Resolution Run Reflection

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Today was the 2016 Resolution Run. A 4 mile run around Reeds Lake in the windy cold. Now last year I was recovering from a serious bout of the flu and developed bronchitis. So feeling on point today was already one up. However, I decided that I would mainly walk this event and use it to reflect on the past year. So reflecting I did.

2016 was the first year I “multisported”. Two sprint triathlons, a sprint duathlon and an Olympic duathlon. And I am amazed that I started and finished all of those events. And oddly enough it was the Come Clean Duathlon in Lansing that was my favorite and most memorable. I came in dead last. Not even close to the person ahead of me. But it was all the people who competed who cheered me as I ran across the finish line. Who were there and stayed and congratulated me. Who clapped and smiled and recognized me as I was awarded for my persistence and perseverance during the race.

2016 was the year that I upped the ante on my race distance. I was never going to run farther than a 5k. I was told by many that I was wrong. I told them that it was just totally out of the question. And I held off for a bit. And it was when I became a Road Warrior that I decided to try a 10k at the Fifth Third Riverbank Run. And there it was. twice that distance. And it sucked. I am totally not going to lie. Once I hit three miles and began to wonder what it was hat I was thinking. But I finished it.

 

2016 also brought me to the one phrase I was absolutely never going to try out. “Half-Marathon”. I mean, what the hell, right. So, I was signed up, no turning back. Unfortunately I was learning that my calves were not in agreement with my decision around mile 6-7 and would cramp. And they did so during the race as well. I ended up having to walk 7 miles to the finish. I did run across the finish, in pain, with running friends that are always there. And they even stayed with me as both legs seized up and made it difficult for me to walk.

2016 brought me to places other than my running as well. It brought me to the realization that I really do love to write. Not just blog, but write. Poetry, stories. Writing that tells readers of my life. My feelings. My faults. Writing helped me to realize that I got a lot to say. And sometimes words come out better on paper than they do out of my mouth. And they told a lot. Some of what was told was a surprise to some. Some got scared. Many asked questions. And some of those people were myself included. I admitted a lot of things. To cutting when I was in pain. To testing my medication and deciding not to take it. To screaming at the top of my lungs when things got hard. To telling people that for a very long time I had a life plan that was my end. And it was all perfected and planned to every possible outcome.

And most recently 2016 has helped me to realize that I love and care for those around me. I want to help them in their dire times of need. I want to get them to places they cannot get themselves. And I want this because I could not do this for those I loved long ago. But I can help and rescue myself. And in order to go any farther in this life of mine I am going to need rescue me.

 

You see, while it may not all seem like a lot to you, 2016 was the world to me. The changes that came were……..life changing. But they will only have worth if I continue the path. And while I am frustrated daily with the depression and anxiety I have, I would not change any of it. I will continue to talk about my depression, women’s issues, body positivity and positive support. I will always embrace and love those around me who have shown me that I am capable of so much more than I try to tell myself. I will continue to move up and on, daily, without an end in sight. Because for me…….there is no end!

Keep running! Happy New Year!

A

I want.

I want to run. Far, far away where no one knows me.
I want to run. To a place where I can search long and hard.
I want to run. So I can see if I have anything of myself left within me.
I want to run. Find a place where I can let down my guard.

I want to cry. Cry so hard that I can never cry anymore.
I want to cry. So that I can release everything that is hidden within.
I want to cry. To make myself feel good about being vulnerable.
I want to cry. So I can let go of all my sin.

I want to smile. Smile so big that it looks as if I am up to something.
I want to smile. So I can feel the happiness within.
I want to smile. To hide from others what I feel sometimes.
I want to smile. Simply to feel it on my skin.

I want to scream. Scream so loud that I cannot speak for days afterward.
I want to scream. So that I can let everyone who can hear me know my pain.
I want to scream. To let go of all of the swallowed screams from over the years.
I want to scream. So hard and loud I feel as if I have been slain.

I want to laugh. Laugh so hard my nose bleeds and I cannot breathe.
I want to laugh. So that I can feel the intensity of happiness.
I want to laugh. To burn those funny times into my brain.
I want to laugh. I just want to laugh.

I want to hit. Hit someone so hard that they can feel everything they have done wrong to me.
I want to hit. So I can remind myself of my strength on the outside, too.
I want to hit. To show those around me that I will stand up for those I care for.
I want to hit. So all of my hatred can come into clear view.

I want to love. Love myself for me and not for what others see.
I want to love. So that I can show those I care for that I do.
I want to love. So I can feel real and human and not like a machine.
I want to love. To know that I don’t always have to feel blue.

I want to bleed. Bleed so much that it is a relief.
I want to bleed. So that the toxins within can be released.
I want to bleed. Slow and steady and watch it all fade.
I want to bleed. Till all the pain has ceased.

But I cannot scream, or hit, or run or bleed.
I try to smile and laugh and love see the happiness in me.
It is hard, so hard to see the good in me.
It is hard, so hard to see the way out.

The Break Is OVER!!!!!!

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This weekend starts the community runs for the Fifth Third Riverbank Run! Not sure if I will be doing the 10K or the (EEEEKKKKK!!!!!) 25K, but I will be doing it again this year! I am looking forward to group running again. Honestly, even though I tend to single myself out and run alone when I am with a group, it is so much more to see other runners out running knowing they are training just like me. They may be faster. They may be more fit. But they are running a mile at a time just like me!

 

Reflection

reflection 

[ri-flek-shuh n]
a thought occurring in consideration or meditation.
This morning I woke up after my very rough attempt at a half marathon to the actual ability to walk. Like, without issues, really. Granted, I had taken some OTC pain reliever early this morning, but still. I was slightly surprised. And as I sit here at work and think about the weekend that I just experienced I think about, well, everything. I think back to the first group Gazelle Run Camp race I participated in….The Medaling Monkey 5k.  Three miles. I remember thinking that there was NO WAY that I was going to be able to pull that off. Three miles. That was along time to sit and ponder what in the heck I was thinking choosing to “run for fun”. Three miles. Seems so miniscule now given what I have been able to accomplish to date.
I remember being introduced to Emma as my “Team Leader” on my first run camp day. The positivity and light that came from this woman was not only what I needed at that time, but something I aspired to be myself. And her having me run like 15 seconds and walk 15 seconds even seemed impossible at the time. Again, seems so miniscule now.
I remember she ran with me the last 100 yards of that race. Pushing me. I literally thought I was going to die, and this woman whom I thought was so full of life and spirit in the beginning was trying to kill me.  I don’t recall the exact time, but it was either just under or just over 1 hour for me to complete that race. And, obviously, I changed my view of Emma back to my original assumption of her 🙂
I have learned a lot over the past two and a half years. I have learned that time, at least for me, does not matter in a race. Goals, however, are important. I have learned that I have done more over this time than I have done in my life since high school. I have learned that faster does not necessarily mean better. And that completing something that you have worked hard for, regardless of what happened during the course, is much more meaningful than giving up.
I will not lie and say that since my bariatric surgery and my running lifestyle I have been “cured” of my self doubt. If anything it is more ramped up. I still have body image issues. I still fear the life I had prior to the active lifestyle I have gained. I still KNOW that if I do not surround myself with positive, challenge producing people I WILL give up.
I have learned during this journey that even though I like to run alone, I am absolutely surrounded by family, friends and a community that WANTS to build people up, not drive people down. That it is not only myself that I will let down if I give up, but them as well. And if that happens I know that they will still be there when I jump back in my zero drop toe shoes and get running. But I have no plans for that. I have no plans to quit. I have no plans to keep myself down. Because three years ago I could not walk a mile. And 18 months ago I was NEVER going to do a marathon anything. Because in 2016 alone I completed my first 10k, my first triathlon, my first duathlon and my first half-marathon. Because in 2017……..the sky is the limit!
Much love
Keep on….making yourself happy!

Grand Rapids Marathon

 

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In July of 2014 I NEVER would have thought I would sign up for a half marathon. I thought I was crazy to just decide to “take up” running for fun, and run a 5k. In that time I have learned a lot about running. I have also met some fabulous people. THOSE people are who got me to and through today.

Today, October 23, I participated in my first half marathon. Four times longer than the distance of my first ever run. I have been having trouble with training. More specifically leg cramps after mile six. Switched shoes. Nope, no change. Changed diet and electrolyte intake. Nada. Tried standing like a flamingo as much as possible to help strengthen my calves. Nein. Added compression sleeves while running. Nee. So as I was running along at a good clip on my 45/45 intervals….it was no surprise when my legs tested my ability at mile seven.

Now, 6 miles walking after run/walk intervals for 7 miles feels rough. I seem to feel it more in my feet. And even walking a bit did not help. I was feeling cramps even walking. Sometimes strong and hard cramps. I slowed my walk. I stopped and stretched. I stayed hydrated. However, all of that does not keep the thoughts of my inability to complete more then 6 miles successfully from my brain.

Maybe I am not meant for more. At least at this time. Maybe I need to try something different. But here is the thing. The people. The absolutely, unequivocally, phenomenal people that I have met along this journey.

I still remember going in to my local Gazelle Sports in July of 2014 just to find a better sports bra. My life has changed for the better ever since. I have learned so much from everyone I have encountered through Gazelle programs I cannot be happy enough.

 

I have officially finished my first half marathon. Over 2 years after saying I would never to anything that has the word “Marathon” attached to it. But it is all those that I have encountered along the way that have gotten me here. Everyone of you was in my heart today, whether I was walking or running. Whether I was smiling or crying. Whether I was positive in my ability or questioning it. It was all of you….ALL.OF.YOU in my life that have stood by me, understand me, pushed me, and changed me. This post is for all of you. I love all of you!

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Much MUCH love!

Defeat Depression Dash 5k

On Saturday October 15th I travelled to Ann Arbor to participate in the Defeat Depression Dash 5k. I was on the fence about going since it did mean I was going to miss my last long run in preparation for the Grand Rapids Half Marathon, but it was for a mission near and dear to my heart…..the fight against depression.

The route was planned to go through Domino’s petting farm. There was pre-race yoga offered as well. This was the second year for the event. This year close to 300 participants were present. The event was also presented by the National Network of Depression Centers and the U of M Comprehensive Depression Center.

Depression Center Logo

NNDC

“Mental health and fitness is just as important to one’s overall well-being as is physical fitness. The National Network of Depression Centers and the University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center, in partnership with the Wolverine Support Network, invite runners and walkers of all ages to join them this October 15 for the 2nd Annual Defeat Depression Dash.”

The course was a windy, chilly course with some gravel and dirt areas, but wonderful views of so many farm animals. Cows, horses, ponies, chickens, llamas, alpacas and goats. So much scenery and so many people walking and running to benefit the fight for depression!

It was a wonderful event that allowed the participants and their families to get up close and personal with the petting farm animals when the race was over!

 

Much Love

Keep Running

The Countdown Is Looming

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It’s hovering, right above me, like Mike Teevee floating above Willy Wonka’s head,  to remind me that in less than 2 weeks I will be running the Grand Rapids Half Marathon….yikes.

I remember back to when I first started running in July of 2014 and a 5k was difficult. And, in all honesty sometimes a 5k is still difficult. But I remember telling our “fearless leader” Michelle Staal, “um, no way am I ever going to run a 10k!”. Her response was simply, “yeah, you will”.

Never could I have foreseen triathlons, duathlons, 10k’s and now something with the word “marathon” attached to it! But it is happening. Will it be pretty? Most likely not. Will it be fast? Um, nope. That I can guarantee. Will it be life changing? I am sure it will.

I can honestly say that there is no event that I have participated in since my journey that I have not regretted doing. Now, let me be clear, there are events that I will never do again, but I don’t regret having done them. Sometimes you need to do something to see if it is what you want to continue to do. Sometimes you need to take a break to see if burn-out is attached (caringly thinking about you, Colleen). Sometimes you need to try an event to see what you are made of (hateful thinking about you, Spartan Ohio). Sometimes, you need to be out of your comfort zone to find out what you are made of (smilingly thinking about you, MiTi Duathlon).

These events have shaped me. Changed me. And they will continue to do so as I add more and more to my list of what I want to prove. Not prove to everyone else. Not prove to those who look at me and say, “you run what? At your size?” that yep, even at “my size”. But to prove to myself that the strength that is within me is immense and can radiate. Radiate to those around met that are deserving of seeing it. To those who see me break down to tears when I finish a tough event. To those who meet me at the finish to let me know it is okay to say something was hard. It was okay to have thoughts of quitting. It was okay to cry. Because, in the end, I still finished.

And whether you cross the finish line or DNF, the fact is, you did more that day than so many people keeping Art Van in business!

 

Much love

Keep Running

You, Yourself, Are No Longer

The thing about depression is that sometimes, in your own head, you turn on yourself. I still struggle with this. I still struggle with the mini that is in my mind that tries to make me question me intents. My worth. My capabilities. But this mini voice is something that keeps me on my toes and allows me to challenge myself. Writing helps me get some of this out of my head and allows me to re-read and remember these times. Because these times have made me. Have changed me. These sad and scary times are, in fact, me.

 

You, Yourself, Are No Longer

There are times when I shut myself up in a cold dark room
The world revolving without the need of me
But what blankets me in it’s falsifying warmth is the gloom
Feeling it fitting to light a match and melt the key

I am unneeded
I am unwanted
I am lacking in effort
I am haunted

Steer clear, my friend as I will absorb you
Pull you in with the glorious mask on my face
You surprisingly look at me and whisper, “who knew”
I smirk at you and respond, “welcome to this dark space”

I need you to feel my pain
I want everyone to see this thick, red, sticky paint
It will encompass you and take over your brain
It is okay….everyone faints

At the sight
At the smell
At the thoughts and memories that fade

You will be forever be changed when I take you
I lied to you and made promises
I covered your face and told you death was coming
I gleefully smiled at your pain and fear

It job is done as are you
You are different now and remember less of your former
The happiness fades and turns to blue
You, yourself, are no longer

Spectacular

You know as we come to the end of this phase of our life we find ourselves trying to remember the good times and trying to forget the bad times. The thing is, those bad times like to make themselves more prominent than the good times. The bad times like to steal the thunder. The bad times like the attention. And the good times are too nice to kick ass.

And we find ourselves thinking about the future and start to worry. “What am I going to do? Where am I going to be in 10 years?” And I say to you, “Hey… look at me. Please don’t worry so much because in the end none of us are very long on this earth. Life is transient. And if you are ever distressed, if you are ever at a loss, if you are ever at the end of what you think you can handle right now…..cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are sustained and speckled across the smooth night and a shooting star trails through the blackness turning night into a bright visionary day… make a wish think of me and make your life spectacular.”

Spectacular.

That is a word of different meaning across the grand scheme of the different beings that walk amongst the world.

Spectacular.

It could be the best one day, the worst the next in comparison to those around me.

Spectacular.

The people around you will make that determination of the day and shape your view of what you want it to be. But always make it

Spectacular.

I am still learning now that it is about “good” and maybe never simply done. That the joy and work ethic and virtuocity we bring to the particular can bring in part a singular type of enjoyment to those we give to and of course to ourselves.

Know this: You can never be the best. Not really. And that is okay.

Someone will always run faster or be more fit. Someone will always be thinner or have a look you want. Someone will always have a better solution. The only thing you can be the best at is developing yourself. Because that person with the better of you will push you. Push you to the limit in which you thought you could not go…..and then make you go further. Because you yourself are the only one who knows what you can accomplish. Because you yourself have to challenge your own thought process of what you think is

Right.

Wrong.

Better.

Worse.

Of what you see as

YOUR PERFECTION.

Truly. Because you, yourself can only be responsible for your own.

Come Clean Duathlon

On September 11, 2016 I participated in the Come Clean Duathlon in Haslett, Michigan. This was the third year for this event (my first) and it was to promote lessening our carbon footprint on the global world and embracing alternate forms of getting from one place to another. It took place at Lake Lansing Park. There were approximately 227 people participating. This was an increase in the number of last year that was 207!

There was a very diverse population. Newbies, speedsters, cruiser bikes and bikes worth more than my car. But I must say that the event was VERY well put on and the people  participating were all so supportive of each other.

After a moment of silence to recognize the 15th year of 9/11, and the signing of the National Anthem, we were all separated into waves. “Elite” Men, “Elite” Women, and…..everyone else. So, I made my way to the back 🙂 The course was a 1.4 mile run, 12.4 mile bike and a 3.2 mile run. The course was laid out very well. The only thing is that the bike course was stated to be “mostly flat”. I think “flat, but the hills that there are long drawn climbs”. But, again, here is me on a mountain bike with road tires, so….. some expected work that needs to be done.

I took my time on the 1st run. As a matter of fact, by the time I was at the .25 mile mark, the first “elite” male was only .25 from finishing the first run! But, I was not in this to podium or even age group. I wanted to finish and stay on top of doing these events and getting more used to them. That being said, I made good conversation with the lady on the trike bike who was the sweeper to let officials know of the “end” of racers. We joked about the road signs that said “Loose Stone” and how someone went around and put an “R” at the end of stone on almost every one of the signs. Talked about the weather (it was a perfect day) and how lucky we were it was not the day before where it rained and stormed like crazy!

I made it back to transition and started on the bike course. I was last and there was one girl ahead of me. I stayed right behind her until the turnaround and then passed. I actually got to say, “on your left” as I passed a biker. This was a first for me! It was kind of exciting! Anywho, as per usual, the second half of the bike was easier and seemed shorter than the first. But I made it in, my legs like jello, and went on the last run leg. Met up with my lady on the trike again. The run was nice through the neighborhood. EXCELLENT aid station kids and even people in the neighborhood watching.

At the aid station they were waiting for me. I jokingly told them, “Ok, it’s official, you can pack it up. I’m the last one….” and smiled. They were still quite supportive. Trike lady ad I watched a black and white cat come off its porch to come say “hi” to the girls volunteering along the course. I told them he obviously thought they were bored, and took advantage that they might want to pet him.

Then at about .75 miles left, a cop car joined my line. So me, trike lady and cop dude were just going along at my sloth pace. I asked if they wanted to conga while we were going along. Yeah, it would be a little harder for them given their modes of transportation, but hey, whatever. Then I told them that I was just going to pretend that I was in first place, so far ahead no one was behind me, and they were my support crew….they agreed that was a good way to think about things.

As I hit the end there was most of the participants still there. Lots of cheering. I actually got to hear my name over the mike as I crossed the finish (I usually have my headphones blaring). I crossed, bowed and got my medal. I had finished. Dead last, but I had finished none the less.

I went in to transition, got my bike and went to grab snacks. They were starting the awards ceremony. I joked to my husband and said, “so nice of them to wait for me to get done before the awards!” I came back to him with my snacks. They announced the overall male and female winners. These people were across the finish before I was halfway done with the bike. Geesh! We got stuff together to leave when an announcement was made that went something like this:

“We would like to take this moment to present a special award. In the spirit of the Tour de France, we would like to start a tradition of the Red Lantern Award presented to the last place finisher and to celebrate their determination and perseverance.”

I looked at Ron and his eyes were huge and his mouth open. Then they announced my name. I was shocked. I have only ever received the medals all finishers are given in all my races. I have never been singled out for my mediocrity. Everyone in the crowd was cheering as I went up to the stage. I was handed a beautiful steel tealight candle holder. It was gorgeous and one of a kind. I was in tears. And even after all the other awards were given, I got so much praise from the other participants. People wanted to know my story. People wanted congratulate me. It was a very special race.

In the end, I enjoyed being last, even before the award. I still hate the bike portion of triathlons and duathlons, but that may change with a bike upgrade. I had good company (thanks trike lady) and course support was wonderful! And I got a free 20 minute deep tissue massage after-BONUS!

 

Much Love

Keep Running!