survivor

Pre-Marathon Jitters

“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.”
Frank Herbert

Maybe jitters is an understatement… In truth, I am down right scared shitless terrified. The whole taper/rest thing hasn’t helped AT ALL!  How am I supposed to deal with all this stress without out running myself to the point of exhaustion, I mean really?  I think I am most frightened of not being able to finish- and the psychological devastation that would go with it.  I am only slightly less concerned about having to walk a significant portion; and my final lingering fear is the projection of being in some serious physical and mental torture for 5+ hours.

I find it slightly ironic (maybe even poetic) that I anticipate finsihing the marathon at around 5 and a half hours (body permitting!)- which is approximately one hour for every year I was with my abuser.  I keep reminding myself that 5+ hours of physical pain is a drop in the bucket in comparison to the years of abuse I endured.  Mentally, I know I have to strength to do; however, I am keeping my fingers crossed that my body and IT bands hold up for me.

As an added insurance policy, I just ordered a pair of compression tights from amazon.com.  I have had such great luck with my compression sleeves (even helping with my knee pain in a pinch!) that I hoped it might help with my IT band issues- which reared their ugly head during the Diva Half.  Any amount of reduction is the discomfort while running 26.2 miles is well worth the money spent in my opinion!  Plus, the product reviews looked really promising.

There are a few things that I will have going for me on race day (that I continually remind myself of).  First, I’ll have Adam with me, who- as far as I’m concerned- gets the BOYFRIEND OF THE YEAR AWARD for signing up to do this with me, ultra runner or not.  Just having someone there who supports and cares about me is something I know will make a HUGE difference.  Plus, I always push a little harder when we are running together.  What’s more Adam absolutely believes I am ready and can do this, and that almost makes me believe it too.  Second, I have a higher purpose for this run.  For once- hold your breath people- it’s not about the bling or racing swag. Instead, it’s about paying tribute to all those women and victims of violence who have suffered at the hand of an abuser.  It’s about taking a stand for those individuals and myself to say we are strong and we are going to do something about this.

I am happy to say the Running for the Color Purple Campaign is gaining momentum, and the money is starting to come in!  The campaign has gotten some publicity on the Channel 8 blog and with the Citizen’s News in my town.  I am beyond thrilled to be bring awareness to this cause, and my passion for it is what will help me push through the tough points when I am beyond fatigued and miserable.  Afterall, what wouldn’t you endure if it could mean changing or even saving someone else’s life?

Meds I may need by Saturday!

Still Reeling

“You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it come true.

You may have to work for it, however.”

Richard David Bach

I am still in disbelief .  I just can’t wrap my mind around the fact that I ran 8 minute miles for over 7 miles and finished my first half marathon in just over 2 hours!  I have a hard time believing my body did that– and yet I was there doing it.  It’s a very surreal feeling even 3 days later.

Truthfully, I had no idea what kind of pace I would be capable of because all my training runs were with a weighted pack, on trails, and usually pretty hilly.  My fastest run on pavement had been 10 miles in 2 hours, but this was a whole 5 K more in almost the same time!

For anyone convincing yourself that you are not capable of running, I’d invite you to take a look back at my first post; and then come back to read this.  I am not an athlete.  I’m not a naturally gifted runner.  I am clumsy, awkward, and uncoordinated- but I ran 13.1 miles in 2:06!  If I can do it, I guarantee you that anyone can.

What I did– and do– have in my favor is that I am willing to work hard.  I will push myself as far as needed to reach a goal (and frequently probably a little farther than needed…)  It is such an AMAZING feeling when that hard work finally pays off!  I started training in the spring, and many months later I am seeing my dreams come to fruition.  It’s more than I expected.

What’s more, it’s not just the running.  It’s the work I’ve been putting into this blog, advocating for domestic violence, and creating a more fulfilling life for myself.  When I started this blog, I didn’t have a clear idea of where it would take me.  Now, I have a clear purpose for writing and running.  It’s not about  healing myself anymore- it’s about healing other women and victims of abuse.  As passionate as I am about running- and as much as I love it- I am MORE PASSIONATE about this cause.  That is why I am willing to put myself out there.  I have a potential  interview with a local newspaper this week to talk about the Running for the Color Purple Campaign, and with Susan Omilian’s help, there may be more publicity to follow.  Normally, I would shy away from drawing any kind of attention to myself, but it’s really not about me anymore.  My story is no different from any other women who has been through abuse.  If I am truly committed to raising awareness, funds, and fight the stigma associated with abuse, then I need to be willing to do whatever I can to make it happen.  I am a woman on a mission.  I believe one person can make a difference, and I am doing my best to do just that!

The Brave Ones

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Plato

October is almost upon us!  In addition to being Domestic Violence Awareness month, it is also Breast Cancer Awareness month.  As a surgical PA, I have the opportunity to interact with many different types of patients people.  However, one group that always touches me is the breast cancer population.  Women who have surgery for breast cancer all have one thing in common- they have been through something traumatic.  Many of them disguise it well, but the signs are there.

They come in to the hospital at a time when they are vulnerable.  They are in limbo- waiting for pathology that will ultimately determine their fate.  Will they need more surgery? chemo? radiation?  Many of them were uneventfully young and healthy until this happened.  It came out of the blue and hit like a brick wall.  Now each is coping with fear, surgery, pain, anxiety, the unknown.  Imagine not knowing if you’ll be alive to see your children or grandchildren grow up.  Dying is a very real fear to these women.  On phone call could change their lives all over again.

Being someone who has lived through trauma, who has spent time walking through life as a shell, and who has had her world turned on it’s head- I understand on some level what these women are going through.  No, I have never had to deal with the threat of cancer, but I have had my life threatened.  I know the feeling of the world not being safe, of feeling betrayed by your previous sense of well-being.  I know what it is like to be overwhelmed to the point of not being able to breathe.  Somehow, these women seem to catch on that I know.  Maybe it’s because I recognize the look in their eye or the tell tale posture.  Maybe it’s because when I tell them it will get better a little at a time, they know I mean it.  Sometimes, when a patient breaks into tears and gets seemingly hysterical over something seemingly minor (and inevitably apologizes profusely for it) I’ll tell her that I understand she’s overwhelmed, that it isn’t fair, and is far too much for one person to handle.  I’ll point out that it’s easy to get upset over minor things when your whole life has been turned upside, and then I’ll get an “aha” type look back with an expression of  “you do understand”.

In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of women who have really opened up to me about what they are going through.  One of the surgeons I work with told me that it is probably because I make them feel safe.  I can’t help but be touched.  These women are so incredibly brave, yet they beat themselves up for not being stronger.  Instead of being frustrated at not handling their situation better, each should pat herself on the back for being able to handle it at all!  None of them ever acknowledge what amazing they strength they possess.  Instead, they only point out what they aren’t able to do.  Usually, the primary concern is taking care of someone else or worrying about how a family member is going to cope.  Even if the face of the catastrophic, their thoughts are of everyone else.  They truly are some of the bravest people I know.  I feel honored to work with them.  I am blessed by each of them in a very unique way.  So many have left an imprint on my heart- and I make it a point to tell the ones who do.  The most meaningful words I’ve heard from a patient came recently “I’m glad you were here”.

Moments like that make me feel that if it is possible to find a blessing in the trauma of abuse, it’s that I can relate better to the people I care for.  Not that I wasn’t a compassionate person before, but now I can empathize.  I can also tell them I know they’ll get through it and it will get better and really mean it. Being someone who has been through trauma, it holds so much more weight to hear it from someone who has been in that dark place.  That is the best service I can provide in my care.  Sometimes, the most important healing I do as a health care worker is not actual “medicine.”  It’s providing an understanding ear, a shoulder to lean or cry on, a hand to hold, a hug, and lots of tissues.  What I get in return is so much more than I can provide to them.  It’s amazing how a syrup covered hug and small words of gratitude can mean so much- and they do!

I am truly blessed.  I have a career where I really have an opportunity to make a terrifying experience a little less frightening for people.  No one ever wants to be in the position of being in the hospital- especially needing surgery.  My job is to make it as minimally traumatic as possible.  Never underestimate the power of a simple act of kindness.  It can make such a great impact in a person’s life.  Most people will go through something traumatic at least once in their life, and it doesn’t matter what is- loss of a loved one, injury, illness, abuse.  The struggle and the grief are the same.  It hard to know what a person is going through on any given day.  That is why we should keep in mind that everyone we encounter could very well be fighting a battle harder than our own.

I want to dedicate this post to all the amazing, pink ladies who are battling for their lives.  You are strong, you are powerful, you are beautiful, and you are inspiration to the rest of us.

Preparation

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”
Alexander Graham Bell

Lately, I have been doing something out of character- I haven’t been running (and it’s making me a little nutty…).  Well, that’s not completely true- I did a miserable 2.5 miles on the treadmill to test out my new paisley running shoes.  However, I have not been doing any crazy, long runs.  After the Tough Mudder -and even before- I had notice my body was getting pretty beat up.  My groin was KILLING me; and for a while, I had considered that I seriously pulled something.  When I tried to run, it was a constant struggle.  Nothing wanted to move the way it should.  My limbs were like lead.  Plus, every boot camp session involved some muscle feeling like it was going to snap.  First it was my groin, then my right glute, now I’m back to groin (thankfully, not nearly as bad).  It got me to thinking that maybe cramming in this last 20 mile run is not that important.  I mean, it’s not worth getting injured (or risking injury) when I have already prepared so much.

I have been training for months now.  It’s involved sacrificing a lot of time (and the ability to walk normally at times…).  I have logged hundreds of miles; and honestly- I don’t think that 20 mile run is going to make or break my performance.  In fact, I think it is far more likely to hinder me than help.  I know that marathon is going to be hell.  I know what it is going to feel like to have to fight through the exhaustion.  I’ve done it…okay maybe not for 26.2 miles, but you get my point.  I’ve pushed through the walls.  Mentally, I know I can do it.  I”m hopeful my body will cooperate.  I truly believe that my best bet right now is to take it easy and recharge so I’m running on a full battery when race day rolls around.

I asked Adam how many miles he ran before his first marathon, and he told me 17 or 18, which is right about where I’m at.  I have done tons of trail running, hills, gym workouts, cross training, and even did a Tough Mudder to prepare.  I have spent the last several months running and training with a weighted hydration pack to improve my strength and endurance.  I’ve primary run in vibrams to improve my form.  I am absolutely as ready as I will ever be.  All I can do at this point is try not to do anything stupid to hurt myself, put it out into the universe, and hope for the best. 🙂  Oh, and try not to drive myself crazy in the meantime while I avoid my typical form of stress relief!

As much as I know how much work I’ve put in, it’s still hard not to worry about not being able to finish.  It doesn’t mean I’m not prepared or not capable- it’s just something I have a habit of doing before any new distance or challenge.  I was terrified before my first 10K (and the subsequent 2), my first 15 K, and the Tough Mudder. I sincerely doubted my ability to complete to each- that’s right just finish, I’m not looking to set any new records here! 😉  After the fact, I was always surprised at how much worse I anticipated it would be than it actually was.  I have a feeling,however, that the marathon will be exactly as horrible as I am anticipating, but I am determined despite my anxiety and lingering doubts to get across that finish line.

The good news:CT-ALIVE  has already received it’s first donations for the Running for the Color Purple Campaign! (I will sleep soundly tonight knowing that even if this race kills me, it will not have been in vain; and my ultimate goal to make a positive impact on the world will be achieved…jk…sort of…) Plus, I am optimistic that there is plenty more to come!  I would encourage anyone to check out the CT-ALIVE page and consider making a donation to help victims of violence rebuild their lives.  I would also like to say THANK YOU to those amazing people who have already donated and to all the wonderful readers who have left comments and subscribed!

 As always, thank you for reading!  Comments and feedback are welcome and appreciated- you can also email me at runningthriver@gmail.com.  Feel free to share any information on this site, just please give credit back to this blog.

I hope everyone has a very peaceful and restful evening!

Coming Out and New Arrivals

“I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy. “
Og Mandino

After a lot of careful consideration and back and forth, I have officially come out.  Not in the Lady Gaga themed gay pride sense (although I did think the youtube video was pretty awesome- I could only wish to be that fabulous).  Rather, I have opened up about my blog to my coworkers and Facebook friends. Initially, when I started this blog, I had intended on keeping it to myself.  I wanted to provide a voice for those victims who were unable to speak up for themselves and let them know they are not alone.  I also wanted to help raise awareness about domestic violence.  While I was open with many of my coworkers about what I had been through, I found the topic of domestic abuse tends to make people uncomfortable.  Several of them knew that I had started a blog, but I had never offered to let any of them read it.  The only people in my life who had read The Running Thriver up til now were a few close family members and friends.

However, as I have gotten more involved in the fight against domestic abuse- especially with the launching of the Running for the Color Purple Campaign- I have felt that sharing my blog is the right thing to do.  If I can’t be completely open about this big part of my life and educate the people I interact with on a daily basis than 1) how can I expect to educate anyone else, and 2) how can I encourage other victims to speak up and not be ashamed?  While I am not at all embarrassed about what I have been through, I have been a little reluctant to “spring” this information on people- in particular Adam’s family and friends.

At the end of the day, though, I care more about speaking up and raising awareness than I do about not bringing attention to myself.  Plus, I would have found it difficult to ask so many people to donate to this cause without explaining why it is so important to me.

In other news, I bought my first pair of non-vibram running shoes in a LONG TIME.  With the Diva Half and Hartford Marathon being on pavement, and my continued difficulty getting accustomed to running on pavement in my Vibrams, I figured it might be wise to hold off on a barefoot marathon for a while longer.  Adam helped me pick out a pair with more cushioning in the toe box so they would be more comfortable for my new running style.  I also got my first pair of real running socks and some pink gloves (on clearance!) for when the weather gets cooler. One week until the Diva Half and less than 3 until the Hartford Marathon!!!

My new shoes- There are even paisley on the inside!!!

On being a smarter optimist

“And maybe I’m a little smarter now than I was before for all the stupid things I’ve done. “
Herb Brooks

Before I met my abuser, I was a happy, upbeat free-spirit.  I looked at the positive in every situation, and over-looked other people’s flaws and chose to recognize their good points instead.  I was always smiling and cheerful.

After the abuse, I felt my optimism had betrayed me.  It helped me  fail to recognize cruel and self-interested behavior in people I had cared about. I had minimized their faults in favor of focusing on their better qualities.  Perhaps that is why it’s been so difficult for me to get back to my happy self.  I am afraid of overlooking the negative.  If I shrug off insults or bullying without standing up for myself then I will remain a doormat.

However, there is no reason I can’t be a happy and optimistic person and stand up for myself.  Setting boundaries doesn’t make me mean or unapproachable.  It has taken a conscious effort to accept that being optimistic may make me more vulnerable to unjust attacks, but it is the only way I’d choose to live my life.  I will not live in fear any longer.  I am breaking out of the confines of self-doubt and taking on the world (with my rosie colored glasses).  I am the only person capable of holding myself back, and I am not going to do it anymore.

I am going to finish the Tough Mudder- water tunnels, electric shock, and all.  I will finish that marathon.  I will not only finish, but will do it all with a smile on my face- because that’s just how I roll.  I will also do it with the knowledge that I am raising money for a worthy cause and inspiring other victims to move on from the confined existence of abuse.

Thanks for reading!  These posts are going to come in a flood now that I am back home with a computer.  Sorry for anyone whose inbox is about to be flooded!  As always, comments and questions are always welcome and appreciated. 🙂

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!!!