Passing the Time

Now that my life no longer revolves around the preparation of running 26.2 miles no thanks to my plantar fascia rupture, I’ve been trying to keep my sanity in a variety of ways.

Netflix

If I can’t run 26.2 miles, I might as well lap my couch with Netflix marathons. Sometimes Netflix is way off in its suggestions of what I may enjoy, so when Gran Hotel was one of the suggested series, I hesitantly pressed play. I don’t know if I should say fortunately or unfortunately, but I was HOOKED!! In fact, in the two and a half days it took me to watch the 42 episodes, I averaged 4 hours of sleep and only moved away from the television when it was completely necessary. Much to my disappointment though, the final season is not being offered, so I was left hanging and hoping Netflix comes to its senses before I go out of mine.

Gran Hotel is a spanish series (english subtitles) filled with passion, intrigue, romance, sabotage, and images that totally captivate you. I give it 10 stars!

Rowing  

With each day that passes by, I feel like I’m transforming into the blob and all of the training is evaporating into the ozone layer. I’ve been trying to maintain some of my cardio by rowing. There are days where 10,000 meters feels like a breeze, and other days where I cannot fathom rowing even 100 meters. But, row I must if I want to return to running without feeling like my lungs have collapsed. 

I’ve posted this picture before, but I’ve not taken too many rowing pictures.

Juice Concoctions

I’m still trying to figure out my grandmother’s beet and chia juice recipe. On my last attempt, I blended beets with water, chia seeds, and a squeeze of lime to counter the earthy flavor and it was nothing worth bragging about. This time around, I added carrots, strawberries, apples, and used orange juice instead of water. One thing I learned is how much effort juicing requires when you don’t have an expensive juicer. Because I only have a blender, I had to manually strain the pulp with a colander, and it took ages to squeeze out 8 ounces of juice! And to think my grandmother used to make a gallon of the beet and chia juice! These realizations make me love her even more and wish I could somehow have her with me so I can give her a big hug and tell her how much I love her.

Juicing is hard work!!! By the time I strained the glass pictured, I only had 1/2 the quantity.

Wining 

I’m not much of a drinker, but I do enjoy an occasional adult beverage here and there. While I’m partial to margaritas, I don’t particularly care for the effect they have on my brain the morning after. Anyhow, the week I started hobbling on my foot, a local grocery outlet had a 20% discount to their already reduced priced bottles of wine. Since I figured unwinding my stressed out brain was worth a little splurge, I went ahead and purchased a dozen. My husband was rather pleased with my investment and we have been enjoying a glass of wine while feasting on Netflix shows once our offspring are finally in bed. I’ve discovered that Pinot Noirs are my favorite and prefer them over whites. Salud!

Looks like my dishwashing skills need a little help. These are my favorite wine glasses from my favorite non-race of Fueled by Fine Wine.

Flashcards

My two-year-old will be starting pre-school this fall, and we have been investing time helping her learn the alphabet. We have been using flashcards to assist with letter and sound recognition and so far she recognizes about 50% of the alphabet. She makes me proud.

She was oppossed to having me take her picture.

Spectating

My 11-year-old has been begging me this past year to enroll her in gymnastics. The guilty mom in me wants to enroll her, but since the closest gymnastics center is an hour drive, the realist in me says “no.” Thus, I’m completely cognizant that this may end up being one of those things my daughter may resent me for sometime in the near future. While I don’t find pleasure in negating the desires of physical challenges to one of my daughters, especially because gymnastics was something I really wanted to do as a little girl (but knew without a doubt that was something my mother would never support because of finances and extracurricular activities were a foreign concept), it is a bit too taxing to invest a two hour commute for what may be a short-term interest. It’s a gamble I guess, but gambles seem to be a part of the parenting role. I do hope someday she finds it in her heart to forgive me should her resentment grow stronger. For now, I appreciate her tenacity and enjoy witnessing the various physical movements I wish I could perform.

Cheering my little self-taught gymnast!

Have you ever had an injury or a temporary detour during training? What do you do to keep your fitness level and your sanity?

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Generativity vs Stagnation

A rupture in the plantar fascia.” That was the verdict from the podiatrist almost a week after walking around with a painful limp on my right foot. He then informed me it would take anywhere from 4-6 weeks for the rupture to heal on its own. Resting, wrapping, and icing would help the healing process. Reasons for the strain consisted of improper shoes, over stretching of the band due to high impact exercise, and improper landing of the foot. 

Heal, foot, heal!!

With three weeks left until Eugene, and after shedding and abundant amount of salty tears, experiencing heart ache, disbelief, anger, and finally acceptance, I now know I cannot complete what I set out to do back in October. Crossing the finish line at Hayward Field is no longer the goal. 

I’ve experienced disappointments in the past. In elementary school, I came in the third place for a poetry contest after forgetting my lines despite the fact I could recite them in my sleep. At the age of 21, I failed my driving exam three times in a row. My first failed attempt at running a half-marathon in under 2 hours was also disappointing. 

This time around though, the disappointment is far more painful than the aforementioned experiences combined. It is so strong, it feels like my insides have been carved out. The pain doesn’t just stem from the amount of time I have devoted to training it’s the stage of life in which I find myself.

Generativity vs Stagnation

Erik Erikson was a psychologist who established the model of psychosocial development stages, each stage defined by a psychological “crisis.” Erikson believed that each stage in our personal development requires the mastery of a specific task. Successful mastery of each tasks leads to positive personal growth “and the opportunity to develop the virtues of hope, determination, courage, competence, loyalty, love, care, and wisdom.” However, if unsuccessful, the outcome creates a conflict within our identity that can lead to maladaptive behaviors.

 

At the age of 38, I find myself questioning my footprints and what I can offer to the world. I’ve given up my career as a School Psychologist because I believe staying home for my daughters is what they will appreciate. When my grandmother passed away, what I valued most was her presence. It was her whom I saw when I first came home from school. It was her who stayed home with me when I was sick. It was her who prayed with me at night and walked me to school. Her presence was a gift for me. 

Giving up my profession has been difficult. It was an integral part of my identity that I worked really hard to earn. When I walked away from it two years ago, I decided to focus on becoming more than just a recreational runner. For years I secretly pined to be an athlete and I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to live out my dream. Unlike the many confident singers who clearly can’t sing but still end up audiotining on American Idol, I’m completely aware I’m not an athlete, but I know I can be the very best non-athletic me. The injury has brought to light that I’m not getting any younger. Opportunities I took for granted as a teenager and well into my early thirties are now opportunities I want to seize. Opportunities where I can leave my mark and feel like there is a sense of value to my mortality.

But for now, I wait. I wait as impatiently as a child who sees 24 hours for Christmas to come as infinite amount of time. Except now, I don’t take time for granted, and I must continue to cross train so that the last four months of training do not slip away.

Got a 5K PR rowing 22:40!

The Five Stages of (Running Injury) Grief

 

The mind is powerful. So powerful indeed that it cannot be replicated. While progress has been made throughout the years to understand how our mind functions when resolving conflict, solving problems, and making decisions, the research of how and why we do what we do has not proven to be an exact science; suggesting we still have so much more to learn about the human psyche.

In college, I first learned about the Five Stages of Grief developed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss medical doctor who spent time working with individuals facing death. In her time with these patients, she recognized terminally ill people share a cycle of emotions which became to be known as the Grief Cycle. The emotions of the Grief Cycle though, may be also relevant to the various experiences we can face in our day-to-day life, such as an impending divorce, a forced career change, loss of faith, and in my case, a running injury.

Denial

It was Monday, day one of my 17th week of Eugene Marathon Training. Something was awry with my left foot, but I ignored it believing it was due to fatigue from Saturday’s 20 mile run (training week 16, which I have yet to post). When Wednesday rolled around, and I barely finished what was supposed to be a very easy five mile run, I should have made the decision to skip Thursday’s scheduled 8 mile run. 

On Thursday, I woke up determined to redeem myself from Wednesday’s treacherous run. I spent the entire morning reciting positive statements, and I spent 20 minutes doing yoga moves that really made me believe my foot pain was just a fluke. When I laced up my shoes and set off for my 8 mile run, the first 4 miles told me I had made the right decision and confirmed Wednesday’s run was just an “off” run. 

When the fifth mile rolled along, I immediately felt overjoyed thinking my blog post for marathon training week 17 would be filled with a story of redemption. Except, the vision of redemption turned blurry on mile 5.35, when something in my left foot collapsed. Still unwilling to accept that something was wrong, I yelled to myself, “Your foot is fine!” Instead of stopping immediately, I told myself to continue running until I reached 5.5 miles. I was unwilling to accept any kind of running injury after 16.5 weeks of diligent training! With less than 5 weeks remaining until the Eugene Marathon, I was not going to entertain the idea something was wrong. Denial, according to my thinking, was far better for my mental health than coping with the scary reality of an injury. 

Anger

When I reached 5.55 miles, and felt significant pain on my arch and around the outside edge of my foot, giant rage-filled tears flooded my eyes. Not only was I hurting, but I could barely walk. I hobbled to my tub and soaked my feet in frozen water. I began sobbing uncontrollably and cussing at my deformed feet. I despised them for being so weak. Unkind words and thoughts consumed my mind for believing I could actually be capable of finishing a marathon in a less than stellar time. The tears got hotter and rolled down with much strength thinking about my blog and how foolish it was of me to blog about my marathon training journey. I was an ordinary person trying to complete a distance in an ordinary time. My rage served as an armor to protect what was the inevitable.

Bargaining 

I should have listened to my body on Monday.”

“Perhaps it would have all been different had I not gone through so many different pairs of shoes.”

“Was I too ambitious with my training and pushed too hard? Maybe I should have been more conservative with my training?”

“Please God don’t let this be serious. I promise if you heal this right away, I’ll stop running for a month.”

Many should haves, ifs and maybes rushed my mind all at once as I stood in the shower, refusing to surrender to the thought that all my hard work was going down the drain. Perhaps there was still a way to salvage it. I made secret deals with God about buying less shoes, or not entering any more races after the year was over. I promised him I would be a better wife and mother, and I would be more humble with others in return for an opportunity to continue training.

I strongly felt I could change what had happened and go back to the Monday that set off the series of events. If I could just get a second chance, I wouldn’t have to face the reality of what was happening.

Depression

I spent the entire day Friday crying, feeling hopeless, and sorry for myself. Had it not been for my daughters present at home, I probably would have spent the entire day sleeping. I tried to remind myself I was blessed, that people were in far worse situations than the one I found myself in. However, logic could not help me shake off the sadness and disappointment entrenched within my spirit. Up to this week, marathon training had fully consumed me. At night, I would rest my head with visions of crossing the finish line in under 4:20. In my vision, my hands would raise up in the air to demonstrate the feelings of triumph and disbelief. Now though, I felt insipid for my conjuring such a vision. My path was muddled and I could no longer see where my training was headed. Furthermore, it was clear at this point I was not going to be able to put in the 17 miles scheduled for Saturday. To make matters worse, the two podiatrists in the city were not available until Wednesday. The walk-in clinic was closed, and I could not access a primary care physician unless they had a release of information from my previous doctor. So here I was, sitting on the couch, depending on my 11-year-old daughter to help me get through the day because I was completely useless. When 9 pm rolled around, I was ready to sleep for as long as the night would allow me.

Acceptance

It was still dark out when I opened my eyes. I dreamt of Jonathan Knight, who is a member of a 90’s boy band known as New Kids on the Block (NKOTB). I was so infatuated with NKOTB, I’d get into verbal spats with anyone who dared say anything negative about them. 

NKOTB Rule according to adolescent me!

The dream must have awaken me because I recall hugging Jon and forgiving him. What exactly I was forgiving him for I could not tell you, but it must have been something that really hurt me because I recall feeling relieved. 

When I reached for my phone, the time read 3:08 am. As I lay still in the darkness, there was a spark within me that lit up my soul. Perhaps there was some symbolism to the dream, because I went back to bed with hope and a plan. Even though I would not be able to run 17 miles, I was still capable of doing other things to cross train. I decided I was going to row 20,000 meters. I was done feeling sorry for myself. Yes, my foot was hurt, but the rest of my body was intact. With four weeks of marathon training left, I still had the opportunity to recover. Maybe I won’t be able to finish my marathon in 4:20 like I initially wanted, but I could still finish mentally and physically strong, which has been my goal all along.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Spring Break 2015

As a child, my Spring Breaks were filled with television – lots of television. Even though we lived in Florida, we never saw the beach on Spring Break. Throw into the mix Spring Break usually landed on Holy Week with a highly devout Catholic grandma who frowned upon pleasurable experiences during that time of year, and our Spring Breaks were as exciting as a plate of liver with onions – yuck! 

As a parent, Spring Break has become a week that allows our family the opportunity to make wonderful memories together. My husband and I have made it a point to get out of the house during Spring Break in order to grant our daughters (11 and 2) experiences that will forever be forged in their memory banks. Fortunately, most Spring Breaks in Oregon are not usually held during Holy Week, so I don’t have to feel bad about my grandma looking down on me from heaven and frowning. This year, we decided to head to the Oregon Coast to visit my husband’s mother.

Here’s a breakdown of our week:

Monday

My sister-in-law visited us from Seal Rock, Oregon and we enjoyed the evening with wine and baked chicken drumsticks accompanied with a fresh green salad and steamed broccoli. 

Tuesday 

We had a stack of my favorite pancakes for breakfast (King Arthur Gluten Free Pancake Mix – not sensitive to gluten, just love the flavor) and we trekked to Wallowa Lake to enjoy some scenery and a walk around the park. 

View of Mountains that are part of the Eagle Cap Wilderness

Wallowa Lake in its splendor


Wednesday 

After almost ten years of wanting to run the Marine Corps Marathon, my husband and I are going to run it together this Fall! This year, the Marine Corps Marathon went into a lottery system, which meant you got in by luck. Figuring I had nothing to lose but the time I invested in registering for it, I went ahead and registered both my husband and me. When I woke up in the morning and saw an e-mail indicating both he and I made it, I jumped up and down and screamed due to all the excitement.

Immediately following my excitement, I did some strength training, a run, made breakfast for my guests, and helped them prepare for their journey back to the Coast. We pretty much spent most of the day packing for our trip that would take place on Thursday morning. 

Thursday

We were supposed to leave at 8, but due to my inability to complete my nine mile run prior to 8 am, we did not end up leaving until close to 11 am!

For our trip to the Coast, we decided to take the long round about way and stop at a place I’ve been wanting to see since we moved to Eastern Oregon two years ago: The Painted Hills.

We made a bathroom break (very clean bathrooms) at the Mascall Formation Overlook on our way to the Painted Hills.

I’ve seen pictures of the Painted Hills on the Internet and I’ve always wanted to see them with my own eyes. I wanted a picture of the Hills snapped by my own lens. The Painted Hills are in the Central Oregon area close to the city of Mitchell, Oregon. Traversing quaint small towns nestled at the foot of majestic hills is my favorite part of road trips!  

This Painted Hill was one of the first Hills that greeted us as we first drove into the park.

Sand and surf weren’t the only elements of nature we failed to experience during Spring Break. Florida, known for its palm trees and sandy shorelines is also as flat as a can of soda left opened for three days straight. So whenever hills and mountains are involved, I’m always up for the experience regardless of whether it takes running, hiking, snowshoeing or driving to get to it.

Selfie with my wonderfully wonderful husband.

There are have been many times where I have been filled with so much anticipation about an event, that the day or moment it happens, the experience does not live up to the hype I’ve built up. This was definitely NOT the case when I saw the Painted Hills! It was how I imagined it, and its beauty lived up to the awe and fascination I had for them when I could only admire them in pictures. It was my only hope my 11 year-old would remember this landmark and this moment and would someday share this, if not a similar experience, with her children! 

The AMAZING Painted Hills!

Friday

We arrived to Newport close to 11 pm and I did not get to bed until midnight. Spring Break meant a break from routine, but not from marathon training. It was only four miles of running on the schedule, but they were four green miles filled with beach, bridges, and homes with cedar sidings. My husband took me on a trail run that he himself had never run despite growing up in Oregon. It was filled with bridges, dirt and gravel paths! 

Ocean to Bay Trail in Agate Beach

After negating the calories we burned on our run with a delicious and hearty breakfast, we all drove to Cape Perpetua. The weather was definitely tailored for individuals who enjoy wind and rain (not me). However, the views were still striking and the weather added an extra touch of excitement to our exploration.

View of the Pacific Ocean from West Shelter Observation Point

There was slight fog and relentless wind. The shelter gave us good cover from the elements.


Saturday

Twenty miles along the Newport Marathon Course was the best way to start my Saturday. But the day only got better.

Long run along the Newport Marathon Course

My mother-in-law, in honor of my 38th birthday (March 31), made a delicious pulled pork and potato salad meal (yum) and homemade carrot cake – score!!!! I was overfilled with joy because the day turned out so much better than I expected. I got to put in a long run and celebrate with family savoring a wonderful meal! My heart was filled with gratitude! Thank you so much to my mother-in-law for a stupendous weekend.

My mother-in-law gave me my favorite chocolates and Huma Gel. She knows me pretty well. I also got spoiled with homemade carrot cake, carrot cupcakes, and triple chocolate cake! Best part, I felt zero guilt considering I had run 20 miles!

Sunday

We headed back home on Sunday and our return called for another long road trip. We made various stops along the way, but my favorite by far was a trail we serendipitously discovered while making a potty break for our two-year-old. The trail was called Soap Stone Lake Trail. Since it was unplanned, we figured this was a perfect opportunity to explore this Oregon gem.

The trail was 1.5 miles long, and led to Soap Stone Lake. There were wooden bridges, tall green mossy trees, meadows, and wooden stairs. It was also a decent climb as the trail was not flat. I stopped and took as many pictures and soaked in the scenery. Perhaps the best part about our hike was the fact we were the only individuals hiking it! 

One of the bridges and stairs along the Soap Stone Lake Trail

A picture of Soap Stone Lake. We got closer and walked on some of the logs that are fallen on the lake.

Trail Selfie

I don’t know what the little leaves on the top left corner are, but they are edible and they taste delicious! My husband introduced us to them and we kept stopping to pick them and eat them.

All I can say is, “Best Spring Break EVER.” I don’t believe I sat down to watch any television!

How was your Spring Break? Did you get out of the house and explore the world around you?

Marathon Training: Week 15

SPRING BREAK! The morning chaos was on hiatus this week. My husband asked for the week off, so it made for an extra sweet week having him home as well. Three of my mornings were filled with Crossfit and I got to run outside 5 out of 6 days! This was an awesome 15th week of Marathon Training! Only seven more weeks to go.

Monday

Four miles. Did Crossfit in the morning and immediately headed out for a four mile easy run. My Crossfit friend, Bene, ran one mile with me and I had three morning miles to myself.

  

Tuesday

Seven and a half miles. Did Crossfit in the morning, went back home to switch out shoes, and took a couple of breaths before heading out to the track. The weather was miserable – rain, crazy winds, and cold. I felt great once my run was over. I was also really hungry, and made one of my favorite meals: pancakes!

  

Wednesday 

Five miles. Did Crossfit in the morning and once again, headed outside to complete five slow miles. 

My sister-in-law, her husband and my nephews visited us from Seal Rock, Or for the first part of the week, so we took them to see Wallowa Lake on Tuesday afternoon. The lake was empty, so we had a chance to explore and enjoy it all to ourselves!

  

  

Thursday

Nine miles. My husband and I decided to head out to the Oregon Coast on Wednesday afternoon, and I didn’t start my nine mile run until almost 9 am. Opted to complete this long run on the treadmill because I figured it would pressure me to go faster, and it did. Once my run was over, I rushed into the shower and we took the long way to the Oregon Coast.

Because I’ve been pining to visit the Painted Hills since moving to Eastern Oregon, my husband thought this was the perfect opportunity! Wish we would have had the whole day to explore, because it was absolutely beautiful!

  

Friday

Four miles. Not only did I get the opportunity to run in the Oregon Coast, I got a chance to run with my husband! My legs were hurting after yesterday’s nine mile run and sitting in a vehicle for more than 12 hours!

  

We wanted to explore the coast, so we ventured out to Cape Perpetua. The weather was what I consider stereotypical Oregon Coast weather: rain, wind, and fog.

  

Mentally prepared on Friday night for the twenty miles waiting for me on Saturday morning. I also physically prepared with a massive pasta, grilled chicken, broccoli, spinach, fresh tomatoes, and pico de gallo (for salsa) dinner meal! 

  

Saturday

Twenty miles!!!! These twenty miles had been on my radar since training day 1! There were all sorts of mixed feelings. Excitement and uncertainty were the most dominant feelings rushing through my mind and body. How would my body respond? Would I lose my mental bearing and end up walking? There was only one way to find out.

  

Water, Nuun Energy Tablets, Huma Energy Gels, and banana walnut cookie were in my Orange Mud water pack. 

After going back and forth on the course, I finally decided to run my 20 miles on the Newport Marathon course. The Newport Marathon was the first marathon I ever ran (2010). That experience was humbling, humiliating, and infuriating. There were probably more tears and blisters than there was sweat throughout my body. Because I failed to properly train and having only run 10 miles (on the treadmill) as my longest run, I suffered times ten the mental and physical anguish along every step of the course. After the first 16 miles, all I could think of doing was quitting. I think the hundreds of people who passed me along the way felt sorry for me and tried to encourage me to finish.

This time around, I wanted to redeem myself for at least 20 miles of the course. Most importantly though, I really wanted to ENJOY myself.

 

The first  six miles were spent messing with my gear. I had to stop and tie my shoe. Subsequently, a giant black cloud dumped water along the course and I had to waterproof my smart phone because I was not expecting rain. At mile 5.5, the rain had stopped, the sun made its presence, and the humidity was thick, so I stopped again to take off my jacket and tie it on a bungee cord attached to my water pack.

  

It took a good six miles to mentally settle down and find my stride. Once I did, my run was nothing but pure pleasure! I was able to observe the beauty of the course that I failed to enjoy back in 2010. The weather, the water, the breeze, the views, they were with me with each stride, and I felt like I belonged out there. So many times I’ve put myself down for being slow and feeling like I was a phony runner. Today though, I felt so much grace. I had the opportunity to reflect on how my mind and body had evolved into a stronger, sharper vessel. What was more amazing was the discovery that I finally felt like I could tame the negative voices inside my head. For years I berated myself. For years I felt like I was never good enough. With each and every task I endeavored, I wanted to prove something to others: my self worth, my mental aptitude, my charming personality. And despite all the efforts I placed on external approvals, I never seemed to fulfill the shallow void of impressing others in order to be liked and accepted.

  

The negative voices though were not present this time around. In fact, they’ve been absent for some time now. It’s become clear to me I can disown the voices as easily as I own them. As far as running is concerned, there will always be someone faster and stronger than me. But my goal has never been to be the fastest or the strongest. It’s always been to be the fastest and strongest me. And regarding approval, it’s only I who can approve of how valuable I choose to be. At the end of my life, I will be held accountable not so much by how hard I tried to impress others, but by how I treated others. I loved how these twenty miles proved to me that I’m on the right path!!!

 

 In 2010, I crossed the Newport Marathon in 5:46 minutes. Today, I ran twenty miles in 3:26! This means even if I were to have walked the last 6.2 miles of the marathon, I probably still would have crossed the finish line stronger than I did in 2010.