Dear Stranger On The Running Path

Dear Stranger On The Running Path,

I was really struggling with my intervals today.  It was my first time even attempting to run outside, and it sucked.  I was so slow, and every step hurt.  I was only running from one light post to the next to time my intervals, but it was still a huge feat.  When I started bitching to my son about how much “This Sucks!” I was not expecting anyone to be paying attention.  To tell you the truth, I didn’t even really expect my son to be paying attention.

But you heard me, you heard me and made eye contact, you smiled.  “You’re doing great!” you said  “Keep it up!  It will get better.”  I smiled and said “Thank You” as you passed by, but what you didn’t catch is the tears welling up in my eyes at your kindness. And  what you didn’t catch was the boost that gave me to finish the rest of our route doing my intervals instead of giving up.

I had been at the point I was ready to give up, and you pushed me forward.  So thank you, random man jogging on the same path as me.  Thank you for offering support to a stranger, a beginner, just trying to make it from one lamp post to the next running.  It really meant the world.

With Gratitude,

Me

Memorial Day 3 Miler With Photos

My daughter Tori and I went out for a walk on a new route for us, a great Memorial Day treat.  This 3 mile loop incorporates 1 mile of our normal river path with new 2 miles through one of the nicest neighborhoods in Rockford.  This was a recovery walk for me so we weren’t too worried about our pace.  I must say, I really enjoyed doing this route and we will be taking it again in the future.

Kristen & Tori Ready To Go!

We started out at the YMCA as usual meeting a ramp up to the bridge at .25 mile.  I had specifically gone clockwise on this loop so that we’d hit this hill in the beginning, putting the rest of the route subtly downhill.  I’ll have a ramp similar to this one at mile 10 of the Princess Half, so I’m keeping this spot in mind when I’m training at that distance, today the hill was a little fussy for me, by the time I race it will be my bitch.

Ramp Up To The Bridge

A Great View From The Top

As we walked across the bridge we discovered a lovely little treat.  People in Rockford are using this spot for “Love Locks” a tradition that’s thought to have originated in China with love locks on gates, but is most famously associated with Paris, France.   The folk magic tradition, a little bit of a love spell if you will, is performed by lovers who affix a padlock to a fence, gate, bridge and then as a symbol of their everlasting love, the keys are thrown into the river.  We found many love locks on the north side of the Whitman Street Bridge.

Love Locks on the Bridge

From the bridge we headed off into one of my favorite neighborhoods in town, Churchill’s Grove. We walked up Harlem Boulevard enjoying the historic architecture and beautiful gardens.  Big old oak trees shaded our path, and everyone we passed along the way smiled and said hello.  One of the houses that we came across had a staff in the yard with a hanger full of prayer flags (ribbons) hanging on it.  At the bottom of the staff was a little tub full of ribbons, and the small sign on the staff explained what what to do.  Tori and I happily added ribbons to the staff.  I added a pink ribbon for myself,  as I prayed that I would be able to finish the Princess Half Marathon.

This is a Great Neighborhood!

So Many Beautiful Gardens.

My Prayer to Finish the Princess Half!

Next we crossed back over the river at the Auburn Bridge and headed down the other side walking the river path that we’ve done a million times before.  It was quite crowded on the river path with families walk their dogs, biking, and generally enjoying a beautiful day.  If I had been worried about pace I wouldn’t have been too happy about how crowded it was, I watched several runners struggle to get around big families.  For Tori and I however, we were just having fun.  The last mile went pretty quickly, even though I had to slow down several times due to some tightness in my legs.  While I wasn’t having serious pain, I’m always a bit stiff on Mondays because its my first workout after my long run.

1 Mile Left To Go

 It was a really nice walk, and I’m happy to get to share pictures from along the way with you. I hope that everyone takes a few minutes today in the middle of their fun to remember those service men and women who have given their lives for our country.

Happy Memorial Day 

5 Mile Long Run/Walk/Run

This is a total bragging post because I am crazy proud of myself today.  It was my long run/walk/run day today and I went to the gym more than a little intimidated by the 5 mile distance on my training plan.  For some reason this distance seemed like a huge milestone to me.  I felt like everything before 5 miles was a good accomplishment, but that this was a real test.  In my head, if I could do this 5 miler then a 10K was going to be no problem.

IMG_5094

My plan was that it would take me about 2 hours to complete 5 miles based on the 2.5 mph times that my previous long runs have been.  I grabbed a bottle of water, some Watermelon Gu Chews, put on some 2017 Princess Half Marathon YouTube videos, and hopped on the treadmill.  My first hour seemed to fly by as I warmed up on the 2.7 mph setting.

5-miler-results

By the time I started my second hour, I felt limber and able to bump up my pace even more.  Overall it was a really excellent workout.  I got my heart rate up, did my 5 miles, felt great doing it, and even finished 10 minutes sooner than I thought I would. 5 miler – check!  And I’m feeling strong and confident to move forward.

Week 10-ish Wrap-up

Week 10 turned out to be sort of rough, and my weekend long day never happened due to travel.  I should have run at the hotel’s gym, I just didn’t and it really messed with my head to tell you the truth.

Here’s a few highlights from week 10!

    1. I’ve stopped logging on DailyMile so I’m lacking their great charts and graphs, I had previously.  This is because I’ve switched over to the free version of RunKeeper.  The graphs there don’t quite do what I want them to, but as far as tracking goes it’s better.  I also keep a detailed spreadsheet of how each workout of mine has gone in my training plan spreadsheet.  You can see in the image from my training plan above, I’m currently in week 11 of my plan, and have another 40 weeks to go before my race.
    2. I’ve been very frustrated with the lack of real increase in my pace.  That 16 minute mile hangs over my head like a big dark cloud.  I had to go back to one of my first posts about how I would be measuring success during training.  There are 4 basic measures that I set up for myself – Faster, Farther, Longer, and Better.  I can honestly say that I am consistently going farther in distance, longer in duration, and better in recovery.  Every week I conquer the goals that I’ve set for myself in those three measures, I just wish that I would pick up some speed.
    3. I’ve added in a little running to my training routine using Jeff Galloway’s method.  I run/walk/run as best I can.  I can’t always go for very long, but I can see improvements in my endurance each time I try.  Adding in more running is very important to my training progress if I’m going to gain speed and meet my goals.  However, baby steps are what I’ve got going on so I remain at turtle pace.
    4. Since I added in running perhaps two weeks ago, I’ve been dealing with some serious foot pain.   Not when I’m out on the  trail or treadmill, but afterwords when I get home and am at rest.  The pain is across the strip of my foot where my metatarsals are, and they burn like fire.  It’s kept me up at night and there have even been a few days  that I resorted to narcotic pain killers to get it under control.  However – I think I may finally have it managed to a point I can live with.  I increased the frequency of one of my Fibromyalgia medications to my allotted 3 times a day.  I’ve been icing my feet after workouts, and at night I’m coating my feet in biofreeze.

Mind Monsters And Getting It Done

I didn’t want to go to the gym yesterday.   I was stressed out and anxious, I had a million things on my plate, and I simply couldn’t get motivated.  Make no mistake – working out is hard. Just because I’m doing it, doesn’t mean that I’m always enjoying it or that want to do it.  There are mind monsters lurking in the dark and shadowy places that continue to tell me how much I hate it all, how much I suck.  Maybe you can relate?  I try to tell myself that this is perfectly normal, and what makes it or breaks my success is I fight back.   So in case you battle your own mind monsters, read a little about how I fought back yesterday.

Fear and Doubt

The No Excuses Bag – Even though I wasn’t sure that I was going to go to the gym, I packed my gear bag and tossed it in the car when I left the house.  Everything I might need to work out is in that bag – water bottles, endurance fuel, ear buds, hair ties, shampoo/conditioner, and a padlock.

Training Buddy Text – I sent a message to the friend that I stay accountable to when it comes to training.  She’s doing the half marathon with me and also doesn’t always love working out.  “I don’t want to work out today.” I said.  “Just do 30 minutes.” she replied.  That sounded like something I might be able to handle.  “I’m supposed to do 60-90 minutes.” I told her.  She asked if I was feeling OK with that time.  She’s using a different training plan than I am and my shorter days are actually twice as long as hers are.  There are plenty of times I envy her 30 minutes twice a week as I trudge away towards an hour. “Do what you can. If it’s 60, great. If it’s 30, great. Short is better than nothing.”  I knew she was right so I drove to the gym and parked.

The Parking Pep Talk – I sat in the car, and sat, and sat.  Did I really want to work out?  No.  Could I make not working out fit into my training plan?  Not really.  I have learned that need to hit all my training days and can’t take more than one day off or I lose the endurance I have gained.  Should I run inside or outside?  Hrmmm… It was a beautiful day, but.  But !  I had to pee – an there it was.

Fight On and Win The Day

Once Inside – I slung my no excuses bag over my shoulder and headed into the Y to use the restroom.  The staff at the front desk greeted me – I groaned back and mumbled about how not into this I was.  Their cheerful retort was to cheer me on me for being at the Y anyway.  “Aww hell” I thought, I was inside now headed to the restroom a mere 12 feet away from the cardio room.  I might as well do this thing.

30 Minutes – I shoved my bag into a locker and grabbed some water and my head phones.  begrudgingly I texted my training buddy that I was going for it and I would send them an accountability picture afterwards.  I set the dreadmill to 30 minutes, pulled YouTube up on the screen and decided to watch RezRuns 2017 Star Wars – The Dark Side Half Marathon Weekend videos.  The next thing I knew the treadmill was switching me into cool down and 30 minutes had gone by.  I realized  that I felt good, I felt strong, and I had at least 30 more minutes left in me.

Finishing Strong – In that first 30 minutes, that sucky 30 minutes, I had reached my warm up point.  As I’ve mentioned before, I love it after I’m warmed up.  I was at the point that I really wanted to make it worth my while, so not only did I keep going, but I went for the run/walk/run.  I ran for 15-20 seconds, and then walked the rest of each minute.  I was able to do about 6 sets and when I was experiencing  too much shin pain I took a walk break for awhile, before finishing the last 10 minutes with more run/walk/run sets.  For me – this was huge, and this is how I’m going to reach my goal.  It was absolutely the most time I have spent incorporating running into my training plan and I felt good about it.

So there you have it!  From struggling with every step to feeling great about how it turned out – I fought the mind monsters and won the day.  There will be more battles, more struggles and doubt, but as long as I keep moving forward I am sure I will succeed.

10 Things I’ve Learned About Working Out

I’ve been in my training plan for about 2 months now and I feel like I have really come far.  I’m still very much a novice, and I don’t expect that to go away any time soon.  I walk a lot more than I run, and I’m turtle slow.  However – I’ve learned a few  important things along the way that I wanted to share. 

  1. Make a goal. Make a lot of goals actually. While running a half marathon is my main goal, there are milestones all along the way that help me get. I celebrate every one and moving through the progress of them helps keep me going.
  2. Half the fight to get it done is all in your head. Give yourself pep talks throughout your workout. Simply believing that you can will carry you a long way.
  3. Work out hard, but smart. When those voices start telling you to stop, what you really need to do is reassess. Scale back for a couple of minutes without stopping, slow down, and mentally scan your body. If you’re just tired stay at the slower pace until you can ramp back up. However – if you feel like you’re injured or so tired that your motions are sloppy and dangerous it may be time to stop for the day.
  4. Trust the plan. Set up a solid training plan to reach your goal, and stick to it. Don’t rush your increases, that can cause injury, trust the plan and you’ll get to your goal.
  5. Do something, anything. On days that you don’t feel great or you are hurting more than normal you don’t have to completely give up on your work out, simply scale back. Getting a shorter, lighter work out in keeps your healthy habits going.
  6. It always sucks until you’re warmed up – and you can’t rush it for any reason. Just keep moving forward and eventually the early work out aches with fade and everything will get easier. Finish strong.
  7. Find a buddy. You may be excited about your workouts, but your family’s eyes will glaze over if that aren’t into fitness too. Have a designated buddy that you can talk about your training plan to, and be accountable to for your workouts.
  8. Use all the resources you can to stay on track. Not only do I have a training plan, but I’m seeing a physical therapist, massage therapist, and frequently looking up sports articles regarding nutrition, and sports psychology online. There’s more to fitness than just getting to the gym, do your research and train smart.
  9. Fuel the machine. If you are going to be out there for more than an hour, no matter if you’re running or walking, your body is going to need a little more than just water to keep you feeling good. Find the endurance fuel that you like best and work it in to your regular training schedule, it’s not just for races.
  10. No one at the gym cares what you are doing. Just go in and do your thing with confidence, because that’s what everyone else is doing. No one cares what you’re wearing, or what size you are. No one cares if you pause the treadmill so you can stretch a little more or tie your shoes. Be confident, and act like you belong – because you do.

Massage Therapy

I went in for my first round of massage therapy on my calves this morning. Though I was really unsure about giving it a try (my fibromyalgia can make touch quite uncomfortable), I’m hoping to see positive results.  The therapist (Rachel) said that she was able to work out a couple of the knots and get a little more movement in my legs.  Even though the work done today was fairly painful, I had gone in with a positive attitude, and feel like I tolerated it well.

While I can’t really tell if it helped or not, it was pretty relaxing even through the pain.  My long workout day is tomorrow and I’m hoping that my legs will be a little looser.  I made an appointment for another session in about 3 weeks.

P.s.  About 3 hours after my massage I started feeling some malaise and a tad nauseous.  This can happen after deep tissue work, and I’m muddling through.  I took some naproxen, elevated my legs for the night, and drank another bottle of water.  Fingers crossed it won’t get worse overnight and I’m still on for my long run/walk.

Just To Be Clear, I Hate Fibromyalgia

My fibromyalgia has been flaring since last Friday and I am so over it.  I’ve spent most of my days alternating between trying to get daily tasks done and sleeping because those daily tasks are exhausting.  Because I run a low grade fever when I flare (due to the wide spread inflammation) I have been absolutely freezing, since Friday.  The constant pain is wearing on me both mentally and physically.  The stiffness makes me feel like I’m wearing a weighted sumo suit.  Let me be very clear, I hate this.

I hate this.   I will not be defined by this.  I will fight this every step of the way.  However – to beat Fibro I have learned that you have to give in a little and let it advance before you can beat it back another day.  That is what I’m doing right now.

My training schedule this week is going to be sort of pathetic.  I only got out for about 30 minutes each on Monday and Tuesday I  walked about 1.3 mile each day.  That’s all I had in me, but at least I gave my training what I had.  My flare is starting to subside, and I’m trying to stay as positive as possible.  Tomorrow is a recovery day.

 

Week 8 Wrap-up: Farther, Faster, Fibromyalgia

I kicked ass this week – until that is – my body kicked back.  I didn’t have much time or energy to post anything, but here’s my weekly wrap-up.

Highlights from my week!

  1. I finally had a training day where I broke the 20 minute a mile pace.  This is something that I’ve been striving for the past two months.  Tori and I walked the Museum Path on Thursday and we were at a 19:49 pace according to Runkeeper.  We went to Taco Betty’s afterwards to celebrate.
  2. Friday I had my long walk on the treadmill and took it slow and steady.  My head was absolutely not in it and the whole way was a struggle, but I went 4.11 miles in a little more than an hour and a half.
  3. On Saturday I hit “the zone” at the end of my workout and I even ran a little bit.  Not very far or very fast, but running it was.
  4. My new underwire sports bra from Torrid came in and I must say I love it.  I knew that my regular bras weren’t cutting it (that happens when you have DDD’s) but I didn’t realize just how much I had been bouncing around until I got that well fitting sport bra on and it stopped.  I can move so much more smoothly now that everything is being held in place.  It’s awesome.
  5. Sadly – after such a huge week my body decided to fight back.  After my 4 miler I came home and slept the rest of the day.  I started to run a low grade fever.  Still I went back to the gym on Saturday, only to sleep the rest of the day again.  By 5pm the pain had started, I was in a full blown Fibro Flare.  I’m not sure if it was the weather this week, the fact that I was a little dehydrated, moving to a 5 day a week training plan, or what, but my Fibromyalgia decided to show up and remind me that I can not handle doing all the things.  I hate having Fibromyalgia, it really sucks. Living with disability is something that I try not to focus on, but when I forget my limits my body always reminds me in the most painful way possible.   Today is Sunday and I am in crazy amounts of pain, my brain is fuzzy, and I am absolutely freezing.
  6. Because of the Fibro Flare I’m going to move back to a 4 day training schedule for the next couple of weeks at least.  I need to have a rest day before and after my long days.  I’m not happy about this, but I will figure it out.