This Crazy Life

Yes, I live a crazy life. It has been WAY more than crazy over the last 11 weeks, that is for sure. I haven’t had the time to actually sit down and finish a blog over the last 2 months or so. I have started several of them- especially when I was feeling overwhelmed, but time got in the way and I was never able to finish them. They truly talk about how exhausted I had been feeling, and I plan on sharing them below. I feel like it’s important to be truthful about how I have been feeling over the last 11 weeks because there are people who feel that way, but try to hide it because they are afraid what other people might think about them if they share those feelings.
Today, I am taking the time to sit down and write. I don’t have a lot of time to do it, but it is important. 2017, marks a significant turning point in my life- one where I have chosen a leadership role, which is WAY outside my comfort zone. I NEVER in my life, thought of myself as a leader, but here, I find myself leading an amazing group of people, the Hendersonville RUnning Club. What an honor! This year, has been marked with tragedy, which has allowed me to not only lead a group of people, but to bring everyone together, to unify them. Tragedy, death, is a very difficult time in an intimate group of people. So, just being there for people seems small, but yet worth so much. I had the privilege of pulling together a run, for a beloved friend of ours, who was battling on the last legs of his life, with colon cancer. With reaching out to the running community, local community, and family, we gathered 90+ people! And that was only with 5 days notice! As the leader of the running club, and the organizer of the event, I had to speak. Well, public speaking is NOT my thing. I actually do anything to try to avoid it. But, there was no avoiding it. I wrote my speech the night before. There were several different variations of course. I wasn’t sure if Charlie would make it to the run, and honestly, I wasn’t sure that he would survive the night. I didn’t sleep much at all that night- I just kept thinking about Charlie, and the battle he was fighting. I was grateful to get to run 8 miles beforehand, which definitely helped to diminish my nerves. When I spoke, I didn’t feel nervous, I didn’t have hands that were shaking uncontrollably, I didn’t feel my heart pounding out of my chest. I just… spoke. I can honestly say, that was probably the first time in my life, that I had that kind of confidence. Of course I was a bit nervous looking into the crowd, but I did it.

Here are some of the partial blog posts that I had written over the last 2 months. You can see where my mentality was then, but as you read above, you can see where my mentality is now.

January 24, 2017
Overwhelmed

Ever feel like your world is closing in on you and you are stuck in the center? That is how I have felt over the last 4 weeks! It is so hard to imagine how things can be the “normal crazy” and then just become insane.
Being a caretaker is hard work!! People aren’t given enough credit when they help take care of others. I can tell you, that as a mom of 3 with an injured husband, it is INSANE!!! The workload doesn’t just double because your husband is injured- it seriously quadruples!! No joke. I didn’t realize how much Rob did and how much we did as a team, until he couldn’t do it anymore. It would be hard enough with just 2 of us, but then throw 3 very sports-active children in the mix and the walls come crumbling down!!
There were several nights that I cried myself to sleep. I felt like a failure. I couldn’t get everything done that needed to get done. It was impossible. Even staying up til 11-11:30pm just wasn’t enough. My house is constantly in disarray. It’s actually embarrassing.
It’s not only the house surrounding me. It’s watching my husband’s world collapse. Take a 60+ mile per week ultramarathoner, break them, and tell them to sit in a chair for a month. Not good! Both psychologically and physically. I have had to watch him suffer too and that just makes me so sad.

January 24, 2017
I listen to a podcast from Kerri Walsh Jennings today on Rich Roll. I felt so connected to her. She talked about how on the days when she works, she has a little bit of energy leftover for her kids, and then when they go to bed, she has no energy left for her husband. I have felt this way for a while, then multiply that by 100 over the last 6 weeks!
I am just exhausted ALL of the time! On my “days off”, it just doesn’t seem like there is any actual time off.

February 6, 2017
How are we doing?

This is a question that I get daily from friends and family. I am so grateful that everyone takes the time to check in on our after the collision that my family had 7 weeks ago. I don’t know how we would have made it this far without family and friends by our side. I try to
I look at time at this point as B.C. (Before Collision) and A.C. (After Collision). That day, has been a defining moment in our lives- NOT in a good way, unfortunately.
Before, we were able to live our lives “normally”, well, as normal as it was for us. We were lucky that we didn’t struggle on the day to day, but NOW, it’s a different story. We have spent the last 6 1/2 weeks as a single car family- very difficult, to say the least when you have kids in 3 different sports, going in different directions. But, we now have a car. With a car, comes more payments…. which is a HUGE source of stress for me. Finances weren’t an issue for us, B.C. In fact, we are savers. I always try to save for a rainy day. And thank goodness, because this has taken a lot out of our savings.
People ask are you ok. Well no, actually I’m not ok. I will keep putting on my fasad that I am so things can “feel” normal… but they aren’t. I couldn’t be more lost. I don’t sleep. I have crazy dreams. I’m exhausted all the time. I feel like I’m in psycho-bitch mode most of the time. To top it off, my 6y/o told me the other day that I am like Raven from Teen Titans because I yell all the time! Wow!! Eye-opening. And it was so innocently that she said it. That is not who I want to be. I just want to be me again I feel like that person has gotten lost in this AC time period.
So, my mental state has changed a bit. One and a half weeks ago, a switch was flipped in my brain by an event. I have a new mindset. I fee more CONFIDENT. I feel STRONGER. I feel EMPOWERED. I will NEVER QUIT. I am using these to change my mindset. I know that I can accomplish more things. I feel like my path in life is still being carved out. Yes, I am a mom, a runner, a doctor, a wife, a writer. But, I am so much more. I feel like there is a whole other aspect that hasn’t even been explored: with marketing, planning, leading. I am looking to explore all of these new aspects of my life. Maybe there is a future in those, and my life will take a different path than where it has been all these years. But, who knows? I never thought I would be on the path that I am on currently. But, I am glad that I am here being given new chances. New opportunities, new choices. It’s all opening up in front of me. I just have to keep my eyes open.

Out of My Comfort Zone…

There are certain places, people, and things that make you comfortable. I know that certainly applies to me! I am overall an introvert, but love to socialize with the people that I know and love. But, put me in a room with strangers, and I totally freak out!! We all have our “comfort zones” that we don’t like to leave. In fact, just the thought of leaving that comfy space can make our hair stand on end, and totally lose our mind. Yes, that would be me and how I normally feel. But, if we don’t take risks, then can we ever move forward in our lives?
I never thought of myself as a leader. I was always the kid that kept quiet during school, didn’t ask questions, and NEVER spoke in front of people- unless I was mandated by the teacher. It was just totally not my style. Never mind, giving speeches! I even joined the drama club in high school and participated in 2 plays to try and get over my stage fright. Instead, I spent the entire day of the play, sick to my stomach, butterflies, and ready to throw up! Afterwards, I was just so glad it was over. But, at least I tried. I had to give myself credit for that. I loved to dance, and that was one way that I was able to. But just being in front of all those people was extremely overwhelming to me. Having everyone look at me. Oh, my! Talk about freaking out. I have even had to made 2 commercials for work. Let’s say that I never felt like they went well. I was a nervous wreck beforehand. I even told the producers of the 2nd commercial how I felt- that I was nervous, sick to my stomach, and really did NOT want to be there. They didn’t seem to care, and just made me stick to the script. So, I have never been able to conquer this fear.

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Over the last year, I have been “forced”- by myself, to step outside of my normal comfort zone. And I think that it is great, and scary all at the same time! Here are some of things that I have done.
1. Blogging– writing was never my forte. In fact, I had to barter with my high school to let me in college level English (I was in honors all through high school)- which I did and got great grades. Fast forward to now: With so much going on in my brain, Rob encouraged me to start writing it down. I told him that I think the reason he had me do this, was so that he didn’t have to hear so many words coming out of my mouth! I do talk a lot to him- he feels that it is nonstop. Blogging has given me the opportunity to reach people that I don’t know, to inspire people that I may not have been able to before. And I find it invigorating to get my thoughts down on paper. It’s a release to me.
2. Writing for a magazine– Seriously, NO ONE ever would have thought that I would be writing, never mind for an actual magazine! In the fall, I decided to see if anyone could get me hooked up with a magazine so that I could write articles. I had no idea that one of my friends was THE editor to a local magazine. Within a week I wrote an article, and then found myself with a contributing spot monthly! How amazing!! I write for Your Sumner magazine- it is both in print and on-line. The thought that people are actually interested in reading what I have to say just blows my mind.
3. Training Plan– I had a friend ask me to write a training plan for running a half marathon. I was totally shocked and humbled that someone would want ME to write a running plan for them. I am still learning and asking advice of other people, but now, people are asking me advice and I am able to give some answers. It’s exciting!
4. At the end of the year, I got asked to be the president of our local running club. Again, not in my wildest dreams did I think that would happen. Last year at the Christmas party, Rob told me that I would be the president this coming year. I told him that he was insane! That I am not a leader, so that would never even be a consideration. Well, fast forward a year, and here I am. One of the things that I was totally freaked out about was giving the “acceptance speech” at the Christmas party. As things occurred, Rob’s MVC occurred 2 days before the party, so there was NO WAY that we would be able to attend. So instead, I wrote my speech (which I obsessed about for several weeks and rewrote it in my brain seriously a million times), and one of my friends read it at the party. I got out of that one, phew! I am hoping to never have to make a speech while leading this group. Yes, I have to start the group each week, but it is different in that situation. I feel like I am with “my people”, all together, ready to participate in the same activity, just linked together in a special camaraderie. It’s special.

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I love how the year has forced me out of my comfort zone. I never would be where I am today without taking a step outside my normal. Now, my normal is a whole different perspective. I am expecting to continue stepping outside my little bubble, even if it is a little bit at a time. But, without taking baby steps, there may not be any way to move forward.
Taking risks, doing something new, it’s all important so that we can progress in life. If we stay where we are, then we will be stagnant and never move forward in our lives. Some risks are bigger than others, but if we don’t take risks, then we will never know our true potential. What risks have you taken? Have you ever taken a step outside your comfort zone and found something that you truly love?

Volunteering… a Whole Different Race Experience

Instead of running a 50K today, I spent the morning volunteering at a local 5K/10K. Talk about a rewarding experience! Ive gotten to volunteer in a couple of races, but today was really special. I knew, when I couldn’t run MY race, that I needed to do something fulfilling, to give back. Our local running group (which I will be assuming the presidency tomorrow- OMG!!) hosts a table at the Frostbite 5K/10K race, which was the perfect place for me to be.

I met with one of my running friends before the race, got in 5 miles of running, got changed into warm clothes, and then volunteered at the 10K waterstop- the 1/2 way point. Its a great way to encourage the runners, especially on a cold, damp day. And I knew SOOOO many people! It was amazing to be able to call runners out by name, cheering them on. It’s not like I knew 2 or 3 runners… I knew a ton of them! At first, when the runners started to pass our water stop, we saw all these guys passing. I kept asking, “where’s our first girl?” And then, one of our HRC runners came bounding down the road- 1st girl! So exciting!! Runner after runner passed us, we gave them water, words of encouragement, cheered for them, trying to give them anything they needed mentally to them through the next 5K.

We manned our station til the last runner came through- well, he was walking. But, he was determined. He was wearing a Deadpool shirt, pants, and socks (that just stuck out in my mind)- and he was ready to walk to the finish of this race. After we cleaned up, I told Marcia (my friend)- “I don’t want him to walk in alone. When we get to him, you can drop me off and I will walk him in.” No one should be out there alone. He was brave to be walking this race. He should be proud of his accomplishment. I wanted to be there to encourage him, not to pity him. I was proud of him for making it happen. I don’t know his reasons for being out there, but I don’t need to know. All that I knew, was he was getting through this 10K and nothing was stopping him. But, as we approached him, another runner had stopped to wait for him, and they were walking in together. THAT is true running spirit! It made me happy to see that. I didn’t get to see him cross the finish line, I was inside and watched many of my friends stand on the podium as they placed overall and in their age groups. This day was a huge accomplishment for everyone that ran or walked this race.

Training for a race and running a race are really fun. But, volunteering for a race is a whole different type of fun. It’s really exciting and fulfilling to see the people that you know and love accomplish something, and to be able to be there for them and cheering them on is just… awesome! I think that if given the chance, anyone that knows a runner should try and volunteer at a race. Trust me, you will walk away with not just a race shirt for volunteering, but something special that you can’t get anywhere else.

Ultra Training….

NOT!!!!

Well, training is officially over, as I hang my hat up for my first ultra. I was signed up for The Pistol 50K, this coming Saturday. Perfect timing, as running an ultra was in my game plan for 2016. No better way to end the year, then running an ultra on December 31st!
It all started before Savannah, but I didn’t realize what I was setting myself up for. I had “butt” discomfort 1 or 2 weeks (hard to remember now) before the marathon. I always seem to develop some kind of injury before most of my races. I got dry needling done for a piriformis and gluteal spasm. It took care of the problem, and I ran my race- no issues.
Fast forward a couple of weeks. I started having very mild lateral knee pain at the end of my runs, that would just disappear, no problems. So, I didn’t think too much about it. Then, I went out for a 10 mile run and the pain got really bad. I NEVER stop my runs early, EVER, but I ended it at 8 miles. It felt like someone was driving a knife into the outside of my knee with every step that I took. Yup, I knew this was a problem. But, I had a TON going on a home, so it just had to be put on the back burner. Unfortunately, the pain wasn’t going away and I was taking 800mg of ibuprofen every 6-8 hours. I was actually afraid that I had a stress fracture. And, with an upcoming race, this was very bad. Race day was only 2 weeks away! So, I set up an appointment with my sports ortho- no fracture, just issue with IT Band. Phew! Dodged a bullet there. Got set up with my sports chiro and got dry needled and sent home with massive strength training exercises to get me ready for the ultra, in only 11 days! Yes, it was a pipe dream, but gotta at least try! I ran 5.5 miles this weekend, but the pain got bad at mile 5, so I had to walk a bit before I returned to run. I was sore the entire day, so I knew it really wasn’t getting better. Back to the sports chiro today for more dry needling. BTW- that is never very exciting. We had really big discussions about the options for the weekend. So, he gave me a test.
Running Test
I HATE tests. I have always hated tests. But, my running test had to happen on Tuesday, because if I wasn’t attending the race, I had to email them by the end of the day. I had to run 8 miles- 7 min running and 3 minutes walking without any pain. No problem right? Wrong! By 4.5 miles, I was starting to get sore in the middle of the run, but the walking took away the pain. This kept happening mile after mile, until I realized that 6.5 miles is when I would have to quit the run. Why risk injuring myself more? That would be stupid. I have goals for next year. Why I am going to risk injuring myself more now, when I can just pull out of this race, really focus on strength training and get myself ready.
The Email
I had to send the RD an email letting him know I wasn’t going to be at the race. But, because you can’t get a refund, still having a friend pick up all of my stuff. It was a hard email to send. I have NEVER not run a race that I signed up for. But, my health and healing is WAY more important than running this race.There will be another race, another day, but if I ran this, I risked throwing off my entire spring of running- NOT worth it. I have to say that he was extremely responsive- emailed me back that night, and even helped me get the race off my record so it didn’t work against me.
Goals
I have big goals this spring. In order to accomplish then, I have to be healthy now. Well, at least be on the path to getting healthy. That starts with cross training and strength training. Here, I thought I was doing enough with just swimming. But, that is non-weight bearing. And, if you want to build strength in your weight-bearing muscles, then you need to do weight bearing exercises! Strength training always seems to go on the wayside after doing it for a while. I feel like the winter is the best time to pick it up again. It gets dark early, its colder, so it’s easier to do the strength training done at night. My 8 year old got me a yoga mat for Christmas. I now have it in the living room so I can do my exercises and spend time with my kids at the same time.
My goals for 2017 include getting this IT Band healthy enough to race, smoking a 1/2 marathon, and getting a sub-4 marathon. The sub-4 marathon is a continuation from 2016. I didn’t quite achieve it, but cut off over 13 minutes from my marathon time. That right there was a huge accomplishment for myself. Now, just another 1 min. 53 seconds! We’ll see how long that lasts before I want to cut it down even further. 🙂 Baby steps.
Resources
I am extremely grateful to have a sports medicine chiropractor (Thank you Dr. Jason Hulme) and a coach (Thank you Scott Wietecha) that are willing to go above and beyond to not only help me physically heal, but to be there to support me throughout the process. Dr. Jason did everything he could with me: including 3 sessions of dry needling- to get me healed up for the race. To no fault of his, my body was too irritated and just didn’t cooperate. There just wasn’t enough time. The race was only 11 days away when I went to see him. First I saw my sports ortho (Dr. Kindred) and he immediately messaged Dr. Jason and set me up. It takes team work to get through injuries, get healed up, and ready to tackle new challenges.
The Race
I am cheering on all my friends, who I had convinced to race this with me, from home. Instead, I will be volunteering at a local 5K/10K. At least I feel like I will be accomplishing something instead of racing. I will be able to encourage other runners (in the rain)!
There are always other races, but I have only 1 body. First and foremost, need to heal the body, second comes the racing. 🙂

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Life Changes in an Instant…

Life can change in 1 brief second. I feel like we are complacent about our day to day lives, just expecting them to go exactly as we planned. I guess because that is what we do every day, so it just seems normal for things to continue to go that way. And then…. BAM!!! Something changes. Your whole life stops. “Normal” just isn’t normal anymore. What you took for granted, is no longer there. What? This happens. Yes, it happens every day. It happens to everyday people. It has happened to me twice in a week!! Yes, TWICE!!

I am sitting here in my husband’s hospital room, awaiting him from surgery. Why? Because yesterday, someone was coming home from work, fell asleep at the wheel, and crashed into a car carrying my husband and 3 children. Let’s rewind to how I found out.

Yesterday

It started like any other Tuesday. I swim at 6:30AM (well, I always get there a little late), so I wake up at 5:55AM, and wake the kids up at 6:15AM. I was rushing around a lot this morning in particular because I needed to get our minestrone soup put into the crockpot so I wouldn’t have to cook that evening when I came home from work. I made it to swimming a couple minutes late, as usual. I was swimming and at 7:25, I realized that I wouln’t be able to get the full set done, so I got out of the water and started changing. In the middle, my phone started ringing, and that NEVER happens, so I knew something was wrong. I threw on my pants, grabbed my phone and saw I missed THREE calls from Rob in 2 minutes. I called him back and that was when he told me he was in a head-on collision with the kids in the car. Yes, I freaked out! I stuck my feet in my shoes (untied), grabbed my stuff and flew to my car. I did drive fast to get there as quick as I could. Traffic was backed up on Saundersville Rd. so I had to put on my hazards and drive down the middle lane- I created myself a lane. Up ahead there were fire trucks, ambulances, shattered car pieces, police, fireman, EMS, etc! Scary! I parked on the side of the road and ran towards the scene, a firefighter directed me to my kids who were with a stranger in a car (Jayme). She had stopped when she came upon the accident and she saw my kids standing out in the cold with another woman (who had left her child in the car to rescue mine), freezing! [Per my children, a woman named Beth brought them to Jayme (the woman who kept them wam in the car). Beth saw the car was full of smoke so she plucked the kids out of the car one by one and got jackets on them. She told me she was afraid the car would explode with all the smoke, so she had to just get them out of there. Jayme held onto them until I could get there.] She protected them since my husband was trapped in the car. Once I knew they were safe and OK, I ran over to the ambulance where they just put Rob. He was on a backboard and his left ankle was splinted. He said otherwise he was OK. EMS knew the injury was bad, so they gave him pain meds right away and told me they were bypassing the local hospital and heading to Nashville. The cops were amazing, they moved my car, emptied Rob’s stuff into my car, etc. I had to leave Rob and go back to kids. A coworker came to bring my kids to school so that I could get to the ER (I seriously cannot thank her enough for that!). Before I left the scene, I looked at the car and took picutres. The car is totaled, the left front wheel has been ripped off the car.  All the driver’s side airbags deployed. It got hit on the driver’s front quarter panel. Just a little further back and it would have been Caitlin. We don’t know what the outcome would have been if that happened.

This happened in a blink of an eye. Just like that. Our world is now forever changed. The injuries that Rob received to his ankle are lifelong. This will change not only our short term with working, but long-term with his running, etc. This is one of the worst fractures you can have, especially as an ultramarathoner. It’s scary how things change. He had a race planned for Saturday, and we were going to run a 50K ultra in 3 weeks. Things change. There was no control, it just happened. We will rehab. We will adapt. We will make it through, as a family… stronger, united.

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Last Week

Let’s go back to last Thursday night because this started our lives being altered. Another game changer for our family. My oldest, Caden, was playing his basketball game and ½ way through the 3rd quarter, he collided with another player, hit his head on the floor and got knocked out. I didn’t want to be “that mom”, so I waited a couple seconds, but he didn’t move… at all! Rob and I jumped up and ran over to him. He was awake by that point (yes, he lost consciousness for a couple of seconds), and holding his head crying. He sat up, with assistance, and wanted to stand- tyring to be a big shot. Well, he collapsed into our arms. He couldn’t put any weight on his legs. All these were signs of a severe concussion. Rob and the coach carried him off the court. We had to clear the locker room because the other team had already one in there for their pre-game meeting. He was really dizzy. Rob did some neurological tests on him- he didn’t pass all of them. I got to just be the mom. We knew we had to get him to the ER with all his symptoms. We contemplated calling an ambulance, but figured we could get there just as quick if we left right away. We loaded him up and away we went. But, we left our 2 other children at the game…. We didn’t even get to say good-bye to them. It all happened so fast. They were with friends, and teachers, and I called my FIL for him to pick them up. I felt so guilty, though, on the way to the hospital, for just abandoning them. But, they got spoiled and were very well taken care of. Caden kept asking the same questions over and over and over again. I was so scared- I mean, had this injury changed the way my child’s brain worked forever? Why can’t he remember things one second to the next? What are the long-term ramifications from this? Full on panic!- but had to keep my cool because I had to take care of my child. We were lucky. After a thorough workup, he was diagnosed with a moderate/severe concussion and we were able to go home. The next morning, he woke up, saw a hospital bracelet on his wrist, looked at us and said, “What is this? And why is it on my wrist?!” He had no memory of any of this. Wow! That was a lot to take in. It took several days of rest, and missed work for parents, but he did OK. The good news is, after a week, he was cleared and will slowly return to sports.

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The Support

I cannot even explain the outpouring of support from friends and family. I have been, and continue to be overwhelmed by what people have offered. From the moment we have had these crises in our family, our friends and even complete strangers jumped in, head first, to help us. I had friends set up a meal chain to get us through the first week; the Mayor of Hendersonville brought us dinner last night (the kids were just beyond excited about this, seriously you would have thought the president was coming over!), friends that visited us at the hospital, everyone asking what they can do. There are just so many people- even people that I don’t know, who have offered to help us through this crisis. Crisis brings people together, lets you know who your army is. And I am blessed to know that my army is enormous! And I have to look past my ego and accept the help. I am the person who tries to do it all herself, but have let go the last 48 hours- willing to receive the help that people are offering. I know I need it right now. And, it will be OK as the days and weeks pass, but now, I do need help… and that is OK.

The Future

This last week has really taught us a lot of lessons in life. It shows you just how precious life can be. The “what-ifs” are extensive because if the car hit ours just a little further, it would have been my daughter, if the air bags didn’t do their job, I may no longer have a husband, and my children could have been hurt. There are SO many “ifs.”I am beyond grateful that God was protecting my family that day from even more serious injury.

I think that we just live our day to day without appreciating everything that we have and who we have in our lives. I know that I am guilty of this. But that phone call, that day, will live forever embedded in my brain. There is a voicemail from Rob on my phone- from one of the calls that I missed- I haven’t been able to listen to it. I just remember the terrified feeling that I had, the panic in his voice, I just don’t know if I can hear that again. There is a changing of the guards in the house- you get comfortable in your role, and never know when it will change. Rob’s responsibilities are now my responsibilities. I know that God doesn’t give you more stress than you can handle, but wow, my cup is at the brim.

Our lives have been changed forever, not just the short-term. I have gone from wife, to caretaker, in the blink of an eye. My children have gone from children with small responsibility, to significant responsibility in the house. I have gone from a comfortable (relatively speaking) financial status, to financial stress. We have gone from two cars, to one car (not that he can drive yet anyway). My husband has gone from ultra marathoner, to being laid up on a chair, hoping that he will be able to race again.  You really, truly, never know. Significant impact. Just in the blink of an eye. Life is precious.

I know everyone always says this, but:

  1. Always say I love you.
  2. Never go to bed mad.
  3. Always hug your kids just one more time.
  4. Appreciate the things that you currently have in life, rather than just focusing on what you could have, because it can all be taken away in an instant.
  5. Live life for today, because you never know if you are going to have another tomorrow.
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Endurance Sports & Marriage- Friend or Foe?

Training for any type of endurance event takes both time and dedication. I, personally think, that having a spouse who is also an endurance athlete is very helpful. I’m sure that there are people reading this who think that I ma crazy! It’s hard enough to find time for one person to train, but now two people needing to find that time?! How is that even possible?

In my experience, having my husband as an endurance athlete, means he gets it. He understands the different emotions that go along with training (and at different points of the training cycle), the blood, sweat & tears that it takes to accomplish goals, disappointment, excitement, and the time commitment. Yes, it tends to be a challenge when both people are training for marathons or ultra marathons at the same time. Often, both of us needing to run 20 miles a piece (in one session), on the weekend.

Marriage

Marriage is a give and take. We are very blessed that we are able to do both with all of the training that we do- both running and swimming! In some relationships, where only 1 spouse exercises, the other just doesn’t get it- just doesn’t understand the level of commitment that is needed to succeed to accomplish your goals. Having that missing piece can be hard.

Some people will tell me that if both of them were endurance athletes, there wouldn’t be enough time for both of them to train. Well, why not? A schedule has to be made and stuck to. There can’t be where one person sleeps in instead of exercising, expecting to be able to go out the next day instead. The schedule must be adhered to, in order to make it work. Having that understanding at the get-go will make all the difference in the world. Your day, your committment!

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How do we make the time?

Making the time is half the battle. Seriously. We balance together to make sure that both of us have enough time during the week to get our training sessions in. I run 4 days a week, and my husband (Rob) runs 6 days a week. And, we both swim at least 2 days a week. Yes, that is a lot of days of exercise and training cycles, but some of them overlap.

If we are both off on Mondays, then we will run together. Often times, we do not have the same type of training run, and that is OK. If we are within a couple of miles of distance, then we will drive together, just waiting for the other to finish. Mondays are speedwork days for me, and tend to just be a relaxing run for Rob. But, he will wait for me.

Tuesdays start off with swimming for me. I used to take the kids to school every day, but when I started swimming, the 6:30 class seemed fit the best. This meant that I couldn’t take the kids to school. So, Rob took over the job. He now gets the kids ready (I still wake them all up and then run out the door), and brings them, while I swim. I then stay (usually getting some work done) until he has class and I watch my friend’s children while her and Rob swim in class. After that, it’s time to run!! Tuesdays are more of a relaxing or progressive run for me, and tend to be speedwork for Rob. We will run the warm up and some/most of the cool down together. In between, running our own training plan, but staying relatively close together in distance. Today, for example, we were running in the parking lot behind a building- Rob was ahead of me- and there were 2 sketchy men sitting there. Rob ran his “rest portion” of his training back towards me, and then just stopped, waiting for me because he didn’t want to leave me back there with those strange people. This is one reason that I LOVE running with him. Rob is protective of me when we run, which is great for me!

Wednesdays are a day off for me! If he’s not working, Rob will run.

Thursdays are similar to Tuesdays, in the aspect that I swim, and then get an afternoon run- as long as all of the stars align!

Saturday mornings are when I get my long run in. I get up before the crack of dawn, meet up with my friends and get it done!

Sunday is the one day I get to “sleep in late”- which usually means waking up by 7 and staying in bed till 7:30AM. But, at least I’m in bed and not up. This is the day that Rob does his long run… alone.

“Getting it”

The above seems like absolute insanity to the outsider. Without my spouse understanding my dedication level, it never could happen. My days off during the week are completely spent training. I wouldn’t trade it for the world! Most importantly I wouldn’t trade having my husband by my side during my training. I know that I am no “Katie Ledecky” or “Shalane Flanagan”, but running and swimming are my passion. Having a spouse who fully “gets it”, changes everything!! We know the he is no “Michael Phelps” or “Scott Jurek”, but again, it makes him happy and it is something that he is passionate about. I get it! He gets it!

Foe

Some would say it is a negative thing to have an endurance athlete as a spouse. That it takes time away from the family, away from them, away from family activities. Sure it can, if you schedule your training sessions that way, but it doesn’t have to. We make sure that we plan our training around these things. If I had a spouse that expected me to stay home on my days off to solely get stuff done around the house, then exercise couldn’t and wouldn’t happen. But, he wants to exercise just as much as I do, so we just get out there. We just make it work.

The Time

I promise that you will never “find” the time, so you need to “make” the time, and work around it. Having 3 very active kids, it makes it difficult during the course of the week to get exercising in. I am extremely lucky to have Monday and Tuesday where I don’t go into the office, so that allows me more time to train. But for the rest of the days, its getting up before people are awake, accomplishing my commitments before anyone realizes I am gone from the house. Sometimes that is the only way to get things in- to make sure that I accomplish my goals. If I can’t get out of the house early, I will sometimes run while the kids are practicing- more common during baseball season since I can just run in the park where they are playing.

Crewing Tunnel Hill…. A Whole Different Experience…

This past weekend, my husband ran the Tunnel Hill 50-miler. Yeah, 50 miles!! Instead of running, I got to be his crew. The responsibility of the crew, is to be there for the runner at aid stations, and tend to their every need: refill water, get them food, essentially get them whatever they need, as quick as you can to get them moving through so they can continue the race.

Let me tell you, being on a crew is NO JOKE! I have read multiple ultra runners’ books describing the efforts of his crew and how they were just as exhausted as the runners were during the ultra-runs. I just had no idea!

I was lucky enough to be with 2 other women on the crew. Our crew chief (Jane) drove the 5 person ultra team to the start line in the morning, so I didn’t have to get the kids out of bed early. My first job was to be at the  10.9 mile mark. I estimated that Rob would get there around 9:30AM, since he started at 7:30AM. Well, what I didn’t realize, was that I needed to drive an additional 16 miles from the start line to get to that aid station!! I didn’t plan the necessary time for that additional distance. So, I failed at my first job! As I pulled into the parking area, I saw Rob run through the aid station. Ugh, both the kids and I were totally disappointed. We wanted him to know that we were there. He had given his jacket to Jane and she took care of the 4 other runners too.

We stayed at the aid station because the runners were coming back at mile 15.9. This time I would be ready. One by one, our runners ran toward us and we gave them water and even some snacks to keep them going. It was still cold out, so we decided Rob should keep his pants on rather than change into shorts at that point. The next MAJOR aid station was at mile 26.8, but we were going to try to find them at mile 18.9 at a small aid station that technically wasn’t accessible to crews. After all of our runners made it through, it was time to move on. My kids were getting hungry, so I took them through Mc Donald’s and DQ drive through to get some food. I picked up a salad for myself, but realized after we drove off, that they didn’t give me any salad dressing. A dry salad didn’t seem very appetizing, nor did it seem like it would give me energy for the day, but that is what I had. The kids were happy with their food, and honestly, that was WAY more important.

Mile 18.9: we parked on the side of a road and ran over to the aid station as Rob was starting to pass through. He didn’t need anything at that point except a kiss and a hug. and then, he was off! Literally we were out of the car for a total of 2 minutes! We saw 3 of our runners out of 5: 1 had already passed, and 1 still was behind the rest. So, I took the kids, another wife (Kim) took her kids and we went to the next aid station at 26.8. The rest of our crew stayed behind for the last runner in our group to pass.

Mile 26.8: This was the 1/2-way mark, or so. It was also the start and finish line. Thankfully there was a playground there, so all of the kids (there were 5 of them) were able to play and pass the time. I felt like I was on edge, just ready to go, waiting on the runners. There was a website to “track” the athletes, but it didn’t give us much info except that they had passed through the aid station. There was no knowing what time they would get to you or what mile they were at. So, we just stood there, watching and waiting for them. Constant adrenaline was firing as we waited for our runners. Of course we were cheering on all the other runners as they passed through. Finally, Rob came through with one of our other runners. He stopped, I refilled the water bottles, got snacks to him, untied his shoes, so he could take his pants off which were covering his shorts. It was a longer aid station stop, but great to get to see Rob for a little bit more time. I know I kept asking him “what do you need? What can I get for you?? How are are you feeling?” This distance is no joke! Soon enough, he left with another runner on the team. The next time we would see them was mile 36.

It was really great to know multiple runners out on the course. In our group, we had 5, but I knew 2 other people who were running. That was awesome! They both dropped out at the 26.8 mark, but met us at the 36 mile aid station to cheer Rob and the other runners on. Talk about comradery!

There were no addresses to plug into the GPS to get to the aid stations. We had to follow basic directions written down for us in the booklet for the race. And they all started from the start/finish line. So, when you were going aid station to aid station, you had to figure it out for yourself, and yes, read a map, vs. depending on your phone to get you to the next stop!

At the 36 mile aid station, it started getting a little warmer. The sun was shining, I was able  to take my jacket off at that point. I had to park on someone’s lawn, because these aid stations were not at major areas. This was just a spot on a road where tables were set up with water soda, and snacks, filled with crews just waiting  for their runners. The kids had a bit of an open field to play football, so that kept them occupied. It is a watching and waiting game the entire time. I felt like I was on my toes the whole time, just waiting to see Rob. This was also the 40 mile aid station. Same routine as any previous aid stations took place when Rob passed through. This time I got him his jacket because we knew the sun would be going down and it would start to get cold. He continued to run with the other runner in our group. It only made sense that they would stick the rest of it out together. With only 10 miles to go, company was key at this point both mentally and physically, especially with it getting dark. They hoped to finish the last 10 miles in 2 hours. Unfortunately, it took longer than that.

Mile 50: Back to the start we went. Just ready for the day to be over. I know not as ready as our runners were, but boy were we tired! The kids were cold, but didn’t want their jackets. I was freezing, the whole crew was freezing. I just imagined what the runners were feeling. [I met a 77 year old runner- he signed up for the 50-miler, but made it only 26.8 miles. His wife was also out on the course- somewhere between 15.8 and 26.8! He had no idea where she was, but he knew she would be walking by this point. He shared with me his recent ultra marathon that he ran: Race for the Ages: he had 76 hours to run as many miles as he could- he ran 116 miles. His wife, a few years younger, ran 100 miles! They are both in their 70’s!! I totally want to be like them when I grow up!] We cheered on all the runners as they came through. At 10 hrs 45 minutes, Rob and his partner came running in, crossing the finish line. They were exhausted, so were we. And we were all hungry! We went to the hotel, and then out to dinner. That was well-deserved for all of us!

ultra-idiot

Things that I learned:

  1. Being on a crew is no joke. You have to make sure that all the needs of your runner are taken care of. You are second to the runner.
  2. Make sure to bring food for yourself and your children if they are coming with you. Yeah, I didn’t really think about this too much. We had a bag of potato chips, but that was definitely NOT sufficient enough for almost an 11 hour day! I got them McDonald’s and DQ, but just gross!
  3.  It gets really cold at night if you are out there that long, so DEFINITELY bring blankets. We were SOOOO cold waiting for Rob at the end. As soon as the sun went down, the temperature plummeted. My children decided that they didn’t want to wear their jackets, and they didn’t want to go to the car to get them. So, they decided to freeze instead. I don’t get it! Hand warmers are also essential. Jane had brought some, but not enough for everyone to have several to stay warm.
  4. Make sure to drink enough fluids. I don’t think that I even drank a full bottle of water all day and never used the bathroom during the 11 hours!
  5. ALWAYS crew with a group of people. It really was so much fun, thanks to the group of women that I was with. They were fun to hang out with and we definitely bonded over the day. It made the day pass quickly too.
  6. When I get old, I still want to race with my husband- hopefully he will be by my side, rather than waiting for me at the finish line, but man, I would love to be in my 70’s and still racing!

Great experience and I look forward to doing it again. This time I will remember all the things listed above. If not, I will have to reread my blog!