Bling

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I ran 3 races, three weekends in a row. Think I’ll stick to running as regular exercise for a bit as I have been really grumpy between races as I couldn’t run due to recovery. (Was that a run-on sentence?)

Anyway, yay me.

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Publix Half

I think I last wrote on Wednesday that I had ruled out doing the half marathon. In a wave of anticipating regret if I didn’t run it I decided I *did* want to run a half marathon on Sunday after all.

Follow the dotted line on this picture if you’re interested in seeing the half marathon course.

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I bought a bib from someone who couldn’t run, so I paid a lot less than I would have by signing up last minute, and I got to run as a man, haha!

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It turns out Charles is exactly 3 days older than I am, as we were born the same year. I really doubt it, but the girl who sold me his bib said I ran about the same pace he would have run. He threw his back out or had back surgery so he couldn’t participate after all, and I kept thinking, “I’m running this for you, Charles!” like I was some sort of hero or martyr.

The girl I bought the bib from was going to run with me, but she also had to bail because she was very sick. 😦 We were going to take MARTA together. After I learned that, I quickly made other plans to catch a ride with another girl, who I had run in a group run with a month or so back. This turned out to be a great plan, as we were able to talk the whole time! She was funny and she’s a fellow mom, so we got to vent about life post-baby but also talk about how much we love our boys!

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It was around 40 degrees outside so we hung out inside the Omni for a bit, taking the opportunity to pee and stretch as much as possible, but also avoiding the cold for a long as possible. My bib was in corral B, which meant I would have been able to start like a minute sooner than she would have in corral C, but I hung back, suddenly nervous about running by myself. Who knew I was so needy? I definitely had had my freak out before getting a bib about getting to the race by myself (this is one of my hangups, as I can get quite worked up about parking places and running late!), but then I was able to make a plan A (MARTA with bib girl) and then plan B when that fell through. Where there’s a will!

I had been worried about getting to her house by the time she wanted to leave, and after that I didn’t really worry about time or even what to do. She’d run this race twice before, and she just knew things, so I just followed her lead and didn’t worry! Now I know what the deal is with this race so maybe I can guide someone next year.

Downtown Atlanta is so pretty, so that was nice to enjoy:

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The race was pretty good! The course was gorgeous, ran through some really historic parts of town (including Ebenezer Baptist, the Carter Center, etc.). We ran places I’d driven through a million times and through neighborhoods I’d never laid eyes on.

My time included a potty break where there was long line, a few water stops, and jelly bean stop. There were green jelly beans all over the road after that stop, and I couldn’t finish the ones they handed me. There were all kinds of handouts, which was nice in some ways, but a little too much in other ways. I would have needed a serious goody bag or a sherpa to collect and carry all the food they handed out. And runners are trashy! There was so much trash on the ground!

The police and other volunteers along the course were so sweet to cheer us on. I tried to thank them as much as possible. Many folks turned up to cheer on their friends, but they also cheered everyone else on. I got a little teary when the marathon course split from the half, as I was super proud of the marathon runners soldiering on to twice as many miles as we were running. They seemed so heroic to me! Maybe that will be me next year, too. Hmmmm.

My friend and I stayed together most of the race, she got a burst of energy the last mile, so she ran on ahead. I was so proud of her as I know she’d trained up to this race more so than I had. She also had time to snap a shot of me after I crossed the line, sweet!

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It was all in a all a great experience and I’ll run it again, definitely with someone I can talk to the whole time to make it fly by. I’ll try to run it AS myself next time, too, haha.

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Thanks for reading.

Energy, Where Are You?

Earlier this week I was feeling great, motivated, and ready to kick butt. I lifted weights pretty intensely two nights, then did major stretching on day 3, and then ran 7 miles yesterday. It was pretty cold outside yesterday and I had wanted to run a longer distance, but I was stopping to walk too often to keep going.

My mind is especially racing today and I want to either go to sleep or go do something different than routine. My body is sore, which is something that felt good the first few days this week but now makes me feel like I have the flu. Not good.

I was planning to run in the Atlanta Publix Half Marathon this Sunday, but I haven’t purchased my entry and am feeling overwhelmed physically by what would be a really busy Sunday if I were to run in it anyway. I did register for a half in Knoxville in April, so that will happen soon enough.

There’s a friend’s baby shower Sunday afternoon and another friend whose baby I need to go meet that has stuff for the girl with the baby shower. It should be something to look forward to, but thinking about it makes me feel ragged right now. Anticipating exhaustion is exhausting.

And I’m running a 5K next weekend with friends, which I hope will be easy as it’s less than half the distance of what I run usually. It will be my first 5K where I’ve actually been running a lot before I take to the course. I will be the seasoned runner compared to the old me, who, at age 23, could never run and then still run a 5K in about 30 minutes. I’m trying to decide whether to stay with the group of friends or try to be competitive against myself. I’ve gotten myself down to 8 minute miles a few times.

Oh, but that thought makes me feel tired. Pushing myself seems like the worst thing I could do right now.

I’ve been pretty grumpy today, too. Maybe I need sleep.

Thanks for letting me whine at you. Here’s to hoping for an energetic Friday where I can get stuff done.

Revving Up Again. But Still Stuck.

I realize yesterday’s post was not the most sunshine-y. I think I may have reached my optimism limit some days, yesterday being one of them. I want to speak my mind. Once heard someone say (paraphrased), “you may not know exactly what your thought is until you’re actually speaking the thought out loud.”

Or, in my case, writing it.

I took 3 days off from running. Mostly because of a certain vices in my life (cider, wine, etc.), but also because of rain, and actual general laziness (exhaustion???). When I ran last Thursday, I wasn’t feeling it, even though I ran 5 miles. I only ran 17 miles last week, as opposed to 30 the week before. I have this goal of running the marathon and it’s pressing on me too dauntingly. I was partially afraid of going running again yesterday because I thought I might not *want* to. Luckily I was able to run and enjoy over 6 miles yesterday. It was a cold and blustery day, but lots of folks were out and the morning rain had moved out. And I slept mostly well.

Self care is the hardest thing for me right now. It feels so selfish. Running is an acceptable form of self care to most – therapists, my husband, others who run. I don’t want to lose it so I have to take care of myself all the more. Running is how I blow off steam, clear my head. Running is also probably how I run away from my problems, like my issues are a gang of evil monsters with clubs on fire running at my heels. It’s a solitary activity, unless running in a group of course. Even though I am not a swimmer, I imagine the submersion into water feels so good to satisfy a person’s need for solitude. I know I like to submerge in the bathtub to disconnect for a bit. Running feels the same way.

I may not run a marathon quite yet, but at least it’s in the realm of possibility for me given how much I run now.

Sometimes, though, I hit a wall and have no energy. I shut down and have to rest. My brain overloads and basically gets stuck on an unproductive spin cycle, centrifugal force holding everything troubling against the wall and holding them in equally overwhelming importance. “Deal with me!” each issue yells at me at once. These are the very thoughts I am having right now:

“You need to work.”

“You need to think about dinner.”

“You shouldn’t have eaten that.”

“You need to go to church.”

“You need to take a shower.”

“You need to see how your friend you talked to last week is doing.”

“You need to donate to that cause.”

“You need to volunteer more.”

“You need to go to bed earlier tonight.”

“You need to wake up earlier tomorrow.”

“You need to do the laundry.”

“You need to run tomorrow.”

“You need to remember to get ready for that meeting next week.”

“You need to vacuum.”

“You need to go through the mail.”

“You need to get better at meal planning and stop wasting so much produce.”

“You need to clean off your desk at work.”

“You need to go to your friend’s show.”

“You need to call your state representatives.”

“You need to check your email.”

“You need to send that report.”

“You need to meet your billing deadline.”

“You need to apologize for hurting feelings.”

“You need to be a better mom.”

“You need more rest.”

“You need to use those gift cards from Christmas.”

On and on it goes, when I am not running.

This is why I run.

 

 

 

 

Shoes

I’ve become obsessed with looking at other runners’ shoes. I’m still a running newbie and figuring out the the best tools. Next I’ll turn to what the best tools are for carrying my phone with me to listen to music, but for now, shoes it is. On my run yesterday, I saw a group of girls wearing what looked like all the same shoes, but once they got close, they were all different, just the same color. I see lots of Nike and Saucony out there. I hear Asics are the choice of many, as well as Brooks.

I started out running in my minimal tennis shoes, New Balance Minimus.They look like this:

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They are so old — at least 5 years. I ran in them in my old neighborhood but I predominantly used in them in dance class. They are barely a step up from jazz shoes or those foot glove shoes. There was barely anything between my foot and the ground. Minimus, indeed. I loved it for the most part. I could feel the ground really well, convinced myself that this is what I liked and how I preferred to move in the studio and on the pavement.

Because my New Balance shoes were really old and running was becoming a passion, I knew I’d tear through them, if I hadn’t already. I knew shoes had a certain mileage on them, but I didn’t know what it was. A man I know from church always writes his mileage and the date on his shoes so he knows when it’s time.

Nike came through for me with a minimal shoe. I can’t find its picture, but a lot like this:

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Not so different from what I had before. These were nicer and newer and I blew right through them with my running. I am not sure how many miles I ran in them, but I wore them to run the half marathon trail run, aware they were “wimpy” (according to my colleague). They were wimpy! I didn’t realize until about 7 miles in, but my shoes didn’t allow much control going downhill. I spent so much time banging up my hips by stopping myself from going too quickly downhill. I ran in these shoes over a month longer and decided it was time to go into a real running store and get a fitting.

Luckily, there was such a store near where we were staying in North Carolina. The owner of the store helped me. I’d heard from several serious runners to try Brooks. “They are like stepping into a cloud.” So he gave me a pair to try on and I hit the treadmill in his store.

By the way, this was the first time I’d run on the treadmill since the fall, and it was weird! And I was so fast on it! All the focus on my form has really paid off, and running all the time in general has paid off. As I told the guy, I always hated running, but now I’m kind of good at it. I told him my goal of running a marathon.

So I tried the Brooks and found them to be comfortable but a bit tight across my foot.

Here’s where I tell you about my special feet. So. Special.

I inherited my dad’s feet. This means I have a high instep. My arch is so high I can stick my hand under it when my foot is on the ground. I used to joke that I had Barbie feet. It’s always been easy for me to point my toes in dance class because my foot naturally looks like it’s pointing most of the way. This foot situation isn’t without its issues though. Folks with this top of foot have wider feet at the front and are prone to club toes. After some alarming cramps and convincing myself I had some awful condition, I learned all was sort of normal and had personalized inserts made for my feet last spring.  I wear them with shoes that don’t give me enough support, mostly with completely flat shoes. I also started buying shoes with more support through the middle, and I used my feet as an excuse to stop wearing shoes I hated.

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Back to the running shoes. The wide part of my foot didn’t fit well into the Brooks, and the store owner said they are all about the same width. So he had me try on some other shoes.

I found my match in these:

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They are even brighter in person. Like neon yellow bright. The first run I had in them was nothing short of amazing! I could tear down those hills without having to put on the brakes with my hips. I had a lot more support on the outside of my foot and a good cushion between my foot and the ground. Running in new shoes is an amazing feeling.

I asked the store owner how many miles these shoes will last. He advised about 300 miles. On my phone, in the Runkeeper app, I can track how far I’ve run in these shoes. Already I’ve run 30 miles. 1/1oth of the way through the life of these shoes, and I have had them 3 weeks. I am getting pretty critical of them though, so I plan to try out even more brands next time I go shopping for shoes.

Speaking of Runkeeper, I selected a program on it to get ready to run a marathon in 12 weeks’ time. It’s made me concerned that I have no business running a marathon so soon. I’m trying not to let it get me down, but it does have me thinking about what’s realistic. Every runner I talk to says I can do it but I have yet to crack 12 miles in one run. I know that’s less than a half marathon, but I’ve learned that training for a marathon requires much longer “long runs” than I’ve currently been doing. Keeping that in mind, I’m trying to run nearly every day, as long as weather and schedule allow it so I can build up to longer runs on my long run days.

Running has really helped with my mood and sleeping, but even though I didn’t go hog wild, I am seeing the effects of not sticking to my normal diet. I am not sure if it’s the meds or my body wanting calories due to all the running, but I’ve been eating too much. I know I am smaller and healthier than I was a year ago, but at times I feel gross and fat. Back to the usual foods for me.

It amazes me what my body can do now that I am a runner. I can run an hour plus without stopping. I can run at least 5 miles without stopping on a regular basis. I can’t believe this about myself. I really can’t. I feel so strong and powerful right now. I’m encouraging others to run, if their bodies will allow it. I’ve become one of those people who thinks about running when I am not running.

When I run, I feel like I am flying, much like a dancer experiences the effortless floating feeling when all that the body has learned to do takes over and the mind is released from control.

Thanks for reading,

Susan

Achievement: Unlocked

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I did it! I completed my first half marathon. What started as a very COLD and windy day wound up being a lovely and warm day. I do feel very accomplished and I met so many kind people. Running is awesome and I hope I can keep going with it!

Want to know more about the race? Here are some visuals.

The route:

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My pace (which got slower as I progressed, ha!) and the elevation changes:

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I can’t wait to run some more. On the road. I’ll probably do this race again, but it was pretty difficult. I was well prepared for it though, mentally and physically. I’m so proud of myself!

In other achievement news, I have been wanting to make a felt Christmas tree for my son for quite some time. img_7223

It’s not the most beautiful tree, but I love it because my son helped make it and it’s going to get the job done. I have plenty of supplies to make fancier ornaments, but I love that he drew the biggest gingerbread man and decorated it and the smaller ones. I didn’t have the best scissors to cut out the shapes, either. I got embroidery thread to use, so maybe on my next road trip I can crank out some fancier ones. It’s so easy to make and we could make a new one or new ornaments for it each year. Love it!

In Bipolar News, I have been on some new meds to stabilize my mood, and I think they are helping. I have another check in tomorrow with the prescribing doctor, so I think he will be happy that he chose this course as figuring this stuff out can be really daunting and hit and miss. I’m glad I’ve kept up the running and resting I’ve needed to do, as that goes a lot way to keep things progressing in the right direction, too. I was worried that I’d grow lethargic. I will say I have been sleepier on the whole, so I will report that to him.

As always, thanks for reading.

What Am I So Afraid Of?

The big bad wolf? Virginia Woolf?

Kind of sad, but I edit myself constantly as I decide how to present myself to others. No, not “kind of sad.” Actually sad.

I think a large part of who people think I am is wrong because when anyone gets to know me, they tell me how surprising I am, including my own therapist. The last time I saw her, we sat down and she joked, “I’m just going to get settled here with my box of popcorn, because I know I’m about to be entertained.”

I guess I am afraid I won’t be liked.

I won’t be loved.

I am afraid that I don’t really know who I am.

Maybe I am so detached from being able to be myself that I don’t know who I am.

Depression and anxiety make this even worse, of course, or perhaps inform it. Or maybe I’ve always had these mood problems along for the ride, and they are as ingrained in my persona as the part of me that loves glitter (even though it’s tacky) and the part of me that relates to the world via song lyrics rather than actual names of feelings.

I’ve been running a lot lately. Even if I don’t know who I am, I have a new persona of runner.

Last week, I ran 17+ miles across 3 different runs. This week, I am up to 12+ miles across 2 runs, but I took a day off yesterday because I read about new runners chasing that runner’s high and getting injured. I am only competing against myself, not even really training for anything, and I feel so good about having running in my life right now. I may suck at everything else, but dammit, I am good at running. I can’t afford to lose it.

Because I run right after work and start and end at my office, I often run into colleagues as I get on the elevator. It’s led to some good connections and conversations. One lady can’t believe I used to hate running as much as she does. She REALLY hates running. Another lady might run with me (and she wants us to sing together! This is awesome!). A man said I’ve inspired him to work out (sweet!), and another tells me he’s going swimming so now I ask him if he’s going swimming when I see him (he is). One man added me as a friend on FitBit and after an awkward week or so passed, I explained to him that I wasn’t going to accept his request because he has more steps per day than I do, and I like being in first place on my FitBit dashboard. Luckily he was not offended.

One man asked me what I was training for, and when I said, nothing, I just compete against myself, he said, “Geez, are you just that stressed out?”

Maybe, wise man. Maybe so.

Running is meditative for me. I don’t listen to music as I run, mostly because I like the ambient sounds around me and also because I’m on campus, I don’t want to block out the sounds of cars or other things I should avoid hitting or being hit by. I listen to the birds in the trees, someone who practices the trumpet time-to-time along my route (through the trees — I can’t see this person), and whatever else. I work on my musical compositions in my mind and also sort of zone out. There are some regulars on my running path, so it feels like a community. I’m trying to find others to run with right now as the days are getting shorter. I want sign up for a trail run the Saturday after Thanksgiving. (This one.) I can’t decide if I should do the 10K or the half marathon. Josef, always cautious — which is good — says I should stick to the 10K, but there is something in my mind that wants to go for the half. The first 3 or so miles are difficult, but then it’s game on and I feel like I could actually run forever.

I find it amusing that I like running so much given how much I really hated it in the past. I’m often thinking, who is this person who likes running? Even if I don’t know who I really am, then I guess I can just as easily be a runner, right? I will feel tired, but happy and accomplished (feeling words, friends).

Hmm. How much is that race?

(Be right back. Talk amongst yourselves.)

Okay, I just signed up for my first half marathon.

Eek.

It’s okay, I got this. It’s in a month.

Eek!