Sunday Snaps

In the spirit of my love for instagram, I thought I would dedicate Sundays to my favorite snaps. Just a little visual of ‘lately’ if you will.

I love getting out of work at night with plenty of daylight left to soak up the evening sun on my runs…evening miles

Now if only I can get the temps to warm up.

I have been on a Spring cleaning spree. It feels so good to just pare things down ya know. After spending hours cleaning out my dresser and closet I have come to the conclusion that I need another fitted t-shirt like a hole in my head and that my love of scarves has gotten out of control.

scarvesSadly this is only half of them. I have a whole other box in my coat closet. Oy!

In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day my boss bought me this:mint vodka whip creamThat would be Irish Mint Vodka Whipped Cream. Can you say trouble?! Oh, and it taste REALLY good. Like I need another excuse to suck whipping cream from the can.

Speaking of booze, does anyone else devote a whole shelf of their fridge to it? fridge favoritesI am really digging Shock Top Belgian White as of late.

Another thing that has been my jam is avocados.sammieI put them on my sandwiched, in my scrambled eggs, on my salads, in my tacos….I think they pretty much pair with anything.  Or just eat them plain. Yeah, I do that too.

My hubby and I rolled out of out sweats for once and spit polished ourselves up for his brothers wedding. I even dared to rock some red lips.me and my man

Even Rogan was impressed:Rogan

Almost as impressed as I was to be spending my Saturday at Lowes. Just like last Saturday. And the Saturday before that. And the one before that…..loathe lowes

At least Joe knows how to bribe me:shamrock shake

Last but not least, I really loved this months issue of Runners World. Especially the article about Steve Prefontaine:Prefontaine

Gosh I love that!

Did anyone do a Shamrock Race this weekend? I ran with my Run Camp group and had a fun 9 miles.

The Race That Wasn’t

My heart is so full with all of the well wishes and good luck that you sent for my race! Truly, you all are the best!

But….

I did not get to race. (Ahhh, it pains me so much to even write that!) Yep, my very first DNS. I went to bed on race eve a little nervous, a lot excited, and downright eager to get up and see what the Winter Blast Half Marathon had in store for me.

A few hours later I awoke from my slumber to hear my man getting sick in the bathroom. I got up to comfort him and offer him some water. When I finally crawled back into bed I tossed and turned while he moaned away in pain.

Exhausted, I finally officially woke up and my stomach felt off. I tried to ignore it and hopped in the shower to get ready. (Yes, I was showering BEFORE getting all sweaty. It helps me wake up!)  That’s when the first wave of nausea hit. From there on out, things got ugly real fast.

Out of all mornings, why oh why did I have to get sick the day of my race?! Ughhhh! So, so bummed. Joe and I took turns in the bathroom all day and I tried to ignore the fact that I was missing out on my half marathon. I became so dehydrated and weak, that by the time Sunday night rolled around I did not even care about the race. I just wanted to be healthy!

And here we are three days later and my stomach is still off. I have been living off of bread, crackers, Gatorade, and soup. I haven’t been able to run. I mean I need to be by a bathroom at all times if ya catch my drift.  Ah well, I am trying to look at the bright side: I am pretty sure that I have lost five pounds. flu

I have started to feel a lot better tonight, so I think I am finally on the upswing. That’s a good thing, because if I go much longer without my beloved coffee or running, I might hurt someone. No joke.

Have you ever signed up for a race and not been able to make it to the starting line? Do you shower before a race?

Fear, Heartache, and Healing

When tragedy struck Newtown, CT last Friday my heart broke as fear, sorrow, and questions of ‘Why?’ crept in. I think as a Nation, we all wept.

I have no words. All I do know is that I am slowing down. Lifting my voice in praise. Holding my loved ones a little tighter. Praying a little longer.

Today I finished reading the memoir Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It is a national bestseller about a young woman who hikes eleven hundred miles along the Pacific Crest Trail by herself, soul-searching in the wake of her mother’s death and own divorce.

She has a passage on ‘fear’ that struck a chord with me.Wild
When I read the passage last week, I immediately thought of how I fear new challenges. How, if I was not careful, I could let that fear define me.

I fear setting myself up for failure.

I fear not succeeding.

I fear letting myself, or even worse, loved ones down.

After Friday my fears took on a new meaning. I fear for safety. I fear for what our world has become. I fear for the future and my unborn children.

“Fear begets fear.” Yes. Yes it does. I need to tell myself a different story.

We all do.

There is good in the world. Rewrite the story. Create it.

I have no words for the heartache the families of the victims must feel. Every thing seems hollow. The ache that I feel is deep and my sympathy great. I am staying steadfast in my prayers for them. I think it is safe to say that they would not want their loved ones life’s to be defined by this act of violence.

Through the darkness, we need to know that there is light still left in this world. We can not let this tragedy paralyze us with fear. We need to rewrite the story of where we are heading.

How?

I wish I had the answers. For now I am going to try to be the light. I am going to make sure that I write my own story why I am here on this earth.

“Power begets power.” Make an effort to be a positive power, a positive force.

Of possible interest:

Sleepless Nights and Finding Peace

Training is officially underway and can I just say that it feels so good to be back at it! Run thru the lights was spirited, festive, and fun.

Run Thru the Lights 2012The course was switched up a bit this year and it was a lot better in my opinion. It showcased downtown a bit more and all of the beautiful Christmas decorations. I got to see tons of friends and enjoy the running community of Kalamazoo. A few years back this run was tiny, with only 50 or so participants. This year it swelled to over 1300! Run Thru the Lights 2012

Source.

Saturday kicked off Run Camp, and even though I struggled with a migraine all day Friday, I figured that with plenty of rest I would wake up ready and rearing to go.

I went to bed early on Friday only to be woken up at three or so with a pounding head and a mind that would not turn off. Ugh. “Why tonight?” I kept asking myself. I just want some rest!

That’s when a memory hit me like a ton of bricks.

Sometimes, out of nowhere, memories of my Mother come to me and literally take my breath away. A moment that I tucked away and have not thought about or seemingly forgot comes back with full force and gives me pause. When this happens I play it over and over in my mind, hungry for details so that I will not forget. I want to capture it, and never let it go again.

The mind, it’s a funny thing. It can take your memories and dull them after time. It can make them fade and disappear as the months and years go by. And when you lose someone who is so dear to you, this is painful.

I lost my father when I was 19 and over the years his voice began to fade. I have to struggle to remember what his voice sounded like. It kills me. I just want to hear him speak one more time so that I can bottle it up.

I am so afraid that this will happen with my Mom too. I replay her voice everyday in my head to hold onto it. So when I she came to me in the middle of the night Friday, when I was begging to God for rest and healing for my headache, I grabbed hold of the memory and played it over and over until it rocked me to sleep like a lullaby.

It was something that I had not really thought about since it happened, but it was this:

Last year, the night before Run Camp kicked off, my sister, brother-in-law, nieces, and my Mom decided to come stay with me for the night as they were in route to visit my other sister and niece Charlie who were in the hospital in Ann Arbor for Charlie’s heart surgery. It was a kind of last-minute decision and they did not get in until 9 o’clock or so.

I remember that I wanted to be to in bed early for the first day of Camp, but I also wanted to stay up and spend time with them.

What came to me on Friday was snap shots. Me opening the door and seeing my Mom. I had just seen her a couple of weeks before at Thanksgiving, but in that short time she had gotten thinner. Weaker. But her smile.

God, her beautiful smile. It lit up my house.

She could not stay up long after she arrived. She was tired from the trip. But the short hour or so that she did I could not get enough of her. I knew she was not getting better, I knew our time was limited. I just wanted to talk with her, touch her.

I can still picture her sitting on my couch, laughing at my dog. I can picture me tucking her in. Hugging her good night. The snap shots of that evening came at me at full force.

And I remember how the night before the very first Run Camp a year ago, I laid in my bed wide awake not able to sleep. My Mother laid in the bedroom next to mine and I was up for hours that night wondering. The questions that haunted me over and over and over then. Why? How much time? How can I show her how much I love her? Does she know?

I got up early the next morning, while the house was still asleep and went to my first day of Camp with these questions still in my head. By the time I got back my family had already left to visit my other sister. I was left with bittersweet joy of having that surprise, short visit with my Mom.

And here I was a year later. On the eve of Camp when her smile, voice, and the memories of that night came rushing back to me.

What a difference a year can make. So much can happen.

So why am I writing all of this? Maybe to put it into words so I will not forget about it again. To remind myself to not take this short life for granted. To remember that I am healthy and able and that is why I can and should run with reckless abandon. To remember how much Run Camp got me through such a difficult time last year and how it can help me get through more healing this year.

I know it sounds dramatic, but I honestly do not know how I could go on, at least with such peace, if it was not for running. I did not start running until later in life. I down right HATED it before. One day I just began. Now I think that God put it in my life so I could learn to deal with what was to come.

When my Dad passed away I did not have a healthy outlet. I got swallowed up by depression and turned to anything that would take the pain away and make me forget. Alcohol, men, drugs. When my Mom was diagnosed with cancer I had already fell in love with running, so I turned to it.

I ran to escape, to pray, to talk with God. I ran with friends to talk about what was going on. Or I ran with friends to NOT talk about what was going on, but rather focus on something else. I ran to sort through my emotions, to forget my emotions. To heal.

It is such a different grieving process. That does not mean that it is an easier. In fact, it is harder on so many levels to FACE the pain. But one thing it is: more peaceful.

I am finding more peace. Day by day. Run by run. Sleepless, memory filled night by night. Cry by cry. Prayer by prayer, I am finding peace.

If you are going through anything similar, I encourage you to turn to the road or trail to help you heal too. It is such a powerful place to work through life.

For me, I am so thankful for the outlet that it has given me. run with gratitude

Ramblings From My Couch

Day five, still sick. Someone please tell me to suck it up and just GO TO THE DOCTOR!

The ‘crud’ has traveled to my chest and has decided to settle in and camp for a while. I am coughing so much that I feel like my lungs are literally bleeding. It sounds very sexy, but trust – it is not.  I have promised myself that if there is no real improvement by tomorrow that I will seek out a professional. Promise.

The plus side of being at one with my couch is that I now have a new lover. We met via Netflix on Friday and we have been spending a lot of time together. Meet Charlie Hunnam, aka Jax:

Stringy, blonde haired biker dudes are not my usual type, but hot damn, I am smitten. I blame it all on Paula. She wrote about Sons of Anarchy and how she was oh-so-in-love with the show and I knew I had to check it out. She has great taste in TV after all. Needless to say, she was right. This show is good. Like I am counting the hours until I am out of work so that I can watch it good.

Of course, I am trying not to be a total couch potato. Seeing how I feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest, running has been out of the question. I have been walking every night though. Which leads me to my next ramble…

Where have I been? Why am I just now discovering the joys of downloading podcasts to listen to while I am walking or (hopefully soon) running? Last week I spent the best $1.99 that I have spent in a long time by purchasing the app Downcast. It lets me download all of my favorite podcasts, save them to playlist, and enjoy them at my convenience.

Go ahead and say it. I know, I know. I am JUST NOW learning about this. I am always late to the party.

Anyways, it makes the time fly by. I am a huge NPR nerd and I am loving listening to ‘Fresh Air’ and ‘All Things Considered’ while I am getting in a workout.

That’s if you count walking 40 minutes at a turtle’s pace a workout, because that was all that I could manage tonight.

Another thing that my ears are loving as of late: Anything by Grace Potter & The Nocturnals. ‘The Lion The Beast The Beat’ is a FAN-tastic song to run to. It reminds me of old school Heart. And if you do not know who Heart is or can not sing any of their lovely 80′s music on cue….well, I shake my head in shame at you.

But back to Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, I love them and they are coming to Kalamazoo! My favorite bands rarely come to my town so this is a big deal for me. I NEED tickets. They go on sale Friday. I am all over it. 

Joe is real excited that I am going to be dragging him to this. <—–sarcasm

One last thing before I sign off:

If you have not read Heath {On The Run}‘s post today be sure to check it out. It is one of the most beautiful, inspiring reads that I have read in a long time. Have a tissue close by!

What show are your currently obsessed with? Do you listen to podcasts and if so which ones? Who would you like to catch in concert soon?

A Healing Run

Aren’t running friends the best? I have been thinking a lot about friendship and running lately and how each one fosters the other so beautifully.

There are times when I need to be out on the road solo. Just me and my thoughts, my legs pumping away as I focus on my breathing. I might need to work thru a problem or maybe just zone out all together. I might want to rock to my iPod and just go as fast as I possibly can.

Other times though, I need my running buddies to power thru a run. I need companionship to motivate me to lace up my running shoes. I need to laugh thru my miles or chatter away to make the time fly and the run more fun. Lately this is the only kind of running that I have been doing.

I think part of is has to do with the fact that I do not want to be alone with my thoughts. When I am, my mind wanders to the loss of my mother and it’s too painful. I just can’t go there.

To be honest, I have not been able to go there at any point. I keep shuffling my emotions aside. Just get thru the day. Joe has tried to get me to talk about it. I shut him down. Friends have offered a listening ear. I struggle for the right words to say. Even at night, when all is quiet and my mind wanders to the loss I feel, I immediately grab my iPhone for a distraction. Anything to help me not go ‘there’ – to the pain, the hurt, and the loss.

To say that I was running from my feelings would be an accurate statement. So how ironic is it that my feelings caught up to me as I was running.

Last Saturday a group of my running friends decided to meet up for an early morning run followed by breakfast. We got into our groove and began catching up and chatting away. One of my buddies who I have not run with in a few weeks asked me how I was doing and with that one question, the flood gates opened. Out came weeks….months…of emotion.

Here was a friend who had been through what I was going through. She had lost her mother years before. She listened to me and let me get everything that I had been feeling out. The miles ticked by and we kept running. She offered words that I longed to hear. That these feelings that I am having are okay. That I will be okay.

I think what made this conversation possible was there was no eye contact. No sitting across from one another. We were side by side, running. Did she know that there was tears streaming down my face? Yes, but she kept her eyes straight ahead and we just ran. Did I know she was tearing up too? Yes, but we just kept running.

As the run went on and we kept talking, I could literally feel a weight being lifted off of my shoulders. And when we finished and hugged, I felt that the healing finally begin. I know that I will never get through this loss, but now I also know that I do not have to through this pain alone.

Spending time on the road with these ladies over the past year, a very hard year at that, has meant so much more to me than running. The support, friendship, and therapy that I have received from my running group has helped hold me together when I felt like falling apart. I owe these ladies so much.

Kristin Armstrong summed it up beautifully in her book ‘Mile Markers’, “I don’t run from things anymore, mind you; I run thru them.” But what I would add to her quote is that I run thru them with the help of friends.

How has running with a friend helped you? Have you read Mile Markers by Kristin Armstrong yet?! If not, DO! It’s my favorite running book :-)

“For When I am Weak, Then I am Strong”

There are many seasons in life. Some you weather. Some you sail thru.

This past year there have been incredible highs and painful lows.

As you may have noticed, I have been absent for a while. The reason behind my absence has been that I lost my Mom to cancer on August 19th. And to be honest, I just have no words.

Nothing that I say or write can begin to convey the emotion that I feel. The loss takes my breath away if I think about it too much. To say I miss her does not even begin to describe how much my heart aches to touch her, hear her laugh, or to tell her (just one more time!) how much I love her.

There are no words.

Instead I will share with you my Mother’s favorite verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

She chose to have this read at her funeral. It was a verse that meant so much to her, especially thru her struggle with cancer. And how truly amazing is it to know that His grace is all we need! No matter the storm or season, with God we are strong.

I have drawn on that verse many times over the past few weeks, thinking a lot about the power of it during my runs. How therapeutic the road has been to me….a time to sort thru the pain, deal with my emotions, and just focus on breathing. In and out.

So that is where I am. Healing. Some days are good. Some days are hard. There have been good moments in hard days and hard moments in good days.

Just like the road has welcomed me back, I hope that I find some comfort in getting back into a routine here too. Thank you for being patient with this blog and please know that I am looking forward to getting back to writing.

One thing that this past year has taught me is to embrace the day for life is short. I lost someone who meant the world to me and I am forever changed because of that. Now it is important that I learn and grow and always, always remember Mom’s favorite verse and her love and hope for me. 

A Year

A year ago today I carved out a little space in the big ‘ol blog world and ‘Miles Gone By’ was born.

A year ago I was newly in love…with running. You know the kind of love I am talking about. The head-over-heels, I can not get enough, I want to eat, sleep, breath all things running kind of love.

I started this blog with the intent to talk about my new love. After all, when we are newly in love isn’t that all we want to talk about?

Looking back on this past year, there have been many changes. There were highs, there were lows.

I married my best friend…

…Only to find out two weeks later that my mother has stage 4 lung cancer.

I trained for a fall half marathon, only to be plagued by knee issues and personal storms.

I decided a fall half was not meant to be.

I spent a lot of my time this winter in hospitals and in prayer, asking God to heal my niece who was born with heart defects.

Peanut is doing much better. Thank you God for answered prayers.

This past year I celebrated new personal distance records…14 miles, 16 miles, 20 miles.

I ran my first 10K race:

And my first Marathon:

I even ran my second half marathon this past weekend (which I still owe you a post on ;-) )

It has been a year filled with love and heartbreak. With setbacks and breakthroughs. With tears and laughter.

But one thing stayed constant.

I am still in love with running.

That is why I blog, to share that love with like-minded, love-sick runners like myself.

I am always amazed that people stumble across my blog at all and even more amazed that a few of you faithfully read it.

For that I thank you.

From you I have found more support, love, and inspiration than you could possibley know.

And as much as I am humbled and grateful for that, I am not blogging for any of those things. Rather I write about my love with running for me. To see how far I have come and to see how far I still want to go.

As my dear blogging friend Jess (EatDrinkBreatheSweat) wrote in her post today, it can be difficult to always know where to invest our time. She talks about blogging with intention and not because you feel like you ‘have’ to.

That is a theme that I will keep going with here at Miles Gone By. Some weeks I may have a lot to say and some weeks I may need to unplug. I think that there have been both scenerios this past year.

Whatever the future may bring, I pray to continue to grow as a runner and as a person and I am thankful that I have my little corner of the blog world to share that growth with you.

Cheers to year one of Miles Gone By and many more running adventures in the future. *clink*

:-)

Shoe Woes

Last week I bought myself a spiffy new pair of ascis. I loved the color and although a different model than the current pair I was wearing (which they no longer make), I thought that they would work just fine. Better than fine in fact. I mean, hello! Purple laces! Can it get much better than that?! 

I was eager to break them in so I took them for a quick two-mile run right away.

They felt just ‘ehhhh’. Not as magical as I had hoped they would. No worries, I thought. Sometimes these things take time.

Run #2 in my new kicks: A ran a little longer, but the shoes did not feel any better.

Surely the third time would be a charm! So I laced up my sexy new laces and headed out for my 10 mile run on Tuesday night.

At 5 miles my feet felt uncomfortable. By mile 7 I was in major pain. At mile 10 I wanted these shoes from Satan off my feet ASAP!

Needless to say my magical, purple laced shoes did not deliver. Back to the shoe store I went.

After working with a very patient, young man for way too long, I am now the owner of the worlds ugliest running shoes ever. And before I show them to you, let me remind you that it is not a fashion show that I will be wearing these to. No. It is a race.

It is not a fashion show. It is not a fashion show. It is NOT a fashion show. <—–(I have been repeating this to myself ever since I have left the store.)

Here are the ugly shoes that I have to embrace whether I like it or not because they are the only shoes that my stubborn feet found comfortable:

Besides being ugly, these shoes ran me $60 more than the first pair I tried! Yuck. I hate paying so much for ugly. Oh, right….I am paying for comfort.

Ok. So they are not that bad. They just do not have the coolness factor of my purple laced beauties. In fact they kinda remind me of old lady sneaks.  Whoomp, whoomp. As long as they get me to the finish line pain free, I do not care how dorky they look.

Apparently this model has more arch support and my flat feet need all the support they can get. I do not remember the exact model that they are. I will just call them model GEL-ugly. I just pray that they work. I have three and a half weeks to break them in so I am on crunch time.

After switching out my shoes and impulse buying a way too expensive tank top that I can not afford (put me in a running store for long enough and I can not be held accountable for giving into temptation), I met up with my hubby to walk thru our new home. We took tons of ‘before’ pics before we start tearing up all of the carpet to refinish the wood floors.

I will have to give you pics as we go along, but here is one of us in front of our new casa:

Home sweet home! We will be spending the next week painting and such before we officially move in. It is an older home (built in 1929), so there are plenty of things to update. We are ready to get our hands dirty and work hard to make it ‘ours’. I am so excited and slightly overwhelmed. But more so excited :-)

How long does it typically take you to break in a new pair of running shoes? Color? Comfort? Price? What factors do you consider before purchasing a new pair of kicks?

18 Miles, Galloway Style

18 miles is IN.THE.BOOKS!

And now I have a brand new BFF. His name is Jeff and we are like peas and carrots.

You might know him as Mr. Galloway. Well, even though we have yet to meet I am already smitten. Ok, so maybe not with him per say, but definitely with his method of training. I decided to tackle my eighteen mile long run this past weekend with the his run/walk method. I ran for nine minutes, walked for one and then repeated until I reached eighteen miles. It went FAN-TAS-TIC!

I felt strong, my legs (although fatigued at the end) held up pretty darn well, and my time was BETTER than my 17 mile run that I did a few weeks ago. Hello Mr. Galloway, I think you know your stuff.

I did feel a little weird about this method for a hot second. Like I should be running the whole time, otherwise I was cheating the run. But I got over it. I WAS moving the whole time, giving my body a minute to recover after running stronger and harder for nine minutes, instead of running sub-par.

I will be trying this method again with my 20 mile run that I have this upcoming week. My body felt good and my time was improved. Win, win.

In other news, life is about to get very busy. Joe and I are closing on our new home next Monday! We are so excited for our new roles of homeowner. I will share more about the home later, but it is older and needs lots of TLC and updating.

That means Joe will have to channel him:

And I will have to channel her:

God help us.

Between packing, moving, marathon training, working, painting, and updating our new home (geez, I am tired just thinking about it!), my post may be few and far between over the next month. Have no fear, I will not leave you for good! You are not that lucky ;-)

And finally, I have a new favorite song that I love running to. Enjoy!

Do you recognize it from the Microsoft Internet Explorer commercial?! It was just so catchy that I had to look it up and download :-)

Have you ever tried the Galloway running method? What tunes are your running to this week?