Bitter Or Better? My Choice

imageThey say that you have two choices when faced with a crazy blow that life will sometimes deal you. You can either get bitter and assign blame, pout, get nasty, angry, and stay stuck. Or, you can get better and take responsibility, make a plan of action to rectify/change the situation, and move forward.

What happens is most people initially do get bitter. We’re angry. We ask, “Why?” We look for people to blame. If you stay in this mentality, the situation doesn’t really change. In fact, it may get worse. You could really dig yourself into a hole, or fall into an abyss that’s really hard to climb out of. I know, because I’ve been there and it wasn’t that long ago.

Three years ago, this month, March 28, 2013 to be exact, I blew my left knee out in a freak misstep when performing a move that was shoulder to overhead. I had not lifted that weight before so it was slightly difficult. Initially, I blamed my trainer who told me that the weight was “light” and that I could do it. I didn’t think I could, but I did do it once, so I believed I could do it again. Well, what resulted was me misstepping or landing incorrectly, and the way my foot planted tweaked my knee enough that it completely tore my left meniscus and severely bruised my ACL. I don’t believe that I ever really “healed” from that experience. What do I mean? Well, I know that my knee healed. I had surgery, and they removed my meniscus and I eventually went on to recover and get back to baseline, but my mind never really recovered.

imageI lost my shit when this happened. I seriously Lost. My. Shit. I was angry. I was depressed. I couldn’t function. I made the mistake of stopping all exercise as suggested by my orthopedist. It made sense because I could not truly bear weight on my left leg, couldn’t squat, blah, blah, blah. This lack of movement proved to be detrimental to my mental health. (You can read about it here.)

I think about how low I fell last time, metaphorically speaking, and I can tell you that I was NOT in a good place. I became very irritable. I gained weight that I have not yet been able to shed. I lost my fitness. And, worst of all, I became suicidal. Seriously, I wanted to die. I just wanted to die. I had become someone that I didn’t recognize. I was lost and frustrated. And even after my knee was repaired, I tried to make my way back into my fitness game, but it was far from the same. Where I once was running 25 miles/week, lifting weights 4-5 times a week, and even kickboxing 2-3 times a week, I was no longer able to workout as I had been. I believed that I would just get right back onto that horse, and what happened was that horse quickly bucked me off and laughed at me right in the face.

imageThis time is a little different because I know what to expect. My plan is to NOT fall into that same abyss that I fell into the last time I injured myself. How do I know it’s different? What am I going to do that’s different? Well …

It’s only been 4 days since I re-injured my knee. I was fatigued during the workout, so when it came time to squat clean 135lbs, I was already tired. I should have passed on attempting to lift it, but on a good day when I’m not fatigued, I can do it. I should have listened to my gut, but, I didn’t. I let my head and my ego get the best of me and I knew that I wanted to try. I only tried once and that was all that it took. It took me down immediately with my knee buckling inward.

I did not try to hide, mask, or pooh-pooh my injury. I cried out in agony, something that I would have never had done in the past. I let others help me. Someone got me ice. My trainer aced wrapped my knee. Last time, I did not seek medical attention. I had an appointment with my Physical Therapist the next day, and he was the one who convinced me to seek medical attention. I was naive in thinking that I would be able to fix and heal myself. This time, I knew what to expect, so I brought myself to the ER and requested an x-ray, then requested an MRI and an orthopedic consult. I had my MRI yesterday. I also immediately started working on the surrounding muscles of my knee by using a muscle stimulator. Along with compression, ice, and the use of my hinged brace has made a huge difference. I really haven’t had much pain. If anything, it’s 3 out of 10 on a 0-10 pain scale, and that’s really only when my knee is unstable and moves laterally. Something that I have already done this time that I never did last time, I reached out to my trainer and explained the consequences I may have if I limit or stop my movement. I asked for workouts that would instead focus on my core and upper body and cardiovascular exercise that would not require the “stabilization” or movement of my lower body, more specifically, my left knee.

I take full responsibility for what happened. I know the risks and benefits of doing the things that I love. I would not be me if I sat back and watched others do the things that I love and did not participate in the activity myself. Quite frankly, I am tired of people telling me, “You know you’re not a youngster anymore. You really should be careful. Maybe you should find another hobby.” Are you kidding me? I know exactly how old I am. And I know what I’m doing. I am doing what I need to do to feel alive, to feel happy, and to live my life. I don’t owe anyone any explanations at all. Like I said, I take full responsibility, and I will continue doing things that I love, that make ME happy, and that make ME feel alive. I’ve watched the video of what/how it happened. It serves me no purpose to keep rehashing and reliving it over and over again. What’s done is done. I can only learn from what’s happened and move forward.

So you can see, I have chosen to not become bitter this time around. I’ve already had my cry in my last blog post. I choose to see it as another learning opportunity. You see, things will continue to happen in your life until you understand the lesson that it is trying to teach you. I cannot yet tell you what the lesson is that I am to learn from all of this. I can tell you that I am open. I know that in order to figure out what’s happening to me on the outside, to understand why this lesson is being brought forth to me again, I must turn inward. I need to seek the answers within myself because the answers are inside of me.

I am different this time around. I am more open and vulnerable this time around, and I am also showing more of my vulnerability without shame. I am attempting to remain calm as I ask others for help, or when I tell my story, and not feel humiliated. I know that people are talking about me, saying things like I was stupid to even attempt that, but that’s their opinion. It’s not the truth. I was not being reckless, I was putting myself out there and doing something that not many women my age do.

I will not fall into the abyss this time around. I have a plan and have already began to institute it and illicit the help of those who love me.

So … Bitter or Better? I say BETTER. My attitude and my outlook are both different this time around. More optimistic, and realistic. I believe that things WILL get better. I believe that I WILL once again be restored and made whole. I believe that I WILL once again run, jump, lift. I believe that I WILL figure it out and healing IS already taking place within me.  Things CAN and WILL only get better from here on out.

Stay tuned.


I Blinked

The Distance From Where I Am to Where Nate Is ...
The Distance From Where I Am to Where Nate Is …

Three weeks ago, I did one of the hardest things in my life. I put my second born on a plane headed for Kansas to go to college. Kansas! Wow! I never saw that one coming, and let me tell you, it hit me pretty hard to realize that I blinked and here he was, all grown up and heading off to college.

It has ALWAYS been my Nathan’s aspiration to play baseball. My husband, knowing this, has kept him on track, making sure his grades were on point, and that he played high school baseball, travel baseball, made videos, and took him to various baseball camps for recruiters to scout him. He kept him safe in that he monitored his pitch count, took him to various appointments when he suffered an injury, and bought him the equipment he needed to succeed. My husband does the same for our younger son, Noah, who has similar aspirations. Had it not been for him, I’m not sure that Nate or Noah would be in the positions that they are in now.

Nathan signing his Letter Of Intent to play baseball for the Bethany Swedes!
Nathan signing his Letter Of Intent to play baseball for the Bethany Swedes!

Enter Coach Bartman from Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. In mid July, my husband received a call from Coach Bartman asking for Nathan to come out to Kansas to tour the campus and to talk about possibly going out there to go to school and play baseball. Unfortunately, because of timing of our vacation to Maui, and the Coach’s availability, it was not until early August that they could fly out and meet. My husband, thinking that Nathan wouldn’t really like the thought of going to school so far away, especially in Kansas, agreed to take him just for the experience of interviewing and talking to a recruiter. That meeting would prove to be a life changing moment for all of us as Nathan was offered an athletic scholarship, and then we were surprised that Nathan was excited and signed his letter of intent to play prior to leaving Kansas.

Here is where is become somewhat tricky … Nathan signed the Letter of Intent on August 8th, school was to start on August 18. There was no time to process. No time to ask for time off from work so that I could help him move and get settled. The only time that we had was to make sure that he got immunized properly, got a physical prior to leaving, pick up some clothing, and pack only the essentials that he needed and then send him off.

You cannot imagine my anxiety prior to his leaving. I like to let everyone believe that I’m made of armor, that I’m this emotionally strong person who doesn’t cry. It’s a facade. I’m really good at pretending and not letting people see that I’m vulnerable. I’m not good at letting people see the “real” me, nor do I like to let my guard down and let people get through the wall that I have built so nicely around myself as protection. Let me tell you, the heavy heart, the chest tightness, the constriction in my throat, and the tears that leaked out of nowhere … I had no idea that it could be so bad. The pain and struggle are both so REAL. The anxiety attacks would come at me out of no where, and the only thing that would help was for me to run – to physically run because I really felt as if I were crawling out of my skin! It’s safe to say, to tell everyone that I’m NOT made of armor, that I’m as normal as the next person. Awwww, com’mon now, don’t be so surprised!

150003Putting him on that plane, watching him walk away to fly a distance of 1,665 miles away was one of the hardest things I have ever had to endure. Let’s face it, it’s just not somewhere you can hop into your car and drive to should he need help.  I asked my husband if he would tell Nathan that he couldn’t go, to tell him that he had to stay. He would not. He reminded me that this was what we have worked so hard for. He reminded me that this was the goal – to raise independent, strong, good-willed children, who go off to college and find their passions and go after them. I know and understand that, but it doesn’t make it any easier for me. He also told me that had I coddled him just a little bit more, and done more things for him, that we would not be in the situation that we were facing, that he wouldn’t want to leave the nest and that he would just want to stay home and let me continue to take care of him. Yeah, that wasn’t happening!

It’s safe to say that Nathan made it to Kansas and got himself set up without the help of his Mama. Despite my anxiety, I am incredibly proud of and happy for my boy! I will be okay, and I know Nate will be successful. He is making his dreams come to reality – how can any parent be upset about that! I only wish that I had a little more time to spend with him; that time could’ve crept by a little slower instead of sneaking up on me so quickly! I was okay, once I knew that he had made it to Kansas and situated for the most part. So hard to believe that he can do those things … without my help.

When I was much younger, even before I had thoughts of having children of my own, I read a book by Kahlil Gibran called The Prophet.  I pulled my dog-eared copy from my bookshelf and re-read page 17:

“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”

I’ve always loved this passage. I didn’t quite fully understand it until I had children of my own, and got to where I was letting them go to do things like go to parties without me, learn how to drive, go off to college, and then move far away from me.

My advice to you younger parents is this: Don’t Blink. Seriously. It seems like just yesterday when my kiddos were learning how to walk, how to ride a bike, starting kindergarten. Time flies by so quickly. Enjoy your children – EVERYTHING about them because it’s true that you’ll miss it. Hug them a little tighter, but not so tight  that you stifle them. Give them the space, and foster an environment where they are able to learn independence and grow with your guidance.  Set their wings securely so that eventually when the time comes to let them go, you can be confident in the fact that they will fly in the direction of their dreams but yet know that they can always come home, that you will provide them with a safe place to land should they need help.

I am so proud of all of my children.  This year Grace started 6th grade, Noah started his senior year of high school, Nathan started his freshman year of college, and my Samuel started teaching a college class and started graduate school! Wow! I look forward to what the future brings. I am excited and happy for all of them. Like I said though, I wish I hadn’t blinked!

Injury Continues To Prevail

Proud Parents with the Graduate!!! CSUF ’12!

It’s been a long, LONG weekend in the ‘No … Fresno, that is.  Over the weekend our oldest child had graduated from COLLEGE, and two graduation ceremonies later we can say that we did it.  Sunday morning found Chris and I exhausted.  Not just tired but dog tired EXHAUSTED! In addition to driving to and from Fresno twice, attending two different graduation ceremonies for the same child, then a congratulatory lunch, we spent the rest of the afternoon on Saturday searching for, then purchasing said college graduate a car!!!  Yes, we were tired, but probably Chris more than I, however, I whined louder.

So, yes, Sunday morning you would have found two dead tired parents who just happened to sign up to run a half marathon before heading home from our already long weekend.  California Classic Weekend – a combination of a Century (100 mile) bike ride on Saturday, a half marathon on Sunday, and a kids run.  One could ride the Century ride and turn around on Sunday and run the half marathon. Or one could just do the bike ride, or just do the half marathon.  As I had run the half marathon last year, and as we had absolutely NO intention of riding 100 miles, Chris and I opted to only run the half marathon. It had already seemed as if we had been on the ride of our lives with the graduations and rearing of children.  The half marathon was all that we could handle.

Packet pickup for this event was held on a Thursday and Friday.  What the hell?  Really?  I can see if you were in Fresno, or if you lived in Fresno that this would work for you, however, we don’t live in the area, and even though we were in town on Friday, the expo began at 3 p.m. and we were long gone by then.  Last year we could pick up our bibs at Chuckchansi Stadium on Saturday, this year we were not able to as there was NO packet pick up on Saturday.  Really?  What an inconvenience!  We were assured that we would be able to pick up our packets and shirts prior to the race start in the morning.

Sam and his new Jetta, Miranda.

Our evening ran late as we took our child car shopping, add on the need for filling out applications for credit, insurance, promissory notes, etc., we were lucky to get in dinner by 9 p.m. Our other younger children were were grouchy and tired by this time, however we made the best of it as we dined at Denny’s!  It was an exciting night for our older son who was extremely excited and thankful to have gotten a new car!

Upon arriving back at the hotel, we readied and laid out our gear for the morning’s run.  Shorts – check. Shirt – check. Shoes – check. Everything – check, check, check. The only thing we did not have was our bib’s.  Sleep came easily for both of us, as we were both FAST asleep by the time our heads hit the pillow!

Race READY in the ‘No!
Chris and I at the start. =)

0515 came early! I was able to get up early, and ready myself without incident while my mother-in-law made coffee.  I know!  The horror of not having my regular Starbucks tall, triple, non-fat, no whip mocha!  What the hell, right?  But actually, the hotel provided coffee was fine, and it provided the jump start that I needed.  I was fortunate enough to have packed a mojo bar to have as my breakfast.  It was a very short walk to the start line, and while walking we met a very nice man who was also running the half, named David.  He and Chris struck up a really nice conversation, and he let us know of his goals (to sub 1:30! LOL!) and we talked about how inconvenient it was to have packet pickup on a Thursday and Friday! We got to the packet pickup table and were able to get our goodies without incident, put our bibs on, and head out to use the facilities.

While on my way to the porta-potties, I was fortunate enough to find my new

My newest running friend, Richelle! She ROCKS!!!

running friend, Richelle, who was stretching and warming up.  I introduced her to my husband, asked him to take a photo of us, and I was off while they chatted and waited for me.  Shortly after I was done, it was perfect timing, as there was about 10 minutes until gun time.  I worried the entire time before the start about my ankles and feet that were still nagging me, and that were still quite painful.

Miles 1-4 were fair.  I ran sub 10min/miles which was okay for me since I was still nursing injuries to both of my feet and ankles.  I was reminded of my girlfriend when I saw the Amtrak station at the half mile mark and I wondered how she was doing. It brought a little smile on my face as I noticed that even when she’s not with me, she is.

Mile 5 was just outside of the zoo gates. I was still doing okay, but I could tell it was beginning to get slightly painful.

Mile 6 was in the zoo.  It was nice to see the animals – Giraffes are my favorite.  I stopped for a minute to stretch out my calves which were starting to tighten up.  I was beginning to hurt even more – I know because I was running crooked, putting more pressure onto the side of my left foot.  Mile 6.5 I see Chris and call out and wave to him.  It was starting to get hot out there but I reminded myself to pour water down my back at every water station.

Mile 7, my left foot was starting to cry, so I stopped and removed the ankle support/brace, and I stretched out my feet once again.

I was doing okay from miles 8-10, but by mile 10.5, my left foot again started to whimper so I stopped and removed the ace wrap that was also supporting my ankle.  I left it on the side walk and hoped that some homeless person would be able to use it as it was fairly new.

I ran from mile 10.5 to the finish without much incident.  I decided to just suck it up.  I told myself that I was okay, that my foot was okay, and that I would be okay, but I was done and we needed to finish what we set out to do.  So I pushed it, slightly limping, but not.  Just kind of running a little bit crooked as I had been over the last few races since the Napa Valley Silverado Half Marathon.  I told myself to dig deep.  I reminded myself that there were worse ailments out there and that I was very fortunate to be able to run, albeit a little slower than I normally run.  And I just finished as strong as I could.

DONE in the ‘NO!
Chris coming into the finish. Waving!

I was happy to have finished strong and to have finished upright.  I waited for Chris and as I was doing so, my lovely family arrived … and I jokingly berated them for being late and not seeing my stellar finish! Chris arrived shortly afterwards and my son was able to take a few picture of him, and my mother in law and family were able to cheer him in.  I was happy that they were able to see him finish.

I love this little half … about 3500 people. We all got Cold Stone ice cream at the end, as well as a fairly stocked breakfast plate.

Overall, the course was slightly different than from what I remembered from last year.  It was still a nice run, but it was HOT.  The sun was scorching hot at the end and I was thankful to have been done and out before too long. Aside from the packet pickup fiasco, it was okay because even that worked itself out. Last year I remember that there were no porta potties on the course.  This year I saw several.

I’m not sure if I would run this race again.  It was a nice run, and right now I’m a legacy runner, however … it would be bittersweet as I only ran the race because my son, Sam, was in Fresno and I could visit with him.  This year he graduated from college and starts a new chapter of his life.  Only time will tell if I run this race again.  Who knows … I may.

Here’s what I do know though … I’ve been nursing the injuries to my feet and ankles since the end of April.  Although I have been nursing them, babying them, taking them to accupuncture, soaking them in warm foot soaks, and keeping them compressed … I’m still injured.  I still hurt, but I continue to push it because that’s how I am.  I’d say on a pain scale of 0-10, I’d rate it a 5, and would go up to a 6.5 to 7 at worst.  It’s not that bad, but yet, my injuries prevail because I am stubborn! I’m so hardheaded and I beat my body up pretty good!  I just know that there could be worse things though.  I just know that my injures are minute when looking at the big picture.  I know that my injures ARE healable.  I know that I WILL heal.  I am sure of that. So while my injuries are slightly aggravated after each run, I know that it’s my own fault that they prevail.  I run when I should rest my feet, but I know that I will be okay. This will not get the best of me … I am bigger than my issue, and I know people! =)

Until next time … Train HARD.  Train SMART.  Eat WELL. And run HAPPY!

Running For Sherry Arnold

I rarely give it any thought when I head out the door and go out for a run.  I just grab my stuff, give my husband and/or kiddos a general idea of where I’ll be and who I’ll be with if anyone.  Most runs are run alone, and in the streets of Stockton, California.

If you know anything about Stockton, California, you will know that it has been ranked FIRST twice in three years as THE MOST Miserable City in the United States according to Forbes.  No joke, the city that I live in is considered miserable.  However, I’m one of those individuals that believes in perception, and making the best out of what your situation is.  I don’t see the city that I live in as “miserable” … Stockton has a lot of good points, it’s just unfortunate that only the ugly, bad parts are magnified.

Getting back on track to what I was trying to write … I run in a scary city, and I rarely, if ever, give it a second thought that I do.  Other people do … my husband worries, my mother worries, and a lot of people who I tell that I run in Stockton point it out to me.  But I’m not afraid, and I go out and run anyway … unarmed, but ready should anything happen.  I’m not saying that I’m invincible, nor am I saying that nothing will happen to me … I’m just saying that I don’t run afraid.  I am not afraid to run in my city, nor should I be.  I believe that if you run scared, your chances of something happening are heightened.

In early January of this year, in the city of Sidney, Montana … MONTANA … which to my knowledge is NOT a miserable city or anywhere close to it … Sherry Arnold headed out for her morning run, never to return again.  She was found seven days later, dead. It was later learned by her abductors, who were caught, that she was abducted at 0640 … she left her house at 0630.  10 minutes.  10 minutes was all it took.

So why am I writing?  I’m writing because I think that it could have been me or anyone of us … I think that because of where I live, you would’ve think that it would be more likely that it would happen here in Stockton, not in Montana.   But it brings to light that it could happen anywhere, and that it could happen to me, to you, to your friends, etc.  I’m sure that Sherry Arnold didn’t believe that anything would happen to her when she headed out on her run that morning.  You get the gist of what I’m saying.

Will it change how and where I run?  Maybe a little, but I doubt it.  I’m pretty aware of my surroundings, and I do tell my husband, and others where I’ll be.  I’ve been good about running with a partner when one is available, or my husband and kids  have been known to run or ride their bicycles or skateboard beside me, and I do run with my phone.  There are some good apps out there such as Bluelight that can track you or alert someone if you have not returned at a certain time point.  For the most part though, like I said, I just use the old fashioned, “Hey, I’m gonna be out at such and such place running.  I should be back at  such and such time.  Okay?”  I know … scary!

On Saturday, February 11, it has been asked that we all take some time to remember Sherry in a Virtual Run being held in her honor.  It was the brain child of her cousin, Beth, who is also a runner.  Read about Sherry and the Virtual Run being held in her honor here.

I will be taking some time out to run a few miles in Sherry’s honor because I know that it could very well have been me.  She was my age.  She was a mother, wife, math teacher, runner … she is us.  So with that, I ask you to take some time to run for her.  If you’re already running a race, dedicate a few miles in her honor.

I ask you to be more cognizant when you’re out there – especially when you’re alone.  If you can, run with your phone – I know that a lot of us do these days, and it’s not a bad idea.  Let your loved ones know where you are going to be.  Run with a partner – it’s always funner that way anyway.  Make eye contact with people who you come into contact with.  Just be careful when you’re out there, but don’t run afraid.  If you’re afraid, then your gut is trying to tell you something and your gut is usually right.

If you’re around on Saturday and live in Stockton, I’m planning on a short 5-6 mile run around the Spanos Park area.  Download your bib and come run with me and then we’ll go have breakfast somewhere … You don’t have to be fast … Those who know me, know that I will never leave you behind.  =)

Train HARD.  Train SMART.  Eat WELL.  Have FUN … Let’s goooo run for Sherry!