I am not sure if so much running is taking it’s toll or if I’m just old or both or what but my leg, the right one specifically, seems to be complaining a lot after long runs these days. Not only that but I can feel my legs swelling during and after long runs. They are tight and achy which paired with the pain from my bunion that runs up the top of my foot makes it uncomfortable from my outside hip to my toes. Now, I’m not complaining because it isn’t debilitating but there is or was a sharp sticking pain like a needle that I was dealing with especially when I put pressure on my right knee, most pronounced during trips up and down stairs. After yesterdays race my legs were definitely filled a bit with fluid. They needed the rest I gave them for the remainder of the day. For the first time in my life I actually took Ibuprofen without needing it for a headache or some big pain. I took it merely in the hopes that it would do what it is supposed to do and reduce swelling and ultimately pain or discomfort due to both. Well, I can tell you today, my knee and legs feel great. No pain, no swelling or discomfort and I’m not sure if that’s the IBU’s or putting my feet up for hours or maybe both. I won’t hesitate to pop a couple of them after long runs going forward. I wish I knew why, all of a sudden after 6 years of running, my legs are swelling post (mostly) long run but it’s something I’ll have to watch. Maybe it’s age. I’m still eating well and drinking plenty but I’m working out a ton more and differently than before and running many more miles than I have in the past. So I’m putting myself on the watch list for now. I have several races that I’m signed up for so I need to keep and eye out for signs of trouble and mindful to go at a respectable pace to be able to get it done and do so safely.
One of my favorite things about staying fit is being able to wear clothes that are not too big on purpose. I spent a long time wearing boxy clothes and turtle necks that pretty much covered me up from neck to knees. I hated the way I looked and did whatever I had to to cover that all up. Since I began running and even more since I began strength training and riding my stationary bike, I can wear things that fit to my shape without worrying that I am drawing the wrong kind of attention or that someone will call animal control….kidding on that one but that’s how it felt. I like wearing shorts even though my legs are not “perfect” and have cellulite frosting them pretty much from the knee up. It’s ok, because first of all I’m 48 and will never again be 20. Secondly I’m in the best shape of my life and feel great! Tonight I have a date with my husband to attend an event at Symphony Hall in Boston. This is so exciting in and of itself but what’s more exciting is that I bought a dress online that is form fitting and has this great print that I would never DARE wear back in the day when I was so self conscious. This dress looks Damn good on me and makes me feel pretty. It’s form fitting and clingy and you know what? That’s ok with me. Why? Because all the work I do to run and stay in shape has paid off and will continue to do so for as long as I can do them. I don’t need to feel like this every day but the confidence I have now because of running and working out is wonderful. It’s an amazing thing after spending so long feeling sick to my stomach when I looked in the mirror to now look at myself and smile from every angle. It’s my favorite benefit and improvement that only came to me through a lot of hard work and dedication. Never give up! Push through the hard days and stay the course until you get to where you want to be and most importantly, believe in yourself! You’ll get there! I’m here, I’m staying and I have running to thank for that.
What is your biggest reward from staying in shape?
I finished the book “When Breath Becomes Air” last night which was written by Paul Kalanithi. Paul wrote this book because he found out he had terminal cancer and he wanted to document his journey as he faced his own mortality. He wrote his journey from brilliant Neurosurgeon to Cancer patient. Paul was quite interested in diving into looking death in the eyes and analyzing what death means and looking at it as a process instead of running away from it. It is an honest book that I don’t know as if I could have written in the midst of suffering from Cancer and watching myself wither from health to having people on my death watch just waiting for me to pass to move on. It’s a good read and something that will not leave my mind. You should read it. THIS Ted talk by Lucy Kalanithi is what prompted me to read the book.
I thought about Paul this morning as I headed out to run and I thought about Lucy his widow and Cady his infant daughter who most likely won’t remember her father except in the things her family and her mother share with her. I thought about my own life and thought about how I read and cried through this book and as my legs carried me over my three miles I confirmed with myself that if I face this same kind of decision in my life, I do NOT want to spend time chasing time if the outcome is sure to be finality. I would rather spend my time simply talking to my family, and running, having cookouts and creating memories and laughter than living in a hospital bed. Everyone dies we just don’t know when we’ll die or how. Why worry about it? Every day and moment should be lived to the best of our ability being the best people we can be don’t you think?
I run because I want to be more healthy. I want to be more healthy because I want to live as long of a life free from canes or adult diapers and medications as I can. I started off running to run away from life’s problems. I ran to save myself from deep dark places that the anti-depression commercials talk about. I ran not to look forward but to not look back. Things are much better now for me and I am probably the happiest I’ve ever been since getting married. I now appreciate meaning in life and the joys that my family brings me, especially my children as they head into adulthood. I now run to be able to have as many tomorrows as I can and to “experience” every day rather than just living every day. Lucy and Paul “experienced” life and looked at life in a really analytical way both in life and through and during death. Running saved me and has taught me to really appreciate and experience most everything. Running has become the glue that keeps me sane, lets me analyze things so I can better understand them more like Paul and Lucy do. Running lets me reflect on things that have happened and what my takeaways are a lot like Lucy and Paul did as they applied the lessons they were learning through their difficult journey through Paul’s illness.
It’s books like this that make me a better human who appreciates the important things in life over skimming through each day blindly, and it’s running that has allowed me to take all those moments and push them forward to tomorrow and the next days to come. Life, like running has good days and bad, joy and pain, frustrations and memories, positives and negatives. We should know what we want from both, have goals for both, give mindful thought to the moments and milestones that we experience during both.
I saw a family member recently whom I haven’t seen in a really long time. Life and responsibilities can be tremendous separators at times. A guilt I have become accustomed to with family in VA and others that I just don’t get to see often. I’m ok with it because it’s rather one sided anyway but that’s not for this blog. So we were visiting and talking about health and how she is facing some challenges due to a diagnosis with what most likely will be a lifelong but not fatal issue. It will be problematic for sure and to some degree debilitating but not end of life stuff. She had asked me if I would be willing to work out with her to keep her motivated and accountable for consistency. I feel like she needs a coach of sorts which is ok with me as long as she’s motivated. I’m not babysitting or chasing anyone and I really hope her conveyed intentions are genuine because excuse city and whining are not something I deal with. I hate both. I’m willing to give it a go with an open understanding between us. She understanding that I will demand all she can tolerate and give me, no excuses and focus. I understanding that she is limited at times to what she will be able to tolerate and how much effort she will be able to put in. As long as those two things are understood I think we should be good. So we were talking about how I workout all the time and some differences between her mother and myself and my daughter pipes in and says “Mom, your aging has gone backwards.” Instant ear to ear grin knowing that what I’m doing and how hard I’m working must be working. When your kids tell you that you look good you know they are proud of you and that is the best compliment I could ever get! It made me feel really good and now of course I’m super motivated to keep going, keep trying and keep hustling to be the best and healthiest me that I can be. When someone comes to you to ask you for help it’s a compliment to what you are doing. They are proud of you and want in some way to replicate for themselves what you are doing for yourself. When someone asks your opinion on health, fitness, workouts schedules and equipment or makes comments on your social media posts about what you are doing it’s a compliment. It means people believe in you and admire you for your determination. It’s like getting a gold star on your paper from the teacher that you brought home to show mom. When that happens it’s a level of achievement that goes beyond a habit. It’s deeper and more meaningful because other people now believe in and want what you have. Keep going and sharing your knowledge and offering your help to everyone if you can. People believe what they see and what they hear that is proven by what they see. Proof in the pudding so to speak. Keep going, you’re doing something great! Pass it on!
Today I ran 9 miles. Next week is my race so this is the last “training” run before I dive into continuance with long long runs to prep for my July half. I was dragging my feet before I left but I’m not sure why. I wanted to go, was ready to go but wasn’t in a rush to actually go. I left just after 7 am to avoid the heat of the day but that was not to be. I picked a route that was almost as hilly as a 9 mile run around my town could get because I want to start preparing for the hills of VT in November. The only way to do that is to start running them now and keep running them. The hills were fine but the damn heat was opressive. This is the first hot day that I’ve been out there and boy is my body hating me even now 3 hours post run. I feel like I’m still cooking and I”m really tired. I probably am just shy of being well hydrated. I didn’t drink enough water yesterday so I don’t think today was destined to go well. I made it to just over 1 mile and called one of my kids to drop off a powerade for me to grab when I went by my neighborhood. I knew early that it was going to be challenging and I should have taken water with me in the first place. I felt ok after I had hydrated but the heat was really bothersome. I stopped every mile to drink and had to do some serious ass kicking to stay motivated to keep going. I wanted to quit in the worst way but I’m not wired to quit so stops on the mile and staying in as much shade as I could was the name of the game. The further I went, the harder it was and the more tired my legs got. My eyes were swelling a bit but onward I pressed. I can imagine what I looked like to the drivers passing me, standing there huffing and puffing looking pathetic and tired. It couldn’t have been too bad because no one stopped to see if I needed help. Mile 5 was the hardest on me but was faster than mile 1 but mile 1 was straight up a huge hill so that makes sense. When I was done I was really happy to be done. Some runs are just better than others. Well, Summer is here and I have too many races lined up to complain about it so we’ll just move on. I’m happy to be in my AC house right now writing this. Every run makes you better whether it’s good or not.
That right there proves that I am either very brave or super stupid! That is the elevation profile for the VT 10 mile inaugural race I just signed up for with some friends that will take place in November. Let’s just think about this for a moment shall we? First, I have run hills before. The Lynchburg half marathon had a hill that had a 200 foot incline over the course of a mile. That was super hard and probably harder than this one will be…..I digress. This race that I am challenging myself to has a 600 ft incline gain over 4 of 10 miles. Did I just write that? Wait! Go back and let’s say that slowly together shall we….
“h a s a 6 0 0 f o o t g a i n o v e r 4 m i l e s”
I have lost my mind but I’ll be suffering with my friends and away on a girls weekend so it will make for some great laughs in the ambulance ride home that night… I’m kidding! It will be fun and how do I know if I can or can’t do it until I actually try to do it right?? RIGHT! So here begins my super charged workouts for core core core and some serious hill work so I don’t die. I’m actually kind of excited about the challenge. I’ve been running for almost 6 years now and all my races have been “safe” ones. I don’t usually take on scary race routes but maybe it’s time I do! If I can do this then I’m definitely moving the Marine Corps Marathon from the “potential races to run if ever I’m brave enough or dumb enough to run a marathon” bucket to the “hell yeah this one is definitely a contender when the time comes” bucket! I was more concerned with being able to run with friends than I was with the course, after all it’s an inaugural, how bad can it be. Lesson learned. Secondly, this race is in NOVEMBER. November in VT that is. It’s like the arctic compared to where I am even though I live in New England. Vermont is a separate planet to me sort of like Wisconsin or Michigan. In fact I just looked it up and the average HIGH in Stowe VT in the entire month of November is 33 degrees. In 2015 it was a 57 / 46 hi low split but last year it was a 33 / 22 day. I guess it’s a crap shoot on whether or not my tears will be freezing or not as I cry my way to mile 5! LOL
Running has brought me friends who understand my passion, don’t criticize me when I do things that seem odd just to run and who support my new bad habit of obsessing over running gear. Hanging out with these ladies is worth this mother effing hill! It’s all good. Besides I’m looking forward to seeing how much I can push myself to accomplish. It might just be the thing that makes me braver and bolder and imagine what I’ll be able to do if I can do this without walking or stopping …actually imagine if I just finish! Bring it on baby! I’m ready to step it up….literally!
When you’ve been running for a while you begin to know how fast you’re going based on how hard you’re breathing. You don’t need your devices to tell you because you can feel it. You don’t need a running app to tell you how far you’ve gone because you’ve run so long that you know exactly where the mile markers are even if it’s a newer route based on how you feel in part. My watch is cracked so I can’t touch the running option on the activity screen. I need a new piece of glass and soon so I can use my watch like I want to again. Until that’s fixed I have been using either Map my run or RunGo to get my splits. On Friday I noticed that after a mile the RunGo was way off on the mile markers, like way off in the half mile range. POOP! So it happened again and I decided to use my watch’s interval option which is on the part of my watch that doesn’t run under the crack and still responds to my touch. I have started running one mile intervals and stopping to log my splits properly. I stop rather that pause because with RunGo there is no pause option. The timer keeps going while you decide if you are going to stop or just keep running. If you stop, the time stops at the point where you pressed the stop button. If you choose to keep running, the app lets the time keep running which includes the time you stopped. GRRRR. OK, so I switched apps and put on Map My Run and wouldn’t you know it…it too was wonky after a perfectly timed mile. I KNOW where my miles are and where it marked my 2nd mile was actually only 1.5 miles. So frustrating but whatever. I just stopped every mile to mark the time and made the best of it. I am really grateful that I know where my markers are so I can mickey mouse my miles until I’m fixed. Running problems, everyone has them. It’s all in how you handle them. I could have scrapped my run 2 miles in and halfed my scheduled run but instead I made due and actually enjoyed my run much more.