Nervous Nelly

Last week, once I felt better, I did some asking around. I polled people in an online running group about what to do to prepare for my races despite my brief break from training due to illness. Most people said to continue to rest until the 10k race on Saturday. That’s what I felt was right for me, so I went that route.

Saturday morning, people were concerned about how I was feeling and whether I was better. I assured them that I felt much better than I did and was hoping for a good race. My running family made me feel special by being concerned about me. I ran the race with one of the people in the training group I had met over the 11 weeks of training. She ran the race in honor of her late sister. I was humbled that she shared that with me.  I was also impressed at the progress she’s made over the weeks we’ve trained. We finished the race strong. The only effect for me running after being sick was a mild headache that quickly went away once I had an electrolyte drink and half of a banana. I was definitely sore on Sunday when it came time to run recovery, though. Sore, but pleased that all of the weeks of training had finally seen people cross the finish line in their goal race.

Now, I’m gearing up for a half marathon this weekend. Our 10k training group trained along with a group training for this half marathon. This will be my first out of town race that isn’t back in St. Louis (metro). I’m both extremely excited and anxious about the whole thing. The forecast so far has shown that it will be windy and chilly Saturday morning at race time. I’ve already started putting together possible outfits for different weather scenarios. I’ve also put my nutrition gels, tissues, hand sanitizer, and bib pins in my hydration belt to ensure I’m fully prepared on race day. I even bought bottled water to fill the bottles on my belt on race day. I’m pretty serious about being completely over-prepared.

This experience in training has been amazing. My running family has grown by so much and each person brings so much to the table. I have met people who didn’t realize their own abilities until they got out and challenged themselves. I’ve gotten to know people and their stories and I’ve grown to really care about them on a more personal level. I stayed active through the miserable winter months and I don’t have any ‘winter weight’ to shake off in training this season. I’m actually going to be mentoring people to run a 5k race over the next couple of months.

I suppose I’ve been sucked in to running, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love my running buddies and I love to run. I can’t wait to share the latest PR or see who is running what race. In a world full of people who don’t know their closest neighbor, I have a sense of community with other runners in my town.

Wish me luck on my half marathon this Saturday. My PR is 2:17, so let’s hope for at least a 2:15. It should be easy if I stick with the pace group for that time or maybe start in the 2:10 group. I don’t know. See? Anxious.

Thanks for reading! Happy racing!

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Practice embarrassing facial expression 2016

Training group photo

Me, dead center, embarrassing facial expression.(2015)

 

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Spring Broken

Where should I begin? This is spring break for all three of my kids and I’ve been sick since last Wednesday night. We’ve done a lot of TV watching and indoor activities that don’t involve me moving around too much. Wednesday, I was just feeling more tired through the day. In the evening, I asked my husband if it was possible to get poked with a giant needle to let the pressure out of my gut. My whole trunk hurt and I couldn’t sit, stand, or lie down comfortably. A few hours after I’d finally fallen asleep, I was awoken by the urge to run to the restroom. That urge didn’t let up for the next few days. I could hardly stay awake, food made me nauseated, and I couldn’t drink enough water to prevent dehydration. I had to sit out for the weekend workout even though I was planning to run 13.1 miles in preparation for the upcoming half marathon. When I consulted my doctor’s office (he’s out on vacation for Spring Break), his nurse told me to take something for the loose bowel symptoms, avoid dairy (not a problem, I rarely eat or drink it), and go on a liquid diet until it lets up. I let my husband know I’d need his help once he was out of work for the day. He left work for his lunch and headed to the local grocery store to get all of my needs in addition to an adorable bouquet of ‘crazy daisies’. I took the medicine and within 30 minutes, my gut was full of gas again and I wanted to find a huge needle for release. I felt more nauseated than before. By the end of the day, I ate a green banana and drank a packet of electrolyte and light carbohydrate GU (tastes awful, but effective dehydration help). I didn’t get sick soon after. I slept through the night. I was hopeful that I was finally coming around. I set out my running clothes to wear that evening and took my two oldest kids to the dentist for a cleaning. I got carsick despite being the driver. I felt lightheaded when I got there and for the rest of the afternoon into the evening. Every time I tried to expend any energy, I quickly got sweaty and dizzy. For dinner, I made very lean meatballs with pasta, green beans, and a loaf of french bread (not from scratch). While I couldn’t enjoy the pasta and sauce, the rest of the food was delicious and I was happy to eat some. Yesterday, I woke up a little weak, but I ate normal all day. I even got my favorite burrito and chips. It was hearty, but it was also tasty and not bad for me considering the ingredients I chose. I finally spent a day mostly upright, ate real food, and did housework. I was sick for nearly the entire week. I might have been a daredevil when I was a kid and prone to emergency hospital visits for injuries, but I was not sickly by any means. This was, by far, the most sick I’ve ever been that I can recall.

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Crazy Daisies! So fun!

The running streak ended at 76 days. I was finding it hard to make it up and down the stairs inside of my house. It wasn’t plausible to try to make it a mile. I plan to resume the streak and attempt to finish out the year. The streak helps keep me active. It would be easy to just give it up and leave it behind now that I’ve broken it, but it would also be easy to resume and accomplish the goal of one full year. Even if that year starts and ends in April, it is a year.

I’m anxious about the 10k this weekend. I have been working with people in the training group for 10 weeks before missing week 11. They’re like my team to run the race with. I want to be able to run with and support them. I hope that my running will be up to par by race day and I haven’t lost too much to the week I took off. I also hope that I can run the half marathon without too much trouble next weekend. I ran 11 miles on March 10th, but that is the most miles I’ve done since the last half I did months ago. I just hope its enough with the taper runs in the coming week.

Through it all, my husband took care of me and of things I normally am responsible for around the house. He faced the laundry monster and the dishwasher. He fed and clothed the kids. He made sure I was comfortable and brought me fresh water and snacks when I needed them. Even if the snacks were sometimes just decorations on my nightstand because I didn’t actually eat them, he got them for me and came to take away any empty cups I had. He snuggled me while I cried about feeling hopeless and helpless. I’m blessed to have him.

All things considered, I’m glad it is over with. I lost 10 pounds over the first few days of being sick, but not the healthy or good way. I’m not used to sitting or laying around all day. I don’t like feeling that I can’t take care of the things I normally do. I don’t like not enjoying cooking or eating food that tastes good. I wanted to be able to get up and run around the house with the kids instead of watching from the couch. I wanted to join my group for running and see it through until the goal race. Feeling helpless against my body and not being able to run or even walk only solidified what I already knew:

I run because I can and there are people who cannot.

Now I just have to get out there and run again. I’ve got quite a few races to look forward to this year.

Thanks for reading! Please feel free to comment and share as you wish.

Racing season begins (for me)

What an incredible week in running it has been for me. The rain held off most days. I switched my long run to Thursday so I wouldn’t have to run 11 miles while my friend was visiting me. I did my speed work on Tuesday without the group because I was on kid duty solo that night for my husband to do some networking.

Tuesday’s weather was warm and windy. I suppose the wind resistance helped with the speed work intervals I was shooting for. It did shorten the intervals, though. I found myself walking in between instead of jogging because I really needed to catch my breath. Otherwise, it was fun and I’m glad I got out and did my least favorite type of running workout. That would be the fartlek, which I’ve been told is Sweedish for “speed play” by my coaches. I use objects to do the work. Typically, the objects are trees or poles along the trail or walkway that I’m using for my workout. While it is fun, the work is tough and it gets harder as it goes on to burst into as fast of a sprint for as long of a period of time. I’m usually jogging pretty slowly for my cool down after this type of running practice because I’ve exerted a lot of energy. There just has to be a least favorite and this one happens to be what I choose.

Thursday was cool and there was drizzle from time to time. It was better than the constant rain in the forecast, though. I set out on the trail to run 11 miles despite only having used that section of trail for 10 miles at the most before this run. When I pulled past the point that was the farthest I’d been on the trail before, I was a little skeptical. The buildings were industrial. The signs just inside of the chain link on either side displayed “HARD HAT AREA” and there were bulldozers and things of the like hard at work inside. There were a lot of hills in the area. When I got to one particular spot, the trail seemed to end and point to landmarks I recognized the names of, but couldn’t place the exact location they would be if I were driving. I turned back at 5.25 miles and promised to make up the rest of the mileage when I got back near where I’d parked. I made it back and ran around a lake checking my watch hoping it would just be over with soon. When I got back to my parking space, I put the seats down in my van and closed the hatch so I could warm up while I did my post run stretch and snack. Oddly enough, I felt like I could run more after I got my hands back warm and dried off my top layer of clothes from the drizzle. Still, I had done what I set out to do. I went home and went on about my day with a pride that I had done those miles by myself and did them all despite a lot of talking to myself, singing to myself, and whining to myself about why I was doing that in the first place. I had headphones in, so people may have thought I was just on the phone….or crazy. I don’t know. Though, I know other runners who do the same, so I guess it isn’t totally weird.

As it turned out, the 5.25 mile mark was pretty close to places I regularly pass in my car. I looked on a map and I was so close and likely would have known where I was had I followed the sign to a local park. I still made the mileage, which I’m glad. I was just anxious about being somewhere I didn’t know. I think I’ll plan my route better next time I set out for a solo long run, so I can be more at ease about it. I had my GPS on to where my husband could log in and check on me, but it was more about the feeling of being lost than the feeling of being unsafe.

Friday night, my best friend drove from around 200 miles away to visit for the weekend to race with me on Sunday. It has been more than a year since her last visit, so I was excited to get to see her and introduce her to all of my new running friends. I brought her with me to training on Saturday morning, where my 10k training group got to run on the course where we’ll be running the race on “Easter Saturday”. The course was mainly rural. There were horses, cows, chickens, and fields. There was a hill to conquer. There wasn’t a lot to look at sometimes and we’d started wondering where we were on the trail and how much further we’d need to run. I think the attitude changed where we turned around because we knew we were on our way back. I am excited to run the race with the group in a little over a week. They’ve all been working so hard. Running 6.2 miles is rough. Some people stop at learning a 5k  (3.1 miles), but this group is doubling down. Awesome!

Sunday, it was dreary and rainy. The race was at 1pm,so my friend and I had donuts for breakfast and a protein bar about an hour before the race to hold our appetites until lunch. We drove around awhile looking for a place to park near the race venue. I considered going home and asking my husband to drop us off to make it easier. We hopped out of the car and speed walked to where I was supposed to meet a group to take a pre-race photo of our matching green shirts. See, this was the St. Patrick’s Day run. I bought my friend and I fabulous leprechaun tights and green Fleet Feet shirts so we’d match enough to find each other in a crowd and because it’s more fun to look ridiculous with someone else than alone. We got a lot of compliments on our crazy pants.

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Fancy Pants Besties!

We stepped up to the start and picked our spot toward the middle. The rain picked up from a drizzle. A cannon or something went off to start the race, which was alarming. I started my watch and set off. We were getting passed on all sides despite choosing what I considered a fairly modest place in the crowd at the start. We passed the first mile and the person announced to me “9 minutes even.” I looked down at my watch and he was right. I was shocked. My friend had headphones on, so I kept telling myself that I only had to do that a couple more times and I’d hit my goal of a sub 30 minute 5k. When I hit mile 2, we were still holding close to 9 minutes per mile. I was convinced I couldn’t hold my speed any longer and that I’d still beat 30 minutes if I slowed down by a full minute. I realized that I didn’t need to slow down, though. I was fine. I was huffing and puffing, but this was a race and that is the time to let myself huff and puff and push hard. So, I told another friend that I run with that I was looking for encouragement and he said the people he was running with had the same goal as me. I stuck with them. I hung on and tried not to let them pass us. We turned the last corner and the finish looked pretty far off, but I had a sense of relief anyway. I pushed hard and the people I was trying to stay ahead of pushed past me. I hit my gas and realized that I was already at full trot and just lifted my head and hoped I’d see the race timer soon. Then, I saw it. It said….28 minutes and something. Wait. I might actually do this? I rolled back my shoulders and I pushed past the finish just as it turned to 29 minutes and I crossed the finish line 1 minute and 18 seconds faster than I have at any race before that day. I finished right next to my best friend and I beat my best race time. I didn’t beat the guys my friend was running with; They got me by about 8 seconds. Still, I don’t know if I could’ve gotten my time had I not chosen them as who I was going to run with and “beat”.

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I printed it…and put it above my bib display. I’m proud!

I was cold and pretty rain soaked. The race involved a lot of dodging puddles and potholes. There was a constant battle inside of my head about whether I could hold my pace or I needed to stop. My stomach burned. My legs screamed for me to slow down. My shoulders tightened. I had to shake those things off and keep going. I did it this time. I didn’t stop or slow down to let my mind take over the battle. I muted it long enough to finish the race.

The post race beer was delicious. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone that I’d gotten a new personal record. I didn’t place in the race. I beat myself. I conquered that nagging in my head that tried to talk me out of being my best and I did it.  I also met my race season goal in my first race, so I guess I’ll try to beat 2 hours and 17 minutes at my half marathon at the start of April. Honestly, I’ll be happy just crossing the finish of another half marathon.

Do you have a race season goal? Have you signed up for any races yet? There are many great ones to choose from!

 

 

Doing gooder

What? That title makes you cringe? I know, I’m actually not too bad at English. I just thought it was funny to say. Last time I blogged, I was in the midst of what I normally refer to as an “episode.” I’m not fully out of the dark yet, but I’m trying harder to pull myself out instead of sitting at the bottom simmering in my negative thoughts and feelings. I’ve adjusted a few things to alleviate being overwhelmed. I have been mindful to keep my goals, but adjust my methods to attain them.

I’m still doing the streak. I go at least 1 deliberate mile each day. I just don’t run every single mile anymore. When I need a rest, I put my puggle on a leash and we take a little stroll for a mile or more so I’m still physically active, but I’m not being too hard on my body. My body thanks me for that with less knee soreness and better overall body feeling during my running. I was starting to struggle at running the speed that I am normally comfortable with. This might not seem like a red flag, but I’ve seen it before in myself when pushing too hard. Sometimes, pulling back a little will make a huge difference in performance. Tightness in my legs and finding it difficult to feel ‘warmed up’ were sure signs I needed to change something. Today, I did speed work with the wind whipping from different directions and it felt good. There were some spots where I walked between sprints instead of jogging, but I got it done and I went faster than I expected. Now if I can be mindful of resting so I don’t get to the place where I’m uncomfortable again, that would be ideal.

I get overwhelmed by housework. The pile of laundry or the stack of dishes are staring me in the face each day when I still have to pick up the odds and ends, wipe the counters, clean bathrooms and empty wastebaskets. Or do I? Actually, no. I put the pressure on myself for those things to be done and to be done well. I often decline help because I want it done my way or I don’t want to bother anyone to do things I consider ‘my job’. This amazing thing happened recently. I looked at the laundry and I told my husband, “This is overwhelming. I am tired and just don’t want to do it today.” You know what happened? He took the basket and folded the laundry and put it away for me. It didn’t really occur to me that I could ask for help and he did it without a second thought or complaint. I think we often forget that our loved ones can’t read our minds and don’t know exactly how we’re feeling. People won’t know you need help if you don’t tell them you do. (This darn paragraph made me well up with tears a little bit, so I guess I’m not numb to my emotions anymore, either.)

Things are still rocky with the oldest of my kids. Time passes anyway. I can only do what I can do and hope the right decisions are made and for the right reasons. My husband and I can only guide her. What people seem to forget is that the parents can’t make the choices, but are often left with the consequences of the choices that our children make. This is especially true as they become older and want to be more autonomous.

I think that I’ve done a fairly good job of continuing to be kind to people and try to ensure others are happy despite how I feel. I am confident that I don’t let my mood determine my manners. This works wonders for having people to talk to when you’re emerging from your darkness. If I can remain kind and be a bit of light for people even when I’m not feeling good myself, it can ensure that later in the day when I’m thinking of all the things that were wrong with the day, those interactions won’t be included in that. I have every conversation through the day more than once because I have to dig it apart in my head to make sure I didn’t say anything totally weird, which inevitably happens anyway, and that I didn’t say anything that could be hurtful or judgmental. That’s me. Even knowing that so many other people do it in addition to me doesn’t make me think I’m normal for doing it.

Basically, I’m still a little depressed. Most things I have no control over and are pretty average for an adult, but I still worry about them and feel like I’m completely helpless against them. I hate being helpless. I like to be strong and wise. Yet, I’m surprisingly good at accepting that the only thing I can control is how I react to those things.

Only 18 days until my first (official) 10k race. A week after that is my next half marathon. I have been preparing for both and I’m really excited for each one. This week, I’m going to try to get my long run in on a Thursday. My best friend is coming to town this weekend and we’re going to do a 5k race on Sunday together. She’s also going to be at the training run on Saturday morning, so I thought I’d do my 11 miles earlier than that since she’s not currently training for a half marathon and probably doesn’t want to put in that many miles. I’m hoping maybe I can PR on the 5k, but I’ll accept it if I don’t because this is only the first race of the year.

Good luck in your training! Have you signed up for any races yet? Are you trying anything new? I see a lot of my friends are going into Triathlon training now. I am thinking if I take a next step, it’ll be a full marathon before a tri.

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The shirt says “Change Everything” because RUNNING CHANGES EVERYTHING! *Seems like the wind has my hair.

 

Clouds and Sunshine

Was it only a few days ago that I had my long run, then went out and had a really good time with my running friends at a party? Saturday was sunny, yet windy and not quite warm. I ran 9 miles and felt great after. The trail was somewhere I hadn’t run before and it was fun to see different scenery and parts of the trail I didn’t know were there.

Saturday night, my husband and I headed out to a special event put on by my favorite store (Fleet Feet Bloomington). There were drinks, dinner, dessert, entertainment, and dancing. My goodness, I did a lot of dancing. I had a fantastic time and I don’t remember smiling and laughing that much in quite awhile. I don’t think my more introverted husband had a very good time. He doesn’t like dancing and only joined me for one dance the entire time, but I really wanted him to meet my running friends and get to know them. I think they’re great and I wanted to share that with him. I felt a little guilty for having a good time when he didn’t really seem to.

After our families left our house on Sunday from my youngest kiddo’s birthday party, I was reluctant to go for a run. We had probably gotten to bed around 12am, and it felt so much later than that after the long run and the dancing. The kids got up not long before 6:30am and I went downstairs with them so my husband could catch a little more sleep. I still laced my sneakers and dutifully went 4 miles in the warm sunshine of the early evening. I even broke a sweat out on the run despite clouds and  cooler temps moving their way in as time went on.

Monday, it was warm enough still to wear capris and a short sleeved shirt to the fun run. Tuesday’s training run was not warm at all. I was dressed in layers and winter gear from head to toe. The wind seemed to take no breaks as we ran along for 4 miles doing speed work, where I managed to get a side pain that made me walk/run the last mile. Wednesday, I did my 1 mile for the sake of keeping the streak alive, but it was slow. It seemed like a lot of effort was required to complete a single mile.

Today is Thursday and it has been rain/snowing all day off and on. I need to sneak in a 3 mile run at some point. I don’t want to. I want to just lie down and give up on all of the things that I work so hard to maintain because I don’t think they make any bit of difference. I feel like my efforts are worthless and that I lack value as a person. I’m saying that despite the fact that I know depression makes me feel this way, I am stuck by it. I am consumed and feel breathless. I don’t like that my brain works this way. I don’t like feeling like I’ve failed at everything I’ve had a hand in. I wish this dark cloud would go away.

This is what depression is like for me. This is me when I’ve relapsed into an episode of my illness. I thought regular exercise was keeping it at bay, but it started sneaking up on me as just being more tired than usual, then more irritable, and now just a being without any value or purpose.

I’m reluctant to publish this entry because I know that it isn’t positive and it isn’t encouraging. I want people to know that despite what you see in other people, their smile or their outgoing personality, that they might be struggling with something you don’t know about. If you suffer from depression, it will lie to you. It will make you feel “less than” at times. Keep making plans for the future so you have things to look forward to.

I have a St. Pat’s 5k in a little over a week. The 10k that I’m mentoring with is going to be at the end of the month. I have a half marathon the first weekend in April. So, I have a few things to try to draw my attention away from the mangled mess that is my life right now. Hopefully, I’ll be back to my normal (slightly weird) self soon. I’ll let you guys know if there was anything that helped out other than insisting that depression is just a big dumb jerk.

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Just can’t see that sunshine…