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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The One With Some Perspective

I sit here with only about an hour left in 2013 and I’ve really struggled to accept the way my running and racing went this past year; the year did not end on a very good note for me when it came to my running. However, I had to stop a take a moment today and really actually sit and think about all that I really did accomplish this year when it came to running.

During 2013 I ran:

8 half marathons (7 road races and 1 trail half marathon); I set a new PR of 2:16 at the Little Rock Half marathon during my bachelorette weekend. I also got to run my sister’s first half marathon with her at the Cowtown Half marathon in February. And I ran with my friend Kristie in November as she finished her first half marathon, which also happened to be my 26th half marathon. The trail half marathon that I did in September was by far the hardest, most tiring and terrible thing I have ever done. EVER!

1 full marathon in Kansas in which I ran an 11 minute PR. While I did happen to miss my goal of a sub-5 marathon by 3 minutes I was very proud of this race and how well I ran.

2 10k’s (1 road and 1 trail); I set a new PR of 59:49 in February as part of the Cowtown Challenge that I am super proud of.

1 15K in which I also set a new PR. This race was a big surprise for me because it was during the Texas summer heat and I was definitely undertrained. However, my old PR was over 2 years old and there was rain on race day which really helped.

1 20k race which was a new distance for me; I was also undertrained during this race but I did enjoy the course and the beautiful venue of the Dallas arboretum.

2 5k’s, one resulting in a new PR in April only 2 days before my marathon. The other 5k was run on our wedding day. I organized a family and friend wedding day 5k which was so very fun and a great way for us to start our wedding day.

1 20 miler race which was run as a training run for the St. Jude Memphis marathon. This race was the day after I ran a half marathon with my friend and I was already struggling with an ankle injury. It was in this race that I learned just how much tenacity I really do have; I ran with first 12 miles in some minor pain but by mile 15 that pain was almost too much to continue. The last 3 miles of this race was pretty much just a walk to the finish all the while battling the heartbreaking feeling of the terrible pain in my foot/ankle. That injury took me out of running and pretty much any activity for 4 weeks.

I also competed my very first multisport event by doing the Esprit De She duathlon in McKinney. I was so nervous about this race because biking it not my strength at all but I actually had so much fun at this race and cannot wait to do more multisport events in the future.

I did not however get to run the St. Jude Memphis marathon; I was not going to be able to because of my injury but then due to weather they wound up canceling the race. I’m actually kind of glad it worked out this way because I was heartbroken over not being able to run it.

So as you can see, January-April brought some awesome races my way and I was on fire with my running, but I really struggled during the summer and fall of this year. But after gaining a little perspective I have come to the conclusion that I am still beyond blessed to do all I have done, I mean for goodness sakes I did in fact set a PR in every single racing distance this year and you can’t argue with that.

I also experienced some very significant life changes this year as well with getting married, changing my career path/getting a new job, buying a house {read my husband's blog here about our adventures as homeowners} and having my husband start law school, all of which I plan to blog about soon. To say God has blessed me in more ways than I can count is an understatement for sure. While running has been one of the biggest priorities in my life the past few years God taught me a lot this year about just how many other ways in which He plans to love and bless me, it might have taken me a little while to figure this out but I think I’m finally getting it.

I’ve taken a fairly long break from blogging because honestly, I just haven’t felt passionate about it. Along with starting a new job and struggling through running this fall I just didn’t have the motivation to blog. But I’ve missed it, a lot. I plan to blog a whole lot more in the next coming months starting with going back and giving updates on the past few months (hello, we bought a new house!!!)

So here’s to an awesome and blessed 2014 and a whole new perspective on God’s love and faithfulness in my life.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The One About My Blogging Absence

Well, hello there, I’ve missed you guys, I really have; but this little break I have taken was very much needed. I know I don’t necessarily owe you an explanation for my blog absence, it is my blog after all and I can come and go as I please. But I do like to be open and honest here and I do hope that maybe the things I am/have been dealing with can or will help someone else. While most of my struggles have been personal I do think that there is some comfort in knowing you aren’t alone. All of that being said, I’m not necessarily looking for sympathy here either, far from it; I realize I am a very blessed person and I KNOW I am blessed beyond measure. And I also know that God has my life in His hands and will always provide me with what I need and when I need it. I trust in Him with all my heart and that truly is what has gotten me to the other side of this trying time. Also, bear with me because this could be a long post.

This summer has been very hard and trying, and tiring for that matter. I wrote early on about how adjusting to marriage was hard for me. However, I feel like I’ve taken most of it in stride. I love my husband very much and I am willing to go through the growing pains of building a new life together. Learning to adjust to new schedules, new routines, new places, all of those are things that if I’m being honest are difficult for me but are things that I know I can make it through. The things that I had not anticipated that made that transition infinitely worse though were our jobs. Over the summer both of us were experiencing things related to our job that was making our home life a bit difficult.

For Alex it was the hours he was having to devote to a project at work. I am so proud of Alex and how hard working he is, I support his career and his attention to his job. I knew going into our marriage that he would be starting law school this fall (which he did two weeks ago) and I knew that my evenings with him would be reduced to Friday nights only. This is something that I knew going in and something that while it’s not my ideal form of marriage it is something that I am ok with – Alex is pursuing a dream of his, he is doing something to better our future and he is doing something I knew from day one of meeting him that he was planning to do. I am OKAY with this temporary arrangement so he can be successful. However, I did not count on coming home from our honeymoon and his evenings being over taken with work every single night and a lot on the weekends. He didn’t plan on that either, which made our transition to marriage just a little bit harder.

Another thing we did not account for was my job and the stress that it has brought me over the past several months, and honestly, this is where the real issues have been and the real source of my problems and the cause for my need to back away from things and just figure things out. Three years ago I was blessed with my first corporate America job; I really didn’t have much experience, I was just out of college and someone gave me a chance. I started out in an administrative position and within a year I was promoted and able to work with patients. I have been working in Alzheimer’s research for the past three years, the last 2 I have been seeing patients daily and doing the neuropsych testing for our research studies. I liked my job and have never really had many complaints. Of course in research there are always the ups and downs of funding and working for the state has its perks and also some downside to it as well, but mostly I was content. However, I also knew this was not a CAREER job for me…

So let me back up a little bit – my degree is in Kinesiology and my plan and passion has always been to eventually work my way into some sort of career doing rehab and therapy. Physical therapy has also been a dream of mine and a very likely career. But if you have read my blog for a while now you know that three years ago I went through a terrible divorce, I needed a job right away and ended up in research. Again, I’ve been very thankful for that. But I have always desired to pursue therapy. PT school has kind of been a distant dream; I lack a few sciences classes to apply as well as experience. However, Physical Therapy Assistant school seemed like a decent option. So about a year and a half ago I went to visit a school in my area that has a PTA program and I got some information and started doing some research. It took me a little while to even decide that this was something I wanted to pursue but I finally decided that I’m not getting any younger, nor am I really going anywhere in my current career.

So this past winter I jumped through all the hoops of applying for PTA school – I wrote a research paper, filled out the forever long applications, turned in school transcripts (that was a pain, I had attended 3 colleges and had 2 different names!!). It was a long and stressful process but I finally got my application in. But then there were problems…. One of the colleges I had attended was out of state and that was where I took my math class and apparently Texas has certain rules on math classes and such, which honestly I think are RIDICULOUS! So long story short I found out at the beginning of May that I did not get into the PTA program that I wanted to get in to. Thankfully at that time I had the wedding to distract me so I just said it wasn’t meant to be and moved on.

But then we got home from the honeymoon and I had time to reflect and think about my future. I knew that in a few short months Alex would be going to school and doing something to further his education and better himself for his career and I would still be stuck at a job that while it was ok I wasn’t passionate about. I want to pursue MY dreams of therapy and I also know that in the near future I want to have a family as well. I just felt the pressure of TIME hanging over me. I felt like it was now or never to pursue my therapy dreams. I didn’t want to be in school and have kids. But I also didn’t want to wait for the next 10+ years to pursue my dreams. I also don’t necessarily desire to be a full-time stay at home mom either. I just felt so overwhelmed with the “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE?” question.

So I went back to the PTA school several weeks ago, I wanted to find out what I could do differently for the following year. I wasn’t going to give up and I knew I needed to speak with someone so that I didn’t encounter the same issues as this past year. I’m actually really glad I took the time to go out there but I also left that meeting feeling very defeated. This next year they would be changing a lot of their requirements and ironically enough my silly little math class would no longer be an issue but there would be other things that would keep me from being accepted at this time and I would have to go back and take several classes this fall JUST to even be considered for the spring. At this point my heart just wasn’t in it.

All the while my job is becoming even more stressful. There are internal problems, problems with the department and problems with a few coworkers as well. I would come home from work every single day and just cry. I hated it. I was so close to handing in my notice multiple times, things were that bad. I’m not one to walk away from responsibilities and I’m not one to just quit but things were bad here, really, really bad.

So I started looking for a new job. Part of the requirements for PT school and now PTA school is they want to see that you have experience working in a therapy setting and while my current job gives me patient and clinic experience it was only going to get me so far. The only thing that would really be beneficial to me would be to find a job as a Physical Therapy Technician. So that’s what I started looking for. Let me tell you those jobs are HARD to find, very hard! I’ve actually looked many times before and have never gotten anywhere on my searches. For starters there just aren’t many of those positions available anymore, due to cut-backs in many places the job of a technician is just something that most places try to do without. The job of a technician is basically an assistant type job, an apprenticeship is you will. You do whatever the therapist needs you to do, some days that may be filing paperwork, some days that may be setting up certain equipment for whatever patient you see that day and some days that may actually be assisting with the actual visit of the patient. It’s a time for you to learn the ins and outs of therapy without actually prescribing or administering the therapy yourself. So for someone looking to gain access and experience in the therapy field it’s ideal! But like I said, hard to come by.

Well back in July a friend of a friend said that they knew of a clinic that was hiring so I very eagerly passed on my resume. This clinic was actually part of a big hospital system here and one that I really wanted to be a part of. I got an interview and went and was so excited about the possibility of this job. But after waiting several weeks I found out that I didn’t get the job. I was crushed. Meanwhile I had filled out several more applications at this particular hospital for other therapy tech jobs (and some non-therapy jobs as well, I needed OUT of my current job), there were actually a few listings for technicians at the time and on one particular day I filled out 4 applications for tech jobs – it was like I was in heaven because seriously, those jobs don’t become available all that often!!

Well then I got an email back from one of them letting me know that my resume had been selected as a possible candidate and would I be available for a phone interview, I immediately emailed back. I did the phone interview and while I thought it went well it left me a bit bummed about what the actually position would be. But then I got called for an interview so I decided to go anyways.
I was still unsure of the actual position but I realized that this clinic (which was part of the hospital system that I want to work for) was only 3 miles from our house, 3 MILES! (Right now I drive 24 miles to work or ride an hour long train ride) The clinic is actually a pediatric out-patient therapy center and peds is something that I am quite passionate about, another plus! Then I show up to the interview and start listening to the clinic manager talk about the position and everything I would get experience doing and I knew instantly that this job would be more than just a dream come true for me. I left that interview excited and optimistic but I also knew she had a few more interviews before I would know anything.

Meanwhile my current job sent me on a trip to Chicago for training on a new drug study that we would be doing. I actually really enjoyed the trip and will try to get some pictures up soon. But I was still stressed out not knowing if I would hear anything or not. I waited 10 days before I finally gave the clinic manager a call and I left a message. I waited all day for her to call me back but she didn’t.

Then the next day I got a call from the job recruiter and she offered me the job!!!!! I wish I could express the joy and relief I felt at that moment. She offered me the position of Therapy Technician for a pediatric facility. I will be taking a pay cut for this job but honestly, I just don’t care, I’m so excited and so ready to do something I’m passionate about! So, all of that being said, this Friday is my last day at my current job! It’s very surreal to see my very first real world job come to an end but I know it’s time for me to move on.

I can’t give too many details on my new job other than I will be working with children! I will be the only technician at this clinic working with 8 speech pathologist, 7 occupational therapist and 5 physical therapist, that’s a lot of people to assist!! But that also means I have a LOT to learn and a lot to gain! I will be working 3 miles from home! And I will also only be working 4 days a week! I feel so truly blessed with this opportunity and at times I felt like maybe God just wanted me to stay here at my current job, but now I can truly see His will in the next few years of my future.

Now that I have this job my plan is to take my time and LEARN; I plan to wait until Alex finishes law school (4 years from now) before I pursue the rest of my education, and I’m actually very ok with that. This job allows me time to learn different types of therapy. It allows me some flexibility to pursue some of my other passions and goals, like to complete an ultra marathon and an Ironman before I’m 31 (there, I said it!). And it also allows me to gain experience so that in a few years I can have a better application for PT School or OT school. And most of all, this job allows me to do something I am passionate about!

So while I never intended to take such a break from blogging I needed that time. I needed to figure some things out. I needed to give myself a break. Most days I was just going through them hour by hour, it was that rough. Some days I got a run in, some days I ate healthy and some days I was doing good just to get myself out the door and show up to work.

I’m a little behind on marathon training and with a new schedule coming I’m having to be flexible and it’s going to take a few weeks to iron out my new schedule but I still have quite a few races and I am still running, but that’s another post for another day, this post is already long enough as it is! So there you have it, the last few whirlwind months in a nutshell. They were hard and trying but I know I am stronger for them. I never doubted God has a plan for me but it was definitely a period of life where I had to be carried. I struggled a lot but I also prayed a lot. I had quite a few tears but I also spent a lot of time in God’s word. I clung to Romans 12:1-2 many times:

“Therefore I urge your brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good pleasing and perfect will.”

Many days I wanted to be angry and upset and just give up, but I knew that I had to use this time to still be respectful. I had to respect myself and my husband. I had to respect my current job and coworkers and I had to not let myself be conformed to this world. I feel blessed to be here ready to start a new job next Monday and I am very excited for the opportunity that is in front of me.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The One Where Alex Sees No Results

As it has been for a while, work is hectic. I’m moving my lab equipment (which would be hectic in and of itself), my cubicle (which would be hectic in and of itself), managing a project with 2 interns and a full-time employee in 3 (very) different time zones, and somehow need to manage to get real work done.

That’s actually becoming “manageable chaos”, and I’ve been getting into the gym 2-3x a week for the last 3 weeks. It’s not the best, but considering that there was a holiday weekend, a couple birthday parties, and countless other things to do, I’m actually somewhat happy with my commitment.

What I’m not happy with is my results. At last check (admittedly almost a week ago), I had gained 1lb from my previous report (to 255.2), and still don’t feel comfortable in my clothes. Even with the fact that I haven’t been getting into the gym the 4-5x a week that I would ultimately like, I felt like I’d see some positive results by now, even if it was only a couple pounds.

At the end of the day, I’m happy that the upward trend of the weight that has been going on since early May is stopped, but I’m looking for that “over the hump” moment where I can say that I actually see results.

On a slightly more positive note, for the first time in years, I forced myself out of bed and to the gym before work! This is _crucial_ as law school creeps up on me. Once school starts, I’ll have a packed schedule from 8:30am to 10:00pm, with the only “break” being the 20-40 minute commute from work to school.

I’m also seriously considering and investigating the possibility of biking to work 3 days a week. I originally ruled this out, because I would have to ride the train from work to school, and the train costs $75 a month! (I would pay less in gas and maintenance fees for the car). However, my school has a deal with the train service for $5 annual pass! That’s right, for the cost of a coffee, I can ride the train to school and back for a year!

The only thing that is worrisome to me is that I previously gave up commuter biking, because I was uncomfortable with one of the intersections that I had to cross (had multiple close calls). However, there is some construction in the area that may give me an alternate route.

Thursday to Thursday weight change: N/A lbs.

Total weight change (from 253.8 lbs on June 13, 2013): N/A lbs.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The One About Week 2 Of Pre-Marathon Training

Well this week was a BUST! At least it’s only pre-marathon training but sheesh, I have no idea what happened and where my motivation went. I could use the fact that I was sore Wednesday and Thursday as an excuse or I could definitely use the fact that work is very much emotionally draining right now as an excuse but bottom line is the workouts just didn’t get done. I could cry over spilled milk but I mean come on, what’s the point? All I can do now is just move on and make this week better.

Here’s what this week wound up looking like:

Week 2 (July 8-14)
Sick day
Speed work + weights

Speed work 6x400 + 2 miles
3 miles easy

Elliptical 30 min
4 miles + weights

Run 3.5 miles

Racquetball + spin

Too Hot to Handle 15K

9.4 miles @11:12 for a new PR!
23+ miles

14 running miles (17 total)

Tuesday was really my only good workout day this week and I did manage a pretty decent speed work session.

Wednesday I attempted the 3 miles I had scheduled but I was so very sore in my calves and shins. I really, really, really need to bust out the foam roller and give my legs some love and attention; I’ve just been too lazy to do so. However, that changes this week or else I’m fairly certain I’ll be very sorry. I did 30 minutes (2.5 miles) on the elliptical at a level 5 intensity.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday I was just so emotionally drained over work stuff and stress that my motivation was just really lacking. It’s not a good excuse I know, in fact it’s really not an excuse at all, I should have done something, anything but I just didn’t. So there’s that.

Sunday I had my first race in 3 months! I was actually quite nervous, especially given the lack of working out I had done this week but I really surprised myself and achieved my goal of a new PR by 4 minutes! This was a 2 and a half year old PR and I was really ready to see some improvement here. And did I mention it was raining? I will do a full recap of this race tomorrow.

So here’s to hoping this week will be a little bit better than the last one….

Week 3 (July 15-21)
Speed work + weights
BodyPump + elliptical
5 miles + weights
Racquetball + weights
Mini Moo Cow Marathon + 5 miles
17+ miles

Thank you to everyone who has already donated to my St. Jude fund; You have no idea how much I appreciate you!

Be sure and check out how you can help me help St. Jude here.

Miles I’ve run for people:
Tyly – 24.25/75
Nicole – 0/50

Steve – 0/50

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The One About Week 1 Of Pre-Marathon Training

So already I’m a day behind for recapping my weekly workouts but I was home with a minor little stomach bug yesterday and spent the day curled up on the couch with my doggies and watched movies all day. But that’s ok, I can still give my recap today!

Although I have been working my way back into training and working out July really signified “training” for me. I mentioned that I won’t officially start my training for the Memphis marathon until August 5th but I am training for and hoping for a decent half marathon at the end of September so I needed to get my booty into gear. I also have that 15K this weekend….ugh, not sure what I was thinking there, other than I really had the racing itch and what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger…..

Anyways, week 1 of half marathon/pre-marathon training went really well:

Week 1 (July 1-7)
Run easy 4 miles + weights

4 miles @ 11:06 + biceps & triceps
Speed work

BodyPump + elliptical

Speed work 5x400 + 2 miles & BP
4th of July

Run 3 miles

3 miles + boot camp workout

Run 7 miles easy

7 miles @ 11:14

18.25 miles total

Monday I powered my way through some tough miles to get 4 miles at an 11:06 pace; still not the pace I would like to be seeing right now but I’m trying to be patient with myself and trust that I just need a little more time to get back into running shape. These miles hurt though but I am glad I was able to see a decent pace. I also did this workout for biceps and triceps.

Tuesday wound up being a crazy day – I had to work really late and didn’t get home until after 7. Then I had to take my dogs up to my mom’s and by the time I left there it was almost 9 pm and I was having some major allergy attack from I don’t know what, so I moved speed work to Wednesday and did away with the elliptical.

Wednesday I did speed work; I really love speed work and I’m excited to add that weekly into my running plan this year. Again, I am still not seeing the “speed” I would like but at least I have something to work towards. My splits were pretty even but my goal for July is to get those down to the 2:10 range for 400’s. I am using an app called Sport Me to get all my speed work from but in the future I will also probably use some of the other ones I have used in the past, but for now its 400M repeats.

Thursday was my second favorite holiday – July 4th!! We spent time in Austin with my sister and her husband and the rest of our family; we seriously had the most fun I think I have had in a long time! I will get all our pictures together and do a post on our long weekend.

On Friday my sister, her boyfriend, Alex and I headed to nearby Cedar Park to take advantage of the trails they have there. I needed an easy 3 miles but my sister’s boyfriend also thought we needed some cross-fit/boot camp type work as well.

 I think I pretty much nearly died that day but it was a great workout!! I honestly couldn’t tell you everything we did but it included lots of lunging, squatting, push-ups, burpees, bear crawling, sit-ups, leap-frogging and play time on the jungle gym equipment. I have no idea my pace for the run because I didn’t have my Garmin and we would stop every quarter of a mile to every half mile or so and do more crazy stuff. Once we got half way we used a soccer field for more work and the play-ground there as well. Then on the mile and a half back I did 10, 15sec sprints throughout the walk/run.

The highlight of my day though was running into Erin! I have followed Erin’s blog for a long time now and I have mentioned before just how much she inspires me and encourages me. We have never actually met in person but as Alex and I were making our way back on the trails after our butt-kicking I looked up and immediately recognized Erin speeding down the trails. She recognized me too and stopped to chat for a minute. Dang that girl is fit!!! It was so nice to finally meet her and it totally made my day. She ran off and I immediately kicked myself for not taking a picture with her. Thankfully she turned around on the trail and came back by and so I stopped her again and said we definitely needed a picture. Seriously, she amazes me and any time I have doubts or fears about what I am capable of I just go read about her weekly workouts or read her marathon stories and I’m immediately fired up. She probably thinks I’m crazy for being as excited as I was to meet her but next to meeting Kara Goucher out running the Austin trails I couldn’t think of any other runner I would have rather run into, seriously!

After our butt-kicking session we all headed out to play sand volleyball and spend some time in the pool, over all Friday was a very active day indeed.

Sunday I hit up the cardio cinema for my 7 miles; man I just love that thing. I got to watch practically a whole movie while doing my miles. I had some soreness in my right calf most of the run but about mile 5 I was able to step it up some and speed up just a bit. My stomach bothered me most of this run as well but I think that mainly had to do with all the junk I had eaten over the weekend. I had an overall pace of 11:14 which isn’t too shabby; that’s about 3 seconds below what I want my race pace to be for this coming Sunday so that’s good. Now if only I can run that 15K on a treadmill while watching a movie…..

Since I was sick yesterday I did miss my 3 miles that was scheduled, but I went ahead and moved that to Wednesday instead of spin, I’ve got lots of miles this week and a race but I’m really ready to get back into some higher mileage weeks!!!
Here’s what this week will look like:

Week 2 (July 8-14)
Sick day
Speed work + weights
3 miles easy
4 miles + weights
Run 3.5 miles
Racquetball + spin
Too Hot to Handle 15K
23+ miles

Have you stopped by my fundraising page yet?

A HUGE thank you to Tyly from One Mile At A Time Blog for her donation – I now owe her 75 miles!!!! (well make that 65…Friday and Sunday’s miles were for her!)