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?

 

Sugar Butts

I am the potty mouth in this house.  My hubby never, ever swears…well, okay, he did when the camper flipped over and he was trying to control the car…but that doesn’t count, does it?

So, when someone gets in trouble for saying a “bad” word in this house, mommy is to blame.  Sigh.

Today, Caitlyn and Sue were working on putting together some projects they received for Christmas.  Caitlyn started her catapult yesterday and teased Frazier today by launching pieces of burnt bacon.

Sue started her robot today and was having a hard time finding one of the pieces–“damn!”

“Mommy, Sue said damn.”

Sigh…time to head to their room for a chat.

“Sue, you can’t say damn.” “But I can’t find the piece I need.”  ”

“But I can’t find the piece I need.”  ”

“I know, but you can’t say that word even though mommy does.  Say, um, ‘sugar butts’ like daddy does.  Or dude.  That’s the one I like.  You can say it with emphasis.  DUDE!!!”

Insert eye roll and a big, heavy sigh.

A few minutes later she is still searching for the piece, looks over at Caitlyn and mutters, “sugar butts!!”

My work here is done.

I’ve had a couple “sugar butts” kind of days lately.  It has been raining.  I have not been running.  I am coming off two medications due to side effects.  I am recommitting myself to eat low FODMAP to control some health issues that are obnoxious and kind of hard to control.  And there is still homeschooling and its duties, May has a couple super social days in it, and another birthday for me.

Sigh and a big helping of “sugar butts.”

What is your safe word to say around kids or that your kids are allowed to say?  If you don’t have one, go ahead and have ours.  We’ll share!

Getting a Little Dirty

I think we can all agree that over the last many months we have read and heard too much about building walls.  Things going on within our country and around the world can leave us feeling powerless and frustrated.  Too many walls being built between countries and people…too many.

It leaves many of us feeling powerless.  Clay is one guy that has felt that, but he has begun getting more involved in activism, paying attention to the news, contacting others about what he sees going on…and looking to do more.

So was born Plant the Wall.

Plant the wall is…”a concept to help folks make a local impact on the planet as well as a statement about what we value as a country.
It’s the anti-“Build the Wall” message.”

He and his family are planting a variety of fruits, vegetables, and flowers and encouraging others to do the same.

“If we believe building walls to keep people out are wasteful and wrong, let’s find creative ways to protest and keep the conversation top of mind.”

His reasoning and idea have caught my attention and I find myself constantly looking for the new life of Spring here in Michigan and searching for ways I can beautify my part of the world.

The girls and I have cleaned a couple areas in the yard to plant very soon.  I have captured photos of the early buds on the lilac bushes around here.  We have planted California Poppies in a planter in the house…I am chomping at the bit to do more.

His idea is not only beautifying the earth, but also the internet as people share their pictures of planting the wall with the hashtag #plantthewall.  Check out his website, Let’s Plant The Wall for more about the project and how you can get involved.

*All quotations taken from Let’s Plant The Wall

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.

Raising Me

I hate the Bipolar.  I hate the anxiety.  I hate what it does to me.  I hate how it makes me feel and act.  I hate it.

I don’t want this for my girls.  I don’t want them to feel a single second of it.  And yet, sometimes anxiety does hit Caitlyn.

Monday was one of those nights.

We have been thinking for a long time that Patrice would be really good at gymnastics.  And Caitlyn has been dying to learn how to do a cartwheel.  The big day finally came Monday.  I made preparations last week and Monday we headed off to lessons.

And the anxiety hit.  Me–because I managed to forget the paperwork I had so carefully done, at home.  Caitlyn–because she didn’t know anyone there and didn’t know what to do when.

Patrice was excited from the get-go, but Caitlyn admitted later that she just wanted to go home.  I saw her anxiety.  I saw her fear.  What I tried not to see was me.  I did not want to see Caitlyn immobilized by her emotions.  I also saw her bravery.  She kept going.  She put one foot in front of the other.  She worked to find out what she was supposed to be doing and where she was supposed to be.  She didn’t give up.

As I saw her go from activity to activity, I saw her nail biting lessen.  I saw her paying more and more attention to what was going on around her and less and less attention to what was going on inside of her.  And my anxiety decreased.

Once again, I was able to tell myself I am not raising a daughter who will be immobilized by anxiety.  I am not raising me.

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.

Grief By Surprise

I was minding my own business today.  Really, I was.  And a simple status update brought me up short.

A friend posted a fun list of questions about how well does an adult daughter know her dad.  It would seem she knows hers well.  The first question asked, “if you dad is sitting in front of the tv, what is he watching?”  One of her answers was YouTube.

It got me to thinking, what would my dad be watching…well, not much.  He wasn’t much to watch tv.  He was a workaholic so about all he did in front of the tv was either sleep or fall asleep just before the weather on the 11 o’clock news…and wake up as soon as the weather was done.

I think his favorite feature on a smartphone would have been looking up the weather or watching repair videos on YouTube.  But alas, his method for looking up repair procedures was the old Chilton Books (do they even still make those?).  I remember when it was time for me to learn how to fix my brakes on my 1982 Buick Skylark…I got my first foray into Chilton Books.

(It would appear the following video is as close as YouTube could get me–it seems most of the videos only get you back to about 1999–now I feel old)

 

Yes, I think he would have loved YouTube, but he died before it was created.  He died July 7, 2004 and YouTube was created February 14, 2005.  They would have been a match made in heaven.

He loved this song and would have loved looking it up to see who was getting the words right!

 

And suddenly, here I am sitting with grief.  Surprised to be wrapped up in thoughts of my dad.  Who he was, who I was, who I am now.  Who my husband is, who my children are.  Who he never met, what he is missing.

I am not overtaken by uncontrollable grief, but there is sadness and a heaviness.

 

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.