A place to share the joys and challenges of our little, but growing, family. Life with three girls, ages 5, 4 and 1 year, is a joy most of the time. But, there are challenges to every life and this is my place to share some of that.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 song is in my running playlist. It gets me every.single.time. Because it IS in my RUNNING playlist.
I was not a strong, healthy child. I was not coordinated. I was not tough or competitive. I was not encouraged to become any of those things. Then, at the age of 15, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Walking became a day-to-day question. I landed in a wheelchair. All those words spoken about how I couldn’t do things seemed to be spot on. I couldn’t do anything.
Then a true miracle happened just over 11 years ago. I went into remission from the MS. I have now been in remission from the MS almost as long as I dealt with active disease. Remission. That is a beautiful word.
Medical Definition of remission. : a state or period during which the symptoms of a disease are abated <cancer in remission after treatment>—compare arrest, cure 1, intermission. (Mirriam-Webster Dictionary)
A state or period during which the symptoms of a disease are abated. In the midst of having babies, working, keeping up with life, I almost didn’t notice the remission. It was just there and I almost took it for granted.
Then, after Sue was born, I started exercising and running. All the sudden the value of remission and what it really meant, and was, hit me. Here I was, the girl who wasn’t even supposed to be able to keep up with a household without bringing in help, according to the doctors, past her 20s, was in actuality, working, raising two kids, kind of keeping up with a house (as much as I ever had), and now, learning how to run.
Running. Me running. The girl who had always been told she couldn’t do things. That she wasn’t strong enough for what other kids did, running.
Every step I take, whether it is fast or just barely moving, I do to the glory of God. He is the one who saw fit to give me back my balance, to give me back my strength, to give me back my legs, to give me back so much more than I could ever ask or imagine.
Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us
He has given me so much. And I am thankful for all of it. And now I am dreaming big. I am dreaming of picking up my pace so I can run with some other ladies in a relay (me??) and even bigger yet, I am dreaming of running a 1/2 marathon in September. I have even gone so far as to register for the race. I have put my money where my mouth is and in 245 days I will put my feet where my heart never dreamed they would be.
It’s a long journey, getting from those first running steps with the Wii fit until today, but today found me braving the elements like a good Michigander and getting in a few miles. I had to do some tiptoeing through ice, but it felt great to be outside.
Two days ago, it was 70 degrees. Today it was 33 degrees. That’s Michigan in a nutshell.
It comes with the territory, but that doesn’t make the first few days any easier. Our winter coats were actually all ready to go, but when it came time to get ready for church…my typical clothing choices were not in line with the thermometer. The hunt was on.
I really wanted to wear dress slacks, but nothing I had in my closet would fit. I’ve hated the clothing size I am in so much that I refused to get any church pants that fit me.
I started tossing all of my slacks on the bed, but for some reason I thought I would try them–a size smaller than I have worn in 5 years, but heck, what have I got to lose?
And guess what, those suckers FIT.
Then Patrice had to join me.
I haven’t lost weight in months, but apparently the exercise I have been doing is paying off regardless. So, after church today, I headed out for a run.
I actually had two shirts on and a headband over my ears. Running in the cold is more mental than anything. It is cold for about the first 3/4 of a mile and then it is no biggy. There were some gusts of wind that reminded me this wasn’t an easy fall run, but overall, 33 degrees is actually nice for running.
I ran about 3.25 miles but I just couldn’t stop there. I walked around the church while the girls were in Bible Club. That got me to 21,000 steps and just over 9 miles. And I still couldn’t stop. Once we got home I hit the treadmill to get to 10 miles and 25,000 steps for the day.
It has been a great exercise day. My legs are tired right now, but I can’t wait to see how much I can do tomorrow.
Nothing like a smaller size to motivate somebody to get back at it!!
Caitlyn and I ran our second 5k together today. Well, not really together–she runs and then I come slowly up from the rear of the crowd…much later after she finishes.
Today’s race was a Turkey Trot. The top finisher in each age bracket won a turkey. Let’s just suffice it to say, I did not win a turkey.
But the weather was pristine. Low sixties, sunshine–amazing.
It was also the hardest I have ever run. The course was all off road. There were hills, so many hills! And for many of them, you were turning in such a way that you were running on the side of the hill instead of in any manner of straight. I almost cried twice, I kid you not, and I wanted to walk so badly, but my primary goal in every 5k I run is to do just that–run every step, and I did it this time too, just barely, but I did. Caitlyn admitted she walked a few times, and honestly, that was probably wise, but I can be pretty stubborn and come heck or high water, I was going to run it all.
I ran step after step and finally, it was done!!! I was once again frustrated with my time, but this race, that was greatly overshadowed by how proud I was to have finished and run the whole thing.
And yes, I came home and started looking for our next race. No matter how hard running is, I just keep going back for more.
I started back to running August 16, right after the girls first cross country practice. I watched them out there and just could not resist joining in. I have logged between 6-9 miles a week since then.
I am not fast, my quickest mile in all of that was 13:37, but I am plugging away at about 15;35 on average.
Running is amazing. It is not easy, but it gets easier somewhere late in the first mile.
I have run 5k with Caitlyn several times, as she has joined me on Sunday mornings to do a good run before church several times. And then she joined me to do a 5k a few weeks ago.
This Saturday, we have our second 5k–a Turkey Trot.
But I’ve decided to take it a step further…I would like to run a half marathon, 13.1 miles. And I have someone with experience who is willing to help me figure out how to get there.
One of the moms from cross country has run several half marathons and a couple marathons…and she is willing to lend me her expertise.
Step one: get stronger and lose some more weight over the winter since Michigan isn’t that conducive to much running at that time. My personal plan is to run on the treadmill 3 times a week and do strength work 3 times a week.
Step two: get out there and start running longer stretches when spring finally arrives.
Step three: sign up for, and run a half marathon in October.
That plan ought to get me stronger and thinner in no time, right? It would be awfully nice to finally lose the rest of my baby weight–you know, since the baby is 6 years old and can read, add, and subtract…
“Go Caitlyn Go!!” I have yelled that countless times since August 16 when Caitlyn and Sue started cross country practice.
Caitlyn loved the running, Sue loved the social time.
I ached watching Caitlyn put her heart and soul into the running and see little success. She ran with such determination at every practice, from her very first step to her last. But again and again she was beat by her sister and her teammates. And yet, she never wavered, she never gave up.
She ran at practice, she started running in the mornings with me. I was so, so proud of her every single time. All heart and determination. And right at the end of the season we saw some of her power come out as she plowed through her last meet with just over a 10 minute mile.
While she was running cross country, she also trained with me for a 5k (3.1 miles). Yesterday was the day. We got up before dawn to get a decent breakfast and head on our way.
Don’t mind the scratches on my nose. I fell a couple days before the race while taking a short walk. I landed on my face and managed to break my glasses, scratch up my nose (not broken, as first feared), and bruised up my knee.
A couple days before, my sweet girl had asked me if it was okay if she ran ahead of me for the first mile “you’ll catch up to me in mile 2 I’m sure.” Well, she sure did pull ahead of me–and I never saw her again. My Caitlyn finished the race in 34 minutes and 6 seconds. She ran a mile pace of 10 minutes 58 seconds!!! She finished in 2 place of the girls ages 10-13 who ran. I couldn’t be more proud. Honestly, I couldn’t.
She finished WAYYYYY ahead of me yesterday and as I finally ran up to the finish line, I heard a voice yelling, “go MOMMY go!!!!”
I can’t wait to run with her again–and watch out cross country, we’ll be unleashing a powerhouse on you next season!
Three girls. I have three girls. I have no idea how that happened–well, okay, I know HOW it happened, I just can’t believe it did even 10 years into this mom gig. I had given up on marriage and kids, but God had other plans.
I have three girls, I homeschool three girls, they are pretty much my constant side kicks. They see how I handle, and don’t handle, life. I am completely aware their eyes are always on me.
Sometimes, I can handle it with grace, but much of the time I am second guessing how I handle it all. I want my reactions to be balanced and healthy. I am used to finding that difficult with the Bipolar in my life, but recently it has gotten complicated for another reason…sports.
My girls (2 of them anyway) have joined the world of sports–cross country to be exact.
It is the one sport I sort of, not really, know anything about and is truly the only sport I have ever enjoyed. Seeing them get to run at practice reminded me how much I love to run and has me back out there pounding out a few miles. I love having them run.
One, is a little older than the other, a little more serious about life, and a little more interested in running.
She even joined me on my Sunday morning run last week.
I am so proud.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Sue is also going to practice, never complains about it, and seems to have fun, but she just hasn’t caught the running bug. She’s there for the socializing; Caitlyn says, “I want to run, that’s what I am there for!!!”
I am so pleased with both of them, but I want to just gush all over Caitlyn. I love her can do spirit, she never gives up, I love her desire to run, I love her determination. I like to talk to her about running. I am seeking out help from others who run to help Caitlyn become a stronger runner. I’m not kidding, I could go on forever about how proud I am of Caitlyns’ running.
But I don’t want to discourage Sue. I want her to grow to love it, if it turns out to be her thing. I want her to work hard. I want her to know I care about her skills too.
Balancing the two is hard!!!
How do I encourage them both when their experiences so far are very different? How do I let Caitlyn know how pleased I am without seeming to diminish Sue’s progress? How do I show my pride in Caitlyn, without making Sue feel like she has to prove herself to me by running?
I sincerely don’t know how to balance it all. I catch myself when I feel like I am going overboard. I try to remember to speak highly of both of them within their hearing.
A place to share the joys and challenges of our little, but growing, family. Life with three girls, ages 10, 9 and 6 years old, is a joy most of the time. But, there are challenges to every life and this is my place to share some of that.