self help

Biting off more than I can chew?

We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face

… we must do that which we think we cannot.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Yesterday I survived another round of Boot Camp- push-ups and all!  I was actually excited to go.  I guess that makes me a glutton for punishment.  lol Each time the drill instructor gave us a challenge, I wanted to yell “bring it on!”  Every time I was tired and wanted to quit, I reminded myself that marathon runners don’t quit, Tough Mudders don’t quit, Spartans don’t quit, and I certainly don’t quit.  When I was told to push, I pushed as hard as I could.

That being said, I woke up this morning incredibly sore.  I wanted to stay in bed, but it was the only chance I’d have this week to get in a long run.  I truly regretted not doing a better job stretching before and after our class.  In the theme of not being a quitter, I dragged myself over to the Bridle Trail and started my 17 mile run.  My legs were heavy and my body was fighting me at first, but eventually I settled, and it felt like less of an effort.  By the time I hit nine miles, I was still feeling strong and really thought I was going to get through the run unscathed.  I knocked out my first 10 miles in just over 2 hrs, which was pretty good for me given I had on my vibrams and a weighted pack.

By the next mile, I was not feeling so hot.  Another mile in,  my IT bands were SCREAMING.  I panicked for a minute, but kept pushing.  Then my body came to a grinding halt.  I tried to force myself to run, but the pain was searing up my legs.  I couldn’t get back into a rhythm.  I couldn’t even walk straight.  I still had over 5 miles to go- a very long distance to walk.  I figured I would walk a bit and see if it got better- no luck.  Then I got the brilliant idea to pull my compression sleeves over my knees, which worked like a charm!  Then next five miles weren’t easy, but at least were doable.

By the time I got to the end of the trail, the GPS was whining flashing that it’s battery was low.  I thought it was very nervy for it to be complaining when I was doing all the work and still had to keep going. 😉  At the same time, I was a little proud of myself for outlasting it.  In the aftermath, I have to admit I am having a bit of trouble moving- especially up and down stairs.  Adam has been getting quite a chuckle watching me limp around.  He assures me this is normal.  I was hoping to make-up tomorrow evening’s Boot Camp class in the morning, but now I’m not sure 1) if I’ll be able to move by then, and 2) if it’s even a good idea.  I have not really been good with taking rest days, and now I’m paying for it.  Another lesson learned!

17.19 miles in 3:45!

Getting muddy...again! And sporting my awesome hot pink compression sleeves!

Just in case anyone needs a laugh, I read this post a while back from a HILARIOUS blogger- the Bloggess.  It’s about a metal chicken.  It made me literally laugh out loud because I could absolutely see my mom and myself doing this.  Then yesterday my mom and I were at the Home Goods store, and look what I found!  I immediately took a photo (see below) with my iPhone and sent it to my sister with the following message “Look, it’s even on sale!!! Lol I think mom needs one!”  She replied “No, I don’t think so,” but I’m sure my mom would have loved it and totally appreciated the humor in the situation.

That’s all for now!  Tomorrow we are California bound. 🙂  My next post will likely be the race recap, so everyone have a wonderful weekend!!!

Chafing is no fun…

“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.
Wayne Dyer

Or you could run enough miles to eat the whole package of cookies and still not feel guilty- then throw in some boot camp for good measure. 😉

I debated whether to name this post “I make mud look good” or “Chafing is no fun”… and the title went to the one I felt more strongly about.

Today I went for a 3 hour run.  My initial goal was 15 miles, but I couldn’t figure out how to work Adam’s GPS watch and figured 3 hours would be close enough.  That is exactly how long I made it before my gait started to resemble a drunken sailor, and I called Adam to come rescue me.  I stopped at a gas station less than 2 miles from home.  I knew I could push myself the rest of the way, but it would be at the expense of over-doing it (again).  I didn’t want to risk another sideline, especially when my joints were already screaming from running on the pavement- and I knew I still had a boot camp class to make.  To reward him for the effort of dragging himself out of bed to get me, I bought Adam a pint of Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream (his favorite flavor) while I waited.  I also purchased a package of Vienna Fingers (no not the little one- the big one!), which I promptly dug into while the patrons pumping gas looked on with bewildered expressions (largely, I’m sure, owing to the fact that I was soaked and covered in mud).

I had just enough time in between my run and my evening torture session to grab some lunch with Adam.  I made it a point not to stuff myself with the hopes of decreasing the amount of workout related nausea ahead of me.  Overall the second class went well.  I only got light headed a couple times and barely had any nausea.  The work out was tough, but totally rewarding- I was especially proud to have managed the entire 60 push-ups scattered throughout the hour.  Adam was there to cheer me on and coach me through many of them, which I immensely appreciated.

So today I give myself a gold star for motivation!  My calves feel like jello, but my hot pink compression sleeves are due to arrive tomorrow, and I’m hoping they will help!  I am also hoping to get one more long run in before we leave for Cali and the NorCal Tough Mudder.

The downside of my ambitious workout- I have so much chafing on my back and chest from carrying my weighted down hydration pack that I am pretty much covered in itchy, raised, pink blotches.  I have scars on my collar bones from where the straps cut in; and scars, scrapes, and bruises all over my legs from all the debris and branches I get tangled in when I’m on the trails.  It’s all pretty sexy. 😉

Not visible- my calves completely caked in mud

Thanks for reading!!! Comments and questions are always welcome.  Have a terrific evening everyone!

When trails become streams…

I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday.” 

~Author Unknown

I’m BACK!!!! It’s official!  Just shy of 13 miles today and only minimal IT band pain.  Wohoo!  lol  I’m so happy to FINALLY have gotten some mileage in.  Initially, Adam and I headed to Hopbrook (my favorite place to run), but it is completely under water.  We decided to do the Bridle Trail instead, which was slightly less damp.  The trail had turned into a fresh water stream in many places, which was actually pretty fun to run in.  Meanwhile, the small brook that typically runs along the gravel path had turned into class 5 rapids (See picture below).  We actually thought we heard traffic coming when we were crossing, but it turned out to be the water.  It was pretty impressive.

when brooks become rapids...

 

 

The first 6-7 miles were pretty easy, but my legs got pretty tired on the way back.  I was getting tangled in a lot of the debris from the storm, and Adam was light-years ahead of me.  He kept stopping or walking to give me time to catch up, and I felt kind of bad that I was running so slow.  I know there is a faster runner inside and I am determined to release her at some point!  I kept reminding myself that no matter how slow I was running, I was moving forward and still smiling- the 2 most important things.  Overall, the run went pretty well.  I was glad to have Adam there to show me a few new side trails and keep me from over-doing it.  Plus, he makes good company; and the view running behind him is not too bad either. lol  He even took pictures for me to adorn my blog.  He is so supportive!

Initially, when I was reading about many of the other bloggers who had run their first marathon, I noticed that a lot of them had a fair number of people cheering them on.  Many of them had photos holding flowers while posing with their finisher medals.  It made me want flowers when I finish!  Then I realized that I have something even better- a boyfriend who is willing to suffer through the 26.2 mile stretch with me to help motivate me and keep me going.  How lucky am I ?!   I am sure there are other things he would have rather been doing today than running through 13 miles of mud and debris, but he knew I would appreciate it.

In related news, I am looking into joining the boot camp program at my gym.  It looks like a lot of cross fit type training, and I’m hoping it will help me take my conditioning to the next level.  I also got an email today that my foam roller and cliff bloks shipped.  I am pretty excited! 🙂

running through the stream

 

 

 

made it!!!

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.  🙂 

 

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.