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A Nice Surprise

I’m sitting here in my living room watching the Olympics and reflecting on last week and looking ahead to next.  I can’t believe how quickly summer has flown by and fairly soon, we’ll be back at school.  What have I done this summer?  Where did the time go?

Thinking back to June when I finally went to the doctor for my hip pain, I think I’ve come a long way.  Mostly mentally and in my heart, but also I know that my hip has healed somewhat.  It’s a slow process that’s for sure.  Most of my running right now is pain free, although there are times when it does still hurt and then I just walk.  And that’s okay.

One of my readers told me after that appointment with the hip doctor that maybe I would find some other form of exercise that I really enjoy….one that would surprise me.  I really didn’t believe her, but I did find out through all this that I do really enjoy bike riding.  It’s not like this is the first time EVER that I’ve gone on long bike rides, but for some reason I am liking it more than in the past and I would say that I appreciate it.  I suppose it’s a different feeling now because of my hip injury and the new perspective that I’ve found through all this. 

And I can’t really say that there is any ONE THING that I like about riding my bike…there are lots of things that I am not sure how to put into words.  Of course the nature is wonderful….the feeling of a sort of freedom…the fact that it seems as though I’m hundreds of miles away….or maybe it’s several things. 

On Saturday, I decided that my cross training was going to be a bike ride because lately I can hardly wait to get on the bike.  These are new feelings for me because I am usually feeling like that about running and nothing else.  We were going to be at some friend’s family reunion Saturday night, and I decided that I would ride from my house to their house via our local bike trail.  The mileage between my house and their house via the local bike trail….25 miles.  I was nervous and excited at the same time.

I absolutely loved it.  It was quite easy until the last 4 miles.  Actually, the last 6.5 were a steady incline.  I was tired, thirsty even though I had water with me.  Oh and I had on a backpack because I was going to shower at their house and I had my change of clothes and toiletries in my backpack…..which was heavy! 

There were times that even though I was probably not far from somebody’s house/farm that I knew, I felt like I was hundreds of miles away.  I felt lost on the trail…and not lost in the sense that I didn’t know where I was…I was lost in the nature, the beauty of the trees, the smells, the sounds.  I was hundreds of miles away from any responsibility and it felt so good.  There were places that were so beautiful that I actually uttered out loud…”My gosh that is beautiful.”   Here is one of those places.  I’m sure the picture doesn’t even get across how beautiful this part of the trail is.  The trees make almost a canopy over the trail.  The trunks of the trees were knotted and curvy…it was really breathtaking.

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I did meet other bikers on the trail and I must say, hardly any of them said hello back to me.  I was shocked.  I said hello to everybody that I met.  Of the bikers that I met, 95% of them would not say hello and would not even smile either.  I have no idea if that’s the way it is with bikers, but that is what I encountered yesterday. 

When I reached my friend’s house, I was tired, sweaty, thirsty, and happy.  It was a long way to ride a bike…25 miles.  I know there are people who go a lot farther than that on a regular basis and I’m not saying I’m anything special.  But for me, it was a long way and I’m glad that I did it.  It felt great in every way.  And to my reader who told me last month that I might find something else that I enjoy….thank you and you were right.  I’m glad your voice has been in the back of my head since you wrote that and slowly opened my eyes and my heart to a new adventure. 

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My Dad and 5Ks~It’s Our Thing

I want to first start by saying that even though this blog is about my dad, I am very close to both of my parents.  My mom, dad, and I have such a wonderful and close relationship.  My mom and I have so much in common….I have her love for playing the piano (she was my first piano teacher), have her hands, we finish each other’s sentences, and we both have the ability to “feel” things about situations and people.  We both just sort of “know” when something isn’t right or when something is.  Maybe that’s just plain old women’s intuition, whatever, but we both have it.

Even though I am extremely close to my mother, this blog is about my dad.  I am also extremely close to him as well.  I have his eyes, I’ve been told I have his sense of humor, we clear our throats the same way (odd, but true), and I would say we share the same emotional response to things that we care about.  We react in a very similar way when something upsets us and when we feel very passionately about a cause, we both throw everything we have into that cause.  

One other thing that my dad and I share is our love for 5Ks.  This started several years ago, at least 10, and we would go to about every one we could together.  At that time, I would run and he would walk.  He was always very competitive about his 5Ks and I was not.  He was out to win his age group.  We would travel to the 5K together, be together before, separate and do our own race, and meet up at the end.  It was “our” thing.

One particular 5K in 2006, we went to a nearby town (from my hometown of Lawler) and we were going to do our usual thing…I would run and he would walk.  He really wanted to win his age group and all I could think about was him.  So after our routine before the race, the gun went off and we started.  I was running and thinking about my dad.  Wondering how his race was going…praying that he would win.  I had a plan that as soon as I got done, I would really watch to see if any of his competition would come in before him. Once I finished and got my water and banana, I parked myself right at the finish line….waiting and watching.  Here came my dad and I knew that he would be first in his age group.  He was a little nervous even though I was SURE that he was the first one in.  

It came time for the awards.  I couldn’t wait to get to his age group!  I could tell that he couldn’t wait either. Suddenly, I heard MY name being called.  What?  Dad and I looked at each other wondering what the heck was going on.  I had won MY age group!  I was so focused on my dad, that I had no idea what my time was, how fast I had gone, or anything about my own race.  So I went up to the front and was handed a trophy!  My dad was beaming!  And sure enough, Dad won HIS age group!  We had our picture taken for that local paper and again, my dad was beaming!  What a fun day that was!

We kept doing this for another couple of years and then the 5Ks stopped when we heard 5 words.  Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma.  It was stage 3 cancer and he would need 6-8 rounds of chemo.  It was devastating.  During chemo, Dad was incredibly sick.  In fact, there was a point when he was hospitalized for several days due to an infection.  After that, he wasn’t able to even see visitors because of the high risk of germs.  My mom was by his side the whole time, constantly taking care of him.  He beat the cancer, is still Lymphoma free today, and is a true hero in my eyes….and so is my mom because the care giver role is such a difficult one as well.

My first half marathon in August 2010 was in honor of them.  His battle with cancer and my mom for taking such good care of him.

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This next picture is of my dad reaching out to me right near the finish line.  He was cheering me on!  This is my favorite picture.

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Once he got stronger, he began working up to the 5K distance.  Last year, we walked together and sure enough, he won his age group!  

Yesterday, I went to walk with him again.  It’s so fun to walk with him.  We talk, we bond, we laugh.  This year they did not do awards on age groups.  They only gave awards to the top male and top female.  This was just fine with us.  The main thing this year is that we did it together.  Don’t get me wrong, even the years when he wanted to win his age group, we have loved being together.

 I’m not sure why, but this year felt extra special to me.  Maybe it’s because of the trouble I’ve been having with my hip and the perspective I’ve found on my own journey.  I’m not really sure.  

My dad inspires me every day….as so does my mom.  I am so blessed to have them as parents.  I am so blessed to be able to have these 5Ks with my dad.  It’s our thing.

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Perspective, Reading, and Mrs. Day

Last week I blogged about my hip progress, and this week, things are the same.  I think getting even a little better, which is great.

After I posted that blog, a woman that I used to team teach Language Arts with commented on my blog.  Mrs. Day is an amazing teacher, woman, friend, mother, grandmother….and everything in between.  We’ve taught together, we’ve laughed together, we’ve cried together, we’ve had a few beers together!  Mrs. Day is kind, incredibly smart, sincere, loving, funny…and she knows me very well.  It’s kind of freaky how well she knows me.

Two things that I have learned through this hip injury and PT are priorities and perspective.  It’s not the end of the flipping world that I can’t run the Women Rock MN Marathon.  It won’t be the end of the world if I have to pull out of the event.  I’m learning things that I haven’t been doing correctly and I’m fixing that.  At one time, I thought that my life revolved around running, and I’ve learned how incredibly wrong that was.  Yes, I love running and yes, running enhances my life.  But it isn’t my whole life and I know that there was a time where I was completely over-the-top in my mind about it.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t still love to run, talk about running, writing about running, but my perspective has changed through my hip injury.

Enter Mrs. Day after she read last week’s blog.  As I said, she knows me freakishly well.  Mrs. Day is also a MASTER at choosing books for people.  And I mean a MASTER.  She recommended a book to me.  An adolescent book.  A running book.  She said when she first read it, she thought of me.  And she knew I would “get it”.  She wouldn’t have even had to say that stuff, just the mere recommendation would get me reading the book.

I found the book and I finished it in two days.  Could have been one day, but my schedule didn’t allow for that.  I was amazed.  I cried, I laughed, I could relate to the main character’s feelings about running.  I did “get it” and I know why Mrs. Day chose after last week’s blog to recommend it to me.

I wasn’t ready before.  I was too self-absorbed.  I did not have the perspective that I have now.   Yes, I still want to run and I still have goals for myself, God willing.  But going through this hip injury, my heart has changed.  My emotions have changed.  Mrs. Day could sense that….and she knew that I was ready for this book.  Now that I have read it, I have changed a little more.  I know why she recommended it to me and I am so grateful to her.

So I am recommending it to my readers.  You don’t have to be a runner to read it…you don’t have to be any kind of athlete or big time exerciser to read it and get it.  And some people won’t get it.  That’s just the way it is.

If you read it, I sincerely hope you “see”….and if you get the message in the book, you will get this sentence.

Thank you Mrs. Day….and I love you and since the day I met you, I have seen you.

Here is the book….The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen.

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Three Things Tuesday

Hello friends!  It’s been a while since I’ve blogged.  Thank you to those of you who have emailed, text, and/or asked about the progress with my hip.  Thing number one: hip update.

I have been going to physical therapy and actually learning a lot about the anatomy of the hip and supporting muscles as well as how the different stretches and strength exercises help the hip and supporting muscles.  It’s all very interesting to me.

The hip pain has been up and down.  One week I had about zero pain.  I have had to adopt a completely new routine when working out.  I have to warm up a different way, stretch for about 10 minutes, THEN RUN, then stretch for a long time after, then ice packs.  That’s my new routine.  As I said, one week of doing this I had no pain at all….the next week…I could hardly take a step it hurt so badly.  Hmmmmmmm….not sure about that.   I have also been running only on the treadmill so that in case it got bad, I could just stop and not have to worry about getting home.  Until today.  I decided I would get out on our local trail since it was so beautiful out and I wanted to see how it would go.  I had 4 miles on the schedule and was nervous about how my hip would feel.  It started out very sore and it hurt, but as I warmed up, it was fine.  It felt great.  I went nice and slow.   I stopped halfway through and stretched.  I’m so happy about how that went!  The basic update:  I have good days and bad days and I’m just trying to get through each day the best I can and BE SMART about it. 

Thing number two:  and I don’t want to sound like I’m a “know-it-all” because I don’t know everything there is to know about running or anything for that matter.  But I am learning through this experience and PT.  I love Maya Angelou and one particular quote of hers is my absolute favorite, “When you know better, you do better.”  That’s where I’m at with stretching.  I never used to stretch, or very little.  I never felt like I had to stretch.  Well guess what, now that I’m going on 30 years old, it has caught up with me.  (Hey…. it works on the elementary students every year!)  FINE! So I’m going on 40 and it’s caught up with me.   As I said earlier, I have a new routine.  And now that I know better, I am doing better.  By doing better, I mean that I have had to change my old ways, be smart about my body, listen to my body, and adapt.  What’s my point?  I want to encourage you to do the same.  I want to encourage everybody to do some sort of stretching in your day.  You don’t have to be a runner do to this or for it to be important to your body and overall health.  Don’t let not  knowing what stretches to do stop you.  There are a plethora of websites out there to give you information and also videos on YouTube.  Simple stretches to start or end your day.  Your muscles, your body, your mind will thank you for it. 

Thing number three:  Women Rock MN update.  As you all know, I am not running the full marathon as I had planned.  I registered in March and was very much looking forward to it, but, that’s not going to happen.  The news that I could run the full marathon didn’t really hit me when the doctor told me.  It actually hit about 2 weeks later.  I cried for 2 days.  But I’m over it now.  There are worse things in the world and in life.  I am hoping to run the half, but I also know that I may be running the 10K depending on how my hip feels over the next few weeks.  I am very okay with either.  And what used to be completely UNTHIKABLE to me, having to not run in the race at all, is okay too.  If it turns out that it’s just not going well by September 1st, I will withdraw, get healed up, and wait until next year.   I mentioned earlier that I have been learning a lot about the anatomy etc of my hip….well I’m learning something else throughout this whole process.  Priorities.  In the scheme of life, when it comes down to it, this race isn’t important.  If I can do it, great.  If I can’t, then I don’t.   What a weight off and mostly….inner peace about the whole situation. I’m not going to give up, but back to Maya Angelou and doing better….I may have to do better at adapting to whatever my situation is at the time and then re-direct myself.  Again….that’s okay.  

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