Who Am I?

I wrote this while I was walking today. I do my best thinking when I am walking or running. Well, usually it’s running, but today it was walking.

Who am I? That is the age old question, isn’t it? What defines me? Well, I am a mother, a wife, a doctor, a runner, a swimmer, a writer. But are these things labels or are these the things that define who I am as a person?

i am me-2

How do I want people to describe me? I think that if someone just said that I was a doctor, then they would be missing so many amazing pieces of what makes me up. Same thing for any of those “labels” that I listed above. I LOVE all those aspects of what makes me who I am, but do they define me as a person? If I listed all those “labels” as to who am I, what does that tell you about me? Does it tell you that I inspire people? motivate people? That I am a caring person? Honest? What I can tell you, is that if I didn’t have these “labels”, I wouldn’t be as driven as I am, I wouldn’t have had the platform to stand up and motivate and inspire people. If I wasn’t a mother, I wouldn’t have been as driven to get myself in shape and set a good example to my children. It is because of motherhood, that I knew I had to work harder on my health. Exercise gave me the time I needed to decrease my stress, but not only that, it helped shape the person I am today. If I didn’t run, then I never would have thought about helping to push and motivate other people to exercise. If I didn’t help to motivate other people, I wouldn’t have thought about writing! It just amazes me how every aspect of my life feeds into one another and truly does make me a better person.

I am a better person because I am a mother. I am a better person because I am a wife. I am a better person because I am a runner and a swimmer. I am a better person because I am a writer- because it allows me to reach so many people, to help motivate and inspire them.

I-am-me

“Labels”, as people call it, aren’t that. They aren’t just words. I feel like they are the internal makeup of who we are as people. I LOVE my labels. Not only are they words, they are MINE, and MINE ALONE! I am not just defined alone by my parts, but as the summation of my parts. As a matter of fact, look out 2017, because there are more “labels” coming my way!!!

 

Success!

This has been an amazing week of training for me. I actually didn’t realize how good it was until I got a message from my coach tonight. I had a 13 mile alternating tempo run on Monday. He said that my time- ended up being 1:56. That included 3 miles that I ran slow- both for the warmup and cool down. My PR right now for the 1/2 marathon is 1:56. So, if I was actually running/racing those other 3 miles, I could have beat my PR by several minutes! To me, that is absolutely awesome. It shows that the hard work and dedication that I have been putting in, is paying off. When you have tough runs, it’s hard to see the progress you have made. But, hearing this news was just awesome!

Tuesday morning I had my first “masters” swim class, where I swam with a larger group. I literally had 30 minutes, no more, to swim. The class is an hour long, but I had to drive home, get my kids, and then get them to school on time! Not an easy feat, but we completely managed it! Swimming was actually a lot of fun. I got to keep my flippers on the whole time. I progressed from swimming 25’s, to finishing with a 100 yard swim! Unreal, for me!! I didn’t think I could ever do that, but I did. What an accomplishment for myself. I was just bouncing around because I had achieved this. After bringing the kid to school, I had an easy 6 mile run. At night, I had a friend look after 2 of my kids while the 3rd one was at baseball practice, so that I could get in an additional 3 mile run. That felt fine. It was nice and easy.

committ.

Wednesday was my rest day, which I was so happy about. My legs were TIRED!! “Rest” of course means, work a full day of work, get the kids, drop 2 off at baseball, get the dog from daycare & drop him off at home, then go back to the baseball fields to watch the end of practice, bring everyone home, get them showered, finish HW, help the kids study for their tests, while, of course cooking dinner for everyone, and then get them all to sleep. All in a day’s rest!!!

Thursday morning, I had swim class again. This time, I got to swim for an entire hour!! We did warm up swims, then a pyramid building from 25 to 100 yards, and then back down again. Then, he told us to build up in 50 yd increments from 50 to 150!! I looked at him and asked, “me?” He said, “absolutely!” Off we went. There are 3 in my group- we are the slow group and proud of it. We are beginner swimmers, but we are learning, and that is all the matters. Well, by the end of the hour, I had swam 1250 yards!! Are you kidding me?! That was the furthest I have ever swam. I even finished off with 50 yards of swimming without fins on. It is much harder, let me tell you. You feel like you are barely moving- I am learning to dig in more with my arms to pull myself through the water rather than depending on my legs to push me through. Learning process- that is what it is all about. I had to race to work, because 15 minutes after I got out of swim class, I had a meeting. Well, I showed up soaking wet, still in my bathing suit, with a t-shirt and running skirt covering it. They just laughed at me. At least I was setting a good example of being fit, right? Of course I changed before the workday began, but I froze at our meeting because it is always so cold at work. Let’s just say, though, that I was in the best mood all day long. Exercise first thing in the morning just gives me this amazing energy! I slept horribly the night before, so I thought that I would be just exhausted, but instead, I felt like I was bouncing off of walls- just happy and full of incredible energy!! I felt like I was on cloud 9 all day long. That night, I had another easy 3 mile run, while my daughter had baseball practice. I couldn’t leave her too long, so 3 miles was all that I could get in.

These running and swimming things are just incredible. I truly am learning so much more about myself, my body, just everything! Cross training with swimming has just been amazing for me too. I am getting a cardio workout, without the pounding on my legs. Ideally, I’d like to continue to run 4 days per week and swim twice a week. Yes, there is overlap because my schedule is so limited, but I think its OK. I’m making it work. I have to remember, that no matter what I do, I am lapping the person on the couch!! I run 40-ish miles per week and hoping to get in 2200 yards of swimming in next week. Maybe more?!

What lies in the future? Everyone asks me about doing a triathlon. Honestly, I thought they were crazy. Then, I keep seeing my friends doing them and I looked one up. If I can build on my swimming and learn how to bike (like really bike), I can do it!! I know I can. One step at a time. My first goals: learn to swim long distance without flippers, and get a sub-4 marathon. I’d like to knock those off my list. Then, I need to acquire a bike- and I heard they aren’t cheap- and learn how to really bike. That’s when everything opens up for me…. the world will be at my fingertips and I can accomplish anything!!

What are your goals? Are you working towards short term and long term goals? Share with me, because I know what it is like to have those goals and be working hard toward achieving them. Let’s conquer our goals!!

strongest

Mentally Tough Week

Running Saturday night rather than Saturday morning, made a huge difference in my recovery and set me up for a tougher than expected week. My post-run replenishment was horrible! I had such nausea, that I ate only 4 french fries (which I was SOOOO excited for)! That was my recovery meal- NOT good!! And I have paid for it this week. My muscles just didn’t heal as well as they should after my 21 mile run.Just run

Monday didn’t seem to be a problem. I only had 7 relaxed miles to conquer. It went well, felt good. No trouble. My legs didn’t feel fresh- still recovering from the weekend, but the slower pace don’t seem to bother them as much.

Tuesday was ROUGH!! I swam about 1000yards at 7AM and then started my speed work at 8:30AM. I really struggled during my run. After about 5 miles, we were supposed to run up a hill. I literally stopped running and stared at the hill. My husband went up ahead, and then realized I had stopped running. He came back to me,thinking that I must have been hurt because I just don’t stop during a run. I told him, “I just can’t run up that hill. I’m done!” He was dumbfounded. “What?!” he said. “Nope. I’m not doing it. I’m walking up the hill and will run when I’m at the top.” I told him. His response was, “Don’t think that I’m not telling your coach about this!!” I didn’t care, I walked up that stupid hill and then ran my way down it. Unfortunately for me, there was another hill coming up. I just sucked it up and ran up that hill- and more than conquered my pace that I needed. When I finished the tempo part of my speed work, I felt my left hamstring tighten up. I stopped at stretched it out. I was hoping that it would just recover and let me finish. Then, I had to run 2- 8:20 miles with a small rest in between. During the first of those runs, my hamstring tightened up again, I stopped and stretched it. With only 0.25 miles left, I realized that I had to hang it up, stop, and just make sure that I heal up. Only 60 days to go until marathon day!! I ended up with 6.75 miles for the day. I was supposed to have 9 miles. Sometimes you have to sacrifice the extra miles to allow healing.

I tried to figure out why I had given up on that run earlier. I really wanted to kill my speed work, but by the time the hill came, I was mentally done. I just wasn’t full of mental toughness. My quads were sore from swimming that morning, and I used up all my energy by the time it was time for running. It really frustrated me because if it was mile 25 of a marathon, I really would just have to suck it up and make it happen. But what if I don’t? What if I let it get the best of me and just walk? I have GOT to build this mental toughness and get myself ready for my marathon in October. How do you build it? Working hard, keep pushing, keep moving forward. It’s a learning process, something that can’t always be done by yourself. You need support, people that run with you, people that will just support you.

motivation3

Thursday’s run was a very laid back run. I ran with my 7 1/2 year old. Life at home has been extremely hectic with school starting, studying for tests, homework, and sports. So,  there was much needed quality time. He ran 4 miles, and I got in 4.5 miles with running loops. He was so excited. This was the furthest he has EVER run. I was just SOOOOO proud of him! What an accomplishment for him, and what great quality time for us. After that, my 5 1/2 yr. old daughter wanted to run with me too. She ran 0.3 miles down and then up a hill. She felt very accomplished. What a great way to spend time with my kids. I love that they love running.

Saturday was another tough run. I started at 5AM as usual, with my running girls. The first 3 miles were easy, but then it was time for 5 sets of 2 miles fast and then 1/2 mile jog in between them, finishing off with a 3 mile cool down. It really wasn’t tough the first 3 sets of intervals. But then my stomach/intestines started feeling sick. That made it much more difficult, but I still managed to hit my splits. I had 2 left and felt like I could barely breathe because my stomach hurt so badly. In crazy runner form, my running partner asked a lady who was out on her porch (it was probably only 7-730AM) if we could use her bathroom!! Amazingly, she said yes, that she used to be a runner, so she totally understood. After that pitstop, I had no problems breathing and hitting every split again. The last 3 miles of the cool down I had to do by myself. I was tired ,hot, sweating, and just ready for it to be done. But, I did it… every last mile. I knew I just had to finish, to push through. I ended up with 18.5 miles, the exact distance I was scheduled to do. I kept my mind in the game. I kept focused. I knew I could do it. Just staying strong helped push me through.

tough but satisfied

I’ve had to analyze and try to re-organize my running and swimming schedules. My husband pointed out to me that I am letting my cross-training, i.e. swimming, get in the way of my main focus- running. I didn’t realize that and I thought that I could just “suck it up.” Only this week, when things in both sports got tough, did my walls come crashing down. Too much! I spoke with my coach and we are trying a different system this week. I will do my speed work on Monday- hopefully I will be rested by that time, from my long run Saturday morning. I will swim on Tuesday and do a lighter running workout that day. This way, I get in all of the running I need, and also get in some cross-training that I so desperately need.

Here we go!!

Swimming Complications

I went swimming yesterday with friends last night because my swim lessons got cancelled in the morning. This was totally living on the edge for me because I have never swam laps without my swim instructor being there. But, only way to progress is to step outside the box!! Let me just say…. It was awesome!!! I actually loved it way more than I thought I would. I had to decide what pattern I was going to swim. I swam some 25’s, 50’s, and then 125 with 15 seconds of rest in between! I did it!! That was what amazed me the most. It was fun because I was there with my friends and getting amazing support from them. They gave me some tips to help me with my breathing- still working on the breathing pattern to build my endurance. My heart is still beating out of my chest once I hit 50 yards! I know that this will improve with time and practice. Just keep swimming!!

I kept noticing that my left ear felt full and I would pull on it to let out the water. I always feel like that canal gets water stuck in it when I’ve been swimming during lessons. Last night I guess was the straw that broke the camel’s back, though. I felt like it was full last night and then today, it progressively was hurting more and more. I had my friend (a physician)look at it and confirmed my suspicions. Swimmer’s ear! Seriously?! At 39 years old, I developed swimmer’s ear for the first time. Still waiting on my husband to get my medication since it appears that almost every pharmacy is sold out of the medication!!! Craziness.

keep swimming

I have learned, though, that I am really enjoying this whole swimming thing. I am really looking forward to continuing to build my endurance. Everyone asks me if I”m going to do a triathlon next… it’s not in my plans right now, but who knows?! First, I have to get better at swimming. Then, I will have to get a bike, learn how to change gears, and then learn how to bike distances! One step at a time.  As a friend told me, “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!”

strongest

Balancing Life and Exercise

This week proved to be a challenge: working, fitting in runs, my children starting school, birthday parties that the kids were invited to, and husband working.  Try fitting in exercise along with all those things, and time starts to run out quickly. As a mom of 3 very active children, I realize how hard it is to fit exercise in. But, the difference is, that I manage it, and I make it work. Besides my kids hectic schedules, its always nice to go out as adults, enjoy some time with friends- that is a rarity in our lives, but fitting that in and running an effective run, can sometimes prove challenging- as I found Saturday morning. Balance isn’t always that easy, but it is necessary.

balance life

This Thursday, my children started their school year. We are back to schedules, hw, and all the activities that come along with the academic calendar.🙂 Thursdays are also my run days. I worked all day, came home long enough to hear about everyone’s day, and then off for a 4 mile run. Thankfully, Thursdays for me are “whatever you can fit in” kind of days. My coach understands the craziness of my schedule and really works with the insanity of my life. I am truly blessed to have him as a coach! Got in my miles, and then time to cook dinner. Exercise had to win today! It was my first week back to work after taking 2 weeks off due to my grandmother passing away and my vacation to Colorado that never happened. That meant, that it was absolutely INSANE!!! Seeing almost 30 patients a day on Wednesday and Thursday (and Friday proved to be the same), really wears you out both mentally and physically. There isn’t a lot of time to eat during the day, so when I go run, I am running on fumes those days!

Friday night, I got to actually go out with my husband and friends. This does’t happen very often, so that was great! Unfortunately for me, Saturday’s are always my long run days. I had limited time to get a run in early Saturday AM (1 hour) due to my husband working, so the idea was that I was going to get a speed workout in, and then get in an additional 5-6 very easy miles Saturday night after my husband got home from work. I only ended up with 3 1/2 hours of sleep Friday night, and 4:20AM came very quickly for me to get up and run… but I did. I switched the workouts so my easy miles were done in the morning. That meant, though, that I would have heat to deal with later on during my progression run, but there was no way that my body was going to be moving quickly that morning. I was EXHAUSTED- and having drank a little wine the night before made it even harder! I wouldn’t have even gotten up for this run if I wasn’t meeting a friend and having to start our local running group that morning. Dedication was key to me even getting out of bed. I ended up running sub-10 miles over all which was phenomenal! Even got in 6.1 miles.

The day was full of cooking for the kids, getting them to a birthday party- hanging out there for a little while, getting laundry done and folded, etc. The normal mom tasks. After picking them up from the party, it was time to run my progression run. I wasn’t sure that I had it in me, but no way was I not getting this run in. Off I went into the 93 degree heat. My plan was to break the 6 miles down into 2 mile segments- 2@9:30, 2@9:15, 1@9 and then 1@8:45. I started off faster than expected, running the first 2@9:17 and 9:20. Since this was a progressive run, the next 2 had to be faster. It didn’t seem like a problem though, my legs were MOVING!! I had to actually work at slowing myself down! The next 2 flew by at 9;08 and 9:00. Then I was down to my last 2 miles! Time was going by so fast. 8:55 was mile 5 and 8:25 was the last mile! Wow! I totally superseded my prescribed pace and I felt great! I was soaked from sweat, thirsty as anything, but felt totally pumped and excited!!

committ.

There are times in life where you have to balance your home life, career, social life, and your exercise. Making the time to exercise always pays off in the end. Even if you feel bad before your run, I promise that you will always feel better when you are done. A bad run is better than no run, any day of the week! I NEVER regret going for a run… EVER!

Breaking Up the Distance

When I got the call 1 1/2 weeks ago, that my grandmother passed away, we knew that we had to get to NY. With airline tickets being so expensive (would have cost us thousands of dollars), it was a quick decision to drive. I had worked a full day- 9 hours, and my husband had worked a full day- 12 hours, but we had to get to NY, and fast. The wake for my grandmother was the next evening, so we had less than 24 hours to get our family from TN to NY.

sad news

Imagine being faced with this drive after working all day, the emotional turmoil that you just lost your only living grandmother, and of significant importance- no sleep!! How does one confront a drive like that? Nashville to NY- 14-17 hours ahead of you. Well, think of a running, of course!!! How do I complete a marathon? Break it down into smaller increments!! So, we broke the drive down into states and cities. I would find a town I knew we should pass (based on map and signs), and just focus on getting there. It was easier to see the miles tick by this way on a 916 mile journey, in smaller sizes- 50-70 miles at a time! Little by little, we made it through.

We had 7 states to pass through, including TN to get there: TN, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland,Pennsylvania, NJ, and NY. I learned to hate several of the highways that we drove on because when we hit the highways, Siri told us that we had 210 miles to go! That is just daunting!! I no longer like I-81 or I-78. Too many miles!!! Too many hours spent driving on them!!

The larger states were harder to wrap your mind around. The longest seemed to be TN and Virginia. Being familiar with the towns in TN, it made it easier to mentally get through. We know major cities like Knoxville, so time passed quickly. We were full of adrenaline from only having a 9 hour warning about our drive ahead. Virginia, not so easy, more mentally taxing, but we pulled through.

The smaller states were easy. Maryland only took about 30 minutes to pass through. That was easy! It seemed like a huge accomplishment checking that state off our list. Even West Virginia was less than an hour’s drive. That made 2/7 states a piece of cake.

Rob took the first 3-4 hours and then I had the next 4 hour shift. Mentally, I knew I had to break it down like a marathon. I always break that into smaller pieces: the first 1/2 marathon, 5k’s and then down to single miles! Familiar towns made it simpler, because I felt like my mind knew those and could make it there quicker- like running on a greenway or in a town that you are familiar with. You know the distance, so your mind can conceive it and make it happen. It’s when you get into unfamiliar territory that it gets a lot harder. Getting to Bristol in TN and VA was our big goal to get us through TN. I thought that it was pretty neat that the town is right on the dividing line of the states. My next big goal was to get to Wyethville, VA. We didn’t stop there on the way to NY, but we got gas there on the way home and it is definitely NOT a happening town!!

road trip 2

At 6:34 AM, we stopped at Denny’s for breakfast in Mount Jackson, VA. I haven’t been to a Denny’s since I was in college! So, that was actually really cool. They don’t really have food for me to eat (being a vegan), so I was stuck with an english muffin, but the kids were really happy to get some real food. The kids were amazing, honestly, through this point in the car. They slept most of the way, which was incredible.

Pennsylvania seemed like a breeze. I went to college in PA, so it was exciting to drive through it. My college, Susquehanna University, is 50 miles north of Harrisburg. We drove through Harrisburg and by Hershey, which are 2 big places in PA. If we had more time, I would have loved to have stopped in Hershey with the kids. That would have been a great experience for them. But, time was not in our favor! Had to keep racing time to get to NY. We even drove through Allentown, where I almost went to college! I had looked at a very small school in Allentown, but realized that it was WAY too small for me, so I didn’t end up there. When the kids were awake, I was trying to share some stories about these places with them. They thought it was pretty cool that we were driving through some of my old stomping grounds!

road trip-  NYNJ

We finally hit NJ! This was all me driving. Let’s just say, that none of what happened here was a big surprise. It felt like a nightmare. We knew we were only a couple of hours away from my mom’s house, but yet the time was NOT going down on the GPS. Why, you ask? Well, because the NJ Turnpike was literally shut down. Who shuts down a 6 lane highway???!!! Obviously NJ does. So, we had to find an alternate route, in a state that we are very unfamiliar with. The route took us zig-zagging around the state to get us onto another main highway- 80. Getting through NJ really was no easy task. Finally, though, we made it into NY. Traffic every step of the way! Our GPS had told us we had 2 hrs. 43 minutes left when we entered NJ. Let’s just that it took us well over 4 hours to make that part of the trip. Seriously, I would look at the time remaining and it would start to count down, 2 hr. 37 min, then 2 hr. 32 minute, next time I would look- 2 hrs. 50 minutes!! WHAT?!

mentally tough

We couldn’t wait to get out of the car when we finally got to my mom’s house at about 3:15PM. Driving from 9:15 PM the night before! Overall, it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be- outside of NJ/NY. The kids were amazing- watching movies or sleeping! I was completely exhausted by the time we made it there, but no time to sleep! We had 3 hours to get ourselves showered, changed, drop the kids off at MIL’s house, and get ready to go to my grandmother’s wake.

Things that I have learned with traveling long distances:

  1. As a vegan, there truly aren’t any options for eating on the road. Need to be a bit more prepared the next time we make a long-distance trip. At least next time, I am hoping that we will have more than 8-9 hours warning, though.🙂
  2.  ALWAYS leave at night. The kids can watch a movie and go to sleep. That is key!
  3. Grapes are a great snack to have on the road to keep you awake. You have to concentrate on eating them- biting them in 1/2, and then chewing really good to prevent any type of choking hazard! (Yes, grapes freak me out a little bit because of the choking hazard that they cause- that is the mom and doctor in me!).
  4. Long trips truly are amazing bonding time with your spouse. We both stayed awake for each other the whole time. I couldn’t have done it without him. We reminisced about the past, people we knew, fun times, crazy things that we did before kids, etc. We laughed, because this was the most “alone time” that we have gotten to just sit and talk, in more time than we can remember!!! Lol.
  5. Running marathons helped me mentally and physically make the trip. I was able to use my “mental toughness” that I have learned, to get me through, breaking up the trip little by little. Being awake for 43 hours straight is no easy task. But, with a little mental toughness, anything is possible!

Long Run After a Long Week

This post has seriously taken me 6 days to complete! It has been a ridiculous 2 weeks for me- if you are friends with me on FB, I’m sure that you have been keeping up. But, I started this blog last Monday and I want to actually finish it. So, here it is:

This has been a long week. As many of you know, I got the call last Wednesday morning that my grandmother passed away so we drove to NY. With attending the wakes and the funeral and the 17 hr drive, I have been dehydrated, undernourished and extremely exhausted. So, doing a long run isn’t the easiest. I missed several of my short runs, so my running week was a bit off.

Sunday, I was scheduled to do a 19 mile run. I knew when we started that I didn’t have enough stored energy for my instructed run. The good news is that I got to run with my sister and husband.

Running in NY is no easy task. Seriously, it takes FOREVER to run a mile. The blocks are short, there are a lot of traffic lights, sidewalks are not smooth, and there are a lot of cars!! It is very different than running on the greenways and side roads that I am used to.

tough day

We started at 930AM but it was already hot and humid. Melissa and Rob carried water and I knew that I would just mooch off of them. Lol. My legs were really tired to start- felt hard to even maintain a 10 min mile. We got faster as the miles rolled on. Soon, we were running a 915 pace even though I felt like I was running a 1030 pace.

By 3 miles, it felt like I had run 6 miles! We kept the pace around 920, which still felt like I was putting in all my effort to maintain that.

At mile 4 we stopped to refill water. We had finished everything they were carrying. Man it was hot!! The humidity level was off the charts. The next mile felt like an urban trail run! We were on the sidewalk dodging branches, avoiding raised sidewalks, moving past trash that had been littered on the ground, etc. We were starting to wonder where the electrical wires were!!

Miles 5-6 flowed pretty smoothly. We had turned around by that point and started heading back to my mom’s house.  We had finished all of our water, so we stopped at a gas station and got some ice cold water. Talk about refreshing!! Since we were 1/2-way through, I knew we could just finish if we persevered.

Miles 7-10 were OK. I felt like I was struggling by  mile 10. It was both a physical and a mental battle finishing up this run. This is when you need to dig deep within you.

Miles 11-12 were tough. We had to run up an down the blocks by my mom’s house to accumulate the last couple of miles. That is mind-numbing! The blocks were just over a quarter of a mile long, so we had to keep running up and down, of course stopping multiple times at stop signs, which just seemed to make the torture take longer. But, I finished strong, ran my hardest that my body had could that day.

tough times

Runs like this are hard. Especially when you are so used to having great runs on a regular basis. But, bad runs happen. They are the runs that you learn the most from. You learn both mental and physical  toughness.  Runners call it, “digging deep.” I was mentally, physically, and emotionally done before the end of this run, but I knew that I had to keep pushing to get it finished. Taking it 1 mile at a time is the only way to get through tough runs. It’s like Dorey says, “just keep swimming”, except I tell myself, “just keep running!” I know that the mental toughness that I get from runs like this will help me get through my marathons if I’m having a tough time. Just knowing that I can finish running when my body is screaming stop, is the ammunition I need to push my body and finish what I started.