My Second Official DNS, Doctor’s Orders, and an Update Rolled into One!

**This is an old entry I never published, so this is a couple weeks late but there are new things afoot that I wanted to add with updates, so…here we go!**

Please note that this first part was written early January:

It pains me to even write this, but my time has finally come to take a step back and rest. After years of running pain-free, I finally have an injury that is going to sideline me for a while. The day after Christmas, I woke up with extreme back pain. I couldn’t bend over, and any effort caused extreme amounts of pain. My back muscles were spasming and compressing SO tightly around my lower back, it was hard to do anything without teeth-clenching pain; even the easiest things like leaning over the sink to wash my face (I had to prop myself up with one hand) or even to put on socks…it was nearly impossible without a lot of slow, painful effort. It’s so funny, because I have absolutely zero idea what caused it. I just woke up and it was there.

After a couple days, I finally bit the bullet to see my family doctor. While I wasn’t able to get an official MRI, I definitely have sacrolititis (an inflammation of my sacroiliac joint, which is the area where the lower spine and pelvis meet), a lumbosacral strain, and sciatica, as well as a very likely slipped disc (which would only be determined officially by MRI, which is a long and arduous process for insurance to approve). She said that my muscles were spasming/seizing and working very hard to keep the disc in place. I was told under no circumstances to do my marathons next weekend, even if it was a slow walk. Honestly, I can maybe walk 2 mph if I tried right now, so there’s no way I could even try without making things a lot worse.

I was given a cocktail of steroids, muscle relaxers and prescription painkillers (which I really hesitate to use, and only WILL use at home so I don’t have to worry about driving or concentrating at work), as well as at least four weeks of physical therapy two to three times a week. No running. Nothing strenuous. Just rest and recover.

This is a very hard thing for me to do, but I am in so much pain I realized I have no choice but to obey her orders. I was able to cancel the flights, hotel and rental car. I was able to defer for Mississippi Blues to 2017 with zero financial penalties, and First Light was happy to issue me a refund (by check!) with best wishes for a speedy recovery. Whew, that was a huge relief.

So now I am simply committing myself to getting back on my feet, sticking to the PT and hopefully won’t need to see the doctor after my treatment.

OK here’s what I’m up to since then!

It’s been a less than two weeks since my DNS at Mississippi Blues and First Light. I haven’t done ANY running yet, but I have been making sure I walk 2-5 miles at least every other day, as well as continue stretching and doing my PT exercises. While the pain is substantially less, I am still a bit stiff in the morning and can still feel the wonky back issues.

My goal is to start incorporating walk/run intervals into my training starting February 8. I don’t know how much conditioning I might lose but I am definitely doing my best to be as active as I am allowed to be…I’m not doing any core work or weights, and walking is pretty much the only cardio I am doing for now. Fortunately walking has been pain-free, which is great.

Also…it’s weird, but I’m not depressed. I am actually getting back into some old hobbies and embracing some passions that were lit a LONG time ago but died out due to my running kind of taking over my life a little!

I used to be very artistic and into crafting, and have been wanting to make my own custom jewelry and hair accessories for a long time. I absolutely love accessorizing in a fun and unique way, and did it a lot when I was in high school, but it can be expensive to keep up with it. Any girl from my generation can just envision Claudia Kishi from the Babysitter’s Club books…yeah, that’s me, more or less. So I am going to start working on making my own custom jewelry and hair accessories as a side hobby, not just for myself, but also for gifting, and eventually selling. My younger sister is majorly into knitting and crocheting and makes fantastic items with her hobby: beautifully knit hats, gloves, leg warmers, etc. So between the two of us, we are working toward creating an inventory and hopefully/eventually opening up an online shop by the end of the summer for holiday shopping. The whole theme is simply: “cute”…cute everything with a dash of steampunk thrown in on the side. We have a lot of ideas and will spend the next several months working on building a solid inventory.

I am also busy helping my brother edit his novel. Since I am actually an editor by trade it was a perfect opportunity to step in and help, and it’s been very enjoyable for me to read and immerse myself in the story and see my brother’s talents come alive. There is something to be said when you are emotionally affected by events that occur in a fictional tale, and this book definitely has tugged at my sensitive heartstrings. Plus I really feel like it’s bringing us closer as siblings! The same can be said for my sister, since we started collaborating with the crafting ideas, we have been in contact on a daily basis throughout the day.

In short, it’s just been wonderful to feel close to my family again, and not alienated because of my running schedule, which took up so many of my weekends.

So I will, of course, keep you posted on all of that as things progress. I will begin training for a local half marathon in mid-April and will have a full marathon in late May. So I WILL be back to running, but at the same time I think it’s OK to take a step back and NOT allow running to take over my life. It really did for a while, to the point of KIND of overtaking every aspect of my free time. It was hard to tell friends and family that I couldn’t socialize because of a race or travel for an event. But now, all of a sudden, I can cut back, allow myself some room to breathe, create, organize, and socialize. It’s kind of nice to suddenly have some balance and perspective, and not feel like I need to dedicate every second to training.

So who knows, maybe it’s good that this back injury happened. I feel like all things, good or bad, happen for a purpose. I need to embrace whatever comes my way and just go with it, take opportunity when it strikes, and use my talents that I was given and use it to my advantage.

I can’t wait to see where this little chapter of my life takes me!

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Good News Everyone! My First Bizarro Book Club Review is Live!

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For those of you who had an interest in my separate Bizarro Book Club blog that I’m working on with my friend Sam, please feel free to mosey on over to my first official review and pass it along to your friends and family in any way you can. Please feel free to follow the blog, make comments, and enjoy! We would love to see the book club spread like wildfire and will encourage future guests to contribute.

http://bizarrobookclub.blogspot.com/2015/08/beckas-review-twilight.html

Any suggestions for future readings are more than welcome! Thanks for any support for my little side project, I’ve been having a lot of fun working on it so far!

 

 

Playing Catch Up

Summer has been flying by pretty fast, hard to believe that it’s almost Labor Day already! But that also means race season has finally arrived for the majority of us who were sane enough to avoid summer races, and many runners are just starting their training for their respective events. There are only hundreds to choose from in any part of the country, and the Northeast is no exception.

I figured I would post a quick entry to sort of bring things up to date for me, as this fall will be INCREDIBLY challenging for me, but also exciting!

The Ultra that Wasn’t

A couple weeks ago I did my first timed event, a six-hour trail run on a 10k loop, as many as you could handle. My goal, initially, was a 50k, but after the first loop, which I found to be hilly, challenging and far more technical than I had anticipated, I only managed to run a 40k within the time limit. It was an absolutely beautiful course in the woods, with lots of ascents and descents, but also a lot of rocks, roots, and very few smooth running surfaces. The temperature was also quite humid and warm, so I had my Camelbak for the duration of the event. We were also able to set up a “base camp” of sorts, with food, water, Gatorade, chairs, anything we needed, so at each loop I took a few minutes to get my bearings, fuel up, and prepare for the next loop. My friend M also ran the event with me, and she did her longest run ever that day, a full three loops, which was close to 19 miles. I was very proud of her, and was happy that she did the final loop with me. I had taken a hard fall during the third loop (I swear I tripped over nothing and flew like Superman for half a second before landing with an oof! on the group) and I was feeling dirty, bruised and demoralized. I don’t think I could have done a fourth loop without some serious moral support from M, and she really came through for me. I swear I walked a good portion of that last loop…I felt like I walked more than 50% of the time anyway, I was just not taking risks with the terrain.

We finished at as the clock hit 5:36. I was so happy to strip the Camelbak from my aching shoulders and see Chris waiting for us at the finish line. It felt so good to be done; I couldn’t get over how much harder trail running was compared to roads. I felt slow, clumsy, and inadequate. But fortunately I found the trail runners to be kind, friendly and supportive. If (or in my case, WHEN) they passed, they always said kind words of encouragement, there was little arrogance to be found that day. I also saw a LOT of people were quite banged up and bloody at the finish line. One guy looked like he might have broken his nose. I can’t even imagine how he kept running and how lucky he was that he didn’t knock himself out cold in the woods. Trust me, you’re running around in a whole lotta nothin’, as beautiful as that may be, it’s still very, very isolated and could be a long time before another runner comes along if you suddenly are injured. I felt as if I ran a good portion of the event all on my lonesome.

We stuck around for a short while and I actually won a raffle prize (running socks I have yet to use!), and then the biggest surprise: M and I actually got age group awards. I was floored. I have to laugh a little in hindsight, as who knows if there were only three in my AG to begin with, but I think there were actually a few more. Hey, a medal is a medal and I was happy to receive one even if I felt like I performed terribly that day. I also was so happy to meet one of my supportive Twitter buddies, Beth, that day. It was so cool to finally meet her, and we exchanged info once we parted ways. I truly hope we can cross paths again!

I should say, too, recovery was ROUGH that week. It took me a good five days to feel I could run pain-free. Usually I bounce back from road races fast, but this time it was painful to even WALK the next day. I hurt in places I didn’t even know existed, since trail running uses muscles that road running totally ignores. All I could think all week was “OH. MY. QUADS.” It was like the Montana marathon recovery all over again.

Dietary Changes for the Better

I had been having a lot of GI issues the past few weeks, and rather than see the specialist right away I figured I would just sort of keep track of when I had distress and what possibly could have triggered it. I came to the conclusion that it was probably dairy through process of elimination and some detective work, so I decided to take dairy out of my diet. It wasn’t that incredibly hard, but I did love things like cheese and sour cream and it was somewhat hard to part with them.  I made some substitutes, and found that certain meal replacements (like a veggie and hummus sammy for breakfast instead of egg and cheese, or guacamole instead of cheese and sour cream) were actually still pretty substantial and satisfying. I even learned how to bake my chocolate chip blondies with vegan substitutes (yes, chia seed eggs are a thing).  So I’ll see if this does the trick with my GI issues and if things continue I may have to bite the bullet and see the specialist. But so far so good!

Race Challenges Ahead

While I am not an official ultrarunner yet, I soon will be come hell or high water. On my birthday in May I ran 39 miles, and that may technically define me as an ultrarunner, I have yet to complete an event that consists of an actual sanctioned ultra.  This fall, I will have a pretty hefty amount of events on my plate, and fortunately they will actually benefit my other events as training runs…so not too many ridiculous high mileage weekends if I can help it! And trust me, I love my rest days and down time like nobody’s business.

September: Full marathon (trail, but an “easy” rails-to-trails course like North Central Railroad Trail was in MD)

October: Trail 50k, 12-hour endurance trail run, full marathon (road). All in a three week time period. Because the Pope is visiting Philadelphia in late September (SO much more of a cluster than that sounds I promise), the 12-hour was moved to mid-October, right in between my 50k and marathon, so why not,  right? But that also means my goals for the 12-hour will probably shift a bit. I initially wanted to run 50 miles but think after my six-hour expectations were crushed, I need to be more realistic with my approach. My goal is now 40 miles, and anything after that is a bonus. I can see that being a very attainable goal over the course of 12 hours, and will just have to see what this course looks like before I can determine its difficulty and whether or not I need to adjust my mileage goal that day. I plan on not going full speed ahead but enjoying a little downtime between loops. Considering I have a 50k the weekend before, and need to recover for a full marathon for the weekend after, I HAVE to shorten my mileage goals a bit anyway. This is not a heart-breaking decision by any means.

November: A full marathon and then a 39.3 mile weekend with a half and full marathon in one weekend…a Goofy Challenge of sorts. These are all occurring over the course of 8 days. So…yeah.

After that, a much-needed holiday break is on tap until January, where I will be running two marathons in one weekend in early January. Or more like run/walking them…but earning the new state medals nonetheless. So December will be some back-to-back long run weekends to get myself prepared for that.

It’s a bit daunting to see this all on paper, but I will say I have been continuing my steadfast training and making sure I get plenty of rest and downtime with friends and family when I have free time. I haven’t felt too burnt out just yet, and made sure to schedule some time off so I don’t have to jump right back to work the day after an event.

New Blog to Bring Out my Snarky Side

Lastly, as previously announced, I am working on a second blog with one of my girlfriends, which you can check out here. It’s finally almost up and running, and we can also be followed on Twitter as well. It’s kind of tough to separate my gluten-free/celiac/runner side from the “self-loathing hipster book and video game nerd” side, but I am doing my best to keep these things separate with the Twitter accounts and blogs. I’m really hoping to see it grow as time goes on. Reading is a huge passion of mine, as much as running, and it’s fun to be able to share my thoughts with readers on things I’ve been “forced” to read.

I will be sure to post updates once these races are complete, and in the meantime, I am very much ready to bid farewell to summer and welcome autumn with open arms.

Major Life Milestone: 20-Year Anniversary (Platinum Edition)

This will definitely age me, but a very special day is coming for me next week: my 20-year wedding anniversary. Yes, friends, this girl has been married for 20 years; I’ve spent over half my life with my husband Chris, who is my very best friend in the world. I can at least say when people discover the length of time we have been married, they assume I was 10 or  12 years old when we exchanged vows, so that’s an uber-compliment right there.

I love being able to say that we met before internet was mainstream. In fact, we were pen pals on different coasts (he lived on the West Coast and I was on the East Coast). What are these “letters” you ask? They involved pen, paper, an envelope and a stamp. Such an antiquated means of communication! Yet, to this day, I still have all the letters we wrote to one another in a shoebox.

I feel like this day will be a huge milestone for me. More than running milestones or career milestones, but standing the test of time through good times and bad, and as the years pass we fell more and more in love and sync with one another, and we know each other so incredibly well that we can literally read each other’s thoughts and finish each other’s sentences. Fights rarely happen, and when they do, they are a learning experience and we simply add the stone to strengthen the foundation of our marriage. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s never been a perfect fairytale life whatsoever, but it’s been a wonderful journey together. We’ve grown, changed, evolved, and became better people just by being together.

I am so thankful for every morning I am able to wake up with him warm and breathing next to me. He’s cheated death many times in our relationship, from cancer to almost being killed by a drunk driver. And yet, he is still with me, he’s meant to be with me, there’s a reason for his being by my side. And for that I am eternally grateful. I know it won’t last forever, but dammit, I am making sure every single day with him counts, and treat it like it will be my last with him. I never leave the house without saying “I love you”, because I never know if that will be the last thing I say to him, so it may as well be the simplest and most important statement you can convey…just three little words that could possibly last an eternity.

Sweetie, thank you so much for your love and support over the years we’ve been together. You’ve stood in the heat, wind and rain to spectate my marathons, you have brought me so much affection and laughter, you’ve never stopped supporting me with all of your heart. You say at least once a day that you’re the luckiest husband in the world, and that I’m the best wife in the world, and I know that you absolutely mean it. Thanks for always making me laugh, cheering me up after a bad day, and helping to push me forward when I felt like I couldn’t run another step. I couldn’t ask for a better soulmate in my life, sometimes I think we know one another better than we know ourselves. Thank you for your patience, kindness, love, sense of humor…and for helping to shape me into the person I am today.

Here’s to 20 more years together…Toasting Champagne Flutes Png Champagne bott

My 50 States Goal: Pulling Back the Reins in Order to Enjoy the Ride

For a few years now I have been hellbent on my 50 states marathon goal, and have been really loving the journey. But now this goal will start to get harder as more and more of them will involve extensive travel since they are out west, and most of the races within driving distance have been crossed off my list already. I will be running State #22 in a few weeks, which I think is pretty great, but this year also marks a HUGE milestone in my life, my 20-year wedding anniversary. This means my husband and I will be taking a much needed trip that will not involve running or being with family and friends, but just a trip for the two of us. Trust me when I say I absolutely can’t wait!

Because of this trip, I won’t be able to spend as much on traveling for races…and for some reason I am actually content with that. There’s a little part of me that is OK with running races closer to home, and maybe only getting to run a few new states in one year instead of banzai-ing all over the place and feeling rushed to get it done sooner rather than later. The one state I can easily get done in a weekend, Connecticut, I may just wait and save that one for last, simply because Hartford loves to treat those who save CT for last with some nice little incentives.

While the goal is by no means squashed, I decided I want to start working on some bigger goals that will help prepare me for 2016. In 2016 I want to possibly do two back-to-back weekends (two marathons in two states in one weekend, in this case Mississippi and Alabama and then Washington and Oregon) mainly to save on travel costs. The only way I can safely do this is by training smart and by prepping my body for ultra-running. For years I have been wanting to run a 50k (as well as a 100-mile week), and now I think 2015 will be the year to do this. Not only will I be tackling a 50k, but I also want to run a 12-hr challenge…there are two separate 12-hour races that I am looking at and I would like to do both as long as I train smart and take it easy. That’s how I learned to run multiple marathons within a short time frame (the shortest being three weeks, which to most Maniacs isn’t much, but for most runners it can be a challenge); so rather than treat every race like a race, I treat some of them like easy long runs and my body is very happy with this approach.

So for this year? Probably only three new states: Maine, South Carolina, and either Iowa or Nebraska. Then a lot of local races throughout the year, ranging from half marathons to 12 hour endurance events; hell, I may even run the Philly Marathon again for fun…I feel a twinge of nostalgia every year it rolls around and I’m not there. I’m not too sad about the idea of only three new states (because I’ll be at the halfway point!), as I feel that I can easily play a little “catch-up” with the back to back races in 2016.

So 2015 will be the year of the trail runs, building endurance, and staying well-rested and sane. Running local events with friends. Pushing myself to the limit of what I never thought possible while avoiding burnout. Not allowing anything to stand in my way. Staying happy, healthy and excited about what the next year will bring.

I know it can be done, and I look forward to sharing the journey with you!

How Running, in Part, Saved My Life

Sorry to bring the room down, but it’s time to step back a bit and address some serious issues in light of recent news of the tragic passing of Robin Williams.

Depression was not a stranger to me, but much like Dexter, it was a Dark Passenger. It’s actually been a part of my life for a very long time, and I know all too well how enticing Its grip can be, how it can lull you into your own private world of complete hopelessness and despair, and how everything around you seems gray, miserable, and without meaning. I have dealt with it since I was a teenager, and even when I was married and the world around me couldn’t have been rosier, I still felt this sense of sadness and despondency that I couldn’t quite shake. It was very easy to just stare at a wall for hours and feel nothing. Think about suicide. Think about nothing else BUT suicide. Feel totally useless and no good to anyone. The world would never miss me if I checked out. What’s the point of living? What’s the point of anything? Depression really had a grip on me and I never thought I would be free from It. Even with an amazing and loving husband and family, good friends, and a lot in life to be thankful for, I still felt this hollow nothingness inside me that couldn’t be filled. I would shed tears for no reason, and felt like the flood of sadness could never cease. It was like Depression was winning, and It oftentimes seemed to have the upper hand.

Years ago I decided to take up running.  All it took was a song while walking on the treadmill at the gym, Iggy Pop’s “Little Know It All”. I can’t say why, but it just made me want to burst into a run and keep going, and I assure you I  was never, ever a runner before this. That feeling, that explosion of energy, was euphoric, it lifted something inside me that I hadn’t felt in a long time, and I kept up with it. Running definitely wasn’t easy at first, and it was one of those things that I needed to get INTO to appreciate, but once I got into it, and once I really devoted myself to it…I honestly feel like it changed me. I felt different… lighter… happier. Running became my sanctuary, the trails were like a church and being alone on the trails was like conversing with nature and connecting with unseen, greater things that I didn’t understand. It molded me into someone stronger after years of self-hatred, anxiety, sadness and self-doubt.  I felt joy again! I could laugh again, and provide laughter for others. Running was something that I feel helped to save my life. Not only running, but obviously the love, patience and support from my husband, family and friends who knew of my struggles. But thank goodness these things convened into one bright, shining force that drove away the darkness, much like a Harry Potter’s Patronus.

When people struggle with depression, it’s something that you can’t understand unless you’ve experienced it for yourself. I know how it feels to be surrounded by love and positivity, yet feel completely sad, dejected and alone at the same time. I totally know how it feels to be loved…and to not love and accept myself. I feel to love oneself is truly one of the final steps in being freed from the bonds of depression.But it’s easier said than done, and oftentimes can’t be done alone.

I can only hope that Williams’ tragic passing will raise more awareness about depression and suicide, and get people the help they need. We can no longer gloss over depression and act as if people are just “sad” or “weak” when they are struggling so desperately, drowning in a sea of despair . Depression is very real, very crippling, and very deadly. And if you don’t understand that, and think of it as pure weakness that people “can’t get over it” and move on with their lives, then you really need to do some soul-searching. You really need to think long and hard about the kind of person you are, and the kind of compassion you are lacking. It’s not as simple as a light switch that you can turn off and on. I know this. It a hard road to overcome.

If you suffer from depression, please seek help in any way you can. Help can be found in a variety of ways, and not every means of treating depression is the same for every individual. Depression is not something to be ashamed of, and it’s not something you in which you should hide.  If you know someone with depression, or have a sense that someone you love could be struggling with it, reach out to them. Let them know their value to you, let them know you care. Listen. Learn. Love. And most of all, be patient. It’s not an easy thing to conquer and the walls don’t come down in a day.

It takes a lot of strength to pull oneself out of the grip of depression, and while I sometimes still find It looming dangerously at my back, I simply do what I can to outrun it. In this way, in part, running saved me and allowed me to live my life again. Most importantly it helped me learn to love myself, something that I struggled with for decades.  That in itself I look back upon as miraculous.

Be well.

And lastly, thank you, Robin Williams, for providing a lifetime of laughter to so many. You will not be forgotten, but remembered with fondness, laughter, and smiles.  You will be missed.

 

Playing Catch Up…Again

I realize it’s been a while since I’ve written an entry (two whole months to be exact!). To be honest, I’ve been very busy, but also very unmotivated, and it has been a struggle. I earned a couple more marathon states, got a new autoimmune disease diagnosis, and have been working on a new training plan while recovering from a minor running injury. While I WILL eventually write my race recaps (I don’t know why these are so hard for me, but they truly are…it can be kind of hard to write about a small race where the miles just sort of blur together) I figured I would play some catch up.

But here’s the skinny on my life as of late:

!) I have a new auto-immune disease called Sjögren’s syndrome. I was bluntly told by the rheumatologist that if you have one autoimmune disease (and I already have celiac disease,so it’s a little more common with us 1%ers), you usually have a couple more, so this is at least one of them. Sjögren’s is actually a little more common than celiac, and affects over 4 million people (in fact, Venus Williams has it and has spoken out about the difficulties she’s faced with it). It is a disease that eventually destroys the exocrine glands that create natural moisture for the body, meaning salivary and tear ducts to name a few. Other symptoms include arthritis in the hands (check), joint pain, and extreme fatigue (oh yes, double check). People with Sjögren’s often also have or eventually develop lupus, thyroid disease, and sometimes even more serious things like lymphoma…something else I just may get to look forward to down the road, but let’s just take one thing at a time, shall we? I can’t live my life worrying about what-ifs. After all, my husband has much potential to develop lymphoma as well, thanks to all of his cancer treatments, but we simply can’t wring our hands and worry every day about this possibility. You just need to live one day at a time.

Overall I’d say the fatigue has been the most crippling. I honestly feel like a narcoleptic some days, and it’s pretty frightening. You know that buzzy, jet-lagged feeling you get when you go for over 24 hours without sleep? That’s how I feel almost all the time. If I have a weekday where I need to do a training run in the afternoon, I have to sleep at LEAST an hour before I can handle it.  I really hate feeling this need to sleep my life away, because I honestly used to think I was a person full of boundless energy, and lately I feel like I can barely get through the day. I’m hoping when I see the doctor in a couple weeks I can address the issue and he can advise how to battle the fatigue. I find it’s really been putting a damper on my quality of life and drive to achieve my goals.

But I’ve been getting a handle on it, got some new prescriptions and hopefully will adjust in time. I love how I went from happily being med-free to suddenly having to go to CVS ALL the time! Between Chris and I, we’re like old people WAY before our time. It’s almost laughable. Almost.

2) Speaking of goals, I ran my 20th marathon and 17th state on June 14th. I returned to Feud Country and ran the Hatfield McCoy reunion marathon in order to earn West Virginia, and it was definitely worth it. I got to meet some Twitter friends, fellow Maniacs, and really enjoyed the weekend…I just ran it with a shin issue and Asics that were way past their prime, and pretty much ran myself into a two week recovery period where I wasn’t able to run because I developed a calf strain that took some time to heal. But the two week healing period was very beneficial for me, which I will explain.

3) I decided to change my training plan for my upcoming marathon season. In the past I relied on lots of mileage, and…that’s it. No yoga, no cross training, no weights, no stretching. I had the stamina and endurance to run and complete a marathon, but I have sort of hit a wall as to my finish times. When I PR’d back in 2011 (sigh, ah the sweet memory) that was also the year I did a full 3 months of P90X and high mileage training. My body held on to that conditioning and I ran a sub-4 easily. While I can’t commit to marathon training AND P90X, I do want to focus on more weights, yoga and cross training so I am a more well-rounded runner. So instead of running 6-7 days a week, I’m running 5. I am maxing out my top weekly mileage at 60 for the week so I can spend more time on my conditioning. I’m dedicating time to yoga, arms, core strength and leg strength. I’m even getting back into Pilates on my longer mileage days. Has it helped? Only time will tell. Has it hurt? Absolutely not. I’m currently still working on walk/run intervals with my running to ensure I won’t have a relapse with the calf, but it’s been going well, and I’m hoping I can start working a little more on speed.

4) Nutrition-wise I am doing well, and eating pretty clean. I’m trying to focus more on healthy fats and lean protein, and my afternoon snacks (which used to be very carb-y things like bowls of cereal or tortilla chips and hummus) are now things like spoonful of peanut butter or an ounce of cheese or almonds. And after years of letting it collect dust, Chris and I are now using the slow cooker more. In the summer it’s tough to cook, but the slow cooker keeps the kitchen cool, and also yields a TON of leftovers. So Monday is his day to get that thing running so we can have leftovers for a good part of the week. Leftovers means much more time for me to focus on training and getting extra rest, plus it’s great to have him help with the cooking!

So for now, that’s it. I have a lull with races until September, and then it officially kicks in with a possible four marathons this fall (three I’m officially registered, the other I’m 90% sure I’m running it). So I’m hoping with a strong training plan, good nutrition focusing on lots of whole foods, lean protein and good fats (avocados are seriously my favorite food!), plus extra rest when I need it, will allow me to start running better and reach that sub-4 goal again someday. Will I PR this year? Doubtful, as the races are all hilly and challenging, but I won’t know until I get there. In the meantime, I’m just going to work hard, persevere, enjoy the journey, and never give up!