born to run

Victories and Setbacks

“I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain,
torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage. “
Friedrich Nietzsche

Life is composed of victories and setbacks.  Great victories are always eventually followed by setbacks, and setbacks by victories.  It’s all a cycle. That’s just the way of things. Keeping this in mind helps me maintain perspective.  When I’m doing well, I do my best to enjoy it knowing it won’t last; and when things get rough, I remind myself that it will pass.

In terms of my life and ongoing struggle with daily existence after trauma, I’d say I’m on the victory side of things.  However, running has fallen into the setback zone.  My entire life I have been plagued by knee problems.  As long as I’ve been walking, my knees have popped out of place. The pain and other joint issues associated with this have always limited my running.  When I started using the Vibram Five Fingers (don’t ask me why it’s “fingers” and not toes), I noticed a dramatic improvement in my joint pain.  Basically, I didn’t have any.  I was hurting all right, but it was all muscular.  Everything was going fine and dandy until last week when, deluded with my new sense of limitless, I decided to up my mileage by a full hour instead of 30 minutes.

That is how I became rudely reacquainted with the nagging pain of IT band syndrome.  It’s a running overuse injury that I am all too familiar with.  Initially, I was not aware of its reemergance due to the new location of the pain. However, when it got to the point that even gently brushing anything against my tibial tubercle (the bony knob just under your knee) caused me to jump in agony, I decided to do a google search on “lateral knee pain” and then “pain, tibial tubercle”.  What I found was my familiar nemesis IT band syndrome.  Apparently, if you continue to run when your IT band is irritated, you develop terrible point tenderness –you guessed it– at your tibial tubercle.  So after patting myself on the back for pushing IT band syndrome to new personal heights, I looked up the treatment: six weeks of rest and stretching.  This was not an acceptable option.  Six weeks of “rest” would have me in the loony bin.  I needed to exercise for my sanity sake!  More reading.. there was also a mention of strengthening weak muscle groups- this seemed more palatable.

At the moment, I am trying very hard to limit my running.  I have been spending quality time with the stair climber and doing general conditioning/strength training.  There was a moment or two that doubted I would be able to run the marathon in Oct., or ever.  Of course, then I came back to my senses and realized I would never allow myself to quit.  Plus, if I tried, my best friend Randi would assuredly put me back in line.

Everyone needs a good friend to hold a mirror up when you need it, tell you what you need to hear (even when you don’t want to hear it), and hold you accountable.  Randi has been my best friend since high school; and while I have many incredible, amazing friends who I cherish, Randi is the one I can count on to do all these things.  I, through coercion, begging, and even a little arm twisting, have convinced her to do the Diva Half Marathon with me.  I have been “encouraging” her to do the Hartford Marathon with me as well.  Every time she comes up with an excuse or says she’d never be able to run that far- I assure her that I’m convinced she can.  When her motivation starts to wane or she gets discouraged by running injuries, I do my best to encourage her (like buying her cool running gear and books for her birthday).

I have to finish that marathon, IT band syndrome or not!  I need to prove to myself I can do it.  Plus, I want to show Randi that she can do it.  After all, she is the athletic one!  I would not only be letting myself down if I quit, but also my best friend.  There’s just no way that’s going to happen.

In the meantime, I’ll be training for the NorCal Tough Mudder next month.  On this afternoon’s agenda, time at the gym with my very own personal trainer (my boyfriend Adam- the seasoned marathon runner and Tough Mudder alum)

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“I am woman! I am invincible! I am pooped!”


“I am woman!  I am invincible!  I am pooped!”

  ~Author Unknown

The amazing view on my run today.

Today I continued my quest toward running a full marathon!  I figured it would be a good day for a long run because I have not run much this week and will be working the next two days without a lot of other opportunity to get mileage in.  Earlier this week I had attempted a light, fast paced run; but my body was not cooperating, and I ended up at the gym instead.  I was a little disappointed, but got some solace in the fact that I survived 15-whole-minutes on the stair climber- which I hate more even more than push ups (and that is saying a lot!).

None-the-less, I wanted to make up for my less than par workout and gain some ground.  I got up early and straightened up the house a little before setting out.  It was still cool and looked like it was shaping up to be a beautiful day.  I headed over to the Bridle Trail, a relatively flat, gravel path not far from my house.  I had not been there in several months, and thought it would be a nice change in scenery.  The trail runs through the woods, so it stays well shaded and keeps the temperature significantly cooler than running on the road.  I was actually a little chilly when I started, but quickly warmed up as I settled into my pace.  I chose my beat up asics over my vibrams because I don’t like running over gravel (or pavement) in toe shoes.

Not long into my run, I was greeted by another runner with a happily meandering chocolate lab in toe.  His companion lagged behind him enough to keep me company for a while before he wandered off again with his owner.  I made a mental note to start bringing my lab, Penny, out on more of my short runs.  (I used to run with her regularly; however, now that she is getting older, her endurance is not what it used to be. )

I had set the timer on my phone (which I use as an ipod) to alarm after an hour and forty-five minutes figuring I would just turn around and run back.  I hoped to be able to cover at least 15 miles in that amount of time.  For most of the way out I felt terrific.  I soaked in the beautiful views and wondered why anyone would run on the road when they could have a much more peaceful and splendid backdrop.  I was so absorbed in my surroundings that it felt like no effort at all, and I started to think that running a marathon would not be that difficult.  I frequently joke to Adam that “running on a flat surface is easy. I could run forever it’s flat.”

I was just beginning to believe my jest was true when I brushed my hand across my leg and realized I couldn’t feel it.  In fact, I could not feel anything from the small of my back down.  I wondered if this was what an epidural felt like.  Like any other endurance athlete (and I use that term loosely), I figured that if I ignored it long enough, it would just go away.  Besides, I wasn’t having any pain.  I tuned it out and kept going, but it didn’t go away.  Instead, it got worse.  Then my back and legs started to hurt.  I looked at the time.  I had only been running an hour!  This was disheartening.  I wondered if my asics were a bad choice.  Yet, I kept running because it was not just about the mileage- it was about training my body to keep going when it didn’t want to.  I knew I would have to get used to this feeling if I was going to get through over 26 miles.

By the time I was ready to turn around and head back, it was becoming increasingly more difficult to move my legs.  I was afraid to stop and walk, convinced that I would not be able to get my body to run again.  I began to doubt my ability to complete this task, and kicked myself for adding an additional 15 minutes each way.  At times, I was distracted by butterflies and bright yellow birds who seemed to follow me along with curiosity.  There were also a wide variety of wild flowers in white, purple, and yellows abutting the tree line.  I tried to concentrate on the scenery: a lovely pond, tall fields, small cottages.  However, my legs were aching and numb.  I didn’t think it was right that they could be both at the same time.  I kept plodding and hoping the time would go by quickly.

When I finally reached a stretch of the trail I remembered from early in my run I was elated- only to be crushed again by the long stretch before the next familiar site.  I thought it was funny how quickly I went from feeling like I could run forever to feeling like I had been running forever.  I dreaded the idea of doing this for over 5 hours and began to question why I ever thought it would be a good idea.  Maybe I was capable of running 10 or 15 K thanks to my vibrams, but this was starting to seem insane.

Then, before I knew it, I was back at the 2 mile mark.  I remembered how I used to struggle to run from my car to this spot and back when I was first breaking in my toe shoes.  Now it seemed like such a small distance!  Over and over in my head I chanted “TWO MORE MILES, JUST TWO MORE MILES!!!!”  I kept pushing; my body kept trying to quit.  I wanted to finish running, not walking.  I continued to drag myself until the sites became more familiar; and, finally,  I knew I was almost there.  I dragged myself all the way back to the car, and a funny thing happened.  I didn’t die.  I didn’t fall over.  I didn’t even throw up!  Instead I drove myself home and tried to stretch- until my lap was filled with a very happy lab and bulldog.

it got a little muddy

another view from the trail

You can’t always get want you want…

“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need”

The Rolling Stones

Yesterday I completed the last 15 K of my YES Endurance Race journey.  Adam and I had both been sick all week, so I was terrified that I would not be able to finish (although I told Adam I would drag myself across the finish line if I had to).  Reducing the mileage was not an option.  I wanted to complete the longest distance offered.  Anything else would not feel like a challenge.  I had been training for weeks, and I didn’t want to sell myself short.  Unfortunately, the day before the race my throat was ON FIRE.  I had taken decongestants all day to try to relieve the sinus pressure.  That night I had nightmares about not being able to compete (and by compete I mean finish, as I have no delusions about my skill level at running).

When I awoke on the morning of race day, I was relieved to find I was feeling a little better.  Adam and I both got up early, took our decongestants, and had some hot tea to soothe or throats before heading out.  The weather for the race was beautiful, but a bit hot.  Luckily the humidity had broke!  It was not as crowded as at some of the other venues, but there was still a good turn out.  I was one of 7 women who had signed up for the 15 K option.  I recognized a few familiar faces, as the race has developed  bit of a cult following.

After a few minutes idle chit-chat, all the runners approached the start line, and soon we were off.  My body fought me the entire fist 5K, but I continued to force myself to run.  However, by the time I hit the steep hills my legs were giving out.  I wondered if I could survive 10 K let alone 15!  I kept reminding myself that “what goes up must come down” and that this stretch of hills had to end eventually.  I knew getting downhill would give my legs a chance to recover, and that (with any luck) the course would get easier.  Still, it was one thing to think it and another to force my achy, virus ridden body to do it.

It’s funny something as simple as a cold can really affect your running performance.  I was aware that the 15 K would be a struggle for me, having done a few lengthy runs on my own without hills as tough as the YES series offers.  Yet, I did not expect for my symptoms to affect my running as much as they did.  Frankly, it took almost all the fun out of it.  As much as I tried to find my rhythm and enjoy the scenery, my body felt like it was burning up, and I was having trouble breathing.  I sincerely wanted to quit- which is actually not unusual for me.  It generally happens at about mile 4 when I hit the first “wall”.  I had experienced it enough to expect it and to know that I would feel better if I push through it.  However, this was not my typical 4 mile wall; this was like hitting the wall for the whole first half of the race.

When I caught up to Adam, I could see that he was as miserable as I was.  This initially made me feel a little better;  but when I lost him a short distance later where the course split, I became concerned that he was sicker than he looked.  I wondered if he had opted for the 10 K path instead of the 15.  Then, as I had hoped, the course got slightly easier.  The hills were less steep, and I could finally feel my body settling into a rhythm.  I was still miserable, exhausted, and my legs felt like lead, but I wanted to finish.  I thought about how far I’d come, not just in the current race, but through the series.  I had already covered so many miles.  I knew that if I wanted to conquer the marathon in Oct. that I was going to have to get used to pushing my body through fatigue and exhaustion.  I couldn’t stomach the idea of quitting, no matter how enticing it seemed at the moment.  Besides, it was a long walk back to the start and would take significantly longer than just running and getting it over with.  Plus, I really wanted that finisher medal!

By the time I hit 10 K, I was pondering whether to take another shot blok or hold out a little longer when my body gave me the answer.  Too tired to lift my feet over the rocks, I tripped and fell flat on my face.  It took me a minute to get myself up and going again.  I so badly wanted to be finished.  I was desperately hoping there were no more steep hills ahead, as I was convinced they would be the end of me.   I was also terrified that I would lose the trail again, as I had already managed to get off track once and had to double back.  However, the further I ran, the more attainable the finished seemed.  Then before I knew it, I saw the familiar path back to the start, followed by a cheering crowd.  I sailed out the woods to the finish, elated to have found it at last.  When I looked I at my time, I didn’t believe it.  I was certain I missed a loop to the course.  Then the race organizer announced that I had won the female ultra point series (they tally the number of people you  beat and multiply it by the number of races- I won mostly owing to the fact that I was the only female to race all 4).  I was in disbelief, and then overwhelmed by dread.  I didn’t see any of the women that had been ahead of me.  I must have missed a loop.  I didn’t want to watch the other finishers, afraid I would see them and confirm my fear.  I was so terrified of being disqualified.  I didn’t even care about the ultra title.  I just wanted to be counted as a finisher so I could get the medal I worked for so hard.

They never came.  A few people finished after me, but not the ones I’d been following.  The last of the group was Adam.  He got loud applause, as a rumor had already been spread through the crowd that he was running with the flu.  I wondered if someone had seen him throw up on the course to arrive at that conclusion.  I knew he had to be sick not to have been way ahead of me.  We stayed briefly for the award  ceremony, but I never got the medal.  I wish I could say this didn’t bother me; but, in truth, I was devastated.  Once I got into the car, I cried (I’d like to think this was in large part due to a combination of PMS and exhaustion).  I felt cheated.  I pushed myself through pain and misery, through four races for a total of 46 kilometers and felt like I had nothing to show for it.  Sure, I had the experiences; but I wanted something tangible that I could put in a frame and look at on a bad day to remind myself of what I achieved.  Adam tried to reassure me that they would probably send it in the mail.  Despite the fact that this made complete logical sense, I didn’t believe him.  I thought to myself how silly it was that I would rather have a cheap medal than prize money and free race entry to an exotic race in Ireland.  Then I thought about the Rolling Stones lyrics about how “you can’t always get what you want…you get what you need”.   I realized that maybe, even though I really wanted a medal, what I needed was the experience of another challenge.  I was slightly discouraged at the idea of a 100 K race.  However, when I got home and looked it up online, I saw that they have a 50 K option, and that 2 nights lodging and a shuttle from the airport are included in the registration fee.  I wondered if this was part of the “free entry”.  Perhaps there is a trip to Ireland in my future…

Conquering Inner Demons


We have to learn to be our own best friends because we fall too easily into the trap of being our own worst enemies.  ~Roderick Thorp, Rainbow Drive

Made it the whole way, still a happy couple...minus the restless legs 😉

This weekend I headed off on a road trip to Tennessee with my boyfriend, which left me with a lot of time to think… and some seriously restless legs.  His plan was for me to drive down with him to provide company (and alleviate some of the mileage) and then fly back in order to make it back to work on Monday.  Adam’s parent’s were going to meet us at his sister’s house in order to drop off the family boat so Adam could haul it back home.  He had been planning the trip for months and had even specifically picked out his new vehicle with towing the boat in mind.  It was a big deal to him, and I wanted to be there to support him- especially when he specifically asked for me to come with him.

That being said, I was absolutely dreading it.  I hate long car rides (my definition of a long car ride is anything longer than 45 minutes), driving in general, and even more: the idea of driving someone else’s car, which in this case happened to be  twice the size of mine.  In fact, if his truck were any larger, I would need a ladder (or perhaps a gentle boost) to get in.  Further adding to my apprehension, Adam is incredibly quite at baseline and becomes increasingly silent in the car.  The prospect of spending 18+ hrs in a car with a person who doesn’t speak did not exactly appeal to me.

My motivation 1) it was obviously important to him or he wouldn’t have offered to buy a plane ticket back so I could go and still make it back in time for work 2) I hadn’t met his sister or her family and was looking forward to seeing his parents again 3) I already had the time off from work and figured that spending silent time together in a truck for 3 days was better than not seeing him at all.

Knowing how much I was dreading going made me feel extremely guilty; because, in all honesty, I wanted to be enthusiastic.  However, the fact that Adam had recently discussed picking up and moving to Philly and buying a house together had sent me reeling.  It triggered my anxiety in a big way.  In my head, I had started criticizing every aspect of our relationship- resulting in a laundry list of reasons why I wasn’t currently happy.  That, in turn, made me feel guilty for not being happy and for (in my mind) making Adam unhappy.  At the top of my list was feeling like we lacked communication, followed by feeling unimportant, unappreciated, and finally, that we weren’t on the same team.

Adam will openly admit that he is unsure of how to function in a relationship, and when it comes to me needing help, would prefer assigned tasks.  He is more than willing to do whatever needs attending, but I get frustrated at having to ask when it is so blatantly obvious to me when the dishes need to be washed, the laundry needs to be done, or the floors need to be vacuumed.  I get even more aggravated over things like the closet door always being left open with the laundry on the floor instead of in the hamper, the clutter of things dropped through out the house, the dresser drawers left open with clothes hanging out, and the dishes that can’t seem to find their way to the sink.  It’s the sort of picking-up-after-him on a daily basis that makes me feel most of the things above. Most of all, though, I feel guilty for getting irritated in the first place (even if I don’t act on it or say anything).  After all, it is his home too, and I want him to feel welcome.

Furthermore, I also feel guilty that I want someone who is naturally and self-sufficient to open up about things that bother him, let me know when he won’t be home, or tell me what’s going on in his life. I feel guilty that I may be impossible to please, that I respond to feeling injured and shut out by shutting down myself, and that when a kind, genuine man who loves me wants me to move with him to another state rather than be away from me I respond by pushing him away.

And the guilt is not just limited to my relationship.  I feel guilty for not being able to do more for my parents, and for getting annoyed at work when I am overwhelmed or feel that I am being dumped on (even when I don’t express my frustration, and even more if I do).  I feel guilty for not being a better parent to my dogs, even though they’d be considered spoiled by most standards.  I feel guilty whenever I eat something unhealthy (frequently) or miss a day of working out.  I felt guilty for thinking negative things about other people, even when they probably deserve it.  I feel guilty for not being happier, more even keel, more fun, or self accepting.  That’s right, I even criticize myself for being critical of myself- and of others; and three days in a car offers a lot of time to reflect about all of it.  (One reason I run is it’s a break from picking myself apart; although, occasionally, on particularly tough days it creeps in there as well.  Generally, running gives me a sense of accomplishment and helps clear my head.)

While anticipating a copious amount of further downtime on my journey home, I stepped into the airport bookshop and looked for something inspiring to read.  Plane rides are one of the few times I grant myself the luxury of leisure reading, and recently I had enjoyed The Perfect Mile and Born to Run.  I was hoping to find another book related to running; instead, I was drawn to a cover titled The Happiness Project and found the author was struggling with many of my own frustrations.  It reminded me that feelings of self-criticism and guilt seem to be more common among women than we may be willing to recognize or admit.  Perhaps we all could make a better effort to give ourselves and those around us more credit.  For example, I am very quick to pick up on anything Adam or I are not doing well, but rarely acknowledge the  instances when either of us does something thoughtful or exceptional.  Again, running forces me to acknowledge at least some small accomplishments, and it’s something we can both enjoy together.

I always used to be someone who strived to be more happy and grateful.  However, going through years of abuse left me at a point where I was just surviving, and barely surviving at times.  My journey back to thriving has been exactly that- a journey, complete with detours and setbacks.  As you’ve been reading, I still have days or even moments within days when my insecurities get the better of me, and I self sabotage and pick myself apart the way my abuser used to.  However, at the end of the day, I can honestly say I am not only working toward becoming more like that person again, but making progress at it.  Afterall, even a small step in the right direction is still growth.

In the meantime, I will continue to work on accepting that it’s not only okay, but normal  not to be perfect, to question myself and my sanity when life is difficult, to feel overwhelmed at times, and to get irritated occasionally.  I will also work on acknowledging that what I lack in other areas, I make up for in sheer determination.

The only difference between those who achieve their dreams and don’t is the unconquerable will to block out their inner critic and go far it without reservation.

As difficult as it was to share this personal information and open myself to criticism, I have a feeling that I am not alone is harboring these self criticisms and insecurities.  Please comment and share your own experiences, or if you prefer email me at runningthriver@gmail.com

Cannoli Pie…Breakfast of Champions

“Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.”

William Barclay

My newest inspirational running shirt 🙂

I have putting off my weekly long run for the past two weeks, so this morning I knew it was time to bite the bullet , get my butt in gear, and up my mileage.  The recent heat wave has taken a toll on my motivation to work out, especially with the sporadic use of air conditioning at my local gym.  With the plan of a three-day road trip to Tennessee looming, it was now or never; and putting it off would only make for an incredibly stir crazy car ride. 

I’m the type of person who goes through what could best be described as withdrawal symptoms when I don’t get in a good work out too many days in a row.  For this reason, I was dreading  the idea of being cooped up in a car for days on end with little opportunity to even get out and stretch.  I was hoping that a long run would” get the wiggles out” and make the drive more bearable. 

Initially, I wanted to get in 10 miles, which is the furthest mileage I’ve achieved to date.   However, given the involuntary three-day hiatus ahead of me, I figured “what the hell, may as well push it to the and try for 12 or more.”  With no functional GPS device at hand, I decided I would try to run at least two and a half hours and hope it was more than 10 miles.  I woke up with the determination necessary to accomplish the task, but, admittedly, significantly less enthusiasm.  As much as I LOVE running, I have to confess that the idea of doing it for anything more than an hour feels a lot like work and more than two hours brings on an all out sensation of dread.  In order to prepare myself for the long, arduous task ahead I opened the fridge and scoured for something that would not induce vomiting in the sweltering heat. 

I have tried countless pre-running meals from cereal to yogurt, to protein shakes, to fruit, and even salad.  Generally. I find the result the same.  Within 30 minutes of starting a run, my stomach is growling and my focus goes to mush.  That is unless I am running with my boyfriend, Adam, in which case, I’m already starving by the time we set out due to the additional amount of time required for him to get ready. (He runs on California time…I could afford to be more like him)  So all that being said, I reached for the cannoli pie.  Yes, cannoli pie…breakfast of champions!  I rationalized it as follows:  it was loaded with calories, and there were carbs, dairy,  and even chocolate.  How could it be a bad choice?  Besides didn’t I deserve it for all the hard work and torture I was about to embark on?  I mean I practically already earned it, right?  I had a piece with a glass of water and headed out the door.

I ran to my favorite park and stuck mainly on the trails.  Surprisingly, the cannoli cake stayed down.  In fact, I felt pretty good, and remarkably made it through over two and half hours of running without so much as a rumble in my stomach.  I think I may have found my pre-long distance run meal (just kidding…sort of)  I was also pretty pleased to find all my training was paying off as, even in the heat, the run felt significantly easier than my previous 10 mile run. So, I am now halfway to my goal of running a marathon, and I owe it to the cannoli pie. 

When I got back home I had salad and humus for lunch, partly out of guilt for my indulgent breakfast.  Then a few hours later when my stomach was growling again, I went back and had another piece of cannoli pie and savored every bite.

It all started with a pair of shoes…

Marylin Monroe once said “give a woman the right pair of shoes and she can conquer the world”.

Vibram running shoes

My "ugly" shoes have grown on me. Now they are always close by. 🙂

My boyfriend had been on my case for several weeks that I needed to switch over to vibram running shoes.  I wasn’t paying him much attention.  I knew my limitations.  From the time I started high school, I had a multitude of orthopedists explain to me exactly why I wasn’t built to run and shouldn’t do it.  They told me that my bone alignment was wrong, my arches were flat, my IT bands were too tight, I needed orthotics and knee replacements.  One particularly delightful fellow (and by delightful I mean arrogant and dismissive) even explained that women, in general, are not built for running.  He thought I should not only stop, but also avoid stairs and knee bends greater than 30 degrees.  I have patellar subluxation (a fancy way of saying my kneecaps pop out-of-place when I move), so running for me was always associated with pain.  However, the thought of not running was pretty much on par with not breathing in my mind.  I tried physical therapy, ice, the whirlpool,  medication, tape, stabilizing shoes, and cross training before, I ultimately learned to tune it out and run through it.  However, I was still limited in my mileage.

All that being said, how could a 6’2″ naturally athletic marathon runner possibly think that eliminating the support in a shoe would help me- the orthopedic disaster?  It sounded insane, but I had nothing to lose.  He was so confident that I would love them, that he even bought me my first pair.  I teased him at the time that he was just afraid of looking ridiculous by himself.   Nonetheless, I was now the owner of an ugly pair of toe shoes with a date set to test them out.

The day we planned our inaugural run I had done a particularly hard work out at the gym and didn’t expect much.  We headed to a  flat, gravel trail and started jogging at a slow place.  We were two miles into our run before I felt any pain in my knees, which was remarkable for me.  By three miles, my calves and ankle muscles were SCREAMING.  I was hurting in places I had never hurt before. We did another mile and called it a day.  The following day at work I passed out.  Yup, out cold- like dreaming and then rudely awakened to a room full of people staring…   Maybe I overdid it a little.  My calves were like jello for days, making walking difficult and stairs near impossible.  It was amazing none the less.  I had accomplished something I wasn’t supposed to do in shoes with absolutely no support.

Overcoming the physical barriers was only part of the sense of triumph.  As a survivor of domestic abuse, I had suffered from crippling anxiety and nightmares for well over a year.  Just waking up in the morning was enough to provoke a  sense of the world closing in around me .   I was miserable, exhausted, and completely drained both physically and emotionally.  I never reached the point where I wanted to die, but I certainly wanted to disappear on multiple occasions when facing another day seemed like too tremendous an effort to stomach.  I saw counselors, therapists, and even a psychiatrist who all reassured me that I was experiencing a “completely normal reaction to a traumatic experience”.  It certainly didn’t feel normal, or even remotely acceptable.  I was prescribed medications to help me sleep; but the first one made me completely sedated and irritable.  The second one caused me to outright hallucinate (which made nightmares seem not so bad in comparison).  By the time an antipsychotic called seroquel was suggested I threw in the towel and fired the shrink.

That was when I found Susan Omilian (creator of the My Avenging Angel Workshops) and decided to attend one of her 2 part sessions.  I desperately wanted to feel “normal” again and move on with my life.  I knew there was a happier and more carefree person inside, but didn’t know how to let her out.  Like she has with so many other women, Susan allowed me to get in touch with the part of myself that wasn’t “damaged”.  She helped me rediscover what I am passionate about and establish short and long-term goals for myself.  She and the other women in the group also made me realize that I was not alone, and it was the first time since my world turned upside down that someone told me I was going to be okay and I actually believed it.

So in a sense, that 4 miles was more meaningful to me than any other distance I had ever achieved.  I was redefining myself and my limits, and I didn’t stop.   I registered for my first 10 K with my boyfriend.  It was last-minute and a distance I hadn’t run or even been able to run in years.  However, it happened to be a trail race at one of my favorite cross-country venues from high school; and I (in a viewing myself as the center of the universe sort of way) took at as a positive sign.  During the run, I was convinced that if I did manage to finish it would be well behind everyone else;  yet, that was not the case at all.  I not only finished, but also managed to finish ahead of one other runner.   It was a slow pace, but I was moving and moving pain free at that.  Plus, it was a great experience to realize that most of the people I was running with were struggling as much as I was.  Luckily, that race was part of a 4 race series and I was hooked.  I did the second and third 10K and then decided it was time to set my sights on something higher.  The final race offered a 15K option, so I signed up and kicked up my training.  Then I registered for a Tough Mudder in NorCal with my boyfriend and the Diva Half marathon in Long Island.  I was excited at the opportunity to combine two things I loved: running and helping other people.  I started a bottle and can drive to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project, then I approached Susan Omilian about using the Diva Half Marathon as a way to raise money and awareness for other victims of domestic violence.

Currently my plan to use all my future half and full marathons to raise money for CT-ALIVE (the CT Alliance for Victims of Violence and the Families).  I would encourage other runners to find a cause to run for as well.  It is a great way to give back and an opportunity to make the whole experience richer.

So, that pretty much brings us up to present date!  If you hadn’t figured it out yet, my purpose for this blog is to encourage other people, especially women, to get out there and do whatever it is that makes you feel alive.    I love running because I feel like it’s the only time I get to be alone and selfish and not feel guilty for it.  It’s my quiet time. Plus, it’s hard to waste energy being anxious when you are using every ounce to push up a tough hill.

I think many people discount themselves thinking they can’t run, and that women specifically short change themselves instead of realizing what tremendous inner strength they possess.  Distance running is a women’s sport- especially ultra running- because women are built to endure better than men.  They are the glue that holds their families together.  They deliver babies. Running a few miles is no big deal compared to that!

That is why I am here to tell you to get out and run because  if I can do it, you can too!