motivation

It gets harder before it gets easier…

“You have a choice. You can throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat off of your face.
–Gatorade

borrowed from Pushinspire

This morning I was little discouraged by my marathon training…or current lack there of.  It’s not like I’m sitting on the couch eating potato chips, but I also haven’t logged any significant mileage in a couple weeks.  I desperately want to be out there running 20 miles; however, my body, unfortunately, has had other ideas. That being said, I understand all to well that injuries and setbacks are a part of running, and I’ve been extremely lucky that this is the first issue I’ve had since my return to running many months ago.

Initially, I thought running in Vibrams had cured all my running issues, and that the only limitation to my future running would be my own determination.  It wasn’t until recently that I found out that is not exactly the case.  In the defense of my VFF, I have been still using regular running shoes for pavement and gravel; so many of my longest runs have not been “barefoot”.  Plus, I increased my mileage way too quickly on my last long run.  Now that I am re-familiarized with the perils of over-training, I will return to running a wiser endurance junkie. 😉

Happily, I have taken this hiatus from lengthy runs as a chance to work on some cross training and general conditioning- which is especially important now that the NorCal Tough Mudder is coming up fast.  I am pretty confident I will be able to finish, even if I don’t complete every obstacle successfully.  I am also confident about being able to complete the Diva Half Marathon.  What I am terrified about is my body limiting my ability to run the full marathon 2 weeks after.  I’m worried that running 13.1 miles on pavement is going to aggravate my IT bands, and that 2 weeks won’t be enough time to recover before the Hartford Marathon.  I am also scared that I won’t be able to get my mileage up any further beforehand due to my IT band issues.  Finally, my greatest dread is that I will continue to be plagued by the chronic knee pain and joint issues that have stifled my running for so long.  Now that I have tasted the freedom of running without the obstacle of chronic joint pain- I never want to go back.

The good news– since I started running in my VFF, I have have been pain free (minus the current IT band issue- which, thankfully, has been okay on the last few runs)!  Not just without joint pain while running- pain-free in general.  Before, my knee caps popped out-of-place when I walked, and I always had knee and hip pain.  I had it my whole life, so I didn’t know any better.  Now, the only pain I have is in my muscles!  It’s been truly liberating.  It’s something to remember when I feel like I’m not making enough progress.  I have come SO far.  I had dreams of running a half marathon one day, but NEVER believed a full marathon would be attainable.  That was something only super-fit, athletic people could  do in my mind- not someone with a host joint issues.  Besides, I had numerous ortho docs tell me all the reasons I couldn’t and shouldn’t run. I always viewed running as something I loved, but also as extremely damaging to my body.  Look at me now!  I have 4 hours of extremely slow running (without walking!) under my belt with plans for my first marathon in less than 2 months!  What a difference a year can make in a life. 🙂

As an added insurance plan, I have a foam roller to stretch my IT bands in the mail… along with a new box of Clif Bloks. 🙂  What a crazy journey this has been- and it isn’t even over yet!  Whatever happens come October I know one thing for sure- I will make it across that finish line even if I have to crawl!

One thing that has kept me motivated and inspired has been following other running bloggers.  Below I’ve listed some of my current favorites.  As always, thanks for reading!  Comments and Feedback are always welcome and appreciated (you can also email at runningthriver@gmail.com).  Feel free to repost any material from my blog, but please give credit back to this site. 🙂

PushInspire

Marathon Sweetheart

The Primal Challenge

Experience Life With Me

I Run Long

Runwithdesire

Happy Trails Everyone!!!

Home Sweet Home

“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.

Maya Angelou

I was SO happy to wake up in my own bed this morning. I love my house!  I had the color scheme picked before I ever even moved in.  Every room is bright, tranquil, and happy- even the couch is a cheerful blue.  It has a beachy cottage feel, and is just the right size to be cozy with lots of natural light.  I love that the sun rises and the same side of the house as my bedroom and shines into the windows in the morning, filling the room with a warm glow.

This morning I woke up energized and refreshed.  I was happy to be catching up on my blogging, something that always gives me a sense of accomplishment despite being completely draining at times. I started the day by taking care of my girls (dogs not children), who are beyond thrilled to have me home.  Lucy, in particular, has been wiggling from head to toe in excitement- it never gets old to see it on a bulldog. lol  Once they were settled (and by settled I mean fed and running around like maniacs) I put them outside to burn off some energy while I got down to business.

I have been slacking in the conditioning department, so I popped in “Personal Training with Jackie” and let the torture commence.  I HATE her workout.  No matter how many times I do it, I still struggle.  I’d say it’s because there’s so much upper body, but really it’s just a lot of everything.  She crams an unbelievable amount of hard work into those 30 minutes!  Normally, I avoid upper body work like the plague; but I need to push myself.  That Tough Mudder is coming up fast, and I’ll be attempting to keep up with a marine!  Plus, I have to do strength training and conditioning to be able to run without injuring myself, and I am extremely committed to knocking out those 26.2 miles in October.

My muscles were shaking through almost the whole routine, and I was drenched in sweat.  I was a little annoyed with myself for having lost ground, but remembered that I am still getting over being sick.  I had to pause the dvd a few times and take a breather but made it through to the end.  Afterward, it took a little while to be able to lift my arms.  I may head out for a run later and take advantage of the gorgeous weather, but am glad to have at least gotten one workout done today.

On the agenda for the rest of the day: making dinner for my family and Adam’s arrival home. 🙂  He and his best friend were in Colorado this past week for the Pikes Peak Ascent.  I’m so proud of him.  This was his third time running it.  He’s being trying to encourage me to do it with him next year, but the idea of running 13.1 miles up steep terrain in high altitude doesn’t appeal to me in any way, shape, or form.  Maybe someday…  I’ve learned to never say never with him. 😉  He has a way of motivating me to push my limits.  It’s so refreshing to date someone who encourages my dreams and instead of being threatened by them.  He really is my hero.

Reflections

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family:

Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”

-Jane Howard

(Quote on my Archangels workshop folder)

“Day 3 of the Thriver Retreat and I am drained.  I had nightmares overnight and didn’t get much sleep.  I am still missing my natural rhythm of running in the morning and have had difficulty shaking off lingering negativity.  I should have run this morning , but it’s too late to beat myself up over it.  I do anyway.  I feel guilty for not being more upbeat.  I don’t want to drag down the rest of the group.  I need to stop doing this.  I need to allow myself to feel off at times. ”

Above is my journal entry from this morning.

I spent this weekend at an Archangel Thriver Retreat at the Guest House in lovely Chester, CT.  It was both an energizing and exhausting experience.  That is part of the reason my blog posts have been delayed and are now coming in a flood.

Naturally being an introvert, I find spending time in groups extremely tiring.   I can’t even handle long periods with my own family without getting worn out.  I need alone time to recharge.  Don’t get me wrong.  I truly enjoy other people’s company.  I want to feel connected like every other person, but this was a little too much of a good thing.  By the end of Day 2 I was over-extended and overwhelmed.

The lack of sleep that night only added to my fatigue.  By the morning of Day 3 I felt like I had nothing left to give.  I was drained.  Breakfast was a bit a of a solemn affair.  I could see the exhaustion I was feeling written on the faces of some of the other women.   This made me feel a little better, a reminder that sometimes being off is normal and not a lingering remnant of abuse.  We looked like we had been to battle- in many ways we had.   The retreat had pushed each of us outside our comfort zone and forced us to confront our inner critics.  Survivors of abuse have particularly loud inner critics (many times taking on the voices and comments of the past abusers).  It’s a constant struggle to keep them quiet.  It was clear the fight had worn on many of us.

The morning began by “opening the circle”, a chance for the group to meditate, offer prayer, share energy, and our thoughts of what we were grateful for.  There were many apologies mixed in.  Apparently many more people were experiencing low energy than I had realized.  I was clearly not alone.  Even Susan was not herself.  Sharing this knowledge helped us try to shake off the negativity and embrace the day.  Our theme of the retreat was “Fireworks”, inspired by Katie Perry’s hit song.  It was the first time I had actually read the lyrics.  They seemed so appropriate.

We let our colors burst by writing letters to ourselves from 6 months in the future.  We were supposed to envision all we’d have accomplished by then.  It was so wonderful to hear everyone’s positive vision of the next 6 months!  I was the last to read mine to the group.  I started strong but started to tear up (as usual).  I congratulated myself on finishing my first half and full marathon despite doubting that I could do it, for fundraising for charity, for having a successful blog that was reaching and inspiring other women and spreading the word about domestic abuse, for using my desire to help and heal others to overcome insecurities and my inner critic, for accepting myself and others, for no longer keeping people at arms length, for letting go of the lingering notion that I “make everyone around [me] miserable” (something that still haunts me from my abuse), and for finding volunteer work that was meaningful to me.   It was a tall order, but I’ve always been one to aim high.

I also gave myself the task of organizing a road race as a fundraiser for CT-ALIVE.  It will be my first attempt at organizing any event, period.  I don’t know anything about how to host a road race, but I will very shortly!  It gave me a pit in my stomach on the ride home, and then I reminded myself that 1) I won’t be doing it alone, 2) even if I fail or it doesn’t work these women will support me and encourage me to keep trying, and 3) it will be COMPLETELY AMAZING if we actually pull it off!  After all, my goal is to help other victims and speak out, and this will be a terrific opportunity to not only spread the word about domestic abuse, but also about THRIVING.

As worn and exhausted as I returned home today, I was equally inspired!  I LOVE these women.  I have never experienced such unconditional support and understanding from a group, many of whom are practically strangers.  It is such a profoundly incredible  feeling to belong to such an empowered and optimistic network of women.

Here is another terrific music video that one of the beautiful ladies at the retreat shared: “I Love Me Better Than That” by Shirley Murdock

What is a Thriver?

“Sisterhood is many things. It’s a warm smile on a cold and rainy day, a friendly hug, a cheerful hello… It’s all that a good and lasting friendship is, only better. It’s treasured. It’s sacred. It’s knowing that there will always be someone there for you. It’s dreams shared, and goals achieved. It’s counting on others and being counted on. It is real.”

This post dedicated to all my Archangel Sisters.  I love each and every one of you!

This morning I was charged with the task of defining what “thriver” means to me.  I compiled a list of the first words that came to mind: self knowing, embracing life, living to the fullest, empowered, open, secure, unbroken, girl power, liberated, and vibrant.  It was a good start.   However, truly grasping the essence of thriving is not something that can be broken down and explained on paper.  It’s something that needs to be felt

The most wonderful thing happens when you attend the My Avenging Angel Workshops and follow-up sessions.  You become part of a sisterhood: a loving, accepting, flaw embracing community of women committed to improving not only their own lives, but also the lives of others.  That is where the thriver energy emanates.  It comes from each and every woman. 

The Angels are a diverse group- coming in every shape, size, age, color, and religion- a reminder that domestic violence does not discriminate.  Yet, we do not dwell on our past.  Instead, we celebrate the beauty of our differences and bond over a common experience.  Surprisingly, it’s not the trauma or past suffering that brings us together.  It is the desire to bring about change- in ourselves and in the world that binds us.  Together, we see a future filled with limitless possibilities.  In each of us there is hope, faith, and the courage to embark on a journey to a more fruitful and fulfilling life.  We give each other strength.  Our ties cross town and state lines across this country.  We are feminism at its best- an abuser’s worst nightmare!  Are motto: “Living well is the best revenge”. 

Being a thriver is more than becoming a self-aware, self-loving individual.  It is about belonging and becoming part of a community.  The community is necessary to impact other lives.  It’s the sense of sisterhood that helps to empower us.  I could not imagine what a difficult journey it would be, or it even being possible to thrive without a strong support network.  No one individual is self-sufficient enough not to need a shoulder to cry or lean on during hard times.  A house is only as good as the foundation it is built upon, and the individual is no different.  You are only as solid as your base.  In this respect I have been very lucky (not only to have the Angels, but also the unconditional love of my amazing family, friends, and boyfriend who always back me 100% – equally in success and failure).

I am so grateful to belong to such an awe-inspiring group of women.  Each is a blessing in a my life, a window to the possibilities of how the future could be.  I am fortunate to not only have such a tremendous family (both by blood and bond), but to be part of one.  Knowing that I play a role helping and healing others is more healing and empowering than anything I could achieve on my own.

If you reside in or near Connecticut and are interested in moving beyond survivor to thriver please visit Susan Omilian’s website for more information on the FREE My Avenging Angels Workshops.  You can also email me at runningthriver@gmail.com.

If you do not live near Connecticut and are still interested in joining the Thriver community, check out the Thriver Workbook.  In it you will find many of the exercises Susan uses in her workshops.  You can also check out The Thriverzone.

As always, thank you for reading!  Please feel free to share any of the information here if you know someone who can benefit from it (just give credit back to the site please 🙂 ) Comments and feedback are always welcome and appreciated.  Good luck in your Thriver Journey!!!

First day on new legs…

Man imposes his own limitations, don’t set any”

-Anthony Bailey

I have finally begun my (not so triumphant) return to trail running!

I may have been pushing it, but the combination of rest due to nagging IT band syndrome and my subsequent viral invasion had left me home bound and stir crazy. At the first sign of being able to stand upright and marginally breathe through my nose I was out the door.  I needed to run. 

I brought Penny along to ensure I took it easy and give her some much needed exercise and attention.  We did an easy couple miles with a few good hills.  Penny disappeared frequently into the nearby streams before finally rolling in a particularly large, muddy puddle.  She instantly turned from yellow lab to chocolate.   She was delighted with herself.  I couldn’t help but laugh.  It’s a good thing I’ve gotten past keeping my car meticulously clean! 

The trails were particularly wet and buggy from all the rain earlier in the week.  There was evidence of recent flooding with fine silt covering the leaves of the low lying shrubs.  The pavement and large concrete blocks had been upheaved and oddly twisted out of place.  There were branches and leaves scattered that had fallen prematurely, likely from some violent wind storm.  The whole scene had changed dramatically from my previous run there just a few weeks earlier, a reminder that nature is always changing and evolving.  The bugs, however, were the same- a reliable drawback of trail running.  They swarm so closely that I have frequently inhaled and swallowed them accidentally.  I wonder if it is still bad karma to kill bugs even if it isn’t on purpose… 

Overall, my trail performance was not stellar.  However, I made it out and I enjoyed it.  More importantly, I didn’t aggravate my IT bands- a promising sign.  🙂 

 

Ode to decongestants…

“I am at the moment deaf in the ears, hoarse in the throat, red in the nose, green in the gills, damp in the eyes, twitchy in the joints and fractious in temper from a most intolerable and oppressive cold.”

  ~Charles Dickens

This post is brought to you by mucinex, ibuprofen, and a roll of toilet paper (used as impromptu tissues).  A few days ago I developed a cough, which over the period of 5 days has evolved into a head/chest cold of apocalyptic proportions.  At this moment I am hating my existence…well at least hating that I am awake.  I am wondering when my nose was traded in for a faucet and at what age exactly does a cold become enough of an insult to completely cripple normal function.  I can remember getting strep throat regularly as a kid and not missing a beat.  Now I get sick and I knocks me for a loop.  Am I becoming a wus in my old age?

This is, of course, my own fault.  I allowed myself to go over two weeks without a decent nights sleep and never took anything for it.  Plus, I’ve been stressing about everything in my life (mostly due to anxiety related to not sleeping).  I have basically ignored all the warning signs that my body was getting run down, and now life has given me a big, fat memo that I need to get my act together.  Thanks life.

So today I will be home from work and attempting to nurse my (once again) virus ridden body back to health.  It would figure that once my IT band issues startled to settle down that I would hit another bump in the road to prevent me from getting out and running.  The workout withdrawal will have to continue a little longer, but at least I will be completely refreshed by the time I get back to the trails.  I considered going to the gym briefly despite being sick, but didn’t think the staff would appreciate me hacking on their equipment.  Besides, I would probably be struggling with my currently pitiful lung function. 

Here’s to hoping that a day of bed/couch restriction, sleep, and over the counter meds helps me turn the corner!

Be the Change you want to See…

“Be the change that you want to see in the
world.”
Mohandas Gandhi

Reclaiming my life after abuse has been both the most difficult and rewarding experience of my life.  Last night I took a huge step toward becoming the positive change I want to see in the world.  I was officially voted onto the board for CT-ALIVE, and even graduating with a degree from Yale does not compare in the sense of accomplishment.  I have come such a long way on this journey!

From the time I first left my abusive relationship, I have wanted to get involved and give back to other women.  Participating in Susan Omilian’sMy Avenging Angels Workshops” has only served to intensify this desire.  The women in her follow up group are all amazing, strong, and beautiful people (both inside and out).  They have so much to offer, and I wanted to be like them.  So many of them had gone on to obtain degrees in social work and counseling in order to help other victims.  Several work in healing and advocating for victims of violence.  There is an amazing energy in the room whenever they are together.  It’s palpable.

It was at one of the follow sessions that I got the idea to use my passion for running to help raise money and awareness for victims of violence.  I told Susan how I could use the races I was running to raise money for her scholarship fund and sent an email to CT-ALIVE to ask for their blessing (without realizing that I already knew many of the members of the board).  Susan replied back on both accounts with great enthusiasm and even extended an invitation to join the board.  I was honored.  Then she asked me for my résumé, and my heart sank a little.  I had never volunteered on a board, or even for any organization focused on domestic abuse.  My entire resume had to do with medical work.  I sent it to her and attached the following cover letter:

Dear Members of the Board:

My name is Jenny W; and as you can see from my résumé, I am currently employed as a physician assistant in general surgery.

I have never functioned as part of a board, and have limited experience working with victims of violence.  However, I do have experience at being a victim of violence and speaking out against it.  I have always been a compassionate person, but surviving abuse and living with the daily struggles of PTSD has given me the ability to empathize with other victims.  It is important to me to let them know they are not alone and there is no reason to be ashamed.

I have recently started a blog titled “The Running Thriver” to raise awareness about domestic violence and provide resources and hope to other victims.  I am also planning to use my passion for running to raise money and awareness for victims of domestic abuse.

What I lack in experience I can more than make up for in sheer drive, determination, passion, and enthusiasm.  As someone with the strength and resources to speak out and advocate for others, I feel it is my duty to do so to the best of my ability.  Violence and abuse destroy lives.  I want to be a force in this world against them.

Sincerely,

Jenny W. PA-C, MMs

As I typed the letter, I had a slight sense of dread that I would show up at the board meeting and not be voted in.  I was unsure of how they would react to my lack of experience.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I should have know better.

Stepping into the meeting was like walking into a bubble of positive energy.  In addition to the many delicious snacks, the room was filled with enthusiasm and ideas.  They were eager to hear what I had to say, which I found very humbling.  It was like being in a room full of giants.  They have all accomplished such great things, and here I was just starting out. (Check out my Blog Roll for further info on their individual projects)  However,  everyone was extremely gracious and made me feel completely welcome  as part of their group.  I felt like I was part of a terrific think tank with a single mission to reach victims of domestic violence and improve their lives.  It was completing energizing, a feeling that I typically only associate with working out.

As horrible a situation as going through the abuse was, it would be difficult for me to say that no good has come from it.  After all, it’s given me a tremendous opportunity to meet some incredibly amazing women and find volunteer work that I am truly passionate about.  I also have a new found appreciation for exactly how much inner strength I possess. People who are never challenged in life miss out on ever realizing their full potential.  I, on-the-other-hand, have had the privilege of finding out exactly what I am made of; and that is something I don’t regret at all.  It has made me a stronger, more self-aware person, and (among other things) a better runner.

I would encourage everyone to visit the new and improved website for CT-ALIVE and read more about the work they do.  They are making a terrific impact on women’s lives and provide their services free of charge.  Please consider donating to help support their ongoing work.  If you know anyone who you think may benefit from reading this blog, feel free to share.  Also if you have any questions or comments you can either leave them here or email me at runningthriver@gmail.com.