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
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.

 

 

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. . .

Injured

As a runner, being sidelined by injury isn’t fun, but if you run long enough, it will happen at some point. Some people are more prone to injury than others, but I’ve been pretty lucky. I’ve experienced IT Band issues, plantar fasciitis and a few aches and pains along the way, but nothing too serious.

At the end of my last race, I was experiencing a tight hamstring which quickly turned into a tight calf and excruciating pain in my Achilles tendon. At first I tried to run through the pain (we’ve all been there). As it got worse, I could no longer run. I took two weeks off before resorting to a chiropractor. The chiro gave me stretches and tried the Graston Technique to loosen my calf muscles.

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With no results, (other than finding out I bruise like a peach) I finally visited with my primary care physician. That’s when I got the news: micro tears in my Achilles tendon and no running for three weeks. That doesn’t seem so bad, and it could certainly be worse, but I immediately asked about what I COULD do during this time.  I planned on marathon training right now. What could I do to burn calories and clear my mind?

The doctor told me I could bike and swim in the meantime. I don’t have access to a pool, so I was down to biking. I assumed I could continue the Bikini Body Guide workouts I got from a friend and I have been doing for some time now as well.

On Saturday, I went on a 20-mile bike ride on an old rail trail. It’s just what I needed. It give me my alone time, gave me a place to listen to nature and the sounds of my own heavy breathing, all while sweating like crazy.

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It’s now been 8 weeks since my last long-ish run and it’s been 6 days without running. Last night I did a combo of the bike, rowing machine, and StairMaster. One of those things has my leg hurting today. I’m looking forward a walk with a friend tonight at my running club meet-up but I’m going to miss the run.

So, for those of you who have experienced injury, what did you do while you were sidelined to keep your endurance up? Please help!