Pain and Purpose

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. ~Winston Churchill

I don’t even know what prompted it, but I was thinking today about the injuries I’ve been trying to recover from, and the pain they cause. And it got me to thinking about my purpose.

Yes, I run for myself. It’s become a habit. A bit of a necessity for my own personal health and sanity. Which is part of my purpose. But then I think about my half marathon. And why I signed up for that in the first place. How I had decided to add fundraising to the mix. To do what I can, in my own small way, to help prevent child abuse.

And I think of the pain. The pain that those children endure, that sometimes know no other way. The pain that I witnessed in the eyes of my own child. And I think, “my pain is nothing”. Because it isn’t.

I know I have to take things easy to an extent. I don’t want any further injuries and I want to be sure I can continue to run. But I’m reminded of the pain of those children. That there’s so much I can tolerate. And I will. For them.

For more on my why, you can read about it here. And if you can find it in your heart to contribute to my purpose, visit my fundraising page here. Thank you.

Setbacks

I’ve been a little MIA… what can I say. After Christmas and the New Year, getting back into the swing of “normal” daily life has been tough. You’d think with the slow down of job 2, I would feel better, have more energy. But instead, I feel like I’m dragging all the time! Anyway, onward and upward, right?

So today, I got an e-mail at work that had the following quote at the bottom.

Little things make the difference. Everyone is well prepared in the big things, but only the winners perfect the little things. ~Paul “Bear” Bryant

Yes, I’m spinning this back to running. You see, since I’ve added more runs to my week again, even though I’m keeping the mileage low, my foot has been bothering me again. I’m seriously at such a loss, I don’t even know how to proceed. I’ve been keeping up with strengthening and stretching. Foam rolling as much as possible. I don’t really want to take another break, but I also want to be sure I make it to and through my Half in June. I want to be back to where I was last August. Enjoying my runs… logging miles… without worry of pain or injury. I want to do this right.

I had decided after my knee fiasco I had to focus on strength training and cross training. I even joined the gym on New Year’s (haven’t been yet tho… shhhhh! maybe that’s part of my problem?). But seeing this quote just made me face a hard reality. Maybe I just haven’t been doing enough. Maybe I just need to do more.

So those little things… I’m going to work on perfecting those. I know I can get through a 9+ mile run. 13.2 isn’t that much farther, right? If I take the time to perfect those little things now, maybe, just maybe, I’ll be better off in the long run. Even if that means less time to focus on the actual run.

Wish me luck!

Hallelujah!

I have so much to be thankful for. This I know. But today’s post starts with some running happiness!

Last week I had decided to start running more, and decided on 3 times per week. I managed all three days, about 2.5 miles give or take. Each day my knee would start hurting about 1 mile in, maybe sooner. I was doing a lot of walking intermixed with the running, still managing to complete the distance I had set out to do. My pace has been between 11-12 min/mile (mid to high 11’s to be honest).

I was ok with that. I told myself I need to take it slow. I don’t want to risk further injuries, or new ones.

Then there was yesterday. I set out for my lunch-time run around work. It’s about the only time I have to run during the week with a 2 job work schedule around Christmas. Again, about 2.5 miles or so. I set out and felt great starting out. Before I knew it, I had gone a mile already, with a pace just over 10 minutes! You have no idea how excited I was! (or maybe you do, either way, I was ecstatic!)

I finished my run. Total distance: 2.88 miles. Average pace: 10:22

Hallelujah! I couldn’t believe I finished it with little pain in my knee! Yes, I felt some minor tenderness, but none of the pinching pain that would sometimes come. With very little walking. And the walking that I did was more because of my breathing than any knee pain. Just trying to build back in this cold air is a bit on my old lungs, but I’ll get there.

Honestly, I think this was the best Christmas present I could wish for. To be able to run again. To know that it would be ok.

This Holiday season has been a lot for me. I’ve been working so much, with little time to breathe. I haven’t been taking the time for myself either. I know I just have to get thru December. But it keeps me humble. I have had so many reminders of the blessings in my life. And so much to remind me not to take things for granted. Life is short, I know that.

All in all, I’m so very happy with everything. So many Christmas Blessings. And my wish for all of you, is that you are blessed beyond measure. In running. In health. And in life.

 
 

Progress and Goals

So today I made it through my run. For the first time since my Hot Chocolate fiasco. And can I just say, 50+ degrees in December? Yes, please!

It felt great. And I realized something yet again. As long as I take my time, and let my body go slow, I can do it. I tend to push my body too much too fast at the beginning because I feel no pain, but then it starts to hurt to the point of not being able to run at all. 

As long as I stick to the intervals, regardless of how fantastic I feel at the beginning, I can make it all the way through. Yes, my knee was hurting a little bit during the running intervals in the last half, but it’s minor enough to be able to run through it. Again I must be patient. But I will be back to myself soon enough. 

Which brings me to my goals. I think I’m to the point where taking more time off is going to do more harm than good. And mentally, I just need it. To be back out there. To get that joy back. 

I need to start getting back to my groove of running more regularly. I’m not sure twice a week is enough, so I’m aiming to run 3 times per week. I should be able to fit that in, even with my crazy work schedule. It will probably mean a couple lunch runs during the week, but it’s possible. And I’m ready!

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. ~Nido Qubein

Blessings in Disguise

I have so many things in life to be thankful for. And every day I’m reminded of how lucky I am. 

I do get discouraged sometimes. And I’m so overwhelmed. I feel myself literally sinking and constantly pulling myself back up for air. It’s all part of the process and I know it’s temporary. I’ll get there eventually. 

I’m reminded in many ways of how sometimes the very things that stress me out are true blessings. I’m still not really back to running. Me knee still hurts when I try. But it’s ok. I don’t really have the time right now anyway. A true blessing. I don’t feel the overwhelming urge to make time for something that I truly can’t fit into my life right now. And it’s forcing healing time that my body needs. 

Today is my daughters sixteenth birthday. She wanted to spend the day at a spa. I wish I could afford to give her more here, but the facial and pedicure was enough. I’m just honored that she wanted to spend it with me. And she appreciates what I can do. It was just what I needed too. Some much needed time to relax. 

If we never experience the chill of a dark winter, it is very unlikely that we will ever cherish the warmth of a bright summer’s day. Nothing stimulates our appetite for the simple joys of life more than the starvation caused by sadness or desperation. In order to complete our amazing life journey successfully, it is vital that we turn each and every dark tear into a pearl of wisdom, and find the blessing in every curse. ~Anthon St. Maarten

  
 

Post-Race Recap

Well, I made it. Barely. 

It’s kinda funny, actually. My daughter joined me for the Hot Chocolate Chicago race. She was running the 5k, I was running the 15k. Before the race, I was pointing out how our sweatshirts were embroidered, “Chicago 2015 Finisher”, but not all were. We had a laugh about how you get the sweatshirt before the race, even if you don’t finish. 

Little did I know, that almost ended up being me!

Before the race started, I warmed up with some slow jogging before joining my start corral. I stretched what little I could while waiting for my group to reach the start line. I had done a squat at one point, and felt a pinch on the outside of my left knee. 

I started out slow, as I typically would for that long of a run. Not that I had much choice with the sheer number of runners. You certainly don’t run these races if you’re all about the time and competition. Weaving amongst all the walkers is a little more than a nightmare. But I was in no hurry. 

I made it through 4 miles, no problem. Somewhere around mile 5, I felt that pinching feeling on my knee again. I walked a couple times for a short while, and it would go away. After mile 6 it seemed to linger more. I continued trying to push thru, but slowed my pace. Up until this point, I was probably running about 10:15-10:30 pace. 

I was coming into McCormick place and things felt fine. I picked up the pace a bit, and as I was exiting, it was almost like my knee completely gave out. It was excrutiating! It hurt so much just to walk. Shortly after, there were a couple volunteers, and one lady asked if I was ok. I said I’d be fine and carried on. 

I thought I was closer to the end, but I hadn’t reached mile 8 yet. Either way, I was determined to finish. 

A little while later, the same lady came up behind me on a bike and asked if I was sure I was ok, and offered to get me a cart. I refused. I didn’t start this race not to finish. And as long as I could walk, that’s exactly what I was going to do. 

I quickly realized that if I quit bending my knee, and kept my leg as straight as possible, it didn’t hurt much at all. I walked as fast as I could, which was pretty slow for me! I tried starting a slow jog a couple times, but there was no way I would be able to do anything that resembled running. 

I wanted so bad to run this race. And it hurt so bad. Not just physically. Emotionally I was just done. All the feelings of failure kept creeping in. I wanted to cry. In fact, I had to hold back tears more than once. I couldn’t even finish strong. But I finished. 

I went to the medical tent to get some ice. The lady that helped me there was trying to figure out the pain and felt it might be bursitis. But it seems like the location more resembles ITBS. I’ll give it a few days of icing and taking it easy and see how it feels. Hoping to avoid any more doctor/PT visits. 

Either way, it would seem I will be launching another hiatus. I have until next June to get my act together. I plan to do this right so I don’t encounter any more problems for my half. 

But right now, all I know is this – regardless of what happened today, or last month, I am not a quitter. I’ve committed to being healthier, and running. And I’m too strong to let anything get me down. 

Running teaches us to keep moving forward, one step at a time, especially in the most painful moments. 

  

Anticipation

The answer to the big questions in running is the same as the answer to the big questions in life: do the best with what you’ve got. ~Unknown

I meant to write this post last weekend, but time has a way of escaping me now days. So here I am. Tomorrow is my first big race.

 
A lot of you may be thinking 15k is really no big deal. And maybe even for me it isn’t. I mean, I ran 9.3 miles once already just in my daily run. But that was once. And before I had to take time off for my foot problem. I’ve been a little nervous about it since then, but not at the same time. It is what it is. It’s not like I’m racing for time, or to compete. I’m running for me. To accomplish something I set out to do. And how I get there isn’t at all important to me, just that I do.

Last Saturday, I was debating what to do with my run. I had already worked back up to 5 mile runs, but I really felt I needed to push myself. Prove that I could log more than that before going for 9+ this weekend. I settled on a 7 mile run. It was fine, my foot hurt a bit, but I survived. If I could make it through 7, I can manage 9.3.

This week, I’ve just been trying to find the balance between letting my foot rest, and logging some miles to keep me moving. Just enough, but not too much. Hopefully I’ve done ok, and will be good to go tomorrow. My foot feels fine today, so that’s always a good thing.

So, onward and upward. I may not run my best race, but I will run the best race I can tomorrow. It’s going to be a beautiful day!

Moving On

Yesterday marked my last day of physical therapy. After visiting the doctor for my follow up Monday morning, she had advised that I could stop when I felt comfortable continuing on my own at home. And since the insurance had stated they would only pay through Wednesday’s session, and my PT agreed I was doing well, that was it.

It feels good to not have that added to my schedule, to be honest. And now that I’m back to running again, it just feels more normal. Being able to move on is so freeing, so liberating. Of course, as I was worried before about building up to my 15k in a couple weeks, I’m more nervous now! I didn’t realize I’d have to take it so slow, but I’m still just going with the flow. If I have to do intervals to get through, so be it.

I learned a long time ago to look at every life experience as a blessing. It sucks that I had to take time out from training, and work through an injury. But I’m so thankful this happened before a seemingly small race. Not before the half marathon I’m running next year. Or before the marathon I plan to run after that (yes, I have now decided to train for a marathon in my future!).

I’ve learned so much from these past few weeks. Take it slow. In fitness, and in life. Sometimes I get so caught up in wanting to accomplish things, that I forget to slow down. I’ve heard it said a million times, and I’ll now whole-heartedly agree, recovery is so important. I don’t think my problem was running too many miles, per se, but not allowing time between them. I would run too many days in a row, not allowing my body the breaks it needed. Something to remember for all things, we can always use a break, some down time, to allow our bodies rest, both physically and mentally.

Not only allowing time for recovery and much needed rest breaks, it’s so important to take things slow and just enjoy the process. So often we rush through life, and don’t take the time to enjoy it. Patience. I’ve said before how I struggle so with being patient. But this was just one more reminder that it’s oh so important. Enjoy every moment of the journey!

I’ve also learned the importance of cross-training, and strengthening. There’s so much more to running then running. And my focus going forward will be on more total body fitness, not just logging miles. I know with the right training, overall, I’ll be stronger and better off for it.

I don’t want to have another setback, or worse yet, a more difficult one. I addressed this one quickly, and got it under control (I hope!). I’ll get through my race in 2 weeks, one way or another. And then I’ll look forward to next year. Taking one day at a time, of course, and loving every minute!

No matter how successful you may be, if you hate the process and have not stopped to enjoy yourself along the way, your accomplishment has surely been lacking. ~Dr. Joe Rubino

Waiting…

Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance. ~Bruce Barton

I didn’t realize how much I relied on running these days until I couldn’t do it anymore. As with anything in life, you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. 

I try not to take anything for granted. I learned that lesson the hard way, too. One of the reasons I run at all is purely because I can. And I’ve proven to myself that my body is capable of far more than I would ever give it credit before. 

Two weeks felt like forever ago, yet it felt like just yesterday. I’ve felt so lost these last couple weeks. Things have been so different from what I was getting used to. There were so many days I just wanted to lace up my tennis shoes and be gone for a while. And I couldn’t. And it felt like the time would never end. 

Now that I can ease back into running again, it really felt like these last two weeks flew by. Of course, I got to hit the pavement yesterday for the first time, and am following my PT’s recommendation on intervals. But I wanted nothing more than to just break out into a jog and run my normal 5 mile route. To lose myself in the run. But I know I have to take it slow. 

Patience. More reminders for my life, to wait. Seems everywhere I look I’m being reminded to just have patience. But soon enough, this will be gone:

  
Until then, I’ll do what I can, and keep smiling through it. 

  
One day at a time. Take nothing for granted. Appreciate everything. 

All good things. In due time. 

The struggle

Consider this a warning. This is not going to be a happy, positive post. The fact is, right now I’m struggling. And sometimes we have to allow those feelings of inadequacy, of failure to work their way out of our system. That’s me right now. 

One week ago, I visited the podiatrist for pain in my foot. Plantar fasciitis, as suspected. A very common running injury. I was told no running for two weeks. My alternative, the elliptical, can’t do that either. Two times a week physical therapy. So the past week has been just doing strength and flexibility exercises, mainly for my weak hip which is where my problem stems from. One more week before I can work back into some running. 

Initially I wasn’t too concerned about two weeks off. Then I did the math. I’m signed up for the Hot Chocolate 15k next month. I think I’ll have 4 weeks to build back up to almost a 10 mile run. I know I can do it, if all goes according to plan. But I’m not gonna lie, a little panic set in. Trying to keep it in perspective tho, and if I have to walk some it won’t be the worst thing in the world. 

But now we come to today. And I’m really struggling with some perspective on other things. And I wanted nothing more than to leave work and go for a run. I need some stress relief. I need some time to myself, in my head, and I get that thru running. And I’m just so overwhelmed with everything right now. 

I’m reminded to be patient. With my healing. And I know I need to be patient in all things. I’m not a very patient person, but I had the biggest test of my life 4 years ago, and I survived. I had no choice. But why do I have to constantly be tested? I just want to move on, to have something go right for a change. I’m looking forward to next week more than anything right now. I have so much going on in the coming weeks, but right now, I want nothing more than a good run with me and my thoughts, in this crisp fall weather that I’m missing out on. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very happy with life, with what I’ve accomplished, with who I am. But I’m not perfect. And that’s ok. I’m allowing myself to feel angry right now. Tomorrow is a new day, and another day to practice patience, knowing it’ll all be ok in time. 

The following quote I really like, not only as it relates to running, but life in general. I think it’s just another reminder to be persistent, and patient. Life isn’t about finishing first, but finishing. And we’ll all get there eventually if we just keep moving forward. Or, as Dory says “just keep swimming”.

The race does not always go to the swift, but to the ones who keep running.