Running Remix

Sometimes in life, we need to step back and reevaluate our intentions. Whether we examine relationships, careers, or fitness, we need to realize our goals can change in spite of us. I am at a point at which I have to reevaluate my running, and believe me, it isn’t by choice. My knees seem to be rebelling, which infuriates me. I am trying to do something good that will keep me mentally and physically healthy, but my body doesn’t want to cooperate.

 

For non-runners the answer is easy — don’t run. Runners understand that it just isn’t that simple. Though I haven’t always been a runner, after six years it has become part of my identity. My friends run; my husband runs; I want to run. Running is an emotional release after a challenging day at school. It’s a way to celebrate life’s little joys. It’s a way to deal with tragedy when I don’t know what else to do with myself. Running gives me confidence, strength, and pleasure. Running makes me angry, disappointed, and frustrated. I love going for a run with friends, and I love running alone because it allows me time to process whatever is happening in my life at the moment. In running I find peace. Simply put, I cannot imagine my life without it.

 

I had already decided that I wouldn’t run a spring half marathon. My plan was to let my knees rest by sticking with shorter runs. After running the Kentucky Derby Half Marathon the past four years, it will be difficult knowing my friends are there and I am not. I do, however, plan to run the Virginia Beach Rock n Roll with my step-daughter Labor Day weekend. After my past couple longer runs, that was even questionable. Once I would reach 4.5 miles, my ‘good’ knee would begin to stiffen up – IT band. It felt exactly the same as my right one did two years ago prior to surgery. I hobbled to get to 5 miles (I’m not sure why I have to end on an even number), and ended up disappointed that I couldn’t go further.

 

I am currently reading Tales from Another Mother Runner by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea. It is their third book together, and since I loved the first two, I knew this would be worth my time. One of the essays struck a chord. The woman had knee problems. Ahhh…a sister in pain. She began inserting walking into her runs, and was able to complete her runs. Even though the thought of walking part of a long run, or God forbid, a race, goes against my prideful spirit, I knew I had to try something, or I’d never be able to run long distance again. Yesterday was my experiment.

 

It was going to be a warm sunny day, so I was really looking forward to the run. I had to mentally prepare myself to walk. I know myself well enough to know that if I weren’t disciplined, I would try to run as far as I could, and then I would end up in pain and angry. I decided to run the first two miles, and then walk 2/10 of each mile for the rest of my ‘run’. I didn’t know how far I would go because I just didn’t know how my knees would hold up. I had in the back of my head that I wanted to try to go seven miles because my friends who are running the Derby Half were running seven (again, my brain works in mysterious ways). I found that inserting the walking made the outing enjoyable. I looked forward to the breaks, enjoyed the beautiful weather, and didn’t stress over my distance. Each time I took off running, I knew I only had to run 8/10 mile. I ended up going eight miles – with no knee pain. I ran 6.8 miles, and walked 1.2; that’s further than I’ve been able to run in months. Even with the walking, I averaged an 11 minute pace, which isn’t that bad. Did pride step in? Of course. I was hopeful that no one would see me walking; afterall, I’m supposed to be a runner. In the end, I was very content with my effort. And I was figuring out what finish time I would have if I did that at Louisville. I think my husband might just kill me if I suddenly decide to jump in the race because he hasn’t been doing long runs. But we do have a hotel room booked. Just in case.


This is when I have to ask myself, what are my intentions in regard to running. To stay healthy? Or to compete? To spend time doing something I love? Or to beat people? The responsible answer would be that I intend to stay healthy while doing what I love, and I do, but I also want to run well. I want to have respectable times. I want to PR. In short races, I want to place in my age group. Is that going to be possible? I just don’t know. I would rather walk some if it will allow me to continue running, but my pride will have to adapt to this new vision of who I am as a runner.

Let the obsessing begin…

The Derby Mini is now 11 days away. The mix of emotions I am feeling ranges from excitement to fear to acceptance. Elizabeth Kuebler-Ross coined the five stages of grieving. Perhaps I can coin the five stages of pre-race jitters. I did my 11 mile training run Friday. That’s the furthest I will run in preparation for the race; this weekend I will run about seven miles. I love taper time – I’ve put in the time, and now it’s time to rest my body and stick to easy runs.

My 11-miler was a mix of positive and negative. One of my students had been asking about running with me. I didn’t think he’d follow through just because he’s a 14 year old, and typically 14 year olds don’t want to hang out after school with a grandma/teacher. I saw one of the boys at Walmart after school yesterday, and he was completely awkward. This boy was serious, so I told him I would be running slowly because I wasn’t concerned about speed; I just needed to run 11 miles. He agreed to run with me until he had to be at track practice. The kid ran six miles! He had never run more than two miles at one time, so he really didn’t know what he could do. I know him well enough to know that he would probably push through, and would not back out during a run. I really enjoyed the run. He did so well, asked a lot of questions about racing, and listened when I gave him advice. The first half of my run went quickly. I dropped my student off at the track, ran to the bathroom, drank some water, and took off for the next leg of my journey.

The second half? It didn’t go so well. My left knee, which is NOT the knee I had surgery on, began to hurt. It felt exactly like my surgery knee did when those problems started. I had to stop and stretch, and then I’d run a little more, and then I’d stop and stretch, and so on. The really frustrating part was that my endurance was awesome. Honestly, I felt like I could have kept running had my knee not hurt. My last two miles were well under a 10:00 pace, the fastest of the 11. I just need everything to work at once.

I am really not sure what will happen come race day. I have run twice since, but only three miles, so my knee was fine. I ordered new compression socks (in a lovely gray, pink, and black argyle print); I have a knee brace; and I have Ibuprofen and Celebrex. I need one good day. You should hear the conversations I have with God when I begin to have pain. I am sure we will have lots of conversations on April 19.

Now is the time I also begin planning my race attire. When I just run here in town, I might or might not match. At a race, I will match. I bought a super cute Nike running hat in a lovely pattern of pink and black, and I have a Nike light pink tank that is really soft, and I know would feel great in a race. I usually wear a skirt just because I like them (once a cheerleader?). I have some compression socks, but they don’t match the pink of my shirt, which would literally stress me out that day (hey, it’s the little things!). Who would wear hot pink socks with a soft pink tank? Not me. Do you see why this sport can get expensive? I told my [very understanding] husband that if I have to walk part of this race, I am at least going to look decent! I also ordered arm warmers. For those of you who are wondering what the hell arm warmers are and why I need them, here’s the scoop. It is usually cool when the race begins, but then it warms up, and I warm up, after a few miles. I want to wear my pink tank, but it will be chilly, so I put on arm warmers, which I can slip off when I warm up. They will (I hope) tuck nicely in my skirt, and will be much easier to take off than an extra shirt or jacket.

Music. When I first started running races, I didn’t use music because I enjoyed listening to the crowds, and then I tried music, and I ran super fast [middle-aged-runner-nana-not-so-fast-fast]. Since then, I have continued to sport earbuds. And so I am also working on my playlist. This isn’t just a matter of playing songs I like; it’s also a matter of strategically placing songs. My first song is ‘Here Comes the Sun’ because we begin at 6:30 am. I have fun songs for the first half. For the second, and hardest, half, I have songs that inspire me. I asked each of my girls to choose a song for my list that would remind me of her. I have a song for my husband, ‘I’ll Stand by You’ because he is my biggest supporter. I have a song for God, ‘How Beautiful’ to remind me that without my God and my faith, I wouldn’t be out there running. I am going to add a song for my dad, ‘Jesu’, which isn’t really a running song, but it one song I remember hearing him play on the piano and organ. Running is such a mental activity; you’d be surprised how music can inspire the legs to keep moving. I hope I get through my playlist! I made sure it’s extra-long in case I end up walking some. Or a lot.

Time to grade papers..or look up race times…I’d better grade!

17 More Days!

In my mind, that sounds ominous. I have 17 days until the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon. Only 17. I have one more long run, which if the weather cooperates, will happen this Friday after school. I would prefer to do my 11-miler Saturday morning rather than after a long day at work, but the girls have their first tennis match out of town Saturday, so Friday it is. This week I have taught four bootcamp classes in three days, and my legs are sore and tired. They  are so sore, in fact, that last night after I showered, I immediately crawled into bed. I  then texted my husband, who was still downstairs: I want to come kiss you goodnight, but my legs are too tired! They refuse to carry me. I love you to the moon and back! How pathetic is that? Seriously, I was that tired, yet, I couldn’t sleep! My body didn’t budge, but my eyes refused sleep. This was especially frustrating because I had to teach HIIT at 5:30 am.

I had planned to run four miles this evening, but – at the strong encouragement of my husband – stayed home instead. Rest is good, right? I teach bootcamp again in the morning, and we will be focusing on arms and abs, purposely avoiding power squats (that’s for my benefit, not the participants’). I might try to run a couple of miles on the treadmill before hitting the shower, but my legs might just have a different plan.

Then I will rest up for Friday. Hopefully my friend Jennifer will be running part of my long run with me. It goes so much quicker when someone is with me. I enjoy solo runs, but have done far too many in the past couple months. Because I still lack confidence in my knee and my endurance, I have hesitated to run with others much. And for some reason, this race is really personal to me, and I just want to do it on my own. Weird, huh? I am really excited for my friends who are running, especially those who will complete their first half marathon, but this race is for me – and for my friend Katie, as I previously posted. After bailing at the 8-mile mark last year, not running a single race since, and going through knee surgery, this is, perhaps, my most important race to date. Just a couple months ago, I was convinced I would never run 13.1 again; I just couldn’t do it. Then running seemed to get a little better, and I was able to run a little farther, and I decided that I have to run 13.1 again. I cannot give up what I love, until my legs refuse to move. Last year, I spent a lot of time focusing on several of my ‘newbie’ friends, and I loved it. This year it is going to take all of my focus and energy to get myself across that finish line. Once I cross, and I will even if I have to crawl or ride piggy back on someone, I will celebrate with everyone else. Lord, I hope I make it.

I said that running has gotten a little easier, but it is still so flippin’ difficult. Every single run takes so much effort right now. I am not running nearly as fast as I was a year ago, but I feel like I am putting in even more effort. We all have tough runs, but I would like to have just a few easy ones. Monday was a beautiful day, and I had looked forward to my run all day as I looked out the windows of my classroom. I was finally going to be able to run in shorts and a tank, and work up a great sweat. My legs felt like bricks. Most of the time, my first mile is tough, but then I fall into a rhythm, and it gets easier. That never happened. I had run five miles Sunday, so once I hit the three-mile mark, I stopped. I could run no further. I walked the mile back to my car, and chalked it up to a bad day…another bad day.

I have thought about goals for the race. Common sense tells me that my only goals should be to enjoy running the race (which is an incredible race with a huge crowd on a beautiful course), and to cross the finish line with my knee healthy. My husband would tell you I don’t often use common sense. The last time I finished Derby, my time was 2:04, and my last complete half marathon time was 1:59. While I know it impossible to get close to those times, I would still like to have a respectable time. And, I have been online looking at last year’s times. I always say I am not going to do that, but I always do. Always. I really have no idea what to expect. When Jackie and I ran our 10-miler, we ran about a 10:26 pace, and usually one runs faster in a race just because of the adrenaline (and because I get caught up in the crowd). If I could run a 10:00 pace, I would finish in 2:11. First, I don’t know if that is possible; second, I surely wish I could run faster. I should just finish this to prove I can run that far, and then concentrate on running faster for a fall half marathon. Will I? Do you see how there is a constant battle going on in my head? No wonder I couldn’t sleep.

My mind will be in turmoil for the next 17 days. My stomach will likely follow suit at some point, hopefully not race morning! That would be awkward. I am not a fan of porta-potties! My next few blogs will probably provide more information about the race than you care to know, but as you know, I write whatever is on my mind (not everything – you’d be shocked if you knew what all goes on in my head; it’s very cluttered in there).

Run on, Friends!

A Tough Decision

I made a deal with myself. If I could run nine miles this past weekend, I would sign up for the Derby Mini. I ran nine miles. I haven’t signed up. I just keep going back and forth and back and forth. I eeked out nine miles without walking, but at a slow pace; I averaged 11-minute miles. Last year – presurgery, pre-physical therapy – Jackie and I ran ten miles at a 9:20 pace while training. That’s super-fast for me. The last half marathon I completed, I ran a 9:09 pace – that’s smokin’ fast for this grandma! Saturday as I ran, I kept telling myself that the pace didn’t matter; I just wanted to see if I could run nine miles. I told myself (obviously, I spend far too much time in conversation with myself) that should I choose to run Derby, time would not matter. It would be awesome just to finish.

It wasn’t long ago that the idea of ever being able to run 13 miles again seemed as impossible as winning the lottery. I don’t play the lottery. Saturday, it seemed within reach. My run was difficult; I still don’t have my endurance built back up. At the four mile mark I said some not-so-nice words because I couldn’t believe I had only run four miles, and still had five to go. And then I got to five, and thought Only four more to go! I thought about the cheering crowds lining the streets of Louisville, and the drunk frat boys who always stand outside their house yelling as we run past. I thought about the little kids holding their sweaty hands out for high-fives as we trot by. I thought about my husband waiting for me at the finish line, and the pride that would be in his eyes as I cross the line (he truly is an amazing source of support for me). I LOVE the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon! There are 18,000 runners, tons of crowd support, and a beautiful course. I want to be there, and I don’t want to be on the sidelines. But (here I go) what will happen when I run through Churchill Downs? Will I have heart palpitations as I remember that point last year when my knee finally gave up? Will I cry? Would it be really cool to run that particular race because I haven’t run a race since last year’s Derby mini, and I returned to that same race? Is my knee really ready or will I just reinjure it by pushing too far too soon?

Derbymini

I have an appointment with my gyno this week (TMI?), and I will ask for his opinion. While that might sound odd, the reason I go to this particular doctor is that he is a marathoner and triathlete. No, he isn’t an orthopedic doctor, but I trust his opinion. He helped me through the half I ran after my hysterectomy. Funny story…last year at my appointment, I was sitting on that lovely table in my stylish paper towel gown, and we started talking about the IronMan that Gary and I had gone to watch. Doc whips out his Iphone and shows me pictures of him in that IronMan! Awkward. After talking with him, and attempting a 10-miler this weekend, I will decide. I will have to because they have a cap on the race, and if I wait too long, I won’t get in. And then I’ll be pissed.

In other news, Tabata Bootcamp is becoming quite the popular class! Breanne is starting her next session, and had to add another group because there wasn’t enough room in one class. My crazy-early-morning class also filled up, so I will also be adding another group. I will be teaching two classes before school on Mondays and Thursdays, and one class on Wednesdays. I see some early bedtimes in my near future. I am really enjoying having my evenings free to be a mom. After school today I was able to get groceries and fix dinner before the girls came home from tennis practice. While that might be typical in your home, it isn’t in mine. And I don’t have to feel guilty about not working out because I did Tabata and ran two miles before school today. Who knows? Perhaps I can do a better job at keeping up with this blog.

These will make me faster!

These will make me faster!

By next week, I will post my decision. Just in case I register, I ordered some super-cool new Asics! Although I had planned to get the Cumulus, the Asics 2000 come in a neon yellow that I just love, so that’s what I bought. I bet they make me really fast! When my daughters will little, any time they got new shoes, they would take off running and swear that the shoes made them fast. Now, who wants to run ten miles with me Saturday? And feel free to comment if you have an opinion on the Derby.

The End of an Era…

Maybe it isn’t the end of an era, but it is the end of something I love. This week was my last official week of teaching Zumba. This is my second school year teaching Zumba (yes, teachers gauge time based on school years), and I have so enjoyed the opportunity to share a fun form of exercise with others, the friends I have made along the way, and the chance to dance like I know what I’m doing a couple times a week. I’ve tried to make my classes fun, while also providing a kick-ass workout for participants.  Despite all of these positives, there was one negative that over-shadowed all the good.  It is killing my knees.  [Disclaimer:  Although you probably think this picture is me, it really isn’t. My hair isn’t that long.]

zumba

I was hopeful that after surgery last fall, I could return to all the things I love with no issues. My surgery knee would hurt on occasion, but it was tolerable for awhile. Right after the first of the year, I realized I probably wouldn’t be able to teach Zumba much longer, and began making preparations to step aside.  The twisting and lateral movement are just too hard on my already weakened knees. My first love is running, and I really want to get back to being able to run half marathons, so the decision was made to give up my classes. It wasn’t an easy one; I wavered for the last two months. This week, my knees hurt like crazy during class, so I knew I had made the right decision.  It’s still sad, but I will move on. I am, fortunately, still able to teach Tabata Bootcamp, and am adding a new HIIT class on Wednesday mornings. Between teaching those classes, helping out Biggest Loser teams, and running, I will be busy.  I also had a couple of students ask me if I would help them run, which, of course, I am thrilled to do.  Who knows? I might even hit a few of my husband’s spinning classes (but I hear they are really hard).

About running…I am slowly scratching my way back to being a runner. I have really struggled this winter (this long, crappy winter) because I just don’t want to run in the cold. In previous winters, I have really enjoyed cold-weather running. Heck, I felt like a bad-ass out there in 20 degree weather, the wind ripping through my hair, sleet smacking at my face. Not this winter.  My bad-ass has been on a treadmill.  I have been on the treadmill more this winter than I have the past five years. I just don’t want to bundle up when I can wear shorts and a tank and work up a good sweat indoors.

Someday spring will arrive, and I will be ready to hit the streets.  I need to – I am contemplating running the Kentucky Derby Mini in April. Honestly, I don’t know if I can do it because my knees still hurt, but I am going to attempt to train, and see what happens. If I am not extremely confident that I can finish, I will back out.  I won’t go through the trauma I went through last year when my knee screamed at me to give it up. I won’t sit on a street corner in Louisville, freezing cold and crying while I wait for a ride.  I won’t get in a elevator after hobbling back into the hotel, and be faced with an 80 year old man with a finisher’s medal around his neck, while I go home empty-handed. I know that I have no chance to PR; that won’t be my goal. If I run, I will run with my friend Debbie, who will be running her first half marathon. If I run, I will finish.  I won’t be stupid and continue running if my knee begins to hurt (Lord, I hope I don’t eat those words).  I will walk if I have to (Lord, I hope I don’t have to).  And I won’t be jealous of those who PR (Yes, yes, I will be jealous, but I will smile).

What are you doing to stay healthy?  Exercising?  Eating veggies?  Meditating?  Hoping your skinny friends get fat?  Go out and live life!  If you need a mentor, there are lots of us who are willing to help.  Fitness has changed our lives.  We are not only healthier and happier, but we have some amazing friends whom we have come to know through our fitness endeavors.

run

 

Another Snow Day…

UGH!  It’s Thursday, and we’ve been to school a little over one-half day this week.  We are now going to be going after Memorial Day, and from experience, I know the kids are finished long before the holiday weekend.  Keeping them on task after Memorial Day is like herding cats.  Teachers should probably start stocking up on Motrin now.  I have cleaned my house, finished laundry (or so I thought until I discovered the stockpile of towels the girls were hoarding), and spent several hours on school work.  I can’t leave my house because our hill is covered in ice, and I won’t even walk down it, let alone drive.  And so here I sit.  Writing about nothing particular.  Just writing.

I am not going to go into my rant on Indiana’s government wanting to change our constitution to forever ban same-sex marriage, but I do want to let you know that almost 2000 people viewed my blog when I posted about gay marriage.  To put that in perspective, the most read blog I wrote prior to that post was about the Ironman, and it had 270 views.  Thanks to all of you who shared the post, and helped educate others that this is a real cause affecting real Hoosier families.  Normal, Christian families.

Oh………I lied.  I read something that annoyed me this morning.  The Russian president, who is clearly an ass, said they would not protest gay athletes, but that they – the gay athletes – should ‘stay away from the children’.  Really?  Because homosexuals are always perverts?  This makes me sick.  Just because a person is gay is absolutely no indication that he or she would be a child predator, no more than being heterosexual makes a man a rapist.  Why was Russia chosen to host the Olympics?  Thus far I have seen nothing positive that supports their selection.

Fitness.  I am really working to return to my former running self.  Last night I made tremendous progress toward that goal.  Since knee surgery in August, I have struggled to regain fitness and lose the weight I gained.  These snow days don’t help because I am stuck at home with my new Kitchenaid mixer screaming at me from the kitchen, We can make cookies!  Breads!  Cake!  Let’s stir things up!  I have ignored the calls so far (if you don’t count the mashed potatoes I made last night), but I don’t know that I can resist today.  Perhaps if I focus on last night’s run and the progress I made, I can ignore my mixer.

Last night I accompanied my husband to the gym; I was anxious just to get out of the house.  I planned to run three or four miles on the treadmill while he taught spinning.  That distance has pretty much been my max the past couple of months, and for anyone who has run on a treadmill, you know there’s a limit to how long one can tolerate the boredom.  I much prefer running outside, but this winter has made that nearly impossible.  And so I hit the ‘mill.  Everbody’s is busy on Wednesday evenings, so there were people around to chat with, and I had my playlist cranked up.  Someday I am going to forget I am not alone and bust out singing.  Last night I just mouthed some of the lyrics (I don’t think any sound came out), which I am sure could have made a great video.  As I listened and chatted and watched ESPN, I just kept running and running and running….six miles I ran!  I don’t know that I have ever made it six miles on a treadmill.  It might not be a big deal to many runners, but it gave me hope that I might be able to continue to increase my distance, which just a month ago seemed impossible.  I was resigned to just getting in short little runs to get my running fix.  Half marathons?  A thing of the past.  Today I think that I just might be able to once again run 13.1, maybe not as fast, but just finishing would be a thrill.  Stay tuned…

Oooh…There it is!  I love my mixer!  Listen…it’s calling me….

About Running…

This is how I felt after my first run of 2014!  The only thing missing is a dialogue bubble with cuss words in it!

This is how I felt after my first run of 2014! The only thing missing is a dialogue bubble with cuss words in it!

I went for a five-mile run yesterday to end 2013.  Because I hadn’t run much in about nine months, I was determined to get a decent run in.  I have surely missed my running life.  It wasn’t a terrible run, but it was difficult.  My stomach didn’t feel great, my right knee (the one I had surgery on) hurt a little, and my endurance has not yet returned because I simply haven’t run enough.  At four miles my left knee began to hurt, and I recognized the symptoms.  I had that same tightness behind my knee that I had when my right knee began to bother me.  I had to stop and walk at about 4.5 miles, and then hobbled through to be certain I ‘ran’ five miles.

When things got really tough and I became frustrated, I thought about two young people from our community, Sarah and Jacob, who were both involved in accidents in November, and both are relearning to walk.  I thought about how difficult it must be for those two athletes to start all over learning to do what they had done for years.  They have both worked so diligently, and have faced so many obstacles.  I cannot begin to imagine the range of emotions they have gone through.  And so I pushed on and ran.

I also have two friends who are currently battling breast cancer, Larky and Pam.  As I struggled along, I thought about their battles, and the fear and frustration they must feel.  I thought about their positive attitudes and the strength they’ve shown.  And my pain seemed mild.

I finished that run, and though the realization hit me that I will probably never run another half marathon, I was grateful for those few miles.  I so enjoy being out in the fresh air, having undisturbed time, and feeling strong as I run along in solitude.

I decided to go for a run again today.  I had ended 2013 with a run, and I wanted to begin 2014 the same way.  The very first step brought pain in my surgery knee, but it was tolerable.  I hadn’t run up Mozart Hill since March, and that was today’s goal.  I had decided that even if I had to walk, I was going to make the attempt.  I ran up that monster of a hill, and I did not walk.  As I rounded the corner at the top, I felt that sense of exhilaration that comes with running.

And then I hit the two-mile mark, and the pain in my left knee hit.  I hobbled a little further, while a thousand thoughts swam through my head.  Why?  With our new insurance, I can’t even afford to go to the ortho.  My surgery knee isn’t perfect, so I wouldn’t go through another surgery anyway.  Why can older people run with no knee issues, and I can’t?  I am going to have to stop running.  What the hell will I do?  When will I see my friends?  I run with my friends.  That is what we all do, and I won’t be a part of that any longer.  Crap.  I walked for a couple of blocks, and then ran again so I could at least get three miles in.  I was so angry when I finished.  I have fought my right knee for a year now, I didn’t complete one race in 2013, and had looked forward to a decent return to running in 2014, but it seems that isn’t to be.

I truly feel that I am going continue to have problems, and though I don’t want to give up running, I might find myself with no choice.  And that sucks.  I wish there were alternatives that appealed to me, but right now, there aren’t any.  Gary has talked about getting more into biking, but thus far, I have no interest.  It takes so long to burn the number of calories I can burn running.  I enjoy my Tabata Bootcamp, but I need cardio, too.  Zumba is a blast, but honestly, it’s taking a toll on my knees.  I guess this saga will continue, and I will work to find what will work with my body.  I will also whine.  A lot.

Here we go, 2014!  Please be kind to me!

Three Months Post-Op

I can’t believe it’s been three months since my knee surgery.  When I was still in pain, time seemed to move at a snail’s pace, but lately the weeks are flying by.  With each new week, my knee and leg feel stronger.  If I have a hard workout, I might still limp, but I don’t mind because I am so happy to have worked out.

Today I ran six miles!  I haven’t run that far in so long,; it felt awesome to be out on a gorgeous fall day, running with a good friend.  This good friend, Debbie, asked me to run a relay marathon in December, and since running a relay is on my running bucket list, I decided to try it.  Besides, having an upcoming race keeps me motivated to work runs into my busy schedule.  Debbie has only run six miles a few times, and I hadn’t since April, so this was an important run for both of us.  We started out fast – too fast – and slowed a little each mile.  Since speed was not our goal, our time did not matter.  I need to build up my endurance before I can even think about speed………….I can type that, and in my head I know it, but admittedly, on short runs I am trying to run faster.  I know it isn’t smart, but I want to get back to where I was, and I don’t want to take the long, arduous route.  I just want to be there.

Debbie and I finished strong!  We ran three miles, and then walked about four blocks, and then we ran the last three.  It was a great run!  Debbie hasn’t been running long, but I think I see a half marathon in her future.  I don’t know if she realizes how convincing I can be, but I am going to work on her.

I am thrilled to be running again.  It has become so much a part of who I am, and life without running seemed a little empty.  Running makes me feel strong; it makes me feel confident; and it makes me feel calm.  It also helps me keep my weight down, and right now I need to run about ten miles a day.  I expected to gain weight after surgery, but I also expected to lose it when I got back into my exercise routine.  That hasn’t happened.  In the four weeks that I have been back to working out five or six days a week, I haven’t lost a pound.  Not one freakin’ pound.  How is that even mathematically possible?  I know I am burning up calories; sometimes I work out two or three times a day.  I am not eating any more than I did after surgery.  I didn’t even buy Halloween candy (which I love).  It is incredibly frustrating.  This week is going to be better.   Those of you who attend my Zumba classes know that means your classes will be kick-ass!

I was reminded this week, once again, of how precious life is, and how it can change in an instant.  Embrace life.  Take care of your health, if not for yourself, do it for your family; set an example for your kids and grandkids.  Love deeply your friends and family.  And tell them.  Let the little annoyances go, and appreciate their unique personalities.  Live in the moment.  Don’t dwell on the past (you can’t change it anyway), and don’t fret about tomorrow – plan for it.  Notice God’s gifts every single day.  Hear the birds, notice the colors of fall, smell the brisk air.  Hug your kids.  Always, hug your kids.  Teach them to be kind.  I want my girls to be smart and successful, but more than anything, I want them to be kind.  I want them to love God and to be thankful for what they have.  And whatever you do, do it well.  Take every opportunity to make someone’s day, whether it be helping unload groceries, or just calling someone to say hello.  Think about who you want to be…and be that person.

Peace….

Running and Being a Kid…

Kassie Jackie Me

My mind works in mysterious ways.  I can jump between subjects in a conversation faster than my listener can keep up.  In my head, I have gone from one thing to another, and it makes perfect sense.  To the average listener (or my husband), I am sure what comes out of my mouth seems completely random.  That’s how my mind was working last night.

The two ladies pictured with me are my very best friends, Jackie and Kassi.  We grew up three houses from one another (Jack and Kass are sisters), and have been through all the ups and downs of life together the past 35 years.  Wow.  35 years.   That’s a long time to maintain a friendship – how very blessed we are!

When I began this running journey, Jackie decided to join me.  Together we pushed beyond what we thought were our limits.  Together we crossed the finish line of our first half marathon holding hands.  Once we began building mileage, and our love affair with running began to be noticed by others, Kassi took up running.  She quickly built her endurance and speed, and the threesome was begun.  Where we used to run the streets of Tell City as obnoxious teens, we were now running as fit and not-so-obnoxious moms.  Our favorite and most sacred run was our Wednesday Night Religion Run.  Kassi’s and Jackie’s kids had religion every Wednesday night, so they had a free hour to run.  We met at St. Paul Church, and managed four to six miles.  We have run in bitter cold and sleet; we have run in rain; we have run in blistering heat.  There wasn’t much we let get in the  way of our ritual run.  When I was asked to join the church choir, and I said I couldn’t because I run on Wednesday nights when they practice, I was asked why I couldn’t just run another night.  Sorry, Wednesday Night Religion Run is a priority, and God understands because the word ‘religion’ is in the name of that particular run.

Because of my knee issues and eventual surgery, I had not been able to run on Wednesdays since late March or early April.  I desperately missed my friends.  On those runs we have laughed at our own stupid jokes (we get each other’s humor), and we have cried because of some trial one of us was facing.  We have almost gotten hit by cars, and we have cheered for ourselves at the end of a great run.  We have walked when one of us is tired or hurting, and we have sprinted when Jackie commands us to finish strong.  We talk about our kids, our loves, our jobs, our poop, our snot, and other not-to-be-blogged-about topics.  Do you understand why I would miss these runs?  Why I did not want to give them up?  But I had to heal.  I couldn’t keep up.

I began running again about three weeks ago.  I started out running a slow mile.  The next week I ran two and then three miles.  Last week I ran four miles, and finally on Sunday I ran five miles.  After thinking I was going to be starting from scratch, being able to run five miles was an absolute thrill.  Tuesday I took off for a run after school, and it was my first pain-free run in nearly a year.  I could feel the runner in me emerging, and she was ready!  I texted Jackie and Kassi, and told them I was ready for Wednesday.   On Wednesday, October 23, I ran the Wednesday Night Religion Run with my friends.  It felt amazing, and by that I don’t so much mean the run; I mean just being with my friends and talking and laughing.  I know I am not completely healed, and will have to be careful to not push too hard, but I now have hope that my running life will resume, and I will once again be running the streets of our fair town with my friends.

Here’s where the random thoughts run amok….I was driving home from my run, all giddy and emotional, and I thought about Kass and Jack.  I thought about how we get to reminisce about our childhood.  We played outside all through junior high and high school.  We played hide and seek in our neighborhood until we graduated, and we rode bikes, and did a few things we shouldn’t have done (that’s on the not-to-be-blogged-about list).  In the summer we sat in Kassi’s and Jackie’s backyard with Sun-In in our hair (or lemon juice), playing Scrabble.  On snow days we played Monopoly and watched movies or found a vacant hill upon which to sled.   Jackie taught Kassi and me how to drive (I was apparently a better student because Kassi was always running into something).  Kassi and I ate popcorn and watched the Love Boat on Saturday nights.  We got all of the neighborhood kids together and played truth or dare, or we just sat outside and threw rocks at the bats by the street lights (which doesn’t seem very smart now).  Thinking about all of this on my drive home, led me to wonder what today’s kids will store in their memories.  How many teens do you see ‘playing’ outside?  They are so wrapped up in video games and computers that I wonder what memories they will share with their friends?  I find that sad.   We had such a fun neighborhood, and most of us are still friends today.   That’s where my thoughts stopped – just wondering about kids today.  I hope they are making worthwhile memories and taking advantage of their young, healthy bodies.   I hope their only memories aren’t of avatars and shooting and stealing cars on some stupid video game.  I hope they can sit down and have an actual conversation with their friends and not purely rely on text messages.

And you?  You’re not too old to continue making wonderful memories with your friends and family.  Get out and do something with them.  Go for a hike and enjoy the beautiful fall foliage.  Play kickball or shoot hoops.  Step away from the TV and computer and really live.  You only have one shot at life; make it memorable!

Peace and Love…

This photo has nothing to do with my blog, except that he is my gorgeous grandson, and I plan to make lots of memories with him!

This photo has nothing to do with my blog, except that he is my gorgeous grandson, and I plan to make lots of memories with him!

I Ran Today…

…and I mean really ran!  The last time I blogged, which was not long ago, I was running a slow mile.  Today I ran five miles, without walking, at a 10:07 pace!!  I was pretty much to the point that I regretted my surgery, and felt I’d never be able to run again.  I just couldn’t accept that, so I kept plugging along.  That first week, I ran twice, a mile both times.  I was happy to do anything, but longed to run farther.

Last weekend my family was in Lake Tahoe, which just so happens to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  The lake is just incredible, and the mountains and trees make a perfect backdrop.  The homes are all made of cedar or stone, and fit right into the landscape, and the air is crisp and clear.  And the one thing I wanted to do while we were in Tahoe was run.  Whenever I travel, I love to go out for a run because it’s such a great way to experience new places.  We miss so much when we just drive through new areas.  When we get out and run, we can take time to take in our surroundings, smell the fresh air, and embrace the opportunity to just be in the moment.  Because my knee still hurt and I hadn’t done any substantial running, I was afraid I would be unable to run while we were gone, but I was certainly going to try!

Friday morning Gary and I got up well before the crack of dawn to head out on a run.  It was 21 degrees – a brisk morning to say the least.   We had packed our cold-weather running gear, so we suited up and headed out.  It was dark, but we took off toward the lake.  As we were running along the main road that runs alongside Lake Tahoe, the sun began to emerge over the mountains.  Ahhhh….those are the moments I absolutely love.  We stopped to peer out over the lake, take in the scenery, and just thank God for the chance to experience his handiwork.  That morning, with my husband nearby, I ran just over two miles for the first time in months.  I ran those miles in Lake Tahoe.

The next morning, Gary was going to play golf with his son, so I planned to run on my own.  I waited until it was light, and took off along the same route.  This time, the sun glistened on the lake, and the snow-capped mountains shone in the background.  I was in awe.  I looked at the detail in the homes I passed, enjoyed the magnificent pine trees that claim this land as their own, and breathed in the cold, clean Tahoe air.  I didn’t run fast; I was really too busy taking in the beauty.  And there is the little issue with elevation.  I didn’t notice it being too much of an issue, but when we got back to Indiana, I noticed it was easier to breathe while running.  That morning, I ran three miles.  Three beautiful miles.  My knee was pretty sore when I stopped, but I really didn’t care.  I had run in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  What’s a little pain?

When I returned to Indiana, I wanted to be sure to continue to run.  I went out alone Wednesday after school.  My knee hurt.  A lot.  And I was angry.  I cursed as I limped along, and felt that I had, once again, taken several steps back.  I am not sure how far I ran that day, but I think it was between two and three miles.  Friday I tried it again.  My sister/friend Jackie was free, and I was determined to run with her.  We went out and ran four miles, with a bit of walking in between.  I cannot begin to express how wonderful it was to be back out pounding the pavement with my friend.   As much as I’ve missed running, I’ve missed my running friends even more.  I love these ladies, and life just didn’t seem right when I didn’t see them regularly.

Today, Sunday, was a picture-perfect running day.  By afternoon, it was in the 60s, and the sun was beckoning me to get out there and soak up its rays.  I went out with no real plan.  I had hoped to be able to run at least three miles, but I really just wanted to run and enjoy the day.  I had eaten two pieces of gooey butter cake and drank two diet soft drinks, which can often be a recipe for disaster (or at least stomach issues).  I put on my favorite playlist and my new shoes (Did I mention I bought myself some gorgeous new Asics?  New shoes can be very motivating.), and took off on one of my favorite routes.  My knee didn’t feel great, but when the little voice in my phone informed me that I had hit the first mile, and I had run it in 10:03, I just knew it was going to be a good day.  I began to tire in the third mile (I found I got out of running shape really fast), but I wanted to get to at least three miles without walking.  Once I got there, I decided to try to get to four miles without walking. I hadn’t yet done that, and knew it would be another major post-surgery accomplishment.  I was just about to the turn-off for four miles, when I decided to keep going.  I knew I could always stop and walk should it be necessary, so why not?  It was such a great day, and no one was home, so I had the time.  I kept going, and when I realized I could make it to five miles, I was ecstatic – almost to the point of tears.  Today, I ran five miles without stopping.  Today, I knew I was back.  Today, I thanked God for helping me heal, and for giving me the drive and determination to keep trying.  It would have been very easy to give up.  When I have tried to run and my knee hurt like hell, I could have easily given up running.  But I can’t.  Running has become part of who I am.  I love pushing myself to run just a little farther.  I love the feeling of accomplishment I have when finishing a run.   I love the time with my friends when we can talk about absolutely anything, and know it’ll go no further.  I love the time alone to process my thoughts and to remember how very blessed I am.  I love the calorie burn running provides.

Another thing I love is the support of the running/fitness community.  Without all of you, I might have given up.  The running/fitness community is an amazing group that supports the very best, and encourages everyone.  We get such a natural high from our fitness endeavors, and we want to share that with anyone who will listen to us.   When Gary and I began running, I kept expecting to quit.  I always had.  I would get on an exercise kick for a few weeks, and then just quit.  The past four and a half years have changed our lives.  It isn’t an exercise kick, it’s a lifestyle change.  I cannot imagine my life without fitness.  My running has led me to become a Zumba instructor, which I love, and most recently, a Tabata Bootcamp trainer.  Through running and fitness, we have made the best friends.  I am blessed to have my incredible husband by my side through all of this, and to have such amazing friends who have never given up on me.

Did I mention I ran five miles today?

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