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Friday, May 15, 2015

Through Murk and Mire

My blog largely depicts the sunny side of life.  The truth is, even in the dark times there is sunlight, but it doesn't always feel that way. The past year of Ryan and my life has not been easy. Being a new parent is HARD!  Just under a year ago we were blessed with two healthy babies, that we adore.  Everyone says that it is such a blessing, but there are days were it felt anything but.  The first 3 months of being a parent were the hardest. Neither of us got much sleep, and I felt in a daze all the time.  I would cry at the thought of Ryan leaving for work, and wonder how I would get through the day.  My family, Ryan's family, and DT, a close family friend, were and are so helpful. Still, knowing I had to go home and feel so overwhelmed after a run, or some time away, left me near, if not in tears most days. I cried because I was tired, I cried because I was fat, I cried because I was alone, I cried because there was too much going on.  I cried, and cried a lot, for something, for nothing. I didn't matter, I cried.   After becoming injured and not being able to have running as an outlet for 7 weeks starting in mid November, I finally saw a doctor and was diagnosed with postpartum depression.  I felt terrible.  How could I be so lucky to have two healthy, adorable, wonderful kids, and be depressed?! 

I mean, look at these faces!! So precious! But I couldn't shake the immense feeling of sadness. People had told me that once I had my own kids it would all be different than I had expected, and I would love it.  But I still felt trapped, and longed for my simple life, where running reigned supreme, and I could come and go as I pleased.  

As the months passed I wondered if it would ever get better. I felt like I had lost so much. No one tells you this part of being a parent when you become pregnant or when they talk about their incredible kids. Why was I so messed up!? 

 My two little ones were not only growing, but thriving!  Yet still I felt stuck, and relatively worthless. I no longer brought home any income, my running was anything but going well, my body was a stretched out, awkward version of what it once had been, and I felt so wore out mentally. I thought of my friends and how they all seemed to take this whole "being a parent" thing in stride.  My mind swirled with questions of why I couldn't enjoy it. 

I am here to tell you that when people say "it gets better", that one is the truth!  About 9 months after the kids were born I finally felt the fog had lifted. It wasn't a slow moving thing. One day I was out on a run, and I thought..."Holy crap, I feel like myself!".  IT WAS SUCH AN INCREDIBLE FEELING!!  I simply felt mental clearness that I had not felt in over a year. I had to battle to get here. I had allowed overwhelming worry to seep in and ruin many of my days.  I began to combat the worry with living in the moment.  Telling myself to let go of the things I couldn't control, and choose to deal with the irrational fears. It was hard at first, but then became a habit, and a few months after making this choice, I was finally seeing it pay off!

Being a mom is still hard for me.  It lacks the freedom to just do whatever I want, whenever I want, and there are still many times I wish I didn't have to feel worry. I know that worry is a wasted effort thinking of things I can not control, and much of the time aren't even a reality.  I try very hard to combat those thoughts and enjoy the moments I have with my little nuggets! As the tiredness of new parenthood wears off, I feel more and more like the person I loved being. I am able to enjoy the time I get to spend with our kids, I am learning to be kind to myself through the challenges, and my feeling of self worth I once had is growing again. 

Our kids are growing into little people!  They are full of sass and laughter.  When I am not with them I miss them, and I look forward to the fun we get to share together!   

Check out that sagging skin.  Being a parent isn't easy! It is hard on so many levels.  For the first time in your life, you have to say no to what you want, and give up things for someone else. You feel like a shell of who you once were. You will look at your body with disgust, you will look at your kids and feel overwhelmingly tired. But I do promise you this, it does get better! The fog will lift, and you will smile a smile of happiness you almost forgot existed. 
I am writing this now while the feelings of trudging through the first year of parenthood are fresh on my mind. While my proverbial parenting shoes are still muddied, and damp. To tell others that it is ok to feel inadequate, to feel anger.  I promise you that many many parents out there feel these things!  Despite our best efforts on social media to show the sunny side, we are working through murk and mire too.  

I am excited to watch my kids grow through their second year of life, and to get back to more and more of being myself.  Thank you all for your support this past year!  Your kind words often meant more than you could know!  Also a huge I LOVE YOU to my incredible husband, Ryan, for putting up with me in the tough times, and being so strong.  I am so glad I have all of you in my life!

I love you Ry! Thank you for being an incredible husband and Daddy!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

USA 25k Championships

This past Thursday, I traveled North to Grand Rapids Michigan. The drive there was a long 8 hour drive, but I arrived safely, met my awesome roommate Terri, and got some not so great sleep in the beautiful Amway Grand Hotel.   Terri and I ran together in the morning, and I quickly noticed that Grand Rapids has a charming downtown with a nice area to get some miles in along the river.   At the elite meeting, and press conference I had a chance to catch up with Dot McMahon.  She always has great advice, and cracks me up.  I always enjoy a chance to chat with her.  I met a few other ladies this weekend, and it was great getting to know them a little.  My typical pre race dinner of choice is easy to find.  So "Flanagan's" fit the bill for the burger and fries I was looking for.  After dinner, I painted my nails, did some foam rolling, set out my race gear, and reminded myself of my race-day goals. 

It is incredible how little I really need on race day, especially if you were to see the size of the suitcase I took for this 2 day trip!

My goals were as follows; 1. Don't be an idiot, this is the longest race you have run in 3 years. PR though 10k = bad idea! 2. 6:00 pace. Find it and make it yours. 3. Stay 100% mentally focused on the race for the entire duration. I will be strong and smart.  I drifted off to sleep thinking of those goals. 5:30 am showed up, and after 1/2 a bagel, a cup of coffee, and some Nuun, Terri and I dropped our stuff off at the tent designated for us.  I warmed up 3 miles along the river, changed into my racing flats and we were taken to the start line. It was humid, and raining, but I love the rain, so I was happy with it cooling the temps down a bit.  I felt some anxiety, and nerves, but as soon as the gun went off, I felt calm and confident. 

The Elite Women's Start
(Photo: Rudy Malmquist)

Close up
 I am behind Katie Dicamillo (#26) and the aforementioned Dot McMahon is to my right (#41)
The mile mark came quickly, and 5:46 was a bit faster than planned, despite feeling comfortable at this pace, I backed off a hair.  Mile 2- 5:52, Mile 3- 5:54 (5k-18:14), Mile 4-6:00 (took 1/2 a GU), mile 5- 5:53, I still felt very good, my legs felt fresh and the pace felt very marathonesque. mile 6- 5:57 (10k- 36:43), mile 7- 6:06, mile 8- 6:02 this is where the course begins to roll. Never any killer hill to speak about, but some continual ups and downs. mile 9- 6:05 (took another 1/2 a GU), mile 10-6:11. Mentally I was still running very strong, and when I saw this split it jolted me out of my daze. Mile 11-5:58 I smiled at how easily I was able to get back on pace, and feeling like my pre babies self out here!  My stomach started to give me some trouble, but I knew I would be ok, possibly embarrassed, but ok! Thankfully the embarrassment stayed at bay! Mile 12-6:08, oops slow again.  Mile 13- 6:03, and through the 1/2 marathon in 1:18:40- right on 6:00 pace. Mile 14- 6:14 I started to struggle a bit physically here. Mile 15- 6:23, I thought "oh shoot! If I don't do something I will be passed!" I reminded myself, "I am strong"  I closed the last 1k in 3:19--1:33:58. I finished in 11th place, and averaged 6:02 pace, and knew the mission had been accomplished this weekend!  I wanted to run a longer race, and feel good at below goal marathon pace, and I did!  I had mentally prepared for my body to rebel since I haven't raced this far in nearly 3 years.  I was so happy  it cooperated, to have met my goals, and run a strong physical and mental race. 

A huge "thank you" goes out to Fifth Third River Bank Run!  You put on a great race and I was thrilled to be a part of it! And Oiselle for the never ending support, and great race gear!

I drove back to Akron happy to have met my goals, and I am feeling good about where my training has taken me.  Now it is back to training, gaining a little more fitness to carry me 10 miles longer.  Before I know it I will be getting ready to race on June 20th in Duluth! I am excited to get there!  It has been a fun spring thus far.  On to more miles!