Injury and picking yourself back up

Just really can not put these last two months into words. It’s been that long since I’ve posted and so many changes have occurred.

My cousin, Alicia, was placed on life support so very unexpectedly . Alicia was only six years older than me and just the most funniest, caring, sociable, beautiful inside and out, amazing soul you will ever meet. She was the party of any event and told you how it was all at the same time. She genuinely cared about friends and family but always loved to have a good time all in the same. I had a really hard time with her passing and couldn’t believe it had happened. Depression was definitely a daily occurrence for me and I was just trying to deal with what to do next. What that means and what that looks like. Our family has been plagued with so much tragedy.

After Alicia’s passing, life was just out of control for me. Getting our house ready to sell, moving into a smaller temporary apartment, the physical work, etc. Training just seemed to be on the fly and really consisted of moving boxes constantly, staying up all night cleaning, living off of a hardboiled egg as the one and only “meal” all day long.

Get my drift? I was burning myself into the ground with grief (emotional) and physical (moving and no nutrition on a daily basis) that looking back…I’m surprised I didn’t injure myself earlier. We took our first vacation and went camping for a few days after the house was pretty much ready to be placed on the market. Took a nice long run along the Hood Canal, took time to reflect, spent time with my family and friends, so much more that I felt a little like myself again for a brief time…

The next week, baby Lily got herself in a tricky situation, and I ran to save her from a falling chair and got myself a broken toe in the process. Lily is so good and perfectly healthy. At the time, it really hurt, but I truly thought it would turn into a really bad bruise. Then it occurred to me: can’t walk on it and it’s turning purple are not good signs, so I called the doctor and got in the very next morning. One nerve wrecking Xray later…yep, it’s a broken toe.

Doc placed me in a boot and crutches for 8 weeks, no running, and say goodbye to Hood to Coast and The Berlin Marathon. All running events that I had been training for and anxiously awaiting…gone. I probably sat in that exam room for half an hour and just cried…but was I surprised…yes and no. Surprised that it happened in the way it did, but relieved that I saved my baby from a big accident. But not surprised, because in the way our temporary apartment is set up, it’s a mess. And not surprised in the way that this year has sucked in so many ways. See….things have been so crazy, that our temporary apartment was an accident waiting to happen. Boxes, suitcases, stuff everywhere. One of us was bound to have an accident. But in life, we are usually in survival mode, not thinking or looking at the little details. My beautiful cousin passed away and I really just can’t wrap my mind around anything. The energy I had left had been in getting the house ready, moving everything out and into the apartment (not caring where it went), appointments with contractors, logistics back and forth, then our long awaited vaca (camping), and getting that together after moving, organizing this maze, ended up being my one little biggest mistake.

Now, I’ve come to the realization that all my hard work will have to wait until next year and I probably have a lot of healing to do emotionally and physically. I’m starting to be okay with that and say it out loud. Working on weaknesses, organizing the apartment so an accident doesn’t happen again, and just saying to myself, “this was not my time,” and everything happens for a reason that we aren’t sure at the time but makes sense in the long run. Sometimes you have good long runs and sometimes you have really bad long runs.  In the eye and mind of a runner and mother of 5 who just lost one of her best friends/cousin, I’m looking at this tragedy and injury as a really bad long run, that will eventually make me a stronger person and runner. If you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and persevere then you are way ahead of the game.

On the flipside, The Berlin Marathon is letting me defer my 2018 entry to 2019 after touching base with them about my accident and what options were available. The Berlin Marathon is a class act marathon and I haven’t even ran it yet!! Testament to how they treat their athletes and runners. That doesn’t happen very often, and I’m just so much in their debt. Thank you!!!

Wish me good luck with a boot, crutches, tiny apartment, dog who used to have a yard but now has to pee every hour, five kids… on getting around 🙂 But most importantly that the heart heals for each and every one of us.

A YMCA Family

I was asked last week to give a testimonial to the staff at our local Monroe/Sky Valley YMCA on what they mean to my family and I. After giving the testimonial, I was blown away by the response I received from others and just wanted to share it with you. And share it again to those that heard it and would like to see it again. Please say thank you to those that make it possible for you to do what you do. Be appreciative and recognize the job they do. They are doing one of the most important jobs in the world in my opinion. Hope you enjoy!!

Testimonial: When Jamie asked me the other day to come in today and give you a testimonial, I had no reservations because I knew exactly what I was going to say, except for being shy about public speaking. Because it’s important to my family and I.

What you do between these walls, out on the fields, track, and within our schools and community everyday makes a huge impact on our members and families.

You greet families with a smile as soon as they walk though that door.

You watch and take care of our children. All of my children have been raised and nurtured by you for the last 9 years. And what a wonderful job you have done!!

You’ve created a safe environment for members and families.

You coach my children. Teaching them ballet, t-ball, basketball, and soccer.

You have taught my children to swim.

You help and train members and families on health, nutrition, overall wellness, how to properly use equipment. **Emily and Brennan: Those videos are awesome. Keep them coming. You are having fun and it shows. It’s contagious.

You have given my family confidence in all areas.

You have pushed us out of our “comfort zones” to try new things. **To try an indoor triathlon, to run a 5k, to run a 10k, to run a half marathon, to run a full marathon. ***YOU have made that possible***

You have pushed us to volunteer and love it. From helping with the Sky Valley Classic every year with Tania to coaching the children of our community with Coach Austin. You have pushed us to be a better version of ourselves, to step outside of ourselves.

You’ve made it possible for parents to go out at least once a month and have a date night. I cannot describe how invaluable that is to our relationship and to our families. And when we pick the kids up, they don’t want to leave because they are having so much fun. They fall fast asleep as soon as we get home. They’ve had so much fun and have learned so many new things, they change their habits. For example: Miss Li Li taught the children about Chinese new year, Chinese food, dance, and eating with chopsticks. My 9 year old daughter loves to eat with chopsticks every night for dinner and she loves to listen to Chinese music.

They are learning about different cultures. Wow….Amazing because their brains are sponges right now. The themed Kid’s Night outs are the BEST!!

My family considers the Monroe/Sky Valley YMCA their second home, their Y Family!!

You’ve made my family homemade cards after the birth of our children.

My children love to walk through those doors everyday because they are learning new things, having fun, making friends, and being very well taken care of.

LOOK around this room – Everything you do everyday makes a HUGE impact on our members and families lives.

You are nurturing and helping to raise our future!! I can’t think of a more important job!! You are amazing, you are all truly rock stars!!

We thank you and could never quite tell you in words how much you mean to us and our family.

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!!!

 

Happy Runner Mama’s Day!

My daughter, Erin, brought me this book as a present for Mother’s Day and I just have to share how impactful we are with our children. And just how much they pay attention and love you! They are always watching and learning from you. When you are having a “moment,” always remember this.  I hope you all had a beautiful and wonderful mother’s day, you are the world to your little ones!

Many days we get caught up in just getting things done. Dishes, cleaning, prepping meals, homework, work, training, volunteering, teaching, changing diapers, breaking up sibling fights, bills, medical appointments, family commitments, etc. this list can go on and on depending on our situation but one thing is for sure. Don’t lose your fire amongst all the demands because  your little ones are watching and are why you do what you do.

My Mom Is the Best! by Erin Free

I love my mom so much! She is always working hard, it is so hard to say one thing about her because she is many things. That is why I love her so much. I would do anything for her. My mom works so hard for us. Sometimes I think wow she is the most awesome and sweetest moms in the world, even the universe (I don’t know how to spell universe so I don’t know if it is spelled right)!

Runner Mama Rules! (pic)

My mom owns a website called “Runner Mama”. She is a really good mom. My mom was in the newspaper once, I think she should be on it again because she is trustworthy for being on the newspaper already. I can’t believe I have a mom like my mom. I will tell you what she is in many words. Sweet, kind, nice, best, best mom, not rude, fun, smart, tough, best runner, and awesome. I hope you liked this book, I hope my mom will love it too…

 

Recovery

Foam rolling with Savannah

Sometimes we just need to go out for a good run! Or whatever it is that gets your blood pumping.  I’m still recovering from the Boston Marathon and everything is feeling good but I’m not supposed to be out running for a full four weeks to allow my body to heal properly. This Monday will mark two full weeks since the Marathon but I just needed to get out and go for a good run. Waking up this morning feeling a bit melancholy over certain things and just knowing that something was off. I’m taking recovery very seriously but also trying to take care of my mental health as well these days.  The run was glorious, peaceful, and exactly what I needed. And when I came back home to foam roll, my beautiful daughter, Savannah Madison, sat on the foam roller with me and looked into my eyes. I felt like a newer person than when I had left out that door 45 minutes prior.  This exchange is exactly what my heart needed and the run was exactly what my mind needed. So, when you’re feeling blue or just not feeling like yourself, take that walk, run, or whatever it is that gets your blood pumping.  It turned around my day and will make a huge impact going forward. And that, in my book, is recovering both mentally and physically.  When I’m asked why I run, these are definitely a few of the reasons. After a run, I come back a completely different person. There’s just something about being out on the road and grinding pavement and just letting go of all your negative thoughts. Happy wifey, happy lifey!!

Boston Marathon 2018 recap

Race recap:

After a great night’s sleep, I woke up on race morning ready to go! Dedicating this race to a recently passed friend helped me to really focus, and make sure I had everything I needed for the severe weather conditions that were forecasted. And severe conditions they were! I had pre-ordered breakfast the night before, for delivery in the morning, to fuel my body and to avoid the stress of trying to get something in the downstairs hotel lobby. After eating and getting ready, my sister and I worked on applying the special memorial bibs onto my clothing and just reminiscing and talking about our friend that I was honoring and running for.

We headed down to catch the hotel shuttle that would take me to Boston Commons, to board the marathon shuttles for athlete’s village. As we stood waiting on the hotel shuttle, we got a first-hand glimpse of the weather. The rain and wind were heavy and I started thinking to myself that I sure was glad I brought an extra pair of shoes, socks, trash bags, space/heat blankets, and throw away layers.

When the shuttle arrived, I was first in line, and they sat me in the front seat. We drove out and all I could see were Bostonians on the street walking to work and umbrellas turning inside out from the wind. I felt a lump in my throat at this point. This is probably going to be the worse conditions you have ever run in. Oh my!! When we got to Boston Commons, it was pouring. I practically ran to the bus to avoid getting drenched. As we boarded the buses we were just so glad to be out of the elements…for a little while at least. 

As we left for athlete’s village, the windows in the bus fogged up so badly from all the wet runners that the driver had to constantly wipe her windshield with a cloth, just to be able to see outside. Nobody seemed to mind the long bus ride, I think we were all happy just to be out of the elements for the time being.

As we pulled up to athlete’s village, I could see that things were going to be interesting. There was mud everywhere!! I mean everywhere! I took one look down to the bathrooms (porta potties) and realized that in order to use the bathroom, I would have to trudge through thick, treacherous mud. Thank goodness I brought an extra pair of socks and shoes because I was going to need them to switch into before start time. Once I finally got to the bathroom everything inside was caked in mud. Once I got through that mess, I decided to wait under the tent in an attempt to avoid the worst of the elements. That was even worse. Runners were actually sitting in piles of mud along with their blowup floats, space blankets, ponchos…you name it and it was being used as a protective barrier between them and the mud.

Not too long after my wave was called, I walked up and out to the corrals. On my way to the corrals I knew that my shoes and socks needed to be changed and I would have to ditch some of my extra layers. With about five minutes before my corral was supposed to start, I grabbed a space next to the fence to make the switch. My hands were shaking so badly, that it took me longer than I anticipated to make the change, and I had to rush to the corral. But I got it done – I was supposed to start in corral one, but I had only enough time to run up to corral three. I thought, “At this point…whatever, given these conditions.”

And then we were off!  As we started it continued to pour buckets of rain, but it felt like no matter how miserable this could be, it was Boston and we were in this together. The first couple of miles felt good; I was just trying to get my pace in check around all the other runners and assess whether my gear was going to last and keep me warm.

As this was my third Boston, I started to remember what to look for at each mile. Places to look for funny and supporting spectators having a good old time drinking and barbecuing. The smell of the food was making my taste buds water. Part of me wished I could veer off course and ask for a burger or hotdog. Maybe I was so cold that anything warm seemed like heaven, but this was Boston and I was feeling good, so unless I needed to stop, I wasn’t going to. I’ve been known to try and bank time early in the race if I’m feeling it as to not feel so terrible if I start to slow towards the end…which usually happens.

I kept telling myself that I’m going to run a smart race. I’ll grab bottled water from a spectator right before I’m supposed to take my GU every 45 minutes, so I could avoid the aide stations unless I desperately need it. I’ll run down the middle, between the aide stations on either side, to avoid getting tripped up by cups or runners. And that’s what I did. There were plenty of spectators handing out bottled water. It was working time wise so I stuck to it.

But my gloves…oh my gloves! It was raining so hard that my gloves were just soaking up all the water and I just kept making a fist to drain them out. I thought about tossing them off to the side but wet gloves were a better choice than no gloves at all. I also wore a buff around my neck that kept my neck and face warm at certain times in athlete’s village and throughout the run. AT&T had given it to me for free at the expo. What a difference that made. I might just make that a cold temp run staple for my gear. I also wore a visor which shielded the pelting rain from my face. Sometimes it was raining so hard that looking down was a heck of a lot better than up. Most of the run, I was just thinking about how lucky I was to be running this course again and that I was dedicating it to my high school buddy whom passed in February. Whenever I had to dig deep because of cold or being tired of being wet, that’s what kept pushing me. The mighty rain dance.

Time seemed to go by fairly fast. I was just in the mindset of hurry and get the heck out of the elements. As I approached the half way mark and Wellesley scream tunnel, there was a sense of calmness. I’ve reached the half way mark and I’m still doing okay in these elements. That gave me hope and I knew the next thing that I needed to think about was getting through the Newton Hills, Heartbreak hill, and a possible wall. I love hearing and seeing all the girls because they are so loud, supportive, and you know you’ve made it halfway and everything else is that much closer to the finish.

I started to think about not letting my mind wander too much, and just think about the task at hand. We were all suffering out here and whenever a squall would hit us, I would just laugh out loud and tell myself it’s okay. You are being tested on this one and you are going to kick its butt. After all, nothing and I mean nothing, was going to stop me from finishing this race. I ran this very same course last year at 6 ½ months pregnant in the heat and if I can do that, I can do anything. As the Newton Hills started, my mindset was “don’t walk.” In the past, I have walked some of the hills and have always regretted it. So, no matter how slow I went up, I never walked. Heartbreak hill was the very same thing. I never walked this whole marathon and maybe stopped at one aide station. That was a huge goal of mine and I had conquered it. Try to not stop at the aide stations if you have our own fuel. This is a secret of mine. Carry your own fuel as much as you can. It saves you time…sometimes that time is so precious that it ends up qualifying you.

As I got closer to the finish line, the weather seemed to get worse. More wind and heavier wind had my body in some deep coldness. I just kept laughing to myself that of course mother nature is going to pour it on as I am more tired and towards the end. Bring it Bitch!! I’m not backing down!!

Seeing the Citgo sign is the best. You know you are close and just hold on…you are almost there and that much closer to crossing the finish line and getting out of this weather. Hot bath, glass of wine, and warm clothes was on my mind. The crowds got heavier and heavier and I just kept watching the blue lines in the road and told myself you are almost there. That left on Boylston never felt so good but you still have a little bit to go until you reach the finish. You can see it but you’re not there yet. Just keep moving and kick it in gear. If you have anything left, now is the time to give what you got. I remember feeling sick to my stomach though. Almost like I was going to toss my cookies but I just told myself to keep it together and not puke before the finish, puke after if you have to.

I threw my hands in the air for #11, crossed that finish line, and cried like a baby. Yes, I did it!! With a level one stress fracture to my post tib diagnosed in Sept. 2017 to running New York last November to coming home and working my butt off to do anything and everything to get me rehabbed and ready for Boston had come to fruition. All my hard work had paid off and we did it!! I had such a sense of achievement and a feeling that if I put my mind to it, I can do it. I was so happy to be able to honor my friend, make my family proud, and finish my 3rd Boston Marathon. Woot!! My 3rd Boston Marathon never sounded so good.

I made my way straight to water, heat blanket, food, and out. I was freezing and started to peel off the wet layers. My legs were cramping a bit and my hands were shaking. I knew I needed to get dry and warm quick. As I tried to find out where my sister and niece were to pick me up, I made my way to a warming bus that the marathon had supplied to the runners. Thank goodness for these buses. I got on and after a few minutes, my hands stopped shaking so I could properly use my phone. I eventually met up with my family and headed back to the hotel for all the above that I had been thinking of. Warm bath, tea, wine, clothes, and learned that an American woman had won. Des Linden won?? Yes!! Made finishing that much sweeter.

We went out to dinner that night and all the other marathoners were wiped out just like me. You could see it in their eyes. We had all just accomplished something that will forever be remembered as suffer fest 2018. If you can finish a marathon in those conditions, that is a badge like no other. As the days have passed, I have read and heard so many stories of runners having hypothermia and having to seek medical attention, some runners going back to finish after they warmed back up, and the struggles that were very real and raw. I ended up finishing at 3:55:13which is my second fastest Boston Marathon time. Woot, I’ll take it considering all the obstacles that were stacked against me. And for the record, I think I had a form of hypothermia by the time my sister rescued me. Shaking hands, not thinking clearly, ended up on the opposite end of my rescue pick up. In the end, have a backup, backup, backup plan for pickup especially in conditions like these. I walked away from the marathon on foot, hypothermic, and trying to find my ride. Not a smart plan even if it was planned out. Plan for the worse so you know where to go even if you aren’t thinking fully. Because after a very wet, cold, hypothermic marathon…you aren’t thinking…you are just trying to stay warm and alive…

I love numbers so here goes: my placement was overall 14,712 out of 26,948, gender: 5467 out of 12,063, and division: 974 out of 1813 and there were 14 female runners aged 40 from Washington State and I placed 9th out of the 14. Wow!! Not bad considering my longest training run for this cycle due to injury was 10 ½ miles. I’ll take it!! Here’s to a speedy recovery to all and stories for years. Cheers for living through the one and only Boston of all Boston monsoons…hopefully!!!

 

Supporting each other❤️

Where do I even begin with this beautiful soul? I’ve watched this amazing woman over the years run and win road races in Seattle, win Spartan races and compete on American Ninja Warrior and most recently become a new mommy. The fierceness in her eyes one foggy morning while running a local race in Seattle made me want to know her. She had such determination that it took my breath away! As I got to know Rose…she coached me, gave me encouragement, taught me that you can be an amazing athlete but still remain humble & down to earth. Rose has also taught me so many other things in life and I truly believe I’m a better athlete, person, mom, daughter, wife, human being/soul because of her and her amazing outlook and support in life. Support the people in your life and especially the ones that fill your heart ❤. This woman is pure gold and I love her!! She is committed – to her career, to her sport and to her family, and yet she always finds the time to support others. That’s where the magic is🌹🌹

What I consider the other “Boston” jacket.

What I consider the other Boston jacket. THE SUPERNOVA STORM jacket. This would be the jacket that I find at the expo being sold by Adidas that is usually grey or black, fits your body magnificently well, has thumb holes at sleeves, very comfortable, and just my go to jacket when on the run or just watching my kids play soccer. I love the celebratory jacket but there is just something about this jacket every year that makes me want to buy it, put it on, and live in it. Hoping to live in my 2018 soon!!

Packing for the elements

The Boston marathon this year is supposed to be rainy, windy, and cold.  Awesome, it’s just like running in Seattle… The last two Boston marathons that I have run in have been warm. So this change should definitely be interesting. I have probably run in every type of weather throughout my marathon training and running years. When I ran Grandma’s marathon in Minnesota during 2015, it dumped buckets of rain on us before we even started. My shoes were soaked and my teeth were chattering. All of the runners stood really close to each other just to feel body heat until we started. So as I think about flying out to Boston on Saturday, I am really concentrating on what to pack. So here’s a few tips that I have learned from past marathon weather conditions.

Always bring an extra pair of running shoes and socks. Shoes that you are just going to leave at the athletes village or the start line.  These shoes are the ones that you are going to wear while you are waiting to start because they are going to get soaked and the shoes that you want to run the marathon with are in your bag waiting for you to put on at the very last minute. Because believe me, you do not want wet shoes and socks before you even start the marathon. Can anyone say ouch in the way of blisters? And squishy….

Layers, layers, layers. With the rain and low temperatures you are going to want to dress in layers and start peeling off those layers as you get close to starting or throughout the course. These are clothes/layers that you don’t care about giving up. Because as you peel them off they will be left there and gathered to be donated to charity.  And speaking of layers bring a throwaway pair of gloves. My hands are always so cold before I start running but once I start running my body heats up and it’s nice to toss whatever I don’t need.  Do you have an extra heat/space blanket from a previous marathon? If you don’t mind giving it up then it can be a great tool to use before you start to warm your body or sit on at athletes village.  Do you own a pair of arm sleeves? I find that these are great for your arms when you like to run in singlets but want to still stay warm.  Do you own a pair of compression sleeves? I personally like to wear these on my legs. When I wear my compression sleeves on my legs they seem to recover faster and I get less muscle cramps. They are also another way to keep your legs warm if you prefer to run in shorts.

Wearing a hat or visor is also a great way to keep your head warm. A visor will help to stop rain and sweat from pouring into your eyes.

Bring a couple of garbage bags. Cut one circle at top for your head and two circles on the side for your arms.  And poof you have yourself a waterproof coat. These bags are essential to put over your clothing before you start to keep you warm and dry. They take up zero space and you can just easily tear them off before you start.

And one last tip that I can provide, if you’re checking luggage pack your race day essentials in your carry-on. Last thing you want to have happen is your bag get lost and you don’t have any of your gear to run a marathon in. It doesn’t happen very often but you never know when it will and that’s the last thing you want to have to worry about before running 26.2 miles!

Here’s to a wonderful and soggy Boston 2018! Cheers!! And good luck to all the runners out there!!!

 

 

Acupuncture

Can acupuncture benefit you as a runner? With the pregnancy of Savannah and Lily, I chose acupuncture to help with inducing labor. I believe it worked each time. Something felt different and within a couple of days after each session, labor started. So why not give it a try for a running injury? And that is what  I have been doing for months. And as I leave my last session tonight in Seattle before I catch that flight to Boston on Saturday, I’m confident that it has helped me in tremendous ways. My menstrual cycle has improved to the point where I hardly feel cramps. And we are talking about someone who had very serious cramps. None and non existent now except for a minor backache from time to time. Win!! Wow!! My mental health has improved even with the sadness that has been unfolding before me. I’ve never been somewhere stuck with needles and then poof…out like a light for a half an hour. Meditating or just sleeping soundly. I’ve thought a lot about life, love, and the universe while resting on that table. My running injury…it’s helping. Everything is, but I truly believe acupuncture has many benefits to runners. Improved blood circulation to affected area, improved sleep (sleep is so important for a runner), decreased stress to areas, immunity, and helps with muscle recovery. The hay has been stacked in the barn when it comes to getting the most out of my acupuncture appointments. Now, it’s not pleasant getting poked with needles and having them twisted into your pressure points. I have to really go to a happy place when it’s being done. But it has helped me in all areas by leaps and bounds.