening. I felt my eyes fill with tears and watched my brother finally cry, no longer needing to hold in his emotions to be strong for me and my mother. I stared at him in awe as tears leaked out of his bright green eyes and streamed down his tan face.

“When can we see him?” I blurted out, interrupting the doctor.



We all rushed to the ICU of the Cancer Center, more excited than ever to see him after the endless eight hour wait. Finally, we reached the dark room where my giant father lay sleeping in the tiny hospital bed, a nurse hovering over him. My mom and brother ran to him. I stood frozen in the doorway. After all the waiting I finally got to see the man that I wasn’t sure I would see ever again. Nothing could stop my torrential tears now. My father stirred, slowly glancing around when my mom gently embraced him.

“Where’s Juji?” He asked, concerned. Slowly, I walked over, trying to conceal my fear on the small journey to his bedside. His dark green, tired eyes looked at me lovingly. His face immediately filled with concern and struggled to find my hand. I took it and squeezed it hard, hanging on for dear life.

“Everything’s okay,” he whispered to us, “I’m right here.”



Julia Cox

Journal- On Losing Oneself

Eight hours. Eight hours drags on when you’re at your nine to five, staring at the clocks watching it slowly tick on to the next eternity of a minute. It felt long on my trip to Salt Lake City, driving with the music as loud as it could go to drown out all of the thoughts flying through my head, but music can’t silence tears. Eight hours of sitting on a plane that is bouncing up and down from turbulence, waiting to hit the safe, sturdy ground can feel like the longest time of your life, but I never felt an eight hours longer than waiting for my dad to come out of surgery from the cancer we just discover he had.

Holding hands. Holding hands is a romantic gesture. That moment when you were in the seventh grade and you first feel your crush brush your hand with his a few times before he interlaces his sweaty fingers with your own. Holding hands that day was like holding on to dear life. We squeezed so hard, not wanting to let go, not physically allowing ourselves to as the nurse comes back in telling us to say our goodbyes. And then back to the sweaty hand holding, as my mom grasped mine after we couldn’t see him anymore and every scenario raced through our minds, trying to see if hope would beat fear this time. It never did.

Writing notes. Writing notes that you would pass back and forth to your best friend when the teacher turned her back, giggling at the content and mischief that it held. He wrote a note, that he hid from my mom in his sock drawer and revealed right before his surgery. “Just in case,” he said, with tears in his eyes as I watched the strongest, bravest man I had ever known try not to show his fear. He wrote three, one for my mom, one for my brother, and one for me.

Missing someone. Missing your loved one when they go on a weeklong vacation, trying not to think of them every night as you coax yourself to sleep. Missing your friends after they go off to a different college than you and you skype them and talk on and on about the boy you met in one of your classes or at a party that you’ll forget about in a week. I never thought I could miss someone I hadn’t seen in just a mere eight hours, but God was I wrong. He wanted to talk to me but I couldn’t speak. The fears had won the race against hope and they continued washing over me after those eight hours of waiting, holding hands, learning of notes written in fearful moments of not knowing if you will survive, and missing my dad.

Hugging someone. Hugging someone can be an intimate moment, it can be a boyfriend comforting the girl that just found out her father had cancer that most people don’t survive. Hugging someone can be a wife squeezing her son so tightly during your eight hour wait because he reminds her of her husband in the way he talks and looks. Hugging someone was a father gently wrapping one arm around his daughter as he wakes up, trying to comfort her through her speechlessness.

These are the 480 minutes in which I lost myself. Eight hours went by, not even a full day and I had changed. I was not my blunt, hardcore, strong, stubborn, somewhat heartless self anymore and to this day I’m still not that person. I lost that part of myself during those eight hours, just as my dad lost part of himself, a tumor ridden part of himself. In those moments of waiting, holding hands, learning of notes, missing someone, and hugging family I lost myself.