For the first time since my mom died, I feel the Christmas spirit. This will be the third Christmas without her and we didn’t even spend her last Christmas together — well, we did virtually on the phone and via Skype (I also got drunk on white wine surrounded by my extended family.) We had our final Christmas less than a week before she passed away in January 2012. An impromptu visit after a gym session one afternoon turned out to be the final day we’d see each other. The Universe has been kind to me. It gave me that day.
Most of my writing this year was in a notebook or two – stream of consciousness need to barf out the emotion somehow kind of writing. I went through a major depressive episode this year that I’m still working out of. It magnified the feelings of loss because it was the first experience I had without my mom around to listen, worry with me and support me.
My fitness went through all kinds of interesting periods. After my 5k PR last November (and my last blog post) I stopped running on a regular basis and started going to spin class and CrossFit. CrossFit was a great experience and I’m so glad I tried it.
Now, at the end of the year, I feel a renewed desire to run. I’ve been adding running workouts back the last few months and registered for the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon in April 2015 — training starts in a couple weeks.
While I’m still struggling with my disordered eating I feel like I am starting to wake up again with fitness and mood. Positivity and progress over perfection.
Yesterday was my first official “turkey trot.” I usually run or workout on Thanksgiving morning but I’ve never done an organized race before.
This was also my first 5k since last summer. It was COLD. I think that is probably a common theme for a lot of people’s race experience yesterday. Balls. So cold I almost turned around and walked back to my car. “I ran a marathon. I ain’t got nothin to prove to y’all.” Except, I had something to prove to myself and I’m so not a quitter. The only race I’ve failed to attend in the last year and a half/two years was skipped because I was feeling sick to my stomach and running and pukey tummies do not mix.
Anyway, no one needs gory details about how I turn into the crazy lady who can’t handle not slicing through a crowd (I get a little claustrophobic and aggressive at races sometimes.) Once I peed I felt better and got in line to start. This was also my first real cold weather run of the season outdoors and I haven’t been doing a ton of running since the marathon. I started and I felt good so I pushed and when I looked down at the trusty Garmin I noticed I was on track to be able to run a sub-30 minutes 5k if I could hold my average pace. It would have been kind of a miracle because my fastest recorded time for a race was much slower and while I can run pretty darn fast, I can’t sustain the fast paces.
Sadly, I did feel the effects of the cold and the lack of consistent running and fell just short of my goal. However, I did run my fastest 5k on the books so I can’t be too unhappy [30:54]. A PR is a PR and I now know my goal is totally attainable and smashable.
But let’s not forget, it was THANKSGIVING DAY! And I have SO much for which to be thankful. I got to spend the day at my sister-in-law’s parents house with my stepdad (Bob), my brother and sister-in-law, my dad and stepmom (they drove in from Ohio!), and of course my favorite baby ever to be birthed, my nephew Henry. And I got my own pie. Let us not forgot the important things — like pie.
I need to make it known that I am super lucky. You’ll read some examples below, but I have to call it out before I relay any bit of my marathon recap. I have an amazing group of family and friends. They waited on cold corners, ran with me on a torn up street and hugged me after I’d been running for over 5 hours.
I was bright and shiny and excited when training started. “I’m training for a marathon! Gummi bears and rainbows and wings sprouting from my feet!”
A strange thing happened about 5 days out from the race: I became slightly absent-minded and try as I might, I found focusing on anything (other than the race) for more than 20 minutes at a time to be quite a challenge.
By Friday when G and I went to the expo and packet pick-up, I was feeling pretty calm. Sure I was indecisive, “Should I get more than one shirt? Should I get the bling?” but overall, I was in a good mental place. Something was so wrong with me. I am not the type to be in a good mental place. Maybe it was all the carbs?
And then I tried to start my car to leave the expo…and…nothing. My car was dead in the expo parking garage the day before the race. And I was…calm. I’d planned to spend the day on my couch eating carbs and my plans had just changed to fixing a dead car in 30-something rainy weather the day before running a marathon. [When I say “fixing” please note I did none of the fixing. Bob did all the fixing. I mostly stood around and wondered why I’d never become a responsible car owner who didn’t let her battery become corroded and die at important life moments, thus having to rely on the fact that I have an awesome stepdad who will do unpleasant things to help me — like wandering around in cold rains.]
I’d stashed some carbs in my purse on the way to the expo (duh!) so I wasn’t starving by the time I got home, but I was definitely behind my fueling schedule. After shoveling my face full of more carbs (and pickles!) I got to put my feet up until Bob showed up to trek to the auto parts store. Once the new battery was installed, I made a celebratory dinner of pasta and bland homemade tomato sauce. I was still alarmingly calm. This alarming calmness never dissipated. What the? Who was I?
Being that I had to eat ahead of the race, I set my alarm for 3:51 and fell asleep. I woke up a couple times, but I went right back to sleep where I dreamt that I had to run through a parking garage. When I awoke it was 4:24. How did that happen? Why didn’t my alarm go off? Generally, when one sets an alarm one intends to go off in the morning, it’s helpful to set it for AM and not PM. Regardless of my alarm oops, I still got my toast and coffee and was ready to leave on time.
The day started chilly, only in the upper 30’s. Thankfully, the starting line was near Crown Center and thousands of my closest friends and I got to stay warm while we waited to get the race underway. Also, we got to use real toilets instead of porta-potties. It was an unexpected race day treat to pee in a real toilet after 10’s of my closest friends who may also have used Body Glide in…areas.
The first 2 miles flew by except for the part where I was pooping Shot Bloks from my FlipBelt (don’t try new gear during a race) and before I knew it we were climbing the first real hill: Kessler. I tuned everyone out and just kept up my light, quick, short step turnover and made it to the top feeling good. We had a quarter mile to half a mile of basic flatness before the short, steep Wyandotte hill and I opened up my pace a little bit, but wanted to stay conservative. After taking that hill the same way I’d silently dominated Kessler, I was feeling confident. Bob was right at the turn from Wyandotte to 31st and I got to wave and smile and mean it!
The next few miles were uneventful rolling and pretty gentle. There was a girl who came charging through singing and dancing to Roarand shortly thereafter was “stretching” (posing, she was posing — you don’t wear a flower in your hair for a half marathon or marathon if you don’t want attention), we hit a nice little shady downhill from Westport into the Plaza and my pace picked up naturally. I was feeling really good. I heard my name and Carolyn was soon beside me looking happy and strong. By this time, I was paying attention to the mile split times on my pace band and trying to hit them so I could make my sub-5 hour goal. I just needed to average an 11:27 pace.
And then…Mile 8. The street was torn up and we were running on the ugly, angry underbelly of the road. It was here that I slowed again and decided to hit the next porta potty. Guys, I never pick the right check out lines or porta potty lines. When I got out, the 5:00 group that I’d been well ahead of passed by. It was much harder to keep running consistently after this stop and I spent the rest of the race alternating between running and walking. The thing is, walking hurt as much if not more than running by Mile 18. My lungs and heart were not exploding. It was truly a mind game and I wasn’t doing so great. Somewhere in the midst of slogging though my run/walk in Brookside Sarah and Tammi were waiting with signs and cheers. A very good pick-me-up that kept me going.
By the time I rounded the corner back toward the Mile 20 marker I realized we were going to have to run on that rough patch again. It hurt more the second time but a friendly face – Cheryl- was waiting to run a bit with me. She was in one of the worst parts of the course (and I’m pretty sure she had a cold); not only was the road destroyed and desolate, but she parked on Troost. You may know Troost as the “just keep driving street” from the cute KC YouTube video. We parted ways and I turned into the neighborhood west of Troost. I kept moving with my walk-waddle-run through Gilliham and passed our family’s first Kansas City apartment. And then the 5:30 pace group passed me and I wanted to cry a little, but mostly, I wanted to finish. The last 4 miles were where I started to get myself straight again. Enough walking, I needed to finish this thing. I have NO idea what pace I was running through the last few miles, but I only allowed myself to walk through the water stops.
Just as I saw the blessed next to last turn from Paseo to 18th Street, I also saw familiar faces. My cheering squad had traveled! Strve even joined me for a few strides. It was just the boost I needed to get through the last mile and change. From there, I was able to tick off street names and each block was one closer to the 26 mile flag and the finish line. The last .1 of that race was the longest .1 I’ve ever experienced. It was uphill into a headwind and it after 26.1 miles of feeling all the emotions. As I sprinted to the finish line (who knows what pace my sprint was at this point — I would know if my data would actually finally transfer from my Garmin) I saw G, Carrie, and Andy who’d already completed their races and then I saw my Aunt Jean and Uncle Mike and sister-in-law Beth with Baby Henry, Bob and my brother, Brian. I raised my hands in the air, screamed something and ran across that finish line in search of water and that damn medal. Then I hugged people and ate an apple.
I want to do another marathon. I am not a one-hit wonder kind of girl. First up, using the rest of the year to work on slimming down more and building a faster base.
I sit here now freshly shaved and showered with my calves encased in bright pink compression sleeves. Like a girl less than half my age, I’ve just used a sharpie to write on my right arm and my left foot. A poorly scribbled bird with the words “faith, hope, pride” occupy the slim inside of my wrist while only a single word is scrawled on my foot: everyday.
I can most closely compare my emotions of late to a deflated, over-used bouncy ball. It can no longer reach the highs it once did and finds itself more quickly plunging to the ground. I wrote a post yesterday going into great detail about some of the reasons I feel this way, but in the interest of internet attention spans and keeping on topic (maybe someday I’ll be an editor — even if it’s a night school writing class) I will give you the following summary:
Working two jobs is emotionally taxing. Not only do I have less free time (I’m an introvert remember) but the reasons behind the need for the second job add their own level of stress: money.
Marathon training. I feel like I’m not doing enough. Between feeling terrible and achilles pain (which caused me to back off training) I’ve been worried that I’m not doing enough to prepare my body (and mind) for 26.2 miles of work.
Health issues. I haven’t been feeling well. I mentioned mental health, but physically, I’ve been feeling off. Why?
My lady bits are out of whack. I’ve had issues in this department for a long time, but this year they’ve been worse. I’ve missed work and it’s impacted my life. My last pap was abnormal and showed atypical glandular cells. This is apparently a pretty rare result and warrants a colposocpy from an OB/GYN (which is not rare). I had that on Tuesday. It also warrants an endometrial biopsy. I was prepared for the colposcopy and the possible cervical biopsy (which they did because there were spots seen), but the endometrial biopsy was a surprise. No need to imagine any of it, it’s not pleasant. What I did not expect was the intense emotion I would feel after the appointment. I’ve spontaneously cried in the ladies room at work, I’ve yelled, enraged, at other drivers and I’ve contemplated every bad thing this could mean. THANK YOU, INTERNET. The thing is, if they say “nothing is wrong” why have a felt so terrible month after month? Anyhow, name an emotion (other than the joyous ones) and I’ve likely felt it this week. And if I even so much as think about “I wish my mom was here to talk to” I start to cry.
Okay, so there is my summary. But that’s not even the real topic of the post. That’s your back story.
Tomorrow, my long run is 18 miles of which 6.2 will be run as part of the Plaza 10k. I’ve been very anxious about this. However, tonight at the ripe hour of 7pm as I was working on my pre-bed night before a long run ritual – expanded race edition — I started singing and dancing. I felt…relief? What I was singing was Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.” While not the most mellifluous, my voice gradually opened and soared — like birds (if birds sound like chipmunky frogs.) I kept repeating “don’t worry, about a thing…every little thing is gonna be alright.” Singing is believing.
I shook my booty — unafraid (okay a tiny bit afraid) of pulling a muscle or using too much stored glycogen the night before a big run! But I realized, there isn’t anything else I can do. I can’t make biopsy results appear any faster or change their result, I can’t get out of the run, I can’t change the weather or my body or anything really. But I can control my thoughts and my attitude. I can sing about those three little birds and hope my neighbor doesn’t think I’m drowning in my bathtub.
When I finally got in bed to carry out the official “wind down” I thought, “why not give myself any inky reminder of that kitchen karaoke performance?” Why not draw on myself like a twelve year old. I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo on my wrist ever since my mom died last year, so why not test it out? A bird tattoo and/or a meaningful word or phrase is exactly what I had been considering. But I haven’t been able to decide between several words: faith, hope, pride. In the last voicemail my mom left me she said “I’m proud of you every.day. of my life.” It’s stuck with me. I hear her voice without even having to listen to the recording. It’s carried me at times the way knowing she was always there carried me.
Three little birds: faith, hope, pride — everyday, I’m alive.
My body is amazing. It is not perfect. It does not look like Jennifer Aniston’s – that’s impossible because I am not Jennifer Aniston. My body looks like it’s mine.
It has soft spots and bumps, knobby bits and scars. Slender wrists and crooked toes.
And it is all amazing.
It woke up at 4am and carried itself 15 miles (of mostly running – it needs fuel and I failed to provide it.) It walked and stood and squatted and reached for 4 hours working at the gym after running 15 miles.
My body is special. It is amazing – glorious. Though not visible, it has strong abs.
Though it looks kind of flat, my derrière houses powerful muscles that allow me to run faster, squat deeper, and withstand hours of impact.
My eyes are different shapes. My dimples – well, there’s just one. My face is not perfect, but it is mine.
I don’t have to be sexy or sultry, taut or tiny. I just have to be me.
For the past month or two I’ve really been thinking about adding meat, eggs, dairy and seafood back to my diet. I started with dairy in the form of yogurt and then finally added cheese last week (but in very limited quantities.)
Last Sunday, I ate chicken. It was in my burrito bol from Chipotle. It felt strange, but it tasted pretty good. “Okay,” I thought, “I can do this. I can eat chicken sometimes.”
However, today when I tried to eat chicken on my salad it was not the same. I had about 2 bites and I didn’t like the taste and I didn’t know why I was even trying to eat it. I still don’t like the idea of an animal dying to feed me. I don’t need help increasing bad cholesterol, I don’t like the idea of animals living in captivity or factory farming and blah blah blah everything most vegetarians and vegans will spout and everyone will tune out (including the spouter.)
What was really unsettling to me was why after over a year of no meat I was suddenly thinking about adding it back in when none of my core beliefs or feelings had changed.
Today with fork to mouth it clicked in my brain. I’ve been depressed. My mood has been out of control up and down, but for the most part, I’ve been pretty down all the time. That leads to feelings of indifference. Which can lead to no longer caring about things you once cared about — like say, animals dying to feed you.
Secondly, I’m tired of feeling different. Maybe no one cares. But it gets tiring to be the special diet restriction person. “Grabbing a quick bite” doesn’t really exist for me. Part of that is my choice, but a big part isn’t. LORD, I’d LOVE to be able to just go eat without caring. Or eat without getting sick. Grab a sandwich or a taco or a burger. But food is more than just tasty stuff I put in my mouth. It’s ethics and feeling shitty and nutrition. I can’t eat without thinking about nutrition any more. Sometimes that leads to over-indulgence because it gets so tiring to try to be so perfect all the time. I try to thnk about all the things I CAN eat. And there are tons and plenty. But add in social dynamics or lack of money or time and it just spirals into a web of indecision.
My problem with eating for nutrition is that I also eat for pleasure. Food has always been something I could enjoy. My escape. Comfort.
We recently had an ice cream sundae bar at work and instead of my usual non-participation, I had a scoop of ice cream with half a banana and some Hershey’s syrup. And someone of course commented. “Hey, Katie is eating what we’re eating!” I do usually have something in those settings, it’s just not usually what is being provided.[ Generally, that’s due to the whole no-gluten thing. Lately, I’d even been thinking about testing the gluten thing again. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was all in my head. I mean, that’s what the media wants. And then I accidentally ate carrot cake with whole wheat flour and DEAR LORD did I feel like hell. I didn’t know what it was at first, but once I realized what it was, it matched up perfectly based on timing of consumption and symptoms. Dumb.]
The other part of the equation is weight loss. I am FREAKING out on some level about my body and my weight loss. Even though I see messages every day about loving your body and accepting yourself and I know I’ve lost 90 lbs, I am still unhappy. I still only see a fat blob. I have freaking acne that won’t go away and a protruding belly that I fear will always be there. After losing 90 lbs and running 4 half marathons — I’M STILL FAT. Not only am I still fat, but acne covered and homely. I haven’t worn makeup in ages (partly because my skin is so sensitive and partly because I’m lazy.) I just don’t feel attractive on any level. Yay depression?
With the depression has come a real struggle to avoid emotional eating and make good food choices. I thought if I could make myself eat things like chicken, I could help my weight and fat loss. People always talk about lean protein. Maybe I could do a week or two of lower carb and high protein and drop some weight fast! Yes! That’s the ticket.
Any how, I’ve been trying to deal with the emotional roller coaster and I’m lucky because I have good friends who have been there for me when I’ve vacillated between wanting to lash out in anger at people and when I’ve wanted to put my head down and cry. I’ve honestly just kept expecting to wake up and suddenly feel okay again. That hasn’t happened. It doesn’t work like that. Not really. I’ve added on to this taking “THE pill” for the first time in 16 years to help with some issues and so far it’s just exacerbated most of the demons. I’m still holding out hope that I’ll normalize in less than 3 months. There are other factors that are large contributors to my stress, anxiety and depression but I have word-vomited long enough for now. Just please know, I’m not being a nancy-pants. There are real things, valid things, to be causing my feelings. And even if there weren’t; even if I just felt this way with no reason to which to point (and part of it probably is that) that would be okay. (I have to tell myself that. I still have trouble believing it.) So, thanks for reading if you did.
Experts always seem to recommend having more than one goal when you start training for a race. That way, you aren’t totally and utterly crushed with crippling depression if you don’t meet your goal.
For me, my primary goal with my upcoming race is to finish. It’s my first marathon and even though I’ve done 4 half-marathons that doesn’t mean I know anything about surviving the twenty-six point two. Experts also say that it is okay to have a very loose time goal and that you need to be realistic. There are calculators and charts (so many charts!) that try to help you determine what is realistic for you given recent race finish times.
So, yes, my main goal is to finish, but I want to do so in under 5 hours and somewhere around 4:45:59. According to all those charts and calculators THIS IS NOT A REALISTIC GOAL. However, I am following the Run Less, Run Faster training plan. The training paces I’ve been using as part of that plan have not made me feel like I was dying. On the contrary, they have made me feel more alive and connected to running. More flying, more exhilaration, more YES, this is why I’m doing this. Instead of struggling with faster paces, I’m enjoying them*; however, I’m now finding it more challenging to run at long run pace and to actually you know, do my long runs. Some of this has nothing to do with running. It’s just current life circumstance shtuff.
These are not newly publicized goals. In addition to the goals I’ve already mentioned in previous posts, I have a super secret goal. My super secret goal that I’ve never said out loud or told anyone: I want to get my 5k PR under 30 minutes (a 9:40 average pace.) For some that’s a piece of cake. But you have to remember, as a somewhat new runner who is only recently no longer listed as obese (being overweight never felt so great!) it’s no small feat. But I believe I can do it. I believe in myself. Partly because my training paces are putting me in the zone.
*Ask me how I feel about the faster paces after tonight’s track workout — 1200, 1000, 800, 600, 400 (200 RI)
My lunch break consisted of downing Chipotle and staring at the internet.
I really enjoyed both.
I started with this link showing 41 running inspired tattoos. I’ve strongly considered a tattoo on my foot after I finish the marathon in October. I do not have plans to copy any of these, but some of the stories and reasons are touching.
Still noshing away, I was delighted to see someone post a link that Hyperbole and a Half has a book! Where has she been?! That lead to a less uplifting but so right on (and exciting because it was great to see something new from her) post: Hyperbole and a Half: Depression Part Two. If you have ever been seriously depressed or lived or loved someone who has been (in my case, I answer “yay” to both) this might totally hit home. It was such a great way to illustrate what you feel — or don’t feel.
After I finished that link, I moved on to another — about my torture and love — RUNNING. The Oatmeal rarely disappoints and a actually had to stop stuffing forkfuls of rice and beans in my mouth because I was laughing.
These links? These people? Smoosh them together and they are me. And that is totally cool, because sometimes it really helps to know you are not a unique snowflake. Other people are in fact feeling the same things and you do fit in. (maybe)
Part of my July challenge is to choose a picture a day and write a paragraph. I didn’t post yesterday’s picture, so today is a 2-for-1 day.
DAY 1: I woke up feeling like a train wreck- headache and nausea. I decided to power through and eat some toast and drink coffee in hopes it would wear off. Wrong. I realized halfway to the gym that the urge to hurl was rising. (Ha!) I went in, made my apologies, and headed home where I spent the next 5 hours on my couch sleeping. The cats (all but Gracie) kept me company while I embraced the fetal position. I managed to eat some bland foods and no vomiting occurred! [pictured: top left is Teebsy being camera shy, bottom left is Sammy who takes great pictures and is the best porch cat turned house cat, bottom right is my Baby Oliver enjoying the sunshine]
DAY 2: I was debating skipping my run today due to yesterday’s grossness and concerns my stomach was still dodgy. However, it was a speed work day, mile repeats, and I’m 16 weeks out from the marathon so I decided to go for it. The two crazed pictures are before and the calm looking picture at the bottom is after. I’m glad I got out there! (And I got to wear my “In Training” shirt! Kansas City Marathon, here I come! They got some crazy little women there and I’m gonna be one!)
I posted this picture on Instagram and Facebook a couple days ago and got such a good reaction that I decided it was blog worthy. I’m still eating the batch I made and it’s just as delicious.
Driving home from work on Sunday evening, I was hungry, tired and craving a shower. My mind turned to “what the heck am I going to make for dinner?” I had not the patience for a long cooking extravaganza. Luckily, quick math reminded me that quinoa only takes 15 minutes and I could definitely multi-task and either shower or get other food thrown together in that time.
I seriously started out thinking I’d just toss some grape tomatoes (my love!) in with quinoa and OH! OLIVES and just splash a little vinegar and oil, sprinkle a little sea salt and pepper and that would totally suffice. But then I got thinking about all the other veggies I could add. Gee, I really needed to get some green stuff in there. And wait, I still had mini peppers. Hmm, mushrooms are nice. OH, and cashews add a nice texture.
So, that’s how this was born.
The veggie chopping is the hardest part, and I have this handheld chopper/scissors like thing from Pampered Chef that made it really easy. I didn’t really measure anything except the quinoa, so these are all estimates. [Vegan and gluten free]
1 cup (dry) quinoa
½ large cucumber
¾ container of grape tomatoes
½ – ¾ of a large red onion
¼ – ½ cup raw cashews
¾ container of baby bella mushrooms ( had the whole ones)
½ – 1 cup olives (I used half green, half black and I used the natural no weird chemical added kind)
5 or so mini peppers (the kind in the bag that are just like lovely little bell peppers)
Sea salt (to taste – I didn’t use very much)
Ground white pepper (didn’t use very much)
Extra virgin olive oil – approx. 1 TBSP
Balsamic Vinegar – approx. 1-2 TBSP
Coriander (a few sprinkles — like everything in this category, it’s to taste)
Garnish – ½ avocado
1-2 cups chopped kale
Cook quinoa. [Cooking quinoa is 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa. Put it in a saucepan and boil. Once it boils, reduce heat to simmer and cover. It takes about 15 minutes to cook down. Let sit for a few minutes and fluff.]
While quinoa is cooking, combine all the wonderful plants in a large bowl and chop! If you don’t have the hand chopper thing, chop in whatever fashion works for you to get the plants bite-sized.
Once quinoa is finished cooking and has fluffed, dump it in the bowl with the veggies and mix it all up!
Add seasoning items and stir! (I didn’t really measure when I added them, but I didn’t use very much. Definitely adjust to taste.)
Add some chopped kale to a plate to make a bed for the quinoa-veggie combo and serve it up! I added some avocado slices because they are delicious.