Hello, It’s Me.

HI.

It’s been a HOT MINUTE since I’ve last updated! I always feel so guilty when I haven’t updated in a while, but it’s not because lack of passion to write. It’s a lack of time. Since my last update after visiting Bucknell, things have gotten incredibly busy for me. I’ve struggled a bit, but have also had some amazing triumphs. It’s absolutely shocking to me it’s already August.

Since my last update, I’ve been in a funk of sorts. Leaving Bucknell, I felt empty. While it was so much fun returning to my “home away from home” and seeing so many friends and familiar faces, it also got me thinking.  It was amazing to hear all these stories of what other alumni were doing in their communities since graduating, but I also sat there wondering, what have I done? And I guess that’s sort of a complex right there, comparing your life to others, but I’m not afraid to admit I do it from time to time. It wasn’t a comparison like, oh I wish I was them, but more of a reflection on myself of the potential I have to also do amazing things. But as Erin and I drove away from Bucknell I couldn’t fathom how to change, make a difference, and most importantly, make things happen.

So, I fell into a dark place for a bit.  I stopped taking my supplements. I stopped cooking nutritious meals. I felt constantly tired, broken. When I made it out for my runs every step hurt and I couldn’t even fathom 57 miles, let alone the six I was supposed to do for the day. I slept a lot, and fell into a routine unbeneficial to me or those around me. Maybe my body needed it because of the Lyme, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was my mind needing it more.

And then Dave and I went to Washington state. Our trip was booked in a bit of a rush, because we thought Dave was starting a job in Ocean City at the end of July, but we still had great aspirations for the trip. I couldn’t wait to get out into the mountains. The mountains make me feel my happiest. It doesn’t matter the state or the mountain range – I love the feeling of how small they make you feel.  You feel insignificant, but at peace. You can finally realize what a great, big, BEAUTIFUL world it is out there, and how there is so much more to life than just trying to “get by” through your daily grind.

While in Washington we hiked almost every day once we left Seattle. We hiked through ancient forests, up steep mountain sides and along the magnificent Pacific Ocean. A lot of the times we were out there early in the morning before any of the tourists were awake, and we trudged along single track trails in silence, lost in thought. I worked so many problems out in my head as I hiked through Mt. Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park.

Life felt pure.

And now it’s mid August. Happily, I’m finally coming out of my funk and starting to really get after living life again. It’s no secret I’ve never really enjoyed living in the Washington, D.C., area, but I’m adamantly trying to find the beauty and fun in living here. For awhile, I let myself think I couldn’t have fun with my friends anymore because of my Lyme, and I thought I would never feel well enough to do all the things I used to. But after Washington, and hiking day after day and also running almost every day, I realized my body can do a lot more than I credited it for. Which is great because you know, I’ve got that whole 57 miles to run thing.

Last weekend I went out with Dave and our friends and it was the first time in a LONG time that I spent the day bar hopping (granted, I wasn’t drinking) and genuinely having a good time. I wasn’t drinking during the day because I actually signed up to run a beer mile that evening in Navy Yard. I’ve always wanted to do a beer mile since college, but after being diagnosed with Lyme, I wrote it off as one of those things I could never do. But then I did it anyways. And it was amazing. And better yet, I had such a great night with all my friends, I’m still smiling thinking back on that day. I am so glad I listened to my friends to sign up and stopped listening to all the fears and the “I can’ts” in my head.

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Now, back to that whole thing of it being August again. It’s August 12. I have less than 3 MONTHS until my 57 mile run from Penn State to Bucknell raising money for Global Lyme Alliance, to fund better research and awareness. It makes me a little nervous, because I know November 2, will be here before I know it. I’m trying my hardest to be ready and my runs have been steadily increasing. It’s taken a long time, but I can feel my fitness finally returning.

I’m still managing some aches and pains in my lower legs, and physical therapy has been pivotal at keeping the tendonitis manageable. After 10 days of hiking in Washington State, my left Achilles and bad knee were NOT having it, but the discomfort is slowly getting better. Luckily, I had a down week in my training cycle this week and it’s been amazing. My achilles is still being a little bitchy, but I’m thinking I may get a sports massage soon to help work out some of the knots.

After this weekend my mileage is going to climb pretty high and while I’m nervous, I’m also really excited. Long runs are my thing. I love going slow and steady and taking all the time I need to get through the miles. They’re challenging, but I always feel so amazing afterwards. With my mileage getting pretty high in the next few months I know my nutrition is going to need to be on point. I’ve been gluten free since my lyme doctor suggested it, but I’ve actually been playing around with a plant-based (basically vegan) diet and have been feeling worlds better. Now, I’ve been having small amounts of gluten here and there (I still eat a predominately gluten-free diet…but hello beer mile) and I feel absolutely fine. Taking dairy out has helped me feel more clear-headed, helped take away my every day headaches, and I do feel like I recover a little faster from my workouts.

I feel like this blog post has been all over the place, but that’s just how it goes when I haven’t updated in forever. I seriouslyyyyy am going to try and update more frequently from here on out, especially because we are in the final push to my 57 mile run. I don’t think I’ll actually do weekly recaps of my workouts because it kind of stresses me out, but I will try to do a better job of keeping you guys in the loop.

So, that’s it for now. If you have any interest in learning more about my 57 mile run from Penn State to Bucknell, you can check out my info page HERE. You can also donate to my run HERE. I really would like to meet my fundraising goal so any help is much appreciated, and anything helps!

 

 

 

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Setting New Standards.

I’ve changed.

For me, this is always a hard thing to admit, because I’m one of those individuals who clings to how things used to be. Living with Lyme disease has made me rethink my priorities and what I do from day to day. It’s been hard for me to accept my new self because I’ve gone from being a person who used to focus on everyone but myself, to a person who finally puts myself first. And it feels selfish.

A lot of times I feel like I am disappointing friends. I skip outings because of headaches, I can’t “party” anymore, and I go to bed early to save all my energy for running. My 57 mile run is always looming in the back of my mind and I’m so focused on getting to the start line nothing else seems to matter sometimes. This past weekend was Dave’s birthday and I felt a sense of sadness when I could not really participate in the celebrations. The Old Me would have tried to put down just as many drinks as the guys. But the New Me decided it would be best to nurse the same beer I had been holding for quite a few hours because even one beer can trigger a headache now.

I am mourning who I used to be before Lyme. The girl who always had energy to get everything done on her to-do list, the girl who could stay out late and drink like the rest of my friends. I used to clean, cook, run, write, work and socialize. Now, when I wake up I feel like I am drawing straws and hoping I don’t get the shortest. Usually, I can only cross one thing off my to-do list and this is devastating to me. I almost always pick running unless I feel overwhelmingly sick. And this makes me feel so guilty.

Recently, I went for a 17 mile trail run along the Potomac River on a balmy Saturday morning. It was only me out on the trail and I felt a calming sense of solitude. Running seems to be the only thing I do right anymore and it makes me  feel whole. Alive. I could see my breath cloud before me with every exhale and my throat was numb, coated with the cold air. I was surrounded by silence. No chirping birds, no rustling in the leaves, and no wind causing the branches to scratch and claw one another. Just me.

I used to feel uncomfortable in the silent woods. I used to constantly feel like I was being watched or unwelcome. But on this day, I finally felt one with the trail I’ve devoted so many hours to, and running here felt natural. I walked the uphills, I took my time to hop stone by stone over a frigid looking creek, and I stopped often to look across the Potomac at the beautiful landscape. When I trail run I become so detached from civilization and it’s what I love best. Nothing matters except keeping my breath steady, putting one foot in front of the other, and making sure to keep myself fueled. I don’t have to prove myself to anyone but myself. And because trail running is something still relatively new to me, I can keep my expectations in check.

The run was hard. My legs were fatigued from 15 miles the day before, but still I managed to push myself and complete 17. I wanted nothing more than to quit at 5 miles, but the trail kept urging me forward. I wanted to make it farther than I had the weekend before and explore where I hadn’t stepped foot yet. So even though I was tired, I let the trail entice me and pull me along with new twists and turns and it was beautiful. Beautiful I had pushed through the mental wall, and beautiful I proved I could do it.  As I ran down the finishing straight with 17 miles in the bank, a smile spread wide across my face. My legs hurt, but I was accomplished.

It’s important for me to look back on these moments where my Lyme isn’t in control. There are many things I cannot do any longer, but trail running shows me there are many things I WILL do and accomplish in my future. It’s not an easy path, but my treatment and management of symptoms is just another step in my journey.

There are many things I like about the New Me, despite being a little insecure about what others think of me and Lyme disease. I like I can stand up for myself now, I know how to say no, and I still find balance between being social and completely secluding myself. It’s only taken me 27 years to learn :)!

So that’s it for now. It’s been awhile since I posted, and I apologize. It goes back to what I was saying in the above paragraphs – I honestly haven’t had the energy to do much more than work and run. I want to do SO MANY things, but my body often says no.

Because I missed doing a weekly training update, I’ll try to post one tomorrow and combine the past two weeks. Next week is my Ultra Ragnar Relay and I am SO EXCITED, but also very very sore from two hard weeks of training. I’ll probably modify my training for the next few days and keep it incredibly easy up to the race. I want to enjoy it as much as I can!

 

 

Weekly Update: February 13 – February 19

Little late with the weekly update, I know! I’ve been super busy these past few days working at the running store because of the holiday weekend, and holy hell did it take ALL my energy. But here we are.  Definitely been struggling with some knee pain lately and it’s most likely the increased mileage and lack of strengthening. I really, really need to get on top of this.

Monday, February 13: Rest day. My knee was feeling a little creaky from the half marathon the day before, and my body was EXHAUSTED from the harrowing flight the night before. I let myself sleep in a little today and tried not to do anything stressful.  Wasn’t feeling sore at all from the half marathon, but I wasn’t expecting to either with the pace we ran it at.

My Whoop heart rate monitor arrived today! I am super excited about this piece of equipment and I’m really hoping it’s going to help me keep on track with my training, rest days, etc. When I get excited, I have a tendency to over do it. This monitor allows me to track my sleep, workouts and recovery based off HRV and my heart rate.  Excited!!!

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My new Whoop HRV monitor!

Rest Day

Tuesday, February 14: I had a meeting in Clarendon this morning so I decided to get my run in before I headed back home. After the meeting I ran from the Clarendon store to the Custis trail and did 5 easy miles. I always forget how hilly this trail is, but the hills were a nice little wake up call to my legs. It was a beautiful morning – it actually started flurrying once I finished up the run.

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gray morning pre snow flurries on the Custis Trail

I totally forgot it was Valentines Day, so I’m happy I got my run in before work, because Dave surprised me with a vegan dinner creation when I got home from closing up the store. It was delicious!

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vegan sweet potato fajitas for dinner!

5.1 miles outside – 8:08 min/mile pace

Wednesday, February 15: Treadmill workout today! I wanted to get a little tempo work in so I headed to the gym. After a 15 minute warm up I wasn’t really feeling the greatest but decided to try the workout anyways. I ended up doing 6X5 minute repeats uptempo and my pace was anywhere in between 6:25-6:00 min/mile pace.  So not bad!

I cooled down outside on the Mt. Vernon trail for 15 minutes.

15 minute w.u., 6X5 min uptempo, 1 min recovery – 7.4 miles, 6:52 min/mile pace.
15 minute c.d – 1.8 miles, 8:29 min/mile pace
(9.2 miles for the day)

Thursday, February 16: NOT feeling good today. Even though my knee didn’t hurt at all yesterday, it was killing me when I woke up this morning. I struggle with the pain on and off all the time because of the arthritis, but I could definitely feel some swelling in there. I put on some anti-inflammatory cream and a compression sleeve for the whole day before I decided to try and run after work at 9:00 pm.

I ran on the treadmill and there was a decent amount of pain. Decided to cut the run short and hit up the treadmill for a little bit instead to take some impact off the joint.  Once I finished up the treadmill/elliptical, I headed back up to my apartment to do some strengthening.  I didn’t do anything strenuous since I was already sore – some abs, leg lifts and push ups.

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I iced and stretched A LOT afterward.

3 treadmill miles – 8:16 min/mile pace
15 minutes elliptical
20-30 minutes strengthening

Friday, February 17: I woke up feeling a little apprehensive about trying to go for a longer run because of the knee pain. Decided to go for it anyways and head to Great Falls Park, reasoning if I couldn’t run, at least I could hike around instead and enjoy the beautiful day.

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According to Whoop, I nailed my sleep recovery goal! 

I ended up getting a fantastic run in! I did have knee pain but as I ran, it loosened up a little. I took it nice and slow on the trails and it was such a beautiful day I ended up forgetting all about my knee. I love challenging myself on the hills back there.

After my run I walked around the park for another mile or so just enjoying the day and letting my legs/body cool down.

At the end of the day, I decided to run again with Dave when he got home from work. Since I need to be getting ready for the Ragnar in a month, I didn’t see any problem going out for 3 more slow miles with Dave to round out the day. We ran along the Mt. Vernon trail together and my legs felt absolutely fine. I wore my patella knee strap to give a little more support for my knee and didn’t really notice it after the first minute or so of running.

9 trail miles – AM – 8:59 min/mile pace
3 road miles – PM – 8:36 min/mile pace

Saturday, February 18: Long run day! I had so much fun at Great Falls the day before, I decided to head back. Since it was a holiday weekend and it was going to be like 70 degrees, I headed out early because I knew the park was going to get mobbed.

I had some knee pain as I started the run but it dissipated over the next couple of miles. I ran with my Nathan hydration vest and I seriously love having my water and nutrition right at my fingertips.

I went farther out on the Potomac Heritage trail than I’ve ever gone before and it was kinda creepy out there. I ended up playing some music via my phone’s speaker on the way back to civilization just because it was SO QUIET and I’m honestly not used to it. The music helped motivate me to make it back to Great Falls though, especially the last 3 miles or so when I was really starting to feel my knee pain come back.  The trail was a little muddy too, so I really had to slow down at a lot of points so I wouldn’t wipe out in the slick mud.

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All in all, I made it 14 miles on the trail and I was so happy when I finished. And when I was leaving the park – totally right about it getting mobbed. The entire parking lot was full, and there was a line of cars all along the road leading into the park as cars waited to get in. Happy with my decision to get my butt in gear a little earlier today.

I iced and stretched and wore my compression sleeve for the rest of the day and actually, my knee didn’t feel too bad!

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post long run noms = deliciousness

14 trail miles – 9:02 min/mile

Sunday, February 19: Today called for 6 miles but I knew I was going to cut it short the moment I woke up. I could feel some stiffness in my knee so I really didn’t want to push it too much, and instead went out for a short run with Dave before work. We ran along the Mt. Vernon trail nice and slow and even though my knee didn’t feel too bad, I stopped after 2.6 miles.

I had the intentions of getting on the bike trainer in the evening after work but it was SO CRAZY at work with the sale, all I could do was collapse on my couch when I got home. No strengthening, no cross training, no nothing.  You win some, you lose some.

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me and my icing buddy 🙂

2.6 road miles – 8:32 min/mile

 

WEEKLY MILEAGE TOTAL: 45.9 miles.  Ahhhhh the .9 kills me (why couldn’t I of ran .1 more miles?!) but that’s okay.  I’m not going to lie, I wanted a little bit more mileage for this week, but given the knee pain – I’ll take it.

NOTES ON THE WEEK: I keep disappointing myself with my lack of strengthening and cross training but I’m really trying not to beat myself up too much about it. I’m on my feet all day, working two jobs AND trying to train for an ultra marathon so I only have so much time. I know the strengthening will help me so I really need to get to it though.

gahhhhhhhhh.

Hoping the knee starts to feel better soon!

 

Weekly Training Update: January 23-29

This past week was the highest mileage week I’ve had in YEARS.  And it’s only the beginning!  Also – I should have a “real” blog post coming your way soon, I’ve just had a lot on my plate. I’m getting my fundraiser page ready for my 57 mile charity run in November and I’m trying to figure out how I’d like to organize everything, so it is taking up a bit of my time.

Monday, January 23: I woke up this morning and it was POURING and windy.  Stared out the window for a few minutes and decided NOPE.  I made it my rest day :).
(Rest Day)

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I did make some delicious veggie chili this day though!

Tuesday, January 24: I intended on heading out the door for a 5 mile run, but only made it 4.2 miles.  I ran on the Mt. Vernon Trail but was really not feeling it.  I felt groggy, my legs felt heavy and I had a headache.  I had to talk myself through each step.

But the best part of today was…I DID STRENGTHENING.  I focused on my glutes – doing lots of leg lifts and squats, but I also did some abs too! Strengthening work out lasted all of 22 minutes.
(4.2 road miles, 7:59 min/mile pace)

Wednesday, January 25: WORKOUT DAYYYYYY! I seriously love tempo workouts.  I do wish I didn’t always have to do them on the treadmill, but I KNOW if I try and run one alone outside, I won’t be able to hit my pace.  So I think going too fast on the treadmill is better than nothing.

My glutes were SO SORE this morning, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to affect my workout. I did a lot of stretching this morning to help alleviate some of the tightness.

I warmed up for 18 minutes at about 8 min/mile pace and then did 5X5 minute repeats uptempo, with 1 min rest in between.  My 5 minute repeats were anywhere between 6:40-5:50 min/mile pace.  I progressively got faster with each repeat, which I always enjoy.

After the workout I hopped outside to cool down for 20 minutes.  It was a beautiful day, sun shining and in the upper 50s…seriously, I feel like winter has been completely absent this year.

Total mileage for the day was 9.5 miles!

(18 minute warm-up, 5X5 min fast, 1 minute recovery: 7 miles, 6:54 min/mile average)
(20 minute road cool down: 2.5 miles, 7:58 min/mile pace)

Thursday, January 26: Glutes still tight today, ha! I think the tightness really shows how badly I need to start doing strengthening on a more regular basis.

I woke up with the intention of getting my run in before work, but I just couldn’t get myself out the door. I was feeling very tired and achy, so I did some writing instead and tried to stretch a little bit.

My boss let me step off the floor a little early, with the caveat I had to go out and do my run if I was going to leave.  So I got dressed at the running store and headed out for my run (I knew if I went home I would just lay on the couch and do nothing). It was very windy, and no matter which direction I turned, I felt like there always was a headwind.

I also got some really weird pains shooting down my right leg. I was wearing compression socks, trying to help with blood flow in my legs after yesterday’s workout, but I feel like they may have been causing the pain? I honestly have no idea.  My right knee felt incredibly weak (this is the knee I have arthritis in and constant joint pain) and every once and a while I would take a step and it felt like fire was shooting down my lower leg from my knee.  Dislike. But I took it easy and finished the run.

I only needed 3-5 miles, but somehow got myself turned around in Old Town and ended up going 5.8 miles.  I stretched A LOT and iced after the run.

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I tried these after my run and they were actually pretty good!
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YASSSSSSS

Later in the night, I also did strengthening again!!! Stayed away from doing any leg work and really just focused on abs and some arm stuff.  After strengthening I stretched and rolled my legs out for a good 25 minutes.

(5.8 road miles, 8:10 min/mile pace)

Friday, January 27: So excited for this day! All week I planned on going to Fountainhead Regional Park to hit up the trails again for the first time in awhile.  My good friend joined me so I wouldn’t have to suffer alone, and I’m so happy I had her there with me on the trails.

I was a little nervous about my knee because of the pain from the day before, but I put on some supportive tights and a patella strap and decided to just go for it.

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This was my first time testing out my hoka speedgoats on an actual technical trail, and I thought they faired pretty well.  I, however, really need to get out on the trails more often. I felt like I was turning my ankles constantly, and I tripped twice (the second time was about .1 miles from finishing…so frustrating!).  But even with the turning of ankles and falling, I had an amazing run.  The hills definitely challenged me, but it was so nice to be out in nature again.

(8 trail miles, 9:51 min/mile pace)

 

Saturday, January 28: Long run day! I decided to head to Great Falls park because most of my 50k April race will be on some of the trails in this area.  I tested out my new Nathan Vaporairess Race Vest today and it was the first time I’ve ever run with a water pack before.  IT WAS AWESOME.  I definitely need to get used to drinking on the run and having the pack on me, but it didn’t bother me once throughout my entire run.  And that’s saying something.

I really wanted to go slow today and just focus on having an enjoyable run.  My ankles were super sore from turning them so many times at Fountainhead, but the rest of my legs felt surprisingly good.

I think today was the first run where I let myself walk when I needed to (up some of the steeper hills) and stop to enjoy the beautiful park and scenery.  I know I need to get used to power walking in long trail ultra races and I feel like today was the first time I told myself it was okay to take breaks.  And I really ended up enjoying my run, even though it was long and challenging, and I was absolutely exhausted at the end.

(12.6 trail miles, 9:07 min/mile pace)

Sunday, January 29: I meant to do some strengthening and some cross training today but it never happened.  I slept A LOT last night but I woke up still feeling exhausted, which is never a good sign for me.  I ended up taking the day as another rest day, but I was definitely hustling at work a bit, so my legs got to shake out some.  I do wish I could have done that strengthening…

JANUARY 23 – JANUARY 29 WEEKLY MILEAGE: 40.3 MILES!

NOTES ON THE WEEK: I am so happy with this training week. I can’t believe I finally hit 40 miles and felt pretty good doing it.  I did notice I’m feeling a lot of fatigue after my longer runs (I can’t seem to do anything but lay on the couch afterwards) so as the mileage ramps up in a few weeks, I’m going to pay really close attention to what my body is telling me.  I don’t think the fatigue is from being out of shape, it could be the lyme and overexerting myself, but I’m going to monitor it.