Quick update

By: Jenn M

It’s November 5th. Actually it’s the 6th. Dang it. So I don’t know the date. No biggie. I have some things running around in my head and I haven’t updated my blog since my interesting experience at the Chicago Marathon about a month ago.  Yes, I want a rematch with 26.2 eventually.

I have been extremely aware of and self conscious about my weight gain. I put on around 25 lbs and allowed myself to put weight loss on the back burner during marathon training. I decided upon ‘no weight gain’ during training to ensure I was properly fueling. I actually succeeded at the plateau. I didn’t gain anything training, but I’m still disappointed in my appearance. I know I’m more jiggly and wide than I want to be. I’m not happy that I bought new clothes to wear this winter because nothing fits.

I got a new swimsuit to wear to the gym because the old one is simply too revealing with my new curves [mine are rolls, not curves]. I am really hard on myself and my husband would probably be the first to say so. He tells me every time I have a clothing catastrophe and resulting breakdown in my closet.  The good part is that I’m actually thinking about and starting to plan going to the gym. I haven’t had the energy or the courage to step out and do something about my weight.  I get so caught up in wondering why I should try to hard to just be average.

I am trying to get back to where I was before my injury and hopefully make it stick this time. I want to enjoy working out and look forward to it. I know that the energy comes from exercise and I have to get started to want to continue. This isn’t new to me. I never thought I’d be back at this size or have slipped this far back in my fitness routine. What I know is that I don’t like the results I’m getting from being inactive and lazy about my health. Laziness comes in so many forms and in excuses. My depression is better when I’m eating right and working out. I feel more confident when I’m healthy. I want that back and I have to work for it instead of whining for it. Fortunately, I joined a program that will at least get me into the gym once a week and running once a week. It’s up to me to do the rest.

Do you feel like you let yourself slip up? Do you have something that motivates you when you feel like you want to give up?

Apples are my go to snack. They’re full of fiber and they’re portable. These are Fuji apples, but I love golden delicious, honeycrisp, pink lady, and many other types.



Conquered the Nope

I totally conquered the big fat nope of moving forward for 26.2 miles. I must admit, it was mostly grit and stubbornness that got me through. I said more than once that “I’ll be damned if I don’t finish this thing come hell or high water.” I didn’t realize it was going to be such a struggle to get to the finish line. Well, I was worried I wouldn’t make it that far.


I combined my hotel reservation with my friend, Jane to save us a buck or two when the hotel mentioned they were overbooked and didn’t have the room I’d requested. Our friend, Maureen was staying nearby. Her husband drove us as close to the start as he could. We wound up taking a road under Chicago to get to Michigan Ave and having a fairly short walk to our entry point. I went through security, lifted my jacket to show my holster was simply water and food and joined back with my friends.

We walked on to the restrooms and made it through the lines. We sat on the ground in our start corral and heard the first wave start. I sat beside a man who had drawn on his shirt, “Maria Survivor from PR,” and I told him I was happy to see him. Maureen, Jane, and I took a few selfies because Jane was doing something that wasn’t saving them. So we wound up with this lovely photo:


At 8 am, I decided to meander to a pace group so I could meet people to run with. I didn’t really find a partner despite chatting it up with a few people. When we started moving forward to the start, I felt the sudden urge to dig into the ground like a dog on a leash not wanting to go. I resisted the urge and walked forward. The image stuck in my head, though. I looked down at my Garmin watch and probably hit it twice because after coming out from under the first bit under a tunnel, the time wasn’t advancing. It didn’t help to start the run tracking, either. The GPS wasn’t working. I’d planned to use it for timing, but I had no idea how much time had elapsed from when I started. The website says I started right before 9am. When the heat of the day was just started to set in.

My Kind of People

I’d started doing my intervals after I got past my frustration with forgetting to start my watch. A group of people in front of me put their hands in the air and said, “3,2,1….walk. And reset.” Then, they all put their arms in the air for a stretch and walked. I replied, “If you insist,” and started walking. Their intervals were 4 minutes run 2 minutes walk, which was close enough to my 5:1 intervals. I asked if I could join and they were gracious hosts to my nervous self. We all stopped at the bathrooms at the same time, which was good because I think I would have peed myself trying to skip them to make good time. I’d waited awhile at the start and was used to starting at 6:30 am and earlier for long runs on Sundays.

I kept up with the group for awhile. They were great fun. I shook my booty and wiggled my shoulders to “Bomboleo,” when I heard it. I smiled when people shouted my name, which was written in permanent marker on golden ‘duck tape’ I’d pinned to my Team Challenge jersey. I felt great and the crowd was so amazing! No wonder people liked this race.

I lost the group at one point and found some people in the 5 hour 45 minute finish pace group. I asked them if they were doing intervals, and two women said they were. While settling in with them, I saw the group I’d lost. I ran over a median to get to them and we all chatted away. One woman had a mom with Colitis and she said she’d appreciated my charity cause. She started to fall back and I struggled to stay with the group. I kept pushing and just couldn’t catch them on a walk break where I tried to run to them. I slowed down.

Bestie For a Day

One member of the group, Lynn, had also fallen back and she caught up to me and told me that we were going to stick together and get it done even if we had to walk the rest of the race. We weren’t even at 7 miles yet. I was pissed that my running consisted of one block at a time.

We danced together to “Uptown Funk” as it played on the street. We shared our misery and a few stories about how and why we were doing our first marathon there. She had an outpouring of support in honor of a close friend who had passed away and she was extremely grateful to all of the people who did it in his name for her to be able to meet her goal. She was running with Team Salute. Hubby took our pic at one of his cheering spots.


Fortunately, Lynn was actually from Chicago and started giving me my own speed walking tour where we broke into a run once in awhile together to keep our speed up in the range where we’d finish in the official time (6 hours 30 minutes). My legs and my butt were so stiff, running was becoming less frequent. I lost Lynn after mile 14. I tried to catch her, but with the crowd and my body revolting against me, I couldn’t do it. I ate my gels and I didn’t feel light headed. I just felt heavy everywhere.

I found a man who was obviously a Nike Pacer walking. I asked him if he was ok and he said he was injured, but he wanted to finish. I told him I hoped he did and that I planned the same.

Another man was walking along in a “Marathon Maniacs” shirt.  They’re an elite club that I can’t fathom every qualifying for. I tapped his shoulder and I said “I hear walking to the finish is better than not finishing,” to which he told me he had to walk. He encouraged me to push myself if I could because he was falling behind on the time and I would likely fall into that category soon. He was a triathlete who had broken a hip on his bike during a race.  He told me he was trying to decide if he was experiencing regular pain from endurance or from injury. I went on to talk to him as he decided that his pain was not on both sides, and was therefore more likely to be an injury. I walked with him to the next aid station and said my farewell. His parting words to me were that, “Seriously, nothing new on race day. It’s always tempting, but just don’t.”

Worst Race Fear Happened

Anyone who talked to me during training knew that my fear was being passed up by the slackin’ wagon, which is a name I assigned for the car that I assumed disqualified a runner from the race because that’s what I was told.

It wasn’t one car. It was a BMW SUV with a timer attached to the roof followed by about 5 more vehicles moving at around 5 mph in the lane to the left of the runners. It pulled up and I started to run keeping stride 1 or 2 steps ahead of it. I did that for about 1 mile before I completely lost them. I also completely lost my composure and started crying. Not a couple tears dropping down. I was ugly crying in public. Where people could see me. I don’t know how there couldn’t be pictures of it, but my race photos aren’t ready yet.

People were still there to cheer. I was convinced I’d been DQ’d and wouldn’t get a medal. I figured the finish line would be gone when I got there. I put myself down for everything. I prayed to God to speak to me and tell me what to do. Then, I saw duct tape on the ground that was in the shape of the number “1” and had the word “mile” written on it. This was not a mile to the end. I was at 23. I was so mad for a second until I realized Jane kept saying to me in the days leading up to the marathon, “We’re going to do this. One mile at a time. That’s it. Just one mile. Then another one.” I put my butt in gear and I mustered this ridiculous fast walk that was the top speed I could muster. I felt stinging in my heels going all of the way up to the backs of my legs and I carried on.

Familiar People and Fans

I had an ongoing text conversation with my husband. It was ridiculously hard with my hand so swollen, it looked like a glove filled with air. I read messages from my friend Liz, who was encouraging me, but I couldn’t respond. There was no definition in my fingers, my knuckles were gone, and it was so swollen I couldn’t make a fist. I approached a bridge where Angel from the charity was cheering for me. I looked at her with such a pathetic face, she asked me if I needed food or water and I burst into tears. I pointed to the convoy that was still just ahead of me and said, “I can’t keep up with that thing and I’m trying so hard.” She said to ignore it and just go. This is the picture of a woman feeling like she’d been beaten by herself (with that damn convoy of cars next to me on the road).


I realized that my goal was to cross the finish line. That’s what I’d told my friend Jill when she started helping me with my training after the many pitfalls I’d encountered. There were people in front of me, but there were people behind me. Even if there was no finish line when I got there, 26.2 miles was bound to be marked by something and the furthest I’d been before Sunday was 20 miles and some change. It all made sense. I needed to get to the finish any way I could manage.

I grinned every time someone yelled at me to smile, despite the fact I was sobbing off and on. I waved to people if they called my name and I thanked them. One man intensely looked me in the face and said “Jenn, you’ve got this! You’re almost there, Jenn!” I really wanted to just sit down and cry instead of walking and being unable to run anymore. I kept passing race photographers above me and I just hated that I knew the pic would not only be me walking, but me crying and walking.

My husband, Matt, caught up with me in mile 25 and wound up walking me all of the way to mile 26. Nobody stopped him. They just waved and told me I was doing a good job. That didn’t help the crying any. I was like “No I’m not,” quietly. Matt kept shushing me and trying to reassure me. When we broke off right before mile 26, I started to try to run again. I found Roosevelt hill to be easily surmountable compared to what I’d been told and how I’d felt approaching the famous “hill at the end of the course.” It was painful and everything in my body told me not to move anymore. I mustered a strange little running shuffle for .2 miles and crossed the finish running and hearing people cheer me on. The finish line was still there. The announcer was still announcing finishers. People in the bleachers cheered. I took it all in as I approached each group of people holding items for the runners.

A man put a medal around my neck and I burst into tears and said “I get one of these?! THANK YOU!!!” He looked a little taken by my reaction, but the lady next to him said “Congrats. You did it.” I walked ahead and saw a person giving out Goose Island 312 beer and she put one in my hand and congratulated me. A man with a bible verse* on his shirt was standing at the end with a medal. He looked right into my face, offered his hand to shake, and said “You did a great job.” Total stranger. I realized I’d died during the race and somehow was having a very weird entrance into the after life involving a foil cape, cold washcloths, beer, water, and a protein shake. Oh, and lots of tears. It didn’t make me stop crying. I took a snap when I finished.


That crap on my band is salt accumulation from my sweat.

In the End

I did  not enjoy that experience except that it was a great crowd and awesome race support all around. They had plenty to drink and plenty to eat along the course. There were water jugs to refill the bottles I carried on my belt. I just had a lot of training roadblocks. That experience doesn’t mean I won’t do it again. I won’t do it anytime soon, of course. I think I need more time to recover and some time off before training again.

I was prepared to finish the race, but not mentally prepared for the feeling of defeat that comes with falling behind and finishing in 6 hours and 48 minutes. By no means did I come in last. There were people that took 8 hours and a former quadriplegic who completed the race in 15 hours. The reasons I’d broken down on the course and been so upset seem so small in the rear view. Not one thing that I’d gotten upset about was worth quitting. Deep down, I knew it. Jane knew it. She told me that if I couldn’t finish, I’d still do it due to the grit I have. She was right. I thought about it while I walked with the blisters stinging in my shoes. My hips and butt were trying to keep me from moving any more. I wasn’t going to give up. I really would have crawled if I had to because I was going to finish the marathon distance no matter how I did it.



I had to walk a bit to meet up with Matt because of all of the security. Great job, Chicago. It was a very safe feeling place. I opted to walk back to the hotel from near Millennium Park and the Bean. I finally got to see the Willis (Sears) Tower, but was too exhausted to even try for the Skydeck. At one point, Matt stopped me, asked me to lean against something, and pulled my socks and shoes off to put my Oofos sandals on. It was so sweet. I walked along with my medal and my bib with my husband through the streets of  Chicago to my hotel in Greek Town. I took a few stumbles where I had to grip tighter to Matt to get there, but the walk was actually helpful in calming me down and making my muscles feel looser. We had dinner in the hotel restaurant. Despite feeling like I could eat everything on the menu, I didn’t finish my burger and fries. I downed two pints of Goose Island Fest Beer, though. Very nice, by the way.  I napped a little on the way home, and I napped a lot on Monday.

What’s next?

I have a 5k on Saturday the 14th. Then, I’ll be working on my speed and my half marathon pace until I start training for a sprint triathlon with my local Fleet Feet. Another marathon is in the future because my time was not what I wanted, but I’m not signing on just yet. Maybe 2019 will look better to me.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or suggestions on what you want me to write, let me know! 

*I think it was Hebrews 12:1, but it could have been Phillipians 4:13. Either way, it was one I already knew, but needed to see at that moment.

Impending Race

Putting something in perspective often makes it seem like a bigger deal and a smaller deal at the same time.

This is my last evening before I leave for Chicago to run my first marathon after a little over 20 weeks of training. A training plan that, in the beginning, I wasn’t fit enough to run a continuous 5 km without stopping.  I actually couldn’t walk faster than at a 20 minute pace fresh out of physical therapy.

Last year, I trained 16 weeks for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. I got my first awards at 5k races during training. I had some of my fastest races. I ran 3 half marathon races during that training. I bonded with people through the long runs and made new friends. I got faster and ran distances with more ease than I had before. I trained so hard to accomplish the distance and conquer the mental anguish that often comes with distance running. Most of those things didn’t matter by race day. I fell on the sidewalk while walking to my kid’s bus stop to pick him up from school and my foot was too swollen to fit into my right shoe. I stood on the sidelines and cheered for people I knew on the course and even people I didn’t know. I trained 16 weeks to spectate my first marathon.

This  year, I’ve struggled through most runs. My feet and my ankles didn’t always allow me to run as far or as fast as I’d wanted to. I had things happen where I couldn’t get out and train. I almost gave up more than once. I messaged a friend and told her I was going to quit. She told me that I couldn’t quit because my resilience through it all made her believe she could one day run a marathon and I couldn’t take that away. I finally used my Facebook to ask for help from anyone who knew anything about how to get me across the finish. I had no idea who I was supposed to ask. A friend stepped up and has been giving me workouts for each week to keep me moving and has actually gotten me to the point where I believe I can go 26.2 miles. It won’t be as fast as my goal time was last year before the injury. It won’t be with the people I trained with last year [but they’re running the same race anyway]. I’ve been able to form new bonds despite my sporadic training. I have a plan. I have hope that I’m going to see the finish line and just be overcome with emotion when I cross.

Of course, I’m also a nervous wreck and have doubts. I worry that I’ll take longer than the allotted time and not get my medal. I worry about bathroom emergencies, hunger, and pretty much most of the things you can imagine going wrong while running [weather cancellation during the race, anyone]. I check the weather each day. I’ve packed my bags and I’m ready to go. I’m probably over packed at this point. It’s likely that 6 liters of water and 13 smaller water bottles might be excessive for the amount of time I’m staying. I just want it to work out this time. I can’t stand the thought of training three times for my first marathon. I don’t know if I have it in me to put all of this time in again without believing it just wasn’t meant to happen.

So, wish me luck. I’ve raised money for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation and it has been an amazing journey this time around. I’m going to go visualize a finish where I do a little dance at the end and the weather in Chicago is perfect and cool.

And of course, this headband gets passed on to another person who hasn’t fully gone crazy yet:


20 mile attempt and taper

I haven’t been consistent with writing about this training session because training has been erratic. Last year, I’d followed the plan exactly for 16 weeks. This year, I started training 20 weeks ahead of the race so I could ease back into long distance running. I hadn’t eased back into short distances. I have experienced more drawbacks and delays than I’d anticipated. I was so sure that I’d only miss 10-15% of my training. There have been physical problems, family issues requiring my attention, and I’ve felt discouraged on more than one occasion. I want to do it, but what if I can’t do it?

September 17th was supposed to be my 20 mile run. I’d done 16 miles the weekend before with no physical pain. My mind had turned on me, but my body was fine. I ran a race on the 16th and it didn’t really go well. My legs were tight the entire time and I had a slight pain in my right foot that I couldn’t pin point. I would describe it as just an “ow” sensation when I tried to pick up speed. I didn’t think much of it and I prepared for my 20 mile run the next day. I woke earlier than I do on weekdays, got my bathroom rituals done and had my water and a Stinger waffle (gluten free salted caramel is my flavor of choice) like I’ve had for every long run since some time last year.  I set out to meet up with a group to run with all of my race day items on – except anything related to chilly weather because it was hot and humid already.

We had three new runners with our usual group of three and the six of us started together. As it got hotter, I started to hang back and chat with someone who was also in the back of the group. Then, my foot pain started. I felt like something stabbed into the inside of my ankle and the posterior shin. It throbbed and stung as I moved. At 11.8 miles, I stopped my run. I couldn’t go without worrying that I’d have an injury on race day. I started messaging runner friends to reinforce what I already knew. I needed to stop the run. My friend Liz was the one to tell me to go home, get ice, and rest it. I went to my car, sat down and almost cried while I left my group to finish the other 8 miles that were left in the planned run for the day. It took me a long time to actually start the car and leave the parking lot. I took some time to stretch, got back in, and drove to the big name coffee shop drive thru because I didn’t want to see anyone I knew inside. I went home and iced my foot and took some ibuprofen. Then, I hashed out my running plan with a friend who has been helping me train after the injury I had halfway through this training.

No more running two days in a row until after race day. I would need to do workouts that combine running with other exercises to keep my body in motion for long periods of time without taxing my feet or legs through impact. One day, I did the elliptical for 30 minutes, ran outside for 3 miles, and got on the elliptical for another 30 minutes. That run in the middle was difficult enough that I stopped often to stretch my calves. My legs would not loosen up and refused to allow me to do much more than trot along at a 14-15 minute pace. I waited until Friday to run again and set out for 3-5 miles. I did 3 very slow, difficult, and painful miles. It wasn’t any of my previous injuries that came back. My legs felt like the calves would literally snap if I fully pointed or flexed either foot. I couldn’t move any faster, so I had to walk a lot and stay in forward motion. My miles were lurking dangerously close to 15 minutes. The pace is not a big deal unless I’m training for a race that has a time limit that happens to be an average of 15 minute miles. I obsessed over 15 minute miles. I want to finish my marathon the 2nd time I’ve trained for my first. I want to finish and get a medal, too.

I signed up for a “brick” workout [bike + run] for Sunday. The local Fleet Feet was having a Brick and Brunch event in cooperation with a bike shop, Bloomington Cycle and Fitness. My running buddies said we had 12 miles to run that day and they’d participate in the event as well. We ran 9 miles ahead of the event, got out our bikes and set out. I was the slowest person out there on the bike. I was just barely ahead of the person who was there to look out for the group from the back, or the sweeper. The two women I rode with in the back of the pack were really nice about my snail pace and had tips to offer and ways to help make my riding more comfortable. When finished, my running partners were waiting and we set out for a ridiculously hot and humid 3 mile run.

I have never wanted to quit a run in recent history more than this one and I would have if I wasn’t with Denise and Dianna. I was a hot mess. My legs felt like someone tied weights to them. Somehow I was actually running faster than I felt like I was (pace wise). The sun was in the position to beat down from above and the trail was not offering sufficient shade for cooling. We were all miserable. I kept stopping to walk and urging them to continue on and I’d just have to catch up with them later. They were also miserable and we probably evened out the walk breaks inside of the last mile. Except the last 1/4 mile where we ran simply to get back and have something cool to drink.

Oddly enough, I had a blast Sunday. Even that last little run. I was so happy that I ran without my legs protesting the entire time that I just kept saying how thankful I was for one good run. I totally am thankful. I got to hang out and kind of soak in the reasons I enjoy running.

I made myself some really cool sleeves for the marathon using transfer paper, my home printer, and an iron. It was a little challenging and I bought cheap sleeves just in case I messed up or melted the material. I’m used to my other ones with thumb holes, but I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy these for race day. I do see they’re imperfect and I’m aware that they’re both for the same arm, but I’ll still be able to read them and know what they say. I am excited about the marathon. I’m hopeful that I’ll finish. I’m thankful for the memorable training sessions and the time I get to spend focusing on little more than my cadence, breathing, and what’s immediately ahead.


Unsettling, but normal

I have started freaking out about 26.2 miles more regularly than before. Today, walking to the bus stop, I was thinking about what the chances were I’d fall in leaves again close to race day. I mean, fall is coming, you guys! The leaves are going to FALL! Yeah, so its like that.

This Sunday, I ran 16 miles. My training plan has kind of gone sideways since I had some inflammation issues right in the middle of training for this marathon. My friends that I would normally run with were only slated for 14 miles, but I’m having to ramp up a little quicker because they’ve already done 18 (last week) and I have catching up without injury to do.

It was a solid run. We chatted away the miles and I found it to be mostly fun. Then, my brain short circuited. We were almost to the starting point at 14 miles, where they’d leave me to finish my last 2 miles alone. For no particular reason, my scumbag brain started in on me about how bad everything hurt after only 14 miles and how there was no way I could stand the pain of 26.2 miles. I stopped in my tracks. My friends Denise and Dianna ran on ahead and I walked slowly trying to clear my head and think about anything that wasn’t running. I saw a group walking together and I made myself pick up to a run, turn to them and say “Hello,” with the best smile I could muster. The little girls and their adult walking companion smiled back. I decided to be strong and at least get back to my friends.  They came back to me and I told them I was just too far inside of my own head and needed a minute.

We got back to where we’d all parked and I tossed a shirt into the car, grabbed some sports drink from the cooler in my trunk, climbed into the driver’s seat, turned the car on, and then turned it back off and got out. I took off on my run to my friends yelling “Go, Jenn!” They were going into the local co-op grocery probably to get smoothies.

I ran south on the trail waving to every single person that went past me. Most passersby were on bikes. In my head, I joked that I should ask them to circle around and make sure I’m still alive in like  15 minutes. I tried to recall song lyrics. I looked at discarded things along the trail and the road and made up stories about why they had to be littered there. I have a pretty amusing imagination. I saw a sign that said “student mail,” and none of the universities in town were near my location, so I bet that sign had a really interesting story that probably involved vandalism and alcohol. Oh, there were beer bottle caps lined up in a perfect little row with most of them donning golden foil with some peeled away, but of the same type.

I turned around before I hit 15 because I didn’t feel like exploring the places beyond the trail like I often do. When I got back to my car, I paused and took a drink of water. I looked down and I saw a rock there. One of those kindness project rocks that people paint and hide and post to Facebook. I picked it up and examined it. There was a book painted on it. I started to move away and there sat another one. I couldn’t wait to show my kids those rocks and go somewhere to hide them. I stuffed them into the pack that held my gels earlier in the run and I took off to finish my run. I looked at my watch every few seconds hoping that I was finished and I could just walk back the car. I no longer felt completely exhausted, though. I had energy to move myself forward.

When I got back to my car after 16 miles and a little cool down walk, I actually spent a little extra time stretching at my car. I felt like people may have been looking at me, but it didn’t matter. I ran 16 miles. It was ugly and it was not the good kind of memorable. I started picking on myself and cutting myself down while I was still running. Even though I’d already crossed the halfway point for a marathon distance, I was tearing myself down. I stopped, I hit reset, and I moved on. They’re right about motivation. It doesn’t last and that’s why you have to keep finding things that spark that light inside.

I truly enjoy running and even though not every run is enjoyable, I’m doing something I take pride in. I’m cool with the people that think it’s crazy or pointless.

I got this on a postcard in the mail and it is going be one of my sparks for this weekend’s 20 mile run:


What keeps you going? Do you have any mantras that get you through the tough spots? I like “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.” Good luck on your training goals! Maybe you could do a race for charity sometime, too?

My fundraising site is here: Click these words

Where have you been?

Where have I been? On the crazy train, guys. Google assistant says I spent 48 hours in a car in August. It’s probably  more than that, which is simply disturbing. More than 2 days driving and I don’t think I left Illinois. I also didn’t go on any road trips that were for pleasure.

That doesn’t answer the question of where I was. I started physical therapy. I didn’t finish it, but my foot feels great. No pain when I run. The extra time I took from running was due to my oldest child, the one with Crohn’s, being in the hospital for 15 days. We went from a local hospital that was only 10 minutes away to her being transferred to one 45 minutes away to be closer to her specialist and in a Children’s Hospital. Originally, she was just a little dehydrated. Then, her liver enzymes were up. Before we knew it, she was jaundice. Her liver was not doing well and she had viral hepatitis. All of these things started from one nasty virus that doesn’t even make some people sick when they get it. Epstein-Barr virus, also known as ‘mono’ by the masses, landed my daughter in the hospital for over 2 weeks with a couple of those days in the Intensive Care Unit. Her IBD medications took down her immune system so so her intestines weren’t being attacked by the immune system. Her immune system had a harder fight than it was able to handle. She landed in a hospital bed miserable and missed her first 2 weeks of school including the first day.

I tried to work out as much as I could. I had nervous energy I needed to expend. I did treadmill work at the gym one day until the hospital called. I planned to run one day on the way home from the hospital when my husband had taken my place watching her. Sleep won that day. I needed sleep more than I needed a run. When she finally was released, I went for a run to unwind.  I turned an 8 mile run into a 13 mile run and my friend who was (and is still) helping me get to the marathon distance was not surprised I had run extra. She told me to go for more this week. So, with exactly a month left to to until my first marathon, I have run 13 miles at the most. This weekend, I’ll be going for 16 miles. I’ve actually done 4 and 6 mile runs week outside without pain to my foot or ankle. I’m excited to get the long run out of the way.

I always talk up my running family and how runners are such awesome people. I never imagined how they’d all be there for me when I really needed them. There was so much encouragement and support when I was injured and even more when my daughter was in the hospital. It was amazing.

This week, I finally hit the fundraising minimum for Team Challenge for Crohn’s and Colitis. That put me 3/4 of the way to my goal and I was so excited to see that number and finally being so close.

I had a while when I was really down and out and so pessimistic about pretty much everything. Now, I feel like I have peeked around all of those excuses and ‘what ifs’ and I can see success somewhere in the distance.  I even think I can finish a 26.2 mile race despite a few snags in my training plan.

There’s no magic formula. There’s no words I needed to hear to push away the doubt. I decided that if there are people who can go through these things and come out fine, I can endure a marathon using up 1/4 of my day.  I want to do it now more than ever before. So, I hope you cheer me on in Chicago. I hope you give to my fundraiser. I hope you find the ‘why not’ when you think of reaching a goal you have wanted for awhile.

Fundraising link: MomJennGoal26.2

Here’s a picture of me after my 10k run yesterday. I have my “Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do.” bracelet on. I am one tough broad, guys….


Peroneal Tendon. Again.

I saw my podiatrist after experiencing what I thought was a stress fracture to my 5th metatarsal bone on my left foot. The injury that sidelined me from my first marathon (two days before the race), was to my right foot. I had a tear in the peroneus brevis, a sprain to my ATF ligament, and tendonitis in the tibial tendon from running on the other two for a few weeks. It has taken me months to get from walking a 20 minute mile to walking 16 minutes and faster. I have recently broken the 12 minute mark running a mile. Progress! Finally!

I was so happy with the progress. I pegged on a 12th mile during my 11 mile run. When confronted with pain, I was completely stressed out about it ending my training. I called the doctor anyway because searching the web turned up results that mostly said “you fractured your foot, dummy,” or something like that [which means I shouldn’t have put it in quotes, but I don’t want to edit them out]. I didn’t run any training runs until I saw him. It was so great that the pain was gone, I couldn’t really figure out what went wrong. I ran 12 training miles the following weekend and my foot hurt again. I scheduled another appointment and I didn’t take time from my training runs. My appointment was on a Monday following my planned 13.1 mile training run. I did the run. It was not pleasant after, but when I saw the doctor, he ordered x-ray images of my foot and did an extensive exam. I had brought him my running shoes to examine and he added padding to one side of my shoe insert and laced the shoes differently. He ordered physical therapy as well.

I got to see the physical therapist whom I’d spent a lot of time with after my right foot injury. Her parting words to me [the last time] were to not go all out too soon. I didn’t want to tell her that I was injured. I still went in and we talked a little. She studied my walking stride and then watched me run on a treadmill. Then, I sat down and discussed with her that my walking included a little flick of my left foot toward the outside. She said she hadn’t seen it on the treadmill, but believed that I was probably doing it after settling in on my run. She treated me with an an external anti inflammatory and sent me on my way to see me again in a couple of days and three times next week. Thursday, when I saw her, we discussed that my foot wasn’t hurting. She had me do some stretching, discuss what I need to do to correct my gait issue with strength, and gave me electrical stimulation and ultrasound therapy. She sent me on my way saying I was okay to work on endurance using an elliptical machine and that my outdoor mileage could go to 2 miles at the most because that was the threshold where I’d started to feel pain on my earlier in the week 3 mile run.

There are less than 60 days before the marathon. I am not calm about the situation. I’ve had a lot of other things in my life that are stressful. I’m a stay at home mom and it’s summer. My kids present me with challenges regularly. I am trying to focus on the positive. I am working on it. I’m going to finish this marathon. I am going to do what I can to ensure that I do. So, here goes something.

I’m still fundraising for Team Challenge for Crohn’s and Colitis. I have a fundraiser going on with Keep Collective if you like jewelry. I love making myself bracelets with them and I’m thinking I need a new necklace. Here’s the link:  https://www.keepcollective.com/soc/n39v7    

Please consider a donation as I’m a little over halfway to my goal and I am very close to my deadline date. My fundraising page is here

And here’s a pic of me after my run on Monday evening. The song came on in my 2nd mile and I ran relatively fast.



Something, but nothing

I have so many different things going on in my head right now that all seem to be equal in urgency and importance. This isn’t a new occurrence for me. I just don’t like it. My depression is a real creeper and while I’m no longer obsessed with my own death, I’m still not quite sure about the actual place I fit into my own world and whether my presence makes any impact. Yes, that’s sad. I’m sorry. It is a reality, though.

I became a stay at home mom nearly 7 years ago and I am still not sure whether I’m doing things right. Especially in the summer months when we’re home and I need to get my day to day things done while still keeping them from doing crazy things like using their sleeping bags to slide down the steps or catch large bees with their butterfly nets. These are real things they’ve attempted on more than one occasion that I’ve intercepted. While I’d love to pretend I’m the “Pintrest Perfect” mom that does craft projects all day and has charts and learning resources everywhere, that isn’t me and would be rather out of character. I teach things and we do the summer homework that the school sent home with them. We’re behind by like 20 days with one kid, but….we’ve been trying to do it. Honestly, being the mom that knows exactly how to balance teaching the kids all of the necessary social graces along with basic curriculum is an exhausting premise and I’m not even sure I know how to behave socially all of the time. There’s no manual and no matter what moms do, someone is there to criticize it. I just worry too much about what negative aspects can be derived from my style of mom.

I am training for a marathon while fundraising for Crohn’s and Colitis. Since winter, I’ve been fundraising for Team Challenge and hoping that I’d be physically cleared in time to train for the Chicago Marathon in October. I was released from the doctor’s care and then from physical therapy with a little more than 20 weeks to go, which is plenty of time to train. I’d gained about 25 pounds in the winter and I haven’t had much luck taking it off with a lot of dietary changes and exercise. So there’s a big fail I’m mentally having trouble getting past. I was starting to feel the problems of over training, so I reduced my running to 3 days a week including one long run. My all over soreness has been curbed and my feet and legs feel mostly better. Except for one foot in one spot. It is the left foot, which is the opposite of the ankle I’d injured in November of last year. It hurt me for a few days last week, but by the time I got in to see the foot doc it wasn’t hurting anymore. Of course it wasn’t. Then, I ran this weekend and before I finished running the pain was back and even the simple task of taking my shoe off was painful. Now I have an appointment for next Monday with the podiatrist and I was a little upset about having to wait that long to get an answer about the pain and also to either take a break from training or train while in pain. All the physical stuff mixed with not being halfway to my fundraising goal is taking its toll on my worries.

I’m not really saying this for an “Aw, Jenn,” or anything of the sort. I’m saying it because those things are consuming me. I am here in my head thinking about all of the ways I’m not successful and all of the ways that I will continue to fail. This isn’t situational where it would go away once the stress is under control. This is depression pouring acid on my life and distorting my image. I’m exhausted and overwhelmed and I don’t have the energy to fight with it all of time. I’m fighting just to stay at the level where I am.

Some days, the strangest things can take me from one extreme to another. I like my  friends, but I’m not sure anyone actually likes me. I worry often that most of the people I really like don’t think much of me. I want to run a marathon before I die, but what if this foot thing is going to keep me from doing it again this year? I can’t invest this time over and over to see it not come to fruition, but I don’t want people to see me give up. Especially my kids. I want to see my kids grow up, but what if I’m not good enough for them? I want to make it to 10 years of marriage, but I want my husband to be happy and not have to worry about me. I can think of the flip side of most things that I could have to be happy about. I know there are people who have it harder than I do and have less than I do. Telling me that helps me realize that I’m a bad person for feeling this way, so it is not an effective way to bring someone away from darkness. I hope one day to find a cure for the darkness and actually just enjoy things without wondering if someone is judging me poorly or only pretending to like me in order to be polite. I’m a little upset that exercise and eating well haven’t cured my depression, tiredness, or my weight struggle.

I guess through it all, I am stronger and I am wiser. I just wish I could attain the things that I’ve been trying so hard for so long to get. Not things I feel entitled to, but for me to earn. I wish I could feel like I’ve earned the intangible things I try to work for.

I’m pretty sure I meant to write something more upbeat today. Like: Don’t forget that everyone was new at some time and to quit making fun of people for using words or phrases that you simply don’t like. If I say I want to be ‘toned’, I mean less jiggly. I don’t need you to explain weights to me or post a meme about how it isn’t a real thing. If you’re annoyed by people eating ‘clean’ because you think that isn’t a real thing, then don’t use the term. Leave the people alone who do. They’re trying. Maybe start there with a little credit for trying. It could go a long way for how things turn out for the other person. I might have a little bit of problems with negative thinking, but I don’t let that affect how I treat other people and I don’t try to drag other people down. There’s enough of that in the world.






Adjust and carry on

The goal is 26.2 miles on October 8th at the Chicago Marathon. Training has begun and I have a calendar using a training plan I got from the coaches involved with Team Challenge. I even plugged it in to a calendar that accommodated my plan to have my long runs on Sunday morning. I have had trouble following it because I feel like I’m not getting adequate rest between runs.

Last weekend, I needed to do 9 miles, but I wasn’t returning from an out of town wedding until late Sunday afternoon. I was able to plan a run for Monday morning, but I didn’t want to get up early, so I scheduled an 8 am meeting time with a friend. I was positive talking the heck out of that run ahead of time. I kept telling myself it was going to be the best run since my boot and that it was going to be epic. In reality, it was hard to put one foot in front of the other for almost 6 miles. The conversation and adorable woodland creatures along the trail kept me moving forward for almost 6 miles. When she and I were done running, I decided to hop in the car and head home to get sunscreen before finishing the rest of my run. I wouldn’t have finished that first bit had I been alone. The second part was rough and it was solo. The heat and humidity were bearing down. I got one cheer from a car driving down the road and that was a nice distraction. I struggled to keep moving and was running on pure desire to get home. I went home and halfheartedly stretched so I could hit the shower. Little did I know that for the entire week following that run, I’d have a painful soreness in my right calf and my hamstring would be achy.


9 hot and humid miles

My first run after that was Wednesday. It was tough, but it was like shaking off cobwebs. My legs were loosened up for the last half of the run. I was able to focus my attention on random things like, “Hey a White Castle box,” and “We don’t even have White Castle near here.” I looked around and took in the scenery and tried not to focus on any discomfort. I felt pretty good finishing up and I actually did my hip strengthening and stretching afterward. The soreness continued, so my next run was replaced with a session of runner’s yoga.

Saturday was my long run day this weekend due to social plans. I’d planned everything out ahead of time. I was going to ditch the camel bak hydration backpack I’d used in previous weeks and go back to the Amphipod brand hydration belt. I filled one bottle with my BCAA powder mixed with water and the other with just filtered water. I put a protein shake in a lunchbox cooler. I planned to meet the Saturday group at 6:30 am. I’d lost my Garmin watch and found it after a frantic search through my belongings. It was on the passenger seat of my minivan face down and the same color as the interior. My frozen water bottle was completely thawed, so my buffer from the heat wasn’t going to be there. I shook it all off, showed up at the meeting place at 6:45 with nobody else there, and I did a little arguing with my brain to take off on the run. My watch went off a few times for the 5 minute run, 1 minute walk intervals. I ignored the first 2, then I started walking quickly the 3rd time it went off. I wasn’t dropping too far below a 13 minute per mile pace with the walk breaks, so I just kept doing the intervals. I reserved water and gel breaks for walking intervals and it worked out well for mentally preparing. I passed people I knew periodically on the trail and felt encouraged to keep going. It was the epic run I’d wanted the previous week. Then, toward the end, my stomach. It was revolting. I didn’t #2 before leaving for my run. I was about 1/2 mile in either direction from a bathroom and both were portable bathrooms (porta potties). I opted for the direction of my car and ran/walked my way back trying to ensure that no accidents would happen to me. I was a tenth of a mile from the big 10. I had to go, though. I ran to the bathroom, went in, paused my watch, and used the porta potty. I made up the last .05 running from the bathroom box to my car to get hand sanitizer and get my yoga mat. I felt energized instead of exhausted.


I will run for beer, guys….lol

I made the decision after running that if I was going to have good long runs,  I was going to need to adjust the plan. I read some articles in running magazines and websites about training and found that it is not unusual to have as few as 3 runs per week in training for a marathon (assuming other cardio and resistance is included in most other days). I invited myself to join some running buddies on their swim days and they welcomed me. Tomorrow, weather permitting, I’ll be joining my friends in the morning to swim. Wednesday and Thursday, I’ll run. Friday, I’ll get on the elliptical or have a instructor led cardio workout in addition to resistance. Saturday remains rest day so I can long run Sunday morning. Today, I did a resistance workout midday and realized that it has been too long since I’ve done my planks or burpees. Running can suffer from not keeping up strength in all areas. I’m changing my plan to prevent burnout and to prevent injury. I want to do this marathon. I wasn’t balancing my whole body fitness properly and it was affecting my running. Now we’re going to see how well this change of plan works and adjust as needed. I’m happy I can do that.

Also, I am fundraising for Crohn’s and Colitis through Team Challenge. I have 90 days until the marathon and I’d like to raise $2k by then. So far, I’m a little over $900. Consider helping? Thanks!  My Personal Fundraising Page

Just struggling…

My last blog post, I was feeling pretty down on myself. Low self esteem and body image will do that to a person. Major depressive disorder likes to rear its ugly head when it feels like being a jerk and I have very little control over when I’ll have a huge down swing despite the meds and exercise that keep it at a minimum. I didn’t suddenly start loving my body or feeling better about it. I’m actually still in the stupid down swing where I’m critiquing my existence and my impact. I just wanted to pass along some tidbits I’ve picked up since I’ve been trying to come back from having the cast and boot off of my ankle from the tearing and spraining I did 2 days before I planned to run my first marathon last November.

Yes, I find myself questioning my decision to sign up for another marathon after not completing the one I’d trained for last year. Of course I would feel ambivalent about it. I’m running much slower than I was this time last year and I feel like any distance takes me an eternity to complete.  I actually have the ability to run a mile in just under 11 minutes. I simply don’t have the endurance to sustain that speed for over a mile. I ran a 4 mile race this past weekend. I’d signed up to run the 15k (9.3 miles) race and asked to be moved down from the longer distance upon realizing I wasn’t in 9 mile shape.  I met up with people from Fleet Feet Bloomington to take a group pic before the race. One of the people in the group was Nikki, who I had run with a few times in the past. She started the race with me and I was starting to feel worn out and told her to just go ahead if she was feeling energetic. She assured me she wasn’t there to run fast, and we finished the first mile in under 11 minutes. We walked a little because that first mile was exhausting. The rest of the race went on in an erratic walk/run cycle. We picked up Barb (from our group) near mile 3, who had recently felt the sting of injury and needed some walking time as well. We went on to walk and run until the last half mile.  The three of us finished the end of the race running. My split times were crazy. Mile 1 was just under 11 minutes, mile 2 was over 12, mile 3 was 14 minutes, and mile four was 12 again. I somehow averaged in the 12 minute range, so that was impressive for my comeback race. I don’t think that I’d have started running again if Nikki wasn’t there to encourage me and ask if I was ready to pick up again after walking. So, that’s a testament to how I can really count on my running “family” to support and encourage me through this crappy time where I have no idea why I started running in the first place.

Sunday, I got up at 5 am. Some folks may think of 5 am and shrug. I think that’s the crack of dawn and there is very little that could convince me otherwise. I like staying up late reading, so waking early isn’t my jam. Anyway, I met up with a local marathon training group for the first time at a a park all the way on the north side of my town (I live pretty far south along the main strip). One person I’d met before was there. Denise has been running at least 1 mile every day for a few years now. She just needed to get her mile in, but she started out with me because I didn’t really have anyone my pace there to run my 6-7 miles with. The training plan dictated 7, but I accepted that I’d be happy with 6 if I made it. Anyway, Denise ran with me and I notified her when 1/2 mile passed and she said she’d go a little bit further. She ran the first mile with me before turning back. That mile averaged 14 minutes, and it settled me in for the rest of the run and helped me finish all 7 miles. Without starting out with someone, I probably would have set out to ‘just get it over with’ and blown all of my energy. I didn’t do that this time and I caught up to my training plan distance.

I’ve received a lot of encouraging words and offers for people to help me get back to running. I have tried new things to make it easier. I think running insoles have a little to do with having a good distance weekend. I am still hard on my body for being so much more round and heavy than before my injury. In a way, I wish I’d given myself time to work up to training for a marathon again. Most of it is nerves and self doubt which are purely mentality issues and not whether I’m physically able. I trust that with training, I’ll get there. I feel like it’s difficult to complete each run and that I don’t remember it being quite as hard to push through in the past.

Most people ask me how my ankle feels. The truth is, my ankle is fine. No pain with running [during or after]. My endurance could use some work. My attitude could use an adjustment. I could use a shot of self esteem. I’m getting there. My injury is gone. I’m just trying to make a comeback and I somehow forgot to exercise that toughness that I had in me when I started running distances. There aren’t really any foot holds on this incline and I’m trying to claw my way back up. It’s freaking hard. That’s all. I’m struggling. I’m not quitting. Screw that. I literally don’t know how to quit. Even when I joke that it looks like me laying down and waiting for the struggle bus to run me over….I doubt I’d even take a knee to try to lie down. My depression is truly a jerk sometimes, but I’m not going to let it get the best of me.

Thanks for reading! Marathon is October 8th. This will be my first. I’m fundraising for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation because my teen has Crohn’s. If you want to throw a few bucks at the cause, just go to my link. Click here

Here’s a pic of my ‘fluffy self’ finishing the 4 mile race:


I was exhausted, but look at that hint of a smile at what I achieved. (Thanks for the photo Steamboat Classic)