Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Scavenger Hunt for Runners aka #RunChatHunt

What could be better than a scavenger hunt during the holiday season? Running while doing it!  I got to run some amazing runs and check off some fun hunt items at the same time!  

1.  Body of Water.  I took this picture during a run in Forest Park.  It was a beautiful evening and it had warmed up a bit.  The snow was still around and one of the lakes was partially frozen.  It had little duckie prints all over it! 

2.  Snowman.  It had snowed all night.  I didn't want to risk driving to a Santa Dash so I took my pups out for a little run/walk.  We came across this snowman in the snow!  It was fun to be out on the road without anyone around!  

3. Mile Marker.  The day after our snow, the sun came out and I was itching to run. I headed out to the local train -- Grant's Trail -- and had it all to myself.  Took this along the way! 

4. Animals on a Farm.  The same run along Grant's Trail allows me to run past the majestic Budweiser Clydesdales on a regular basis.  The hitch horses were out in their pen and all bundled up in red blankets!! 

5. Porta Potty.  Blessed to always have this porta potty available along the trail.  Although, I haven't needed it!! 

 6.  Santa. One of the local running stores, Big River Running, sponsors a run along some of St. Louis's famous holiday light displays.  A group of us went for a fun run to look at lights! 

7.  Inflatable decoration.  Hippie Santa!

8. Picture with Runners I don't know.  These are girls I've chatted with in a FB group but have never meet until this night!!  

I wasn't able to find a train crossing or a local coffee shop but I am still pretty excited about my finds!!  I figure 8/10 isn't so bad!!  I can't wait for the next scavenger hunt!!  

Merry Christmas!  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Stronger Than Gold's Gym Corporate Challenge

I fell off the blog wagon.  I am vowing to rectify this habit!  Thanks to some of my friends, I will be back on the wagon at least for a few months.  Hopefully, the habit continues.  

We are starting our own weight loss challenge for 2014!  The Stronger Than Gold's Gym Corporate Challenge will begin on January 1st and continue for 12 weeks!  

We are super excited about changing our lives!  I will be posting weekly updates with our progress. 

The fun begins soon.....

Monday, May 13, 2013

Reflection on Boston - one month later

It has been a month since the tragedy in Boston.  As a runner, April 15, 2013 will always be a day close to my heart.  I didn't express my feelings much at the time because I needed time to process what this terrible event meant to me.  We all took to twitter and FB to comfort each other. 

Runners are a family.  We make up one of the largest communities in the world.  One that doesn't judge your color, race, religion, weight, height or ability.  We lend a hand to each other and offer words of encouragement.  Our community includes not only the runners, but our spectators (most of which are family and friends), race volunteers and above all the police officers who provide safety along the race.  None of use would succeed without the support of this community.   One month ago, two cowards went after my community. 

Nashville was my first race after the attack; just two short weeks.  It just happened to be pouring rain.  Neither of these factors stopped any of us from making this race a success! The volunteers were out in force.  The spectators came out to support friends, family and all the random strangers.  The police officers were at every intersections protecting all of us.  Every runner was ready to support our brothers and sisters and run our hearts out!

However, this attack reminds me when I run that I am vulnerable.  Not to injury or pain (which is true) but to the outside world.  I have never run a race and ever been concerned about my safety.  Who would attack a bunch of runners?  Why would someone attack a bunch of runners?  It never crossed my mind that the racing community was anything but safe.  After all, we are supposedly the crazy ones for running 13.1 or 26.2 miles for FUN! 

Reality of the racing future hit me upon arriving at the start line in Nashville.  The SWAT team was assembled in full gear, ready and waiting should a threat arise.  The mounted police were patrolling the park.  I can only imagine that the same increased security measures were occurring at the finish line.  This was the first time at a RNR event that security was standing guard at my corral.  While all the extra protection did increase my anxiety (full disclosure I worry about everything), it did not diminish my desire to run.  I'm glad that someone was watching out for me so that I could continue my beloved sport! 

This weekend I head to the busiest city in America to run.  The Brooklyn Half is my way of saying you can attack the running community but you will never stop us!  If those cowards did anything, they encouraged more people to run and fulfill their dreams!   


Sunday, May 12, 2013

RNR Nashville "po" down

Thank you all so very much for the kind words and motivation from my last blog entry.  It was hard to write but even harder to admit that my 5 month pity party wasn't helping me move on.  I still have bad days.  I'm still not great at handling stress and sometimes let it consume me.  I'll get to the point where I can handle the stresses better.  After all, Rome wasn't built in a day and I won't kick this depression in one either.  Keep encouraging me to move forward.  Big thank you to my trainer who is running with me twice a week and helping me return to my routine. I am forever grateful for her pushing me back out there! 
Crappy, rainy finish pix!
I am so happy to be running again.  I'm slow right now and definitely not breaking any records but I out there.  I completed the St. Jude's Country Music Half Marathon (RNR Nashville) in 3:24.  My worst time ever.  I could blame the pouring rain but that wouldn't be fair.  This finish time is on me.  I didn't train properly.  Sure I was soaked to the bone and miserable but with so much spectator and volunteer support there was never a chance to think about the conditions.  I truly had a blast while out there.  30k people all enjoying the rain and laughing about how wet we all were was the best bonding experience I've had at a race yet.  Now, once I was no longer moving was another story.  It was then that I realized just how wet, cold and in pain I truly was and spent the rest of the afternoon cuddled up in bed with my puppies.  :) 

Smiling despite the rain!

I was able to meet some Half Fanatic friends.  It was so exciting to hear all about their races and moving up strategies.  It's nice to know so many other crazy people exist out in the world.  Many non-running friends and even some of my running friends don't understand just how much joy and accomplishment we get out of running halfs!  There is nothing like being able to chat about your runs, etc and not have someone give you the "oh no, there she goes again look"!  Thank goodness we have the group to make us feel normal!

New HF friend, Betty!

Now I am gearing up for the Brooklyn Half on May 18th! I am going to give it my best effort and fingers crossed that I finish within the time limit!  I am trying out the Galloway run/walk/run method for the first time.  It went well for 9 miles yesterday and for my short runs the past week.  Yay! 

I also have some really awesome new shoes that I am breaking in.  So far, I am in love with my Hoka One One Stinson shoes.  No offense to my Asics Kayanos (that I adore) but these are so much softer and absorb shock like crazy.  I hope they continue to give me the wonderful feeling I had yesterday!  My heel didn't start to bother me until mile 6 because it is usually killing me by 3 miles!  Being able to walk without limping post-run was the biggest plus of all, however, once I took them off and wore my Kayanos at the baseball game it was back to limping.  I may need to buy another pair to wear while not running.  I shall ponder this idea!  

I am sure you are all sound asleep now from my race recap and running rambles but it feels so good to be running again.  :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Life isn't easy

It's been a long time. 

I've been on a 5-month sabbatical.  It has been a really rough period both physically and mentally. 

Life has not been easy for me.  I know it is nothing compared to what many others face on a daily basis.  I understand that for many this would be insignificant but when you take away something this important, this integral to who you are as an individual, you lose the very definition of who are as a human being.  

Let's go back to my last half in Nov 2012.  My body was already crabby with me for pushing another half on it but I didn't really care.  I mean you gotta run while you can, right?  Thanks to my lovely friend, Amanda, we made it through that race despite all the aches and pains we were both dealing with.  My list of injuries was extensive and I really needed to rest my body.  Runners do NOT like to rest.  We especially do NOT like to rest for the time I really needed to heal.   So I made myself stop running to allow my heel, hip, knees, shoulder and probably the rest of my muscles time to repair.  

In December, I ran a Santa Dash 5k.  It wasn't terrible but the heel and hip were definitely still unhappy.  I returned to resting.  Mental status was starting to be pretty shaky. 

And January brought more resting.  Then the weather Gods brought us a really beautiful 60 degree Friday.  To a runner that means you get out there and enjoy.   However, 5 minutes in my hip was screaming at me.  I only did a little over 2 miles.  I was devastated. Shouldn't my body be healing faster than this? I have a half the end of April.  I need to start training soon.  Um, Houston we have a problem.  What am I going to do?  This was a really tough blow to the psyche.  I didn't handle any aspect of my life well at this point. 

February and March brought more resting.  I was beginning to believe I was never going to actually run again.  Nor was I really motivated to try.  I had no desire to workout at this point.  I didn't really care about anything related to my health. I did get the chance to run while on a business trip to Boston.  Running around the Charles river was amazing.  It cheered me up more than I thought it would.  However, I got home and was exhausted from running, traveling, working, etc so I skipped the St. Patty's Day run.  It was the first race I ever skipped.  I felt with a fragile psyche and the extra stress of trying to perform when I wasn't focused or ready would have done more damage than be beneficial.

As if not being able to run wasn't enough to cause a mental breakdown, the rest of my life was helping the cause along to full insanity.  

Around early October, my work load began to pick up.  Job security is always a great thing!  I am not complaining.  However, I suck at time management and delegating.  I started driving home in tears every night.  I love my job.  Really I do but I don't love extra stress brought on by myself.  I've been swamped and barely holding it together on a professional level.  

Also in October, my mom decides to go on medical leave and that she plans to retire as of January 1st.  Deep breathes.  Deep breathes.  There was no discussion about this plan.  No talking about money or how things would need to change in order to not have a second salary coming in.  I agree it was time but I expected some talks before she did it.  Her health has gotten much worse.  She requires more and more doctor visits.  These fall on me and me alone.  The perk of being an only child.  She prefers not to drive other than to locations surrounding our home.  I cried myself to sleep numerous nights worrying about paying the bills and trying to juggle an aging parent. I ate everything in sight.  I quit meal planning.  We ate like crap and this wasn't good for either of us.  I was barely holding my home life together.   

Not running, lacking motivation to even enter the gym unless I was meeting Kate, and not really caring what I ate lead to months of couch potato behavior and pants that won't fit (well at least not without cutting off my circulation).  

To sum up the last 5 months: A Briggie who can't run is a bitch.  A Briggie who is incredibly stressed out by home life, work and not being able to run is a demonic beast.   

It was time for help.  I ran depression studies for many years.  I know the symptoms.  I was trying really hard to overcome them on my own.  But I couldn't.  I forced myself to focus at work but I was a complete disaster in all other aspects.  I had put off seeing my PCP because I just didn't care.  In January, I finally forced myself to go.  Taking medication doesn't make you weak.  It makes you human.  

So what's next? 

April has brought some healing.  I started running again, mostly because I have a half next weekend and I refuse to give up.  I will run/walk this race.  One step at a time.  I think the weather and medicine are finally pushing me to fix this part of my life.  My hip is much better.  My heel is still killing me and I tweaked my knee a little but I am still forcing myself to get out there.  I'm no where near perfect but I am making the attempt.  

I am still failing at not letting work rule my life.  It's hard to leave on time when there are piles and lists of things that need to be done.  I may never be able to fix this area.  I just missed a weekend at the lake with my second family because there was just too much that needed to be attended to.  It sucks.  However, I know that next weekend I will be in Nashville and that is non-negotiable.  I will get myself away from my desk!  I'm not crying nearly as much.  I did have a major meltdown in front of my boss; it freaked him out.  At least he realizes how stressed out I have been and is trying to keep me from melting down again (mostly so he doesn't have to deal with the emotions)!  :)      

On the mom front, I am trying to not let her decisions impact my psyche.  I am taking her to her appointments and doing the best that I can at juggling both our schedules.  I have to remember she is still a competent adult.  She needs to handle her own insurance, medicine, appointments, etc.  I do not have time to take care of all the little things that she is perfectly capable of doing.  I can't let her mood swings get to me either.  I feel guilty leaving her alone all day and then go run in the evening. I need to learn to get over this guilt.  It isn't doing either of us any good.  This will be a work in progress.  

I miss my friends too.  I need to start spending time with them again.  It's just really hard when your life pulls you in too many different directions.  I hope they continue to bear with me and know that I love them all.  

Depression is rough to overcome.  It is a constant struggle.  Some days are going to be wonderful while others will force you to hide back under the covers.  I keep trying to take baby steps and focus on all the great things in my life.  I have a wonderful mom, two very loving dogs, amazing friends, and babies to snuggle.  Most of all I have the desire to run again and this may be the biggest cure of all.  

One day, one step at a time!