Author Archives: Running Boston and Beyond

About Running Boston and Beyond

Avid Runner, Wife, Mom, Coach, and Blogger. 11-time marathoner, 3 x Boston Qualifier, and Ironman finisher. Dream big, work hard! Follow your passion and do what you love.

From BQ to DQ: The Journey Of Getting Unstuck

Every day is a winding road. I have tried to put words to the last six or so months and it has seemed nearly impossible. How do you put words to something you don’t even understand?

“I’ve been wondering if all the things I’ve seen, were ever real, were ever really happening”.

I went into the October Ironman North Carolina 70.3 with decent training, but lots of fear. I couldn’t fit into my wetsuit, and my biking had been slow, nutrition training non-existent. Running was consistent, consistently slow, but it was there.

But I could do it, I’ve done the race multiple times before, right? I’ve done it on one swim per week and 100% trainer on the bike. It will be ok, right?

Well, evidently, no. It won’t.

Pre-Disaster Race
Which one of these is not like the other?

I have never DNF’d a race before. I have wanted to, but I haven’t. I had no intentions of quitting, walking off the course, but I did that warm October day. I swam 1.2 miles, I biked 56 miles, I ran maybe a mile into the 13.1 mile course, and I realized I had made some pretty critical mistakes. My hydration was off. Way, way, way off. It was so off course, it wasn’t even on the map. Even though I had gone into the race knowing I needed to concentrate on hydration, what I had done wasn’t enough, and I was dehydrated before I got off the bike. That part was clear.

To make this nice and short, I knew I could walk the race, it’s not something I wanted to do, but I could. But the desire not to do it overtook the desire to just finish the damn thing, and when I realized that I would have to walk six miles to get back to the point where I was at that moment on the out-and-back course, I literally make a U-turn and said “fuck it”. Actually, I said “fuck it” and made the U-turn.

The only thing that would have stopped me from turning around was what other people thought of me. And I didn’t care enough to let that stop me from finishing a race I didn’t want to finish. I turned in my timing chip to a friend who was actually working the finish line, and I made sure I didn’t get close enough for the chip to register me as a finisher and get tagged as a cheater. But they ended up DQ’ing me anyway. Oh well.

The weird part is that I was ok with it. I was at the point where I didn’t care enough to finish a half ironman, one that I love and had done three times prior.

“I’m just wondering why I feel so all alone, why I’m a stranger in my own life”. Where did I go?

I came away from that day with a sense that I needed to get my shit together. I’ve been saying this for a long time. I walked out of my job with my head held high, and I went back to school. I have done a lot of things and made decisions to finally lose those extra pounds, to do what I say I was going to do, to finish what I wanted to finish.

But in the last few years, I became the queen of starting again on Monday. I had no follow-through. I didn’t finish what I set out to do. I don’t understand depression and what it does. Honestly, I don’t know if that’s depression or just being stuck. Either way, it’s not a fun place to be. But I knew I was making myself a prisoner of my own device, and I was the only one with the key to get out.

On a Wednesday in November, I hit the reset button, AGAIN. I’m not completely sure what was different this time except maybe I knew that if I didn’t get my shit together, I was going to regret it more than any of the other times I failed. There’s more to the story, but this particular post would be over twice as long if I explained it all, and it just doesn’t need to be.  

Two weeks later, just a few days before Thanksgiving, I finished my two-week plan. It was a fairly strict diet and exercise plan (I was at the very beginning of marathon training), and I realized during this time the big nutrition mistakes I was making, which made losing weight impossible. I finally was able to fit into some of my old clothes. I felt better, I looked better, and I knew better. I was thinking clearer, I felt confident again, and I didn’t need to start again on Monday until it was Sunday night. I did it. There was something different this time, my mindset was in concrete, and I wasn’t going to budge. There I was, right there. I found me.

I finished my third semester of grad school strong, thankfully, because a month prior, I thought I was going to fail out. My grades were good all semester, but I was struggling and I felt like my brain was full of cobwebs. Where did I go?? With all of the ups and downs of the last few years, I finally felt like I had grounded myself, and I came away from those two weeks with a sense of self and purpose. This wasn’t just about weight, no. This was about rediscovery and getting un-stuck. Weeble-wobble to warrior. I found myself again.

Many many many walks on this road that have led me to some interesting insights.

I’m not naïve enough to believe that this train can’t be derailed, but with clarity comes determination. Determination brings clarity. I don’t want to go back to how I was feeling in October, or rather for the last few years. I want to keep moving forward, learning, progressing, and living.

I’m no longer marathon training, as a series of minor mistakes unknowingly caused my calf and posterior tib to flare up, making running painful and training impossible. I deferred both of my races and am on the fence for the third one. I will likely give that registration up since I don’t want to really injure myself by doing something I don’t need to do. But I’m working out five to six days per week, I walk a lot, and I’m DOING IT.  

Un-sticking myself from the stuck-ness opened my eyes to see a clearer future.

I got so much stuff done at home, and I did a lot of things I had said I was going to do in years prior. I have very high hopes for 2023. I don’t make resolutions, I don’t have a theme or word, but I will go into this year optimistic and excited. I’m also doing my best not to be consumed with worry for my three boys. I just want them all to be ok, and you cannot control what happens to you in many cases. My husband travels a lot, has had some health issues that seem to be fine now, my oldest son struggled with his first year of college, but has seemed to be finding who he wants to be this year. My youngest has faced a lot of loss just over break, so he will have to deal with his second best friend at school leaving his school as well as a death of a travel teammate. On his last day of break, he will attend his teammates funeral. Why does a 17-year-old die? I can’t put words to it, all I can do is help him through it. I think death is always a lesson in living true to yourself, being a good person, and mostly, telling the people you love that you love them. No, I don’t plan to make every day like it’s my last, because some days are for sleeping in, movies, and a book. But this year, mostly due to the clarity I seem to have found as of late, will be one of intention, fulfillment, and love. Hopefully less worry. That’s something to work on.

Happy new year to everyone.

My Christmas Morning Run
Categories: being epic, follow your dreams, ironman, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, running, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, triathlon | 5 Comments

Why Starting and Failing 75 Hard Changed My Life

In January, I took on the 75 Hard Challenge. For 75 days in a row, absolutely no days off and no missing anything, no cheating, no anything off the plan, I was to do a list of 5 simple things. If you fail one thing, you’re done, you fail, you’re done and you start over.

  1. Read 10 pages of a non-fiction/self-help book
  2. Take a selfie for progress
  3. Diet
  4. Exercise 90 minutes, 45 of it outside, no matter what
  5. Drink 1 gallon of water. Just water in that gallon but otherwise, no alcohol at all.

I started knowing I needed a reset. I needed something to kick me into gear. I didn’t know what was wrong, I didn’t understand what needed to be changed, but I knew in my gut something needed to change. One thing I knew needed changed was the weight gain. I needed to figure that out. Ten pounds isn’t much until you carry it around all day for over a year. It’s not good and it’s not fun.

When I started the plan, I was hell bent on making it work. A gallon is a lot of water to drink every day, especially in winter when you typically don’t drink as much as summer. Ninety minutes of exercise per day when you work full time and have baseball games to attend in the evening is a lot of time. But I took on the challenge knowing I would have to just make it work.

Week one was adjustment. I walked a lot with my dog, I drank my water, I made little non-alcoholic spritzers after I was done with my gallon of water. My favorite spitzer was a Lime Bubbly with Crystal Lite Raspberry and then added fresh raspberries. Yum. I found out that restaurants serve club soda where I could add my Crystal Lite.

My little spritzer that tastes so good after a gallon of water!
I LOVE THIS BOOK. It’s out of print, unfortunately.

The weeks started to pass, and I was doing it. I missed my off days and I missing having a beer here and there. I noticed a little weight coming off and the general puffiness from having extra weight and a not-as-clean-as-it-should diet. Let me tell you, it is really hard to lose weight when you’re a woman in her upper 40’s who works a sedentary job. It is just difficult. Not impossible of course, but walking maybe even just 100 steps over 8 hours is not a healthy way to go about your day. I craved my spritzers after work since I was just tired of all the water. I had pee anxiety since I always had to go, and traveling wasn’t very fun because I always had to go. But I made it work.

I loved the books I was reading. I absorbed what they were saying, and I felt almost like they were speaking to me directly in a way. I felt like I was getting my mojo back. I didn’t miss my workouts like I had made a habit of since the pandemic in March of 2020. I would get up at 4:30 to get them in, even if I had insomnia, because I knew I needed to just get it done. I recognized my old self coming out, being determined and sassy, and doing what I needed to do, even if it seemed difficult. The change was that I didn’t feel like it was too much, like I had for so many months. Getting face to face with depression, even just a mild version, and then coming out of it, seeing how hard things were after the fact gives you a sense of compassion and a sense of urgency – I don’t want to go back there. But now I understand how it feels.

I would often do a 45 minute bike inside (it was still cold out) or I would run, then I would go for a walk for the remainder of the 90 minutes. I would listen to a podcast and think a lot. And we visited our kid at Clemson a few times. This was the game changer. After the baseball games, they play the Clemson alma mater. Tyler knows it and he sways when they sway, and he holds his hands up and plays invisible piano with his fingers when they do. I just loved it. I was feeling really unsettled that day. I couldn’t figure out why, but I was just on edge, I just wanted a beer (I didn’t), and I did NOT want to spend 90 minutes working out, I just wanted to hang out with my kids and husband and drink coffee while watching the sun rise. That being said, on one of those forced workouts, I did see one of the prettiest sunrises ever over Lake Hartwell with the Clemson campus as the backdrop. Just beautiful.

This wasn’t Clemson, can’t find one of the pretty pictures I took, but I was met with this gorgeous so many mornings.

ANYWAY, I couldn’t put my finger on why I was just itchy…. Then I asked Tyler if I could go to Clemson too because I wanted an alma mater that I had a connection to. Sorry, UNI, I just don’t have a connection to you – never did and never will, unfortunately. What if I took grad school classes or got another degree, then I could be a Tiger too!!! How cool would that be?? I knew I wanted more, I knew the job I had was a good one, but I knew my time there was going to be a lot less than I had thought coming into it. I sit at a computer all day stressing over things that I cannot control to make other people a huge amount of money. Yes, I made good money, but I realized that I needed something else. I just wasn’t sure what it was. Yet.

When I was walking the next week after bringing up going to Clemson, it came to me. GO BACK TO GRAD SCHOOL AND FINISH YOUR MASTERS DEGREE AND DO WHAT YOU HAVE WANTED TO DO SINCE YOU WERE IN HIGH SCHOOL.

Huh. Seems fairly simple, doesn’t it? Because there’s restrictions on how many years you have from when you start to when you graduate and I just wasn’t sure how my return would be received, I reached out to the professor who was head of the department at the time, and during our call, she welcomed me back with wide open arms, also telling me that I was one who was born to be a counselor. Humbled, I re-registered and was enrolled within a few weeks. Boom.

I had asked my boss to catch up a few times, and that just never happened, so I never told her what my plans were. At that time, in February, I was planning to continue working full time (you can’t work that job part time, it’s just not set up for that at all) until I graduated. Plenty of people do it, so I could as well.

I have to mention, I found a lot of my old self in this process. I wasn’t depressed anymore, I was sassier, I was happier, and I put up with a LOT less shit than I had the prior year. Every few weeks that went by, I realized that I was not going to be able to stay at my job. When talked to in a demeaning or accusatory way, instead of bowing my head and crying or being upset (WHAT CAN I DO BETTER???), I slowly Got. Over. It. EFFFFFF YOUUUUUUUUU. Do not talk to me that wayyyyy….. It wasn’t worth it to me.

On June 15th, I resigned. I didn’t tell the entire story to my boss, because I truly didn’t think my story telling of feeling like I was treated like a second class citizen half the time while not getting the credit for the great things I was doing would ever change. I spoke up when I could, and I refused to do one task that I was told to do “for the company” and still refused to do it. But we usually just kept our heads down and did our work. Many times other people got the credit for what I was doing. Infuriating to me.

You teach people how to treat you. And I was done. My last day was to be mid-July.

On a Monday, I walked out of that building with my head held high after being accused of something I did not do and for being berated for not doing something that I couldn’t do.

I was done.

I HAVE to believe this was all due to 75 Hard. All of it. The mental changes, the thought processes that morphed, the belief in myself that I didn’t have to take any shit anymore. Which is weird because I’ve usually been known as the person who says it like it is. I had missed that girl, somewhere she emerged again. But I’d had enough at work. I didn’t do anything disrespectfully, and actually, surprisingly, I did get some sort of compliment and apology from my boss after it was all said and done. I don’t think anything will change, but that’s up to those who are there now, not me.

Did I finish 75 Hard? No, I didn’t. I made it over half way. I had a glass of wine on a Monday, and then I was so exhausted after my first half marathon in a very long time, I forgot to read my pages. I made it over half way. Which is something pretty good. And I got to meet a few people along the way.

I failed. But I failed knowing that really, truly, I won.

Coming January 2023, 75 Hard. This time, it’s going down. Chad? You in? Anyone else?

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 3 Comments

Stuck In A Moment

Have you ever been stuck in a moment that you can’t get out of? Like the U2 song says, “You’ve got to get yourself together, you’ve got stuck in a moment, and you can’t get out of it”.

Like Al Bundy, forever living the high school football years, or the Olympians reliving a painful fall or coming short of first place or third place by a shred of a second, I have been stuck. The biggest problem is that I have been stuck for years. Just stuck. Like Vinny Gambini’s 1960’s convertible Cadillac being stuck in the Alabama red mud, I. Have. Been. Stuck.

The hardest part to grasp is that I was a prisoner of my own device. Yes, I have had a lot of life events the last few years, and it has been extremely difficult, but a lot of my stuck-ness has been mine. I have to take responsibility for it, even though on some days, it was difficult to do anything. Literally, anything.

Slowly but surely, I faced the unrecognizable face in the mirror and decided that I had had enough. I need a change. But I didn’t know what to do or how to go about doing it. It’s a weird feeling since I’m the type of person who looks at a challenge in the face and says, “Bring it”. I’m an Ironman and four-time Boston qualifier, a former business owner, plus I’ve been married for over 22 years to the same person. I know what dedication is. I know what hard work and grit are. But I didn’t pull the trigger. Over and over, I kept skipping workouts, watching weight gain, unhappiness, unsettlement.

On January 11th, along with some others that I know mostly on an acquaintance level, I started the 75 HARD program. The week before, I saw a post from Chad, the catalyst of the group, telling people he was starting 75 Hard and if anyone wanted to join, join in the fun. If there’s anything I knew I needed, it was accountability. I looked into it, and I made some negotiations in my head about joining.

The Rules

The rules of 75 Hard are five simple rules to follow each day. If you miss any of the elements on any day, you have to start over. No ifs, ands, or buts, you start over. The rules are 1) Follow a diet – no cheat days and no alcohol, 2) Read 10 pages of a self-help or non-fiction book, 3) Take a progress picture, 4) Drink one gallon of plain water per day, and 5) Two 45-minute workouts per day, one outside, no exceptions.

I looked through these rules and tried to negotiate that I wouldn’t take a progress picture because no, and I was going to give myself an allocation of drinks per week and I figured a gallon per day was easy when you add Crystal Light or make tea with it. Then I listened to the Podcast by the author and creator of 75 Hard, and I quickly realized that breaking the rules intentionally and even prior to starting the program would completely ruin the reason of the program itself and also, I would be cheating myself of the true progress that could be made by following every step as instructed. And there was plenty of progress that needed to be made.

Fast forward. People, I’m almost half way done with 75 Hard. I’m on day 36, two days away from half-way. I have not cheated on any of the elements of the program. And I have felt the shift within, the one I assume the creator was talking about in his podcast. I see myself in the mirror again. I recognize who I used to be and who I will be in just a few more weeks. It’s weird that it took so long to get here, to realize how simple the solution was. Timing is everything. No more missed workouts, no more wine, no more excuses. There are none. Whatever the missing clasp was, it’s missing no longer. It’s about repairing at this point.

One of my favorite song lyrics:

“Hypocritical, egotistical
Don’t wanna be the parenthetical, hypothetical
Working onto something that I’m proud of, out of the box
An epoxy to the world and the vision we’ve lost
I’m an apostrophe
I’m just a symbol to remind you that there’s more to see
I’m just a product of the system, a catastrophe
And yet a masterpiece…. 

Image result for phoenix
I’m an apostrophe, just a symbol to remind you that there’s more to see…

If you would have told me three years ago that I would be in the middle of Hard 75, brought on by a severe case of “I don’t care” and weight gain, I would have laughed until I peed. But it was little by little, tip toe by tip toe, and the step became a slide.

The best part about this is that I don’t make excuses anymore. I have accountability buddies now, including my boys. I get it, more than I have gotten it in a while.

I was running with a good friend last year, and I was trying to explain my feelings of being stuck. She didn’t know me when I was at my athletic best, when I was working multiple jobs with little kids. But she said some words to me that resonated. “It’s just not your time.” There really never were better words to describe it, the situation as a whole. My personal problem is that I didn’t know what actions to take to make it my time, to stop being in a rut, to get un-stuck. Well friends, it took one Facebook post that caught my attention and a year of sinking more into the stuck-ness to find the light at the end of the tunnel, to actually see myself, the real me looking back in the mirror. And on January 11th, 2022, the journey started. My dog has really enjoyed the days when I walk, that’s for sure.

Happy Dog

They say it takes three weeks for an action to become habit. When you add enough weeks to total eleven, those habits become even more ingrained (I cannot, for the life of me, determine if this should be “ingrained” or “engrained” HELP). As much as I have wanted to have a cheat drink or skip a workout, or the few times I’ve chugged my water at 9:30 pm while reading my last few pages, I wanted to wake up the next morning knowing full well that I did what it took to achieve my goal. My goals.

Every dot. Every day.

I have a few activities along the way, before I finish the Hard 75, like finishing my first half marathon in years. I’ve done more half marathons than I can count, and I actually PR’d my half eight years ago today, at 1:40. Wow, I can’t imagine running a mile in less than eight minutes, let alone 13 of them in a row, but there’s time for that later. First thing’s first, let’s do this 75 Hard.

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, running, running buddies, running with friends, Uncategorized, wrightsville beach marathon | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

Just Put A Nail In It Already

Did you know that months are approximately thirty days or about four weeks long? Did you know that October is next week (I wrote this last week)? Well, these bits of information are known to me, but evidently slipped through the cracks of the intersection of not paying attention and distraction. Maybe they got swept away by the river of denial during one of the many pop up thunderstorms we have been having. In either case, it dawned on me that the half ironman triathlon I have been training for all summer was four weeks away. Wait, what???

One thing I truly love about training are the sunrises.

Last Wednesday, when I was swimming alone in my community pool, comforted by the police officer parked in the parking lot where I could see his truck because there could be a bad guy jump in the water and try and drown me and then what am I supposed to do because I kind of drown a little every time I swim but if the officer is there and sees it he can save me, I really thought through whether or not I should do the triathlon. I mean, I know for 100% fact I CAN do the race. Of course I can complete it. But what are the risks? Well, I’m not positive I can fit into my wet suite, but that’s another subject. I have biked more this training cycle than I did for my endurance trifecta, so the bike is good. But the run. Oy… the run.

If you have read my blog at all the past year, Covid has really done a number on my mental health. Part of my mental health is related to running. I’ve always been a runner and when I can’t run, it has a negative effect on me. I was injured so many times for so many different reasons after my JFK 50, one being running 50 miles and probably causing a small stress fracture or something that may not be that but sure felt like it. I have literally just started feeling like a runner again. Running during the summer doesn’t count either because running in the summer here in coastal South Carolina is more like land swimming, and see above for how swimming and I get along. I just started incorporating some faster splits and what came with it is the good kind of adrenaline. Not the kind where you’re being chased by a rabid dog, but the feeling that you enjoy the effort, you enjoy the uncomfortableness that came with it, and you want more. I don’t particularly care for the pace I see when I’m running “faster”, but I also know that it will take time to get my speed back and I need to take as much time as I need to in order to build speed slowly without injury.

Gotta find happiness wherever you look.

With all the stuff with Covid, vaccines, masks, and the fact that Wilmington could pull the permits for the race without any real warning, I decided to defer the race until 2022. It’s rare Ironman allows this anymore, like extremely very rare, but I was lucky enough to find the deferral option link from a vault buried in a volcano in Papua New Guinea. Whew.

So I deferred. Immediately, I emailed Coach Sami and let her know, and I felt some relief. I also felt a little disappointment because I was looking forward to a nice long workout and seeing lots of friends and family while in Wilmington. I was disappointed in myself for not taking the training plan more seriously, and I wondered why this time it was so different. My life is very different now, but still, I am a hard working athlete who sees a goal and does what it takes to accomplish said goal. Well, not so fast, Red Rocket, I did not take my training seriously. I missed long bikes. I missed several of them. I didn’t start swimming until two weeks ago. Yes, I’ve been in the pool three times. So what gives? Well, it’s simple. It simply wasn’t my priority. Will that change in the future? Will I have a different outlook next year? Yes. I already know this year has been really rough followed by months of adjustment and a new lifestyle. I’m feeling more and more back to myself, thankfully.

So what’s next for me? Well, I already made plans with someone to swim this week. I am planning on some other running races so I have something to look forward to as I marathon train. The best thing about half ironman training is that it has left me with an extremely good base with which to begin marathon training. I’m nervous. I’m excited. I will take it day by day. As sad as I am to say goodbye to the 2021 IMNC 70.3, I needed to put all the uncertainty behind me and concentrate on what I know now. 2022 will be an even better year in which to train, that I know for sure.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Don’t Call It A Comeback

I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. I’d like to think so, but there’s just too many bad things that happen for me to feel all in on it. But whether things happen for a reason or they do not, I don’t really have the head space to analyze everything. Most of the time, it is what it is. I do look back on the last few years and feel like there’ some sort of guiding force. As you know from my prior writings, I am an avid endurance athlete. Somewhere in between moving my family to Summerville and Covid and watching my kids deal with so much nonsense and disappointment, I got lost. I was injured several times, injuries that seemingly made no sense to me, and suffered from some sort of depression. Where they there to teach me a lesson? Possibly. I’m willing to learn. I’m tired of it, but I will learn. I could go a few years without finding a lesson.

When I was in grad school last summer and fall, I learned a ton about myself. It was therapeutic. When I had to quit grad school, I felt lost. I didn’t want to quit something I started and wanted to finish. I applied to so many jobs, and I was really picky how I wanted to spend my time. I was turned down, even without an interview, so many times. It was crushing to my spirit, so much so, I almost started counseling myself.

I look back now with a sense that things really were supposed to happen the way they played out. I was supposed to send my youngest to private school (where he is so happy and thriving, thankfully), I was supposed to be in school for those two semesters and have those professors, and learn those specific things about myself. As much as I miss Wilmington, we are supposed to be here and Tyler is supposed to go to Clemson. And I was supposed to refinance my house with a company recommended on my neighborhood Facebook page. I now work there. If that’s not ironic, I don’t know what is.

The lessons we have learned the last few years have been tough. Instead of crossing my arms and refusing to learn, I have embraced the suck, I’ve learned, and I’ve grown. And it’s time to move on. I feel different, I feel better, and I feel stronger. It’s time to wave goodbye to the past, turn around, and move forward.

It’s time to tri. It’s time to marathon. I’ve been patient, and I’ve healed. I’ve gotten my competitive spirit back. I can envision competing again, where for so long, I couldn’t even picture it. Now I can see it. I can feel it. I can hear it. I feel like a runner again, even with the extra weight I haven’t lost yet.

So first thing up on my schedule is IMNC 70.3. I love this race. I need this race. This is my first and the only half ironman course I’ve ever done (three times so far), and I love it. It’s home to me. It will be a different training routine for me since I’m working full time. I’m not sure how to navigate it, but with Coach Sami, my love for competing, and of course, my husband who always steps up to fill in where I am lacking, it will be exciting to take on this challenge. I am finally ready.  Do I have a time goal? HELL TO THE NAW. I’m almost positive I won’t even be wearing a watch (I might because I get points for my health insurance but might try to turn the data off if I can).

Instead of writing about being injured and frustrated and all that, I look forward to writing about training, about what’s working or not, new people I meet through training in a new city, and swimming again. My kryptonite. Swimming. But part of the reason I signed up for a tri is it forces me out of my comfort zone. Funny, as I watch Olympic swimming on TV, they’re swimming the 4×100 m relay and I’m thinking it would be at the 25 when they’re done, lol.

This is the finish line of the men’s triathlon at the Olympics. As much as I enjoy pushing myself, not sure I’m ready to feel like this when I’m done.

As I wave bye bye to the past while remembering the lessons that were taught, I look toward the future. I’m excited about the future and all it can hold, the potential of what could be. For the first time in a very long time, I look forward to being uncomfortable, to pushing myself, to making things right in my little athletic world. Don’t call it a comeback though.

Categories: Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Running with Sherman

A few weeks ago, I finished the lovely book titled Running with Sherman. There’s a quirky little donkey on the cover, appropriately named Sherman. It was easy to fall in love with him and with this book, and there’s a few reasons why I wanted to write about it.

I might get struck by lightning from the running gods about this, but I have never read Born to Run. I started it a few years ago, but I never stuck with it, even though it’s sort of the runner’s Bible, per se. I just never got it, so I didn’t finish it. I’m not sure if I even realized the Sherman book was written by the same author until I started reading it, but I found his writing to be funny, smart, entertaining, and educational. And it’s not really about running….at all. I mean it is, but it isn’t.

I learned about goats, and donkeys, and the Amish, running with goats, running with donkeys, the Amish and running, races I never thought existed, and then finally, depression. In order to understand something or someone, you at least need to know the basics, right? Christopher McDougall does a beautiful job detailing why, among other things, donkeys are the way they are, pretty much remaining the way they were initially made eons ago. Why have they basically remained unchanged? Because it works for them. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

As much as this book is not about running, it does center on one goal of the author and his crew that slowly morphs from two to many more than two. Sherman was taken in after being severely neglected by his prior owner who was an animal hoarder. The deal was for “just two years” and then Sherman would be retuned; however, you know they would never give a living creature back to someone who was capable of such neglect. The owner does make an appearance near the end of the book, and I’m happy to say there’s a happy ending. That’s the thing with this book that makes it so good. After my fall semester ended, I’ve been reading a lot, and since I had to take a hiatus from school this spring semester, I’ve still had time to read in between getting rejected for jobs I’m quite capable of doing and doing well. Frustrating. I digress. I’ve read a lot of “book club” books, and while so many are captivating in some way, they are fairly dark. Take, for instance, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. While the story telling is very good, it’s depressing. I mean, Addie sells her soul when she’s just a young girl and has to live with the consequences for CENTURIES. It’s sad. I got another book that looked good, The Sisters Etcetera, written by Sydney Sheldon’s very own daughter. After the last page was read, I threw it across the floor in disappointment. Bah! Same with This Could All Be Yours. Bah! I wanted and I needed a good story with a happy ending.

I was not let down by Running with Sherman!

Christopher tells the story of first meeting and taking in Sherman, his neighborhood of just plain old good people who want to help, and his goal of taking Sherman to Leadville, Colorado for a race. Now this is no horse race, mind you, but one where you run alongside (you’re actually behind it, but you get the gist) your donkey. It’s actually called a burro race, but the only thing standing between a burro and a donkey is a Mexican translation. According to the internets, “Burro is the Spanish, Portuguese or Mexican name for donkey”. Huh. I didn’t know that.

Bad things happen to good people in this book, but so many come together to make this dream work for Christopher and Sherman and the crew. Goodness was seeping out of the pages, and I soaked in every bit of it. There’s real pictures of Sherman and the group’s shenanigans along the way, and because curiosity got the best of me, I looked up this Colorado race and found videos that proved these strange things have been happening, without my knowledge, for YEARS. Who knew??

All in all, this is a must read, feel good, wonderfully written testament to humanity and our unique bond with animals.

Another part of this story I found fascinating is the link (and story behind it) between depression and competitive athletes. **Because I have already returned the book, some of the following sentences or fragments could be directly from the book. I wrote some notes down while looking into this fascinating topic, but I failed to use quotes.**

One of Sherman’s crew members, Zeke, came into the picture after a suicide attempt. He was an extremely competitive swimmer from a young age until some time in high school when he and his sister both decided to quit swimming. His sister, two years older than he was, had issues with depression that ended up with a suicide attempt in college. She got her life patched back together quickly, along with the help of a therapy cat. Pets are a great way to spur release of oxytocin, which is a hormone that functions like dopamine. Zeke, who had decided to go off his depression medicine because “he felt fine” his freshman year of college, also ended up in a psych ward post suicide attempt. Their younger sister, who was sleeping when they both would take off at 4:30 am for those early swim practices and did not have to ride in the car two additional hours in the evening for part two of practice, never had an issue with depression. Interesting. Zeke did not bounce back as his sister had, and is totally understandable, which is why he came to help Christopher with Sherm. And to cut all the details out, Sherm and Zeke needed each other to heal. There’s an update at the end of the book, and as of release time, which was fall of 2020, Zeke was back in school and thriving. There’s just one of your happy stories from this book!

The author introduces a study from the University of Bonn done in 2008 that showed competitive athletes are twice as vulnerable to depression as non-athletes. You’d think it would be the opposite, right? What this particular study showed (I am leaving out a lot of the details here, FYI) is that after an endurance run, not of 30 minutes, but TWO HOURS, all runners’ opioid levels increased significantly. The better each runner felt, the more dopamine was found in the spinal fluid. That hormone was acting like an intoxicant. So with the lack of dopamine-inducing activity, there could have been a chemical imbalance caused by a sudden drop in dopamine. If you spend half your life getting a daily superdose of dopamine, what happens when you suddenly quit? Do you go through withdrawal? They were used to endorphins, this high. And then suddenly it stops. Granted, time had passed, but as stated before, years and years of this rush…..that’s got to leave a mark.

Curious thought, isn’t it? To me, it related so much to me, to so many of my friends, and my son, who pre-Covid, were very active, busy, training hard, planning, and….then…….everything……….stopped. Is that what post-race depression really is? A dopamine drop?

I know I dealt with some depression with Covid. I know many of my friends dealt with depression. And I know my son did. This isn’t necessarily laying out a cause, really, but just a little warning bell to anyone who might be reading this. I’ll tell Ryan’s story.

Ryan has a really good group of friends in Wilmington, and we moved from Wilmington during the summer of 2019. He found his posse here with the high schoolers, even though he was in eighth grade. He connected with them in cross country and then track, and right at the beginning of track season, he had a good group of kids he could hang out with and just be himself around. They had the whole season’s worth of get-togethers planned. Kids need that, and Ryan, being my extra social kid, really needed that. When Covid hit, all the friends disappeared. I couldn’t get a hold of some, and this two week flatten-the-curve thing, well, it’s still not over. They had online school, where assignments would get posted, teachers would have some class meetings here and there, and all sports were over. Well, first they were postponed, then we all know what happened last spring.

I couldn’t get Ryan out of bed before noon. I couldn’t get him to eat. He was angry. He was sad. He was quiet. My talker didn’t have anything to say. I had absolutely no idea what to do. We couldn’t go to the park, we couldn’t go to the beach, we couldn’t go to visit Wilmington, so we stayed home. I tried, oh my, I sure tried to get them engaged, to play, to cook, to puzzle, to game (the yahtzee kind, not the GTO kind). I couldn’t get that kid out of bed until the afternoon most days. When he and his cross country team started summer practice in June, he immediately was a little different. He talked a little more. When school started, and we were SOOOOO lucky we had the choice to be in-person, the only thing he liked was practice after school, and he constantly heard how crappy he ran or that all summer, he didn’t try hard, and in the meets, he was berated by his coach for not going fast enough. His one happy place was a source of negativity. Ugh. As a coach myself, I truly believe the kids should have heard “how are you all handling this, how ARE you?” and to have a supportive hand reaching out to lift them up if needed. That’s what my kid needed for sure. While I’m no softy when it comes to coaching, this was a much different situation and it really needed a hero.

Ryan “doing his homework”, or something like it

Fast forward to November. I knew Ryan wasn’t thrilled with school, and that’s understandable. He had some issues with teachers, and I got involved when I felt necessary, which was just two or three times, more than several years prior combined. But the Monday before Thanksgiving, the day before we were supposed to go back to Wilmington for a fun weekend, I felt there was something wrong with Ryan. Something was off. Something was different. I went to go talk to him.

When I went to his room, closed the door, and simply said, “What’s going on, Bud?”, I’ll just say that he fell apart. He cried and he cried hard. He was lost, and he didn’t know what to do. He felt stuck and angry. As my wide-eyes stared at his wall as he hugged me and cried, all I could think was that he needed a connection that was missing. Sounds simple, right? His teachers changed (as expected and this is NOT being critical of teachers one bit but his, for the most part, were not providing what he needed, but I can truly understand that task was nearly impossible), he wasn’t in sports at that time, and he didn’t have his friend base built up. I was scared.

During that brain scramble, I remembered growing up in a small town. Due to moving during high school, I moved into a huge school, and immediately hated it. I open enrolled into a smaller school and found my peeps again. The people I am connected to, with the exception of one, the people I connected with and remain connected with are my classmates from the small schools. Everyone knew everyone, pretty much, and when I go back to that town, I will often run into someone I know. It’s connections.

I proposed to Ryan that we will figure it out. It will be ok. I wanted him to know that he was heard. We don’t have a lot of options with schools here, so we looked into private school. We had him work with a personal trainer twice a week. We tried to get him connected. Several weeks and LOTS (and lots and lots and lots) of conversation later, Ryan started at a private school about five or six miles away. Within THREE days, DAYS, he came home, sat with me while I made dinner, and went for a walk with me, chatting the entire time. I would ask him every day if he thought we made the right decision, and still, after over a month, he gives the thumbs up. When we said we would probably enroll him, and he went to go look for his long lost baseball bag and wanted to join the team, I had a good feeling.

As much as the school part of school continues to annoy him, I feel like he’s connected again. People know his name, people talk to him, joke with him, and he’s different. The good kind of different. Or should I say, he’s back to what he was like prior to Covid…. It was sad when he said “Mom. They actually said BYE to me and know my name!”.

The reason that I’m talking about all of this is that we need to be sure we are listening to our kids. Kids are resilient, but they’re not bullet proof. What could have happened? I don’t know. It might have been fine to keep Ryan where he was. It might not have. I know what kids do when they feel trapped. Drugs, bad friends, stop caring, suicide. It’s all possible. Don’t sweep bad things under the rug, talk about them. Sometimes it’s ok to not be ok. Some days I don’t feel ok, and that’s ok. I’ve had to adjust my expectations, which has been quite a struggle. But I’ll be ok, that I do know. With Ryan, I wasn’t willing to take the chance. I saw my kid changing before my eyes, and both Andy and I knew we had a really important choice to make. Honestly, it turned out to be a pretty easy choice, too, and we were thankful to be able to make it. Ryan has his first baseball game on Thursday, and I cannot wait to cheer that kid on.

Be the voice that lifts up. Thank you for doing that for me, Sherman!

Ryan in front of his new school
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2020: A reflection of sorts

I wrote this last week, but something went awry with my page on Chrome, so finally, I used another browser. Let’s just say I’m not very computer savvy. I read what I wrote again, and I felt a sort of sadness. I don’t mean to be, but I guess things in life can be very complicated, and that’s where I’m at right now. I’m tired of the roller coaster feeling, not really knowing what’s going to happen. “Change fatigue” is what I’m calling it. It’s like being on a paddleboard on lava, then striking ground, but then it just melts into lava again and you’re back on the unsettled surface, not really knowing where to go or what to think. That’s kind of how I’m feeling, plus coming down from such a wonderful Christmas with my family. We took the risk and my parents flew here, my sister and husband drove down. We cooked, we played games, we laughed, we made fun of each other, we opened presents. It was really good. Good things must come to an end at some point, right? Well, that’s what I’m coming down from. Oh well, it’s not that bad, the air is crisp and the humidity is almost non-existent this week. The kids are doing school from their game room and it’s not terrible so far. I think they go back in person next week.

That being said, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! Let’s see some good things in 2021! And back to the regularly non-scheduled blog post.

I like to reflect at the end of each year, as many of us do. What went right, what didn’t, what can I do better, what can I continue to do, stuff like that. Last year started out with a goal of running and walking 2020 miles, which led me to take long walks and contemplate what direction I wanted my life to head. That led me to make the decision to apply for grad school to be a clinical licensed counselor. I’m two semesters in and have learned so much about humans, but especially about myself. I also had to kiss that 2020 miles goal bye-bye over the summer since a weird injury emerged and I was unable to run for a very long time. But if we didn’t learn but one thing in 2020, it’s that we must adapt to unexpected things.

I’ve watched the country, or rather, the world change. I have an inkling that one country could have predicted this, but that’s just my thoughts from things I’ve seen. I have been scared, angry, exhausted, depressed, happy, confused, and probably about a thousand more emotions, many at the same time. We are so thankful that my husband did not lose income. In fact, he was busier after interest rates dropped and sales went through the roof. He is not considered an “essential worker”, but what people need to realize is that his job is essential to us. Everyone’s job is essential to them. And when so many husbands and wives are home, mine wasn’t at home helping me deal with a very difficult situation. He was at work. So think about it when you might think that only essential people should be going to work. Everyone’s job is essential to that person/family.

I’ve watched my kids get significant activities taken away from them and I’ve watched them border depression. It would be incorrect to say that my kids have been unscathed during this pandemic. They aren’t simply “surviving” a pandemic as some say, they are most certainly being held back from things, from activities, from people, from experiences they will never have the chance to replace. Their education changed, significantly. Their teachers changed. They changed. I’ve changed.  They missed out on some life-changing activities, especially my oldest.

In my classes, I’ve learned so much about myself. It was eye opening and therapeutic for me to write these papers, so many unexpectedly about myself, my childhood. I had no idea that’s what I would be doing. I got deep. I got honest. I healed. I saw unhealthy patterns in others, actually, as well as myself. I also realized I am so extremely lucky to have the family that I do.

We traveled twice over the summer, once in June and once in August. The second trip was a last-minute invite from my sister to my parent’s house in Missouri. We needed them. My kids needed them most. We need togetherness, and mostly, my kids needed their grandparents, to feel just a little normal, to play in the lake and shoot guns. It was wonderful. My best friend of all times came to visit me, so we stayed at the beach a few days. That was great. She’s the person who’s known me the longest and the most, besides my sister of course.

Politically speaking, it’s hard to see the division around me. It’s hard to see such judgement, knowing there’s so many who believe in some aspects of both sides. The fact we have sides is ridiculous to me in the first place. The hatred and vitriol from people who simply disagree with others is disheartening. When was it wrong to hold different opinions, and since when are “you” better for making “your” choices? Ugh, social media seems to be the downfall of humans. Except Tik Tok, some of those people have really brought it this year. Yes, I’m talkin’ to you, cranberry juice guy. I took a break from Facebook, and it’s been really nice. I think a lot of people get their validation from likes and stuff like that, and since it seems we can’t even have a real conversation without someone getting butt hurt over opinions, I’ve distanced myself from it. It’s been great, actually. I’ll say something when I feel the need to, but most often, I just scroll on or delete it from my phone for a week or so. I suggest this to anyone who finds themselves on social media at the grocery store. You will feel better.

I’m a little sad today, knowing I went into 2020 with so much hope, a lot for myself. I haven’t kept up well, and I’m a little disappointed in myself, but I also have a whole lot of understanding and compassion for myself too. This year has been a big pile of crap with a few daisies growing on top, if that makes sense.

For 2021, I’m not making resolutions, I’m not choosing a word, I’m not promising to do anything. I’m going to do the best I can on any given day. There’s a lot of change coming for my family this year, and I know a lot of it is going to take a big amount of adjustment. I’m going to give myself grace, I’m going to make very few concrete goals at some point, but most of all, I just want to love on my husband and kids as much as possible. Life is short, you never know, so don’t take it for granted.

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Finding the Lesson

On July 8th of this year, I wrote my last blog post titled “Giving Myself a Little Grace”. I look back on that post and the information I had to make those decisions, and I kind of want to push me, Elaine Benes style and tell that girl to “GET OUT!!!!”.

If I had known that taking that time off and letting my body rest so much would end up in not really being able to run pain-free until this week, I’d have gotten my butt out of bed. Then again, I wouldn’t know what I know and I might have ended up in the same “no running” situation, but not running has been soooooo difficult for this lover of running. I always say that I am tired of learning lessons, I just want to run or train or do what I can do, but who knows better? Not me, that’s for sure. There was a big lesson in this injury, even if I didn’t want to hear or listen or do what I already know I needed to do but couldn’t find the mental energy to do it.

In July, I took my son to Wilmington for his orthodontist appointment, and I ran with a friend of mine. During the run, something in my upper hamstring, the old injury area from January 2019, started hurting enough where I stopped running and walked it in. I don’t do that often. The pain and discomfort I’ve pushed myself through has been pretty significant, but when you have something that’s telling you to stop, you stop.

Since then, I’ve taken time off. That seemed to actually make the symptoms worse. Was it a muscle, tendon, nerve problem? I sure didn’t know.

In September, I went to physical therapy. She said it was likely a nerve impingement from my lower back. My left side, the one that hurt, was weaker than my right side, and I was sort of crooked. After doing some of the prescribed exercises, that was clear. But I still couldn’t run. I walked. I biked. I sulked. Running hurt, especially after. I resented most other runners. I wanted to give up. For me, stress makes me feel like a deer in headlights, and with being in grad school, not being able to run, worrying about a lot of other things going on, and then that little thing called CORONAVIRUS that’s wrecking havoc on the world, I just haven’t handled this well. Granted, the last two years of my life have been so full of unknowns and changes and challenges, some good, some not so good, some expected and planned, some not. I, along with many others, have stress fatigue. I’m so sick of it all. But alas, I am not God and cannot take this thing away, so along with many others, have tried to keep my own ship afloat.

So I kept trying to fix myself. Physical therapy was quickly halted because in South Carolina, you have to have a doctor referral to continue past thirty days. Who know? I sure didn’t. And I’m stubborn enough to refuse to comply with that stupid rule. So I continued to do the strength, but I wasn’t making progress. Frustration grew. I knew I was having some issues initiating and/or following through with strength prescribed by coach, so I quit that too and hired a personal trainer.

One month, m and several good conversations with trainer later, I am stronger, I am able to run a little, and my symptoms have decreased significantly. That being said, I did go to the chiropractor on Monday and found that I’m still pretty jacked up. My spine is like a backwards “C”, and my pelvis is tilted forward, putting tons of pressure on the nerves that travel through said crooked pelvis, hence the pain, especially when sitting or sleeping.

I’m done with the trainer, who has done an amazing job and I am forever thankful for those damn push ups (maybe?), and am continuing chiropractic care and strength on my own. Will I follow through now? Absolutely! What makes it a million times better is that since my sister is a Peloton groupie, I get to be too. Who knew you could sign friends and family up for their own Peloton account and have access to amazing workouts of every type? I certainly didn’t, but found out last week, so game on!

This is the first time since July I’ve had any positive movement, so I’m extremely motivated to continue it. I know I can’t get all crazy with the running until I get things straightened out in the spine department, because the last thing I want to do is to make something else break because I’m running with an uneven body. Stronger than before, but definitely uneven. It’s not worth it.

As everything else in this dumpster fire of a year, I was expecting to run the Wilmington marathon in February, the day before my youngest son turns 15, but I will not. I won’t even run the half, because that’s a lot of training to do and as I said above, I do not want to hurt something else by getting all crazy with the running. Let’s do it smart!

As mentioned above, this year is a dumpster fire, but there’s been a lot of good. Remember that 2020 goal to walk/run 2020 miles in 2020? Yeah, that isn’t going to happen. But if I hadn’t taken that challenge, I may not have gone for a walk the day I decided I need to figure out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and I may not have decided to go to grad school to be a counselor. Good Lord knows, that is a job with increasing demand. Unfortunate but fortunate for me given the decision.

I think we all need to learn something from the situation that is 2020. Not that there’s just a LOT of stupid people out there, not new silly slogans that drive me completely crazy, but helpful pieces of a puzzle, or finding out that you do need to give yourself a little grace, but do it in a healthy and balanced way. Maybe it’s that life is precious and that you may not want to pass on the holiday get together. Maybe it’s that you really like driving when there’s no traffic. Or don’t. Haha, not sure who doesn’t, but you just never know. Even when things are bleak, there’s always a light to find!

I think one more important thing to remember is to stay kind. Hold yourself to a higher standard. Listen to those who hold differing opinions. Have conversations. Be graceful. If you’re going to call someone a dumbass, do it behind their back for crying out loud!


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Giving Myself A Little Grace

As normal, it’s been a long time since I’ve written. Crazy times right now, and so much has changed in just a short amount of time. As I’m sure so many people have felt, it’s been extremely stressful. My family moved last summer, almost exactly a year ago. Along with that, my kids had to adjust to a new routine, my husband had to work his old project in Wilmington plus the current project in Summerville, and I trained for the Endurance Trifecta. Once that was over, I had a foot injury, and fought tooth and nail to get my health back so I could run again. It was like molasses in winter. Thankfully my patience paid off.

In November, my oldest son found a great traveling, competitive percussion group. It was his THING. He worked for endless, tiring hours practicing the routine and music, perfecting every little movement and facial expression along the way. Just an FYI, I didn’t know this even existed prior to my son joining, so check out WGI Percussion if you’re curious. It’s a mix of marching band meets dance team meets drum line, but at a really high level of competition. This spring, my youngest son found his people in his teammates on the track team. He’s had trouble adjusting to his new 8th grade, and he just naturally gets along better with the 9th graders he’s met from cross country and track. I was just meeting more people in my neighborhood. I figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I enrolled in grad school at Charleston Southern University.

Then. Hits. Corona. All of it stopped. Everything my kids truly loved at this point in their lives was *poof*, gone. I couldn’t cultivate my new friendships. I was on an emotional roller coaster with everything and was glued to the TV. My husband was pretty much working normally, except for the distancing from everyone else. He works in the field a lot, so it was fairly easy for them to adjust to meeting on the project grounds or Zoom meetings. So there was some normalcy in the family, and we didn’t have to worry about his income. Sigh of relief. My oldest completed his schoolwork from home and did a great job albeit he did not enjoy online learning at all. I almost got my youngest counseling because I thought he was falling into a depression. I was scared. Thankfully, he slowly came out of it, for the most part.

Through all this, I tried to maintain some semblance of normalcy for me and the boys. All my spring races were cancelled. I tried to maintain my fitness and it was really hard for me to do so. I wanted to sleep. I was exhausted, unmotivated, and I wasn’t sure why. I forced myself to complete most workouts. I would run 3 miles and want to quit, but I forged ahead. I hired my former coach, because I needed motivation. Coach Sami is awesome. I got it done. But I found myself begrudgingly getting up, even though I knew I would be glad I got the workout done. I was not inspired. I was faking it til I made it, but I just never made it. My mind is full, it’s cluttered, and I need a break. The chaos in the country hasn’t helped. The incessant arguing, the right-fighting, the name-calling. I. Am. Over. It. All.

Then I went on vacation to see my parents that I haven’t seen or hugged or laid eyes on in almost a year, the longest I’ve ever gone in my entire life without seeing them. I slept in. I deleted my news and social media apps. I sat on their deck for hours, soaking in the plethora of birds, the sound of boats on the lake, the breeze on the leaves, and the conversation we had. We went out on the boat and floated around, talking while soaking in the sun. It was amazing. My kids got to learn how to water ski. They shot guns. They ate nutty buddies at lunch. We laughed, we joked, we talked about serious stuff. I did my school work. My parents cooked for us. And we got refreshed.

Float time on Table Rock Lake

I took a few days off running. For the first time in a hundred billion years, I wasn’t guilty about that. That was a new feeling. I told my husband that I was going to give myself a little grace for missing workouts. He wasn’t sure if he believed me, but I was serious. This is the first time since I can remember that I’ve been so unstructured, so unwilling to guilt myself into working out. But when I do work out, it’s been good. It’s been sweaty, and unplanned. It’s been nice. If I feel a breeze when it’s time to stop, I keep going. If I want to stop at 55 minutes instead of 60, I quit. If I want to get up and drink coffee instead, I do.

I also decided to put off my marathon goal and run a marathon for fun again. Instead of Houston in January, I’ll stay home and run Charleston the same weekend. It’s been years. I can barely even remember that time when I could let go of time workouts, goals, and making every single workout count. I’ve run a 3:33 marathon, and that would be great to do again, but that time will have to wait. I want to be free. I want to enjoy, I want to be one with running again. I don’t want to feel pressure from anywhere, mostly myself, of what my time will be when I cross the finish line. I want to not even care.

I talked to Coach Sami about it all, and I gave myself July to be free. To just do what I felt. To not feel guilty about a missed workout. And I feel really comfortable about it. I don’t want to unpack and live in this space, I just want to rent a VRBO for a few weeks. I want to ride my bike and get back in the pool. I can’t believe I want to get back in the pool. But if I don’t make it to the pool, I don’t want to feel bad about it either.

I feel relief. I feel like the vice is off and the pressure blanket has been removed. As Sami framed it, I’m breaking up with the feelings I was having, not running itself. Separation is good, the reunion will be grand. I can already feel it!

How have you been in this weird time? What’s the phrase you’ll never want to hear again. My word is “mask”. I already detest this word, and the only time I ever want to hear it after this whole pandemic is over is when referring to Halloween.

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The Twilight Zone

I know I’m not the only one who feels like we live in The Twilight Zone. It’s very weird out right now in so many ways. It feels like a hurricane is bearing down on us but we don’t know it’s path or strength so we just hunker down in the corner with our hands over our head, elementary-school-tornado-drill-style, and peek out every once in a while to see what the heck is going on. I appreciate the way humans come together during difficult times, and in some ways, our country needed a good shake up; that being said, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone at any time, as I could think of a million better ways for a country to come together besides a pandemic. People are bringing their meme game, which proves we all need humor in difficult times. Some of my favorites:


I have to say, it’s all I can do to not white out that apostrophe. 



And the winner goes to:


This reminds me of the build up and then the subsequent aftermath of Hurricane Florence. You see so many hurting, scared, sick, unemployed, underemployed, lonely, but on the flipside, you see so many coming together to help out. This is a very weird time.

I’m very thankful I can continue to run. I was just starting to train for a half marathon trail race at the beginning of May, but I assume this race will not happen. Now that I can’t use the gym to get in some incline work, I’ve continued to add miles to my weekend long runs, now up to ten. Some runs are good, some are not-so-good, but they are improving overall, which is the goal. I struggled most when it was humid, so I’m a little nervous about the summer, but all I can do is keep pushing forward. **I wrote this on Friday but didn’t get to posting it until today. Race was postponed until September so I did not do a long run this weekend. I rode my bike for 90 minutes on the trainer instead.

For me, when things are stressful, which I feel like it has been in one way or another for almost two years, I either put my nose to the grindstone and forge ahead or freeze up. I’m in the freeze up version of stress right now. When expectation and reality are not close, and they are about as far away as the Sun and Pluto (yes, it’s a planet because that’s what I learned in school), I tend to struggle. This has been a very strange year so far, as I know it has been for many.

I started the year with the 2020 challenge, which consists of running 2020 miles in 2020. I took the challenge, but gave myself permission to walk additional miles and to not meet the goal. It averages about 5.5 miles per day, and when I cross train one day and take one day off, that is a lot of miles! And it’s a challenge that really doesn’t have a reason, it’s just a number, so I am not going to stress about it. I’m just keeping track of my miles, that’s all. It will be interesting to see how many I get by the end of the year! January was 161.52 miles, February 138.96, and with one day left, March is 150.78, and total is 451.26 miles! Considering I need 507 in the first quarter to meet the 2020 goal, it’s not likely that I will make it, but dang! 450-ish miles is pretty awesome!

When the kids went back to school after Christmas break, I found myself trying to get in extra walking miles with my dog. I have a path where I let her off the leash and she just runs around, sniffs everything, and pees about twelve hundred million times. She loves it and I love to see her happy. I had applied for a few jobs, and during one of those walks, I realized that I probably wasn’t going to get a call back for the one I really wanted and one I knew I was well qualified to do. Either way, I needed a plan. I decided that I needed to figure out what I wanted to do. I thought about not doing anything, which was quickly dismissed. I’ve only not worked or been a major volunteer a few years since my kids were born, and I needed to have something for me, something that was mine, like my coaching business had been. I thought about starting up my business in the schools again, and I just couldn’t figure out a way that it would work. Access to a bathroom, safety, and a good location were lacking. I thought about returning to the mortgage industry. I really enjoyed being a mortgage underwriter, but I knew I’d have to start at the bottom again since I had been out of the industry for 17 years. As much as I could do this, I felt like it wasn’t for me anymore, especially starting at the bottom, again.

My oldest son is a junior in high school, and we had just booked college tours. I kept telling both my kids that they need to do what they truly want to do, as long as it’s not something like “butterfly hunting in Africa”, and they could make a living at it. College is so expensive, they needed to have a career goal or they should just stay home and go to community college and work until they figure it out. I kept telling them to follow their passion, don’t be someone who grits their teeth through every work day. Their dad, my husband had chased his dreams for years and is finally at a place where he wanted to be and imagines staying until retirement. That’s what I want for them. Yes, you have to start at the bottom, you have to do jobs you don’t like, you have to work more than 40 hours per week, but if that’s what it takes to get to your goal, then so be it. To get your dream job, you really should have to pay your dues, live in a crappy apartment, drive an old car. But it’s worth it.

I found it ironic that I was telling my kids to follow their dreams when I wasn’t. I had stopped myself from even considering going back to school because of money, time, it’s too much sacrifice, blah blah blah. There was always a reason why I couldn’t or shouldn’t go back, and this time, I could not find one reasonable reason why I couldn’t follow my dreams. But what were they? Hmmmm, well, I’d enrolled in college after high school with the hopes of being a psychologist so I could help people with their problems. I had struggled with an eating disorder in high school, been to counseling, and felt my counselors were not very good. I wanted to be the good one. But once I got to school, I didn’t want to have to go for a bazillion more years. Looking back, it was a very short-sighted decision, but I wouldn’t be right here writing this if I had continued with that goal.

During that walk on a sunny, cool January morning, I decided that I was going to go back to school. I did days of research, met with an enrollment counselor, talked to others on the phone, and finally applied to Charleston Southern University grad school for the Clinical Counseling master degree. I was accepted on my son’s birthday, February 28th. Just this week, after talking to the director a few times, I officially enrolled in two classes for summer and three for the fall. I am officially going to graduate school!

And while I am bored out of my gourd and relatively frozen during this quarantine, I am hopeful for my future as a student and then as a counselor. It’s crazy what can happen when you take time to clear your head and get straight with yourself. I’m a lot less likely to take crap from people and cut out the drama, more likely to help out local businesses and call those I love, and find the niche where I can help. I’ve spent a lot of time on my phone playing games, reading, and not doing house work. My kids have been doing eLearning through their school, but I’ve allowed pretty much anything.



This is how eLearning is going for my middle schooler.

I hope you all are doing ok. I can’t imagine facing unemployment at this time, having sick relatives, being sick myself. I haven’t seen my parents since last July, and we are supposed to see them for a fun ten day trip this summer at their house. I don’t know if that will happen. It scares me. I miss them SO MUCH. I worry about them, I worry about the economy, I worry about paying for college for me and my kids. There’s a LOT of unknowns. My youngest son’s orthodontist appointment was cancelled (by me because he had run a fever two days prior) and I have no idea when he can get in again. My oldest son needs an eye exam. I need an eye exam. But I have to trust we are in the middle of a snow globe snow storm, and it WILL calm down. Things WILL get back to normal.

I’m wishing the absolute best for everyone out there reading this. I will say a prayer of calm, of comfort, of releasing the worry. Til next time.


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