Confessions

It’s been two weeks since my last confess… wait, that’s not right. Ok, My name is Jayne, and I’m a run-aholic. Hmmm… that’s not right, either.

I haven’t run in almost two weeks, and nothing feels exactly right. In that time, many things have happened. Our government has quit and is threatening to implode, Gary and I had birthdays, fall has arrived, and, apparently, Bruce and Kris Jenner have decided to call their marriage quits. All right, I’m really not sure who Kris Jenner is, but didn’t Bruce get an Olympic gold medal or something? Anyway…

I took a couple of weeks off from running. This has been a craptastic year in the life of my training, and I just ran out of steam. I had a slight head cold, so I let that be my excuse to begin with, then I just decided to sleep in on these exquisitely crisp autumn mornings, snuggled close to my man, not feeling the slightest twinge of guilt. Well, almost. There is always a residual of guilt somewhere in my psyche, I think that’s just the way I’m put together. I do have a race coming up in a few weeks. A fairly long one (a half mary). And, if I had to run it this weekend, there’s no way I would make it to the finish. But, I don’t have to run it this weekend. And, I’m starting to get my head back together.

I’ve learned a really important lesson over the last few weeks. For most of the summer, Gary and I have been fine tuning our diet, and trying to eat clean. We have been mostly successful, allowing ourselves occasional indulgences; but for the most part, eating whole foods, prepared by my loving (if not always gifted) hands, carefully balancing our intake to coordinate nicely with our output. Gary lost weight immediately (of course), and while my weight loss has been slower, it has definitely started, so I’ve been encouraged. Then our birthdays hit. We celebrate three days apart and we allowed ourselves several indulgences, including a chocolate cake. We both REALLY miss cake. We also had some cheese dip and chips, and several other indulgences that we don’t normally include in our diets. Now, first of all, let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed every single bite. My stomach, however, did not. After ridding my body of toxins so completely over the last couple of months, my tummy went into full on revolt. I won’t go into details, suffice it to say it wasn’t pretty. Lesson learned.

I’ve always said that diets never reel me in with their science. However, if a diet can become an eating plan for life, makes sense, and keeps me satisfied, I’m willing to try it. The true test is how the eating plan makes me feel. I have to say, eating whole foods with an emphasis on protein, limiting carbs, and trying to keep a watchful eye on wheat (without going overboard) has me feeling better than I have in years. We’ll see how the weight loss goes – that has more to do with how MUCH food I put in my mouth, not just the quality of that food.

I’ll be at the beach next week, and I think I’m finally ready to hit the running trails again. We’ll be riding our bikes some, as well, but some of that will be easy, fun riding. One of my many birthday surprises was the coolest bike I’ve ever had. I may even let Gary make my picture on it next week. If I do, I’ll post a pic. Here’s the bike:

Pink!  And, it has a bell and coffee cup holder!

Pink! And, it has a bell and coffee cup holder!

I have the best hubby ever. He also gave me not one, but TWO first edition books, one by my current obsession, Truman Capote, “In Cold Blood”, the other by Norman Mailer, “The Executioner’s Song”. I was absurdly excited about these. Guess that makes me a nerd? I finished “In Cold Blood” in record time, am working on the Mailer book now.

In addition to the nutrition lesson, I learned an invaluable one about training. When you’re burned out, stop for a while. It won’t hurt you in the long run, and will most likely lead to important self discoveries. I’m not an elite runner, and will never be one. I want to be the best that I can be, at this time in my life. Learning to listen to my body, and heed its warnings has been the best gift I’ve ever given myself.

Finding the light

I’ll admit it. It’s been a fairly dark summer for me. I’ve struggled physically, which darkens my mood in direct proportion. I’ve had minor ailments, truly nothing that should make this journey seem So. Dang. Hard. Yet, hard it’s been. I’ve had to dig deeper than I ever have to maintain the barest level of fitness. And, I do mean barest.

But, I’m an eternal optimist. And, I think determined is a kind word to describe me. My husband might call it hard headed, but it has served me well during this time of struggle. I’m not one to ever give up when I have my eyes fixed on a goal.

I have learned a really important lesson through all this. It’s one I already knew, but, deep down I didn’t think it applied to me. It’s a very simple lesson, one we learn as children, and hammer into place as adults. It’s this: Garbage in, garbage out. You are what you eat. Turns out those tired, old cliches are true, after all. You simply can’t outrun bad nutrition. Your body won’t let you. Oh, you may get away with it for a while (especially if you’re young), but at some point, your body will come to a screeching halt, flip you the bird, and declare it’s done. That’s where my body was heading. I won’t bore you with the details of the things I’ve been pouring into it; but, they included large amounts of foods that don’t properly fuel my body, chased by gallons of (very good) wine and coffee.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reigning in my runaway eating, I’ve made purposeful choices about what to put in my mouth and what to leave out, I’ve planned meals intentionally, and I’m cooking again.  I’m finally feeling like myself again.  The body is a truly amazing thing.  When you take proper care of it, it responds well and performs in almost any way you ask it to.

Yesterday’s run was the first one in many, many weeks that really felt good. Still painfully slow, but strong and steady. I can live with that for now. This morning my man and I did hill repeats, again slowly, but with strength and purpose. It really annoys me that he can already kick my a** again on the last hill, in spite of the fact that he’s got hardware in his leg and has just started running again. I’ve written about that hill before. It hates me.  I hate it. So, I’m determined to conquer it. Maybe one day we’ll be friends. Or, at least, it will know who is boss.

This evening, my legs are pleasantly sore (mostly).  I’m tired in the way I should be tired, not in the “I think I’m coming down with something” kind of tired. I’m looking ahead in anticipation to the workouts we have planned this week.

I’m headed toward the light again. Finally. And, I haven’t had to give up coffee. 😉

giant step

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Why do it?

As this glutinous season grinds on, it’s time to look forward to the new year and start making our plans for training and racing.  I’m excited that so many in my inner circle of family and friends are lacing up and hitting the road (or the treadmill), and hope that many more will join us as this year closes and a new one begins.  As you look toward a healthier horizon, know that it’s never easy, sometimes it’s really boring, and not all runs are good ones, but making the decision to become a healthier you is one you’ll never regret.  Here are a few things that keep me looking for my running shoes at the crack of dawn.

*It helps me be nicer.  I took the week off from running after last weekend’s half marathon to nurse a few ouchies, and by Thursday, my sunny disposition had melted into a snarling, semi-hysterical puddle.  I had two vicious run-ins over the telephone, both of which make me hang my head in shame today.  Not that they were unprovoked, just that I usually deal with that type thing much better.  Apparently, I need running to help me deal with anger issues.  :/  Who knew?

*I’m responsible for my long term health/well-being.  No one else.  I often listen to podcasts as I run, and this morning’s run started with an Andy Stanley series entitled “Take Responsibility”.  In it, he made the statement that if you aren’t prepared to eat right and exercise now, when you’re healthy, you should sit your spouse or children down and ask them to go ahead and plan on taking care of you as you age.  Ouch.  While there are many things that lie outside my ability to prevent, there are lots of things that lie within it.  Eating well and exercising help me be the best me possible, today and in the future.

*I’m good to myself.  Time spent alone on an early morning run is the most quality time I spend with myself.  I relax, recharge, regroup, and reenergize.

*I catch up with my girl time.  Occasionally, I like to run with a friend.  It’s fun, motivating, and keeps the route interesting.

*I catch up with my guy time.  The thing I miss most about having my man down for the time being is running with him.  Yes, he pushes me hard.  Yes, that makes me grouchy.  It also makes me a better runner.  Get better soon, old man.

*I catch up on my reading.  I love to read.  But, my schedule (like yours) is overly full, especially this time of the year.  So, I download great books to my iPod that keep me company on long runs.  I’ve run with Harry Potter and friends, Jay Gatsby and Daisy, the inspiring women in “The Help”, Jamie and Claire Frasier from the “Outlander” series, and many,  many more.  I also like to listen to podcasts by some of my favorite speakers, including Andy Stanley (pastor of Northpointe Community Church in Atlanta), the late, great Zig Ziglar, the down to earth Joyce Meyers, and the funny girls over at Another Mother Runner.  Long runs are often “catch up on my podcasts” time.  

*I have a worship experience.  I have lots of music on my iPod and that sometimes leads to an amazing run.  My running playlist is very eclectic, running the gamut from Queen, Steppenwolf, and Tom Petty to Jonah 33, Jeremy Riddle, and Mercy Me and everything in between.  I dial it in, hit shuffle, and let God choose what I listen to.  At mile 4 this morning, just as I was getting in my groove, He selected Mercy Me’s “Word of God, Speak”.  And, it did.  Mile 4 was a hands raised to heaven kind of mile.  Love it when that happens.

*I feel spectacular.  I’ve been running consistently again for a little over three years.  I felt better after the first six months, then after a year, I felt great.  Now, I have energy to spare, morning runs fuel my day, I’m seldom sick with anything worse than a fever blister, and I wake up easily in the mornings, looking forward to the day.  Does it get better than that?

I hope this list helps you get motivated or re-motivated to move.  Please, don’t think you have to be a runner.  In fact, if you’re just starting out, haven’t run in a long time, are a little older, or are prone to injuries, just walk.  You never have to run, you certainly never have to race to reap the benefits of adding exercise to your life.  Everyone starts slowly, then gradually improves. It’s the natural way of things.    In the words of the incomparable, recently departed Zig Ziglar:

zig

Serenity

On Facebook this month, a lot of people have been listing things they are thankful for daily.  I love that.  Although I haven’t participated publicly, I’ve enjoyed reading my friend’s posts and marveled at how blessed we all are.  Probably my favorite thing about social media is seeing photos of friends and family and keeping up with their lives.  Okay, sometimes, they overshare.  But, that’s a post for another day.

I try to live my life in a spirit of Thanksgiving, consciously verbalizing prayers of thanksgiving when I first open my eyes each day and before I close them again each night.  There are so many blessings in my life, and I am humbly grateful.  No one deserves them less, but no one is more grateful. Today is always a wonderful reminder to be thankful for the bounty we have as a nation.  For health, friends, and family.

My day started early with preparations for lunch for six, going to the nursing home to see my Dad, then loading our van for a few days at the beach.  It’s race week for me, and I’m more than excited about race day on Saturday.  Perfect weather, my daughter running the 5k while I run the half, my man at the start & finish lines waving his crutches, cheering us on.  Even a celebrity appearance by Meb.  Can. Not. Wait.  I may have over-embraced my taper week, to the point that I feel a little fat and lazy.  Hopefully, it will give me fresh legs and not adversely affect my race.  The huge slice of Italian creme cake I had for dessert today, on the other hand, I may live to regret.  But, life is short, and I don’t eat dessert very often.

My list of blessings is long.  At the very top is my crazy husband with his wicked sense of humor who is my best friend and strongest supporter (as well as a fairly mean coach).  I like him so much more now than I did all those years ago when I married him.  And, I really liked him then.  He inspires me in more ways than he knows.  When I feel like slacking, all I have to do is think of how hard he is working with his physical therapy and I push on.  If he can do the workouts he does with a broken leg, I can get my tush in gear and out the door on days I don’t feel like running.  It’s harder for him to inspire me to strength training, so he usually guilt trips me to it.  It’s working, though.  And, it’s helping my training a lot. I really hate it when he’s right, especially about strength training.

My beautiful daughters inspire and motivate me to keep running, and they even join me on occasion.  My sisters encourage me, help me carry the load, and pray for me, my sweet daddy is a treasure to all who know him and  passed his strong will on to me.  My girlfriends are sisters of my heart.  I’m truly thankful for them all, today and everyday.  Laughter around the holiday table is music to my heart.

Tonight, I’m thankful for the quiet serenity that the beach provides, a lovely place to enjoy it with my family, a glass of wine on the balcony, leftovers for supper, and the ability to run the race on Saturday. I’m thankful that the sneezy, achy, cough I felt coming on yesterday disappeared in a cloud of peppermint schnapps last night, and so far hasn’t reappeared to ruin race weekend.  And, I’m thankful for a papaw who taught me that little trick many years ago.  I’m thankful that, even though I forgot the sweet tea and the bottled water and now I’ll have to go to the store on Black Friday, after all; at least I remembered the wine and the coffee.  A girl has to have her priorities.

I’m thankful for what running has brought to my life as I get older.  The peace that fills my soul after a good run, the thoughts and creativity that runs inspire, the unbreakable bond to my Creator that is reinforced with every step.  And, finally,  I’m thankful that although I may not be able to run one day, today is not that day.

Learning patience

I’ve never been a fan of the idea that you shouldn’t pray for patience.  The reasoning behind that is that you won’t like what God sends you.  Does the same go for wisdom, then?  Or strength?  When I asked for wisdom, He sent me a teenager.  When I asked for strength, He had me train for and run a marathon.  Did I like those things?   No comment.

So, although I didn’t specifically ask for patience, it seems God feels that I need some schooling in it.  And, here I am.  Sitting in a hospital room 500 miles from home, watching my favorite man be miserable, relatively helpless to do anything to relieve him.  And waiting.  Waiting for his surgery tomorrow, praying for the successful closure of his wounds so that we can prepare for the next phase of this thing.  Dealing with the minutiae of an extended hospital stay and all the little aggravations that are built into that.  Learning to be patient and kind, even when I’m tired and cranky.

Gary is doing okay.  Neither of us slept well last night, although I slept better than him, I’m sure.  So, we were both a little off kilter this morning.  I woke up when the trauma team came in at 5:30 am, although I’m usually up by that time.  After they left, I slapped on my running gear, got him situated as comfortably as possible, then headed out for some much needed run time.  It wasn’t fabulous or fast, my legs were grouchy and snarled at me a few times, but I got a couple of soul soothing miles in.  I haven’t been eating well, the offerings here at the hospital are tasty, but a little heavier on the carb side than I like to eat.  So, the result was a draggy, slow run.  But, what’s new?  They’re all slow these days.  And, what’s with the hills, Missouri?  Good grief!

They put poor Gary through the wringer today.  All necessary, but he was exhausted by lunch.  The tech weighed him today, and unless he’s gained 200 lbs since Sunday, that’s how much the apparatus weighs that they have on his leg.  And, he doesn’t look like he’s gained that much to me.  He’s strong and able to help move himself much more than the typical patient is, but it wears him out doing it.  All in all, he’s doing well.  He’s awake and working some right now.

Dexter (the creepy white van) and I have become best buds.  I had to venture out today on a couple of errands, the first of which was to find the closest Starbucks.  He & I found one nearby and I whipped him in and out of the parking lot like I’ve been driving him for years.  For those of you who don’t know what my usual car is, it’s a convertible Mustang.  So.  I’m not crazy about Dexter’s friend TomTom (the GPS), and had a few choice things to say to him as he navigated me through some areas that I felt were out of our way.  TomTom wisely listened to my wrath without comment, and eventually began to see things my way.  I had coffee for lunch, and I knew the offerings that are available at the hospital, so I was looking for a good organic market from which I could pick up a few things.  With no help from TomTom, I found a Trader Joe’s.  (I’m officially starting a petition for a Trader Joe’s to open in Hattiesburg, by the way.  Let me know if you want to help campaign.)  Got my things, headed back to the hospital and saw a store like the one TomTom had driven me across town to find much closer to the hospital (less than 10 minutes away).  After another tirade at poor Tom, I let it go.  Patience.  Stopped to get a bag of ice for the cooler, got in the express lane (carrying a 22 lb bag of ice because I didn’t need a buggy) and got in line behind the only 93 year old woman in America who still writes a check for her groceries.  She slowly wrote each letter of each word, then signed her name at the bottom in a process that took at least 8 and a half minutes.  No lie.  Patience.  I took several deep breaths, shifted the ice to the other hip, and smiled at the sweet, beautiful old lady.  She handed the clerk her check (which thankfully did not require approval), he handed her some cash back from it, along with some change, and she promptly dropped it all on the floor.  Patience.  I put the ice (melting into a puddle by now) on the floor, got down on my hands and knees, and gathered her change up off the ground for her.  She looked at me, then at the ice, and she said, “You aren’t in a hurry are you,dear?”  I just smiled and said, “No, ma’am, I’m fine.” Patience. I spent a long time laughing when I got back to Dexter.  Really, God cracks me up.

You know what?  When I got back to the room, I felt better and had a much sunnier outlook on life.  I’ve been reflecting on all the wonders and blessings He’s given me, and I’m full to overflowing.  I’m putting something in my veins besides caffeine (delicious Trader Joe’s gazpacho!), and have a small stash of good things to eat to tide me over a few more days.  And my man looked a little better when I got back, too.  I think he was able to rest some while I was gone.

Prayer requests:  Tomorrow afternoon they take Gary back to surgery to make the first (and hopefully, only) attempt to repair the fasciotomy wounds.  Pray for him to rest well tonight and for his body to be ready to accept the repair of those wounds.  Also, pray that we’ll have a little clearer vision of what our next step needs to be.  We’re not stressing out about it, but being the planners (some might say control freaks) that we are, we will rest a little easier when those decisions have been made.

And, finally, pray for patience.  God will provide you with all that you need.

Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.  James 1: 2-4

Perfect and complete, needing nothing.  I like the sound of that.