"What you are afraid to do is a clear indication of the next thing you need to do.."
Truth be told, I just googled: "quotes about fear and athletics" and this is one of the quotes that came up. I picked it because it was more general and applicable to all areas of life... certainly not just for running, and not just for athletics either.....
Do the thing you are afraid of: It's a common thing that you hear in motivational speeches, or read in books meant to inspire... but many of them can be taken out of context and miss the mark a bit. Let me tell you about an experience I had this past week while Hiking in Colorado.
As you all know, I've been coming back carefully, and fearfully, from injury. It's going well, but... man, I'm not out of the woods. Not even close. but I'm still determined to live my life as fully as I can! My husband and I won a trip from the Date Night In a Box subscription, so we went to Colorado to explore the High Country! My parents have a house in the White Mountains, so I'm no stranger to hiking. Actually, the hiking in the Whites is significantly more technical than anything I experienced in my short time in Colorado... but when we were planning out our hike, I didn't know what to expect of the altitude and the trails so we had a Goal, and then we had a GOAL. Thunderstorms were in the forecast, so when my husband told me the bigger goal was a 10k round trip, he worried that would be a stretch for my calf since we'd have to hike much faster. "Will you stop trying to decide what I can and can't do because of my calf?" I was tired of it. It's bad enough I'm terrified of re-injuring it, I don't need him to chime in too. Every single activity I do starts with intense fear but as I'm doing it it goes away little by little. That's the idea from all those fear quotes... isn't it? I wont let fear stop me in my tracks! We are getting the GOAL-goal! .
So the first goal was to make it to Lower Crystal Lake, the second goal (GOAL-goal) was to make it to Upper Crystal Lake. As we got going I learned the hiking was fucking easy. It was like walking on a mildly rocky and grassy path. No crazy granite or slabs of rocks, or roots and trees to climb and bob and weave around like at home. This was just... walking up a mountain. And because you were pretty much always above treeline, you could see the path from miles away. I wanted to run, but my husband wouldn't let me because of my calf. He was most likely right on this, so it was a good call (but secretly I know he was struggling with some altitude sickness... but I'll let my calf be the reason we didn't run, I didn't want to tamper with any egos on our romantic getaway!). We bumped into a group of 3 other hikers that were staying in a cabin partway up the mountain. A couple older than us with their college aged son who looked determined to drag the two on a good hike. We asked for them to take a picture of us and then went past them until they were nearly out of sight. We were making good time even without running.
We got to Lower Crystal Lake and it was very obvious we were going to keep going, and we didn't want to take a break because the storms were predicted to start in a few hours. There were no markings for the trails, so we took a left around the Lower Lake instead of a Right and ended up hiking in the wrong direction for about a mile out and then back again. The reason we missed the correct trail is because there was a river you needed to cross draining from the lower lake, so we missed the path on the other side of the river.. when we hiked up, we could see it, so at least that was helpful! We got back down to lower lake and Many groups we had passed on the way were gathered there to eat including the group of three that had taken our picture earlier. We stopped to chat a bit, told them where were headed. Forging the river was pretty easy. There were rocks stacked up that people have placed to help with crossing that were just a few inches below the surface, so you didn't get too wet. We proceeded quickly, we had a goal and with our detour, we were behind schedule.
We continued on. This is where the hike got so so breathtaking! In more ways than one! Matt was starting to actually feel dizzy from the altitude if he didn't take deep breaths (over 12,000ft). I still mostly felt fine but was taken back by the scenery. I kept stopping Matt to take pictures. He's sometimes so goal driven that he doesn't even see anything around him. He gets that tunnel vision that is hard to break through... so I tried not to bother him too much with the photos and just quietly took them of him while we hiked. Occasionally I got him to stop for a picture together or for one of me.
We started getting to patches of snow. The Snow was the coolest part of the view to me. The contrast of the green and the white with the blue sky made my landscape painting heart flutter. Who would have though snow in July could bring such joy? ha! We crossed a few pretty flat sections of snow, and then a less flat section that I walked below and Matt walked through. We disagreed on the safer way to cross this section but both were inconsequential as you were just going to fall down a hill onto the switchback path below. Then we came to a section at a much steeper angle and no way around. We had to go through it. I thought nothing of it at first... afterall, this was the easiest hike I've ever been on and it's just snow. We are New Englanders! We understand snow! I quickly assessed the safety and saw that if you slipped on the snow you'd slide pretty far down the mountain, but it would be harmless sledding into a patch of grass. We began crossing and I realized I did not like it, not at all. We had to lean into the mountain and use our hands for support. We had no poles, no spikes, and no gloves. It is July but snow is snow! That shit is cold! It also forced us to be looking down... which made me suddenly light headed at 12,700ft. and fear crept in so the light headedness was hard to get control over. So now I'm dizzy on a giant slab of slippery snow... great. I continued because what else do you do. Sooner I'm off the better! We both made it across okay and kept walking. I said "If we have to cross another patch that big, I don't think I can do it." The trail had been switch backing so although I could see snow ahead, I hoped the trail would turn before that... but nope... We followed the trail right up to the snows edge and I sat down.
Matt and I weighed pros and cons. I love my husband dearly, but at the age of 3 he almost died. He was in a serious accident and as a result he had surgeries that put him under anesthesia for the longest amount of time a child of that age had been at that point in time and had the highest childhood blood transfusion at that point in time (1985) and is probably a subject in a textbook somewhere because of the innovation to give him the best quality of life (Thank God for brilliant doctors in brilliant Hospitals. “Boston, you’re my home!”) He had surgery after surgery after surgery nearly spending all of that year in the hospital... Not my story to tell, so I’ll spare details, but not exactly a normal childhood. I think having a near death experience brought upon this invincibility complex that he presents and I'm always trying to figure out when it's serving him and when it's hurting him and when I let him fall and when I reach out my hand if he’ll ever receive it... On top of that, the accident he was part of left him, by most peoples standards (but not ours), handicapped. As a child he was always feeling this overarching need to prove himself. He's not like that most of the time anymore because he's matured and life is humbling... but I'm sitting on the edge of the snow not sure which one of us is being ridiculous.... I lived a fairly cushy life. I went to a private school that kicked out the mean and scary kids that made you feel threatened or bullied. I never needed to deal with peer pressure in difficult situations, because it was t often there. I never had to prove myself because I only did things that I was really fricken good at. If I wasn't good at it I just didn't do it. I'm not a quitter by any means, but I leaned on my talent in one area to keep me from trying anything else. Since we're on the topic of slippery snow, I dated a snowboarder once, and I'm not sure if I was afraid of snowboarding or afraid to suck at snowboarding... but I never did it. I told all the "boarders" in our friend group that I didn't want to risk injury with running... which was true.... but I still used my sport to keep me from doing something I was either afraid to get hurt doing or afraid to be embarrassed doing.
Protecting myself one way or another...
So, Which one of us sitting on the edge of the snow crossing was crazy?
Both of us are prideful and both of us are goal driven, and both of us are pretty driven by ego... but I often feel like I have to overcompensate in the safety side of things to make up for the fact that he's willing to do anything at any cost. But the whole hike I already felt like my calf was holding us back, talk about tampering with ego! I had looked at the next two snow crossings, and the result of falling was much more detrimental. If we slipped, it could be serious. "Well, don't slip. It's just walking across a snowy hill, if the rocks weren't on the bottom you wouldn't think you couldn't cross this"... He was right. It wasn't that hard... but I felt unprepared. I played the ultimate card and said "I promised Raea we'd come back, and I'm not risking the lifelong trauma if something happens to us." and that was it. He agreed. We turned around.
We started hiking back and crossed that first section of snow, it was harder the second time because now I was frazzled. I started verbally justifying my fear. I was mad at myself and disappointed that I wussed out. I let fear win I told myself. But it just didn't feel right. I felt Matt's disappointment too, which weighed on me. "I just think It will be so pretty up there, you will love it and be so happy you made it"... Ugh, shit, is he right? We kept hiking down. Coming in the opposite direction of us was the group we had seen earlier and a bunch of other people mixed in. Some of them without backpacks or anything... Just out for a totally casual hike! Like, isn't this hard? I mean, am I the only chicken around here!!!?? ... I watched everyone cross the snow from a distance. Ugh, Bruised ego! I asked Matt if we could go back, and now he was like "no no no, you made the decision, you're probably right, and besides we wont make it back with the storms now" We went to lower lake to eat and then get off the mountain before he storm. Ugh. I was hurtin on the inside. My soul. I felt horrible! I was surrounded by the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen in person but I was being swallowed by self ridicule and negative self talk. On the inside I was burning, but on the outside I just kept repeating and rephrasing something about learning to appreciate the journey not the destination, What I might possibly post on instagram to make me look like less of a weak ass quitter! fuck that. I couldn't get out of my head...
As we were eating I was snapping out of it a bit. A little food always helps. The winds were picking up intensely and I looked up to the snow to see if anyone was heading back and sure enough there were two people crossing the section I stopped on. they were so far away (ants!) the only reason we could see at all was because of the contrast with the snow... so I didn't recognize which group was coming back. I looked down to open a cliff bar and looked back up and... someone was sliding every which way down the mountain approaching some gnarly rocks. My heart was pounding but shortly after I saw that whoever it was was able to slow themselves down and gain control before getting to the rock section. I watched their hiking partner keep going. No one seemed panicked. I looked at my husband and felt a sigh of relief. See. ... My intuition was right! I didn't want to say anything though because a giant weight had been lifted off of me because someone else nearly got hurt!
Another couple at lower lake came over to us to ask if we heard yelling for help. I explained that someone had fallen but they seemed in control. The couple had binoculars and asked if I could see them to make sure. When I looked I recognized the hikers "Shit, Matt. They were a group of 3... There are only 2 of them!" There was another snow pass that I didn't watch anyone cross, but if you fell off that one you were in trouble like... Need helicopter trouble. The couple with the binoculars also had a radio so Matt and I decided we'd run back to meet up with the two we could spot, and make sure that everyone was okay. We wondered if one strategically slipped down the snow to try to help someone else. It was just too far away to see. Long story less long, everyone was okay. The third hiker turned back earlier and we just were too busy eating to notice. Phew! We learned the Upper Lake was iced over and you couldn't really see anything.... Just snow and ice... (been there , seen that)... and we also learned that falling from that snow pass was very dangerous. The woman broke both her poles attempting to keep herself from hitting rocks and was really shaken up. We took a quick selfie and huge cracks of thunder started roaring so we headed for tree line. At this point Matt and I had a much longer hike down so we bid farewell and started running while they didn't have much further to go. We also learned they had a radio, so felt comfortable leaving them in our dust. Off we went. We ran about 3 more miles to the car and jumped in just before the rain started. PHEW! The woman had thanked us for coming back to help, like we had saved her or something... but really I should have been thanking her, because she really saved the rest of our trip. I could let go of my self judgement. I was right, My fear was justifiable, Take that Ralph Waldo Emerson! What you are afraid of is not an indicator of what you should do next! ... Unless you are talking about preparedness....
Fear is not your enemy. Fear is useful. Fear is essential. Fear is something that tells you when you might be in trouble. It is up to you to figure out which fear to honor and which fear to push through, but stop giving fear a bad reputation. Never ignore fear, it is always communicating with you. If you are afraid of something work harder at the thing you are afraid of, prepare more for the thing you are afraid of... but don't do the thing you are afraid of blindly thinking that that is the solution. The thing you fear may indicate what you should do next but it itself is not necessarily the you should do next. If you are afraid of running a 100 mile race, you don't just go out and run one! You will fail! It's not the act of doing the thing you're afraid of that eliminates fear. It's the act of preparing for the thing you're afraid of so that you can succeed at the thing you're afraid of that eliminates fear. I sat on the edge of that snow and said to Matt "I'm not afraid, we can do it, It's just stupid. We have no poles, we have no gloves, we have no spikes and no radio and it's supposed to start storming... we can do it, but we aren't prepared so it's stupid". So here's my little quote for you (a quick google search says no one said it so poetically yet):
"To Eliminate Fear, you MUST PREPARE"
And all that stuff about it being about the journey and not the destination... that's all true too. The preparing part is part of the journey, of course. So how this applies to running? Well... for me... I continue to prepare as much as I can for what I'm attempting to do, the next run, the next mile, the next step. The fear is keeping me in check... Making sure I don't skip... making sure that I leave no stone unturned, making sure I don't take any short cuts..... Raise your hand if you've had an injury and to fix it you started some PT or strength training... then you started running again and doing strength training at the same time... but then running was going fine and you needed more time for more miles so you dropped the strength training and just ran... and then you got injured again and you wondered how the hell it happened. (Whoa! Shit! Look at all them hands!!!) . My hand is up. Why'd we all stop doing the strength training, people? Why'd we stop foam rolling? Why'd we drop the little things?!... Oh, is it because we stopped being afraid?... Yeah... That's right.
Fear is not the enemy. It's your friend. Honor it
And if you ever find yourself standing at the edge of your metaphorical snowfield, if you're not prepared, there's nothing wrong with turning back. You can not fail if you do not quit. Turning back to prepare is not quitting.
Last week I ended feeling a little afraid of running a marathon in early September, this week it feels like a possibility again. I know, I know, you all think I'm crazy... but having polarizing emotions isn't always crazy. Sometimes it's just the way it goes until things become more clear. Last week I ended the week with a touch of shin pain which I historically know wont go away if I keep training through it... so this week was much lighter than I originally wanted it to be but I'm pretty happy with it! Matt and I went on vacation to Colorado at the very end of the week so I mostly just focused on enjoying myself... and shouldn't it be that way?
Monday: Spin Class and PT
I was feeling pretty bummed that my shin was in pain. I had a conversation with my coach about it and about if I should do Erie or not. We ultimately came to the decision that I mentioned last week that we will keep it there because I already paid for it and why not but that we would just train safely and see what happens. Let training dictate the decision to race instead of the decision to race dictate training. I don't need to worry much about doing marathon pace workouts or intervals or gaining speed since I already can hit the paces on easy days... so all that will really get in my way is handling the distance. If I get injured I definitely can't qualify... but if I get even up to 14 miles as my long run I can still take a stab at it (albeit not very smart). I'm hoping I can still use the spin class to build aerobic base since I can't safely run as many miles as ideal.
I pretty much do my hip PT everyday. I try to avoid doing my calf PT before a longer run because I want my calf rested for the run. I usually do it after a long run and take the day before the long run off. I'm making progress! I can do 15 calf raises and I started with 2! Halfway there! (but it's hard!) I planned to go to my moms pool today with the girls, but while getting them ready Maebel knocked over the mirror (that I moved so I could do my PT) and it fell on her and she got a big gash on the back of her head. Panic attack! Thankfully Matt was home so I stuck her in her carseat and sat in the back while I held a cloth to the back of her head while Matt drove. By the time we got to urgent care it has slowed down a lot but I was sooo stressed because we were about to leave them overnight with my mother-in-law for a few days and I felt immense mom guilt. She needed 7 staples (which she handled like a boss) and then the doctor told us she should stay out of Day Care for the next two days.
I was supposed to run today, but with Maebel home it just didn't happen... and I figured an extra day for my shins to rest was probably good. I considered doing the stroller with Maebel but I was still freaked out by the staples and didn't want her sitting with her head back in the stroller. I wanted the wound to close as much as possible before we left for Colorado. I was happy to keep her out of daycare but with this vacation we won approaching we had planned to pack and prep while the girls were in school. Matt had to get ahead on a lot of work stuff, and I had to work... but also had to do all the laundry, pack clothes for the girls, and pack everything for us. So much stuff! So even when Matt came home I just didn't want to squeeze in a run and add to our stress level. I reworked my training schedule to allow more time to run in Colorado (not considering elevation!) because I just love to run on Vacation.
Thursday: 4 Miles 8:40ish
I spent all day packing and cleaning the house and once I had finished I felt like it was a good time to run. I had to bring car seats to my mom and a package that I ordered for my dad to fix our lawnmower... so since I had to drive into Worcester, I just went over to the Fun Run at Sneakerama. I switched back from the lightweight Cloud Flows to the heavier Cloud Ace so that I could have a little more shock absorption for my shins. It helped tremendously! My shins didn't even hurt at all! The shoes are a lot heavier than I typically like but if they keep me injury free I'll run the whole damn marathon in them! I also found out that I will be representing Sneakerama at the Falmouth Road Race. I'm sure you've all heard of it... it's very big... and very hard to get into. I didn't sign up for the lottery because I had been in limbo, but often these bigger races like Falmouth and Boston have numbers set aside that they give to local clubs, or stores, or companies for various reasons (volunteers, sponsorships, donations). So Sneakerama brings a huge group every year and I'm super excited to be part of it! Now if only I can actually run 7 miles!
Friday: 4 Miles at 9,800ft 8:30ish pace
I got 2 hours of sleep Thursday into Friday because our flight was at 5am Friday morning which meant we had to leave at 3:00am which meant I had to get up at 2:30, which meant I'd have a ton of anxiety trying to force myself to sleep, which meant I would toss and turn for the majority of the night.... I thought maybe I could sleep on the plane (direct flight) but I was too excited at that point. Matt and I have never traveled by plane together so it felt really exciting. I listened to a ton of podcasts and actually I did some of my hip drills because I brought my band with me and also brought my foot roller. My legs were throbbing from the lack of sleep, the pressure, and running the night before and not really recovering.... so I was now very anxious about running at elevation. We arrived pretty early in Colorado (9:00ish?) since we were going back in time then we ate what was the best burrito of my life in the airport and got our rental car and drove to Breckinridge. We hit up a grocery store in Fresco and also a Starbucks so we both would survive the rest of the day. I don't do caffeine usually, but I did today! I was in absolute awe of the mountains. They were huge! We've got beautiful mountains in New Hampshire, but these were different. Ours are lots of rocks and granite and trees, but here it was more grass and open.... and snow caps, too! Very cool! When we got to Breckinriedge we saw that the gondola was free so we took it up the mountain. We would typically hike but since most of our morning was travel we wanted to save time and get to the top of the mountain to take in the views in any way we could. Thunderstorms were on the radar for the whole weekend, so I was afraid we weren't going to see anything and if this was our only clear day I wanted to take advantage of it. Once we got down we decided to go for our run on the bike path. I felt okay, but my legs were heavy and the tiniest little incline felt much bigger than usual. I barely noticed the elevation for the majority of the trip, but on this run I was like "aww crap this is hard!"... but at the same time I was getting in a really good effort without high impact since I couldn't run super fast. (although I realized after that my pace was pretty much the same, I attribute that to running with Matt. Even though he always lets me be one step ahead, I usually run faster with him because I don't want to slow him down. We tried to stick our legs in the creek behind the VRBO we had, but HOLY HELL it was way too cold! So we went to the shared pool and hot tub to recover our legs. We went to bed around 10 which is midnight for us, and hoped to wake up feeling really refreshed.
Saturday: 9.5 Hiking/Running miles (about 3 running) Max 12,700 ft of elevation.
We did a Beautiful hike today. Matt was worried about my calves since I was super sore the day before (lack of sleep and travel) so even though I planned to run, we decided to do a long hike instead. Matt picked out a hike that he two destinations. Lower Crystal Lake and Upper Crystal Lake. I think I'm going to write a separate post about this whole experience, so I'll just quickly recap it today.. but wow... what a day of learning and growing for us! The hike was excellent. For the most part, very easy in terms of terrain, compared to what I'm used to hiking (all that granite and roots and rocks was non-existent here), but this hike still offered a challenge. Matt was feeling the altitude sickness creep in so we just walked slowly. He had run more than me the day before, so I think he was dehydrated a bit. but we got to Lower Crystal Lake really easily in about 2 hours. We had the option to just stop there depending on how we felt, or to keep going to Upper Crystal Lake. I felt great so we kept going. This is when the hike got really pretty! The wild flowers and the snow side by side, and the switch backs allowed you to see everything! But there were more and ore sections of snow covering the path. We walked across a few of them and then had to posthole and scramble across one. I didn't like that too much because a. I didn't have gloves and use of hands was safest. It may be July, but snow is still snow. b. If we slipped, which felt likely, we were falling pretty far. The first crossing had mostly grass at the bottom of it so I was like "okay, lets do this" ... but then we approached another crossing and I didn't like our odds. The angle was sharper and there were a few rocks in the middle of the snow below and if we slipped we'd probably be okay but getting out of the area we fell to would be pretty hard. Matt wanted to do it. At this point we were pretty sure where the lake was we could tell there was a crater up ahead. I sat and thought about it. I looked up the path and there was a third area of snow we'd have to cross. I looked at what would happen if we fell there and NOPE. Not doing it. We didn't have poles or gloves, or spikes. we were not prepared. I could tell matt still wanted to do it. Probably we'd be fine. It wasn't impossible... but I promised Raea that "grown ups come back" and I was not going to break that promise or comeback paralyzed. When I said that Matt agreed and we turned back... only to have another couple of groups continue and not fall. I felt guilty and said "fine we can do it" and Matt was like "no you're right, and too late now" and then I was like "your mad at me!" and he was like "I'm not mad, it's just hard for me to not finish something. " It was hard for me too. Really hard. I spent the next hour of the hike back down to Lower Lake feeling sorry for myself.... but then we stopped to eat and I kept looking up at the snow in the distance and saw people coming back. Then I saw one fall. Scary! Matt and I ended up ditching our bags and running to try to help. Everything turned out to be okay. Super scary, but okay... (again, I think I'll write more later on how this whole event shaped the trip). Shortly after our rescue mission thunder was booming and the wind howled. So now we had to run off the mountain. All the other people remaining on the mountain were staying in cabins partway up. We were way at the bottom. We made it to the car before the rain. The rest of the day was low key. Dinner, walking around, checking out shops, ice cream. Altitude was only an issue for me after I ate and so I had to chill after dinner.
Sunday: 35 Mile bike Ride
On Saturday we rented Bikes. I typically spin on Monday so Monday is my cross training day, I moved things around for the trip. Matt and I rented bikes to ride over to copper mountain. We were supposed to stay there but since it was booked we stayed at Breckinridge instead. We wanted to check out what we were "missing." As we rode we got to an intersection that said "bike tour in progress" and people helping us cross. Shortly after we had hundreds of bikes go by us and we realized this bike tour is probably why Copper Mountain was booked. Everyone was riding for a charity. We weren't able to relax on the ride as much as I imagined (my quads were shredded from the run down the mountain) because we really couldn't stop comfortably. Instead we were in a peloton of riders and with our crappy rental bikes, we held our own. We got to Copper Mountain and stopped to eat and realized there was literally nothing to do here except ski and it was a good thing we went to Breckinridge. We got on our bikes and headed back. We stopped for a few pictures along the way since the Bike Tour was over with just a few stragglers still on course. We rode for 3 hours total for the day. At night we got some fantastic tacos and then went up to see a sunset at some lookout Matt read about. He's the planner... I just take the photos. This was our last night in Breckinridge, so we enjoyed it. We knew we were headed for Boulder before our late flight tomorrow so I saved my "long run" run for the lower elevation in Boulder which will be included on next weeks recap. Spoiler Alert! It went fantastic!
So another week in the books. This week gave me lots of hope because my legs are starting to feel like they are adapting. My PT for my hip is really working. It's the first time I am really forgetting it was ever even a thing. I got to see what it's like to run at Altitude. Wasn't really that different for me... Maybe I'm cardiovascularly more fit than I thought! Still not sure about Erie Marathon... but this week I'm feeling like I can do it. We'll see what next week brings!
I can't make up my mind how I want to approach the Erie Marathon because I'm just entirely unsure if I'll be able to do it. I've had a few people Message me on instagram or ask me in a comment why I am rushing the process.... believe me, I ask myself this all the time... But when you are a woman trying to balance family goals with the running goals (especially when it comes to the Boston Marathon) ... you just have to follow what feels right. I have two kids and I'm blessed to have them. I have no desire to be pregnant again... at least right now.... (still recovering from Maebel) but I am also feeling my heart break a little as my youngest tells me she needs the potty. I know.... Huge milestone for people, but to me having both kids out of diapers means I don't have a baby anymore. It's the first real feeling of your baby being independent... and I'm not ready! .... I don't know, this is probably the start of a separate post, but I guess the point is this: When I am making bad decisions about my running, it's because I'm putting it second fiddle to other goals or ideals or hopes and dreams that I have. In this case it isn't necessarily growing my family, but it's to keep the door open for that... Boston 2021 is very far away! I just can't commit to something that far away, so I'd love to get my first Boston under my belt so I can have more flexibility when it comes to everything else (not just family planning...."planning".... because, you can't really plan these things) . I know I don't need to explain myself, but I guess it's sort of a disclaimer. I do not recommend the process that I am doing when coming back from injury. I do not recommend having a race on the schedule... but it's there, I'm registered, so until further notice I'm still planning to do it... but maybe I wont go all in... "BQ or BUST" because.... if training indicates it's highly unlikely, I'll move on. Not sure what Ill move on to! Hopefully we wont need to find out! I’m just way too smart of a runner to be that stubborn and ignorant to the risks I’m taking. Here's where this week brought me.
Monday: 1 hour spin, PT, Glute activation
I did my usual Monday spin class. I struggled a lot with this a lot. Last week I was able to easily stay above 200 watts, but I couldn't even come close to that this time. I polled instagram asking if it had anything to do with a small adjustment of my seat and most said yes. I had a lot of people direct message me about it. I learned a lot! I'm going to try to pay more specific attention to the exact seat position this time. I'm back at work, back on the concrete floor, back expending energy that I didn't have to last week... so it very well could have been that, too. All in all though, a good workout and a decent first day of summer school....not perfect, but.... decent.
Tuesday: OFF (PT)
Tuesday was totally off and I totally enjoyed that. I'm still trying to be careful with how I balance the PT and increase in mileage... and I think I need to always be that way. I'm really going to have to be this careful for the rest of my life I think. It sucks, but I can't just causally run 3 miles anymore. Every run I do forever needs to be a little more intentional than I needed to be prior to having Maebel. Who knows, perhaps in the future this will be better, but this is how it is for me now. If you are able to just go out an run without having to foam roll or ice, or stretch, I envy you....but I just can't do that anymore, unfortunately. These two days off from running were necessary.
Wednesday: 5 mile railtrail run 8:30 range.
I really enjoyed this run. I felt really good. I thought on this run a lot about how good my hip felt. For the first time in a long time I really didn't have to think about my hip. Of course I still did, but instead of the usual thoughts... about how it's still in pain, should I keep going or should I stop, is it getting worse...? .... my thoughts were "wow, my hip feels good!" "Is this really getting better?" "man, PT is working"... It was nice to have some positive thoughts for once! It was a little hot since I had to run in the middle of the day, but the rail trail keeps things pretty cool since it's completely shaded. I bumped into my friend Cat after the run and walked about a mile with her and her new dog which was a good way to cool down. The plus to summer school is that I can keep my kids in daycare until 4:30 but I’m out at 12:30, so for the first time in a really long time I have a bit of “free time”... hell, i might even take a nap!
Thursday: 35 minutes Bike, lift, PT
It was really hot and sticky today. I noticed my calves a little sore waking up this morning so I decided to bike. They are a different sore that’d I’d normally run through, but taking my PTs warning very serious and increasing as easy as humanly possible (with a marathon less than 10 weeks away- no big deal!) I hope I turn a corner with the calf pain soon. I know that the reason they are sore is because I am doing the calf raises and running and according to the PT my calves still aren't strong enough to really be running at all... so, none of this is a surprise to me. I'm just trying to keep myself out of the hole until the PT catches up to the training... but realistically that's not how it works. I had done so many calf raises it was really disappointing to find out that I was not doing them correctly. I"m pretty good about making sure I do things right... but part of the reason I needed the orthotics is because my big toe was all locked up and as a result I couldn't get those calf raises done without slightly rolling to the outside of my foot... so... not engaging the whole calf.... ugh... now I'm using the whole calf but trying to catch up! So much over thinking!
Friday: Easy 5.5ish from home. 500ish ft gain
I'm not one to really stress or complain about hills in general (It's F'ING hilly where I live, so if I'm complaining it's because It's bad!)... but when your calf is your issue, the elevation is important to notice. I've been running a lot on the soft, flat, rail trails... so this was my first day running from my house where it's really hilly. My calves seemed fine, and it was really nice out. I almost kept going to do a 7 mile loop, but I reminded myself that I have to stay injury free and be especially cautious in the first 4 weeks when I'm adjusting to the rehab... so I turned around and did the (yawn) same out and back I've done a million times... but, the sun began to come down lower and on my way back, it was really pretty out... and I appreciated turning around to get to see the sun at the top of the hill (one of the many!)... at the end of the day I do this to see the world... even if it’s the same place, everything looks new in different light!
Saturday: Easy 5 (half with the stroller)
My husband and I learned about another balloon festival right near our house (well, an hour away, but thats not very far for us) so we packed the girls in the car and drove to Northampton (NOHO) to run. Theres a really great bike path out there. Usually we run from the Easthampton side since my brother lives there, but he's coaching Climbing Nationals (or something) so he's not around... so we went to park on the NOHO side so we could see more of the trail. We started where I usually have to turn around. It was beautiful out. I felt pretty good, but unfortunately when I finished running I noticed some stabbing shin pain when i ran my hands over my legs. ugh. I know this is because my calves are still too weak to properly support the tibia. It's discouraging, but not surprising... In my head I hoped the orthotics would be some sort of miracle workers, and while they've helped a lot, I'm just simply still too weak. Ugh. I'm hoping this will get better quick. It didn't hurt to run and barely hurt walking but I'm trying to not ignore anything, especially in these early stages. I hope I turn a corner quickly (give me a dollar for every time I say that!). I went from doing 2 calf raises to already being able to tolerate 10x2 in one week. I need to get to 30 to feel like I'm "rehabbed" and can tolerate typical increases. In the meantime, I'll just keep following around balloon festivals with my family.
Sunday: Pool walk/Run, calf raises
What was supposed to be a 7-9 mile day ended up nothing. I am playing it safe and if I don't get to Erie I don't get to Erie. I'll be bummed. I spent a lot of this day questioning if I just scratch it completely... but I just can't. Instead I have to focus on the next step, the next workout, the next day... and see where I get. Right now I need to put my primary focus on the PT. I also have decided I'm going to run on soft terrain as much as possible and get back in a bulkier shoe to absorb shock for my shins (when you have weak calves your shin bone doesn't get as much support so it absorbs more shock). I took my girls in the pool at my parents house and did a light whirlpool running. Low impact but still giving me a chance to use my calves so that they can start to adapt to these stresses. I feel like I"m really close to being done with all these injuries, if I wasn't trying to multitask, I'd be back much sooner... but.... I just can't make the best choice for my running right now, I've been doing what I thought was smart but was actually dumber than what I’m doing right now, for the past two years and I almost made it..... so now I just need to get a tiny bit further with more information
Overall a pretty good week, but disappointing reality check. Not good progress for Erie, but I'm making progress overall. I'm just going to keep going on this BQ path until I can't anymore... I’m still just grateful for the hope and the light and the teeny tiny progress that gives me breath. Next week will be really light and then I’ll be in Colorado getting some runs in with my husband! Onward.
Hi Friends! I still consider this week "Week 9: The Last Comeback" But I feel like I've taken a big turn this week and my focus has shifted from focusing on the injuries and the "comeback" to thinking more about my future. I know a lot of people say it, but for me it is more true than ever: BQ or BUST. Literally, if I don't BQ it's because I busted something up again. I feel pretty strongly that I've gotten to the bottom of the injuries. Even my hip I've gotten some answers for but not necessarily a complete solution... improvements are being made for sure! The big thing I learned this week is that I'm not even close to out of the woods with injuries. Trying to balance rehabbing the injuries while increasing mileage for the marathon is not smart... but it's what I want to do. Lots of people may disagree with my choice, but it’s my risk to take and my consequences to weigh and I’ve made my decision- I’m going for it. I'll discuss later in this post when I recap my PT appointment... but when your PT says "you're playing with fire" in regards to running the Erie Marathon in under 10 weeks, you know it's not going to be a smooth ride! But I'm going for it anyway. I am exhausted from the injuries, but I'm also exhausted from being sidelined from the goals that matter to me. I really don't want to wait until 2021 to finally experience Boston.... especially when I'm not sure what my family plans are... I want to keep doors open... so I at least need to try. If I play it safe I wait until 2021... if I risk it I either make it in for 2020 or I get injured and wait until 2021.... So I really would rather risk it since the difference between playing it safe and risking it is essentially the same thing worst case scenario. I don’t think I’m doing long term harm in trying. PR's are nice, but so are experiences.... and I'd rather put PR's on hold and experience the races I haven't had a chance to yet. So here is my first full official week of Erie Marathon training, which is the very last day to secure a BQ.
I started my day with a PT evaluation so I did a lot of things like calf raises and more to failure. The appointment was definitely thorough and getting to the nitty gritty. My glutes actually tested pretty strong, and as a result I think I was looked at more closely than usual. Last time I had my hip assessed the underlying issue that popped up first was a glute issue. Now that I finally have that under control the next layer of this injury could be addressed. This appointment ran over so I was able to schedule one for the following day before I got answers.
Spin Class, 25.3 "miles", 216 Watts (Average)
I'm well aware that "miles" on a spin bike aren't real "miles" but now that I have a few weeks of spinning I can at least compare one effort to the next. This is the most "miles" I've covered in one class. I think miles are measured by revolutions, so if the class has a lot of "hills" it's harder to get the mileage... but on the other hand it's easier to get in the Watts. So I put my main focus into the power because that is the best gauge for how much energy I'm putting out. I usually warm up before class really easy so my average has been in the 160-170 range. This time I warmed up and then let the computer reset so I could get a better idea of how much power I was putting out in the hour. I feel like 216 is pretty damn good! My calf felt a tiny bit tight, but I knew it was from PT. My PT was very concerned about the lack of strength in my calves. Now that I have orthotics, my calves are finally being used correctly, but, wow, I couldn't even do 5 calf raises correctly... no wonder I kept getting injured! Super proud of the effort I put in in Spin. My fitness is there! Just have to get my muscles and bones to adapt!
Today I was given my new drills for my hip and calf. I have general calf raises which I have to do with my orthotics to train the muscles that have been neglected for years. My PT is absolutely beside himself with how weak they are given how much running I was doing. I think I don't use my calves until I'm really tired. I use a lot of hip torque and and core when I run... which is also why my hip struggles so much. Compensation, compensation, compensation! Anyway, my hip issue is a stability issue. the muscles and soft tissue that support and keep my hip in its socket are not stabilizing for one reason or another. I suspect things just got over stretched in labor, but as a result my hip is moving around in the socket too much and sometimes pinching things and other times just moving around and rubbing in the wrong spot. Again, compared to a car with a tire that is not tightened. Rattling, bumpy, and inefficient! It makes sense on why I can never quite pinpoint if it's take off or landing that hurts more. It's BOTH! Just different. I have a bunch of new balance and stabilizing drills to do in addition to the calf raises. I need to be really careful which days I do the calf raises in relationship to my runs. The calf raises themselves are pushing the boundry of what I can do, so the run just adds to the stress. I have to rehab really really intelligently. It's a little stressful.
4.5 Miles. .25 walk, 4 run, .25 walk 8:40ish (Run)
Because I'm still walking for parts of my run, I don't have accurate pace. I'm trying to not care. I know I started in the 9-9:30 range for the first mile but the rest were 8:30ish. I ran next to my husband who pushed the stroller initially and then I took the stroller for the end (the downhill section). I felt really good and a lot of relief over the PT that I have been given. I really truly feel it's addressing my needs more than I ever have before. It's really weird though because the drill I have on my right side is different than the drill on my left side because my legs are both so different (one really tight, one really loose!) But this is the best I've felt since pregnancy! Once postpartum, always postpartum.
WEDNESDAY: 4.5 Miles before Fireworks (.25 walk, 4 run, .25 walk) Run in the 8:10-8:30 range
Matt has to work a Fourth of July 4 miler in Keene NH, so we decided to make a family vacation out of it. We stayed in a Hotel so that Matt could get to the race really easily the next day. I ran on a bike path, it was super sunny... but also a little buggy when I was finishing since the sun was coming down. We went to the fireworks after. 50% of the kids liked them. haha! Raea is predictable with how she responds to loud noises. She always cries at first but usually gets used to it once she realizes she is not going to get hurt... but in the future we might try to watch them further away. We were guests to the town, so didn't really know what to expect. It was still fun leading up to the fireworks and once the crying subsided she liked the colors. Maebel loved it and wont stop talking about it!
I had the day off from running and cross training. I just did my PT drills and enjoyed eating all the food at Matts sisters house, who lives near where the race. The kids got to play with their cousins and friends so it was a really low key day. After wards we headed up to Vermont because, why not?
FRIDAY: 4.5 with a walk and run again. closer to 10:00 with the double stroller
Burlington Vermont is one of our favorite places to run so we spent the day up there and ran on the bike path. It was a bit windy and really humid. The wind is so hard with the double stroller since it just catches all the wind. When I finished I let the girls play in the treehouse and on the playground while Matt got his 12 miler in. We got some pizza together and then learned there was a Balloon Fest a few towns toward home. We went to that. It got a later start than we thought so we had to get another hotel for after the Festival. I have a great memory of a Hot Air Balloon landing right outside my window as a kid, so I was really excited to do this with my girls. They loved it! We are definitely going to plan to do it again next year and have a better hotel situation. As I mapped out in my previous post, getting the right hotel is helpful when staying with kids. We were stuck with a room that wasn'kt anything like what my kids are used to and as a result I lost my shit on my wild and crazy overtired kids. Took me a while to fall asleep coping with mom guilt and I even carried it into the next day.... but all they seem to remember is the awesome balloons, so that's all that matters!
SATURDAY: 5.5 mile run on the Stowe Bike Path (plus some walking before and after.... 6 miles total) 8:20ish pace
I was still feeling stressed and upset about the night before so Matt took the girls for a stroller run so I could run by myself and decompress. I needed it! I loved the run and the new-to-me bike path. It was super crowded though. After the run I sat in the river and cooled off/ showered. We had no hotel room now so I was able to "clean off" enough for the ride home to be less uncomfortable. Thank God the girls fell asleep on most of the ride home and so did I. I was tired.
SUNDAY: Finally HOME! a 4 mile easy run in about 8:40 pace
We relaxed all morning and then around 1:00 got out of the house. We took the girls to a playground near the local rail trail. Matt played with them while I ran, then we traded. We followed up the night with some live music and food at a local brewery that we go to often. My kids are so spoiled. Never a dull day! But Matt and I both get back to the grind tomorrow. I think we are all craving that consistent schedule again.... although I'm not looking forward to work! I'm prepared at least!
Tips for Hotel Stays with Littles
My husband works a job that has a lot of travel involved. Most of the time he can get to and from where he’s going within the day, but sometimes he needs to stay over night. He’s the New England Sales Representative for the running shoe brand, On. Accessing places like New Hampshire at 6am or leaving Southern Connecticut at 10:30pm can be difficult and he’s better off to get a hotel. Sometimes, if it’s a family friendly event, or tourist town, the girls and I might join him and do our own thing while waiting for him to be “off the clock”. As a result, we’ve become experts at staying in hotels with little ones. That is not to say it goes perfectly all the time, but generally speaking, it goes about as well as things go at home. Today I’ll share some of my tips for making Hotels like Home. So whether it’s vacation, a day trip or a goal race, you have a few things you can try to make your stay better.
2. Be picky about your hotel
If you can afford it, get a better hotel room. If you can get a suite, DO IT! Check amenities like a pool, hot tub, or breakfast options. Raea loves using all the hotel pools. She likes to compare them. We usually stay in a Residence Inn so we can have a kitchen. Be close to a grocery store or a convenience store so that you’re in walking distance. There’s nothing worse than taking your kids out of a car after a long day of travel and having to put them back in... even if it’s only 5 more minutes of driving, it’s not worth it. Walking distance gives everyone a chance to move and stretch and recover from what could have been a traumatic trip (maybe tips on that part are needed...?)
3. Look at Pictures
Let your child look at pictures in advance to prepare them and excite them. It will be less strange when they’ve visually seen what it might look like and where they might be sleeping. We don’t need to do this anymore because we’ve stay in very similar hotels (Marriotts for Matts points!) but it did help in the past.
4 Give forced choices for EVERYTHING.
Giving a forced choice is my go-to behavior management style, but it’s especially important when in an unfamiliar place where your child feels they have lost all sense of stability and control. Here are some varying degrees of control and choices you can give to your child with the example of getting dressed (bane of my existence!)
No Choice/No Control: It’s time to get dressed, Here are pants for you today.
Free Choice/Full Control: Do you want to get dressed?
Forced Choice/Perceived Control: It’s time to get dressed, do you want the pants or the skirt?
I use this across the board... A healthy in between Free Choice and No Choice. Of course my threenager doesn’t fall for the game every time anymore and I’m met with “those are NOT MY CHOICES!!!” But if I’m on my A-Game (which you have to be in the Hotel, see Tip 1) I’m giving enough choices between highly preferred things (“your unicorn stuffy or your owl?”.... “Frozen or Moana?” “Pink shoes or purple shoes”) that she doesn’t always pick up on the “sleep on this side or that side.” Even if you are 99% sure your child will pick the pink shoes, it’s not about shoes... it’s about control. Taking your kid out of a familiar environment and expecting them to do a vulnerable thing like relax, let their guard down and....SLEEP... makes them seek control in whatever way possible... but of course they aren’t rational human beings so you need to guide most of their choices. This also goes for your toddlers who might not understand everything you say. They want control too and need familiar items to make them feel safe.
5. Pack it ALL
To add to tip 2, but expand on it, pack it ALL if you can. How can you give forced choices without enough items for choices? You want to have enough clothing, stuffys, books, that they have the comfort they need and you have the leverage you need. It also is useful to let them help you pack (tip 2!! “Do you want to pack this or that?” Or “choose 2 and remember once we leave you can’t change your mind)
But PACK THE MONITOR! We don’t have to do this anymore, but it was especially helpful when Maebel or Raea were too young to reason with. If your child or baby is used to falling asleep with bath, book, song, and you leaving the room... you have to leave the room! Since we often get a residence inn with two rooms it’s much easier these days, but I have many memories of Matt and I sitting in the hallway outside our door watching the monitor waiting for the baby to fall asleep. Other helpful “must haves” HDMI cable and computer, or your roku, you could call in advance to find out what you’d need to stream familiar movies or shows... but if your kids are struggling to settle... a calm, familiar TV show is my go-to. My kids love Daniel Tiger so I usually put on the daytime/night time routine ones or the one where he visits his granpere and has to sleep somewhere new.
6. Chocolate Melatonin
Probably, maybe, *supposed* to get a doctor for this but My kids are fine. It’s melatonin! And they think they are getting a piece of chocolate! It’s a great way to get through bath routine- I’m not above bribery. It’s called POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT! Anyway, before I put on a relaxing show I give them each one, quickly brush teeth, and lay them down in their beds. They usually fall asleep in 20 minutes and STAY asleep!
7 Call ahead for a pack and play or cot.
Many hotels have a few pack and plays so this limits bigger packing items so you have more room for all the...eh,em... choices. But be sure to bring a blanket or sheet of your own just for familiarity and to cover it. When I first requested one I was afraid it was going to be dirty, like my kid slobbers all over it! But they have always been very clean in my experience. The hotels we’ve used them at have fully washable covers so there’s not a single spot where a kid can chew on that wasn’t covered. But I still take my own cover just in case!
8. Spend time in the room
We usually have a Residence Inn so we eat breakfast and dinner in the room but go out for lunch. In a regular hotel room there’s always something to heat up water so I pack things that just need water added like Annie’s instant Mac and Cheese and Oatmeal. (Also favorites! Comfort in all areas you can provide within reason!). Remember, the more comfortable, familiar, and safe it feels the better! So spend some time there, even if it’s just the first day.
They are a thing. All those annoying lights that blink and might make your kid think there’s going to be a fire alarm... easy way to cover them is with black post-it’s. What else are you using them for? You might need to put a few on, but it works! Good luck with the crack above the door, though!
Don’t be afraid. You have to do it to get better at it. You can’t force someone to fall asleep- I know this because I try to force myself everyday and I just end up blogging into the wee hours of the night.... so your goal should really just be to provide as much comfort as possible... and from there sleep may be possible! The first time I went on an overnight with Matt I swore to never do it again. I was up ALL NIGHT down in the gym walking an almost 2 year old on the treadmill 7 months pregnant hoping she’d get tired... But... the only one fatiguing was me! Here we are, 2 years later and I’m still up all night, but my kids (and husband) sleep fine! So hopefully yours will too!
If anyone has tips on how to get adults to sleep at a hotel (or at home, also) I’m all ears! I’d love to wake up like this!
Any tips to add? Comment below! I’m sure you’re all thinking of the obvious “make them tired!” But I just call that parenting....”make kids as tired as possible so they will go right to bed” rinse, repeat.....
Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth! Despite Raeas overly dramatic initial reaction to the fireworks, we had a blast! But next year we will view them from further away to be sure no one is traumatized.
Welcome to my blog! I blogged my entire pregnancy in 2017 and I had high hopes for where I could take my running after baby number 2, but my body had other plans. At some point I got too discouraged to write and recently realized that it is essential for my personal growth and development to keep putting feelings into coherent(ish) thoughts. I still hope to run sub 2:45 in the marathon one day, but for now I’m trying to focus on the process and I’m learning to enjoy it. You can come along for the ride, apologies in advance for grammatical incorrectness!