Diary of a Crazy Runner: Lemons 🍋 

You know that saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!”
Okay, let’s get one thing straight. Lemons, unless mixed with a drink, or followed by a shot, are not necessarily the greatest thing since sliced bread. I’ve had plenty of lemons hit me the past 2 months. Student loans kicking in, work picking up, weight coming on because of a foot/ankle break on top of a declining running career have hit me. My endorphin hoarding passion cannot keep me going, and it sucks. This lifestyle I fight for is sustainable, but right now I am in a place where I need to get myself healthy an stable environment to keep myself going.

I am NOT quitting marathon running. The post I made following my terrible race was obsolete after my Chicago Marathon (holla atcha 1 hour difference in finish times). I’ve gained a lot of weight- like a stupid amount of weight that could have been avoided. This is something I am trying to address. I lack discipline and I need to find it again.


The one thing I’m proudest of today? I replaced a meal with all greens and protein… the Arnie Palmer, however, is my treat.

I have my vices, good and bad, and I think my biggest challenge is undoing all the wrong I’ve done to myself. I am now eating with the “If God didn’t make it, don’t eat it” sense of self. It’s scary, even though I’ve done it before but it’s necessary. I’ve gotten too comfortable and after the year I have had, I need to make sure my health and wellness are a priority.

Right now, I am taking these lemons, and making a gelato or something way more complex than lemonade. I want to grow and challenge myself. I want to get strong and lose weight. This “in between” training is my reset.

From this chubby runner, to you all- Run happy and strong!

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Tales of a Chubby Runner II: Post-26.2 Blues


Have you ever had a week where legitimately everything (and then some) went wrong? Well this, my friends, is that week. 

Let’s backtrack to April 30, marathon day. It was rainy, cold, and I ran the absolute worst race of my life. 4:46:30. I could go on and on about a pot hole and tweaking my knee (no, really I can) but what it all comes down to is training and stress.

I have put my body through the ringer this past year. Weight gain, poor energy, and low drive all contribute to poor training, which was my own mistake. Accountability goes a long way, and it’s one of my weaknesses- believe me, I’ve got a few of those. I’ve been told that I always had an answer for everything, but it’s because I’m always thinking (SEE, answer). Anxiety does this thing where you run through scenario after scenario, trying to figure all of the outcomes. 

If it’s a stressor, I’ve overthought about it. It’s part of the reason I run without music, actually. Running allows me to think, to physically allot time to everything stressing me out. With the post-marathon body/hobble, as well as this knee injury, AND job hunting, I am struggling to keep myself happy and healthy, which means I have to find a new healthy and efficient way to cope. 
Many people view healthy as what you eat or how many times you work out, when it truly encompasses so much more. Allotting body time for activities when working a night job, understanding physical limitations a few times a year due to an illness that’s never going away, trying to long-run, plan and organize having a tiny social life all fall in the realm of healthy (for myself, I’m sure we can all lost out our positives and stressors). The way you share yourself throughout life is what embodies health. Sleeping, monitoring food intake, putting in the time to work out, growing your faith, doing something fun, budgeting financially all leads to a healthy fluid life, and I think that’s what I am missing.

I graduate in 9 days. I have finals and projects on top of pain, stress, and managing a job. Right now, my plate is full but I know bombarding myself with life is necessary to move forward. My marathon was AWFUL, it’s 4 days later and I am still crying. Yeah, I’m scary overwhelmed. But the truth is, this too shall pass. My frustration and anxiety have been spilling over to people I care about, and that totally defeats what I am working towards. I’ve had so much life happen within the last year I sometimes forget not everyone is out to get me. 

Where I am in life, right at this moment, heavily relates to how I ran my marathon. “No walking.” I pushed, despite the pain and swelling. I had to alter my gait, throw off the trash bag I was running in, and just move forward even though conditions were less than ideal. It was awful, but I’ll never forget the Illinois Marathon. 

Cheers to a new chapter. 

Tales of a Chubby Runner: Taper Madness

“Nona, mommy needs to seriously get her shit together.

Curled up under my quilt, I see Noname lightly open her eyes And then close them again.

I took a picture of the moment because she is the cutest little nugget alive.


“You’re right, puppers. Something has got to change.”

Yes, I am aware that my dog did not say a word to me. But seeing her so tranquil and calm in the midst of all my chaos made me think. I am absolutely fucking terrified of what the next 5 weeks is throwing at me. 

The potential threat of not graduating because of 1 class, actually having to kick up my training to make myself run like a real runner and not some average stressed out college student, FINALLY (after an entire year of non-committed nice guys who were actually dick-monsters) being able to work on building a relationship with someone who is so genuinely nice, and having to run a marathon that I’ve struggled to train for since I began back in December. 

If you know anything about what a taper does to a human being while marathon training, you’d know just how much of a genuine birch it is. It’s essentially PMSing for all genders because you’re overemotional, stressed, and hangry. For me, it’s the 1 year anniversary of when my life completely fell apart… On top of PMSing, so really the slightest thing can piss me off or make me cry. It’s great, really, because I’m also bigger on the weight side of things, but at least I’m healthy. That’s more than what I could say for myself a year ago. 


After this week, this marathon, I am only 4 weeks away of my next round of 18 week marathon training for the Chicago Marathon. That means healthier eating, and better sleep on top of finding a job-job and trying my hardest there. Apparently there’s a full-time 15 that mimics the freshman 15, but hopefully I’ll be too far into training to have that happen to me.. Or, you know, not have any problems graduating.

If you’ve actually read this far, I’m sure you’re asking yourself “What’s this tubby tapering girl spouting on about?” We’ll, good question, person. I am going to keep a weekly journal via my blog to keep you up with training and races. I want my transformation, or whatever the hell you want to call it into adulthood and training to be available for people to see whenever their in a rut. Healthy isn’t hard, and I want that to be known. All it takes is hard work and hope. 

Hopefully, I can live up to my expectations. 

Running With Yourself

I love to run. I love the feeling of fatigue, struggling between the realm of comfort and pushing myself, listening to the rustling of leaves, the chirping of the birds, even the short conversations of cyclists passing by. The steps I take become rhythmic while I slowly breathe in and out, my thoughts wandering throughout the present. My body is synced to my every motion as I look forward. When I run, I am one with my mind, my body, and my surroundings. Despite the motion and utilization of energy consistently occurring, this is one of the only times in my life where I feel the most centered. I am a mindful runner. Running is a meditative act for me and many others, and I believe it is a simple transformation many other runners can take on.

We all have routines, things we think and do everyday. Some of our routines serve us well, and some don’t. Something that’s become a big part of my daily routine – one of the...:

What is meditating?

So does meditating mean you need incense, rocks, beads, saying “Ommmm” for minutes at a time? Well, maybe. Traditional meditation can happen in a variety of ways. You can go to a class, utilize youtube videos, or even focus on yourself and just take time to be present for a few breaths, minutes, or hours. Meditation is what you make it, as are the benefits.

Benefits of Meditation

Just Breathe-Ancient Practice of Pranayama can help you detoxify, shed excess weight, and boost overall vitality.:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers the levels of blood lactate, reducing anxiety attacks
  • Decreases any tension-related pain, such as tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems
  • Increases serotonin production, which improves mood and behavior
  • Improves the immune system
  • Increases the energy level as you gain an inner source of energy
The one type of meditation that I choose to utilize is mindfulness meditation. This meditation allows you to focus on the now, release any feeling of tension or worry, and truly focus on grounding yourself. Almost as if you find your center.

How is this useful to running?

Your runs are what you make them. Even the most intense track workouts can allow for a moment of clarity. Writer Amy Marxkors wrote about a story she made up about a long stretch of farmland on one of her long runs, and it wasn’t until I found myself making up a story about squirrels on an 8 mile trail run where I realized that she was unintentionally practicing a moment of mindfulness. She was not letting the fatigue hinder her thoughts. There was no complaining about being out on a run. We are in motion when we run, as is the world and by utilizing our very senses and connecting with the moment we are in, we are well on our way to a moving meditation as we run with ourselves.

Benefits of Mindfulness (Meditation) | Lynn Hasselberger for Elephant Journal | #infographic #meditation #mindfulness:
As runners, we utilize music, strobe lights, groups, and fight a never-ending battle between cars and cyclists. It is easy to allow our mind to be cluttered with stress and unhelpful thoughts as we put our foot one in front of the other. A good way to start practicing mindful meditation is to eliminate distractions. Maybe start by ditching the music and playing a senses game. One run you focus on all you hear, and, maybe on a later run, you try and point out all of the changing colors on the tree- just being mindful of not cluttering your mind with homework, work stress, and other thoughts that only bring negative emotions.
On a recent trail run, I was overwhelmed to the point of tears. Two miles in, I stopped on the side of a cliff because I was too jumbled to continue. My legs felt like bricks and I was worried about work, relationships, finances, you name it. As I stood on the cliff, I paused. I listened to the boaters fishing speaking to one another. There voices echoed between the leaves and it felt as though they were only a few feet away. I saw a hawk circling around some trees, and as the boat took off I watched the waves ripple. I felt like I was slowly coming back into my body, and as I breathed, I closed my eyes and rooted myself in the ground. I felt like me again, and in those few moments my run was altered. I ended my 8 mile run on a strong note.
How to be happy now. Things you can do to be happier, thanks to science and the power of positive psychology.:
It is amazing how a few moments can change the outcome of a stressful day. I know this is something that works for me, however, I think every person- runner or non-runner- can benefit from meditating daily. Take time to focus solely on yourself and live for the now. It’s not something that’s only spiritual, but it truly allows you to be able to appreciate the little, and big things in life.
Go The Distance 69:

 

Do I Dare Disturb the Universe: Buddha and the Runner

  
Before I was pregnant, sick, and left alone to deal with the collapsed sense of self, I utilized mindfulness and yoga in my everyday life in addition to running. I felt a calm that I never experienced before I went into the hospital in February. I figured how to be one with myself, with the moment- with the universe. I gave myself the best tool kit to keep myself mentally and physically sound, but once things went south, I gave it up.

It’s funny how I always say people can “make time” when they claim that they are too busy to run. Yoga and meditation are two of the most calming and self centering exercises an individual can heal themselves with, but I felt that I was too broken. I can honestly say that God never got me through my awful time, but rather another higher power that help light a fire inside of me. I don’t know who or what was there for me, however, I knew it was something. When I was laying in bed crying, replaying the moment I found out I was pregnant through the minutes before I fell asleep I had surgery and wishing something would come and take me out of this world, I had a small realization. 

When I was 19, and trying to get over a rough patch I had a Buddhist Proverb tattooed on my foot. It said “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” I got the quote because I was going through a rough patch, having no idea the future would play out as it did. While laying in bed, I decided to research what this meant and discovered a whole new philosophy. This very philosophy has been something I’ve been transitioning to for a few weeks, and so far it’s changed my life and goals for the woman I aim to be spiritually, as an athlete, a daughter, friend, and young adult. 

 So this guy, Buddha, had this idea that true inner peace is possible, and that finding peace and happiness within ourselves will then project to others, and eventually the universe. The idea seems laughable, but so does the idea of a single God to others. It wasn’t until I started to meditate again that I began to feel whole again.

They say that meditation creates a gap between stimuli (thoughts) and response. In the gap you have a choice. In the gap there is immense potential rather than habitual reaction. I know I have let my words and immediate reactions to intense emotion dictate my reactions. I can’t help but think about how different my life would be if I wasn’t such an intense person when it comes to emotions and reactions, but meditation helps me eliminate the “what-ifs” and the negative thoughts because they do not aid me in the now. 

I credit mindfulness for the strength I found in endurance running. It is not an easy task running 20+ miles without music. It was my goal to find meaning in meditation and mindfulness through running. Suddenly my focus shifted from switching music and pausing to text to zoning in on my breath, cadence, and, most importantly, my surroundings.   The trails, clifsides, uneven surfaces, and twisted roots were no longer intimidating, but rather more welcoming than the cluttered roads, filled with people passing by totally unaware of the sonder around them. I find peace in the physical challenge of my activity of choice, but the joy of seeing, smelling- feeling the world in a whole new light. The thoughts and emotions that would come in waves in the months prior to me starting to run again soon vanished, the person who broke me down the most is hardly a memory, the pain I experienced of losing my child, and trying to pick up the pieces suddenly seemed easier- all thanks to focusing on myself in the moment.

My body and my mind are better Athan ever before, and I wish it was easier for others to find this exciting way of combining to vastly different activities into one. Buddhism is not a goofy “religion” but rather a philosophy that doesn’t require a temple, but rather the willingness to be present in the moment. Losing track of ourselves- our individuality and mental health is easy in our seemingly nonstop world. Making time for ourselves- to be one with the moment and our body and soul can do more good for a person than any distance or time spent in a gym. 

We don’t have to overwhelm our minds and body with clutter, anxiety, stress, and all of the other emotions and feelings that come from our everyday interactions from work, school, training and so on. We can pause for ourselves, even in moments when most people feel overwhelmed, like in a stressful situation at work or school… Or even focusing on the world around you when your hamstring starts screaming on a long run…

The Dalai Lama said that we should not use Buddhism to become Buddhist but rather use it to become better in our lives at whatever else we are doing. Meditation and focusing on the moment is not something for yoga or an expensive class. It can be established and built on in our daily lives, and ultimately better connect is to our universe as we work on our practice. Knowing I have an effective way to manage my anxiety, stress, sadness, anger, and strengthen my connection to the land and trees I grow close to every run I feel so empowered and excited to see what the future holds.  Ultimately, I want to be the best version of myself. I think this is the right direction for the place I am at in life. Buddha said “Just as a snake sheds his skin, we must shed our past over and over again.” No longer am I a victim. I’m a survivor and I will keep pushing forward, training for my marathon and ultra marathon, and hoping that one day I will be able to become a wonderful mother, partner, and reliable friend to others.  

Comeback

 

I’ve heard that the one who falls and gets up is so much stronger than the one who never fell. From April to June I was at rock bottom. I lost the person I thought I couldn’t live without, a child, my ability to run because of physical problems, and a lot of respect for myself. During those dark months it never hit me that things could ever get better. I was physically limited and mentally torn down. Weight that I fought so hard to lose came back, but being pregnant followed by a major health issue didn’t help me physically or mentally. Before the doctor put me under for my surgery, he held my hand and told me I was going to feel like a whole new woman when I woke up. I never could have imagined how true his words were. 

Within a few weeks post surgery, I started running again. I was slow, which was a kick to my confidence, but I was running. Despite my troubles with speed and building endurance, I was amazed at how the pieces of my life slowly started coming together. By August I started a new job that happened to be centered around my passion. I enrolled at UMSL (and plan to graduate in May). I began talking to a doctor and taking medicine to better regulate my mood and keep me as stable as possible, but most importantly I decided to embrace the future rather than be caught in the past.

It took me 6 months to finally enter the dating game again, and, thanks to tinder, I’ve met some pretty cool people. When it comes to having a job, school, and a running career the bars are not always the best place to meet your potential soulmate. According to others, neither is Tinder, but to each their own. Going into the dating game after a traumatic and abusive relationship was almost as difficult as those first few runs after surgery… But after more than a few “crash and burn” dates I finally figured out how to master the dating scene, and, lucky for me, learned how to set high standards for what I want in a partner. The parallels that I felt with dating and running were scary, but I now feel like I’m coasting through both. 

  
To give whatever readers I have an update, I have completed my third marathon- missing a PR by 3 minutes- and have began training for my first 40 mile ultra marathon in February and my 4th full marathon this coming April. The best part about this training season is how the training differs from my average “running”.

  
Trails are beautiful but DIFFICULT. My 8:30 pace is challenged by rocks, roots, cliff edges and steep inclines that mimic stairs more than hills. I can barely stay under 11 minute miles, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying the scenic trails. I’m only in the beginning of my training but I’m excited to see how I will grow through trail training as well as ultra training. My last round of marathon training was therapeutic and I think this round will bring me to peace from the trauma I faced.

Today I go rid of the past. My surgery paperwork, the papers that had my due date, all of the random things I’ve held onto for no reason. There is no point to hold onto thing that have no meaning or use. Sometimes I think about how I would look right now and wonder about what I would’ve done had things not happened the way that they did, but I can honestly say that I now believe fate is a very real thing.

  
I didn’t die when I was weak and hoping not to wake up because I felt so empty and hopeless. I didn’t give up when I had to fight to give myself some kind of motivation to get out of bed. I kept fighting to give myself something to look forward to, and, even though there are still bad days, I am so thankful to be the woman I am today, to have had the experiences that I’ve had, and to still have dreams and aspirations that guide me into everyday life. I’m not the fastest I’ve ever been, I’m not the skinniest version of myself, I still feel self conscious, but I know that this is my one life and I’m going places because I will not settle or let the past break down the person I’m meant to be. 

  

The Marathon Called Life

I am losing weight, chipping away at my pace time, and learning to love the person I am becomingz

I am losing weight, chipping away at my pace time, and learning to love the person I am becoming.

4 months ago I couldn’t have told you what it felt like to feel hope, happiness, and gratefulness. I was living in a place where I was depressed, alone, and lost with guilt consuming me. Running wasn’t an option, having someone to lean on was an impossible task, and I was physically and mentally confined to a room because of the many physical limitations from losing Road House and endometriosis. My heart and mind were trapped in an endless cycle of reliving the loss, the break-up, and fear of starting over in a place that hadn’t felt like home in years.

Before everything happened, I truly thought I was with my soulmate. We were both runners, he challenged me, and I felt so much admiration when I looked at him. What I lost in that relationship was a love for myself. It is easy to engulf yourself in a person to where you believe they are “IT”. When you lose your “IT” in addition to a child, your school, your jobs, your friends and support things can get rocky. Multiple traumas hit at once and I truly let them get the best of me. When the winds of life start blowing against you, you have to adjust your sails and prepare for the storm at sea. My doctor once told me “Always prepare for war in a time of peace.” Never again will I allow myself to crumble because of my inability to allow people to take more than I am able to give.

Learning to be alone has been an experience. However, I have discovered so much about the person I long to become, the runner I strive to be, and understanding how to avoid ever getting myself in the situation I was in before. Change is scary, but in my life it was necessary. This Thursday I turn 23, and as young as I may be I can’t help but be relieved that this year is almost over. So much loss has occurred this year and I am just hoping for some good to start happening.

  

On the bright side, I am starting a new school- The University of Missouri St. Louis. I have an awesome job centered on running and helping others become better educated, better trained, and stronger runners/walkers… Most importantly, I have finally come to peace with everything that’s happened over that past 4 months. I think being able to run and train like I used to has a lot to do with that. Getting stronger, faster, and being independent can do that to a person. Can I say that 23 will be my best year? No. I will say I won’t ever allow 22 to happen again.