Running Newbies

Friday evening, I needed to do a long run, and I had to do it by myself. Most of my running friends would be running the Kentucky Derby Half or Full Marathon the next morning; I would not. I had accompany a group of students to Academic Bowl, so I had to opt out of the race. Given the rainy weather that morning and that my team placed 2nd, I was happy to be at the academic competition.

After working all day, I didn’t really feel like listening to music as I ran, and didn’t really want to listen to a podcast, which is usually what gets me through solo runs, so I had plenty of time to think. I spent some time thinking about…running. I thought about what advice I would give new runners, even though some days I still – after seven years – feel like a new runner. It was then I decided my next blog would be an advice blog. This advice has absolutely no medical or professional standing; it’s based upon my personal experience, and on the stupid mistakes I’ve made over the years. So, below you’ll find my advice, or in most cases just random thoughts, on running.

  1. Running sucks. But then it’s great, and then it’ll suck again. Seriously. I’ve heard many people who try running say that they just don’t enjoy it. I hated running for the first six months, but when I finished a run or met another goal, I loved it. I felt accomplished. I felt invincible. I still have runs that are really hard, and I don’t enjoy the run itself. When I push through and finish the run, I feel proud that I stuck it out despite how difficult it was. My favorite mantra is ‘If it were easy, everyone would do it.’ Running is not easy. Stick with it and it will be worth it!
  2. Body parts are going to hurt. When I began running, my youngest daughter was young enough that she was happy to massage my legs and feet – thank goodness! I was sore for months. I don’t have any running friends who haven’t had some sort of running-related injury. I’ve had knee issues that led to surgery, but I still run. Those friends who have had injuries? They still run. Runners are pissed that they can’t run when they are injured, but they don’t give up. Take care of yourself, and take a break if necessary, but don’t give up. And the chiropractor will be your friend. Find a good one!
  3. Don’t be apprehensive about signing up for a race. I’ve run nine half marathons, a few 10Ks, and a whole bunch of 5Ks. My first race was a 5K, and my goal was to not be last. It was in July, and it was hilly; I was prepared for neither. I ran that race, and I was not last. I wasn’t fast, but I finished. When you run in a race, no matter the distance, you will see people of all shapes, sizes, and speeds. No one cares how fast or slow you go, as long as you keep going. You need to walk? No one cares. You cross the finish line last? No one cares. Think about how many people never cross a finish line in their lives. The support and camaraderie of the running community is amazing. We all started somewhere, and everyone appreciates the effort it takes just to get out there. And races are fun! Spending time with a group of people with a similar interest is very rewarding. Some of my best running memories are of races that were particularly hard. I ran the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon with my niece Erin, and it was 15 degrees at the start (and finish if I remember correctly). We were cold, but running my niece’s first half with her was so worth it. This past month I ran the Hoosier Half Marathon in Bloomington with another niece, Emily; it was her first half. And, despite it being April, there was about a 20 degree windchill that day. It was miserably cold. Again, sharing my niece’s first half marathon with her was worth freezing my tush off (but I did begin to wonder if I should stop running with my nieces).
  4. When my husband and I began running, we thought it would be a cheap form of exercise. Do not fool yourself. Running is not cheap. Plan on spending at least $100 on shoes, which will need to be replaced every few months. One thing we decided early on was that we had to take care of our feet. I’m very picky about what I wear. I have to be completely comfortable or I will obsess when I run. Chafing is serious, so the right shorts, shirt, and bra matters. I’ve chafed when wearing certain shirts. On that recent Friday run, I actually chafed on my inner thighs, and I was wearing my favorite running shorts. The only reason for chafing that I could come up with is that I’ve gained a few pounds, and now my inner thighs rub. What the hell?! Rather than lose that weight, I bought new shorts. It was easier. Socks. Good running socks are expensive, but gosh, they are worth it. My husband kind of scoffed when I first told him he should get some better socks. He didn’t think socks mattered. Once he tried them, he found out I was right (duh).
  5. The benefits you’ll reap from running go far deeper than health and weight loss. Of course, any type of exercise will help you get healthier, and running torches calories. But the mental impact of running is even better. Running makes me happy. I can have a terribly stressful day at school (I do teach eighth graders), and when I go out for a run, that stress seems to leave my body in the form of sweat. I can process my problems, think about my students, plan lessons, or just think about my blessings. Running has given my confidence in every area of my life. If, in my forties, I can run 13.1 miles, I can pretty much do anything I work for, or at least I’m willing to try.
  6. While running, I have laughed, talked out problems, listened to friends’ joys and trials, and cried. I have run when I am celebrating, and I have run when I am mourning. I’ve run when I needed to be alone, and I’ve run when I needed the comfort of my friends. I’ve run to see how fast I can go, and I’ve run to raise money for St. Jude. I’ve run for myself, and I’ve run for others. Finding your reason, even if that reason changes, is critical. If you don’t have a ‘why’, you won’t have the will. When I started running, it was because I was out of shape and needed to get fit. Now I run to stay in shape, and because it’s become who I am.
  7. Running friends are the best friends! Just about all of the friends I spend time with are runners. I have wonderful non-running friends, but we don’t really spend time together. I’m not one to just go out with friends for an evening, but I will go for a run with my friends. On a run, we can talk about anything. We can share our most embarrassing stories, our heartaches, and our joys. Or we can fall into cadence side-by-side and not talk at all (that really doesn’t happen very much). I truly love my running friends, and value their love and support. I’m proud of their accomplishments, and hope I can always be a source of support for them. They keep me accountable. Even when I don’t feel like running, a text from one of them can get me out the door.
  8. Read running materials. Subscribe to Runner’s World or Women’s Running, order books about running. They are very motivational and can offer some super advice. Ask lots of questions. Runners LOVE to talk about running! But be sure you have lots of time because we have lots to say!
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See ya 2013!

I always write an Old Year/New Year post, and it’s typically long, jumbled, and possibly somewhat boring, but it’s also my way of processing the old year, and welcoming what’s to come.  So, if you’re sitting at home, avoiding laundry and housework, and need a reprieve from the daily chaos, read on.  What follows is a wrap-up of random thoughts.  Here we go…

  • Sunday, as I was waiting for my hair color to work its magic, I transferred birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates from my 2013 calendars to my 2014 calendars (one of which I bought for half price because I waited until the last minute).  As I was carefully writing in the upcoming events, I thought about how wonderful it is that each January, we get the opportunity to reflect on the past year, and start all over with a new year.  I don’t really make resolutions, but I do have a few goals.  I will share those at some random point in this blog.
  • 2013 was filled with both blessings and frustrations for us.  Health-wise, it was a tough year.  Last spring, I had the flu, and stomach bug, and then six weeks worth of eye infections.  The entire year I dealt with knee problems that resulted in surgery in August.  It isn’t completely healed, but I am hopeful that it will continue to get stronger, the pain will continue to lessen, and eventually I will return to my running routine in 2014.  Gary had to have hernia surgery, and Addison had (and continues to have) foot problems.  Because of changes to our health insurance (that are infuriating), my rates have doubled, AND we went from a $500 deductible to a $3000 deductible in 2014, so I pray for good health because we can’t afford to be sick.  We will limit trips to the doctor to dire emergencies, and suffer through all other illnesses.  We are educated, middle-class working people who can no longer afford to go to the doctor.  There’s something wrong with that.
  • Blessings…We added two members to our family in 2013!  Gary’s son Bryce was married to Krista in October.  It was an amazing weekend in Lake Tahoe.  Krista is a beautiful, intelligent, kind, and adventurous young woman, and we are thrilled to welcome her.  We also welcomed a new grandson in December.  Rhett Cail was born December 15, and we met him the following weekend.  He is a beautiful little boy just like his brother Layne and his cousin Gabe.

A Perfect Lake Tahoe Wedding

A Perfect Lake Tahoe Wedding

  • Rhett Wayne Cail December 15, 2013

    Rhett Wayne Cail
    December 15, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 2013 was a year of travel for Gary and me.  We went to Virginia Beach, Chicago, Atlanta, Kansas, and Lake Tahoe, and we added some short trips to Indy, Northern Indiana, Louisville, and Nashville.  We are fortunate that our family has chosen great vacations spots in which to live.  We won’t be traveling as much in 2014, but are grateful for the experiences we had.  In our eleven years together, Gary and I have had some awesome trips.  Most included the girls, some were just the two of us.  I am so grateful that we enjoy being together and have had some great opportunities.  I look forward to many more!
  • We also added to our family by hosting an exchange student from Germany.  Benita was already in Tell City and a student at our high school.  She had been placed with a couple who had no kids at home, and was new to our town. Because they knew no one, they wouldn’t let Benita do anything with anyone.  The poor girl was miserable.  She came to stay with us in November, and has truly been a blessing.  We have learned a lot about Germany, have enjoyed lots of chocolate, and have loved getting to know this amazing girl who, at only 16, chose to move away from her family for a year to experience America.  She will be with us until the end of May, and I already dread telling her good-bye.  On the bright side, with any luck we will one day visit her in Germany.
Our day in Nashville

Our day in Nashville

  • Along with my knee issues came weight gain.  As of this morning, I am within one pound of my pre-exercise-running-Tabata-healthier-eating weight from 2009.  I knew I would gain weight when I had surgery and could not exercise for six weeks.  After four plus years of exercising four to seven days a week, it was inevitable.  But I also thought that once I jumped back into my workout routines, the pounds would melt away.  They didn’t.  Not. One. Pound.  Finally, when December hit, I decided to not worry about it until after the holidays.  Given my love of baking – and eating what I bake – I knew it was pointless to try to shed weight during the best eating month of the year.  And so I gained another few pounds.  Right now, I am so disgusted with myself.  I worked so hard to get in shape and get to my ideal weight, and now I have to start all over.  My clothes don’t fit, I feel gross, and working out is hard.  Because I am so short, an extra eight pounds makes a huge difference.  I have two new dresses I can’t even wear until I lose the weight because they accentuate my belly flab.  Since they are winter dresses, I am going to have to make progress quickly.  Gary and I went grocery shopping Sunday and bought only healthy food.  I threw away the chocolate caramel cake that we left, gave away cookies, and refrained from baking more (even though I am dying to use my new Kitchenaid Mixer).  I have to get a grip.  I also hope to add more running to my routine because it seems to help me keep my weight down better than any other form of exercise.  I have been teaching five classes a week at the gym for the past two months, so I really haven’t had time to run as much as I like.  Enough on that – I will keep you posted.
I NEED TO RUN!

I NEED TO RUN!

  • Another goal for 2014 is to be more in the present.  I spend too much time on Facebook, and need to spend that time reading a book or chatting with my family.  I completely enjoy Facebook because many of my friends and family members live away, and it is a great way to keep up.  I love seeing their pictures, sharing my pictures, and being motivated by the fitness groups to which I belong.  But I love my family more.  I know it won’t be easy, but I will cut back on computer time, or at least spend some of that time keeping up with my blogs rather than mindlessly scrolling through Facebook.
  • I want to get some bills paid off.  I am still working on my hospital bills from August, so that is my first goal.  I also have some added credit card debt from Christmas, so that’ll be next.  I am going to keep my checkbook balanced and stick with my budget.  We finally took a leap and got rid of our home phone, and I have looked for other ways to cut monthly bills.  I think I have scaled back all I can (without causing an uprise in our family).
  • I want to nurture friendships and gently let go of relationships that cause stress.  I value my friends, and would do anything for them.  I pride myself on being a good listener, keeping confidences, and being honest.  I expect the same in return.  I am blessed with some amazing friends, and hope I never disappoint them.  I have also learned that even at our age, there are still those who choose friends based on their social statuses, what benefits they will gain from those friendships, and how it looks to others.  I care about none of that.  I choose my friends based on their character, their sense of humor, and how they treat people.  And my life is so much better because of it!

Friends!

Friends who would stand in the pouring rain to support one another!

Friends who would stand in the pouring rain to support one another!

  • Life is a gigantic lesson, and I believe we need to keep on listening and learning until we take our last breaths.  While we need to know where we stand, we also need to listen because sometimes our opinions can change.  We need to be accepting of others, and gentle with our words.  We need to let go of relationships that are no longer healthy, and hang on tightly to those that matter.  We need to love everyone, but that doesn’t mean we have to like everyone.  But we need to make our own judgments and not judge others based upon what we hear – what ‘they’ say.
    Words to live by...

    Words to live by…

    We have to – and this is big – work to positively influence our youth.  We need to encourage them to work hard, to follow their dreams, and to know that character is just as important as intelligence.  We need to model being good citizens, talk to them about our world, and show them how to treat others.  Our children are reflections of us.  Teach them well.

Some of our influence actually worked!

Some of our influence actually worked!

I wish for all of you a happy, healthy 2014.  I hope to continue with my writing, and it would help me greatly if you would share this with your friends if you enjoy reading my random thoughts.  I would also like to add some followers.  Thanks for reading.  Happy New Year from our family to yours!

Bethany, Chris, Tamara, Krista, Bryce, Gary, Me, Addie

Bethany, Chris, Tamara, Krista, Bryce, Gary, Me, Addie

I am beautiful, strong, and wise

The picture below would be an awesome inspirational quote, but then whoever wrote it had to go and ruin it by putting ‘learnt’!  Really?  Learnt?  Apparently he or she ‘learnt’ nothing from an English teacher.  Okay, enough.  Ignore that error, and focus on the meaning.

I hear so many women put themselves down every day.  Heck, I hear thirteen year old girls put themselves down.  Face it, most of us have trouble accepting compliments; rather than just saying thank you, we have to counter with something negative: Oh, I’ve gained some weight; My hair looks terrible today; My face is a mess.  Why can’t we just say Thanks?  We need to be able to say that we are strong, even when at times we feel weak.  We need to acknowledge our beauty, without pointing out our flaws.  Do we have fears?  Sure, but we have many more fearless moments.  Admit you are wise.  The greatest lessons we learn come from our mistakes and from the difficult moments we face.  And every time we make it through those trying times, we become a little wiser (by this point, I should be a genius!).  And I hope we are all lovers – lovers of our family and friends, lovers of our jobs and hobbies, lovers  of the lives we are blessed to live.  I hope the hate we have felt and witnessed has caused us to love deeper.  And we need to laugh every single day (working with junior high students makes that one pretty easy).

Why is all of this important?  Because we are teaching our daughters, nieces, and other young girls in our lives to focus on their flaws.  We need to redefine what beauty is.  How would you describe beauty?  Perfect skin?  Long, flowing, shiny hair?   a thin body?  Or is it a smile that causes others to smile?  Is it a contagious laugh?  Is it when someone stops what she is doing to help someone else?  Is it a young woman who enters a room with confidence?   It is difficult to say, “I am beautiful.”  Try it.  Look in a mirror and say it.  Can you do it?  I might start, but then I see the wrinkles and the gray hair that’s fighting its way through.  And I notice the chub gathering around my belly.  And, crap, there are those brown age spots planting themselves on my face.  It’s easy to say all of that.  I can name every flaw on my body.  And when I do, my girls begin to find their flaws – I want them to see their beauty.

I see their kind eyes and their strong legs.  I watch as they step up to help others, and I see beauty.  I listen to Addison play the piano, and I hear my father’s beautiful notes echoing through hers.   I listen to Bethany talk about working with students, and see the joy in her face; that’s beautiful.  I see Morgan mothering her son – gorgeous.  I watch as Tamara talks with her kids and encourages them to stay true to themselves, and I witness pure beauty.  I see the pictures of Krista rock climbing in Lake Tahoe, and see her strength and courage, and I think nothing is more beautiful.  I want all of these amazing sisters to know the depth of their beauty, strength, and wisdom.  However, if they continually hear me picking apart my flaws, they will do the same.

We, all of us, have to strive to be better, while realizing we are enough.  Yes, that’s an oxymoron, but it’s one that makes perfect sense.  We should always work to learn more, to be healthy and strong, and to experience all we can.  We owe it to ourselves to become the best version of ourselves that we can.  But we also have to realize that we are enough.  We are beautiful the way we are; we are wise; we are strong.  We need to quit comparing ourselves to others, which many times makes us feel that we never quite measure up, and just try to be the best women we can be.  What makes you feel strong?  Do it.  I feel strong when I complete a good workout or have a great run.  Oddly, I feel strong when I am sore – that means I am able to work out.  What makes you feel beautiful?  My husband makes me feel beautiful, but I need to work on feeling beautiful without depending on his compliments.  I feel wise when I learn something new, whether it be in a magazine or book I read, or something I have randomly discovered.  I feel wise when I can share what I have learned.  Do what makes you feel wise.

So, since I am a teacher, I feel compelled to give you an assignment.  For the next week, give compliments.  Not just to your family or close friends, but to strangers or acquaintances.  It will make you feel good.  And, here’s the challenge, when you receive a compliment, just say thank you.  Don’t criticize yourself, and don’t give someone else credit.  Just say thank you.

You are beautiful.  You are strong.  You are wise.  Go out and show the love, face life with no fear, and laugh!  Goodnight, Beautiful Friends!
inspiration

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?

Only One (really stupid, major) Glitch…

As I posted last weekend, my husband, daughter, and I spent the long weekend visiting family and friends throughout Northern Indiana and Illinois.  It was a non-stop-cram-it-all-in kind of weekend, but I regret nothing.  Almost nothing.  The one regret I will get to in a later paragraph.

Our first stop was at Dewart Lake (well, actually it was at the outlet mall, but I know no one wants to read about our shopping excursion, no matter how great the bargains were).  Our wonderful friends, the Rectors, live at the lake.  We had a fantastic visit, and were able to see the whole family.  We talked about old times; I learned more about my father; and we caught up on what is presently going on in our lives.  Peggy, Addison, and I enjoyed sitting out on the deck watching fireworks that were being set off all around the lake.  It was a beautiful evening free from the heat and humidity of Southern Indiana.

The next morning, after a walk with my friend Missy and a little more visiting, it was time to head west.  We stopped in Hammond, my birthplace, to eat at my favorite restaurant, Miner Dunn.  The restaurant, known for their burgers, literally hasn’t changed since I moved away in 1978.  The food was excellent; the lack of cleanliness was a bit disappointing.  Regardless, I had my cheeseburger, fries, and orange sherbet. I always dip my fries in my sherbet, which my family finds odd, but I love.  Our next stop was a huge Cabella’s in Hammond.  Although I am never thrilled to go to a hunting store, I have to admit that this store was pretty cool.  There were displays of animals everywhere, and Addison and I explored the tents and took goofy pictures.  We also found a shooting game, that surprisingly, I was rather good at.

Hammond is about 30 minutes from Chicago – if there were no traffic.  That is never the case.  It took us about three hours to arrive at Erin’s apartment.  The traffic was maddening.  I get really nervous when we are not exactly sure where we are going, and when you add people yelling and flipping us off if we hesitate one second, the tension level increases at unheard of speeds.  When we did get to Erin’s place, we had to drive around almost an hour to find parking.  UGH!!!  We finally found a lot about three blocks away; by that point we were ready to pay just to be able to stop.  We got settled, and then headed to the train to meet my cousins for dinner.

Erin has only been in Chicago for about two months, but she has the transit system down.  She was able to guide us small-town tourists around with no problem.  We didn’t get to go to the pizza joint Erin had chosen, but we did get into a quaint neighborhood place.  It was wonderful to have time with my cousins.  Our time was short, only  a couple hours, but I am glad we took the time to meet up.

Saturday, Gary, Erin, and I wanted to go for a run along the lake.  I couldn’t run much because of my knee, but Erin and I managed about 1 1/2 miles running, and walked the rest.  It was a picture-perfect morning along the lake.  There were literally hundreds of people out running and biking.  I would think that would be excellent incentive to stay fit!  Next on our list was Navy Pier.  We had planned to go to the Field Museum of History, but my cousin told us we would be much too rushed since we were also going to the Cubs game.  Navy Pier was a great alternative.  We browsed a little, and then Gary, Addison, and I took a boat tour of the skyline.  It was gorgeous!  The morning was perfect, and the skyline shone in the sun.  Lake Michigan was clear and oh, so blue.  If you’ve never been to the lake, you need to visit.  It is a sight to behold.

After Navy Pier, we hit the trolley, and then the train, and headed to Wrigleyville.  We wanted to have time to eat before the game.  Erin chose an awesome diner.  Wrigleyville was wall-to-wall Cub fans – some started celebrating the victory before the game even began.  After lunch, it was time to head to Wrigley Field.

And then tragedy struck.  Okay, my stupidity struck.  Seriously.  We had our tickets that I had purchased online in early June.  I noticed that when they scanned Addison’s ticket, there seemed to be a problem.  Uh Oh.  Then there was a problem with mine.  It scanned as the wrong date.  But how was that possible?  It was possible because I BOUGHT TICKETS FOR THE JUNE PIRATES GAME AND IT WAS JULY!!!  My heart fell.  I began to sweat.  What the hell were we going to do?  I had promised the three of them this game.  Heck, it was Gary’s 10th anniversary gift.  I went to the ticket booth to see what we could do, and the only option was to purchase new tickets….another $200.  What to do?  Well, we were all dressed in our Cub gear, excited about the game, and we were going to that stupid game!  We bought new tickets, and proceeded to the gates…again.  My daughter and niece found this to be quite funny.  I had screwed up, and they enjoyed every minute of it.  We did get free Cub t-shirts as we went in (I had to point that out to everyone).  Once we found our seats, I just sat there so pissed at myself.  The only thing I could think of is that the first time I got online to look at tickets, I saw they were playing the Pirates the first weekend in July.  Little did I know that the Pirates were also in Chicago the first weekend in June.  When I got back online to order the tickets, I must have just looked up the Pirates game, and paid no attention to the date.  How I didn’t eventually notice is beyond me.  I looked at those tickets so many times.  I do tend to get in a hurry (as is evident in some of my posts), but you can bet that I will be paying extra attention from now on – if Gary ever lets me order tickets again!

So, despite my massive mistake, we had a great time at the game.  The weather was excellent; the crowd excited; and the Cubs won.  Yes, you read that correctly!  We saw two Cubs homeruns, and witnessed a Cub victory.  I can’t wait to go back (Gary will take care of ordering tickets).  The downfall (besides blowing $184 on tickets for a June game) is that I will never hear the end of this.  I probably deserve it for making fun of my family for silly things they have done.  Erin said that we just added another family story to share, and Lord knows they’ll share it!  I hate feeling stupid.

Fast forward….we left Chicago after the game and ventured on to Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Sunday we attended a retirement party for a friend of Gary’s.  It was a great afternoon, and it was really nice to meet Gary’s friends.  Addison was a trooper; she was at a party where she knew no one, and never once complained or even looked like she was bored out of her mind.  What an awesome kid!

After our whirlwind weekend, we arrived back in Tell City last night.  Now we are back to reality.  My reality will now include knee surgery on August 2.  My MRI showed arthritis behind my knee cap (the nurse said they call it ‘a more young person’s arthritis’ – I swear, she said that!), and IT band tendonitis.  Because I have done over a month of physical therapy, rested, and have had two injections, the next step is an arthroscope.  Dr. Love will clean out the arthritis and repair the IT band.  There is no convenient time to have surgery, particularly when one teaches fitness classes, but I scheduled it between a fitness conference and the start of school.  I will not be able to teach Zumba for four weeks, but that’s a small sacrifice to be able to run again.  I have babied this knee for six months, and it is time to get it fixed.  There will be no races in the near future, and certainly no half marathons this fall, but hopefully next spring I will be back in 13.1 shape.  I know it will take some serious time to build up my endurance and speed, but I am willing to put in the work.  I have such wonderful running friends, and I know they will be a great support system as I recover.

Laundry and cleaning await.  Please remember:  When ordering tickets online, don’t be an idiot.  Check the dates, time, location, and price very, very carefully.  Don’t give your family and friend any material to use against you at all future gatherings.  Be smart, folks!

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