Tag Archives: running

30 days to go

As I sit here, we’re only 30 days from March first!

January has been so different this year than usual in that we had a ton of snow over Christmas but then didn’t get any more to speak of until this past week.

I kind of thought that would make winter much easier, but around the 3rd week in January, I still felt some of the feelings I usually do around that time. Tiredness, irritability, impatience, insomnia, just kind of a foul mood in general, for no good reason.

So I don’t think it’s so much the snow that makes winter so challenging. I was thankful that I didn’t have to deal with the snow for running purposes and I found myself increasing my mileage and even doing some workouts because, with clear roads, there was no reason not to.

The thing that was really difficult was the lack of sunshine. The vast majority of the days were dark and cloudy and we would go 2 weeks without the sun even peaking out of the clouds for a few minutes. Without snow, the landscape took on a dark tone with bare trees and muddy grounds. On top of that, we had several days of rain.

Several minutes of the sun peaking through on one of my hikes with my son

I signed up for this 1,000 hours outside challenge for the year and I got the kids excited to try some new things like snow tubing and cross country and downhill skiing. We couldn’t do any of that.

We did get outside some and we had some great, muddy hikes and every time during the month that the sun did peek out, I fully enjoyed it.

Now that we have snow again, it’s really brightened the landscape. Even though it’s still not really sunny out, looking at the bright landscape almost mimics the sun and I think it helps our brains to tell the difference between day and night.

It makes running more challenging but I’ve decided to embrace it this winter. Usually, I’m trying to just “get through” my running in the winter. Keep the level of fitness I’m in and then push myself again in the spring. I decided if I’m going to live in Michigan, I shouldn’t just be trying to survive in the winter, I should be enjoying the difference it brings.

I’ve been watching a YouTube vlogger, Jonna Jinton at night lately. She lives in northern Sweden where it is winter half the year! In December they don’t get any daylight, just one hour of twilight each day. She talks about her struggles with embracing winter and she’s done many things to help herself really enjoy it. It’s inspired me to try to find ways to enjoy it too.

So when we had a fresh blanket of snow on the ground last week, I decided to do something different. Usually I’m trying to find clear roads to run on, but that comes with it’s own challenges. The roads that are clear, often have the most traffic and the shoulders don’t get cleared. So every time a car comes along I need to move onto the shoulder which is usually covered in snow and slush. Now with having my dog too, it’s just extra stressful to try to make sure there’s enough room for both of us to stay out of the way of cars.

So I took my dog to a park that has lots of cross country trails. I figured, why fight the snow. I knew my times would be slower, but I didn’t have to always be such a slave to my watch. To my delight, the paved trail they had been building in October was completed!

The paved trail cut through the woods. There was only a couple inches of snow on the ground and not many footprints so it was actually good traction. The woods looked beautiful covered with the bright white snow. The path meandered right next to a large black river. The contrast between the white of the snow and the darkness of the river and trees was just beautiful.

I didn’t even mind climbing up the long hill and the view from the top of the river was just breathtaking. The path now connected 3 parks and I was able to get my 6 miles in there.

I loved that experience so much that I decided to go back and run there for my long run on Saturday morning. We had a bit more snow and there had been quite a bit more foot traffic, so the footing was not as great as it was earlier in the week, but the stunning beauty of it made up for that.

The worst part of my run was actually on the busiest street as car after car drove by us and I struggled to find good footing on the shoulder.

I finished the run, and later took my girls out for a walk in the same woods I was in. The kids found even more interesting things to do like peel little bits of ice off of the wood dense and throw them into the River.

As we enter February, I’m expecting it to be cold and for there to be much more snow. I’m ok with that. Now we are excited to try to plan some of these winter activities. And of course, it’s always so nice to go back home into a warm house after being outdoors. Much like the contrast in the scenery of light snow on dark trees is calming, the contrast of warm and cold also brings comfort and appreciation for both. Sipping on a hot cup of coffee or tea as my fingers gradually warm up makes me feel happy to be alive.

Enjoy the beauty of this season to the fullest!

When you feel defeated

Sometimes, we hope and pray so hard for something good, and it seems like the answer is no. What do we do? How do we move forward when things feel so hopeless.

“For My ways are not your ways”

“Father, if there is any other way, please take this cup…Your will be done.”

I’ve been in this place before and it’s one of the more unpleasant places. You put in all the hard work, were best suited for that promotion and it didn’t happen. You trained so hard for that race and your workouts were all showing you should be more than able to hit that goal, but race day comes and you fail miserably. Why did I even bother?

I remember going through some of the secondary infertility we experienced and feeling so hopeful going into a month that everything was done “right” only to stare in anger at yet another negative pregnancy test.

Sometimes it’s even bigger than that. Sometimes it’s in regards to laws and policies that leave you feeling completely gutted.

In all these situations, it felt like you did what you were supposed to do, but didn’t get the results. It’s hard to not feel like it’s a judgement of you personally. It’s hard to not be angry. It’s hard to not feel hopeless or wonder why you should put yourself out there emotionally ever again.

Take heart. Jesus was preaching in a corrupt Roman Empire. And word spread quickly of His teachings and His healing and He even was said to be the long awaited Messiah prophesied. People were full of hope. Hope that He, like Moses would lead the people out of oppression.

When He rode a donkey, people waved palms, fulfilling yet another prophesy. Yet He was murdered. Not only that but He was mocked and humiliated. Stripped down naked. The people who truly believed He was the Messiah must have wondered why He didn’t free Himself from the cross and end it all there. Instead, He allowed it to occur.

Can you imagine what the believers must have been feeling? I can. I can feel it. They were hopeless. It would seem that the naysayers were right all along. They were made out to be fools and conspiracy theorists. But this wasn’t the end of the story.

Jesus rose on the third day. And on the day of Pentecost was the birth of Christianity. A fire that still burns brightly today. The Bible is still the bestselling book of all time.

It’s hard not to feel dismayed, hopeless, broken or even humiliated when we think we’ve been defeated. I urge you to remember that the story is not over. Sometimes God is working something even bigger and better in our moments that feel like defeat.

Don’t give in to feeling hopeless. Sing praises and be joyful even in your suffering. The enemy wants us feeling broken and defeated. But we have a strength that they can’t take away.

Encourage each other. Get back up and joyfully do the work. Pray. Love. Rejoice in your sorrows and let the flame within you shine all the brighter. Laugh when you are mocked. Don’t allow yourself to be humiliated. Be brave like Daniel going into the flaming furnace, saying “even if God doesn’t get me out of this, He is still God!”

If you want to change the world, go home and love your family. Love your community. Love your enemy.

The split road

I was out running with my dog this morning and suddenly he started acting strange. He’s always either running a bit in front of me or directly at my side. He’s never running behind me unless he’s taking a quick pee and then he sprints to catch up.

He was definitely trotting behind me. I called to him and yet he still kept back a bit. Puzzled, I started to look around. That’s when I saw it.

We were jogging down a long country road where you could see much more than a mile into the distance. Looking straight on you could see a cloudy sky, mostly heavy shades of vanilla. To the left, there was a wide open field and a mostly light sky and you could actually see the sun rays poking through the clouds. It looked beautiful and for some reason seeing rays of light poking through the clouds like that always makes me feel God’s presence.

The view to our right was another story. The sky was so dark it seemed nearly black. Heavy storm clouds were creating this ominous feeling. It was after looking at that sky that I noticed the strong wind.

I had checked the forecast before going out and there was a good chance of rain but I didn’t see any storms. It certainly looked like a storm and I figured it was scaring my dog.

I looked back to the left. Peaceful. Beautiful. Calm. I looked again to the right. Dark. Stormy. Frightening.

Suddenly I noticed I had picked up the pace. If I continued running forward, I’d eventually run away from that dark sky but it was going to take a while. What if a bad storm did come on suddenly when we were out here? I looked around. There were plenty of barns we could duck into.

I looked again at the rays of light poking through the clouds on my left and prayed quickly that He would keep us safe. I focused on that light and calm and I wasn’t afraid. When I looked at the dark sky and how much further I had to run, I felt more anxious.

I knew I needed to just trust and feel confident that things were under control. When I focused on the light, it was easier. When I focused on the dark, it was easy to let the fear creep in.

And isn’t this the way it is in life? When we focus on our fears, our doubts, our insecurities, the what if’s in life, that’s all we can see. How long till we out run the storm?

When we set our confidence on the light, we see all the safe places we can shelter if need be, but don’t focus on that too much. We keep going on, confident, and secure that our path is the right one and it’s going to get us where we need to be.

Eventually, it started raining and the wind started really blowing against us. I got my dog back to my side and encouraged him that it was ok. He seemed to do better knowing I was not afraid.

We made it back and there never ended up being any thunderstorms, just rain and wind.

But storms can happen any time so it’s best to be prepared for them. If they do catch you by surprise, know where to look to keep you safe and secure. Feel confident in the light.

The beauty of depletion

Though I’m not exactly logging lots of miles these days, I can still remember very vividly the long miles of marathon training. There’s something that happens at the end of a 20-22 mile run that is downright beautiful.

Those last couple miles are hard work. You’re tired and likely running low on fuel. Your legs and lungs maybe burn as you push yourself to your absolute limit, knowing that it will all be over soon.

Once finished, you experience that complete and total depletion. You’ve left it all out on the road and now your body is completely empty. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say it’s sort of this wonderful feeling. It takes effort to walk around and stretch your aching muscles and that moment right before that first sip of water or first bite of food is sort of magical. It’s that emptiness and depletion and knowing you’re about to replenish, and that you’ll be better than you were before…

And the next time you run further, it’s because you gave all you could before. It’s this emptying and rebuilding stronger that makes it possible to get through 26.2 miles. You don’t decide to just run a marathon one day and go out and do it. You must go through the depletion and rebuilding, over and over again to get strong enough to run the whole thing.

This depletion has happened for me in other aspects of life too. I went through most of my life as some what of a watered down Christian. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. When I finally was ready, I took it all in. I had to go through that same depletion in order to really build back better. I had to give up everything I was and everything I was holding onto that was holding me back to let Jesus’s saving grace make me new. I can’t begin to explain how refreshing it is to feel completely wiped clean and start over without any baggage.

The last several years I’ve been going through this process. Tearing down so many of the walls I had built up because of my past and my misguided understanding of it. Healing takes time, and it involves the constant depletion and building back anew.

2020 was a different year for all of us and it’s interesting to see where it takes people. As we go into the new year, I’ve felt this depletion going on inside of me for some time. And, if I’m honest, it feels just as magical as it did after those long runs so many years ago. I feel like 2020 finally gave me the courage to get rid of so many of the things I had been holding onto for too long.

I took a couple of breaks from social media and learned a lot about both social media and about myself. I noticed how much I had been censoring myself because I didn’t want to offend anyone or for anyone to be upset with me because my opinions are not necessarily in agreement with theirs. But I’m done with that.

I’ve found in my little community people that love me exactly the way that I am and I enjoy it so much because I’m 100% myself. It’s so freeing.

So I’m planning on saying goodbye to the unnecessary guilt, the second guessing, the worrying if I’m liked enough by people that I maybe don’t even like myself. I’ll apologize for my mistakes and not wallow in guilt afterwards. I’ll spend time with people who accept me, all of me, for who I really am, and not some image I portray myself to be to appease them. I’ll speak the truth, even when it’s hard. I’ll be kind, even if people are not being kind to me, and even if I’m still telling an unpopular truth.

I’ll let myself be emptied of all the negativity and fear and humiliation and mockery. It doesn’t matter what the world thinks of me, it matters what God thinks of me and only He knows my true heart. I’ll allow myself to be replenished only with truth and light.

In 2021 it’s none of my business what anyone thinks of me. And I’m not going to worry about it. I encourage others to do the same. Let yourself completely be emptied of all the judgments and false guilt and responsibilities you’ve taken for other people’s lives and happiness and fill yourself back up with the things that will allow you to build up better in 2021.

This world has become a completely toxic place. Acknowledge that fact, and things will be easier. You can’t change it or fix it, but just knowing and accepting that it’s toxic will help you to not let it abuse you too. Stay away from the toxic things that want to suck you in and build the things that are light and truth. For me, that looks like God, family, friends, exercise, nature, knowledge and giving/volunteering.

Cheers to the new year!

A Mother’s Guilt 5/5/13

Yesterday evening I left Alexandra screaming with her daddy and headed out for a six mile run. It was hot, windy and I felt awful just leaving her like that. It was 6 pm and we had already had a long day. She had her 2 month shots a few days before and didn’t do very well with them. The nurse had told me that some babies sleep a lot for a couple days and other babies fuss more. She definitely fussed rather than slept.

So she had been really fussy the last couple days and was even waking up several times through the night (she’s been sleeping through the night since she was about 4 weeks old, with few exceptions). We took her to Ann Arbor on Saturday to watch my sister in law Mackenzie, graduate from U of M. We got up sometime around 5:30 am and were on the road before 7 am. She did awesome and it was a really nice day spent with family. By the time we got home around 5:30 though it had already been a really long day and I just didn’t feel like running. Still, I knew I had 6 on the calendar and I wouldn’t feel like doing it on Sunday either so I figured I might as well get out there. As I was getting dressed she started crying, well more like wailing.

I hate hearing her cry. I mean absolutely HATE it. I read somewhere that infants cries are specifically designed to have that type of reaction in their parents so that you CAN’T ignore it. When she cries everything in me just stops being able to concentrate and all I can think of is what I can do to get her to stop crying. During those first 6 weeks many times the answer was NOTHING and that was particularly hard to swallow. I’ll admit with complete honesty that during some of those early crying fits I couldn’t get out the door fast enough to go for my 1 or 2 mile runs. For 8-16 minutes I could put my head phones on and get away from it for a while. That’s all changed now though. I wasn’t looking forward to just leaving her with her dad. I felt awful. I felt completely selfish. I must have asked him at least three times if he was SURE he could handle her. He assured me he would be ok and I went out the door, the guilt and her cries echoing behind me.

I try to use my running as true “me” time and not think about all the things I have to do or even think about my wonderful baby. On this run though I couldn’t stop thinking about her and how I felt just leaving her screaming like that. I wanted so badly to just turn around or cut my run short to just go back there and hold her in my arms. I had to keep talking myself out of it. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust Tim or think he could handle it. It was just that I really felt like I was abandoning her when she needed me. I knew in my head that it was actually good for Tim to get more time with her and learn how to comfort her. It was also good for her to be able to trust others besides just her mom all the time. I told myself that it was good for me too. Whenever I got back I always missed her terribly (yes, from only being gone for 45 minutes!) and felt so much more refreshed and ready to use my energy to calm her or play with her.

I love my daughter dearly and I dread going back to work and missing out on this time with her. In all honesty though there are some days when its 3 pm and I just can’t wait for Tim to get home and give me a little break. I get all the emails about her development and make time every single day to actively play with her and work on her skills. Its incredibly rewarding when she’s happy and smiles at me and coos and enjoys tummy time and I can just see that little mind of hers working as she looks at her world in wonder. Then there are days when nothing seems to make her happy and I spend the whole day just trying to keep her from having a full on screaming fit and I maybe took a 5 minute shower where I could hear her fussing in her seat the whole time and ate lunch with one hand while she sat fussing in the chicco while I did laps around the house because the second I stopped moving she’d start crying. So when Tim comes home I gladly turn her over and get dressed and get out the door for my run and come home missing her again and find myself wanting to take her from Tim and gladly offering to help calm her when she gets upset.

I enjoy running and it keeps me healthy so I feel like in taking care of myself I’m much better able to take care of her. Hey, walking around your house while carrying an almost 12 pound baby for the better part of the day is not easy. Sometimes at the end of the day my feet and legs just ache.

Anyway, back to the run. I had all these thoughts going through my head. I wondered if Tim would be able to calm her. I worried that he wouldn’t and she’d have spent the whole 45 minutes crying and missing her mom. I worried that Tim would take it personally and feel bad for not being able to calm her down. I worried that he wouldn’t enjoy his time with her and wouldn’t bond with her the way I always hoped he would. I worried about what would happen when she goes to daycare. The list goes on and on and on….and the miles went by quickly. When my watch beeped that I had completed 3 miles it startled me. I had been so consumed with all these thoughts that I hadn’t realized how much time had actually gone by. And that’s when I let it all go. I started thinking about running and racing and how much I loved it. The last couple miles were tough. It was really hot and yet windy at the same time so it felt like I was working much harder than I should have been for an easy run. I got home and found Tim sitting on the couch with a sleeping Alexandra on his chest. I smiled and laughed at myself for my useless worry. Of course they were fine. Tim is a great dad. My endorphins were in high gear and I just stared at the two of them for a minute and thought about how great life is.

Its not just the horrible tragedies in Boston and Texas but also things going here with people I know that cause me to pause and just think. Infertility, miscarriages, complicated pregnancies, child abuse, a young mother being abducted from her place of employment are just a few. I hear about these things and I just hurt for the people that are going through it. And it makes me tear up when I look at my precious baby girl and feel incredibly thankful. Its also in these moments I realize how quickly everything can all be taken away and it makes me want to squeeze her so tight. Sure, sometimes its really hard. I think any parent that tells you its easy is lying or delusional. In fact the night before we left for Ann Arbor Alexandra was still really fussy and it had been over 48 hours since her shots.

I remember being exhausted after having dealt with her the whole day and it was late at night and we were trying to get ready for the big trip. I was holding her as she was crying and I was just pacing the upstairs bouncing her while Tim was packing and I started crying to Tim “Why is she so difficult?! She’s such a fussy baby and I’m tired Tim and I do this ALL DAY LONG and she just fusses and cries and my feet hurt and my arms hurt and its almost 11 pm and I just want to GO TO BED!” Almost immediately after I vented like that I felt guilty and held her tighter and told her I love her, even when she’s fussy because I do. So I hear about all of these terrible tragedies and it reaffirms to me how blessed we are and of everything I have to be thankful for.

So those are my thoughts after 9 weeks as a mother. Alexandra measured at 11 pounds, 12 oz and 22.5 inches tall at her 2 month appointment! She was born just under average for weight and is now just ahead of the majority of her peers so she’s eating great! Its so rewarding to see the result of your hard work (breastfeeding) paying off. Slowly but surely my body is starting to return to its pre-pregnancy shape. The scale still hasn’t budged (I’m the same weight every week that I was 2 weeks post-partum) so I’m starting to accept that this is the weight my breastfeeding body is happy at. My ab muscles are finally starting to make a reappearance after starting back up with strength training 3 weeks ago. I’ve started to include some short workouts into some of my runs to test my fitness and it has been more of an uphill climb than I anticipated but it is starting to get better. Next Saturday I will test myself by running my first 5K since having her. I wish I could say I have a good guess as to where I will finish but I really don’t know. Guess we’ll find out in less than a week!

When the week starts out Rough it can only get better, 11/16/12

On Monday and Tuesday I was in so much pain from my back that it made me really crabby and overly emotional.  By Wednesday though, I was having a much easier time walking and it didn’t hurt constantly throughout the day.

 I thought that I was going to have a really hard time with not running but I actually stayed pretty positive about it.  Each day when I’ve woken up I’ve felt such a marked improvement in my back from the day before and I think that that really helped.  With my IT band injury last spring, each day it did not feel better and I think that really made it hard to see the end in sight and I wasn’t sure how long I would have to stay off of running.  With this injury and the way I’ve been feeling better every day, I’ve felt very encouraged that running is just around the corner.  And since I haven’t missed that many days I don’t have to worry about starting up all over again.

 Yesterday my back felt real good, almost 100%.  I entertained thoughts about running, however, I decided to do something I rarely do and give it a little extra time.  So I went for a 2 mile walk on my lunch break yesterday followed by a 1.25 mile walk with my dog last night.  I could feel my back tighten slightly when I walked so I was glad I didn’t run on it yet.  I wanted to see if walking yesterday would make me more sore this morning and I’m happy to report that it didn’t!  So, once again, I thought about running a few miles today, but since today was the first day that my back feels right about 100% better, I decided to walk again with a goal of running 3 miles tomorrow.  Sunday will be a rest day and then Monday I’ll try for 5.  Hopefully by then everything will be back to normal.  Then when I get back to it, I realized I really have to modify and I’m surprisingly ok with that. 

 So what is driving my positive mental outlook?  I think it’s a few things.  First, I realized that its most important to me that I’m able to run through the entire pregnancy if possible and if that means cutting back, I’d rather do that than have to stop completely again.  Second, the pain I was in earlier this week was pretty horrible and I don’t want to have to go through that again.  Thirdly, I’ve realized this week that I have so many wonderful things to be thankful for and its really hard to feel sorry for myself. 

 Tim has been wonderful.  He has been my rock, this week and of course, before.  I’ve been so impressed with the way he’s been so dedicated to working hard every single day to finish our remodeling project.  By the time we’re done, we will have basically remolded our entire 2nd floor.  In addition, he’s also been there for me and listened when I’ve cried and had “moments” and has made sure to call me daily to see how I’m doing.  At this stage in pregnancy, its so wonderful to have that.

 Besides Tim, I’ve also been sentimental this week about many other wonderful little things that are easily overlooked.  Its been getting cold outside, below freezing and we have heat when so many people in New York have been without it.  Every morning on my drive into work there’s been a beautiful sunrise that’s looked even more amazing against the frost covered fields.  My friends and family are amazing.  Tim and I are both fortunate to work for great companies that are doing well in a poor economy and we don’t have to worry about how to pay our bills every month.  I’m growing a very active little girl in my belly and with each passing day, we get one day closer to finally meeting her.  So with all this, I just don’t know how I can feel sorry for myself for having to miss a week of running.  The holidays are fast approaching and I’m looking forward to them. 




What a long week its been.  With traveling this week for work, I’ve just been tired mentally and physically. 

 I did my two days of treadmill (dreadmill) running, which was a total accomplishment in and of itself.  Then yesterday morning I got up at 5:30 am and ran 5 miles with Tim.  We actually ended up averaging a 7:23 pace!  It was surprising because when the alarm went off I did not want to get up, let alone run.  But I did, and once I was out there, as usual, felt good. 

 My headaches have seemed to clear up this week, which has been really nice.  I’ve been super tired this week but I think its more from lack of sleep than anything else.  So, otherwise, I don’t really “feel” pregnant.  Its funny because I should probably be thankful, but it kind of makes me nervous too.  We get to listen to the heartbeat next Tuesday and I’m just looking so foreward to that. 

 I gained 2 pounds this week!  Yikes!  Everything I’m reading says “a pound a week” and I gained 2!  I’m trying not to fret about it, especially because it may just be a fluke, but its definitely hard to see the numbers jump up that much!  Then you read things like “you’re probably up about 5 pounds by now” and I’m going…yeah…or almost 8!  Its hard not to feel “fat” right now because that’s how I look.  I don’t have that distinctive “baby bump” yet…I just have a stomach that looks flabbier by the day (and a chest that looks bustier). 

 I go back to my running though and am surprised that so far that’s been staying consistent and I wonder for how much longer.  I’m going to run the Bridge Run 10 miler on Sunday and I feel pretty good going into it.  I’m hoping to maybe average around 7:15 pace, but don’t want to be “set on that” in case it just doesn’t feel right.  It should be fun and enjoyable and really that’s what’s important.


12 week checkup success, 8/24/12

Quick update today.  Yesterday’s appointment went well and we got to hear the heart beat with the Doppler!  YAY!  Heart rate of 148-151.  I thought we were having another ultrasound but we didn’t.  It was still amazing and reassured us that everything is going fine. 

 To celebrate,Tim and I had the Never Ending Pasta Bowl at the Olive Garden last night.  We never go there because even during the week there’s usually over an hour wait. But since we got there at 4:45 we got right in!  I ate two bowls of pasta—YIKES!  Could be part of the reason my weight this week was up a WHOLE POUND since last week brining my total (12 weeks in) to 4.5 pounds.  I think they recommend in the first trimester about 1-5, so with two weeks to go I should probably be holding steady! 

 Also, my run on Thursday was fast—which figures after I had just talked about my pace slowing!  Again, I wasn’t watching my watch, but averaged a 7:20 mile pace so who knows what that was all about.  I was SORE in my quads yesterday and today after doing my core strength on Wednesday.  I had skipped my leg work after my race last Saturday since my legs were a little sore and then I decided this would be the week I’d add on more reps.  Those few extra reps sure did a number!  I’m still having a hard time walking down stairs today.  Crazy. 

 Well, this is my last day at work for a whole week.  Not sure if I’ll write at all while on vacation.

Mitchell’s Run for Russ 8/20/12

 Saturday was the Mitchell’s Run Thru Rockford.  Its an event that Tim and I do every year.  The 5K run is a fundraiser for Muscular Distrophy and over the years has grown and grown.  Part of the reason its so special to us is because our friend Russell has MD.  So even when I’m pregnant and shouldn’t be signing up for races, this is one I just couldn’t miss out on.

 I met Tim because of Russell.  Way back in 2007 my sister, who was a waitress at a little restaurant bar in Kentwood figured out that Tim would be my perfect match.  Russell lives in Kentwood and was a frequent customer at the restaurant.  Anyone who has ever met him will understand how my sister got to know him really well by working there.  Russell is a very social guy, and I’d wager that anyone that meets him pretty much loves him off the bat.  Anyway, Tim was living in Kentwood too and would frequently meet Russell at the restaurant.  Well, since Tim and I are now married, you can figure that we finally did meet, and life has never been the same.  We have Lindsay and Russell to thank for that.

 To know Russell is to love him.  He and Tim have known each other since their Kentwood grade school days.  Russell was diagnosed with MD when he was 20 or 21.  Sometimes I try to imagine what he went through at that time.  I can’t imagine finding out at that age that you have a life long deteriorating disease where you eventually will not be able to walk, among other things.  I can only imagine what that would have been like for me, and know that it would have been an incredibly dark time.  I didn’t meet Russell until he was nearly 30, but I can tell you that when I met him, he was the most genuinely kind and positive person that I’ve ever met.  I don’t know his own internal struggles and battles, but I do know that if he does have dark moments, you would never know it on the outside. 

 I’m a better person for knowing Russ.  He teaches me to appreciate all the goodness that I have around me, no matter how bad things may seem.  His family is the same way.  They are just good people.  Sometimes I wonder how something like this could have happened to such a wonderful person.  I wonder if Russ ever thinks that way too.  Last year, Russ gave us quite a scare.  He stopped breathing.  That’s the ugliness of the disease.  It gets progressively worse.  When I met Russ back in 2007 he was still walking, albeit with a walker and very slowly, but he was still walking.  Now he’s in a wheelchair.  So back to last year, his mom found him not breathing and his step dad (who used to be a paramedic) helped until he was able to get to the hospital.  Russ was kept under for several days and had bad pneumonia, developed pink eye while in the hospital and some bed sores that you just knew were horrible.  I remember seeing him sleeping in that hospital bed, thanking God for powerful pain medication and that he didn’t have to be awake for all of this.  We came to the hospital and wrote messages to him, all the time feeling like we wished there was more we could do. 

 Even after Russ woke up and was improving, he still was in the hospital for a couple months.  He just wanted to go home and when he finally did he was so happy to be there.  Yet to talk to him about this horrible event, you don’t ever hear that he feels sorry for himself.  Instead, he’s just always thinking about the positives.  Just thinking about him and that time gets me teary-eyed.  I just think about how strong of a person he is and how he makes the best of everything.  Always full of love, always full of jokes. 

 Sometimes I feel sorry for myself for this or that.  When I couldn’t run due to my injury sometimes it felt like life was so unfair and then I’d think about Russ and how he deals with everything and it was hard to feel sorry for myself for very long. 

 So that run we did on Saturday is for Russ.  And I can’t imagine not doing it.  This year was different for me.  Last year I won the women’s race and was disappointed running a 17:30 something.  This year I wasn’t sure how fast I’d go or what I’d feel like so I had no race plan whatsoever.  I ended up running completely even splits, 6:21, 6:21, and 6:21.  There were times I was worried that I was going too fast and I’d force myself to slow and think about my baby.  It was a nice cool morning though and I was less worried about overheating.  It was surprisingly hard for me to not want to pass everyone around me.  The whole race I just passed people and never got passed until the final 400 meters when people started their kick and I just coasted in.  I ran 19:53 and was surprised after standing around and talking that I started to feel a little dizzy.  I made sure to grab some water and did a slow cool down.  I talked to Val about my concerns that I’d run too hard and she made me feel much better, telling me that she had done something similar when she was pregnant and everything was fine.  

 Its really hard sometimes to know your limit.  As an athlete, you’re trying all the time to push yourself to your limit.  You’re used to the pain, used to feelings of coming so close and not being physically able to go further.  They say when you’re pregnant that you need to manage that level yourself.  Talking is a good guide, but I can usually get out a few words, even when I’m running fairly hard.  I mean, all out 5K pace feels much different than what I ran on Saturday.  I didn’t go all out, yet the dizziness I felt afterwards made me question if I had come too close to that line.  So for the time being, I don’t think I’m going to sign up for too many other 5K’s.  Its just too hard to properly gauge how hard you’re working until you’re done.

 I was a little sore even on Sunday.  Nothing like after a big race sore or anything, but just slightly in my legs.  I haven’t really run 3 miles that fast in so many months that it wasn’t really a huge surprise.  So I took it easy today.  Nice 7 mile run in the cool morning air.  The sky was black except for the many shining stars (no visible moon) and I even saw a shooting star when I first set out.  It felt good, not too hard, yet long enough to make me feel really accomplished after I’d finished.  

 This is a big week for us.  Tomorrow marks 12 weeks of pregnancy, a big step.  This is usually when your risk for miscarriage goes down considerably and many people start spreading the news publically.  We have our ultrasound on Thursday afternoon.  This will be the second time we get to have a look at our little one and since the first one was so incredible, I’m looking even more forward to this one.  As long as everything looks normal, I plan on sharing the news at work the next day.  Then Tim and I leave for vacation (Babymoon) on Saturday for a week.  I’m hoping to take a creative picture so that when we come back we can announce on facebook.  Here we go…isn’t life amazing!

Dreams of fall 8/13/12

I will admit that this morning I had a hard time getting out of bed to run when the alarm went off at 5:15 am.  It didn’t seem like it was time for it to be morning yet.  On these mornings I have to get right out of bed and go get my running clothes on.  If I lay in bed for a few minutes I may either change my mind or fall back asleep. 

 Why do I wake up early to run?  There are many reasons.  The first and most important on a day when I’m running longer than 5 miles is simply that I have more time.  Sometimes I’ll squeeze in a 4 or 5 mile run on my lunch break at work, but going 6 or longer and then having to shower and dress and somehow eat a lunch after that is too time crunched.  I could run after work, but I’ve found that often after a long day at work (and my long drive home) I am tired and hungry and just don’t seem to feel as good on a run as I do first thing in the morning. 

 That’s brings me to reason number 1 I like to run in the morning.  I seem to feel the best.  I don’t know why, maybe its because I haven’t eaten or had anything to drink in 8+ hours and my belly feels better running on empty than it does during the day.  Sure, I’ve read all the advice, to wake up 30 minutes before and eat something light before heading out on a run, but honestly, when you’re getting up at 5:15 or earlier, who has time for another 30 minutes?  Since I became pregnant however, I have been eating a handful of teddy grahams.  That seems to settle my queasy stomach enough to run without much trouble. 

 This morning I got in 7 miles.  I felt good through most of it.  I was in the low 60’s, there was a slight breeze and it was dark and damp and the streets were very quiet.  I don’t bring my headphones mainly because I want to be aware of my surroundings when its dark out so I only listen to my thoughts and my feet hitting the pavement rhythmically. 

 Usually on a Monday morning, I would be doing a workout with Tim.  He got up with me and was out doing just that.  There was a part of me that was envious.  Going on “easy” runs day in and day out can be kind of hard for me, but I’m really trying to just enjoy them and take pleasure in the fact that I am able to run. 

 Today’s run was a good run.  I felt pretty good most of the way.  Around mile 4.5 I did start to feel the teddy grahams moving through my stomach and it was slightly uncomfortable, but during marathon training I had encountered much worse and knew that if I just focused on my form and breathing the feeling would eventually pass and sure enough it did.  Just like that my longest run of the week (except for Saturday’s long run) was complete, before the sun even came up on this Monday morning.  That too, is another reason I love to get my runs in early.  Before the day is even beginning, while most people are still sleeping, I’ve already accomplished so much.  It kind of makes going into work on Monday morning not seem as bad.  On Monday mornings whenever we did hard workouts, I went into the office feeling ready to take on the world.  There was nothing they could throw at me that would be as hard as that workout I had just defeated. 

 As the temperatures start to cool off I naturally start thinking about fall and all the things about it that make it my favorite season of all.  I know, there are still a few weeks of what I consider “summer” left and Tim and I will certainly enjoy them as we head off on vacation in St. Ignace in a couple weeks.  But every year around the middle of August we sometimes get our first “taste” of fall and it makes me so happy. 

 My obsession with fall probably goes way back to high school and all the fun things that happened in the fall.  I actually liked going back to school, especially since it meant the start of cross-country season.  The air starts to get a little cooler, you get to wear your new fall clothes, and we would be running through the grass and trails as the leaves began to turn.  There were bonfires and school parades and dances.  My love of the changing season continued through college as we traveled across the country running on different cross-country courses, sometimes following up a Saturday long run with a stop at the cider mill for some cider and doughnuts.  I met my husband in the summer, but some of my favorite memories from when we were dating are from the fall.  I met his whole family for the first time at his brother’s fall wedding.  He and I would cook chili and cornbread together and drink some wine after a long day at work.  We’d heat up squash in the oven and eat it with cottage cheese after a chilly run together.  And we did our first half marathon together that fall in October.  We even had a fall wedding since it seems to be a favorite season for both of us. 

 Now that we’re going to have a baby (not until Spring) I am finding myself even more sentimental than normal in remembering all these great fall memories.  There are so many things I want to do and am looking forward to.  I plan on running the Bridge run in GR in mid September.  It will be much different this year (last year I won it).  I’ll just go my regular jogging pace and try to look around me and enjoy the sights.  Tim and I also plan to travel with my friend Darla and run the Indianapolis half marathon the first week in November.  Ideally, I would like to pace Darla, but I will be 5.5 months pregnant by then and just don’t know how the running will be going.  I’m also looking forward to watching my best friend Val as she coaches her own cross-country teams for the first time. 

 Besides just running stuff, I am also looking forward to all the warm comfort foods of fall.  I love hot cider, but know that I’m not supposed to drink it because its unpasteurized.  So that is something I’ll miss.  I can’t drink the seasonal beers either, oh well.  Tim and I usually go to at least one MSU football game.  And more on the running, its so nice to get up on a Saturday and drive somewhere different and go on a long run, get done and be freezing cold, get a warm drink (used to be a hot coffee, now it will probably be hot cocoa, get home and take a hot shower and go walk around a pumpkin patch and just take in all the wonderful sites and sounds and smells of the season.  Oh fall…hurry up and get here!