Freedom… And It Feels So Good

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In one of my lady runner Facebook groups, it was decided that “Independence Day” would not just be a day for us to celebrate America’s birthday. We decided that we ladies would encourage each other to find the strength to embrace running sans shirt. Many women feel comfortable enough in their skins to run in their sports bra. Many women also feel like they do not have the bodies to run in just a sports bra. Many women – such as myself – worry about what others will think, agonize over the extra bit of fat they carry in their midsection and choose to don an extra layer despite the summer heat.

The ladies in this group encouraged each other to change that.

I didn’t run on the 4th this year… but I am striving to use this month to strengthen my resolve to throw those reservations to the wind.  There are things about my body that I love and there are things that I hate. My midsection is an area that falls in the “hate” field. I carry a little bit more “insulation” and up until the thought of running without a shirt over my sports bra has made me nervous. I have been worried about what other people will think. Will they think I have no business running without a proper cover up – whether thinking it inappropriate or thinking I do not possess the body to do so? I’ve found myself unnerved by the thought that doing so might send the wrong “message” to people that I run by… Isn’t it just plain wrong that part of me worries that running in only a sports bra could be construed as an invitation?

My resolve strengthened by some of the strong and wonderful women in my group, I decided to go for it. The first run wasn’t bad. As I was running along side the road, someone in a passing vehicle honked at me – but that has happened while running with a shirt on, so it didn’t phase me. Other than that, nothing happened. No one jumped out to shame me for my exposed skin. I didn’t shame myself. I didn’t burst into flame. I felt considerably cooler and actually felt relaxed and free! It was more liberating than I thought it would be.

I’m slowly working up to the point where I am fully confident being out in the own in my running shorts and a sports bra. Up to now, my sports bra runs have been in the early morning hours on a mostly empty campus or near my home (on a mostly empty sidewalk). Hopefully with each run I’ll gain a little more confidence to be able to run like this no matter where I am!

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Hello There, Did You Miss Me?

May was a fantastic running month for me. I ran approximately 39 miles. I ran the Eglin AFB Gate to Gate Inaugural 10k and felt pretty good ending my month on that note.

June was awful. I ran 2.44 miles on June 28th, and that was it. I kept telling myself that I was simply taking a month off before my training for Wine & Dine kicked off. But to be blunt and simple, I was being lazy. The run on the 28th was hard. I practically hated every minute of it and everything hurt. While I was running, I was so mad at myself. One month and I felt like everything I had worked for had gone down the drain. I wrote the following on my Facebook page:

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So far, July has been much better. After today’s treadmill run, I am at 13 miles for the month. I’m halfway through the month and my mileage is up five times where it was in June (admittedly, not a hard feat). The end of June was a tough one for me. An unexpected death in my friend-family struck my heart hard. I found myself in the position of caretaker for a loved one in a painful and frightening situation.  I also found myself seriously lacking in self-care. Luckily, a trip to see an old college friend and to collect my new Disney annual pass came right on time. I was able to drive down to Orlando to have a seriously relaxing and mind-resetting mini vacation.

When Cat and I were in college, we roomed together in Ragans Hall for a semester. We have quite the memories from that time (good, bad, hilarious and so forth) and we have stayed friends ever since graduation. Last Saturday, she was wonderful enough to accompany me to my first visit to Magic Kingdom as an Annual Passholder! Due to the blissful state of being able to visit Disney whenever I want to over the next year, I didn’t feel rushed to go from ride-to-show-back-to-ride-to-parade, etc. We wondered around the park catching up on each other’s recent lives. We rode the Little Mermaid ride, Haunted Mansion and visited with Mickey. I was charmed by her little baby and happy to be with a friend for a day. Magic Kingdom was curiously empty for a Saturday in July. It was wondrously relaxing! I also got to see my college friend Melissa for a little while which was pretty cool!

The following Sunday, I spent a relaxing day at Epcot. I brought my Kindle and read a book while in line for the new Frozen ride. I used Fastpasses to ride the newly expanded and updated Soarin’ and even rode the “Living With The Land” ride simply because it is one that my husband loves (and that I dislike!). I visited with several characters on my own and enjoyed food from the Chinese food stand (a curry chicken pocket… yummy!). As I left the park, I did so feeling refreshed and like myself.

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For now, I’m focusing on cutting back on my stressors and remembering not to take on too much at once. I’m making more time for me to keep my heart refreshed and in the right place. I’m still quite the busy bee. There’s just nothing that can make me sit still for too long. I can’t help but do for others – especially for my loved ones – and that just isn’t going to stop. But I’m not over extending myself and that is an important thing to remember! At the moment, my life exists to run, to read, to kayak, to hunt for Pokemon (occasionally), to love on my friends/family with all of my heart, to cuddle with my furbabies… My life exists to be me… to enjoy the life I have been gifted with… to love, cherish, protect and care for the people that I love… My life exists to live. And I’m doing so. I’m doing so with joy.

Why I Write in a Running Journal (And Some of My Favorite Moments)

According to my Runkeeper, I have 341 activities logged on my account. Those activities include my running, hiking, walking, kick boxing, other cardio… yoga… etc. I don’t remember every single one of those. I can look back at the statistics in my account and review my pace, my mileage, my time, etc. But I can’t look back and remember how those runs felt.

I write in a running journal because keeping track of the feelings along with the raw data is important to me. I don’t want to just see that I ran 2.5 miles in X amount of time. I want to see that I ran 2.54 miles in thirty-four minutes. I want to know that my legs were still stiff from the 10k I ran the following weekend. I’m interested in the fact that I watched “Blindspot” while running those 2.5 miles on the treadmill. I like looking back and seeing notations such as “Didn’t get my run in today. Went out with drinks with M instead. Will run tomorrow instead”.

The other day, one of the members in the Sub30 Women’s group wrote a post requesting inspiration for her own running journal. I flipped through my pages, snapped a couple of pictures and shared them with her. It made me stop and flip through the pages for a moment. At this moment, I have a week and a half of running log pages left. A nice, clean, brand new copy of this journal is sitting at home ready for me to log the first run into it.

For now, I wanted to take a look back and show you some of the notes I jot into my journal about run-of-the-mill runs, injuries and races. Hopefully you’ll find it inspirational. If not, maybe it will be an interesting look into the way I log some of my most important moments!

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Springtime Tallahassee 10K, March 28, 2015

I PR’ed this distance and was positively jubilant after running this course. I had worked the night before and had trained very little for this race. In fact, I signed up for it on a whim because I really liked the 40th anniversary finishers’ medals! I noted my favorite aspects of this race and also jotted down my time.

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Memorial Day Night Race, Bainbridge, GA May 25, 2015

I first ran this race in 2014. I placed in my age group during that race, as well (F20-24). This race is a fairly small one but an important one to me. I noted the conditions and expressed pride in myself for running it “faster” than I had been running the 5K distance at that point. Unfortunately, this year I am probably going to miss this race but will be back in 2017.

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Freedom Run 5k, June 27, 2015

I first started running at my best friend’s suggestion. 2015 marked two years since that moment! I started with the Couch25K program and now I’m running 10Ks on a whim. I noted my stats and how the run felt. Looking at this log, I can almost feel my feet on the trails winding outside of Wakulla Springs.

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I would really love to remember why thinking about picking up a pack of underwear happened. :O

Running isn’t always serious business for me. To get through those long long runs… you have to have a sense of humor. Flipping through my journal, I got a chuckle at this note from my 11-miler.

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I sprained my ankle midway through my marathon training cycle. I remember that September run where I really knew something was wrong with my ankle. Every time my foot struck the sidewalk, searing pain shot into my ankle. I had a hard time putting weight on it and had to get my husband to help me up the stairs when I got home. The next morning, my hubby took me to the ER. I was told I probably had some type of sprain and needed to stay off of it as much as possible over the next few weeks. I was very upset – a few weeks felt like ages when looking at my training calendar.

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First long run post-injury! (October 16, 2015)

I took a little over two weeks off from running. I probably returned a little too quickly. When I did return, I made sure to take it easy.

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19 miles… ON A TREADMILL?!?

Until here lately, I have viewed running on a treadmill as being close to torture. I typically get bored due to the unchanging environment and can’t stomach being on one for more than an hour. I view running the WDW Full Marathon as my biggest achievement for the 2015-2016 running “season”. This long run is a pretty close second to that!

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41st Annual Springtime Tallahassee 10k, April 2, 2016

And so we come full circle (yes, I also signed up for this year’s Springtime on a whim).

Not every memory is a good one. Not every run was a PR. Not every note is even about running. But these are moments that I will be able to look back on. I’ll be able to smile and think, “Yes… yes I remember that run where I pondered picking up a pack of underwear.”

 

A Beautiful Thing

What is it about new running clothing that puts some fresh motivation and spring into your feet? I’ve acquired several pieces of new running clothes over the past couple of weeks and I have seen an uptick in my running as well as my motivation. Not only am I getting out to pound the pavement (or the treadmill), but I am staying out and going for longer.

Recently, my mother-in-law sent me a few pairs of Under Armour shorts she found at a closing Sports Authority (it has been very, very difficult for me not to continually raid our own closing SA). I love UA shorts and was thrilled to receive these in the mail (and happy that she thought of me!).

Recently, Kohls launched a line of fitness apparel based on the Marvel Avengers team called “Her Universe” and let me tell you… I am in love. The shirts are adorable, the tights are adorable AND comfy (a huge plus in my eyes) and they make me feel happy while running.

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As it heats up here in Florida, I have been spending a little more quality time with the treadmill and my iPad. For quite a while I would only refer to the treadmill as a “dreadmill” because of how boring and inadequate I found running on the work out machine. Now that I couple running with watching a movie or a show, that has changed a lot. XFinity has an app for the iPad that even allows you to download your DVR’ed content… so catching up on my latest show is that much easier and even a little healthier since I’m not sitting on the couch or curled up in bed (this morning I caught up on the most recent episode of “Blindspot” – so awesome, by the way). Running on the treadmill still doesn’t touch running outside, but it has at least become a little more bearable (maybe running my 19 mile long run during WDW Marathon training put my treadmill runs in a little perspective, too).

Motivation is a beautiful thing. When it flags, I flag. I feel more “down” and I am quickly deterred by life’s every day challenges. When my motivation is on the rise and I am hitting the pavement/gym more often, I feel more “up” days and I honestly feel more “normal”.

Last week, I hit three runs. The week before, I did 4. This week, I am aiming for two weekly runs and considering the local Red Shoe 10k. I have over two months before Wine & Dine training begins… but I am determined to keep my motivation up so that I am properly conditioned for that first training run.

To end my post, here are a couple of shots of the new outfits in action. Try to contain your excitement.

 

Follow-Up

For those of you that read my most recent blog post…

Here’s the final product.

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I wanted this a little higher on my arm. I can always see this (unless I’m wearing long sleeves, of course) and will always have it as a reminder.

Big thanks to Cody Klein at Monument Tattoos for this beautiful tattoo.

The Semicolon

In terms of grammar, a semi-colon is used in place of a period when the sentence could have been ended… but was not.

In terms of my mission and life, I am the author, the sentence is my life and the Semicolon is the conscious decision not to let my mental illness dictate when that life ends. The Semicolon is a beautiful and simple motif for continuing to survive despite how difficult it is to live with mental illness. The Semicolon signifies that although I could have taken the choice to end my own life… I chose (and continue to choose) not to.

This simple idea comes from “The Semicolon Project“, a nonprofit organization started by Amy Bleuel after she lost her father to suicide. The following is taken directing from their Facebook page:

Through the semicolon symbol many related to the struggle of depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide and their will to continue on. The title, “Project Semicolon,” also represented a goal – to believe that this is not the end but a new beginning.

As the days passed and the project was developed further, it became clear that this symbol was not just about one person. We heard from people longing to continue their story and live a life that would inspire others to continue on as well.

Over the years Project Semicolon has become much more than just one person honoring a parent. Through musician support and social media, the message of hope and love has reached a big audience in many different countries, more than we could have ever anticipated.

Project Semicolon is honored to be a part of those continuing stories, and to be an inspiration to those who are struggling.

The path I tread is not an easy one. I recognize that. I have good and bad days. I am not always the best at staying on the prescribed treatment for my depression. I do not always want to recognize that I suffer from an illness. And even though I do my best to spread a message of hope despite depression, I am not always successful at believing my own words.

I have an indomitable will to survive. Through even the most difficult days, I refuse to give up.

The design featured at the top of this post is a new tattoo design (a rough one) I hope to have etched into my skin soon. It will be a permanent reminder that I am the author of my life… and I refuse to let it be ended prematurely. I refuse to be beaten. I will continue on. My message of hope will continue.

Hello Again, My Old Friend

My last post was over thirty days ago. My last post was on February 20, 2016… following the 2LT Justin Sisson 5k. Things have been a little up and down in my household. Blogging, posting and running kind of fell by the wayside. And honestly, maybe I needed that small break. I went to Disney with the intention to run while I was there – but walking nine plus miles each day in the parks kind of nixed that thought. When I returned home, I just didn’t have the time, drive or energy to go out for a run. My last run before Disney was on March 11… I didn’t run again until March 29th (the day I registered for the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon).

I ran on March 29th. I ran again on March 31st. Each run was approximately two and a half miles. I hadn’t been running for two weeks. I subsequently registered for a 10k simply because I liked the singlet and the medal design (what better reason is there, really?).

The Springtime Tallahassee 10K boasts a nice (albeit a bit hilly) course that winds through Myers Park and some of the adjoining neighborhoods. Last year (my 10K PR), it was pretty chilly throughout the race (chilly enough that I wore my Princess Half sweatshirt!). This year, it was comfortable at the race start. It misted through the first couple of miles. That mist turned into a steady drip that melted away by the time I got to the finish line.

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As I headed for the finish line, all I was thinking about was the free beer at Growler Country’s tent! (Photo Credit: Fred Deckert)

I finished a couple of minutes shy of my time goal (a modest 1:20), but that wasn’t really something that factored into my enjoyment of the event. I wasn’t trained and had entered the race on a whim. I enjoyed the six miles for what they were – a fun 10K on a Saturday morning with a medal and a glass of cold beer at the end.

I’m trying to steadily get back into running. I don’t need to start training again until July, but I would like to have a nice base as I enter my training season again. Plus, I always say I feel better when I have been running and that is the plain truth! I feel better about myself and life in general when I have made time to put feet to pavement (or to trail, as the case was sometime last week).

I’m in the last 4 weeks of my running journal. This thing has been incredible. I’ve loved being able to keep track of each run. I’ve enjoyed being able to make notes on each run – different things I experienced and felt. I like to look back on the reasons why I didn’t get out for a run or the reasons why a particular run made me feel spectacular. My running journal has helped me celebrate my triumphs while also helping me to recognize the low points in my running and training. I’ve also documented some of the rough patches I have gone through that don’t involve running.

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One of the last “work pages” in the book involves going over your successes and disappointments. For me, my successes seem to far outweigh the disappointments. In this past “season” (my journal starts on March 23, 2015 – a month after my first half marathon and the week of the Springtime 10K), I have PR’ed in both the 10K and half marathon distances. I’ve placed in my age group and I even endured a very long nineteen mile long run on the treadmill!! For the most part I stayed focused on marathon training with a few bumps in the road. My biggest disappointment last year was spraining my ankle during the heat of marathon training. Despite this injury, I persevered and didn’t let my training get side tracked for too long while also getting the rest I obviously needed!

I’ve had a good year. I can’t wait to finish out these last few weeks in my journal… and I most especially can’t wait to start a new one!

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One Seminole's Journey to Sanity – Mile by Mile