Go on; I’ve said meaner things to myself…

I could go on about how I’m goal driven and constantly improving as an athlete and how my writing encourages others. I could also go on about how I struggle with my identity and accepting that any accomplishments I earn are the result of my faith in combination with hard work and discipline.

I keep my plaque and trophies from races out of sight. I have one on display because I happen to have a medal display hanger, but it isn’t prominent. It says “1st place female 35-39” on it, and I’m just now 39, so it’s relatively recent. I know nobody will give me a trophy for a personal best and that’s really what I strive for in practice. I just want to be better than I was before.

I strive to be special and important and stand out. When it happens, I attribute the success to an anomaly or dumb luck and shrug it off. I wish I could say it was because I’m “too cool” to let it go to my head. That’s not the case.

I also think there’s a part of me that always thinks I could have done even better and has already moved on to the next goal instead of celebrating the one I just pulled off.

My husband likes to tell me that nobody is harder on me than I am on myself. He’s right, but don’t tell him that. He does celebrate his wins.

So, recently, I realized I hated my Facebook profile picture and decided to take a new one. Let’s look at the old photo.

I actually still don’t like my face in this pic. I don’t like my cheeks when I smile.

I can’t describe why, but I’ve hated my face in that photo for weeks and I hadn’t been able to find a new one that I found a satisfactory replacement. I propped my phone up on a holder on my desk and put the phone in selfie mode while I had some mascara and lip gloss on and felt like I looked good. I took one photo after another. Some, I laughed while chatting with my husband about selfies.

I hated every photo. My face was just too ugly whether I smiled or not. I prefer not to smile because it highlights my face not being symmetrical and my teeth being awful. Then, I have to deal with “smile,” comments about that. I wound up taking many photos and at one time accidentally setting off the automatic photo feature while I was in tears over it.

I was looking at 2 chins, face wrinkles, chest freckles, a crooked nose, pale skin, no eyebrows…

I finally settled on this one:

Anyway, I think this kind of brought to a head the fact that I am really hard on myself. I might need to think about celebrating the wins a little more and being kinder to myself. I have no idea why sometimes, I can act as if I’m confident and have it all together when I know that I’m not very kind to myself.

So, be kind to you. Set goals and crush them. Celebrate the wins and shrug off the misses. That’s what I should be doing, anyway.

Thanks for reading!

Time is totally relative…

I haven’t written in my blog in a month or so and the only reason I know is that I looked at my main page for the last post. I don’t know whether I feel like it was less or more, though.

I am still working out and running. I’ve returned the equipment to my gym because the time is approaching where we can return to training there instead of my garage. It was almost surreal to arrive there yesterday to drop off all the things I’d been using through the shelter order and to see the once full racks with no plates on them, no wall balls on their rack, and almost no bars in their holders. I’m proud to have still worked out while staying at home and not having classes to hold me accountable.

I feel like I’ve been blessed this time. I’ve gotten stronger in some ways. I’ve actually been able to get some new personal bests in lifting. I was able to find a set up for my garage to use for pull ups. Someone set out a pull up and dip station for trash pickup and my husband and I were able to pick it up to bring it home. This was after I ordered parts to make one in my garage and was waiting for them to be ready for pickup. I saved money and felt truly blessed. My family and I have also had our needs met even when it was seemingly impossible to get things in person or online that we needed.

Working out and running help me deal with life better. I’m not emotionally having much trouble dealing with staying at home. I have a hard time with social media and news in general. People are really accentuating some of their worst attributes. I often use shortcuts into the groups I most enjoy on my Facebook to avoid it. I often wonder if people realize they can see something they don’t like and just move on. I don’t think everyone is entitled to my opinion nor do I care to engage in useless banter with someone who is speaking to be heard and not to listen or learn.

I’m happy that the weather is warming up. Now my speed has to catch back up because I’m not used to being so hot. I am finally wearing shorts to run! I haven’t decided my legs are skinny enough to be worthy. I’ve decided that my legs weren’t the issue. It was my confidence. So, I have the cutest shorts with 5″ inseams.

I ran 7 miles on Sunday. I’m going to try to keep my miles up a little in hopes that training for my autumn half marathon will result in running that race and I’m still hoping for that new personal best. It won’t be my 10th half as I had planned. Not officially, anyway. It is still going to be awesome.

It was HOT (finally)

Thanks for reading! I hope you have some bright horizons to look upon and I hope you’re caring for your mental health. Remember that while the least compassionate people speak the loudest, the people who care are still all around. Many people are only cruel to others because of their own insecurity, anyway.

I haven’t written here because I haven’t felt like writing.

Hello, everyone. I’ve been gone over a month from my blog. I would have thought that being at home all the time would leave me so much time to create and lay to paper some content that I’d be proud of. I have not written. I haven’t even written in my list book because I was stumped by the last prompt it gave me. “List the best choices you’ve made in your life so far.” That’s deep, but also kind of a rabbit hole of a question.

Yesterday, I laced up with Judy in tow and ran the half marathon we’d trained for before “shelter at home” was issued. My face covering got balled up under my chin, but it protected my neck from sunburn. It was actually nice to have someone there because I thought about heading home in the first couple miles. It wasn’t my fastest race, but I came in first place anyway. It was a combination of common running routes near my home, so that was kind of a fun way to do the race. We ran through a route we go on social runs with Fleet Feet, their route for the Donut Run they do on their anniversary each year, my usual 3 and 5 mile routes, and past Be Strong, our gym that’s not currently open due to the order. Our finish line festivities involved drinking water out on the sidewalk in front of my house.

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I’ve been running with Run The Edge’s Un-Canceled Project. They offer a different theme each week for the races we choose to do. Last week (Monday-Sunday) happened to be “Inspiration”.  Their Facebook group is wildly supportive of one another and I was excited to find a way to incorporate inspiration into my race. This week’s theme is “Courage”.

I’ve been working out using equipment my gym, Be Strong loaned to me the day shelter in place ordered gyms to close. The owner has made a name for himself with this generous act and he and the gym have made headlines. I’ve been keeping my sanity by having equipment at home. Our group has workout options posted every day and I’ve been doing at least one of the workouts almost daily. I sometimes forgo the workout to do a long run or take a day off like I did on Easter. I earned a coin for working out 20 days in April and I was so proud of myself, I put it in my phone case when I ran my half marathon yesterday.

I decided to try to catch up on the “bible in a year” bible. I actually caught up by reading 10-15 days of readings each day. This one is arranged in chronological order and in modern English. I feel like I get a lot out of reading it.

My kids don’t have school the rest of the semester. I’m doing my best to get them through their daily assignments before anyone gets frustrated and tries to throw in the towel. Including me. They’re in 2nd and 3rd grade, so at least I’m not trying to muddle my way through chemistry or foreign language work. It isn’t quite that time where they discover their mommy doesn’t know everything. Or is it?

So, I haven’t gone completely insane. I try to avoid too much time on Facebook because the opinions are strong and loud and most people aren’t open to civil discourse any more now than before this happened. I don’t want to talk about my feelings on it.

I hope you are all well and you stay well. I hope you’re finding a way to break out of the stir craziness that comes with being less mobile. I’m grateful for so much at this time and I just realize how much I love the people I interact with. “Not every day is good, but there is good in every day.” This has been so much more true with the things going on. I truly believe that focusing on the good helps you to see the good.  It isn’t a cure for anything, but it helps me get through one day at a time.

 

A lot of bummers coming out of this pandemic…

I can’t speak to the severity of what we’re calling Coronavirus (COVID-19). I can’t speak to whether the precautions taken are necessity or overkill. I can say that there are many disappointed athletes and sports fans because I’m one of them. In no way does that detract from how much anyone cares about the pandemic. It is factual. People are going to have emotions and expressing disappointment shouldn’t be shamed.

So, I’m disappointed that my precious hockey isn’t on TV. It is a bonding thing in my house. We watch the games together.

Later in the day, I discovered that the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon Weekend has been postponed. The race Judy and I are training for and I’ve been looking forward to running since I’ve found my speed has returned. Damn! I have seen so many of these events canceled over the last 24 hours. I couldn’t even imagine what a Boston Marathon participant felt when they got the news of their delay.

I’ve decided that I’m going to run 13.1 miles that day anyway. Unless there’s a thunderstorm which would be par for the course at this point. I have no course in mind yet. I’m not driving to Champaign to run theirs. I’m staying in my town, but I’ll be damned if I let this stop my training. I’m going to run that distance for time.

It’s never really only about the race anyway. It’s about the journey that gets me there.

 

 

I want to be a Jenn of all trades and a master of them, too.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to know everything about everything. I have difficulty choosing a favorite anything because I just love it all. I don’t have a favorite color, song, movie, food, or many other things most people do. I can’t choose and settle on that one thing to define me. I’m a loyal romantic partner, friend, and even worker [when I had a full time job]. I don’t even know what I want to be when I grow up and I’m 39. Not the point, but let’s move on.

I have been running long distance since 2015. I did short distances before that, but I wasn’t quite as involved in it until I joined a Fleet Feet training program in 2015 and ran a half marathon. By 2016, I was training for a full marathon. By 2017, I had finished one. I’ve very rarely “placed” in any races and all of my awards are from 4 or less miles run. I still enjoyed running despite my race placing. I strive to get a faster time than myself and get a personal record at each race. The only times that count to me are the official race times when it comes to getting a personal record.

Enter Crossfit in March 2019. I am always trying to beat my last best from class and that’s what I care about. Yet, competitions exist. I am not a person who is going to place in those at this point. I’m fairly new to it all and my skills aren’t competitive to those of others my age. At least I don’t think they are. I still signed up for a competition in April, though. Yikes.  I am genuinely concerned about which me will show up that day. One day, I’m a beast and I can do all the things and the next I’m a weenie and I refuse to even try to jump 20 inches onto a box that I’ve jumped onto more than 100 times. I’ve even had days where I can string together double unders with a jump rope and the next, I can’t even do single jumps without whipping myself in the leg with the damn rope. I’m really far into my head on the days that I can’t do things I know I’m capable of, so what if that is what happens when I’m competing? I’m really hard on myself with everything.

Believe me, I’m not fishing for compliments at this point. I’m just laying out there that I’m doing something new and I’m completely freaking out over it.

Training has begun for the Illinois Half Marathon I’m doing with Judy. We’re up to 11 miles this weekend and it has been going by fast. I’m not worried about this race because my plan is to get a new best in October. I wish I felt that easy about competing in Crossfit.

On the plus side, my depression hasn’t been too bad since the sun has been around more frequently. I had a pretty serious binge eating relapse over a two week period, but I somehow didn’t gain any weight or inches. I’m just going to turn back to eating right and hope for no more slip ups and remember how I prefer the way I feel when I didn’t eat 10 cookies. I know I sleep better without the sweets and tired is not my preferred state.

Thanks for reading! I hope you’re finding something you enjoy doing. We’re getting more sunshine after this weekend, so there’s a great thing to look forward to. Especially if you’re solar powered like me.

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210# is my new deadlift PR! 

Training Season 2020 Begins

Off season for running has ended despite most long races happening in either April or October. Some people probably started in January. Some races happen at different times. For me, I’m mostly an April and October half marathon runner.

The Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon is in April. This will be my 9th half marathon distance race. I am going to train with my friend, Judy. We have a training plan mapped out with the idea that our weekend long runs are together. We’re still training at our crossfit gym daily. [Don’t come at me for not calling it a box. That means something completely different in my head.]

Race training is exciting. I’ve been running faster mile splits both outdoors and on the treadmill. I’m starting to hope for a personal record [PR] 5k distance race sometime in 2020. When I tell people that I’m starting to train for a half marathon, they often express surprise that this won’t be my first time. I’m prepping for my tenth half marathon in October, where I want to beat my reigning PR of 2 hours and 19 minutes.

As far as my mental health, I dip into feeling like life is useless and pointless and so are my efforts. Then, I’m fine and I feel proud of myself and the changes I’ve made. I’ve lost nearly 30 pounds of fat since March 2019. I am running faster. I started going to church every weekend and being an active participant in following Christ. I’m not always going to be able to look at my list of achievements and find joy, but I have gratitude.

I wish I had tips on how to so something. Like, improving running speed. Cross training, eating better, and commitment to running despite not training for anything have helped me tremendously.  I really enjoy what I do in the gym every day and running probably hasn’t been my primary focus.

I feel like I’m always busy with something. That said, with less down time, there’s less time to peek into the cabinet or fridge.

Week 1 of 12 for training is about done. I’m looking forward to less frequent treadmill runs. Also, I’ll have to come up with something more interesting to talk about. I have a weigh in next week, so we’ll have to see my fat loss vs muscle gains sometime soon. I have been talked into triathlon training and a fitness competition, so who knows what fun lies ahead.

Thanks for reading! February is a long month for being the shortest thanks to the cold and often deary days, so remember to find joy or gratitude.

Here’s me after running today. I had a little mascara left from work, so I actually have eyelashes in this one:

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Torn between wanting to write and not wanting to be boring

I’m in a strange mood. I’ve been talking more than usual to people and having conversations. That means I’m also spending more time re-playing those conversations in my head and cringing at how strange I must seem. I think of how I could totally correct what I said the next time I see that person, but there’s no natural way to bring that up in conversation. Try explaining to people that you went silent not because of what they said, but because you were trying to choose your own words carefully and not finding them.

My meds haven’t changed. My weight hasn’t even changed. I’m just holding steady, so maybe this is just who I am. So weird.

I took off of running for a little over a week after my birthday. I was pretty fast on my first run back. My little pitbull, Aurora accompanied me. Fortunately there weren’t many squirrels along the way despite the weather being warm that day.

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Aurora post run

I’ve been really enjoying my workouts at the gym. I’ve had new personal bests left and right. I got a new deadlift max. I figured out how to kick up to the wall for a handstand. I completed the most box jumps I’ve ever done at a taller height than I’ve been using. My box jumps have been onto plates stacked on top of one another. I finally added a plate and left it there instead of pushing it off after I got tired or scared.

I often feel inadequate at the things in which I apply myself. Having my weight at a plateau is frustrating. Feeling overwhelmed by my day makes me worry that I’m not a good wife and mother. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I want to be good at things and for everyone to see me as the person I’m trying to be. I’m just not sure why I care what other people think because most of the time, I don’t care.

I’m just not quite myself lately, but at least my depression is no longer trying to swallow me whole. I think I’m going to blame it on premenstrual brain, which seems to be way more sensitive than any other time of the month. Yes, I’m serious.

Thanks for reading! Hope this was helpful in some way. If not, sorry. I’ll be back with more fun soon. Half marathon training starts in February.

 

 

2020 is here. So are we. Yay

It is January 2, 2020. I wasn’t exactly looking to rid myself of the old year. 2019 was one of the better years of my recent history. It wasn’t spectacular, but I was blessed. I’m certain that recommitting to Christianity has much to do with it.

There were no major conflicts in my family. My oldest daughter matured quite a bit over the last few months and even has her own living space and job. I found a part time job at my kids’ school. I continued running and started doing Crossfit. I’ve lost a bunch of fat and gained muscle and confidence. I’ve also made new friends along the way. Not bad.

This year, I did things that I didn’t imagine I’d do. Lifting was not something I thought I’d do. I finished off the year getting personal bests on my back squat and dead lift by 20 pounds each. I completed the running streak from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. I ran at least one mile [or more] every day each of those days even when I didn’t want to or had to adjust something in my schedule to make it work. I’m continuing the streak until my birthday on Sunday. This will make 39 runs in a row on my 39th birthday. Kinda neat, right? I ran an international half marathon, visiting Detroit and Canada for the first time in my life.

On deck for 2020? So far, I’m running the Christie Clinic Illinois half marathon in April. I have a friend pushing me to “tri” by doing my first triathlon. I want to run the Mo Cowbell on October 4th and try to get a new personal best time there. I’m hoping to go on a big vacation with my husband, but that’s not planned yet. Other than that, I just want to keep on track with my nutrition and fitness so I can have a healthy amount of body fat and perform at my best.

Did you celebrate the exit of 2019 because it was a bad year? What are your plans for this year? Thanks for reading! I will begin half marathon training again soon, so I’m sure the weather will create some interesting stories.

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Lots of running every day. Just a peek.

 

I Said I’d Talk About Mental Health, So Here I Am

Quick recap. I have been diagnosed with post traumatic stress, major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety in the past. I have tried different medications and non prescription avenues to be cured of these illnesses to no avail. This year, I tried to go without medication and seek out an alternative treatment method. I believed that the medication was hindering my weight loss and I requested that I stop taking medication to see how I could manage without it and whether it affected my ability to lose weight.

The first month went fine and I began my alternative treatment using Nutrition Response Testing. Look it up if you would like because I’m just going to say that it didn’t work for me and it was not something I personally enjoyed doing.

I started having sleep disturbances first. I couldn’t sleep at night and that was when intrusive thoughts would creep in and I’d start to think I was going to die or that death would be the only way out of the anguish I was feeling. I understand how irrational that seems, but at the time, my brain was being a scumbag. My husband would hold me through the worst of it and stroke my hair until I stopped and went to sleep or crawled out of bed and went to another room so he could sleep. The nights I had to leave the room, my body would literally feel like it couldn’t sit still on its own. My joints would feel fluttery like I had to move them.

Also, I was crying over everything. I broke down in front of people more than once and couldn’t express that I was, in fact, crying over nothing at all. It just crept up on me and I couldn’t stop myself. I was embarrassed that I was too weak to control my tears. I have always seen emotion as a sign of weakness in myself and I never want to be weak or vulnerable in front of people. So, then I was angry with myself for showing weakness.

The worst was when I was nearing my half marathon. I was stressed out and sleep deprived from sleep disturbances. I couldn’t seem to accomplish the same things in a day that I once could. Things were slipping out of my reach. My husband was having to cook for the family after work because I couldn’t find the time or energy. I needed help with simple tasks including grocery shopping and laundry. I’m neat and I’m meticulous about it. This was not normal for me.

My husband was out of town on business the week before the half marathon. I was actually hesitant to let him go. I couldn’t bring myself to tell him I wasn’t quite myself and I didn’t know whether I wanted to live or not.

The final straw was after the anxiety/panic I had in the hotel in Detroit early in the AM. I decided when I asked my friend to take me home with her instead of waiting another day to go with other friends that I would spend my Monday trying to get help.

My doctor’s office took me in immediately and put me on new medicine after making sure that I was safe. The medicine works, guys. It’s been a little over a month and I’ve had very few anxiety attacks and none of them have completely sidelined me.

By the grace of God, I realized I needed help and I asked for it. I have long suffered from mental illness. I understand some people don’t believe in its existence. I also know that some believe that medication cannot cure it. It can’t cure everyone. It can treat it. I eat well and I exercise and I still have mental illness. That’s okay. Because my brain isn’t telling me that I don’t deserve to live another day for being broken. Don’t be afraid to ask for help because that’s how you’ll get better.

I still need to find talk therapy and work through some root causes of my panic and anxiety. I’m taking my medicine again, though. I’m still exercising and eating well. I am working against my brain being a scumbag.

Thank you for reading! I mostly write about my fitness experiences in addition to how I’m feeling mentally, but I felt compelled to dedicate a whole post to my experience this time. 

Detroit Race Recap

A couple days ago, I wrote about my trip to Detroit. Now, I want to talk about the actual Detroit Free Press International Half Marathon that I ran.

Sunday morning was 46 degrees and it was dark when the race began. I had a short sleeved shirt on with sleeves that were separate and removable. There was a sea of people in every direction. There were people in bathrobes. There were people in tank tops and shorts. Judy and I stood in our spot awaiting the start and agreed to run together as much as possible. There were speakers everywhere so the crowd could hear the announcer that was set up at the start line. Each corral was released a minute from the previous. Being in corral “L”, we started the race quite a bit after the “gun time”.

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We ran the streets of Detroit approaching the Ambassador Bridge that leads into Windsor, ON [Canada]. Finally reaching the bridge, Judy and I ran for awhile. We looked down at the Detroit River and the sights surrounding it. There were Canadian border agents on the sides and a few people were stopped to have their race packs inspected. The bridge was a mile of steady incline and I realized that it was not very far into the race and was pushing myself too soon. Judy agreed to walk the hill. Other race participants stopped and took selfies on the bridge. One guy stopped in the middle of the path for a selfie. We crossed over into Windsor and got high fives from border agents as we crossed through the lanes meant for cars.

Windsor was a nice city with a path along the river that had sculptures along the side. Judy spotted dog pulling a man with rollerblades at what looked like a pretty quick pace. It was so odd and funny. There were crowds along the road cheering and holding signs. Soon, we were nearly halfway through the race and entering the tunnel back to the US. It was a mile underwater. People were shouting and making all kinds of noise through the tunnel. It was hot in there. I was breaking a sweat. The end was an incline that I think was made more difficult by feeling so hot. Then, high fives to US border agents and smiling for the camera to catch a photo of us just after a “Welcome to the USA,” banner.

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We ran together, walked the hills and the water stops, kept up conversation, and took in all that was around. Toward the last mile, Judy still had plenty of energy and started to get out ahead of me. I offered, “run YOUR race,” as my nod to go ahead. She reassured me that I could finish and she went along at her pace.

At first, I turned on my music. I’d had my headphones on pause the entire time so I had music if I wound up alone. I paused it and I prayed. I was so grateful that I’d enjoyed the race and I felt good. I praised God and I decided I’d finish the race showing appreciation. I resumed my music, paused a moment to drink from my water bottle, and took off toward the finish. I started to pass people and I realized that I felt good. As I crossed the finish, I pointed above to praise God, like many athletes before me have done. I was so pleased that my finisher photo captured that.

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I met up with Judy at the finish after gathering my medal.

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We got our snacks and went to the after party. There was a beer tent there that said “Save a cat/dog. Buy a beer.” So I HAD to buy a beer and socialize a bit. Then, Judy went back to her hotel to get cleaned up. I ran into more friends and hung out a little longer at the after party before walking back to the hotel and gathering my things to go. I started to walk to where Judy and I were going to meet and I couldn’t get around the race. We came up with a new plan and she parked on the road I was on as close as she could near a barricade. I walked 6 blocks with my bags feeling heavier with each block. I switched around a few times and I set my things down for a breather a few.  While I loaded my things to the car, the police lifted the barricades. That figures, right?

We rode out of the city and stopped for lunch before leaving Michigan. I had my first meal at Texas Roadhouse. Not bad. I took a photo on the way home of the sunset. Because Judy and I had spent so much time together that day, we saw the sunrise together and the sunset.

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I didn’t get a personal best or even come close at this race. I had a great time, though. There wasn’t a nagging injury or the feeling that I couldn’t finish. I got to have my first view of Detroit, Michigan. I got to go into Canada for the first time. I got to cross the border running while giving high fives to border agents both ways. I’d say that was an experience that I’ll never forget and one that many people are unlikely to have.

Thanks for reading! I actually have some stuff to say about mental health soon, so I’ll be back for that.