Wine’d up

This weekend was my first fundraising event I’ve hosted [like…ever]. It was a lot of fun. I had a great group of people who came. The event was a wine tasting. Each person paid an entry fee and brought 2 bottles of wine. The first bottle went into a box for blind tasting and the other went into a ‘Grand Prize’ box. People were permitted to join the tasting without bringing the wine, but were also unable to win the Grand Prize.

My friend, Liz came to stay the weekend from St. Louis and she helped me out with answering the door and wrangling the dog when the doorbell made him go crazy. My teenager was responsible for keeping the two younger kids entertained. I got some cheese and crackers, summer sausage, and made spinach artichoke dip with toasted bread. I offered iced tea (sweet and unsweet), Pinot Grigio, and a Red Blend wine . People seemed to enjoy the Red Blend prior to the start of the tasting.

I took all of the bottles from the tasting box into my dining room. I’d used 2 separate pages to write names of people and the name of the wine they brought. I randomly pulled bottles from the box, removed the paper bag I’d wrapped them in, and marked them with a letter of the alphabet along with tagging the paper bag and using a rubber band to ensure blind tasting. Each taster got a scoring sheet that asked them to assign a number 0-5 to each one they tasted and then give them to me. We had a few Red Blends, a Pinot Gris, a wine that appeared green, and a GewurztraminerI had a chance to taste them, but not vote on them, since I knew who brought which and didn’t want to show favoritism.

Once the tasting score sheets were turned in, I invited a $1 donation to add points to specific wine letter that was particularly good. A few people added votes to their favorites and I tallied the scores. I double checked the scores and wrote each one down so they could easily be referenced afterward if people wanted to see how their wine fared with the group. The point adding actually broke a tie between two of the entries, so it was a good addition.

In the end, a Red Blend came in dead last. I announced the wines from fewest points to the winner to keep up a little mystery up until the end. The winner was the Gewurztraminer. I honestly had studied very little on this wine because I hadn’t seen it very often in the store or at parties. It was the wine with the most points, though.

I also gave out tickets upon entry for door prizes like a magnet that said “Will Run for Wine,” a couple of wine glasses with fun sayings on them (filled with chocolate), and a few of my homemade hot cocoa mixes.

The event went really well. When everyone had left, I was adding up the numbers. My friend told me to look closer at the check in my cash box. I was writing the wrong dollar amount in the total and it was for much more than the suggested donation amount. Altogether, the party raised $216 toward Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America! So my fundraising total is up to $396 of the $2000 that I plan to raise!

I intend to do more fundraisers, of course. This one went so well that I was much less worried about trying to put things together in the future. I got to meet some new people and I got to try some new wines that I hadn’t before. Someone walked away with a box full of wine, too!

If you want to donate, my link is MomJennGoal262. I am hoping to raise money by August even though September is the actual deadline. I have 2 more fundraisers in the works and am considering another tasting that might involve beer.

Thanks for reading! I hope you’re doing well with your plans for racing this year! Some days, I feel like I’m starting all over. That’s okay, though. I still really enjoy running!

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2 steps back

1 step forward and 2 steps back; This is how I’ve been feeling about my journey to get back into distance running after my November injury. I have encountered repeated setbacks that threw me off the path back to running. This time, I started getting what seemed like hay fever. I felt congested and pretty miserable. That was abruptly ended by a virus that caused gastroenteritis in my family members and myself. I was weak and dehydrated and I’m still not quite back to normal.

My longest run since my injury has been 4.5 miles. I’m hoping to work my way up. My ankle hasn’t been in pain once I’ve warmed up, which took a little longer than it had in the past. The warming up taking longer has been widespread and hasn’t been focused only on the ankle.

It seems like other obligations have been taking up more time, as well. I try to schedule workouts and I can’t always predict things happening to interrupt that plan. I’ve had a few surprise “pick up your kid from school sick” calls as well as days I was needed the entire day without the chance to step away. People can call them excuses, and sometimes they might be. Truthfully, I don’t do well getting up extremely early and I can’t get to bed at an early hour most nights. My workouts are normally scheduled around my kids’ school, husband’s work, errands that are absolutely necessary, and volunteer work. I’m doing what I can with what I have and these stupid things keep pulling the trip wire on me.

I lose momentum and I get discouraged. I push hard when I come back. I get exhausted and discouraged because I can’t do what I did before. I see 11 minute miles where I was seeing 9 minute miles on short running distances. Let’s not focus on that pace, though. My husband whines about being slow in the 8 minute range, so we’re all very different.

What the hell was I trying to say? Right….I’m still fundraising and training for a marathon this year. I’m running 26.2 miles in October just like I’ve planned. I’m going to be in 10k shape for Illinois Marathon Weekend in Champaign, IL so I can run a mini challenge. Then, I’m going to increase my miles so I’m ready for marathon training by late May because that’s the plan. I just have to get up 1 more time than I’ve been knocked down to conquer this.

So join me? Maybe help out my fundraising? Let me know if you have any ideas! I have a run on the schedule tomorrow. I’m back out there now that I’m not sick. The most important lesson running has taught me that I can use right now is that “Tough times don’t last. Tough people do.” So I will push and I will make the effort.

Next weekend, I’m hosting a wine tasting at my house for my Team Challenge fundraiser. This weekend, I’m brushing up on my wine knowledge, mostly of grape types since regions get me flustered. I’m making things for the party for scoring the wines and for any additional donations. I’m hoping it is a great success. I’ll have to post pics. So far, I have a coffee can covered in chalkboard paint to serve as my additional donation jar to show for it because I can’t decide on a few aspects of decor. I should probably hop back to it.

Thank you for reading!

Donations can be made on this page: http://online.ccfa.org/goto/MomJennGoal262

Every donation counts!

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What defines you

What defines you? Are you someone people know for aesthetic features? For impeccable taste in clothes, scotch, or architecture?  How would you want to be defined?

I was a young, single mom at one point in my life. I’d dropped out of college because daycare and tuition are quite challenging for a 19-year-old with jobs that were just above minimum wage. I lived with my parents and shared a bedroom with my young daughter. I worked in a grocery store video department and started picking up hours in the floral department and general merchandise to make more money. I loved my coworkers and the job was sometimes fun to do. I learned how to arrange and care for flowers and houseplants. I learned some tricks of the trade like spraying shiny stuff on the leaves of peace lilies before sending them to the funeral home (the most common place for those to be sent).

By 22, I was the proud owner of a 3 bedroom condo in a neighborhood that had other kids my daughter’s age. I loved my neighbors. I ran for and was awarded a place on the homeowner’s board. I was responsible for a credit union branch location inside of the executive building of a multinational conglomerate’s world headquarters. Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? I was really just a lone teller/personal banker for the people in that building. My neighbors voted me onto the board to block someone else from getting voted in. The retirees in the neighborhood would go out and campaign for me while I was at work.

I had an off and on boyfriend at that time in my life. I was naive and believed that he’d help me with the bills and we’d live there together happily. He was never around. He was too busy going out and partying all night and sleeping wherever he landed. He’d be gone for weeks sometime. He didn’t have a steady job or contribute to expenses. I actually turned off the cable tv at one point because I didn’t even use it and he was the one on the bill. One of my neighbors was an employee where I worked and we’d talk about my boyfriend. She convinced me to stand up for myself and I’d seen a therapist who echoed these sentiments. Unfortunately, I’d already co-signed on a car loan for him from one of those double digit percentage rate lenders. The collection calls were overwhelming after I’d taken all of his things and placed them in a cardboard box in the driveway of his sister’s home.

At 24, I’d had a mole removed that turned out to be malignant melanoma. I had an excision of the surrounding skin and it was over. No more cancer. The car went back into collections even though we weren’t together anymore. I got a new job that paid more and was closer to home. I had to take steps to get a key and repossess the car myself. The lender wouldn’t take it back no matter how hard I tried to surrender. In order to save my home and my car that I needed for my daughter and myself, I filed bankruptcy.

At 25, I’d been dating the man who would become my husband. We moved in together in a house we looked for together. Within a year, we broke up and I moved back to the neighborhood with the condos as a renter. I barely qualified for section 8 housing. After six months, we’d reconciled and my daughter and I moved back to the house we’d lived in together.

On his 29th birthday (I was 27), he asked me to marry him standing in our bedroom telling me that if I said yes, it would make his birthday perfect. We went to a hockey game that weekend and won their weekly mortgage relief contest, which got us a few months of our house payment paid in full. We married when I was 28 on Easter weekend. It was the most beautiful day in April and the very next morning, there was snow on the ground.

We went to Ireland on our honeymoon and explored castles and towns. We went to a farm where we saw sheep herded and I got to pet one of the border collies and feed one of the sheep. We hiked the national forest and stood upon the Cliffs of Moher. It was awesome. I hope to return one day and see more.

The following year, my daughter was almost 10 when my chubby little boy was born. He was an almost 10 pound baby. I began my life as a stay at home mom. I’d been working full-time for so long, I wasn’t sure what I was expected to do. I just knew that I loved having the time to see my daughter after school for longer and that I got to spend the day seeing my son and having this experience of being with him instead of thinking about it all day at work.

When he was 7 months old, despite me nursing him and being on a low dose birth control, I was pregnant again. Just as soon as I’d found out, something went wrong. That Easter weekend, I started bleeding and despite my efforts to be calm, I was incredibly sad that I’d lost it.

Imagine my surprise when he was 9 months old and I was pregnant again. This time, the dr put me on a gel medication delivered directly into my cervix and I was paranoid the entire pregnancy that it wouldn’t work out. I had a tiny baby girl who was only in the 7 pound range. She was my smallest baby and she seemed fragile to me.

During that pregnancy, we moved 200 miles from our home for my husband’s job. I was 36 weeks pregnant when we made the big move. I had one day where I went to the dr thinking I was going into early labor. That’s how I ended up meeting my new OB in my new town. Me being a frightened mommy.

Now I’ve lived here (a week short of) 5 years. My youngest is in pre-k and will be starting school in the fall. My oldest is a sophomore in high school. My son is in kindergarten. I’m a stay at home mom still. I have run 5 half marathons and will be training for my first marathon. I’ve taken up swimming laps to cross train on my non running days.

I’ve redefined myself many times. Most people do. What part do I think is important? I’ve had so many different experiences and I’ve been afraid and I’ve been vulnerable. I’ve been naive. From those, I’ve learned new things. I’ve experienced. Not everything has been pleasant, but it forms an aggregate of the person that I am today and the person I will be tomorrow. I often tell people that they see strength in me where I see a person who just doesn’t know how to give up. I really don’t know how to just cash in my chips and call it a day. I know when I have to put off my own goals until the time arrives to try again.

So, while someone might try to discount my success as a person to my level of education or my career, I have accomplished the things that I set out to do as they were important. I have stood up for myself when it counted and I’ve taken the falls when I needed to. I’ve asked for help when I needed it. I’ve given help when I’ve seen myself needed. I haven’t stood by and watched life while too afraid to live it. I intend to continue that. That is what drives me and what will continue to. I define who I am at any given time. I make the best of what I have and if I can’t, I admit it.

I’ve been running a few days a week on the treadmill and one outside. I’ve been swimming on my non-running days. I lift weights in the gym. I’m trying to get back to eating less junk food. My meals are healthy and my snacks usually aren’t. I’m not perfect. I’d never claim to be. I just am willing to accept that this is who I am right now and what I need to do to become who I want to be. It requires strength of body and resolve. I’ll still do it. I might not always be happy about the things going on in my life, but I’m not ashamed of where I am or where I’ve been.

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This glass is actually half empty because I drank the other half, but….its refillable and I have more wine. That’s the point.

Blog 19 January 2017

I sat here in front of my laptop for awhile trying to come up with a title and I just can’t. My mind is mush. I am trying to just make heads or tails of what exactly I’m supposed to do to make things less difficult. I’m exhausted. I need to get in my workouts. I can’t get much out of them when I’m exhausted. So goes the cycle.

I went for a run over the weekend and I went back home after getting to the top of my street because I needed something to cover my face from the air. I got that and I left the house again. I ran a different direction and started mentally planning my route. I saw a thick patch of ice coming from a yard onto the sidewalk, so I ran a little into the grass. My shoe was sucked off of my foot into the muddy grass. I tried to hop back, but I can’t actually hop on my ‘bad ankle’ on an uneven surface without some pain. So I walked to my shoe and slid it back on. I saw that two kids on bikes were watching me, so I mumbled “what a day,” and continued my run. Needing to pause to walk a few times and feeling like I wasn’t quite loosening up to run made me decide to take the turn toward home instead of the trail. I was mad that I didn’t finish the run. I’d gone a little over 1.25 mile. I was thinking about just quitting running altogether. I even tried to think of ways I could get out of the marathon I’d signed up for in October.

The kids were home Monday, so I didn’t get to the gym until Tuesday. I walked in and started up the treadmill. I had a wrap on my ankle and the part around my foot was slightly uncomfortable, so I paused the machine and I went to take my shoe off. I pulled the emergency thing that made the program completely stop. Ugh. I got back on and reset the program, but my hips, knees, and ankles were all hurting with each stride even when I slowed to a jog. I changed the program again. I tried to go on a low setting for difficulty and I walked the first minute before picking up to a jog. I just couldn’t get my cadence down and I felt like I was just stomping on the belt. I reset the machine and walked to a stationary bike and rode for 20 minutes of the 30 minute session I programmed. I just wasn’t feeling it, so I walked around the weight area looking around at the machines and trying to decide on what to do. I did a weighted crunch machine and decided my body wasn’t into it. I changed and went home slightly bummed out that I had 2 bad workouts in a row.

Home life last night was extremely difficult to deal with. I have a teenager with bipolar disorder and she was in a volatile mood. We have a brand new hole kicked into one of our walls courtesy of that rage. I wish I could go into it more because I’m sure there are people out there who have been through or are going through this, but I just can’t. We’ll be visiting a mental health professional today. I’ve discussed appropriate behavior with my younger children (4 and 6 years old) who were here to witness it all. My husband missed his group training run for his first half marathon, which I felt bad for him. He was able to wake early today and run, which I’m glad he was able to do.

I feel like I should have some positive note to go on with this. I didn’t quit running. I plan to try to run sometime today if I get time. I’m going to try to slowly increase my outdoor runs distances for now so I can at least run a 10k by April for a challenge I’m signed up for to run a 5k one day and a 10k the next as part of a challenge. I want to run a marathon this October and I want it to be Chicago like I’d planned. I started making handmade crafts and plans for some fundraiser events. I’m nervous that I won’t raise enough money, but I am going to keep pushing forward.

I’m going to try to make things happen so that I have more positive news for you next time I write. I hope the January freeze doesn’t have you too affected in your mood or your workouts. If you want to donate to my fundraising page for running the Chicago Marathon to support Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, my link is:  http://online.ccfa.org/goto/MomJennGoal262

Thanks for reading!!!

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I made these wine bottle decorations just slip onto the bottle neck to give it personality and style!

Winter racing

Hi, I’m probably a little goofy. Why? Because, I signed up to run a challenge race that consisted of a 1700 meter, a 5km, and a 10km race all in one day. A race in January, in the windy city of Chicago. Why would I do that? So many reasons come to mind, but mostly because I was on the high of training for a marathon back in October when I’d signed up for this race. Since I’d already missed my marathon that I paid for, I couldn’t miss another race simply because my silly body wasn’t behaving ideally. It doesn’t mean I didn’t question my sanity a few times, though.

I ran twice in the week leading up to the race. Finishing 3 miles on a cold night gave me the confidence I needed going into the challenge.

I was to stay with my friends, Jane and Barb. Barb was spending time with her sister who was dying from multiple myeloma. Cancer is a real bastard and takes some pretty great people from us. Anyway, Jane and I headed to Chicago on a train. We walked from Union Station stopping for photos by a large sculpture called “The Flamingo” and on to eat at a place called Artists’ Restaurant. They had spiked coffee and delicious food. We were finally warmed from the cold walk from the train, and took a brief walk to the Art Institute of Chicago, where Jane is a member. We checked our heavy baggage and walked around.

Jane is an artist and teaches art at a local college. This made the tour of the Institute more educational and helped me understand many of the “what am I looking at” and “where do I go” questions I mostly likely would have had on my own. I also had a really good time talking about the art and getting a different perspective on some pieces. Jane had to tolerate my comments about the art. We went to Millennium Park, where I saw many sculptures including the famous “Cloud Gate” referred to as “The Giant Bean”. This reflective sculpture was fun to look at from many angles and to try out some photography tricks with the reflective properties of the sculpture.

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My backside reflected….lol

Jane found two people to share the room with us the first night in Chicago since Barb didn’t make the trip. Bree and Wendy weren’t strangers to me, but I haven’t been around the running group as often since my injury and illness. We got to the hotel as they’d completed their check-in. Our friend Cindy had picked up our race packets and goodies and given them to Bree. They went to pick up Wendy’s race packet and go to the place they’d made dinner reservations. We went up to the room to check out our race gear that included an adorable Yeti hat and a fleece jacket. We posed for a few pictures before we settled on a place to eat.

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Jane and I found an Irish pub online and walked outside a bit, but I’d incorrectly remembered the location. We had walked the wrong way, but we found another pub by just skimming the fronts of the buildings around us and rushing to the first eatery that looked like they served alcoholic beverages. It was my birthday weekend, after all. I was there to have fun. The place was Exchequer Restaurant & Pub. It was an upbeat atmosphere and they had a bunch of draft beer options, including one of my favorite amber ales, Elliott Ness. I had a reuben sandwich that was quite tasty. On the walk to return to the hotel, we dropped into a convenience store for wine and drinking water.

The next morning was race day and there were 4 women in one hotel room trying to bundle up for braving temps in the single digits. We were hoping would the temperature would reach the teens at some time. I opted for putting my sports bra and running undies on in the bathroom and coming out into the room to finish dressing. I’d bought brand new compression pants just for this event to use as my base layer. This would be a good idea had I actually worn them a few times before race day. They are designed to compress and they were snug since they were brand new. I’d stopped struggling with them once I got the waistband around the top of my thighs and just under my tush. I let out a loud grunt and sigh, which drew attention to my struggle. We all had a good laugh that I wanted to give up on the pants but I’d already worked really hard to get them over my thighs. Once my first layer was on, I’d broken a sweat, but proceeded to put on the rest of my running clothes layers.

Outside of the hotel, the doorman laughed as we discussed our plans to go run 3 races back to back (to back) in one day in the cold. We hopped into the car and started to talk to our driver. We joked and laughed from our hotel to the parking lot at Soldier Field where the race event was to happen. We gathered in a tent on the lot and met up with other people we knew before heading back out into the cold to start the 10k. I programmed my watch to run intervals of 5 minutes running and walk 1 minute for the entire race. Before I made it to mile 1, I’d gotten separated from the people I knew. The water cup I was given was actually a cup of slush. I couldn’t feel the toes on one foot and the ones on the other felt like they had been frozen solid. I was feeling tired, stiff, and unsure of myself. I wanted to give up. I knew that I wasn’t quitting because I couldn’t physically do it. It was because I didn’t want to push through the tough part and that was not a good enough reason. It was a humbling experience to know that I couldn’t run any faster than I was and that I still had to finish. I saw people I knew (Heather, Kristen, and Tom) ahead and I caught up with them. They were doing the same interval pattern as I was. The halfway point was our turnaround and I’d finally felt like I’d warmed up and didn’t want to quit anymore. I drank sports drink, which doesn’t freeze as quickly, at the next water stop. I felt renewed. I mean, there was ice on the ground through the water stations and there were icy spots on the trail, but I didn’t want to quit anymore. Heather and I took a selfie with the cityscape behind us across Lake Michigan. I shoved Tom to prevent him from slipping on ice (because shouting a warning wouldn’t have been fast enough). We kept each other on the intervals and from slipping on the icy spots. With running buddies surrounding me, I finished my longest run in months and my first race since October. I still had a 1700 meter and a 5k race to complete the series, though.

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Right after the 10k finish line

Heather took this selfie with Chicago in the background.

Heather took this selfie with Chicago in the background.

Setting out for the 1.7k, I felt mentally confident. Confidence doesn’t mean the same thing as feeling physically able, though. I walked most of the rest of the race with Kristen and told her that I wasn’t going to run the 5k, but I’d do it walking to finish the challenge. The time limit on the 5k was an hour and having a time that averages around 30 minutes even, I thought it wouldn’t be a problem. Kristen walked the 5k with me. Despite it being freezing cold outside and that we probably could have gotten out of the cold faster by running, we did a 5k in 53 minutes. That’s a personal worst for me. I finished that darn challenge, I got my 4 participation medals, and I took my first trip to Chicago on my birthday weekend. Everything I’d set out to do, I’d checked off of my list.

I was not proud or celebratory when I got the email with my results. I felt disappointed that my time was so much longer than I’d thought I was capable of. That said, I had a great experience and people were there to support me and encourage me. It felt good to know I had a good run in me for the 10k and that I’m taking steps to get back into running.

The return trip to the hotel was a quick ride once we found our friend Louis’s car. The other women I was with went up to the room while I stopped in at Starbucks. I bought a green tea latte that I spilled all over the marble-like entry of the hotel room without getting one sip.  Bummer. After all of us showered and changed out of our running clothes, we headed out for lunch.

We found the Irish pub that Jane and I intended to go to the night before called Kitty O’Sheas.  It was inside of a hotel in the opposite direction where we’d gone the previous night.  I had amazing fish and chips and a pint of Smithwicks. We had a great time. The other two women with us headed back home, so Jane and I were on our own the second night.

We each climbed into a bed and snoozed a little before dinner time. I put on my Yeti hat and we walked to the nearest Panera to have soup and a sandwich for dinner.  Once we finished, we headed back to the hotel. The temps were again reaching single digits and negative wind chills. We opted for pj’s and wine in the hotel room since we’d stopped to get the wine the evening before. We had a good time sharing fundraising ideas and quite unique race award ideas.

Heading back to Union Station, we felt like we had plenty of time to catch our 9:45 am train back home. Except when we got there, we discovered the train was actually a 9:25am train back home and it was 9:15am. We fast walked to the train and found the last seats in the last car to sit in. The ride was bumpy, hot, and seemingly took a long time. My birthday weekend was over and I was on my way home to see my family.

Today, I opened a Facebook page for the fundraiser that I’m doing for the Chicago Marathon in October. My goal is $2000 and I’m raising for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. So far, this is what I have:

@MomJennGoal26point2 (Link will take you to the Facebook page)
Please consider donating and stay tuned for my adventures of getting back into running. My first planned race of 2017 so far will be a mini challenge at the Illinois Marathon in Champaign.  I’ll be doing a 5k on a Friday and a 10k that Saturday. It likely won’t be freezing at that time of year, so I have that to look forward to.
Thanks for reading! I hope you are listening to your body when you need to and pushing yourself when it isn’t your body doing the complaining.

Buh bye, 2016

This has been quite the year. It wasn’t terrible. There are still a few days left, so I won’t tempt fate by saying anything too final about it. I am at least a little distressed by many of the celebrities that we lost. I found a few disappointments through the end of the year that  left me with a less than favorable review of the year.

January saw the struggle to get my teenager’s mental health care in order. We weren’t done with hospital bills or doctor visits by a long shot. We managed to find a useful combination of prescription drugs and deal with some other aspects of the illness. She’s been exposed to an opinion that one medication is harmful  due to people like comedians saying bad things about it. Which makes it easy for her to believe that the medication is not responsible for the positive change. The thought process isn’t unusual in someone with bipolar disorder, but I wish people wouldn’t try to demonize certain medications for mental illness.  Additionally, her cognitive dysfunction makes communication challenging at times. There are many times where the message gets lost simply because there is too much trying to read between the lines or translate a hidden meaning where one doesn’t exist. Add to it just parenting a teenager, and it is constantly challenging. We’ve managed to get better control of her Crohn’s disease through some medication changes as well. That still hasn’t fully been adjusted to the perfect level, but she isn’t suffering as much as when it first surfaced. She has started to be able to gain weight, so there’s the positive in that. I’m really hoping that my efforts in raising money for Crohn’s will also increase awareness. She definitely has encountered some people who think the disease means she simply uses the bathroom more often and that’s a very minimal and ignorant way to view something much more serious. It wouldn’t be so disheartening if people wouldn’t make comments on her social media accounts that refer to Crohn’s as something that isn’t a real illness.

I spent a lot of time running this year. It may have helped keep my head above water in some pretty tough times. I was part of a training program during almost every month of the year. The start of the year, I tried to run at least 1 mile per day. I adjusted the goal to run or walk. Then, I got physically ill and unable to leave my bed for a few days. I didn’t immediately accept that it was over and intended to restart the running streak. I didn’t go back to trying to run or walk a mile per day. I mentored a winter/spring group for a 10k race while training for a half marathon. The 10k was a great experience. The people I got to know and the race itself were memorable. The half marathon was unforgettable because it was not pleasant and I may have actually had real tears in my eyes near the end of the race. I know that running is supposed to be fun and that if I’m not having fun, I need to pause. That was my second half marathon and now I’ve run 5 half marathons because the other 3 that I ran this year. I had no intention of any long breaks from running, but there’s that saying about man making plans and God laughing at them. My injured ankle is no longer swollen. It hurts from time to time. I often feel like I need to loosen it up and rotate my foot around a bit. The pleurisy I had finally abated enough for me to move normally and experience minimal pain. The relief was of course after 2 days of the pain being intense and unrelenting. I typically won’t complain if I’m hurting, but I considered crying a couple of times from the sharp pain and inability to move or even sit still without feeling it. It was a dash of holiday spirit and a bunch of stubbornness that pulled me through.

This Monday evening, I finally hopped on the elliptical and went for a 25 minute workout. I up the estimate of how long I’m going to work out by 5 minutes to leave a ‘warm up’ time, so I said I was going to do 20, but set the machine for 25. The first few minutes, I almost got teary eyed thinking about how it was such a big deal that I was doing cardio and I wasn’t swimming. After a few minutes, I got itchy from sweating and remembered how the itching used to be so much more frequent when I started working out regularly. I pushed myself to finish the entire 25 minutes, then I did my hip workout and stretches. I was energized by it and I was so happy to finally get a workout in after the back to back [to back] misfortunes and illnesses. I was actually able to move furniture around and clean under it for the first time since I’d hurt my ankle. It might not seem like a big deal, but I was ecstatic to actually sweep and mop the most used parts of the house.

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My first workout since early November. Elliptical for 25 min and some Eminem to keep me going. (And my cleavage because I said so)

I plan to run tonight. I’m nervous. I wish I could go during the day while there’s still light out, but all three kids are on break and my husband works, so I’ll have to settle for trying out a reflective jacket I still haven’t gotten to wear that I bought in October. Ok, I’m kind of excited to try it out. I might even run further than just around the block if I’m not hurting.

Am I saying 2016 was a bad year? Not really bad. I was sick more times than I have been in quite a few years. I had 2 really long bouts with mystery illnesses that seemed to last longer for me than anyone else who was sick around the same time. I actually drank enough to get a hangover, which at my age is far fewer drinks than ‘back in the day.’  I had an injury that sidelined me from my first marathon. Of course the injury didn’t happen until I’d trained 16 weeks and ran all but one of my training runs. I had a very sick oldest child and my two younger children to care for. My husband was needed on business trips to Atlanta and Tempe a few times, so I was left to my own devices at home with all of the offspring and my fat little puggle dog.

In 2016, I also managed to mentor 3 running groups (5k, 10k, half marathon), participate in a training program for a full marathon, run a bunch of races where I had a great time, and spend time with friends and family. My husband and I grew closer and we stood together through the toughest times and supported one another through it all. My kids really are all wild, but loveable. They know right from wrong and I try to set a good example. I’m human and I make mistakes just like anyone else. That isn’t unique to this year or any other. I’m still alive and kicking. I managed to keep my kids and dog alive. I managed to keep myself alive.

2017 will see me running my first marathon, I hope. I’ll be running in Chicago in October and I’ll be fundraising throughout the year for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). I’m missing out on the first training session of the year to make a full recovery, but I’ll be back at it soon enough. I run because I can, and never because I have to. I get to run tonight. I get to run a marathon this coming year. I get to run again and that is why I’m looking forward to the coming year. Not because I’m ready to escape the present year. I feel like I’ve really changed a lot in this past 12 months and I like me a little more than I did before.

Fundraising link here: Mom Jenn Goal of 26.2

Do you have goals for 2017? Was 2016 memorable for you?

I love feedback, everyone! Please reach out to me if you have any questions or comments. Or use this as a way to have a conversation with your friends! Happy and Prosperous New Year!!!!

Still Planning 26.2

I spent 16 weeks training for a marathon this summer/autumn. I ran in scorching heat ad pouring rain, I had some digestive issues, and then I injured myself [while not running]  two days before my big debut. An injury bad enough to get scratched on race day and cheer on my pals from the sidelines. That was fun, but I still need to do a marathon.

I’ve remained optimistic about finishing a marathon. Not really, friends. I’ve often worried that this injury and/or the time off will alter my running ability to the point that I won’t be able to run. My ankle was injured on November 3rd, so it isn’t fully healed. The good news is that I can start trying to run on it. If only I hadn’t gotten some sort of respiratory infection that led to a pneumonia diagnosis leading to pleurisy, I would be out running in this frigid weather to get my groove back. I’m so happy to not be constantly coughing from the pneumonia, but the pleurisy is painful. I feel as if I lost a jousting match and had the lance ends removed from poking out so nobody could see that it was more than a flesh wound. No idea why I would be jousting, but that’s not really the point here. It’s that I want to run and things keep getting in my way that I seriously can’t just ignore or work around to get in my exercise. At least when it was just my ankle, I could go swim at the gym. For some reason, I feel they’d frown upon me coughing my brains out or clutching my chest while doing cardio.

So, I have time to rest (not really my thing) and I have time to think. Last weekend, I spoke to my running buddy Jane over coffee. She told me about her plans for running in the coming year and I explained some of mine. I told her that I didn’t think I would be recovered enough to plan training in January for an April marathon and that I didn’t want to train in the winter to run in what could potentially warmer race day conditions. I am good at regulating when I’m cold. I have a hard time cooling down once I’m hot. She told me about her plans to run in the Chicago Marathon this October and how she’s going to raise money for diabetes for her entry. I went home and I started to research what I would do for my own marathon. My only plans for the coming year were really to recover and then train for a marathon, but I hadn’t put a lot of thought into anything different from the one I’d missed this year. The more I researched, I realized I could fund raise for entry. The day I saw my friends posting their acceptance letters into Chicago, I decided I needed to actually go through with it and plan to run that marathon. I have a teenager with Crohn’s disease, so I checked up on the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). They have a team that runs Chicago! It was like I was meant to do it this way. I contacted CCFA for the info and was signed up within the day.

You know what that means? Yes you do. I’m collecting money with a $2000 goal for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America as part of my entry into the Bank of America Chicago Marathon 40th Anniversary. I will be running my first marathon after fundraising for a worthy cause. I’ll give you my link and probably insert the link into all of my entries until race day. I’ve done my homework on this charity and I am excited to help them educate people and to eradicate inflammatory bowel disease. So, join me on my new journey, will you?  I’ll be healthy soon enough and then I’ll be doing a few different exercises to improve my overall strength to make my running better. Then, I’ll be training for my first marathon!

Thank you for reading! I hope that I’m reaching people that need to see encouragement or just someone you find you relate to. Please let me know if there are topics you’d like to see covered. I love feedback and comments. My fundraising link is:  http://online.ccfa.org/goto/MomJennGoal262

 

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What else could…nevermind

I refuse to ask the question, “What else could go wrong?” It’s like tempting bad things to go ahead and happen. I guess that is a an odd way to think when I assert that things are more random and less purposeful than people like to believe.

What are you talking about, Jenn? Well, I haven’t been running. This isn’t really that big of a surprise considering I hurt my ankle pretty badly right before I was to run my first marathon about a month ago. Things are healing and it actually looks like my other foot now, which is progress. I haven’t been working out at all,though. I’ve lost a few pounds on the scale, though. I’ve been sick and hating it.

Two weeks ago, I felt fine. By the start of the following week, I was not fine anymore. I was weak and my body ached. I had trouble doing my day to day chores. My body was aching and the joints in both of my legs and feet felt like they were rusted and stuck. I started coughing and just didn’t feel like myself. My husband was taking care of me and I needed to be well enough to host Thanksgiving. I wound up leaning mostly on him for everything assuming I was going to feel better the very next day each day. The Monday after Thanksgiving saw me still not getting much sleep, so Tuesday I saw a ‘doc in the box’ at a pharmacy. She diagnosed me with pneumonia and possibly infections in both ears, gave me an antibiotic, and encouraged me to follow up with my family physician.

I’m still coughing like crazy, but I can actually hear without feeling like I have something wrapped around my head. I called my family physician, who said I need to tough it out for a few more weeks and I’ll feel better.

I am not patient. I was ready to start taking walks to prepare for my return to running. I don’t even know what to do with myself when I can’t be active. I miss my running friends. I feel a little like life is taking a crap on me lately. I know things could be worse, but they could also be better. It just seems like a little much all at once. Not to mention this is the season where it just starts to feel more gloomy.

It’s hard not to think about the unpredictable nature of life. The fact is that any little thing could alter the plans you’ve made and interrupt your goals. Something literally microscopic can force you to reevaluate things you thought were all within your control. There’s no telling when or if the controls will be relinquished back to you at any point.

I want to feel better. One day, I want to go out and run. I want to finish a freaking marathon still. Right now, I just want to have a restful night of sleep and a day where I don’t feel exhausted from the few things I do at the start of the day. Those things I want to do seem so much further out of reach than they did a month ago. Before I tripped and fell and before I was fighting off some microscopic body invader, I was so much more sure that it was possible. I’m pretty much mad that I’m sick with some sort of mystery bug that will likely hang around awhile longer while I anxiously await my chance to run. While I also try to believe that nothing else will get in the way of me getting back to my fitness journey, I can’t help but think of the possibilities of my next bump in the road.

Do you find it hard to entertain yourself when you have to ‘relax’? Have you ever felt depressed when you’re sidelined with an injury and/or illness? Have you started setting running/fitness goals for 2017 so they’re ready?

Agony of my foot

Agony of my foot?

I would have said “the feet”, but it’s really only one foot and I haven’t actually let it defeat me. I’ve been better. I’ve also been worse, though. Had I not been so active when I twisted my ankle, I probably could have had a much worse injury or it may have lingered much longer.

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My lovely ankle at the end of the day Tuesday. (The mornings, I have more of an ‘ankle’ than a ‘kankle’)

The Present

I’m not running yet. I’ve been away from running for about 2 weeks now. I miss going out and running. I fear that my speed and my endurance will drop while I’m not out there. I wonder if the injury will somehow alter my abilities to run well. Only time will tell and I was once completely new at it and had to work hard to gain speed and endurance. It wasn’t much easier after I’d gotten to go further and faster because there is always room for improvement and hard work. I’m willing to do it, so there’s really not a need for worry in that area.

I used my health insurance benefit to get a gym membership. They offer a fitness program through participating gyms that is a set monthly fee, but I can go to multiple gyms for that one fee. I started out with the local Gold’s Gym that has a pool inside. I’ve been trying to keep up my cardiovascular exercise through swimming laps  I’ve gone 3 times so far and I’ve done better each time. I went from barely being able to complete 2 laps without significant rest to doing 20 lengths one day and then 44 the next. I really had to push myself to the 44. I’d set the goal before I’d gotten in the car to drive to the gym. While I was swimming, I kept convincing myself that if I just made it more laps than the previous day, I could settle for that. Then, I kept asking myself if I couldn’t go on or just didn’t want to. I had to swim another lap to test that question each time. So, I kept going. The pool isn’t quite 25 yards, so 87 lengths or 43 laps is a mile. I went half of a mile just to see myself do it. The day I swam 20 lengths of the pool, I dried off and headed out to the gym floor and used a few of the machines that focused mostly on arm, chest, and back muscles. I tried to stay around 35-50 lbs on each one and complete at least 2 sets of 25 repetitions with a short break in between sets. My arms were so shaky afterward, I thought I may have overdone it. I’m not terribly sore, though. I suppose using the free weights at home for so long helped me after all. I’m excited about the new additions to my fitness routine, but I really am excited to get back to running as well.

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#NewAdventure

The Past

I’m going to take a moment to tell a story about my swimming background and it will probably tell you a lot about me. I was 16 and a couple of my friends said they were going out for the swim team. I had never taken a lesson in my life. My swimming experience was limited to a doggie paddle and a side stroke to get from one spot to another in a lake. My diving experience was off of a pontoon boat in Cumberland Lake in Kentucky and my Aunt Lisa had gotten me to actually go in head first without belly flopping. I went for the dive team and man, I stunk it up. I couldn’t straighten my body out after touching my toes on a pike. I was never very close to the board after jumping. The diving coach didn’t give up and tell me not to come back. She sent me to the swimming coach. I hopped in the pool and I imitated the front crawl/freestyle from what I saw and I came out gasping for air every few strokes and sounding like I was for sure not going to survive. Coach McFarland didn’t let me give up. I stayed a little after practice a few times until I learned to breathe during a stroke. I learned to flip under the water at the end of the pool. I learned to dive off of the block at the end like someone would to start a race. I got to participate in swim meets when the season started. I knew nothing about the sport and I joined the team and got to actually be a part of it. My teammates were helpful and would show me how to do the strokes outside of the water to help me do them in the water. I didn’t squander the opportunity. The end of the season awards ceremony saw me the recipient of the “most improved” award in addition to a “gag gift” of goggles because I had a terrible habit of losing my goggles off of the block at the start of races. I’d somehow get the goggles to pop off of my face in all the excitement or they’d come down on my neck and I’d yank them off and toss them onto the pool deck while swimming. I wouldn’t say I went from zero to hero, but I stayed with it even after I realized I wasn’t that good at it.

The Future

These past two weeks seem to have crawled by so slowly and I still have about 4 weeks left of recovery before I can fully go back to running. I still intend to go back to running outdoors on a regular basis. I intend to finish a marathon when I’m back to that fitness level and endurance.  I also intend to keep going to the gym. I asked a friend who had done bodybuilding in the past for some direction in lifting. Her trainer answered me directly, which was a huge help for me. I know I’ll feel less self conscious on the gym floor now that I had that talk about feeling new to the gym. She told me that while she has years of experience, just being in a new place can be a little overwhelming for the most experienced lifters. I like having a variety of things to do. I want to get stronger and  to get better at swimming. I plan to establish a fitness routine in the coming weeks and have the flexibility to change it as running comes back into the picture. My brand new reflective running jacket hasn’t even had the chance to go for a test run. I can’t wait to get out there, but I’ll still be active in the meantime.

Have you ever had an injury that sidelined you from a favorite activity? Did you find other ways to be active during that time? Thank you for reading! Any comments are welcome! Please let me know if there’s something you need me to discuss on here about my journey.

Not just yet…

This past weekend was the big day. November 5th was the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon I’d trained 16 weeks to run. I had my bags packed, hotel reservation, dinner reservation, and babysitter all lined up. Then, it happened.

Thursday, I did some more cleaning like I had been all week. I swept and mopped all of the floors and I let my youngest take a duster to all the wood surfaces. We went to get my son from his bus stop in the afternoon. Walking down the street, I noticed a man was raking his leaves. I decided to be playful and I told my little girl that we’d jump over the leaves across the sidewalk. Up and over, that was it. I lifted off and felt a horrible pain in my foot and ankle and I fell to the ground straight into the leaves writhing in pain. After lying on the ground a minute and assuring the man raking that I was fine and just needed to walk it off, I made my way to the bus stop and messaged my husband and closest friend to let them know I was hurt. Neither thought I was serious.

I went home and wrapped an ice pack around my foot and ankle and placed my foot up high on the back of the couch while laying down. I sat and freaked out while crying. I cried mostly out of frustration and worry that my hope of racing had been dashed. I reached out from my computer to get some perspective and comfort. Everyone was really positive and said I had probably just tweaked it a little and it would be fine by Saturday morning. I messaged a coach, Julie, to tell her that I was in the process of freaking out. She replied that she understood, but that this wasn’t the only race there was and that even if I didn’t get to do it this weekend, I would soon. It calmed me down enough to make me come up with a contingency plan just in case. I still had faith that I’d somehow wake up fine and go to Indianapolis with a ‘little scare’ that only lasted a few hours.

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I woke up like this. Friday. Fat foot.

My hotel room was non refundable within 72 hours and I already had a sitter lined up. Besides, I could somehow rally and end up able to run the race.  I iced it and kept it elevated even as I slept Thursday night into Friday morning. Friday, I woke up to an oddly shaped and very swollen foot and ankle. I cried some more, popped some ibuprofen, and started to unpack  my running stuff. My husband asked me what it would impact if we brought the running stuff with us. I answered that it would affect my pride, but that wasn’t good enough, so we put it in the minivan and headed to Indy once my in laws arrived to watch the kids for us.

I put a yoga mat under my leg and propped my foot up on the dashboard for the ride to Indy, which was a little more than 2 hours. We checked into our hotel and set off to find food for lunch. We stopped in at a place and had beer and appetizers. The food was incredible. We had bbq sliders and fried portabella mushrooms. I was feeling better for a little while, but that may have been the yummy food and the alcohol that was bringing relief.

We went to the race expo where I started to feel the reality that a run was not in my near future and had a few moments of teary eyes. I went to the help desk and I asked for a deferral, to which they declined and said that they weren’t offering any. I checked the website and it said they wouldn’t offer a deferral after October 7th. I was bummed out about it and I was a little angry that I was going to miss out the race.  I made the best of it and got myself some new headbands and some fun freebies. There was no shortage of free lip balm tubes. I rested at the hotel awhile before heading out to dinner with a group of running friends. The dinner experience from the restaurant was not enjoyable, but at least the company was good to chat with. Returning to the hotel room, I unwrapped my foot and saw bruising that hadn’t been there before and the same icky appearance to my foot from swelling. I picked up my phone and set my wake up alarm for an hour later than I had originally planned on waking up. I exchanged my race clothes for the ones I’d packed for post race and I added my group t shirt to the pile. I was going to spectate the hell out of that race.

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Lovely shade of bruised Friday night

I set out in the morning with my husband to see everyone off for the race and wish them luck. I also got to pose for a group photo with my fellow running friends and my training program group. I acquired a cowbell from a race volunteer giving them away and found a spot to cheer everyone on as they set out from the start. After the crowd passed, my husband and I got some coffee before going back to the hotel to rest a little while until the half marathon was about over. The race was on the TV news in segments and I kept looking to see if anyone I knew went across the view of the camera. We headed back out to the race finish area and I messaged Julie to let her know that I was ready to go spectate. She was running the half marathon and had invited me to meet up with her to cheer on runners from the full marathon. Once she had cleaned up and changed clothes, we met around mile 25.5 of the race and cheered everyone as they ran by. It went by pretty quickly and I really enjoyed seeing my friends run by. I even felt my mood lighten as I saw my running friends pass by and the women I’d trained with pass by.

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I look pretty good at mile 25.5, don’t I?

My husband and I headed back to the finish line and met up with the group and chatted awhile. We left there and lunch at a pub. My fish tacos and beer were a fabulous way to end our trip. I climbed into our minivan middle row seat and reclined the seat in front of me to rest my foot elevated for the ride home. I fell asleep on the ride. By the time we were home and I looked at my feet, I had more bruising.

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My toes looked black.

I relaxed all day Sunday and called the office of my doctor after helping get the kids off to school. I was growing more impatient, when the nurse finally called to tell me that the doctor could see me in the afternoon.

Once at the dr, the nurse that took my vitals looked at my bruises and told me that she hoped it would stop hurting soon. The doctor came in shortly after she left, examined my ankle, and sent me to the x-ray area of the building. The x-ray tech spoke with me about how people who said that the ability to walk on a leg means it isn’t broken is a wive’s tale and that I could bear weight fine with a break along the side. My husband and I went back up to the dr office to wait and we saw the x-ray tech come up for a few moments. When the dr came to discuss the results, he said that he and the technician were surprised to see no fracture in the initial reading of the x-ray. My doctor was pretty specific that I would resume normal activity in about 2 weeks, but running would need to wait at least 4 or 5 weeks. He told me no playing in leaves before a marathon again. He also said that the results were only preliminary and that they’d call later in the day if they located a fracture that they missed on the initial review of the films.

I was relieved that it wasn’t broken, but I was also feeling like I’ve been such a spaz when I get hurt and I’ve gone to the doctor for things that were minor. I cried a little at the thought of not running for over a month. I’m considering alternatives, but what I really want to do is run.

My husband has tried to reassure me that I got hurt just being a good mom. It doesn’t really help. I don’t get to be in my cold weather running group that just started up last week. I can only hope I’ll have enough time to train to complete a challenge I signed up for in early January in Chicago.

This is just a setback. I’ll probably need to start the journey over again, but some trips never really were about the destination in the first place….