Here I Go Again…

Menopause. It’s a rite of middle age. Actually, post-middle age because I doubt I will live to be over 100. I’ll probably drown in a puddle of sweat in my own bed. Menopause can make life pretty tough, especially when in my head I am still young and thin. Unfortunately in the mirror I am aging and chubby. I volley back and forth between acceptance and disbelief. Somedays I think I’ll just roll with it and buy bigger clothes and invest in better wrinkle creams, and other days I just want my old body back – the one that didn’t sweat profusely several times throughout the night, and fit nicely into skinny jeans. The body that could run a decent pace and could do – and enjoy doing – burpees.

I thought I understood hot flashes until I actually had one. When I was young and birthing children, I thought what I experienced was hot flashes, but I was just hot most of the time. A menopausal hot flash is different. It always awakens me as I begin to get restless. Then when I am awake enough to fully experience the heat, I can feel it start at my core, and then it spreads throughout my extremities until sweat is pooling under my boobs and my hair is wet. I kick the covers off, or at least attempt to. Two dogs sleep with my husband and me, so sometimes kicking covers off means sending a dog sailing off the bed. I’ve found they don’t appreciate waking to my flailing arms and legs as I work to extract myself from the sheet and comforter that suddenly feel as if they’ve caught fire.

My nightly hot flashes became so regular that my husband bought a king-sized bed. Not only do the dogs keep me from cooling off, but my husband feels like a furnace when I am already hot. One touch of his hand makes my arm feel like it’s melting.

Another effect of menopause is weight gain. For me, this is much more difficult to deal with because I’ve been petite my whole life. It took no time after having a baby for me to get back to my pre-baby size, and I didn’t exercise back then. I thought the weight gain was bad in my forties, but could still control my weight with exercise and sensible eating. Now, however, it’s getting out of control. I find myself buying only loose-fitting tops and dresses and I finally gave in and bought a larger size pant. I don’t want to just give up, but damn, I can’t eat anything good. And when I am trying to avoid crap, every other commercial is for Blizzards and Monster burgers.

So, how am I going to combat menopause? Wine is an excellent option. But it also has a lot of calories. I do believe that menopause is the reason so many middle-aged women enjoy a glass or four of wine regularly. If we can’t be skinny, we might as well have fun. Drink enough wine and you won’t notice those wrinkles when you look in the mirror and you’ll be happy to wear leggings and a tunic (Thank God for that style!). My dear friend got me a wine Tervis that says, ‘This wine is making me awesome!’ Yes. Yes, it is. But I still need to workout because I can’t drink wine every day.

To try to get in somewhat decent shape, I am going to run two half marathons this fall. I had about given up the idea of distance running because it’s just getting harder and harder, but rather than quit, I am just going to have to accept that I will never run a half marathon in close to two hours again. I will have to accept that I might even have to walk a portion of the course. I’ve completed 13 half marathons so far, and I’ve never regretted any of them. I hated a few of them (Hoosier Half in April – 20 degrees and hills!), but I was always glad I finished. I am going to run the Monumental Half in November with my daughter Bethany, and before that my husband and I are going to run the Purdue Half in October. It wasn’t in our plans, but we will be there that weekend for his class reunion, so why not? My training for the Monumental had me running ten miles that weekend, so I might as well add three point one and get a medal. I hope the medal goes with the dress I’m wearing to the reunion.

So, menopause sucks. I can’t find one positive thing to say about it other than every woman seems to survive it. It would help if I had some sort of timeline. If I knew there were an end in sight, I could suck it up and take one for the team. I could promise my husband that this craziness would end soon and he would get his wife back. But no, there is no timeline. This crap can last years. I really wish Eve hadn’t eaten that damn apple.

 

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We Did It!!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of running 13.1 miles with my middle daughter, Bethany, at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon. It was truly a memorable weekend. We took off for Indy Friday afternoon, checked into our hotel, and then walked a few blocks to the Convention Center for the expo. Bethany had been to an expo with me, but not as a runner. While there, we got a little caught up in the excitement and signed up for another half marathon, the Indy 500 Mini in May. We got a free tech tee for signing up early, and who doesn’t want a free shirt? It was fun just to explore the booths, but it was more fun to carb load afterward. We chose Scotty’s Brewhouse for our last big pre-race meal. While most runners would choose a healthy, carb-filled meal (Is that an oxymoron?), I wanted to try something different: a grilled cheese with pulled pork and mac and cheese on it. Yup. It was messy, but delicious. And on the side? Cottage fries with cheese, bacon, and sour cream. Hey…I was going to be running over 13 miles the next morning; I needed energy. Bethany chose grilled chicken. Boring. But that might be one of the reasons she beat me!

indyprerace

When running a long-distance race, there is so much that can go wrong, starting with the weather. Two years ago when my niece, my husband, and I ran the Monumental, it was 15 degrees. It was miserable. Yesterday the weather was perfect. It was chilly while we were waiting to start, but not unbearable. Once we began running, it was gorgeous. Indy is a beautiful city in which to run, and on a sunny day, it’s even more brilliant. Another obstacle to a successful race is stomach issues. Without going into gross detail, yesterday went well. Even my playlist was put together perfectly, which was a total fluke. I had tried to put ‘Living on a Prayer…Halfway there’ at about the 6.5 mile mark, and it landed exactly where I wanted it to.

Bethany seemed to enjoy every moment of the race, which is what I had hoped she would do. I told her ahead of time to take it all in.I didn’t want her to worry about her time or about whether or not she’d finish; I knew she would. The joy of the race comes not only from achieving a monumental goal, but also from enjoying the small moments, the cheers from the spectators (who were amazing yesterday), the sounds of music along the course, the funny signs, and the other runners who all have stories about why they are there. The joy comes from the scenery, the gorgeous neighborhoods, and the pounding of thousands of feet, all working toward the same goal. The joy comes when you see a firefighter in full gear, including his tank, running a marathon, runners with pictures of loved ones ironed on their shirts, and children along the route offering high fives. A few miles into our run, Bethany said, “This is so much fun!” And at mile eight she said, “Mom, I think it’s so cool that you run. If you didn’t, I wouldn’t be here.” That was my favorite moment in the race. I don’t know if she even knows how much that meant to me. We, as parents, never know what our children will learn from us. Knowing that I had a small part in her achieving something she never thought possible, and that gave her so much confidence, was indescribable.

bethanyrunning

As the race went on, I could tell that Bethany could run faster. I was settling into about a 10:35 pace, which was fine with me, but she kept easing a little ahead. At mile 9, I told her to go. I did not want to hold her back if she could go faster. She hesitated, but then a lady running near us also encouraged her to go. She told her that it would make it harder for me if I knew she was waiting, and that if she felt good, she should take advantage of it because it might not happen again. She took off, and I relaxed knowing she was running her race. I was tired those last few miles, but kept a steady pace. Crazy things can run through a runner’s mind when exhaustion sets in. At one point I thought maybe I’ll get a 13.1 tattoo after this. It’s my tenth half marathon, and geez, this is hard. I deserve to have a tattoo. When I told my husband that had run through my mind, he just rolled his eyes. At mile 11, I reminded myself that I was NEVER going to run a full marathon. I couldn’t imagine having another 15 miles to go.

Bethany ended up finishing about five minutes before I did. I am so proud of her! Running is hard work. It takes dedication and determination, and it’s physically demanding. It takes time to train, and with our busy lives, carving that time out isn’t always easy. Completing a race can be life-changing; it gives us confidence in all areas of our lives. I am so thrilled to have shared this journey with my daughter. Congratulations, Bethany!

bethanymomrace

Half Marathon #10

On November 5 I will run my tenth half marathon, the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon. It’s been two years since I ran an entire 13.1 miles; the last three I worked some walking in for various reasons. I need to know I can still run the whole route – that my knee can endure 13.1 miles of pounding.

However, accomplishing that goal is not the most important aspect of the race. This race is special because I will be running it with my daughter Bethany. She began running in January of this year, and has since run a couple 5Ks and a 5-miler. She decided this summer that she was ready to take on the challenge of running her first half marathon, and I agreed to train and run with her. When Gary and I began running almost eight years ago, our hope was that we would be a positive example for our kids and grandkids. We wanted to show them that it is never too late to live a healthier lifestyle; it is never too late to set and achieve goals. Since that time, all of the girls have worked fitness into their lives. Gary’s daughter Tamara and her girls have participated in Girls on the Run; Morgan has run a few races and was recently certified to teach yoga; and the youngest, Addie, has now begun running and hopes to work up to a half marathon. Gary’s son Bryce has always been active. He and his wife run, ski, and climb. I don’t know how much we have influenced our children’s choices, but I hope we’ve had at least a little impact.

bethanymom

Training for this race has been interesting. I haven’t worked as hard as I should. It stayed hot so long that my runs suffered. Our long runs have been slower than I would like, but we’ve kept running. This past Saturday we ran 11 miles, our longest training run. It went better than our previous long runs, and I feel that Bethany is ready for this race and will run well. I feel that I had better quit eating junk for the next two weeks and increase my water intake or I’m going to struggle. No matter what, I wouldn’t trade these past weeks of sharing this experience with my daughter. I cannot wait for her to experience crossing that finish line because I know it can be life-changing. I know she will gain a confidence she’s never experienced. I know she will feel a sense of pride that is unlike any other. I know she’ll want to sign up for another!

I have had the unique pleasure of running two of my nieces’ first half marathons with them, and felt so blessed that they wanted to share that time with me. After running a couple 5Ks and a 10K together, Erin and I ran the Monumental two years ago – it was 15 degrees that day. Emily and I ran the Hoosier Half Marathon in Bloomington. Despite being held April 9, it was 20 degrees at the start, and it did not warm up (I won’t even get into the hills). Now I have the honor of running 13.1 with Bethany, which I hope will take place on a perfect 55 degree day. There is something special about running a longer race with someone. If you run, you know that some of the best, most honest conversations take place when we are drenched in sweat, our muscles are aching, and yet we carry on…together.

I’ve written before that sometimes a race is about so much more than a PR or personal goals. My best runs have been when I’ve run for a greater cause, whether it was to help someone complete her first half, or to raise money and awareness for St. Jude. The medals earned represent time spent training and sharing in a common goal. The medals represent not giving up, even when it hurts. They represent achieving something that a few years ago seemed impossible.

Bethany, I am so proud of you! You’ve accomplished so much this year, and it is truly my honor to run with you. I pray for clear skies, perfect temps, strong legs, and settled bellies. Heck, maybe someday you, Morgan, Addie, and I can run one together. That would really be a miracle! Let’s eat healthy foods the next two weeks, okay? Good Luck, Bethany! Thank you for allowing me to be your running partner. Thank you for loving yourself enough to take on such a monumental challenge. Now go #BeMonumental!

Indy, Here We Come!

I just read through my last post in which I stated I would be blogging about my training for the half marathon. As you all know, sometimes life gets in the way. Between school, the gym, band contests, golf matches, and cooking and cleaning, there has been no time to just sit down and write. Now the race is five days away. Ready or not, Saturday I will cover 13.1 miles; with any luck I will be running all of it, but it is more likely that I will do a combination of running and walking with my niece. Honestly, this race isn’t about time; it’s about so much more.

This will be my niece Erin’s first half marathon. I have talked to her about running one for a couple of years, and for some unknown reason, she finally agreed. She hasn’t trained much at all, but because she is young, she’ll do just fine. Erin makes everything more fun. She has a quick wit and keeps us laughing. I feel very blessed to get to share this experience with her because I know it can be life-changing. There’s something about earning a medal – no matter how old we are – that makes us keep running.

About two weeks ago, I was looking at the Monumental Marathon website, and saw that I could sign up to raise money for St. Jude. I’ve never run a race for charity, so the challenge was instantly appealing. Because St. Jude had saved the life of our friend, Katie, it just felt right. I had no idea how much money I could raise, so I set my original goal at $500. I only had a couple of weeks, and I didn’t know if I could pull it off. As of this writing, I’ve raised $1050! My friends and family have been so generous, and it is so appreciated. Every penny goes to help a child fighting cancer. I was speaking to my brother today after he had donated in honor of his children, Emily and Evan. Evan has Down Syndrome, which can come with health problems, so they have spent time in children’s hospitals. As my brother stated, no one really understands how important those places are until he has a child there, and sees all the children who are fighting. What a blessing it is to have healthy children. Saturday I will don my St. Jude shirt and run in honor of those children who are battling cancer, who experience things no child should ever have to experience. Running 13.1 miles? That’s easy. Going through chemotherapy, getting stuck every single day, having multiple surgeries, fearing death…that’s not only difficult; it’s heartbreaking.

Hillary, dancer, age 20, b-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Hillary, dancer, age 20, b-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Each of the five previous half marathons I have completed, I have done for me. I’ve had goals such as beating a previous time or proving my doctor wrong. It’s always been about what I wanted to accomplish. This race is not about me. Will I be proud when I cross that finish line? Heck, yeah! But this race isn’t about what I want. It’s about sharing the experience with Erin and about running for St. Jude and Katie. Katie is one of the lucky ones. She beat cancer. Because Katie beat cancer, the children in our community are fortunate to have her for a teacher and coach. She has also been provided friendship and support for others who have battled or are continuing to fight. St. Jude calls the people who are running to raise money Heroes. I cannot accept that title. The kids of St. Jude are the heroes. I’m just a runner with great friends and family.

I read a blog recently in which a guy said how annoyed he is by 13.1 and 26.2 stickers on cars. He claimed that the only reason runners have them is to brag, and that we think we are better than everyone else because we ran that far. What an ass. He said that typically when one puts a sticker on his car, it is to show support for something, such as a school or their children’s sports. He claimed that our stickers are selfish. I have a 13.1 magnet on my car, and I am very proud of it. Do I think I am better than a non-runner or someone who sticks to shorter distances? Absolutely not. Running is not for everyone. Having that sticker is sort of a rite of passage for some runners. I have several friends who couldn’t wait to earn that sticker. We’ve worked our tails off, spent countless hours pounding the pavement, and sacrificed sleeping in, greasy food, and time with our families. We’ve suffered through injuries, physical therapy, sore muscles, and ugly feet. When I see those stickers on strangers’ cars, I feel an instant bond. Running is the most selfless sport I know of. I have never been around a more supportive group of people than when I am at a race. Fellow runners cheer as loudly for the last runner as they do for the first; actually; sometimes they cheer louder. We all have different paces, and no one looks down upon slower runners. We help one another, listen to each other’s troubles, and support one another until the bitter end. Many people run for charity or share their love of running with children by volunteering at running groups. So, if my 13.1 magnet annoys anyone, just don’t look at it. You can look at my Purdue plate instead!

For the next four days, I must drink plenty of water, avoid too much candy (I can’t avoid it all), and get a couple of short runs in. Friday we head for Indy to meet my niece. If you want to donate to St. Jude, here’s the link:

http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR?px=2902756&fr_id=21100&pg=personal

http://fundraising.stjude.org/images/heroes/Hayli-St-Jude-Heroes-event-image-default.jpg

This is Hayli. She is one year old and is battling leukemia.

Run Happy!