The Accidental Marathoner

Thirty-two weeks pregnant, and hardly able to walk more than a couple of miles at a stretch, it’s a little hard to believe that a year ago I ran my first marathon. My already-heightened set of emotions surrounding the race skyrocketed when the Boston marathon bombing occurred, six days before my race. As is true with most runners, ever since that day, every time I am out on a jog there is at least one moment where my mind turns to the bombing. While the thought saddens me, and makes me feel for the individuals and families affected, it also reminds me to be grateful for the legs carrying me, grateful for the people around me, and gives me energy to push on. Runners are a willful, dedicated bunch, full of strength, stamina and commitment, and the Boston bombing, instead of tarnishing this, cemented it.

A Morning Grouch

I have two Mes.

Real me is caring and giving and kind.  Real me is never bored, because there is always someone to love or something to create or something to enjoy.  Real Me relishes weekends, family, friends and manically pursuing hobbies.  Real Me even loves horribly gray days and days when the basement floods and days when a baking dish explodes in the kitchen because there is always so much more to be grateful for.

Monster Me is angry and fearful and inadequate.  Monster Me is so depleted of energy that  the effort required to attempt to enjoy a hobby or a person or even myself is insurmountable.  Monster Me wants to cut and punch and scream.  Monster Me feels completely hopeless.  Monster Me thinks leaving the car running and shutting the garage door might not be unreasonable.

Real Me sometimes thinks Monster Me is gone for good.  But Monster Me is sneaky and always creeps back around, eventually.

When the two Mes got pregnant, Real Me decided…

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Bow To Your Thighness: 3 Guiding Principles For Physical and Mental Health

I’ve always hated my thighs.

In high school, jeans shopping was a complete nightmare.  I know what you’re thinking, “Isn’t it always?” or “Wouldn’t we all rather stick our heads into the yawning mouths of lions or alligators or piranhas than shop for jeans?” To which the answer is a resounding YES.  Yes, we certainly would. Hell, wouldn’t we all rather stick our heads into the ASSES of these animals, if it meant we’d get out of jeans shopping ever again?  I’ll let you answer that last question on your own. 

I cringe when I think about the multitude of shopping trips needed, hours long, to find a single pair of jeans that I thought I looked not-like-a-lumbering-mastodon in. My mom patiently (or fake patiently) sat there while the sales lady brought me pair after pair after pair.  I didn’t want jeans that were too tight, because then people would see how big these thighs were, but jeans that were too baggy made them look even bigger.  The Flabby Flank Conundrum. 

It was also the mid 90’s and our entire generation was wearing everything ultra-baggy. When you only wear jeans and hoodies in a size XL, because, for some reason, THAT is what is cool, even though you really fit into a size S or M, you don’t really learn what kind of clothing is most flattering for your body.  I was essentially plucking random jeans off the shelves and hoping they magically fit. It was like trying to find a tactful and well informed politically inspired status update on Facebook. Highly unlikely no matter how hard you search. My thighs are still hard to squeeze into many normal-person sized pants, but now I can usually spot jeans with a size 10 thigh hole and a size 6 waist without shedding too many tears.  In high school I hyperfocused on the sheer bulk of my two trunks; I realize now that it doesn’t really matter how big my thighs are.

Except when it does.

Yesterday I went running, in shorts.  Cute little blue and yellow running shorts with a white stripe down each side.  And about 1/2 mile in, the ensuing chafing reminded me why I never run in these. You don’t have to deal with this crap when you’re primarily a winter runner, like I am.  Rub. Rub. Rub. Rub. Rub. Raw. Raw. Ouch.  I have a good friend who would get embarrassed when her thighs would “clap” (and cheer her on!) really loudly while she was running.  I was embarrassed that there was no way that would EVER  happen to me – since that would require them to be separate entities.  In the past I might have cursed the chafing and my thick thighs, but now I chalk it up to simply choosing the wrong garment.  I should have worn the ridiculous looking spandex. 

No matter how much you hate a body part, there becomes a point where you know it isn’t going to get that much better. No matter how toned I get or how much weight I lose, my thighs are always going to rub together.  So, I have to let it go and honor my physical and mental health by remembering to stick to my Three Guiding Principles.

1.  Work on Creating A Positive Self-Image

My thighness isn’t going away.  It’s genetics.  And, since I want to be happiest of happies, I’m going to work very hard on not caring about my damn thighs because I have approximately 93472 million more important things to care about.  I will look like a complete buffoon in spandex in order to think less (thus care less) about what I look like.  This is the runner’s paradox.  

2. Work on Fitness

These thighs look better the more toned they are. The stronger they are the better I feel.  These thighs have squatted me through stress-relieving yoga during my depressing battle with infertility,  squatted me through prenatal yoga, even with the additional pounds from Baby Grouch, and accidentally trained me for a marathon.  They’ve taken me from point A to point B my entire life and I need to appreciate them by taking care of them.  So, I will continue to run and squat and thoroughly tire them out.  This aging, post-baby body demands it.

3. Be Gluttonous

Just not every second of every day.  I will eat leafy greens, and fruity fruits, organic grains and beany beans, but I am not willing to give up on what makes me happy and balanced and fun.  I do not want to be the boob sipping soda water and munching on carrots at girls weekend. I do not want to be the one who can’t agree to go to a restaurant until I’ve ensured they offer grilled chicken and zucchini.  Bor-ing.  I will be as healthy and fit as I can be, whilst indulging, on a somewhat regular basis, in mounds of nachos.  And pizza. And most definitely, wine. 

How do you bow to your thighness?

English: Mannequins wearing jeans in Sânnicola...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Parenting: Reasons To Panic #1 – Jogging With Baby

So, I’m trying to get back into shape.  Pre-baby shape.  Which I’m quite sure is a fairy tale notion.  My core is a disaster.  My pelvis is broken.  (Full disclosure: It’s really NOT.  It’s just offset enough to FEEL like it’s broken and there’s nothing that can be done except steroid injections, which I haven’t yet tried, but am quite sure I will have to if the pain gets any worse.  Inhale. Exhale.  Complaining completed.

Bah.

But, I figure I should do what I can before Baby Number 2 starts cooking, if we are to be so lucky, because if things are this bad NOW, I can only imagine how I might feel after 9 additional months of swelling and enlarging and hormoning.

So, I decided to get off my ass and go jogging.  In the heat of May.  Something I don’t typically do because I overheat in anything above 55 degrees.  My running season is October to April.  My aerobic activity of choice is running outside, whilst catching snowflakes in my eyelashes.  Once it hits 50 degrees, I’m stripped down to a t-shirt by mile 4.  But, I figured I just ran a marathon 3 weeks ago, I should be able to go for a short, 6 mile trot.

English: Female Jogger on Coleman Avenue in Mo...

Of course, I had the baby with me.  “No problem, I have a stroller/jogger!  I’ll just bring her!” I thought this was a grand idea until I started to panic about the following:

The baby is going to overheat!  I was ROASTING.  Granted, I always overheat when I run, but mid-way through I started to panic that Baby Grouch would combust.  How much do babies sweat?  How much of a breeze was she getting?  How hot IS IT out here?  How long does baby sunscreen last?  When you run you usually feel about 20 degrees hotter, right?!  It’s not really as hot as I FEEL, right?!!!  I started sprinkling her with ice water out of her sippy cup.

The baby is going to get Malaria!  There were approximately 83 billion mosquitos out.  I don’t want my child to get infected with Malaria or West Nile or Yellow Fever.   I had to walk a few times and dump water on my head and gasp for breath, and each time I panicked because the mosquitoes were swarming my child.  I flailed my arms and batted away.  An ungraceful, maternal, totemic dance.

The baby is going to get fussy!   I started to panic about mile 2.5.  How on Earth did I think a LOOP made sense?  There was no shortcut home.  I’m dying of heat exhaustion and this run is going to take me for-ev-er!  Of course at this point, Baby Grouch was sleeping.  But, still.  What is she woke up screaming?  Around mile 4.5 she DID start throwing her hat/toy/burp cloth out the edge of the stroller.  I ran over her doll once.  At one point I was jogging while holding all three items in my hands.  NO TIME TO STOP.

The baby is going to get sunburned!  Her arms are showing! She keeps pulling off her hat – her head is showing!  The canopy isn’t QUITE long enough – her face might get burnt!  The canopy is too long – I can’t see the baby!  The baby needs to be covered with a blanket to protect her from the Sun! The baby is overheating, I need to take the blanket off! I figure all the bending over and rearranging, though panic-driven, was probably good core work.

The Baby Is Going to Get Hungry/Thirsty!  I was worried about overheating so I offered Baby Grouch the sippy cup with water once every mile or so.  This may or may not have been a good idea, seeing as she puked up water and strained squash out her nose about 14 minutes after we got home.  My eyes burned as sweat poured into them while giving her a bath, and were still doing so while I cleaned the carpet.

OMG, Running is SO HARD.  I hadn’t ran in 3 weeks, and I could feel it.  My legs felt great, but my head felt fuzzy and lightheaded and horrible.  My face was abraisive to the touch, gritty with salt.  I tried to just focus on my legs. I had thoughts like, “Once you stop running, you have to start completely over again” and, “What the hell was I thinking?” and “I’m so not cut out for running”. And, “You can’t stop running because you have the BABY”.  Also, I got a blister on my hand, which was a first for me, as far as running injuries go.

I hope I don’t see anyone I know! The temperature outside was ovenlike.  I had to take off my shirt, despite the jiggly pouch.  And the early 90’s tribal tattoos on my back.  I had to roll my capris into bootie shorts, despite the expansive thighs.  You know how you look at someone and McJudgingly think, “Why are they wearing THAT?” This was exactly what people were thinking of ME as I was undulating down the sidewalk, pushing the stroller.  I crossed my fingers and hoped I didn’t see any students or parents I knew, but I took the risk because if I didn’t cool my chubby body off enough to keep moving, my child my overheat and get Dangue Fever and starve to death.  

Whew.

Ever had a jaunt with baby that scared you to pieces?

Call Me a Fanfaron This Week

Ok, I’m going to be a little boasty, braggy, hippity hoppity.  I can’t help it, I just might explode – this week has been sort of amazing.  I have had a lot of horribly dark weeks, and this one is shiny and bright and remarkably different than those.

FRIDAY: I am starting a support program for students on the Autism Spectrum at the high school I work in – we will be piloting it, starting in September.  A local news channel  interviewed me last week, along with a parent and student in the program, and ran a segment about the program on the 5 o’clock news.  Bonus: My excessive facial hair was not overly noticable, even with the high def cameras.

SATURDAY:   A record number of views today on my Accidental Marathoner post made my day!  I also got a piece of “fan mail” in the form of a message on my fb page from someone who had enjoyed the post.  The message said this:

Congratulations on your achievement! Besides it being your own personal achievement, you’ve inspired countless others you’ll never know. This is … a great thing in light of ALL the events of the past week. 4 of my children will run in the Illinois Marathon this coming Saturday (the first for all of them!). I shared your Accidental Marathoner blog with them….truly inspiring, very much the truth, they agreed. I just wanted you to know that what you write makes a difference.

Um, can you say BEST EMAIL EVER?!

SUNDAY:  I ran my first marathon.  Despite not running for two years before having my baby, and running the race 7 months post-baby (the point being: I did not feel NEARLY as strong as I think I should feel before running a marathon), I decided to just go for it. I had a great experience, and my time beautifully corresponded with the whole reason I ran the marathon in the first place.

MONDAY: Our news story aired a second time, on the local news channel’s morning program.  I could also walk down the stairs pretty comfortably – something I was not anticipating after the 26.37 miler the day before.

TUESDAY:  Baby Grouch got her 2nd tooth.  I know I had nothing to do with this, but I sort of feel like I do because I MADE HER (Double bonus:  I MADE A BABY –  still pretty excited about that).

WEDNESDAY:  I thought Saturday went well, but today I was completely overwhelemed with the number of views, replies and comments on my post in honor of Infertility Awareness Week.  This far surpassed my previous record on Saturday of most views on a post.  I had a lot of people share the Top 10 list, and there were so many women who said that this hit the nail on the head, that it said what they felt, but were often too afraid to say.  It is sort of amazing when you realize you aren’t alone, and there are so many others who understand you.

THURSDAY:  I dropped the cap to my water bottle, but then immediately caught it ON MY SHIN before it hit the floor and I lifted my leg up to return said cap to my hand.  Clumsy and yet SO coordinated at the same time.

And ALSO, I got my first piece of hate mail!  It was very exciting and occurred in the form of another blogger posting about how my Infertility Awareness Post pissed her off. HAH!  She didn’t actually point out much that she didn’t like about it, other than a) my agressive tone (absolutely guilty as charged, that was the idea) and b) when I said infertiles didn’t want to hear pregnant people complaining about their whaleish pregnant bodies.  Her huffiness made more sense when I noticed she had JUST written a post about how horribly whaleish she’s feeling because she’s got a big pregnant body (I’m paraphrasing here).  I get it.  Other side of the coin and all that.  I’m not offended that she got offended.  Plus, the fact that she hated it helped me raise awareness even more, so I thank her for helping me accomplish my goal.

Perhaps I was linked into her post an effort to draw more readers to her blog.  If that’s the case, I guess the joke’s on her, because I’m really a half-assed blogger and I don’t have that many readers! She must think I care deeply about my readership numbers since she felt the need to point out to me that she wouldn’t have bothered complaining about my post publically if she had noticed ahead of time that I wasn’t a “big time blogger”.

FRIDAY:  A few months ago I entered my infertility story (the nice one, not the bitchy one) into a writing contest.  And guess what? I won a $400 prize package –  money towards a vacation destination and also money towards future services at the fertility center that hosted the contest.  Maybe enjoying a free weekend away will make my husband less annoyed that my face is constantly shoved into my computer keyboard.

I also utilized the word “fanfaron” which came in my word-a-day email this week.  I never remember to practice those words.

Ok, I’m done.  I’ll be humble again, now that I got that out.

For all you jealous types, don’t worry, I’m sure next week I’ll get rear ended, drop my cell phone in the toilet and my cat will pee all over the living room carpet.  Because, that’s how life works.

The Accidental Marathoner

I have two Mes.

Real me is caring and giving and kind.  Real me is never bored, because there is always someone to love or something to create or something to enjoy.  Real Me relishes weekends, family, friends and manically pursuing hobbies.  Real Me even loves horribly gray days and days when the basement floods and days when a baking dish explodes in the kitchen because there is always so much more to be grateful for.

Monster Me is angry and fearful and inadequate.  Monster Me is so depleted of energy that  the effort required to attempt to enjoy a hobby or a person or even myself is insurmountable.  Monster Me wants to cut and punch and scream.  Monster Me feels completely hopeless.  Monster Me thinks leaving the car running and shutting the garage door might not be unreasonable.

Real Me sometimes thinks Monster Me is gone for good.  But Monster Me is sneaky and always creeps back around, eventually.

When the two Mes got pregnant, Real Me decided that Monster Me was finally getting the boot.  That it was not okay for Baby Grouch to meet Monster Me.  That Baby Grouch deserved a better Mama.

Real Me started running right after Baby Grouch was born in an effort to prevent Monster Me from emerging.  Real Me set a post-baby goal of being able to run 10 miles, which had been achieved about 2 years before, though Real Me hadn’t run much since.

Exhausted, weak, tired.  Running.

Hormonal, irrational, cranky.  Running.

Back achy, pelvic achy, feet achy.  Running.

Sneezy, wheezy, coughing, congested.  Running.

Real Me carved out the time and made me go.  Even if that meant going to sleep by 8.00 to wake up for a 4.30 am run, or squeezing in a run with no time to shower before attending another function, or skipping activities with friends.  Real Me would not accept any excuses, because Monster Me needs to be continuously squelched.

After only a month, the goal was attained.  Perhaps this was because of strong(er) quads from squatting and lunging at yoga while pregnant with Baby Grouch (and the glorious weight gain that goes along with that whole process).  Perhaps this was because Real Me was pushing me as hard as was physically possible in order to keep Monster Me at bay.

A new goal of 20 miles was set, and at this point a training plan was utilized to schedule  runs in a feasible way, to attain the updated goal.  This is how Real Me ended up accidentally training for a marathon.

Every marathon runner has their reason for pushing their bodies to the limit, for sacrificing their sleep, and their time.  The level of commitment is so high that there HAS to be a deep-seated reason for someone to subject themselves to such an extreme dedication.  Completing a marathon is not about the race itself, but what the training has come to represent.  The race is simply a culmination and a celebration of that individual’s responsibility to themselves.

This is why the running community is so impacted by the Boston Marathon attack.  Even those of us who weren’t there know how much the race meant to those runners, because it’s not just a race It wasn’t just the activity of running that was abruptly stopped.  It was the activity of those runners proving something to themselves, that was so disturbingly interrupted.

The good news is, that the running community is a strong one.  One full of once-broken people who have chosen to heal, and refuse to let anyone or anything stop their healing process.  One full of people who, with every step, gain strength in character just as much as they gain strength in musculature.  One full of people who have an immediate bond with each other because of the mutual respect for each other’s promise to work on becoming better people.  The attempt to invoke fear, to alarm or to bring down this group of people was misguided – was directed at the wrong group.  We have already decided to gain strength from our weaknesses, and to not remain frozen in fear.  The Boston Marathon attack is just one more motivator for us to keep moving forward, step by step by step.

Update:  Real Me finished my first marathon with a time of 5:05.  How much did Baby Grouch weigh when she was born 7 months ago?  5 lbs 5 oz.  I love my marathon time 🙂

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Photo from Life in the Day of a Runner:  https://www.facebook.com/lifeinthedayofarunner  Quote from Mighty Brighties: https://www.facebook.com/MightyBrighties?group_id=0

Saturday Mournings

So, I’ve realized that no matter what, I’m going to have crazy dreams, and wake up exhausted every day.  It doesn’t matter how many times I hit snooze, or if I get 6 hours of sleep or 9.  I’m going to wake up feeling like death and murderous rage and vomit all at the same time.

Last January I joined a running club and started getting up around 6.15 on Saturday mornings to have time to eat some toast, drink some coffee and wake up before heading out for a trot in the cold.  I never thought I could do this, because of the whole I HATE MORNINGS thing, but yet,  found I didn’t feel any MORE tired, than I already did, and in fact once I got the blood pumping, I generally felt a lot better after a jog.  My daily headaches diminished, and my little endorphin friends hung out for awhile, so I was less grouchy (still grouchy, just LESS).  Yes, I was tired later in the day, .but I was ALWAYS tired later in the day, but now I had a reason, and more toned thighs.  Having the long runs on Saturdays meant I had to be sure to train the rest of the week.  It was hard, but I did it for that Saturday morning feeling.

The cold weather is upon us again and back in October I started getting back into running (I absolutely cannot run during the 6 months out of the year that it is over 60 degrees – I overheat and can run a mere 0.003 miles without dying) and even though I still hate the mornings, running helps make them a little more manageable.  I’ve been really looking forward to running in 20-30 degree weather, with snowflakes catching on my eyelashes.  For me, there’s not a more energizing feeling.

The sad news is that I have been consistently getting ovarian cysts, and each time I get them, I am informed by my doctor that running is out of the question (as the bouncing could result in the heavy ovary flipping, causing the fallopian tube to crimp, and could result in a loss of ovary!  No bueno).  Since they take a few weeks to diminish, this makes it impossible to crank up the mileage.

So, the question arises.  How on Earth am I going to get myself to get my ass out of bed, reduce those headaches, be in a better mood,  and (most importantly), maintain those toned thighs?

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