Wonderfully Misunderstood [and week 7]

This week sucked. I thought last week did, but this week was the ‘challenge accepted’ week for “could shit get worse”. Much of the story belongs to my teen and I can’t go too far into it because it’s really for her to face and come to terms with. My teen daughter relapsed in her addiction and ran away when we confronted the issue and offered to get professional help.

Tuesday morning, she had been missing since the evening before. I was pouring through comments, messages, and information to attempt to locate. I messaged my friend, Jess and said that I didn’t know how I was going to fit 5 miles into the day with everything going on. She lives over 20 minutes away, but told me she hadn’t completed her own run for the day and that we’d meet me so we could go together. We knocked out 5 miles in the humidity and heat. I felt better after taking some time away and I was happy to have someone care enough to take time out to help me.

My teen turned up less than 36 hours later in an emergency room unwilling to talk to her father or me. She’s now in competent care that meets her needs. She will be 18 this week and this is an attempt to help while we still can in this capacity. Finding her in the state she was in brought a level of stress and lack of sleep that carried over into the rest of my life. Mental exhaustion carried into my physical being with brute force. I found myself tired from taking the stairs instead of the elevator and forgetting the day of the week. I was neglecting to eat meals because I was tired and trying to catch naps when I had time where I was without kids. Friday, I had no appetite and I forced myself to eat an apple and cheese stick for dinner despite knowing I had a training run the next morning.

Saturday morning sucked. I had a 10 mile run in store. It was humid outside and I wasn’t paying enough attention to drinking water. I took my electrolyte pills at 4 miles and my drink had a mix in it for electrolyte replacement, but I was hit with muscle soreness and exhaustion of not being properly hydrated. I stopped my run before hitting 8 miles. I wanted to cry, but I had a lot of reassurance that people understood I was exhausted. From what I’ve learned about hydration, my pee was indicative that I should have had more to drink on my run and that I actually knew better than to ignore when I’m sweating heavily. I attribute it to the other things on my mind keeping me from operating normally.

Sunday, I set out to run after feeling irritable. I got out on the trail and I was running at a good pace. I enjoyed the run until my stomach gurgled and I felt the unmistakable need for a bathroom. I wasn’t on a part of the trial where bathrooms are near. I stopped running and sat along the side of the road. I messaged a friend who lived nearby, but she was not home. I assured her it was fine to laugh at my problem because I would’ve found it humorous, too. My husband picked me up with a plastic bag on his passenger seat as if it was already too late for a bathroom. Fortunately, I made it home and to the bathroom without any messes or need for plastic seat covers. My stomach was not having any more running for the day, though. I ate pretzels and napped. Then, I grumbled about how my runs were stupid this weekend.  This week, I didn’t run much and I seriously considered dropping the earlier of my two half marathons down to a 10k to lighten my load. I really want to PR my half marathon time, though.

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This could make me negative and want to sulk on the week past. I tend to go silent when I’m not feeling mentally healthy. I made a post to my Facebook on Saturday evening that said: “COMPLIMENT CHALLENGE Comment 👇👇 and I’m gonna tell you something positive that I like about you! Best challenge yet! We need positive energy in our lives.” Everyone started answering it with positive things ABOUT ME. It was heartening. I made sure to consider each person and highlight positive things I’d noticed about them. It was unexpected, but the timing was perfect. I still don’t feel well and things aren’t suddenly fixed. I had a shift in focus from the things influencing my feelings to view the way I influence others.  It is really something to have people say so many nice things.

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How is training going? Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment and share. If you’re one of the people who gave me one of those positive remarks, THANK YOU! It touched my heart.

I hope you can find in yourself or have people who will point out the positive when you’re not seeing that light. I also hope you know that you’re here for a reason and that Tomorrow Needs You (please see: To Write Love on Her Arms Melbourne, Fl, USA).

 

 

Week 6 and Mental Fortitude

Not much is said in training about the mental toughness required to complete certain tasks including long distance running. Often, the thing that is preventing completion of a run or reaching a goal is mental. Of course injury and bodily pain and often hinder progress. More often, we find ourselves fighting something in our minds. This is the strength we’re finding when we ‘dig deep’.

I find it difficult to be mentally tough when I’m battling with stress in my life or a relapse in my major depressive disorder. This week was rough with getting the kids back to school and battling with my depression coming in a huge wave of exhaustion and feeling inadequate.

Tuesday was a speed workout with the group. It was humid outside and hotter than it had felt earlier in the day. My speed was declining within my repeats even with coming to a walk during cool down. I could sense that my body wasn’t up for the challenge. My legs never really loosened up and the pain in my foot was not lulling away as it usually has. I cut my own work out short by a mile. I wasn’t disappointed. I actually listened to my body and I didn’t give up because I thought I couldn’t. I stopped because I realized my body said I shouldn’t. How can I distinguish the two? I’ll get to that. I went and had dinner and a beer with a couple friends afterward and that was a good distraction.

Thursday’s plan said 8 progressive miles. I hit the trail heading east, circled a local park to add distance, and ran through a subdivision. I got to another park and had to use the porta potty with no soap for me to wash my hands. I couldn’t stop thinking about how germ filled my hands were using just the non alcohol hand foam. I went home, making my total 6 miles. I washed my hands and the mouth pieces on my hydration belt and added ice to my water. I could have just stopped and said that 6 was close enough. I knew I could get 2 more miles in, so I set back out and ran. My reason for stopping had nothing to do with listening to cues from my body. I needed to calm my mind to proceed and I did what I had to do and moved along. I was pleased with myself once I finished and realized how close I’d come to giving up.

Saturday, I ran a race along Old Route 66 from Funk’s Grove to McLean, Illinois. It was a 6.6 k, about 4.1 miles. I’d mistakenly thought it was 4.4 miles. Participants were offered a shot of sirup [that’s how they spell it] and a strong cup of cold brew coffee. Toward the end, as I was reaching the city limit of McLean, I saw a Blue Note painted on a pallet and I thought “Go Blues” feeling like the sign was just for me. The next pallet in their yard was the STL symbol for the St. Louis Cardinals. I felt like it was just the push I needed to finish strong. I ran the race averaging 10:45 per mile. That’s the pace I want to complete my upcoming half marathon. The post race food and entertainment were fun and it was quite the experience. I didn’t end up making up the miles to get in my 9 for the day and I didn’t end up doing it Sunday like I thought I would.

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Week 6 at a glance

I spent more time last week resting than I would have liked. I did things that were good for my soul, though. I started reading a book loaned to me by a friend. I spent more time praying and less time worrying. I confided in people that I wasn’t feeling well. I could have been a little harder on myself to complete my long miles, but I can’t change that.

I saw the podiatrist today. No cortisone shot, but I got a boot to help me with my achy foot. I also got orders for physical therapy. I miss the physical therapist there, so I hope I get to see her. We spent so much time together after the cast and boot came off last spring and again while I was marathon training last summer. Hang on….you have to see the contraption I’ll be sleeping in to stretch while I sleep:

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This should be interesting.

Thanks for reading! I appreciate your comments and suggestions. I am halfway through training for my first half marathon of the year and then I’ll have a second one just 4 weeks after that. I’m hoping to beat my best half marathon time at one of the two. Best of luck with your training and I hope you can identify when you need to push yourself and when you need to give yourself a break. Is there something that you say or do that helps you to go that additional bit you need to? Do you have a mantra that you use? Mine is that “Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.”

 

 

Week 4 and challenges

I’ve completed week 4 of my training. I had speed work, an active vacation, and a visit with my podiatrist.

Tuesday was a speed workout with pick ups. Basically, we had to pick up speed from cone 1 to 2 and go “all out” from 2 to 3 and then cool down going back to cone 1. I was proud of that run. I had a great partner with me for the duration of the speed work and she really helped me rise to the challenge.

Thursday, I intended to wake early and run 7 miles, but I was struggling with some stress related exhaustion and I slept past the alarm.  I did 6 miles instead of the planned 7. I felt the need to slow down and I also just wanted to go home and get on the road for our vacation in Missouri. Trevor the dog was with a local friend. Aurora, my puppy was to stay with my friend, Liz. That meant I actually got to see her. I even ordered her a gift to show up on Thursday. The package arrived as I was talking to Liz. As in, not at her house, but at mine. I saw it on my front door cam. It’s the thought that counts, right?

Liz has a 95 lbs. dog named Buddy. Aurora took one look at Buddy, ran away, and pooped on Liz’s carpet. She finally got over her fear and they were friends over the few days she stayed there.

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That’s Aurora the puppy with Buddy the HUGE dog

Friday was our first full day at the cabin and it was great! It backed up to a small lake and was set back in the woods where we saw a lot of deer and I saw raccoon prints on the back steps. I got into a kayak for the first time and paddled around the lake. My 8 year old son was able to catch on to kayaking in the lake by himself [with flotation]. My kids, nieces, in laws, and I had a full day of play on the lake ending with a get together for my son’s recent birthday and s’mores by a fire after dark.

Saturday morning, I planned to run 7 progressive miles somewhere around the resort. I’d decided on a main road and estimated where the 3.5 mile mark would be for me to turn around. I was surprisingly close to accurate and turned around at 3.6 miles so I’d have less running on gravel than I had at the start. It was hilly. There were beautiful sights including deer so close I could’ve almost touched them and I felt guilty for disturbing them running by. The hills nearly did me in, though. I stopped and took a photo of a hill right before I attempted to surmount it. I made it partially up running, then fast walking, and then realizing walking was fine. That mile was still my fastest despite having walked up that hill. Nature apparently was a good run motivator for me.

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See the bluff? That hill was HUGE.

I made it back to the cabin where my mother in law had made my favorite breakfast of biscuits and gravy, which I ate gratefully. We all suited up and headed out on the lake for more fun. I took the kayak out further and tried going faster. I think I really got the confidence to be able to enjoy pedaling. After lake time, we went to the resort swimming pool in the afternoon and to an outdoor concert in the evening.

Sunday, it was time to go home. We spent time gathering our stuff and loading the vehicles for the trip. I was feeling pretty tired, but I think that was a bit of the introvert in me needing some rest after a social few days. We stopped back by Liz’s house and got Aurora, who had to gnaw on my ear and my ponytail as soon as I lifted her into my arms. The ride home was spend slipping in and out of sleep. When I got home, my neighbor delivered the box I’d meant to send to Liz. I opened it and sent her photos of what I’d bought for her. A 32 oz Blender Bottle with a Wonder Woman design and color scheme that I have since used for myself.

Podiatrist

I was supposed to see my podiatrist a couple of months ago for a checkup from when I tore my peroneus brevus tendon, sprained my ankle, and got tendinitis from running on it anyway [on the right foot] and he treated it. I started having pain in the ball of my left foot, so I thought it would be a good time to reunite with him despite not wanting to hear bad news. I described my pain and after an exam, he requested an x-ray. Soon after the x-ray, he said that there was a sesamoid bone that was in two pieces that shouldn’t be, but it looked like it had been that way awhile and the pain was located in the sesamoid bone opposite of that one. He mentioned that if I’d let it go on, he’d probably have immobilized [put a cast and boot on] my foot. We discussed treatment including him making adjustments to the inserts I use in my shoes and using anti inflammatory medicine. I have to be careful of which surfaces I run on. I have to go back in two weeks to have it looked at and possibly get a cortisone shot if it isn’t clearing up using the conservative methods. I didn’t want to go because I’d honestly assumed I’d broken it after getting my Google MD in the field of feet ouchies. I’m glad I actually went during training instead of spending my late autumn and early winter in a cast.

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I got this from the Dr. office. I must have seemed really confused about the name of the bones there.

How is your training going? Have you ever had an injury you didn’t want to know more about because of the fear of having to take time off? Tell me about it! Thank you for reading. I have a hill workout this Tuesday and an 8 mile run on Saturday. It looks like I’m staying at 3 days a week of running for now. Guess I’ll dust off my bike or maybe even go swim laps.

 

 

 

Week 3 of training

Hello! I didn’t forget to write last week. I realized I was writing my blog in the middle of training weeks, which are Monday thru Sunday.

I have completed week 3 of training. During week 2, I’d questioned my training program. It was adjusted and sent out during week two (not because of me). The program is more manageable and makes more sense than the one the group was given at the start. I’m still making Mondays optional as they have been in past training programs, but that’s for the sake of my ankles and feet.

The long run in week 2 was originally a 6 mile run. It was 5 in the new plan. I’d mentally prepared for 6, so 5 felt good afterward. I even went to brewery yoga which turned out to be barre and a little more challenging than the yoga I’m used to doing. I was sore on Monday.

Week 3

Tuesday, the group runs start at 5:30 pm. I hopped in the car believing I had until 6 pm and arrived at 5:45 pm. I arrived to see very few people, which I found odd. Two of my friends were there and informed me that my group had already taken off. I ran straight to the hill where we were going to be doing repeats after a 1 mile warmup. I arrived just as the first group of runners from my program were doing their first uphill. I was 1/2 mile behind the group by that point. I went down the hill 5 times and up the hill 4 and ran back with one of the last groups to complete their hill repeats. Fortunately, I only needed .3 of a mile when the group was finished and that was easily completed. I would have been sad to miss hills. I actually enjoy the challenge of that workout. Some people refer to Illinois residents as ‘flat landers’ due to the lack of hills or any actual inclines and there really aren’t many hills to train on in my area.

Wednesday was cross training day and my cross training was trying to find clothes for a job interview I’d secured with my kids in tow. I’ve been out of office working for 8 years. It was not a body positive day for me. I was disappointed when I tried on outfits at the store and they wouldn’t fit. I bought a bunch of dress clothes and brought them home only to feel like nothing looked right on me even with my shapewear pulling in the jiggle. I cried about it. I felt completely defeated and wondered why I even try to be healthy when I can’t look the way I want to.

Thursday was a 6 mile run and I needed to get up and run in the morning. My calendar was full and I am not an early riser. I ran faster than I’d expected or planned. I went into my interview that afternoon with a little extra energy. Immediately, the interviewer disarmed me from all of my worries I’d entered with. She asked me about my running I’d mentioned on my resume. The rest of the interview went well and I felt as if I’d just had a pleasant conversation with someone I’d just met. I’m expecting to find out about that some time this week, so I’ll probably mention it if I get the job and try to ignore that it happened if I don’t.

Friday was my son’s 8th birthday. He chose Chick Fil A for his birthday dinner. They were raising money for St. Jude with their cookie sales, so I bought 2 of the 6 packs and used those as birthday cake at home. He blew out his candles and we had delicious cookies for dessert. I hope it was memorable for him like I think it was for me.

Saturday morning, I showed up on time. I had managed to bruise my own eyelid by trying to rid myself of a facial blemish by pinching it. It wasn’t that type of blemish. Go figure. I had a good 6 mile run and was glad that I’d done a progressive run on Thursday so I could take it a little easier in the heat and humidity. I didn’t get in my Sunday recovery run. I’d missed out on sleep and I just wasn’t mentally in to running.

Today is the start of week 4 and I’m looking forward to my long run. There are only 2 more weeks of summer vacation for the kids before school. I think I’m ready for it this time.

Thanks for reading! I am in a 12 week program with an extension after for a second race. I’ll be doing Whiskeydaddle half marathon in Peoria and the Indy Monumental in Indianapolis this year. I’m striving to beat my 2:19 personal best time. Do you have a race goal you’re training for?

Week 2 of 2018 Training

I’ll try to keep up each week in training, but it won’t always be just about how training is going. Today, I’m nursing my leg from a middle of the night ‘Charley horse’ in my calf and I still have some training miles to knock out this evening. It’s been awhile since I’ve been awakened by a sudden muscle cramp. I’d forgotten how annoying it is.

This is week 2 of training for my fall half marathons. My training plan is much different from ones I’ve followed in the past and involves more miles than what I’d anticipated.  The plan I’d chosen was one to help myself run a ‘fast’ half marathon. While I’d normally insist that I follow a training plan to the letter, I’m concerned about injury from over training. I’ve cut an entire day out of the plan for the duration of my program. I won’t run on Mondays. I’ll cross train, of course. A well rounded athlete is more likely to avoid injury. In the past, Monday runs were marked “only if you feel good,” and I think that’s been an effective part of past training.

I find it odd to describe myself as an athlete. I am a runner and I do races. I train for my races and I try to ensure that my body is strong and healthy enough to perform. I’ve just got the “mom bod” going on and I’m not meeting my time goals. I want to beat my personal best at at least one of the two half marathons I have on my schedule for this fall. I have time to work on that and there’s no way I would beat the time if I didn’t actually put in the work. I’m also more concerned about what my body can accomplish than how it looks.

I’m gradually getting faster and running is feeling less tedious. I enjoy the couple of group runs each week. It helps me to socialize with other adults, which is totally important in parenting life. Running with the group helps me adjust my pace and try harder than I do running alone. Group running holds me accountable for running on days when I’d probably find an excuse not to run. I had a 4 mile ‘speed work’ run this Tuesday. While it wasn’t as I’d planned, I had a bit of faster running than I have recently.

As far as mental health, I’d be doing better if I were sleeping right. Increasing my activity to more days and miles a week makes it harder to sleep. I’m often awake in the wee hours [that are too early to actually get up for the day] feeling like I could get up and go run. Then, I get to overthink all of the things I did and said the previous day before I fall back to sleep. It isn’t unusual for me to have that for a few weeks starting out in training, but it is annoying.

This weekend calls for a 6 mile long run on Saturday. I’m looking forward to running this and each training run. I’m looking forward to trying to beat my personal best. I’m looking forward to proving once more that my body can do amazing things. I’m sure I won’t always feel optimistic, but today I do. That’s really all I need. One run at a time and one mile at a time.

Thanks for reading! I appreciate your comments and suggestions. Keep them coming!

Here’s a dog and puppy photo because I take a lot of them and I can’t wait until she can run with me. My older dog is getting used to her. I might even say he likes her.

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Fra-gee-lee

This past Saturday, I ran the 45th annual Steamboat Classic in Peoria, Illinois. While I’d signed up for the 15 k race a few months ago and worked hard to get myself up to the over 9 miles that the race would require of me, I dropped to the 4 mile race when I went to packet pickup. I didn’t take the decision lightly. There was already a heat advisory for the weekend when I ran 3 miles on the Wednesday prior to the race. The humidity was oppressive for each of my runs leading up to the Friday pickup. I checked with my [best] friend, Liz who would be running the race with me, and we agreed that 4 miles was just a better idea since she hadn’t trained for the distance and I wanted to be healthy for my fall half marathons instead of nursing injuries (again). What also helped was that my 4 mile best time was pretty close to my 5 mile time on Athlinks because last year’s Steamboat was tough on the injury I’d been nursing. I knew I could beat that 4 mile time, but my best 15k comes from 2016, which was the year I was in the best shape of my life.

At packet pickup, I asked to join the Athena class for female athletes over 180 lbs. I hopped on the scale and pushed that baby close to the 200 lbs mark. I didn’t try to cover it up from those waiting in line behind the scale. I didn’t insist I take my shoes off. I wasn’t surprised by my weight, either. Prior to my injury, I’d weighed 170 lbs. At the end of 2017, I was tipping the scales closer to 215 lbs. It was so hard to be heavy and to get motivated to try hard again. I’ve worked to lose over 20 lbs over the last 6 months and I’m still working hard at it. I gave it a lot of thought over the weekend and even discussed with my best friend about how there is a difference between saying that I’m proud of my weight and accepting it for what it is. I’m disappointed that it got so far. I wish I was the same size I was when I was 150 lbs and trying to lose weight. I wasn’t strong then. I didn’t run. I smoked cigarettes and I ate crappy food. There is no pride in the sizes that I have been no matter how small or large. The size I am right now, I’ve worked to get to and I continue to work to be a healthier, stronger woman. It’s what I have and I’m working with it. I will always be a work in progress and I’ve accepted that. I’m currently on a 1 mile or more a day streak and it is helping me stay active when I don’t want to be.

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Liz and I post run

I ran a 4 mile race. For the first time in a race we’ve done together I told Liz to slow down at the start of a race and hold a pace and I kept reminding us to hold it. I tried to keep up conversation even when the heat was taking its toll on our bodies. I also felt good about the race, though. I wasn’t slowing down. I checked the statistics from the timing mats. Liz and I moved ahead of 144 people from the 1 mile mark to the finish. We held our pace knowing that it wasn’t a day for negative splits or a PR.

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The look on my face says it all…

At the finish line, a tall woman ran ahead of me. A silent agreement between Liz and I had us separating at points if we needed to during races we’ve run together. I took off assuming she might be part of the Athena class and that I’d need to beat her if I wanted to get an award. All the way up through the finish, it was a race. She came in 2 strides ahead of me and I was pissed when I saw that I was 2nd in the Athena class. I was so mad at myself that I didn’t pull those couple of strides out of my pocket and come in ahead. Later on, Liz would pull up the finish line photos and the stats on the Athena class winner. The 1st place Athena had come in 3 minutes prior to me. That woman I had such an intense race with had nothing to do with my 2nd place award. She also had started ahead of me, so her chip finish was a tiny bit after mine.

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Athena Class award

 

So, I won an award that clearly says on it that I weighed more than 180 lbs when I won. It doesn’t have to mean I’m proud of my weight or that I’m promoting obesity. I’m aware of those people who say those things to heavy women. Although, I did carry that weight across 4 miles in some intense heat and I’m pretty sure some people lighter than me couldn’t do that. I actually got my best 4 mile time. Athena. It’s pretty cool if you think about it.

Time to train for my fall half marathons. The heat has been intense. I’m finally able to feel good in the hotter runs, though. It took me a couple of years to get faster after I started to run. I’ve been out of physical therapy for less than a year. I need to continue to have self discipline, but realize that progress is progress no matter how small. I hope I can run a 5 k in less than 29 minutes again one day. I hope I can weigh 25 or more lbs less one day. It doesn’t happen overnight and working toward it is something to be proud of.

Do you know where the title “Fra-gee-lee” came from? I won a “major award”, you know. There’s probably a movie reference there.

I love comments! Please let me know if you have something you want me to write about. Good luck on your journey!

 

Back in training

I spent little time training for more than 5k races since October, which was the Chicago Marathon. I’m even moving toward a ‘maybe someday’ for another marathon. I hadn’t pushed any further than 4 miles and that was fine because I didn’t have races on the calendar yet.

I’ve finally started upping my miles. The first instance was joining a relay team for the Illinois Marathon and I have slowly raised my long run mileage and pulled back when my body thought it was too much. I’m up to 8 miles now and it felt great. Except for the humidity that was absolutely oppressive, it was a good experience. I’m training for a 15 km race in mid June called the Steamboat Classic in Peoria, IL. The race brags that it is the toughest 15 k race due to some steep hills and the heat that normally accompanies the race. Since it it close to the Illinois River, the steam is always in attendance. The race is fun, though. I like the challenge. The people of Peoria come out and cheer on the runners. There are misting stations located along the course including some that residents have fashioned themselves with their garden hoses. The finish line has water misting and then a beer garden to go to! It feels like the thing to do to kick off my summer training for my fall race(s).

This year, I have 2 half marathons after Steamboat. October is Whiskeydaddle in Peoria, and November is Indy Monumental. I feel like I have to do Indy at least once since I missed out on doing my first marathon there a couple years ago. I’m excited to to both and to start training soon!

This weekend, I was talking to a fellow runner who is training for a 5 k race. She mentioned to me that she had read somewhere where a woman spoke of focusing more on what her body could do instead of how it looked. I thought it was funny that she brought up something I’ve said before and a great time to remind me of what I’d said. I started running distance because I wanted to show what my body was capable of even if it didn’t look how I wanted.

Yeah, that.

Are you training for anything? Do you have a favorite race? Have you ever goaded your best friend into running a 15 k with you? I did. Poor Liz.

 

 

 

We Plan, The Universe Laughs

By: Jenn M.

The Streak

I planned to do the holiday streak and spread it out a little further and go until my January 5th birthday. I did not make it past December 19th thanks to gastroenteritis that left me feeling too weak to get out of bed for a little over a day. I’m being generic since it will remain a mystery what made me sick in the first place. It could’ve been sushi or cookie dough and it could’ve been kid germs.

Winter Whine

I picked back up and tried to stay on top of doing a mile a day once I felt better. Knowing I’d broken the streak made it easier to just brush it off as something to do later. I have been consistently working out, though. The weather and winter break just isn’t allowing it to be outside as much as I’d like it to be. I feel a little caged at this point. No early winter training has ever gone quite right since I started running.

I like running in the snow because it insulates sound and it is more peaceful outside. It’s like the world is giving me the peace I crave. I am not a fan of the cold, but I have a lot of gear to prepare for it. I like a challenge that makes me feel tougher. I’m not talking about stepping out when it is dangerous to be in the elements for even a few minutSes. That’s unnecessary practice because one only gets to lose a nose once.

Plan vs Reality

I planned perfect attendance for my Winter Warriors group program. Getting sick meant I missed a gym session. Not only did I not want to miss that chance to decompress, I wanted to actually get the attendance I’ve been trying to get the past 3 years. There is an incentive for perfect attendance, but I just want to be able to say that I accomplished perfect attendance. Perfect anything and it’s a safe bet I’m going for the title. Except the perfect week reference from HIMYM. Not that.

This is my last week of Winter Warriors. I still get one incentive for my attendance, which is great. Except that I know I missed that one gym session and I’m nuts.

Upcoming

I will be mentoring again. It has been a little over a year since I last mentored any runners. Fortunately, I’m in the 5k program. The distance is nice and I don’t need to train any longer until summer. This also offers me the opportunity to run with people who are just getting into running and remind me why I started and stayed. I found a notebook in a stack I took a photo of my page 1. I’ll bet it was in 2014 before I’d run my first half marathon and when I’d gotten serious about it. Not all plans get sidelined and sometimes they work out really well.

If you ever feel like quitting, remember why you started in the first place:

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I can cross things off that list and I can add things to it, but this is why I started and this is what is at the heart of what I do. I want to keep running for the same reasons.

Why did you start your fitness journey? What brought you to your favorite workout? Make a list for yourself on paper or online and save it where you can go back and reference it from time to time. Don’t change it. Use a different page to update or edit. Then, remember the thoughts that were at the core of your personal journey.

 

Taper kick off

This week is number 14 of my 16 week training program to run a marathon. That leaves me breathless to think about how close I am to race day. I’m totally prepared as far as endurance goes. I know I am physically capable. That will be part of what I tell myself when I encounter the mental ones.

I realized I missed the opportunity to nod to Deadpool by naming my last blog post , “Should’ve Worn the Brown Pants.” It’s funny which ones get the most traffic and that one was certainly at the top of my visits. Thank you!

Near the start of our training program, I shared a photo that had the quote “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” We discussed how it would be a perfect saying to remember during the race and even a great logo for the t-shirts we get for being in the program. When I mentioned that I’d write it on my arm, Amy in my group suggested fake tattoos. I looked into it and the further in I got, the more I realized we weren’t getting tattoos unless I designed it myself in an almost unreadably small font. So, I found the stretchy band bracelets that can have anything you desire printed on them. I put in an order and they finally arrived last week, so I excitedly brought them to our Thursday run. While not every marathoner was there, the people who were put on the bracelets for a photo. I was filled with so much joy by how grateful and appreciative everyone was for the gesture. It really made my day. The bracelets were printed with the saying and ordered in the colors of the shirts that we get with the race logo on them.

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Tough Times Don’t Last, Tough People Do!

This past weekend, I ran a 5k race on Saturday and a half marathon race on Sunday. I placed in a 5k race for the 2nd time ever. Both were during my marathon training. I got 3rd in my age group (30-39 year old female). My watch didn’t give me the PR, but I did technically beat my best time. I’ll take the win, though and work on the speed in a ‘chip timed race.’

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My award was this cool pint glass!

Sunday was the half marathon in Peoria. Last weekend, when Maureen, Jane, and I ran together, we agreed to run this race in 5:1 intervals. That is run for five minutes and walk briskly for 1 and repeat through the race. We skipped the first interval to break free from the crowd and complete a good warm up mile (which takes longer than 5 minutes…shocking!). We had a few comments from people like “Don’t stop now, you can do it,” to which most often Jane spoke up and told them that the walking was something we’d planned to do and then thanked them. My legs felt mostly fresh the entire time. The crowds around the race were incredible. There was a lot of music being played loud, organized [and disorganized] cheering, people holding signs, and people giving high fives. One group of frat guys even stood on both sides of the racers in a line of high fives. It was energizing to have such a supportive crowd. Towards the end, I was feeling a little out of breath. Jane and Maureen went on at one of the walk breaks and I used the time to take the walk, which separated us a little, but we were within the last mile of the race. When I picked back up, I was ready to finish and I was pushing myself forward while trying to encourage the people around me. Although, one of my cheers involved me saying, “Ugh, I can’t die with like 1/4 mile left, that would suck.” I’m pretty sure I got a laugh, though. My finishing time was 2:21 and my watch gave me credit for a personal record despite my best being 2:19. Again, I’ll take whatever accolades I can to pat myself on the back for a job well done. Honestly, that is a great time considering I only skipped the first and last intervals and I really did use my walk breaks and walked a few of the water/electrolyte beverage stops. Especially after I accidentally inhaled red Gatorade and spit it all over myself and everyone around me and was coughing out apologies with my red spit. I finished the race strong and actually like [most of] my race photos. Someone even complimented my physique and said that I look like I’m much healthier than I have in the past and that I look strong. I love hearing that.

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ROAR! Finishing my 5th half marathon!

No bathroom emergencies. Last weekend was a fluke, I hope. I overheard a few comments about my race belt where I carry my hydrations and gels. Yes, I’m prepared folks. I’m not sure I understand why you feel you need to mention it to your buddy next to you that “she looks really prepared [haha],” or “I don’t carry my own gels around like some people do.” I’m ignoring you to be polite,but it would also be polite to worry about yourself instead of checking out my arse while I’m trying to challenge and push myself. If you missed a gel, I might have a spare if you’re not a huge jerk about it.

I came near tears when I got separated from my other two running buddies. I was thinking about how I’d have to prepare to run alone in the full marathon if I got separated. I was thinking about how this was my last big race before the big event of the full marathon. I was thinking a lot. I got out of my head by talking to people around me who were kind enough to enjoy the small talk for a few moments. It was a day I’d expected rain, but instead had overcast skies and a warm and humid race that left my clothes completely sweat soaked by the end. I couldn’t even get my phone to unlock with the thumbprint because there was nowhere to wipe the sweat off of my hands on me. We had a couple of post race beers and chatted with other people we knew. It was an all around fun time, I’d say. There was very little negativity and it wasn’t enough to disqualify all of the positive things I experienced. I love racing in Peoria from the two races I’ve done there. I have had more fun with the crowds cheering and the support than any other town I’ve raced in. The thought crossed my mind that it was strange how much I enjoyed the crowds despite my anxiety when I’m out in public and there are crowds at the stores or festivals. I suppose its different when you need the energy to complete a task.

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We finished! *I’m working on not doing the huge eyes thing in photos.

The race is less than 20 days away. I’m into taper time where my miles pull back a little before race day. It still seems so far off, yet I feel like I need to plan out so many different things to ensure a good race day. I am more ready than I would be had I tried to do this alone. I am more nervous than I have been in the past, but I have the confidence that I’m physically prepared for this challenge and that the only thing left to overcome are mental and I’ll need to deal with them as they come.

I am going to run and finish a 26.2 mile race with friends by my side, my husband cheering me on, and a body that is prepared to cross a finish line. I am tough and I will prove it!

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, I’d love to answer them. I’m also open to suggestions on subject matters to write about. I love to share my experiences and I really appreciate any feedback you have.

Which race photo didn’t I like? This one….

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This one is growing on me, but that expression is laughable…go ahead and chuckle.

 

 

2 Race Weekends in a Row

Last Saturday wrapped up the half marathon training and this Sunday was a half marathon with my bestie that lives back in Missouri. Both were pretty eventful weekends.

First up was the We Care Twin Cities Half Marathon in Illinois. This was the goal race for the training program that I got to mentor over the summer. A few of the people I had been running with were using the training program for other races and not many were going to be at that race. I hadn’t received any requests to run with anyone during the race, which I felt a little weird about, but figured I’d just run it my way if I was alone. Friday night before the race, I ordered take out from a local restaurant that has excellent pasta, bread, and salad. I headed to bed early only to experience several interruptions from sleep including the sound of my house being assailed by eggs around midnight. I woke up around 5am feeling sluggish.

Upon arriving at the race venue, someone invited me to run with her during the race and said she wanted at least a 2:30 half marathon time. I was glad to have someone ask me to run the race with them and to take my mind off of needing to get 5 more miles in after the race ended to make my 18 training miles for the marathon. The couple of hours we were on the course were cool and overcast, which was a welcome change to the weather we’d trained in. I warm up pretty quickly, so seeing people cheering on the sides of the road looking like they were struggling to keep warm was slightly confusing to see. The person who had chosen me to run with beat her personal best by 4 minutes by the end of the race. She really worked hard and pushed through the race and I got to see her get a personal record across the finish line. I was feeling a little less joyful as I changed my shirt and switched my visor out for a moisture wicking headband and the sun came out and started to warm the air.

Jane and I started to set out for our next 5 miles after a short break for refilling water and changing clothes. Jane chaffed in the chest enough to bleed onto her shirt. We headed out with things over our shirts that labelled us “Barnabas Runners,” which meant that we were to run with people who needed encouragement to get to the end. Our plan was to keep running back and getting people to try to get in the last 5 miles of our training run. I somehow almost lost it during our first mile back out. My body had stiffened and I had to walk for almost a quarter of a mile before I regained my composure. I whined to Jane, “If I can’t run 14 miles, I’ll never run 26.2. This is stupid.” She replied back that I was fine and we’d both make it even if there was some walking involved. When I later apologized to her for that outburst, she told me she knew that it was out of character and that it was probably lack of sleep talking. I admitted I am a bit of a different person when I’m tired.

We went back and found runners to encourage. We separated to help more runners. I ran a couple of people to the finish, which was down a hill. One runner asked me to tell a story to take her mind off of the running and it made my mind go blank of stories. I ran back up the hill for more people each time. Then, I ran into someone on her 20 mile day of training for her first marathon. I talked to her about time limits and mental barriers, then we ran out together to get the very last runner and bring her in. By the time I ran in the last person, I had 17.53 miles for the day. I didn’t want to leave it on the table, but I did scratch the last part of my run to walk back to the post race food and drink area to enjoy pizza, sandwiches, chocolate milk, and water with the people I’d run with. It felt like a party, really. I was in on a great celebration of others’ accomplishment on the day of my longest run to date and it made it from something I was stressing out over into something memorable and happy.

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Still my longest run 17.53 miles

The days following, my legs were sore and heavy feeling. My husband was out of town on business the entire week, so I had the 3 kids to myself. All of my running had to happen during the day while they were at school. On my cross training day, I did intervals on my elliptical along with weights for my upper body strength. I felt accomplished. That was, until I planned to do my 8 mile goal pace run on Friday, but missed it by taking a midday snooze from all the tiredness finally catching up to me. That run was scrapped because Saturday was my travel day to St. Louis for the MO’ Cowbell race. I drove the nearly 3 hours straight to the ExMO (Expo) and passed through the area where I’d lived less than 5 years ago barely recognizing the stores and homes built along the main road nearest my old home.

At the race expo, I got many goodies from different booths. I bought some new sassy headbands with sayings like “Run B*tch Run”. I love moisture wicking headbands and even better if they’re fun in appearance. Then, I had my favorite pizza and salad for dinner, Pirrone’s. I headed to bed early and briefly worried that I would have the same problems as the previous week and lose sleep. I actually didn’t have any problems and got up and ready for the race. When I got to the highway exit for the venue, people were lined up for awhile and not using the open lane on the left. Familiarity with the area came in handy because I surpassed the people waiting, passed the place they were all turning, and went down a side street and parked one block from the starting line without issue. Somehow, I had the intersection where I’d parked wrong and written the name of two parallel streets, which didn’t help me later when I wanted to get back to the van and drink my post workout protein.

I walked around for a few moments after arriving trying to find water to fill the bottles on my belt. Somehow, I’d remembered everything but to put water in my water bottles. I found someone with water coolers who filled the bottles for me and I headed off to the start line to find my spot. My best official race time is 2:19, so I sought out the 2:20 person. She was a young woman with short hair named Megan who was friendly to everyone who approached. Megan was asking people for their names and a little about themselves. One woman was from the area, but had moved to Nebraska and has recently joined the club where they run a race in all 50 states. I told her I knew someone who is doing a full marathon in all 50 states (and DC) and told her about the final race being in Iowa in 2017 for my friend. My friend Liz arrived and lined up with me at the start. I was with the 2:20 pace group and next to the 4:30 full marathon pace group.

The race had a hill within the first mile and I poked Liz and joked that, “we don’t have many of these where I live,” which is actually relatively true for my part of Illinois. We both had headphones in listening to music and occasionally slapped one another on the arm to point something out or make a comment. There was a pink bismuth colored Ford Mustang in a sales lot that had to have been from the 90’s. Cute dogs lined the streets to which we “awed” at each one and probably thanked more than the human onlookers. At one point when I went to take a gel packet, roadkill briefly interrupted my urge to actually take it. Then, when she went to take hers, Liz got to see another animal lying in the road. Nearing the halfway point, she slapped my arm to run on the side of a bridge instead of on the metal grates in the middle. I saw someone who had participated in the half marathon program on the road side and I felt a little energy from being cheered by someone I knew.

I was warned that there was a major hill inside of mile 10 or 11 and I’d been a little concerned. Especially since I’d lost a little ‘gas’ in my attempt to catch the 2:15 pacer somewhere in mile 8. I’d started telling myself how much time I had left to run. I was battling myself intensely in my head. I took a few walk breaks remembering that I need to stay in shape for the bigger race and that this was supposed to just be a training run. When the hill was before me, my music changed songs to “Hero” by the Foo Fighters. What an opportune time to hear that song. I was like “I’m my hero, dang it!” People were honking from the highway and waving at the people racing. That hill was not as bad as I’d anticipated and certainly not as steep as Steamboat (Peoria, IL). I just had to make it a little further and we’d be back at the finish with snacks, water, and beer. During mile 12, Megan and the 2:20 group caught up to me and I tried to outrun them by going full trot. Don’t go full trot when you’re still a mile away. I completely lost gas at 12.75 and tried to ‘speed walk’ to get my breath back. Megan encouraged me as they passed by and I started to jog on the last downhill and turn to the finish. I ran it in, but I had lost Liz in the crowd. I continued walking down the trail a little while to cool down because my legs weren’t ready to stop yet.

I finished in 2:22:26. So close to all 2’s! Not really a personal best for me, but I’m still ok with it. I enjoyed the race and I would do it again. I sat in the grass and had my post race snack and beer after I’d had a chocolate milk and a water. I set out toward my van and went to see if the indoor public restrooms were open. They were! I got to wash my hands in a sink before setting off to find where I parked. I went the wrong way on Main Street and realized that I couldn’t be quite as far from a certain intersection. I finally found my bearings and walked back to my van where I changed into my sandals, discovered my running shoes now have holes in them, and quickly downed a shake while I waited for the GPS to instruct me where to go. I looked around all of the small shops around me in St. Charles, MO and I felt a little sad in knowing that I hadn’t visited in awhile and it was one of my favorite places to go in the winter for their celebration and in the summer for the festival. I think maybe visiting to do this race in the future would be a good way to come back and see it once in awhile.

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I finished. My clothes and hair were sweat soaked!

I didn’t quite do the race right. I didn’t pace properly. I worried during the race that I wasn’t going to make 26.2 miles in November and even thought that I should just back out before embarrassing myself. These are the mental barriers of running. I told myself that I knew I had sufficient training, nutrition, and hydration to finish the race and that anything telling me otherwise was not real. I had to fight off the “can’t” to get to the finish. I had to get myself out of my head to get myself across the finish line. While those things are intangible, they’re real and they’re challenging to overcome.

Do you ever experience the overwhelming urge to give up? How do you break free of it? Do you have a favorite song that instantly pumps you up?