A new normal

A friend of mine, who I met through a run club, recently posted that she had been dwelling in the “remember when” stage of running. She had been struggling and could only focus on the past.

I can relate, because that’s where I’m at, too.

There used to be a time that I was thrilled to finish a race of any kind- 5K, 10K, Half and then a full marathon. While training for the first half and full, I celebrated each time I ran further. Running was full of celebration each time I accomplished something I could be proud of.

Then, I started getting faster. Blowing by each PR at every race I was doing. Again, so many celebrations.

Then I plateaued and started slowing down and it wasn’t fun anymore. Completing a long run or a race no longer felt like such an accomplishment and I began running less. Less often, less miles, less races.

I felt like a fraud once after another runner met up with me at the finish line and said “What was your time… Oh, I thought you were faster than that.”

Yeah, I know that he’s a jerk and that the running community is usually much more supportive of one another, but it stung.

Running got harder and then my husband and I decided to start a family. Running pregnant is really hard, but I’m still at it. It ain’t pretty, but I’m putting one foot in front of another. I’m averaging a 13-minute miles with several walk breaks. This is a new normal.

I plan to run a couple 5Ks this summer and set some “pregnant PRs.” And hopefully, by the grace of God, I’ll be able to find the time to invest in myself and get back at it with a newborn, or shortly after.

Running, like life, is a roller-coaster. It’s full of ups and downs. Little humps get in the way and sometimes you’re on top of the world and other times you’re in a deep valley.

Over my 31-years of life, running has been a priority and it has taken the back seat. This is just the beginning of my new normal and I’m learning to accept that. From here on, my running friend and I are going to focus on the present instead of the past.

Here we go!

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2018 Goals

It’s that time of year again… When you’ve over indulged and are ready to get back on the band wagon with a list of New Year’s resolutions…. To lose weight, be more productive and take time for yourself…. sound familiar?

I’m right there with you. Here are some of my goals for 2018 (I like goals over resolutions):

  1. Incorporate yoga in addition to my running workouts. I’m shooting for 1-2 times a week and I started by signing up last week. I’m so looking forward to going back this week to work on stretching, strength and clearing my mind. The next two months of work are hectic at my job and I recognize that I need to carve out time for myself and let the stress of the day melt away before going home to spend time with my husband. After I’m bored comfortable with yoga, I plan to incorporate more weights and strength training.
  2. Say “no” more. For a hot second, I thought I was Super-Woman and took on more than I could handle at work and in my personal life. Saying “no” or “no, thank you” is going to be a focus when it doesn’t fit within my passion, my goals, or my timeframe. “Saying yes to happiness sometimes means saying no to those you are trying to please.”
  3. Run a half marathon this year. I don’t know if I’ll ever run another marathon. After last year’s attempt, I’m not ready to try again just yet. My heart and mind weren’t in it and then I ended up injured following my 18-mile training run. I have started a half marathon training plan that kind of fell apart over the holidays and being sick. I’m focused on picking it back up and completing at least one half marathon this year. I’m actually going to shoot for two in the spring (Liberty Half and Running With The Cows) but if I only get one in, I’ll be pleased.
  4. Grow the Ottawa Running Club. Fliers, Facebook ads and Letters to the Editor are the ways I plan to continue marketing the Ottawa Running Club. The group has grown sparse with the cold weather but I have no doubt numbers will be back up when the weather turns nice.
  5. Read listen to five audio books. My commute to and from work feels more productive when I’m listening to a book. I’m currently listening to Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown on my phone through Audible. It’s a nice distraction when I’m running, too. Though, all I’ve been listening to lately is “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack! So good!
  6. Lose 30 lbs. Yep, I said it. I have been wanting it, but not bad enough to do the work. I’m getting my mind right to accomplish it. I don’t expect it to happen tomorrow but little by little, I’m hoping to reach my goal.

So, there it is. I put them out in the universe. So tell me, did you make New Year’s resolutions? Did you write them down and create a plan? Share yours in the comments!

What I’m Listening To

Sometimes music gets old. Which, is why I’ve started listening to audio books and podcasts more frequently.

This summer I’ve finished FIVE books, thanks to the Audible app. That’s about four more than I’ve read listened to in the past five years! I’ve started listening to books being read to me while on my commute to work and while I run. I rarely have time make time to sit down and read. It’s just not important to me in the grand scheme of all other things on my list. Sometimes, I need to think about something other than how hard a run is, so an audio book is a great way to let my mind wonder.

Below you’ll find a list of the books I’ve read this summer with how I rated them. All five I finished, were great! One or two that I started, I couldn’t finish, either because the voice reading was annoying or because I wasn’t into it. I learned you can listen to a sample of the voice reading before you purchase, so now I do that. Below the book list, you’ll find some of my favorite podcasts too!

Summer books I listened to: 
The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda: 4.5 stars
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena: 5 stars
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware: 4 stars
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris: 5 stars (Super intense and heavy)
The Breakdown: 4.5 stars

My favorite podcasts: 

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Human Race is my ALL-TIME FAV. This is storytelling at it’s finest. This is my go-to on my commute after work when I’m trying to motivate myself to run when I get home after a long day. Some of my favorite recent episodes are:

Ali on the Run Show: Ali Feller is a writer and editor in NYC. She shares her own journey of running and has guests talk about marathon training, yoga, mental health and wellness.

Wrongful Conviction: Another favorite! And not at all running related but IT’S SO GOOD. This podcast features men and women who have been convicted for crimes they didn’t commit- some of them had even been sentenced to death. I’m often left thinking “HOW did this happen!?”

So, tell me, what are some of your favorite things to listen to while on the run?

The Ottawa Running Club

Almost a year ago I moved back to Ottawa, Kansas, leaving behind a great running community in Missouri. I’ve missed to camaraderie and friends that pushed me to go faster and further. I’ve seen numerous people out running the trails in Ottawa and often dreamed of starting a group in my new community.

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It wasn’t until I was struggling during my last training cycle that I began thinking more seriously about starting a running club. In fact, my mom suggested that I start focusing less on myself and more on others. YES! I knew in that moment what I had to do.

Two weeks ago, I started the Ottawa Running Club. We meet every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening at the local Rec Center. I map out an out-and-back course (6 miles during the week & 8 miles on weekends, for now) and set up flags at each turn, provide two water stops- along with Kleenex, sunscreen, and band-aids and throughout the summer, I bring chilled washcloths for a post-run refresher.

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The turn out has been good. We’ve had anywhere from 3 (108 degrees yesterday) to 11 participants. For a smaller community, I’ve been pleased with the numbers, but see it growing this fall. I hope to continue to tailor this group to new, beginner runners.

In addition, I met with the county health department yesterday and look forward to working with them on an upcoming event to encourage activity in our area!

Did Not Start

Grandma’s Marathon is a week away and I’ve decided that I won’t be running marathon #10, at least not right now. About 4 weeks ago, I started having severe back pain. I couldn’t run, couldn’t sit and could hardly move without hurting. For three weeks, I’d run every once-in-a-while just to be sure it still hurt and was only walking and doing some minor strength training. I began thinking that I’d suffer from chronic back pain forever. I’ve seen two different chiropractors, but going back to my original chiropractor (the one I went to before I moved away) was the best decision I’ve made. After 3 adjustments, I started feeling better and today I’m almost at 100%.

I’m back to running short distances because even though I’m currently pain-free, I’m paranoid about hurting myself again, and with so many weeks off, I’m way out of shape. I’ve done some nice 3-milers and I’m hoping to go a bit further in the near future. I’m certainly not marathon-ready.

The week before a marathon is hard, mentally. By this point you’ve tapered and are running just enough miles to keep loose. You’re going crazy hardly running at all and you start second guessing your training. You’re preparing your body though food and water for the long run and you’re mentally visualizing the course and the finish line.

I’m a week out from a marathon that I’m not going to start. This is the first race ever that I’ve signed up for and won’t be finishing….or even toeing the start line. It’s tough. I can’t help but have second thoughts, think I could have done things differently wonder if I’d be able to finish, or if I’ll ever be able to finish another marathon.

Running has been hard for the past year. I’m slower and I’ve become too embarrassed to run with a group. I used to run with friends every Wednesday and Saturday but lately it’s hard to want to run with anyone. I can’t keep up and I often end up alone anyway, so what’s the point?

The point is that if everyone felt that way, there probably wouldn’t be running clubs. Which, brings me to my next adventure. There’s something magical about a running group. The comradery, the passion, inspiration and encouragement is amazing.

Last weekend I volunteered at the Sunday Runday North tent and saw some of my former group members. It reminded me how important a group is, no matter what training cycle or life cycle you’re in. Sometimes you have more time to train and you run PRs… other times, you run for pleasure or stress relief with no time goals and sometimes, you fall off the wagon and dream of getting back into it. As with life, your running story takes shape around what’s currently happening and you just have to brace yourself for the rollercoaster ride.

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I’m excited to start a running club in the town that I now reside. I’ve seen people out running and I’ve missed that group atmosphere. I’ll be arranging a group Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings, where I’ll map out a course, and provide water. I don’t know how it will go over or how many will come but I want people to know that they have a consistent person who will be there to cheer them on. I’m excited to be  a part of someone’s first 5k or their 100th marathon. This group will be for all skill levels. Most of all, I’m excited to take the focus off of myself, and help someone reach their goals.

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!

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
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anchers call wildfires “Our hurricane Katrina”
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ivestock losses mount after wildfires