Tuesday, December 31, 2013

confession time

As 2013 is coming to a close I, like many people, have been thinking a lot about the past year and what it has meant for me.  I have grown a lot as a runner, and as a person this year.  I have referenced in many posts how I have become more confident, mostly because of running and the running family I have found.  I finally feel comfortable in my own skin and abilities, and am not afraid to say this is me.  When I wrote that very first post in March, in this attempt at blogging, I'm not sure I believed everything I typed.  I wanted to believe it.  I wanted so badly to be the confident person I felt was inside of me somewhere.  Now, as I type this last post of 2013, I can honestly say I am me…and I am very much ok with that.

With all of that being said, a large part of why I started this blog was to try to be more open and honest with myself and with others.  There is one pretty big secret that I have wanted to share since my first post.  I have hinted at it a few times, I have though about writing about it, but could never find the motivation, or the strength to fully let it out.  A few recent doctor appointments, a new confidence, and my desire to help others has lead me to feel as though this is the right time.  Some details may be left out, some I may not remember, some will be very difficult to share, and equally as difficult to read, but I'll do my best.  

For a long time, this was me...

I don't really remember a time when I was comfortable with my body.  I remember being probably 9 or 10 at gymnastics camp, comparing my body to my teammate's.  Growing up in a leotard, you become very aware of every imperfection.  I don't know where these thoughts came from initially.  I don't remember ever being told I needed to lose weight.  I can't pinpoint exactly where or when it all began.  But I do remember that day at camp, and I do know since then it's been an ongoing battle.  Twenty plus years of putting yourself and your body down is exhausting.

Through high school I had periods of gaining weight and losing weight.  Going in to my senior year, I lost a fair amount of weight by restricting what I ate and counting calories.  After many years of believing I was too heavy, I had my first taste of restricting calories and seeing results because of it.  I went through most of my senior year this way, until the stress of going to college caused me to forget about counting calories, and instead doing quite the opposite.  I ate what I wanted, I drank what I wanted, and as a result, I gained weight.  During the first 2 years of college I remember hating what I saw, but not really doing anything about it.  I was desperately trying to fit in, and meet friends, while hating myself and my appearance.  I didn't want to be away at school, I didn't know what I wanted to do, and I began to withdraw a little more each day.  I felt like I didn't belong.

After returning home from my second year of college in 2003, I started to run, workout, and attempted to lose weight.  As I began to lose weight, I also became more strict with what I was eating.  I returned to school to live in a house with three other girls, one of which had joined weight watchers over the summer.  She was successful with her weight loss, and was counting points for all the food she ate.  Looking back now, I realize this was not a good environment for me to be in, because it only added fuel to my fire.  I remember being complimented by many about how great I looked after loosing weight over the summer.  While I agreed I looked better, the voice in my head would tell me I'd look even better after loosing a few more pounds.  I began spending more time in my room, and reading message boards for "thinspiration".  I only allowed myself to eat certain foods, I counted every calorie, I went to the gym early in the morning to avoid as many people as possible, and I began to lose interest in the things that I once enjoyed.  I grew increasingly moody due to the lack of food and always feeling hungry.  All I could focus on was what I was going to eat that day and how much.  At the time I didn't see anything wrong with this.

When I returned home for Christmas break, I continued to follow my new eating habits, counting calories, and spending a lot of time on the treadmill.  The thought of returning to school in January gave me a lot of anxiety.  I became depressed.  Nothing felt right anymore.  I didn't want to see my friends.  I didn't want to be around anyone.  I spent most of my time in my room, on my computer, reading about people with eating disorders, looking at pictures of thin actresses, and believing being thin like them would make me happy.  I spoke to my mom and told her that I didn't want to return to school in January, and I didn't.  I got a job working at a (not so busy) tanning salon 5 hours a day M-F.  A good day for me was waking up, eating a few bites of food, or none at all, going to work, coming home around 2:30, eating a very planned out "lunch" of 200 or so calories, going for a run to burn them all off, staying in my room until "dinner" and going to bed having consumed 800-850 calories that day.  Anything more than that and I was upset.  I lost a lot of weight.  

Two of my friends grew increasingly concerned and decided to call my mom to inform her of what was going on.  My mom had noticed I was losing weight, but I think maybe she was in denial of what was going on.  The three of them confronted me and urged me to get help.  At the time I was angry.  I reluctantly agreed to see a therapist to keep everyone quiet.  (I have tremendous guilt now for the hurt that I caused to the people I love the most from my selfish behavior, and inability to see anything else but my disorder.  Many people tried to help me, and I would not accept it.)        

Over the next few months I saw a therapist weekly, I was put on antidepressants, and I began gaining weight.  I was constantly watched.  I felt like a prisoner in my home and my body.  I didn't know what to do.  And then I did something that I will forever regret.  I made myself throw up after feeling as though I had eaten too much.  I don't remember exactly when it occurred, or where I was.  I do know it took a couple of tries before I was "successful" for the first time.  This began what I consider to be the darkest years of my life.  It's very difficult for me to talk about.  It's disgusting, shameful, and embarrassing.  I wish it had never happened that first time.

I thought this was my way out.  This was my way to eat when I needed to in front of people, and then get rid of it after.  Well, it didn't take long before I was making myself vomit multiple times a day, some days up to 5 or 6 times.  I would stuff myself with large amounts of food, vomit, and repeat.  It was awful.  This went on for a couple of years, until I was confronted by my mom once again.  I had never felt so ashamed in my entire life.  However, I couldn't stop.  I realize that sounds ridiculous, and it is probably hard to imagine if you've never experienced anything like this.  Eating disorders grab a hold of you and don't ever let go.  It is a constant battle quieting the voices that tell you you're not good enough and you need to lose weight.  At the time, it is difficult to imagine the potential for lifelong effects.  All your mind can focus on is food and weight.  Nothing else matters.  It's an addiction, just like drinking or smoking.  The difficult part about eating disorders is that you can't avoid food completely to brake the addiction.

I never really felt the effects of what I was doing until recently.  Over the years, the self-induced vomiting became less frequent, but would still occur from time to time.  I wanted to be healthy, but after years of being extremely unhealthy, I didn't really know how.  August 17, 2013 was the last time I made myself vomit.  Admitting that fact is one of the hardest things I have ever done.  My secret is out.  The following day (Sunday), I ran a terrible race and am lucky that nothing bad happened to me due to being extremely dehydrated.  After many many years of restricting calories and eating then purging, I finally felt the effect of the damage I was doing to my body.  After that race I made a promise to myself that I would NEVER force myself to vomit again.  I have not done so since.

About a month ago, I went to a GI doctor try to figure out a cause of the stomach and digestion issues I have been experiencing for years.  I had blood drawn, a colonoscopy, and upper endoscopy.  What they found was inflammation in my esophagus from stomach acid, as well as inflammation in my intestines.  I was diagnosed with IBS, and given two different prescriptions to take.  One every day in the morning, and one before each meal.  I am very certain that this is due to the years and years of abuse I put my GI system through.  Now, I have to deal with the lifelong consequences, and the daily stomach discomfort.  

Why am I sharing all this?  Mostly for myself as a final attempt to close the door on a rough chapter of my life, and look towards a better, healthier, more confident future.  The other reason is for the hope that I could help even just one person to see how horrible and dangerous eating disorders are.  They absolutely are not worth it.  They do not help anyone in any way.  I gave away too many years of my life and the only things I got in return are a damaged GI tract, scars on my knuckles from making myself vomit, way too many unpleasant memories, embarrassment, shame, and guilt.  Eating disorders are very real and very dangerous.  They are difficult to talk about, but I think awareness is very important.

I know that the bad thoughts will return from time to time, but I feel fully ready and willing to put up a fight and tell them to go away.  It's been a very long road, but I finally feel like I have won.

If you have any questions, please ask, I will do my best to answer them.    

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Jingle Bell Half

On Saturday, December 14, I ran the Jingle Bell Half Marathon in Atkinson, NH.  My friend, Lori, had asked me if I wanted to do it with her.  I was a little unsure about committing to a half marathon in December, in NH, but she had just committed to running the Vermont City Marathon with me in the spring, so I figured I owed her one.  The Jingle Bell Half would be my last race of 2013, and put an end to a long, but rewarding, year of racing.

As race day approached, I became more excited about having one more half marathon to finish out the year.  My training lately has been going great, and I've been seeing and feeling a lot of improvements.  I PR'd the half marathon in Boston at Boston's Run to Remember in May, but have struggled to finish close to that time since.  I only finished under 1:50 one other time this year recently, at the Seacoast Half Marathon in November.  I didn't verbalize a time goal for this race.  Most importantly, I just wanted to have fun and finish the year with a good memory.  But, in the back of my mind I know I was hoping to finish sub-1:50 and as close to my PR time as possible.

The week of the race, I did as most do, and began checking the weather forecast for Saturday.  Apparently Jack Frost wanted to remind us it was winter in NH.

I would have been happy if the temp had actually reached 15 degrees that day.  Instead, we were hit with 9 degrees at the start, and a balmy 12 degrees at the time of the finish.  It was cold.  Due to the weather, and the elevation chart I figured I should take a look at…

My goal for the race quickly turned in to:

Race morning began as most do.  Wake up, make coffee, drop a nuun tab in some water, check twitter, sit on the couch, eventually eat a gluten free bagel with peanut butter and jelly, then begin to get dressed and gather my race day essentials.  I dressed lightly for the hour ride to the race, but made sure to pack extra layers and a change of clothes for after so I didn't freeze on the ride home.  In case you're crazy like me, and end up running a half marathon in single digits…here's what worked for me: Oiselle new lesley tights, winona tank, 2 lux layers, and the flyer jacket.  I also wore a headband to cover my ears, gloves, and a neck warmer.  

Flyte tank instead of winona, and only one lux layer,
but these are my go-to layers to stay warm.

Thankfully, the race started (and finished) at the Atkinson Country Club.  This meant a warm room and bathrooms before the race, and motivation to run as fast as possible to return to the warmth after.  We stayed inside as long as possible, until we were told to get our butts to the starting line.  Ready or not, it was time to run.  

Lori and I staying warm for as long as possible

We gathered at the starting line somewhere around the middle of the pack.  We jumped up and down, did some last minute stretching, and thankfully after just a few minutes, it was time to go. 

This is my pretending to be excited face.

To my surprise, once we started running, I didn't feel as cold as I thought I was going to.  Again, thankfully, there was no wind, which helped make the cold somewhat bearable.  Lori was aiming for a PR and told me she was going to try to stick with me as long as possible.  When we started she took off and was in front of me for the first mile or two.  I didn't try to catch up to her, I've made that mistake in other races before.  I just tried to stay calm and run my own race.  Unfortunately, my Garmin was set on kilometers, which I didn't realize until I started running.  I decided to stop my watch, switch back to miles, and start it again at mile 1 so I would at least know what my pace was like.  So dumb.      

I don't remember much of the course.  It was mostly through residential areas.  There was a section that was on a main road, with cones along the right side of the road that we were supposed to stay inside of.  We basically had to run single file, which made it difficult to pass people.  I felt better than I had expected running up and down the rolling hills that were promised on this course.  Lori was now running right by my side, or slightly behind me until mile 8 or 9, which helped to push me forward.  It was around that time that my ears started to feel cold and I became very aware of just how cold it was.  Looking around, most people had frost on their headbands, hats, gloves, water bottles, and beards.  It was pretty funny actually, but also a constant reminder of how cold it was.  

At mile 8 I struggled to chew a shot block that was pretty frozen at that point.  So was the water I attempted to drink after.  I still felt good while running, but needed something to take my mind off the cold.  I pulled out my iPod and frozen ear buds and started listening to music that would carry me through the rest of the race.  The miles went by pretty quickly.  My face felt numb, but other than that I felt good.  I pulled up my neck warmer a few times to try to breath in to it and warm my face.  It worked for a couple minutes, but the cold air always found its way back in.  

Around mile 10 I started to pick up the pace a bit.  Since I didn't start my watch until the first mile, I wasn't really sure what my time was at that point, but I tried to figure it out based on what I thought I ran the first in.  I thought I would be close to a PR, and definitely sub-1:50 as long as nothing crazy happened.  I felt myself running faster with each mile…11…12…13.  I was passing people who had passed me earlier in the race.  As I climbed the last hill to the finish line I gave it all I had left.  

1:47:59…8:15 av pace.

Not quite a PR, but it is my second fastest half marathon time.  The course in Boston I PR'd on was the flattest half I've done, so given the elevation and the cold, this felt like a PR to me.  It was the perfect end to a year of racing.  

Side note: as I was typing this I tried to upload the data from my Garmin and it died (again).  I guess my splits are forever lost inside Garmin world.  Sad day.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

surprising myself

Earlier this year I ran my very first 5k on the 4th of July.  I didn't have any real expectations because I hadn't ran one before and I had no idea what to expect.  I was told they were brutal.  I knew I would be running hard for 3.1 miles, but beyond that I was pretty clueless.  I ran hard right from the start and crashed at the end.  I finished just under 24:00.  I actually enjoyed the race though and new I wanted to give it another shot.

I ran my second 5k in August and finished almost a minute faster at 23:01.  At the end of September I finished my third 5k in 22:19.  Obviously I was really excited to have finished each 5k faster than the last.  I never really thought I would enjoy running 5k's.  For some reason I had the mentality that if I was going to sign up for a race it should be a longer one.  Thankfully I decided to give the 5k thing a shot.  I think it's becoming one of my favorite distances to race (not just because of the improved times…although I'm sure that has a lot to do with it).

Thanksgiving day I ran my 4th 5k of the year.  I was super excited for this race because it was going to be my first Turkey Trot and I was planning to meet up with Stephanie before the race.  I met Stephanie at her dad's crossfit gym where they were staying warm before the start of the race.  It was around 25 degrees that day and super windy.  We weren't exactly excited about that, but we hoped it would help us run faster.  

The race started at 9, so about 15 minutes before the start we jogged over to stadium to line up.  I warmed up a little on the jog over, but was pretty cold again by the time the race started.  Stephanie and I talked about what I goals were.  I was hoping to PR, but I knew I wouldn't be too upset if I didn't given the conditions.  

My legs felt cold for the first mile to mile and a half.  I kept looking down at my watch and seeing numbers around 7:20-7:25.  I felt like I could run faster, but my cold legs had other plans.  Finally I started to warm up and settle in to a good pace.  I could feel myself getting faster as the race went on and started to believe maybe I could PR again.  When I saw the stadium I gave it my all to the finish.  We finished inside the stadium and ran the last .1 around the warning track in the outfield.  My feel felt like they were sliding all over the place and I felt like I instantly slowed down once I got in to the stadium.  I tried to keep running as fast as I could and crossed the finish line knowing it would be close. 

free race pictures?! hell yeah!

I crossed the finish at 22:04.  A new PR.  I was super excited.  I was even more excited when I looked at my splits and saw that my last, and fastest mile, was 6:58.  I couldn't believe it.  Never in a million years would I have thought I'd be able to run a mile under 7min.  It's been so much fun this year seeing all of my hard work paying off.  I'm usually pretty good at doubting my abilities.  So, it's been a surprise to me to see how much my 5k times have improved this year.  I really think I have more to give too, thanks to my amazing coach.  

Oh, and the best part?  Stephanie got herself a brand new PR too!  It was so much fun meeting her and I am looking forward to running again when she's back in NH for Christmas.  

picture stolen from Steph after the race

told to "do something crazy" and this is what you get. fail. 

Up next?  Jingle Bell Half Marathon on December 14th.  Fingers crossed it's not as cold and windy as it was on Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

giving thanks

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone enjoys their day with family, friends, and everyone else you may be sharing this day with.  I just wanted to quickly post a few things I am thankful for this year.

I am thankful for the incredible running family I have found.  Even though I have not met the majority of them in person, the daily support and encouragement is incredible.

I am thankful for my running coach Stephanie Bruce.  She has helped me become a stronger and faster runner.  I have loved every day of training, even when the workouts were hard and pushed me to dig deeper than I ever have before.

I am thankful for my family.  This year hasn't been easy, especially lately, and my family was there for me through it all.

I am thankful for Ryan.  They say distance makes the heart grow stronger.  Recently I experienced what it would be like to have distance between us, and it's not something I ever want to experience again.  We have grown stronger because of it though, and for that I am truly thankful.

Time to Turkey Trot!

What are you thankful for?      

Thursday, November 21, 2013

10 things

I've been struggling to find things to write about lately.  I've still been feeling a little down about the loss of my best little bud.  I've been busy with work, school, and life in general.  Writing doesn't come naturally to me, and until I started this blog, wasn't something I particularly enjoyed.  I've been thinking for a while it would be fun to share some things about myself that most people would not know.  Part of the reason I started this blog was to feel more comfortable talking about myself and who I am.  A lot of who I am now is a runner, but that wasn't always the case.  In fact, I used to hate running!

So, with that being said, here are 10 random things about myself, that unless you grew up with me, or know me very well, probable do not know.

1.  Before I moved to NH in 6th grade, I lived in the tiny little town of Plympton, MA.  Not many people have heard of it.  It's on the South Shore.  It used to be a part of Plymouth, MA, where the Pilgrims landed.  I lived in a house with a lake out back.  I spent many summer days swimming in that lake, and ice skating in the winter.  There was this great hill that lead down to the (very small) beach that was great for sledding.  I loved that house and was VERY sad when we left it.

forcing my pug to join me in the water…
he wasn't a fan I don't think

2.  I love pugs.  Ok, that's probably pretty obvious, but what you may not know is that I have had 4 of them.  When I was in elementary school, my friend brought in her pug for show and tell.  It was love at first site of that curly tail and smushy face.  From that day on I begged and begged my mom to let us get a pug.  Finally, one day we went in to a pet store and there was one there…on sale.  That pug came home with us that day and we named him Willie (pictured above).  Not long after we got a second one (pugs seem to always need a pair), named Elmo.  Most recently I had Manny and my mom had Mack…

Manny (in the back) and Mack <3 miss these dudes

3.  I was the state champion on beam in level 6.  Gymnastics was my first love.

4.  I played softball from 7th grade through my senior year in high school.  I stopped doing gymnastics year round in 7th grade, and wanted another sport to do.  I thought I could play softball, although I never had on a team before.  I was told by my friends that the softball team was hard to make, and not many 7th graders (the first year you could try out) were usually picked.  I decided to try out anyways and made the team.  We were undefeated that year and won the championship.  I played 3rd base in high school, was on the varsity team for 3 years, and captain my senior year.  I miss playing softball.


Pretty sure I was called out on this one…
but I like the picture.

5.  I cheered for a year in college.  This is not something I am particularly proud to admit, but it's true.  I had a couple of friends on the team, one of which who also used to do gymnastics.  She told me they went to a gym and tumbled once a week, and I should sign up.  So, I did and actually had a lot of fun, until I hurt my knee and had to sit on the sidelines and cheer…for the cheerleaders.

That's me on the left

6.  I am still in school working towards my Bachelor Degree in nursing.  For the longest time I had NO idea what I wanted to do.  I went to college right out of High School, like I thought I had to.  To make a long story short, I wasn't happy and left after 2 1/2 years.  I worked for a while and then started taking classes online for a business/human resource degree.  I didn't love it.  I finally decided I wanted to go back to school full time to be a nurse.  I loved it.  I completed two years at Rivier College and graduated with an Associate Degree in May, 2012.  I took a semester off after that to work and try to save money. After that I enrolled in the online RN to BSN program at Plymouth State University, and that is where I am now.  I am beginning to think I will be in school forever.

my mom and I on graduation day

7.  I have been to probably 25-30 Dave Matthews Band concerts.  I stopped counting after a while.  I love them (obviously).  I go to mostly local shows (NH, MA, CT), but I have gone to see them in Montreal, PA, and NY as well.  I'm pretty sure as long as they keep playing, I'll be going to see them play.  I want to plan a trip to the Gorge to see them asap.

8.  I am afraid of geese.  When I was little my mom and I would often go to this duck pond to feed the ducks.  It was one of my favorite things to do.  One day, I was down feeding the ducks, when all of a sudden I felt a hard pinch on my bum.  It was a goose.  I guess he wasn't happy to see me.  Since then, I avoid geese at all costs.

This was in the local paper, I was 3, almost 4. 

9.  I learned to ski when I was 3.  My dad has always been a big skier, and was a ski instructor as well. So, when I was three he took me to this place called Blue Hills, walked me up the hill, placed me down, told me to wait, he skied down a bit, and gave me the ok to ski to him.  I've been skiing ever since.

Sharing in school…1989

10.  I refuse to have a fake Christmas tree.  When I was living at home, I made sure we always had a real tree in the house.  Recently my boyfriend, Ryan, and I were talking about getting a tree for our apartment.  He mentioned a fake tree…I refused.  We'll be getting a real tree.   

I made my mom buy this tree because it was my size.
We had a big tree and my tree.
I think this began my love for real Christmas Trees.  

So, there you have it.  10 things about me you may not have known before.  Tell me, what's one thing I probably don't know about you?? 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

all dogs go to heaven

I was planning to write a recap the Seacoast Half Marathon.  I was flying high after that race because I finally was able to negative split and once again finished under 1:50 (1:49:38 to be exact).

might be my first decent race photo

Unfortunately, my mind is elsewhere right now.  My mind is thinking about my best little bud, Manny, who I had to say goodbye to yesterday very unexpectedly.  This year I have been challenged mentally many times, three of those times were because of the now 3 dogs who have gone up to heaven, and are waiting for me at the rainbow bridge.

Manny was a very special little guy.  I got him during the summer of 2004.  I was not in a good place, I had decided college wasn't right for me at the time, and I was struggling with depression and an eating disorder.  I felt like I really wanted to get a dog, a pug specifically, because I believed it would give me something to care for and help me heal.  I was living at home at the time, and my mom graciously agreed to let me get a puppy, and offered to buy one for me.  I found a breeder, and waited anxiously for the dog to have puppies.  When Manny was ready to be picked up we drove a couple hours to northern NH to pick him up.  It was love at first site.  He was the cutest little man I had ever seen.  I was so excited to take him home and love him unconditionally.

1st day I brought him home.  Such a peanut.

Side note: yes, he was named after Manny Ramirez.  He was born May, 19 and I spent the next 8 weeks trying to decide on a name.  I loved the Red Sox, and Boston, and was trying to think of the perfect name.  Manny seemed to fit.  That summer the Red Sox went on to FINALLY win the World Series…and Manny Ramirez was named the MVP.  I will never forget watching those games with Manny on my lap, cheering for Manny Ramirez and the Red Sox.  I think Manny and I played a role in their victory, clearly.

Go Red Sox!

Over the next 9 years, Manny gave me everything I needed and more.  He was there for me in ways that no one else could be.  He made the move with me in and out of apartments, down to Boston, and back to my mom's house when I ran out of money.  He comforted me when I was sad.  He was the best cuddler and such a little goofball.  He never strayed far from my side.  When I got up, he got up.  When I went in to the other room, he went in to the other room.  When I was cooking or making food, he was standing by my feet waiting for bits to fall on the floor.  When I went in to the bathroom, he went in to the bathroom.  When I took a shower, he would stick his head in and try to join.  When I did homework on the couch, he would crawl on to my lap and try to help (it didn't help).  He was the greatest gift I could have ever received.  He made my life much better for 9 years, and for that I am truly grateful.

always on my lap

I look ridiculous, but this is a certificate for "best wrinkles"
from a pug social…yes, I went there.

running around at my mom's house

Cheering us on at #BostonStongMilford

pug vs horse
Manny has been living with my mom for the past year because I moved in to a couple apartments that didn't allow pets.  My mom also had a pug, Mack, and they were great friends.  Earlier this year we had to say good bye to Mack.  He was blind, deaf, had doggie-demetia, and slowly started to lose control of his back legs.  It was very hard to say good bye to Mack, but thankfully we had Manny to once again help us through a sad time.  

Mack and Manny 

catching some rays

Shortly after Mackie went, Manny started to have problems of his own.  Most recently he started to have lesions appear all over his skin.  The vet was unsure for a while what it was.  They did test after test, misdiagnosed him, and gave him medicine that he wouldn't take.  He slowly stopped eating much of anything, and refused to take any pills.  He went back to vet because it seemed like he was also starting to retain fluid in his stomach.  He had a biopsy done of his skin, and the results came back saying it was an autoimmune disease.  He was put on prednisone and we were told he would start to feel better almost instantly.  He didn't.  The next day he was worse, wouldn't eat, wouldn't take the prednisone, and his stomach looked bigger.  Back to the vet he went to spend the night, which would hopefully allow them to give him his medicine and get some nutrition in to him.  They also did more blood work to try to determine why he was gaining fluid.  Yesterday we got a phone call that the blood work showed he was in acute liver failure.  There was nothing we could do.  

best buds
my wrinkly little man 

I left work to meet my mom, and my boyfriend, and together we went to the vet to say goodbye to my best little bud.  After all the times he allowed me to lean on him and help me through difficult times, yesterday I needed to allow him to lean on me, help him get through this and know everything would be ok.  That is what he did.  I wrapped my arms around him as I always did and slowly he let go of control, and put all his weight on to my arms.  He went to sleep as we told him how much we loved him and how good of a boy he was.  He was my best boy.  

I think of him now once again playing with Mack, and Kaylee  at the rainbow bridge, waiting for the day when we meet again.  I love you, Manny and will think of you every day.    

Friday, November 8, 2013

race return

On Sunday I will be making my return to racing following the marathon that did not go as planned.  Well, I guess that's kind of a lie.  A couple of weeks ago I ran a 5k for fun in the middle of a 12 mile training run.  So, I don't really count that one.  Sunday I will be running my 9th half marathon and 4th of the year.  I am running the Seacoast Half Marathon in Portsmouth, NH and am very excited for it!

We'll be heading over to Portsmouth Saturday afternoon and spending the night in a hotel before the race.  I think this is actually the first time I will have stayed in a hotel the night before a race.  Any other time I have traveled to one I've stayed with friends or family.  I'm looking forward to a fun little adventure.

This week training has gone really well so far.  Tuesday I ran an easy 45 min w/ 4x 100m strides.  Wednesday I had to run after work.  It was dark, but unseasonably warm.  I had a reflective vest to wear, but I wish I had had some sort of light to carry with me.  After reading this running in the dark PSA post by Danielle, I am definitely planning to invest in some knuckle lights.  Anyways, I had wanted to go to the track to get my workout in, but the track was not lit up, and I can be a bit of a wimp in the dark by myself, so I decided against it.  Instead, I just ran easy for a half hour, and planned to do my workout the following day.  Thursday I had to work the night shift (NOT FUN), but at least it gave me most of the day to make my way up to the track. The workout scheduled was 4-5 x 1000 @ MP w/ one minute rest, 15 min warm up and cool down.  Everything about this workout just felt right.  My pace was much faster than my marathon pace, but I felt great and was able to stay consistent through all 5 k's, my last one actually being the fastest.  I started at 8:06 pace and worked my way down to 8:02.  I'm hoping this means good things to come for the race on Sunday!

As for my goals on Sunday…I really just want to run a consistent pace.  I STILL struggle with going out too fast and crashing at the end most of the time.  This was a big part of what caused my marathon disappointment.  I need to learn to hold back a little at the beginning.  The only way I think I'll learn how to do that is to practice.  So, with that being said, on Sunday I am really going to try to stay calm and start out slower than my goal pace.  I'd like to have the first half feel almost easy and then push it for the second half.  It's going to take some serious self control, but I have to figure out how to do that.  After the race we're heading down to MA for a wedding.  It's going to be a busy, but fun weekend. 

Is anyone else running the Seacoast Half, or have you ran it before?  Who else is racing this weekend?!     

Thursday, October 31, 2013

halloween update

Happy Halloween!  For some reason this has always been my favorite holiday.  I haven't dressed up in years, but there's just something about seeing little kids trick-or-treating that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.  I also am a sucker for Halloween decorations as well as the month of October.

Anyways, I've been on a little blogging hiatus since the marathon.  I was feeling down mentally and physically the following week, and then was going through some personal things that caused me to take a small break from reality, and definitely left me with no desire to write.  I did however, spend a lot of time snuggling with this guy:

He's a good snuggler (is that a word?) 
And drinking many of these:

Unfortunately, I guess bad things have to happen so you can learn from them and see the good things...?  I definitely learned a lot in these past couple of weeks.  I learned a lot about myself, as well as others, and the importance of good old communication.  It was a rough ride, but I had a lot of incredible support.  Thankfully, things took an unexpected turn for the best and are moving in a much better direction.       

I am now in my third week post-marathon and back in to training.  The first week after the marathon was somewhat of a rest week, although I did not take it off completely.  I went for a walk the day after to try to loosen up my muscles a bit.  I was sore.  Very sore.  That week I ran three times, very slowly, starting at 20 min and ending at 42 min on Saturday.  The soreness slowly subsided, along with the feeling of disappointment from not doing as well as I had hoped at the marathon.  I was beginning to feel ready to look ahead at the race calendar, instead of focusing on what had already happened.

I have started training again for what's to come, while still trying to take it somewhat easy by taking an extra rest day each week.  I am excited to be back but also don't want to push it and do too much too soon and risk an injury.  On today's agenda: 15 min warm up, 2 mile tempo, 2 min rest, 800 @ 10k pace, 3 min rest, 2 mile tempo, 15 min cool down.

What's next on the race calendar?  I am running the Seacoast Half Marathon on November 10 in Portsmouth, NH.  I have never done this race before and am excited to see what it's all about.  Tomorrow, the registration opens for the Vermont City Marathon and I am planning to register.  I know it's not exactly the flat course I was hoping to find, but I LOVE the city of Burlington and feel like I can't pass up the opportunity to run through the streets.  Who's with me?!

for some reason I really liked this little quote.

Monday, October 14, 2013

two timer

This post is a little difficult for me to write.  I was hoping I could write all about how I crushed my goal and finished the United Healthcare Marathon in under 4 hrs.  I was hoping I could write about how I felt great and followed the plan.  I was hoping I could write about how excited and happy I am about finishing my second marathon.  Well, unfortunately, that is not the case.  I am happy I finished my second marathon.  I am happy that I reached my second goal of a new PR.  But there are many more things I am unhappy about, and unfortunately that is what's on my mind right now.  Usually I try to be positive about the result of a race whether I felt it was good or bad.  I know I am still learning and have a LOT to learn.  I know I still have a lot of growing to do as a runner.  I feel like I have a lot of potential.  But right now I'm having a hard time with falling short of my sub 4 hr marathon goal.  

Here's how the weekend went.  Saturday we headed down to RI around noon.  My boyfriend and I picked up my friend, Julie, who would be running her second half marathon as well.  The plan was to meet up with a couple of my other friends, who were also running the race, at the expo in Newport.  We got there around 2:30 and picked up our numbers.  The expo was in a tent right on the beach.  It was beautiful.  We played in the sand for a bit before making a trip to the grocery store.

a feather to match my shirt

After going to the grocery store, all 6 of us went over to my dad's house in Tiverton, where we were all staying.  He and my stepmom made a delicious pasta dinner for all of us.  We had some wine, hydrated, relaxed, and went to bed early.

At 4:30 am my alarm went off.  I didn't sleep well that night, so I had a little trouble getting my butt out of bed.  I always try to give myself plenty of time before the race to have coffee, wake up, and choke down some food.  Just before 7 we loaded up the cars and headed over the the marathon parking at Second Beach.  We had to take a bus over to the start of the race at Easton's Beach.  After visiting the porta-potties, we lined up and got ready to go.  My stomach was in knots.  I was super nervous but excited it was finally time.  

Monica, Beth, myself, and Julie before the start

My plan originally was to stay around 9 min/mile pace for the first part of the race.  If I felt good, then I would start to run a little faster.  However, my friend, Beth (who is typically MUCH faster than me) said she would run with me and help me reach my goal of sub 4 hrs.  She thought I was capable of finishing around 3:50, so planned to run around an 8:45 pace.  I went with it.  BIG MISTAKE.   

Through the first half of the race I felt pretty good.  My legs were burning a little, but there were a few hills, and I was hoping I would be able to recover.  I got caught up in the excitement, the people, and the amazing views.  Our paces ranged from 8:30-9 min.  I was feeling optimistic.  

One of the beautiful Newport beaches 

so many amazing views on the water

This race has a half marathon option.  Those doing the full and the half run the same course, and then those doing the full continue on.  We ran next to the finish line for the half.  We heard all the names being announced of those finishing.  We saw all the people cheering for those finishing the half and those cheering for the rest of us who were crazy enough to run another 13.1 miles.  Once we passed through this area and turned the corner for the second part of the course, my mind began to race.  I suddenly couldn't believe I had to run another 13.1 miles.  I wanted to turn around and be done.  My body felt tired, my stomach was nauseous, I had a lump in my throat, and I freaked out.  The words "I can't do this" actually left my mouth.  I started walking.  My mind and my body were not cooperating.  I really started to believe I might not actually finish this thing.  What the hell was happening to me?!      

Thankfully, Beth was there to keep me going.  She said some encouraging words and urged me to keep going.  I wanted to punch her in the face at the time, but was so grateful to have her there.  The next few miles I continued to walk/run and struggled to keep moving forward.  I thought of the quote I wear on my wrist from Kara Goucher, "A step forward, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction. Keep believing."  I kept moving forward.  

At this point, I think around mile 16, I told my friend to go ahead.  She was fully capable of finishing the way we had planned.  I didn't want to hold her back and knew I was going to struggle through the remaining 10+ miles.  She made me promise her I would finish the race no matter what.  I made that promise and then watched as she ran ahead in to the distance until I could no longer see her anymore.  I was crushed.  This wasn't how this race was supposed to go.  I was supposed to be running along side her and finishing the race next to her.  Once I came to terms with the fact that I wasn't going to finish under 4 hrs, I readjusted my plan and focused on my second goal of finishing with a new PR, which was still very much within reach.  

The last 10 miles weren't pretty, but I got through them.  I walked through each water stop and made sure to drink as much as I could.  I felt like I needed more fuel.  The shot blocks I had just weren't cutting it that day.  I needed something.  I grabbed a banana from one of the tables (what?!).  I drank some more water and gatorade and told myself to just keep moving forward.  My stomach was still hurting.  I questioned making a bathroom stop, but the thought of squatting in a porta-potty with how tired my legs were helped me make the decision not to.  The second half of the course had many more long, unforgiving hills than the first.  Running downhill started to become just as hard as running up.  I continued to make my way through the miles, very slowly.  It wasn't pretty.  

As I started to climb the last hill around mile 24 I tried to pick up the pace a little.  I started to picture all my friends and family at the finish line waiting for me.  I knew they all would be proud of me, even though I made them wait for me at the finish longer than planned.  Finally, I turned the corner just before mile 26 and saw the white tent at Easton's Beach.  I heard the cheers and the announcer announcing the names of those finishing, this time for the full marathon.  I felt my legs start to run faster.  I saw my family just before the last turn heading for the finish.  I turned the last corner and immediately heard the announcer say my name.  I saw my friends and my boyfriend all cheering for me.  I gave it all I had through the finish.  


giving it all I had

crossing the finish line

I finally crossed the finish line in 4 hours, 19 minutes, and 17 seconds.  A new PR by over 20 minutes.  I was very happy I didn't give up when I thought I was going to.  I fought through and finished the race, even though I knew my big goal was no longer in reach.  I won the battle with my mind when it told me I couldn't do it.  I am happy to say I have completed 2 marathons.  

Yesterday I felt ok about what happened.  I was upset obviously, but was happy I didn't give up.  Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't fall back to sleep because I couldn't stop thinking about the race and what happened.  I couldn't stop thinking about what could have happened if I had done it differently.  What could have happened if I stuck to my original plan and didn't run with my friend.  Today those thoughts have continued to run through my head.  I wish I had run my own race and followed MY plan.  My biggest fear was going out too fast, and not enjoying the later miles because of it.  My biggest fear became reality yesterday.  

Of course, with any disappointment, there can always me a million what ifs.  I've shed a few tears and am now trying to work through the disappointment and focus on the fact that I crossed the finish line over 20 min faster than I did when I ran my first marathon in 2007.  I think the hardest part is that I really believe I am capable of more, and I wasn't able to prove it yesterday.  

So, I didn't reach my big what?  Another marathon.  Disappointment is all part of the process.  I guess I can't win them all (although that would be pretty cool, huh?).  I'm giving myself a couple of days to be bummed and upset, and then it's time to move on and focus on the next.  Now I have a better understanding of what to do and what not to do.  I know I can get there.  It's just going to take a little longer than I had hoped.