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: 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. 

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. 

  

Pace and Mind

I’ve kind of been a Debbie Downer lately. So, if you haven’t read, I have been having a lot of issues with depression and anxiety. Sometimes, life gets a little too real. I am ready to move forward- to focus on my marathon, working, and getting my head straight. 

   
    

What do those instapics mean??

You guys, I AM RUNNING AGAIN! I am slower than a turtle, but with each run, I feel stronger. It’s a feeling that I have not felt in a long time- months even. The fuel that I’ve slowly begin to feel over the past 4 days has helped me feel like I’m doing SOMETHING and that something makes me want to LIVE. Crazy, right? (That’s a joke, because clearly I’m a little wacko when I’m low)
In addition to the wonderful world of running, I am also taking on a 30 day challenge (see picture) 

  Looks pretty fun, right??
So, the cool thing about this is that I think I like working out. Running is mental. Lately, I’ve been envisioning myself running races (which is NOT a Sam thing because I hate paying to run) and finishing strong, like I did in the few I’ve ran.  It sounds dumb, but I’ve also been thinking about my training as week. Anything to take my mind out of the dark place, to be blunt. When I workout, it’s a whole different world. I could close my eyes and not worry about a pot hole or getting smashed into by a vehicle (that doesn’t know pedestrians have the right away). I count, there’s repetitions, there’s a number, a timer, different motions I have to make sure I’m doing correctly. I AM NOT IN MY HEAD AT ALL- and it feels SO liberating. 
I haven’t felt that sense of calm- like nothing can go wrong- in a long time, maybe even years. Working out gives me a security I’m not used to, and when I begin to see results, I know I’ll love it more. 
I’m starting off slow, running in the mornings and doing the challenge and potentially a class at night (when I’m not doubling up at my jobs). I am also cutting all fried food (besides tortilla chips cuz duh) out of my diet. I’ve been sticking to my 2000 calories a day, with fried food but I think having a cleaner diet will also help. 

I know this all sounds simple, but I was in such a dark place… I can’t wait to see where this will take me physically and maybe mentally. 

So you all know- I’m okay-ish, which is better than where I was. I’m getting through this a day at a time. 

10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before My First Marathon

  

1. Have an 8 mile base before you start.

Arguably, you should have trained for a half marathon by this point. Marathons happen to be something that you can’t just jump into without some type of prior training or running experience. The thing about a marathon and it’s training is that it’s completely unpredictable. You could have an awesome training, and then a shitty race. Or your training could be one of the hardest things that you’ve ever done in your life, and you just stop. It takes a lot to run a marathon. 

Having that comfortable 8 miles as a base is great because you’re almost halfway done with your distance right there. Plus, that the distance of your first long run!

2. You need a fuel belt or hydration pack. 

Running any distance carrying a water bottle can suck. Problems arise, like the extra weight hurting your arms or maybe being a jerk-bag litter-er.

You can look on Amazon, at Marshalls, TJ Maxx, any running store, or even Dick’s Sporting Goods. There’s all types of varieties. The main difference is usually bottle size. For me, I have a hydration Pack that holds normal size water bottles. For some people, that’s too heavy. There’s a lot of options in size. It just comes down to how much weight you’re comfortable carrying, and how much water you believe that you need.


3. Invest in Gu or Jelly Beans
 

Believe me, on a long run you will feel fatigued and tired. Those little jellybeans or nasty gu can give you the energy to push you through to the very end. Sometimes, water and a pre-run meal don’t finish the job!

The cool part about these electrolyte carrying goodies, is that a lot of them come in sizes that you can carry in your field. It doesn’t really add any extra weight. And, so that actually do taste good. I choose the jellybeans for that option. However, salted caramelGu, is, from what I’ve been told, the Mecca of runner run foods. 


4. It costs more than an entry fee, but the pay off is worth it. 

Shoes, clothing, the sudden increase in pasta, Olive Garden, pizza, essentially all items that require food prices going up, having to take time off from work for recovery days, and, last but not least, all of the stuff that you didn’t realize you needed that you find at the expo add up.   Running is an expensive ass hobby. Much like dietary changes, it is a lifestyle change in itself. Something that you definitely have to budget for. I would say the most important thing you don’t budget for is how much you von love with running. That “you-time” is priceless.

5. You may need multiple pairs of shoes.

 As I said before, you definitely have to keep shoes and mine. It’s not good to just train in one pair. Having a variety will also help your knees get used to different feelings of shoes. They say you’re never supposed to run a race and new shoes, but by trading off shoes, that happened to not be of the same type, you’re really helping yourself become a stronger runner and saving mileage.

6. You NEED to follow a training plan.

Experienced runners, or people that I’ve had training in running may not need this. But, having a training plan requires accountability, and helps you set goals for yourself. Knowing that you’re going to have a 10 mile run at the end of the week definitely helps you reconsider a couple of choices. Maybe you won’t stay up late binging on Netflix, or you think those hot wings might be a bad choice before 20 mile run. Knowing what you have coming and seeing what types of runs that you can do for yourself helps the marathon become easier. Not too many people can just go out and run a marathon. 

I’m only a month removed from mine, but in that month I rested, was sick, and have just started getting quick again. It takes time, and I probably could run a marathon right now. It just wouldn’t be at the time I wanted it to be. Your body needs to get used to what you’re putting it through, and training plans are safe route to do it.
 
7. You need to ignore the scale.

You’re going to gain some weight marathon training. I have been lucky in the fact that in the weight I’ve gained, it’s really bad muscle mass. So I’ve actually been looking like I’ve lost weight. However some people pack on the pounds.  Don’t worry- your body needs that fuel. That energy is not fat. It is something that your body will feed off of. And you’ll find that once your marathon training is over, and you’re resting it’ll fall right off because your body is just so fatigued. The scale is not your best friend. Your goal time is. 

8. You’ll develop a race ritual.

This may sound weird, but many runners already have one. It’s something that you don’t really notice until you think about. I have to fit in active waffles with butter and syrup, I sit with my dog and share them with him, and then I go drive myself to a race, parka ballpark Village, and then jog to soldiers memorial and go to the starting line. That, so far, has been my pre-race ritual for my two marathons.

my dog being judgemental before a long run

My long run ritual, includes the same shirt and shorts, waffles, and, most likely, Forest Park.  You’ll find what helps you groove. Whether it’s music playlist, a favorite pair of socks, or just an area where you feel at home. It all becomes a part of the ritual.

9. Carb load 2 days before a long run.  

Don’t ask, just do it. It kind of goes along with the whole “don’t listen to your scale” thing.  Before it 18 or 22 mile run, you’re going to eat about 4000 cal the day before, and even the day before then don’t be afraid to eat some carbs. Your body needs it. It is your only excuse to ever just pack on the food.

10. Post Marathon resting is just as important as cross training and resting.

Me and the rest day don’t get along. I run at least 3 miles a day. Currently I’ve been on the 3 to 6 mile street for the last week and a half. This coming week I’m pre-training for my next marathon so I can begin to get the fee of what I’m in for. 

 
However,  after winter where I  was essentially side mind for a month and a half, I have learned to take pure pleasure in a rest day. I may only run a mile, but I’m still doing something. However, I run a lot so my body reacts differently. For new runners,  this day is one of the most important because it allows your muscles to grow. 

Embrace the rest day. It is your friend, just like running.

10 Things Running Taught Me


  1. Appreciate the small things.

Out of all my early morning summer runs, my favorites were always the long trail runs in the dark. Yes, I may have thought there was a murderer and/or ghost following me, but 90% of the time it was a mama opossum and her nursing young hissing at me. 

You feel vulnerable in a sense, and you have to build trust with your surroundings. When the daylight finally begins, everything looks so different. The trust begins to diminish and suddenly you’re just at peace with what is around you. That’s appreciating the little things. 1 thing changes and a whole world opens up. 
2. Wind is either your best friend or eternal enemy.

Headwind is an asshole. I’ll say it. I’ll say it A THOUSAND TIMES OVER! However, on a long hot run, that slight breeze can make you feel as though you’re unstoppable and that the world is at your fingertips. 

I will always appreciate the wind, however, when the wind causes a PR to collapse there is usually some bitterness.

3. Running in the rain isn’t always therapy, fun, and a shower.

Actually, some days it soaks your iPhone, the wind picks up, and you get trapped under a tiny cement bridge with a homeless man during a monsoon. 

(Not speaking from personal experience or anything)

Much like the marathon, rain can be hit or miss. At times it is refreshing, especially whenever it’s hot outside and it feels as though the humidity is even high at 4 o’clock in the morning when it’s pitch black. Rain, much like wind, as both a burden and a blessing.

4. Dialectal running can make a 4 hour run feel like a minute.

You can feel the sweat drip down your face, feel the cool breeze brush against your skin as you control your breathing one step at a time. Feeling these sensations can allow you to feel comfortable, at home even. As your feet carry you further with each step, the adrenaline builds and your body may begin to feel fatigued.. But you pursue your goal.

That is appreciating the small things. Having all of those sensations and embracing each one individually helps you practice mindfulness while also better connecting yourself to your body and your surroundings. Those feelings, and paying close attention to how they make you feel can cause you to get lost in yourself and the moment. Sometimes, that’s all you need to clear your mind and build your body. 

5. Running buddies often turn into great friends.

Simple as that. I can honestly say that running his brought my mom and I so much closer. Even if she is way far ahead of me because she’s quick as hell. We have our times but we will talk, or even start an argument. Actually I can name at least five occasions where we gotten into a fight and resolved it all within an hour time span. Thank you, endorphins.

6. There is purpose in every mile.

This kind of goes along with dialectal running. I have recently been dedicating a mile to somebody I care about, or even just something I’m passionate about. Within that Milo like to think about it and why it makes me happy or why would want to dedicate my energy to it. 

It’s kind of amazing. Sometimes, I think about things and I don’t feel investing myself to it. The body is amazing in the way it can physically manifest what you may actually feel about a person or a subject. I kind of take that as a sign to myself

7. Don’t be a douchebag driver.

RUNNERS GET THE FUGGIN RIGHT AWAY. I WILL FLIP YOU OFG AND YELL IF YOU ALMOST HIT ME.

Bullets don’t just stop once they leave the chamber. Cutting off a runner (who has the right away) is rude and that sudden stop can really throw them off. Be the nice driver, please.

8. Self discovery is going to happen, whether you expect it to or not.

Reflection is weird. I believe that regret is the most useless emotion. There’s no point of it because the past in the past. However, when I reflect about things I guess I look at it more as a learning experience. Through running I have learned so much about myself. What I like, what I don’t like, and even what kind of food I think I should eat that night. Even though it’s normally Chinese food, I still like to think about those things. It makes me feel like I get to know myself and what my quirks are.

9. It’s easy to get too caught up in your own thoughts. 

I like to learn about myself, but sometimes I have really unhelpful thoughts. I guess that’s why I try and practice dialectal running so much. I like to think about things and reflect, but I don’t like to get mad or upset about them. When you were physically putting so much effort into yourself, it’s easy to get a little emotionalism that can throw you off physically and mentally.

10. Running is a gift.

You don’t have to run. You get to run. Running a something but not very many people are mentally capable of handling. It’s a lot. Thinking about all the times that I’ve wanted to quit, the times that I was pissed that I couldn’t run, or even thinking about how much I hated it because of others and their actions I have learned to love the art of running and I fall in love with it every time I lace up. 

Running is a relationship. It’s a relationship between your mind and your body, your body and your surroundings, and even your mind and your surroundings. You’re going to have good days, you’re going to fight, but out of all the bad there’s going to be good that outshines it