Post Marathon Week 2

I went into this past week with a little bit more humility and patience than week 1.  I didn’t want to force myself to go out running when everything in my body and mind was telling me to rest.  I took it easy.  I started the week with a slow 2 mile run on Wednesday.  Overall I felt good and it felt great to get my heart pumping and my legs moving again.  My legs felt better than they had in a long time but I still felt tired.

Running in Cork

Then, on Thursday, this happened.

As I started my run my ankle gave way and I found myself taking a head first dive across the pavement.  I envision I looked like a batter diving into home plate.  Luckily I didn’t break  or sprain anything but I got so shook up I just couldn’t find the grit to continue with my run.  I went home and iced my knee.  I know it doesn’t look bad in the picture, but trust me it hurt!  It still hurts.  It made my whole body hurt.  I think I did a major push-up to catch myself so my back and arms are still sore. It was a good wake up call that I need to start incorporating some arm workouts into my overall training.  As far as the knee injury is concerned, it’s in the worst place imaginable for running.  Every time I bend my knee the skin stretches and the wound is broken over and over again.  Ewww.

So here I am icing my knee instead of running.  My poor lonely shoes sitting in the background.  On Friday, still a little sore from my face plant into the pavement, I decided to go out on a bike ride instead.  Jason and I did a short 12-mile loop in our neighborhood.

Thank goodness we had a long run scheduled with friends on Sunday because by this point in the week I was jonesing to get a run in.  It was great to meet up with friends in a new location.  I’m starting to get addicted to running with friends at the beach!   Anyone out there want to run 20+ miles this weekend??  Ha!

As we were pounding the pavement from Hermosa to Manhattan  it became apparent that they take Halloween decorations seriously!  It wasn’t just pumpkins and ghosts.  It was spider webs strung two stories high, 6 feet spiders clinging to fences and windows, and of course life size skeletons and dead bodies.  I loved it.  If you don’t know me, let me just tell you that Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and I LOVE holiday decorations.  Yes, I know the beach was right there, but the views of the houses and the halloween decorations was what I enjoyed most.   These houses were eye candy!  I wanted to stop at every house and take pictures of all the decorations.   Unfortunately, I also wanted to stay with my group so I only managed to get one picture in.  This was one of my favorite decorations on the run.  I can only imagine what it looked like at night!

OK, back to the run.  I wanted  this  long  run so bad I could taste it.    So, what did I do? I think I overdid it a bit.  At least according to my body I did.  Kristin, of course you did! (why can’t I figure this out?!)  After the run I was hurting in places I never hurt before: my IT Band, my knees, my Achilles, the arch in my foot.  I was really worried.  Was it the lack of mileage during the week?  Or am I still in recovery mode and am I running myself into injury?

Waking up this morning I was SO relieved.  I felt great.  I wasn’t sore at all.  What happened?  It was amazing.  I’m not sure if it was the hot tub, the stick, the joint vitapack, the week off or a combination of all of the above, but I felt really good.  I began questioning if I would feel this good even after another run.  Sure enough, I got 3 miles done tonight at a 8:54 pace.  Are my legs back???

I truly missed running.  It’s times like this when I realize how much running does for me…ridding me of stress and extra calories plus giving me time to tune into myself – body, mind and soul.   I know I’ve been on this “I miss running” rant for almost 2 weeks and enough is enough.  Should I say it?  I think my legs are BACK!!

College Fitness Eating Disorders Depression and Finding Happiness

I had always been naturally thin and fit throughout grade school. I was an active child, running around wrecking havoc with my older brothers. I played volleyball, ran a year of cross country, and played tennis all throughout high school. I was a very happy child, always laughing, always smiling. I always saw the best of things, marveled at the beauty of the world around me, and loved my life.

Kids Yoga Daily

Then, when I was 16 years old, my entire life changed. For a few years there was what seemed to be a constant onslaught of terrible things that happened in my life, including the suicide of a close friend I had grown up with and the mental deterioration of a family member (I might write blog posts about these later). I’m not sure exactly how it started, possibly from stress or concurrently with the beginning of my battle with depression, but I begin binge eating. To compensate I also began purging and soon developed bulimia. As a result of my sudden disastrous change in eating habits, I gained 30 pounds (I’m also extremely short so this was a huge and very obvious change). I’m sure I have since destroyed my once-so-fast metabolism. To make it worse, I depression began creeping into my life. Instead of going out with friends or even to prom in high school, I wouldn’t allow myself to do anything fun until I had lost the weight. But of course, I instead continued the viscous cycle of bulimia and spiraled deeper and deeper into my mental struggles.

Then I started college. I thought that once I was in college, all my old habits would magically disappear and I would be healthy again. But instead, as I watched my classmates around me going to parties, I buried myself in shame for what I had become. I struggled to make close friends because I would often shut myself out from the world. And no matter how much I wanted it, I couldn’t snap myself out of it. For much of my college experience, bulimia held me tight in its grasp. In sophomore year I begin running again. But due to stress in school and my depression clawing at my thoughts, I begin a period of extreme lows and my running held a very irregular schedule. It was the summer after my sophomore year in college that my depression controlled every moment of my life. To make it worse, I didn’t tell anyone my troubles. I’m sure it was obvious to some when I never smiled and never went out, but if there was one thing I had learned from all of this, it was how to hide my emotions and put on a face that nothing was wrong. I think if I had reached out to someone, I would have gotten better much faster and wouldn’t have wasted so many years of my life to this illness.

Fast forward to junior year. I tried very hard to get better. I started running again, but my bulimia still lurked around, prepared to attack. At the very end of spring quarter of my junior year, I begin running on a more regular basis, eating healthier and slowly, ever so very slowly started seeing a change in my appearance, in my thoughts, and my outlook in life. I was back!

Ultimately, I think it was running that saved me. When I was finally running on a regular schedule,  I begin eating more normally and my thoughts were no longer consumed with what foods I could binge on. I begin feeling again…I begin feeling happy. When I’m running, I’m free. With every step I’m stronger and with every step I’m closer to my goals. And the feeling after a run is priceless….that feeling like you can take on the world. Running gave me confidence and it has saved my life…literally.

Today, I think I am still recovering, but well on my way to happiness and to a better life (I know it sounds so cheesy, but it’s the truth). Sometimes I get mad at myself for letting so much of my life pass away so lifelessly, sometimes I slip up, but in the end I am on a journey of survival and I will beat this!

Camp Life on the Marathon des Sables

Marathon des Sables is more than just running. It’s a different way of life for a week. Two days before the race starts, we head out to the desert to settle into what will be our home.

After five hours on the road comes a rather amusing cattle lorry ride – with-bags-and-all – for a couple of kilometres. Blinking nervously once the lorry doors open, we all descend down and into the strangely familiar sight of a semi-circle of black canvas tents, peppered with berbers and camels.

Camp Life on the Marathon

Tent 61 is my tent. I am sharing with my two friends, better half, and two laid back Israeli guys. We are lucky to only have six people. The tents do hold up to eight.

The tents are pretty robust. They consist of a large sheet of black canvas nailed down into the ground and supported by wooden poles. The berbers take these tents down and reassemble them on every stage. I thought we’d be sleeping on bare ground but they put down a red-coloured carpet as well – luxury! The tents can be adjusted slightly, which is really useful to know if there is a sandstorm.

Tent 61 ends up being a rather valued tent. We are the first tent on the left as you finish. Those spared metres end up being a godsend after trekking all day! Tent 61 also faces opposite the legend that is Mohamed Ahansel – one of Morocco’s finest runners. I found it fairly staggering that little old me could be opposite such an elite runner. What other races offer this opportunity?

Before the race starts, runners are looked after in what I thought was 5-star luxury. Food and drink is provided. And it’s good food. Crusty bread, fresh yogurt, spaghetti bolognaise with parmesan cheese, creamy mushroom soup. Even red wine is thoughfully given in the evenings!

The purpose of going out earlier is to go through all the logistics – medical sign offs, kit check, final bag pack. So for the whole of day zero, all 800 plus nervous racers packed, unpacked, repacked, took things out, put them back, then panic bought from the “shop” cleverly engineered.

My bag ended up weighing 9kg pre water, which is fairly reasonable. Bags tend to range between 6.5kg-15kg.

The checks went well for me. My ECG was signed off and no one wanted to see the contents of my bag. Now just the anxious wait till stage 1.

Why I Started Running

It was college. Between a heavy course load, endless midterms (oh the joys of the quarter system), and a mild dose of homesickness, I was starting to lose myself to the fragile beginnings of stress, anxiety, and the horrible sickness of over-analyzing every situation. I was not happy. It was as simple as that.

I decided that I needed to do something to change my life, kick-start my health, and start living again. My answer was to start running and I haven’t looked back since.

Of course it was not as easy as that. I did a year of cross country in 8th grade, ran around the high school track a few times the summer before 11th grade; but by college, it had been a long time…too long. I think the most difficult step of starting any change in your life is simply the act of starting. It was difficult to just go out and run. I hated running in front of other people, so the gym was out of the question (plus I somehow can’t stand running on treadmills without getting bored out of my mind).

Eventually, I begin running outside in the evening (my campus was pretty safe). It started with once every few weeks, and progressed to twice a week. By this time I had fallen into a cycle where I needed to motivate myself to step out the door and run, but once I was running, and especially upon my return, I was excited about life again.

Then I started running in the morning and I remembered what it is like to wake up early. Now I run almost every day and I think every aspect of my life has improved because of it. Running is so much more to me than just a way of exercising. In fact, it has become an integral part of my life.