Category Archives: running

Parting Ways

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty.
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

This is not me.  This is not her.  It used to be me.  It’s never been her.

I spent several years in and out of this wheelchair due to Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  I have learned to walk three times in my life…and that last time seems to have been the charm as the MS has been in remission since before that almost 11-year-old up there was even in the womb and I have gone from using a wheelchair to running 5ks, 10ks, and soon a half marathon!

So, today, that wheelchair and I are parting ways.  Permanently.  I am taking back my attic space and you, dear wheeled chariot, are going back to work.

Let me explain.

My family and I felt the call a few months ago to begin helping refugees who are fleeing horrible, horrible situations.  These new Americans have been vetted by every level of government and have waited through years of paperwork to get here.  They are here to be safe, to be free.

I didn’t know what to expect the first time I visited Mary (name changed) but what I found, was a friend–one of my most favorite people in the world.  I like to think I help her and her family, but what I know, is I love being around her and her family.  It brings me much joy and happiness.

Then there was an e-mail from a local agency asking me to help another family.  I was scared to say yes, but thanks to google translate all went well and I got them to their doctor appointment.  One of the family members Helen (name changed) was in a wheelchair.  A really old beat up wheelchair.  In this family, I saw loneliness.  I have known loneliness many times in my life and seeing it so naked before me, I wanted to run…but my heart was drawn to them.

Then, a few weeks later, the agency sent out a list of things needed for a family.  We had two of those items.  A sofa and a vacuum a neighbor had given us when they moved.  I ignored the wheelchair on that list.  Yes, I have one…but I can’t give it away…what if?

Last night, we went to deliver the sofa and the vacuum.  And who greeted us, but Stephen (name changed), Helen’s brother.  They were the ones moving into an apartment needing these items.  And there was Helen, sitting on the floor, needing a wheelchair.  And there was me, fresh from running 5 miles, owning a wheelchair. But, what if…

What if what?

I called hubby to talk to him about it.  He was all for passing along the chair…and she is not much bigger than I…so even though it was made for me…it seems like it is time for it to be made for her.

So today, I put Sue to work cleaning a decade plus of grime off my chair.  Tonight I am going to drop it off to Helen.  Friday I am going to attempt another 10 mile run.

All by the grace of God.

Why Do You Lace Up?

I have not been doing as much running lately, but trust me, I have been thinking about it just as much, if not more, I than I typically do.  My leg wasn’t cooperating, but man I wanted to run again.

I have been doing any and all stretches I heard about, read about, thought of…anything to eek out even a few feet of running.  And finally, a couple weeks ago, I got 3.1 miles out in one run.  I ran the whole distance…but then I was toast for the rest of the week.

I kept trying.  I even got to run with my aunt when I had to make a quick trip up north due to a family emergency.  It was a hard situation, that is turning out wonderfully, but I will never forget my joy of running with my aunt.

But again, I was toast for the rest of the week.

I kept going to the chiropractor…and found out there were 7 exercises I was supposed to be doing twice a day.  Due to a miscommunication, I had not been doing them.  I have now become obsessed with them.  And boy, are they helping.  I posted this on my Facebook just moments ago.

No, you just called your chiropractor to thank him for all the help in getting your leg back into shape for running.

It was with the greatest joy that I ran 5 miles straight earlier this morning. Even a week ago I wouldn’t have thought today possible. I ran a total of 11.2 miles this week…between rehabing and the heat, it was slow, but progressively better and today without pain. Thank you all to all who have encouraged me and prayed for me.

Now it is time to resume half marathon training.

The joy at feeling those endorphins this morning has not abated almost 3 hours later.  It is good.

In the midst of all this, I was talking to a friend as she prepared for an 8k.  Her first race in awhile.  Like all normal runners before a race, she was nervous.  Boy, do I understand that.  She has stepped into the gap of encouragement for me many times.  On this particular evening, it was my turn.

Look at the view, embrace the power your body has, and the cadence of your feet, they rhythm they find.

I realized as I reread what I had texted, that I had spelled out what gets me through every run, every race:  My running philosophy and creed.   Right there.  True and pure.

What gets you through your runs?  What makes you lace up your shoes when watching tv or reading a book might be more inviting?

No-Go

I have not done any running in 5 days.  Yup, you read that right.  5 days.

Last Tuesday, I tweaked something in my leg or knee or something.  It hurt.  But not terribly.  Thursday it hurt a little more, and then on the day of my 10k (6.2 miles) race, it hurt more, but I pushed through and made the pace goal I had set for myself, regardless of the pain.

Before the race

6.2 miles later

But after that race, that race full of hills, I hobbled around a fair amount.  But refused to admit how much it hurt.  But Wednesday I tried to run again and there was no denying it.

And I was so scared.  So scared I had injured myself permanently and wouldn’t run again.  Running is how I manage the bipolar.  It is more effective than any medication they have yet to try.  Nothing compares to it, really.

I cried a bit on Wednesday.

Thursday I was more scared.  Finally, it came out in a jumble of emotions with my hubby.  Tears came as I finally admitted how badly it hurt and how scared I was.  He urged me to relax, keep stretching and add some ibuprofen to the mix.

I was a little reassured, but he hasn’t run in a long time and what if he was just saying that to get me to stop crying?

So I talked to my cousin about it.  She echoed his sentiments and reassured me it has happened to her several times and was by no means a running stopper.

And I breathed a sigh of relief as she assured me it meant I was a real runner!!  And realized this was the perfect time to be sidelined as we were away at a Homeschooling conference all weekend and there was no time to run anyway…but now I home and I am ready for this knee/calf to chill out and let me get back to the business of pounding the pavement.

Today is again busy, with a very special project, but tomorrow, tomorrow I am really hoping to run.  It has been too long.

Five and a Half Years

I feel like such a newbie when it comes to running.  I’m slow.  I am still working on doing a half marathon, but in truth, I am not that much of a newbie.  I have been running off and on (had a baby in there) for 8 years.  Tomorrow I am doing a race I originally wanted to do five and a half years ago…the time has finally arrived.

Tomorrow morning the whole family is joining me at a race about 40 minutes from here that I originally saw advertised at another race I did on December 10, 2011.  It is the Angel’s Place Race.  It raises funds for homes for adults with developmental disabilities.

I love the area we will be running in, minus the comments about hills, and somehow, I feel like I am keeping a promise to myself.  I ran 6.2 miles (10k) earlier this week so I know I can do the distance, but as always, I am doubting myself.  What if this twinge in my knee means it is giving out on me?  What if I am dead last?  What if I embarrass myself and my family on my birthday, no less?

 

 

On a gentle run Thursday night as my final preparations for my 10k

Only one way to know, to get out there and run.  One foot in front of the other.

Bumpier Than I Hoped

Treating any illness is a balancing act of sorts.  Always adjusting as you go.  How much do you put up with medication side effects?  How much do you rest?  Where is the trade off equilibrium?  Always shifting, always adjusting.

I hate it.  And I am not very good at it.  Six years into Bipolar and I still doubt my every move…except my running.  I don’t doubt that.  That, honestly, I hold sacred and am currently shaping the rest of my treatment around it.

A few years ago I was a few months from running a half-marathon.  Suddenly I went from running 10 miles at a time to 2-3 sidewalk slabs at a time.  I tried compression socks.  I tried changing my route.  I tried adding music to my runs.  Anything I could think of and it just kept getting worse until I gave up running altogether.

Turns out, it was a medication side effect I was on.  It was causing extreme muscle weakness.  By the time I realized the cause, it was too late.  I could no longer run.

That med and I parted ways due to other issues.

I ultimately started running again and did alright until an injury sidelined me.  Last August, finally found me well enough and confident enough to give running another go…and here I am, talking about it non-stop.

Then, a couple weeks ago, I started to feel that heaviness in the legs again.  This time I had a clue what was happening…I looked up my newest medication and there is was listed under side effects…muscle weakness in the legs.  I dropped that darn med like a hot potato (with medical approval) and the heaviness is gone.

Next, I got to thinking about the shortness of breath that has plagued me.  I have had a full heart work up.  That is not the problem.  I recently had pulmonary tests done.  All good there.  I have been able to get some relief with a great essential oil I use, but it is still nagging me.

Um, wait, I am still on one of my psych meds that I am actually allergic too and the reaction is trouble breathing and swallowing.  We have been able to keep those to a minimum with a lower dose, but what if that is part of the problem, so, again, with medical approval, I went off that medication.  The breathing is better.  Not perfect, I am still a little frustrated there, but I have hope.

Unfortunately, being without these meds has its drawbacks.  Getting off of them has been a bumpier process than I had hoped.  My mental reactions have changed.  I am seeing some red flags I know I have to keep an eye on.

And I am bummed.  I had envisioned coming off the meds without a hitch.  In my minds-eye, I didn’t need the doctor’s cautions about why we use those meds and what might happen without them.  So what am I doing?  Contrary to logic, I am getting lazier with the meds I am still on.  Because that will help, right?  Last night I decided I didn’t need my meds, I would be fine without them…so I got 3 1/2 hours of sleep, which really helps things.  On the upside, last night reminded me how important my medication regimen is…I took my morning meds exactly as I should and trust me, I will take all of tonight’s dose.

I am still hopeful that with lots of self-care and hard work, I can stay on the new medication plan, but at the same time, I am scared.  What if I can’t do it?  What if I am stuck with meds that will influence me physically?  What if I am not strong enough to do it all?

 

Runner Bucket List

I remember when I took up running–eeking out those first few steps on the Wii Fit.  They were hard.  And worth it.

It is still hard.  And still worth it.

When I ran those first steps, I never dreamed how important running would become to me.  I never dreamed how the Lord would use it to teach me about Himself.  How He would use it every day to remind me what a powerful, loving, constant God He is.

Last night, I put a few of my thoughts in a video.  It is not very flattering of me, but honestly, it is meant to be flattering toward God, not toward me.

 

Those thoughts, about the Lord and the gift He has given me goes through my mind at least once on every run.  Today,  I formed a few other thoughts that I would never have even thought to piece together when I was taking those first steps in running.  I started to think about Running Bucket Lists.

I started with a 5k.  Next, I did a 10k.  Followed by running across the Mackinac Bridge.  Next month I am going to do my first 10k in a long time to celebrate my Birthday, and then in June, I am so excited to be running a 10k on Mackinac Island.  I suspect the crowning jewel in my running adventures will be a half marathon in September.  Nestled in there is something I never considered doing, but now think every runner should do at least once–a marathon relay race.

Today I had the privilege to run the 4th leg out of 5 with a group of women.  It was extremely nerve-wracking leading up to the race to have other people depending on how well I did, but ultimately, it pushed me to train harder and then definitely run harder during my leg earlier this morning.

Turns out I ran so hard I popped a blood vessel in my eye, but it was worth it.

Every Step

Sunday I did a 5k.  It was special in several ways.

The biggest?  It was the first race my family was at since I ran the Mackinaw Bridge race about 5 years ago.  Patrice was a baby at the time and while she will always be the baby of the family, at 6 years old, she is definitely no longer a baby.  My girls even made me a post to cheer me on.  It is fantastic, but it shows their reals names, so it has been cropped out of this picture.

 

The next amazing thing was the opportunity to run across the 50-yard line at the University of Michigan when I reached the finish line.

I am also still giddy over setting a personal record for a 5k Sunday.  I ran my fastest mile ever at 11 minutes and 40 seconds and overall time of 39 minutes 5 seconds.  I still feel like a rockstar.

And it is all to the glory of God.  He brought be from a wheelchair to pushing my body to see how far and how fast it can go…just because I can.

I am so thankful for what He has done in my life.

Happiness Is

We just finished up Sue’s run of “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.”  The last song is “Happiness is” which fit perfectly with my friend’s post yesterday.

We’ve had lots of happiness lately.

Happiness is… watching your daughter blossom just a bit more in her second play this weekend.

 

Happiness is…Getting some one-on-one time with Sue to speak to her what is on my heart,

do you know when I see you the most alive, the most you? When you are at practice or on the stage doing a show. You are amazing. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, God made you amazing, always be who He made you to be.” She came over to my side and as I hugged her, and blinked back tears, I said, “I know sometimes at home you feel overshadowed by an older sister who is very strong, and a Patrice who is, well, Patrice, but you are strong, smart capable, and amazing. I know there are things that don’t come easy, but there are other things that just make you shine. Walk in them all. Be you, be strong and amazing and beautiful. I had a lot of people tell me what I couldn’t do, what I wasn’t, that I wasn’t strong and here I am, kind of old…some of that I can fix, I can run my butt off, but some I can’t. Don’t let people whether they be family, friends, or random people tell you what you can and can’t do!

 

Happiness is…getting a kitchen full of flowers thanks your daughter’s “stardom”

Happiness is…getting out for a run amidst the business of life and pushing myself to improve bit by bit, bunch by bunch.

Happiness is…feeling pretty every once and a while.

Happiness is…remembering how to do a fun braid your daughter wants in her hair.

Happiness is…a pretty cute puppy and a lovely Easter flag.

Happiness is…finding more things that can be thrown away as part of #40 bags in #40 days.

And Happiness is…my girls looking sweet and sassy.

The days are crazy and full.  I am so thankful, I am here, by the grace of God, to enjoy them all.

*Thank you to my friend Kimberly over at All Work and No Play Makes Mommy Go Something Something for the inspiration for this post.

What Am I

I identify as, and am, a lot of things:  Christ follower, wife, mother, homeschooler, daughter, friend…but one thing has escaped me.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not bring myself to say I am a runner.

I get out there, I run, but I see other runners, moving so much more easily and quickly and I think, “now that’s a runner.”  I was even, after doing a 7-mile run, saw a picture of someone running, and thought, “I wish I could run like them.”

I ended up frustrated and looking for reassurance, so I took to one of my fitness groups on Facebook–“when do you feel like a real runner?”

Unanimously, they reassured me I was a runner…someone who runs is a runner was the message.   One lady even pointed out my pace is 2 minutes faster than what is required for most races (I had no idea–glad those races I did early in my running didn’t kick me out!)

I walked away feeling better, but still a little unconvinced.

Sigh.

I kept turning the thought over and over in my mind.

Would I want my girls to ever doubt their efforts?  Sue is doing her second play this weekend…do I want her to doubt the hard work she has put in?  Does her lack of a union card make her less of an actress, singer, or dancer?  No!  Caitlyn runs on her own and with me.  Am I going to tell her she is not a real runner?  Never!!  Patrice loves to create.  Am I going to tell her she’s not a real artist?  Not in a million years!!

As P!nk says “You’re so mean when you talk about yourself, you are wrong.  Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead…”  And she’s right, I am.  I am very mean when I talk to myself, I internalize the bad and the ugly, and that is what I hear, what I listen to.

But yesterday, I decided to change at least one part of that broken record.

I am a runner.  I ran 11 1/2 miles+ last week.  I am at 10 so far this week.  I am training for two different races (a relay in April and a half marathon in September), I am working on improving distance and pace, my mind is either thinking about my last run or planning when to fit in the next one, I consider my running jacket and pants one of the best purchases I ever made…AND…I ran two miles back to back under 13 minutes (12:27 and 12:32 if you are wanting to know as badly as I am wanting to tell you!).*

If all of that doesn’t convince me I am a runner, nothing ever will.

*Just a few notes concerning that pace to put it into perspective for you:  I am only 4 ft 9 inches tall, my pace in August when I started running again was a 19-minute mile, and I am carrying about 35 extra pounds.  No excuses, just perspective on how far I have come.

Just a Loss

A half-marathon.  13.1 miles.  I want to run that.  All of that.  I am afraid that might be a pie in the sky goal.  I have been running consistently and often.  I push and push but it takes all I have to eke out 3.1 miles on the treadmill.  That is a far cry from the 13.1 I need to make running a half-marathon a reality.

I almost gave up yesterday.  I literally sat and cried after not being able to push myself past the 3.1.  I came darn close to writing off the money I paid for the half and just realized I am not that strong, that I am the weak person I was always told I was.  The ladies in my fitness group rallied around me and gave me a lot to think about–running every step, walking and running, being a little easier on myself.

Got a smile after a run no matter how good or bad it is.

This morning I talked to my hubby and talked about how much I really want to run it.  We decided we need to get me off the treadmill and outside running more (as much as winter will cooperate), so today, right after church, I layered up and set out.  I did 4 miles running with an average pace of 13 minutes, 47 seconds per mile.  That’s slow compared to some, but a pretty awesome run for me.  My legs are short, I have just started pushing my pace in the last two weeks.

Running today felt a lot better than yesterday.

The Bipolar has been a jerk the last few weeks…and then this week there seemed to be hope.  I was talking to people, I was going places without feeling panicky.  I thought church today would be easy.  Last week I couldn’t bear to go into our Sunday School.  Today, I waltzed right in, I talked too much, it seemed to go well.

So on to church.

The panic hit as we got into the main part of the church.  We were having to go so far forward.  The row we ended up in had people at both ends.  I wouldn’t be able to get out.  I grabbed my hubby’s hand as we sang, but all the sudden it was too much.  I grabbed my purse and ran out of there.  My wonderful hubby followed me.  We sat out in the foyer area and listened from there (the church projects the sermon out there).  But the panic kept building and building, so I took a Xanax for the anxiety.  We were sitting in an open area so I thought I would be safe to not fall asleep.  To my great embarrassment, I was wrong.  I fell asleep.  I tried so hard and it was just a loss.

Bipolar is such a jerk.  I hate it so much.  Why won’t it just leave me alone?  I just want to breathe, I just want to go about my life.  And I am stuck, being a big loser.