6.11.2018

Running and Anxiety

New post on the private blog: Running and Anxiety

6.07.2018

Photos!

On the private blog, here: Photos.

5.24.2018

Of Wipe Warmers and The Passage of Time

There is a new post on the private blog - sharing more about what it's like to be Sugarbeet's mom and what she is like. (If you have trouble with the links/access, please let me know.)

click here ->  "Of Wipe Warmers and The Passage of Time"

2.23.2018

February: Odds and Ends

Puke.

More puke. Different person.

More puke. We're 3 for 3.

Flu B.

Random fever.

Snowstorms mixed in with all of the above.

How is your February going?

I'm going a little stir crazy and Sugarbeet is as well, I think. We've managed to get out of the house a fair amount in between the sicknesses, but man we are both missing our routine.

Somehow I'm finding time to keep to my current running and exercise schedule. I picked a training program for a 10K to get me going before starting half marathon training next month. The plan I picked has two days per week of cross training included and I've actually been doing them - usually cross training meant: meh, if you feel like taking a walk, go for it.

This time, though, I've stuck to the prescribed training plan and I definitely feel and see results. I definitely feel the added weight that is on my bones (and the main reason for being determined to get moving consistently again - I just want my clothes to fit again) and I see where the added days of activity combined with working different muscle groups than running does are making a difference.

About two weeks into this training cycle, I started having some pretty intense hip pain - the kind that wakes you up at night. Not gonna lie - I was really worried; especially when my left knee started to contribute to the complaining. But, instead of ignoring it, as I'm awesome at doing and paying the price for, I looked up some hip, lower back, and knee stretches and I now have a great stretching routine that has all but eliminated the pain in both my hips and knee.

With the end of February coming, so too comes the end of this training cycle and begins the cycle for the half marathon. A super hilly course in Harpers Ferry, WV in mid-May. I'm looking forward to increasing my mileage each week and tackling the local hills in order to run a respectable race.

I signed up to participate in the Catholic Women Run Lent Challenge and while it's only the first week - so far, so good!

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One thing I'd hoped to do this month was blog about participating in Adri Writes' Cookbook Challenge and only use actual cookbooks instead of Pinterest or the Internet. In the past few months, I'd actually been using my cookbooks more and more and I love the idea of this challenge. For February, all of my meal planning was done using my cookbooks (I decided that my existing Pinterest boards of recipes count as cookbooks since most of the recipes I use there are ones I go back to again and again. I won't search for new recipes, only refer back to the ones I've already bookmarked.) I'm finding that a lot of recipes I would just search online for are already right in the cookbooks I have - AND I don't have to deal with pop-up ads, dropping my iPad in the sink (which can damage your sound card - not that I'd have experience with that, ahem), or getting distracted by the world wide web while I'm supposed to be making dinner. I have had a few times where something I was hoping to make wasn't in a cookbook or already saved and I did search out a recipe, so I wasn't perfect all month, but I did appreciate the challenge.


Speaking of cookbooks and meal planning - do you meal plan? It was not something that I was used to growing up and I was hit or miss at it until I was home all day. For quite a while I just planned one week at a time, but about a year ago I started doing the whole month at a time. At first it was overwhelming and I was awful at it. Instead of saving us money it seemed like our grocery bill just kept going up and I felt like I was wasting a lot of food. About 4 months into, though, I really hit a good routine and in the last few months I've been able to actually stay within our grocery budget!

Here is how I do things:

Every Sunday of a given month is the same basic meal.
Same for two to three other days of the week.
Every Thursday and most Saturdays are leftovers.
That leaves two to three days per week that I need to think about and for which I need to plan something specific.

For example this month:
Sundays - a whole chicken, roasted with vegetables.
Mondays - {gluten-free} spaghetti with homemade meatballs (yay for our local beef share!).
Tuesdays - (different each week) frankfurter, beans and rice casserole; planned takeout; New England style shrimp rolls; chicken piccata
Wednesdays - mini-meatloaves (again, yay for our local beef share!) with veggies (grilled cheese and tomato soup for Ash Wednesday)
Thursdays - leftovers
Fridays - (different each week) cod and rice bake with sauce; gruyere grilled cheese; thai coconut curry; sweet potato and kale casserole
Saturdays - leftovers; black bean soup with salsa cream; leftovers; leftovers

You'll notice the days where I just repeat the same meal all month are typically pretty simple meals. By doing that, I don't have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen AND it makes grocery shopping so much easier. I do one big shopping trip at the start of the month when I get most of our nonperishable items and the fresh produce I'll need soon. (I do that trip using grocery pick-up!) Then, as the month goes on and I need to restock pantry items or need more fresh things, I am able to take Sugarbeet along for a rather quick trip to the store. She loves to pick out what she wants and loves to put things in the cart. I rather enjoy shopping with her, but the long cart-overflowing trips were just getting to be too much for both of us! This works out well in that we don't have to visit every aisle of the grocery every trip, but we still get to enjoy shopping together.

Do you meal plan? How does it work out for you?

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I've made a point to be more intentional with my prayer life during Lent. I'm still missing the routine of Daily Mass something fierce, though I'm accepting that it just doesn't fit in this season of our lives. It will again, someday. Reading the daily readings every day is helping to fill that void. And, I've done it twice before, but I'm enjoying the challenge of posting a different quote or scripture verse to my Facebook page each day. I'm trying to post quotes I haven't used in the past - which will get harder when "On This Day" starts showing me my quotes from previous years. I may have to start looking for a list of quotes now so I'm not tempted to just recycle the old ones. Some I will because they are just that good.

What are your Lenten practices this year?

1.29.2018

Blog Jump Start: Week 6


This week's Blog Jump Start hosted by Donna at What if God Says No is rerun of Week 3 asking us to clean up an item from our draft folder.

Before I get to this post - there are some new posts on the private blog and after I finish this one, I'm heading over there to add another one. (And if for some reason you asked for one, but didn't get an invite, please let me know. Or if you'd like one.)

I've been slowly making progress on getting my draft folder to actually be a draft folder and moving not-for-publishing journal entries into a folder in my Google Drive.

The post that follows is a topic I've tried to write on a few times since Sugarbeet was 6 weeks old and I laced up my running shoes for the first time after giving birth. It doesn't work to just tweak it and publish the most recent draft because so much time has passed since I last worked on it. But the topic of running after having a baby, and really just my running journey in general is one I've been coming back to off and on without quite getting it right for more than 2 years now. I'm going to, once again, write in more of a stream of consciousness and not work for polished at this point. In hopes of finally getting this out.

Let's recap my running journey a bit.

January 2010 - realize that if I'm going to buy new jeans, it would be in a size I refuse to be. Face the fact that I either need to eat less or move more. I like to eat, so move more it is. I decide I'm going to run - something I've never really done and when I've tried I haven't enjoyed. At the same time, my BFF Sara, who was a runner in high school and college, decides she wants to lace up her shoes again too and has discovered the Couch to 5K app. So, we start it. The first time out I feel like I'm gonna die running for 60 seconds.

May 2010 - run my first ever 5K! Get a taste of the finish line.

September 2010 - start TTC - this is related to running because if you've been around here for 5 minutes you know that running has been a necessity for my mental and spiritual health. For most of 4 years, it was running that kept me from hating my body. It wouldn't make a baby, but it would run distances I never dreamed of and often my mantra as my feet would hit the pavement was 'strong and powerful' when I felt weak and helpless.

Fall 2010 - October 2013 - fall in love with running. Break all of my own "I'll never do thats" with the purchase of a fuel belt, running in the rain, running in 8 degree weather, running in the snow, running more than 6 miles, buy a Garmin watch, run a marathon and probably a few more I'm forgetting. I learn to find peace in the miles and my heart craves it as much as my legs do. Both my Dad and Sara are diagnosed with cancer. I miss my running buddy and my dad cheering me on.

October 2013 - run the Marine Corps Marathon. Two weeks before Sara runs her first marathon. My Dad comes and cheers me on for 5.5 hours as I run all over DC. Experience major marathon hangover afterwards, only made worse by knowing I face another surgery and its mandatory 6 - 8 weeks off afterwards in the Spring.

April - December 2014 - run on again and off again. Find solace in the miles as TTC comes to end and so does my marriage. Find out I'm pregnant in December.

January 2014 - October 2015 - no running :(. I knew enough to know that it is not advised to start an exercise program while pregnant, and so I walk a lot and look forward to running again.

And that's where I want to pick up and share what running has looked like for these past 2 years or so.

The 'magic' number for being cleared to return to physical activity is typically 6 weeks postpartum, and asking if I could start running again was definitely on my list of questions for my 6 week appointment. I got the go ahead and headed out that afternoon. While it felt good, it was different. My body felt different. I was nursing, so I had to be very careful to take care of my breasts wearing by wearing 2 bras and I could tell my joints still weren't quite tightened back up after the high levels of progesterone that pregnancy brings.

And so, for a few months I started and stopped. My heart and legs longed to go, but my body was screaming at me that it wasn't ready. I read an article saying that it can take up to a year post partum to really start feeling like yourself again as far as exercise goes. While I was seeing plenty of other new moms out there, my body was telling me clearly it wasn't ready.

May 2016 when Sugarbeet was about 9 months old, I bit the bullet and bought a jogging stroller. With R back to work it was hard to get the alone runs in, and so Sugarbeet became my sidekick and off we went. I started out too fast, registered for a half marathon just 7 weeks away and ended up injuring myself. While it felt good for most of me, my left knee just wasn't ready for that much that fast.

At the end of the summer, after Sugarbeet's first birthday, I started from scratch. Revisiting the Couch to 5K. I remember the day I set out to run 20 minutes without stopping. It was like the first time I had done it. So much anticipation and worry that I wasn't ready. But, just like that first time, I made it. I was finally feeling better about running and signed up for the Pittsburgh half marathon in May 2017.

In the meantime, Sugarbeet self-weaned at 16 months (December 2016) and a month later, I remember it so clearly, I looked at myself in the mirror and I saw *my* body again. It had more weight on it than I like, but it looked more like me. It's hard to explain exactly. My body shows the evidence of pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing, but I was no longer actively doing any of those and my body visibly showed that. My feel during runs changed, as well. It's hard to explain.

My training was a bit hit or miss and by the time the half marathon rolled around my goal was a slow 12:00 min/mile pace and to finish without injury. Thanks to a friend with a similar goal, I had a running buddy for the first 10 miles and enjoyed every step of the race. I wish I could say I stayed consistent through the summer. I was working hard to not let my running interfere with our daily life nor ask R to pick up any additional responsibilities so I could run. I knew he would, I just felt like I was being selfish if I did so.

After having to drop from the half marathon to the 8K here in Morgantown in the fall AND inching closer to that pants size after Christmas, I realized I was right back where I started - move more or eat less. I still like to eat, so moving more it had to be.

R and I chatted and he, as I knew he would, was completely supportive of doing whatever I needed him to do in order to commit to and keep a regular training schedule. So, on January 2 faced with a weather forecast that made me want to cry, I joined Planet Fitness and embraced the dreadmill. I think I've logged more dreadmill miles than street miles so far this year. Snow and ice will do that to you.

Despite all of my on again off again, I am continually amazed at muscle memory. At how my legs seem to say "we got this" when I start again. I have an ambitious but achievable race schedule for this year, culminating in another full marathon in September. This time on my streets, in my town. Part of the route is even visible from where my Dad is buried, so for that stretch, it will be like he is cheering me on once again. I'm starting slow and I can already see the fruits of doing so - though I will not be sad at all when 2 mile runs are no longer a weekly thing. Especially in the cold weather - there is barely enough time to get warmed up and then I'm done. Ugh. But necessary at this point.

Almost five years ago, Sara gifted me the necklace above with all of the multiple meanings you can imagine tied into those two words. You'll notice it is well worn. I haven't always honored it perfectly, but I have also never taken it off. It has served as a reminder to keep putting one foot in front of the other and I am so glad that I have.

Running was the sport I never wanted to do. I always thought it was boring. I had no mental ability to overcome the challenges. Sometime over the past 8 years that changed and I fell in love with it. I find my footing with each step. I pray, I cry, I process, I listen to loud {mostly inappropriate} music, and I zone out. I've learned to love the miles with my sidekick and I love that she loves to put on her 'running clothes' and 'running shoes' to get strapped into her stroller. Toddler trots may just be the cutest thing going.

Postpartum running really had me questioning if I'd ever find this peace again; if I would ever really feel like I was answering the call of the miles. I am so grateful that I have.