Getting my groove back

grace_weaknessInfinite. That’s the word that kept pushing itself into my consciousness this morning as I walked. We returned from vacation over three weeks ago; tan, but not well rested, and my body immediately decided it would rebel. Here’s some travel advice (FWIW). When traveling to Hawaii, spend the extra $ to fly first class (we didn’t). Or, don’t take the red-eye on your return journey (we did). I probably could have gotten away with that twenty years ago; but, no more. So, as a result, I’ve spent the last couple weeks fighting a stubborn infection (3 antibiotics down!), and trying to get caught up on my sleep. I’m not blaming the vacation, I’m blaming the 36 hour trip home. If I was still in Kona, I’m sure I would be right as rain. 😉

Anyway. My fall training plan for a Thanksgiving half marathon lies crashed and broken at my feet. Sigh. Which brings me back to that word, infinity. The Webster definition is “extending indefinitely” or “subject to no limitation”. I think that perfectly describes my question as I rebuild, “How many times am I going to have to start over?”.   Indefinitely, subject to no limitation.  Over and over again.  Forever and ever, amen.

So, here I am again. At the starting line, feeling like I need to go back to bed. Sheesh. There are moments that I think, why bother? But, bother I do. Quitting is never an option for me. My brother in law commented to me the other day that he doesn’t see how I continue to run. I replied that I don’t know either, and it ain’t pretty.

After spending the last couple of weeks rising late, napping every day, getting the bare minimum of work done, and being in bed again by 8 for a 10 hour rest, I’ve had enough. So, this week I set my alarm, dared myself to turn it off, and went to the trail to walk. There is no running yet, but I hope to add it back next week. Even then, it will be run/walk. I plan to run that Thanksgiving half, but I won’t be racing it. I have my eyes set on a spring half to race, and am just trying to get my groove back until then.

I’m thankful that running has taught me a few things over the years. I know that forward motion ALWAYS heals, and the energy and strength I need will follow if I’ll be faithful to move every day. I’m using the walking time to catch up on some of my favorite podcasts, and Andy Stanley’s Northpoint Community Church tops that list. As I listened this morning to a series from August entitled In the Meantime, I was reminded that my pigheadedness perseverance serves me well in times like these. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m treading water in the meantime, and keeping the faith. God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness. His perfection should be shining through in 3, 2, 1… Well, soon, anyway.

Having been to the doctor more in the last three weeks than in the last three years, I discovered a few things.  All my bad numbers are up: weight, sugar, cholesterol, etc.  So, it’s past time for some changes.  I’m not a big “diet” person, but I’m making some changes in my nutrition which already have me feeling better.  And, I’m moving again.  Slowly. Oh, SO slowly.  But, I’m moving forward, so that’s what counts.

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I’m counting on God to do what He does so well, and bless this effort immeasurably. With His version of infinity. Forever and ever, amen.

If you don’t already, I would love for you to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I am trying to be more faithful to a social media presence, and am not too ashamed to beg would love to count you among my friends/followers. 😉 My twitter is @old_broads_run; Instagram is jaynerich; and Facebook is Old Broads Run. Hope to see you there!

Quicksand

A few weeks ago, I made the decision not to race at all this spring and work on a slow build up of miles and a stronger core.  And, just like that, my motivation, inspiration, and drive vanished in a puff of smoke, and I landed, face down,  in the middle of a quagmire of quick sand.  It slowly pulled me in until all I saw was darkness, doubt, and fear.  The cold and dreary weather combined with my lack of a tangible goal to make me doubt all my abilities, to fear reaching out of my comfort zone, to wonder if there would be any more big goals in my future, and to sink into the abyss of inactivity.  During times of darkness like these, I tend to lose contact with my friends, only get the bare basics of living accomplished,  turn into myself and away from all those who can help pull me out, and figuratively(sometimes literally) curl up into the fetal position.

If you’ve never dealt with depression, this post will probably not strike a chord with you.  But as one who has fallen into the quicksand before, I know first hand how difficult it is to pull yourself out.  I learned many years ago the things that help me get back onto the path with the light, and running has always been a key ingredient in that mix.  Take away the running, and BAM, I’m soon stuck in the mire.  Throw in a cold, dark winter; changes and challenges in life that I don’t feel equipped to handle; very poor eating/drinking habits; and too much TV, and I’m embedded so deeply it seems I’ll never find the path again.

Fortunately, (or unfortunately, depending on your outlook) I’ve been here before.  I’m no stranger to the dark, I’ve just learned to combat it well over the years.  The coming of spring is much anticipated, and I think I’m finally seeing the light.  It always helps me to have a plan, so I’ve been busy laying it all out in my head.  I figured it was time I put it down in black and white, it seems much more real and doable that way.

The first thing has been really simple.  I’m reading the New Testament from beginning to end.  I’ve done this before during dark times, and the beauty of those words, the hope of those promises, the reminder that there’s something much bigger than me helps get my head back on straight.

I’ve begun moving again.  Slower.  Than.  Ever.   But, it’s forward movement, so it all counts.

I’m working on my nutrition, and thinking about everything I put into my body.

I’m monitoring my self talk more.  You know, those voices in my head that make me doubt who I am and try to convince me that I’m not really a runner, I’m too old to think I can run endurance races, I’m an untalented hack, I’m not a good person, and that I’ll never be who God wants me to be.  I was honored this week to be included in a blog post by a UK Old Broad who runs, along with several other Old Broad runner blogs.  I showed the post to my man this morning and I caught myself saying to him, “All the others included are real runners.”  I stopped myself and shut that thought down as quickly as possible.  I am a real runner.  I’m not fast, don’t look like a runner, and running doesn’t come easily or naturally to me; but, as Bart Yasso says, “I’ve never met a fake runner.”

I’ve been listening to some very inspirational podcasts, reading some great articles about people who have overcome much greater hardships than the dark pit of depression, and am reminding myself daily that I can, and will do this.  It always helps to know you’re not in something alone, and I know that many others have struggled with or are struggling with this demon of depression.  I’m always happy to lend an ear to anyone who needs to vent or whine.  I don’t really have any answers, except that which has worked for me.  Sometimes it helps to just say things aloud to someone that you know cares. For me, it helps to write about it.

This verse was in my Bible reading this morning:

What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes.

What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!  

Matthew 10:27

Sometimes, Jesus whispers directly in my ear.  I think maybe the darkness makes it easier to hear Him.  And, being face down in the quicksand will really focus your attention on His words.

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A few of my least favorite things.

A few weeks ago, I posted some of my favorite things.  I’m a person who likes to see the bright side, and I have long held the belief that ranting and raving about things is not a productive enterprise.   You know, if you can’t say anything good,  yada, yada, yada.

But, sometimes… Well, sometimes, a gal just needs to rant. Maybe it builds character. Or not. In any case, as I’m feeling a little punchy from not running for too many days in a row,  I thought today would be a good day to give my least favorite things some equal time.

So, with no further ado, here are some of my least favorite things (random and in no particular order):

– Cold weather. Not. A. Fan. Give me triple digit temps with crushing humidity any day of the week. That’s why God dropped me into the South. I really think he was aiming for Kona, Hawaii, and something was lost in transit. Maybe His aim was off that day.

I need spring.  Soon.

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– Traffic, lines, and crowds. Age has made me much less sanguine about lots of bodies in one place who don’t respect personal space.

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– People who don’t purchase official race photos, but still use them on their blogs/social media. Truly one of the things that makes me nuts. When the photo on your blog has the word PROOF labeled across it, you’ve branded yourself a thief for all the world to see. You wouldn’t walk into a grocery store and slip a steak into your pants, then walk out without paying, would you? Same thing. Although I think you should support the small business that is trying to make a living by photographing your race, if you can’t afford to buy your (usually reasonably priced) race photos, have a friend come to the race and take pictures with your iPhone.

I could go on and on about this one, it really hits close to home.

– The comments I read online on news stories and social media threads. Truly, I weep for humanity. Keyboard courage has made idiots of us all. Step away from your computer. Seriously. There are some things you can just let ride.

– Social media shares by people who don’t realize they’re a hoax. I don’t know, though. This one sometimes makes me laugh. But, due diligence, people. Do your research. And, if it’s an article from “The Onion”, chances are it’s tongue in cheek.

– And, while I’m ranting about social media… inappropriate oversharing and poor grammar and spelling on social media.  This includes status updates that make us cringe; racy photos in your underwear (or bikini, or barely there dress); and the misuse of “your and you’re”, “their, there, and they’re”, and “to, too, and two”.  Proofread, people.  It only takes a moment. And, if you wouldn’t want your grandmother (or preacher, or Sunday school teacher, or whoever you greatly respect) to see your status/picture, don’t make me look at it.

– The fitness lost after only a few days off. It seems really unfair how fast fitness fades when you’re injured or just taking some time off. Bleh.

After reviewing this list, I’m kind of proud that it’s much shorter than my favorite things list.  I hope I always see more good than bad in the world.

And, I hope it’s warm enough for my long run tomorrow.  I’m sure my family does, too.  Not that I’m grouchy or anything.

Don’t grow weary

2013 wasn’t a stellar year for me in running or in life.  Nothing major on either front, just small things that piled on top of each other and kept me from being my personal best.  I’ve taken a few weeks off since my last race, running sporadically and riding my bike some, and the time away has been good.  Now I’m ready to get back to business.

When I received an e-mail from You Version  about selecting one Bible verse to make my personal focus for 2014, I was intrigued.  It only took a moment for my verse to come to me.  Isaiah 40:31, the mantra I latched onto during my last race of 2013.

But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint.

Of course, this verse speaks to me in the literal running sense, but as I thought about how to apply it to my life, I realized it was perfect for me as a focus for this year.  I, of course, have goals set for the year, some involve running, but many are life goals and I needed this reminder that my faith will give me strength to run my race and not grow weary.

This year I will run and not grow weary:

…as I learn to love people again.  This sounds odd, I know, but it’s very easy to become hermit like when you work from your home and spend much of your day alone.  I’ve grown complacent about reaching out to others and inviting them into my life, and I have some goals to remedy that.

…as I grow used to intentional stillness.  At any given point, you could walk into my home and find two televisions blaring with no one watching them.  Or, you might find me mindlessly checking Facebook or other social media – time better spent in quiet reflection.  That doesn’t mean I’ll give up social media or quit letting Big Bang Theory and NCIS reruns make background noise as I work, but it does mean there will be more time spent in stillness.  I often run without music because I love the quiet reflection and creative thoughts produced.  I’m excited to see how much more creative I’ll become as I let God fill the empty spaces in my mind rather than Leroy Jethro Gibbs or Sheldon Cooper.

…as I tidy up my life.  I mean this in a very literal sense.  The ridiculousness of my closet was brought home to me when I tried to cram another new skirt onto already overstuffed racks.  I’ve used the downtime I’ve had over the last month to begin the painstaking process of cleaning out, selling some on eBay, giving some things away, and trashing some things.  I’m not in a hurry, which is a good thing, as I think this will probably take all year.  I’m being  brutal about it.   I may (or may not 😉 ) have had a slight problem with shoe shopping over the years .  I’ve paired down my shoes to the ones that I actually wear (for the most part), and have given, thrown away, or sold the others on eBay.  I even sold a much beloved pair of Jimmy Choo’s!  My sweet little nephew happened to be here the day I was cleaning out my shoes and he helped me move all the ones I’m getting rid of to my guest room, which is the temporary host to all my junk.  He told me that I had more shoes than anybody he’s ever seen.  Sigh.  Out of the mouths of babes.  Anyway, check out  eBay occasionally, you may find some great deals.

…as I hone my craft(s).  It’s sometimes a little overwhelming to realize how little I actually know and how much there is left to learn.  I’m proof positive that you can teach an old dog new tricks, though, and I’m learning how to be a better writer and photographer with every day that passes.

…as I implement good nutritional habits in my life.  I’ve spent the last year or so discovering what works for my body and what doesn’t.  I’ve learned that dairy doesn’t really agree with me, and that I feel best when I use good common sense in my eating.  For me, this means keeping carbohydrate intake to a minimum, focusing on whole, nutritionally dense foods, eliminating sugar and artificial sweeteners, restricting wine intake, and allowing myself occasional indulgences.  The only thing I really miss is cheese, so that’s what I indulge in when I splurge.  My holiday menu would have made you laugh.  Almost every dish included some type of cheese.  I even roasted a brie!

…as I explore newly discovered aspects of my personality.  One thing I learned in 2013 was that I love to cook.  Who knew?  I’m excited to discover other new things about myself.  I hope I never stop learning, exploring, and discovering.

…as I pick myself back up.  This year, just like all the others, holds no magic power to make me achieve all my goals, overcome every obstacle, and reign victorious through every pitfall.  I will fail at things.  On any given day, I will make poor food choices, not feel like running, have road rage, get mad at my family, say something I shouldn’t.  But, the power of faith, the sure knowledge that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord, the remembrances of all those other times I’ve tried and failed, then persevered, all work together to remind me that I can not only do this thing we call life, but do it with style, even if I have fewer toenails and more bumps and bruises.

I hope that you’ll focus on a verse for your life this year as well.  The new year is a great time to brush away any mental cobwebs that have accumulated and start fresh.  Happy 2014!

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Lessons I’ve learned on my feet

1008971_594861103867484_1948854523_oAs a runner, I’ve learned as much about how to live life from training and racing as I’ve learned about running.

Some things were no brainers. Like, “don’t put sunscreen on your forehead,” or, “tape the toes whose nails you want to keep whenever you run long,” and “don’t leave your used running clothes in the laundry basket with your other dirty clothes overnight.” Yeah, real “duh” kinds of moments, but I’ve never claimed to be quick on my feet.

Other lessons took longer to sink in, but when they did, I knew they offered insight into how to live my life, not just on how to run for life.  Some carry deep, insightful lessons, others offer simple common sense.

Here are a few things I’ve learned along my journey so far:

Toenails will grow back, but they’re never really the same.

I learned: We will heal after heartache, whether it’s death, illness, broken relationships, or financial woes.  But, it will, and should, change us forever.

Wear sunscreen on any exposed skin below your eyes when you run unless you want to look 70 when you’re 30.

I learned: Take care of the body you have, you’re not getting another one this side of heaven.

Perseverance and discipline trump talent. 

I learned: You may not come in first, but you’ll always finish if you stick it out through the hard times.  And, sometimes finishing is the bigger victory.

A hard run cleanses and heals, ridding your body of toxins and clearing your mind. 

I learned: Hurt, heal, and move forward. Healing almost always means feeling the pain that comes with the hurt before it will begin to get better.

 Winning doesn’t always mean coming in first. 

I learned: Sometimes, the victory is just getting to the starting line, in running, and in life.  If you only feel victorious when you succeed, you’re never going to learn or grow.

Embrace discomfort.  Breakthroughs come in training when you learn to push through the pain and tough it out.

I learned:  We grow the most, learn the most, and mature the most during times of hardship.  We learn to call on our faith, depend on our reserves, and endure the tough times of life.  Most valleys are surrounded by mountains, or, at least, hills.  It’s just a matter of pushing forward to the other side.

You can’t control the conditions on race day.  A normally mild race may have a heat wave, or a snow storm.  Be prepared to alter your race plan accordingly.

I learned:  You can’t control life.  Sometimes, it really throws you a curve ball.  Be flexible and learn to make the best of bad situations.

 Injuries are inevitable, but just because you’re down, it doesn’t mean you’re out. 

I learned:  Life may not turn out exactly as you planned, but staying focused on finding the right path and being open to change will lead you to the best life you can live.

When you’re injured, take time to heal.

I learned:  After any major life event, slow down and take the time to lick your wounds before trying to move into the next phase of your life. We mere mortals want to get back to “normal” as quickly as possible following a life trauma.  Sometimes, we need to just be still, listen for God’s voice, and let Him heal us with the balm of time.

Don’t try to go too far or too fast too soon. 

I learned: In life especially, slow and steady really does win the race.

Know when to push it and when to reign it in.

I learned:  There are moments in life that we have to seize quickly lest they slip away, and there are times when we have to sit back and let them come to us.

And, one last, but VERY important lesson:

Always carry toilet paper.  :/

You know, because stuff happens.   🙂

What are some of the lessons running has taught you?

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. 😉

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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

Begin. Again.

It seems like a lifetime ago that running felt effortless and easy.  When a hard pace left me feeling tired, but happy.  It was only a few weeks, but it seems like a different time.  That sounds a little overly dramatic, but when you have to slow down, or stop in order to nurse an injury, coming back seems harder than starting fresh did.

My injury (this time) was minor.  Just a lower back thing, cared for diligently by my wonderful chiropractor.  Then, just as I started getting better, Gary & I went on a short dive trip on a live aboard that’s only about a hundred feet long.  So, no running there.  I came back with a minor sinus thing going on, and while we were away, summer arrived here in South Mississippi, so hot and muggy are the words of the day.  Which led me to put off rebooting my running for a few more days.  Now, though,  it’s time to begin.  Again.

I started slowly over the weekend.  Just two short, slow, warm miles.  Then another two the next day.  Biking on Tuesday (also painfully slow), off a day, then four slow, warm miles this morning.  My goal is to slowly build back my miles over the next couple of months, then maybe, just maybe, introduce some speed work in mid August.  We’ll see.  It’s awfully hot here in August, and speed and heat don’t go together well.  It’s back to obscenely early mornings, which lead to very early nights (as though I didn’t already go to bed with the chickens).

But, I have to say, even with the challenge of the heat, I’m feeling more than blessed this day to be starting again.  And, I know, that, God willing, there will be many more times in my life that I have to begin.  Again and again.  I have a young running friend whose life was changed a couple of months ago by a cardiac event, followed by severe brain trauma.  I don’t know what God has planned for him, but I hope it includes beginning again.  Right now, that’s looking doubtful, but our God is still in the miracle business, and I know a lot of people are praying for this God-filled young man and his sweet wife, so I’m hopeful.  His name is Terrod, so add him and his wife, Nikki, to your prayers.  You can get updates on his progress here.  

The summer is lending itself to a slower, more thoughtful time for me this year.  Our air conditioning is out (on the hottest days of the year, so far), so I’m moving slowly at home, but I’m finding I kind of like that.  And, I’m even getting somewhat used to the heat.  After lunch yesterday, I decided I had had enough of work in my hot little corner, I put on my bathing suit, and went to swim at my sister’s where my daughter, nieces, and nephew were playing in the pool.  I enjoyed that little respite so much, I may have to repeat it today. How often, as “grown-ups”, do we allow ourselves time to just do nothing?  Just be with our loved ones and enjoy their company?  It’s rare for me, and I would venture to say, for most adults – especially those who are self-employed.  It feels like the wolf is always at the door, and we have to move productively all the time in order to keep him at bay. I think I’m going to just break down and invite the wolf to come on in, put his feet up, and have some dinner.  As hot as it is in my house right now, he won’t stay long anyway.

Me, my little red one, and my daughter just chilling.  Admire my bravery for posting this bathing suit pic.  ;)

Me, my little red one, and my daughter just chilling. Admire my bravery for posting this bathing suit pic. 😉

As I begin my training, again, I want to keep in mind the reasons that I run.  The joy that running brings to my life is the most important one.  All the other reasons fall in line behind that one.  So, I think, beginning again in the heat of the summer is probably the best time for me.  It forces me to not worry about speed, or weight loss, or clicking off a certain number of miles per week, and to just enjoy the journey.

progress not perfection