Gardens, Moving, and Running Injuries

Strawberries from the garden #mygarden #strawberries

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I didn’t plant much of a garden this year. I planned on it. In fact I had all the gardens tilled and prepped, seedlings started (what was left after the cats decided to snack on them), and a few plants purchased from the local nursery. But then we made the decision to move back to Illinois. The kids and I will hopefully get to move in a few weeks so they have time to settle in before the next school year begins. Because of that, I didn’t see much point in planting the garden. I did get a few tomato plants in before everything happened and the decision was made, but I seriously doubt that I’ll get to enjoy many of them before we move. My Lemon Boys have a few fruits on them, so maybe I’ll get to taste a few of them before we leave. I’m hoping I’ll get to taste at least one of my Hillbillies. I was most curious about how those would turn out.

I think I’m more attached to my garden than anything else about this house. I put so much work and sweat into it each year, I feel sad to leave it all behind. It is hard to watch the weeds grow in the main garden. I was keeping it clear of weeds for a few weeks out of respect (to what I’m not entirely sure), but then the summer heat and humidity kicked in. Suddenly it seemed silly and like a waste of energy, so I let it go. I have other things, like packing up the house, that I need to focus on right now. I did notice a rogue melon plant in there. It must be from one of last year’s plantings. Maybe the next inhabitants of this house will get to enjoy the melons and my heirloom tomatoes. I hope they like to garden.

Fresh picked radishes #mygarden #radishes

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I did plant some radishes, spinach, and mescalin salad mix in my smaller herb and gutter gardens. Those grow quickly enough, so I knew I would be able to enjoy them before we moved. And I can still get a small gardening fix before I leave.

Arugula and salad greens #mygarden #arugula

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The small patches I planted are doing quite well. I’ve been enjoying fresh-picked salads almost daily. My new favorite afternoon snack is a multi-grain Wasa cracker with olive oil mayo, fresh greens, basil, thinly sliced radishes and a few shakes of salt. Yum!

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I probably won’t be posting much until I’m resettled. I don’t see myself having much free time to post anything substantial. I’m also won’t be doing much running right now. I’m nursing a minor injury. I had it checked out yesterday. The good news is, no stress fracture. It looks like inflamed ligaments in my left ankle and bad shin splints in my left leg – the same one that gave me trouble during my last bout of training. The bad news is, no running for the next 7 days. I’ve already taken the last 7 days off, so 7 more days is hard. (I know…first world problems and it could be worse.) I can start back to running again after next weekend, but if the pain returns I have to go back for a bone scan and PT. At least I have plenty of packing to keep my mind off of the fact that I can’t run right now. And maybe I can finally knitting that pair of socks I started this past winter.

Do you like to garden? How is your garden doing this summer? Any summer running plans? Or are you taking it easy during the heat of the summer?

What is Better Than a PR?

Running alongside my 10 year-old as she completed her first 5K. She did fantastic! I couldn’t be more proud.

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My son and I ran this race last year. It was my first 5K and I was terribly unprepared. I was really new to running. I had only been running 2 months and had no business running a 5K. But my son, who runs on the cross-country team at school, was very persuasive and convinced me that it would be fun for us to do our first 5K together. He beat me by a good 10 minutes. I was terribly slow and barely made it across the finish line. I vowed up completion of that Spud Run that I would train consistently and return for a re-do this year.

I trained consistently, my running has improved tremendously over the past year, and I returned for my re-do of the Spud Run this year. My re-do wasn’t the speedy one I had envisioned. The actual re-do was so much better because I got to run with both my kids.

Backing up the choo-choo train a little bit…

A few months ago, my daughter expressed an interest in running. She wanted to try the Girls on the Run program, but their schedule didn’t match ours, so I suggested we try the Spud Run instead. The Spud Run is a nice, local, family-friendly race that raises money for MDA. A lot of her friends run it, so I thought it might be a good one for her to try. I downloaded a training schedule from the Girls on the Run website and we started practicing. We didn’t follow the schedule always, we had to be flexible because both kids are in other sports, but she did enough that she was able to complete the entire distance using a 3 min run/1 min walk strategy with a sprint to the finish line. We finished in 36:47, which is faster than my time from last year. And she came in 4th for her age group. Not bad for her first 5K.

Just finished her first 5K

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She rewarded herself with brownies and a bag of apple slices at the finish line. She had a blast. I think I’ve created a new runner in the family. As soon as we got home, she asked when we could sign up for the next race.

And my son won a medal for placing second in his age group. And he shaved 2 minutes off of last year’s time.

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I think I see a Turkey Trot in our future!

Do your kids like to run? Have you run any races with your kids?

Sunburst

I did it! I finished! I’m still processing the entire experience.

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The weather wasn’t ideal for any outdoor activity yesterday. The morning was an especially good one for burrowing under the bed covers, but I got myself out of bed and out the door pretty much on schedule. Right as the 5K racers were lining up, there was a thunderstorm threatening. We were worried the race was going to be delayed or even cancelled. Luckily it blew over and eventually the sun came out. It ended up being a very hot, humid, and thankfully breezy, sunny day.

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Even though I arrived an hour early, I almost missed the start of the race. I misjudged the time and went to make one last potty stop. The line to the bathroom was so long, that I cut it really close. I hopped in the back of the pack with all the walkers just as the gun went off. My dad says I was one of the last people to cross the starting line. I honestly wasn’t paying attention to my position. I was just happy I made it in time. While I was a ball of panicked adrenaline from worrying I was going to miss the start, I think being last helped. I have a habit, like most new runners, of going out too fast. However, I couldn’t get around some of the walkers in the beginning, so it forced me to start slow.

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The course itself wasn’t anything to write home about, but Indiana is not the most exciting state on the map. It was pretty in some spots along the river, but it got a bit twisted and confusing as it went through some of the neighborhoods. And there was one out and back stretch that was so boring I started going down the, “Why am I doing this? This is the dumbest thing ever! I could be home in bed!” route. The stifling 88% humidity didn’t help. I felt so sticky and heavy the entire time. And there were times I was struggling to catch my breath. Luckily around mile 7, OK Go! saved me by reminding me that “This Too Shall Pass”. And it did.

I’m not a football or Notre Dame fan, so I didn’t really get all the hype about Sunburst’s finish line. I get it now. Sunburst has the coolest finish line ever (at least in my experience, which is a bit limited). I felt like such a rock star running through the tunnel to the 50 yd line of the football field.

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I am thankful that I obsessively read blog posts about marathon running tips and others’ race reports leading up to Sunburst. One tip in particular saved me. (I’d link, but I read so many random posts I don’t remember where this tip came from.) It was a marathon race report. The runner was running in hot/humid conditions and commented that while she noticed most of the other runners struggling around her, she stayed strong by always finding the shade and taking 2 cups of water at every stop – 1 to drink and the other to pour over her head. I’m glad that piece of advice popped into my head when it did, because that is what I ended up doing during the second half of the race and it helped me manage the heat and humidity. I am also thankful for all the good citizens of South Bend who left their sprinklers in the road for us to run through. I jumped through a few like a little kid. It helped give me the boost I needed to make it to the finish line with a smile still on my face.

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My official time was 2:44:58. Not very fast, but I’m happy with my time. Given how the end of my training went, I honestly didn’t expect to finish under 3 hours. I went in with a goal to just finish. I decided to leave my competitiveness behind yesterday and just run for fun and the experience. I realize now, it’s really not about the time. It’s the entire journey – all the hard work, sweat, and perseverance that got me to the finish line – that I am most proud of. I learned a lot, I made some mistakes, and most important, I had a great time.

I think the half is my favorite distance so far. I want to run another in the near future. Maybe one in the fall when it’s not so hot. I’m also entertaining ideas of training for a full marathon in a few years. But for now, I have a few 5K’s on the horizon with the kids, so I think my goal is to work on my pace. I have to be able to keep up with the kidlets. Or at least not be too far behind them.

What Running Has Taught Me So Far

Take two…it’s a wordy one. Apparently, I had a lot to say.

That’s the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.

– Kara Goucher

As I’ve mentioned before, I never intended for running to take over this blog. I think once this half-marathon is over, a balance will be restored here. I’ve been accused by some in my real life recently of bragging, being slightly obsessed, and thinking I was better than others for taking on the half-marathon challenge. My intent was never to brag. I’m cognizant enough (at least I hope I am) to realize that in the grand scheme of life, nobody really gives a shit that I ran a 13.1 mile race in my lifetime. I’m not the first to achieve that goal, and I certainly won’t be the last.

Maybe I did intend to pat myself on the back a little. I’m pretty darn proud of myself. A little over a year ago, I was depressed, unhealthy, and I could barely run 1 mile, let alone 13.1. I started running by accident and it literally changed my life for the better. And like a new convert to a religion, I may have been a little over-exuberant in sharing my experience with others; but my intent was to keep a personal record of my journey, as well as to inspire and meet others with similar interests. It was never to obsess, brag, or condescend. I don’t know any other people who run regularly, so this is my place to explore, record, and meet others who may have advice, support, and experience to offer.

My first half-marathon training has been an interesting experience for me. I expected to push myself physically and mentally, but I didn’t expect the extent to which I would be tested. I chose this challenge when I did because it seemed like the right time. I was in good health, there was no unusual life stress to contend with, and I had the time and resources to train. However, when I was barely half-way into this journey, life happened, as it often does, and everything sort of fell apart on a personal level.  My husband lost his job (he thankfully got a new job, but with a drastic pay-cut which was a huge readjustment for us), my kids were dealing with bullying at school, I got a job and then had to leave it, I had some foot and asthma-related issues, and I had to deal with an unexpected family issue. My husband, a combat veteran suffering from PTSD, ended up in the hospital. He’s doing much better, but it’s been a struggle to get things back on track.

I could have quit, but I didn’t. I don’t think I could have made it through all this if I didn’t have the half-marathon to look forward to on the horizon. It gave me something concrete to focus on, it helped me distract myself from the stress I’ve been experiencing, my husband claims it’s inspiring to watch me progress, and it taught me lessons that I was able to apply to the non-running parts of my life.

Running also helped me maintain positive relationships with my kids throughout all this stress. My oldest has always liked to run. He is on the cross-country team and we ran our first 5K together last summer. Recently, both kids started joining me on some of my runs. It has become an activity that allows us to spend time together while blowing off some steam. As a result, we’ve had some of the best (and goofiest) conversations, which is important to maintaining household sanity.

Because of everything that happened during this short, 6 month time-frame, I’ve learned a lot about myself and some of the people I’ve surrounded myself with over the years. I’ve spent many miles reflecting on things recently: what is important to me, what I can change, and how I can change them. I thought I’d share them, not only to have my own personal record, but maybe someone else can relate.

  1. I am much stronger than I thought I was.
  2. There are things I can control, and things beyond my control. It only makes sense to focus on the things I can control. Worrying about the things beyond my control is a huge waste of time and energy. About the only thing I can control is my attitude, actions, and reactions, everything else is pretty much beyond my control.
  3. There is a difference in being busy and having purpose. I often thought I was too busy in the past to do anything for myself. Technically I was, but the busyness lacked purpose and I lacked discipline. Running is not my purpose in life, but it gave me the discipline I had been lacking. Now I try to live with purpose instead of just being busy. And I make sure I find the time for the things and people in my life that are important to me.
  4. I learned that I have a lot of “fair-weather friends”. They only come around when life is good – my life that is, because theirs is usually in disarray. When things got hard on my end, they were nowhere to be found. I’ve done some reevaluating on this front. I am trying to build better relationships with some, while also learning when to let go of the dead weight.
  5. It is important to be mindful of the people you surround yourself with. Energy vampires need to go. There is no need to feel guilty walking away from them. Misery may love company, but I have no intention in providing it with any.
  6. Every experience is what you make it. Almost every negative experience can be turned around just by doing something different.
  7. You have to be flexible and deal with things as they arise. Bad stuff happens. You can either keep moving forward or get stuck in the muck. Most times, things are not as desperate as they initially appear.
  8. Nobody can do the important work for you, you have to do it yourself. If you want things to happen, you have to figure out a way to make them happen. Wishing for, praying for, or “positively visualizing” something to happen without the accompanying hard work accomplishes nothing other than maybe setting yourself up for failure.
  9. It is important, not selfish, to take care of yourself. As a mom, I’ve always had people remind me, “You can’t take care of others unless you take care of yourself.” It’s true for everyone, not just moms. I feel much more equipped to handle things now that I’ve made the decision to always care for myself in addition to everyone else that needs care, rather than caring for everyone else instead of myself.
  10. Food = fuel. This one small adjustment in my thinking changed how I eat. I have a much healthier relationship with food now. I no longer approach food as a form of comfort or a reward. I don’t diet or “eat clean”, I’ve just been taking note of how foods impact my running performance. I don’t feel deprived either. I feel so much better both physically and mentally. If we don’t provide our minds and our bodies with the right fuel, how can we expect them to perform at an optimum level?
  11. Finally, and maybe the silliest lesson, but important just the same: keep moving forward until someone hands you a banana. I read this on a runner’s forum and I’ve been repeating this over and over in my head when both my long runs and long days get hard. I don’t know why, but the phrase makes me giggle. Humor is always a good motivator for me. This will probably be my mantra on June 1 when things start to get hard, which I’m sure they will at some point during the race.

I truly appreciate everyone that has supported me during this time. It’s been an enlightening, humbling, and mostly positive experience. Hopefully, I will be able to carry these lessons with me throughout the rest of my days. I’m sure I’ll add to the list as I learn new things. I’m ready to move forward until I get that banana, and maybe a tall glass of chocolate milk to go with it.

What has running taught you so far?

Bump in the Road

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My muscles feel fabulous. My mental game was spot on. I was feeling very strong. That’s when my cardiovascular system rebelled. It’s discouraging this late in the game, especially since this is my first half-marathon and my nerves are starting to kick in. I don’t like new things and the unexpected. I like everything planned and prepared ahead of time. But, I guess running is a lot like life in the fact that I must remain flexible and take things as they come. I missed my last long run and these last couple of weeks, my runs have been more of a run/walk. I haven’t written about it because I didn’t want to seem whiny. I also thought if I ignored it, maybe it would just go away. But if I’m going to have an honest account of this journey, I guess I should at least mention it.

A brief summary: at first my doctor thought maybe my Mitral Valve Prolapse was causing the symptoms. It used to when I ran track in high school, so we thought it was worth looking into. She ordered a stress test. It showed nothing out the ordinary for me. The cardiologist seemed to think I would be able to complete the training and race with no issues, so I kept running. My breathing got worse, so I went back. There seems to be no infection, so she thought it might be asthma related and referred my to an allergy/asthma specialist. He’s given me a new inhaler plus a few other medications to help me out. He saw no reason to take a break from running, which was good to hear. My breathing and lung function has improved, but it’s not where it needs to be. I’ve gone from 10 min. miles to almost 12 min. miles. The medication is also messing with my sleep cycle and digestion, which in turn messes with my head.

And to top it all off, while my ankle feels great (the rehab and taping worked and I am now running without pain or tape on my ankle), my bunions have been killing me. I haven’t been able to walk after my last few runs. I’m trying tape on my feet. The tape is supposed to correct the alignment of my toes, but I think my poor feet are too deformed for the tape to correct anything. It seems to alleviate some of the pressure, but they still hurt like the dickens. I’ve invested in a nice pair of those squishy Nike slides to slip into after the race and my long runs. Those, along with my hot pink compression socks, are becoming my new best friends.

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I’m still planning on running the Sunburst. I’ve done most of the training and I don’t plan on giving up now. I’m just reorganizing my priorities. I’m going to be a lot slower than I originally planned. I might have to walk parts of it. I might be last, but someone has to be. My main goal has always been just to finish, and that is still the goal.

I did get a 14 mile bike ride in the other day. And yesterday I ran a slow 6 miles with only 1 walk break, which was encouraging. I’m going to try one more long run tomorrow and see how I do. Then I start my taper. I’ve pretty much done all I can think of at this point.