I know – scary concept. And probably dangerous.
In my new position I am still in a learning phase – and that phase gives me plenty of time to think. I actually enjoy this less stressful lifestyle for the most part. After so many years of being under constant stress and pressure it is nice to not be living life in my own little pressure cooker.
So – this post will probably be a rambling collection of thoughts that I want to get down and share – hoping that it might help somebody else in their reflecting.
1) Toxic relationships are bad. I’ve been in several toxic relationships in my life. They didn’t all start toxic, but they ended toxic and that made for some stressful years.
Growing up – my mother was not a happy person (ok – that is a huge understatement). I don’t know what events made her that way, but she was not happy and, while she put on a good face in public, we saw it in private. I can’t change any of that because she died 10 years back. It makes me sad to not miss my mother – but I know she is happy and in a better place. But I did work hard to make sure that my own children were not afraid of me or worried about mood swings and that they could talk to me and be honest about issues we might have. This toxicity ended thru death.
Marriage – my marriage started out fine, but my (then) husband over the years became less and less happy with himself, his work and with me. I’m sure I contributed to this. And I wasn’t super happy either. But I have learned that I can only change myself, I cannot change others. Interestingly enough – we now have a good relationship and have been very successful in allowing our families on both sides and children to not have to worry about us being hostile when together. This toxicity ended thru divorce and had a good outcome.
Work – I worked for the same company for 11 years. I loved that company and can honestly claim that the woman who was my boss for all of these years has become one of my best friends. (Not one of those “we will always be friends type friends you never hear from again). I felt valued, I felt I had potential, I was learning and growing and constantly challenged. Then we were purchased by another company. Things were not quite as wonderful after that, but as long as I was with my own little crew, we adapted and moved on. In 2014 they closed our office, made the few remaining Utah employees telecommuters, required me to travel to Michigan to train people a good portion of the year. Oh – surprise! Let’s change your status to contractor in 2015. And maybe totally mess up the work you do. Corporations make decisions and don’t really include the “little people” in those decisions. I decided it was time to move on. This toxicity ended thru my resignation.
Long story short – put stressful changes in my work environment together with constant injuries in my foot and I was in a toxic soup that resembled the La Brea Tar Pits. I gained 25-30 pounds in the last two years (on top of some other weight gain in the previous years from the foot injury) and was on two anti-depressants, dealing with severe insomnia, and doing lots of retail and junk food therapy.
Happy ending – in the last three months I have totally be anti-depressant free, no longer need my asthma medications constantly (oh wait – I am no longer constantly being sick), have resolved the insomnia and am able to avoid junk food unless I actually choose to eat it for training and such.
2) Losing weight is hard (Why oh why did I let myself get to this position?!?!)
In 2007 and 2008 I worked my butt off (literally as well as figuratively) to get in top shape. I was really muscular, running well, and had lost a lot of weight. Then I moved from Layton to Sandy and lost most of my friends and support system and quit working out as much and slowly regained the weight. I told myself back then I wasn’t going to do it. Too bad I apparently didn’t listen to myself.
I’ve been trying to lose weight since last November. Nothing seemed to work. I did use Le-Vel Thrive until earlier this month. I really think it was helpful during the end of the toxicity period at work. I think it kept me from being seriously sick most of the time. However – stress levels were just not letting me lose as much weight as I wanted – no matter what I tried. Getting back into consistent running and walking has helped some. I have lost 13 pounds so far – but my weight has hardly dropped for 2 months. In fact, it was going up on 1700 calories a day.
I just started meeting with a Registered Dietician to see what I can do to turn this around. She thinks my body has actually gone into starvation mode and is increasing my calories until we find a level that will work with my training load. It will be interesting to see what happens. I’ve increased my calories to 2000 a day and actually lost a pound in four days – but am constantly hungry so we are going to try to increase them slightly more and add in some complex carbs to see if that helps with the hunger.
Happy ending being worked on.
3) If you can’t train or race – volunteer
When you love being a part of the endurance (and/or ultra) community – it is hard when you cannot participate in races you used to run or have signed up for.
However….. it really helps to participate by being a volunteer. You are still out in nature. You are still seeing your friends. You can still put in long hours. All that good stuff.
I honestly feel that every runner should help out at races in one form or another. Maybe for every 5 races, you help at another. This can even be in the form of crew or pacing as needed. You gain a greater appreciation of the work that goes into a race when you put yourself out to help at them instead of just racing them all.
Last weekend I spent two days volunteering up at Snowbird Ski Resort. Saturday I was helping out at the Start/Finish at the Speedgoat 50K. Sunday I helped out at packet pickup and at an aid station at the Quadbanger. Even got to sweep the course and pick up flags and ribbons. Fun times.
This weekend I am heading down to Beaver, Utah to the Tushars races and will spend a good portion of Saturday at the finish line.
In September I will drive a van for the Wasatch 100 and help out at aid stations as needed.
Happy endings are achieved when you see a race successfully completed and know you were a part of it.
4) Being an ultrarunner takes time (unless you are one of those freaks of nature)
Do NOT expect to be a marathon or ultramarathon runner in 5 easy steps. Yes – I walked my first marathon 5 months after starting training. But I’d been walking 4 miles a day for years before that. I look back fondly to the days before the Plantar Fasciitis fiasco when I was running and racing constantly. I was strong and in relatively good shape. I could recover from runs and races easily.
Guess what? When you get injured and lose that training, you have to start at ground zero all over again (not THAT Ground Zero though). You have experience and knowledge behind you which helps. Except when it hurts (because it sucks to have to start all over again). I’m not talking a few weeks or months layoff. I’m talking a long layoff. When every time you start to train you get reinjured and think you will never race or run again.
Don’t push the process. Unless you are incredibly blessed or incredibly talented or incredibly lucky – it will backfire.
When I started out this year I was going to be an Ambassador for Solemates Running. I planned to participate in most of their races and just do as much as I could – perfect plans for loop races. I knew I was still in recovery mode from finally getting a handle on the PF Monster. In February that plan changed when they shut down for the all important reason of needing to form a family with the two foster babies they were blessed with. Change of plans 1!
Then I got swept into the concept of prepping for and completing a 100 miler in 200 days. Change of plans 2!
Lots of changes going on. My training is coming along, but I always have to remember that until some point in May of this year (so 2.5 months ago) – I literally worried every day that my running or walking would end up flaring up the PF injury again and I would have to start over. I still have to wear a boot for 1/2 to 1 day a week to relax my foot and let me pop all the bones back in place.
I would have never imagined at the start of this year that I would be doing 50 and 60+ mile weeks. But every time I get excited about that, I start to feel my body warn me that I need to back off. Listening to the body instead of the brain and other athletes is hard, but it is critical.
Happy Ending – I am still able to run or walk 5-6 days each week and I am getting stronger and building endurance.