New goal and focus on the horizon

Running has been my stress relief, saving grace, way to meet people and my alone time. It’s pushed me way beyond physical and mental limits. But right now, it’s just plain hard.

Over the past year, I’ve been in a slump and feel like I’m back at square one- those days that I just started running. I started training for Grandma’s Marathon and while it’s been tough, my only goal has been to finish each long run and get as many weekly training runs in as possible with a busy work schedule.

This weekend, I set out to run 20 miles, the pivotal run of any marathon training program. At mile 5, I knew I couldn’t go much further. I felt like I was literally dragging my left leg. I called it a day and decided that I’d try again on Sunday. I hurt.

Saturday afternoon I went to visit my massage therapist, Carrie. Her advice was to not run. I know that if I plan to race on June 17, not running is not an option. The muscles in my butt are hard and over stretched- no knots this time. Carrie said she’s only seen this one other time in another client. I left physically feeling a bit better but mentally, I was wrecked. I feel like I’m going to have to make a decision on whether or not I’m going to continue to try to run Grandma’s Marathon, and I’m dreading that decision, so I’m putting it off for now.

Sunday I knew that once again that I wasn’t going to be able to get 20 miles in, but thought I’d venture out for an easy 6 and see how I felt. Long story short, the pain got the best of me and I called my husband after 4 miles and asked him to come pick me up.

I rested Monday and Tuesday and today I went back to my new chiropractor. He confirmed that the muscles in my butt are super inflamed and adjusted my pelvis, back, neck, and ankles. He gave me the go ahead to run, but suggested I wait on strength training until after the race.

When I got home tonight, I hit the treadmill and struggled through 3 miles. Three, very rough, miles. My butt feels a lot better after the chiro appointment, but still pretty sore. I’m currently sitting on an ice pack.

If I only had one word to describe this training cycle, I would say “discouraging.” I almost gave up on training several weeks ago. My mom asked me to stick it out for a few more weeks and to get a few more long runs in and then decide. It’s not quite what I was hoping her to say, but I appreciate her extra push. Especially when I reached my 16 and 18 mile runs. She had another piece of advice that I took seriously.

She told me that she could tell that I was really getting down on myself and instead of focusing on my own goals, maybe I should consider helping others reach theirs. It’s been in the back of my mind to start a running club in my small town, but it wasn’t until she said this that I really took it to heart and knew it was time.

I’m currently laying the ground work to start the Ottawa Running Club in July. The group will meet at the local Rec Center on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. I’m really excited to help others run their first 5K or their 100th marathon. I see lots of runners out and about in Ottawa, but no running group currently exists. I miss running with friends and think this might just be something that re-ignites my love for running. I believe in doing things that energizes and not drains you. I believe that with my career, volunteer opportunities, relationships and hobbies. Right now, running for myself is draining, but thinking about the future of the Ottawa Running Club excites and energizes me! If you’re in the Ottawa, Kansas area, please come join me!
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In the meantime, I’ll keep alternating heat and ice on my buttocks and try to figure out what I’m going to do about the marathon… Stay tuned!

Life Lessons Learned Through Running

 

17883568_980669793948_6695138771332670788_nHere is the speech I gave to Wartburg College graduating communications students as the keynote address at their scholarship dinner.

What an exciting time for each of you! I am honored to be with you tonight and hope that the experiences I share with you can provide with some insight as you embark on a new journey.

I had the privilege of viewing some of your exceptional work today and I can truly say that many companies and communities are going to improve because of your hard work, creativity and passion.

How many of you aren’t sure what’s next for you? When I graduated from Wartburg, I didn’t have a job lined up. It wasn’t only terrifying for myself, but also my parents! I was lucky enough, however, to have a summer internship with the Iowa 4-H Foundation at Iowa State University and they allowed me to stay on staff until I had a full-time gig.

That October, I got an offer to be the communications specialist with the Kansas Corn Growers Association. Only a few problems…. 1. I didn’t know anything about agriculture. Of course, growing up in a small Iowa town it wasn’t completely foreign. 2. It was in Kansas, and 3. IT WAS IN KANSAS.

It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made to pack up and move to a small out-of-state town where I knew no one and had never even lived on my own. I decided that I would use the opportunity to start fresh. No one knew me and I could be whomever I wanted.

Despite that, I spent the first 3 months crying myself to sleep and feeling very lonely. My job was going okay but it wasn’t something I loved or planned to do forever. I planned on putting in my time and eventually move back to Iowa. I never stopped looking for my next job.

In the process of finding myself, I took up running. I had never ran a 5k and I decided to train for my first ever race. I couldn’t even run a mile when I decided to take on this challenge but I would walk and run after work and got better acquainted with the town I was living in by exploring new streets, paths and trails.

One night after a hot and humid summer evening run, I neared my apartment complex where one of my neighbors was on her deck with some friends. She yelled at me and asked if I’d like to come over for a beer. I was drenched in my own sweat, didn’t know anyone and a beer sounded pretty awesome, so I went. Just a month later, she introduced me to a hardworking, Kansas cowboy. That man became my husband six months ago.

Things happen for a reason. Have courage and take a leap of faith.

I continued to run and started to train for my first 10k race, put on by a local running group. I would go out after work and run 3-5 miles alone but 6 miles seemed impossible. I had no idea if I’d be able to run the 10k I signed up for. You can only do so much by yourself, and sometimes you need support from others.

I wasn’t feeling confident about my running abilities, but I saw that the local running group got together for runs on Saturday mornings. Once again, I took a leap of faith and decided to check it out. I had never run with anyone and I had no idea how far they went, but I was just hoping to meet someone new. That morning, there were only two other women showed up. They asked if 7 miles sounded okay. I picked my jaw up off the ground and said that I’d attempt to keep up (only because I was afraid I’d get lost). In my mind, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that I had never ran past 5 miles. I kept up with the ladies and really enjoyed listening to their conversation. I was too out of breath to speak, so I just listened. Those same ladies talked me into training for my first half marathon, and a few months later, my first marathon. Since then, I’ve ran 9 marathons across the United States and continued a deep-rooted friendship with the women who started this crazy journey.

When you set out to run 26.2 miles, people question your sanity. It takes a lot of mental toughness to get your body to the finish line. Life is hard, but it’s also rewarding in ways beyond comprehension. There are times in your life that you’re going to have to work harder than you ever knew possible. Some days your only goal will be putting one foot in front of the other and to keep moving forward. It takes courage to step outside your comfort zone.

In the midst of working hard and reaching your career goals, it’s important to also find work/life balance. Don’t forget to take care of YOU. You can’t pour from an empty glass. To be productive at work, you must be happy and fulfilled at home. What does that look like for you? Volunteering in your community? Taking cooking classes? Trying cycling Don’t ever stop learning.

To meet people and feel like a part of my Kansas community, I reached out to the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. I had participated in several service trips during my time at Wartburg, so Habitat felt like a natural fit. They eventually asked me to serve on their board of directors. I used my graphic design and social media talents to help them, and I made friendships and learned new skills along the way.

Find ways to fuel your passion outside of your 9-5. It is your job to find fulfillment in your life- it’s not up to anyone else. It was through my volunteer work with Habitat, that years later led me to my current position.

A small business owner saw my social media work for Habitat and asked if I would be their social media consultant in my free time. The owner’s college friend, worked for the American Heart Association as the Regional Vice President of Communications. That woman is now my boss and I serve as the communications director for the Kansas City market. Believe your advisor when he or she tells you- “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” As many times as Bill told me that, I wasn’t so convinced at the time. Now, I know.

About a month ago, during a phone conversation with my mom, she asked if I had my dream job. I had never really thought of it that way. BUT, for the first time in my career, I’m 100% happy.

I love the people I work with. I have a fantastic supervisor. I get to meet heart disease and stroke survivors that inspire me daily. I interact with heart surgeons and cardiologist who thank ME for the work that I do. And I can go home at night feeling like I’ve made a difference.

I have finally found all the pieces of the puzzle- the things that the light my passion and make me feel fulfilled. Find joy in the journey. Through the love for my husband and family, my career, volunteer work, and running… my life feels complete. I’m in the right place at the right time. But it’s important to never become complacent. Life evolves and changes and you must learn change with it.

My hope for each of you is that you find your passion and fuel it. Everything else will fall into place.

Team Beef Runner: Ranchers Affected by Wildfires

I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time, as it’s something that’s been weighing heavy on my heart.

Just a month ago, a wildfire spread across Kansas, burning 650,000 acres (that’s like 650,000 football fields). Kansas wasn’t alone. The fast-moving wildfires burned through nearly 2 million acres  of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, which devastated ranches and left thousands of cattle, livestock, and wildlife dead.

When ranchers could return to their pastures, carcasses of dead cattle were everywhere. But that’s not all. Ranchers then had to load their rifles. Many had to shoot their herds because they were so badly burned that there was no chance of recovery. My husband told me of a man who had to kill 150 of his cows one by one and could do nothing but cry. It’s heartbreaking. One rancher reported his total losses to be somewhere between $5 million and $10 million. The wind-driven wildfires across Kansas, Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle killed seven people and devoured homes, miles of fences and as much as 80 percent of some families’ cattle herds.

People have sent fencing supplies, hay and groups have gone to the area to assist. This weekend, I saw three semi-loads of hay going down the interstate with American flags pinned up along with signs that said “Make Kansas Great Again.”

If you’re wondering how you can help with the fire relief efforts in Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas click here. For $44.50, you can supply a bag of milk replacer for calves that have lost their mothers in the wildfire. If you’re inclined to donate a bag, Ashland Feed and Seed can take your credit card order over the phone by calling (620) 635-2856.

My hope is that you’ll join me in rallying behind our ranchers that provide food for our tables.  

More:
Wichita Eagle: Cattle lost in wildfires
KC Star: Kansas sets wildfire record
R
anchers call wildfires “Our hurricane Katrina”
L
ivestock losses mount after wildfires

Being okay with where you are in your journey

It’s no secret that running has been a struggle for me recently. This weekend I ran my worst half marathon ever. My times have gradually been increasing over the past 18 months or so and I often find that my heart just isn’t in it.

Rock the Parkway on Saturday is one of the easiest half marathon courses in the area and the weather was near-perfect, yet I struggled with every stride. I started out feeling very sore and my glutes, hamstrings were on fire in the first mile. I’ve been working hard at strength training with my personal trainer over the past 3 weeks and I could feel the burn. (On a positive note, I think I’m seeing some baby arm muscles poking through.)

At mile 5 I knew that I needed to pick up the pace and I literally couldn’t do it. At mile 8 I wanted so badly to be done. At mile 10 I got a thoughtful text from my mom and cried. At mile 11 I texted her back and told her I was in a lot of pain and was feeling devastated about my projected finish time. At the finish I took a photo with my medal and put a fake smile on my face.

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I should have felt proud for completing my 15th half marathon. I should have been thankful that my body allowed me to travel 13.1 miles that morning. Instead, all I could think was that I ran the same race 28 minutes faster just a couple years ago.

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I’ve been having a hard time letting go of the past. I need to forget my past PRs and race times and focus on the now. I so badly need to let go of where I could be, and be okay with where I am and concentrate on where I can go from here.

After the race I walked to my car where I cried and felt sorry for myself. That is, until my mom sent me some words of encouragement and recommended that I take a step back from my worn running and consider how I can help other runners. Helping others is always more rewarding, right? I talked about this later in the day with my friend, Val, as we spent some time riding through pastures on the side-by-side and enjoying a few beers. It was good for the soul. My heart was happy when I left. I now have some ideas of what my running future looks like, so stay tuned for more info!

On Tuesday, I travel to my alma mater to speak to graduating Communication Arts seniors and give the keynote address for their banquet. I’ll be sharing my “Life Lessons Learned Through Running,” and will post my speech for all of you next week!

Getting my mind right

I’m aboard the struggle bus and I’m desperately trying to get off!
We’ve passed my stop! GET ME OFF OF HERE!

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Every run is a struggle. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s 3 miles or 12, inside or out, morning or evening… my legs are heavy, my breathing labored and my heart feels like it’s in a thousand little pieces. I used to love running. I used to look forward to it. I used to run at a much faster pace without feeling like I was going to drop dead. Didn’t I? Those memories seem so distant that I don’t remember.

I went into this training cycle thinking that I would have to let go of past marathon experiences, past paces and times, and focus on the present. Focus on finishing.

Even that seems nearly impossible after this weekend’s terrible 12-miler. I cried at mile 4 and thought, “How will I ever complete another marathon?”

In addition to the running, I’m struggling with keeping my eating in check and losing weight. All of these things go hand-in-hand.

I’ve started incorporating more weight training into my schedule, in hopes that it would make me a stronger runner, tone up a bit and keep me injury free for Grandma’s Marathon in June. I am not totally sure what all I should be doing and have relied on Pinterest workouts  to get me through. This week, however, I had my first workout with a trainer. It was a test run. I officially start next week. I’m hoping that she can help me accomplish my goals and help me be more accountable. She’s a marathon runner too, so she gets me.

All of this comes down to my own mindset. Why am I such a Negative Nancy lately? Or Defeated DeEtta?

Today that changes. I’ve been following the T-Rex Runner’s blog and she’s been killing her races after coming back from injury. She’s also been focusing on the mindset piece and finding her mantra during each race. I’ve started listening to running podcasts on the way home just to get myself motivated to put my shoes on and get outside. The podcasts are working and I’m going to try out a new mantra on tonight’s run outside (because it’s beautiful)!

Stay tuned. My bus stop is near. Changes are coming.

 

 

Taking High Blood Pressure Seriously

Through my job with the American Heart Association, I meet new survivors of heart disease and stroke each week. They all have their own stories of heartbreak, overcoming the odds and making lifestyle changes.

One of the things that continues to shock me the most are the number of those who appear seemingly healthy but have survived life-changing heart events. They eat a healthy diet, are young, active and often times, they are women. Did you know 1 in 3 women DIE of heart disease? ONE IN THREE makes heart disease the leading cause of death among Americans, killing more than all forms of cancer COMBINED. Learn more.

Eighty percent of heart disease is preventable. One of the things we can all do is track our blood pressure. I recently had a friend, Kelly, who went in for her annual health check-up and discovered she had high blood pressure. She gave me permission to share her story with you.

Kelly took all the right steps. She monitored her BP for several days, reduced her sodium intake, listened to her doctor when she was directed not to run or do strenuous activity and she started taking BP medication as directed. Kelly is a young, healthy, heart advocate. Heart disease is also a part of her family history, as she lost her dad at a young age from a sudden heart attack.

Why is high blood pressure so serious?  Uncontrolled high BP leads to plaque build up and can lead to heart attack, heart failure or stroke. High BP isn’t something to mess around with.

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High BP runs in my own family and since I’ve started working for the American Heart Association, I’ve become slightly obsessed with checking my BP.

Do you know your blood pressure? If you don’t, invest in a blood pressure cuff, go to your local Walgreens, or to your doctor’s office. Then, track your blood pressure here

2017 Marathon Training Begins

I went on hiatus from blogging, but I’m back! A lot has happened since I last posted.

In August, I moved back to Kansas and in October, Jared and I were married! We had the perfect day, surrounded by friends and family.

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Rocking my running shoes!

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Now that we’re settled, I’ve begun setting my goals for 2017. On New Year’s Eve, I signed up for Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN. I didn’t run a marathon in 2016 at all and I was feeling pretty down about it, even though I ran 6 half marathons.

So, last week the marathon training started up again. I’ve been running minimal miles since last fall, so I feel ready to start building up those miles. I’ve been hitting the treadmill a lot over the winter and doing interval training and speedwork. I’d really like to work on my pace (I’ve slooooooowed down so much!) but have no time goals for Grandma’s at this time. My goal: FINISH.

It feels good to be back writing again. Stay tuned for some guest blogs, running gear reviews, and some other random thoughts. . .