Category Archives: Running

Love/Hate Relationships

This is not a post about people. This is a post about food. Just a warning, that’s all.

So I’ve been becoming more and more fed up with my belly area lately. I’m trying to accept that it will always be pooched out a bit more than I would like, because I have somewhat of a swayed back. However, it bothers me that it seems to change in size on the daily. Just last weekend at the Girl Scout camp I was joking with the other moms that it was so bloated and firm it felt like I was pregnant. And while that’s funny, and we chuckled about it, it’s also rather uncomfortable. So I have been doing more research into what foods cause that type of bloating and it turns out the biggest culprits are my favorite foods. Duh, right? Coffee, breads, pastas, protein bars, raw veggies! Oh, and sugar, which is of course, in everything under the sun.

My plan of action? I’ve started by doing a better job of reading nutrition labels to look for sugar content in addition to carb and protein content. And stopping to think before I eat something, and ask myself, “is it worth the bloated belly?” Sometimes I’ve decided it is, but more times than not I’ve been able to say no, and find an alternative snack or meal. One of my favorite replacements when I’m craving chocolate (which is daily) is to drink a glass of my ItWorks chocolate greens. I had been drinking it every day and somehow got away from it, so it’s good to have that resource. It curbs my chocolate craving without the inflammatory sugar, and as a bonus it provides me with all those nutrients my body needs to work better. Win-win.

I can avoid raw veggies by roasting them instead, no problem. And I think I can find replacements for the flat-out sugary foods. Its the breads and pastas that will be tricky because boy, do I love my carbs. I’m not the greatest cook, and what I am able or familiar with cooking pretty much all involves pasta or rice. I’ve not been real impressed with substitutes like cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles. I think those are going to be flavors and textures I just may have to endure at first and hopefully I’ll grow to like them.

I am still not eating dairy, because it was causing major headaches when I ‘cheated’, and I noticed the nerve pain in my feet was starting to come back. So that’s one inflammatory food that I have already eliminated. I have put eggs and some meat back in my diet, but only in small portions. With this half-marathon training I was feeling the need to find more variety in my protein sources, and I’m not creative or kitchen savvy enough to do it the way the actual vegans do it. My husband calls me a “chea-gan”. Vegan who cheats, get it?

So, that’s where I’m at. I guess. Trying to work on the inflammation. It’s challenging saying no to the foods I love, yes, but I noticed right away that it was making a difference in how I feel, so that motivates me to keep going with it. Over time I’m sure I will find more appealing alternatives and it will become a habit, just like all the other health choices I’ve been making over the years. I’ve got to stop loving the foods that seem to hate me. It’s just dysfunctional, you know?

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Short Runs

Post run puppy kisses

Today’s short run was fantastic! Barely had to walk at all, and foot drop feels like just a thing of the past. I can’t believe I’m calling 4 miles a short run, but I guess that just shows what progress I’ve made in this training process. What really struck me as interesting during this run is that my breathing was not labored, and I was still able to maintain a pace around 13 minutes per mile. The other exciting thing was that my feet and legs felt lighter, and my legs seemed almost like they were propelling me forward, almost wanting me to go faster. I had to fight that urge, because that’s what landed me on my face last time. The cooler weather is nice too. Overall it was just a really great run, and I feel like I’m finding my rhythm, my groove.

The thing that has me a little perplexed is Friday’s scheduled run. My plan has me running 12 miles. TWELVE MILES! Aside from that being a really freaking long distance for me to run, I don’t even know WHERE I could run from my house that could get me to 6 miles, so that running there and back would bring me to twelve. I do have a decent 8 mile route, 4 out and back, so I guess I could shorten it to 3 miles out and back and just run it twice. That’s 12, right? I’m making a huge deal about that number, but I am curious to see how my body holds up to it, since I’ll be running 13.1 in just 25 days EEK!

I don’t know if you can tell in the photo above, but Piper is wearing a hoodie. Luke has one he wears with the sleeves cut off and the kids thought it would be fun to put it on the dog. Turns out, she doesn’t hate it, and it really seems to calm her down. She’s a high anxiety dog, and when we told our vet about the sweater, she said she would really benefit from a thunder coat, which would fit her better since they are designed specifically for dogs. So we’ve looked at them and will probably buy one for her soon. In other news, I added a pet category to our monthly budget so we can stop using our food budget to buy Kong balls and dog treats. HA!

Now I’m going to let you go because I have banana bread in the oven and the heavenly smell has me wanting to snuggle up in my recliner with a cup of coffee and a good book. Have a great day, friends!

All things fall

This post is dedicated to sweater weather which, here in Michigan, is right around the corner. I love sweater weather. I love summer, spring, fall, and winter, and I love this state because we get all four seasons in equal parts. Each one is just long enough so that you love it when it’s here, but as it’s ending you are more than ready for the next one to begin.

One thing I notice is that when I’m out for a run, I’m much less miserable (that’s not to say that I’m usually miserable on a run, I’m just being overdramatic. It’s what I do.) It’s really nice to have the cool, gentle breeze, and then to come home and not be covered in sweat. Today I ran 5 miles, with a couple short walking breaks, and I was surprised when it occurred to me that I was not struggling to walk or breathe. I was quite comfortable throughout the entire run. Part of this is that I’m learning to slow down and give my body some grace when it needs it. I learned this lesson best by falling on my face last week, and I won’t soon forget it. I take shorter steps, for safety, and then when my knee gives me that warning that it’s about to give out on me, I walk for a bit. This warning comes in the form of a shooting pain in my knee just as my foot hits the pavement, and I have to really catch myself to avoid falling. As of yet, it’s not caused me to fall, and I hope it stays that way. I’m still really hopeful that I’ll complete this half marathon next month on my own two feet.

In more exciting news, my kids went back to school today! My son is in 7th grade and my daughter is in 5th. They both got the classes and the teachers that they wanted, so other than the fact that they can’t sleep in and sit around playing video games anymore, they are pretty hopeful this will be a good school year.

My son is going to be on the cross country team this year, which is totally new. He does love to run, and has often run with me, but I think cross will still be a challenge for him because he will need to build up his stamina. He’s a great short distance runner, but he gets tired and bored fairly easily.

My daughter is not into any sports, but she loves art and science and horses. We may get her in for more horseback riding lessons down the road. She wants to sign up again for Girl Scouts, which she has been rather finicky about in the past so I’m hoping it sticks this time. Our community has a strong Girl Scout community and its a great way for her to build friendships with her classmates and learn some cool stuff in the process.

My ItWorks business is going fairly well. I added a new customer last month but this month is kind of at a standstill because I’ve been so focused on wrapping up the summer and getting the kids back to school. I’d like to do more promoting of the products I personally use on a regular basis, so you might see that coming around in the next couple weeks. If you are interested in checking out the product line, feel free to hop over onto my webstore at stillmindy.myitworks.com. Most people who have heard of the company have heard about their weight loss products, but there’s actually a lot more there. My personal favorites are the greens and the skin care line, for example. If you see something you like, let me know and I can help you get the 40% discount.

I have my next Financial Peace University class coming up in just 3 weeks and I still only have 3 people/couples signed up! Not that I don’t love a small group, but I would really like to see more people in the class because it’s such a wonderful life-changing experience and there are so many people out there who need to learn this stuff. This is God’s way of handling money, so it works. It’s not easy, for sure, but nothing worth doing ever is.

Well. What else? Bible Study Fellowship classes start up around the same time as FPU, so I’m going to be extra busy. Actually, I’m hoping for FULL, rather than busy. I’ve been working a little at watching how I’m spending my time so that I’m using it purposefully and not wasting it. I do allow myself downtime to rest my brain, I’m just being careful not to stay there too long. It’s been helpful having the kids home because I kind of feel like they are watching me and so I’m less tempted to waste time, so we’ll see how that changes now that they are back in school.

On that note, I’m going to make sure kitchen counters are cleared off because my groceries will be delivered soon!

Courage

Yesterday was my scheduled long run of the week, in preparation for my very first half marathon in 36 days (but who’s counting?). I planned out my route, a simple 5 miles out through town and on to the park trails, and 5 miles back. I started out feeling really strong, and I was excited for this run because up to this point my longest run had been 8 miles. I knew I was going to have to walk for parts of it, to rest my knee, and I was okay with that concession.

Do you ever embark on a new challenge and you feel really confident about it, only to fall flat on your face, metaphorically speaking? Well, I did this, only it wasn’t metaphorical. A mile and a half in to this long run, I tripped on the sidewalk and fell Flat. On. My. Face. I sat on the grass between the sidewalk and the street and inspected my wounds. Were my teeth still in tact? Was I gushing blood? Were my cochlear implants still on my head? Yes, no, and surprisingly, yes. After about 20 seconds I stood up, brushed myself off, and continued to run. But as I ran I could feel my upper lip swelling and I could taste blood. I decided to call my husband, who happened to be working from home that day, and ask him to bring me some ice. Until he drove up to give me the ice pack, I fully intended to run the remaining 8.5 miles with a fat lip and what would eventually turn into a massive headache. I think he could see that I was on the verge of tears, and he suggested that I ride back home with him and just rest a bit, that I could always go back out when I was ready. After a few moments of hesitation, I said yes. I kept my running clothes on for several hours, under the delusion that I would go back out and run the 10 miles. But then the headache came, and I decided I was better off taking an Aleve and sleeping for awhile. I could always try again Saturday.

So Friday felt like a bust and I woke up Saturday knowing this was my day to get that long run in, but really feeling like I need to be safer about it. This had been the 3rd time I fell this month, and while I need those long runs to prepare my body for 13.1, I don’t think it’s wise to run so far from home without a guide. I can still get the same workout on the dreaded treadmill in our basement. I hate running on the treadmill, but I need to get ready for this race, and not injure myself in the process.

To be honest, I woke up Saturday not really sure if I was going to run or not. But then I was on Facebook and my friends were posting reports of their long training runs. And then a friend texted asking how my face was doing, and another friend reminding me that yesterday’s fall was not failure, because she still remembers when I needed a walker to walk. So with a few messages of encouragement, in just a matter of minutes, my extreme discouragement transformed into full-on Courage. I was ready to run these miles. The icing on the cake, folks, was when I walked down to the treadmill and was reminded of the picture I keep above the display that says: “There will be a day when I can no longer run. Today is not that day.” I had forgotten all about it, but you can bet that was the final word of encouragement I needed to make sure I got that run started. And once I start, you better believe I’m a stubborn mule and I will finish, dang it.

I learned some things about running on the treadmill. One, when you run longer than 99 minutes, it stops moving and restarts the timer. Thankfully it didn’t reset the distance because that would have really frustrated me, but I ended the run at 9.99 miles just to be on the safe side. Some other advantages to the treadmill are that I can watch tv, I can stream Pandora without using data, and I have immediate access to a bathroom. So it wasn’t all bad. I did struggle with finding a good pace but I suppose that’s all part of the training. Better to figure this stuff out here in the safety of my home, than out on the course on race day.

I’ll be honest, compared to most of my runs, this one was pretty sucky, but it’s done and I have to be okay with that. My legs didn’t fail me, although my knee did cause me to fall once so I was glad I had a grab bar, I had zero drop foot issues, and I was actually able to finish with a very slow jog. So it’s a win in my book, whether I like it or not. Two days of rest and then I’ll be back out again for some short runs!

Just an overall great day

Today was a really great day. Nothing out of the ordinary or spectacular, it was just a good day, so I wanted to share before I head off to bed.

The kids and I went to church this morning. Hubby was at a shooting competition so it was just the three of us. We had been preparing to ride the bus, but were able to secure a ride with the pastor’s wife at the last minute. So while we were a bit excited about doing something new by riding the fixed route bus, we were thankful we didn’t have to get up super early to catch the bus. We’ll hopefully try again on another day before the summer is over.

Church was great, as usual. I love my church family, because they are just like that: family. I was able to have a bit of time after the service to catch up with the some of the other women and invited two of them to BSF in the fall.

The afternoon was spent relaxing, having lunch with the kids, chatting with my sister, and doing a bit of bookkeeping for the church. By the evening, after dinner, I was feeling pretty sluggish and the sun hadn’t set yet, so I threw on some running clothes and went for a quick two miles around the neighborhood. I’ve been doing a pretty good job with resting my knee and doing the exercises the doctor gave me, and tonight’s run really showed me that it’s paying off, because I only took a few brief walking breaks and I had no knee pain throughout the run! Even after I got home I didn’t feel any pain. Not only that, but my pace was pretty strong for the time I was running, at around 11 or 12 minutes, which is pretty fast for me. I usually average closer to 13 minute miles. So I was pretty ecstatic about that run, and it really gives me hope that I’ll still be able to complete the half marathon in 56 days!

I’m excited about the upcoming race, but I’m even more excited about a lot of leadership opportunities I have coming up. Leadership is not necessarily my comfort zone, but I feel like God has really been working on me in this area, and helping me to step out of my comfort zone little by little. I can still be my introvert self and interact with others. I really enjoy getting to know people and hearing their stories. In the fall I’ll be leading a Bible Study Fellowship group, a discipleship group through my church, and Financial Peace University. That sounds like a lot, but I’m hopeful I’ll be able to keep a good balance and manage my time well enough to handle it all.

Shifting gears here, but I recently saw the dermatologist and I thought it was just going to be a follow up to get refills on the antibiotic for my rosacea, but the doctor I was seeing left the practice so I was seeing a new one. Not new to the practice, just new to me. I was very reassured from the minute he walked in the room because he actually examined my face under the light, and the last doctor never did that, which I always thought was odd. This new doctor is changing up my medication a little bit and putting me on something stronger, with the hopes that eventually I won’t have to take the antibiotics. He also gave me a prescription for a cream that should help the specific problem areas on my face. So that was a really positive visit and I went home feeling hopeful that we can get my face cleared up even more.

So the last couple weeks were filled with a couple doctor’s visits, my monthly Tysabri infusion, and lab work to make sure I can still take the Tysabri. Then in a week or so we go to the dentist for cleanings, and take the kids to the orthodontist for evaluations. Not exactly your idea of summer fun, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Being healthy is super important to me because if I didn’t have this energy, I wouldn’t be able to do any of the volunteering that I’m signed up to do. So I’m staying focused (i.e. mildly obsessed) with the running, daily exercises, eating my fruits and veggies, drinking my greens, and taking my vitamins. Staying healthy for this M.S. girl is kind of a full time job.

The Prodigal

I’m a little tired today, but it’s still early. There’s a chill in the air, so I’m out here enjoying the chirping of the birds while wrapped in a blanket.

The cool weather has me wishing I was running. With the breeze and the sun, it’s my favorite weather to run in. If I didn’t have neighbors so close on each side I would be doing my exercises out here on the deck. Maybe next year I’ll be old enough to not care, but I’m not there yet.

This morning I was reading Luke chapter 15, the story of the prodigal son, and it reminded me of the ridiculous choices I made way back when in my prodigal days. I also read as part of a devotional reading plan this morning about how we often relate to God in a similar way to how we relate with our earthly fathers. And this led to a strong desire to share my prodigal story with you kind readers. So, here goes.

I was a straight A student in high school, with the exception of that B in gym. I was a well behaved child, mostly. Not necessarily because I was good hearted, but more so that the other kids at school wouldn’t judge me and call me a hypocrite. So when I tossed that graduation cap in the air, I felt like I had been released from the judgment. I could experiment with the world. I wanted to explore. I started saying yes to the party invitations.

Prodigal: “spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant”

That summer, while still living at home, I did a lot of heavy drinking. I discovered a lot of things, like how my friends were acquiring liquor, and also that my body does not like rum. Since I had turned 18 earlier that year, I was able to legally buy cigarettes, so I started smoking too. Menthols, because regular cigarettes were nasty. (Who was I kidding, right? They’re all nasty.) It was a fun summer, but it was mostly regrettable for all the lying I did to my parents.

When I went off to college that fall I thought I had gotten the rebellion out of my system and I could move forward. Famous last words.

I lived in the dorms, down in the valley. I had to walk quite a ways to get to class (up hill! Both ways! In three feet of snow!!). During this time period I was dressing like a dime store punk – greasy hair, long baggy bell-bottom pants, polyester shirts. I kind of wish I had pictures, but we didn’t have digital back then. My new look must have attracted the wrong people because I was befriended by John, who also lived in the dorms. I’ll never forget this conversation: we were walking to class and talking about music and I was telling him how much I liked Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd and he asked me – “Oh, do you smoke?” I thought he meant cigarettes, so I quickly answered yes.

And that, my friends, is how easy it was to get started smoking marijuana. This was the beginning of the end of my college experience. I was introduced to pot and as it turns out, I loved it. So much so that I was smoking it all the time. I was sleeping too late, missing class, being a total jerk to my roommate, and doing questionable things I thankfully can’t remember. This went on for months. When our grades were posted and I saw that I was getting C’s, I gave up. I had never in my life gotten C’s, so I couldn’t see any way to come back from it. Without a word to anyone, I went to the registrar’s office and dropped out.

My mom lived in the same town, so I told her first. She graciously allowed me to move my stuff into her dining room and sleep on a cot until I could secure a more permanent space. I don’t remember how long before I told my dad, but I remember we were in a movie theater, waiting for a movie to start. I told him I had dropped out of school, and instead of being angry at me for throwing away my future, he told me he loved me and gave me a great big hug.

I still can’t really describe to you how much these gestures of grace and forgiveness mean to me, even to this day. I trusted I could count on my mom to accept me, but I had expected condemnation from my dad. I expected disappointment, yet I received unconditional love. I was the prodigal son, and he welcomed me home with open arms. He didn’t throw me a party, but he may as well have. That hug was something special. It was a gift that gave me the strength to move forward with my life. To pack up and move on.

Genesis 12:1 (NIV) “The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”

I spent several months living in an apartment with a couple of my brother’s friends from high school, and eventually (miraculously, perhaps) rededicated my life to following my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God met me on the kitchen floor with a dusty Bible one morning and called me to move to Lansing. It’s where I’ve built so many cherished friendships, and it’s where I met my husband and we are raising our family. It’s where I later learned that my great grandparents built a home and raised their children (my grandfather and great aunt). My grandmother even graduated from the same high school my husband did.

So the miracle that happened here, the end of this story, is that God saw that door I slammed shut with my stupidity and opened a window to a new life, a better life. He welcomed this prodigal daughter back home and threw her a party.

Have you slammed any doors shut in your life? Is God trying to show you a window to something better? Maybe it’s time to dust off that Bible, grab a cup of coffee, and search for it. Pull up a chair and sit with Him for awhile, He’s waiting to show you. If nothing else, He wants to give you a big party-sized hug.

Say that three times fast

Welp. I was finally able to see my primary doctor about my knee pain. The pain showed itself initially on a long run a month or two ago, but since then it likes to reappear when I’m walking too far or sitting too long. And of course when I’m running. The knee brace helps some, but still. I’m trying to train for a half marathon here, and I wanted to be sure I wasn’t doing any permanent damage to my knee.

The good news is that there is no permanent damage. I suspected that after my visit to the free clinic, but my doctor confirmed it. Her diagnosis was Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, or Runner’s Knee. She recommended R.I.C.E. – rest, ice, compression, elevation – which I’ve kinda sorta been doing already, with the exception of rest. Resting is hard. She said it would probably be best to stop running for awhile, and just stick with my home exercises. She didn’t say NOT to run, but just that I would heal faster if I didn’t. Oh, and she gave me some rehabilitation exercises to do at home that will help strengthen the muscles that support the knee, which should help to prevent this from happening again down the road.

Since the weather in the coming week is forecasted to cross over to triple digits, and I hate running on the treadmill, I’m not all that sad about not running. Putting a pause on the training makes me a little nervous though, because my half marathon is only 65 days away. But – I have to trust that the home exercises are going to keep my body fit and help prepare me for running 13.1 miles. Also, I’m adjusting my expectations so instead of running the whole race, I’m okay with having to take walk breaks. The ultimate goal is to finish, however long it takes me.