Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 18 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The 3 hour swim.

It took me 3 hours to swim 21 minutes and 32 seconds a couple of days ago.

Sunday was a slow day. I knew I needed to move. My brain was slow. My body ached. My soul was empty. I could find little reason to continue on. I felt like if I sat still long enough my heart just might stop beating, and that wasn't necessarily discomforting. I decided a relaxed swim was about my only option to keep moving.

I live exactly 1.5 miles from my gym. Might as well been 1.5 days, as I knew it was going to take a herculean effort to get there. To ease the transition I put my swimsuit on at home. Having to only remove my sweats would make getting from locker room to pool more likely. I figure it still took at least 1/2 hour to get out of my house. 

After the short drive it took another 30 minutes, which included a phone call to a friend for assistance, to get me out of my vehicle. Thirty minutes sitting in a parking lot because I couldn't open my car door. This is depression, my friends.
 
Inside the locker room the sweats came off easily, but I'm not sure how long I sat on that bench staring at the floor in my swimsuit. With the alacrity of a tortoise who had no place to be I eventually showered and made it into the pool. Twenty one minutes and 32 seconds later, only 16 minutes of which were actually spent swimming 2 to 4 lengths at a time, I climbed out and made my way back to the showers.

Showering and getting dressed took almost more effort than swimming, but eventually I found myself first sitting and then standing alone in the lobby. At least 2.5 hours had already passed since I donned my swimsuit at home. I'm not sure why I didn't just leave. I had no reason to stay there watching people walk by. I guess opening the door and heading to my vehicle was more than I could muster.

As I stood there blankly contemplating my next move a familiar face appeared outside. It was a young nurse I had worked closely with during my last hospitalization. She entered the door directly to my right, and we reacquainted ourselves with each other.
 
I don't remember exactly what I said, but I noted the irony of bumping into her, as I had been, and was at that moment, mightily struggling. We talked for awhile. I felt guilty keeping her from her workout, and it was obvious she wasn't really comfortable leaving me alone. Eventually I assured her I would be okay, and we parted ways.
 
It wasn't until that moment, however, that I decided I'd have to be okay, that I would make it through the rest of the day. I'd have to because I told her I would, and I don't typically lie. I would never want to betray that trust or cause someone anguish or guilt.
 
Often, I believe, things do happen for a reason. It took me 3 hours to swim 21 minutes and 32 seconds Sunday afternoon. Monday morning my doctor sent me to the hospital. Guess which nurse took me in.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Irritable in all the wrong places

"Through my writing I hope I left this world with a better understanding of depression and maybe brought solace to a few people along the way."

I wrote that sentence. It was before I fell asleep one night and apparently hoped I wouldn't wake up. I did wake up, of course. I woke up and discovered I should have wished for solace for myself and my coworkers rather than for a few random people.

Maybe it's another depression symptom--poor problem solving. Maybe it's my personality--fierce independence. But in attempting to single-handedly solve my symptoms, I made a mess of things this week.

You see, one of my values is to be dependable, whether as an employee or as a friend. It's important to me. To that end, I've been forging ahead this week, making it to work everyday no matter how difficult it's been. It's been tough, but I didn't want to increase my colleagues' workload by not showing up.

Well, I may have shown up, thinking it the admirable thing to do, but I was irritable, cranky and impatient. Despite treating my patients with care, my depression symptoms came out sideways. Rather than concealing my pain with an Oscar-winning performance, my misery landed squarely in the laps of my coworkers. A phone call with my supervisor today confirmed it. I've been an asshole (my word, not hers). I guess I thought I was a better actor than I was.

Perhaps I'm too angry and frustrated to act my way out of this one. I wanted so bad to NOT feel so bad, I thought maintaining some sort of normal routine would help. I didn't want to saddle my colleagues with more work. But continuing to work only left me feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed and isolated. I ended up alone in a crowd, which increased rather than decreased my depression symptoms. I should have known better than to trust a solution generated in the same brain which brought me this misery to begin with.

I spent a fair amount of time apologizing today. I needed to, and it helped. I hope I can return to work as my normal self soon. Acting as if I was okay didn't solve anything and made myself and those around me feel like dirt. I'm so sorry about that.

I guess I need some solace for myself. Depression makes me feel vulnerable, frustrated and alone. But telling coworkers I'm not feeling well also leaves me feeling vulnerable and isolated. I don't want to be different. I don't want to be the sickly coworker. I want to be one of the team, not the focus of the team.

Acting like Rambo didn't help me heal. It didn't allow others around me to offer compassion or assistance either. Sometimes being fiercely independent does me more harm than good. This was definitely one of those times. My eyes were opened today. Perhaps if I work on accepting where I'm at, rather than railing against it, I'll find some of that solace I seek. I doubt it, but what I'm currently doing isn't working so I might as well give it a shot.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

the ugliness of reality

This is one of those posts I hate to write. It's one of those reality check posts, where everything isn't going to turn out all sunshine and roses. This is a post about the stranglehold of depression. It's about feeling vulnerable and transparent when out in public. It's about convincing, repetitive thoughts of disappointment and failure. Letting so many people down, that's the well rehearsed message, and it's on auto-play. It's about me turning my phone off almost all weekend because it was painful to talk to anyone, and what was I going to say anyway?

"How are you doing?"
"I feel like shit."
"What do you mean?"
"I hurt. I can't breathe. My body aches. My chest is filled with the heaviest of lead. My thoughts revolve around what a useless existence I am currently living, and how it's equally useless to keep on living it. The only thing I want to do is sleep. Yet I can't sleep enough, partly because I'm exhausted, but mostly because sleep is my only reprieve. I go to sleep hoping I don't wake up. But so far, I have."
"I'm sorry you feel that way."
"Me, too."

What else is there to say or do? I can't hold up my end of any relationship right now. It's not fair to whine and complain. I'm doing my best to continue moving. But that hurts, too.

Such a silent, invisible illness, depression is. If only people really knew how difficult it is to get out of bed. How nearly impossible it feels to take a shower or get dressed. How I have to calculate my movements in order to allow for rest after each and every one. And not just physical rest. My brain is overflowing with negativity, self-doubt, and failure. To focus I must crawl through a swamp of strangling slime and screaming banshees. An intermittent coherent breath is my only hope. I may appear a little off, maybe impatient or slightly cranky. But beneath the surface there is so much more ugliness than that.

Depression is cruel and hideous. It is warring just below the surface, my surface. I only have so much fight. Depression steals that, too. I can only fight so long before depression strangles me. Bit by bit, it buries me. And then I'm gone. Currently I must be losing the fight, because "gone" sounds like relief.

Really, again?

Plagiarism, again? As if feeling like crap wasn't frustrating enough, now I have another idiot plagiarizing my blog posts. Perhaps this particular idiot hasn't been around long enough to know I always, 100% of the time, hunt down plagiarists. Look out, etta's angry. I just don't get it. It takes a special kind of lazy thief (jerk) to take another person's words and pass them off as one's own. In addition, it doesn't even make sense. My words are about my life, as a PT, and a runner, here in Minnesota. It's almost comical to find them in Indonesia or France or Alaska. Well, it would be comical if it wasn't so infuriating. Give me a break, plagiarist. Stop now. Please, read my words. Enjoy them. Relate to them. Tell others. Even copy a few here and there to make a point. But to rip off entire, or nearly entire, posts is low and pathetic. Just quit it.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Dear Doc

Dear Doc,

You must get so weary, maybe even frustrated, with my I-don't-want-to-live-like-this moments; moments like now. It must be difficult for you. You've heard all of my complaints, processed every fear. You've heard it all again and again and again over the last 18+ years. You've seen me at my lowest and at my best and everywhere in between. But it must be difficult when I'm low, because you know this will pass.

You know I'll get through this. We'll get through it. You know it. You've seen it multiple times. But in the midst of despair, I can't embrace that. You remind me, and I know it, but it's apparently impossible to believe when I feel low like this.

Feeling low brings out the desperation in me. You're so patient, but inside you must be screaming. We've been here before. We've worked through this a hundred times, yet I'm unable to find comfort in that. I try, but I can't. Every time feels lower than the last. Every time feels impossible to survive. Every time feels like I'll never be who I want to be again. Yet my track record is 100 percent. I've come out the other side 100% of the time. Why is it so impossible for me to believe this time will be no different, that I'll survive.

I'm sorry, Doc. I can't believe it. Despite my track record, to you I bring only despair. Despite your expert guidance, medical interventions and reassurance, healing feels impossible when I feel so low. Yet it is as a direct result of your expert guidance, medical interventions and reassurance that I heal every time. I know that. You must get so tired of my pessimism and worry. But I don't want to live like this, Doc. I don't.

I don't want to go through the motions. I can, but that makes me weary. I don't want to simply survive. I want to thrive. I want to feel light. I want to feel energetic. I want to feel strong. I want to feel sharp. Depression steals the light. It weighs me down. Depression saps my energy. It makes me feel weak. I can't think. Depression absconds with my clarity. Colors are muted, and my world is hazy and gray. But you know all of that, Doc. From me, you've heard it so many times before.

Unfortunately, you're hearing it again. I know it's your job, but the repetition has to be disheartening. You never let on. You never let my hopelessness, angst and doubt weigh you down. I appreciate that. And you never give up on me. I count on that. Thanks, Doc. I hope you can bear with me one more time.

Your grateful patient,
etta

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Fulfilling the Dream


I say if you're going to dream, dream big! I do. But I think it's just as important to act on my dreams. Otherwise they're just, well, dreams. Sometimes a dream, or a goal, is the only thing which keeps me moving forward, especially when I'm not feeling well. On this date, just one year ago, I fulfilled my dream (number one on my bucket list) of standing in the shadow of Mount Everest in Everest Base Camp. I cried tears of joy and amazement.

Entering Everest Base Camp was a magical moment. I was proud of myself for taking on my dream; for doing the research, saving the money, enduring the travel, and confronting the challenge of 20 days in the Himalayas, most of the time above 14,000 feet. I was proud, and grateful, and awestruck.

The following day, I hiked up to 18,425 feet, to the summit of Mount Kalapatar, which offered unobstructed, unbelievable views of the entire Everest Range. The photos do not nearly convey the overwhelming beauty of Mother Nature, but the memories are crystal clear. Over the last several days I've been reliving the moments, each one more magical than the last, and enjoying memories of my month in Nepal.

Take on your dreams, my friends! You won't regret it. 

Incredible waterfall, day 2 of my trek.
The highest of the many suspension bridges I crossed. Felt like it was at least 1/4 mile above the river below. I loved it!
First view of Mount Everest, left, approximately 26 miles up the trail.
Everest Base Camp, 17,650 feet. Happy hiker. Really happy.
That's my wrist, on top of Mt. Kalapatar.
View of Mount Everest, 29,029 feet, on left, and Lohtse Mountain, 27,605 feet, on right, from the top of Mt. Kalapatar.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Struggling on

I'm not a fan of the word struggle when it comes to depression. I hear many people say they "struggle with" depression when identifying themselves as a person with depression. If you've been reading for awhile, you know I say I "have" depression. I have an illness. I live with it. Much of the time, most actually, it is not a "struggle." Most of the time I live a fairly ordinary life despite having depression.

When my depression symptoms rear their ugliness the struggle I have is with life! Depression makes life a struggle! And unfortunately life is exactly what I've been struggling with over the last couple of weeks. Life... let's see, where to begin.

For starters, I've barely removed my buttocks from the sofa since I got that nasty respiratory illness two weeks ago. I still haven't fully recovered from it. Energy has been at a minimum. Exercise has been impossible. Showering, cooking, cleaning, running errands... all nearly impossible and exhausting. Even if I could've gotten out of my house, I wouldn't have been presentable much of the time. I made it to work, but until today it had been an absolute suffer-fest. I did some decent acting while working, but that didn't feel good either. Life has been challenging.

Today was a better day. I don't know what's changed, but I feel a bit lighter. It was still tough getting going and getting to work this morning, but as the day went along I felt less of the stifling heaviness which has been weighing me down. I was able to think a little more clearly, regained some of my patience, and actually laughed a bit. I'm hoping as my physical health improves, if that ever happens(!), the depression symptoms will recede. I'm hopeful, not confident, but hopeful.

Feeling hope is actually a new development. If you read my last post, that's probably quite obvious! Hope is better than the depression lies which have been crowding my head. Life hasn't been easy. The struggle has been (and still is) tough, but I hope I'm moving in the right direction.

Friday, October 11, 2019

depression lies

depression lies. unapologetically lies.
worthless. hopeless. loser.
incompetent. unsuccessful. fake.
depression lies.
inconsequential. expendable.
no matter evidence otherwise. doesn't matter. doesn't make a dent.
depression is beyond persuasive.
helpless. incapable. burdensome.
unlovable. insignificant.
only hear the lies.
only believe the lies.
forget they are, in fact, lies.
unlovable. isolated. alone.
nobody cares.
nobody feels like you.
depression lies.
stupid. dope.
malcontent.
what's wrong with you?
something's very wrong with you.
depression lies. convincingly.
defective. useless. plain.
gutless. weak.
toughen up!
smile. cope. get over it.
it's life.
handle it.
everybody else does. why can't you?
failure.
depression lies.
this is it. it will never end. there is no relief.
why bother?
this is your life.
forget it. it's just not worth it.

depression is loud.
depression is cruel.

truth is indiscernible.

depression lies.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Not tough enough

I wish I could say I handled yesterday with grace. After all, as I said, there will be other marathons, so missing the Twin Cities Marathon, in the grand scheme of things, was not the end of the world. But it sucked. Truthfully, I was crushed. I'm sure feeling physically unwell, to the point where I no longer even have a voice, did not help my cause. But I wish I was tougher.

I'm still feeling crushed today. I still don't feel well physically. I've lost motivation to do just about anything. Beyond lying on my sofa in hopes a few hours of sleep will block out the world for more than a few hours, I've been pretty much sedentary. My attention span has shrunk and nothing interests me anyway, which makes for some awfully long days. And on top of that I can't even talk, which makes for extreme isolation. Things are not good.

I feel I'm letting this setback overwhelm me too much, but I'm having a very difficult time doing anything different. Yesterday I did ride my ElliptiGo for over an hour, but that was the extent of my day. I slept long and hard after that. Today I went to work, which was painful on so many levels. Physically, I got exhausted quickly. My throat hurt from trying to talk. And nobody could hear me, anyway, which made every interaction challenging and demoralizing. I like to have fun at work. Today was not fun.

I wish I could sleep for a few days and wake up in a different physical and mental state. That's purely wishful thinking, of course. I know I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, even if every step is uncomfortable and exhausting. I wish I was tougher. If I was tougher, maybe this wouldn't be so difficult. But it is difficult. So I wish I was tougher.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Mood taking a hit

I'm sorry to say that my illness has progressed into what feels like pneumonia. I'm totally wiped out. With the exception of yesterday, I've not been able to work. I'm seeing my doctor tomorrow. It seems every time I get one of these upper respiratory illnesses I end up on a steroid medication. With underlying asthma, my lungs just don't seem able to battle these respiratory hits. My chest is so tight I have one of the best smoker's coughs I've ever heard! Dry, screechy and wheezy, it's no fun.

Besides the respiratory hit, my mood has taken a hit, too. It's almost a certainty I will not be able to run the Twin Cities Marathon this Sunday, which is incredibly disappointing. But I have to admit I've been feeling a bit off for a few weeks; long before this illness and subsequent disappointment occurred.

Other than to my doctor, I haven't mentioned feeling a bit off. I've been trying to forge ahead and wait for it to pass. That happens a lot. I feel off for a while, but it doesn't advance beyond that. So I haven't been focusing on it. And had I not had this major disappointment, and this illness, I think I would have been okay. But now my mood has taken almost as big of a hit as my lungs.

I'm concerned, but I'm still hopeful. I think when I feel better physically, my mood will improve as well. That's why I didn't wait to get into my doctor. I want to stop this illness as soon as possible. If I don't, I fear my declining mood will rapidly take me down. My fight to get well has taken on a new urgency, and it has nothing to do with running a marathon.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Wake up call

The illness situation at work intensified yesterday. Our medical staff closed and quarantined the entire facility. Nobody, no outpatients, no visitors, nobody was allowed inside. We have several patients with pneumonia and at least half the staff appeared ill yesterday. The staff who were able, including all of the therapy staff, were doing our best while wearing facemasks and toting gallons of hand sanitizer around the building. I left work yesterday afternoon feeling well and relieved.

Unfortunately, I'm not at work as scheduled this morning, and that's because I began getting ill last night. I upped my use of my zinc-based, cold-preventative product, which has always staved off illness for me in the past, but overnight I knew I was in trouble. By this morning I was aching, coughing, and feeling generally terrible. I hate calling in sick to work on a Saturday, because staffing is always an issue, but I knew I wouldn't be helping myself or my patients by going to work.

As I slumped over my toast and coffee this morning, feeling horrible, I began composing this blog post in my head. It was all about my bad luck. Eight days out from my first marathon in nearly 3 years, eight days away from the culmination of 4+ months of dedicated training, eight days from what I hoped would be a glorious return to the distance I love, I'm sick. Poor me. Poor me. Poor me.

I went back to bed after my toast, but the composition continued as soon as I woke up, still feeling horrible. Poor me. More poor me as I drove to Walmart. Poor me right up until I parked next to a very dirty, broken-down looking Audi in the Walmart parking lot. So sad. Poor me.

The Audi was filthy inside and out. There was a huge oil slick slowly expanding under the engine. Shaking my head as I walked past, it was then that I noticed there were two people inside the vehicle. It quickly became apparent they were living in their car. An Audi...

I thought about those two young people as I filled my cart with oranges, chicken noodle soup, orange juice, more zinc, a couple of cold/flu medicines and some tea. Somewhere in the middle of Walmart I realized how lucky I actually am. I am sick, yes, but I woke up in a warm bed. I drove to the store in a fully functional automobile. Everything I bought to combat my illness I paid for with ease. Yet I was feeling sorry for myself because I might not be able to run a marathon.

In my recovery program we call this a "high class problem." The composition of this post began to change. Cart full and paid for, I walked across the parking lot to my vehicle. The Audi was still there, but the occupants were gone. I couldn't imagine having to live as they were living. I began to feel thankful for my good fortune rather than sorry for my minor inconvenience of an illness.

I think God wanted to make sure I got the message, though, because as I slid into my seat I noticed another car, facing me, in the opposite row. It, too, was filthy. There were 3 people and a lot of stuff, including at least one pillow, inside. As I pondered their situation, the woman in the backseat pulled a toothbrush and toothpaste out of her bag. Got it, God. Thanks.

I don't necessarily believe in coincidences, and the fact that I saw yet another, similar vehicle as I exited the parking lot really hammered home the point; I'm lucky. I don't think seeing 3 examples of  real people with real problems in a tiny portion of the Walmart parking lot on this Saturday morning was a coincidence. I think I needed the wake up call.

Driving home from Walmart I began focusing on the solution rather than the problem. Suddenly, I remembered there were several other nearby marathons scheduled over the next 4 weeks. Funny, that thought hadn't crossed my mind before my Walmart wake up call! I have options, high class options, which I may choose in order to deal with the ramifications of this very temporary illness.

I'm not happy I'm sick, but possibly altering my marathon plans, or even missing the race altogether, is a high class problem to have. I'm grateful it's the only "problem" I have to worry about today. I will treat myself with care, do what I can to encourage healing, and then see what next Sunday brings. My attitude shift has been dramatic. I feel lighter and more content. Living in gratitude beats living in self pity any day of the week. I'm glad I got the message.

Monday, September 23, 2019

The tapering paranoia

Everybody around me is sick! Race day is less than 2 weeks away. I'm in my second week of tapering, and I am paranoid! I'm certain I'm going to get sick.

Something nasty is going around. We have a severe respiratory illness sweeping through the skilled nursing facility in which I work. So many of our residents are sick we've had to quarantine half of the building! Coworkers, friends, even my doctor has been sick!

I can avoid friends, coworkers can stay home (and have), but I can't skip work. If I'm well, it doesn't matter that my patients aren't. I still need to do my job, which means mingling with illness for 6-8 hours per day. Ugh!

It's fairly normal to worry when tapering for a marathon. Getting to race day requires so much time, energy, and devotion it's normal to feel worried about every little twinge or sniffle in the final weeks before the race. I'm used to that. I expected it. But never before have I been completely surrounded by extremely ill people, as I have been for the last 7 days. It's unsettling to say the least.

I'm terrified I'm going to get sick, but I'm trying to let go of that fear. Other than staying out of the direct line of coughs and sneezes, and washing my hands a bunch, there's nothing I can do. If I get sick, I'll have to deal with it. But I really hope I don't have to deal with it!

Other than being paranoid and terrified, I'm doing well. (Yes, that was supposed to be ironic.) Jet and I ran the trails in a local state park yesterday. It was a nice change of pace, literally, for my last long run. The footing was uneven and sometimes very muddy, so I had to run about 1 minute per mile slower than normal for at least 10 of the 12 miles. That was okay. It was a different kind of work for my muscles, and much more enjoyable than the road. I think Jet thought so, too. We were both tired and muddy by the end.

I don't expect any more tiring runs until race day. Mileage will be cut way back over the next two weeks. It's always nice to run fewer miles after so much heavy training, but I'd be lying if I said I was totally looking forward to it. Running less requires mental toughness, too.

I'd likely manage my anxiety and paranoia better if I ran more, but that would defeat the purpose of tapering. So I'll have to cope with my anxiety, paranoia and fear in other ways for a bit. I've tapered 28 times before, so like I said, I expected the worries. It's always been part of the process. But I really, really hope I don't get sick!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Mutual rescue

My dog, Jet, is 7 years old today. Six years and 9 months ago, I rescued my boy. Who knows what his destiny may have been had he not been rescued from a puppy mill in Missouri by a Minnesota non-profit organization. He was living in a foster home about 2 hours away when I found his picture online. He was adorable, even though his original name,Virgil, wasn't.

I found Jet just 3 weeks after my first black-lab-mix running partner died suddenly. Puck was 12, and I had rescued him when he was only 8 weeks old. When Puck died I swore I would never get another dog. His death was that painful. But then I found Jet.

Jet has had a unique, silly, neurotic personality since the day I brought him home. He's a timid dog, and that lends itself to some very funny, neurotic behaviors. For example, he often follows me into the bathroom, but he won't walk out of the bathroom forward. Sometimes he stands there and contemplates walking out forward, but he always ends up turning around and backing his way out the door! No, I don't know why.

Jet loves to play, and he often does so all by himself. He frequently tosses a stick, ball, bone or toy in the air, pounces on it, and then repeats the process again and again. But if his toy, ball or bone ends up behind, under, or sometimes even near a piece of furniture, or a bush, or even a wall, he won't retrieve it. He stops short and stares at it. Sometimes he'll gingerly reach for it from as far away as possible, but if the thing it's near or under moves, he jumps away in fear! It makes for some pretty hilarious moments, especially at work.

Jet began coming to work with me very early in our relationship. He had to. I lived alone, he was a puppy, and there was no way he could stay alone all day without peeing! Initially he stayed in a kennel most of the day. But for the last 5-6 years he's had free reign of the physical therapy room. He knows he can't leave the room, but he likes to lie right in the door, especially if I've left to get a patient, with his paws in the hallway, and watch the procession of patients and staff as they amble by. He greets every patient and staff person with love. And they love him right back.

He loves going to work, and I'm so grateful I'm allowed to bring him. We get to spend every day together. He's good therapy for the patients, and I love watching them interact with him. He's a magician with some of our cranky, stubborn people, and he brings out personalities we rarely get to see in some of our dementia patients. He's not a therapy dog, officially, but he's a therapy dog.

I don't know what I'd do without my boy. I ran a few miles today without him, and it wasn't nearly as fun. It's much nicer to exercise with him than without him. And we don't just run together. He helps with push ups and sit ups, too. When I get down on the floor Jet's right there. It's as if he wants to assist, or at least give me a kiss, which is how he assists, I guess. He's a helper and a lover.

Jet seems to intuitively know when I need some extra love. In times of turmoil or depression he sticks close. He keeps me centered and grounded when my depression creates chaos in my brain. Even when I can't take care of myself, I have to take care of Jet, and that's a good thing. Sometimes he's the only reason I get out of bed. I love sharing my space with him, feeling him near (as he is right now), and taking care of him.

It's hard to believe Jet's already seven. I'm trying not to be sad about it. He's getting older, but we likely have many years left to share. I love him so much, I'd like him to be around forever. I'm so grateful I found him, or as I often tell him (yes, I talk to my dog), we found each other. I may have rescued him, but he rescues me on a daily basis. He makes me smile. He makes me laugh. He comforts me and fills my heart with joy. He's a dog, yes, but my life would be empty without him.

Happy Birthday, Buddy. I'm so glad we rescued each other.




 


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Running, and running, and running

I'm in my final week of long miles and hard runs. I'll probably end up with a bit over 50 miles again this week, including a 20-miler on Sunday. I'm doing well. My right Achilles tendon continues to be a bit sore, but I'm trying to be smart, and cautious, and yet get my miles run. I'm encouraged I've been able to keep the tendon from getting more sore. I actually think it's improved over the course of this week. That's a relief.

I'm feeling encouraged about the Twin Cities Marathon as well. I ran a hard, 10-mile, marathon pace run today, and I was able to hit my pace for 7 miles. (Used the other 3 miles for warming up and cooling down.) It hurt, but I was able to bear the discomfort, mentally and physically, and I was satisfied with the result. I'm cramming in a speed workout tomorrow, as I have to work Saturday, which generally exhausts me, so I'll take a rest day on Saturday before my 20-miler on Sunday. Things are going well.

I'm looking forward to beginning my 3 week taper next week. I'll probably feel slow and fat in the week prior to the race, but I've done this enough to know to expect that. I'll try not to panic. I just got my participant information e-mail today, so I'm really getting excited. Finally, my brother just informed me he's coming to watch the race, and maybe run a couple of miles with me, which will be wonderful! I'm used to doing everything associated with my marathons solo, including the training, the expo, the travel and the running. It will be really nice to share part of the experience for a change.

Other than running and working, I have little else going on right now. Sorry I don't have more to report, but as I've said in the past, sometimes having little to report is nice. My mood is good. I'm doing what I want to do. My furniture is still dusty (see last post), but my mood is good. That's way more important than dust!

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Little sore, little lazy

After a good 20-miler last Sunday, I am now officially signed up to run the Twin Cities Marathon on October 6th. Unfortunately my right Achilles tendon did get a bit sore from approximately miles 18-20, so I've taken a few extra running days off this week.

Instead of running as scheduled I attended a killer spin class on Tuesday and rode my ElliptiGo on Wednesday. I ran pain free Thursday and today. I'm looking forward to a 15K race I have scheduled for tomorrow. Next week I'll be back into high mileage, 50+ for the week including another 20-miler, prior to beginning my taper for the marathon.

I can tell I'm in the meat of my training cycle, as I've been very lazy around my house. I have little motivation to do just about anything around here. I'm doing fine at work. Running is going well. But when I'm home, it's been a chore to do any, well, chores.

My house is fairly neat. That's pretty easy when you're a household of one, but "dust" and "clean bathroom" have been on my to-do list for at least two weeks! Prompts to vacuum and mow the lawn also spent more time than necessary on that list, but at this point they're done. It took herculean effort to cross them off, though. I've just been lazy.

I've experienced this before when training for other marathons, but it seems more pronounced this time. Maybe it's just because I'm older. Maybe training is taking more out of me than I think. Or maybe I'm just lazy. I suspect it's a little of both.

Of course feeling lazy and unmotivated always makes me concerned about my mood. These feelings, after all, are incredibly familiar. So I'm keeping a watchful eye on my mood. Fortunately, at this point other symptoms, which typically accompany a drop in my mood, have not presented themselves. That's somewhat reassuring. Nevertheless, I'll keep paying attention.

I'll also keep running. And eventually I'll probably clean the bathroom, too. Or not...

Saturday, August 31, 2019

32.5 + 20

It's funny. As I sit here today, thinking about tomorrow, I feel butterflies in my stomach. No, I'm not running another race tomorrow. That's next Sunday. I've got butterflies because tomorrow I'm scheduled to run my first 20-mile training run since 2016. The long, long road between 20-milers is about to come to an end. I'm excited, and anxious, and ready. I think.

Twenty miles. I've already run 32.5 miles this week, so not only will this be my longest run, it will also be my highest weekly mileage total in well over 2 years. I haven't yet signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon, which is the first Sunday in October. I wanted to wait until I had at least one healthy 20-miler under my belt prior to registering. Hopefully I'll be an official registrant by tomorrow afternoon.

I'm excited the Twin Cities Marathon is in sight. I'm ecstatic to be relatively healthy this far along in my training. Of course my legs are tired and my feet are calloused, but that's all normal. I've got some soreness in both Achilles, but I'm taking care of them, babying them, actually. I'm able to run pain free, and that's huge. As I've said in just about every recent post (sorry about that), I'm extremely grateful to be running and training again.

I'll have several hours to reflect on the last several years while I'm out there running tomorrow. Twenty miles. It's going to be difficult, mentally and physically. Twenty miles always is. But I'm certain I will also experience satisfaction, gratitude and perhaps even joy intermingled with the pain. That's the beauty of marathon training, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I can't wait!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Unexpected Rewards

I ran a 1/2 Marathon yesterday. It started and finished only 1/2 mile from my house, and I had a 13 mile training run scheduled, so how could I not participate? I had no idea what to expect, but at the same time I was anxious to see what I could do. There was no tapering. In fact I ran 18 miles just 6 days before the race, but I thought it was worth it to test myself, nevertheless.

The Healthy Human Race was a medium sized race. Unbeknownst to me, it was also a Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) regional championship race. The RRCA is a nationwide organization which sponsors yearly state, regional, and national championship races in a variety of distances. Yesterday's race was the Central Region 1/2 Marathon Championship. Whatever... I paid no attention to that. I was there to see if my marathon training was on track and to test myself in a race.

The race went surprisingly well. I started too fast, or so I thought, at around 8:10 pace. I felt okay so I decided to roll with it as long as I could. I'm a slow to warm-up runner so the first several miles never feel great. As a result (and as usual), I struggled with worry thoughts for the first 5-6 miles yesterday. I pushed through and was pleasantly surprised to discover I felt pretty damn good going into mile seven. Hmmm...

I did a quick body scan. My legs were tired. I could tell I was working hard, but I finally felt like I could maintain my pace. In fact, I thought I might be able to improve it. I found myself surging and ran miles 8 and 9 under 7:55 per mile. My fastest mile of the day was mile 13 at 7:46. I sprinted the last 800 meters and was a bit frustrated to be passed in the finishing chute by a young chick who came out of nowhere. My goal is to never get passed in the closing miles. It's just a little challenge I set for myself on race days.

When I crossed the finish line I knew I had run faster than I expected. I was right. I finished in 1:45:49, which is an average of 8:05 per mile. For reference, I ran 1:59 (9:05/mile) in late May and 1:52 (8:34/mile) in mid June. Running 8:05 per mile for 13.1 miles was surprising. And I wasn't totally wasted at the end, which made the effort even more satisfying. I was very happy! My training, it appears, is working. I'm getting back to being a runner again!

It was while basking in my satisfaction when things got really strange and fun. I was chatting with some friends about 45 minutes after the finish when the awards presentation began. I happened to be chatting with a very fast 61-year-old woman, so we expected her name to be announced. Her name was announced. She won the Senior Grand Master (age 60+) Regional Championship with a time around 1:38 or 1:39. Fast! However, before her name was announced, our conversation was interrupted when my name was announced! What???

I believe the presenter announced my name twice before I registered it. Totally dumbfounded, I approached the presenter with skepticism and asked, "What did you say?" Apparently all the other 50 year old women stayed home yesterday. I won the 50-59 year old age group, and therefore I am the new Central Region Female Grand Master 1/2 Marathon Champion. My extremely large, shiny gold medal is pictured below. Absolutely crazy! I still can't believe it.

The big, shiny gold medal was icing on the cake yesterday. I'm really happy with how I ran. I'm relieved to know I can still improve when I put in the work. I'm glad the work is paying off despite my advanced years. And now I have new goals, realistic goals which wouldn't have felt realistic prior to yesterday, which I will work to attain. How cool is that?

The big shiny medal was a nice surprise, but the thrill for me is in what I just described. Challenging myself, working toward a goal, meeting and exceeding the goal, and now beginning to work toward even bigger challenges; that's what drives me. Running gives me direction and brings me joy. It keeps me healthy, mentally, physically and spiritually. That's why I love running. I'm so grateful to be able to train and race again. I can't wait for the next challenge!

The big, shiny gold medal.
This is what a faster-than-expected 1/2 marathon looks like in the final sprint to the finish line. Not pretty, but very satisfying.
The Regional Champions
Me with my finisher medal and regional champ medal, still not quite believing it...

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Going home

Meadowlands, Minnesota, only occupies 1/3 of a square mile. It is located in the middle of nowhere on Hwy 133 in northeastern Minnesota.When we moved in 1981 the population was 128. The population fell below 100 people in the 1990's but rebounded over the last several years and is currently listed as a robust 130 residents. When I left I was one of 24 students in my class. Five years later my class, the class of 1986, graduated just 14 students. The K-12 Toivola Meadowlands School closed after graduation in 1990. 

My two younger brothers, their families, and I returned together for the first time since we moved 38 years ago. We ran a 5K race together, laughed with long lost classmates, toured our old school, and told animated stories about what happened at every corner, on every vacant lot, and in the various wooded areas within and surrounding our old town. It was a blast! I'm so glad we went and so grateful to have shared such quality time with my brothers. 

We've arrived.
Our old house, now surrounded by a fence and in a state of disrepair. That's my old bedroom window on the second floor.
My younger brother, Brendon, and my older brother's best friend, John, who still lives in the area.
Toivola Meadowlands School (Toivola is a spot on the road about 10 miles from Meadowlands). The elementary school, on the right, was built in 1923. The high school and gymnasium were added later.
My two "little" brothers and I in front of the school, which hasn't changed one bit! It is now owned by a gentleman who lives and works out of it, and he was kind enough to allow us inside to explore. So thankful for his trust and generosity.
Younger brother, Patrick, checking out the old concession stand near the gymnasium. We were the T-M Rockets.
The girls locker room, exactly as I remembered it! I even remembered which locker was mine. 
A chalkboard sign in the boys locker room, which I discovered was 4 times the size and smelled a lot worse than the girls locker room, in case the boys forgot the score, I guess. 
The secretary to the principal's office. That's my niece's husband and my nephew discovering that the PA system still works!
The library. The neatly stacked magazines were from 2008, so not sure how or why they were there. Perhaps the town used the space for a community library for awhile?
Row of lockers upstairs in the old part of the building. The open door enters into my 7th grade social studies classroom. It's where I was when we heard President Ronald Reagan was shot.
My brothers and I in the high school hallway. Lots of dust and some water damage, but otherwise unchanged.
A surprise on the chalkboard in the science classroom. Apparently somebody from my graduating class had been inside in years past.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Meadowlands

Maybe the timing isn't the best, but my mom gave me the okay from her hospital bed, so I'm on a planned vacation in northern Minnesota. I've been looking forward to this time away for the entire summer because my brothers, at least 2 of the 3, their families, and I are traveling to our teeny tiny "hometown" to run a 5K race and reminisce. The tiny community of Meadowlands (population 128 when we left) hasn't seen this many of us since we moved in 1981! 

In actuality, Meadowlands is as close as we come to a hometown, as my two younger brothers and I moved at least twice more (not necessarily together) before we each left for college. But the time we spent in Meadowlands was crucial growing up time. We moved there when I entered first grade. We moved away after I finished 7th grade. Moving away was traumatic. I didn't want to leave.

In such a tiny town, in long ago days, our parents rarely knew where we were, and that was okay. During the long days of summer we left in the morning, maybe came home for lunch, returned for dinner, and then went back out, often until after dark. There were very few other kids to play with, so we spent a lot of time playing with each other; sports, hide and seek, burning things, biking, building things, sneaking onto the roof of the school, climbing around inside the old, burned-out theater, collecting frogs from the ponds, and generally exploring every inch of that community. It was, we all realize now, quite ideal. We were never bored. And we had a lot less to worry about then.

I'm really looking forward to returning with my brothers. I've taken a couple of trips back with a couple of different people over the years, but never with anyone who shared time with me there. I can't wait to hear their memories, especially of the experiences I may have forgotten. Sharing our little town with my nieces and nephews will be fun, too. I anticipate a lot of sarcasm, a fair amount of teasing, possibly some re-enactments, and a ton of laughter.

Look out Meadowlands, here we come!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Family Drama

I grew up with drama in a dysfunctional family. Until I got sober, my life was frequently filled with drama. Having a chronic illness sometimes creates drama. I despise drama. I strive these days to live a drama-free life. I'm usually pretty successful in this quest. I have to be. Drama isn't good for my mental health.

To stay away from drama, I fill my life with healthy people and disassociate from unhealthy relationships. I work hard to maintain healthy relationships with friends, family, and coworkers by being honest, compassionate, and forthright. Oh, and I'm pretty funny, too. That never hurts. Life isn't nearly as serious as most people think.

Unfortunately, as I'm sure you all know, sometimes drama is thrust upon us. That's where I find myself today. The drama is really my mom's, but being a daughter, it's difficult not to get sucked in. Here's the story...

My mom had major back surgery on Friday. The scheduled 7 hour surgery to fuse her lower thoracic and entire lumbar spine, in order to correct severe and debilitating scoliosis, took 10 and 1/2 hours. There were unforeseen complications which had to be addressed and which will delay her recovery. As a result, she has to remain flat for 72 hours. She's in a fair amount of pain, has unexpected weakness in one leg, and is generally as vulnerable as any of my brothers or I have ever seen her. And her husband disappeared. Drama.

Apparently my stepfather couldn't handle staying in a big city by himself. He couldn't figure out how to get around without my mom's hand holding, couldn't enter an address into a GPS device they use everyday, and oh, didn't even bother to get the name or address of my mom's hospital before he left it to find his rented room. He didn't even eat for the entire day she was in surgery.

After trying to assist the lost puppy via repeated phone calls (including reminding him to eat, advice which he ignored) I finally got my brother, who was awaiting my mom's arrival in the recovery room, to rescue him. My brother and BB, my mom's husband, stuck around until they were able to briefly talk to my mom in ICU late Friday evening. Then my brother escorted BB back to his place of lodging so he wouldn't get lost.

Well, BB apparently didn't like the looks of the parking lot and feared his car would get broken into (his explanation), so instead of staying in Minneapolis with my mom, he drove himself back to their home (3 hours away) in the middle of the night! Oh, and he had my mom's phone and all of her belongings with him, because of course, he was supposed to bring those things to the hospital!

He was supposed to stay in Minneapolis the entire week to support his wife, my mom. He left because of some fantastical fear that their car might be burglarized. Apparently the vehicle was more important than my mother. By the way, he didn't tell anyone he left.

Yesterday, my mom was concerned because it was late morning and BB still hadn't shown up or called. She asked my brother to text BB (because she didn't have her phone) and ask him where he was. They sent texts back and forth several times, with my brother even suggesting that BB take a cab rather than drive the few miles to the hospital. Not once did BB ever let on that he wasn't, in fact, in town! It wasn't until I dialed his number and gave my mom my phone that she discovered he was in Duluth, 3 hours away!

To say I'm angry is perhaps the biggest understatement of the year. I'm angry, disappointed, appalled, and disgusted. My mom has made excuses for his barely supportive behavior for years, and for the most part I've given him the benefit of the doubt, but he went way too far this time! My mom was in tears as she realized he chose improbable car vandalism over her and her very real need for support.

My mom has lived with his BS for 20 years, and even she was stunned by this glaringly selfish, inexcusable act. Let me tell you, it's hard to see your mom lying flat on her back, basically immobile, in pain, and in tears--not because of the pain--but because of the selfish callousness of the man who supposedly loves her.

My mom has taken care of this man's every need for years. He apparently can barely function outside their home without her direction. That became glaringly clear when I tried to assist him from afar while my mom was in surgery. He's had multiple medical issues and surgeries, and she has, of course, hardly left his side each time. I knew he could be a jerk, but I always thought he really loved and cared for my mom, or at least would, when the chips were down. I was wrong. Dead wrong. And I want to kill him (though I'd have to fight back my 3 brothers to get to him first)!

Attacking him, unfortunately, won't help my mom heal. My brothers and I know we need to bite our tongues, especially when he's in the room, in order to keep my mom's stress as low as possible. This is her issue to deal with right now. I'm hoping when she heals she'll be able to make a decision to get out of this relationship, as hard as I know that would be for her. She deserves better. And he has clearly proven he doesn't deserve her.

Monday, August 5, 2019

A satisfying 16

I ran 16 miles yesterday. I haven't run that far or for that long, over 2.5 hours, in well over 2 years. It's great to be training again, but I think I forgot just how tough marathon training is. The fact that it's been over 2 years since I last trained doesn't help. I'm working hard, and I'm tired.

I'm on track with my training for Twin Cities Marathon in early October, and the fatigue is setting in. My legs are tired, my back is tired, my feet are tired, even my brain is tired. But I'm not complaining. I'm running. I'm training. Of course I'm tired.

My brain, especially, is tired because I'm worried about getting injured. Every little twinge and ache scares the crap out of me. As a result, I'm babying my body like never before. It's a bit silly. So far, so good, but I am certainly feeling my age, or my long layoff from training, or both. Most likely both.

Perhaps age, lack of training, and all those injuries have taken their toll. I'm not as strong as I used to be. Unfortunately, the middle of a training cycle is not the best time to attempt to build muscle. At best, I should be able to maintain what I have, but I'm finding doing that has also been difficult. On my non-running days, like today, I have such a long list of other things to accomplish, I often don't get to the strength training I'd like to be doing. I guess I have to accept I'm a normal, aging person, with a job and other responsibilities, who can't focus all of my energy on running.

But I'm not complaining. The fact that I get to focus any of my energy on running is extremely gratifying. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to be training again. Yesterday's long run was tough, but I was so pleased to finish it! As usual running proved to me I am tougher than I think.

I had to fight through the desire to cut my run short around mile 12 yesterday. I knew the immediate fatigue and discomfort might pass. I knew I'd pushed through feeling worse in the past. Running gave me that knowledge. Running taught me I can do more that I think. I can reach higher and push harder than what, in the moment, seems possible. And that's exactly what happened yesterday.

So I'm not complaining about my fatigue. I'll never complain about the number of miles I choose to run. I have been gifted another opportunity to do something I love; to strive toward goals which motivate and empower me. I'm praying my body allows me to continue running as long as running continues to challenge me, satisfy me, and bring me joy. 

Monday, July 29, 2019

Feeling accomplished

I have to admit, it doesn't take too much for me to feel like I've accomplished something. Having lived with depression for 18+ years, I've learned there is no accomplishment too small to celebrate. When I feel like crap, getting out of bed is an accomplishment. But I'm feeling well now, and I'm feeling accomplished tonight.

It's a bit silly, actually. And for most people my accomplishment could be looked at as more of a failure. But not to me. It may have taken 7 years, but now it's done, so rather than flog myself for 7 years of procrastination, I choose to celebrate. And it's not artificial celebration, I truly am feeling accomplished tonight.

So what's the big accomplishment? I finished painting my lower level bathroom.Yup.That's it. Not a very big deal, and certainly something I could have been finished 7 years ago, but I finished it today instead. And I'm not talking about bare walls, either. Literally, I finished painting walls which have been half painted for seven years!

Of course there's a back story, and here it is. My basement flooded 12 years ago. At the time I had a partially finished basement, which included a 3/4 bathroom. I had to tear it all out. Every single piece of stinky, moldy drywall, lumber, carpet, flooring, and fixtures, I took a sledge hammer to it all. I heaved each piece out a small open window into my driveway. When that pile got too big I borrowed a truck, loaded it, and unloaded it all at the local dump. It was a ton of hot, dirty work.

At that time I had just enough money to have my basement waterproofed. That's all I could do for several years. Then I got a loan from the county, a loan for people who had property damage and planned to stay in their homes for at least 10 more years. I didn't think I was going anywhere for 10 years, and the terms were favorable. So I took it. That was about 11 years ago. I'm still here.

I'm still here, and my basement is still unfinished. Being a single woman in a community with a non-stop housing boom, I was wary of hiring somebody off the street to remodel my basement. I figured I'd get overcharged for questionable work. So I waited. Eight years ago I discovered the husband of one of my best friends used to be a contractor. He came and looked. And while he decided it was too much for him, he suggested his father-in-law, my friend's dad. Though he was officially retired, he and "his crew" still did projects like mine occasionally.

With my friend's eye for project design, we designed a remodel which included a large family room, a larger-than-before 3/4 bathroom, a utility room, a laundry room, and storage space. It took Dan and his crew over 6 months to do the work, and I eventually ran out of money. That was seven years ago.

All of the rooms had insulation and walls. The ceilings were finished, the doors were roughed in, and I had new plumbing and electrical throughout the basement. To finish it off, I needed a floor, trim, doors, and bathroom fixtures. I didn't have the expertise for any of that, but I did what I could in the meantime.

After I painted the large room and all of the ceilings, which took a very long time, I started on the bathroom walls. Those walls have had one coat of paint, which stopped just short of the ceiling, for seven years. It's silly. I'm not sure why I never finished them. I didn't have money to finish the remodel, but I have no reason as to why I didn't finish painting the bathroom walls!

Well, they're painted now, two coats all the way to the top. I finally have some extra cash to (hopefully) finish what began over 7 years ago. I found another retired, honest handyman who comes highly recommended. He quoted me a price I can afford, and I'm hoping to have a fully functional, beautiful finished basement within the next few months. That will be weird. Imagine how accomplished I'll feel then!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The beauty of boring

It's been awhile since I wrote a post on my phone, not since I was in the Himalayas, in fact, but I'm waiting for a hair cut so thought I might as well make good use of my time. The good news is I have very little news. I'm doing well.

My mood is great. In fact, my PHQ-9 score, the depression inventory test my doctor makes me take every time I see her, is the lowest it's been in years. Low is good! I'm really pleased about that.

Running is also going well. I ran 14 miles with Jet a couple of days ago. That was the end of a successful week. I survived despite the oppressive heat and humidity! That 14-miler was the first cooler, drier run of the entire week. In total, I ran 4 days and covered 35.2 miles. Nice.

I'm pleased I ran so many miles and lived to tell about it. I'm feeling the added miles a bit in my joints and Achilles tendons, but nothing major. Each run takes me a little longer to get going. I long for the days I used to be able to just bound out the door and down the street without a care! But that's no longer reality.

I've been taking care of my legs like the precious commodities I now know they are. I've been using ice as needed, compression, elevation, Glucosamine Chondroitin (figured it was worth a try), turmeric, strengthening and massage. In fact, I have my own massage tool, and I've been burning up the battery! It all appears to be helping, as I'm still running, and I couldn't be happier about that.

Work is also going well. I've been busy, and that's okay. I usually have one shorter day per week, which is nice. I get a lot more done during the day than I do in the evening. Once I get home from a full day of work, I have a difficult time doing much more than eating and preparing for the next day. It's nice to be able to cross things off my to-do list when I have shorter days, like today.

I apologize for the rather boring post. But as I've always said, sometimes boring is good. No depression symptoms (except for that sleep problem I wrote about in my last post), and no drama is a satisfying place to reside. I'll stay here as long as I'm allowed.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Sleep, or lack thereof

I'm not sure what's up, but my sleep has been poor lately. I love to sleep. I need to sleep. But my no-longer-new, fancy Garmin watch tells me I'm getting less and less sleep. I'm not sure how accurate my watch is, but over the past couple of weeks, it's recorded less and less deep sleep.

My watch records time awake, and time spent in REM, light, and deep sleep. Since I bought the watch last Fall, I've averaged around 1.5 to 2 hours of deep sleep each night. When I was in Duluth over the 4th of July, I noticed my deep sleep increased to well over 2 hours three out of the four nights I was there. And I could tell!

But other than those 4 nights, my deep sleep has been on the decline. Last night, for example, I apparently only got 14 minutes of deep sleep. Again, I'm not sure how accurate my watch is, but since I'm only comparing my historical results to my current results, the trend is clear. I'm not sleeping as well.

Unfortunately, my Garmin results are backed up by my current state of being. I'm tired. Maybe I forgot how much energy training for a marathon takes. I'm in week three of my training, and it's going well, but between work and running I'm finding I have little energy for anything else. I'm hoping that will improve as I continue training. After all, it's been awhile (over two years) since I seriously trained for anything. Who knows, maybe the training is causing the poor sleep.

The fact that I slept better in Duluth makes me wonder about my mattress. I don't have a cheap mattress, and it's not even 10 years old, but I'm considering getting a new one. It seems like a big step to take with no guarantee of success, though, so I'm putting it off. I'm hoping things magically turn around.

If there's no magic, however, I can't wait too long for things to change. I don't like being tired, but more importantly, being too tired is a danger to my mental health. Like I said earlier, I need sleep. I don't function well when I'm lacking sleep. I can pull it off for a few weeks, but any longer than that and life gets dicey. Sleep is crucial to my well being.

It's odd for me to sleep poorly, and that worries me, too. Usually the only time sleep is an issue is when I'm not doing so hot. I think my mood is great right now, but is this lack of sleep an ominous sign? I don't think so, but if you have depression you know how these little things, which may not mean anything, can cause concern.

So I think I'm going to start with new pillows. In addition, I'm watching my caffeine intake, not taking naps (also unusual for me), and watching less TV right before bed. I'm hoping these changes will make a difference. If they don't I may consider that new mattress. Ugh! I need my sleep.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Training again

It's only week two, but I'm pretty excited to be officially training again. My goal is the Twin Cities Marathon, October 6, 2019. Week one of my training could not have gone much better. I ran a total of 27.8 miles, including a long run of 11.2 miles, and I hiked another 6 miles. I felt good. I explored new places. I ran in the sunshine and in a delightful downpour. It was a good week.

That downpour occurred on my way to Duluth last Thursday, July 4th. After a sunny 3.5 hour drive, I stopped at my brother's house to check out a bike trail. I had to do 4 miles at tempo pace, which is currently about 8:12 per mile. It was going to be a hard run. I figured the bike trail thru the woods would be scenic and flat. My brother lives about one mile from the trail, so it was a great excuse to visit him and get my run done before beginning my holiday weekend in earnest.

I visited with my brother and his family for a few minutes and then got ready to go. But by the time I changed into my running gear and got directions, it started to rain...hard. I waited it out. I ventured outside when it had calmed down to a sprinkle. Unfortunately, within the first 1/2 mile it began to pour again.

As long as it's warm, and it was, I don't mind running in the rain. Good thing, because it poured the entire time, almost an hour! After a one mile warm-up I began my tempo pace, but it was raining so hard I could barely see. I missed the trailhead and had to double back, meaning most of my miles were completed on the side of a busy road. No worries, there was a wide shoulder, but I must have looked a fright, as one woman even pulled over to ask if I wanted a ride! Despite missing the trail, it was actually kind of fun running hard in a downpour. I hit my pace, didn't need a shower, and once I changed into dry clothes, I was on my way.

I had another wonderful run Saturday morning. My friends, with whom I was staying, live just up the road from my beautiful alma mater, The College of St. Scholastica, in Duluth, Minnesota. I don't know what I was doing during my four years there, studying and playing volleyball, I guess, but I had no idea there was a network of wooded trails behind the school! Well, I discovered them, totally by accident, during an easy 6-miler Saturday morning. There was a cemetery where all of the nuns have been buried, several Catholic statues, and even a Stations of the Cross nature walk! Who knew? I love discovering new places! I could have run around back there all day.

Finally, I ran my long run on Sunday along a new-to-me section of The Duluth Lakewalk. It was a gorgeous morning. Lake Superior was flat calm and the sun was glinting beautifully off the surface. Many boaters were enjoying a nice morning to fish. I ran 11.2 miles while taking it all in. Afterward I iced my legs in the big lake at Brighton Beach. It was a bit warmer than the 40-ish degree water up the North Shore where I took a dip after my hike on Friday, but it was still a perfect ending to a long run.

I love running. I love discovering new places. I love exploring while cruising along in my running shoes. I'm so grateful to be training again. It's only the middle of week two, which has also gone really well, and I'm feeling hopeful. I'm feeling energized. I have no idea what will happen from here on out. I'm aware another injury could crop up anytime, but I'm doing my best to take care of myself. And so far, I'm enjoying the ride.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Perfect Weekend

If there is such a thing as a perfect weekend I think I just had it. I went to Duluth over the long July 4th weekend. I visited family, stayed and played with my good friends, watched fireworks, had 3 great training runs while exploring 3 new trails, hiked 6 beautiful miles along the Split Rock River, ate some good food, saw Trampled by Turtles in concert, and took a dip (sort of) in my favorite big lake.

Most of my time was spent with my good friends, Mary and Jim. I'm not sure if Mary realizes it, but she is my longest standing friend, and I love her. We've known each other for 33 years. Other than via Facebook, none of my high school, college, or PT school friends are currently a part of my life. I value our friendship more than she probably knows.

I especially enjoy my time with Mary because we enjoy many of the same things; nature, hiking, and everything Duluth among them. We also have similar tastes in movies, music, coffee, and food.

As you all know, I spend much of my time alone, so the opportunity to play with someone who shares my interests, and someone with whom I enjoy spending time, was invaluable. And that's why this was a perfect weekend. I got to do all the things I love to do alongside a great friend. I'm so grateful.

Here are some pictures to enjoy. I'll write more about my running later.

Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge sporting the red, white, and blue.
Fireworks over the harbor as seen from our spot up the hill. I love fireworks!

Early in our hike along the Split Rock River.
Mary, sitting in front of the "Split Rock," 2 miles into our hike.
Waterfalls all along the way. Wonderful background noise!
The view of Lake Superior about 5 miles into our hike.
Me, freaking out a bit, as Lake Superior was colder than I'd ever experienced! Around 40 degrees! Great for icing the legs after a long, hot hike, though.
Trampled by Turtles takes the stage at Bayfront Park on the shore of Lake Superior.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Less Stress

I don't have much time to write tonight, but I wanted to follow up on my last post. I am happy to report my supervisor and I had a long, face-to-face discussion yesterday, and as a result I am less stressed today. I'm grateful my supervisor was willing to listen to my concerns. I give her a lot of credit. The discussion was professional but occasionally a bit heated. It was frequently uncomfortable but also relieving. I'm so grateful, again, that my supervisor was willing to go the extra mile to work with me to resolve our issues.

There was, I think, a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions on both sides. After all was said and done, I think I understood better where her decisions were coming from, and I think she understood why I felt I was being treated unfairly. We worked it out. I'm really happy about that.

Working it out was what I had most hoped to do. I love my job. I love the building in which I primarily work. I love the nursing staff and other therapy staff with whom I share my days. We have a really great team, we do good work, and we help people. I value that. I didn't want to lose it.

I was offered another position at another company, but I'm glad I didn't have to take it. I didn't want to leave. I'm relieved, grateful, and satisfied we were able to work through our differences. It appears happier, less stressful days are on the horizon. I'm anxious to get back to work!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

More stress

I know I wrote recently about a stressful situation at work. I wrote about trying to accept the situation even though I didn't like it. Well, I just got my yearly performance review, and it brought the whole issue up once again. My supervisor, the very person who has decided to cut my hours without my consent, nicks me for my recent "struggle" with my new schedule and my not-so-positive attitude. I admit, I had a couple of episodes of not-the-most-positive attitude, but I find myself angry and resentful at this being raised as an issue.

I had two episodes over the past 4-6 weeks where I didn't display the best attitude. I admit that. It was in the midst of all of the schedule changes, which I thought were unfairly being forced upon me, but that's no excuse. I didn't say anything I shouldn't have said, it didn't affect my patient care at all, but it was clear to the staff person who wrote up this performance review that I was unhappy. I regret that I let my unhappiness show in that way. But that happened twice.

In the grand scheme of things, my attitude at work is beyond positive. I engage cheerfully with my coworkers and other staff within the facility. I'm interested in being a part of the entire facility team, not just a member of the therapy staff. With this goal in mind, I began a "Question of the Day" white board a few months ago. It hangs just outside the entrance to our therapy office. I post thoughtful or humorous questions, and the staff, visitors and patients post their answers. As I suspected, the staff love it. Visitors love it. And even some of the patients participate. The conversations the questions initiate strengthen the relationships between the therapy staff and nursing staff. It was a simple thing to do. I enjoy it. They enjoy it. It creates discussion, lighthearted debate, and humor among all of us. This is not mentioned on my review.

In addition to my yearly review, there is another reason my schedule issue has once again come to the forefront. Throughout the process of my schedule changing and me losing hours, I had been told it was a temporary change. I now know that is not true. But I don't know it from the person who should have communicated it to me. I learned of it secondhand. It's exactly what I suspected all along, but I feel like being lied to and stringing me along with "it's just temporary" has caused me a lot of undo stress. I'm honest and direct with my supervisors. I guess I expect honesty and directness in return.

Of course, I wouldn't have been happy if the decision to change my schedule had been delivered honestly and directly, but at least I could have processed it and moved forward. Since it wasn't communicated honestly, since I was told things which weren't true, I had added stress every time one of those untruths was contradicted by my supervisor's actions. I'd feel betrayed and disrespected. I'd point out the contradictory action, raise the issue again, and end up in another stressful conversation with my supervisor. It is clear to me now that she was only saying things to appease me all along. I would much rather have been told the truth from the get go. If I had, there would no longer be an issue. And I wouldn't be sitting here writing about it, again, months later.

I'm frustrated. I feel disrespected, betrayed, and lied to. I'm not used to interpersonal work stress. I'm really not. I'm accustomed to working well with others and having respectful relationships with my supervisors. I feel like I've held up my end of the bargain on this one, but I don't feel I've been treated with equal respect from the other party involved.

I guess the lesson is I can't control the actions of others. That's a sucky lesson in this case, but it's the lesson, nonetheless. No matter what I say or do, how professional or unprofessional I am, she's going to do and say what she chooses. And I have no control over that. It sucks. I no longer trust anything she says, and I don't like that either. I wish she had communicated with me honestly, but wishing it won't make it so. Now it's up to me to decide what actions I need to take to ease my stress. I can't fix her, but I can fix me. And that's what I'm going to (attempt to) do.



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