Monday, April 8, 2013

Running, Self Care, Growth, and a Phenomenal Story!

I don’t think it is any surprise to anyone that this blog is about self care and growth. In my line of work I need to be diligent about my own self care as well as teach my clients tools that they can use for the same purpose. Through this learning comes growth. That just stands to reason.

With that said, I just finished reading The Summit Seeker by Vanessa Runs. This book…how shall I say it…is INCREDIBLE.

First off I have to say that I could not put it down from the moment that I first opened it. How could I not when Gordy Ainsleigh wrote the forward of this book? Seeing who Vanessa is through his eyes was a fantastic way to start the book off. It was apparent right from the beginning that this woman has a full love of life and especially the trails regardless of the pain it brings because in the end it always equals joy.

Vanessa writes about her life and how running has carried her through life. In an essence, this book is all about self care, growth, healing, and finding who you are as a person. What an amazing process to be able to share with the world.

Vanessa’s story is riveting, shocking, heartbreaking, fun, ecstatic, crazy, suffocating, triumphant and raw. Her soul is bared through her running. Through losses great and small, triumphs, and love, it is not long into the book that you can see that Vanessa IS running and such a free spirit.

I think what I liked most about this book was being able to experience how Vanessa was able to face, beat down, and overcome obstacles in her life. I mean, we all have obstacles and even though not all of us are runners, we all have SOMETHING that can help us to regain some sense of self and self worth. I learned that from reading this book.

I was instantly drawn into the world that Vanessa describes and I found myself wanting to go out and attack the nearest peak I could. With that said, Thank you Vanessa for sharing your story. And thank you for telling the world that we all have something that can help us fight against the obstacles that sometimes weight us down.

To get a copy of Vanessa’s book you can find it on Amazon 


Peace Ya’ll!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

When your head needs a cleaning...

I am not one to really feel like I need to get my head cleaned out after a long day. However, on Monday that was exactly what I needed to do. While the day was good one, it was also busy and had some unexpected twists and turns in which I really did not want to have to do deal with. (For those of you that do not know what I do, I am a substance abuse counselor working with men and women who are incarcerated but living in the community.) I love my job and the people that I work with. I do not love the "surprises" that come along the way. Not to mention that I work for an agency who is contracted by Dept of Corrections so basically I have two employers and sometimes that is overwhelming in itself.

So Monday was one of those days that I needed to get out of my head. How do I do that...I run of course! I got home early evening, donned my running shoes and out the door I went. As I ran down the road, (I live in New Hampshire. We still have snow so the trails were not in my cards.), I felt like I needed something new, something fresh. So I headed to Vermont.

Now before you freak out...don't worry! Vermont is only about a mile from my house. The difference is this-I have never ran over the river to get to Vermont before...EVER. I have lived in my house for 8 years and I have never ran across that bridge. What an amazing and freeing run it was!

I bounded across the big green bridge that spans the Connecticut River between NH and VT and was elated to be going someplace new. Even though I only ran about 2 miles over into VT onto a side street that followed the Wells River and then back to was still new. The sights were new, even the smells were new!

By the time I made it back home my mind felt healed. I felt renewed and fresh and happy! I should run over to Vermont more often! But I don't want it to become "normal". So for now I think I will keep it as a hidden gem across the river.

My run yesterday was not so liberating. My training plan said 6 miles at a 11:34 pace. WHAT!?!?! 11:34?? I don't think I could run that slow at all. So I chose to run a little faster. My route however, is not one I should have taken yesterday. I decided to head up Mt. Gardner Road which is exactly as it sounds. The road goes UP Mt. Gardner. At the top of the "hill" I was spent. I turned around, grumbling, and headed home. Instead of getting my 6 miles I got 4.11.

As my friends least I did SOMETHING. But I am still pretty angry at myself for not pushing through and getting my 6 miles.

Today is for rest...and tomorrow I will conquer that dreaded hill and get my mileage in. For now I need to remember that some days will be good and others will be bad. I need to embrace them BOTH!

Run Free Ya'll!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The road, (or trail), ahead...

For the past few weeks the subject of Spring has been a sore spot for a lot of runners, myself included. I am so incredibly sick and tired of snow it is pathetic. Even as I sit here at my kitchen table, on a SNOW day, drinking a cup of coffee, the day before the First Day of SPRING, I feel as though we might not ever get to see a clear road, or worse yet...a clear trail EVER AGAIN. This is disturbing to me...but what am I suppose to do about it. NOTHING. So instead I sit here and dream of the day when the sun shines once again. Okay...enough of my whining. Onto bigger and better things.

I know I know...I haven't been around for awhile. My dear friend Sarah T. so bluntly reminded me of that on my birthday weekend. Between stuff at home and being severely behind on paperwork for my REAL JOB, this part of my life has fallen behind and for that I am sorry. 

Since I have written last much has happened. For one my race schedule has been narrowed down...or out...however you would like to interpret it. goes...

Mar 9: NHTI Spring Ahead 3 Miler 26:55 2nd Place in my age group
Mar 17: Lebanon Shamrock Shuffle 29:34
Mar 30: Gilmanton 5K
Apr 6: SEA 5K
Apr 14: B.A.A. Boston 5K
Apr 19: NHTI/Delta Dental 5K
Apr 20:Stonyfield EarthDay 5K
May 11: Canterbury Shaker Village XC 5K
May 19: Shires of Vermont Marathon
May 26: Red Hook Memorial 5K Team 2020 VisionQuest
June 1: Over the river and through the woods run for the animals 5K (maybe)
June 2: Covered Bridges Half Marathon (Running for Upper Valley Haven)
July 20: Bill Luti 5 miler
July 27: Bear Brook Trail Marathon
Sept 8: Heads Up Half Marathon
Sept 29: VT50
Oct 26: Ghost Train Rain Trail Ultra

I know there are a lot of 5K's in there. The majority of them are part of a series that happens here in New Hampshire called the Capitol Area Race Series. If you complete 6 out of the 7 races then you get a jacket. You know how much us runners LOVE swag in the form of clothing! The group of people who run it are a lot of fun and it is always a good time. 

Like I said above, my training has been lacking. Between work, home, the weather, etc etc, (I wonder how many other excuses I can come up with?), my time on the road and trails has been limited. I will be kicking it up about ten notches this week though as my schedule has slowed down a bit. 

So I am looking forward to getting back out there the way that I need to and it all starts with me right? Although that is very true I do appreciate all of my runner friends on social media helping me along. It really does truly help. I am motivated by what they do and say and I honestly feel a huge amount of support from them no matter what is happening in my life. But that is the way of the running community isn't it? Every once in awhile we might run, (no pun intended), across another in our community that I would label as a snob. However this does not happen very often. But when it does it can be devastating. 

Much like the field that I work in, (I work with recovering addicts and alcoholics), we all started at the bottom. We all started off by taking that first step out the door, huffing and puffing down the street only to realize that running is a lot harder than it looks. I think that as runners, when we feel like we are having a great day on the trails or roads we need to remember what it was like when we first started. When we forget the hardest of days/runs that got us to where we are today, we become that snobby, push people out of the way, type person. None of us want to become that. Sometime I find myself heading there and I need to remember that first day, gasping for air. That is what keeps running fresh for me. And that is what makes our community so great. We were all at the same place at one point. It is our common thread. 

Okay...enough of the sappy stuff. 

I want to end this with a review on a product that I tried. EnergyBits

I always have problems with my stomach when I run. It doesn't matter what I have tried to eat before I run or how long I have waited after food to lace up the Newtons; I always end up feeling like I ate shards of glass. It is HORRIBLE. Until now.

After some griping and complaining on Twitter about my stomach woes, Jonathan Levitt from EnergyBits contacted me and told me about their product. These "bits" are made up of 100% Spirulina Algae and packed with bunches of protein, amino acids, omega-3, antioxidants, B vitamins and other minerals.

Needless to say I was intrigued mainly because the product seemed to be all natural, and veggie. (I do not eat anything with eyeballs.) With my interest piqued Jonathan sent me a sample. 

The bits came in a small metal container. Perfect for tossing into your gym bag before heading off to a new trail or to a race. Now, I was warned that the taste of these little gems are "acquired", so I knew to not chew them but rather swallow them like a pill. The recommended amount to be used before activity or in the morning, or basically when you want to, is 30 bits. For me that seemed extreme and knowing how my tummy likes to make a mockery out of me, I decided to start off with only 15. 

15 was the perfect number for me. I swallowed 15 bits about 30 minutes before my first race of the year. Okay, cool. Stomach feeling OK. The race began and I was feeling pretty good. Actually, I was feeling fantastic! I even managed the one hill in that race without breaking a sweat or wanting to puke on the runner in front of me. When I can around the quad to the finish line and saw my time I was FLOORED. No way...I DID NOT just run this three miles in 26:55. Not without any stomach pain or anything!!! This had to have been some mistake. Okay...good first try on the bits. 

Last weekend I ran in a local 5K that has significant hills and I HATE. Again, about 30 minutes before the race I swallowed 15 bits. (This time with a banana because the taste is indeed acquired.) I do not think I even noticed the hills this year and I was able to have full  conversations with one of the XC coaches from a local college while running! EnergyBits gave me HUGE energy and NO UPSET STOMACH! I am completely sold on this product. 

Okay all...that's enough from me for one day! Happy running and HURRY SPRING!! See you on the trails!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

So Little Time...Where do I fit in?

I have found that the most frustrating thing about running is finding the time to do it. When you work a 45+ hour week and have a kid and a husband to take care of, not to mention two dogs and three cats, finding the time to get a run in is difficult. Thankfully I have been able to squeeze some short runs in on my work days. This I am thankful for. However, I am in need of kicking the mileage up a notch or two. Now where am I going to find the time for that? Maybe if I check eBay...

Okay I am off that soapbox about time. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

I am still on my running streak. So far so good for the year 2013! I normally have a day or three of rest planned so this is a new adventure for me. Suitably though this streak fits in with my wackiness. I tend to do things gung-ho style and I will go all out. My concern is burn out. I really do not want to get burnt out on one of my "self helps", (as a therapist I need self care techniques or I will go coo-coo for cocoa puffs if you know what I mean).

Running is used as a self care, or self help technique for those crazy days where I have a lot of transference going on with my clients. I tend to hear a lot of crazy stuff and sometimes really traumatic stuff. I need to be able to compartmentalize what I am hearing and running helps me to do that. So you can see why I have a fear of burn out. My guess is that is why I have kept my mileage low during this streak. In my mind as long as I keep  my mileage low I won't get burnt out. I will keep my fingers crossed! :-)

On the subject of self care, (something other than running...WATCH OUT WORLD!!!), I also use the technique of Zentangling or tangling. This is a kind of doodling that one can learn that will keep you focused or in the moment. I find it incredibly helpful for self care. While some of the examples may look difficult, the technique is actually so easy. All of the designs and patterns are repetitive. If you can draw a stick figure you can doodle using this technique. Here are some of mine...

A Christmas card

Down time at home

Classroom doodle

This pattern is called Betweed

Made when I was having an anxiety attack. This doodle snapped me out of it.

THIS is my tag line. LIVE FULL COLOR!!

So while running is great I sometimes need to have some sit and quiet time. Although I also do my tangling during trainings, while listening to a podcast, sitting in a class, or sometimes just because I feel like my thoughts are unorganized and need to get grounded.

These are some of the things I love to do that help me to take care of me. I wanted to pass these things on to you. I will periodically toss out different things as I write entries  Because if we don't take care of ourselves...who will?? We might as well have some fun while we do it right??

Happy running...or tangling...or doodling...or skydiving... <3

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New goals...

So first off let me apologize for not being around for the past couple of months. The holidays...yadda yadda yadda.

With that being said...HAPPY NEW YEAR! And a happy one it will be too. I can promise you all that this year will be so much better than 2012. Although 2012 was not all bad. I ran my first and second half marathon AND beat my goal times. I ran in my first mini-ultra which was a blast and now I am hooked. And last but not least...I got a PR for my 10K time. So yes, 2012 brought some good adventure as well and I am looking forward to more.

I have already signed up for a few races for 2013. The Shires of Vermont Marathon is in mid-May seems promising and beautiful with literally no elevation gain. I am running the Covered Bridges Half Marathon in June for the Upper Valley Haven in Hartford, VT. (Please be aware that I will be fundraising for this run!) My ultimate goal will be the VT50 in September. There will be a lot of running between now and then to get ready for that. Thankfully I have the Streakers! group to help me stay running and motivated.

The goal of the Streakers! is to run at least 2 miles every day for the month of January and into February if possible. (Thank you Sherpa John for creating this group and challenge!) Each day is to be documented.
There is an optional naked mile to be ran on January 31st. I am still unsure how I feel about being naked in frigid New Hampshire weather, let alone having to have photo proof that I did it. First of all I believe that sports bras were invented for a reason. I like to have my girls firmly squished against my chest when running. I don't appreciate a lot of movement up there. Secondly, I am not sure who wants to see my backside all shiny, white, and covered with goosebumps running/streaking down the road in only running shoes, gloves, and a hat. I mean seriously, where in the hell am I suppose to put my iPod!!?? not answer that. PLEASE.

Well then...
So far I have completed two days of my running streak. Day one was great. I completed 3.38 miles in 32:28. Not too bad for not having ran in over a month due to life and holidays. Day two shall I explain it...DAMN COLD. It was 4 degrees when I left my house and the wind chill was around -8. I had icicles hanging off my eyelashes. I ran a measly 2.69 miles in 26:41. Not as fast and I blame the cold and headwind. (Hey I can blame who and what I want to thank you!!) My husband waited for me to get home and had a warm towel right out of the dryer for me. It was a welcomed sight and helped to thaw my face.
I can only imagine what tonight's run will be like. Last I checked it was -11 outside. Goody.

Ok well I am done rambling for now. I am off to prepare for tonight and my thawing out process to follow.

Happy feet are running feet!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Smells like...

Strapping on my brand new Newtons this afternoon I found myself ready to roll. (I missed my purple Terra Momentums but felt I needed to give my Aqua ones a chance too!)
Aqua Terra Momentum

I had no plans to go out too fast or too far for that matter. My goal was to run about 5 miles and soak up some of the sun that has seemed to be hiding lately. The cool air was refreshing and my normal route inviting.

Haverhill-Bath Covered Bridge

I love where I live. The seasons are beautiful, (even winter when I am FREEZING), and the landscape is gorgeous. Where I run is especially nice.

Ammonoosuc River in Woodsville/Bath, NH...My view as I run.

Normally the route that I run is relatively quiet with little to no traffic. Today was a different experience.
My husband, Robert, came with me today and rode his bike as I ran. I enjoy that time away from the kids to be able to get some talk time that we do not always get. Unfortunately, much of this run was spent dodging dump trucks. 
Yes, DUMP TRUCKS. A lot of them. It seemed as if the areas dump truck brigade had decided to convene in one of the many corn fields that line the back road where I run. Not only were my husband and I dodging the dump trucks driven by men who couldn't keep their eyes on the road and seemed to like the view of my attire, but we also were having to endure some smells. There was the wonderful wafting smell of diesel exhaust but also the smells of what the trucks were carrying. Poo. Smells like Poo.
The dump trucks were bringing truck load after truck load of manure to line the desolate corn fields with. Now I am all for natural fertilization of the local farms in the area. However, I do not enjoy it being done while I am on my run. Maybe I should let them know my training schedule so that I may run in peace and not have my nasal passages infiltrated with such a putrid smell. 

With that being said, I had a pretty successful run. I ran down River Rd for about 2.5 miles and then back home. I had a headwind for most of the way there, which made the smell that much better, and zoned in on a steady pace on my way home. Maybe part of that was my goal to get as far away from the smell as possible. Or maybe I am just getting stronger. Either way, I was steady.

Returning home I noticed I took 10 seconds of my time per mile and felt strong. 

I found it funny that on this app that "running" is spelled incorrectly!

So that was my running adventure of dump trucks and poo. My husband was a trooper through all of it and was able to keep me laughing and not gagging through the smells. 

My next adventure...the 20th Annual Hanover Turkey Trot 10K on Sunday! Maybe I will see the running turkey heads again this year. My goal is to run it in under an hour. We will see how I am feeling at the start! 

Love, peace, and running shoes!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Always telling...

I am always telling people to "Live in the moment". Well what does that mean exactly? I am not so good at being able to do that myself so who am I to tell someone to do that?
The answer is this: I have no idea.

I try my very best to stay in that moment, and yet it always seems that my past is dragging me down. Or what is worse; my future of the unknown, of what could be, is always clouding my mind. My wishlists, my what ifs, and my why can't my life be better or different. Rather than focusing on what is right in front of me, my brain takes that detour goes elsewhere.

So my life is full of all kinds of wondrous things. I have an amazing husband and wonderful children that I adore. My job is fulfilling for the most part but there are challenges with that as well. I know for me personally, working with criminal offenders that have addictions is incredibly difficult at times. I need to stay on my A game and really be able to focus on self care. I know that for me, when my self care has gone to the wayside I get cranky, mean, snappy, and for the most part people just piss me off.  That is when I know I need a break. I have burn out. THAT is what got me back into running.

Running has become my therapy. When I run it is just me. I can focus on how my body is feeling and reacting. I can focus on some of the crap that has clogged my brain and then flush it out. I can be with JUST ME. Running gets me back in the moment.

So why write about it? Well, for starters writing is another self care tool that I use to get some of the sludge out of my head. Also, I believe that writing about my goals will make them more real and tangible. I need that, otherwise it is too easy for me to just brush those goals aside.

So lets talk about goals. Running races is something I have always done but never on a larger scale. Participating in local 5K's and 10K's have been fun and I will continue to do so. I had the opportunity to run in my first half marathon on October 7th. The Diva Half Marathon in Long Island was a blast! That was when I discovered that I am more comfortable and efficient running longer distances.
On October 21st I ran in the CHaD Hero Half Marathon. My head was not in the game that day, but considering the hills on that course I still did alright.
On October 28th I ran in my first mini ultra (so to speak), at the Ghost Train Rail Trail Race. It was a 15 mile trail race in Milford, NH. NOW, with that being said, there were others there running the 100 mile race that had started the day before. The atmosphere was amazing and I quickly found myself craving to run even further. That was when my new goals came to mind. (Oh and I felt amazing running those 15 miles and had a really great race, especially for starting 5 minutes AFTER they blew the whistle to start.)

My new goal thus far for 2013 is this.  I WILL run the VT50 in September. As a  midway point goal I am registered for the Shires of Vermont Marathon in May. I am sure I will have some other races in between.

So, those are my goals. I am hoping that keeping a written blog about my training and how this new process is going will keep me in check and held accountable. At the very least I will have a place that I can spout off, complain, whine, moan, laugh, and most likely cry.

With that said...Enjoy my ramblings.

Love, peace, and running shoes!