Squashing that “voice”

Stolen from my cohort in crime, Carmen, who posts Hump Day pics EVERY Wednesday!
Stolen from my cohort in crime, Carmen, who posts Hump Day pics EVERY Wednesday!

In my heart of hearts, I’m a realist.  When I assess situations, I see them pretty much as they are, mainly because I view the situation without allowing emotions to weigh in.  Even so, in most situations I try to lean toward the side of the optimist.  I want to see the good in the situation and focus on the positives.  Life is too short to dwell on the negatives…..and the negatives depress me. But sometimes I give more lip service to the positive side than I actually feel internally.  Say it long enough and you’ll believe it, right??

I haven’t been completely honest with everyone about how I have felt coming off my injury.  I wanted SO badly to be well.  I wanted so badly to be brave about it.  I wanted so badly to beat that voice in my head kept telling me I would NEVER be able to run long distances again.  But I didn’t feel “well” and I didn’t feel brave at all and I COMPLETELY bought what the voice in the back of my head was telling me.  And while I am mostly glad that I was injured in the dead of winter, being injured in the dead of winter was also a curse. I have a tendency to lean toward depression in the winter.  There is too much darkness and not enough sunshine to feed this Texas girl’s soul.  Add being injured on top of that and it’s mentally hard to dig your way out.

The Texas sun is shining on me again and I love it!
The Texas sun is shining on me again and I love it!

Having said all that, I have seen great improvements with my fitness and running.  The strength training has definitely made me stronger which, in turn, has made me feel better.  Slowly and surely I have made progress with my running.  All this gave me hope, but in the back of my mind the voice was still telling me that I couldn’t do it (and I was listening to it).  Plus, I was still having nagging issues (on my left side, mostly) and those issues gave the voice credibility.

But if you keep saying it, sooner or later you might buy into it.  So I kept saying it (but not believing it).

A week ago Friday, I ran my intervals (TOO fast).  I even pushed the pace on the last  interval.  (I know: stupid.  I guess Crazy Jen found the damn key.)  Then, I worked a big volleyball tournament over the weekend.  By the last game, I was really hurting from my hips down – dull, constant pain.  (The voice was screaming at me, “I told you so!”)  I knew that the Friday evening run plus working all weekend was not a good combination.  Monday I was tight and sore and when I did my strength exercises, they were so much harder than usual but I chalked it up to being exhausted.  By Monday afternoon, my left SI joint was burning and I barely slept that night because the pain was so bad.  This REALLY frightened me, because even with my injuries, I had never hurt this way.  I continued foam rolling and stretching, but decided not to do any lower body strength work until I started feeling better.  I did hop on the TM mainly to see if running made things worse. Thank goodness it didn’t!  Wednesday morning I was better but still not feeling great but went ahead with the first scheduled run with my new partner.  The run caused no issues but walking after a period of inactivity was still painful.  Thankfully, my myofascia guy was able to accommodate me for a 2-hour appointment and things felt better….for a little while.  I was diligent with the foam rolling and stretching.  And I decided that as long as running didn’t make it worse, I wouldn’t skip any runs.

After our first run went so well, it was kind of assumed that we would continue running together.  (Maybe I should tell you that my partner’s name is John….for future reference;) )  Upon John’s recommendation, I decided to try a pair of Newton’s.  (I’ve had a nagging feeling for quite some time that I needed to make a shoe change, but I wasn’t sure exactly what change needed to be made.)  He suggested that I take some time to transition to them, because they are different from the Asics Nimbus and Kinsei that I have been wearing.  He still didn’t think transition would be difficult since I already had a midfoot strike.  OH.  MY.  GOSH.  The first run in them on Saturday was AWESOME.  And since I didn’t have any issues with my calves or my feet, I wore them again for Monday’s run.  Still no issues, so I ran in them again yesterday!!

"The" shoes: my Newtons
“The” shoes: my Newtons

With each run in these shoes, my body feels better and better and better.  By the way, I do realize that a large part of this is directly related to having a running partner who isn’t afraid to make me run slower than I’m used to, but I think switching to the shoes is going to go a long way in keeping me on the road injury-free!

All this to say that I think I may be FINALLY putting the voice to rest.  During the last 10 days of running, I have begun to genuinely believe that I CAN run distances again – healthy and free of nagging pain. (I am confident enough that I signed up for my first race post-mara: a half marathon on 5/3!)  Three things happened:  I now have a partner who can pace me appropriately; he recommended a shoe change that has been nothing short of amazing and I realized that I have what it takes to deal with issues as the arise.

It feels great being a grown-up runner!  And it feels great to really believe what I’m saying 🙂

Happy Hump Day!

Jen

Finally learned to listen to my body, but now I don’t trust it!

First of all, thank you to all who read Wednesday’s blog.  I am blown away by the responses I received.  I am so humbled that my words brought comfort to so many, although I can’t take full credit for what I wrote!  I think God may have had a little something to do with that. 🙂  It’s hard to move on and post normally after something so raw and heartfelt, but that’s what life is about, isn’t it?  Moving on, tackling those day-to-day activities until some sort of normalcy returns.  So here I go with today’s post.

During marathon training when my ITB flared up, I posted about the confusion that ensued after my flimsy attempt at listening to my body.  At that time, I thought my ITB felt fine (well, fine as long as I wasn’t on a run longer than 6 miles).  During that pain-ridden journey, I may have just achieved that elusive mind-body connection (for now, at least…until Crazy Jen comes back).

After the marathon, I seriously thought I would take two weeks off and slowly start building back.  It didn’t take me long to realize that 2 weeks would be extended to 4.  When I made the decision to extend my recovery period to 4 weeks, I seriously thought that I would be back strong in that amount of time.  In the back of my mind, though, a little voice started whispering that it would likely take 6 weeks….or maybe 12.  I knew the voice was right and somehow I knew that this time – I had to listen.

My first run post-marathon was 6 weeks in the making, and (again) I had a gut feeling that it wasn’t going to be good (and it wasn’t).  I still feel that the time was right to get out there.  I went into the run with the mindset that I needed to gather information that would help me shape my training plan going forward.  (And I got A LOT of information.)  I waited another full week before I went on my next run, which was FABULOUS!  It ended up taking me 7 weeks recovery to get “that feeling” that things were heading in the right direction.

I ran again on Tuesday and it was another great run (as long as we ignore the heart rate issue in the first interval).  Wednesday evening I was back to see my myofascia guy.  I nearly cancelled because things had been going so well, but something told me to keep the appointment.  (It’s mind-boggling how often I have been listening to that little voice lately!)  In our pre-session debriefing, I told him that my glutes were still VERY tight, despite all the time that I had spent on the dreaded therapy ball.  He started on my hip (which was not moving in any form or fashion) and performed a release that he had not used on me before.  OH.  MY.  GOODNESS!!!  I knew my hips were tight, but I had NO idea until afterward.  Now that entire area feels AMAZING!!!

Love being able to run while Alli is at practice, even if it is only a 35 min workout
Tuesday’s Run: Love being able to run while Alli is at practice, even if it is only a 35 min workout

So it seems like things are all roses, right?  Not so much.  Let’s just call it like it is: I hate the intervals.  And I really dislike being constrained to my heart rate, even though I know that it will be good for me in the long run.  I finally admitted to myself that I don’t trust my body.  I just don’t.  I know that things are better now than they have been in months, but I don’t know what I am going to be able to push myself to do.  I want to go run a 15 miler tomorrow and I know I can’t.  And quite frankly, I don’t know if I ever will be able to again.  I am adding time to my intervals slowly in order to build my base and avoid further injury, but at the same time I’m as nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof.  Every time I go out, I wonder if this is going to be the time that things go haywire again.

Even so, I will keep chugging along, because I really have no other choice.  I love running too much to give up when things get tough.  I’ll keep in mind some of my own advice: nothing worthwhile is ever easy.  So when I do actually get back out there on a run (without intervals), it’s going to be the sweetest thing ever!

Happy weekend!

Jen

When the winter sun kisses Texas, everything is better!

Yesterday, the sun came out to say hello!!  It was a welcome sight after hiding behind clouds for well over a week.  I took advantage of the mild temps to do some past-due pool maintenance and to spend some time soaking up those wonderful rays!

Don't let the sun fool you....that water is COLD!
Don’t let the sun fool you….that water is COLD!

Let’s hope that the tumbleweeds are all blown away by now.  I’ve been cleaning them out of the skimmers for a couple of months and I’m always on edge because the things are FULL of them.  I have to reach down through the weeds that are packed in to grab the handle of the skimmer basket. (GROSS!!!)  I DO NOT like seeing ANY kind of spider, alive or dead in those skimmers and the thought that one could be lurking (alive or dead) underneath all those weeds just creeps me out!  (Snakes almost as bad!)  And even though I know all those critters are long gone with the warm summer temps, I still get a little nervous every time I pop off the cover.  Yes, I spared you a visual of the nastiness of my pool skimmers. You’re welcome.

Sophie and Izze LOVE to come out in the back yard.  Especially Izze.  She just loves to run.  Sophie is a little more refined and, well, not ADHD, so she simply walks around like royalty (or a nice, slow gallop).  As much as they love the trip outside, they love going back in even more, because it means a treat for using the potty outside! LOL

Izze is quite the photogenic puppy.  Sophie WILL NOT look at the camera.  EVER.
Izze is quite the photogenic puppy. Sophie WILL NOT look at the camera. EVER.

I did something else yesterday.  It was one of those “facing my demons” type of exercise, even if loosely so.  I don’t think it is a surprise to any of my friends in the running community that I was not ecstatic about my marathon time.  Yes, I KNOW I ran it injured and yes, during the race I just wanted to finish and tried not to worry about my time.  But I worried about my time.  Until yesterday I had not even opened that run on RunKeeper.  Usually, I am back on RunKeeper almost immediately to analyze my splits, elevation and cadence.  But not this run.  I could not bring myself to look.  And while I’m still not to the point that I can post the splits here, they weren’t AS bad as I expected.  I actually held my pace fairly consistently through mile 14, which was longer that I remembered from the race.  Even then, I was able to hold it together fairly well until mile 18, which is when I started really slowing down.  I’m glad I finally looked because it made me realize I didn’t suck it up quite as badly as I initially thought.  At the end of the day, I am beginning to accept this first effort for what it was and I can feel the disappointment slipping away.   I’m actually starting to appreciate what I was able to accomplish. Yay!!

I also started the “rehab” component of my recovery.  I walked 15 minutes on the treadmill at a brisk, but manageable pace, then went through a few of my hip exercises – leg lifts and clam shells with the resistance bands and hip thrusts.  I cut the reps down to 20 and used the lighter resistance band.  Thankfully, I have not noticed any new aches or pains so far!!  I will continue walking every day and increase that a bit at a time, but I think I’ll keep the hip exercises to every other day for now.

I stopped by my chiropractor and even though I told him last week I was taking some time off, he was speechless when I told him my decision not to run for 4 weeks.  I thought I saw him swaying back and forth for a moment, so I wonder if he was on the verge of fainting.  In any case, I’m confident that he NEVER expected to hear those words coming from my mouth.  At the end of the visit, he was glowing like a proud parent.  My Christmas present to him: one visit with a non-combative Jen.

Happy Tuesday everyone!!

Fantastic Friday (It’s Christmas Break!)

It’s Friday. 5 days post-marathon. Less than a week before Christmas. But most importantly, last day before 2 weeks off for Christmas Break!!!

I feel like I’m recovering well from the race. Still haven’t experienced much muscle soreness and my ITB was only painful one day, but it is soooooo tight. I can tell EVERYTHING is restricted in that area…on both legs! I know that this rehab is going to require a level of patience that I’ve rarely, if ever, been able to muster. So, I’m throwing this out there (for my own accountability): I’m not planning on any running for a month. Yes. I said it. AN. ENTIRE. MONTH.  (And….I’m mentally preparing myself for a longer period of recovery, if it is warranted.)

I must allow my muscles time to heal. I know that running 26.2 miles with an injury (here’s your sign) put extra stress on all my muscle groups so all those little tears need to heal. After I allow some time for that, I will add in some strength training, then ease back into running. I REALLY wanted to run Hot Chocolate Dallas and The Cowtown Half Marathon in February and March, but I realize that would be paving the way to another injury and I am DONE with injury!!

So I added this to my running necklace yesterday. I posted the photo and Taylor immediately commented that they bought me one for Christmas. I’m sure they are frustrated but how was I supposed to know? LOL. I will return mine and exchange for another. :)))

I've been waiting a LONG time to put this little gem on my necklace!
I’ve been waiting a LONG time to put this little gem on my necklace!

For the 95% of the country who has NO clue that the Final Four of Division I Volleyball is in progress: the Final Four of Division I Volleyball is in progress and semi-finals were played last night. I fill out a bracket every year and, this year, was so excited to share in the bracket madness with some of my Twitter friends. As usual, I incorrectly guessed the outcome of many matches. My #1 pick, Washington, didn’t even make it out of Regionals. I only ended up with 2 picks in the Final Four, but I DID correctly predict Texas’ implosion in the semis (YES that was a painful pick, BUT I’m nothing, if not a realist) and that Penn State would advance over Stanford. Another exercise in focusing on the positives…

2 for 4.  *smh At least the Price missed his pick as well, so I don't have to pay off my bet ;)
2 for 4. *smh
At least my friend Price missed his pick as well, so I don’t have to pay off my bet 😉

Working in the office of an elementary school at Christmas time means it is ALWAYS a good idea to burn an extra 3,000 calories in a marathon the Sunday before you get out for break. I wish I would have had the mental presence to take photos of all the homemade goodies that I’ve been given over the past week. (I’ll blame this on post-marathon brain fog, but we know I’m always in a brain fog.) As luck would have it, I received many gifts this morning, so you’ll get the idea.

What you can't see and that I later discovered, is the white chocolate drizzled over the clumps of popcorn.  OH. MY. GOODNESS.
Gift from the cafeteria ladies.  What you can’t see and that I later discovered, is the white chocolate drizzled over the clumps of popcorn. OH. MY. GOODNESS.
THIS!!!  Toffee is my weakness.  After I eat all this, I'm going to punish Shannon for tempting me with it.  She is the devil!
THIS!!! Toffee is my weakness. After I eat all this, I’m going to punish Shannon for tempting me with it. She is the devil!

One gift that especially touched my heart was one from my friend, Christie.  We ‘knew of’ each other in high school as we had mutual friends, but never really ran in the same circles.  She is working at my school this year and, in getting to know her, I feel like I have found a long-lost soul mate!  Imagine my excitement when I also learned that she is a runner and had trained for a marathon.  She was unable to run it due to all sorts of knee injuries just before the race that ended up requiring surgery.  When she saw me after the marathon, she gave me a big hug and I nearly cried!!  The well wishes mean so much, but even more coming from a fellow runner – one who KNOWS what it means to cross the finish line.  AND as we were talking about my recovery plan yesterday, we decided to run a half marathon together…..in the Fall (calm down, Jane!!). This morning I found this hanging on my door.

OK, this brought about some sadness, becuase it wasn't wine, but I laughed at the note.  Do I have THAT big of a reputation as a wine lover??
OK, this brought about some sadness, because it wasn’t wine, but I laughed at the note. Do I have THAT big of a reputation as a wine lover??

When I looked inside, I was blown away.

Christie has me figured out.  She knows that I need *encouragement* to rest and recover :) Plus, she shared her CD with me.  I can't wait to listen to it!
Christie has me figured out. She knows that I need *encouragement* to rest and recover 🙂
Plus, she shared her CD with me. I can’t wait to listen to it!

I’m definitely counting my blessings morning for unexpected friendships!!

Happy Friday everyone!