IRL. No, not In Real Life, the Injured Reserve List.

Buying Running shoe after running shoe to find the best one for you-$300

313711_10200430996317840_1405263277_n ANB14W2-1 Two pairs down, still looking.

KT Tape- $20

Multiple chiropractor visits-Lost count of how much I’ve spent

Visit to an orthopedic/sports medicine doctor and a cortisone injection-$240

Weekly physical therapy-$15 a week

Massage therapist- $75 and counting

Being able to run for a decent distance, at a decent pace, completely pain free-PRICELESS

Except I haven’t gotten to the last part yet, and I’m pretty bummed and frustrated. My troubles started last December when I bought a pair of new shoes. I finally went to a “professional” to be fitted, and they put me in a neutral shoe. Almost immediately pain started on the outside of my right knee. It got worse over the course of 5-6 weeks and long runs left me limping, unable to do stairs. My IT band was not happy with me. The IT band is a long band that runs from your hip down the outside of your leg and attaches right below your knee.

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Before I started running and even after, I’d never once heard of the illiotibial band. I had no problems running, no pain, no injuries. I pitied all of those poor people who had to foam roll, stretch, take ice baths, etc because of pain. I was young, I was invincible. That was, until I got injured.

After my knee pain started when I bought my first pair of new shoes, it took me a bit to realize it was the shoes. I went into a different running store and they told me in no way should I be in a neutral shoe, I over-pronate, I need different shoes. Return the first shoes, run a long run in my old shoes and voila, pain gone! But I still needed new shoes. I was less than 4 weeks from my half marathon, my old shoes would not take me through that, and they were a bit too small(did you know you should always go 1/2-1 size up in running shoes? because I didn’t!). I got put into a second pair of shoes, a pair of stability shoes to help control my pronation. I did a quick run in them the day I bought them and they felt good. The following day I went out for 8 miles, still no pain in my right knee. Ah but what’s that? What’s that twinge? Pain? Yes, pain, in my left knee. Same pain as I had on the other side. All of this time I had no issues with my left knee, and 3 weeks before a half marathon is starts to hurt. The pain only got worse between then and the half marathon. I did my long runs on Sundays, and they left me hurting in a bad way. I could not walk up or down stairs, I could barely walk at all. Each Monday I saw my chiropractor, he worked magic, and got me feeling better, until the following Sunday. I had no time to rest, as the race was quickly approaching. I knew what I was in for during the race. I knew if I took Ibuprofen I would at least deal with a low level of pain, not enough to stop me(for the record, Ibuprofen and running is a huge no-no). I also knew that I had to run or jog. If I stopped for pictures, stopped to walk, stopped to go to the bathroom, starting running again would be extremely painful and there was a chance I’d be walking(another for the record, if you are hurting and an action is painful, don’t do that action, and don’t keep doing that action for 12 miles). But I had no choice. Too much time and money invested into this race and this trip. I pushed through it.

Yes, I’m proud of myself in a way for doing that. It wasn’t all that smart to ignore my body’s pain, but normally I’m a big wimp. First sign of pain, take the easiest way out. It’s why I have epidurals during child birth. But I resolved to finish the race and push past the pain.

Post-race was rough. I could barely walk. I was in a lot of pain. Normally the pain after would go away in a day or two, but it didn’t this time, and 8 days after my half I was at the orthopedic doctor. He checked my knee out, did X-Rays, and diagnosed me with what I already knew I had, ITBS, or Illiotibial Band Syndrome. The band got super tight, formed adhesions around my muscles, got even tighter and rubbed on the tissue under where the band connects at my knee, making that tissue extremely angry. He gave me a cortisone injection(ah relief!) and suggested I start physical therapy. I could start running again, slowly.

I took in very easy when starting PT. 1-2 miles a couple of times a week, mostly walking, with the exception of an 8k race a few weeks after starting. Thanks to KT Tape and lots of stretching I had very little pain while running that race. But it was still there. I wasn’t sure whether I should be thrilled that I had so little pain or worried that I did have some pain. The physical therapist said my issue is most likely core issues. I have very weak glutes, hips, abs, back, etc. You’d think all of the exercise I do would help, but no. Add to that having 4 babies, and everything in that area is all kinds of bendy and twisted up. My right hip doesn’t have the mobility my left does, I actually lean to my right side when I run, my gait is horrid, and I’m all kinds of off balance. This looks to be putting a lot of stress on my left leg as it overcompensates for the lack of core muscles and everything going on with my right side. So we start building up these areas and stretching. We try a lot of different things and I’m still having some pain when running, and I’m most certainly not running long or hard.

On a whim, last week, I wonder if it could be a shoe issue. Again. After all, the left leg went bad as soon as I got the 2nd pair of shoes(you know, the ones I bought to correct the problems my first pair caused). So last week my PT agreed that I should try another pair of shoes. I put on the old trusty pair again(the worn down, too small pair), and hopped on the treadmill. I alternated 1/2 mile of walking with 1/2 mile of running, for over 2 miles. No pain. None. I was thrilled, but also kicking myself because I’ve spent so much money on medical treatment, when it was simply a shoe issue again. I decided to put myself to the test(in the old shoes again) and attempt 5 miles, running, this past Sunday. In hindsight, this was a bad idea, shoe issue or not. A mile or so in, my knee started hurting. Like really hurting, not the low level of pain I’d been dealing with since I started treatment. I ran for the first 3 miles, in some pain(bad April, bad bad April), stopped to stretch, I felt better but it wasn’t long before the pain returned. I cut things short and walked the rest of the way back to my car, managing 4 1/2 miles. I felt defeated.

I’m an impatient person. When I want something, I want it immediately. So when I want my knee fixed, I want it done immediately. When it does not happen, it frustrates me. Running has become part of my life. Taking time off and figuring my body’s issues out and correcting them, while letting my leg settle down, is not my idea of fun. I hopped on my computer and consulted with Dr. Google. I came across a certain kind of massage, called myofascial release. Lucky for me, one of the ladies in my local Moms Run This Town group is a massage therapist and works with this technique, and she also has issues with ITBS, so she feels my pain. I was in her office Monday morning(told you, I’m impatient). Ohhhh a massage you say, how nice you say. No-Kitten There is nothing relaxing or comfortable about this kind of massage. There is pressure, there is pain. Add having to bring your two year old to the mix, and well it’s not as relaxing as one would think. But it helped. I’ve got lots of knots and adhesions along my band. After our session, she recommending I visit my chiropractor. I scaled back my visits when I started physical therapy, and he wasn’t pleased to see me back with him again, still dealing with the same issue. He decided to take a different approached. I like to call it controlled electrocution. He attached two paddles to my leg to stimulate it. It was a very odd feeling, but after I got home, my leg felt a lot better, aside from the bruised feeling the massage left me with, which is very normal. I went back for round two of the leg electrocution on Wednesday and back for another massage today. We will go through that routine again next week.

I also saw my PT to report back to her. She does think it is an issue with the shoes, but that I’ve also reached a point in my injury where it isn’t going to magically or immediately get better, allowing me to jump right back in to long runs. So we continue on. I’ll keep going with the PT, the massage, the stim. Next week I’ll start back in slowly. Aside from not being able to actually run, the next hardest part is the idea of easing back in. My body is conditioned for long distance running. I ran a half marathon less than 2 months ago. 1 or 2 miles is a warm up for me now. But not according to my knee. I have to go slow. Next week, while I can do plenty of walking, I can only run for a few minutes, at a very slow pace. That’s it, until the next week. It’s like I’m starting all over again, and I’ve worked so hard. It almost feels like I’ve erased all that hard work. Now I have to build myself up to being able to run a mile straight, not working on endurance, but simply being pain free. It’s a very frustrating and helpless feeling. But I know if I have any hope of running 2 half marathons in 14 days this fall, I need to be as close to 100% as possible, so it’s a necessary evil.

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The Benefits of Running-Part 2

I discussed the first perk of running in my last post, the weight loss! Next up, the sense of accomplishment.

Last summer, I decided to make the Princess half my goal because I was turning 30 in April(which I did, on Tuesday, and I didn’t die! Officially 30 and fabulous ladies and gents!). I wasn’t having so much of an issue with turning 30, what I was having an issue with was my lack of accomplishments coming up to 30. I really hadn’t done too much. I did get an Associate’s degree in college, but put my big 4 year degree on the shelf when I got pregnant with my (surprise) middle child, and my husband took a job that relocated us halfway across the country. I’ve been a stay at home mom/work at home mom for years now. So I haven’t done much more than have a bunch of kids in my nearly 30 years of life. Don’t get me wrong, my family is wonderful, I’m so blessed to have such an awesome bunch, but it didn’t feel like it was something I worked so hard for, if that makes sense. The half marathon was going to be my big accomplishment before I turned 30.

I’m going to be honest. Training over the months was hard. It took awhile to really find my steam and my groove. I have my stay at home mom gig, the kids, the appointments, the cooking, the cleaning, the school work, then I have my work at home job as well, which takes up several hours of my day. In the summer, with lots of hours of daylight, it was easier for me to get out and run, but when fall and winter rolled around and it got dark earlier, I hit a wall. My husband doesn’t get home from work until 6pm, sometimes later. Going out in the dark and the cold was no something I found easy to do and my training suffered. I ended up getting a treadmill and was able to get into a good running pattern, twice weekly inside for around 3 miles, then a long run on the weekend outdoors. They call it a dreadmill for a reason, and no matter what kind of distractions I set up for myself, I found the treadmill so boring. I could managed 30-45 minutes on it, but not much more. Even though I hate the cold and I hate getting up in the morning and running(I’m not a morning person and prefer to run at night, I’m an oddball), I would still get up every Sunday morning and head out.

Sticking to training was my first accomplishment. I am the queen of grand ideas and then not following through. Blame my mild ADD, but I’m constantly going “Oh look, a cool thing to do! I’m going to do it! Look a squirrel! Do we have an ice cream?”. The old me would have thought the half marathon was an awesome goal, registered, run for a couple of months and drifted on to something new. But I didn’t do that this time, I kept going and made myself keep working. I’m sure the fact that I spent so much on race registration and was earning myself a Disney trip helped, but my own flame and desire to finish this was the driving factor.

My biggest accomplishment was finishing. I’ve come across a few people who didn’t finish this race, or who just flat out didn’t bother going. I saw the excuses, work, kids, illnesses, they go on. People blaming life. Well all of us deal with life. I don’t know anyone who trained and finished this race who doesn’t deal with life, who doesn’t have a job, who doesn’t get sick. Many of us have kids. I didn’t let those excuses get in my way. Normally I would have. I remember having nights, after putting the kids to bed and knowing how much work I had ahead of me, after a stressful day, and I had no desire to get on that treadmill. I wanted to sit on the couch. But each of those nights, I told myself that those were excuses and I was done with excuses, that so many others managed to get their runs in. It all paid off and I finished in good time. I am a mother, I am a wife, I am an employee, I am busy as all get out and I ran a half marathon. The sense of accomplishment the journey itself and the changes I made to me gave me is worth every step I’ve taken and every mile I’ve covered.

 

The Benefits of Running-Part 1

I want to break this up into a few different posts since my list goes in a few different directions.

So what kind of difference can running make in your life? I’ve had time to reflect on this and it’s really hit me how much running has done for me. It’s changed who I am. I am currently going through physical therapy thanks to another shoe injury(I’ll touch on the huge importance of shoes some time soon), and it hit me today. I am a runner. Yes, I’ve trained for months, yes I ran a half marathon, but for some reason I still didn’t feel like an actual runner. I have no idea why. This week marks my fourth week in PT. I had a visit tonight, and the whole time I’ve been begging my therapist not to tell me to stop running. I have cut back a lot, only running 1-2 times a week, for 1-2 miles at a time, with lots of walking involved. The cut has made me kind of anxious and I couldn’t stand the idea of not being able to run. Today my therapist told me that our goal is to make normal activities in my life free from pain, and then work up from there. I looked at her and told her that running is part of my day to day life. There is walking, picking up my kids, going up stairs, running. These are normal activities in my life, they are a part of my life. That’s when it hit me, that I’m a runner. Running has become part of my life and is as normal to me as walking from the kitchen to the living room, it’s a required part of my life. It was a great “A ha!” moment.

That brings me to the positive changes I’ve had in my life because of running. The first one is pretty basic and expected. Weight loss! After I had my last baby, just 2 years ago, I was at my heaviest. I’ve had 4 babies and have always rebounded pretty nicely. I never lost all of the weight, but even after my 3rd baby was born, I was back down in the 120s within 6-9 months. This changed after my last baby. I gained about 30 pounds during my pregnancy, not horrible, but enough. Here’s where things changed for me though…after I had her, I didn’t start losing weight. I was nursing, and everyone tells you nursing helps you lose weight. This is a lie. I gained weight after having her. By the time she was 4 months old, I gained 8 pounds. I was 17 pounds heavier than when I got pregnant with her, and the scale was moving up. I was horrified.

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Now I wasn’t terribly heavy, but it was for me. I was close to 30 lbs over my preferred weight, and over 30 lbs heavier than I was when I met my husband. I was in a size pants I’d never worn in my life. I was gaining weight after having a baby! I got up to 147 lbs and a size 10-12. I was battling postpartum depression and anxiety as it was, and the shame I felt about my weight made it so much worse. Towards the end of the summer of 2011, I tried running and exercising but it had a negative effect on my milk supply(I was still nursing) and my nursing relationship with my daughter came first, so I stopped. I cleaned up my eating and did lose a little weight, 6 lbs, but when she turned 1, I was still 2 lbs heavier than I was 2 weeks after having her. This is about the time she started to wean. I started going to Zumba once a week and didn’t need as many calories since she didn’t rely solely on me for food, and the weight slow started to come off. By the summer of 2012, I’d lost another 10 lbs. I was getting close to where I was when I got pregnant with her.

This is the point that I decided to register for, and subsequently start training for, the Princess Half Marathon. I was running 3-4 times a week, I was doing Zumba once a week, I was eating better, and the pounds kept coming off. By this March, a year after my fitness journey began, I was down to 122 lbs, for a total of 25 lbs lost since I realized how unhappy I was with my weight. This is actually 8 lbs under the weight I was when I got pregnant with the baby. I’m wearing a size 6, and these days those are starting to feel not so snug.

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I look good. I still have some areas to tone up, but I’m thrilled. I don’t feel ashamed of my body anymore. I’m not hiding myself anymore. My husband actually gets to see me naked every once in awhile(hey, we’re all adults here)! The best part is, I feel good. I feel proud of myself. Running has given this to me. It’s given me health, it’s given me confidence in the way I look and it’s given me a sense of pride, because I worked darn hard to get to this point. Considering I’m 30 years old now, and have carried and given birth to 4 babies, I think that’s pretty awesome.

Pushing Out Of The Comfort Zone

For a long time, I have been a comfort zone kind of girl. I had my little bubble, I did a lot of things inside that bubble, things that I would call fun and things that I thought made me happy. But I’ve come to realize that being comfortable did not mean happy. Don’t get me wrong, even inside this zone, my life is pretty darn awesome. I am blessed in so many ways. However, I’ve always battled fears that kept me in one place, it kept me from true greatness. It meant the difference between having a good life and having an awesome life.

Fear is something we all deal with, whether we acknowledge it or not. We can call it keeping things calm, we can call it being cautious and safe. But the root of it is fear. Fear of failure, fear of pain, fear of rejection. I’ve always been afraid of things going wrong, so I stayed on the safe, well lit path, to avoid the things I was afraid of. This was my comfort zone. I was happy here, life was good. Things didn’t go wrong, I didn’t get hurt, my boat was sailing on calm seas. I wanted more though. It was last summer that I finally committed to having more. By more, I don’t mean more things. Not more money, not more possessions, but more life.  With the age of 30 quickly creeping up on me, I was no longer content with settling on a calm, easy life. I needed to say hello to my fears, tell them I was over them, and see what else was out there. This is when I made the commitment to run the Princess Half Marathon. I hadn’t started training yet, and was very afraid of failing, or something going wrong and keeping me from going or completing the race, but I closed my eyes and hit enter on registration day. This was the first step.

For months, even with training, I still battled the fears that I wasn’t going to make it, that I needed every outside force to help me finish. I needed a good corral, for an earlier start, with lots of space between the sweepers and me. That fear of failure still nagged at me. The excuses still got in to my head and kept me from training. I see it in a lot of people. Life gets in the way. We have kids, homes to run, jobs, illnesses pop up, bad days happen. For some people, these excuses are enough to stop, or at least to keep them from really giving it their all. They did for me for months. In the weeks leading up to the race, I saw many people discuss how life got in the way and they “couldn’t” train. I learned that these excuses are simply mental barriers and they aren’t a matter of can’t. They were simply our brains telling us to stay in the comfort zone, not to try, and not trying means you can’t fail. Towards the end of the year, I stopped letting the excuses rule me. I have 3 children and a husband to attend to, I have a house to run, I have a job that I work at from home. We dealt with illnesses, we dealt with bad days, days where I just wanted to sit on the couch and numb my mind in front of the tv or my laptop after the kids went to bed, days where my kids had been up the night before and I had gotten little sleep. But I was never going to get to where I wanted to be if I let those days get to me. There are so many people who deal with kids, home, work, stress, illness, no sleep and more and still get out there and run. There are people who are missing limbs or dealing with terminal illnesses, yet they still get out there and train, to add to their lives. If they can do it, so could I. So can you. On the days when I really didn’t want to take the time and burn the little energy I had left I made it a point to hop on my treadmill or head outside and go.

Every time I heard someone say they were worried about not finishing the race because they missed weeks of training due to “life”, I wanted to scream at them. Some people deal with so much more and manage, many more deal with life and still manage. It was an excuse, plain and simple, and in the grand scheme of things, a pretty lame excuse. Nobody lives a perfect, stress free life. It’s simply a decision not to let that become a mental barrier that keeps you from being as great as you want to be.

This realization of how much I have faced my fears and broken out of my comfort zone has made me proud. I stopped thinking about all of the things that could go wrong and I did it. I have applied this to other areas of my life, doing things I normally wouldn’t do because I was afraid, and it’s enriching other areas of my life. It’s also made me aware that I still do sit in my comfort zone, even when it comes to running.

I can run. I’ve proven that, by running a half marathon. I can go the distance if I want to. But I get there rather slowly. I noticed, even during my half marathon, that when I run, I don’t give it my all. I push for distances, but I haven’t gotten a whole lot faster. I’m not breathing heavy, if it’s not hot I’m not sweating. My goal for PHM was just to finish. I wanted to finish in under 3 hours and I accomplished that. With the rough weather conditions and my injury, I couldn’t really exert myself, but I can now. During training runs, and during the race, I stayed at a comfortable pace, and it was rather easy. But I don’t want easy anymore. I want improvement. I recently talked about the 8k I ran this past weekend. I pushed myself for this race, I was breathing heavy, I was sweating, I felt ready to puke. It was spectacular. I knocked a few minutes off my comfortable pace. Pushing myself past the point of just being comfortable was worth it. I see now that it’s time to really start pushing myself. I want to finish my next half marathon in under 2:30. It will be a hilly course, so I’m going to have to break out of the comfort zone again and start pushing myself more, especially during training. It’s the only way I’ll see improvement.

Truly living life and achieving greatness is a constant motion. Evolution and improvement is ongoing, and if you have the desire, there is no stopping point, you just keep climbing. I want to keep climbing. I finished my half marathon, but there is more beyond that. This line of thinking doesn’t just apply to running either, so I will just keep swimming.

I Ran 3rd For Her

I’ve posted about #Run3rd before. I normally keep the babies taken too soon close to my heart for races, and this past Saturday’s 8k was no different. That is, until I was less than a mile in to my race.

The race was run through a very small college town. We ran through the streets of town, through neighborhoods and by houses. Many people came out to watch us race by and cheer us on, it was great. There was someone who stuck out to me, someone that really touched me and motivated me. I don’t know her name. We started up a tree lined street, and I saw her, there on the side of the road, watching runners with another child and her parents. She looked to be about the same age as my oldest son, 8 years old. She was in a pretty pink wheelchair, not a regular wheelchair, but one of the custom ones for a child who is in the chair permanently. Her legs were skinny and slightly bowed, a sign that they saw no use. She was on the right side of the road, I was closer to the left side when I saw her. I was moving faster than I normally was and seeing as I hadn’t had a real run since my half marathon nearly 3 weeks before, I was feeling it. I choked up almost immediately upon seeing her, and I began to check behind me to make sure I wouldn’t get in anyone’s way as I made my way to the right side of the street. I got very close to her and slowed my pace, and stuck out my hand for a high five. She smiled and extended her hand, as did the little girl watching with her. Now normally I’m a bit of a germaphobe and don’t high five people often when I’m racing. Usually I will high five police officers as I go by, because I very much respect them and their line of work. But this time was different, and she was delighted to have the attention of a runner.

I sped away with tears in my eyes. This little girl is a reminder of the gift I have been given, the simple gift of the use of my legs and the ability to run. I picked up my pace, continued to push on, finished my race in great time, and all because I was running 3rd for a little girl that would never have the chance.

This is motivation. There are days when we feel tired, when life has gotten in the way, when the routine of work, kids, family, mundane day to day life and stress clouds our head, and we just don’t feel like getting out there for a run. Think of all of the people who simply can’t do that, even if they wanted to. It really puts things in to perspective, and it makes it much harder to take our gift of running for granted.

Seeing The Difference

I love that I have kept decent documentation of my journey since I started. Yesterday, I ran my first real race since I ran the Princess Half Marathon. It was “only” an 8k(as if I’ve turned in to some kind of distance snob), but it was really the first real push I’ve given myself since the half and since I’ve started treating my ITBS. Since being diagnosed with ITBS a couple of weeks ago and taking more aggressive steps in getting better, I haven’t been training hardcore. I haven’t really needed to since my next half marathon isn’t until the end of October, but I do want to maintain between now and when I do need to start climbing into the higher miles again. However, trying to not only recover from an injury but build myself up so it doesn’t happen again has put a damper on my maintenance. I had to over a week off after the half from running, due to pain I had lingering after that race and the subsequent cortisone shot I got when I visited the orthopedic doctor, and after that I got back on the treadmill pretty slowly, with a lot of walking and only small running intervals, never more than half a mile at a time.

I was actually nervous going in to this race. I kept thinking “I did a half marathon less than 3 weeks ago, why am I nervous?” but it didn’t calm my fears. I had grand plans for my pace. I wanted to finish in 55 minutes, which was an 11 minute per mile pace. In the weeks leading up to the half, and during that race, my pace slowed because of the distance I was running and my injury. I don’t have exact numbers, but my average pace for the half was about 12:30 per mile. I was afraid the pace was a bit too fast coming off of my injury. But I was hopeful. I was dressed in my green, representing my favorite running group, the Pacebook Running Club, KT Taped up, and ready to run.

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Pre-race I ran into my favorite Zumba instructor Molly. I knew she ran races and it was a pleasant surprise to see her there. We began the race, and about half of a mile in, I saw Molly pass me. I challenged myself to try to keep up with her, I figured she was probably pretty quick. I managed to keep up with her for less than 2 miles, staying right behind her and keeping her in my sights. That’s when the hills started, and that’s when I started slowing down. I did notice a twinge in my knee but nothing terribly painful and nothing that slowed me down. The hills on the other hand, they were wicked, and they did slow me down. But I kept going. I was thrilled to cross the finish line in under 52 minutes, official time was 51:18, which was under a 10:30 mm pace. I met my goal, and then I killed it. I saw Molly at the finish line(she only finished about 5 minutes ahead of me!) and I thanked her for unknowingly keeping me on pace.

Reflecting on this race, I realized how far I’ve come. I looked back at the pictures I’d saved of my distances and times over the past 8 months. It was last August that I first reached 4-5 miles. Reading my comments on this picture, I was pushing myself and running this distance at over a 13 minutes per mile(with no hills, flat running). This picture was from an August 10, 2012 run:

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That was my farthest run at the time. Since then, I have climbed to being able to run 13.45 miles, and I have shaved about 3 minutes off my pace(for that distance), with hills.

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I’m proud seeing my progress. I’m looking forward to getting better and nailing my future goals.

I Have Been Sucked Into the Black Whole

The black whole know as runDisney races that is. I have to laugh at myself, as in the weeks before the Princess Half, I swore I’d never do it again. Not just another Disney race, but another half in general. Check it off of my bucket list, pat myself on the back, and move on with my life. I remember running with a couple of local girls in December and telling them after my half, they’d probably never see me running again.

But the race got closer. My training got more intense and steady. I already feared the PDD, or Post Disney Depression(look it up, it’s a valid medical condition, I promise). It’s kind of like Christmas. You look forward to it all year, and as time draws nearer and nearer, you get more excited. Then on Christmas Eve you can hardly sleep. But by 10 am Christmas morning, your presents are opened, it’s time to clean up and the reality of having to take down your lights and wait a whole year to do it again hits you.

The weeks leading up to the race were like that. At first I was excited. But as the days ticked away, my confidence in doing well grew, and my internet groups became more active with buzz about the race, I got more and more excited. I knew as soon as it was over I was going to miss that anticipation. That’s why, at the end of January, when I got an email about the Rock N Roll half marathon in St. Louis in October, I jumped on it. I’m originally from St. Louis, my family and my husband’s family live there, it would be a good excuse to visit. Let’s face it though, it’s not a Disney race. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard the RNR series is just lovely, and entertaining. I’m glad we’ll be able to go out and visit the families, the kids can see their cousins and spend Halloween with them. I have friends there that are running the race, someone who can help pace me for the PR I’m aiming for. But it’s not Disney. This reality hit me after I got back from this year’s Princess half.

Disney hooked me. I love that place on it’s own, but their races are just awesome. I had such a fun weekend. While I was down there, I decided to plan for the Princess half next year. My husband(a true Prince Charming) was on board and we’re going to make it a family trip. But it a whole year away. 12 months, 365 days, 8760 hours. That’s a long time to wait. Shortly after I returned, the internet boards began buzzing once again, this time about registration opening for the Wine and Dine half in November.

http://www.rundisney.com/wine-and-dine-half-marathon/

Looking at the date, it’s just two weeks after my half in St. Louis. We’re staying a week there, so we’ll return home(700+ mile trip) the weekend before that race. All that driving didn’t sound pleasant to me, but my interest was still peaked. I approached the topic with my husband, but he was firm on saying no, so I dropped the idea.

Registration day got closer and closer, until it opened today. Even after it opened, I had fully resigned myself to the fact that it wasn’t possible for me. But where there is a will, there is a way. A little flicker of a flame started up when my husband came home from work. I touched on the subject again. I got a no again. I argued my case a little. It’ll be a short trip, down Friday, home Sunday, he won’t have to take off work, I won’t do the parks, I won’t do nice Disney restaurants, it’ll only cost about X amount of dollars. That’s when I got an “I’ll think about it.”. The flame grew. I argued my case a little more, even offered to make it my anniversary present, since it’s less than a month away. I wanted a new Coach purse, so hey, it works out the same in cost. Finally I heard the magic words, and I got the go ahead to register(Yes, I know, I’m super lucky my husband is pretty awesome like this, sorry ladies, he’s taken), and register I did.

So there it is, I’ve been sucked in by runDisney. I’m registered for the Wine and Dine half marathon. The night time race appeals to me(I’m not a morning person), and all kinds is featured after the race(since it coincides with the Food and Wine festival). I. Love. Food, so this very much appeals to me. I’m also taking it to another level with two half marathons in two weeks. I’m pretty stoked.

I #Run3rd For Them

Before the Princess Half, I came across something on twitter. It’s called the #Run3rd movement, and it was started by actor Sean Astin.

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http://run3rd.blogspot.com/p/real-mission-statement.html

It’s pretty simple. I run 1st for me. For my health, for my peace of mind. Running is my “me time”, somethings that many moms see very little of. It’s my time for quiet, to decompress, the be alone with my thoughts, to regroup and to just be in the moment, when days are filled with noise and chaos.

I run 2nd for my family. I run to introduce my young children to the world of staying active and fit. I run to make my family proud. I run to show them that you can accomplish anything, that you just need to set a goal and give every part of yourself to that goal, and you can make magic happen.

I run 3rd for the babies. #Run3rd is a simple dedication, making your runs, making each step count for something bigger, something bigger than you and your tiny part of the world. Without any knowledge of Run3rd, I was already doing this when I started on my journey last summer. Getting into the groove of a new routine can be difficult. It takes repeated effort to get past the mental barriers holding many people back from doing new things, including exercise. I was so set in my routine of not doing anything, and made excuses for why I couldn’t go out and run, or why I could only run X amount of time or for just X amount of miles. I had a long day, my head wasn’t in it, I was tired, I had work to do. But each day I made the conscious decision to get out and run, no matter what the hold up was. What did I use to drive me? Simply my ability to run.

I know from personal experience that the gift of life, and the ability to get out and put one foot in front of the other, is not something that is guaranteed. For most people, it is easily taken for granted. Many have not been faced with a major, unexpected loss. Sure, we lose grandparents, then parents, sometimes too early, but this circle of life is somewhat expected. We expect to lose our grandparents first, then our parents. We pass our hearts along to the next generation, our children. Our children are supposed to be a constant in life. Once they are born, we will watch them grow, and they will care for us when they have reached adulthood and we have entered into our golden years. Yes, we understand things go wrong sometimes, kids get sick, bad things happen, but it never happens to us, and we are able to go through life denying the reality of life taken too soon.

I lost my first son Chris, to SIDS, 10 years ago. The 10th anniversary of his death was on March 1, just days after I completed my first half marathon. He died when he was 2.5 months old. When he was alive, I never thought that anything would happen to him. That kind of thing happens to other people. I read about it, I cried a few tears thinking of other mothers who have to deal with it, but that wouldn’t happen to me. Then reality and life smacked me in the face, hard. I woke up on day and my baby was gone. When this happens, you enter a new reality, one where life(at any age) is fragile, is limited, and isn’t to be taken for granted. One where milestones, like first words, first steps, potty training, school, become so huge, because you realize what was taken from you. My baby boy never got to take steps. We all take our steps for granted. We walk around the house, we walk to school, we walk at work, we walk to the store, each step, lost in time, never to be appreciated. These are all steps my baby never got to take, and those steps are no longer lost, but they create a huge void. Over my journey as a baby loss mama, I’ve met too many other moms who also live without the steps of their children.

I started by using Chris as my motivation. I was not going to take my ability to walk and run for granted, I was going to appreciate this gift. With each step, over each mile, it was for him. I carried him with me, in my head and in my heart, taking him running, so his spirit and memory could experience what he never got to in life. Many times, his memory carried me through for that extra mile. It took me up that hill I really didn’t want to run up, it pushed me. Even at my half marathon, he pushed me. I remember, after I hit mile 12, my body was wearing down and I was in pain. I was walking and starting to feel defeated. But I was not going to be defeated, and I said to him, “Come on buddy, let’s go.” I finished the race running.

The desire to dedicate my miles has grown. I don’t just run for the baby I lost. I run for all of the babies. I take their steps for them, I savor them, I appreciate them. I take their memories with me, their names, their lives, and they live on. They are not forgotten or buried by time, like many parents feel they are after so many years have passed. I don’t just run for Chris, I run for Super Jake and Caleb, I run for Patrick and Ian, I run for Christian, I run for Gaven, I run for Christian and Kirra, I run for Stevie Joy, I run for Spencer, I run for their short lives and their everlasting memories. I #run3rd for them.

 

Listening To Your Body

Since the beginning of the year, I have been running somewhat injured in one form or another. When I really started adding on miles in January, my right knee started giving me a lot of trouble. It actually started in December when I bought what was supposed to be the correct pair of shoes for me, but by January it started getting worse. I finally realized it was the shoes(just goes to show you that running stores that “professionally” fit you don’t always know what they are talking about), and that I over-pronate badly and need a stability shoe. I switched up my shoes and was golden. For a week or two. Then the pain came back. But not in my right knee, in my left knee. I asked for advice everywhere, saw my chiropractor once a week. I was foam rolling, using acupuncture, salt baths, icing it. Each remedy was very temporary, and every Sunday, my knee would start hurting after my long run. I suspected it was my IT band.

Luckily(if you will call it luck), I knew how my body and knee reacted. I could run and run and run and run, and as long as I didn’t stop to walk at all, I would only be in minor pain. Walking made my knee lock up and it was very difficult to resume running. That was why I didn’t stop for pictures until the end of the Princess Half. I knew as soon as I stopped, it would be hard for me to continue running. Not wanting to walk, I skipped pictures. I would be kicking myself if I stopped for a picture at mile 4 and had a hard time running after.

When I got home from my Disney trip, still in some amount of pain(but not hobbling around), I immediately called an orthopedic/sports medicine doctor. It was time to quit working through the pain and fix it, especially if I’m going to keep going. I saw the doctor today. He took X-Rays(they turned out great), checked over ligaments and range of motion and came to the same conclusion, ITBS, or Illiotibial Band Syndrome. The IT Band is a large amount of tissue that extends from your hip down to under your knee, on the outside of the leg. It’s a very common occurrence for runner’s to have IT Band issues. Unfortunately for me, all of the “first steps” to fixing IT band issues have proved ineffective. So I got a steroid injection in my knee and will start physical therapy next week.

Now, with my knee feeling great(thanks to the shot), I can live pain free, at least for the time being. Right? Wrong. After the doctor, I had to stop by the grocery store with my two youngest children(life doesn’t stop for a sports injury you know). My toddler was at the end of her rope and she pitched a fit when I tried to put her in her car seat. She arched herself backwards, I lurched forward, and felt my back twist in a very uncomfortable way. Now after my orthopedic appointment, I headed to my chiropractor, so she totally ruined my fresh adjustment. My back has since started spasm and I’ll be back to visit my chiro again tomorrow. Awesome.

Now, with a knee full of cortisone and a back that is screaming, you’d think I’d be smart enough to rest right? Wrong again. Since my half over a week ago, I’ve done two two mile fast walks on my treadmill. I guess I’ve gotten used to being so active and I actually feel a bit blah not being at that level. So I got the grand idea to go ahead and try to brave Zumba tonight. As I’m driving there, my head is telling me “Hey, you! You need to rest. Your body is breaking. Stop, turn back, do not enter.” I didn’t listen. I made it through half of Zumba and I decided to leave. My back was still achy, and my knee had started to hurt again(something it shouldn’t actually do thanks to the numbing agent in the steroids), and I wasn’t able to keep up with the dancing. Not because of the pain, but because I was so mentally off from that little guy in my head, knocking on my skull and shouting, “Hellooooo, McFlyyyyy.”

I’m going to have to accept it for right now. I’m going to make myself that much worse if I don’t slow down. We all get there, and this has just been an important lesson that while I’m still rather young, I’m not invincible. I need to rest.

Wrap Up Trip Report-My Last Two Days at Disney

Ok, so more like one day, as I left Tuesday morning.

We got up Monday morning. Oh my knee! I guess I slept with it bent, and when I woke up, it was so stiff I wasn’t sure if I could straighten my leg and actually get out of bed. After a couple of minutes, I managed to get it straight. Once I got up and moving, I felt pretty good. A bit of muscle stiffness, of course my knee hurt, but the more I walked, the better I felt.

We hit Epcot after breakfast, Patty rode rides and I did a bit of shopping, and we met back up for a ride on Test Track. Before leaving, I got a quick picture with Goofy, thanks to a great Cast Member. I had missed out on Chip and Dale in the park, waited in line for 20 minutes, got to the front only to hear it was break time for those rodents. Was hoping to meet Goofy, and I hopped in line. The Cast Member told me he had 5 minutes left before he went for a break, but he suspected I could squeeze in and to go ahead and get in line. He was correct and I got my picture.

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Then we headed to Hollywood Studios. While this is a smaller park, it’s one I always want to go to, because I really like Rockin’ Roller Coaster and I LOVE Tower of Terror. It was time for a bit of lunch, and there is no better recovery food than a big turkey leg. Well at least I’ll tell myself that.

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We hit up Rockin’ Roller Coaster after that. It was Patty’s first time. I’ll spare the picture, but let’s just say the look on her face during the ride was priceless. After that, with Patty riding her thrilling ride high, so she was going to brave Tower of Terror with us. The wait time outside said 50 minutes, not horrible. Clearly that was wrong. After over 50 minutes, my legs stiffening up, we checked online and wait times had jumped to 100 minutes. Yeah, no thank you. We hopped out of line, Patty headed to Rockin’ Roller Coaster once more while I chilled. She ended up getting off that ride at the same time her sister(who decided to stay in line for ToT) got off of her ride. We had an early dinner reservation at the Magic Kingdom’s newest restaurant, Be Our Guest.

We met up with another friend at MK to head to dinner, but not before stopping for obligatory pictures with our medals outside of the castle. Or in my case, with Patty’s borrowed medal, because I didn’t bring mine with me.

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We got to Beast’s Castle right as it was starting to rain. Perfect timing! The outside and inside of Be Our Guest is just stunning.

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We were seated, the rest of the ladies ordered wine, I indulged in a soda. We ordered our food, and it came quickly. I got the pork chop and pomme frites(fancy speak for french fries). It was seriously the best pork chop I’ve had in my life. Delicious! Dessert is spectacular there as well, and we were even able to snag a couple of plates of the “grey stuff”.

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After dinner, we headed over to Space Mountain for a ride before we had to be back to Big Thunder Mountain with our fast passes. When we finished up with SM, it was coming in close to time for the Wishes fireworks show. We hurried over to BTM, because we thought it would be awesome to see the fireworks while riding the ride. We got on at the best time, and as we rode, the fireworks were going off in the sky right in front of us. Quite easily the best ride ever! So we did it again.

By this time, it was nearly closing time for MK, so we decided to head over to Epcot for their Extra Magic Hours(extra hours a park is open just for Disney resort guests). We rode Soarin’ and then I did a bit more shopping, before heading back to the resort so I could get packed up for my morning departure.

The following morning, I got up nice and early, packed up, headed down for breakfast and coffee, and got on my way. The beautiful weather I had enjoyed for the entire weekend was ending, and storms were heading up. I theorize that Disney knew I was leaving, and the skies were crying over my departure. Ok Disney, I get it, but you didn’t need to cry for my entire drive through Florida. The rains got pretty heavy, which made for slow going. Another 10 hour trip, and I was finally home. Winter had not left while I was gone, and it was(and still is) quite chilly here in NC. I was thrilled to see my kids and husband, and my not quite two year old was quite happy to have her mama back. This was also the beginning of my post race blues, and I’m already counting down the days to the Princess Half Marathon next year!