Sunday, April 13, 2014

Slice of Heaven

Who knew that having one almost- pain-free day would literally leave me with the will to conquer the world? First photo shoot outdoors this year and, while I have had a couple of indoor sessions since this injury, outdoor sessions seem a ton more physical. And brilliant me felt flip-flops were a good choice for shooting. Luckily, my hip didn't "hitch" on me during the shoot, but I can honestly say I'm starting to feel the effects a little of my "2-hour workout."

Any advice on some cute/comfy/supportive shoes I can wear with flowy blouses and shorts on photo shoots? Please share!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Runner Down

Type. Delete. Type more. Delete. Tears, anger, frustration, my inner self yelling big yells and crying big fat ugly cries.

I have tried to write this entry for several days now, but realized that all the gibberish just bored myself and would no doubt, bore my reader (because I highly doubt I have reader"s"). As a former newspaper reporter, I feel obligated to give facts, but quite frankly, my emotions are driving this post tonight. So, the facts will be sketchy, the language may be colorful and my words may be all over the place, but I just have to get it out of my system.

It's been one month tomorrow since I laced up my running shoes, drove to Mingo Park, and pounded the pavement for 3.45 miles.
March 13: My attempt at a selfie before 3.45 miles-I don't do serious selfies.

 I remember it was a super rough run, only because I had decided back in February that life simply was in the way and wouldn't allow me to have time to devote for training for Cap City AND be a wife/mom/photographer/babysitter/volunteer. That was technically the first "blow," albeit mental. So, I scaled back my runs a bit, decreased my mileage and finally, enjoyed running again, just doing between 2-4 miles (maybe a five miler in there somewhere), here and there. My endurance on March 13 was iffy, and I remember being pissed at myself that I couldn't run a full two miles without stopping. Maybe not even a mile. I don't know. But my endurance was HORRIBLE. It felt good, though, to finish my last stretch running from Mingo to Performing Arts Dance Centre up the road, where my family waited while my oldest had dance class. We then ran errands, and my body ached from my mind giving it a mental kick in the ass, but it was a good ache.

What I wouldn't give, especially on a day like today, to lace up my shoes for ANY run, even if just a mile. To walk out of my front door, turn on my Pandora and MapMyRun and run some miles to decompress. But, I can't. I'm now in limbo with a hip injury, one that almost requires I wear a disclaimer on my shirt: "May or may not stumble with each step I take." Or "Warning: Raging Bitch." Or "Hide All Food: I Will Eat It All In My State of Depression." Seriously. And I'm hungry.

I have a labral tear in my right hip, and a cyst somewhere around there as well.

I can tell you the exact moment that I knew I was in trouble. The night I shot a wedding as a photographer, I came home, leaned over the bed as I was in a decent amount of pain and could barely walk, rotated my hips to stretch "it" out, whatever "it" was, popped something and fell over in pain. Not smart.

These death sticks did not last long. But, my arms are killer.

Doc has me starting physical therapy, in hopes of strengthening hip to prolong surgery. However, surgery may be inevitable. I have to play my cards right. I transition to fulltime photographer in June, losing a consistent income in babysitting fulltime (hey, know of any part-time flexible jobs for this awesome girl?), so to say I'm already overwhelmed/anxious/scared is an understatement. Now, add in the possibility that I may have pain indefinitely until I have surgery, but I have to plan surgery around my source of income ... overwhelm times ten million. He said there's a possibility I may return to running before the year is over and maybe, without having to have surgery. Yikes. I don't even know. I mean, the prospect of being able to run again makes my heart soar. But the prospect of doing any more damage makes me want to puke. And I've already felt quite nauseous over this whole thing, thankyouverymuch. Surgery, according to my doc, could take a month from which to recover, but Dr. Google says it could even take as long as 4-6 months. Yes, I know. Stay off Dr. Google. Regardless, surgery=suckage, but with a nice pot of running at the end of the rainbow.

My non-runner friends and family more than likely think I'm a whack job, getting so worked up and emotional about this. But, I remind them to think of it this way: When I worked a traditional fulltime job, photography was my outlet. Now that it's my job (albeit an AMAZING job and doesn't even feel like a job to me, no joke), I need my running to be my outlet. I need that sense of physical pride in myself, the motivation, the adrenaline rush and setting those personal physical goals. It's my "me" time, a time I can take for myself (because I don't have that commute to and from work anymore to decompress), to think about everything, nothing, successes, failures, food, etc. My girls saw their mom setting a goal for herself, practicing and working hard to accomplish that goal, and now, Mommy is sad, hid her running shoes, and shoved her running clothes as far underneath a pile of laundry that needs folded.

Hot Chocolate 5K, November 2013
While I cherish my "shop talk" with all of my 'tog friends, I geek out on "run talk" with my fellow runners. Now, I'm not gonna lie, I can't relate to my runner friends and their gear talk, mileage talk, race results, etc. I haven't been a part of the running club I (would like to think I) help start, and was so enthused to see it grow and thrive. I HATE being sidelined. My newsfeed fills with my awesome friends posting their awesome race photos, and while I'm fist-pumping their success, I'm cursing my stupid hip for keeping me from registering for awesome races this spring and summer. I had to hide notifications to a couple of running groups, am going through and unliking Facebook pages for upcoming races ... Yeah, it's like that. I'm a bitter brat having a temper tantrum. And, I'm sorry for that.

I know it's temporary, but it feels so permanent. I hate-HATE-to complain because I have some friends who are experiencing far worse, which is why I kept deleting my posts, but I just really have to get it off my chest. The above is how I feel mentally, and physically, it's up and down on an hourly basis. (Which, by the way, if this is a little tear, I can't imagine what a larger injury to the hip feels like.) I can't pivot on my leg, so I do this weird shuffle. Sitting on the floor to change Josie's diaper is a crapshoot-if I put my right leg out to position myself to change her diaper, I can't rotate my leg in and out or else it'll pop/crack and I'll feel intense pain. Every single time I stand up after sitting down, again, crapshoot: Will I be able to walk normal, or will my hip lock up, causing me to buckle? Will my hip hitch mid-stride and I walk normal for a few steps, then walk on the right ball of my foot? Everyone who sees me probably thinks I'm a nutjob/faker: One day, I'm fine, walking and following Josie as she happily explores outside, the next, I'm limping or bracing myself on a crutch. Parts of me just wants to freaking book the surgery already. But I wait. And I'm crossing my fingers that physical therapy really does help.

Anyway, if you made it this far, thank you for reading. Again, I know I'll be fine. I know I'm going to eventually be able to run again someday. I know many more people are struggling with worse. However, I have already found comfort in other blogs about injured runners; maybe I'll be able to look back on this one day and thank my lucky stars that God made me slow down enough to focus on what's important: My health, my children.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

My Own Finish Line

If you go to the "official results" of the Blizzard Buster 5k/10k race from yesterday, you'll see my name is missing. Yes, I participated. Yes, I finished. No, I didn't finish fast enough for my participation to be considered "official."

I ran six miles yesterday. This is the furthest I've ever ran in my life, and I did so confidentially, comfortably and proudly. Each time I pounded the pavement, I wondered how much further my legs and feet-and more importantly, my mind-would allow me to go. Six miles is a BREEZE for many seasoned runners. But six miles, yesterday, was a BIG deal to me.

You see, I was never athletic growing up. I literally tried every sport, hoping to find my "hidden talent," and spark a love for health and fitness. I played sports, even took dance, but did none well-and that's ok, because later in life, I decided photography was my "sport." Running was THE LAST thing I ever wanted to pursue, but last June, it was time. Time for me to give the one last sport I loathed, a shot. I love it. Craved it. I completed C25K in 12 weeks instead of eight, but by golly, I worked so hard to be able to run one mile without stopping, then two, then three. These accomplishments seem so small, but I had cheerleaders every step in the way who celebrated these milestones as the big deal they were to me. 

I decided to train for the Cap City Half in a May. Go big(ger) or go home. I had nothing to prove to anyone, but decided this would be my personal health goal this year. The training has been tough, and with each new week of training, came anxiety of the increase of miles, and celebrations of being able to run four miles straight, with five miles being the most I've ever run. I've had great running days and bad running days, and am getting better at acknowledging that not every run will leave me feeling great. 

During this training, I'm to do several races in preparation. I love love races. I don't run to win. I love the atmosphere, the comraderie, bonding, fellowship and support (seriously, how often do you hear strangers telling each other "great job?"). I love the moment when you round the corner and see the finish line, and you pick up your pace and sprint across it. The cheers, even if by just one person who is a stranger, who I wants you to know "you did it."

I didn't get that yesterday, for the first time since June, after running three 5ks prior. Apparently, there was a 1:15 hour time limit, and I missed it by four minutes (those four minutes were probably spent ice skating on the sheets of ice on a couple of those six mile). I told myself to run to Race Street, walk quickly up the hill or bounce on the balls of my feet, to Sandusky, where I would turn the corner, see the finish line, and make a mad dash for it. I turned the corner, searched for the finish line and couldn't see it. I kept running, fast, out of breath and tired, and no finish line was in sight. I got closer and closer to where it once stood ... Nothing. And not a soul around, save for two folks who, I'd like to think, wanted myself and my friend, who finished behind me, to have someone there at the "finish line." The finish line had been torn down, all participants, volunteers and organizers moved inside to nibble on cookies and socialize. 

I'm well aware of time limits for races and know they're necessary, due to time constraints of public servants who need to assist the runners to keep them safe. But I've never heard of time limits so low. And, to be honest, I missed the time limit upon registration. I would've signed up anyway, having faith and being realistic that I could've met that time limit, prior to knowing conditions of the course. So taking the finish line down: hurts a little, but not as much as knowing that there were two of us still busting our asses toward a non-finish line, ending with an anticlimactic, apathetic finish. See, one of the BEST parts of a race? Watching the final runner come through, the determination, pride and exhaustion from doing their best, and cheering them on just as if they were in first place. Because, as a friend put it to me earlier, runners come in every shape, size, age, color and level. My friend and I happen to be middle-aged moms on a mission to lose weight, feel great, be good role models for our families and children, and have fun.We worked hard-HARD. We may not be fast but we work just as hard, pay our dues, leave our families and calm our nerves just like others to participate in a race. I don't care that there wasn't a physical finish line to cross: I'm sad that after all of that, today's race was nothing to me other than a "long run," lacking in that comraderie I've seen so often during other races. I don't want to be a whiney baby about this because it was something I should've made myself aware of from the start, and I know, I know ... All this over six miles. But, I'm human and can't help feeling just a little frustrated. 

But in the end, I am over-the-moon that my feet, legs, body, mind and soul carried me six miles-a BEAUTIFUL, invigorating (but icy-lol) six miles, and I finished. The added bonus of my day yesterday was seeing the continued support of family and friends, celebrating yet another milestone with me. It beyond warmed my heart. I don't even know where or how I would be able to thank each person who called, texted, messaged or posted beautiful, supportive and lovely messages, cheering me on. The official results mean nothing to me as a runner, because I did it-ran my first six miles. But the love I felt today, along with feeling great about what I accomplished, means the world. 

So, thank you.

And congrats to my dear friend Nicole, who finished as well!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Gearing Up for Six

I'm full swing into training for the Cap City Half Marathon in Columbus, in May. I've gotta say: I never thought I'd make it this far. Quite frankly, when my brother's girlfriend/a running buddy suggested we try running it in May WHILE we were running a 5k, I thought she was nuts. I smile and nodded (and choked and gasped and whined, as again ... I was running, people-it's not a graceful thing for me). I didn't think I could really do it, what with my schedule, jobs, motivation, etc. Well, I'm on Week 5 now, and have hardly missed a day (the plague that hit our house as well as weather has really hurt). Well, technically, I'd be further as I started the Hal Higdon Half Marathon app in October, but kind of fizzled our over the craziness of the holidays.

This past weekend, my "long run" was five miles. The week prior, I ran five miles but only broken up: three at lunchtime and two at dinner time. So, technically, I had never ran that far straight through. But I did it this past weekend, with a five minute break to choke the vomit back down my throat after just two miles. It was a good run. I finally hit a comfortable pace and stride, and once I got over that blessed three mile mark that literally has plagued me since day one, I was ok. I was fine. I was great. And honestly? I wasn't even that sore. Awesome.
I took a couple of days off, in part due to the plague in my house and one day was my rest day anyway. 

So when I had to run four miles last night as part of my new increased daily mileage, I literally panicked. I tried to figure every way to get around this but had to just face it head on.

Glad I did: I did it. And ran straight through without stopping. Four miles. Boom. And then, home to crash in bed and watch "Day After Tomorrow. You know. Since I swear, our country is living out this movie with the crazy weather.

This weekend, I run SIX miles in a 10k race, right on track with my training. I have moments of self doubt, knowing what my body can do and knowing I have the potential of running more than half without stopping, but the reality is that it's going to rain, there are hills and I will undoubtedly not get sleep the night before. But I beat that little Negative Nelly down and pray for the best, knowing I'll finish it regardless if I'm fast, if I take breaks, or not.

I feel so much stronger. Like I've said before, when I think I CAN'T, I DO. :)

Rough. Week 4/Days 4&5

Rough definitely describes my last two days. I haven't been sleeping well this week, and my body is feeling it. My 3.5-mile run last night was cut short by .5 miles because I.just.couldnt.go.anymore. Which makes me mad. I couldn't go .5 miles more? My legs gave up on me and even when they did, I mentally stayed in it as long as I could ... But it wasn't long enough. It's ok because I had a GREAT running week last week. I'd rather have a bad running week and then, hopefully have an amazing running week next week, including my first 10k next Saturday (God help me)! My goal for it is to run the first half, then run-walk the second half, unless, by some miracle, my feet just keep moving.
Anyway, results of my run last night:

My optional cross training tonight went ok. I needed the break from running, although I did do a mile. I THOUGHT I had a great mile and swear my pace was faster than it says it was ... I'm convinced my stupid app doesn't work. I then jumped on the elliptical for four miles. I HATE that machine but I made it my friend tonight.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Catching Up

What a week the last week has been. Sickness, no school, frigid temps, more sickness, no school, frigid temps ... Cabin fever? Stir crazy? I mean, let's be honest here. I'm just going crazy, period. I've lost all of my Pinterest craftiness, we've done the whole "tossing boiling water outside" thing, attempted frozen bubbles ... I just don't have one more ounce of entertaining spirit or patience for the five million fights, hurt feelings and toddler screams (and NOT screams of delight). Who isn't? Gabe has been working first shift so by the time he gets home, I'm laced up and ready to leave.

See, running has become my therapy. I hate to use it as my "escape," though some nights, I'm escaping the chaos. But it's the one opportunity I have to get in tune with me: mind, body, spirit.

I realized tonight that I multitask waaaaaaay too much. I also learned that when my mind is put to a task and I need to focus, the moment I break that focus, it's all over. The last couple of runs I have ran, have left me with losing focus the last mile. Boy, when that happened, my body just feels like a sack of potatoes, and getting through the rest of the run is tough.

Totally translates to my life in general. Lots of things to change, but I'm so thankful for this opportunity to help me become a better person.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Indoor Track Torture

Can we please get this straight? Running 46 laps on a small track, in the same direction, dodging people/kids/balls/a random towel (really, what was THAT doing there?), is hell. No, it's not fun. Why do I do it? Well, the "dreadmill" is just as bad, and I can't stand that I feel like I'm not really doing ALL the work when running on a treadmill. It's propelling me forward (well, trying to ... I know it secretly screams, "come on, heiffer, my belt is dying from 'propelling you'"), and I get bored. Plus, if my treadmill isn't free (you know, the ones with the tvs? Because in any race, there will be a tv right in front of you ... *scoffs*), I get angry. Really angry. And it ruins my run.

So, brilliant idea girl, here, decided to start training while running on an indoor track. And God bless our local Y, but the indoor track is SMALL. Okay, they're all small, but this one feels infinitely small. Anyhoo, there is indoor track etiquette, so to speak, here, and it's posted in several different spots. What's funny is the very people who spend like, an hour, reading and deciphering and digesting the etiquette, simply forget everything once they get going. So, I've made up my own etiquette based on observation (as if I have anything else to do while running 46 laps):
1. If your child is downstairs playing basketball and has a break, please don't unleash him to the track upstairs. If he runs in the opposite direction, dribbling a basketball and nearly knocks over the 70-year-old woman who is there on doctor's orders, I may or may not pull the "adult" talk with him. If he's bored, he can sit and stare at his hands like I did when I was younger and had to wait on something/someone.
2. Ladies: If you're running and every third stride, have to run like you're riding a horse in order to discreetly adjust the fact that your running shorts are just too short ... wear longer pants. No, wait. Don't. It's kind of mildly entertaining for me, the girl running 46 laps, to watch you saddle-run every three steps.
3. Please bring your small children to enjoy the track. Family time is encouraged, especially when it comes to being fit and healthy. I do so myself. But, please, for the love, have a talk with them prior about etiquette. Running in opposite directions of everyone, stopping right in front of someone, playing bumper cars with fellow track goers, could cause your child to accidentally (or purposefully) get close lined.
4. Fellas: If you must use a corner to lift weights instead of the ... you know ... weight lifting area, please don't be swinging your kettle bell in my direction. I don't know you. I don't know how slippery your hands may be, or if you have a moment of weakness and accidentally let go. Just don't. Go back to your side, and let me run my 46 laps in peace.
5. Ladies: A casual saunter around the track, while hardly cardio advantageous, is most definitely welcomed. However, swinging your earphones around will tempt me to rip them out of your hands and throw them to the ball courts below. Also, can you not hear me coming? Sure you can. I'm huffing and puffing and crying and screaming, and yet, you casually saunter, conversing about Jimmy's recent gall bladder surgery, or what Susie posted on Facebook. Meanwhile, I'm all dodging people to get around, twisting my ankle and trying to look graceful.

I'm sure I'll be adding to this list ... so stay tuned.

It's All in My Head ... Week 4/Day 2

Seriously. I did it. I did my measly 3.5 miles. Why was I even complaining about 3.5 miles when I did a combined five on Saturday, and four miles two weekends in a row prior to that? Like I messaged a good runner friend earlier tonight, I'm afraid of having that "bad" run. I had a GREAT running week last week, and I know that wouldn't last (nice attitude, but hey, I'm realistic and not drinking the Kool-Aid, k?). I had more anxiety about tonight's run only because I expected to fail. Yes, fail just those 3.5 miles. In my big race in May, I have 9.6 miles PAST that to overcome. And here, I'm complaining about 3.5. (I think the problem was that I had been in PJs all day. If I could've ran 3.5 miles in sweats, no bra and barefeet, there would've been no issue there.)

Running, so I've been told, is a great, big, giant mind game. I couldn't even get past the physical pain game to get to where the mind started playing a part on it, until recently, when I couldn't overcome three miles. I couldn't run three miles straight without stopping, and I've been running since June. But there was that mental block, that mental plateau, that kept me from doing it. I've beat that mean little mental plateau snot down for now, and now, I'm all, "Woo, look at me! I can run three miles straight now," as my seasoned running friends gently smile and think, "psh, I walk three miles straight faster than you." LOL! Now is just a matter of accepting I WILL have bad runs, I WILL have pain and I WILL need to just suck it up and go do it. All that over 3.5 miles. Pssssssh.
(And now, y'all know how much I weigh. Here's me: "Why, *chomping on Burger King* can't I lose weight? *Shoving fry in mouth* I mean, I just don't get it?)

P.S. Today was the first day ever, I thought I would hurl. Like, hurl over the railing and onto the unsuspecting kids playing basketball below. You know that salty taste in your mouth right before it happens? Phew. I used that mind thing again and talked my gag reflex off the ladder, but not before getting several stares from people around me.

Need a Cattle Prod

I feel like a teenager today. I don't wanna. I have 3.5 miles to run tonight and I simply cannot get my butt motivated. This ALWAYS happens on a Monday/day following a rest day. Then comes the negotiating with myself: "Well, I could use my OTHER rest day for today, but that would mean running the next five days." Tempting. I love running ... Just not the crap leading up to it. I'm still fairly new to it, so I still worry I can't do it, or that it'll be a bad run or my breathing will be off, my calf, which has been bothering me, will hurt too much to continue. 

No excuses, though. Suck it up, buttercup. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

It's Time.

It's time. Time to keep my running life separate from the rest of my life, and not shove it down the throats of those folks who don't want to hear about it. After all, I'm learning that there are two groups of people: Runners and non-runners. (Duh.) But no, seriously. I never, ever, for the life of me, understood why people wanted to run, and what was so special about running. Now, I wish everyone had the chance to be able to run for FUN. Yes, FUN. Do I love it so much while I'm doing it? Not at all. But the thrill of knowing you RAN several miles and did so without dying ... well, it's pretty cool. So, those who haven't been able to do this before have a hard time of getting excited for you when you run a mile under 11 minutes, or you bought spikes or ran four miles in snow and wind, and you actually WANTED to do that ... for FUN.

Please don't get me wrong. Runners are not superior to non-runners. We (whoa ... weird for me to consider myself a part of the running population ... lol!), like any hobby or sport, have a hard time talking to folks who don't run and don't share our enthusiasm. If a friend came to me tomorrow with a discussion on how amazing her table tennis game was last week, I would more than likely tune her out and instead, daydream about dinner.

I started this blog because I needed a personal document more to myself than to anyone, of the trials and tribulations on my journey. My closest friends of whom I talk to daily know what a hard balance my life already is. They know that after a fall of extreme burnout, some life decisions and soul searching, that adding something else to my already-full plate, is insane. They know my time is split between family, Girl Scouts and dance class and babysitting and photography and running and volunteering, and know I do all on little sleep often times. They know I make mistakes and they understand and forgive me when I just can't budge one more minute with time. But, they also know that this is a personal goal of mine. Has it ALWAYS been a goal? Not at all. Not until October 2013. But I needed something to work toward, a goal that would not only help get me motivated and off my butt. I needed something that would be tangible but tough, something that would be emotionally, physically and mentally challenging, that would make me cry, laugh and above all, make me do fist pumps and bring happy tears to my eyes once I met my goal. Some may say, "but that's why you have three beautiful girls. Aren't they a factor in any of this?" Absolutely, 100 percent. In fact, they are a driving force of why I've decided to do this. As girls growing up in a society that is completely different from the one I knew years ago, I want them to create goals for themselves and work hard to reach them, and not become too comfortable within their lives. I want them to always strive to do better and be better, but know that they already are wonderful and beautiful and gosh darn it, people like ... no, LOVE them. Of course, a tiny part of me wants to inspire them, but 99 percent of me wants them to be able to get that heart-swelling-with-pride-for-themselves thing going on after they reach a goal. Do I feel guilty when I leave for an hour of the day to go for a run? So incredibly much. My heart aches when I drive (or run) away and my girls are standing in the window, waving. But after soul searching this fall, I realized that I HAVE to have some "me" time to be a good wife and mother. I HAVE to find something, aside from my family and photography, that brings me to my Zen, that leaves me walking away feeling great and accomplished, just like my family and photography does. And running is it. Sure, I'm walking a very thin line of balance, and some days, I just want to throw in the towel because my legs literally cannot take me anywhere else in the scheme of daily life. But, I don't. I can't. I won't.

I couldn't do what I do without my wonderful family and close friend circle. They see me at my worst and cheer for me at my best. They know my faults, they acknowledge I'm human and make mistakes and try my very best and know I have the love of my family FIRST, on my priority list. They know that every single move I do throughout my daily life, I do it out of love for my children, husband, family and friends. They know I wouldn't do what I do on a daily basis -- running myself ragged, at times -- if I didn't love the things in life that matter most. They certainly don't give me guilt trips, and they love me unconditionally, despite my protests of sore legs, heavy workload and little sleep. To them (and they know who they are), they, along with my girls, are the beacons on a stormy night, and I'm forever grateful they allow me to be in their lives.

Thanks for stopping, thanks for reading, and if you have a spare moment, get your tennis shoes on and take a walk, breathe in that fresh air, and find your Zen.