Off Balance

My word of the year is Balance, which I blogged about around the first of the year.  There are soooo many areas in which I constantly fight imbalance.  I realize this struggle isn’t unique to me:  I think everyone in our society wrestles with it – especially moms!

Actually, I have been doing better with my balancing act than I thought was possible.  I was maintaining a regular strength training schedule and things were rocking and rolling as I got stronger and stronger with my running.  But in April, I practically derailed and I didn’t even realize how much until yesterday.

The running has been going GREAT!!  My volume has increased almost to what I was running before my injury….last month I ran 83 miles!  I ran all this without experiencing any major issues so life is good on that front.  However, almost all of my midweek runs have been at 5 AM, which is the time I had allotted for strength work, yoga and foam rolling.  What has slipped?? You guessed it: strength work, yoga and foam rolling.  (ALL the things I SWORE wouldn’t slip!)  The other side of this coin is that I am a piddler, and during my morning strength sessions I take coffee breaks…..LOTS of coffee breaks :).  Those mornings really are as relaxing for me as they are beneficial for strengthening my body and a great way to start the day, which makes the impact of all this two-fold.  I am slacking on things I need to do to keep me running healthy and I am slacking on things I need to do to keep me mentally grounded.  I haven’t quite gotten a handle on how to offset this, as most of my evenings are packed full with volleyball and softball.  My biggest problem: I am rarely at home.

I’ve noticed over the past few weeks that I feel tired ALL.  THE.  TIME.  That is SO NOT me.  In the back of my mind, I have known that I was burning the candle at both ends and that eventually it would catch up to me – and yesterday it did.  I got up at  the usual 4:20 to get ready for our 5AM run but something happened when I went to make my coffee.  I was stretching and afterward….my back wasn’t right.  It just felt tight and was hard to take a deep breath.  I got ready regardless and was about to walk out the door when I saw lightening.  I’m not going to lie: I was glad that we had to cancel the run.  All-in-all, I just didn’t feel myself.  I felt sluggish, exhausted and now I had this back thing to worry about.  I went to work and realized throughout the morning that I wasn’t only NOT feeling better….I was feeling worse!  So I decided to take the afternoon off and that turned out to be the smartest decision I’ve made in a while.  I went home and fell asleep almost immediately.  I took three 1-hour naps.  THREE!  (And when I say naps, I really mean slipped into an unconscious state, because I was effectively dead to the world!  It might be important to note that I NEVER take naps nor am I able to fall asleep when I do try one.)  By the time I woke up from the last one, I felt human again.  I had literally nearly run myself ragged.

We were planning to run this morning.  When my alarm went off at 4:20, I heard thunder almost immediately and checked my weather app.  Sure enough, we were covered up in a thunderstorm.  So what did I do?  I set my alarm for 5:30 and enjoyed another hour of sleep.  I should have gotten up to do strength work, but as a good friend reminded me yesterday: sleep is an important component of recovery (and I have not been getting my rest!).  So after a pre-9PM bedtime and some extra zzzzz’s this morning, I feel like Jen again – spunky and energetic!  And I think the rest was much more important that an AM strength session.  Hopefully I can get that in this evening 🙂

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and we have the BEST Parent Teacher Organization around!  They provided sub sandwiches on Monday, breakfast on Tuesday, and lunch yesterday from a local Italian restaurant (YES, I ate before I went home!).  This morning, the school board provided breakfast and even though I had already eaten breakfast at home, I pigged out on this breakfast burrito.

breakfast burritio

Oh man, was it ever delicious!  I am Texan – of course I LOVE breakfast tacos!

This morning I also drank coffee from my new coffee cup for the first time.  I love it! Another special addition to my collection. 🙂runner mug

Happy Thursday everyone!  I’m feeling fairly balanced…..for now! 🙂


ADHD Evidence and Growing into Parenthood

I wrote last week about my un-diagnosed ADHD and just a few of the ways that my brain is impacted by my inability to filter outside stimulus.  I have a few recent entries from my anecdotal log to prove my point.

Friday morning, I spilled my entire cup of coffee on my desk.  Sad, but true.  Yes, I probably would have licked it off my desk had my co-worker not been standing there, staring at me.  The good news is that my desk calendar was doused with my Kahlua flavored blend, so I can look forward to months of residual coffee smell in my office.

Then, I was able to top even the monster spill on my desk!  Each morning I make an announcement….to the entire school, over the PA system (which works through the phone system)…for teachers to post their attendance.  Friday morning, I was talking and distracted (as usual), picked up the phone to make the announcement and said, “Finley-Oates, this is Jennifer, may I help you?”  To the ENTIRE SCHOOL!!!  Immediately I heard the laughter of my office co-workers.  I’m still getting comments about it!  So if there was ever any doubt regarding my ADHD, I think I have removed it all this morning!

But just in case there was ANY doubt left, I’ll show you what happens when I talk and tweet.  REAL friends would stop me from embarrassing myself this way. I present you with Exhibit A:

This was supposed to say TOTALLY, not today.   But, YES, Corky and I are going skydiving! #excited
This was supposed to say TOTALLY, not today.
But, YES, Corky and I are going skydiving! #excited

This weekend was AMAZING!!!  I had ZERO obligations, except for Alli’s basketball game in town on Saturday.  I rarely get an entire day that is unscheduled, much less an entire weekend, and I enjoyed EVERY MINUTE!

Alli rolled her ankle during the basketball game on Saturday.  It was bound to happen sooner or later, but I expected it to come on the volleyball court.  Thankfully, Taylor’s many-a-rolled ankle prepared me for just this moment.  I know the number 1 rule of rolled ankles is NOT to remove the shoe, but Alli complained of pain along the outside of her foot.  That concerned me, since Taylor broke her outer metatarsal last year when she ran off a sidewalk (literally).  Alli’s foot showed no immediate bruising or swelling (thankfully one of our football coaches was there and he also felt it was just a rolled ankle), so the shoe went back on and I sent Alli to walk it off.  She sat out one quarter, then went back in.  I was SO PROUD of her!  I have often wondered if she would develop the toughness and competitiveness that Taylor has, and after Saturday, I do believe she will get there!  Now, I am not a proponent of playing while injured, but there is a difference between hurt and injured.  Alli hasn’t stopped since, except to ice it every now and then.

One day post incident and you can see just a touch of bruising under her ankle, but swelling is minimal, if at all.
One day post incident and you can see just a touch of bruising under her ankle, but swelling is minimal, if at all.

This got me to thinking about the first time Taylor rolled her ankle.  We took off the ankle brace (stupid) and went to ER for x-ray (stupid-er).  ER confirmed it was not broken, gave us a boot and told her to wear for 2-3 weeks.  Taylor wore that boot all of 1/2 day then decided it was for the birds.  She taped it up and walked on it as normally as she could.  At the time, Taylor was a Junior in high school and played 2 sets in her volleyball game just two days after the injury.  When she got to the point that she was hopping on one leg, I intervened and asked the coach to bench her for the remainder of the match.  Taylor rolled that ankle AGAIN about a week later, when she went out to play soccer and failed to tape it OR wear an ankle brace. (I was ANGRY, because we were DAYS away from our first playoff game and I felt she should have considered her teammates before going out and doing that.)  I did take her after the season to our orthopedic doc to make sure there was no ligament damage.  His diagnosis:  Taylor was tough and stubborn and her ankle would be just fine.

Day 3 after Taylor's rolled ankle (the first time).  She played on this the night before.
Day 3 after Taylor’s rolled ankle (the first time). She played on this the night before.

In comparing the different way that I reacted to both of these injuries, I remembered something that I once told Taylor.  She had been complaining that Logan wasn’t held to the same standards as she was and she felt I was being too lax.  My response to Taylor: You were the first one, so you were the guinea pig.  I figured out a lot of things that I did wrong and so I have tweaked my parenting as I go along.  My main goal is that you don’t end up in counseling because of my parenting.

OK, the last part was a joke.  Kind of.  But, it is true that you evolve and grow as a parent.  You learn (hopefully) not to sweat the little things and to pick your battles carefully.  For example, Alli used to go to Wal-Mart in her swim suit and a fleece hat during the summer.  I would have NEVER allowed Taylor to do that, but, hey, by the 3rd child, you’re just happy they made it out of the house  with shoes on!  (And you realize some things aren’t THAT important.)

I ran this weekend.  The weather was GORGEOUS – high 70s and sunny!  I increased my run intervals (per the plan) to 4 min run/1 min walk x8.  I actually felt better before and after than I have to date!  I had issues with tight glutes after Wednesday’s run, which is why I opted not to do my Friday scheduled run.  I am still lacking confidence in my body (as well as my decision-making), but I know that this is a process and it will take time to gain it all back.  Thankfully, I have a great support system AND, while odd, I have yet to run low on patience.  Maybe old dogs CAN learn new tricks!

I'll be channeling Saturday's run this afternoon when I face 40 and cloudy with winds 15-25.  It was nice while it lasted.
I’ll be channeling Saturday’s run this afternoon when I face 40 and cloudy with winds 15-25. It was nice while it lasted.

To most of the country: Enjoy your day off.  I’ll be at work and am going to make the best of it (with the help of Kahlua flavored coffee)!


When advice is confusing and so are your friends.

I attempted my last long run of marathon training on Monday.  I say attempted, because my ITB flared up and I cut the run short – 11 miles instead of the 20 I had planned.  My reaction to this setback was surprising to me on many levels.

  • I didn’t panic or immediately sink into a pit of despair – during or after the run.  This is a biggie.  I’m at a critical point in marathon training.  Not getting this last long run in means that, on race day, 5 weeks will have passed since my last long run.  That’s enough to cause any aspiring marathoner to shake in their Asics.  Believe me when I say that I am shaking in my Asics.
  • I decided to cut the run short.  This is also a biggie, considering I finished my long run the last time this happened and ended up running limping the last 8 miles.  I also ended up tweaking my calf, which is just now healed properly.  Maybe old dogs can learn new tricks.
  • I used the setback to my advantage and tried out some strategies for race day, in case myITB rears its ugly head again.  I stopped and stretched myITB and tried walk breaks, both of which provided relief for a window of time.  It’s always good to have a Plan B.  I hope I don’t have to use Plan B.

    Plus, who could be upset when your run began with this beautiful view?
    WHO could be upset when your run began with this beautiful view?

I appreciate all the support and advice that I’ve received from my running friends, my chiropractor and my myofascia guy.  And even though the nuts and bolts of the advice may differ from person to person, there is a common thread shared by all – listen to your body.  This seems like a simple task.  I’m sure it is a simple task for normal people.  But for me, it is THE biggest challenge in training.  To explain this, I must offer a confession: I am an addict – a running addict(try finding a 12-step program for that).  As an addict, I am proficient in justifying my actions.  In fact, I can justify any ache or pain, convince myself I should still go for a run AND that I should push my pace or add hills to the route.  So, listening to my body causes great confusion and dialogue within me (not unlike Gollum/Smeagol in LOTR).  I’m trying to quiet that uber-competitive part of me that wants to push through regardless of the consequences.  I also get distracted by my goals.  For example, I feel very strongly that I need to work that long run in somehow.  And while I know this isn’t a good idea, I can’t shake it from my mind no matter how hard I try.  Even though I have given voice to letting that run go, I catch myself thinking of ways to “make up for it” in my upcoming lower mileage training runs.  But I have come a long way, Baby, so I’ll take whatever progress I can get.

My stubbornness has, however, served me well in the past and earned me quite a reputation.  A friend asked yesterday how training was going and when I gave her the Cliff Notes version, replied, “You’re going to run this race held together with spit and baling wire!” (spoken like a TRUE Texan….she is a transplant!) and then, “You’ll do it, if only from sheer will.”  That, my friends, made me smile, because I know she is right and I know that I can do this! 🙂

This also makes me smile.  A wonderful new addition to my back window: :)
This also makes me smile. A wonderful new addition to my back window: 🙂

I went for my weekly myofascia appointment yesterday.  When he asked me how things were going, Debbie Downer I replied, “I’m falling apart!  My ITB is so mad at me! I don’t even know if I will be able to race!”  I proceeded to tell him about the long run and why it didn’t happen and he replied (this is why I LOVE him!), “You aren’t falling apart, this is just a speed bump.” Basically my ITB was GLUED from my hip to my knee – it wouldn’t move at all when I first got there.  My guy works with his wife but her client didn’t show yesterday, so she came in to help with my session.  At one point, I felt like I was on “The Rack”.  She was pulling my arm in one direction and he was pulling my leg in the opposite direction.  They did lots of other things, but at the end of the session I felt like a new runner!  I’m really very thankful she was able to help out, because I wonder if he could have made that much progress alone within an hour.  When I asked him how to approach the remainder of my training – you guessed it – he said “Just listen to your body.” Clear. As. Mud.  (I wonder if anyone ever notices my eyes glaze over when they say this to me??)

This morning, I had plans to have coffee with a friend who moved to the Dallas area a couple of years ago.  We try to get together in the summer and holiday seasons to keep in touch.  We always meet at her house – she is the one who lives in civilization, after all, so I left my house to head her way around 8:30.  At 8:45, I got a text from her confirming what I already knew; that she was running about 15 minutes late.  But that sounded odd, since I was going to her house!  I contacted her and realized that we were each going to the other’s home!  I had not understood that she was in town visiting her parents for Thanksgiving.  Typical, for this relationship! I turned around and headed back home to meet her.  As always, the visit was WONDERFUL, but reminded me how much I miss our little Ya-Ya Sisterhood.  And in Cindy fashion, she brought her own coffee mug!

Happy Hump Day & Turkey Eve!