Returning to the Trailhead: A New Me

scotty sandow

Cancer is a four letter word

Howdy, my dirty trail friends.

Well, before I give you the nitty-gritty of my running shenanigans, I must start with an update about my mom’s health.

She’s going to be okay. 🙂

For well over three weeks we have been living under massive anxiety from waiting to find out about a cancer that was recently discovered in her right elbow.

We finally now know that she has a sarcoma that can be treated with radiation and surgery – with a 5 percent chance of occurrence. We’ll take those odds. Its not our worst fears realized and from all we can tell her life is going to be exponentially better.


Diagnosis limbo is a scary place, but it certainly did a lot to re-center my outlook on life and my appreciation for it.

Hi, Mojo, you’ve been missed

Damn, a lot has changed since I sat down to chat with Eric.

Starting from zero miles is a tough spot. All the difficult things that I thought would happen did.

Primarily, fighting my motivation to get up in the cold dark mornings wasn’t easy. The hell with that, it flat out sucked. To be honest, what got me out bed was my public decree to run 100 miles and the promise I made myself to get my mojo back.

What I now understand is that the difference between being stuck in a rut and finding my mojo was .5 miles.

With happy music pumping into my ears and my legs and arms working together and my lungs expanding and contracting I soon found what I’d been missing. Making a choice to change my sedentary ways and get out of my comfort zone was key to pursuing my goals and rediscovering my happiness and part of my identity.

I noticed that after my runs I was able to shed the problems weighing down on me and connect with loved-ones with a renewed self-awareness of my connection to them. It is hard to explain, but for the most-part I was more engaging and light. I guess I hadn’t realized how much of my stressors were interfering with the people around me. Trust me, life before running wasn’t drastic, but it is now better – and I’ll take it.

Doubt has no place here

Here’s a conversation I was having with myself a few weeks ago when I was experiencing self-doubt during a run, out loud, like a crazy person.

(Heart and lungs pounding)

“I think I can do this”

(heavy breathing)

“I know I can do this.”

(heavy breathing)


(@#$% it! Push harder!!)

And like that, I smashed my doubts and sprang away. Reminding myself of the runner I used to be gave me the confidence I needed to fight off running’s biggest liar.

Check the ego at the door

I wasn’t sure what to expect with running coach, David Roche. I have to say, it has been amazing and difficult.

It’s amazing because of the information and motivation he provides.

It’s difficult because I have to be patient with how much I can run and how fast.

Prior to Coach Roche, my training runs typically would be three 6 mile runs in the middle of the week – going out as hard and fast as I could. And where did that lead me every time? Yep, suck-ass injury.

Under coach’s direction the first couple of weeks my runs would be 15 to 20 minutes long. That’s it. But it was the right approach.

As much as I’ve wanted to go out hard and my fast like I used to, I have resigned myself to putting my faith in coach. If his daily run says, “easy”, well, later-days speedy, I am running easy. And that is hard to do, especially when you see other runners out. For me, I always feel like I have something to prove. I always have. But that is when you have to check you ego and surrender to Coach’s plan. Believe me, I am not going to stray. Coach has taken a chance on me and will adhere to his direction.

Over the last month or so my training runs have increased from 15 – 20 minutes up to 40 minutes during the week and up to 75 minutes during the weekend. Coach has started to incorporate hill repeats and speed intervals into my runs, which is new territory for me.

A return to the trailhead

I am so very excited to share with you that I ran 9 miles on the trail, yesterday. I know, right?!

This adventure really isn’t about getting a buckle. It’s a means to an end. It’s about the journey getting there. It always has been.

I feel compelled to share with you a moment I had two weeks ago. I took my 10-year-old daughter for a 3 mile trail run at Lake Natoma in Folsom. While we were running our feet were in unison, treading on the decomposed granite. It was a moment of Zen for me. A thing all dads long for. We were pursuing something we love, but we were doing it together. And she just chatted away at me the entire time…..double score bonus.

My return to running has done much for me than just set an ambitious goal. So far it has regained my mojo, connected me to my family in a glorious way and opened new shared experiences with my daughter.

Now the real work begins.

Bring it.

Follow me on Strava, here. (Thanks everyone for all the Kudos! You keep me going!!)

Check out my running coach, David Roche, here.

Listen to my Returning to the Trail Head playlist on Spotify, here.



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