Category Archives: General Reflection

Taber Cornfest 5km Recap & End of Summer Wrap Up

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It’s Sunday, August 27th.  Tomorrow is the first day back to work for teachers, and students start up with mini-schedule on Tuesday, September 5th.  The first full day of classes will be on Wednesday, September 6th.  That day also marks that I will be 32 weeks pregnant.

This was a summer like none other, first and foremost because I have been pregnant.  There were many things that did not occur this summer that usually would.  For instance, drinks on patios.  Sure, Dan and I were able to make some of our evening outings the same with trips to Telegraph Taphouse, but having an ice cold alcohol free Erdinger doesn’t pack the same punch as a Lagunitas IPA.  Right now, I am drinking a club soda with grenadine and cut up peaches.  I’ve got to cool off somehow!  I also did not travel much this summer.  Figured it would be wise to save money and really didn’t want to deal with the potential pains of flying or driving long distances while pregnant.  Since I didn’t travel, I was able to teach summer school in July.  I was very happy I did, as it kept me busy and earning the extra money was awesome!

“Adaptation” has been key.  That’s really the best word for how I’ve dealt with summer 2017.  Because of my ever-changing body, I needed to adapt my running.  Notice, I adapted.  I did not quit.  I am proud to say that I ran 4 times a week all summer long.  I golfed in ladies league on Mondays.  In August, I added in a baby bump boot camp on Thursdays and a cardio class on Fridays.  All of these things kept me busy, and most importantly kept me sane.  I knew I needed to keep my running up this summer, because it really is a key part of who I am.  Other summers, I would have signed up for races in Calgary or Edmonton during July or August but this year I held off.  I knew driving up there to do a race would not be the wisest idea.  However, I kept an eye out for events local that I could do.

That brings me to yesterday, when I ran in the Taber Cornfest 5km.  This event was celebrating their 25th year, and would be offering a 5km and 10km option.  Taber is a small town 50 km east of Lethbridge.  It would be an easy drive out on race morning, and while I was not going out to break any records or place in any divisions, I was going out to race the best that I could at that given day.

With summer being so hot down here in Southern Alberta, my paces for training runs have not been anything crazy.  I had come to terms with that in the past month, knowing that just getting out there and completing the training runs during the week was what mattered…not how fast I was going.  I had a goal in my mind to run around a 33 minutes 5km in Taber, roughly a little faster than an 11 minute mile.  Based on how my running was going in August, I knew I could attain that goal.

Race morning was nice and cool.  It had gotten quite tolerable the night before and this carried on into the morning.  By the time the race started at 9 am, it was only around 59F.   I went out and held a pace that came naturally to me and felt comfortable.  I kept checking my heart rate during the first mile and it was always under 150.  My breathing was in check and I was feeling great.  Suddenly, mile 1 came and my watch hit 8:39!

I was WAY ahead of my 11 minute mile pace.  For a brief second I thought about really slowing it up.  But, my heart rate was good, my legs were feeling strong….so I stuck with my gut and just kept on going.  Mile 2 slowed a bit, but it was still a 9:03.  OK….if I can hold the final mile around this pace and watch my breathing I can definitely finish under 30 minutes!  

The last mile was harder than the first two, as my heart rate did climb up a bit.  I kept watching my FitBit and whenever the bpm got into the 170s I would try and focus on my breathing to bring it down.  Mile 3 clocked in very close to the same time as mile 2, with a 9:04.  I did let myself go a bit the final stretch, wanting to close the gap on the women in front of me.  When I crossed the finish line, my watch stopped at an unofficial distance of 3.16 miles.  My official chiptime would be a 28:02!  I placed 4/23 in my age group, 11/98 in women, and 35/158 overall.


Running 5km races are not really my thing.  They are hard for me!  Call me crazy, but I’d much rather run a half marathon.  It took me a really long time to get my personal 5km best of a 20:42.  The fact that I am about 7.5 minutes slower than my personal best all while being 30 weeks pregnant makes me super happy.  Why does it make me happy?  Because it shows that my hard work this summer is paying off.  I have been reasonable with my running this summer, with the overall goal being to remain healthy while progressing in this pregnancy which should then make it easier to get back to my racing form after the pregnancy.

With being 3/4 of the way through my pregnancy, I know every week will pose a new challenge.  I am also mentally preparing myself for the possibility of having to stop running any day.  There are a variety of things that could come up that would put my running to a halt.  If my doctor told me that it was no longer safe for me to run, I would stop.  I mean, come on…I am not an idiot.  If something I was doing was putting the baby and/or myself in danger, I would quit it.  But, I have been having a fairly low-key pregnancy with no issues so my doctor has been very supportive of my choices to continue running and working out.  I am very fortunate to have an OB who supports my running, as she knows it is something I did not just start overnight.  Before being referred to my OB, my family doctor was also very supportive of me continuing on with my running, as long as I didn’t have a high-risk pregnancy.  I actually had an appointment with my family doctor last week to just confirm that he would be able to take the baby on as a patient and his words of encouragement meant a lot.

I am also very fortunate for the support my family and friends have given me this summer.  They are pretty well adjusted to the fact that running is a part of my identity, and it doesn’t seem to surprise them at all that I have continued.  I think this is one reason actually that my husband sometimes seems to forget how far along I really am in this pregnancy, because I have still gone about my running as I normally do.  He doesn’t seem me out there training in the summer, but he knows I’m out there doing it.  And he knows it makes me happy.

So what are the two next two months going to be like?  For running, I will still continue with my 4 times a week running.  I will be joining my cross country kids on their runs during the week, and will likely be the caboose of the group.  I also am considering doing a 4-week session of the Baby Bump class at Kinetic, as it is offered on a Friday at 4:30 pm.  This will keep me active and help burn off the energy from the work day.  My mom comes to visit near the end of September.  She will be a huge help around the house getting things set for baby, and we will be having my baby shower.  There is also the Lethbridge Police Race on September 30th, where I will be doing the 10km, my mom will be walking the 5km and my husband will be doing the half marathon. When she leaves in October, I will have just had my 33rd birthday and I will surely start to feel the nerves and anxiety attached to becoming a family of 3.  Baby is due November 1st, which may seem like a far way away from August 27th….but we all know it’s closer than you think!  I can pencil in a lot of things, but I know stuff could change in an instance after one doctor appointment!  

 

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RunDisney Virtual Running Shorts 2017

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I’m not someone who partakes in “Virtual Races” much.  For those of you who don’t know what a virtual race is, it’s any event where you register to race the set distance but on your own course.  Some actual road races offer virtual options, which usually need to be completed and logged during a certain window of time.  And some companies put on virtual races just as events where people can log their times and earn a medal to commemorate the run.

The times I have done so was when I did a Digital Running Virtual Run to tack on to my RunDisney Dopey Challenge in 2014 (Hat Trick medal, Grand Slam medal), an “Interstate Challenge” (run a race in Canada and USA…easy!) which then led me to doing a “Time of the Season” challenge with them (run at least a km race in every month of 2014….HUGE four piece medal once done!)  I also did the Knotts Berry Farm Coaster Run 10km as a Virtual Race in 2015 solely for the Snoopy medal.  I mean, duh….

I would rather just be out running an actual race than doing a Virtual Race.  And a lot of the Virtual Races that I see people doing are through promoters in the USA, which then means its a US dollar registration fee, and since our exchange rate in Canada isn’t really that great at the moment it just gets pricey.  It has to be something special for me to consider a virtual event.

In Spring 2016, RunDisney announced their first “Virtual Running Shorts” which would take place in the summer.  There would be 3 different 5km virtual runs you could do, one for each month, with a different medal for each month plus a challenge medal if you did all three.  I was intrigued by this last year since I knew I couldn’t run that much distance in the summer, as my foot surgery was early June, but opted to not push myself post surgery with events (even if just a 5km virtual run).

This year, RunDisney offered the Virtual Shorts again and I jumped on board pretty quickly.  The price tag sort of made me contemplate if it was worth doing-each virtual race was either $40 a piece or you could pay $142 for all three plus the challenge medal and other goodies.  This was then when our Canadian dollar was really at its worse, so after the tax and fees and exchange rate, I did end up paying quite a bit for what is basically just appears to be 4 medals.  Would it be worth it?

I was impressed with that I received my package from RunDisney very early in June—even before some other people in the USA!  They mail you all four medals right away, each individually packed, plus the other goodies which was a collapsible dog bowl, dog tag, and cool towel.  The additional goodies were only for if you registered for the whole challenge, and are dog items since the mascot for the series was Pluto.  They are definitely not something on their own worth registering for, and if you don’t have a pet there really isn’t a use….but I have to say we used that dog bowl a lot this summer with all our travels to and from Calgary for Snoopy’s acupuncture!

 

I opted to keep all the medals in the box and would only remove each one as I completed a race.  What’s the point of hanging them all up right away?…I needed to earn them!


Since I wanted to be able to hang my medals early each month, I tend to chose early dates to complete my virtual run.  I also tried to choose days that were important to me, just to make them a bit more special.  I ran my June 5km on June 7th, which would have been the day of my dad’s 65th birthday.  I was 19 weeks pregnant at this point, and full of emotions, as Snoopy was not yet back to walking.  I finished this 5km in a time of 34:55.

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I opted to use the Canada Day Red Dress Run 5km event as my July digital run.  That event ended up being closer to 6km in length, but I made sure to stop my watch once I reached the 5km point so I had a time for my virtual run.  I had most fun doing this run as part of the RunDisney Virtual Running Shorts series mainly because I took the “Dress in Red & White for Canada Day” theme as the opportunity to wear my Minnie Mouse tutu!  It was also fun for it being during an event, as I pushed myself a bit more and ran a 31:45.  I was 22.5 weeks pregnant.

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I couldn’t wait any longer for my last medals, so once August 1st rolled around I went out and did my final event.  The whole month of July had been incredibly hot, but I had stuck with my 4 days a week training plan of running.  Honestly, having these little 5km virtual events each month helped keep me going through the heat and this pregnancy!  I was just shy of 27 weeks along in my pregnancy when I completed the final 5km, in a time of 35:41.

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All four medals are hanging proudly on my medal hanger, and I even made sure to hang them right by all my other RunDisney bling!  Participating in this virtual event was perfect for me, given that my last half marathon was end of May and that I wouldn’t be doing any other long races this summer during my pregnancy.  It helped keep me accountable this summer, when otherwise I may have just gotten frustrated that I wasn’t registered for any summer time 10km or half marathons.  If someone needs a little extra push, this race series may be a good option for you.  While I most likely won’t do it again next year (I’m doing Start Wars-The Dark Side and Disneyland Half Weekend, so I get the real deal!) I am happy that I registered for it this summer!

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My “I’m 63.75% Through This Pregnancy” Post

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I am 25.5 weeks along in this pregnancy.  So, if you consider 40 weeks being 100% through, that’s where I got my percentage up on the header.  But some people like hearing about it in months….so I am approximately 5.7 months along.  That is, if you look at it in terms of 5 months and 3 full weeks, with each week being 21 days.  And then you approximate each month to have 30 days total….so that’s where the 5.7 comes from.

This is why I haven’t really done a post on my pregnancy yet.

I started this blog in 2013 to talk about running, Disney World and my dad.  I have been running since high school track, and then ran my first half marathon in 2004 at age 19.  By 2014, I felt like I had some knowledge to share.  And now in 2017, I feel even a bit more knowledgeable, or at least it is easier to share my insight.  For Disney World, I have been going since 1991.  I have continued to go well into my adulthood, with my mom, my husband, and most notably with my friend Maureen when we went for 16 days.  I have stayed lots of places on property, read all sorts of blogs and updates on the parks….I feel confident I can help many of my family and friends plan a Walt Disney World trip if they were to ask for my help.  And my dad, well…he is my dad.  I had to use this blog as a self-reflection on things I was struggling with since he passed in 2004.   I have not only found out more about my dad’s past as a Quebec orphan since starting this blog, but have found out more about myself in the process.

But pregnancy.  Well, I can’t tell you one thing that I can guarantee to be a helpful insight.  

I can’t give advice on this area!  Sure, I can tell people how I handled the miscarriage I had in January but that hasn’t even still fully settled in.  And what I did after the miscarriage may not work for everyone.  And I dont expect it to.  Much like how my current pregnancy is not like anyone else’s and people shouldn’t be following my advice.  Because lets face it; I’m sure someone out there will have some scrutiny for something I’ve done.  But really, I don’t care if you do!


What I’m going to share below isn’t a list of things that every pregnant woman should do, or what to expect in their pregnancy.   I’m just going to go over a bunch of different things I’ve encountered and dealt with during this pregnancy.  So in no particular order, other than what maybe you’d expect me to discuss….

 

Exercise during pregnancy

At first I was anxious about someone saying the quizzical “Are you sure you should be running still?”  Well, you’re not my doctor, but thanks for pretending like you know what’s best.  So, no one has said anything.  Maybe some strangers have thought things as they’ve seen me in races or running in the summertime here in Lethbridge.  But those who know me know I am playing this smart.

Since finding out I was pregnant, I set a goal to myself to keep running 4 days a week as long as I can.  I am proud to say that I have stuck with that ‘training plan.’  I need a plan to follow so I can hold myself accountable, so that’s why I set that goal of 4 days a week.  I generally do one “long run” and then three other shorter runs.  Yes, my pace has been slowly getting slower, but I am still getting out there.  I watch my heart rate to judge if I can pick the pace up or if I need to reign it in a bit.

I also have my weekly 9 hole golf league on Mondays and I most recently started going to the free HIGH fitness class put on by Kinetic On The Go (think of a Zumba hybrid). I had been doing the classes Kinetic On The Go brought to the school I work at during the Winter and Spring, and I figured I would try them again as I am considering registering for a Post-Natal Baby Mama Boot Camp they do at the studio.

Summer slows things down for road races, but I do have a couple things set in the final stretch.  Currently, I am taking on a RunDisney Virtual Run series, where I do a 5km in each the month of June, July and August.  I only have August left to do.  I run the 5km on my own time and log the race.  It’s given me something to “check off” each summer month.  On September 30th, I am planning on running in the Police 10km in Lethbridge.  It will be a combo walk/jog/run, as I will be almost exactly 8 months along.  If I am not up for the 10km, I’ll drop down to the 5km.  There are also some other local 5km races mid October, but I’ll wait until October to see how I am doing.   Even if I could just do the Bare Bones 5km as a walk on October 22nd that’d be amazing.

Side Effects, Symtpons and Pains

I have been pretty fortunate to say the least!  I have not puked once, which is obviously what everyone automatically assumes will happen upon finding out they are expecting. I had some very slight nausea in the single digit weeks of the pregnancy, but that subsided quickly.  I never had any full over sickness that caused me to call in sick during 2nd semester of school, so that’s a huge positive!

I have had some issues with headaches, but I figured out the main cause: hydration.  A headache starts to creep in mid afternoon if I haven’t been hydrating enough all morning.  The summer heat also kicks it up a notch, so I need to drink even more.  My only other minor issue were leg cramps in my calves.  These started in June and I would wake up with a Charlie horse.  I talked to my doctor about them and I started taking a calcium magnesium supplement three times a day.  Problem solved!  Really, the cramps weren’t too bad at all, but I think it has to do with my high pain tolerance.  The occasional back pains I get I know have to be pregnancy related, but I always just think of them like pains I would get from after a long run or race.  Overall, I’ve been feeling pretty good!

I’ve also had no food aversions!  I was very nervous about this, as I really didn’t want to have to change my diet too much.  All the normal foods that I ate before being pregnant settle in my stomach just fine.  There was one evening that cooked Brussels sprouts sort of bothered my sense of smell, but I had them again another time and were just fine.  And luckily, I am still able to enjoy all the spicy food I always loved!

Diet Staples I Miss

BEER.

It is no lie that I love beer. Specifically, I love hoppy beer.  iPA’s are my favorite!  While I am obviously handling the no alcohol stipulation, I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss it.

My husband has bought me a variety of non-alcoholic beer.  They are not all created equal! In my opinion (and he agrees) the President’s Choice brand at Canadian Superstore is the best available and at the best price.  While I don’t generally go for a blonde beer normally, their NA blonde tastes pretty comparable to a standard blonde beer.  It does the trick after an afternoon of yardwork!  But in case anyone is keeping notes, my husband asked what the first drink would be that I’d want after the pregnancy is complete…..with no more than 5 seconds of thought I responded with Lagunitas Lil Sumpin Wild.  If you’re in Lethbridge, you can buy it at Andrew Hilton on 3rd ave.  Then, just shoot me a message and I’ll tell you where to drop it off!

Other than beer, I miss egg yolks.  Cooking my eggs scrambled or as an omelette is getting old.  I also missed making sandwiches for my lunches during the school year (apparently listeria is a risk in cold lunch meat….).  I did make some occasional grilled sandwiches at home by heating up the meat first on a skillet.  I was anxious about the threat of “no soft cheese” but it is so easy to find pasteurized cheese, specifically Brie, at the grocery store.  I’m a Wisconsin cheesehead, so I need my daily dose of cheese!

What Else Is On My Mind?

The main thing is that it still doesn’t seem real.  Even though I have had four ultrasounds.  Many doctors appointments.  Blood draws.  Feeling baby move.  Setting up the nursery.  Buying baby things. Looking up information about what’s the best breast pump.  Getting really excited about finding a ridiculous good deal on used items on Lethbridge Swap and Buy.

Maybe it’ll feel more real once Dan and I start our prenatal classes this week through Alberta Health Services.  Maybe it won’t feel real until we are on the way to the hospital, or maybe even not until I give birth to this baby.  I can’t determine when it’ll actually “feel real” to me or when it’ll really hit me that we are going to be parents.  But I do know Dan and I are as ready as we can be for every unexpected, unpredictable, wonderful thing that comes our way.

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October 1st, 1984.  Me!

 

Snoopy

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My posts since the month of June have been a little short and inconsistent.  The end of the school year with track season winding up caused some of that, but there was also a huge hurdle that hit our household.  That hurdle involved our dog Snoopy, who is a 10 year old purebred beagle.

Snoopy turned 10 this May.  And this past weekend, I celebrated his 10 year “anniversary” or otherwise referred to by many pet owners as his “Gotcha Day”.  I bought Snoopy back in July 2007, when I was still back in Wisconsin.  I had done my research on Beagle breeders in the general Midwest area and settled on buying Snoopy from Blackhawk Beagles in Mount Morris, Illinois (The couple who sold me Snoopy were on their last litter at that point and have since retired from breeding).

Left-Snoopy when I brought him home from the breeders. Right-on his 10th anniversary “Gotcha Day!”

But on June 1st of this year, my husband and I weren’t so sure if Snoopy would be making it to his 10 year anniversary.

Back in November 2016, we were told by our vet that Snoopy most likely had arthritis.  He had been exhibiting some pain from time to time, where we couldn’t exactly pinpoint what hurt him!  He’d be on the couch and you touch his head the wrong way; he’d yelp.  Touch his foot the wrong way; he’d make an angry face.  He from time to time couldn’t get up on the couch with ease or the bed.  He would also walk with a drunken stupor and have trouble standing.  Our vet checked his general reflexes and determined he must be having flare-ups of arthritis.  At that time, we were given a liquid anti-inflammatory to administer to Snoopy when we noticed a flare-up happening.  Repeat this for 4 days and he should improve.

This worked fine until the beginning of June.  A flare-up began, but it got worse VERY FAST.  I left for Edmonton with our Track & Field team for provincials, and my husband had to deal with seeing Snoopy deteriorate.  It was not the normal flare-up.  He was losing feeling in his front legs.  Dan took him in for an x-ray, but with him squirming around they couldn’t get a clear one.  We would need to bring him back Monday.  By the time I got home on the Saturday night, Snoopy really didn’t even want to get up from bed.  By Sunday, Dan had to carry him outside whenever we needed to get him out.  He could not stand on his own.  His front legs just weren’t working.

When we took him in on Monday to get a sedated radio graph, the results came back showing he had very bad arthritis all along his spine.  Calcification’s were present.  Spondylosis.  Snoopy could not stand or walk on his own that morning, and for the next week and half he needed to be carried carefully whenever he had to go out.  He was put on a plethora of medications (doggy morphine, nerve pain relievers, muscle relaxers) and also taken off the original anti-inflammatory.  We needed to introduce a waiting period to clear that out of his system before he received a new drug that would be more intense.

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It was really tough that week.  I cried A LOT.  My pregnancy hormones were out of control.  I hadn’t cried this whole pregnancy until this began.  Snoopy had been my fur baby since before I had even met my husband.  He’s been by my side since 2007.  We weren’t sure if he was going to get out of this struggle, if he’d gain strength in his front legs again.  The vet even mentioned if after this regime of drugs were introduced there wasn’t any improvement, we’d have to look at quality of life.  I did not want to even think about letting go of Snoopy.  He is an older dog at 10, but he isn’t even at the Beagle life expectancy  of 12-15.  We can’t put him down….

The week of June 12th he began his new anti-inflammatory steroid.  3 pills each morning.  He also started going to acupuncture on June 10th and would be heading to it 3 times during this very week, with the hopes that improvement would mean visits less often (we have to drive to Calgary to get this done).  Then, on Tuesday, what seemed to be a miracle occurred—he sat and stood up on his own.  I am so glad Dan saw it happen, because if I had told him it h would have thought I was lying.  He was wobbly as hell, and his front legs kept buckling, but something changed in his nerves that he was able to feel his paws again.

His walking reminded me of a baby giraffe.  For about a week, he figured out how to move again, taking steps gingerly.  We still lifted him onto the couch, bed, car…and we built a gate so he couldn’t get up the stairs to the patio.  He continued the steroid and a daily glucosomine tablet, along with acupuncture.  He tapered his steroid down to 1.5 pills every other day, with a new smaller dose presumably coming next week.  He has been to acupuncture 9 times, and does not need to go back until the first week of August.  He appears to be back at nearly 100% (we can also judge this based on the fact that he stole a chicken bone off Dan’s dinner plate, knocked over the garbage in the guest room, ate one of my leather shoes in the closet, and chewed apart the cardboard box that cloth diapers were stored in.  Basically, if he’s an asshole we know he’s feeling pretty damn good).

Snoopy enjoying acupuncture at Calgary Holistic Vet

So is Snoopy cured?  Sadly, we know he is not.  The arthritis is still there.  However, he is functioning, comfortable, and HAPPY.  We know the arthritis will not go away, much like it doesn’t in humans.  But with pain management, we hope to keep him happy for as many more weeks, months and years as possible.  We know he is on ‘borrowed time’ now, and that’s scary.  But, in a way, we both agree it’s good this happened now so we could get ourselves prepared for the tough decisions we may have to make down the road.  We just hope that road is a long ways away.  We really want Snoopy to be around when our baby is born this fall—we know how great he is with kids and having him with our baby will mean the world to us.

 

 

Millarville Half Marathon Relay 2017

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It had been a couple years since I ran in one of the Millarville events, so what better way to get back at it than do a relay with my husband?!?!?  I signed us up some time back, but had always planned that I would run the first leg of the half marathon and he would run the second leg.  We stuck with that plan as race day approached, since I would be over 20 weeks pregnant and the first leg was the shorter distance.  Having just come off a good race time at the Lethbridge 8km Ladiesfest I knew I could pound out a good time for the 9km portion of our relay.

Our alarms went off at 4:15 am that Saturday morning.  We would be driving up to Black Diamond and do our race pickup before the event.  The drive took about 2 hours, so we arrived with about 45 minutes to spare.  There was another reason why doing the relay was the better option for us—we had to bring our dog Snoopy along for the trip.  I’ll be doing a blog post at some point this summer about what has been going on this June, but the main point is that Snoopy has bad arthritis and has been going to Calgary for doggie acupuncture appointments.  We booked an appointment strategically for after the race, since we’d already be almost to Calgary.  Doing the relay allowed one person to stay with Snoopy at all times while the other person ran!

I was off at 7:30 am with the other runners.  All relay and half marathon runners started together.  The 9km portion I was running winds through Black Diamond neighborhoods, past golf courses, and onto paved trails.  It offers some rolling hills and lots to see.  Being the first leg of the relay had the benefit of having lots of other competitors around you as your ran.  This always pushes me more!

I had my phone with me, so I voice texted Dan when I had less than a mile to go. I wanted him to be prepared at the transition area.  I crossed the relay transition with a 9km time of 48:26.08.  My splits were 8:01, 8:55, 8:56, 8:59, 8:28 for miles 1-5.  The distance on my watch clocked in at 5.65 miles and I had an average pace of 8:35 a mile.  

I went to the car (where Snoopy was patiently waiting) and we drove the short drive to the finish line at the Millarville racetrack.  After parking and walking to the finish line, we didn’t have to wait too long for the first half marathoner to come across.  It was then pretty quick having other finishers for the various distances come by.  Dan came by with a half marathon finish time for our team of 1:43.50.  His split for the 12.1 km he ran was a 55:24.57.  This works out to a team average pace of 7:55 minutes/mile.  Not bad for a pregnant wife and a husband who still doesn’t really like to run!

Dan, Andrea and Snoopy


 

Lemonade

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Back in January, I wrote and shared the following post:

The Sourest of Lemons

If you didn’t see it originally, you can read through it.  The general gist of it is talking about the experience I had with my miscarriage in January.  My husband and I found out I had experienced an Anembryonic Pregnancy (blighted ovum).  We found out when I was thought to be around 13 weeks.  I had a D&C surgery a few days after, and really had no clue what the next months ahead would be like.  Was getting pregnant going to be easy, hard, or somewhere in between?  Would this just happen again?

Beginning of March, I take two positive pregnancy tests.  Call my OB/GYN because I was concerned that perhaps these were false positives; hormones still floating around in my body from the first pregnancy perhaps?  I had three blood tests to see if the HCG hormone levels were rising properly.  They were.  I had an ultrasound at what was guessed to be 5.5 weeks.  Couldn’t see much, but the tech did capture a video clip that showed a little blip of some kind.  Came back the following week and the tech could confirm that YES, an embryo and fetal pole had developed.  We saw a heart beat.  This was all new to us, since we never saw this the first pregnancy.


I was an anxious mess the following weeks, as we had to wait until after Easter holidays for the First Trimester Screen test.  This was the test where we found out the sad news in January.  Even though we saw the heartbeat at 6.5 weeks, and even though I was gaining some weight and having other pregnancy symptoms…I still didn’t believe this was real.  We drove to Calgary on April 24th for the appointment.  Once the ultrasound wand hit my belly BOOM-Baby.  Baby moving around.  Stretching out.  Fist pumping.  Yawning.  There was a baby!  


I measured at 13 weeks 5 days, and baby was about 6.4 cm long.  While some of our close family and friends knew what was happening (and various others who I couldn’t keep my mouth shut around) we had not made it public knowledge yet.  While I wanted to go home and announce it that very night, we waited until the following day.

April 25th

This is a day that since April 25th, 2004, I have dreaded.  It was the day my dad passed away.  While in the past few years I have been able to handle the exact day better, the days leading up to it and around it are always tough.  There’s usually a breakdown of some kind.  It has generally been a sad day since 2004. 

We wanted to make April 25th a happy day again.  We wanted to make that day into some sweet Lemonade.

I know my dad has been watching over me all these years.  There have been lots of moments where he’s been a proud, beaming father.  There have been other moments where I can guarantee he was swearing at me for being a f&$king idiot.  I know that on this day, April 25th, 2017, he was excited and sharing it with everyone—proud that his baby would be having a baby.


I think about you every day dad.  I am so lucky to have had a dad like you.

Je Me Souviens.

The Sourest of Lemons

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“…how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade.”

This quote was said in episode 1 of NBC’s “This Is Us” which happens to be mine, and Dan’s, favourite TV drama at the moment.  I can say that with certainty because even though we rarely watch it when it is broadcast on Tuesdays (doesn’t air until 10 PM) we record it and he often doesn’t wait for me to watch it.  That show has been my replacement to “Parenthood”, as it really is my “I need a good cry” show.  And a lot of the time, if one of us watches an episode before the other, we rewatch it together.  That same quote was shown on the January 17th, 2017, episode.  And it was timely.

I wrote my last post about a big event in mine and Dan’s life.  I was pregnant.  Note, I say was.  Last week Friday, we headed up to Calgary to get the optional First Trimester Screening test done.  As we did the two hour drive, we talked about baby names, what we really wanted to do when we build the addition, that we should probably look on Calgary kijiji and see if there were any good dressers or rockers we could take a look at on our way home.  We checked in to the radiology centre, I spoke with a receptionist about how I get a free photo of the baby, and we went into the small ultrasound room with a tech.  The tech gelled me up and got the ultrasound up and running.

And  what we saw was just a black, blank space.

Dan was oblivious for a few minutes, as he doesn’t know what an ultrasound is supposed to look like.  I didn’t panic at first; I thought “maybe they just have to move things around and zoom in and there’s the baby.”  But then, the tech had the screen zoomed out so it was the typical ultrasound view you are used to seeing if you were to Google any pregnant woman’s ultrasound.  The black space where there should have been a fetus had nothing.

The tech was taking measurements and very quiet, then asked me to go empty my bladder and come back and do it one more time.  I knew this wasn’t going to be good, but I was still very confused.  I came back, same results.  She said she needed to go talk to the nurse and doctor and would be back.  As she left I curled into fetal position and cried holding Dan’s hand.  What was going on?

Eventually, some people came back and explained I had an “Anembryonic Pregnancy”, also known as “blighted ovum.”  I had gotten pregnant, and when the egg attached to the uterine wall, it never actually became a full blown embryo.  Reading information online tells us the embryo absorbed back into the wall, but a gestational sac and yolk sac still remained.  This gestational sac kept growing over these weeks, and at 13 weeks it was approximately 44 mm.  My body kept thinking I was pregnant this whole time, as I was having many pregnancy side effects-sore breasts, extreme fatigue, more visible veins, gaining weight.  My body had decided to not clear itself of the pregnancy.  This sometimes could happen at 8-12 weeks.  I never experienced any bleeding, spotting, painful cramps.  I was still holding on.

Eventually I dramatically stormed out of the office because a nurse I didn’t know was trying to console me by rubbing my leg.  But then, like in a sitcom, I had to come back into the damn room and grab my jacket.  I was crying in the mall somewhere in North Calgary.  And we had a 2 hour drive home.  As Dan drove, I cried.  I looked at the form the office gave me that had a conclusion statement of “An intrauterine gestational sac is seen but the fetus and fetal heart rate are not identified.  Findings are in keeping with an early fetal demise.  MISSED ABORTION”  What a fucking dark conclusion.

I looked up on reputable websites to find more information about Blighted Ovum.  Apparently it is the cause of half of miscarriages.  A lot of times, women don’t even realize they have it….maybe they didn’t even know they were pregnant and they miscarried before they even had an ultrasound.  I also read that many doctors believe this occurs because when the egg is fertilized, the body recognizes some sort of hormonal abnormality.  The body decides it shouldn’t continue on and it isn’t viable.  I am not a bio teacher, but to me that sounds like a crazy good thing the human body can determine that.

I got myself sort of together and phoned my mom.  I just stared at Highway 2 as she said “oh honey…oh honey…”  I cried.  I messaged two other important people in my life right away.  I had to tell them.  Dan and I stopped at some townie bar in Claresholm to have a beer and dinner.  Dan’s idea for this was that he didn’t want us to taint a place we have good memories of back home in Lethbridge, so we may as well stop at this hole.  Actually turned out to be a good meal.  Damnit.

Dan and I got home and I didn’t even know what to do.  The doctors in Calgary had informed my OB-GYN’s office in Lethbridge, but nothing could be done until at least Monday.  I already had an appointment scheduled for Tuesday, but obviously this would be a very different type of appointment.

The feelings I had were MAD and EMBARRASSED.  I was MAD because if I had been able to get an early ultrasound this could have been determined at as early as week 8.  Still would have been tough to find out then, but instead we got to Christmas.  Then me announcing it to everyone before my Marathon.  And then just earlier that week I told my students I teach.  That’s where the EMBARRASSED feeling comes in.  Now I had to go face everyone and tell them this wasn’t happening.  I know it’s not the right way to feel, but I felt like I had lied to everyone.  

That night, I texted a handful of friends who we had told earlier in December, before announcing it to the world.  I wanted them to know before I told everyone else.  Then, I drank a bottle and a half of wine and stayed up till 3 am.  Saturday morning, Dan made me eggs and I puked up the bottle and a half of wine and the eggs.  I posted an informative Facebook status saying what happened and I sent an email out to the staff at work.  I asked for the staff at work to not reply to my email, which everyone respected.  I didn’t say anything in the Facebook post, but I turned off notifications as I didn’t want to keep getting notified that people commented.

I eventually looked at the comments.  Publicly, people shared they had also experienced a loss.  I also got texts and messages from friends who experienced losses like ours.  Some of my friends I were aware had miscarriages before, others I had not a clue.  Hearing from these friends who have families of their own made me feel better.  I went to work Monday morning, even though many people probably questioned my well-being.  I needed to go otherwise I would have just laid around feeling sorry for myself.  I also had to go because I needed to tell my students what happened.  I teach many mature students, age 15-18.  So it wasn’t necessarily a complete foreign idea to them that this could happen.  But it came as a surprise to many I think.  I told it straightforward and informational…I didn’t cry…I held it together…and then I went on to teach them pre-calculus.  Shit.

At my doctor’s appointment on Tuesday, I told my doctor about my ANGER and EMBARRASSMENT.  She said those were totally normal feelings.  And then, we made a comment about it being a ‘fake pregnancy’ and she stopped us right there.  She said if we went on thinking about it that way, we would be really messed up.  It wasn’t fake.  It was very, very real.  It is still a loss.  But we can move on and start over.

I had three options for management of the blighted ovum presented to me—let the pregnancy miscarry itself on its own terms, get medication to force the miscarriage, or get a D&C (dilation & curettage) performed.  I at first had thought I wanted medication, but it was explained that the medication sometimes doesn’t kick in right away….and sometimes it doesn’t clear everything out…and you still need another ultrasound to make sure all the tissue is gone…and you sometimes still need a D&C.  So we booked a D&C for Thursday.

I’ve been in surgery before, so I don’t really get bothered about the idea of getting put under general anaesthesia.  I just wanted this procedure to be completed so we could move forward.  Check in at 6:30 am…in a pre-op bed by 8 am…IV with saline by 8:30…. moved to a different room by 9:50….into surgery by around 11.  Last thing I remember before being knocked out was the strangely soothing jazz/blues/I-don’t-know-what guitar music that was playing in the operating room.  I woke up in another room and all I wanted was water.  The nurse attending to me talked to me quite a bit and I found out she rode her Harley with her husband all over and really wanted to go to Milwaukee.  That provided distraction as I told her all about the summer festivals, tailgating, the microbreweries.  I was a fucking Milwaukee tour guide while hopped up on what I later found out to be Fentanyl.

We eventually were on our way out of the hospital by 2 pm.  Long day.  Requested frozen yogurt, got home, and plopped on the couch in the basement to watch TV.  I was bleeding but not throbbing in pain yet, as the anaesthesia hadn’t worn off.  So I told Dan I wanted to watch “This Is Us” from Tuesday.  He had already watched it earlier that week, and when I wanted to watch it Wednesday night he said he wasn’t sure if I could handle it.  Oh shit.  Watching it anyway.

Well, we watched it together.  It was a great episode.  It was basically the first episode, but from a different point of view.  I didn’t cry, mainly because I didn’t have any tears left in my tear ducts.  I went upstairs to get my water bottle, and in the fridge I find a bottle of lemonade….

lemonade

The tears flowed.  I went downstairs and Dan and I hugged.  It had been a really, really, really shitty week.  Extremely.  But we are strong.  We are going ot move forward.  We have eachother.  We have our family.  We have our friends.  We can turn the sourest of lemons into something amazing.

 

 

 

My Next “Big Event”

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Hello and happy 2017 everyone!  I have recently returned from the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, where I completed the Goofy Challenge*…there’s an asterisk there because in the history books, this will be the race weekend that had the half marathon cancelled.  I will be doing a complete write-up on the weekend, but I wanted ot let everyone know some of the basics:

The WDW half, which was scheduled to be held on Saturday, January 7th, was cancelled the night before due to a threatening storm coming through the area.  Thunder and lightning occurred all throughout the evening and into the morning, and this would have cause the race to be cancelled either while we were in the corrals waiting to start, or after we started.  It would have been a disaster!  So, many runners did their own “unofficial” WDW half later that day when the storm system cleared.  I completed the 13.1 miles with two friends.  We wanted to complete the distance, so that we could wear our Challenge medals with pride the next day.  On Sunday, January 8th, the marathon went on without a hitch.  I was able to run with my best friend Ali, as she completed her very first full marathon.  It was an amazing weekend!

I alluded in my last post that I would be talking about what was in store for 2017…well, as you can see by my updated “countdown” on the side….I am pregnant!  I am due late July, and while I was in Disney I hit the 12 week mark.  Today I am 13 weeks, and will be heading to Calgary to get my combined First Trimester Screening test done.  My husband and I are very excited, anxious, nervous, scared, elated, etc.  We have always wanted to have a kid, but I was always the one who had concrete running goals I wanted to achieve first….qualify for Boston, go to Boston…then get foot surgery due to all my running…Really, I think waiting longer was also in my husband’s mind too, but I always was the one with the “bucket list” of things I wanted to achieve before we started a family.

WDW Marathon Weekend!

WDW Marathon Weekend!

I know runners who read this page wouldn’t think anything negative about it, but the general public I know will say “Wait…so you ran a half marathon and a full marathon while 12 weeks pregnant?  Is that safe?”  The long and short of it is, YES.  I had been in talks with my family doctor (who runs a sports medicine clinic) since this past summer and he was well aware of my Goofy Challenge goals.  When I got referred to my OB-GYN, the first thing I let her know was that I was flying out to Orlando in January to do a 39.3 mile challenge.  She said “Great!”  Everyone is different—obviously, if you were doing your first full marathon and just started running, there may be some hesitation.  This was not my first rodeo.  I also was not going for any time goal of say, a Boston qualification.  I had to change some of my fueling during the race (as in increase my food intake) and watch my heart rate.  I know my body, even when I have a baby growing in it, and I could recognize if there was any impending issues.  And now, I can say I completed a half and full marathon while 12 weeks pregnant!  Should I maybe have gotten an additional medal for each since really I ran for two?!?!?!

Goofy Challenge Finisher!

Goofy Challenge Finisher!

So what’s the plan now going into 2017?  Well, I am registering for a few local races, with the farthest distance being a 10km.  I am planning on running 3-4 days a week, as long as I am allowed to during this pregnancy.  I will begin Runners Soul Marathon Club next weekend, where I will run with the half marathon distance runners on Saturdays.  My times will not be important, I am just doing this to stay fit and active.  Once I get to a 10 mile training run distance, I may have to cut it short or I may have to walk a bit.  And that’s fine.

So that’s my news.  My next big event.  The training will be a little different than what I’ve grown accustomed, but I’m ready to take it on!

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My “Announcement” shirt…wore the tank during my “unofficial” WDW Half


2016 in Review

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I like doing my ‘recap’ on the year of running events at the end of each calendar year.  Just a little summary of what my main take-a-ways are from the events I participated in.  I know I wrote a recap for each after they originally occurred, and I have all the stats and details on how I did on my Race Results 2016 link, but now that it has been a couple months since some of these events occurred I thought it would be fun to see what I think of when I reflect on what I did this year!

The Hypothermic Half Marathon was my first event of 2016.  I really have nothing to say about this event, other than I know I signed up for it to include it as part of a training run.  I really just remember being done and at brunch with Zita, Aimee and others, and us just talking about how unimpressed we were with the event.  I had a good time hanging out with them, I got a training run in, and I will not be running this event in 2017.

Moonlight Run 10km in March.  Always my first ‘race’ of the year.  I always get nervous for it too!  This was an exciting year as I got to wear my “Run Red Deer” shirt from the Woody’s RV Marathon, as I won “Runner of the Month” and was going to promote the Red Deer event at our local event!  I also was able to finally win some prize money at the Moonlight Run!  I always love this event not only because of how many people come out from the city to participate, but because of all the volunteers who are from Winston Churchill High School (where I teach).

Run the Trailbreaker Half Marathon back in Waukesha, Wisconsin, was a race to remember….as it was almost a blizzard the morning of the race!  In early April!  Weather was AWFUL but it made it fun for running.  Again, I used this race as a training run for Boston, and it was helpful to have the race while I was home visiting family for Easter.  Otherwise, I would have not wanted to go outside and run in that weather!

10 Mile Road Race was great this year, as I ran my personal best time for the event.  I also was excited to win some prize money that would be taken to Boston!  What I remember most from this day is that I locked my keys in my car 10 minutes before race start!  When I finished the race, I borrowed Dennene’s phone to call AMA.  They came and unlocked my car in time for the 10 mile awards!


BOSTON MARATHON….well, if this list wasn’t in chronological order and in an order where the best event of the year was talked about last….this would be it.  I still can’t even wrap my head completely around this experience.  Really, it wasn’t about just race day.  It was about the years I have spent running full and half marathons….the times I failed to qualify….all the training it took to qualify….the waiting to race day….It was a process!  My husband and I had a fantastic time in the city, touring it via public transit and my foot.  We saw a baseball game, went on a brewery tour, ate awesome seafood, drank a lot of beer, and even ran the B.A.A. 5 km together.  The trip will go down as one of my most memorable trips (in general).  My proudest running accomplishment was qualifying for Boston…being able to run in Boston was the reward.


I did only one Spartan Race this year, and it was the Montana Spartan Beast.  This was the first year I did not do the Montana race weekend with my husband Dan.  But, I got to do it with my best friend Ali!  She flew in from Redondo Beach, California, to deal with this crazy 14 mile course.  She has continued to stand by her statement that this was the toughest Spartan Race she has ever done…even a harder course than the World Championship Course in Tahoe!

A local Lethbridge 51 elementary school put on a little 2km/5km event in May.  The Lakeview Superhero 5km was a great event that the school did as a fundraiser for their new playground.  Lots of kids were out there doing the 2km.  It honestly was a bigger turnout than I expected!  Having a local elementary school do an event like this helps get the kids interested in running at a young age, and that’s awesome!

I’ve done the Woody’s RV World Red Deer Half Marathon before.  This was my 5th time running in it.  But it was definitely the nastiest weather I have had to deal with at it!  My husband also ran it (hadn’t trained at all) and of course….he did just fine.  I still beat him, but my time was not that impressive.  I was most impressed with him running while wearing a garbage bag as a poncho the whole time!  The downpour was ridiculous!

I had sworn I wasn’t going to do this race again….and then I  registered for it…again.  The Calgary Marathon Weekend 50km Ultra was being held for the 3rd time, in conjunction with marathon weekend.  I figured that since I had done Boston at end of April, and this was at end of May, my legs would still be primed for it.  I also wanted to prove to myself that I could run it faster than I did the year before, as the heat was pretty nasty the first time I did it.  It was again a tough race, but I felt more confident during it this time around.  I cut off a bunch of time from my first year  I ran it, and even walked away with 1st place in the female 30-34 category!  I now have two trophies in my race bling collection, and they are both from the Calgary 50km Ultras!  This race was also monumental as it was my little ‘farewell’ from running for a bit, as I would be going under the knife two weeks later for my foot surgery.  Figured my foot was already messed up, nothing that a 50km road race couldn’t do to make it any worse!


Lethbridge Police Services Run is an event I’ve been enjoying every year.  This year, I wouldn’t be participating in the half marathon, as my foot was not ready post-surgery.  I did join our cross country runners as they ran in the 5km.  It was a great event to be a part of, and I really enjoyed being able to see the kids out there.  It was also my 32nd birthday, so that marked for a fun way to spend it!

 

The first event post-surgery that I attempted to “race” was the Bare Bones 9km.  They have had a half marathon in the previous years, but this year it wasn’t an option.  So, I chose the odd 9km distance.  I pushed as hard as I could, and I felt completely beat afterwards, but I was pleased with how I finished and how my foot held up.  It was far off my times I was hitting the year before, but it was a good start and a great sign of things to come post-surgery.

 

The Claus Cause 10km is another local event that I have participated in quite a few times.  It was held in November, and we weren’t having November weather yet.  I wore shorts during this run!  It was still another test for my foot, and my foot did well.  And of course, the gingerbread men ‘medals’ were handed out for top category runners.  My gingerbread man had a bit of a foot issue….coincidence?  I have said in the past and I’ll say it again—I love the events that Runners Soul puts on in town.  It’s such a great ‘get-together’ at any of their events, because there are so many familiar faces!

My last ‘event’ of 2016 was the Santa Shuffle.  Put on by Running Room Canada, this is a small  casual 5km fun run.  I signed up for this for the sole purpose of adding mileage to my daily training run, as  I was right in the thick of things for my Goofy Challenge training by this first week in December.


So that was my 2016.  14 events over the course of 12 months.  And considering I was out of commission for two of the months, I’ll take it.  2016 will always be the year I ran Boston….that’s for sure.  That’s obviously what I’ll think of first.  But, all these other events that surrounded it have a special place too.  All the events I have ran since my first half marathon in 2004 have a special place.  Sure, the medals I receive for finishing a race or placing in a race don’t have much monetary value….but they have value to me.  Every.  Last.  One.

On to 2017!  What will it bring……?!?!?!?!??!?!

 

Reflection Post-Election…

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…But nothing to do with politics!

It’s been a couple weeks since my last post, which was about my last race.  In those weeks since, I have been trying to stay away from Twitter, Facebook and the likes….because it always just gets me in trouble.  I was really good up until the night of the election and then I just ugly cried into my beer.  Then I pounded another beer.  And then I believe I made some Facebook comments angrily…..mature.

I had been avoiding Twitter even more, because I was sick of seeing anything election related leading up to the election.  For about the last month I honestly did not tweet as much as I used to.  I get too aggravated seeing things that upset me at my core, and I can’t deal with my anger well.  So, I just cut Twitter off pretty much.

I know I said this wasn’t a post about politics.  It isn’t.  Trust me.  Because I’m done talking about it.  What I said above was necessary, though, because in my absence of Twitter I didn’t connect with the #runchat community as much.  I am not necessarily a huge contributor to the community, but a lot of the people I follow on Twitter are through Runchat.  Many of these people I have never met.  I joined Twitter initially to help spread the word about this blog.  To connect with other runners.  To read more about running.  To find out more information about RunDisney events.  To commiserate with others when I failed to qualify for Boston.  Twice.  To celebrate with others when I finally did qualify!  To be able to be part of #BQChat, and to spread the joy and recount my trip to the 120th Boston Marathon.  I joined Twitter for running.  Not for politics.  It’s just a shame that it had to overtake my Twitter feed for the past bit that it bothered me so much that I needed to just not open it for some time.

I love talking about running.  About other people and their running experiences.  About my own experiences.  About goals, plans, dreams.  But most of the time, I like to just run alone.  I know a lot of people need a group or a running partner when they go on a long run, but I still yearn for those long runs when I am by myself.  Today, I ran 14 miles in the Lethbridge River Bottom.  It is November 13th.  And it is ridiculously gorgeous out.  I wore shorts and a short-sleeved shirt.  And sunglasses.  I headed out at roughly 10 am.  Down to the river valley I went.  I looped through the paved paths of Indian Battle Park, down past the Helen Schuler Nature Centre, to the Elizabeth Hall Wetlands, back past the Baroness Picnic Shelter, over to Whoop-Up Drive, onto the shale and dirt filled path that takes one right underneath the iconic high-level bridge….I took breaks during this run.  I took some pictures.  I took my time.  I eventually made my way back home and took my shoes off to find new blisters on my left foot.  My right foot, the surgery foot, felt good though.  It is worth noting, though, that during this solo run I never felt alone.  I ran past tons of couples, friends, families….all out enjoying the beautiful November Sunday.  Some people I passed two times.  I ran into other runners, who as we crossed paths we gave the little head nod to acknowledge the other.  I had my mind entwined in all the crazy things I have been thinking about the past while.  And when I returned from my run, while those crazy things weren’t gone….they weren’t driving me absolutely mad.




Tension.  Frustration.  Stress.  Sadness.  Anger.  

These things were all released from the simple act of going on a run.

Happiness.  Joy.  Accomplishment.  Satisfaction.  Pride

These things were all gained from the simple act of going on a run.

I know running can’t solve all the worlds’ problems, but I know it helps a lot of us deal with them a little bit better.

 

Go run.  You won’t regret it.