the struggle is real

Injuries can be very frustrating.  Whenever I feel the first bit of pain, I tell myself I need to just run through it…it will pass.  When it does not pass, I tell myself…you just need to stretch better.  Next, I tell myself…you just need more ice and some ibuprofen.  This cycle of pain and mental struggle continues for this runner for weeks before I ever consider that there may actually be an injury.  I mean, suck it up, right?

Well, I recently had a hard landing on an obstacle course rope swing.  So stupid.  I simply did not realize the earth was so close and my feet hit before I was ready for them to hit.  The left one hit first, then the right – and my knees bent a way in which God did not really intend.  I did not realize it, but I had just won a slight sprain in the left and deep bone bruise in the right.  Of course, it will be almost 2 months before I get that information.  I assume I need to just “walk it off”.   In fact, that very day,  I then proceeded to repel down a 50 foot wall and continued to walk for hours.

Fast forward two weeks or so.  I am teaching, coaching track, and still trying to run periodically.  My husband counts on me for his workouts.  He doesn’t like to run alone.  I even wrote about what I was experiencing here, so I will not rewrite it.  I will tell you that I thought I was just still recovering from my marathon.

Finally, after 3 weeks of rest and the pain not really going anywhere – I went to see an Orthopedic Surgeon.  At this point, the team trainer fell rather confident that I had torn my meniscus.  After x-rays and an exam, the Dr. felt that was a rather good assumption.  “Let’s get the MRI to be sure and I can do the procedure on Friday.”  (you see, I was pushing for him to go through the process quickly because … well…do I need to explain that?)  When I went back in on Thursday, expecting to get prepped for a procedure on Friday – I mean, I even already took the day off – he told me the actual diagnosis – deep bone bruise.  I sat in shock – all of this for a bruise?  “What kind of wuss am I?”  I asked him.  He assured me that I was no wuss  and that I had a very serious injury of the right tibia.  Unfortunately, no quick fix – more rest, then, more rest.  UGH.

So, I am very grateful that I do not, in fact, have to have surgery.  I am also glad to know that I was not setting some kind of record in the marathon recovery time needed department.  My third blessing here is that I had a team trainer that took great care of me and sent me to the doctor.  I would have NEVER gone to the doctor on my own – such is my suck it up nature.

Before the diagnosis I had set the goal to run my next marathon on October 31st.  He said that he felt I should still be able to meet this goal.  I will keep you posted.

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the few…the proud…the incredibly sore

Educator’s Workshop at Paris Island March 1-4, 2016 for the Recruiting Station of Columbia, South Carolina…holy cow…what an amazing experience.  The sign that speaks 2016-03-03 07.20.02 (2)the mission of the base really says it all.  “We Make Marines”

My participation in this workshop tops the list of professional development experiences and learning  about what I can do to help young people to find their paths, wherever they may lead.2016-03-01 15.26.41

Our group of 30 educators stayed in Beaufort and traveled to the base daily.  We met Marines and recruits and learned what it takes to be a US Marine.  We also were able to experience shooting the M 16, repelling down a 50 foot wall, running the obstacle course, and of course, visiting the pit.

The PIT – a sandy spot that looks like it is ready for a beach volleyball game, but I assure you this is not a fun spot.  PIT, I believe stands for “personal incentive training”.  Now, I don’t know if that is an official breakdown or one of affection.  I know we all thought that some “personal incentive training” could be very effective in our classrooms.

The repel wall… one marine at the top and one at the bottom.  These 2 men are there to make sure you go down safely.  You could pass out and drop and still be lowered without harm.  This did not assuage my fear AT ALL!   So, here is the whole story.  When we first arrived, they put us in formation and said “those that have no intention of repelling please go to the back fence”.  I did not move.  I was in.  The instructor explained what was going to happen and told us to go get our gear.  I walked with the group, but in the room with the gear – I bailed.  I came out empty handed…I just could not do it.  My fear of heights was going to win today.

2016-03-03 09.51.43The Marines that we were working with over the course of the 4 days expressed their dismay as I passed by to join the non-participants.  I stood to the side for the 20 minute preparations of the group – anger growing and frustration brewing.  Not only was I battling my fear of heights, but I had just hurt my knee on the obstacle course (read about that here).  Still, I could not take it any longer and I walked up to my Drill Instructor and said “I don’t want to wuss out – is it too late?”  No it was not.  They went and got gear and got me ready in 60 seconds flat.  As I climbed the stairs the shaking began.  I tried not to think about it as I watched educator after educator disappear over the side.  It was finally my turn.

Marine number 1 hooked me up, told me to step back, and then, just lean back.  I tried and tried.  We were to put our heals over the edge – half on, half off sort of thing.  And then, keep legs straight and do a trust fall – 50 feet in the air – with the guy that is going to “catch” you 50 feet below.  I kept staring into the eyes of Marine number one and listening to the voices of those below – trying to distinguish  that of Marine number two.  I had my first heal over the edge.  As I tried to inch my other foot back, I rocked back and forth, left to right, not really making any progress.  As the anxiety level rose, I had to step from the edge completely again.  UGH!  I repeated this twice.  Seriously?  I was so frustrated that I could not overcome this.  I wanted it so badly!  My Marine was so patient and so good and calming a woman on the edge.

Again, I get my right heel over the edge.  “Now, just move your left foot,” he said.  Sure.     “I’m trying!”  I screamed.  Mental note – do not piss off the Marine holding the rope.   Deep breath.  Finally, I edged the foot back and he said , “you are there – now just lean back.” and in one fell swoop I dropped over the edge.  The exhilaration at all time high in this 46-year-old life – I made it half way down the wall before they stopped me.  My fingers were dangerously close to the rig and we needed to reposition before they lowered me the rest of the way.  Whew.  When I hit the ground it was hard to even think straight because the adrenaline was so high.  I do remember, however, giving a great big hug to Marine number two.

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I can see why they make recruits to this.  A trust and confidence builder for sure.  I am so grateful for the experience and to two very special Marines that I will never forget.

Getting back in the game.

So, after a lifetime of an on again, off again relationship with running – I finally ran my first marathon 2 months ago at 46.  It was my third attempt at training and my first time at the starting line.  Read about it here.

I did all the research about recovery – what I should eat, what kind of time to take off.  The moment I crossed the finish line I knew I wanted to run another.  Fast forward 2 months – I have really struggled with getting back out there.  I knew this was possible.  It, too, was in the research.  I mean, I have been running, but not with the passion and fervor that kept me training through the cold and rain.  And the 3 miles feel like 10.   Also, I hurt my whole right leg – bruised every part of my knee-joint and connective tissue when I landed hard, sadly, from a marine corps obstacle course rope swing (whew – that was a mouthful).  This does not help the motivation to run.

Honestly, my schedule during track season makes it very difficult to run.  Our meets keep me out until 10 or 10:30 pm.  On nights that we do not have meets I get home around 5:30 – generally physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted.  The other night, after a track meet, I crawled into bed around 11:30 and I hurt more from toe to hip than I ever did before, during, or after my marathon training.  I had a restless night and awoke feeling the same way – simply aching.  Standing at the finish line for 5 and a half hours on that track – after a day of standing on concrete floors – I guess is just too much for this 46-year-old lady.

Friday morning I emailed the male track coach who has great experience that I like to tap into now and again.  I asked him “what am I doing wrong to feel so awful?”  He suggested that I still needed to recover from my marathon.  Say what?  I struggled with this idea. Big time.

So, I jogged a few laps on Friday before the kids all hit the track. Then, I stretched well and promptly walked over to the trainer to get that knee iced down.  The knee has been feeling better – and I have been under her care since the injury.  Her suggestion has been to use it – keep running and keep checking in with her.  No problem.

 

I ran a 5k with some friends on Saturday – I felt pretty strong, surprisingly.  This morning, Sunday, I also ran with some confidence.  I ran and easy, easy 4.5 and stretched and iced everything.  I have been also been drinking a lot of water this weekend.  I think I am going with that I was severely dehydrated on Thursday.

I need to get a race on the board.  A half, I think.  And a few 5ks through the spring.

What’s the point of this post?  I am running – and I am not going to let my busy schedule, painful  15 hour days, or anything else keep me from running.  Now if I can just believe that because, evidently, getting back in the game is hard after a marathon.

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Yanks out for a run in Killarney, Ireland

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Me and my travel buddy, Kelly

I love to grab my phone and go out for an early morning run while on tour with my students.  Unfortunately, exhaustion tends to take over and the rest becomes more important as we move through our 14 hour days of walking and sight-seeing while traveling abroad.

 

Still, when I am able to do this I am able to see a few things that I would have otherwise missed.  Plus, running through town can really give you a sense of what it is like.  I mean, you are on foot and don’t have the protection of a vehicle or a large group.   You smell smells and hear sounds that you would otherwise miss – things that really add to the ambiance of a town.   If it feels unsafe – you usually know it right away.  Still, I would never run where I thought I might be unsafe.  We always discuss the area with our tour consultant and folks at the hotel to ensure our safety – and I would never run alone.

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Our Hotel in Killarney

While in Killarney, our first stop on the Britannia with EF Tours, my travel buddy and I went out for a short run – about 2 miles.  We went away from town in the opposite direction from which we arrived.  It did not disappoint.  Our first lesson was to run on the correct side of the path.  We were running on the right and the running path/bike path follows the rules of the road.  We ran into only one person before we realized our error and began keeping to the left.

First, we saw a flock of sheep in a field with a lovely backdrop.  OUR FIRST FLOCK!!!2015-06-18 17.19.53

We ran to a bridge as saw this lovely view.2015-06-18 17.18.00

We went out a mile and then backtracked.  There was a lovely gentleman selling strawberries near this bridge and he gave us a taste.  They were fresh and yummy.

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Our tour bus never did make it this way.  I feel like I won a special prize when I get to experience these places with a short run.  Stinky clothes remain the problem.  I can put them in ziplock baggies with dryer sheets, but they really need a washing machine!

 

 

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Read about more group travel trip here.

Read about my first marathon here.

 

 

 

Shadow Box

The ultimate scrapbook page – 3D and mountable.

My daughter fancied her shadow box first and I decided to copy the idea.  It rests on my desk in my studio, ready to be mounted.  As you may have read, I only recently completed my first marathon.  So, currently when I look a this shadow box I am reliving that particular race – only I am in a seated position and not straining myself to finish…well not straining to finish a race, anyway.  I mean, there is always something to finish, right?

This particular shadow box is cool because it has removable layers that allows for the contents to get thicker and thicker.  So, I intend to just keep adding my bibs from races.

Since all of my children are runners – I went ahead and purchased and started one for each of them, as well.  I love that we all share this activity and challenge with one another.

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My First Marathon – one proud mamathoner

My daughter and I shared our first marathon together on January 16, 2016 at the Charleston Marathon.  She lives 5 states away and we were unable to train together, but we ran this race together, stride for stride.

As an added bonus we stayed with my bff, Kelly,  and her boy, Anthony.  (sign and photos courtesy of Miss Kelly)

Training: I had been training specifically for this race for about 18 weeks.  Flu over Christmas – ugh.  Two fellow runners think this flu actually saved me and is why I felt so great during the actual marathon – forced rest and pull back from the mileage.  That it was, indeed.  Bill, my husband, continues to tell me how much he hated the training schedule that I followed.  He plowed through it with me, though.  My biggest supporter – no question. He ran with me during every single run and pushed me when I wanted to slack.  Even though he could not run the distances on the long run days, he was out there running every step he could as he cheered me on.

Alexis, also affectionately referred to as YaYa, returned home for Thanksgiving and we were able to run 16 together. That day I thought to myself how apparent our ages have become.  We stayed together most of the day, but she took off at the end and crushed the last 2 miles.  (deep sigh)

After that day I ran 17 and another 16 with lots of lower mile days in there.  But over Christmas Break, when we planned on running 20 together, I came down with the flu and it kicked my butt.  I was in bed for the whole of our Christmas break and did not run a step for 2 and half weeks – which felt like an eternity.  Even when I did run after that – I wanted to just stop.  3 miles felt like 15.  Mentally, I felt defeated before I ever started the race.

Race day:  Alexis and  I decided we were going to run the first five miles at an eleven minute pace – nice and easy.  Then the next five at 10:45….then the next five at 10:30 or under. We wanted to keep dropping by 15 seconds until we hit the wall and just couldn’t anymore. Then, YaYa slammed into the wall – knees first – at mile 15.  Actually, just before mile 15.  Around 13 I was struggling a little bit and wanted to slow down (we were actually running at, like 10:15).  My belly was cramping.  She talked me through it as best as she could when I told her I needed her to encourage me.  She was great.  We rounded the corner from the marina, just after crossing over an overpass and hearing the speaker shout out our current time.  I dashed to the porta pottie to no avail as YaYa stretched in the street.   The runners had really thinned out at this point.

We got back to it and shortly after that, she just could not overcome.  She kept expecting to move beyond whatever was hurting her and push through and it just never happened. She told me on a few occasions that if I left her, she would quit – as a way to say thank you for the support.  Around mile 23 she told me that finishing this race was, by far, the hardest thing she has ever had to do.  Really?  Now, like on that 16 mile run over Thanksgiving Break – our ages became very apparent once again.

I was conflicted, I am embarrassed to say.  I wanted to stay with her so badly.  I wanted to support her and be a team.  But I was frustrated that I had trained so hard, for what seemed so long – only to fall short of my goals.  I thought to myself about the 2 other times in my life I trained for a marathon.   The first time, I just gave up mid training – excuses are there, but I can’t remember them now.  Then the next time I had my appendix out mid training and I just could not mentally overcome that.  As I write this now, I do also remember being alone for both failures.  Perhaps that drove my ultimate decision.

Keep in mind – we have run shorter races together before, and when someone gets a groove on, well, she takes off!  This is a perfectly acceptable practice.

I had staggered, graded goals (What can I say, I am a teacher).  Alexis actually gave me the idea.  She learned it from a marathon course she had taken as an undergrad at Clemson University.  A – under 4:30, B – under 5, C – finish.  There really was not option D or F – Finish I must.

I felt really good from the first step that day and thought, briefly, I might hit the A goal. YaYa had to hold me back early on so I would not burn out – which is why we started at 11 minute miles.  As we continued on with the 5 hour pacer guy, I realized that under 5 was still solid and perfectly respectable.  As we went on I realized how challenging even this was going to be with my now aching daughter.  At 24 miles, honestly, when the 5:30 pacer passed us – a little part of me really felt sad (I don’t want to say died, that’s a little too dramatic).  But my frustration peeked.  I was so torn…be a good mom, be a team player or own your training, compete, run! – oh my competitive side yelled at me the whole way.  Well, now I have this stored energy, we are nearing the end, and I want to run.  I mean, there are only 2 miles left – surely you can make that on your own after what we have been through.  As we slowed for her knees, I began to cramp in my hips and thighs because I needed a full stride, desperately.

So, question of the hour, should I let her fail here?  She is 24 years old.  She admitted to not training like she should have.  But she ran 16 twice with no issues of any kind.  Something hurt this time.  What if it was just a wall, or just a fluke? So what. We were going to do it together.   How would I have reacted or finished if the roles were reversed and she took off and left me because I was struggling.  It may have made it harder on me, but I guarantee I would have finished.   She would have, too. I cried at 23 ish because I was so overwhelmed with emotion.  I think it was mostly from feeling like my daughter actually needed me for the first time in what seemed like a decade.  How could I turn my back on her no matter how much my ego cried out for an A?  What kind of person would that have made me? What kind of mother?  She doesn’t need to learn a lesson here – I do.

I am allowed to have feelings. AND it is what I do with those that make me who I am, right?  Well, my enthusiasm and joy could not be diminished by my competitive ego and I continued DSC_0823 (2)to bounce and smile and sing (seemingly obnoxiously) until the very last step over the finish line with my daughter at my side.  I will forever remember the high fives at every mile, even the 26th, and her tears the entire last mile.  Time: 5 hours and 35 minutes.

One proud mamathoner.

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