North Face Endurance Challenge DC 50k: RACE RECAP

FINALLY – I’ve gotten around to writing my race recap for my first ever 50k at the North Face Endurance Challenge. As many of you know, I did not have a good lead up to the race. After my last 20 miler in my building phase, I developed perineal tendonitis in my right ankle. I had to take off for the remaining three weeks leading up to the race, except for a few attempted runs sprinkled in there. I went for a lot of walks (as long as they were not painful), started physical therapy, and I also ran on an underwater treadmill a few times to keep my legs moving.

Eventually race weekend approached and I needed to make the decision whether to attempt racing or not. I saw my orthopedic doctor the day before the race and he gave me the go ahead to race, as long as the pain didn’t keep getting worse as the miles piled on. So, the day before I made the decision to go pick up my race packet and give it a try.

Here’s how it all went down!

DAY BEFORE RACE: Friday

On Thursday night, Erin surprised me by flying in to see me race! I knew my mom was coming, but I had no idea Erin would be there until she walked through the door with Dave. It was a surprise for my mom as well, and we all had a really nice dinner before heading to bed early. I did a little bit of packing for race day but I was trying not to stress too much about what I was going to need. Race day promised to be hot and humid – it was supposed to get up to 92 degrees midday. I knew my hydration and nutrition plan needed to be on point.

After my doctor’s appointment, Erin, my mom and I went to the grocery to pick up last minute snacks for race day. Afterward, Erin and I went on a short and slow shake out jog for about 3-4 miles, and I was excited to not have any pain in my peroneal at all. We stretched for a bit and then headed to packet pick-up to get my bib.

On the way home we made a quick pit stop at the running store so I could buy my mom some new running shoes for her birthday (yay!) and I could grab some extra gus, even though I already had PLENTY. Once we got home it was around noon and Erin advised I stay off my feet for the rest of the day. So we all just snacked, watched TV and finished getting my race bags ready for tomorrow.

I drank PLENTY of water all throughout the day and made sure to include extra electrolytes for the hot forecast the next day.

RACE DAY:

My alarm went off at 3:45 AM, but I was already awake. Surprisingly, I felt more excited than nervous even though I had no idea how the day was going to go. I prepared all my tailwind mixtures (filled my 70 oz bladder in my Nathan race vest) and made an extra Nalgene full in case I needed it. I stuffed some ankle braces into the back of the pack in case I needed them out on the trail, got dressed and we were off for Algonkian Park!

I took a salt pill first thing after waking up and Erin told me I should plan to take another right before start and then every 45 minutes until I finished. The first time I ever took salt pills was during our ultra Ragnar relay and they helped me A LOT, so I completely trusted Erin’s plan. She’s an Ironman after all and has raced in 100+ degree heat, so I knew I was in good hands and felt so much more comforted having her at the race.

We got to the start a little earlier than I expected, but that’s okay – earlier is always better than late. Erin and I walked around a little bit to get my ankle warmed up and the sun rising over the Potomac was incredibly beautiful. Everything felt surreal. Even though I was unsure how far I was going to get/if I was going to finish, everyone else believed in me. I hardly felt nervous – just ready to get the day started.

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pre-start!

As we neared start time, I got my vest situated on me, sprayed myself with bug spray and sunscreen and lined up. It was a 7 AM start, so the sun was still coming up and there was plenty of cloud coverage. I wore a hat anyways because I knew it was going to get sunny later and I didn’t want to forget to put one on during transition.

My start was slow. I had no idea what pace to go out at and I didn’t want to pull my peroneal from pushing it too fast. The race director let us know the path would single track early on, but I felt comfortable with the group surrounding me. My breathing felt very easy even though it was incredibly humid, and my ankle felt fine. I carried on with them for a few miles until the trail abruptly narrowed and I realized I should have gotten myself out much faster.

For a few miles I got myself stuck in this long line of runners with no ability to pass. It wasn’t until one of the first uphills when everyone started to walk was I able to speedwalk/jog past them. It was around these first hills where I could see all the runners ahead of me zig zagging up the next hill in the cover of the tall trees, and I felt this overwhelming sense of happiness. I was doing it!

Around 5-6 miles into the race I finally settled in to a pace comfortable for me. I have no idea what it actually was because the tree coverage definitely screwed with my Garmin, but it felt between 9:00-10:00 min/mile. At this point the trail was familiar to me from the many, many times I ran here before. It was pretty muddy but not unbearable and I was happy – I seriously couldn’t stop smiling.

Going out to Great Falls, the hills didn’t seem so bad. I power hiked most of them and because I had run them so many times before, I knew exactly what was coming next. When we detoured around Riverbend Park, we had to run alongside this road before hopping back into the woods. It was here, right around mile 11 that I hit a tree root hard and stumbled forward for a few violent steps before I caught myself with my hands on the ground. I didn’t fall all the way, but the jolt was hard on my bad knee/ankle. I started jogging tentatively after I brushed my hands off and was surprised there was no pain. I told myself not to think about it anymore and I carried on until I made it to Great Falls Park.

Mile 13 was the big aid station where Erin, Dave and my mom were allowed to wait with my bags and help me. From some of the slipping and sliding on the trail, my shoes were rubbing me the wrong way and I could feel blisters starting on the inside of my heels. Even though I had did all my trail runs in these shoes/socks, I decided to switch out of my shoes at the aid station and put on a brand new pair I just got the week before. They felt amazing. I decided it had to be my shoes giving me the problem and didn’t change my socks (IDIOT!). Other than the shoe change, I took a few more gus from Erin and hurried on my way. I still had PLENTY of tailwind in my Nathan even though I had been sipping it every mile and drinking with the gus/salt pills I took every 45 minutes. My quads were starting to feel a little fatigued but I knew I was going to feel it early, given I hadn’t run for 3 weeks prior.

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around mile 18!

Miles 13-19 were several loops in Great Falls. It started off with a pretty big hill and I walked most of it, taking some time to hydrate and eat a Gu. My feet felt much better and I didn’t have rubbing on my heels anymore so I thought I was all set.  Around mile 17, I felt my perineal starting to hurt a little bit so I slowed it down. There were a lot of rocks on this part of the course so I focused instead on not turning my ankle instead of going fast.

 

Mile 19 put me right back at the big aid station and I stopped to eat a clementine, drink some tailwind and take a few more gus. I decided not to change my socks because I thought the problem was gone…and I really regret this. I was feeling pretty good mentally/physically – I was hydrating well, eating well and my legs felt as good as they could for not running 3 weeks beforehand. I said good bye to my fam and told them I’d see them back in Algonkian Park. The sun was fully out at this point and I was started to feel hot, so we squeezed some ice sponges on my quads, neck and back before I headed out.

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making sure I have everything I need…wish I changed those damn socks!

Miles 19-31 were challenging. And it’s not just because of fatigue in my legs – honestly I didn’t feel NEARLY as bad as I thought I would – it’s because of the mud and blisters I developed. I think the two go hand in hand, honestly. The mud was SO BAD that I couldn’t run at all, let alone walk without almost wiping out. My blisters fully formed on the inside of my heels and it was so painful every time I took a step. I fantasized about taking my shoes off and running in my socks. But I kept my spirits up – kept smiling and told myself to just get to the next aid station.

At one point, probably around 25 miles, I felt this building sensation in my right heel and then it was FIRE. I think the blister popped. It hurt for the next 5 minutes or so but then the pain went completely away. About 20 minutes later the same happened on my right heel and even though it hurt like a bitch, it made the rest of the race so much more bearable. If it wasn’t so muddy, I think I could have made it through this part of the course 5x faster.

There were a few other runners around me and we were all so frustrated with the mud. I saw a lot of them wipe out, and then we would commiserate together with how shitty the course was left for us. It wasn’t until mile 28-29ish that we finally steered away from the flooded trail and got some better footing. But it took us out into the sun and it was BRUTAL. I didn’t realize how hot it actually was until I had the sun bearing down on me and I got frustrated I had to walk again from the heat, especially since I had finally got through the mud.

As we neared the finish, I didn’t even know how close I was until I was practically upon the end. In my head, I visualized having to run the same loop in the field next to the finish line that we made when we started in the AM. It wasn’t until I saw Erin and Dave and they let me know it was right around the corner, and then I got super excited.

When I made the turn and saw the finish line right there I had so many emotions. Excitement, pride, and gratefulness. I was so happy as I ran across that line and was handed my medal. Half of me couldn’t believe I was able to do it. I think the other half always knew I was going to make it to the end, given the tendonitis or not.

I tore my shoes off right at the end of the chute. It was instant relief. I have pretty calloused heels and it looks like all the slipping and sliding in the mud created friction against my heels and caused the inside to blister. I’ve never once gotten a blister on the inside there, even wearing the same sock and shoe combination on the same trail. Oh well.

POST RACE:

After enjoying a much deserved beer, me and my fam headed home to relax for the rest of the day. I thought I was going to be crippled my tendonitis, but I was actually walking fine and the pain didn’t flare up like I feared. Actually, the worst part was when we got home and I sat down after my shower and my knees were throbbing constantly. After some icing of both my knees and ankle, Erin and I went for a little walk and it helped my legs feel a little better.

So, there you have it! It took a little longer than I would have liked to get this post up, but that’s how it always goes for me. These past two and a half weeks have been very easy going for me as I’m still dealing with a little bit of peroneal pain. I’ve started running up again, but it’s very slow and careful. I know it’s time to start ramping up my training again, but with the tendonitis still there in the shadows, I’m trying to incorporate more cross training in than usual. Hopefully it goes away soon!

Once my training is more consistent, I’ll definitely start some weekly training logs. My goal now is to get to my 57 mile run healthy and happy, so I can make the most of the day and make my donators proud!

As always, if you want more consistent updates on how my training is going, you can always follow me on Instagram @amd022.

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All done – YAY!

Training Update: February 27-March 5

Gahhhhhh I can’t believe it’s already March. But here we are. I’m not even going to apologize for posting my training late because I’ve had so much on my plate lately, I can’t believe I actually have time to right this update at the moment. So, I’ll just dive right into it.

This was a recovery week and I NEEDED it. After hiking old rag and having two long runs back to back last week I definitely was hurting. My left achilles, especially.

Monday, February 27: Rest day! I welcomed this day so much because I was absolutely exhausted from the weekend. I did some stretching today and that was about it other than work. I definitely noticed a tightness in my achilles, which I blame on power-hiking Old Rag.

When I came home from work I did have a nice surprise because Dave made dinner and it was awesome. The recipe came from Blue Apron and they were curry veggie fritters. He used gluten-free mazto meal instead of the regular they provided, and it was still delicious!

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Rest Day.

Tuesday, February 28: Woke up bright and early today because I needed to go to a training session in DC with Brooks. The session was pretty cool,  but I didn’t take advantage of most of the experiences they had there because I was crunched for time.

By the time I got home I didn’t have much time before I had to go to work. I decided to go for a little run on the Mt. Vernon trail and immediately felt the tightness still in my calves.  Other than the tightness, the run was pretty good.

Because my car was already at work (I carpooled to the Brooks event), I decided to just walk the 2 miles to the store instead of Uber. It was a beautiful day and the walk helped stretch my legs out a little bit more.

When I got home from work I did a little bit of strengthening, maybe 15 minutes? I focused mainly on abs and some leg lifts, but because my calves and hips felt so tight I was afraid to worsen the pain and I skipped out on a lot of exercises.

I also made myself Daiya Mac and cheese because it’s amazing, especially after a long day. It’s gluten-free AND vegan…so winning?

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LOOK AT IT.

3.2 miles road miles – 7:58 min/mile pace
2.6 miles walk to work
15-20 minutes strengthening – abs, some leg lifts

Wednesday, March 1: Woke up still feeling pretty tired so decided today would be a cross training day.

Well, that never happened. I did, however, go for a nice little walk midday before work to try and work through the million thoughts in my head. I ended up walking for about 40 minutes with the intention of doing an hour of cross training after work on the bike. lol.

40 minute walk on Mt. Vernon Trail – 2.4 miles

Thursday, March 2: For whatever reason, I love going for a run after my Thursday work shift. It’s such a stress reliever after work, and I always end up running over to Gravelly point to watch the planes take off and land.

It was pretty windy today so watching the planes take off reminded me of my harrowing experience landing at DCA in the 70 mph wind gusts, but that’s another story. I only stopped for a minute or so and then headed home.  I went nice and easy and my legs felt pretty good, despite lingering tightness in my left achilles. I ran in compression socks and have been wearing them almost all week to help with blood flow and the tightness.

5 road miles – 7:50 min/mile pace

Friday, March 3: Friday morning I decided to head into Clarendon to do some writing in a cafe I used to always go to before work. I actually got a lot of writing done for a few hours, but by midday I was pretty restless and decided to go for a short run. I ditched my stuff in the Clarendon store and went for a quick run around the nearby neighborhoods.

It was another really windy day, which made it feel a lot colder than it really was outside. I felt good on the run, other than my left achilles really tightening up mid run. LOTS of stretching afterwards.

When I got home from Clarendon I decided to craft up a delicious dinner for Dave and I. I made a tomato sauce with some broccoli, fresh tomatoes, zucchini, vegan sausage and goveggie parm cheese over gluten free shells. SO YUM.

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3.3 road miles – 8:00 min/mile pace

Saturday, March 4: Great Falls day! I’ve really come to love running in this park and I couldn’t wait to get there and get to run short AND easy. Dave ran a little bit with me, but for the most part I was alone. I felt really strong on the uphills, despite my achilles still being a little bitch. It was also a beautiful, winter morning (the first it feels like in forever) so I was in such a wonderful mood to be out there in my tights and long sleeve. All this warm weather so early on makes me super nervous for this summer.

I ended with 6.1 miles in the bank but because I couldn’t find Dave, I ran back out along the trail looking for him. I ended up running an extra mile looking for him, when all along he was just a few minutes behind me to get to the car and I left too soon. Whoops!

6.1 trail miles – 8:46 min/mile pace
1 mile through parking lots – 8:11 min/mile pace

Sunday, March 5: Originally this was going to be my second rest day of the week, but because I took Wednesday off, I wanted to cross train. I waited allllll morning and even though I had plenty of time before work I decided not to do it. Big mistake.

Work was super busy so by the time I got home I was exhausted. Decided not to get on my bike again and I took an extra rest day. Not mad about it, but seriously I SUCK at cross training and doing strengthening.

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my best friends this week: feetures compression socks!!!

Rest Day.

WEEKLY MILEAGE: 21.3 miles. Right on target for a recovery week!

NOTES ON WEEK: Not so bad. The not cross training and strengthening is really beginning to eat away at me but I have no one to blame but myself. I feel like I wouldn’t be struggling with my achilles if I was doing strengthening all along, but I’m trying not to get too hung up about it. I only have time and energy for so much.

I also was very careful with what I was eating this week, and I’ve noticed I really do feel 10X better when I avoid dairy. I’ve been doing well with being gluten-free (except I did start having a few beers here and there on the weekend with friends if I’m feeling ok) and I’ve been vegetarian now since January.  I’d really like to make the full commitment of being vegan because I find I feel SO much better, but I always find dairy sneaking into some of the snacks I eat.

So that’s about it. I always wish I felt a little bit better during recovery weeks but I think the point is to work out all those blah feelings in the legs and mind. I’m going to really be focusing on stretching and keeping my achilles pain under control this coming week… Ragnar is only a few weeks away!!! AHHHH.

Masking the Invisible Illness

Slowly the room comes into focus. Blinking once or twice, I stretch my arms over my head as I try to assess how I’m feeling this morning.  Is my headache still raging?  Are my knees still aching?  Can I feel my hands and toes?  As my alarm begins blaring again, I rip the warm covers back and place my cold feet on the wooden floor.  It’s another day, and I’m never sure what’s in store.

After waking, I shuffle from my bed to the bathroom and I can feel every ache in my body, starting from the feet up.  The running probably doesn’t help, but some of the pain I know is from a tired body, one constantly fighting against itself.

When I look in the mirror, I see the same me I’ve seen for years staring back.  I certainly don’t look sick, I tell myself.  Maybe my face is a little paler than most, my hair thinner than it’s ever been, but to anyone out in the world, I look normal.  Most people don’t notice the trembling in my hands when I’m helping them at work, or how I drop boxes all the time because I can’t feel my fingers.  Most people don’t know when I’m smiling and trying to act normal I often have a searing headache pulsing in my skull, and light sensitivity so great when I turn to look out the window the pain radiates through my head like a lightning bolt.

Morning means my first dose of medicine.  On any given day I have about 14 different medicines/supplements I need to take, all spread out from breakfast to dinner.  These days, I’m grateful not to be on the three antibiotics anymore, which often made me feel like a zombie, and sometimes forced me to stay in bed.  As much as I wish I could say I am used to taking my medicine (I’ve been in treatment for about four months now), I’m still not.  I hate dragging the bottles around with me everywhere I go, like some new appendage on me impossible to hide.  I feel ashamed.  I feel as if my illness is something meant to hide.  Growing up, I wasn’t taught to show any vulnerabilities – I was taught to be strong, even when I didn’t feel it.  Toting around pills, avoiding certain foods, opting out of outings with friends because I’m not feeling well – I despise having my weaknesses written on my sleeve for all to see.

On average, by the end of the day I’ve usually taken 16-18 different pills and about 149 drops of several liquid herbal medicines.  These are the good days I actually remember to take everything.  There are other times where I’m much more forgetful and pass out in bed after a long day of work without taking my final doses.  There have been other times where I feel a sense of sadness from all the pill popping, and in a day or two of denial, I don’t take any medicine.  Those are always the worst days.

To top it off, I’ve been very forgetful lately.  Sometimes, I’ll be telling myself over and over again a task I need to do, and in the process of getting ready to do whatever is needed, the thought slips from my mind like an elusive shadow sneaking back into the comfort of the dark.  The brain fog is heavy.  I see the world through clouded lens and often feel like I can’t put together sentences or see things right in front of me.  This is probably the hardest part, especially for writing.  As someone who used to have the words flow so freely from my mind, I struggle the most with not being able to articulate my thoughts as clearly as I used to before I got sick.

When I was first diagnosed, I tried to hide behind a mask of normalcy.  After all, this isn’t my first go-round struggling with an invisible illness, so I know the song and dance well.  In the past when I struggled badly with depression, I always wanted to appear happy to others even when I was in an incredibly dark place.  I hid it so well I went years without help.  Until I finally broke.

I wear the same constricting mask with lyme because I don’t want people to know I hurt.  I don’t want to be seen differently.  But more and more, I am taking this mask off and letting myself breathe free.  I don’t want to break again.  I now know, unlike I did before, it’s okay for others to know you’re hurting or struggling.  It’s okay to need help.

For the first time in my life I’ve spoken freely about my struggles.  And what I’ve discovered by being so open is I have a lot more support on my side.  Even when I’m having an off day, instead of wallowing in self pity I’m more apt to give myself a break.  Sometimes I have to laugh at myself, especially with the forgetfulness, even though it frustrates me to no end.  Laughing is an important part of my recovery.  It keeps me grounded and helps me realize what’s most important in life.

So, while every day may present a new challenge, I’m up for it.  Training for my 57 mile run scares me, but that’s how I know it’s so important.  This event is going to change my life, and I know I won’t be the same person 57 miles later when I enter Bucknell’s track as I was earlier in the morning, standing on Penn State’s track.  This change will be good.  And raising money for Global Lyme Alliance may help change the lives of many others struggling with lyme and struggling to get a proper diagnosis.

There are many invisible illnesses out there and this is just my story.  But there are so many others wearing masks just like me.  And while we try to hide these weaknesses and appear “normal” (whatever normal really is), dealing with lyme has helped me find a strength within I never knew existed.  I am stronger than I ever have been before.

And from here I’ll continue to grow.

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© Allison Donaghy 2017 All Rights Reserved

 

Finding the Meaning Again

Lately, I’ve been searching for some meaning in life.  The past few weeks I felt constant aching – my heart, bones and mind – it didn’t matter.  There was a feeling of profound sadness I’m not sure why presented itself.  Lyme aside, I have nothing to be sad about.  Yet I felt it consuming me; ravenous, relentless.

All my life, I’ve always been at least a little sad.  Starting long before high school, the world began to look much different to me than it did to my naive child-self.  I was acutely aware of family struggles and whenever life was overwhelming my friends.  And all I ever wanted to do was help.  Draining every ounce of my emotions, it did not matter if I gave them to everyone else.  It did not matter if I was empty.  It only mattered if I could make someone smile or stop the hurt within them.

Last week, as I was driving down 110 to get blood work done, I saw a beautiful sunrise.  I haven’t seen the sunrise in some time now because all it seems I do anymore is sleep, but I watched as the purple sky in front of me came to life, and I felt a flicker of hope.  The rising sun reflected off the glass windows on the tallest office building in Rosslyn and the whole city seemed sparkling.  The orange glass looked like it was on fire, and when I glanced in my rear view mirror the sky was so bright it hurt my eyes.

After what seemed to be such a bleak few weeks, I smiled.  I was reminded there is beauty in this world, the fullness I seek.  I just need to know where to look.

This week I’ve decided to stop moping around and get back to LIVING.  Fresh off a recovery run week, I’m ready to train hard and get back to a healthier lifestyle.  Everything has suffered these past three weeks: my health, my diet, and my relationships.  But it’s 2017 now (yikes!).  There’s no time for messing around anymore.

While I’ve been gluten-free ever since being diagnosed with Lyme disease I’ve had my fair share of slip-ups these past few weeks.  Some were deliberate while others were complete accident, like the time for whatever reason I assumed vegan mac and cheese would also be gluten-free!  I’ll say all in all I probably slipped up three times total, but each time certainly did not help my health.  In my sadness, plant-based eating fell to the wayside, which is REALLY unfortunate because I felt my best without meant and most dairy.

But I’m back at it.

Sometimes, the sadness feels cyclical.  It’s no secret I’ve struggled with depression in the past.  So I monitor it.  I’ve always believed it is okay to feel, to be sad sometimes.  Often, I appreciate happiness the most when I know the deeper emotions I’ve felt before.

So with that being said, the past few days have been going much better for me.  I am following a near-vegan diet (I eat eggs occasionally) and I already have more energy and clear-headedness.  It is not easy, but I have been saving a bunch of recipes online to try some time in the future (not to mention – my cousin Natalie’s amazing vegan blog – https://rootedwithlife.blog).

As for training – it’s going.  My mileage is still relatively low but I hope to change that soon.  This week I am focusing on some speed work and some semi-long runs but I honestly play every day by ear.  I’ve started a few new medicines I’m increasing slowly but they’re wreaking havoc on my stomach.  There is only so much I can do.

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The troublemakers.

What I’ve also been thinking about lately is the purpose of this blog.  While I like using it as a spot to only write when I feel inspired, I feel it needs a greater purpose, especially with my 57 mile charity run coming up in November.  So if I can manage I think I’ll post a training update at the end of each week to track my journey toward the 57 miles from Penn  State to Bucknell in November.  I don’t know if I’ll push the content out on FaceBook each week so if you are interested in getting updates on my running, make sure to follow my blog.  I’ll still post my regular writing-sort blogs, but since I’m so inconsistent I feel a weekly update will be nice, especially for those interested in my ultra running journey.

So that’s it for now.  I’ll be going off my antibiotics soon and I am SUPER PUMPED about it.  I’m going to really focus on trying to get a quality week of training in even though I’ve been battling a little bit of mysterious foot pain.  It may be cuboid syndrome (I’ve dealt with it before) but we will see.  I’m headed up to New Jersey for a few days Thursday night so I plan on seeing my physical therapist I used to. go to from high school to my days as a collegiate athlete.  She’s seen everything from me, and helped me overcome so much back then, so I’m just excited to see her in general.

Hopefully I’ll have a post about it later this week.  Check back soon!

 

© Allison Donaghy 2017 All Rights Reserved

Holding Strong for 2017

Alright, I’m in a funk.  It’s taken me a bit to admit to this.

Usually, this is one of my favorite times of the year.  I love the colder air, overcast skies and Christmas lights illuminating the darker nights.  Shorter days – they’ve never bothered me.  I loved walking home from the bus stop after a hard day of track practice in high school and feeling the coldness seep through my layers of clothing.  The chilly air feels fresher to me and the nights are quieter with an indescribable stillness.  With the cold air, I can actually think.

But lately, I feel a little lost.  The air seems biting, and my hands are always numb and shaking.  I don’t feel the happiness I usually feel encompassing me.  Maybe it’s because this time of year, around Christmas, used to be so full of tradition.  My sisters and I would migrate home to New Jersey where my mom would have the house decked out with multiple shining trees and decorations galore.  On Christmas Eve my father, Erin and I would head out into the dark for our annual lights run, and we would run loops around the neighborhood where Erin and I had logged countless rhythm mile workouts in high school.  We’d rate the houses in numerous categories according to the types of decorations, and at the end we’d crown a grand champion, unbeknownst to them.

We’d come home chilled and starving, and my mom always had a warm dinner waiting for us.  We’d light a fire in the fireplace and watch Scrooge on the couch until my mom and dad would fall asleep, and then my sisters and I would stay up all night sipping beers and giggling, watching Christmas movies until we stumbled off to bed.

But of course, there’s change.  And while I know it’s okay for things to be different, sometimes I find myself still grasping at the past, desperately trying to hang on to how things used to be.

This past Thanksgiving my family gathered in Florida to celebrate and I can only describe it as chaotic.  I felt pulled in a million directions and the stress made me feel even more sick.  I felt disconnected from my family because I couldn’t drink and eat with them, even though this shouldn’t matter at all.  All I felt I could do to connect to how things used to be was run.  Run down the streets I’ve run for 16 years and feel the merciless Florida sun bear down on me like it always has.

I’m ready for this year to be over.  2017 is going to be a big one, and I’m ready for a reset, even if New Years is just a mental start over.  Last week I was lucky enough to meet with a good friend and former colleague over coffee and through chatting, he helped me organize some of my goals for the New Year.

2017 Goals

  1. Start writing my memoir again (at least 4x a week)
  2. Attend a writer’s conference this summer
  3. Finish my first ultra marathon
  4. Run the 57 miles from Penn State to Bucknell in November and raise money for Lyme Disease research and advocacy

Speaking of running/training – it’s going alright.  I’ve been feeling kinda sick for the past week or so, so my training is suffering but I’m still getting out there.  Lately, I’ve been having a million body/bone aches and it’s not doing any favors to my already arthritic knee.  I’m averaging around 24-26 miles a week, and while it might not seem like a lot, I get a lot of quality runs in when it counts. I’m going to try and up the mileage slowly and really get back into consistent cross training to make up the mileage deficient.

In 2017 I’m also considering getting a coach.  My run from Penn State to Bucknell is SO important to me and I’ve had success being coached in the past.  I’ll do anything to get to the start line.

This past weekend I was in Penn State for Dave’s cousin’s graduation.  Saturday morning I found myself running to the track in the ice, so I could get a glimpse at where I’ll start my 57 mile journey in November.  It was a chilly morning but I stood and looked at the snow covered track for a few minutes and visualized myself on the start line strong and healthy.  My father always told me there’s great power in visualizing success.

So that’s where I am right now.  Moving forward slowly but surely, dealing with treatment as best I can.  I should only be on my antibiotics for four more weeks and then I’ll continue on with my vast collection of supplements.  I don’t want to sound too negative, because I DO have good days.  But I can only take it day by day.  Lyme is throwing way more curveballs into my training than I expected, and I’m just beginning here.  But I’ll adjust and I won’t give up.  My heart won’t let me.

Happy Holidays everyone.  I’ll see you in the New Year!

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© Allison Donaghy 2016 All Rights Reserved