Friday, December 11, 2015

A Much Needed Run Without a Ton of Running...

So, I’m in this place right now where I’m not really training for anything. I’m more trying to train myself to understand my body. I’m feeling better enough that my brain wants me to DO EVERYTHING! But my body, doctor, and logical brain know that now is not the time to do all the things, even though I may want to.

I spent a lot of the fall volunteering at races I couldn’t run and I loved it. It was such a healing thing to be involved with the running and racing community even if I couldn’t partake in the running and racing so much. But frankly, I’m kind of tired of everyone else’s running. I’m ready to do some of my running.

And this weekend I did that.

I have been thinking a lot about ten miles. Ten miles…. It’s just a thing that I miss. And I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s just getting over that hill of single digits to double. But I’ve always loved a good ten miler. And last weekend, I wanted a ten miler.

With my health right now, there’s a lot of trial and error. If I don’t sleep well (thanks for the 3am wake up adrenal glands) or feel “off”, I really need to pay attention to it and change my plans accordingly. This means that every run, walk, or trip the gym is a grand experiment. I often think that all my years of marathon and ultra training and learning to “push through” have really screwed me over in this department. Am I blowing something off? Am I being paranoid? I’m trying to figure it out, but it ain’t easy.

Back to this weekend…

Our local weather had a “frozen fog” warning which was bizarre, but I figured I head out in the morning and just take my time on the drive. I had planned to do a standard route I do on the trails where you can easily run 7-10 miles depending on adding or dropping trails, but the more I thought about it, the more my mind changed.

Because to be honest I was a nervous wreck about this run and I could just see myself bailing out of the ten miles due to fear. So, at the last minute I changed my mind and decided to do a much more challenging route that contained less opportunity to bail. And the hills + plus me trying to keep my heartrate in the 140 range would take the pressure off time expectations.

But I still had time expectations…

When I got going I started mathing….

- if I go this fast it’ll take me this long

-if I go this slow it’ll take me this long

-if I ignore my heartrate and go a little faster I could get it done in this long

Needless to say the first few miles were not fun. Here I was trying a distance that I haven’t run in about 5 months and I’m stressing out about time.

I’ve been meditating a lot and just started working on a self-esteem meditation that teaches you to “excuse” the negative or distracting thoughts that pop up. So I tried it.

And it was good.

Before I knew it I was noticing how amazing the trails looked with a frosty fog on them. All of the spider webs were covered in frost and it looked like tiny tree garlands on  every twig. I was smiling the biggest dopiest smile and loving every minute of it. I let go of time stresses. I had all freaking day, what’s the rush? I walked and smiled and took pictures and smiled.

My average pace for the “run” was almost 20 minute miles. I swear I ran parts of it, but when my heart rate told me that this route was entirely uphill (not really just felt that way at times) and I would be walking over half of it, I said, fine by me. And it was super awesome.

A morning for me spent in the woods “excusing” my self-trash-talking mind was just what the doctor ordered for that day. Probably not for everyday right now. But for that day, it was perfect.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Goals for 2015:

Do a chin-up

Do a pistol squat

Run a 50 miler

Actual Occurrences in 2015:


Adrenal exhaustion

Lost most of my progress in weight lifting

Gained 10 pounds

Did not start 3 races I was registered for (including 50 miler)

Oh sure this looks awful. Miserable. I think it’s really obvious that my 39th year did not go as planned. I had planned to waltz into 40 with a couple more ultras under my belt and arms that show you EXACTLY where the gun show is. What do they say about the best laid plans?

I spent a lot of time this year crying because my body was failing me, crying because my body failing me was turning my run of the mill clinical depression into AN OCEAN OF DEPRESSION LIKE I’VE NEVER SEEN, crying because that awful doctor kept saying there was nothing wrong with me when I KNEW there was, crying because I have been able to push-ups for years and then one day I walked into my gym and I just couldn’t, and crying because of ridiculous things like laundry needing to be folded. For months I felt like I wasn’t me and I couldn’t even find who me was anymore. And try explaining that to someone. It made no sense to me, so there was no way I could make it make sense to someone else.

Eventually I found a doctor that listened to me and believed me. He gave me rules that I hated, but listened to like rules about not running, how much to run when I start again, no weightlifting (for a while), dietary restrictions. But I listened. I mean, I moaned and groaned, but I listened because I wanted to get better.

And some really good stuff has come out of it!

- I started saying no.

My doc and I think that a lot of these problems started because of my poor stress management. Like awful. It’s not that my life is terribly stressful; it’s that what stress I have, I’m terrible at managing. Add into that the stresses of a 7 day a week exerciser (which can help stress management, I know that, but sometimes it can work against you/me), my body revolted. I found that when people ask me to be in charge of things, I get super stressed. In fact, just saying no stresses me out, but I realized that I have to set better boundaries about what I can give. I had some very dear friends remind me over and over again that what I give is enough. And I’m getting better at believing it.

 - I started meditating.

Meditating always seemed like one of those things that “would be good for me” but I was scared of and assumed I would be terrible at. The inside of my brain is often in spastic teenager mode and it seemed impossible to change that. BUT, I’ve read a few books, tried a few apps, and I’m getting to a point where ten minutes every day seems doable and helpful. It’s no cure all, but it seems to be helping to settle the teenage spaz a bit.

- I am trying to become and ACTUAL body listener.

                How many times as a runner have I said:

                Oh sure the training has been tough, but I’m really listening to my body.

I’ve said it more times than I can count. And it turns out I was a dirty dirty dirty liar. It’s tricky because part of distance running is pushing yourself. You wake up tired but you run anyway because you’re supposed to (the training schedule says so!)and because that way you know you can do it on race day. That’s legit! Pushing myself is why I LOVE distance running! But my medical problems this year have shown me that maybe my macho pushing myself has gone a bit too far. And maybe I need to listen a little closer. I’m working on it.

- Not running a race you want to run sucks, but there’s a lot of races AND THEY HAVE THEM EVERY   YEAR!

I have no issues with wearing race shirts of races I didn’t run (I know some people do, and will find this appalling). This year’s collection can be seen here:

To say it was a disappointing racing year is an understatement, it was heartbreaking. But I had an AMAZING year volunteering which made a huge difference. My recovering snail pace doesn’t lend itself to much group running (and my sensitive psyche couldn’t handle the ol go to a group run to get dropped by everyone and then get done only to find they are all gone) but volunteering gave me back a piece of the action! I got to help people and get misty eyed with them and celebrate with them. And I made tons of friends and had great experiences! This was a good call on my part because the volunteering kept my fire burning even though my body was trying to put it out.

So what’s next?


A new age bracket and hopefully a smarter, less stressed, healthier, body listenier, happier me. A meeting with my doc about a potential game plan for the coming year and hopefully lots of other good stuffs!

Sometimes things suck. Thankfully, I am surrounded by amazing people that have stuck with me while I’m a recovering hot mess. Here’s to another year.  

Monday, October 26, 2015

I'm Sorry... But

I used to tell my husband that when he said, “I’m sorry, but…..” that he wasn’t really sorry.

 I volunteered at a race this weekend and all day I kept thinking…

OMG this is so fun, but……

It was fun. It was super satisfying and I got to spend the day with tons of my favorite running friends! We stood in the pouring rain handing out water and Gatorade, screaming our lungs out, dancing, laughing, and commiserating. And multiple times I said that I was so happy I didn’t have to run in this weather.

The more I do it the more I realize that volunteering should be mandatory for runners that do races. It helps to see the other side of a race. To feel the exhaustion of tired legs and sore throats and not have run a step. As a volunteer you get to celebrate every runner’s race, which is overwhelmingly powerful. I’ve hugged crying runners,  I’ve taken pictures of runners, I’ve helped untie shoes, given an arm for stability, held up a towel for a little privacy during a clothing change, and I think that all of these things make me a better runner and to be slightly dramatic, maybe a better person? Giving your whole day (or sometimes multiple days) to someone else’s success makes you look at thing a little differently.
And I felt all those things and then some and it was amazing and powerful and FUN……


I couldn’t help but wonder, when will I be able to do this again? WILL I be able to do this again?
I finally got a diagnosis for what had been making me feel like I had no control over me for the first half of the year about four months ago. Since my doctor figured out what was going on and we came up with a plan, I’ve felt LOADS better. Which is fantastic, right? YES!


I’m running a little at a 135 heart rate. Do you know what that equates to? Walking with a couple feet of running mixed in. I can go above a 135 heart rate if I walk up a hill. It’s slow going, for sure, but most days I don’t hurt and my body reacts well to it, but…. It’s infuriating. I’m a slow runner without heart rate rules, now I get to add about a minute plus to each mile. So, I can run, but not the way I want to. I can run, but I can’t run the distance I want to. I can run, but I can’t even think about a race.
Sure, I could do a 5k, but I don’t like them (they are so HARD). What I WANT to run is distances of marathon and longer and I have no idea when that will be a safe thing for me to do, or even worse, IF it will be a safe thing for me to do. Even now, with my current crawling pace, I have days where something is off and some symptoms flare up and I have to take a few days off of everything. And that’s low mileage and low heart rate.
I’m grateful for the runs I have, I truly am, because in the end, I love to run. I like races too, but if I had to give up running and only run on race day or give up races, I would totally choose to give up races because I just love to run.
But....I miss races more than I realized. I miss that feeling of exhaustion after a race. I miss planning for Spring racing season in October because my Fall racing season is almost over. I miss taper dreams and wondering what I will wear on race day. I miss looking at horrible race pictures. I miss seeing a finisher medal that I threw on the kitchen island from a race I did a few weeks ago.  
I’m also grateful that I get to share in other people’s victory. I’m grateful that I might be able to help them in some small way. And I grateful that I am still able to run.
So maybe it’s just two different thoughts on the same topic.

I had such an incredibly, amazing, super fun time volunteering this weekend!

I miss doing races and knowing that my body can handle doing races. And I'm terrified and sad that i may not be able to do them in the future.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

It's not JUST about running..... Thank god.

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from someone asking to speak with me for an article… for the CHICAGO TRIBUNE! Once my brain got over the initial shock and I began to process this idea, I of course emailed back and said SURE!

Then I became paralyzed with fear

Then I started practicing what I would say (I had no idea what I would say)

Then I started to get sick with nerves

Then I took a deep breath and said, “meh, I’ll just give it a shot and try not to make a total ass of myself”

When I finally got on the phone with her, she immediately freaked me out more when it became obvious that the article wasn’t necessarily about running. It was more about failing…. Gracefully. She said that she read the Runner’s World article I was in and really liked my attitude.

Oh crap. I can talk about running until my head falls off, but nonrunning stuff? Uh oh. It turned out she was delightful to talk to and it wasn’t worthy of my millions of panic attacks. And it helped me remember that it’s not all about running all the time.

Running is something I LOVE! It’s my meditation, a struggle to overcome, a routine, it’s my friend, my enemy, and it’s brought some absolutely wonderful people into my life. But it’s not always about running. Working through my current health issues has made it clear as a bell that there’s more to me and my life than running. Thank god.

I think there is a fear in every obsessive compulsive runner’s mind of, “what would happen if I couldn’t run?” I’ve entertained the topic briefly; however, recently I had to look that topic directly in the face. And it’s been good and bad.  Good because I’ve done projects I never had time to do! We finally put flooring in that room that we ripped up the carpet in 4-5 years ago! I sorted through my clothing and books! I started working on meditation to deal with my horrible stress management skills. I found out I LOVE walking. And I’ve found that I can be completely satisfied with a 4 mile run even if it is at a 15 minute mile pace. I think I got so blinded by ultras and MORE MILES ALL THE TIME that I forgot how lovely a 4 mile run can feel. It’s been bad because I hate not knowing when I’ll be better. I can’t stand the fact that I’m not doing a fall race because Fall races are straight up magic. I feel completely disconnected from the running community that I love so much. Because, well I can’t really run much.

I've been forced to find out what I do when I’m not running all the time. Frankly, it turns out I sit on the couch a LOT. I’m working on that. Running has taught me a million life lessons, but I’m so thankful to realize that I don’t have to be running 30+ miles a week to appreciate them. This article in the Tribune helped remind me that there is more to me than running and it’s not ALL about running all the time. I guess this opportunity came at just the right time.

Read it here:

Thursday, August 13, 2015

It's always something....

For three weeks I’ve done nothing but walking. My doctor had begrudgingly given me permission to go to an eight hour race I had signed up for as long as I was smart about it. I realized that was not a possibility (you know, being smart) and even decided not to go to THAT! He was thrilled by my grown up decision. And as the mandatory three weeks of only walking came to a close and I started to get nervous.

Is three weeks enough?

How do I know if it isn’t working?

How do I try to be a sensible runner? (turns out that people that run ultras don’t tend to have a good gauge on sensible)

Will I remember how to run?

I came up with a game plan or at least something that resembled a game plan. A few years ago I started running by the Maffetone rules. Don’t know about it? Check out this link:

It’s what I used while training for my first 50k. It was one of the most excruciating (you will NEVER run up a hill) things I’ve been through. But, I felt GOOD after my runs, I saw marked improvement, and I ran with more comfort and confidence. That was a couple of years ago. I went back and took the test again to figure my Maffetone heartrate. With my new age and shiny new injury history, I was horrified at my low low low low low did I mention low target heartrate. Forget hills, will I be able to run at all on my runs while trying to keep my heartrate THIS low?

Reality check… I have to be SMART when I start running again. If a heartrate alarm (that I actually listen to) keeps me in check, then I need to do it! ARGH! LOGIC! I really don’t want to screw up the progress I’ve made because my dumb brain wants to go back to the dumb habits of ignoring my body’s signs (or red alerts as the case was). So, low heartrate it is!

And today, with my heartrate alarm set, I set out with my pup for three miles expecting to do a little running and a lot of walking. And the weirdest thing happened….

The running that I did was super fun and duh, of course I didn’t forget how to run. What kind of dork has that thought? Oops. But the weird thing is…

I immediately started to mourn the loss of my morning walks.

What? Who would have expected that? Tell a runner not to run and they will make up a thousand reasons why it’s ok that they run. And typically they will ignore doctor’s orders and run anyway. I did when my doc said no running for 3 weeks. But, when I committed to walking, I realized, I really like it! I’ve been walking with one of my dogs in the wee hours of the morning. And I’ve been stargazing and sunrise walking and really enjoying the stillness of the predawn hours. When I ran today it was so different! I couldn’t just crane my neck back to look at the stars and all of the sudden I remembered I need to be wearing a headlamp if I’m moving faster and everything seemed so different!

Where does that leave me? Well, I’d say that I suppose I should try to find a way to enjoy both things (I mean aside from the fact that I’ll still be walking a TON during my runs).

Did the run go ok? I think so, but I’ll have to try to pay attention to how I feel in the next few days to get a real handle on it. Baby steps….. Slow baby steps…. At a low heartrate.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Want Answers? Be careful what you wish for....

Has it really been that long?

I started running in 2007 and once I started, I never stopped. I think that the longest I took off from running was after my first marathon when my coach FORCED me to take two weeks off to recover.

And here we are….

I finally went to a doctor that listened to me and I finally got some answers. Turns out all the symptoms I have been dealing with are a thing (validation!). I’m hypothyroid, anemic, and I’m low on LOADS of nutrients. So we’re working on putting Humpty Dumpty back together again. And in the meantime I was given a few rules (he would probably want me to call them guidelines)

1.       No weightlifting for an as yet to be determined amount of time.

2.       No gluten 

3.       Only one cup of high quality coffee a day (ugh, I really love coffee).

4.       No running for three weeks.

What? No what for three weeks? But but but but…. But he’s right. Give my body a bit of time to actually heal and let the stuff we are doing work instead of bullying through it some more.

The next question, of course, was… can I walk? He said yes. And then the next question was…. But like how LONG can I walk because I’m a person that runs for ten hours at a time for fun. Of course, he laughed, shook his head, and said…. An hour.

Welp, there you go. I was entering unknown territory. Because what the F do I do when I don’t run all the time? And then I had a friend put it into perspective

“OH this is great because you can take some time off without feeling guilty. You won’t have to worry about stupid crap like… oh I should be running. Or oh the schedule says I have to do this so I better get out there even though I feel like crap and it’s 110 degrees with the heat index”.

Is it that attitude that got me into this mess? I don’t know. But I’m making it a goal to make the best of this vacation from running. Last weekend, instead of a long run, I went for a walk with a friend and her four month old baby! My husband and I ordered the flooring for that room we ripped the carpet out of at least three years ago. My kitchen counter is clean like more than once every two weeks! I’m reading a book! And I don’t feel guilty when I’m tired at the end of the day and all I want to do is lay on the couch with my dogs. I just do it.

Of course I’m already plotting my comeback. But my comeback involves things like listening to what my body is actually saying. I guess I’ll see how this all plays out, but for right now, Persistent Runner has become Persistent Rester/Walker/Relaxer.

Friday, July 17, 2015

That Half Marathon Was My Slowest EVER.... and it felt like a colossal win

If you’ve read my blog, you’ve seen that I have a well-documented love affair with a race series called Dances with Dirt. I’ve done the 50K distance in Indiana and Michigan and this year I booked a hotel for the Wisconsin race not knowing what distance I might be up for.

As the race got closer and my body and mind felt worse and worse I doubted that I was capable of any race, any distance. Then…. A little stroke of genius. I emailed a friend that had moved to Wisconsin and said, “hey, I know that neither of us is trained for this, but we both know we can do it, want to hike a half marathon with me? I hear the course is AMAZING!” I expected a slew of back and forth email to follow. I have a habit of talking people into races and I was ready for a fight. Instead, I got an email back saying, “ok, sounds good, I’ll sign up tonight!” Whoa. I was floored …and committed… and terrified.

Why terrified? Well, I’ve just been feeling awful and I still have no idea what’s wrong with me. I’ve been through an extremely frustrating and heartbreaking “test and retest and find nothing and let me just throw some pills at you why wouldn’t you want to just take pills even though we don’t really know what’s wrong with you” cycle with a doctor, and obviously nothing came out of it except for a lot of tears on my part… I digress….

Maybe I would lock up, maybe I would pass out, maybe I would be unbearable sore, maybe any progress I had made on feeling better would be gone….

And the next thing I knew I was at the starting line. And we were off. Thankfully for me the race gained 800 feet of elevation in the first 2 miles. If that’s not a great way to start things off slowly I don’t know what is! We settled into a nice power hike and reiterated that neither of us was up for “beast mode” and we would take the opportunity to catch up on all the chatter that two girlfriends that haven’t talked in months could pass endless hours with. At some point we realized that the girl right behind us was looking for the same type of race, so the three of us passed the time chatting, laughing, hiking, and running when we felt like it.

The race course was beautiful! It hit all the highlights of the magic of Midwest trails. Fields, forests, pine trees, and an AMAZING overlook! We took our time at the overlook for pictures and then headed down to finish the race up.

The course was a lollipop so we got the reward of an 800 descent for the final miles. We were tired and ready to be done and as we saw the finish line and our husbands and friends, I definitely screamed, “SUB FOUR HOURS!!!” with my hands over my head in victory, because who gives a crap? Right? And the spectators seemed to appreciate the humor.

As my husband and I walked back to the car I was downright giddy over a race performance that some people would consider horrifying. I told my husband that I don’t know what’s wrong with me and I don’t know when I’ll get better, but spending the day out in the woods with one of my favorite women was such an amazing gift. And I am so freaking happy that I was able to have today and feel like I still have a place at these events.

It was a good day spent with good people. It was the slowest half marathon time I’ve ever had. And it felt like one of the biggest wins EVER.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

What's going on?

Why haven't I been racing? Why haven't I been writing? Why has running been so weird lately?

I dunno.

I've volunteered at a few races and I had a blast. But I didn't have the need to run them. Didn't feel the least bit weird about not running them. I've been running. About 30 miles a week, which for me, isn't too far off peak mileage. My long runs haven't been too long. But I've had a few 13+ runs, so what gives? 

I dunno.

I mean my runs sometimes just turn into a walk. Not a power hike, just a walk. And I have to remind myself that it's ok if it needs to be a walk. Because I get that macho voice in my head telling me I'm doing it wrong. There's no wrong. I'm a grownup, I can do what I want to! But if I just want to walk and run a little, am I still running? Am I still a runner? Do I even care anymore?

I've felt disconnected. From racing, from running, and from myself some. I met with a doctor a few weeks ago for some blood work HOPING that there's some "thing" wrong with me. Like, can't all these symptoms add up to SOMETHING? Something other than, well you're almost 40 and you know.... Yes, yes I know. But why does everything feel so "off" and it has for months. 

I did a race last weekend. A ten hour loopy thing. You know, run as much as you want kind of thing. For some reason the lack of mileage rules and casualness was appealing. I went into it cautiously excited but also terrified. Because, if I don't want to run a bunch, have I failed? I was greeted with 75-80+ degree weather and 75-100% humidity. It was awful. I felt sick, I took naps, I walked…. A lot. In the end, I got 19.5 miles officially (because 20 would be ridiculous) in a ten hour race. Granted, I slept for at least 3 hours of the race, but to say this was disappointing would be a massive understatement.

It’s funny, this month I actually had a blurb from a blog post I wrote about being in last place at a race published in Runner’s World. RUNNER’S WORLD! My words! In print! I should be on top of the world. Instead, I am published in Runner’s World, and I’ve never felt like less of a runner since I started running.

A few years ago, a friend of mine did a mile time trial with my running group. I didn’t go to it for many reasons, one of them being that I’m not fast and I didn’t want that to be put on display. She and I were talking about it and she had a lot of the same thoughts going in, but she said everyone in the group was so sweet and encouraging. And it turns out the only person being an asshole to her about her speed and ability….. was her. We are the biggest assholes to ourselves… every time.

Maybe it’s time for me to reassess my running goals for the year. Maybe it’s time to stop worrying about mileage and time and start focusing on not being such an asshole to myself. Maybe it’s time to start working on being grateful for the runs I have, even when they’re more of a walk.

I suppose it’s  just a different type of training.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Carmel marathon ish

Last week I casually mentioned to my husband that I didn't know if it was a good idea for me to be running around solo for hours on end in my current mental state. I've been dealing with lots of stress lately and by dealing with I mean burying it deep down inside so that it can blow up at some point. That's healthy, right?

I had signed up for a full (road) marathon as a training run a few months ago. I'd done the race before and it seemed like a reasonable plan. But last weekend's half marathon with a five mile warm up had left me with a sore hip and back and wondering how this race would play out. 

The day started with an early (even for me) wake up call and a nice predawn drive to the race. I got the car parked, slathered on some sunblock, and hit the potty. For the next half hour before the race I tried to inconspicuously take video of the bizarre warm ups people were doing, but I'm no good at inconspicuous so I went ahead and lined up for the race. We took off and I settled into a blistering turtle pace. Before I hit the first mile I was ready to turn around and quit. But this was gonna be my tenth marathon, so I thought I would give it more than a mile. I knew I was in trouble when I reached for my iPod a half hour into the race. Normally I'm a no music til half way kinda gal, but I was too anxious and hoped that a podcast would settle me down and clear my head. It did not.

Four miles in I was greeted by strangers handing out doughnut holes! I grabbed one and thanked them profusely. This was the highlight of the day and it went downhill from there.

I don't know that I can explain how unsettled my mind was. Running typically settles my mind, but on this day I could not calm down. I couldn't stop thinking about how much longer it was going to be and how hot it was going to get. I tried to remember to be in the moment. Look around, I GET to do this. I'm so fortunate. That worked for a bit when I was on a beautiful path section through fields and trees. But when we got to a more urban setting, my breathing got shallow and high in my chest like I was on the verge of a panic attack. 

 At mile 14 I texted a friend that I knew would say something ridiculous to cheer me up. Yeah, I was texting during a race, I was so not into it I had become that person. She texted me funny encouraging words that carried me another few miles.

But, by the time I had gotten to mile nineteen I actually approached the med tent... Which I've only ever done one other time in the Chicago Marathon from hell (2010). They asked if I was ok and I immediately started getting teary eyed. They asked their standard questions,

Do you need water?
Do you want to sit?
Do you want to lay down?
Do you want some Tylenol? (I might have barked at them about this one. I don't think Tylenol and long races or running are a safe combo, but that's another rant for another day)

I left in tears. My back was killing me and I was miserable. I knew the race course went close to my car before the end and I thought.... WTF maybe I'm done? 

When I got to the 20 mile mat, I knew I was done. How did I know? I was miserable. My back muscles were so tight that trying to run was met with terrible pain, and the idea of walking six more miles was soul crushing. But I also realized I hadn't enjoyed any of it. Not since the doughnut and the little part in the field. In fact, I kinda hated it. I saw little kids cheering and thought, "ugh I'm gonna have to pretend like this is awesome". I saw inspiring people all around me and I was angry at them for their can do attitude and chutzpah. I could barely thank the volunteers because I hated everything. 

This is not who I want to be and this is not what I want running to be for me.

I pulled up google maps on my phone, realized I was 1.5 miles away from my car, took off my bib, and called it a day. People may wonder why I quit at 20 and didn't just go the stupid six miles to finish. Because I was done. Six more miles wouldn't have killed me, but what would it have given me? A medal? A banana? A broken spirit? Hatred for running? 

It's just running, I'm not saving lives out there. And to judge my life as a success or failure based on a race would be the dumbest dumb that ever dumbed. 

So I dropped. And I think it was a good choice for the day.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Quit Saying That

I can’t say that it was definitely the first time I said it, but I remember being at my first “real” trail race and buying some stuff. The woman I was buying it from asked me what I ran that day (the race had a 10k, half marathon, marathon, 50k, and 50 mile). My answer:

I just did the half

I didn’t think much of it at the time. But the more I run, the more I hear people compare themselves to others and the more I hear it. And when I hear it, it’s like nails on a chalkboard.

I’m JUST running a 5k. I’m ONLY doing the half marathon. My long run is JUST 8 miles.

Have we gotten so far from our beginnings as runners that we forget the first time we ran a mile and how AMAZING it felt? The first time I ran a 5k it was before dawn, in my neighborhood, and it took me 45 minutes. I felt like I had just climbed a mountain. In those predawn moments, I might have cried a little because I was amazed that I was even able to do such a thing.

What changed?

I have to think that part of it is due to knowing too much. When I trained for my first marathon, I just knew that was the pinnacle of running and I was the king of everything. But then I heard about ultramarathons (races longer than 26.2 miles) and I was immediately knocked down a peg and in my mind maybe I lessened my own accomplishments a little.

But let’s think about races and running. Typically, there’s always going to be someone out there that can perform a little better than you, that can run a little farther than you, and there will ALWAYS be someone that can make it look a little easier than you. But does that make you less of a runner? Less of a person?

Why aren’t we celebrating what we CAN do?

I volunteered at a race last year that had a 5k, half marathon, and full marathon. I was at the finish line, handing out “stuff”. Each finisher got a hat with their race distance on it as they crossed the finish line (which is totally cool race directors, take note). So, throughout my shift I had lots of folks saying they didn’t get a hat and asking if I could get them one. And when I asked them what distance they ran, I got so many:

I just the 5k, I only did the half

Before I got each of them their hat, I would stop and say something like, “you ran 3 miles that’s amazing! Let me go grab that for you!” or “You ran a 13 miles? You’ve done plenty of work today, let me go grab that”. It was fantastic to see their faces soften with the recognition that even though they tried to belittle their accomplishment, a stranger could see what they had done and celebrate it.

So what’s the moral here? Celebrate what you’re able to do, duh. Sure, most of us have room for improvement, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be proud of what we did today and make it fuel for tomorrow.

And, if you hang out with me and use the words only or just to describe your mileage or your race distance, I will most likely punch you (lightly) in the arm and I expect you to do the same to me (but be warned, if you punch me hard, I will punch you back..... harder). Running isn’t easy and we should really be giving ourselves more credit when we do it. ANY of it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

This is big

Sure, it was a big deal when I ran my first mile, 5k, half marathon, full marathon, 50k, and 50 miler. Those were big accomplishments for sure, but something even bigger has happened.


What is it? Well, first a little back story. Look at all these pictures
What do these pictures have in common? I tried to help you with the arrows... Look at my shorts. Notice anything similar? 

If you know me, you know I'm not big on change. To say I'm a creature of habit is a HUGE understatement. I'm not good with change. And when I find something I like, I stick with it. Like say.... The shorts I started wearing in 2009..... Yep. The last time I bought shorts that I loved was at the 2010 Chicago marathon expo. I bought a few pairs because I was sure that the style I loved would soon be "improved" and go away. I was right. The newer versions were cut weird or didn't have built in underwear or some other nonsense. But I wasn't terribly stressed because I don't run everyday and I had about 4-5 pairs of the best shorts ever. What is there to stress about? Right?

About a year ago I started to look at shorts, knowing that my shorts would not last forever, no matter how good I was to them. Here's what I found.

1) I do not weigh six pounds and therefore I am not interested in what appears to be a 1/2" inseam.
2) Shorts may appear to be awesome in a dressing room but will actually wad up into a tiny ball between your thighs two yards into your run.
3) some shorts are designed for people that want extra poof in their abdomen. Really? Why is it SO poofy between the waist and the legs? 
4) Apparently some running wear companies do not believe that a runner might also lift weights. Are these shorts actually tapered at the bottom? I feel like the circulation in my quad is being cut off!
5) I'm doomed.

As you can tell, this was not going well. Nothing was working!! I thought about a Kickstarter campaign to bring back my magic shorts, but I doubt it would fly. So I scoured the Internet. I looked up suggestions, I read reviews, and just when I was about to give up hope.... I came across a pair that didn't look terrible...

Oiselle has a short called the long Roga that seemed to be made to not cutoff circulation in your quads and still looked cute. So I gave them a shot. And then the Angels sang!!!!!

To be fair, I haven't tested them in southern Indiana summers, but I have run 10 miles on a treadmill in them. And I love them! Maybe miracles do exist!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

30 days of eating better is dunzo! So, what now?

As I wrote about earlier, I committed to cleaning up my diet for 30 days to start the year out on the right foot, start some better habits, and maybe drop a couple pounds.

How did it go, you ask?

Weeeeellllll….. I think it went ok. By the third week I started to feel like a human again and by the fourth week I felt downright good! Success! Here’s some things I learned along the way:

1.    I’m like Pavlov’s dogs. One day I HEARD a candy wrapper and immediately started salivating. I’m not exaggerating. I’ve read that the brain reacts to sugar in the same way it reacts to cocaine and I can kind of believe it. I smoked cigarettes for over 10 years before I quit. Now, when I smell them, it’s not appealing to me at all. In fact, I can barely remember the person that needed a cigarette in the morning, before bed, when something good happened, when something bad happened, when dinner was cooking, when dinner was done… well you get the idea. It almost seems like it was a completely different person that did that. But man, you unwrap a payday and I am a drool monster that is willing to tackle a person for some delicious sugary snacks.

2.    I’m always surprised that cheese is not a food group that is vital to my survival. I love cheese, don’t get me wrong. But when I’ve cut out dairy, my guts tend to thank me and I’m always surprised that my life can indeed be full and worth living without everything being drowned in some kind of cheesy magic.

3.    Just because I LIKE to have beer on long run night doesn’t mean I HAVE to have a beer on long run night. There’s nothing wrong with a delicious beer, but I think I get into such a habit in what I eat and drink that I don’t even think about what I WANT anymore. This helped me do that.

4.    I can make my own mayonnaise and it turns out when it’s not some junk that been on a grocery store shelf for 6 months, it tastes REALLY good.

5.    Cooking can feel like a chore, no doubt about it. But it can also be kind of fun. I was surprised that a weekend that involved cooking some things for the week, made me really happy during the week. Also, cooking something in the crockpot overnight is a really good solution for those of us that assume that leaving a crockpot on while you go to work will inevitably result in your house burning down while you are at work. Cook it at night! Throw it into containers in the morning and you have a delicious dinner waiting for you when you get home! GENIUS!

What am I going to do now that the 30 days is over? Well, my plan is to try to keep things 90% awesome and 10% treats. But for the time being, I have to stay away from non long run related sugar. Because I know myself well enough to know that the sugar demon is going to need a bit more time in the cooling tank before he can behave. In fact, I went to a super bowl party and stayed away from the sugar! And you know what,  I was still able to have fun! Who knew?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Trail memory

Have you heard about scent memory? Somehow maybe a smell reminds you of a specific time or place. Almost like you're right back there. You know, like when some dude walks into a room wearing Drakkar Noir I immediately flash back to every dude in high school that thought they were awesome. And it isn't just a memory, it overwhelms me. All the awkward awful high school moments and boys I had a crush on that of course liked my best friend and not me and then I end up crying again......

I digress.

This post wasn't meant to be about high school. But that's how scent memory works for me. It doesn't just remind me of it. It takes me back to it. Obviously sometimes the results are not nessecarily  fun.

So this weekend I'm out on one of my favorite trails that I train on all the time and as I'm rounding a corner I flash back to a great run with a dear friend. We ran "with" the same group (she's a bit faster than me) but rarely together. This one random day we set out for a run that ended up being a sheer delight. Running with this person always felt like therapy to me. So I treasured them. 

And today, on this one random trail, I got to re-feel a wonderfully therapeutic run. And it was awesome. 

I've met some of my closest friends through running. Some of them still run, some have stopped, some just trained for that one bucket list race and then moved on. But I love that running helped bring these people into my life. And I LOVE that sometimes out of nowhere I get to relive some of those moments that make me extra grateful for my sport and my community.

It was a good run. Filled with stupid grins and rainbows and unicorns. Gotta tuck that away and pull it out when I'm stuck in  run that sucks so badly that I want to blow chunks.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A New Headlamp = NEW FUN!

After going to a few 100 milers, my brain has gotten used to the general idea that "people" run trails at night. There are even some races in my area that are specifically that, night races. But, there has always been this part of me that still thought.... That's ridiculous.

I did start the Dances With Dirt 50k in Hell, Michigan in the dark, but somehow that didn't count in my mind. This weekend, that changed and it was SUPER FUN!

For Christmas I got a fancy new Petzl Tikka RXP headlamp. I don't like to wear headlamps, but I had this idea that if I had a higher quality headlamp I might feel a little more comfortable with night running. TheTikka RXP is recharable, has a comfy headband, AND it has fancy pants reactive lighting! So, when there's more light in your environment, it dims itself, when it's really dark out, it shines brighter. It also has a wider beam than my old headlamp, it turns out that takes away from some of the tunnel vision problems I get with a headlamp. So, basically, it's magic. Like a magic genie lamp that's strapped to your head. And the strap is orange, which I also enjoy.

So, back to my run this weekend. I wanted to get on the trails, and running with someone sounded more fun than running alone, so started making plans to run with a friend. But, she had to start early.... Like pre-sunrise early. Normally, this would result in me saying, well, let's just run on roads then. But this time, we said no let's run on trails, in the dark. We somehow roped another friend into a predawn start and from there the plan was set.

For some reason, the simple act of running for 30-40 minutes on the trail before dawn, made the run infinitely more exciting to me. I couldn't wait for Saturday to come. That's a feeling I've been missing. I love to run, but it becomes so automatic for me that I sometimes forget how much I LOVE to run. 

I got to the parking lot early and looked into the woods with with the light from my car lights.

I was nervous, excited, and darn near giddy. When all three of us were there we nervously chatted for a bit and then we were off. Slower and quieter than normal, I kept adjusting my headlamp to get it comfortable and trying to figure out where is the best place to look. Before I knew it there was a bit of light in the sky and we had already gone a mile. Once the sun really started rising, we picked up the pace to try to get the best view and the best picture of the rising sun. My friend behind me kept saying, hurry! We have to get to the top of that over there! And the views just kept get better! I definitely screamed NATURE with a raised fist as we skittered up to one ridge line and then next trying to get the best view.

For a recovering slightly burnt out runner, this run was a breath of fresh air. Instead of worrying about mileage, speed, splits, fuel, and bib numbers, I was out in the woods with two great friends, racing a sunrise. Runs like this make me fall in love with running all over again. And that's exactly what I needed.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I'm Gonna Eat Better!

In 2013 I turned the way I run and the way I eat upside down. I started heart rate training and I cleaned up the way I eat….big time. People in my gym were all atwitter about this thing called the Whole 30. I heard them talk about how exciting it was so I looked into it. I looked into it and immediately decided that it was stupid, restrictive, and impossible. And then a month or two later as is often the case with stubborn, overreacting, alarmist people like myself, I calmed the heck down and decided to give it a shot (you know, once I pretended that it was all my idea, of course). I learned a lot from it and once I got over the initial feeling awful part a felt great!

So, what is it? Well for30 days you cut out dairy, grains, legumes, and sugar (and sugar substitutes). Oh my lord, what’s left? Well, tons of veggies, protein, fruit, and nuts! FYI, peanuts are a legume, not a nut. This was a fact that resulted in a few false starts for my husband’s first Whole 30. Here’s the website for more detailed information:

Anywhoo…. As 2013 turned into 2014 my “eat right 90% of the time with a treat occasionally” way of eating slowly turned into “eat right 20% of the time, not awful 40%, and total crap %40 but still pretend you’re doing well”. Why was I gaining weight, achy, not recovering as well, etc? Well, around the time that I admitted I was burnt out on training, I had to admit that my diet had turned to not good. Time to clean it all up!
And what a great time to start,  January 1st! I’m not a typical new year’s resolution gal, but my gym and a few of my closest friends were all doing a Whole 30 starting on January 1st. So, I reckon that’s as good a time as any right? Weeelllllll, kind of right. I might have eaten my body weight in sugar in the month of December in preparation. Oh, and I might have had a sugar binge to end all sugar binges on December 31st, but hey, I never said I was smart.

Now I have a plan to blog my way through a Whole 30. Ok, I plan to do at least a couple posts on it.

I’m seven days in now and here’s a few excerpts from some ongoing exchanges I’m having with friends as we stumble through another Whole 30 together.
- (Day 2) Talk about New Year’s Eve binge. I definitely had more fruit than I should have yesterday to avoid diabetic shock. I was wolfing down baby food on the way to my run to avoid the sugar shakes.
- (Day 3) Oh good, I think my sugar withdrawal headache just arrived, I was afraid I would miss it. The good thing is that they seem to come in nausea inducing waves. At least they aren’t constant.
- (Day 4) Today’s run was brought to you by… Oh my god my body hates me and doesn’t know how to use energy.

-(Day 6) – I seem to be entering the I hate everything phase of this Whole 30. I got violently angry at my husband yesterday because he was cutting up cauliflower the wrong way. You know, totally normal to freak out about that, right?

Things I learned today;
1)      Maybe I AM a bit moody and should keep to myself
2)      Don’t try to explain to anyone how I’m eating because they will be hateful and unsupportive and I will want to drop kick them. (absolutely not overreacting, right?)

- (Day 7) - I went running, at a low heart rate yesterday and IT FELT LIKE AWFUL!!! I don't even know if I was too hungry or what but I felt like I was dying.

Sure this sounds awful, and right now it is, I'm not going to lie. But I have to think that part of the reason it seems so awful is because my body has become so used to eating garbage that it's taking it a minute or two to figure out how to fuel itself on


Will it get better? Oh my good night I hope so. But in the mean time, if you see me looking like a hot mess and then I snap your head off for no apparent reason, please forgive me.