Bettering Myself for Myself

When one suffers from depression and anxiety as I do…..thoughts can sometimes be your enemy. I have always been so concerned with the wellbeing of those around me. Many times so much so that I do not care for myself. And showing care and concern for others is not a bad thing, but I have always been told that if I don’t care for myself, who will show that care and concern for others?

I have never been one to shy away from discussing my thoughts of suicide in the past. Those thoughts generally set aside because of my furkids. They are the one thing I could not have a guarantee on care if I was gone. Also, part of the reason I always have pets around. Even though they always drive me crazy, I love them to death.

And things have gotten better since I discovered the joy of my running family and what I gain from everything within that. But there are still days. There are still thoughts. There are still cuts. There are still scars. There are still tears. I still have anger and hatred. I still don’t understand many times. But the important thing is that I am working through all those rough memories and times. And some people are needed to help get me through. Some people are not needed. But I am trying to make sure I am using all of myself to better myself.

It’s Okay To BE “Lone”…Why My Depressive Brain Keeps Me Company

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So, I run a majority of my running season with my Priority Health Run Camp Run Group (SHOUTOUT!!!!!!). We meet every Wednesday evening and Saturday morning for training runs to train for whatever it is we are training for next. There are the “speedies” (which is not me) and the ones that “get it done” (which is where I like to place myself), and everyone in between. EVERYONE in the group (and it is a pretty large group) is fantabulous (even though I have not ever really met all of us). And the groupings are fun. I admire those that can run and pace each other and chitty-chat along the way. Pace groups that can work together and get to know each other. But, honestly, that is just not me.

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My group knows, (well, most of them) that I am one that eventually just breaks off on to my own. I become “lone”. I got me, my working feets, and my music. But, believe it or not, I have all kinds of conversation…………with myself. Now I know that a lot of us may experience our brain telling us, “you can just walk, now”, or “It’s okay to just stop. You did a lot already”. And my brain does that, too. But my brain also tells me things like, “You know you can’t really do any better than you have already done, right?” or, “Is there a reason you keep trying to crush goals you know you cannot get any where near?”. Yeah, sometimes, my brain is a shithead. Literally. But I use the time that I am running alone to work up the ability to stand up, not only FOR myself, but TO myself. And there are bad days still. Days where I do just stop. Days where I do look at my goals and think, “yeah….not sure what I was totally thinking here…..no way this is EVER going to happen.” And plans change. Goals change. And that is okay. But I change them. ME. Not my challenging shithead brain.

So, if you are in run camp with me and see me running along yelling at no one, just know it is for good reason. Because we can all be our own worst enemies. And my second-guessing, depressive peeking, shithead brain is getting a beat down.

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Much Love. Keep Runnng!

2017 Season Has Arrived

Run camp starts soon and I CAN.NOT.WAIT! I mean, I have no real desire to run outside in inches of snow, but I am more likely to do it if I have paid for it and others are there as well! That being said, it is not the act of the running that I am excited about, it is to really focus on the need to make sure that I am working on improving my strength and ability to not have to walk the last half of a half marathon due to leg cramps.

#IGOTGOALS.

That being said, I would also like to improve on my triathlon times. As well as NOT have a sore rear for 3 days after said triathlons because #bikeseatssuckforbigbutts.

I did notice during the Resolution Run that, even though I chose to walk it I made it up them hills with much more steady movement and less “WTF??” in my head. Plus, it provided a nice glute and brain workout!

So, I got goals for 2017. Are they major change goals? Nope. They are steady goals. Major change-type goals for me are major failures. So slow, steady and functionally worthy goals set ahead. Watch out 2017…… I am coming for you!

Stay focused!

A

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

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[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.

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“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