A sailor’s return to health and hearth

Today is the day that my husband comes home. A week ago he went off sailing into the sunset with a bunch of other sailors. I am glad that he sailed away. Since we work together and are practically inseparable, it was good to appreciate him in his absence. With the stresses of running a business and raising teenagers, we both do our part in keeping the antacid pharmaceutical companies afloat. Some time putting stress on the back burner helps keep the burning acid fires at bay. 

I am sure that the men were happy to get away from their wives nagging them about how much they eat, drink, or smoke. I do my fair share of nagging, I know. Paul is 6 years older than me, women live longer than men, plus longevity is on my side not necessarily his. So I figure that statistically speaking I should outlive him by 13 to 20+ years. We have been together 20 years this month, almost half my life. And I almost lost him once about 10 years ago. 

Ten years ago… I was staying at home taking care of our 3 little kids while Paul was building his own business. It was a one man show back then. Paul started having a lot of back pain. Our dr gave him cortisone shots and muscle relaxers, but the pain didn’t go away. After further testing, a cyst was discovered in his kidney area. No problem the dr said and plans were made to have an ultrasound to aid in the removal of the cyst. When we got to the appointment something was wrong. The dr didn’t like what he saw. He feared that the cyst was cancerous and trying to remove it by a simple procedure would tear it open and spread the cancer all over his body. Special tools needed ordering and surgery would be required. 

This all happened right before thanksgiving. Life went on. We had the whole family over for thanksgiving as planned. Paul got up early and cooked the meal in a tremendous amount of pain. We prayed and we worried. Cancer, the thought of forever losing my husband. The procedure required a major surgery that involved removal of a couple ribs, a week in the hospital, and a long recooperation time. Plus it was going to be expensive. Like most small business owners, we had a very high deductible and only went to the dr for catastrophic events. 

I remember the day of surgery quite well. It happened in the afternoon. The pastor and another church member prayed for my husband. Then I was left sitting in the waiting area for hours alone. I brought a book with me that I must have read the same sentence over and over. I looked down at the lonely desolate streets and watched the street lamps come on. I thought of facing life alone as I watched the wind blow the remainders of the late fall leaves swirling away. The dr finally came out and said that everything was ok. Paul had a cyst the size of a football on his adrenal gland, but it was most likely not cancerous. After I saw that he was safe in his room, I headed home. The weather took a turn for the worst. There was black ice everywhere. A car slid off the overpass and lay overturned in the ditch. There were many accidents on the way home that night. But we lived through that day!

Paul lost a lot of weight. He was thin and sickly which says a lot since he was always a big man. He needed help. I had to take him to work. He needed help getting up and down the stairs to his office. One step at a time. This was before Internet allowed him to work remotely. So much for recovery time. It was before I knew how to do the work myself. But he dragged his sore, heavily medicated body in. It was painful to watch. At the time, he was also taking a 4 credit master’s degree accounting class. He spent the weekends, when he should have been resting, working on his accounting spreadsheets and then finals. This is why I love this man, he preserveres. I admire his strength. 

Go ahead, take a week off. 

Running etiquette, rules, and humor top 10

After almost getting hit again by a car today, I decided to scrap the blog I was going to write and focus a little bit on running etiquette for runners and maybe especially more so for nonrunners. 

Here is my top ten list:

1. If you see a runner on the road while you are driving, it is best to move over to the other lane if possible. Runners don’t like the uneven ankle twisting gravel on the shoulder. They like jumping into a ditch even less. If there is a car in the other lane, just slow down. It won’t kill you to take a few minutes to slow down a little. But it could kill us if you don’t. I decided to wave at the people that follow my rules of the road. Maybe a little positive reinforcement goes a long way. 

2. If you are a woman and a guy in a service truck obeys these rules then just ignore them. Waving could signal more than positive reinforcement of rules. One time my friend and I had a service tech guy stop us on the road. He said, “Girls, wanna cucumber?” He actually had a bag of cucumbers, but you never know. After several strange encounters like this and being whistled at, it is better not to even look. If I wanted to get hit on, I would have joined a gym. 

3. Runners know when you are lost and need directions. The elderly women wanting to know where a street down the road was while peering over their glasses at a mapquest map were probably lost. The guy with the septic pumping truck plastered with a local address was probably not. 

4. If you suffer from anxiety, you should try running. I always had a nervous energy while being tired all the time. Running mimics my body’s response to anxiety. It makes your heart race, you sweat, and at times you feel like you are going to pass out or die. It does help my body deal with anxiety by comparing stressful situations to running. Okay, control your breathing. Relax, body. It is just like running. If driver’s knew at times how close I felt to passing out, maybe they wouldn’t drive so close to me. 

5. I always run in busy areas. People see me. That is ok, I don’t think that running on remote back roads or trails alone is very safe. Plus on busier roads dogs are more likely to be tied up. Believe me, it is not fun tripping over a dog that ambushes you. Been there, done that, and have the scar. 

6. Running at night makes it hard for me to fall asleep at night. I like to tackle a run first thing in the morning or over lunch time if it is really cold out. It actually gives me energy the rest of the day. 

7. It is probably best to avoid an injured runner or someone who stopped running before a big race. Running makes me happy and helps me cope with life. Without it, you will have to cope with me roaring like an injured caged wild animal. Blogs full of profuse profanity. Grrrr#***%#! Just kidding, but you get the picture. 

8. Runners are always happy to see other runners on the road, unless you sneak up on them and scare them like I did to someone this morning. Sorry. Nothing motivates me more than seeing other runners on the road. I feel an instant comraderie when I see strangers in running shirts when I am not on the road. If you are a runner, I love you. Nevermind that you could be a serial killer. 

9. If you are forced to run on a treadmill when it is 20 below at least watch a good horror or thriller flick. Run a Netflix marathon. Soap operas are probably the worst thing to watch. Isn’t that what you are running from anyway? The craziness of your own life. I found that running is a great way to relieve anger, anxiety, or life stresses. 

10. Runners are the best type of people. They are adventurous and fun. They don’t care about what they eat for the most part. I eat healthy, but do not have to justify calories from that cheeseburger or dark beer. I have the energy, stamina, and endurance to be open to anything. Would you rather spend Saturday night with a couch potato? Not me, I am out to live my only life to its fullest. 

The recovery run

I’m back on the streets again. This has been my first time out on the road since the marathon. I pounded out 12 miles, with a majority of the run experiencing knee pain. It started acting up around mile 3. The same pain I experienced at the marathon, just not as intense. I really hope it goes away. I don’t want this new companion. I have found that my mind is stronger than my body. This is not a good place to be. I need balance between my mind and body. I fear injury. My mind smells the fear coming off my body and it reeks!

It was a pretty uneventful run, except I almost got hit by a car. One of the closest calls yet. I knew I should have worn the honk if your going to hit me shirt! I didn’t even have time to flip the guy off. I have never done that before, but this guy came a mere couple of inches from taking my life. I did throw my arms up in anger as he sped by me. Good grief, it was not like I was running in the middle of the road. Thankfully this happened at the end of my run so it gave me the extra adrenaline rush I needed to limp on home. 

What are my future goals? I would like to start doing triathlons and do a half iron by 45. I would like to run another marathon, but I am not going to sign up until I start training to see how it goes. What do I have to gain? I already have the sticker on the back of my car. What do I have to lose? Hopefully not my ability to run to have a couple more medals. Is it worth it? Only time will tell…

My first marathon

I just put the 26.2 sticker on the back of my car! Let me start this off by saying that my first marathon was nothing like I expected. I really feel bad. Right now I feel like the expectant mother who prematurely claims that “her child” will always behave and never cry, then gets hit by the 2×4 of reality. 

I figured that since I completed the half in a little more than 2 hours that I should be able to complete the full in a little over four. Seems logical, right?? The first 18 miles were going according to this plan. I got to the 18 mile mark right around 3 hours. Things were going pretty good. Then things went from good to okay to terrible in the matter of a mile. My left leg locked up. I experienced cramps that felt like someone hit me in the knee with a crowbar and my ankle felt sprained. I was in excruciating pain. The Gu that was promised at mile 10 arrived at mile 15. I was a wreck. At this point, I was limping along. People were kind and asked if I needed help. All of the training I spent on this for this! Never once did I cramp up like this on long runs. I was heartbroken. It took me almost 3 hours to finish the last 8 miles. 

Right around mile 18, I ran into a girl a lot younger than me who was in a similar predicament. We helped each other have the courage to finish. I pulled her across an intersection both of us waddling, laughing hysterically about how foolish we must look. Hand in hand, she pulled me across the finish line. I still cannot bend my left leg without a considerable amount of pain. But will I do this again? Of course, I have to redeem myself…

Marathon training, less than 26.2 hours to go

My bags are packed and I am almost ready to go. I don’t know if I will be able to sleep tonight. It has been a couple of weeks since I got a good nights sleep. I am rather exhausted. I’m sure that you have all heard that having a newborn, infant, or toddler will give you chronic sleep deprivation. Maybe you have experienced that yourself. Waking up in the middle of the night, up at the crack of dawn. Then your children hit the middle childhood years and you can finally sleep again. The perfect ages, between 5 and 10. They still want to be with you and you don’t have to lug around the stupid diaper bag. Then your kids enter their teen years and you are sleep deprived again. This time you are up late at night waiting for kids to come home or you can’t sleep because they are loud. Car seat toddlers become car drivers overnight. Then your crazy middle aged female hormones give you insomnia and you wake up at the crack of dawn. That is where I am now. I was the first one in bed last night at 10. I can’t tell you how many times I woke up. Plus my teenage son usually goes to bed right around the time I get up in the morning. He isn’t the quietest. It doesn’t help that I can hear a pin drop while sleeping. I tried, believe me. 

I didn’t tell you this earlier in the week. One of my daughter’s friends got in a car wreck this week. Her friend let some guy that she liked grab her car keys and race off in her car with her and a group of friends, but not before stashing his hash pipe under the seat. He drove quite recklessly and ended up totaling her car leaving everyone a few inches from death’s door. And this is the reason, my friends, that parents of teens don’t sleep well at night. I am happy that my driving daughter is more responsible than that, but she is not the only driver on the road. Yikes!

The weather conditions look perfect for the marathon tomorrow. I was excited to see that my hotel has a full breakfast until I called and found out it starts the same time as the marathon. Hmmmm… So I am packing some bananas, avocados, and string cheese for the morning. I am hoping that is adequate. My acid reflux has been nasty this week, so I hope that I can keep it under control. The last 10k I ran left me in a moderate level of pain the whole race. I don’t want this. I want to eat enough to keep up my endurance without having any stomach issues. I also want to drink enough to stay hydrated without having to pee at every mile. That will be a thin line. 

I spent the week wearing every running shirt I own to give me courage. This morning I plucked my eyebrows, shaved, and put a couple of blue streaks in my hair. Not near my eyes, because I worried that sweat would drip blue into my eyes and make me look like a Smurf. I cut my toenails, hopefully not for the last time. I washed and packed my outrunning my demons shirt. Compression socks? Packed. Extra running songs? Downloaded. Running watch charged? Check. Extra ear buds? Check. I am ready to go. The conditions are ideal to have a good time. And a good time is what I’ll have because I love the sport. 

I also want to thank everyone for your support. It means a lot. Also a special thanks to my husband. Thank you for supporting me taking extra time off of work to run. You always told me I needed a hobby. Thanks for the push into running and thanks for supporting my blogging. Both have been very therapeutic and have taken up gobs of my time. Until tomorrow, my friends….this is my last pre-marathon blog. Oh my! 

Marathon training, 2 days to go

I have been running 6 years now and racing for one. I signed up for my first half marathon and first marathon in January. No, it was not a part of a New Year’s resolution. To tell you the truth, I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I think that I should try to be a better person every day of the year, not just a couple of weeks after a night of drunken debauchery. If you kept your New Year’s resolution this year, good for you. I can’t say that I know of anyone who has. 

I would have to say that I earned most of my grit in childhood. Every single time my autistic brother slugged, hit, or scratched me I told myself that the physical pain, bruises, or scars would make me stronger. I followed that mantra back then and I follow it now. The physical pain has made me stronger, gave me the endurance not to quit the race. 

I finished my first half in 2 hours and five minutes. It was a very humid day, so even though I was not able to finish in my goal time of less than 2 hours I was ok with that. I am hoping to finish the marathon between 4 and 4 1/2 hours. Less than 4 hours will be unrealistic. Between 4 1/2 and 5 hours would still be ok. I will be sad if I can’t do it in 5 hours. We’ll see. 

Will I buy marathon photos? No way! Every race photo I’ve seen of myself makes it look like I am dying. Not a pretty picture. If you look great in those pictures, you are not trying hard enough. I often hear nonrunners say that they don’t want to run because we look so miserable. So I try to smile and wave back at the people that are friendly on the road so more people want to join the sport. Neighbors and acquaintances have asked why I am out on the streets so much. Now why does that make running sound so dirty? 

I wish my kids were hard core runners, instead my dog is. He cries like a baby when he can’t run. He is almost 8 and kept limping around after running with my husband. We put our dog on joint pills and it has been really working good. Almost too well, in fact. The first day he dug a hole to China. Then he escaped our yard and dug another hole in attempt to release our neighbors caged rabbits. Good thing they caught him before he succeeded. I think that I could use some of those pills! Wow, we don’t need an aged puppy running around. 

Other than that, I have been fluctuating from excitement to terror. If running a marathon is anything like childbirth, at least it doesn’t last as long. 

Marathon training, 3 days to go

I was feeling great and ready to run my first marathon after taking some time off to “relax” before the race. Then I got this great idea to read blogs about marathons. Hmm. I was horrified to be reminded that I might lose a toenail or two. I picture myself running with blood seeping out of my shoes. Good thing I will be throwing those shoes out right after the race! The soles are worn. Believe me, that is not the only sole that is run down. Doubt started to penetrate my soul. 

As a 40 something person, do I have what it takes? Someone compared running a marathon to childbirth. It was a 30 something year old man, so really what would he know? You see, I have never been good at the childbearing part. Not once has someone exclaimed joy over my birthing hips. After having 3 children via c-section, you could say that I suck at this part. It could be a lot worse, I know. My grandma died during childbirth right around the age I am now. 

When I started this journey into adulthood, I was considered thin. I wanted to exercise to build muscle, not lose weight. People said that since I was thin, I really didn’t need to exercise. Lies! I was 120 lbs when I got married at 23. Shortly thereafter, I got pregnant and gained 66 lbs. 66 lbs! Afterwards, I lost all but 10 lbs before getting pregnant again. I gained 45 lbs with my second pregnancy. I stopped counting the lbs by my third pregnancy. I wanted to work out, but I didn’t have anyone to watch my kids. I tried child care at a fitness place and didn’t like it. I once forgot something and went back in after dropping my son off as a baby. They wanted to know why I was hanging around a baby. Hello, that was my son whom I just dropped off. Scary! 

People told me that I could never have nice abs after having my muscles cut after 3 c-sections. More lies!! I started doing crunches anyway. I worked my way up to 75 crunches three times a week, later adding weights. It was something that I could do without leaving the house. After working out my abs, and lately after losing 2 inches around my waist during marathon training I have no problems wearing a bikini. I am less than 5 lbs away from the weight I was before kids, with a lot more tone. I am not going to lie and say it wasn’t a hell of a lot of work, but it is attainable. If I can do it, why can’t you? Don’t ever believe that you can’t do something until you fully test your limits! 

So, before you sign up for your first marathon, I will let you know if it is anything like childbirth! Until then, I will be sitting around trying to relax in horror wondering what the hell I got myself into. 

Marathon training, week 12

This is it. The training for my first marathon is over. Ready or not, here I come. Today I had my last run before the marathon. I finished a 12 mile run in a little over 2 hours with a heat index of 90. Wow, talk about sweat! Today must have marked a new record. My sweat made my skin sparkle like a Twilight vampire in the sun. A lot of people were out and about today. I saw 3 bicyclists and a walker/runner. I even had 2 people that I know stop along side of me. Motorcyclists waved. I felt motivated by all of this. Somedays I don’t see anyone. 

I feel relief that the marathon training is over. I also feel relief that the shirt I ordered for the marathon came in early. It looks great! I even took the advice of other runners and took my measurements before training. I wish I took my measurements before I started running 6 years ago. That would be impressive. I took my measurements after I was done with the half marathon training when I was already at my ideal weight. I ended up losing 2 inches off my waist and hips. I lost a total of almost 7 lbs. 

If I could do anything differently, I probably would have started breaking in a new pair of shoes on my short runs. My shoes are worn out. I was going to start breaking in a new pair but then I hurt my ankle. After that, I just ran out of time. The first thing I will do after crossing the finish line will be to find a trash can for my shoes, even before the free beer!

So far the extended forecast looks ideal, almost perfect, but things can change.  I recently received a positive thought for the day saying that the journey is the reward. How true that is. Reaching a goal is the easy part. It is the countless hours pounding the pavement that the memories are made, limits are tested, and the joy is found.