survivor

On the Edge

“We all have a comfort zone where everything feels safe and familiar. We tend to not want to venture beyond it, however if we allow ourselves to stay there we will not be challenged, experience personal growth, or learn new and exciting things. In other words, we would stagnate.”

It’s taken me a little while to get to posting.  Besides the usual being super busy, I just wasn’t sure what to write about.  I have been really on-edge lately, and that has really been bugging me.  Wednesday we leave for California and my first Tough Mudder.  As excited as I am about getting away and finishing my first obstacle race, I am also equally stressed.   I have been pushing myself way outside my comfort zone recently, and this will be another HUGE step.  I know I can finish, but I am terrified of a few of the obstacles- specifically the electric shock and under water tunnels.  Being underwater makes me claustrophobic.  I even hyper-ventilate when I snorkel.  I am a little worried that going into a dark tunnel, underwater is going to give me a panic attack.  On the bright side, I know that Adam will be there to look out for me; and that is a huge relief!  Just knowing he’s there gives me that little boost to push myself a little firther than I would have otherwise.

It is so easy for me to get frustrated with myself for being worn out and stressed, while completely overlooking all the progress I have made recently.  I have been more social- spending time not only with my own friends, but with Adam’s.  I have let my guard down and really enjoyed the company of new people in my life.  I also have tried knee boarding for the first time, and even picked it up quickly!  I didn’t think about falling or hurting myself; I just went for it.  Adam and his friends were all impressed- they told told me I looked like a professional. lol  I think that was a little gracious.  They were also all very supportive of my marathon training. It meant a lot to me, since a few of them are marathon and obstacle race veterans!

Tonight I have Boot Camp Session #3, and tomorrow the plan is for a 17 mile run (GPS watch permitting).  I have my new hot pink compression sleeves to try out.  🙂  I am hoping to squeeze in a morning Boot Camp Session before we fly out Wednesday too!  Saturday will be the first of the three big races milestones (Tough Mudder, Diva Half Marathon, and Hartford Marathon) I have planned for the fall.  I feel like everything is starting to happen so quickly now!!!  I am looking forward to getting through all of it and taking a much need break. lol

As far as my missing tapeworm post- it was about how all this training has turned me into the “hungry catepillar” (complete with picture!) and what a chore eating all day has become.  I am always hungry!  If I don’t eat every 2 hours, I get light-headed and my stomach growls loudly like it has a mind of its own.  Training and eating have taken over my life!!! I don’t even want to look at food anymore.  There’s no fun in eating.   It’s become a challenge to shovel in protein wherever I can get it, as frequently as possible; because despite stuffing my face all day everyday, I still seem to be losing weight.  lol

Anyway, there are far worse things I could be plagued with than binge eating and still losing pounds.  I hope everyone takes a step outside his/her comfort zone this week!!!  Thank you for reading!  Questions and comments are always welcome. 🙂

Here's the proof!

Another day, another 15 miles

“The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of setting goals and achieving them. Even the most tedious chore will become endurable as you parade through each day convinced that every task, no matter how menial or boring, brings you closer to fulfilling your dreams.”

Og Mandino

So the photo above pretty much sums up my view of Boot Camp 🙂  Except puking is not an acceptable excuse to stop.

I survived my first session of Boot Camp- it was worse than running 18 miles!!!!!  I would consider myself in reasonably good shape, but that class kicked my butt.  I’m sure running there and back (and all the labor day pigging out) didn’t help.  We weren’t even halfway through before I felt like I would throw up.  By the time I reached the end of the first circuit, I nearly passed out.  I eased up until the room came back into focus and kept going.  It made me feel like such a wimp, until I noticed that everyone else was struggling too- including the people who had been doing it for months.  “Something to look forward to. Apparently it doesn’t get any easier” I thought to myself.

I wanted to quit.  It was torture. I reminded myself that if you don’t feel like quitting, throwing up, or passing out then you probably aren’t working hard enough anyway.  Then I surprised myself and not only made it through the whole class, but even the run home.

On the schedule today- a 15 mile run this morning followed by Boot Camp #2 this evening.  I am hoping that there is less nausea this time around. 😉

One more week until California and 10 more days until my first Tough Mudder!!!!

Boot Camp…Day 1

 

“You only ever grow as a human being if you’re outside your comfort zone.”
– Percy Cerutty

I’m about to head out to my first boot camp session.    I am terrified, but excited to be taking another step toward achieving my goals.  🙂

I’m also exhausted and I haven’t even left yet! I can’t wait to get back to work to recover from my busy weekend! lol (you would be amused too if you knew what my work day is like…)

Wish me luck everyone.  Because I’m a true badass, I think I’m going to run there and back. 🙂

 

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!!!

Revelations

“Happiness is a form of courage.”

~Holbrook Jackson

"The Happy Person Inside"

As a survivor of abuse thriver, I have often tried to get in touch with “the happy person inside” me who was untouched by trauma.  It started with the My Avenging Angel Workshops when we had various exercises to draw this happy person out.  We did writing prompts and compiled letters to ourselves in the frame of that happier, unscarred person.  At the time, it felt so strange to write to myself in such a loving and accepting manner.  It was hard to love myself.  It was hard to stand myself.  I knew I was capable of being happier, more centered, and generally, more functional- I just didn’t know how to get there.

When I pictured my happy inner self, I would envision the photo above.  I was so fearless as a child.  I was vibrant.  My mother always told me she needed to hold me back growing up because I was ready to take on the world.  I lost that girl somewhere…

What I found instead was PTSD: anxiety, nightmares, hyper-vigilance, low self-esteem, and above all a NEGATIVE OUTLOOK on life.  I hated feeling so negative, but it followed me everywhere.    It stalked me.  It was on my back.  It kept me up at night.  Every time I thought I eluded it, I’d find it creeping up somewhere.  I couldn’t escape it.  I didn’t know how to stop it.  It was a terrible feedback loop.  The more negative I felt, the more I hated myself for it, which only made me feel more negative about the whole situation.  I was stuck in a cycle of beating myself up- overly concerned with how other people were perceiving and judging me.  I was withdrawn.  I didn’t want to spread my negativity, so I shut people out.  I was trapped.

In retrospect, I think my negativity served a purpose.  It was my armor.  It kept people at arm’s length where they couldn’t hurt me.  Being betrayed by people in my life who I had loved deeply and trusted had completely reframed my perception of the world.  If they could hurt me, imagine what other people might do.  I couldn’t handle any more hurt.  I couldn’t handle anything, period.  However, it way over-lasted it’s usefulness.  It kept me from myself.  I was surviving- just going through the motions of existing, exhausted at the thought of another day.

Today I realized a remarkable thing.  I am no longer working toward getting in touch with the happy person inside. I AM that happy person. What a REVELATION to finally have arrived at the point I’ve been struggling to ge to for so long, and it took me until today to finally realize it.  I don’t know how or when it happened, but I am here.  I have made it through the muck and finally emerged on the other side as a smarter, stronger, and more self aware person. I have taken control of my life back.  I feel so light, so refreshed, so OPTIMISTIC.  I have so many great things going for me — volunteering with CT-ALIVE, the Archangels, my blog (thank you everyone for the kind words and positive feedback), my running, fundraising… I could go on and on.

I have no room for negativity in my life anymore.  It’s not in my nature.  I only have space for positive thoughts, so the negativity and I are breaking up for good.  I am ending our two year relationship and not looking back.  I’m not entertaining anymore negative thoughts.  I’m not letting it crawl into bed with me anymore when I’m feeling tired and vulnerable.  I’m not giving in to the temptation to blame my trouble on others.

The one person in life I have power to change is myself, and that is exactly what I am doing.  I am reevaluating and renewing the relationships in my life with a more positive outlook.  As a final act of closure, I left cards for my coworkers to thank them for all their support on my journey and to apologize for being distant and not myself for so long.  I wanted to make a commitment to them and myself to work on more positive relationships with them- the kind that involve actually opening up and showing myself.  Plus, I really wanted to acknowledge all the support I had received from each of them.  I feel like now that it is all in writing- it’s official.  I have let go of any negativity still lingering in the past and stepped forward into a brighter future.  Who knows where this road will take me, but one thing is for sure- there are good things in store!

I spent so long not knowing what to do with all that negativity.  I couldn’t find a way to stuff it down or shove it out of my life.  Today I finally found the solution- I faced it head on and threw it out the window. 🙂

Once again, thank you for reading!  Comments and feedback are always welcome and appreciated.  Questions can be directed to runningthriver@gmail.com.

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