Sunday, January 26, 2014

Reliable

Again, you would have to be living in a cave to NOT know about the weather situation across the US. My mom and I have talked about it at great length and it does seem that people are starting to get used to it, maybe not enjoying it, but are at least used to it. The weather is making the run difficult. Now, I do have a gym membership, but it has been so cold, I haven't wanted to leave my house after getting home from work. I feel really bad for people who have Seasonal Affective Disorder because this winter is probably producing even more profound impacts on those folks.

Anyway, all week, I made the choice to curl up in front of my fireplace rather than brave the bone chilling cold. Saturday morning was a different story, I woke up, looked at the several inches of fresh snow and knew I had to take on this 5 mile run. Plus I had plans after the run and needed to get myself moving and motivated to leave my house.

Off to Westerville, Ohio I went. The usual 20 minute drive, took about 40 minutes. I was about five minutes late but still got there before my group headed out. this run was SLOW going. We trudged through sand like snow. At the half way water stop, I told someone that I would be very happy to have someone pick me up! She told me if that were the case I would regret it later. I can honestly say, I would have gladly taken a ride, based on the soreness of my body today.

Anyway, one of my friends pointed out that I had been antsy all week and so she knew I probably needed to go out for a run. She was absolutely right. You see, the run for me, well all exercise BUT yoga really, is like that really reliable friend. You know the friend I'm talking about, the one who would let their feelings and thoughts take the back seat on occasion to make sure your needs are met. I hope everyone has a friend like that because I surely do. The added bonus is I have my exercise routine that is just as reliable in helping me cope with life. Yesterday was one of those days where even though I didn't want to run, I could have quit half way, and it was like running through sludge, I still got a content feeling at the end. That is the true definition of reliable.

And tonight I have to do yoga......

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Secrets

This girl did some Oly and Half Iron Tris.
OK, so I totally outed myself this week. If you have had a secret, you probably know what it feels like to
finally let it off your chest. At first it is almost exhilarating and then you go into that whole 'What the heck did I just do' mode; and then back to relief. You see, you feel relief because once you tell that secret, you notice nothing really changes. Sure, people may look at you differently, but they look at you differently after you run your first half or full marathon too. Who cares, right?

Well just to clarify, I'm in relief mode. You likely won't see me post about MS on my blog because it is such a personal disease, and I can't offer any medical or health advice because I am not a health professional. Plus, I have those poor friends who 'love'?, ok so they get to hear my stories, in some cases daily. Trust me, you don't want me to take all that to my blog, plus I don't want to.

Instead, I'll go back to the topic at hand. My metaphorical meanderings of my athletic journey and how this journey has changed my life for the better...

With that being said, I was thinking about all the secrets I have had as an athlete. For instance, when I was training for my marathon, I didn't like to tell people I was going to run a marathon because I certainly didn't look like the typical marathoner, let alone a runner. What I say to that now? Well, what does a typical marathoner or even runner truly look like?

Similarly, I didn't tell people about the half ironman for the same reason... Again, what I would now say is can you show me a picture of the 'typical' half ironman athlete? I bet most people would say no. Similarly, I'd be interested in seeing a picture of the typical gamer, lobsterman, cyclist, librarian, volunteer, etc. My guess is that none of us would come close to the typical. Why? Because there isn't one.

So why do we keep secrets?

Well, let's take this a step further. A couple of years ago I was doing this mile a day challenge. It was seriously fun. I made it seventy some odd days running a mile a day. I didn't necessarily keep the challenge a secret, but I did keep the pain I felt in my shin a secret. Why did I keep it a secret? Well, for starters I thought I was nuts because it was something that Ibuprofen made feel better for about 15 minutes every four hours. I also didn't want to be hurt, I didn't want people to turn down an opportunity to run with me because they thought I was hurt. Turns out, I was hurt and had to quit running for 8 weeks. Where did keeping the pain secret get me? SIDELINED.

This is not to say that everything in my athletic life and otherwise needs to be shared. That is not the case, after all, some of the secrets are meant to be secrets between me and my friends, that is why they are friends, right? But, what I am getting at here is that I have had some irrational secrets in the past in regards to my athleticism that have limited my ability to fully appreciate what I was doing. These secrets didn't do me any good (sidelined with a stress fracture anyone?), and they certainly didn't help break down any of the world's misconceptions on what a true athlete looks like... I now try to live my life out there and proud. Yeah, I am a runner and triathlete and cyclist. I may not look like what you thought an athlete should look like, but maybe you will now see an athlete differently.
And this girl ran a marathon!!!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

I Have Multiple Sclerosis

One of my favorite bike rides ever!
I have debated whether I was going to make this public for quite some time, however there really aren't any significant reasons why I wouldn't share. It hasn't impacted my life dramatically, and if I'm lucky, it never will. I also don't want to be a poster child, nor do I require or want any special treatment simply because I have MS. The thing is, I know more and more people who are impacted significantly by this disease and I feel compelled to help the cause. So for one purpose only, I am outing myself.

Here's the brief story. Two years ago my tongue went numb, my arm went numb and I though I slept funny or had a mini stroke. I brushed it off as sleeping funny day after day, after day. Then my eye started twitching, among other symptoms. I decided I was simply crazy... After a while all of these symptoms became so infuriating so I went to the doctor. While at the doctor, he chalked it up to stress, but after a closer look he decided what I was experiencing wasn't normal. I doctored up... Ophthalmologists, Neuro-Ophthalmologists and Neurologists were all part of my life last spring. And my Neurologist will be part of my life forever now!

Cycling in Colorado!
I went for testing and BAM, I learned I had MS. My best friend became more than just a friend and is now
also my doctor companion. She has been by my side unwaveringly since I first started talking about the fact that I thought I was crazy, which was way before I decided to call the doctor.

Two days after I learned I have MS over the phone, I went to Wisconsin and did my first half iron man. Two weeks later my friend and I went to the doctor at which point I chose a treatment option (daily shot/injections/needles), and off I went to continue living my life. I did lose my vision in one eye TWICE in the fall, but am otherwise totally healthy. Tracking back my symptoms, I can tell you the day I experience my first memorable symptom; try over 7 years ago on my final day of jury duty...

Anyway, none of that really matters. What matters is this: I still run and bike and swim, I hike and walk my dog (and carry him up the stairs to bed), I work, I drive, I move around, I love, I cry, I LIVE!!! Why do I know I will be able to continue doing all of those things forever? Because I trust myself and my best friend. I also trust my doctor and my medicine. I am thankful because I have learned more about myself through my short experience with MS. I have learned that I can basically handle anything that I encounter.

Again, I am lucky (and hope to remain that way), some of my friends are not/have not been quite as lucky. So of course this post is going to include a request. I would like to maintain this quality of life forever, and I wish for my friends to have improved quality of lives as well!!! How can I help? Well, I can ride my bike... How can you help? You can donate to the cause...

I will be participating in a ride in August 2014, Pedal to the Point in Ohio, with a bunch of friends and family
who are dedicated to helping me maintain my quality of life, and we are in need of donations. The ride is an MS ride and is raising funds to help people with MS and for MS research. I am asking for your help!!! Please donate. It doesn't have to be to me, but can be to anyone on my team!.

Use the following link to access my donation page: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/saruncbus. 

Or use this page to access my team page: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/weareamess.

Thank you for believing in the cause and helping out all of the people living with Multiple Sclerosis!
An Oldie but a Goodie/Bike the Drive in Chicago!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Vortex

So, if you are a living and breathing being, you know that this week has been quite the week. The snow and cold, and rain and ice, and mishaps that so many people encountered. People I know have been dealing with flooding, broken pipes, car accidents, broken vacuums, busted faucets, illness, sick animals, and the list could probably continue. To put it simply, this week sucked!!! I am not a doomsayer so for me to say that is fairly extreme. I can typically find the awesome in a week, and I have had some awesome this week thanks to my friends, I even kind of enjoyed refrigerator shopping if you can believe that, although I still haven't made the purchase.

Anyway, this polar vortex that took over the United States trampled on so many people's spirits, not to mention it made running, for this outside only runner, virtually impossible. Even if I wanted to go and work out at the gym early this week, the frigid air kept me curled up in a ball next to my fireplace. I watched silently on facebook as people braved the cold temps, but my brain was telling me the difference between bad ass and just plain stupid for myself... Again, this only applied to me!!! Everyone has a different threshold.

The important thing though, is to not let myself get sucked into this New Year's vortex and simply expect that this year is going to be as much of a bummer as the first week. It is also important for ME to remember that a few cold days won't kill my training for my half marathon and grant myself forgiveness for the crappy run that was yesterday. Full on foot dragging, running too fast and temperatures took a toll. It was just one tough week in what is going to be a year that tops my 2013!!!

And now I say good bye to the polar vortex...

Here is a little Cold Weather Blues by Muddy Waters for your listening pleasure:


Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Stretch

I know I mentioned in my New Year's post that I am going to be taking a class, and it starts tonight. I'm not very excited about this class but am doing it as it was recommended by my doctor; a prescription of sorts. Of course I have a companion for this adventure and that takes the edge off BIG time. My goal is to stick with it for the first four weeks and then see what happens.

Why am I so nervous though? Seriously, it isn't that big of a deal... It is simply exercise to strengthen my body but it puts me on edge. I think the true barrier is not knowing what to expect and wanting it to come naturally to me, however NOTHING athletic comes naturally to people who come from my parent's gene pool (sorry siblings but you know it is true).

So here is the commitment I am making to myself:

I am going to show up and do what I can and have fun with my friend (which is the easiest part of the night). I am going to take it seriously and learn something new. I will recognize that it may be the most challenging thing I will take on this year, but at least I will have gone outside of my comfort zone. I will allow myself to be nervous because after the fact I will be able to laugh at myself for being such a drama queen about it. I will let my friend carry some of the burden for my nerves since she is so 'effing' calm about it. I swear, the things that make her tick are laughable to me and the things that make me tick are even more laughable to her!!!

So, this is all I can do: show up, be present, enjoy the experience and be thankful that I am willing to stretch myself.

Don't be surprised if there is a follow up to this post prior to next Sunday. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New You...

Not quite!

I love my life, I love my friends, I love who I am... but there can always be improvement. I saw this picture on Facebook that said it all:


The reason I like this poster? Because it acknowledges that our lives are books and we break up the chapters how we choose. For some, each chapter might be about an individual person, for others it might be broken up by years. Because I believe every person impacts our lives, I prefer to philosophize about this and I would break up by book by a year or years because we everything we do carries into the next 'whatever' and we need to keep building on what we have learned and go from there.

I was having a conversation with someone recently who threw out a hypothetical question about life and self discovery based on a conversation about people being closed up. Basically, the question was, what if you weren't ready to accept yourself until an older age? What I would say to that? Well, aren't you luck to have done that, now go live it!!! 

All that to say I have some goals for next year. I have accepted some unattractive things about myself that are unlikely to change, but I have discovered things that can be changed and so I am going to take responsibility for them. I don't expect miracles and I am impacted by this thing called life, and if you are living it in the manner that I live my life, things change, and so I won't beat myself up if my goals fall short; especially because I know there will have been a good reason.

My 2014 goals:

New Class - I will be trying something new this year, a fitness class of sorts. My goal is to stick with it for the first series and then hopefully incorporate it for one year. That is all I am asking of myself. If it improves my life then I will continue. If not, or if it hurts me, I will walk away.

Run 3-4 days a week - I already do this for the most part, so I just need to continue. I have the best friends to run with and that makes it even more awesome than running solo.

Bike 2,000 miles in 2014 - This may sound lofty BUT it is only 38 miles a week, so even if I take weeks off in the brutal winter, it is still doable because I easily ride 2 - 3 times that amount a week in the spring summer and fall.

Shed the weight - Yeah I say this every year. I did really well for awhile this year and then life happened and it took that back seat. It is going to take the ever crowded front seat. I don't think I eat terribly but I'm going to start adding things to my diet rather than punishing myself by taking things away. Just eat better is my real goal.

Quit my vices - I know I can do it!!! I have successful weeks this year with both of my vices so I'm going to take 2014 to expand on those successful weeks.

Feel heartily - I say feel because if I said laugh then I wouldn't acknowledge the fact that you need to have the lows to love the highs. I am going to continue to allow myself to go through everything and feel it. If it hurts, I'll cry; if it makes me happy, I will laugh. Both are very easy to do when you are surrounded by people who allow you to just be and love you for your laughter and your tears.
Improve my brain - Lumosty is my friend. I'm using it and doing daily brain workouts to help me with organization, memory and basic brain functions. I'm hoping that focusing on my brain a little bit, I will learn to put my keys in the same place when I come home, put my wallet in the same place, put crap away at work (aka. filing) and remember things. I'm told I remember everything, that is so false but I'm glad I've put on a good show.
Anyway, I think that is PLENTY to work on for the next year. You will see that did not expect to wake up this morning and change my life for the better instantly. Instead I am saying I am going to work on things and enjoy the process.

I love the song by Avicii because of its beat and it makes me move, I dislike it because of the message. I'll let you listen and have your own internal love/hate battle with the song, but what I do want to say is that you shouldn't be OK with life passing you by, after all, every day is part of the journey and experiencing it with your eyes wide open will only help you become wiser when you are older. Bop along, sing along (I do EVERY time I hear it), but also think about the lyrics. I know I did, and it made me realize that I truly need to embrace every moment of my journey!