Outrunning my demons in Hell

Next year I want to go to Hell.

Whoa now, before you get a little concerned, let me explain.

Hell is a town in Michigan. With some of our winters, I’m surprised that more towns are not named Hell. Although, after a bit of overthinking, maybe the name should be reserved for hot Southern crime ridden towns.

Anyway, every year there is an ultra trail run in this little town called Hell. Part of the course includes running through waist deep water for a river crossing.

Sign me up already!

I am starting to look ahead to running goals for next year. This summer I completed my 4th marathon. The first couple times I said I would never run a marathon again. But now I am thinking about doing a 50k ultra race. Hey, what’s a few more miles??

Then I thought it would be super cool to get a tattoo that says¬†Outrunning my demons in Hell 50k.¬†I don’t have any tattoos yet, unless you consider my car which is plastered full of bumper stickers…I have a couple of tattoo ideas, but thought it would be great to kill two birds with one stone…running and blogging.

I have one more race planned for this year, a half marathon next month. My husband is planning on running his first half marathon with me. I am really excited for him. I must really make it look like a lot of fun! Ha ha ha…

Fortune cookie wisdom #8

Begin…the rest is easy.

I find this fortune cookie to be very inspiring.

Beginning is the hardest part, right?

Remember starting a blog? How terrifying was that??

Now it seems so natural, so easy, so ingrained…like I’ve been doing this forever.

Every decision to begin something new is fraught with worry. Or at least it is that way for me. Getting married, starting a family, starting a blog, running a marathon, getting on the stage of a community theater, sailing, going to college, moving to a new community, doing a Half Ironman, traveling, etc…insert dream here..

Beginning a new adventure can be terrifying. Fear can prevent someone with great potential from even starting.

I remember my first 10k. I was horrified. I was so afraid I wanted to run in the opposite direction. This summer, I’m going to run my 4th marathon. A lot of people find that inspiring, motivating, or downright crazy. It is all of those things. If I can do it, anybody can. It started with taking the first step. I started running about 5 years before I ever signed up for my first race. People don’t see everything I do when they hear about everything I’ve done.

Running can be very intimidating if you haven’t yet learned to crawl.

I am very motivated to achieve. I can’t sit still. My brain never quiets.

I am also a very competitive person. This has been harder to overcome. I want to be the best runner. I want to be the best blogger. I am secretly (well, not anymore) jealous of people who have thousands of followers after a few months of blogging. I am jealous of people great enough to qualify for the Boston marathon.

I have to get over comparing myself to others and learn to enjoy my own journey…

Sometimes people ask…How can you be a marathon runner? How do you run a successful business working with your husband? How can you blog regularly year after year?

I’ll tell you how I do it. Begin…that is the first step. Keep going. Keep doing your best even if you aren’t the best. Seek the advice of others who are successful. Maybe I’m not as good of a runner as ______ or as good of a blogger as ________. Who cares? I really love it and that is what matters.

This winter is long

And it’s snowing again!! Big heavy snowflakes are falling. Then we will have 40 mph winds.

I will have to do today’s scheduled 18 mile run on the treadmill at the gym.

This winter is long…

I just want to curl up in a little ball and hide under the covers in my bed.

I feel jealous of people in warm climates. I saw your pictures this morning on Facebook of you training for the Ironman in a lake.

Our people are still on the lakes too, ice fishing!

Today I lack motivation. I desire hibernation until this long winter is done.

Competing against the clock

My birthday is coming up in a few days. To celebrate, I am going to do my first Half Ironman. It just sounds so wrong. Maybe what people say about me is true…overachiever…workaholic..

Would I have more fun sitting on the couch watching a Netflix marathon instead of doing an actual marathon? Probably not!

I really don’t like the taper week. When you are used to working out an hour or three at a time it is physically hard to take it easy. I have to push myself to sit still. My mind is restless and my body is antsy. I want to run off the nervousness inside.

Last night I had my first pre-race nightmare that something was wrong with my bike. The seat was too low and I couldn’t adjust it. I had to bike through crowds of people, but couldn’t seem to make the pedals work right.

To tell you the truth, I am terrified of doing the Half Iron. More terrified than turning another year older. I feel like I am racing against time. I am not competing against you, nor me. I am competing against the clock.

I talked to some others over the past few weeks…I used to run marathons when I was young like you..That implies that someday this will all end.

The sands of time slip through my fingers… I never thought that I would be old. I never thought my kids would grow up. I always pictured us stuck in time at the perfect age. The age when we first met and fell in love. The age when our kids were little and had full confidence that we had all the answers.

It is horrifying to let go. My son got his motorcycle license yesterday. My daughter left for college last year and said that this is her last summer she plans on coming home. They are doing adult things like holding down a job.

When the terror sets in about what I am about to do…a Half Iron…I think back on all that I have already accomplished…3 marathons…WOW. If I fail miserably, I still have accomplished more than most people I know.

When I start feeling the horror of my lack of control as a parent, I have to remind myself that I have teens that are growing up to be wonderful responsible young adults.

As I turn another year older, I think about how much I’ve learned and how much more life is in front of me. If I look back to where I came from, it is pretty amazing that I got this far.

Survival stories

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Over this past week, we have been hit by several severe storms. There was one day that it didn’t storm. Tornadoes blew through the area.

My daughter, Arabella, was at camp all week. They had to take shelter several times due to the severe storms. For once, I didn’t worry too much. I grew up fairly close to the area that my daughter went to camp. I knew exactly where the storms hit. I knew the campers weren’t in the storms path. By the time I knew a storm was coming, it had already passed that area.

After I picked up my daughter from camp, I went to the cemetery to see if my grandparents ‘survived’ the storm. I checked on their parents and siblings too. It seemed like a strange thing to do, since they all have been dead for almost a decade or more. I don’t get out that way to visit too often.

I remember going as a child along with my grandma and Aunt Grace to check on our family at the cemetery after a storm. Now, regrettably, it felt like my turn.

I drove by my grandparents house. The new owners put up a decorative fence in the front yard. At Aunt Grace’s house, the new owners put in a new front door and constructed a flower bed where a tree used to be. It is still painful to drive by.

I stopped at my parents house, but they weren’t home. It was oddly silent. I feel a certain sadness when I go home. I can’t explain it. I feel nostalgia for what was. I feel grief for things that happened that shouldn’t have. I feel an emptiness, a sense of being alone. It is a painful feeling, but ever so slightly, an uneasiness that almost cannot be pinpointed.

I picked asparagus in my parents backyard as I saw lightening and heard the rumble of distant thunder. I felt empty, alone, and a little afraid. Afraid of being vulnerable out in the open. I felt the emptiness of it all. Soon my parents will be gone. I still regret not spending every moment with my loved ones that I could before they were gone. Guilt. But not even deserved. I spent a lot of time with my family. My mother didn’t want to let me go, so I stayed. I’m the dutiful firstborn that never went far from home. I was needed.

As I ventured out and about this week, I talked to others that faced the storm. People are drawn to tales of destruction, to view the carnage. People want to share their survival stories. I spoke to a stranger that said his family had several collector cars that were destroyed by the tornado after the shed they were in blew away. Cars that were loved, the original parts sought after. I saw pictures. How often does a stranger show you picture after picture on their phone??

I heard the story of a barn the was destroyed in the storm. The cows were lost and some blew away. Half of the cows were found down the road impaled into the ground. These are survival stories being told by people grasping for others who can relate.

I thought about the stories I heard, then realized that I am the same way. I want to tell my story. I want to feel united in life’s collective struggle. They may not be the same stories, but have the common key of surviving something difficult.

I told you this week about a couple of stories where we survived sailing under difficult circumstances that were unexpected. I tell you about my races, how grueling the last triathlon and marathon were. My struggles as a parent, spouse, business owner, and with my own personal issues. I speak of surviving a very difficult childhood. I often feel alone because I don’t hear a lot of people with a similar story.

Who else out there has a severely mentally ill sibling that threatened to kill the youngest most vulnerable family members? Beside my siblings, I know of no other person who has that story to tell. It is lonely struggling alone.

My favorite bloggers are those that have struggled too. I don’t read your stories because I like to see you in pain or your failure. Your stories motivate me to go the extra mile. They inspire me to keep telling my story.

I almost feel sorry for people that don’t have a story to tell.

Going bananas

This year I signed up an 18 mile trail race, a marathon, an Olympic triathlon, and a Half Iron. This year is going to determine everything…whether I go to the next level or not…

The countdown is on…9 more days until my first race of the season…an 18 mile trail run…probably the least grueling race of the season..

Yesterday, I went for a 6 mile trail run with my friend Lisa. Frankly, I’m not sure if I would have the courage to run it alone. It seems creepy and scary out in the woods alone. I feel like I could become the victim of some twisted fairy tale villain when in reality the only thing that could be twisted besides my mind is an ankle. I fear that pedophiles lurk in the woods out to find a hapless female runner alone. I should probably be more worried about being attacked by ticks..

Lisa is just afraid of bears, black bears.. Yesterday as a woman was exiting the trail, Lisa asked her if she saw any bears…Lisa it is only a sign posted to prevent frivolous lawsuits.. We were well into the run, when we saw something black coming towards us growling through the woods..Oh my gosh..a bear! But it was only a man dressed in all black grunting as he pedaled towards us up over a hill. For a few minutes, I thought I would have to outrun Lisa…no easy task…We must have laughed a half mile about the ‘bear’ we saw in the woods.

All joking aside, we fell into a deep conversation about competing…Those are my favorite conversations…lots of laughter followed by serious conversation..

How is it that we find ourselves never satisfied with what others would consider big accomplishments??

Why am I not happy to have run a marathon if I don’t feel like I did a good job?

Instead, I always want to do better. I always want to accomplish more. More, more, more…I want better times, more difficult challenges…But will that satiate me or will I never be fulfilled?

Or maybe an even deeper question for reflection is…why am I not satisfied with the difficult things in life that I’ve already done?? Why does the big stack of medals lose its luster? Why am I driven to strive for more?? Why am I not content living an ordinary average mundane boring life??

Nevertheless, I am very excited for the start of another racing season…the struggles…the obstacles…the goals…the medals…the achievements…

Oh, and the ‘free’ banana afterwards…

That right there is the reason I do all of the crazy things I do…I’m going (for the) bananas! That is what a lot of people seem to think anyway…

Unbalanced

This morning I went dumpster diving and it was the most joy I found in weeks.

Am I unbalanced?

I was thinking lately about joy, about balance. The main sectors of my life for the last several years has been family, work, and training for marathons, etc.. I like things clean. I am happy when these sectors don’t collide….when they don’t interrupt other sectors..

Now my sectors are colliding and I feel unbalanced.

Yesterday I took time off of work to train..I didn’t get all of my work done at the end of the day.

Work is so busy I feel guilty for doing anything besides work…I don’t worry about money because of my hard work, but I don’t have time. I drive my car fast because I would rather pay a ticket then lose a few moments of extra time. I tell my son not to speed.

Work pulls at me when I am with family. Another email that needs responding to after hours. It will only take a few minutes.

I eat my lunch while driving to work out or while pacing around the kitchen.

Sometimes I am too busy to write. I should be working. I didn’t get caught up today.

Then the kids pull at me. There is always something going on after school that I have to take them to or be at. Then there was the last couple of weeks spending every moment with my MIL as she was in the final stages of cancer. Then I have to decide which kids to sacrifice the other kids for. Do I cancel out on my daughter’s first opera to stay home with a sick kid??

Then there was my son who was having issues with colitis and he couldn’t get treatment until he gave a sample. He couldn’t get a sample. Then this morning after another call to the doctor, I got the idea of taking a couple of specimens and making it into one sample. Great idea, but it involved me going out into the dumpster with rubber gloves and digging around. But I was successful! Now my son is on medicine and I feel so happy about it.

But I was late for work..

It is so hard to keep my life in balance.

Being very busy at work for the last 3 months, having to hire someone, having to train someone, more work, more customer service issues because we are busier..

Being busy at home running kids around, housework, laundry, dishes, sick kids, a death in the family…

Training for an 18 mile trail run, a marathon, and a Half Iron.

This morning I jokingly said to my husband that I wake up with shit on my lips. Sounds disgusting, I know. I wake up stressed. I mutter to myself oh shit off and on all day. I fall asleep at night stressed and exhausted.

Is all of this effort worth it?

Most of the time I can keep up, but I feel so unbalanced right now… I want to do everything well, but sometimes I have to leave some important things undone and that bothers me.

 

Walking in a winter wonderland

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It’s snowing again in Wisconsin.

Or maybe I should say that it’s a raining, sleeting, windy, thundering, freezing rain kind of snow.

We’ve had it good the last couple of days with warm temperatures in the 50’s even up to 60. People wore shorts with a smile on their faces. People were out in droves on walks, runs, bikes, and motorcycles. People were out on drives with their windows down. I hung out my laundry on the line.

I can’t remember a February that was ever this warm..

Then this happened..

I awoke at 4:30 AM to the tapping on my window. It announced that winter was back in town. When winter left, it took the snow with him. Big ice chunks flowed down the river washing what remained of winter away.

For a few days, I was happy to see the sun.

Last Saturday I went on a 21 mile run with my friend Lisa. I felt great afterwards. Neither one of us were sore. I thought maybe it was because we took breaks after every 5 miles to stretch and re-hydrate. Or maybe it was because I took some time off from running for the funeral.

Then it occurred to me that this was the first long run that I’ve probably had outside without a heat advisory.

It boosted my confidence.

I think I can do a Half Iron now. I feel motivated.

Next week, I will start my swimming lessons.

I also booked the trip to Michigan to visit my cousin and run 18 miles on a trail race with him. We decided to take the train for this trip. It is something Paul and I have never done before. It has been such a long time since we got away that my credit card declined the Amtrak purchase due to a fraud alert.

For now I’ll be walking in a winter wonderland. But it won’t be long until I am outrunning again..

Extreme athlete? Who me?

Last weekend someone called me an extreme athlete.

I looked to the left of me. I looked to the right. I even did the Hokey Pokey and turned myself around. There was no one else there.

Extreme athlete?? Who me?? I never really thought of myself that way before.

I do eat, sleep, and breathe running.

Even the name of my blog has the word running in it.

Last night I had dreams of running and biking. I dreamed that I didn’t stretch, that I forgot to put on my running shoes, and my legs felt like lead. Then I got to my bike. It was a tiny little one with training wheels.

I also have dreams of racing. Usually in those dreams something goes wrong. Not unlike the unexpected things during race day.

I rolled my ankle three weeks before my first marathon. Despite that, I ended up running the first 18 miles in 3 hours. I had big dreams until I hurt my knee. It took many months for the pain to go away. I said I would never do another marathon again, then went back on my word.

Kind of like the time I said I would never have another child during childbirth.

Every single time I tried something new, I was terrified. I was afraid the first time that I ever ran. I thought I was going to die I was so out of breath. I was afraid during my first 10k, my first half marathon, my first marathon, and my first sprint triathlon. Now I am utterly terrified after signing up for my first half Iron and a very grueling racing season.

But I still did it.

Training for my first marathon was really tough. It was at this time that I realized that I suffered from GERD. The harder I trained, the less I wanted to eat because my stomach was so upset. I had to learn to run with stomach pain. I had to learn the very fine line between eating too much and not eating enough to prevent pain.

At times I thought I was going to be the runner puking on the side of the road. I worry about that while I am at the gym.

I get up on the only day I am able to sleep in to spend the morning at the gym.

(I did a long run this past Saturday and there was a woman next to me on her phone. With all of my heavy breathing I had to laugh because I wondered if the person on the other end thought she was on a porno set.) The things I think of to make running more exciting.

I have learned to run through exhaustion and boredom.

I pretend to race other people at the gym.

I choose what high risk behaviors to engage in. I WILL not do anything risky before a race that could produce an injury, such as down hill skiing. But I WILL do things for a race that others consider crazy.

I will train in the cold, in the rain, in the wind, and when there is a heat advisory.

I have misjudged how fast a storm would arrive and needed to find shelter.

I have been chased by dogs.

I have tripped over a dog and cut up my knee and hands. I had to run home with blood running down my legs and cleaned my wounds with rubbing alcohol to get out the gravel.

I ran with a really high fever. It was one of the toughest 6 miles I ever ran.

I ran through colds.

I ran when I felt zero motivation to do so.

I came very close to being hit by cars on bike and on foot.

I have a very hard time not running.

If this makes me an extreme athlete, so be it.

Why don’t you sign me up for the next race?

Give it a tri!?!!

Last week I ran into Anna, an acquaintance of mine that completed the Ironman this year. She said that if she could do, so could I.

Anna had quite a few obstacles in her way to complete the Ironman. She injured her leg which made it nearly impossible for her to run over a few miles without pain. She had to take a lot of time off of training to get back on her feet again. She also has a demanding full-time job which required her to travel a lot and took up a lot of her training time. She is in her mid 40’s with 2 children. She didn’t feel prepared. She had a severe panic attack during the competition while she was surrounded by people in the water. She was tempted to give up, but didn’t.

Anna made it through, she persevered. One of the saddest parts of her competition was that she did not have the loving support of her family. Her husband stayed at home, not because he had other things to do but because he didn’t want to go. She only had a few friends accompany her, but not just for her since our mutual friend Cori competed too.

Despite the obstacles, Anna succeeded. Why can’t I??

Really, why can’t I??

I never saw myself competing in the full Iron, but Anna really made me reconsider.

Maybe I should have a new goal to complete the full Iron by 45. Then I could get my first tattoo, an Ironman insignia.

Thanks Anna for motivating me!

I am terrified, but I really want to give this a tri!

**One thing I’ve always wondered is what Ironmen do after the big event is over (since they literally invested years into the sport). I asked Anna and Cori what was next on their list. Neither seemed to know. Anna said that Ironman recovery wasn’t all that bad. But she also said that she wanted to take some time to heal. Cori said that she would do whatever. I really don’t understand, but maybe someday I will.**