The Week After COVID


22 Feb – Monday

Today is my first day released back into the wild. And by “into the wild” I mean, I can get my own groceries and go into a restaurant to get my own pick up instead of requesting “no contact delivery.” That is my extent of going anywhere for now. And can I say, coincidence that today is National Margarita Day??

I celebrated by kicking my own ass before work with a workout that my friend Angie sent me over the past weekend. I’m glad I didn’t attempt it earlier than today, though. Because of my drained energy levels, I wouldn’t have gotten near the workout I did today which would have led to frustration that I couldn’t keep up with anything. I already cried during yoga last week when I couldn’t do down dog because of my sinus congestion which lead to a throbbing headache if my head was lower than my heart. I didn’t need to add to any frustrations by trying some workout I wasn’t ready for. So thank goodness for waiting. And lemme tell ya what… that was NOT easy! Squats, lunges, and burpees galore. The set up of the video was refreshing because you’re not getting talked at. At all. There’s music and a video inset in the corner of what’s coming next. If you’d like a new cardio workout to try, I highly recommend trying Growingannanas “30 MIN CALORIE KILLER HIIT Workout – Full body Cardio, No Equipment, No Repeat.” While doing 30 mins of squats and lunges was difficult, the cardio part of it was a little harder than usual.

I felt winded while doing this workout, but this was a tough workout. I should make note that my HR spiked to 152 multiple times during the workout. This is well within the normal range for me so I wasn’t all that worried, but still something I plan to keep track of. I need to go back and look at the other HIIT workouts to see where I was getting during those so I have some sort of reference.

I am curious to see how sore my legs will be tomorrow! But the real question now is how tired I will be later. I have noticed that I didn’t really feel all that affected during my workouts, but it’s later that I’m just completely wiped. I’m having trouble concentrating for longer periods on time at work, and I’m getting way more tired than I usually am. And for reference, I am notorious for standing at my desk for 6 hours before I realize what time it is, and I had zero trouble concentrating. I never really felt like I needed a break. But now, it’s like 2 hours, and I need to walk away. It’s frustrating not being able to just snap back to where I was and doing all the thing I’m used to doing.

23 Feb – tuesday

Ian and I stayed up late playing Risk last night, so now I feel like today won’t be a good judge of my tiredness. Especially because yesterday was National Margarita Day, so we definitely partook in that… more than once. And alcohol always disrupts my sleep. But today is the last day on the booze train, and I am back to my no drinking streak. I went almost 3 months without drinking and ended it around Christmas, so it’s time to stop drinking again.

My legs didn’t really feel too sore. I mean, I could tell that I worked out, but it wasn’t a “I need to use the sink to stand up from the toilet” kind of sore. I am not going to lie, it is always disappointing not getting sore after a workout, but then I know it is a good indication to switch up what I’m doing and/or add some weight to it.

Today was also my first run back post-COVID! I couldn’t resist waiting to run until over lunch, though instead of the morning. 40 degrees! In Wisconsin! In February? Say what what?! It was sunny and I was feelin great. My plan was to do somewhere between 2-3 miles without a pace in mind and no real goal in mind other than to just see how I felt and go for it. And that I did! I didn’t even really notice my pace until I was at 2.8 miles when I felt a little heavy in the lungs and my HR was elevated to 189. Oops. I went back to check previous runs at that pace. I was keeping somewhere between 140-150 average for the run with a spike or two up to 160. So to see 189 I knew it was a bit high. Now that could be because of COVID. It could be because I took some time off running. It could be because of who knows what else. While I’m not going to worry about it yet, it’s just all things I need to actually document out otherwise I will forget. Thank god for Strava/Garmin right? So easy to just go back and look. Speaking of looking back at data, I did also go back and find some HIIT workouts that I was doing and my HR was right on par. Yesterday it was 152, and previously it’s been between 150-156, so that made me feel better, but, again, not to sound redundant, still something I’m keeping track of… hence the entire reason for this blog this week. ūüôā

As the day went on, I could feel my glutes and hips feel a little sore. Finally! Yay! My quads though didn’t really feel much, but I have been so used to using weights, so I’m not surprised that they weren’t sore by only using body weight. I need to look into heavier weights, but, thanks quarantine, everything is out or WAY too expensive. So I can use my measly two 5 lb and two 10 lb weights, and then I can get creative with whatever heavy items we have in the house. Maybe I’ll just go borrow a toddler.

24 FEB – WedneSDAY

I woke up wanting more sleep. As per usual lately. We even went to bed early, and I kept to my word of no booze. I wanted to get up and do my usual Wed workout. Well as usual as I can with a modified running schedule, so I shouldn’t say *usual.* But I planned to do abs/arms this morning, but I just couldn’t bring myself to get up and do it. I laid in bed not wanting to get up, but I knew I needed to get going and log into work. I decided to do a 15-min yoga session. It was the perfect length to get my body moving and wake my muscles up without much effort put into it.

The brain fog seems a bit significant. It’s frustrating to feel out of focus. It’s not something I’m used to feeling. I can typically sit down and do a task because I’m supposed to and it doesn’t feel like a chore. But lately I’ve felt like I had to force myself to get things done. I don’t normally have to read things multiple times to grasp a simple concept.

Because of this brain fog, I planned to try and take strategic breaks at work. I know I know, we are allowed breaks during the day. This isn’t me trying to justify why I’m taking a break, it’s just more so noting this because I never took them. I never needed them. But today, I knew I had a conference call (for 2 hours eep) so I took the walk just before that. I walked to the grocery store since we needed a few things, and then walked home. Ended up with 1.75 miles. It felt good to get up and stretch my legs, which are no longer sore. Ha. Short-lived soreness, but I do like how quickly I can recover.

The one thing I think that has really helped me while not able to run is continuing to do yoga and low-intensity weight workouts at home. I’m definitely grateful that I didn’t have to be hospitalized. I wasn’t completely knocked out with a fever and flu-like symptoms. I didn’t have Tom Hanks level of tiredness. I had COVID days through work that I could have taken, but I didn’t. I work from home. I was up and about and would have been antsy throughout the day if I took those days. So I choose to work. I didn’t put in any OT like I usually do, but that’s not a requirement of my job. I do it because I enjoy my job and have a workaholic personality, which is an entirely different blog post topic I could talk about. But I digress.

I did a half hour of yoga after work. I was looking for a balancing series to start practicing working on my balance more for a bit of a challenge. The session I found with “Yoga With Adriene” was a great flow, but not quite what I was looking for. There was really only one balancing pose. It is a good reminder though that I still have the energy to even think about doing a yoga session and have the strength to get through all the vinyasas. Slow and steady back into a routine. Something is better than nothing, right?

25 FEB – thurSDAY

Oh hello Thursday. Friday Jr you. Well today was tough. I planned to meet up with my friend Sherri to run before work. 0630 start time. Should be great right? WRONG. I woke up with a near migraine and felt like I wanted to throw up. Unfortunately, headaches are a pretty common thing for me, but not as many as I had this week. I felt so guilty needing to cancel. I should have known better that my energy levels in the morning are just lacking. It’s such a struggle to get going. After Ian went to work, I ended up going back to sleep for an hour and not logging into work until 0830 again. It’s a weird feeling being as tired as I am all day. I don’t want to make plans to run with people in the morning now. At least not for a little bit. I hate cancelling. But I also know I don’t need to try and push it.

I chatted with three of my friends who had COVID and are also runners. They said it took upwards of 4-6 weeks to really feel back to normal. I won’t name drop since I respect privacy and I didn’t ask them if I could mention names. I am not happy that they have had to deal with COVID, but I am happy that I have people to discuss these things with. I’m well aware that anecdotal stories are not evidence of anything, but just hearing stories from my trusted friends make me feel less stressed about the tiredness. It makes me less worried about what is happening with my body, and it gives me hope that this will fade eventually. It may be a long month or so, but it should get better before I know it.

Advise I got:

Friend 1: “For two months, I was upset all the time. Luckily I could bike. But I love running and everyone was progressing around me. And I just felt bad physically and mentally. It gets better! Be patient. Don’t push yourself too hard. And don’t be mad at yourself.”

Friend 2: “I completely understand. It did eventually come around for me. The tiredness lasted about a month and then I had to build my endurance back up. It took 1.5-2 months to feel like myself again. Get the rest you need so that you get back to the usual!”

Friend 3: “The tiredness was just ridiculous. We did not have the energy to do squat… The problem now is building back up. My lungs took a beating. I still have to use an inhaler because of COVID.”

I mustered up some energy to go for a run over lunch. It wasn’t as sunny as Tuesday, but the fresh air felt nice. My legs felt a little heavy, but my lungs felt great. The one thing I feel is a little different than my friends is that I’m able to run the same pace for my 5Ks that I did before. I know at least two of them came back at slower paces before they were able to work back up. And who knows, maybe my longer runs will be that way, but I’ve only done two runs since and both were 5Ks. My 5K today, I dialed the pace back a tad from Tues to watch my HR, and surprisingly enough, my HR was just fine. It stayed at an average of 155 for a 9:47 pace. I was honestly surprised. I really expected to see a spike like I did on Tuesday, but I didn’t. I don’t have energy in the morning, but by afternoon I do. I suppose time will tell. But for now, I am going to continue to run unless my lungs feel off. Then it will be an immediate pause.

I was feeling great tiredness wise until after work. I had an ASL class to go to at 1830, but I ended up falling asleep on the couch after work for an hour and a half, so I missed class. Oops.

26 FEB – friDAY

Happy Friday! Even though I took an 1.5 hour nap yesterday, I still ended up going to bed at 2100. I get up at 0530 with Ian when he goes to work, but I ended up laying in bed trying to fall back asleep for an hour. I’ve never slept so much in my life, but I am not fighting it. It know I need it. I probably sound like a broken record this week with all the “i’m tired” and “i’m tired of being tired” thoughts. And if you’ve read this far into the long all blog post, I’m sure you are tired of hearing it too. Ha.

The work day felt normal at least. Brain fog still a little there, but it’s also Friday. I feel like that’s normal. I decided that I wasn’t going to make a set time for running tomorrow. Whenever I got up and felt like going, I would. Less expectation of myself and that way I wouldn’t be disappointed. So I had no real bed time to make since I didn’t need to set an alarm to get up.

I have been working more on getting a strong core. It has helped so much with back pain and just feeling stronger. So I put on a 30 min yoga for core and booty that I found through Yoga With Adriene. And then I wanted to try another “balancing” series, so I did another 58 minutes after that. I do really need to start scrolling through videos before I do them. I have been disappointed with the ones that are labeled as “balancing” yoga lately. The one I did was great if you wanted to do a lot of vinyasa, but not so great if you were looking for balancing poses. There were a few, but not many. But in any case, I got in just about an hour and a half of yoga and didn’t really feel winded or anything afterwards. So that was a plus!

27 FEB – saturDAY

It felt really great to just sleep in and not wake up to an alarm clock. It’s been a rough week mentally and being able to just chill was the mental break I think I needed. Ian and I had a slow morning, made breakfast, then he read while I did some writing (catching up on this blog post actually). And then we decided around noon to go out for a run.

It was the run I needed. It was such a beautiful day out. 42 degrees. Barely windy. Ian was smart and had on a long sleeve and shorts. I had on leggings and a long sleeve shirt, which ended up coming off at mile 2. The sun on my skin gave me such energy. Ian was such a good sport and followed the crazy CityStrides path that I had created. We were talking during our run about how neither one of us have ever had a partner that we could run with and it was really nice to be able to do that together. I enjoyed having him on my run.

I do miss my running buddies though. I didn’t want to make any set plans with anyone because cancelling is something that just eats away at me and makes me feel super guilty. They knew I wasn’t making plans with them for this reason, and while I’m sure they would have understood, I just didn’t want to bare that guilt. But we will see what next week brings.

28 FEB – sunDAY

Sunday was a great recovery day. We spent the day in Oak Creek for Baylee’s birthday (which was yesterday, as she reminded us. Ha!) We made strawberry cupcakes from scratch, with a dairy-free buttercream strawberry frosting. Making dairy-free frosting was hard! But my sister cannot have dairy so I always try and find good recipes. We made a bit of a mess in the kitchen, but the girls had fun. (Here is the recipe we followed. We did not make it gluten free, so we used regular flour, but we did make it dairy free.) We picked up lunch from Kopps and brought it back to their house to hang out some more. It was good to see the kiddos since we weren’t able to because of COVID quarantines. But we were there nearly all day.

We got home close to 5, and I wanted to get some yoga in, so I found a core strengthening one I hadn’t tried yet. 40 mins and I swear it was ALL ABS. Highly recommend. (If curious, it’s another Yoga With Adriene session. Here.)

I have to say, that I’m really seeing the benefits of yoga. It’s helping flexibility. It’s aiding in my recovery. It’s helping grow some baby abs. There in there! And it’s something that I’ve really started to look forward to doing. I started doing yoga twice a week, then moved to doing two longer yoga sessions (at least 30 mins) twice a week plus doing short sessions (10-15 mins) after each run. And now I’m doing yoga just about every day. There are so many different kinds of yoga that are all free on YouTube, so there’s no real reason not to. I can get a slow relaxing restorative yoga, a workout vinyasa type yoga, a short “wake up” 10 min yoga before work, a meditative yoga… literally anything. There are some videos I keep coming back to, but I try and find new ones each week. I’m slowly seeing progress in flexibility, and definitely seeing progress in stamina during vinyasa.

There are a few things that I am working towards this year for yoga: I want to get in crow and be able to do a headstand. I’m a little afraid of being upside down, but it’s something I’m working on.


XOXO, Megs

If you’ve read through this whole thing, well high-five to you! I wanted to document everything I was feeling for the first week back and didn’t realize how much I would have to say or want to even document, but I’m glad I did. Something to look back on.

And here’s to hoping that next week doesn’t bring on as much tiredness!

New Year, Same Me

Oh hello 2021!

It’s that time of year when everyone reflects on the year and talks about how they are going to improve themselves the upcoming year: going to the gym more, working out, being a better person… whatever that may be.

I’ve never really been one to make resolutions in January. If I have a goal I’m thinking about, I don’t wait. Whatever month I am in, I just think about a plan of execution and go for it. Rarely is it in January. That is not to say that everyone who makes resolutions in January is doing it wrong. There is no wrong way to make goals. ūüôā I do however end up reflecting a lot in January. Part of that is because everyone else is. I see people doing recaps of the the year and seeing their own reflections of their lives so I end up getting reflective myself.

2020 threw us all for a loop. There isn’t one person who posted on January 1, 2020 that could have predicted what 2020 was going to bring. We posted about goals. We posted about our travel plans. We posted about all the things that we wanted to do in 2020… But surprise to us all, that didn’t happen. The inner battles we all fought and kept quiet will stick with us until we mentally deal with what we went through. Our human emotions are complicated and complex. While we know deep down that 2020 brought on external factors that kept us from doing what we wanted it, it’s still really hard mentally to accept the fact that we set out to do something and couldn’t. Even though we know there was nothing that we could do about it. We still blame ourselves. (At least I know I do.)

And it doesn’t matter to what extend that goes. A small goal and a large goal are relative. Whether it’s eating healthy, working out more, traveling to X amount of countries, trying to be a more patient person, stopping/cutting down on drinking alcohol, reading X amount of books, saving money, making your bed every day… what is a small goal to one may be a large goal to another. Regardless, not hitting a goal of whatever size, quite frankly, sucks. No one likes making a goal and not hitting it. We all needed to adapt in some way, shape, or form this year.

As we were living through 2020, it may have seemed like the worst year we could have ever lived through, but I’m going to try to choose to remember the good. Key word: try.

  • I started of New Years at my sister and BIL’s house with news that she was pregnant with their third. Wednesday morning breakfast club runs were in full swing, and I even started 5am weight training workouts at Westosha on Thursdays. Monday nights I was signed up for a run/yoga class at the Y which helped with my interval training.
  • February we had our KRC winter party and drank a bit much and danced the night away like there wasn’t a care in the world. I was consistently going to my nieces swimming classes Wed nights. I loved seeing their progress. I also started going to vinyasa hot yoga regularly and fell in love with the practice.
  • In march, I went with a friend to get her first tattoo. I went to my first ever swing dancing lesson in Milwaukee. And then in the middle of the month, we went on lockdown. It was then that I started a snapchat streak with my coworker Lisa. We joked that we should do it until we were back into the office again… (As of 1/15/21, we are on day 295). Joke’s on us right?
  • April brought on my 34th birthday. And while celebrated physically alone, it was my first zoom party. We had about 30 people in and out of zoom meetings… a bunch of us got waaaaasted. And thankfully no one had to drive home. It was an experience I never thought that I would have. Lizzie ran her first marathon, which we socially-distanced and supported her by driving on her route and waving. I also started my house buying journey.
  • May brought warmer weather and the first time I could see Ian in 2 months (since he was locked on base since March). We spend every day together for 2 weeks before he had to go back to base for lockdown for another month. While I was sad to see him go, I was just grateful for the time that we had. Along with the availability of online communication. I had also video chatted more people than I ever thought I would. I was able to reconnect with friends.
  • June was when I finally found a house that got an accepted offer. It was quite the journey, (I had put in offers 2 times and lost before getting this one accepted), so it was a huge weight off my shoulders to finally find something that I was excited to call home. June was also when I found out that my sister DeAnna was pregnant. Volleyball league was still going on despite COVID, but it was outside and I welcomed it. My nephew Jonah was born on June 21st.
  • July was Melissa’s first marathon, and I was so happy to be a part of running that distance with her and planning a surprise finish line. I was also grateful during this time for everyone who donated boxes so I could pack up my apartment life and get ready for homeowner life.
  • August brought on some interesting challenges. I needed to move out of my apartment at the end of July, but my house wouldn’t be done getting repainted for a few weeks. Ian was ever so grateful to let me stay with him and it was during that time that we realized we wanted to live together. My nephew Grayson was born on Aug 3rd. I also ran my first ultra on Aug 7th. There are no words to describe how thankful I am for the support I received during my run and my training. I had people hop in and out to run with me, or just to drive by and honk, but Lizzie biked the entire 50K with me and Melissa biked the last 20 mi. I value these friendships so much. A week later, Richard ran 50 miles and I was his bike support for 30 miles of it. I realized how much I enjoyed doing bike support!
  • Ah September. My least favorite month (even pre-COVID), but this time around, it was also one of favorite months. Least favorite just because it is a crazy work month, but my favorite for so many reasons. Ian and I officially officially moved in together, and I was able to surprise him for his 30th birthday with his family and best friend who came out from Cali here to Wisco. It’s the best surprise I’ve pulled off yet. And to top it off, I was able to celebrate one of my best friends Melissa finish her first ultra. Lizzie was a champ again and rode her bike for the full 35 miles. And I was able to help make her laugh the last few miles of her race. It made me sooo happy to see her accomplish that.
  • October was another long month with long work hours, but I still got in a few socially distance nights with some wine and friends. October was also when I decided to run 35 miles for my 35th birthday in April. I needed something to keep me going during the winter. I didn’t want to rely on a race to keep e motivated when 2021 may still have cancelled races due to COVID. So doing it on my own terms felt like my best (and more fun) option.
  • November I finally got to see Sokhon after lord knows how long… over a year? I’m not even sure. Too long that’s for certain. But I was happy she got to see the house!
  • December was a bit more of an emotional roller coaster that I would have liked, but the holidays made it better. Ian and I celebrated our one year together. We got a real tree. I may have nearly had a heart-attack while watching him climb on our roof to put up Christmas lights, but they looked so pretty.

Funny enough, after I wrote this entire blog above the separator line the first week of January, I told myself that I would finish it up and get it posted and make sure to start posting regularly. Somehow it’s January 15th, and I hadn’t finished it so here we go.


New year, same me. I still can’t keep to my blog schedule, but I’m keeping to my running schedule. Progress, right?

I need to look back at 2020 and not think how much it sucked that so many things I wanted to do were cancelled. Three trips: Montana for a half marathon with Kristy in June, a Trail Sisters retreat in Colorado in August, and Georgia for my ultra in September. And so many other things cancelled: girls night, wine and pasta nights, just hanging out at Captain Mike’s for a beer after a long day in the office, time spent with family, birthdays and weddings missed, not being able to go to my mom’s doctors appointments that she had to go alone for, not getting up to Door County, no mini-weekend adventures… and the list goes on.

I was still able to get outside. I got to run safely with my friends (even if we were on the opposite sides of the street). I video chatted more often than I ever thought I would, which actually helped my fear of being on camera. I was really able to connect with more friends on a deeper level because we were all going through nearly the same thing. I learned more about myself. I may not have read any books like I planned to, but I did learn what not to do with weight training.

Circling back to what I said earlier in my post, “While we know deep down that 2020 brought on external factors that kept us from doing what we wanted it, it’s still really hard mentally to accept the fact that we set out to do something and couldn’t. Even though we know there was nothing that we could do about it. We still blame ourselves. (At least I know I do.)” (yes I quoted myself.) I feel like I’m still working through a lot of 2020. I’d like to not carry that over into 2021, but it’s hard not to. We are what we experience. And we take those experiences with us. I just need to be able to get to the point of “Okay. I’m good. I am mentally ready to just tuck 2020 into bed and leave it alone.” I know I’ll get there, and I have enough friends who will run with me to keep me focused. Running has been such a great outlet for me since 2015, but most specifically, through 2020.

So with that… cheers to 2021 and the hopes that I will maybe, for once, keep an actual good log of my ultra training progress. I’m already at 22 miles tomorrow so we’ll probably have one more longer update to “catch up.” And then we can just hope for smooth sailing from there.

Happy 2021.

Cheers.

-Megs

Oh We’re Halfway There

At this point, I definitely feel like I am living on a prayer…

 

But let’s back up a bit.

JANUARY

January seemed to creep up on me. It was as though from Sept 28th, the day I signed up for the marathon, to Dec 31st, just flew by. And all of a sudden it was January and I now had a specific schedule to follow. January didn’t seem as daunting as I thought it was going to be. I kept up my running through the end of the year – doing running between 3 miles to 5 miles max. I tried to find a balance between not wearing myself out to not January“losing my base.” I also very much so enjoy running and my running club, so it was easier to keep going through the holidays. I felt prepared for January. There were a few days in the middle of the week that I was unable to run – or even truly think about reworking my schedule – so I didn’t feel all that guilty about it. In the past, I beat myself up if I didn’t follow my schedule exactly. I found that I would let that affect the rest of that week and I would miss even more running. I swore not to do that this time.¬† I had an important two-day work conference. Life happens. I didn’t let myself miss any of my long runs. I typically run Sat morning – in fact, about 90% of my long runs are on Saturday morning – but if something came up, I would do it on either Fri or Sun. As long as I got the long run in, I felt great.

It is really hard to not get caught up in the numbers game. I try to have a minimum of 80 miles per month; however, I ended January with 51.90 miles. I reminded myself what more frozenoverwas to come in March and April… more than I have ever ran, so I let myself not be so¬†focused on the number.

January had it’s challenges though. Cold weather running is a beast all on its own. I had to learn what worked and didn’t work for laying my clothes. The photos looked pretty, but it was chilly.¬† ¬†(Photo Frozen Over.¬†) We even hit some Canadian-cold weather with a -21 degree day… before windchill. And no, I did not run outside. In fact, I didn’t even get in my car to go to the gym. Our “feels like” temp was -50.¬† Frostbite in 5 minutes. No thanks. But alas, this was during the week so my long run wasn’t moved around.

FEBRUARY

Now, I know that this is Wisconsin, and I know what winter in the Midwest means. I’ve lived here my entire life. Snow. Cold. Dark. I was prepared for that. Well. I was more prepared for the cold than I was for the dark. The thing is, I’m actually a morning person. But there’s quite a difference in “Oh it’s 0430 and I can’t sleep, so I’m going to lay in bed Februaryand scroll through Facebook and scowl at the fact that Josh is a heavy sleeper and still sound asleep” to “Oh my gosh is 0430! I need to get out of bed and find my 576439 layers of clothes and get out the door and START RUNNING by 0500/0530.” It’s a way different feeling. The darkness made it very hard to get up.¬† When I was asked, “How did you get up?” “What was your motivation? It’s so early!”¬† Part of it is the fear of “well if I don’t slowly increase my mileage, I could overexert some muscles and pull something.” And it’s true. There are reasons that professional lay out a training plan they way they do. Slowly increasing mileage is the safest way to train. So part of my “motivation” was fear. May sound silly I realize this, but it’s the truth.

Another part is having accountability buddies. It really makes such a huge difference. I will not cancel a run if I know I’m meeting someone.¬† Plus, sometimes my work days are just too unpredictable. I cannot always guarantee that I can run by a certain time, so early morning plans were necessary. Did I whine about it? Absolutely. It was barely 0 degrees. We are allowed to whine about it.¬†¬†I truly tried to give myself the first few minutes of running to whine about how cold it was. But that was it. Why focus on it?¬†Unless I plan to move, this is what I get. (Let’s be real though… if I move more south, I’m going to whine about the heat in the summer…)

February is the shortest¬†month, yet I somehow jam packed a lot of things into my month.hearthimom I started doing more cross training – which included lifting weights at the gym and¬†snowshoeing.¬† I had done weight training in the past, but just never kept up with it.¬† Snowshoeing is a new adventure that I am learning to love. If it’s going to snow, I may as well enjoy it right?? I planned a¬†Valentine’s Day run¬†with the Kenosha Running Club. It was¬†another early morning run but I have to say, making fun shapes really helps the time go by quicker! ¬†I planned a weekend get-away in Galena with Josh the last weekend of the¬†month (it was our 6 year anniversary), which prompted me to have to run on a Friday instead of the weekend. So I created a route for my mom as a surprise. I mapped out a “Hi Mom“- it truly helped get me through when I just wanted to be done. I closed out February with 91.60 miles.¬†

It might look like I have it all together. I’ve been asked for advice, “So how do you do it? How do you fit it all into your schedule?” And the truth is — I don’t. I have inner struggles every day that I don’t always advertise to people. Some days I do. Some days I don’t. I’ve had to rearrange social events. I’ve had to tell people “no you can’t come visit in March and April because I will be too exhausted to actually hang out with you.” I have really long days. I typically work 45-50 hours a week, so in order for my work to not suffer, I NEED those 0500 or 0530 runs.¬† I try my hardest to commit to hill training with the running club, but being somewhere by 1700 on a weekday is incredibly difficult. I’ve had to tell people “No I can’t hang out Friday night – Sat is my long run.” more times than I can count. And now, Wednesdays are up to 7 miles… starting 8 miles next week.¬† I’ve pushed off cleaning my house, which was NOT a good idea. It stressed me out even more.¬† (Don’t worry, it’s clean now! Josh and I spend 4 hours cleaning last Sunday.)¬† Finding a balance it really difficult. I’ve felt like I needed to apologize to people for not being around… and I’m only half-way through this journey. The next two months are going to really pick up.

Fitting in time for Josh, my family and friends, running/working out (including Hot Yoga and cross-training), my job, including some social media work on the side, meal planning and keeping up with the house and the dreaded laundry, it has left little time for blogging – which I really love to do – but most importantly, just me time. I need a mental health day.¬† I am trying some new time management tactics this next month, which is starting with taking a mental health day on Monday. No work. No running. No social hanging out. My plan is to go to Hot Yoga in the morning (I will need it since I’m running 15 miles on Sunday), then get my office at home organized, and then just catch up on some TV shows. Knowing myself, I will probably only be able to sit on the couch for two hours, but hey – baby steps.¬† Whiteboards are my new best friend and I have ordered one for my office… I’m slowly putting together a post of what’s been working and not working for time management, so after a month, I should have something ready. Boom.

“So if it’s that much work and you don’t have time for it, why are you doing it?” (Yes, I’ve actually been asked this…)¬† Because it’s a challenge. Because it’s pushing my beyond a point I’d never thought I’d be. Because it’s helping me grow. Because it’s helping me better my time-management. Because I’m healthier at nearly 33 than I was at 23. Because it’s teaching me discipline. Because I am capable.

Because. I. Can.

As of March 3, 2019, I am halfway through marathon training. I’m halfway there. HALFWAY! Livin’ on coffee and dreams (and carbs and Honey Stingers and protein powder) over here.

Here’s what’s to come:

March

April

(Special thanks to Molly who put together this calendar!)

On that note, Happy International Women’s Day! And thank you to everyone who has been supporting me along the way!

Cheers to early morning and frosty hair.

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New Challenges. New Beginnings: Marathon Training – How I Got Here

The second I crossed the finish line for my first half-marathon in 2016, people started¬†asking me, “So, when’s your marathon?” Running a half-First Half-marathonmarathon for the first time was so emotional. My family was there at the finish line. I kept telling myself to “keep it together,” but I could feel my eyes started to get watery. And from so much mental fatigue, I just let it happen. A few tears had started falling down my face: first because I was just so happy to have crossed the finish line, but second because I was laughing at myself for crying in the first place. And my niece was the cutest. I wanted to hold her, but I was so exhausted, so a photo on the ground was the safest.

I did not think I’d run a marathon.

At the end of July 2016, I did one of those Inflatable races in Madison and jammed my knee. You’d think it was because of the running — nope. It was because I slid down a slid and the ground just came up too

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quickly and BOOM. My knee jammed when i hit the ground.¬† ¬†I did some PT stretches and weights for my knee, and I was cleared to run my half-marathon at the end of August. I knew I wasn’t going to be going for a PR, but I had already signed up with my work, and we were sponsored. So I ran it, well, I walked most of it.

I definitely did not think about running a marathon then.

I’m pretty sure I had some major runner’s high in 2016, and not because I had racked up a ton of mileage, but because I was doing new things. I had signed up for 3 half-marathons. I couldn’t tell you now what possessed me to do that. I do remember that I had signed up for these right away, not realizing how close the dates were to the last two, but I was just really ready to take on the challenge. The 3rd one was in September 2016. This half-marathon went pretty well, despite the rain. The scenic route made it easy to forget how far I had left to go.

Third Half-Marathon

Even though I had a 4 minute PR, I still didn’t think about running a marathon.

2016 running season ended. Not a marathon thought passed through my mind. It only came up when other people would ask me about running a marathon. I had zero intentions of it. “You really want me to run 26.2 miles? I think not.”

May 2017, I ran a half-marathon by myself. And, by that I mean, I trained for it alone. I drive up there alone. I had no¬†one waiting for me at the finish line. I grabbed lunch Kings&Queens Half-Marathonby¬†myself. And drove home by myself.¬† Any race that I do, I typically end up running by myself, even if I come with other people. I know everyone is at different places in their running journey, so I can’t expect someone to run NEXT to me the whole time. But Pewaukee, I was literally by myself. It was something new for me. Not having anyone around to celebrate. While that may seem sad and depressing, it was a really powerful feeling. Doing my absolute best with no one watching was oddly satisfying.

I still didn’t think about training for a marathon.

My 5th half-marathon was in Colorado. I did want to train to actually run it, but my friend was nervous about the altitude change, so we agreed ahead of time to walk it. This particular race didn’t have a time-limit, so it was perfect for that. I brought my camera and took some breathtaking photos in the mountains. It was amazing to have finished my 5th half-Colorado Half-Marathonmarathon, but there was also this feeling of “did I REALLY¬†finish it?” just because we didn’t run it. It didn’t feel as much like an accomplishment as the rest of my races, but I was still really happy that we did it.

I most definitely didn’t think about training for a marathon after this.

October 2017 was the most emotional race I have ever run (even to date.) My brother-in-law’s grandma had passed and running was something he turned to. He expressed interest in running a half, so I said I would do it with him. He trained with his daughter Baylee, pushing her in the stroller every mile. He was THE ONLY one who pushed a stroller in the

screenshot_20190211-165931.pnghalf-marathon.¬† This race wasn’t even my best time. I actually got sick half-way through it¬†(pretty sure it was from what I had eaten the night before). So not only was there a ton of emotion from pushing through a stomach ache, but seeing my family and Chris at the finish line… I don’t think there will ever be words to describe that.¬† This could be an¬†entire blog post as it is, so I’ll leave you with our photo.

And, yup, you guessed it — I still didn’t think about a marathon!

 

 

This was of great surprise to a lot of people. I had finished 6 half-marathons with no intention of running a marathon.  I wanted to set some more challenging

2018

goals for 2018, but a marathon just wasn’t one of them. And I was 100% okay with this decision. It wasn’t¬†something that weighed heavily on me. Not one bit. No one was going to make me feel¬†guilty for not running a marathon. I decided to do Ragnar, so that was a huge step for me. And I also wanted to beat my half-marathon time. ¬†I knew I would need to change¬†what I was doing for training. I had slacked on cross-training: whether it was weight¬†lifting or swimming or literally ANYTHING else other than running. My friend Sarah convinced me to sign up at the Kenosha YMCA with her, so I did.¬† I also signed up to run 2,018 miles in 2018 with my friend Sokhon as a team of 2. (So 1,009 miles a person).¬† My highest mileage ever for a year was around 650 or so. So shooting for 1,000 scared me.

March 3rd, 2018

My first run with Kenosha Running Club. And the day my life changed — I just didn’t know it yet. I felt so accepted. The first thing I told Josh was, “I found my people.”¬† I made more and more friends who I eventually opened up and shared my goals with:

  • Running 1,000+ miles in a year
  • Running Ragnar
  • Getting a half-marathon PR
  • Running from my house in Kenosha to my mom’s house in Racine.

I will save the anticipation — I accomplished every single one of these goals. Every Single. One.

My half-marathon was May 5th. I shaved off another 3 mins from my PR time. screenshot_20190211-171855.png

I did not think about running a marathon.

Ragnar was May 18th-19th. This should really be another blog post as well.¬† My three legs weren’t very long, but running on no sleep, and not a lot of food was challenging! screenshot_20190211-172032.pngI did not think about running a marathon..

Looking back, though.. the next few months is when the seeds started to get planted. I just didn’t know it yet.¬† Throughout the next few months of making friends in KRC, I had expressed how I wanted to run from my house in Kenosha to my mom’s house in Racine — and some of my friends hopped right on board! 17 miles. It would be the longest I had ever run.¬† Also during these few months, I was asked to do the Ragnar Trail in Sept. It would perfectly align with running to

my mom’s¬† so I hopped on board to that too!

When the day came to run to my mom’s I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I was going 17 Miles to¬†be. But there was just not any pressure to be done by a certain time. The day before, I¬†dropped my car off at my mom’s along with everyone’s bag for a change of clothes. I planned the route, including where all the gas stations were for water and bathroom breaks. I was prepared. It was the most fun run I have ever done. We even joked about how we weren’t that far off from the marathon training plan.

For the first time ever, I toyed with the idea of running a marathon.

Ragnar Trail

Ragnar trail came and went, and marathon training was in the back of my head.

“You know, when you train for a marathon, you only run up to mile 20. You’ve ran up to 17 miles already. That’s only 3 runs that you haven’t run the distance for yet.”

 

 

 

And that’s how it happened.

Three weeks after running to my moms and running my second Ragnar trail, it hit me. I COULD do this. I knew I had the support system. I had so many people I could run with. Okay, so there were also margaritas involved.¬† BUT, whenever people ask me why I decided to run a marathon- it just isn’t quite a simple answer. It took me a long time to wrap my mind around running a half-marathon, and here I am training for a marathon.

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I’m going to honest though, It still doesn’t quite feel like I am training for a marathon yet. The distances I’m running now are all for a half-marathon. I think my mind is secretly tricking me, but I’ll figure it out real quick after the end of this month when I’m not stopping at 13 miles…

I plan to post more of my marathon chronicles every Monday. Time got a little away from me, but better late than never!

Cheers to sore legs.

 

 

When You Run, You Win the Day

Megan, that is some life you‚Äôve already had for a young person. Judging by the progress on your bucket list it seems like you‚Äôre winning… Depression is, rightly, being more recognised and accepted as an illness. Have you found (or not) that your running helps you in this regard? Oh, and what‚Äôs your target time for your half-marathon?

Roy McCarthy
Blog: https://backontherock.com/

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Hi Roy!

Thanks for stopping by! I definitely feel like I’m winning at life, although, I cannot say that I always have felt this way. Our inner struggles might make us who we are, but understanding them is quite difficult. It isn’t until we truly understand and accept what lies within us, that we can overcome it.

I shut a lot of people out at an early age. I was seven when my parents got divorced, and, for a long time, I thought it was my fault. (Mom, I know you’re reading this, so don’t worry, I haven’t felt this way in ages. Love you!) I wasn’t one of those kids who turned to the school books to distract me. I was a very average child when it came to school. But sports kept me going. I started basketball in 5th grade and, while I wasn’t the best on the team, I certainly wasn’t the worst. Our practices in grade school weren’t very intense — I mean, we were in grade school, not in college — but going to practice and running up and down the court and learning the plays kept me occupied enough to not have to think about depression.

In every single stage of my life, running and sports have pulled me through. I have something to focus on. Something that didn’t necessarily require me to engage with other people emotionally. I had my teammates and while I didn’t trust them to keep any of my secrets, I trusted that they wanted to win as much as I did so we performed well as a team.

It was funny though… I always had this want to be around people. I didn’t like being alone. I wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t know how to be alone. I would surround myself with my basketball or volleyball teammates, but not have any friends. They were my teammates. They were not my friends. I had a very very small group of friends once I got to high-school, but it was a very close-knit group of about 5 girls. And that’s it. But I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

Now my experience and thoughts on my actual high-school days isn’t all that revolutionary. High-school is high-school. Filled with unnecessary drama and a lot of awkwardness. I think it’s pretty safe to say that the majority of people in high-school have suffered depression to a certain degree. I was wont who turned to sports because of it.

Throughout college, I dealt with failing a few classes, switching majors, boyfriend drama, the death of my grandma and my grandpa within a year and a half of each other, learning the hard way how to handle money which lead me to $0 to my name, transferring schools and switching my major again. But through all of that, the one thing I really enjoyed was volleyball. I was on the Club Volleyball team at my first college, and then I joined an intramural team at the second college. Since I started volleyball in 7th grade, there had not been one year that passed where I didn’t play on a team. (Even to this day! I play sand volleyball every summer.) Going to practice and focusing on how to better pass the ball or how to serve in the spot I wanted to – those things kept me from falling into the trap of self-loathing. I have always had the tendency to get into a slump and focus on the bad things in my life. It wasn’t a constant throughout my entire college experience, but it happened often enough to affect my friendships and relationships. Admittedly, I wasn’t all that great at dealing with it in college. I thankfully have a few friends from that time in my life who stuck around. Most of my friendships from then faded away, but that isn’t something I dwell on anymore.

Ironically, I didn’t really enjoy running all that much until after college. I was a seasonal runner for the longest time. I would run only during the summer, and it was never consistent. About a year and a half ago, I really started getting into running. June 18th 2016 I ran my first half-marathon ever. I ran two more after that. And thus year, I have three more scheduled in the books. I finally call myself a runner. And not even a seasonal runner – I have ran in all of the seasons. The hottest it’s been was around 90 and the coldest has been around 15 degrees F. I’ve rain in pouring rain and snow. Not going to lie, I felt pretty bad ass running in the snow.

runRunning has become such a lifeline for me. And, to be honest, I really wish I would have started running sooner. Because running releases endorphins, it just makes me feel like a rockstar when I’m done running. And that will happen to everyone. I really believe it will. Now, don’t let running fool you. It is very much so a mental game. I can’t tell you how many times I have said “WHY AM I DOING THIS?” or “I HATE RUNNING” while I was running. But I have never once been done with a run and said “well that wasn’t worth it.” Because it’s worth it every single time. It’s almost like an addiction at this point. A healthy addiction. Now if that isn’t an oxymoron!

Running or any other form of exercise has been proven time and time again to help reduce stress levels and help lower your depression. The endorphins that get released while exercising interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.

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If anyone is looking to start running, just know that it is never too late! I’ve read about so many 90 year olds, yes ninety, that still run – some of whom didn’t even start to pick up running until well after retirement. I encourage people to try the Couch to 5K app. It’s amazing. It helped me get started with running. You can find their website here for more information: http://www.c25k.com/ It’s a free app as well, so there’s nothing to lose!

When you run, you win the day.

Love always,
Megan
#CaffeinatedOpinions

P.S. My current half-marathon PR is 2:46:33. I have a half-marathon coming up May 13th that I’m shooting to shave off 10 minutes. Big goal for me!

 

 

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Thank you everyone for reading!

Feel free to submit your questions HERE (not in the comments)

My 2016: Medal Monday

Looking back on 2016, I’m still in shock at how far I’ve come. It shouldn’t surprise me, because I worked my butt off, but sometimes, just looking back at my progress, I can’t believe it. I skipped out on a lot¬†of drinking nights. I sacrificed lazy nights in lieu of meal planning. Instead of getting brunch with friends, I made healthy breakfasts at home and met up with them for coffee. I skipped out on some work parties so I could get home at a decent hour because I knew I had to get up early to run. “Sorry I can’t; I’m running in the morning” was a text I think my friends got use to hearing. And you want to know the best thing about all of that?

It was worth it.

Every single decision. Every gathering I CHOSE to miss. Every glass of wine I decided not to pour and drink water instead. Every Sunday I would meal plan or plan out my running schedule instead of doing nothing. Every time I turned down going out to lunch at work and getting major crap for it… “you never come out with us!” Sorry guys. Plus, Chicago is expensive. All of it. Worth it.

I feel great.
I have more energy.
My skin looks more youthful.
I’ve lost weight.
I gained some absolutely amazing friendships.
My self-confidence boosted.
I am more positive.
I fight less.
I forgive more.
I listen more and talk less.

In 2016, I ran 21 races. TWENTY-ONE. Of those 21 races, three of them were half-marathons. I ran my first ever in June 2016 and loved it so much that I did two more. 2015, I could barely run 4 miles…. and I completed THREE half-marathons. I am so proud of that!

2016races

I also participated in the #HolidayMile which was a challenge to run or walk one mile every single day from Thanksgiving to New Years. And that was a challenge, let me tell you. I missed a few days, but I ran more than I would have without this challenge.

Total2016.png

I ended my year with 547.34 miles. My original plan was to do 1,000 solo miles, but due to some poor planning in the beginning of the months and lack of discipline, I did not hit that goal. But my running buddy Ally and I decided to do a team effort and we hit 1,000 miles together. (More on that here.)

With the 21 races and 2 challenges I participated in, I gained 17 new shiny medals to proudly display:

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I have a plan of attack for 2017. I’m going to hit 1,000 solo miles. But I’m giving myself a different kind of challenge than I did in 2016. ¬†I split the months up into sections of three. So, for example, Jan, Feb March is one set, then April, May, June is the next, and so on so so forth. ¬†I picked one month out of the set of three to be my 100 miles in one month (one set I chose two) and I made sure I didn’t have any back to back months of 100 miles. I was strategic with what I decided to pick.

Here’s the breakdown:
JAN-Because it’s the first month of the year and I should start off strong.
APRIL-It’s my birthday month
JUN-I’m training for a half-marathon anyway. Plus, it will get me outside.
AUG-Josh and I usually go on vacation in Sept, so I can’t pick that month, and I needed at least a month in-between the last 100 mile month.
NOV-Because Nov 2016 was my first 100 mile a month ever.

So there’s half of my 1,000 miles in a year right there: five 100-mile months. Which will then leave me with six months to do an average of 84 miles each (which can consist of running, walking and biking). The month directly following my 100 mile month will most likely have a higher biking mileage since I’ll want to give my knee a rest.

But my challenge to myself is a two-parter. In my 100 mile months, I’m only counting actual RUNNING miles as a part of that. Here’s a visual to make more sense:

janfebmar

aprmayjun

My plan for 2017 is to also incorporate some biking, which I will count towards my grand total of 1,000 miles in the year, but during my 100 mile months, I’m keeping a separate note for just running. ¬†So, for example, today I ran 3 miles and did a half mile cool-down. I logged my 3 miles in for running and the half mile down for walking. ¬†So, my grand total for the year (including my New Years Day walk), is 4.75 miles, but only 3 miles of that I’m counting towards my 100 miles for January.

The reason I’m doing this is because I wanted a little more of a challenge. I really learned a lot in 2016 about the importance of planning week by week. When I hit 100 miles in Nov, I counted both my running and walking. I accomplished that, so now I just want a bit more of a challenge for myself. I also found that I would make excuses to not run. “Oh I can just walk 2 miles and run 3 miles for a total of 5 miles for the day,” when really my body is perfectly capable of doing a 4.5 mile run with a half mile cool down. I want to get faster and break my PRs and that will not happen when I’m walking. ¬†Again, I’ll still count my walks towards my 1,000 miles for the year. Walking is still very important. I am by no means putting down walking, but this is the goal I picked for myself.

Some of my other 2017 goals:
Plan my week every Sunday night
Blog more
Run a half-marathon in a different state that is far enough to have to spend the night. (road trip!)
Read 10 books
Cross-train (I literally did none of that last year. Oops)
Explore healthier foods and blog about it
Be more positive

I’d love to hear some goals my readers have made! Comment below with yours!

Best wishes to all.

My Fitness Journey

In my entire year journey of getting back into shape and training for a half marathon and changing my diet, I’ve never shared any before or after photos of myself. To be honest, I rarely took any before photos because I was embarrassed. I untagged every photo that someone took of me. I offered to be the photographer so I didn’t need to be in a photo. I didn’t feel good about myself. I didn’t like how I looked, so why have a memory of that? I have measurements and my weight from before, but it hasn’t been anything I’ve shared.

Let me take you back to the beginning…

In college, I was 155 lbs. That was my ideal weight. I was playing volleyball – both on the club team at UW-Oshkosh as well as a rec league- and running. I was a casual runner in college… Maybe like 5 miles a week and definitely NOT consistent. Plus, ¬†I walked to and from class. All that adds up. I was health conscious and ate healthier than most of my peers, but not really. Thank you metabolism. I graduated college in 2010 and moved back home. I continued to play volleyball in summer. I would run a handful of times, but nothing more than a few miles sporadically. I had a job at Sam’s Club which very much so kept me on my feet all day.

April 2012, I moved to Chicago. And this is when the slow downhill started. Yes, I¬†had to walk to the nearest public transportation option, but then I sat. All. Day. Long. I had a desk job. And then being in a new city, all I did was eat out and eat too much. Thanks a lot Groupon. There was always a plethora of free food at work, which was never good for you. I gained about 10 lbs my first year working there. I still continued to play volleyball in summer though, so that was at least something. But summer in the Midwest… it doesn’t last long.

August¬†2013, I quit my job in Chicago and moved back to Wisconsin and in with my bf Josh. I quit because I found a job opportunity that was close to home. (Walking distance!) I thought it would be a good career move, but a few months later, they fired me for no reason. (Oh I have a post about that entire drama filled job…) Unemployment and depression led me down a very not good path. I was unemployed for MONTHS. Dec 19th, 2013 until May 22nd. 2014, I had no job. I had no motivation to work out. I cried myself to sleep often. I would go for days of eating burgers and ice cream and getting drunk and binge watching Gossip Girl.

Hello 185 lbs. 

I¬†finally landed a job at Starbucks May 2014. At least i was on my feet all day, but I didn’t do anything outside of work. I ate crappy foods. I made excuses. “Oh I work weekends now. I can’t do anything.” “I work a morning shift-I’m too tired when I come home.” “I work a late shift, but I don’t feel like working out before work.” You name it, I had an excuse.

I quit Starbucks beginning Aug 2014 because I found a new role back at the company I was originally with in Chicago. I should have never left the company, but that’s another blog post.¬†

Commuting¬†was hard. I left the house at 6am and didn’t get home until 8pm. The hours were brutal. (Shocker, I wrote about this previously too!) I was able to switch my hours after a few months (Nov 2014). So I was gone 6am to 630pm. Still a very long day. I ran occasionally, but not too much.

Summer 2015 I ran a few 5Ks with some friends and decided that I needed to run again and be active. I was so embarrassed of myself at this point. I hit 189 lbs at my heaviest. I never hit 190 lbs, but it was kind of a wake up call. I had become really good friends with Ally and she quickly became my running buddy. Aug 2015 was when we really started to think about our goals for 2016. We were running a decent amount, but focusing on stairs. We signed up for the Chicago Skyrise Climb. 103 floors up in Sears Tower (yeah yeah Willis Tower. It will always be the Sears Tower). I dropped a few lbs by this point, but I was still around 175-180 lbs.

Nov 8th, 2015. We climbed. 103 floors.  Words cannot describe how I felt that day. I almost cried when I finished. The fundraising money was for RIC, (Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago). As I did my climb, firefighters in their gear passed me.  I passed a few older people who were walking with canes and a PT just in case. It was so incredibly inspirational. And then, the people handing out medals at the top of the stairs were in wheelchairs. People who could no longer walk.

“Why am I wasting my life not being active anymore?”

After that climb, Ally and I talked about our 2016 goals and decided that we should make a goal of running 1,000 miles in 2016. Very very high goal, but hey, we did the math and it was definitely feasible.

Dec 2015 I applied for an internal position which I got hired for (and an currently in this role) in Feb 2016. (My manager wanted me to stay for a month to train the new people. Yippee!)  My new job was way more flexible. I left my house at 6am, but I was able to be home by 540pm. It made all the difference. 

And running just took off from there.

January, I ran 86 miles.

Somewhere around March, Ally and I talked about doing a half in August maybe, so that was something we were aiming to do. We ran a lot. We read a lot about half marathons.

April 2nd, 2016, Ally and I ran a 10K… in 28 degree weather… IN THE SNOW. It was my last run in my 20s so there was no way we were backing out of this one. It was a tough run to get through. I lost feeling in my toes after the second mile. But we finished it! And we knew if we could get through that, we could get through so much more.

In May, we realized how far we had come, and signed up for our first half marathon in June! JUNE!

June 18th, 2016 – we ran our first half-marathon. It was beautiful. It was hot. And I cried when I was done. My family and bf were there to meet me at the finish line. Hello emotions. At this point, I was around 165. I watched my diet, but not too much. I was starting to feel so good about myself! We even signed up for another half marathon in Sept!

junehalf

July 2016 I did a 5K obstacle course in Madison. As I was sliding down the slide, I jammed my knee. This was a little bit of a setback; however, I took more initiative than the Old Megan would have done. I went to see a PT, I got some exercises to do (and actually did them!!). I took a little time off running to heal up. I would do some slow jogs, but stopped when the pain went from an achy dull pain to a sharp pain.

Aug 28th, 2016 – I ran another half marathon with my coworkers. I had signed up for this one months ago, before I hurt my knee, so I unfortunately had to walk the majority of it because my knee hurt so badly.

aughalf

Sept 10th, 2016 – Yes, 13 days apart, Ally and I ran another half-marathon, and I even beat my time from our first one in June!

septhalf

The longer runs because easier. And I just wanted to keep running. Running kept me happy. It kept me sane. I hit a plateau with my weight – I was hovering around 163-166 lbs. I wasn’t even all that concerned about it. I’m not really one to weight myself often, mostly because it led to disappointment. But I wanted to know what more I should be doing. Well, the one thing that didn’t really change was my diet.

Nov 2016: November was a huge month for me. I made a goal of running 100 miles this month. One. hundred. Miles. At the end of Oct, I was at 367.5 miles total for the year. Not where I wanted to be. I knew 1,000 miles would not happen this year. But Ally and I teamed up and added our miles together. This has been a learning year for us, and we didn’t want a number to get us down. So we are doing a team effort of 1,000 miles this year. Well, I still wanted to reach a high goal, so 100 miles it was! Not only did I run more, but I changed my diet. I had gotten a wellness exam at my work, which showed a slightly elevated cholesterol level. 212. 12 points above the max “normal” range. Because my good cholesterol was at 92, they told me “you really don’t have to worry about it because 100milesnovyour good cholesterol is so high, that it balances out your bad cholesterol.” But all I heard was “you have a slightly high cholesterol level.” I cut out red meat, pork and eggs, and I VERY much so limited my dairy. I made a conscious decision to eat more fruits and veggies. I had oatmeal with pb and bananas almost every morning. I just felt SO much better. By the end of Nov, I didn’t want a ton of cookies. I didn’t want to have a steak dripping in butter. I felt great. I was getting plenty of protein and fruits and veggies. I didn’t really track calories as much as I just paid attention to sugar, cholesterol, fats, sodium and ingredients. If I couldn’t pronounce it, I didn’t eat it. If it had WAY too many ingredients, I didn’t eat it. Yes of course I helped myself to some not so good foods, but it was a few times the entire month, instead of a few times a week. Hey, I’m not perfect and I love chocolate. I ended up hitting my 100 miles in Nov. It was amazing.

Well this ENTIRE story leads up to this photo and the reason behind this novel:

scale

I randomly decided to weigh myself on Monday (I always weight myself at night before going to bed. Gotta keep it consistent) and I was 158.7. Wait, what? I was back in the 150s. I weighed myself every night, but I never got above 159.6. It was anywhere from 157.9 to 159.6.

Holy crap. This whole eating healthy thing actually works. ūüôā Ha. Not that I had my doubts, but when you start seeing results, there’s just NO turning back now.

I’m 30 and I feel better now than when I was 25.

(Also, side note. I really love the app I used. Ha. PicsArt)

And here we are Dec 9th, 2016 and I’m already on pace to hit 100 more miles this month.

I got this!!

New Shoes, Sweaty Shirt, No Problem

Getting back into running has been challenging. I was doing well for about a month before I went in to have a sleep study. I was so focused. I was running stairs in my house every night to make sure I hit at least 10k steps every single day. I did a Fitbit challenge group with my friends that I usually won. My running partner kicked my ass, even though most of it was virtually since our schedules didn’t always match up.

And then my sleep study…

I’ve had issues sleeping since I could remember. Back in high school, I could run on 3-4 hours of sleep. The thing is, back then, I would get 3-4 hours consecutively. Now… Not so much. It goes something like this:

Bed at 10pm
Restless until1045pm
Up at midnight. So restless I get up, walk around my house, avoid looking at my phone since the bright light shocks me from half awake to wide awake.
Back to bed at 100.
Wake up at 130.

…..I think you get the point. I wake up at 530am for the day. I cannot tell you the last time I felt rested. I would get a total of maybe 3-4 hours of sleep, but without it being consecutive, I started becoming more tired and hazy than I ever thought was possible.

After my many many restless nights, and many years later, I finally caved and went to do a sleep study. This has been on my bucket list for years, so I finally just caved and booked an appointment.

Diagnosis will take a while to fully find out. But here’s where I’m at: I have Restless Leg Syndrome. And possibly an acute form of insomnia. (Honestly, neither of these I’m shocked by.) Here’s the tricky part we need to figure out: RLS is caused often (not always) by anemia. I’ve been border-line anemic my entire life. I donated plasma in college (because beer money…). My iron count was hit and miss for donating, but I’d say I was fine to donate 75% of the time. Donating blood though? That’s another story. I had never been able to.

In June, I made a diet change which incorporated some OTC iron pills and mostly spinach salads for lunch. I donated blood through work for the first time that month. So my RLS couldn’t be because of that then right? Well it still could be …

For two weeks, my doctor gave me some guidelines to follow and keep a sleep log. No strenuous exercise after 6, no alcohol at all and no caffeine after noon. The alcohol and caffiene rule I can handle, but no running for two weeks?? I don’t get home from work until 630pm and running before work was out of the question because of my long commute.

Ugh. Fine. It was only two weeks. She needed a baseline to see if these three things could be affecting me. And then the two weeks after that (which I’m currently doing now) I could do what I wanted. And we will be comparing the two weeks to see if there is a difference.

In the meantime, I had to get a blood test taken so they could do a full synopsis to see if my iron levels are too low. If my iron levels are too low, she will give me slow-releasing iron tablets. Seems like an easy fix right? Except it can take THREE MONTHS to fully tell if RLS is caused by anemia. If I need iron pills and after three months, I’m still having issues, they will do an overnight study. On the flip side, if my iron levels come back normal, then we will do an overnight study right away. At this point, its too hard to tell of my insomniac symptoms are just secondary to RLS or if I have both.

Needless to say, this will be a long journey to figure this out. But I’m ready to face it.

Back to running:

Since I was not able to run for two weeks, every morning before work, I did 30 squats. The second week I increased to 45. I needed to do soooomething.

Monday I went running in my new running shoes (which I ordered the DAY BEFORE my sleep study so I was torchered for two weeks staring at a box of perfect new shoes I couldn’t use). I was determined to run 3 miles. I got a mile in and the sky drastically changed. I thought I was going to get stuck in a bad storm, so I turned around and went home. I finished 1.75 miles in 18:39. My first mile was in 10:07. My best time ever. I was so so proud of myself!! I can’t help but think squats had something to do with this. And those shoes. Amazingly comfortable. My feet don’t even hurt today.

image

Because I neglected to stretch after my run on Monday, my quads were quite sure yesterday. I did an ab workout, along with a bunch of stretches instead last night, and tonight I’m lacing up those shoes!

I’m Climbing 103 Flights of Stairs… by Choice!

About three and a half years ago, I was running seven miles 3-4 times a week. I was in the best shape of my life. I lived at home with my mom in order to save up money to move to Chicago. My brother would accompany me to the gym and whip my butt into shape. We would spend at least two hours in the gym. I felt great.

Then, in January 2012, my friend Katie told me about the company she was working for. I applied, got the position, and the two of us moved to Chicago in April 2012. I was fascinated with Chicago. We learned the transportation system – usually by getting lost. We tried many different new restaurants and bars. We made a lot of new friends.

But I stopped working out because “I had no time.” Well, my excuse of “I have no time” turned into a year of excuses… and then two years…

Flash forward to about a month and a half ago: I had let myself go. I gained 25 pounds. I don’t care if someone is a size 0, or a size 8 or a size 18. Gaining weight sucks. I had gotten so tired of “but you don’t look like you weigh XX amount.” Or “but you’re still skinny.” I think that is one of the worst things to tell people when they are battling weight issues. I was not skinny. I had gone up 2 pant sizes, and I weighed more than I had ever been. I was uncomfortable. I hated looking at myself in the mirror.

I joined a fitness challenge at work (how many steps can you get per day for 100 days? Goal is 10,000 steps per day), I bought a fitbit, and I found a reliable running partner. Since a month and a half ago, I’ve lost 10 pounds and dropped one size. I haven’t worked out a lot, only running here and there due to conducting a sleep study (more to come on that). My biggest change was my diet. I had gotten into a bad funk of eating McDs breakfast, skipping lunches, eating very unhealthy foods packed with high fructose corn syrup, adding a ton of cream and sugar into my coffee, indulging in sweets way too often… you get the picture. I hated how my body felt after eating these foods. I felt bloated. My stomach always hurt.

I haven’t skipped breakfast in about a month. Maaaybe once or twice. I make smoothies every morning. And no, I do NOT use that Beach Body Shakeology or any other crazy powder concoction. I bring my lunch everyday and use my half hour to go for a walk and then eat at my desk instead of wasting time going to Jimmy Johns or Chipotle or somewhere else that’s sucking up my money.

I’m very proud of the progress I’ve made! I definitely have not blogged in a very long time. I recently posted one about my home. But part of why I didn’t blog a lot was because I had nothing to write about. I was being lazy and depressed and a Negative Nancy. No one wants to read that.

So, what’s with the “climbing 103 flights of stairs by choice?” My bucket lists contains a slew of things that I want to do. One of them is climbing 103 flights of stairs in the Sears Tower. (Whatever, sure yes it’s actually Willis Tower, but everyone knows it will always be the Sears Tower.)

What is the SkyRise TowerUp you ask??

I will be tackling the planet‚Äôs highest indoor tower climb at the Willis Tower to raise funds for the nation’s best rehabilitation hospital, according to US News and World Report ‚Äď the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC)!

RIC provides world-class rehabilitation care to thousands of patients for traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, stroke and cancer recovery, and more. The funds raised through SkyRise Chicago 2015 will directly support advances in patient care and cutting-edge research at RIC.

SkyRise Chicago is truly a special event. It’s the only tower climb in the world to offer two modes of participation Рby foot up the Willis Tower stairs and via stationary hand-cycling the equivalent distance uphill. These options give anyone, no matter their level of ability, the opportunity to participate.

In order to participate, I do have to raise $100 (none of that goes to my pocket!). If you’re feeling generous, feel free to click my page (here) to donate! If not, send me some good luck!

The Climb is Nov 8th. I will probably not be able to walk the next day. ūüôā

I’ll be posting about my progress! So stay tuned!

xoxo
Megs

5K Color Run

The Color Run. The Happiest 5K in the World. This remained on my Bucket List for years. Finally, I decided I could no longer wait. I wanted to get this crossed off my list. And what better way to do that than to involve my family!

“I’m doing this with or without you. Who wants to join me!?” I blasted on our family Facebook page. Yes, that’s basically how we all communicate now… on Facebook. We have a private group that I set up to coordinate family dinners, holidays, events, etc. It’s very convenient actually, but still hilarious that Facebook is now a form of communication. Oh how times have changed!!

It wasn’t very difficult to recruit my family to join me. We’re an awesome goofy bunch! Because we had a team of four or more, DISCOUNT! So that was nice. I mean, I’ll save that extra $5 and put it in my piggy bank. Let’s be real here. I definitely used it to buy Starbucks afterwards…

I took many videos and photos during the race. I have never had so much fun during a 5K. Sure, you need to make sure to cover your mouth when you’re getting the color thrown at you – but who cares? This isn’t a timed-race. It’s for fun. I had fun. My family and friends had fun! And that’s all that matters! I included some photos from throughout the race… because #selfie! Right?

Yes, I just used a hashtag in my blog.

Hope you enjoy these photos! I definitely want to do another fun 5K next year. There’s so many to pick from!! I’m thinking maybe the Glow Run for 2015!!

Note: Some of them have captions, so if you hover over them, the captions will show.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with the Color Run! Link me to your blog if you posted about it! Or feel free to share photos!

xoxo
Megs