Doctors Fall, Too

Today I had a doctor appointment. We did labs and luckily, everything is good.

I told her about my recent attempt to get back into running– and tripping! She had a good laugh about the little demon dogs. I told her how hard it is to start over after being gone almost 10 months from regular runs or racing.

That I have anxiety about falling again. That I feel like I’ve forgotten how.

And she did the most awesome thing. She pulled up the sleeves on her lab coat to show off her own battle scars– especially her elbows.

“They didn’t really heal,” she said with a smile. Next she showed me the knee scars, with pride!

This woman is a full-on M.D. at one of the best hospitals in the country. She’s petite and fit and has glorious natural long hair. She’s the kind of woman I see and think, “Wow.”

And she was telling me that she, too, falls down running.

The difference between us is that she doesn’t let her falls define or scare her.

She gets back out there. She accepts those clumsy moments.

And she knows that falling is part progress. As long as you don’t stop.

My sleeping has been off, and running used to help regulate it.

I can do this.

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The Truth About Running

It’s more than hard.

I’m realizing that it’s a constant series of injuries and disappointments. They’re small, so you can do deal with it. But for me, anyway, it’s regular. And that constant– it breaks your heart a little.

And then fleeting moments of unexpected success where you surpass your own humble expectations. Those moments, those ENDORPHINS, make you feel more than human.

They make you feel better than you knew it was possible for you. Flabbergasted.

In those moments, you’re so confident and positive.

That’s when you dare to dream your new goals : to increase your distance, to PR.

That’s when you sign up for races.

This year since February has been extremely humbling to me.

I know now that I’m cleared by a respectable orthopaedist specializing in knees to keep training. My knees are healthy, I felt no pain when they rotated them. Four x-rays showed no bone spurs and plenty of open spaces– a wonderful thing.

He answered my question on the difference between normal discomfort and real pain that requires stopping a run or calling it a rest day, or a longer break from running.

He told me to start cross-training. Because what had caused my fall was what I expected: my right knee over-compensated for my left, and the knee gave out. He said if I start strengthening the muscles, it’ll be less likely to happen again. That I’ll be able to run longer distances.

So I renewed my health club membership, and I began cross-training last night.

I swam. And I felt free. I felt strong.

I felt proud, walking in my bikini. I could feel people looking at me. I felt voluptuous and strong simultaneously. Like Wendy Peffercorn, dammit! Amazing.

I swam forty minutes.

I’m doing what I can. I plan to invest in some goggles and a better suit.

I plan to start going to classes at my health club– maybe power lifting.

I want to to do this the right way. I want to be well-rounded in my exercise.

But today I got a blister on my second toe, underneath. Because of flip-flops. And it hurts to walk and I’m not tough enough to run on it yet. I did an Out of the Darkness walk on behalf of my friend Andi. That was my exercise today.

But later on I did put my running shoes through the washer and dryer.

Despite all these “surprises” and the recovery times and setbacks…

I still want this.

I can only pray that with time, my injuries will be less. My recovery time faster. My mileage higher and my pace quicker.

Because maybe what hooks us to running is the magical ability we gain to learn about about our bodies and their limits.

Running teaches us to be aware and to heal ourselves. To persevere.

I was supposed to go to a friend’s celebration of graduation from her doctoral program tonight. I brought my dress to change into after the walking event.

But instead, I came home. I washed the dirt off my blister. I cleaned it up, disinfected it, but Neosporin and a bandage on it.

I took care of my foot, because my feet are important to me. And then I texted my friend and told her I wouldn’t make it tonight– she understood. And it was just too HOT. I wasn’t up to driving 80 miles round-trip and meeting new people tonight. I just wanted to stay home and rest.

My body told me to pay attention today and I did.

So I’m getting smarter. I knew better than to ignore the pain and continue on.

Pain is a signal to stop and rest, to evaluate where it’s coming from and why.

So today I chose to pay attention to my body and that makes me feel responsible.

And now I can sleep deeply, knowing that I still have dreams to run.

A September Run, A Dog, and My Ego

The September breeze enticed me to run tonight– for the second consecutive day.

I was thrilled to put on leggings and a hoodie! I decided on just a simple “recovery” run- 2.5 miles; half of the 5 miles I did yesterday.

Right away, I felt strong. I tried running a different route than I have previously– the wind smelled like a bonfire. It was supposed to just be an “easy” run– but when I checked my pace I was doing so GOOD! Emboldened, I kept it up and kept going.

I encountered my first unleashed dog on a run, which startled me! I heard barking to my right and saw it running beside me. But as I turned to spy my possible attacker, I realized it was just a yippy little thing. Less than five pounds. It was dark so I couldn’t make out the breed, but I laughed to myself! Probably some kind of Terrier. It didn’t chase me– and I continued in safety.

I was having such a good time. I love running in the dark!

But yesterday, I pushed myself to five miles. After three, my left knee and left ankle were hurting a bit– but I stuck it out for the last two miles. I told myself that one day when I run a half, I’ll need the endurance to run on fatigued legs. I never walked.

It was exciting to THINK in those terms– to just assume that someday I’ll run a half-marathon. It’s the first time I’ve thought about it as a given, absolute.

But last night I had less than a quarter mile left when my right foot tripped. I was using it to compensate for my weakened left, clearly. Unconsciously. I think my shoe scuffed and then I tripped. I skinned my knee pretty good– it was bleeding freely.

But I pissed off to have such a great run interrupted, so I did something awesome. I NINJA-ROLLED to the right, then leapt off the sidewalk and continued running. My Nike app never even registered a pause! And I made my goal of 5 miles exactly when I got to my building.

I’ve never felt so hardcore in my life! I was proud. Once my run was over, I got some paper towels from my car trunk and cleaned up the blood before I went in. I poured Hydrogen peroxide on it, dabbed it dry, and put on a couple band-aids. It didn’t even hurt today where I scraped it, thought both knees did feel a little creaky.

I should have taken a Rest Day. But I had to be stubborn.

Tonight when I fell, it shredded the band-aid. I felt minor bleeding through my one pair of Lula Roe leggings. At least the leggings weren’t ruined!

More Hydrogen peroxide. A new, bigger, band-aid. Ice pack. Elevation.

I’m more annoyed that my goal was 2 miles and I went down at 1.89!! So. Close.

With each run, I learn. Tomorrow, a definite rest.

Welcome, September chill! This runner is thrilled to welcome you.

Mud Factor 2017: Save Your Cash for Warrior Dash

I did my first (and maybe only) Mud Factor race today in Wilmington, Illinois. My first Warrior Dash was in 2016, last summer. I’d do it again if I can find someone to go. You might be wondering about the difference: I will tell you.

I actually had a great time! Got major sun on my shoulders. And it was totally last-minute. Wednesday afternoon I was craving a race for this weekend and found this online. I asked a few people in my running club, but no one was game for mud. I decided to chance it solo and then found a friend and her daughter had commented on the Facebook event page. They invited me to join them to run with her granddaughter.

So I was in! They weren’t running until the 1:30 PM kids’ wave, which was only a 3k– 1.86 miles. Of course my giant ego thought that wouldn’t be enough challenge– so I signed up for an earlier 12 PM adult wave to make sure I got the whole 5k experience. I had planned to run BOTH!

Yeah, that didn’t happen! That’s my beef with MF: this course isn’t a full 5k and requires that you run two laps to fully complete it. Warrior Dash gives you a solid continuous 5k course in one long lap.

But my shoes literally got sucked off in the mud about halfway (I’m estimating?) — I finished the rest of the lap in my socks! I stuck them out of the way on that mud hill and my plan was to go back for them and finish in my shoes, time be damned. But my socks were so caked in mud that I couldn’t get my momentum back. And for some reason, my toes were cramping?! It was damn hot and I told myself, “I’ll make up the difference in the 1:30 wave.” So I re-hydrated, had someone take a picture of me, all mudded up. Changed into clean pair of dry socks.

Then I realized I couldn’t wait that long, so I tried again. I think I made it about a quarter mile in (however long was left) before I knew I was done.

This was also my first DNF (did not finish) race: but I’m okay with it. The clock said it took me 36 minutes to get to the 3k mark. That’s respectable. I don’t in any way feel like I wimped out. There was A LOT of mud, it was damn hot, and I had gotten there at 11 a.m. so had already been in the sun 1.5 hours by then.

So I headed over to the wash-off station, which was a joke. The line was probably 45 minutes because they had a shoddy wooden structure with weak trickles of water, it seemed less than 10 people at a time could use it. Right when I got up there, it faltered. Warrior Dash had a more sophisticated system designed to get a big group through quickly– hoses which you can control yourself, with a steady, COLD water pressure.

I ran a mud race alone today. At 12 noon! That’s seriously bad ass. I almost didn’t sign up because I thought I’d feel like a loser running by myself. But it was the opposite: I felt brave. I felt proud. I felt strong.

Mud Factor has less obstacles than Warrior Dash– and my arms are weak. I really struggled getting up the walls with ropes at WD– but today, I kept moving. Even though I haven’t worked out my arms, it seems I’m overall stronger. I ran most of the course, whereas at WD last year I was mostly walking and gasping for breath.

I texted my friend and we met up at the taco truck. Things were getting packed up by then. We took pictures together and they were just as muddy as me! By the time we left it was about 3 p.m.

One thing that’s better about MF is the parking: attendants directed me and it wasn’t in a big mud field like WD had been. It was easy to get out, quick. But there are extra fees for everything: parking, bag check, food truck, bottles of water or Gatorade, merch. And the merch tent has less options, although the staff was great and didn’t hurry me along to make a choice.

I’d say this is a perfect race if you’re a family and really want to enjoy the course with your kids or just have fun with your friends. The savings could go along way if you’ve got 4 or more people to register.

But if it’s just you, the extra fees for Warrior Dash are worth it. The course is more challenging, there are better, vastly different obstacles. There are on-site photographers at several points and your race times are posted. I think pictures were up in a couple of weeks. Going down the big water slide at the end and then leaping over fire to finish WD just makes you feel invincible!! You can opt for a meal-included, and it’s easy to redeem your food ticket. You get a more ornate medal and a big fuzzy hat. There are multiple places to take photos before and after the race, and plenty of props as well to climb on and show off your guns.

Glad I tried a second brand of mud race today or OCR, obstacle course race.

My plans didn’t work out, but I improvised and had a blast! Bonuses were the cool head wrap included with the bib and safety pins. The finisher’s medal is cool and I like the race logo. I bought a neon yellow race tank as well but thus far, it’s not entirely clean after two washings. Hoping I can get it clean tomorrow with some Oxyclean!

And I got some great pictures!

It’s official: I’m addicted to racing!

Sucker Punch: Keep Fighting and Walk it Off

Tonight we reviewed techniques we’ve learned in this class.

And I was calm, ready, and logical. A few times I blanked out, but my instructor was right there telling us what we were doing wrong and how to fix it. They were fleeting moments, and then I figured it out and got it right. We as classmates broke down each other’s reactions and moves as well, re-positioning, critiquing and praising. It’s been that way all along.

I’ve learned so much about myself in this class. I started off very meek, and would panic easily. I was also defiant, because I didn’t trust myself or the moves in the class. But repetition and a safe environment helped me overcome that.

Last week, I had a small meltdown when I felt afraid. I panicked and cried, just gave up entirely. I had been holding it in the whole class– but crying helped me get it out. I went off by myself and calmed down for a few minutes. Sometimes you just gotta feel what you feel and release it. It’s bottling it up and pretending you don’t have a problem that gets you into trouble. My classmates were supportive, as was my instructor. I think it reinforced to them that although the class is also fun and a great way to get in shape and meet people, we are all there because we need to protect ourselves– and each other– in an unsafe world. We’ve become allies, if not close friends. But I do like and trust all of these people.

I had some major trust issues when I began this class. I still don’t trust most people unless they prove safe– but that’s smart. But now because *I’m* more confident, I’m finding it’s getting easier for me.

Probably the best thing I’ve learned is to not put up with disrespect. Confront it right away, and most likely you’ll stop it in the future. People will test your boundaries to see how far they can push you. It’s up to us to let them know we’re paying attention and what we will not tolerate.

The problem with being Christian is we are conditioned to forgive at all costs. But I’ve learned now that if someone moves to strike or threaten you, the SAFEST thing you can do is to make a decision and take control. Waiting to react on them could leave you dead.

I have no obligation to forgive someone who has betrayed my confidences, lied to/about me, threatened me or attacked me openly in any way. If you do that at a job, you get fired. Why do we make exceptions for people in our lives just because we have a long history together, we’re related, or we’re dating? The only people who are truly innocent are children or individuals with disabilities, be it mental or physical. Everyone else needs to be held responsible for their words and their actions.

I’m letting go of guilt over people I cut out of my life because they were insufferable or untrustworthy. Condescending, hostile, passive-aggressive, disrespectful, constantly drunk/high and using that as an excuse to behave badly. I’m making peace with realizing I let go of toxic friendships and relationships to protect MYSELF– and I don’t need to apologize to anyone for that.

I’ve become more decisive in my personal life. Things roll off me easier. I’m not scrambling for approval. I’m taking more pride in my appearance. I’m more relaxed, but also more aware.

Tonight I had a few moments of having to pause and think before I could react, but I never quit or got afraid enough to be emotional. I wish the class was longer, because I’ve come to really respect and trust this group. I’d like to keep in touch with some of them, or maybe take another class if my schedule and finances allow.

It’s nice to be called, “Miss Amee,” for a change. To be treated with respect, rather than objectified. All the men were respectful, not creepy. Once you’re treated well, you just can’t accept anything else.

I’ve learned to rely on reason, structure and repetition in this class. I’ve learned that I CAN keep myself safe, and that I’m way ahead of the game in terms of just avoiding bad situations and being aware. That being small can be an asset– and how to use it to my advantage. That I have excellent instincts, and I should trust them.

While watching me and one of the men in the class work on an exercise tonight, our instructor reminded me that I can’t out-muscle him– to stop struggling and just stick with the techniques. After that, I was calmer, and I did it quickly and correctly.

I don’t need to out-muscle anyone. Just out-think them. And that, I’m already doing.

If I know what I’m doing, it doesn’t matter what they’re doing. It’s wonderful.

The best scenario we did by far was tonight’s: we had to spin around with our head on a pole in circles, then fight off one of three people who would charge us, with padded shields. Our instructor said this is the closest way we can simulate being sucker punched. I asked for a definition and he said that’s being hit when you’re not expecting it– it’s not any particular location. It’s just being whacked hard and getting dazed a bit. And I don’t drink or get high on anything, so right there, I have a huge advantage for my safety.

He told us when to wait, when to charge. I charged my hardest, and I fought my hardest.

Now I’m going to study what I’ve learned, and practice with a classmate or two before the test. I already made plans for that.

Wish me luck! Whatever happens, I feel good. I feel capable. I feel strong.

No Apologies: Week Six of Self-Defense

Tonight we had a very small class, and we did the most work. It was excellent.

I’m working through my fear. And each week, with each move and scenario, I’m overcoming it.

I worked with a woman I’ve been hoping to work with the whole time. She’s taken the class multiple times and really has it down. She’s also a very shrewd critic of how I’m making mistakes so that I can do the move correctly. For which I’m very thankful.

She is patient but also generous. She told me to slow down and make sure I’m doing all the steps. I was hung up on doing them fast, trying to prove something. I was also doing things wrong with my footwork.

She made me break it down step by step and really slow it down, so I understood WHY I needed to do it that way.

I’m seeing physics in this class. Bases, fulcrums. Ways to leverage my weight against my opponent.

I’m starting to really understand the value of plain ol’ repetition. I’ve been out of school so long, I miss it. I miss the routine, the structured classes, the opportunity to compete with my classmates. Right now, I have all that. I’m lucky to have wonderful classmates who are not mean or spiteful. We all help each other.

THAT is the point of Feminism. Our instructor is a male, but he’s on our side. No one is add odds with anyone.

We’re all a team.

I’m learning that I was freezing up sometimes, afraid of the pain. But in a real situation, I’m not going to have time to stop because it hurts. I’m going to have to fight THROUGH the pain.

And I will. I’m already doing it.

After repeating the moves several times and breaking them down, I’m understanding where I’m faltering, how I can correct it, and why it’s useful to do it the way I was taught.

Also, again I answered the question our instructor asked us. The answer was simple.

He asked, “What does it take to survive?”

Your will to live needs to be stronger than your attacker. That’s it.

When attacked, you take control and defend yourself. That’s what you do.

I’m not a victim waiting to happen. I am a defender. A defender of myself and others.

No one did any of the moves lightly tonight. The woman I worked with used real force– I was startled. I DID panic. But then I overrode it, with her help.

I also worked with another woman who is much taller than me. But she wasn’t self-conscious about it at all, which I loved. All the women in this class have healthy self-esteem and body images. I love that.

After I tried a move on her when I was the attacker, she did it correctly. Then she apologized to me.

“No apologies,” I told her. “We PAID to do this!” Anytime I get hurt a little, it toughens me up.

And I learn something. And I keep going.

This is a safe environment where we can make mistakes and LEARN from them.

And it continues to change my personality for the better. I’m not putting up with people taking shots at me.

I’m putting people in their place when they are being totally inappropriate, both women and men.

A co-worker asked what I weigh last week. She wouldn’t drop it, and was trying to guess my jean size. She told me hers. I told her it’s none of her business. She doesn’t need to know. I was just a broken record, saying I’m not telling her. She got annoyed and quit.

That’s what happens when your self-esteem is higher. A few months ago I would have told her out of habit, thought I didn’t want to. I know what she’s trying to do: call attention to how small I am. So what? I used to work as a weight loss counselor and a lot of the women did that to me. They didn’t think I could help them because I wasn’t overweight. But I did help them. I knew the program and I believed in them. I helped one woman lose 40 pounds! It was their loss for assuming that I was less skilled at my job than other co-workers.

I get asked that a lot by other women, who think they have right to comment on my weight or my size.

They don’t. No one does. It’s my body, my business, not theirs. I know they’re only doing it comparatively, anyway. What does that prove? Nothing. I never criticize other women’s bodies or weight. In fact, I always encourage them and tell them they’re beautiful the way they are.

Ladies, STOP comparing yourself to other women. I’m not judging you. If someone is judging you, that is THEIR problem, not yours! And if you’re assuming they’re judging you, you are being crippled by your own insecurity.

Don’t let anyone take your power from you, and don’t give it away.