All posts by andreamzufelt

About andreamzufelt

Hey, there. I'm Andrea. I'm an Ohio girl surviving in a Michigan world. I'm married and have 2 dogs and 3 cats. I have a new found love for fitness and am an avid runner. This offsets the stress from my day job as a Probation Officer. I also love movies.

Are You Aware?

 

are you aware the shape I am in?

my hands they shake

my head it spins

i am exhausted from trying to be stronger than i feel

trying to stand tall, yet i can only kneel

it hurts, but i am okay

“i am used to it”, i say.

but i haven’t felt alright for a really long time

surrounded by those whom show love and care

yet loneliness is felt almost everywhere

i know the signs and i have a plan

but the longer it takes to feel “right”

the more i am not sure that i can

because behind my smile is a hurting heart

even though i laugh i am falling apart

if you look closely at me

i guarantee you will see

the person i show you is not really me.

Promises, promises…… Or, When you are no longer you anymore.

While I feel empowered by talking about my depression, about accepting my depression, and about growing from my depression……I utterly despise that part of myself.

Sometimes I honestly think that my pharmacist slips placebo pills into my pill bottles. Occasionally, it’s like my meds simply do not work. Now, there are times when I do not take my medication as I should. Many people whom rely on medication to make them “right” tend to test the theory of whether or not meds are still needed. So when I test it and my symptoms rear THEIR ugly side…… My bad! But when I take them and they don’t work……. Who is to blame?

The past few days have been a constant, non-stop ride on a rickety struggle bus. Anxiety attacks, a “resting” heart rate of 95 bpm, and crying while sitting in a seminar because the room is simply too cold.

My brain, in my opinion, is trying to end me. It’s scary to say, and I’m positive even scarier to read for some of you, but it really is trying. And sometimes, it comes startlingly close to convincing me.

Today, as I drove back to my home I had apparently stopped at a rest stop. Not one of my routine rest stops, an unfamiliar one.  I didn’t sleep. I didn’t get out. I didn’t even shut off the car or take off my seatbelt. Next thing I know, as I “came to” I started crying because I couldn’t even remember driving to where I was. What I could remember was the thought of driving my car into the picnic area until it was stopped by something stronger than the gas pedal. No, there were no people in the picnic area (I’m not that much of a monster). But for how ever long, it just all seemed so right. So simple. So…….. Easy.

Sometimes……. I’m scared. Many times…… I’m scarred. And more and more, I feel as if I am forgetting who I am. More and more the “sometimes” gets closer to “every time”.

 

💜💜

A Feel Good Decision

Last week I ran with my run group on Saturday. We are utilizing a new training method, Lydiard Training, which helps to build the legs in longer, slower flat running to create a good base of running before adding in hill training and speed work. It is different, for sure. I have gotten myself into a groove with my interval training of walking and running. However, I was willing to try the change. I decided I would basically forgo all of my previous training with running and try this to see how it made me feel.

Change is difficult. The daunting thought of treadmill running for 45 minutes was definitely a downer. And trying to figure out which running workouts I needed to use for my biking workouts was confusing at first. However, I used Saturday as a way to look at how I was feeling overall. Up until that time my recommended pace to run at was at a walking pace.

I did not end up running as far as was recommended, and I ran faster per mile than it recommended as well. But I realized a few things on this run…….

  1. I was able to run longer periods of time before deciding to walk than I had prior.
  2. I am still not fast, but I feel a lot better after every run overall than I have before.
  3. While I am using this training time to training for the Detroit Women’s Half Marathon, longer distances are simply not for me.

I love running. It has afford me so much since I started 3 years ago. Stress relief, time to process thoughts and emotions, better health and most importantly, amazing friends. But in all honestly, running more than 6 or 7 miles causes feelings of displeasure for the miles after that. I do not want to hate running. And right now, I think that the longer distances have not afforded me enough to want to continue.

I have been going back and forth with the thoughts of this for a while. However, I was still on the fence and able to look at things and tell myself that I was not ready for that decision yet. Now, I am and I feel good about the decision. And this does not mean that I will not look at longer distances in the future, but for now……I am happy!

Much Love!

Superhero Capes

As part of week nine of my online class, I was told to learn more about an individual whom has suffered from bulimia, alcoholism and drug abuse. Glennon Melton Doyle is a popular author and recovering addict. Her Ted Talk video hit home for me very much.

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She used the phrase “Superhero Capes” to describe what we as individuals do to make ourselves look and/or act different. This does not always mean we wear these “capes” for bad reasons. Sometimes they are so we don’t have to explain to people that don’t need to know things. “Superhero capes are what we put over our real selves so that our tender selves don’t have to feel and be hurt”. My cape is purple and green and super flowy!

We all do these things in some way, shape or form. Maybe because we do not know someone well enough yet, so the cape “hides” that which we are not ready to reveal. Or maybe it is because we are around someone we don’t quite trust. For those of us who suffer from addiction, depression, anxiety or anything that we struggle with, these capes are like a warm cozy blanket. No matter how successful others see us, or even how successful that we may be, our capes help us.

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Doyle mentioned in her Ted Talk, “I started to feel like a loser in a world that preferred superheros”. So many times our societal expectations set us up to fail. Look this way, feel that way. Feel bad? Take this pill. Suffer from addiction? You’re not alone. Call us! So many things that surround our lives that cause us to think that maybe we are different. Maybe we do feel bad.

However, the fact is, we are all who we are. Whether you choose to open yourself up, or close yourself off. Whether you are a cat person or a dog person. A writer, a storyteller, a magic maker. Who cares. The only one that it should fully matter to is you. If you are unhappy, search for your happy. It may not always be there. May not always be visible. You happy may even be wearing its own cape. But find it.

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Doyle also quotes another beautiful writer, Brene Brown, in saying, “Courage is to tell  the story of who you are with your own heart”. Your own heart. You know who you are. Who you want to be. And while there may be people around you who think you should be something or someone else, realize that may be their cape showing, or may be their true selves.

 

Much Love

2017 Grand Rapids Triathlon

On June 11, 2017 was my second year competing in the Grand Rapids Triathlon. This race has special importance to me as it was the first triathlon I competed in ever. I had the best experience last year, and this year was no different!

There were a few changes. Changes on my behalf, and changes on the behalf of the race itself. I had a “new to me” bike this year. An actual road bike. So no more of my heavy duty mountain bike with road tires. Of course, still not as fancy schmancy as many of the other people on course, but whatever. I was there to better myself from last year, not to make it to the podium!

I also was able to compete in my new wetsuit. Last year I had rented a sleeveless full length suit that was a cardio workout in itself to actually get on. This year was a softer neoprene “shorty” wetsuit. Stopped at above the knees and short sleeves.

As per my usualness, I arrived super early. My wave (the Athena Sprint Distance wave) was not to hit the water until 7:45am, but transition opened up at 5:15am, so that was my goal. Get there early so as to get the prime spot at the end of the bike rack. And, that is what I got!

Now, differences with the race itself. Transition was super long! I heard one participant say, “at least our legs will stay warm with the 17 miles we need to run our bikes out of transition on”. Obviously transition was not that long. But the “Sprint Nationals” section was quite a ways farther back this year than last year. The other downside was that the transition isle was not very wide. So, if I was riding out, and someone else was riding in, one of us would have to step aside to let the other through. Again, not really my concern as I knew I was not going to make any sort of miraculous time, but, other are definitely more serious.

That all being said……the race was still fabulous and went very much better this year for me than it did last year.

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Last year I did not properly fuel myself prior to race start. I had no real understanding of what to do in the case of a triathlon, so I went along with what I would have consumed prior to a running race. That was a mistake. I came out of the water, weak and dizzy. I needed to sit down in T1 and eat as I was nervous about the bike portion. This year I made sure to eat much more properly, and in small amounts right up until the time to get into the coral with my wave. I exited the swim course feeling on point with no real issues at all.

In transition, I had already prepared my bike with approximately 5 fuel gels. As I got my shoes on I consumed ½ a fuel gel then got onto the bike course. Now, lesson learned this year…..In an effort to save time in T2, I put my visor on under my bike helmet. Unfortunately this made my helmet not sit very properly on my head by the time I got to the mount line. O I needed to take time to adjust this. Also, while on the bike course, I needed to pull my head back farther to be able to see ahead of me properly, so that created some neck discomfort.

The bike portion was definitely much easier this year with the lighter bike. As I was not really yet comfortable with reaching down to grab a water bottle, I wore a Camelback with a reservoir and was able to easily put the tube in my mouth to attain my hydration. By the time the bike course was done I had not needed to consume any of my nutrition and still felt really good. Also, the biggest difference from last year to this year was the fact that my tailbone did not hurt NEARLY as much as last year.

T2 was a quicker transition than T1. I consumed the last half of the fuel gel from T1 and headed out to the run. However, running was not what was going to happen. My legs were shot! By now the sun was really out and the temperature was increasing to match the high humidity. I walked the first have of the run until my legs felt more able to start running. It was not fast at all. And my run time from last year to this year was slower overall, but, in the end I simply felt better.

Looking at this year in compared to last year, my times were generally better, I felt very much better and once I crossed the finish line I did not need to go to the med tent due to hip cramps.

So once again, the Grand Rapids Triathlon has fed positivity into my thoughts about triathlon competing and have continued to assist me in wanting to do more and more!

Much Love!!!

 

The Good, The Bad And The…….

 

We all have good days and bad days. Hell, we all have good weeks and bad weeks. And I know what constitutes “good” and “bad” is relative to each individual person. And sometimes, we may feel that dwelling on our “bad” is not appropriate given the “bad” that some around us are experiencing. But hey, that does not mean the “bad” for you is not just that…….”bad”.

Luckily, for me, I can feel my emotional “bad” days coming. Sometimes, I have no idea how they come into my brain. Sometimes I do. On occasion I swear it is because my medication is playing a funny little placebo joke on me. You see, when I have a “bad” day that I cannot explain, my whole mood changes. My body, my mannerisms, my speech, everything. Most of the time I am at least nice enough to give those around me (usually my co-workers) a heads up. “Hey, guys, just so you know, today is not a good day”. I am sad. I want to cry at everything. Like the time my pen ran out of ink. I mean, I have like 2500 ink pens in my office. But that pen….THAT pen I loved. Silly, I know.

The sadness breeds thoughts of what I hate about myself. Things I have done. Things I have not done. Where I am in life. Where I wanted to be in life by now. Did I make the right decisions about my life? What if I had done this instead of that? Or that instead of this? Sometimes it brings enough for me to think about running away. Starting over. Maybe even not even finishing.

I am always very open with my counselor about my past, and occasionally current, thoughts of suicide. The plan. It is pretty detailed. Not that I do not care for those in my life, but they would all be okay. Because in my mind there is not much that I have contributed to their lives and well-being. But my furkids would not understand.

Sometimes I wonder whether or not I am the right person for the job that I do. How can I, as messed up as I am, be someone who can appropriately counsel people that suffer in ways I am not familiar with. Sure, I know of addiction. I grew up with it. And I am a pretty smart cookie. But alcohol addiction is not a personal experience for me. And some of the people I work with are just not smart. They do not know if they have a problem. Some don’t even care if they do. And hey, more power to ya, but that’s on you if you drink and drive again. But, knowing that we are all broken in some way or another, maybe even my hot mess self can contribute to the lives of these people. Misery loves company….and I am pretty fun to be around.

Sometimes the “bad” day lasts a few hours. Sometimes days. I am working on bringing myself out of the hole when it happens. See more clearly what I have accomplished in my life. See that yes, there were some life detours, but they were most likely meant to be. See that, occasionally, the people that have come into my life most recently, or even comeback into my life again, hold a special place in my heart and life. Those that needed to leave, never deserved to be in that spot in the first place. That even if I do not speak to some as often as before, I think of them daily and send “Andrea posi-vibes”.

So there will be peaks and valleys with my depression. And it is quick and easy to ride that valley down. And it is a struggle to climb back up. But I am getting quicker and quicker at hitting the top of that peak Every.Single.Day!

 

 

Much Love!

One In Five Marathon Relay

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On May 27 myself and four other amazing women got together to run. We ran for ourselves. We ran for each other. We ran for mental health. The Hope Network One in Five Marathon Relay focused on and assisted in benefitting services for those currently battling mental illness.

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Now many of you know that I myself suffer from severe depression and anxiety. Over 40 million individuals within the U.S alone will experience symptoms and episodes of  mental illness. That is one in five Americans. With that, I am One in Five. This is also true of my four teammates who ran to support  others who suffer as well.

The unique aspect of the One in Five Marathon Relay is the fact that it is not a true relay in the sense of what we know. There are five legs of the relay. The first four runners run 5 miles each, with the last runner running 6.2 miles. This runner represents the one in five. The biggest difference, however, is that there is no hand-off. Starting at 8am, the first runner leaves. At 8:15am, the second runner. Then every 15 minutes until all runners are on the course. All runners, running together, different paces, different abilities, some going 5 miles, some 6.2 miles. All of us representing some part of the statistic.

The day was beautiful, the course was beautiful, the cause was beautiful and the people were wonderful. The four other women on my team, Phoenix Rising, came together that morning before the race to “officially” meet. While some of us knew each other, we had all never been together until that day. Sporting our green (the color of mental health support) in various ways, and making our own “one in five” mark, we prepared. We would wear green bandanas, one of us wearing white. We would sport white star stickers on our faces, one of us wearing green stars. And our amazing connector, Sasha Wolff of Still I Run, made us all bracelets to represent our own words of strength.

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The take-away from this day? We are all who we are. We are the one in five. We are unique. We are slow. We are fast. We are determined. We are women and moms. We are runners and Spartans. We are triathletes and marathoners. But what none of us are is our mental illness. Yes, it is a part of us, but together we are so much more!

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Fifth Third Riverbank……No More.

So this year I ran the FIfth Third Riverbank Run for the third year. I have run the 5k and the 10k twice. This third year was quite a decision maker for me regarding my future choices on Riverbank. If the race itself remains the same as it has for the past three years of my experience I will not be running the race again. There are many factors that have broght me to this decision.

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  1. It is geared towards the Elite 25K Runners and 2-Hour Club.

I get it, 25K is quite the distance, and is not a regular distance race. But even for your “everyday” 25K runner, there is more emphasis on the elite and 2 hour club runners. With that, the 10K and 5K runners/walkers…….low people down on the totem pole.

2.  It could be set up better to accommodate the people and runners.

There are a lot of people that come down to spectate and race. However, trying to get to those places can be difficult. It can be even more difficult for runners of the shorter distances to get back out to support their other runner friends.

Also, is it necessary to put the water, chocolate milk and post race food like, 1/2 mile away from the finish? Seriously……

3.  The time limit is ridiculous.

I have never seen a race have a “2 Hour Club” for runners. But, I can see where they would since they would really like runners to be done by a 3.5 hours race time mark. Now, to the credit of the race itself, this is a stipulation placed on by the City of Grand Rapids. Saturday races need to be done quickly to accommodate the traffic and businesses. However, if the race were on a Sunday………One reason, even if I would run Riverbank again, I will never run the 25K is because if I pay for a race I want an official finish time. To go through all of that then get nothing……hard pass.

4.  Just because the 3.5 hour time limit is up, along with the timing mat, doesn’t mean ALL FREAKING STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS NEED TO BE GONE!

Dear lord, to get through all of that hard work and get to the finish with no one there is tough enough. But to get to the “finish” and have some bottles of water and a box of medals to get yourself on the ground…..fuck that.

Now I may catch some flack for all of this, but, we have all been in races that we will “never do again” for some reason or another. A race isn’t a race without runners. Riverbank will always have their share of runners. But when a 10K runner is coming to the finish and the Race Director is waving for us to hurry across the finish so they can get the tape up for the 25K winner, I wanna punch you in the mouth.

When racers are to be announced as they run across and celebrate their finish, but 10K racers are coming across and do not get announced because a certain Olympian is “coming around the bend”, thanks people. Fuck you too. But it wasn’t Danthan Ritenzhein that made the race a third time decision maker. I really think there could have been more emphasis on other people or parts of the race.  Gazelle Girl celebrate Grand Rapids better. Bridge Run celebrates Grand Rapids better. I my experience, many other races within our wonderful city do things way better.

So with all that being said, next year I think it will be time for me to see what Bayshore is all about.

 

Much Love!

Keep Running!

Gazelle Girl Half Marathon or…. WHY MY RUNNNG PEEPS ARE SO GREAT!

Okay, so this is a little late, but, better late than never, I suppose. Gazelle Girl weekend was great! Volunteering at packet pickup the day before was fun. Great to see all the amazing women whop come out for such a great race! Whether is was to do the 5k, the NEW 10k addition, to the half marathon, simply empowering!

This would mark my second half marathon. I had trained,. I had hopes. I just wanted to be done in under 4 hours and not cramp. It was warm. It was long. And around mile 6.5, my calves gave in. It was frustrating. I had been hydrating well. I made sure to get in enough electrolytes. My nutrition was on point. My legs just were not having it, though. So, I walked. ALOT. I cried. I yelled. I laughed. I smiled. But, I was not……WAS NOT going to give in no matter how much I wanted to stop. At some point they started the progression of opening the roads up to traffic. My main concern was the need to cross the road and have to stop to wait for cars. I knew if I stopped my calves would seize up and I would fall. Luckily, that did not happen. Luckily, around mile 8 was my Gazelle Guys….. Tim, Mark, Andy, Barry, Matt and all the others talking me through my tears and reminding me of who I am. And around mile 10 my Road Warrior savior, Jim Bomhoff, who was finishing at the aid station and walked with me. He talked me down from the ledge. Got me to continue to keep up a good pace of walking. Got me to my training coach, Rob Andro, who had to listen to me complain about the fact I DID NOT want to go up Scribner hill. He reminded me that “hills help make legs”, so……I went. My team leader, Katie Olson was just ahead of me making sure to tell traffic officers that I WAS NOT ALLOWED TO STOP MOVING!

Then, as I got closer and closer to the end, it all got great! No, my legs did not stop cramping, they were not releasing that hold. But it was my people. MY PEOPLE were there! The last half mile. One, then two, then five…..cheering, in my face telling me how awesome I was, getting me through that forward movement. Colleen, Amy, Joann, Stephanie, all of my girls pushing me enough to deal with the severe calf cramp pain and actually manage to run across the finish.

Was it pretty? HELL NO! Was it fast? That is not even a serious question. Did the race feel good? Physically? NO. Mentally? Eh. Emotionally……YES!

As someone who is frequently at the “Party in the back”, it is SUPER difficult to come to the end of a race that tested every ability within you as a person, to no one. I can honestly say, however, that does not happen with my people. With my group. And at this race, with my girls. Because as someone who would rather run alone, listening to music, releasing all my demons and frustrations out into the environment…..the end is where you need those people. Because it is hard, but it is the hard that makes a finish fabulous!

 

Much Love

Keep Running!

The Gazelle Girl Pre-view and the Gazelle Girl Pre-pare….Or What to do When Your Body Wants You to Stop Progression

So, last weekend I ran the Gazelle Girl preview course for the half marathon. Now due to the rain and such, Riverside Park was slightly moist, so we had to be re-routed for the half marathon course. I was excited to do this course because I had such success with the weekend prior and not issues with calf cramps or IT band pain. So I made sure to do all the same preparations. It was a little bit colder, but I was hoping for success still.

However, around mile 1.5 I already knew that I was going to have issues. I tried to walk things out more in hopes that I could get on track, but it was not something that was going to happen. I decided to turn around at the 10K turn around instead. If it was a minor issue, I did not want it to become a major one before the race.

So, my body was speaking to me. And it may continue to do so after the Gazelle Girl half. And I may need to change my future plans for longer distances, at least until I can get some things figured out. However, it is important that I can keep things in check and not get too down on myself for the temporary potential failures. I have accomplished so much more than so many people. I have accomplished so much in the past 3 years, alone. I may not be able to do an Ironman Triathlon, but I can do a sprint distance triathlon. I may not be able to run a half marathon, but I can crush 5k’s and 10k’s. I can continue to better myself and still be able to progress forward. Forward movement is still progress. It just needs some adjusting!

 

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Much Love!

Keep Running!