Monday, December 31, 2012

Lucky Number Thirteen

Almost exactly this time last year, I was fighting off sleep to get my final post of 2011 done.  Guess what I’m doing right now?  Pull this laptop from me and I’d pass out in about five.  As I mentioned last year, social media networks are bogged down with party pictures and status updates of high hopes for the new year.  For the past week, we reflexively reflect on 2012 to find the good, bad and the life lessons. 

I distinctly remember telling a few friends that this year was going to be ‘all me’.  I gave birth to my second daughter in 2011, so my focus for 2012 would be getting my body back in shape.  I kept that promise.  Early this year, I put my body through some rigorous training for the PA Tough Mudder.  The Mudder changed my personal perspective; I proved that it was possible to juggle multiple life obligations while fitting in extreme training.  Because the Mudder wasn’t good enough I felt it necessary to run a half marathon the following day (unofficially dubbed Muffin Madness 2012).  I wonder how crazy Madness 2013 will be for me??  In mid-July I started training for the Philly Marathon, once again, reinforcing the importance of family support to get the job done.  Without the help of my family, I would not have crossed that finish line in November.  My ‘racing’ year around these two major events was peppered with other local races.  My ‘buddy’ group grew to incorporate more novice runners with a commitment to find wellness and the added bonus of friendships. 

I sadly said good-bye to two family members, Uncle Phil and Aunt Rose.  News of their deaths instantly brought me back to my childhood, temporarily pushing me into a dark space.  I also had the unpleasant experience of attending the funeral of a young girl.  The environment was quite suffocating as I tried to make sense of the situation.  Unfortunately, I handle the passage of time with deep sadness and fear.  It’s a challenge for me to accept this facet of reality.  Perhaps it’s something to work on in the future.  And, my last bit about death: Adam Yauch passed away in May of parotid-gland cancer, three years post diagnosis.  You can read about it’s impact on me here

I’d be a liar if I said that 2012 sucked.  Here’s some of the good:

Training with my Mudder buddies.  The girls’ birthdays.  Perfecting my guacamole.  Las Vegas stories.  My new couch (If you met my previous couch you’d be right with me).  Cooking new dishes.  Reading new books.  New & old friends.  OBX vacation.  Writing.  Setting a 10K personal record on my 35th birthday.  Runner’s World Hat Trick.  Philly Marathon.  Watching Ava bake cookies.  Seeing my grandmother.  Neil Young with my Dad & bros.  Opportunities.  New traditions for Christmas. 

Last year I made a few ‘resolutions’.  Let’s see how I did:

Listen to more Foo Fighters – Mission accomplished.  The Foo got me through some tough training times when I couldn’t bear the silence. 

Watch more movies – I still haven’t seen a movie in the theater since 2007…there’s always next year.  I think I’ve seen a few more movies.  I’ll keep this on the list.

Make a quilt – I planned to make a race shirt quilt.  Although I don’t have a finished product, I do have the shirts and a general pattern.  Hey, it’s a start.  

Read a book that has nothing to do with running – I actually read at least three books that had nothing to do with running: Bossypants, 11/22/63 and The End of Your Life Book Club.  I love how all these books have NOTHING in common with each other. 

Write more – Believe it: right now, without publishing this blog post I have 26 posts for 2011 and 26 for 2012.  What are the odds?  Looks like I’m going to ‘one-up’ myself in about ten minutes.  :)

Breathe more.  Sleep more.  Love more. – I think I’m good here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Mile A Day…

My last post focused on my submission to the body.  I needed to put my legs up (both literally and figuratively) to give my body a break from months of marathon training.  Oh, yeah, and running a marathon on a cramping leg.  Every breath we take affects the world around us.  We harmonize with the Earth like a rippling lake or a breeze through a tree in spring.  Perhaps it’s the butterfly effect or six degrees of Kevin Bacon…regardless, we’re all connected.  By the way, have you seen this?  I digress. 

What goes up must come down, yes?  We’ve all heard that cliché; I dislike them, but in some cases, it’s applicable.  So my high was a successful completion of the Philadelphia Marathon on November 18th.  By Saturday, November 24th, I was on my way downhill as I realized that running in the short future wouldn’t be possible.  On Wednesday, November 28th, I sat in disbelief as I accepted responsibility for an unfortunate situation.  This moment would soon become the beginning of my ‘rock bottom’.  As if confirmation of the world’s end came directly to me, I decided to cut my losses and pick up what I needed to move on.  I’m not sure if I cut ties, but distancing myself from everything would be the best move.  Plan B is a generalized blueprint I had been scheming since I was on maternity leave with Allison the summer of 2011.  Plan B always was a pipe dream.  Plan B contains the plans that some people joke about following IF they hit the lottery.  On November 28th, my friends, Operation Plan B was the only option.  My goal would be to implement a Plan B, even if somewhat modified.

In the midst of all this crap, I did not run, not even one mile.  I might have hopped on the bike twice.  I certainly didn’t adhere to any of the original plans I laid out for myself in the post-marathon recovery period.  Life is about change, so I would adapt.  I continued about my daily business as the stress compounded.  My attitude changed – not necessarily for the better and I began to lose touch with myself.  Thankfully, I, along with the help of my family, recognized that I was miserable.  I needed to understand that all good things come with time.  There IS an end in sight'; there IS a light at the end of the tunnel (cliché yes?). 

Everything happens for a reason.  Last week I attended an employee forum.  Before signing in, I was greeted by a lovely group of women who offered to take my blood pressure.  I willingly accepted with a chip on my shoulder.  I bragged about my low BP suggesting that we take bets.  Much to my dismay it was high, like hypertension high.  Shit.  They assured me that the reading could be false based on a number of factors.  After the hour long meeting, I tried again.  Fail.  High again.  Immediately concerned about this, I had a salt-free dinner.  The rest of the week was riddled with dizziness, consistently higher readings and headaches.  We also had little Allison scheduled for a myringotomy (tubes in ears).  Fearful that I could drop over at anytime, I called my physician and scheduled an appointment.  I got the canned response from the nurse directing me to go to the Emergency Room if I experienced shortness of breath, migraines and/or chest pain.

I arrived at the doctor’s office twenty minutes early with a book to pass the time.  Reading could be considered a form of relaxing activity, but is it when the book you’re hooked on is called The End of Your Life Book Club?  Sometimes I really have to laugh at myself.  My physician, whom I truly appreciate, listened attentively as I rattled off the activities of the past month, my updated medication list and my recent symptoms.  Doc recorded a low BP from each arm as I sat back with a smile on my face.  As we talked about the Philly Marathon he asked how my running was going.  I sadly stated that I tabled my activity to let my leg heal.  I planned to give 2013 a hell of a run, but I needed the break.  Doctor’s orders told me otherwise.  He advised me to get back at it.  I left his office with my visit summary in hand.  I skimmed it while standing in the hallway.  ‘Clinical Impression – Elevated Blood Pressure, Stress.  She needs to continue everything she’s doing (diet, etc.).  Resume running.’