Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Decision Time

I will not be running the Rock 'N' Roll USA Marathon in Washington, D.C. on March 17. 

I still feel a little like I got punched in the stomach when I write that, but I am also absolutely positive this is the right decision.

Let's recap a little...
November 2011 - I decided to run a marathon and signed up. Plantar fasciitis reared its ugly head. It got bad fast.
December 2011 - Took a week off and tried to get back into training while treating problem.
January 2012 - Went to a orthopedist. Checked for bone spurs or fractures. All clear. Started 4 weeks of physical therapy and 2 weeks of anti-inflammatories. Did a miserable 18 miler. Ran an amazing half marathon. I was thrilled to not be in pain during the race and actually enjoy running again but afterwards the pain was bad.
February 2012 - Ran 20 miles. Pain was bad through most of it and for days after. Found an Active Release Chiropractor to help with injury, but I was not recovering between runs. The pain was not at its worst but got worse each time I ran.

Yesterday, I headed out for 22 miles. I decided I try to run/walk with 3 minutes running to 1 minute walking. This is not how I usually run, but I thought this might be a compromise between not doing the marathon and how I'd really like to do the marathon. I made it 8 miles. I felt great in a lot of ways. The weather was perfect. I wasn't tired or frustrated because the 3:1s made it easy despite the hills I was running. I felt the pain in my foot. I could run through it; it wasn't awful.  But, I felt it snap tight with every step I took. I also had pain behind my left knee that appeared a week ago. It hurt really bad for a day or two but then lightened up. It was back. This makes it sound like I was in awful pain, but I wasn't. Both of these things were just enough for me to notice them.

As the miles went by, I had time to think. For the first time in weeks, I was happy to be running. I felt good and wasn't focusing on just getting one more mile done. I knew I could finish 22 miles. I knew the pains would get really bad by the end but that I could finish. I also knew I wouldn't be able to walk for days at best or would be really injured at worst. I thought maybe I'd do the 22 miles and then at least be able to say I did that if I was too injured to run the marathon. Then I thought maybe I'd skip the 22 and save my body for the marathon and just do whatever it took to get through 26.2. But I thought about the consequences. I thought about the races I am excited for in the next 6 months. With every step, it became completely clear that I was going to really hurt myself one way or another if I kept pushing. My body has put up with a lot in the past 16 weeks. It has tried to keep up with my attempts to ignore injury and keep training. My body can't keep doing it. It needs to heal. My feet need to heal.

In the end, I want to run for months, for years, and for life. I do not want to run just one race. My family has sacrificed to support me, and I cannot repay them with a serious injury that makes our life more difficult or costs more money. I'm not willing to miss out on a entire season of running to finish this marathon injured. I'm not willing to miss out on hiking with my family and playing with my boys for this race. It was all suddenly so clear. To keep going would just be dumb. Not strong, not fierce, not determined. Stupid. There is no other option. I am not running this marathon. There will be another marathon. I need to heal.

After I got home, I spent some time looking at my training schedule, at the runs I did and the runs I didn't do. I spent a lot of time in the past few months thinking I just wasn't pushing hard enough and that's why I wasn't training well. I thought I was letting life get in the way. I thought I wasn't stepping up to the plate and acting like a marathoner. But now, with a clearer head, I look at the plan, my runs, and the stuff that was going on at the time and I can see that the vast majority of miles I missed were because of injury, not lack of discipline. Of course, I lost motivation and focus after fighting the injury for so long, but that was secondary.

I am not disappointed in myself. I gave it my all. I tried to heal. I tried to train. I asked the hard questions. Now, it's time to take a break. I'm going to take 2 weeks of no running but do my cross-training, chiropractic visits, and all the other recovery pieces.  I might run the half marathon on March 17. I'm somewhat planning on it, but I will only do so if I'm feeling good. I'll only do so if I know that I won't hurt myself further. And if I do run it, I will take another 2 full weeks of little to no running before starting back slowly hopefully in time to race well on May 5 in the Broad Street 10 miler.

After a few weeks of recovery, I'll start seriously considering a fall marathon. I'm still going to run a marathon. I'm just not going to risk my health to do it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Color Pink (and Purple) or Anything But..

For a long time, my son's favorite color was pink. He was a pink bird in the school play. He has a big pink stuffed elephant named Pinky that was mine as a little girl and he loves it. He had pink sandals for the summer. His favorite shirt was his pink power puff girl shirt from the consignment shop. Purple was eventually added, and he loved his purple flowered pajamas.

Shortly after Christmas, B told us pink and purple were no longer his favorite colors. You might wonder what his new favorite colors were. We asked and were told anything but pink and purple. Hmm, okay then.

He still plays with his pink things. He wears his purple pajamas. But he doesn't reach for his pink shirt much anymore, and he doesn't ask for new pink things. Today, I found out why. Today, he didn't want to go to school. He didn't want to go to school because the boys at school don't believe him when he tells them his favorite colors are any colors except pink and purple. He didn't want to go to school because when he says that his favorite colors are anything except pink and purple they whisper to each other that they know he really likes pink and purple. 

Today, my heart broke. My heart broke because I can't protect him from this. My heart broke because my little boy who started to like pink simply because he did and who proudly continued to like pink even though he knew some people thought he shouldn't is now trying to hide his love of the color pink to not be teased and yet is still being teased. My heart broke because the parents of these boys didn't teach them that pink is just a color and my son is the one that has to deal with that. My heart broke because I wasn't able to give him enough love and confidence to just keep liking pink.

I wanted to hug him and shake him. I wanted to call those boys nasty names and tell my boy how much he should like pink. I wanted to tell him that there are dumb parents in the world who raise mean kids. But instead with my heart breaking, I asked him how that made him felt. He felt sad. I said it wasn't nice for those boys to hurt his feelings. I told him he could like any color he wanted and that pink was just a color. I told him those boys  shouldn't whisper about him. I hugged him and I kissed him. I wanted to make it all better, and I knew I couldn't. I told him that it was good to get a teacher if someone was hurting his feelings, because he's not one to do that. He's my sensitive little boy who internalizes things and talks about them weeks or even months later. This terrifies me.

And then I sent him off to school. I sent him off to school where he worked with, played with, and ate lunch with those boys like he always does. I picked him up from school and he asked when he could have a play date with those boys, while all I could think about was yelling at those boys for making him feel bad, yelling at their parents for not teaching them better.

I can't protect him. The only thing I can do is assure him that he is okay just the way he is. I can make sure he knows he is loved and accepted exactly the way he is. I can listen... hiding my rage, my fear, and my hurts so that he feels safe talking. And I can model how we treat others, being careful with my words and my opinions, so that he knows that it's never okay to make fun of someone. It's never okay to hurt someone's feelings or say things that could hurt someone's feelings if they heard them. isn't that something we could all be reminded of once in a while? This parenting stuff gets harder. every. damn. day.

Tonight, I put him to sleep and he begged for extra snuggling. I snuggled him and whispered..

B, I love you. I will always love you. You never need to do anything to get my love. It's always here. No matter what. I will love you if you break all the rules and don't listen to anything I ask you to do. I will love if you jump on the couch and don't go to sleep. *giggle* I will love you if help with chores and eat all your dinner. I love you on good days and bad days. I love you when you are happy and sad, when you are angry or upset. I love you when I am happy and when I am sad, when I am angry and when I am upset.  I love you absolutely no matter what. I love you if your favorite color is yellow, pink, or blue. I will love you if you grow up to be the President of the United States, and I will love you if you never have a job in your life. I love you simply because you are exactly who you are yesterday, today and tomorrow. There is nothing you can do to make me love you more or less. And you know what's cool, B? The same goes for Daddy.. he loves you the same way. And you know what's even cooler, B? The same goes for God. God loves us no matter what simply because we are God's children. We have good days and bad days. Sometimes we get upset or do unkind things. We love each other and forgive each other, and God loves and forgives us. It's pretty special. There's nothing we can say or do to change any of that.

He listened, smiling and snuggling. When I was done rambling, he snuggled in closer, and asked "mommy, can I snuggle you all day tomorrow?" Sure, B, there will be plenty of time for snuggling tomorrow.

I might not be able to fix everything, but I can snuggle and that's the next best thing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

20 Miles, Why I'm Doing This, and Why My Husband Rocks

I'm 14 weeks and 1 day into my marathon training plan. The plan has been adjusted and readjusted due to injuries, illness, an extra half marathon, and just life.

Based on my original plan, I should have ran 402 miles at this point. I've actually ran 265.39. I remember tallying up similar numbers before my first half marathon (ran 112 of 222 planned miles in a 12 week plan). I finished the half marathon but it was painfully awful.

This blog post is a bit on the long side, but what else is new. I'll break it down into the three parts the title mentions.

20 Miles
Yesterday, I ran stumbled my way through my first 20 miler. It was hard. In the two weeks since the half marathon I had ran a whopping 13 miles, but I knew I needed to get 20 done to get back on track with attempted training.
Beautiful day, beautiful scenery. 7.5 miles. Still feeling good.

My first 9 miles were pretty good. I was feeling strong and confident. I knew I was going to get this done. It was about 32 degrees but the sun was warm and the sky was blue. I started out a little fast, but I was just taking it mile by mile. I had planned on going out between 5 and 8 miles depending on how I was feeling and then back to swap water bottles, and then out and back again for the remainder. While running I decided I did not want to have go back out again so I ended up doing a 10 mile out and back. I knew my husband was going to drive by and check on me at some point so he could switch out the water bottles for me.

At mile 7, I decided to make a left instead of going straight and repeating more of my 18 mile route because I was still traumatized from that run. This was a bad choice. It added more hills I just did not need. My legs were pretty trashed by mile 10. I took gels at mile 4, 8, 12, and 16. I stopped each time for a minute to take the gel and to stretch my calves and feet as my plantar fasciitis was hurting pretty bad. By mile 14, I was adding in extra stops to stretch more. I never stopped my watch so that's why my moving time and moving pace are significantly different than my total time and total pace.
Like my mad paint skills?

My husband did swap out my water bottles for me, and then I did end up calling him to come swap them one more time when I was really thirsty in the last six miles. I knew he was worried about me when he found me walking with no intent to start running. But I did run again. I ran until my legs just couldn't run a single step, and then I walked. I tried to convince myself it didn't hurt. Just walking, putting one foot in front of the other, had me in so much pain I was near tears. But each time, I started to run again. I knew I would finish this. Quitting wasn't an option.

In comparison to the horrid 18 miles in 9 degrees, I was stronger mentally. I knew I had to keep going even when I didn't know how I'd do that. I just knew I had to and I would. The pain was far worse than the 18 miles, but my head fought the battle for my legs. As I stumbled the last few steps to my driveway where my amazing husband was waiting for me, I moaned in pain. I cried. I declared marathon training as stupid. I said I never wanted to do that ever again. The process of getting in the house, up the stairs, and into an ice bath was excruciating. I cried, I yelled, and I moaned a lot. Seriously. The pain. No joke.

I text Kristie, the person who started me on this running journey with this kind message:  
I kind of hate you right now. Marathon training sucks.

Why I'm Glad I'm Doing This
Today, I'm still in pretty significant pain. My plantar fasciitis is angry. My left knee is rather unhappy. And every other muscle in my legs are crying. With the training I've done and with the paces I'm not hitting on these long runs, I'm not sure I'm going to finish this marathon. Yes, I know I need to get in the mindset that I am. That will come. But for now, a moment of honesty. I'm not sure I'll finish in the time limit (5 hours 30 minutes from the time the last runner crosses the start. I just might be that obnoxious person starting in a too fast corral just for the extra head start from the sag wagon that will pick me up if I'm not keeping minimum pace.

That's why I'm doing this. Because it is so damn hard I'm not sure if I can actually do it. Because while life gets in the way and I don't get to train or prepare in a perfect world, that's true of everything. Life ain't perfect, it ain't easy, but I'm still going to do it. Fighting depression isn't perfect, easy, or fun, but I'm still doing it. I might not finish this. Hell, I'm not even sure my plantar fasciitis is going to let me get to the starting line. But damn it all if I'm not going to give it everything I've got. I'm not afraid of failing. That's how big this goal is. I am not afraid of failing. This is worth the risk. I am worth the risk.

Kristie texted me this morning, So. You're pretty mad right now?

Kristie, no, I'm not mad. I am so thankful for you, your support, and your inspiration. I am thankful for the courage you've given me. The courage to do and try things I never imagined I could do. The courage to risk failure. I am thankful for someone who knows how hard this is and how much it hurts, but also how much its worth.

Why My Husband Rocks
Last week when I was so frustrated about this damn marathon and my lack of training and wondering if it was even a good idea my husband and I had this conversation.

Me: I should not even attempt this. I'm not ready. There's no way I can do train enough in the next 5 weeks.
Husband: Yes you can.
Me: No, I'm totally under trained. If I did the work, I could do this but I haven't.
Husband: You said the same thing about your first half marathon.
Me: And it was awful and I nearly died.
Husband: Well yea, but you finished. Here's the deal. You pick a training schedule and think you're going to be able to fit it in X amount of weeks because that's what everyone else does. We don't have everyone else's life so you can't. Then you end up where you are now but you finish. Then the next time around you are stronger and more aware of the time you need and what you need to do. So, you just need to get through this really miserable one so you can start training for the next one.
Me: (stunned silence)
Husband: And yes, this means I've come to terms with the fact that there will be another marathon.
Me: Well, I'm glad one of us has.

He's right. And the fact that he's willing to support me through this not just once but twice astounds me. He's pretty awesome. Happy Valentine's Day, love.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Finding the Right Running Shoes

The whole family has been sick for 12 days with everything from ear and throat infections to the puke bug. Not good. Really not good. As a result, I've got practically no training in since coming back from California almost two weeks ago.

But yesterday, I escaped the sickness for a few hours to go to an amazing shoe fitter who spent two hours with me along with two other customers helping us find the right shoes for our situations. I learned so much! He has some very informative videos on YouTube so check them out!

I learned that I'm wearing probably the best insoles you can get off the rack (obviously in this guy's opinion, but I sure like them!), but you can always benefit from some customization. For three times the price, I can get the same type of insoles custom molded to my feet. It's not in the budget right now, but it's way cheaper than medical orthotics and something I'll plan for in the future.

I learned that changing the way you lace a shoe can change its fit entirely! It was really neat. I'd put on a shoe and say that it felt a little uncomfortable in a spot, and he'd re-lace them in some crazy way and suddenly they felt amazing. Apparently, traditional shoe lacing puts pressure in the wrong spot on our foot and prevents it from moving correctly as we run.

I also learned that my shoe size is a 9.5 Wide. What?!?  My first pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11s that Road Runner Sports fitted me for in the spring was a size 8.5 wide. When I got a new pair in October, I went a half size up because of a constant black toe nail on my left foot. The black toe nail never went away and the other toes on that foot began to get badly blistered. My other foot was always fine. Turns out of my left foot is my bigger foot. No shock. But I now need a full size larger than what I started running in! This definitely contributed to my development of plantar fasciitis.

New Balance 1080 v2
After trying a number of shoes in a number of sizes laced a number of ways, I was torn. I tried these on and they felt really great except being a little narrow because they didn't have a wide in stock. But, then I found out, they are a neutral cushioning shoe opposed to a stability shoe like I've been wearing. I definitely over pronate so should I switch from a stability shoe? They felt sooo nice, though!

When I voiced concern over the stability issue, he recommended going with the Brooks Adrenaline I've been wearing in what we believe would be the correct size, 9.5 wide. He said whether I should try the neutral shoe depended on how much money I wanted to spend to experiment with shoes. Hmmm, I admit that at that point Road Runner Sports VIP 90 Day Wear and Love Them Guarantee was pretty appealing, but this guy had given me a lot of good information and I like buying local.

Either way, he'd have to order because neither was in stock in my size. I was really undecided so we decided to order both. I paid for the Adrenaline but if i like the New Balance better when they come in I can go with those instead. The other factor with the Adrenaline will be Adrenaline GTS 11 versus the new Adrenaline GTS 12. I am unsure which he was ordering and the store suddenly got busy, but I've never tried the 12 and am not sure how they'll feel.
I might have fallen in love with the NB 1080v2 when I discovered I could order this color.
I'm waiting the week or so until the shoes come in and then I'll go try them on to see what I think. Of course, if I'm switching to a neutral shoe that opens a wide world of possibilities. I'd love to try on Brooks neutral shoes as I've liked Brooks a lot, or maybe their lesser stability shoes would be a better transition. I have no idea.

I learned a lot, but I still have a lot of questions! I might drive the poor shoe fitter nuts before all is said and done.

On an unrelated positive note, I think I've found a chiropractor I'm really going to like. We decided to switch practices, but I really wanted a sports chiropractor who could help me with my plantar fasciitis and anything else that comes up. I think I found him! He's Active Release trained which was part of what I was looking for and certified in Spider Tech taping and sounded confident he could help me.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Whole Food Kitchen

Do you remember my love of e-courses? It hasn't ended, just took a break. But I got registration for a new e-course given to me for Christmas, and I can't wait! Plus, a friend and I got a two for one deal so I am excited to share in this journey with her. This course is hosted by Heather at beauty that moves, the same person who hosted the 30 Day Vegan course I took last spring. This time around it's Whole Food Kitchen.

Whole Food Kitchen

I'm really excited about this 12 week course that starts tomorrow (yes, you can still join!). I find we go through seasons in our home where we focus on some areas of our life. Lately, as I have struggled personally and other things have taken our attention, we've spent less time focused on nourishing our family with whole, real food. Don't get me wrong, we still don't usually eat fake food and we usually cook from scratch, but in different seasons we tend to slip or take what may be momentarily the easier way more often than others.

I've been feeling the pull to focus on filling our kitchen and our home with nourishing food that is as local and organic as possible. Throughout the farmer's market and CSA season there is easy access to great local, organic foods, but we are often less consistent through winter months. We're excited to be building some relationships that give us consistent year-round access to the kinds of food we want to eat. We've recently switched our family's milk over to raw, local milk which I am thrilled we were able to do. Additionally, we get farm fresh eggs delivered to our church weekly. And my husband is excited to be buying half a pig next week from a local farmer. Mmm bacon! We've ran out of our stores of grass-fed, grass finished organic beef so we are still looking for an affordable source for that. Plus, before we know it we'll be starting seeds for another year of successful gardening and preserving! I'm also back to baking most of our bread myself, and I'm going to perfect making my own yogurt from this fabulous raw milk we're now drinking.

This all means I am really excited for this e-course to give me more resources and inspiration on this journey!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hard things.

In December, I read this post from Ann at Twelve in Twelve. She said that she can do hard things. She wrote,
Alright, apparently it’s a common saying. I heard it somewhere, sometime, from someone. (probably from my good friend, Ash!) And my brain held onto this little gem until I really needed it. For the past few workouts, especially today, I kept going back to that saying….
 I read that post, and like hers, my brain held onto that until I really needed it. It came to mind during my awful 9 degree 18 mile training run. I thought about in the days leading up to the Tinker Bell half marathon as I thought about whether I was trained to PR. I wrote in on my hand for that race as I flew, wings and all, to a new PR!

Since getting back from California, it's been bumpy around here. Just the travel day home ended up including nearly 3 hours more than planned, 1 extra airport, a complete loss of power steering in my car, and getting pulled over just a mile from my house. That lovely day was followed with a week too little sleep and too little patience on the part of nearly the whole family along with head colds all around. Life can be a little rough around the edges here. Life with depression is just plain hard. Really hard.

But... I can do hard things.

The hard things can be just about anything. Sometimes it's pushing through a tough workout or running just one more mile when I want to quit. Other times, it's getting out of bed and making my kids' lunches for school in the morning. So often, it all just feels too gosh darn hard.

It's one of the reasons running is so important to me as a way to cope with depression. Running has proved to me over the past 18 months that I can do hard things. I ran my first 5K when I didn't know that I could. I ran a 10K when it seemed way too hard. I ran a half marathon which was really freaking hard. Since then, I've dug deep pushing myself to train better and run faster. It was hard, but I did it. It's always hard, but I do it over and over again.

That's what I have to remember when it's the getting out of bed that's hard or when it's the getting myself up off the bathroom floor where I sit in a ball crying that's hard. When it gets so hard that I can't imagine I'll ever get through it, when I wonder if I'll ever feel happy again, I try to remember and feel it in my gut that I can do hard things.

I've done all sorts of hard things in my life, and this surely will not be the last hard thing.