Just a Little Stressed

I finally had a stress dream about the Blue Ridge Marathon last night.  In my dream, I was late to the start, I was wearing the wrong clothes (including a sweatshirt!), and I was worried that I shouldn’t even start since the race started 20 minutes ago and I was “so slow” that I was sure I’d not make the time cut off (which is 7.5 hours, btw). Throughout the dream there were actual, literal signs that reflected the true stressors that I’m working through right now.  Uh, Dr. Freud, your slip is showing….

I’ll admit that I’m not handling things well right now.  I’ve spent a lot of time crying.  I missed my workout yesterday.  I’m tempted to just throw my hands up in the air and walk away from it all.  (I’ll admit that I am more than tempted by that last one.)

So not healthy.

So, what can I do?

I can eat well.


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Dinner – pork egg roll in a bowl with sauteed mushrooms and broccoli
Having fun with my shakes – my version of Mexican “hot” chocolate!

I’m feeling antisocial but I can kick my own butt in classes.

Fun in this morning’s bootcamp

I can support others.  Even though I don’t really feel like it and the weather will be rough, I will be out spectating at the DC Rock n Roll half marathon tomorrow (sorry, the marathon starts too early for me to get there with Little Runner).  The weather will be gross so they will need extra love.

I can try to get out and enjoy some nature.  Granted, that was easier when it was 70 earlier in the week but I still plan on my lunch walks in the rain.  My goal is to find something pretty or amusing during each walk.

So, that’s my plan of attack for the next few days until I figure this shit out.  Burning the ground and salting the earth is still SUPER tempting but I’m trying to save that for a last resort.  We shall see.


December Reset: Week 1


I’m one week into my reset so I thought I would give a little update on how it’s going.

1. Walk at lunch at least 3 times a week.  Score: Goose egg.  I have not walked at all during lunch in the past week.  I finally remembered to bring a pair of walking shoes today but I can feel the excuses building already.

2. Engage in at least one group exercise activity a week.  I got in two group activities this week! Once was an impromptu spin session on Friday and the second was part of a group run on Wednesday.  I’m not sure I can count that as I was running *near* others but not actually *with* anyone.  I was close enough to hear conversation, though, so I think I’ll count it.  It was the runner’s version of parallel play.  Is it possible to be lonely and anti-social at the same time?  I seem to hit that combo quite often.

3. Complete 1,600 miles for the year.  I will not likely complete this.  I needed to run 35 miles a week for the rest of the year to get it and I only managed 16 this past week.  I’m not too broken up about this.  As one of my BRFs said, our goal should be to “be more awesome than last year” – in that case, double check!

4. Do a modified Whole 30.  Mostly good.  I had to do a massive baking session on Saturday and did end up sampling a bit but I haven’t been sneaking extra bites and I ignored an entire Costco cake at one of the THREE retirement parties we had this week at work.  Bonus: I’ve lost 3 lbs!  I know, it’s water, but still nice to see.  I would love to lose 4 more before the month is done but I know my body hangs on to every last ounce so I’m not too set on it.  I need to be careful, too, because I’m getting weird with food again.  I wound up not eating dinner last night because I was paralyzed over what to eat (after I realized too late we were out of spaghetti sauce so I couldn’t make the baked spaghetti squash casserole I was planning on).  I wound up eating a banana and a packet of Justin’s Almond Butter with Honey before bed.  Not ideal

5. Add magnesium back into my diet.  100% – I have been having magnesium every day and am up to full dose.  I’ll know in a few weeks if it will help with my PMS anxiety and migraine cycle.  I hope so because I’m getting pretty tired of it.

Overall, I think things are going well and I feel more centered.  I’m also feeling more optimistic about this next training cycle and am looking forward to having a non-goals race with friends.

Speaking of training….  Monday will be 19 weeks until the Blue Ridge Marathon (or half, or 10K or 1 miler – or double marathon, if you’re nuts!)  Stay tuned because I will be giving away one free race entry to the distance of your choice!!!  I will also be kicking off an All Things Blue Ridge series of posts that you’ll want to catch if you’re thinking of running next year.

December Hard Reset


I’m still alive.  I am working on my race report from the Richmond Marathon and it is taking for-ev-er!  Also, with a busy second half of November, loss of daylight, and other “stuff” going on, I’m finding myself slipping into my annual December slump.  This month kills me every year – and not always for the same reasons. I’m trying a new approach to even things out this year, though. A little preemptive strike, if you will.

It’s always risky to try “challenge” events during heavy social months but I think this is the best way for me to approach the month.  Tomorrow is December 1 and, from then until December 24, I plan to to do the following:

1. Walk at lunch at least 3 times a week.  I find myself chained to my desk for the entire day and that is not healthy.  I will walk at least 20 minutes, at least three times a week.  If the weather is decent, I will up the frequency.

2. Engage in at least one group exercise activity a week.  With my marathon training on hold for a few more weeks, my exercise schedule has been spotty, at best.  It has also been very lonely.  I plan to join at least one group activity (either a group run or cross training) a week.

So sad

3. Complete 1,600 miles for the year.  I’m currently at 1,466.  By the 24th, I plan to have only a reasonable amount of miles left for the month.

4. Do a modified Whole 30.  I’ll drop added sugar and processed foods but I won’t be super militant about every tiny ingredient. For, perfect is the enemy of good.  I’ll be more along the line of cutting out Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s and no more bites of my kid’s meals.  Oh, and if you haven’t tried it yet, don’t even bother trying Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Joe-Joe Ice Cream.  It’s horrible.  Honest!  😉

5. Add magnesium back into my diet.  I started adding some this morning.  I think it will help with my mood and my migraines.  If you decided to try it, too, just be careful to start with a super small (1/2 tsp) dose or you will have stomach problems.

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My supplement of choice

So, that’s my Big 5 for the reset.  Nothing too crazy.  Nothing unmanageable.  I plan to check in here once a week, to let you know how it’s going.

How are you handling the holiday stress?  Are you planning some sort of “reset” of your own?

Sweat and Tears

**I found this post languishing in my drafts so I thought I’d go ahead and hit publish**

I was recently paid two very unexpected compliments. One person described me as “bubbly” and another said that I am always so calm and always have everything together. I felt like saying “are you kidding me? Do you know the freak show I always have going on in my head?” It’s a wonder that I’m able to fully operate most days.

In addition to my mental neurosis is the fact that I am a “crier”. I can, and do, cry at the drop of a hat. My emotions have always lived very close to the surface and they often get the better of me, much to my chagrin. My brothers used to say that it was never difficult to tell how I’m feeling and I suck at poker.  The quick temper isn’t as egregious, at least I don’t think, as the crying. I hate being perceived as a weepy woman who can’t keep her act together (please note, this is MY perception of ME. I am not casting judgment on any of my friends or readers who are more sensitive).

So, what’s the deal? If I am the walking disaster that I proclaim, why don’t (more) others see it more often? I credit running. I remember a Gidget episode where she has her heart broken over something and goes surfing, saying that nobody notices a few tears with all of the saltwater. I often think of that when I’m running. It’s like my body is expelling the tears through sweat and it helps me keep things under wraps in my “normal” life. If I miss more than two days of hard exercise, I can feel the crazy steam building and the tears getting ready. I have been known to cry while running – usually occasionally not when others are around* –  and sometimes certain songs will trigger a really ugly episode on the trail.

It’s very hard to cry and run, let me tell you!  I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can have a quick cry, pull myself together, and actually pick up the pace for a really good finish.  I don’t know if it’s endorphins or just allowing my body to physically work though my mental shit storms but I think I’m a better person, more calm and even-keeled, when I just … cry.


*my one running friend is probably thinking “What the hell? I see her cry All. The. Time!” Yeah, sorry about that… 🙂

The Power of Positive Thinking

I was listening to one of the Another Mother Runner‘s podcasts the other week.  In this one, Sarah was talking about her successful BQ at the Victoria Marathon (episode #133 if you go through iTunes).  This was a big, huge goal for Sarah and she has been working really hard to make this race a success.  After the first 13 miles, she was feeling good but knew she couldn’t slack off so she spent several miles talking to herself in the third person.  Kind of like a sports announcer, “And here comes Sarah Bowen Shea, looking strong and reeling in one runner after another” (I’m paraphrasing, I can’t remember exactly what she said but it was along those lines).  And she said it totally helped!

The other week, when I was running in the rain and decided to see what I could do, I used the same trick and finished my third mile a full minute faster than my first (despite rain and dark and impenetrable glasses – and don’t forget the hills!). I thought it might have been just a fluke so I tried it again yesterday on my long run.  The wind was in my face for miles 9-10 and I was a bit tired and sore my run the day before and just wanted to be done.  So, I started doing a little announcer spiel, with many lines about “Unexpected Runner’s strong quads are really helping her to power through this wind!” etc.  Totally worked!  I kept an almost even pace for the entire run and had zero walk breaks.

I was musing with one of my friends about why it worked and she thought it may have something to do with the idea of “being observed” and wanting to perform well for an, albeit imaginary, audience.  I personally think that it’s not that difficult to trick our mind when it’s just being whiney bitch 😉

So, the next time you feel yourself starting to flag or need an extra boost, try talking positively about yourself in the third person and see if it helps! (I’ve heard it helps if you have a fast nickname you can call yourself) And then report back because I need more anecdotal evidence! 🙂


Burn to ashes and salt the earth

I can take a lot.  I can keep my head down and plod on.  I can keep pushing and pushing and pushing until I finally get to my goal.  Unless I can’t and I don’t and I’m broken.  That’s how I feel right now.  I feel broken.  I feel like I will never make any progress again.  I feel like I hate everything.  I feel like taking all of my gear to the yard, burning it down to ashes, and salting the ground so nothing ever grows there – as a lasting testament to my shortcomings. Holy drama mama!

I know I am just in a bad spot right now and things will improve and I will finally have a good swim in a race and I’ll finally understand transitions in roller derby and I’ll find joy in my training again.  But right now?  Not so much.  I spent most of Sunday crying over one thing or another – even simple skating at the rink left me in tears – and all of yesterday biting everyone’s heads off.  I’m trying to ease back and give myself some space but just bout every other minute I think about pulling out of another event (hey, did I tell you that I have a Spartan Sprint in just a few weeks??).  I know I will regret any decision that I make right now so I’m trying to hang on and ride this out but it is so, so difficult.


I'm trying
I’m trying

Closing the Books on 2013

We’re about ready to close out 2013 and I’m a bit sad to see it go.  Physically, I had a great year!  I really enjoyed pushing myself and seeing what I was capable of completing.  That said, I have a lot of awesome plans for 2014 and I can’t wait to start working towards those goals.

Just to bookend the year, here’s an update on on my 2013 goals:

1. Improve my mental image/self-talk. Yeah, this is still a struggle. It will be following me over to next year’s goals, also.  A few weeks ago my husband took a very flattering picture of me on the beach and sent it to me. I literally asked if that was what I look like or if was just a super good angle.  I know he thought I was off my rocker but, in my head, I’m still extremely large.  Some days the mental image and physical reality align somewhat but it’s not often enough.

2. Stop qualifying myself – “I run but I’m slow” is not allowed! Huh, well, I just told someone that I was too slow for them to want to run with me yesterday so… I guess this will be following me over to next year, too!

3. Do 5 new exercise “things”

TRX (for core work) – still loving it, even though I’ve had to take a break for a few weeks.  I plan to get back to it in January.
Trail run(s), maybe a mud run? Done! I did several trail runs and races, including a half marathon and really loved it.  I will be doing more next year!  I also did two obstacle races and enjoyed them.  I’m doing a Spartan Super next year (hold me!)
Improve my swimming skills so I can try a triathlon next year. Didn’t happen. Swim classes start on Jan.  4th
Try Pilates or a regular yoga class (for flexibility) Didn’t happen.  I took a Metro Barre class and liked it but my foot did not.
There was no fifth thing. 😦

4. A sub-30 5K (July?) DONE!  Just a bit late.  My November Turkey Trot had a 29 minute 5K as part of my 1 hour 10K.  Next year? A 10K in comfortably under an hour.

5. Finish a half and full marathon without sweating the time. DONE!  Next year I will be focusing on improving my time for both distances.

So, that’s it.  Overall, I am very happy with this past year.  There are some things that could have been better but I learned from each and every training run and race.

My Top 5 Lessons:

1. Never skip a water stop if you are running more than 3 miles.

2. Taking a minute to stretch mid race takes a lot less time than having your form fall apart in the last two miles and being forced to limp to the finish.

3. Even if you think of yourself as a “loner”, running with a group can be immensely beneficial.

4. Don’t neglect your speed work and hill work.

5. Find your “cheerleaders” early and don’t be afraid to lean on them when you are feeling doubtful.  The night before my marathon I was a total wreck and the only thing that got me out the door that morning was knowing that people I trust believed that I could do it.

What goals did you achieve this year?  Any “lessons learned”?


This one’s a downer. Sorry.

This “no running” thing is killing me.  Not only am I seeing zero improvement in my foot, but I’m just finally (mostly) recovered from my fall last week so I’ve been on 100% rest since Nov. 23.  I know it may not seem like much but I’m really struggling right now.  I’m being smacked with some of the same mental/emotional issues that pushed me to running in the first place only now I can’t even do that.  I’m feeling very broken on so many levels and I don’t like that.

I hate sitting here, losing ground. I hate that I will have to work doubly hard to get back to where I was. I hate that I feel like the freakin’ Stay Puft man.


I know this will pass. I know my foot will (eventually) heal.  I know that I will be able to move to my Plan B exercises soon.  I know, I know.  But that isn’t helping me right now.

And my attitude sucks
And my attitude sucks

But, tomorrow is a new day and my body has had more time in which to heal. I may not see or feel the difference yet but I have to trust that it’s getting better.

There’s No Crying on the Obstacle Course!

Or on the OC!

Except when there is…

This has been a rough week for me.  I missed both of my midweek runs because I was so stinking tired, I could barely move. I was also letting my worry about Saturday’s 16 miles drain too much of my mental energy.  Thankfully, Saturday’s run passed without incident and Sunday had me scheduled to do some work at the obstacle course. Since I was short on miles for the week, and I want to work on my endurance for the obstacle races, I decided to add in 3 miles before the course.  A friend offered to join me and we clocked a relatively speedy three miles (serious, 10:02, 10:04, 10:20).  Then we hit the course.

Two new people were joining us and I selfishly thought to myself that it will be nice to not be the one struggling the most for a change. Yeah, they both nailed every single obstacle.  Don’t get me wrong, I was very happy to see how well they were doing and that they were having fun.  They’re great people and I really look forward to working with them again. But, I wasn’t happy that I seemed to be stuck at the same level as last time.  I was still flailing about and repeatedly throwing myself at the freaking high horse, to no avail.  When I slipped on my 6th pass at the wall (which I can normally do) and jarred myself quite nicely, the next thing I knew I was blubbering like a fool.  Of course, my friend was worried I had hurt myself but I couldn’t even trust myself to talk because I knew the dam would just break.

I was so incredibly frustrated!  I was feeling like I wasn’t making any progress and that I was constantly holding everyone up.  I know I should only compare myself to me but it’s hard when you hang out with amazingly athletic people.  I hate being last. I hate needing the help. I hate feeling that I would be better if my stomach wasn’t in the way or if I was lighter or stronger or if I just tried harder.  I hate that my body can’t keep up with what I want to do.  I know I have made a lot of progress in the past year – heck, last year I was sweating running 6 miles and couldn’t do even one real pushup or a plank – but I still see such a long journey ahead of me.

I know I will get there.  I won’t stop and I won’t give up.  But I might cry a bit.

6-ish Stages of Run Avoidance

(my apologies to Dr. Kubler-Ross)

1. Denial – I didn’t really have a run scheduled for today!  Oh, what’s that written in my scheduled? That’s just an optional run, not mandatory!

2. Anger – Yes, I DO know my big race is only 18 weeks out!  Why can’t you just let me take a nap?  I’m tired!

2a. Stalling – How can I possibly focus on my form when our son’s play room is a mess and there are still boxes in the garage from 6 moves ago and my spices aren’t alphabetized??

3. Bargaining – Listen, I’ll run some extra miles on Friday!  I will double up and hit it HARD all next week!

4. Depression – I know this is a lost cause!  Why bother? I’m just a slug!  Where did you hide the cookies??

5. Acceptance – Fine, where are my shoes?

6. Gratitude – Man, I’m glad I got my run in!  Why did I wait so long??

Some days we make it through all of the stages and some days we eat the damn cookies… But every day is a fresh start!