Like a Bigfoot

Motivation, Mindset, Positivity, Endurance, Adventure, Perseverance, and Possibility

Category: Purpose (page 1 of 2)

Like a Bigfoot Podcast #132: Courtney Dauwalter — Lessons on Mindset from the Ultrarunner of the Year

Over the last few years Courtney Dauwalter has exploded onto the ultrarunning scene with legendary performance after legendary performance.  She won the Moab 240 outright by over 10 hours, she set the second fastest time in women’s history while winning Western States 100, she endured a 4 mile loop over and over again for 67 hours chalking up 279.2 miles in the insanity that is Big’s Backyard Ultra, she even got first in a 100 mile race after losing her eyesight for the last ten miles.  And those are only a few adventures from her life of racing!

In this episode, we focus on Courtney’s mindset.  How does she endure the massive amount of pain and struggle that comes along with ultrarunning?  How does she stay positive and silence self doubts?  How does her positive outlook and relaxed demeanor bring about her success?

(I was also super psyched to chat with her because up until a few years ago Courtney was a middle school science teacher, and, as a middle school science teacher, ….respect!)

I really enjoyed this episode and I think you will too!  The biggest thing I took away was how her positive go with the flow spirit allows her to fearlessly pursue all the various opportunities that come her way.




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Deadspin Article about Big’s Backyard Ultra:


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Fear of different Perspectives

“Joe…we spotted one east of Richard’s farm.”  The message came through the old timey CB radio.

“Alright, we’ll be there.”

My grandpa Joe reached under his bed and grab his gun.  Yeah, it was probably loaded…not the epitome of safety.  Especially around an 8 year old who spent the majority of his days pretending to be Indiana Jones.  But after proper instruction and numerous warnings from my dad, “do NOT touch grandpa’s guns or it will not END WELL FOR YOU”, I was pretty much never going glance, let alone touch one of the rifles.

“Come on, Chris.”

We stepped out the door of his small, four room farm home, walked past the run-down “hound house”, next to the pasture’s handful of cows, and into his old brown pickup truck.  You know, the ones with the bench seat, the stick shift, and a hint of cigarette smoke.  Nothing fancy, just enough to get by doing what needed to get done.

And this afternoon, there was one thing that needed to get done.  Kill the coyote that keeps terrorizing Richard’s farm.

I slid into the seat next to my 80 plus year old grandpa and watched as he shifted the truck into gear and pulled on down the road.

He seemed grizzled.  A man who survived the depression hopping trains, hunting for his food, and getting by through the means of HARD WORK.  Work so hard that I probably couldn’t even wrap my pampered mind around it.  Road construction all day, every day.  Road construction that eventual led to a small south pacific island during World War II…but that’s another story for another time.

Fact of the matter…grandpa was tough.  He was hardened, maybe a little cantankerous, definitely opinionated, and all the while a loving gentle soul committed to his family, friends and town.

And today this loving, gentle soul was driving down main street of Milton, Iowa (pop. 60) with the intent of blasting a pesky coyote.

The next ten minutes were filled with static crackles from the CB as our truck was joined by at least six or seven other almost identical trucks.  A community of people determined to help their neighbor.

“We spotted him heading north on Sunset Drive.”

“Above Harrison Street?  By the new pond?”


“Over and out.”

The trucks pulled up, parked in a giant circle.

The coyote was in the middle, surrounded.  No escape.

They stepped out of the truck, decided who would shoot, someone raised their gun, fired, and down went the coyote.  Grandpa stepped forward with his knife, skinned it for the fur, got back in his truck and we took off down the road, back to his house.

Pest gone.  Pelt collected.  Regular day in Milton.


How did you feel reading that story?  Did you feel resistance?  Was it unfair to the coyote?  Cruel?  Or did you think it sounded like a good ole time?  Could you see the necessity of killing the pest?  Could you see the perspective from the farmer, just trying to stop a pest from disrupting his livelihood?

Or did you stop reading halfway through?

This goes against my beliefs.  I refuse to even acknowledge that this kind of MURDEROUS activity goes on!

I would be lying if I told you, as an 8 year old, I was not conflicted by this experience.  This was a complicated day that obviously still sticks out in my mind.

I really did not enjoy the idea of ganging up on, surrounding and shooting an animal.  But, at the same time, I respected my grandpa and had an understanding of his way of life.

Looking back, the one thing that I am beyond grateful for is that grandpa exposed me to a new perspective: the small town Iowa experience.


Most people react poorly when meeting a person who has a different view of the world.  CONFLICTIONS OCCUR.  Country folk conflict with city slickers, vegans conflict with hunters, Crossfit people conflict with Yogis, Christians conflict with Muslims, teenagers conflict against adults, fans of the cubs conflict with fans of the cardinals.

No one gives credence to anything the other side has to say, do or think.  I don’t wanna hear it!

And, lord almighty, have we all experienced perspectives refusing to acknowledge each other during what I’ve been calling “longest. election.  ever.”  The bizarre combination of mass media, corporate interest, social media posts, and “team” politics has brought this problem front and center in every moment of our lives.  Don’t believe me?  Just check your Facebook……see what I mean?

If someone disagrees with us the temptations is to completely shut them out, dismissing them as idiotic, backwards, or just plain evil.

And it’s EASY to block them or tune them out and seek out information that solely is molded to our own “correct” opinions.  It has never been easier to shut out someone else’s view.

Why are we so willing to ignore perspectives that conflict against our own?  Why do we shy away from experiences outside of our norm?

Do we not see the benefits to be gained by exposing ourselves to someone else’s perspective? How much more fully-formed can we become if we are actively to experiencing, observing, and considering something that might make us uncomfortable?

The way I see things is simply this:

The world is FULL of various perspectives (in fact, about 7 billion of them).  If I shut myself out to anything and everything I disagree with, surrounding myself with people who think, speak, and look like me, then I am guaranteed the ABSOLUTE minimum the world has to offer.  

By exposing myself to new ideas, fresh adventures, and new people I am able to become a more well-rounded, educated human being.  I will have gained the ability to form experienced, intelligent decisions based in the notion of empathy for others and their varying perspectives.   

So escape from your box.  Step outside your comfort zone.  Talk to someone who you would normally just completely ignore, travel somewhere completely outside of your norm, listen to a conflicting opinion, experience life as if you were a different person.  Be uncomfortable for a little bit.

By doing this you will create a new norm in your life.  You will become more fleshed out; a more complete person.

And…you might just gain the tiniest bit of understanding of this crazy, complex world.




Life Seasons

Time is moving.  That is the only thing that is certain in life- my life, your life, everybody’s life.

As I’m writing this I’m looking across the street at the house I’ve lived in for 3 years, rocking on a chair on my neighbors front porch (a skill I picked up in the south).  I’m awaiting to checkout from Virginia, load the cat into the car, and take off down the road.  Literally driving off into the sunset….with my cat. (So not entirely like a cowboy)

Next adventure, new season of life.

Sitting here has me reflecting back on my life in Virginia, thinking about how my life has changed in what seems like such a short amount of time.

Time passing can be overwhelmingly sad.  It happens so gradually that, for the most part, it goes by unnoticed, unobserved.  You wake up one day and all of a sudden your teeny tiny baby is a two year old or you look in the mirror and wonder “where the heck did these grey hairs come from?”  (Two things that are not mutually exclusive by the way)

Time is always moving.  Every second, every day.

Big events force you to take notice.

“Holy crap!  Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were moving into this house?” You think as you pack the last box into the Uhaul and slam the door shut.

Then ALL the memories come rushing back.  Kissing your wife goodbye on her first day of work, bringing your daughters home from the hospital for the first time, seeing the look on your two year olds face when you discover tadpoles by your favorite running trail. So many, many more.

The big moments are BIG but they aren’t the only ones that hit hard.  You are especially affected by the everyday moments- the things you got used to  Watching the seasons change as you do the same weekly walk around the neighborhood, the front door hugs you are greeted by after a long day of work, cooking a delicious meal with loved ones in the kitchen, playing dinosaur in the living room with your little one.  These are the times you took for granted in the moment but now can’t help but look back on with a weird happy-sad nostalgia.They may not have seemed like significant moments as they happened, but you realize that they are the MOST significant.  It may be cliche but they are truly what make life worth living.

Sometimes you look back on a season of life in sadness, because that time is gone.  Time moved too damn fast, it seems.  Other times you just have to smile.  You are grateful for the time you had.  Great experiences, beautiful life lived.

And you understand that you will have many, MANY more of these moments, of course.  In fact, the next season of life will probably be the best one yet!

Most times you are not in control of when your season will change.  You don’t know when your eyes will be opened and you will think to yourself “Oh crap…that went quick.”  It really does sneak up on you.

So let this serve as an important reminder!

A reminder to stay present and aware of all the beauty that is happening to you right now, in this season of life.

Appreciate the day by day.  The little things ARE important!  Live your routine, of course, but live it with awareness and purpose.  Treat each moment with the respect that it truly deserves.  Fully love what you are doing right here, right now.  Live each day with passion and you will have no regrets.  Do not let self doubt hold you back from becoming the person you are meant to be.  Express your gratitude daily.  Treat people better than the day before.  Love more.  Smile more.  Laugh more.  Give a ridiculous number of hugs.

Time will be moving.  That is a fact of life.  Make the most of it!

Leaving Virginia

For the past three years I’ve lived in southern Virginia.  This is where my two daughters were born, where I learned how to trail run and where I’ve embraced my love of the outdoors.  Virginia is where I have began to pass along my love of hiking and wandering into nature to my family (my two year old daughter calls hiking “daddy daughter trips”…my greatest accomplishment!)  I’ve also made friends, realized the compassion teaching middle school requires and, of course, learned some thangs about southern culture….bless my heart.

In two weeks my family and I are moving to Colorado to begin the next phase of our journey.  I’m all at once excited, nervous, ecstatic, and sad.  You know, all the emotions you experience as you face  our good ole friend… CHANGE.

Over the next couple weeks I want to reminisce over lessons learned, adventures had, opportunities missed, and skills built during my time in the southeast.  

I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to explore this wonderful area of the country.  I honestly may have skipped over Virginia and North Carolina in order to explore nothing but the western states.  That truly would have been a mistake.  The southeast has areas of pure beauty that will make your jaw drop, bring a tear to your eye, or whatever overused phrase you want to use when trying to describe the indescribable allure of nature .

I count myself a lucky man to have experienced foggy Appalachian sunrises, crisp mountain waterfalls on hot and humid sunny days, the golden trees of the Blue Ridge Parkway in October, amongst so much more.

Some experiences I can attempt to put to words but most are of the “you-had-to-be-there” types that you have in the solitude of nature.  Three years of exploring the Appalachian Mountains, the forests, the swamps, and the coast has transformed me.  Each experience has helped build me into the person I am.  It’s only something you realize self reflecting before a big life shift.

I didn’t know how I’d feel at the end of this three year adventure (we always knew there would be a three year time limit).  I sure didn’t think I would feel this attached to Virginia.  But I do feel attached.  I will probably always feel attached.

That’s how you know you experienced something worthwhile.



Care about what you are doing in this moment.  Care about how you are showing up.  Care about how you are presenting yourself.

Care about how you are affecting others (not how others see you…but how you make them feel).

Care about how your present affects your future.

Care about your quest for happiness.  Care about your life journey.  Care about the little moments.  Care about your goals.

Care about your integrity.  Care about your effect on the environment.

Care about your free time.  Care about what information you are putting in your head.  Care about how you are spending your money.

Care about creating adventures.

Simply, care about your life and how you are living it.

Be aware of all these things.  Do not travel through life zombified…unable to escape the momentum of situations…simply going from one moment to the next.

Caring about each moment allows you to experience your journey and steer your path with your intentions.

Thanks for reading!  Enjoy this crazy Wednesday!

Goal Setting

Show up.  Be consistent.  Be persistent.  Get shit done.

I keep talking about goal setting, hard work, the obstacle being the way, and the PROCESS of achievement.

But I feel as if, through my writing, I haven’t fully connected  to my own goals.  My bad.  I will get better I promise.  (Part of the beauty of being consistent- You slowly but surely get better!)

So here are my current goals:

  1. Write every single day (whether this is a paragraph or thousands of words).  The plan is to write, write, write.  And SHARE MY WRITING (the scary part….my resistance).
  2.  Gratitude Journal– Jot down three things I’m grateful as soon as I wake up.  AND extend this idea into family dinners.  Ask wife and daughter “What are we grateful for tonight?”
  3. At least 15 Minutes of Yoga nightly- When I’m in a good yoga routine I feel like Superman!  It calms me down, helps my muscles recover and creates even more strength.  I think every single person in the world should practice at least 15 minutes of daily yoga.  I did awesome at this for about a year but have recently fallen off the wagon.  Time to get back on!

These goals will challenge me.  They will take HARD WORK to accomplish.  There will be mornings when I don’t feel like writing (like right now) and there will be nights when I just want to skip yoga and go straight to bed (probably tonight).

Trust the process.  Understand that the more you do something, the more likely that something will become a habit.  You may not see improvement right away, but the act of DOING SOMETHING eventually transforms into the results you wanted to see in the first place.

Don’t have a goal?  Forming goals comes down to this simple statement:

  • What good habits do you want to form?  What bad habits do you want to break?

Figure out the answer to those questions and you got yourself the beginning of a goal.

Then, you have to figure out how to make the goal specific:

  • Instead of “lose weight” say “lose 10 pounds in the next two months.”
  • Instead of “write more” say “write every single morning at 5:30 am.”
  • Instead of “learn guitar” say “learn how to play ___________ song in the next two weeks.”

You get the point.  The more clarity you can apply the easier it will be.

And lastly, WRITE THE GOAL DOWN.  Post it around your house.  Literally see the goal every single day.

My friend writes his goals on his bathroom mirror in dry erase marker.  He sees his goal every morning when he brushes his teeth.  It’s a clear reminder of what he is meant to accomplish.

That’s all for today folks.  See I didn’t want to write initially and ended up writing a good little post!  Just the act of sitting down and being consistent ended with me accomplishing my daily goal. Yay!

Thanks for reading!  Go get ’em!

Thursday Gratitude

On Tuesday I posted about my New Years Resolution to write in a gratitude journal every morning.

Today I thought I would share what I wrote:

  1. This morning I’m grateful for the upcoming summer and all the adventures I am planning.  It will be a last hurrah in Virginia and I am planning to make the most of it.  I’m going to spend a lot of time exploring the Appalachian Mountains with family and friends.

Below is a link to a documentary on the Appalachian Trail- The Long Start to the Journey.  The full movie does a pretty good job showing what a thru-hike would be like (and is WAY better than A Walk in The Woods- the movie not the book)

2.  I’m grateful for all the rain we’ve been getting because it has allowed me to practice running in the mud.

3.  I’m grateful that the sun is staying out longer at night and that the temperature is getting warmer. This means more walks and more playgrounds with my daughter (she’s two now and two year olds NEED the time to get out of the house!)

And there you have it!  Five minutes later and paid respect to the fact that life isn’t so bad.  It’s that easy!

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day!

Life Goals

I am now 29.  Yesterday was my first birthday where I thought “29 does sound sorta…grown up.”  That thought worried me for about 2 seconds, but then out of the corner of my eye I saw a shiny object and thus went about living my childish existence.

After consuming half a cake, my wife asked me a simple question “what are your goals for year 29?”

I paused, thought about it for a second, and maybe it was the massive amount of sugar from the cake, but I honestly had no answer.  Is this where I’m at now?  Am I a dude with no goals???? That can’t be true!

So I spent the morning writing an answer to this question:

What do you want to do with your life? Continue reading

2016 Plan of Attack

New Year, New athletic goals.

First goal as per usual = get outside as much as possible.  I had an amazing morning recently running up two of the best trails near Roanoke Virginia. (Seriously, if you wanna experience some of the best views the Appalachian Trail has to offer, hike up McCaffee Knob and the Dragon’s Tooth)

Continue reading

Be Authentic

How can I elevate people while doing what I love?

This question has been my main self reflection as I prepare to begin a new school year with a brand new batch of smiling 8th graders (ok…being honest mostly-eye-rolling-but-occasionally-you-can-get-a-smile 8th graders).  I’m going to be perfectly transparent while writing this: Last year I was not happy with how I taught.  I came into last year on Cloud Nine after an amazing experience the year before, optimistic that the ball of awesomeness was going to just keep rolling for me.  Then throughout the year, my spirit was methodically beaten down.  The students were pushing my patience and classroom management skills, I was not able to teach the science concepts in ways that I wanted to (ways that deep down were honest to my philosophy of learning), and, the “apex of craptitude” for teaching: I felt major pressure from the end of the year standardized test.

I spent the majority of the summer (and running meditations, so this relates to working out) contemplating the post-mortem of “what went wrong” while also considering a pre-mortem of “how do I prevent this from happening again?”

I narrowed this down to one thing…I lost track of the “love”.  By that I mean, I lost my truth.  Through the year, I stopped teaching in a way that was authentic to who I am and as a side effect I was not able to elevate my students to success.  The guilt of feeling like I did them a disservice is still very painful.

Here’s the lesson: If you do what you love in an authentic way, people will naturally be elevated.  You can inspire people just by being a complete and honest you.   Continue reading

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