Tag Archives: fitness

Finding My Running Legs — Again

Since I started running, that has always been a safe place. It was where I went to process what was going on in my life. It was where I went when I needed “me” time. It was where I celebrated victories and mourned losses.

And after Penelope died, I was certain running would help me heal. And, once I got the A-OK from the doctor, I was so excited to get back out on the trail.

But, then something happened. I got back out there. And it was different. It didn’t feel like my safe place anymore; it wasn’t comforting to get back into my old routine. Rather, it was emotionally painful — almost to the point of being physically painful.

I periodically went for walks, and I tentatively returned to the gym. At the gym, the same thing happened. It just wasn’t the same. And no amount of T2.5 “counseling” time could fix it.

So, I turned away from it. I learned long ago that if something wasn’t good for my soul, there was no way I could make it good for my body or my mind. 

So, I took some more time off. Some more frustrated time off. For a while, I couldn’t figure out why I was having such a hard time returning to my routine. But then, in the middle of writing Penelope’s story, it dawned on me. 

Those things? The gym. My favorite running path.  They were exactly as I had left them when the doctor told me I needed to back off the running and weight lifting. But me? I was different. Very, very different. 

And I needed something different — healing in a different way — from the gym and from running. But I wasn’t ready for it yet.

You see, the last time I’d done all of those things? I was carrying Penelope. And the grief was too fresh, too raw to be able to fully put myself back into it.

Then, I started writing a book. A book about Penelope Joy and all of the amazing things she taught me — taught all of us — in her short 38 days. And it was cathartic.

And, slowly, as I wrote the words and re-read them over and over, my healing truly began. Then, I returned to the gym to hit the treadmill for some short run/walks, and I started lifting (lightly) weights again.

And one cold, cold Saturday morning I  bundled up and strapped on my running spikes. And I went for a cold run.

A Saturday run

Scenes from my chilly Saturday morning run.

I had the trail pretty much to myself that day — it was that cold. And step after step, I found my running legs. I wasn’t as fast as I once was. And there were a lot more walking breaks that I’d have liked. But I was out there. And it felt so good.

As the “Polar Vortex” hit, I was sent back indoors for my workouts. I don’t enjoy the treadmill — never have — but it was better than nothing, and the routine was nice.

Then, January Thaw came for a visit. And it got a bit warmer. Which meant I could head back outside. So, yesterday, joined by a friend, I hit the trail again.

I felt every single muscle as they compensated for the uneven, icy trail. But between chatting and enjoying our time outside, we ended up getting in just over 7.5 miles. It was definitely a run/walk — I still have a long way to go — but it was just what my body needed, just what my soul needed.

And, so, I’m starting to feel that old passion return. Even Mr. B sees it — commenting on the dopey grin I had on my face for most of the day after my run yesterday. My excitement was clearly showing.

Running is starting, once again, to feel like a safe place for me. It is not an unchanged place; it’s different now. I am different now. I have different goals as a runner than I used to have — just as I have different goals for myself, my life.

But, for now, I’m just going to enjoy being back out there, taking it step by step.

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A New Year’s Reminder

I started this blog as a health and fitness blog. And it’s grown into so much more than that. My life has become so much more than that. I started this blog:

  • to share my story
  • to be motivated and inspired
  • to be reminded of all the good there is in the world (you all are amazingly kind people)

But, around the end of the year and into the new year — every year — it happens: health and fitness bloggers put on their judg-y pants. You know, the pants that make them the kings and queens of the gym. They are the people who complain about all of the “new year’s resolutioners.”

I get it: it’s annoying when the gym fills up and it’s hard to get to your favorite machine. Maybe there’s no parking. Maybe someone took your favorite locker. Maybe someone doesn’t know how to do something, and she’s “in your way.”

But, here’s the thing: all of us started somewhere — maybe two or three or 16 times. Maybe this year really is the year those people are going to turn their resolutions into habits into dreams. Maybe it isn’t. But, who are you we to say?

I think this year it’s bothering me more than other years. Because, to most, I look like a new year’s resolutioner. I’m getting back into my routine after six months of off-and-on consistency. Because I was pregnant with a high-risk baby. And I had to cut back my workouts significantly. And then, my baby died. And I couldn’t face the gym for a while. Because being there tore open some wounds that I was working really hard to heal.

Maybe it’s bothering me more because I’m trying to live life with more grace, compassion and understanding.

Either way, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we are all better than that. Before you put on your judg-y pants, remember that maybe the person annoying you on Jan. 1 is terrified of being there — and they just need one tiny excuse to leave. That tiny excuse could be that side-eye you give them. Or, maybe they just lost their baby and their heart is heavy. And the one place that had been “safe” for so long was finally starting to feel like home again.

This new year, as you head to the gym for your regularly scheduled workouts, remember: it’s amazing the difference a nod and a smile will make.

Also, I know I owe you all a huge catch-up post. I’m working on it. But I have to wrap up one very special project first. Regular posting will resume in a couple of weeks. Thank you all for sticking around while I work through all that’s been happening in my life.

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A Blogging Hiatus

I’ve not had much to say on the fitness/nutrition/healthy living front lately. Admittedly, my mind’s been elsewhere. With a baby on the way who has some heart issues, that’s where my … well … heart is lately.

I’m still exercising — as much as I can. Doctor said he “prefers light jogging and walking to running.” Though, I don’t know if this ever-growing belly of mine would be very comfortable for a real run anyway. And weight lifting? Limited to 25 pounds or less.

I miss it. I really, really do. And every time I see someone running, I get sad — and jealous. That’s my happy place. And I miss my happy place. And when I’m in the weight room, I feel miserably weak and lazy. Even though I know, on all counts, that I’m doing this for our darling Pickle.

So, I apologize for being “that” blogger who just leaves her page quiet for weeks on end. I think that it’s a sign I need to take a bit of a hiatus from this blog. I may be back this summer — posting periodically through the pregnancy about life and living. Now that Mr. B is on first shift, I may even have a few more recipes to share.

And I can guarantee I’ll be back after our darling Pickle is born in the fall. I’ve got a lot more goals to reach (I’m contemplating another marathon, perhaps, and some heavily increased weight-lifting goals), and I certainly have a lot more living to do. But, right now, I need to focus my energies on Pickle and on our family.

If you miss me and care to follow along on this part of my journey, you can find me at “The Pickle Chronicle,” where I’ll be writing about my pregnancy, Pickle’s heart defect and our family’s story.

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True Confessions: Half Marathon Edition

Confession time: I talk a good game. I’m just maybe not so good at playing it.

Training for this half marathon has been a roller coaster of emotions and strengths and weaknesses and everything else that goes up and down over time. When I started training for it in December, I was running a sub-8:30 pace for even my longer runs — faster than that, even, for some of my shorter runs. What’s even more? I was feeling great. And confident as a runner. And as someone who was finally done looking back at who I was and being shocked because, ohmigosh, I’m actually running.

My initial goal for this half? 2:05. It would have been a PR by at least four minutes. And, if my training kept up as it was going, I maybe could have knocked even more off of it.

I was excited and really looking forward to this race.

And, then, the most amazingly wonderful thing happened.

Baby belly

That’s a baby in there! Not a Sunday dinner.

And I got tired. Really, really tired. And sometimes, Pickle’s desperate pleas for a nap won out over an evening run. Because, holy cow!, I’m actually growing a human. (Thankfully, I never did get any morning sickness — for this I am immensely grateful.) And when I did run — and I didn’t miss a single long run (WIN!) — my exhaustion became an evil monster dragging me down, slowing me down. My 8:30s quickly became 9:30s then 10s then 10:30s. Now, I’m doing a run-walk on all of my runs, no matter the distance (10 miles, 6 miles, 3 miles). Run a mile, walk a quarter-mile — lather, rinse, repeat.

And, from many of my runs, I came home even more tired. And, worse yet, defeated — even as I tell myself (and truly believe) what a gift it is to be able to run while pregnant and what a gift it is to be carrying this child. And:

“Don’t worry, Kimi Joy, running will be there after the baby’s born — and so will your PR.” 

Still. That voice? That one in the back of my head who pushes me (admittedly, sometimes too hard) and is hard on me? She’s making me feel bad about how far I feel I’ve “fallen.” As much as I believe that if you run, you’re a runner — regardless of your speed — I miss my 8:30s. Because that’s when I felt BEST as a runner, as myself. That’s when I felt most proud.

Right now? I’m not feeling proud. I’m stressed out and worried about this race — this race I was so excited to be running and so looking forward to. I find myself more nervous than I’ve been for any race. Even more nervous than I was for the marathon.

I think it’s because I don’t know what to expect.

Running while pregnant is new for me. My body feels different, it reacts differently. It’s harder to carry it over distances — even though I’ve not gained too much weight. I can’t get a handle on how to fuel this body. Because my tried-and-true fuel for my long runs? My body is processing them completely differently. And I just feel like I can’t get it right. Nothing feels right. Plus, I get tired so much sooner than I did pre-Pickle. Plus, obviously, I’m slower. And, while I’m not competitive against other people, I am immensely competitive against myself. And when I’m out there, running three minutes per mile slower than my previous races? It bothers me. More than I care to admit.

Oh, and did I mention that I’ll be sporting Mr. B’s running clothes because none of mine fit me anymore? (Picking out a fun race outfit is, like, 75 percent of the fun of racing.)

Please don’t get me wrong — this baby is more important than any race I could ever dream of running. I love this baby, I love our growing family — more than I ever dreamed possible (I mean, I’ve never even met Pickle and already, he/she is the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing on my mind before I “sleep” — and the thing that most commonly appears in my dreams at night). And I really do feel honored to get to run this race with Pickle. (YAY for Pickle’s first 13.1!!!!)

I just wish I didn’t feel so weak and tired and nervous. I wish I felt more ready going in to this race.* For me and for Pickle.

*Truth be told, pre-race nerves and jitters are nothing new. In fact, they’re part of my pre-race routine. I think they’re just more prevalent this time around because it isn’t just me out there running. It’s this tiny, darling, precious gift who is just along for the ride.

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A Pre-Race Routine

So, over the past few years of running, I’ve developed a routine in the days leading up to the big race (“big” = half marathon or more). I don’t often detour from this routine, as it’s as important to my “success” on race day as the months of training leading up to it.

My routine:

  • Monday: The day I start obsessively checking the weather for race day
  • Tuesday: The day I start fretting about whether my training has been enough, has been good enough
  • Wednesday: The day I start worrying about fueling my body properly in the days before the race — and on race day
  • Thursday: The day I go back and forth about why I’m doing this — and if I even should
  • Friday: The day all of those worries intensify and become one big ol’ ball of nerves — and excitement — that makes sleeping difficult
  • Saturday: The day I wake up early for oatmeal pancakes and use the bathroom umpteen times before the race begins. And then I “race” — and stop at every bathroom stop. (I can only imagine it’ll be worse with Pickle bopping around down there for 13.1 miles.)
  • Sunday: The day I sleep in and, when I wake up, look back and still can’t believe it was me running that race on Saturday
Basically ...

Basically …

Just a few more days until the half marathon. I’m having very mixed feelings about it. More to come on that later. For now, I must get back to fretting — it is Tuesday, after all.

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A Quickie Recap of Tonight’s Run

The good:

  • Got in my planned three miles — even though I was completely exhausted and did not want to do it
  • It was absolutely gorgeous out, and the sun felt great
  • I’m still loving my shoes, ugly as they are
  • I glanced at my watch and saw my old 8:30 pace pop up a couple of time (it did not last long)
  • I realized I have a pink running skirt and can borrow Mr. B’s blue running shirt (since none of mine fit me) for the race, and I’ll look so “awesome” with the new shoes. Not sure how the race-day Bondi Band will fit in, but I don’t care because it’s my favorite ever:
Pickle's first Bondi Band

Custom made for Pickle and me for our race next weekend.

The bad:

  • It was my slowest mid-week run since I got pregnant
  • Everything felt was heavy and tired and slow
  • I was so tired the whole time, and this run was a definite physical AND mental battle

The ugly:

  • Seriously, you guys. This baby has been making me so gassy lately. It got ugly out there today. Thank goodness for the breeze. (Payback, I think, for going for a run instead of listening for Pickle and taking a nap.)

As bad as I felt out there, if I look at this list, I guess the good outweighs the bad. The ugly? I don’t know — it was pretty ugly. Still. I’m lucky to get the opportunity to run — for me and Pickle.

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Better Than I Used to Be

As I was running (a very tough, dragging-on-too-long-for-as-short-as-it-was run) along the path that runs along the freeway the other day, I looked up to see the following on a billboard:

“You’re in front of the person behind you. Stay there.”

It’s for a nearby university. But it’s fitting for fitness, too. Particularly for those who may be just starting out on the path to reaching their fitness goals. (Whispery aside: Or those who need a reminder of how far they’ve come — no matter what their disordered thinking has them believing. I’m looking at you, Mrs. B.)

You see, contrary to what the sign is saying, it’s not always about where you are in relation to the other people around you. It’s about where you are in relation to yourself.

Then and now

Who I am is who I was, but that’s only part of the story. Cuz I’m more than that, too. And my story is far from over.

Every step you take is one in the right direction. Whether it’s a fast step or a slow step, you’re still in front of the version of yourself who would otherwise still be sitting on the couch.

“I ain’t as good as I’m gonna get, but I’m better than I used to be.” ~Tim McGraw, “Better Than I Used to Be”

I think people — myself sometimes included — believe they have to be perfect to be fit. They have to be a fast runner to be a runner. Or a long-distance cyclist to be a cyclist. Or a race winner to be a race runner. Or a … well, you get the picture.

It doesn’t help that there are judgy people out there that look at you and say (all rude-like with a case of the side-eye), “Um, there’s no way you’re a runner.” (Yes, this happened.)

You’re not going to get it perfect right out the door. You’re probably going to be slower than some people (you’ll be faster than some, too). You’re probably going to have more soreness in the beginning than you anticipated. But look at what you’re doing! You’re walking a mile when normally you would have driven; you’re running for 5 minutes straight when that used to be a thing of dreams; you’re swimming two laps when you used to just dangle your feet; you lost “only” 1 pound when before you just maintained.

And don’t get me wrong, there will be setbacks. Everything in life has setbacks. Even the biggest steps forward. And there will be days you’re slower than you “should” be or can’t run as far as you “should.”

Case in point: When I stepped back into intensive training in December, I was regularly hitting sub 8:30 miles for runs up to five miles. Today? I’m lucky if I can squeak out an 11-minute mile for a two-mile run. Thank the bronchitis and a lot of travel in the month of January and a couple of other health issues that popped up. A month of off-and-on running due to situations out of my control has taken its toll. And, quite frankly, it’s pissing me off. I want to be back where I was in December. But, I have to listen to my body and take care of it when it needs rest — because I need it to go the distance (figuratively and literally). I’m fighting my way back slowly. It’s frustrating that it can’t happen overnight. It can’t, right?

So, I’m having to take another look at my training schedule and my plan. I probably won’t be hitting that half-marathon PR I was hoping for in April. And the half marathon immediately followed by the 25k in May? We’ll have to see how training goes.

But the setbacks won’t make me quit. In fact, they’ll make me push myself harder — within reason. Because I am a stronger version of myself than I was before. In that time when a setback would send me back to the sidelines.

Because I want to stay in front of that person behind me,
that version of me in my past.

So, if you’re like me and you need to hear it (over and over and over again), I’ll share the pep talk I’ve been having to give myself lately:

Breathe. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Do the best you can in the situation you’re in now. And remember — you are far ahead of that version of yourself sitting on the sidelines. Lace up your shoes, and get out there. One step is better than no step. And if you can get two in, do it.

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