I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while, not just to share it really, but as a process that writing can be. I’m actually really glad that I starting thinking about it, since I figured some things during the process. If this extremely personal share can help one person, it was worth posting.
Not long before the turn of the new year, someone mentioned that it was a new decade. I had never even thought of that! I started to think about where I was in 2010 and what the last decade has ensued, and it was literally too overwhelming for me to consider. I decided to look back over just 2019, but what occurred in 2019 includes 2018, and I really figured some things out. I “Dr. Phil’d” myself pretty successfully and decided that 2020 is the year of hitting the RESET button.
What happened? What went wrong? I mean, I just finished an endurance trifecta, so it can’t be that bad, can it? Yes and no. I shall ‘splain.
If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, it doesn’t take long to understand that I absolutely love to run. Now, those July and August mornings I could use a portable air conditioner along the route, but running makes me feel like me. I can work things out, run with friends, and feel accomplished before 7 am. My spiral, whether it can be considered an actual spiral remains to be seen, but it certainly wasn’t a rise to the top, began when I got injured two years ago, right before my marathon. It was a calf injury that THANKFULLY, did not bring itself about during my race and I was able to get my 3:33 PR. It was when I returned to speed work a few weeks later that it flared up. Since it flared up, I didn’t train much on hills/trails for my 43ish mile stage race, each day being around 14 miles. So when I did the stage race in April, my calf was fine, but since it was so technical, my posterior tibialis had a panic attack and caused my ankle to swell and hurt like the bananas. It was the first time I’d ever been injured where I was taken out of the game. I couldn’t run, I could barely walk. And I didn’t know what to do. Physical therapy didn’t magically heal it, and I slowly realized, like as in two months later slowly, that I would seriously need to just STOP trying so hard to will my way through the pain and let it slowly heal on its own. Patience is not always my strong suit.
During this time, I spent my workouts on my bike, aerobically working out, doing what I wanted, when I wanted, at the pace I wanted. Translate that to about an hour a day on my bike pedaling pretty darn easily.
I had to DNS all my races that I was really looking forward to, and it bothered me when I saw happy runners running. I wanted to be out there too, and I felt some pent-up pressure building.
Then Hurricane Florence hit Wilmington. During this time, my son had an injury that required him to be hospitalized, and that story, in and of itself, would drive anyone to madness, so I’ll keep it short. I’ll just say that I don’t know if I’ll ever truly get over what happened and how the doctor behaved and our subsequent meetings to discuss said behavior, but eventually, after lots of tears and “I wish I would have said ~”, I decided to give that up. But that revelation came months after Florence. Florence did not wreck havoc on my house, thankfully, but the entire disaster brought about so much uncertainty, fear, and general sadness because so many others had been affected. Thankfully, I had recovered from my ankle pain enough that I could run, but for about a week after the storm, I was literally too exhausted to run. It might have been the stress of my son being in the hospital, worrying if we should stay or leave, getting windows boarded up, getting up early and staying up late to be sure we were aware of the weather (the storm took two entire days to pass through), dealing with tornado warnings in the middle of the night, and then hearing the stories of those flooded. Then the aftermath included the pictures of death, retention ponds smelling like rotten fish, smelling the river from our house, and knowing we were damn lucky. That’s all I can say to describe it to keep it short. We bonded with our neighbors, tried to help others as much as we could, but with my son’s massive foot injury, we stayed closed to home so he would not be exposed to any sort of bacteria. And he couldn’t walk.
Time slowly healed those wounds, and life got back to a new sort of normal. I began to plan for the Boston Marathon, so I was really careful about my miles, and I started to pay more attention to my nutrition that I had let go the last few months due to being injured and dealing with the hurricane.
My training was going really well, until it wasn’t. I was at the track, having a fantastic workout, feeling amazing, which was too amazing. I pulled my hamstring, which was pretty tender already, doing leg swings before a long run the Saturday after the amazing track workout. I remember exactly where I was, the position I was in, and how it felt when it happened.
I desperately tried to make it work, but after lots of physical therapy, time off, and tiny test runs, I pulled the plug on running the 2019 Boston Marathon. I cried. A lot. But after that, it was ok. I knew things would be ok. I spend a lot of time run/walking myself back to health. Again.
While I rehabbed, my husband got a job offer from his current company to move to South Carolina. I worked my fingers off with finishing my jobs in Wilmington, preparing our house to sell (oh my, this was a doozy), planning a surprise 50th anniversary party for my parents IN MISSOURI, and planning a gift-giving present for my sister’s 50th birthday. Then we had a trip to Missouri, sold our Wilmington house, surprise party, trip to South Carolina, close and move in to our new house. Then my husband was required to travel every week for work back in Wilmington, due to company decisions that shouldn’t have been made, was required but wasn’t part of the plan. I was also dealing with some other personal stuff that I’m not getting into, but it caused a lot of not-so-good feelings. It was a lot. I had started to train for my endurance trifecta as well, and if anyone knows me, running more than maybe 6 miles in the summer is not my cup of tea. I was riding the struggle bus when it came to this part, but I got it done, each and every weekend. I followed my plan, I did what I needed to do to accomplish my trifecta goal.
Then all our travel started in October. Half iron tri, New York City, Lake Norman, JFK (which was 18 hours over 3 days plus that pesky 12 hours of running) weekend, then immediately turning around and being gone all Thanksgiving. And to top it all off, the cherry on the pie was that I had yet another injury from the 50 miler that took me out of the game. Again. I. Was. Damn. Frustrated. And I stopped caring.
Why am I writing about this? Because it paints a picture, and not just the cropped “after” picture, but the entire thing. I needed to zoom out, so I could see what happened to me. I was sort of lost, probably about 15 pounds heavier than I had ever been without having just had a baby, and my nutrition was off the rails. I had too many empty bottles of wine in the recycle bin, too many crackers in the pantry, and way too much shredded cheese on my salads.
When I zoomed out, I realized exactly what happened. I got distracted and was doing so much for so many other people, I let myself go. I remember asking myself one time on the bike when I saw a belly roll I’d never seen before, are you ok with that? And unfortunately, my answer was, “Yup, don’t care. Chocolate covered almond, please, with a side of chardonnay.”
Don’t get me wrong, I am not blaming the circumstances on my nutritional failures. I made every single decision that led up to it. It was my fault, not stress nor moving nor being so damn busy this summer that I barely knew what side was up. I holed myself up in my house, avoided meeting the neighbors because I was just too freaking damn tired, didn’t want to tell my story, and felt judged because I didn’t have a job. If I wanted a glass of wine (or three), I had the damn glass(es). If I was too exhausted to cook, we either ordered pizza or got some fresh meals from the store. If I wanted to eat cheese, I ate cheese. Creamer in my coffee? Yup, fill ‘er up! I didn’t say no very much, my body paid the price, and it became the norm.
Now some people have already told me that I’m being ridiculous, I’m not overweight, I don’t need to worry about it, blah blah. But it bothers ME. It’s not who I am, and my current nutrition and weight would not coincide with my HUGE athletic goal that I have. I knew I couldn’t continue, as my already-tight clothes were not going to last any longer. And I just was not happy. That is the cue for change.
In looking back, I realized the mistakes I made, but what do I do about it? It took me a few weeks, and I decided I needed to do a few things. The first, and most important thing, something that I have rarely done, was to forgive myself. Things happen, but the key point was that I was going to do something about it. After I forgave myself, I picked a date to start, which was January 6th. What was I starting? I hate this word, but it’s a diet. I needed to go cold turkey. No creamer, no cheese, no wine, no nonsense. I have been on this diet before, and it’s really hard. Low carb, low fat, low calorie plus exercise every day. Why this plan? Because I needed a reset, a complete reset in my mindset. And I wanted results quickly, because I know myself and I tend to get frustrated easily. When I feel and see progress quickly, it eases my mind and makes the sacrifices worth it just a little quicker than if I just cut back.
Today, after one week in and yesterday being my cheat day due to the Clemson game, I can feel progress. I feel different, I feel better, and my mindset has definitely shifted. It’s been good for me, absolutely a good decision that I made, and I’m extremely lucky that I had the opportunity to stop, think, and start to move forward again. I visualize what I will look like and how I will feel when I take the excess weight off, and I can see myself running the Houston Marathon for a PR next January. I might grow my hair out longer so I can have a Jordan Hassay braid. I might not. I might have my tattoo redone. I might not. I’m hoping to find a job that fits my crazy kids’ schedules, but I might not. And that’s ok. I can see and feel a healthy, happy me emerging. This I know for sure.
I wave goodbye to 2019. It was stressful and CraZy, but it was a really good year. As I wave goodbye, I turn around and face 2020 with my arms open wide. I am here.