It’s been a while.  A while longer than I planned/expected.  I expected to have a magical post on 10/23 after I ran the Naperville half marathon.  My BIG race of the year.  I thought I’d wax poetic about the merits of training, and positive thinking, and believe you can do all the things.  I felt all those things for a brief shining moment around 10:30am.   I PRed.  I finished my half marathon in 2:30:36 which is about two minutes faster than my 2014 finish time of 2:32:14. I’ve been chasing that PR since 2014, and when I saw how close I was to catching it, I sprinted so hard the last .10 mile I nearly threw up.   I ugly cried.  Just for a moment.  I headed to the “legacy table” to get my 5 times finisher swag.  I called my boyfriend and he told me how proud he was, and how he knew I could do it.   It was all perfect.

But…. my mental health isn’t quite right.  Rather than being proud of all my hard work,  I started beating myself up for all the time I wasted not putting in the work.  Speaking of work, it’s been hard lately.  It’s always a challenge, and my responsibilities are many, but it’s been weighing heavily on me for months- and this was no exception. I started to tell myself that I’m bad at my job.  Since I last spoke to you, I’ve been tight rope walking through my life.  The floor is lava.  My balance is terrible.

Two days ago, I fell.

I’ve been working 6 days a week for the past two weeks, a lot of them 5am-1pm shifts.  I’ve been sleeping in the second bedroom.  I miss my boyfriend.  I miss my bed.   This physical exhaustion is enough even in the best of mental health times to make me extremely sensitive.  I cry easily.  When I’m tired, it’s exponentially worse.  Tuesday, I’m struggling to be two people at work, when I get a call from corporate.  What was said, and what I heard might be significantly different, but the conversation ended with me hyperventilating, crying so hard I couldn’t talk, and deciding I’m terrible at my job.  I got off at 1pm, called my mom, and cried the whole car ride home.  Left to my own devices, I made some really bad choices with food, and did things I’m not proud of.  Hours later, I started crying again, and it got so bad I took a Xanax because I could not stop.   My sweet sweet boyfriend did all the right things, said all the right things, but I couldn’t stop my inner monologue.  So much negative self talk.  So much feeling sorry for myself.

Tuesday would have gone much the same, but I had the presence of mind to take a Xanax as soon as I started crying (got there at 9, crying by 9:15).   My good friend Kaitlin reached out to see how I was doing, and I told her:  Work 2, Katie 0.  She kindly reminded me that I’m due for my period.  Yes.  PMS often sneaks up on me- after years of being so irregular or just not getting a period- I almost never see it coming.  It does make me feel slightly better that my hormones are a factor in my recent emotional instability, but I have to be honest with myself and address the bigger issue.  I’m not in a good place with my mental health.  Something has to change.

The icing on the cake?  I have only worked out twice since the half marathon.  I’ve just been so tired, so down, and so full of excuses.  This is history repeating itself.  This is me back sliding.  I have to get my hands around this, or I will find myself more depressed, and at least fifty pounds heavier.

I’m going to a new doctor today.  She’s a primary care doctor, and not a mental health specialist.  She comes highly recommended, and I’m hopeful she can point me in the right direction of finding the right mental health doctor for me.   If not, I have to give myself permission to try someone new, and keep trying until I find the right fit for me.  Maybe putting this out into the universe (internet) will help me ACTUALLY do it, and not just talk about it.

It’s Sunday..  I wrote everything above this Thursday morning before seeing the doctor.

Re-reading what I wrote, I feel annoyed with myself for being so damn dramatic.  The floor is lava?  Come on.

I talked to the new doctor, and I actually got to talk to the mental health professional in the office right away as well.  I’m depressed.  It is what it is.  I’m taking steps to get better, but right now- I’m not totally ok.  And that’s ok.

I’m so tempted to edit this.  Whittle it down to a funny anecdote if I can, but I’m not going to.   It’s dramatic, and so angsty, but it’s honest.

It’s raining right now, but if it lets up, I’m going to go for a run.  If it doesn’t, I’ll work out in the basement.

Baby steps.  But I’m back.

I’ll be back soon. 

I’ve been avoiding you.  And this.  And myself.  

I’m a work in progress.  All of us are, so why am I so ashamed when I backslide?  

I struggle with some disordered eating habits, and a recent influx of work stress, disappointing fitness/weight loss progress, my upcoming 35th birthday… it’s all gotten the better of me, and I’m struggling to make smart choices on a daily (hourly) basis.  

I was seeing a therapist for several months, and I was feeling pretty good.  She changed practices, and I decided I was doing well enough on my own not to follow her or find another.  And I was.  For a while.  

This week has been extremely hard.  I think I’m PMSing on top of everything, and I keep hoping tomorrow I’ll be better.  So far, not really.  

I’m getting Botox tomorrow.  I bought a very exciting fitness related Groupon which has me TERRIFIED. I just need to get through the next few days, and I should be on the upswing.   I’ll check in soon, and hopefully feel more like myself.  

164 minutes 1 second

Today was rough.

Before the race and before I poured a lot of water over my head.

Welp.  Today was a tough one.  It was much hotter than I had been expecting.  The temperature jumped twenty degrees from my last long run, and the humidity was intense.  I knew it was going to be rough when I took Foxy out at 5:30 this morning.  It was pitch black outside, and the first time I was leaving the house.  I had been wearing a long sleeved moisture wicking hoodie over my race outfit because we keep the house just a few degrees above “I can see my breath.”  Add in the fact that the last several miles the sun tried to roast me alive, and it’s no surprise I didn’t PR.
It’s ok.  I keep telling myself that it’s ok.  I kept saying “it’s a hard, hilly race.  I don’t expect to PR.”  I was lying.  I was hoping to PR.  The first four miles felt GREAT.  Then it got a little harder each mile after.  I walked.  I don’t know exactly how much I walked, but it felt like a lot.  While I can blame the weather (and it did make a huge impact) I’d be lying to myself even more if I didn’t address my midrace mental breakdown.  I know better than to keep looking at my watch- but as it felt harder, and harder, I kept looking.  And then calculating.  “If I stay at this pace for the next five miles- I’ll still miss my real PR. If I can cut a minute off of this mile, I might make it. Nope.  Not happening.  What’s the point.  If I’m not going to PR, what’s the point.”

My PR is 2 hours 32 minutes.  Somehow or another, my watch disagrees.  It was the 2014 Naperville Half.  My watch shows my PR as 2 hours 41 minutes which was the Naperville Women’s Half this spring.    I came in three minutes short of getting a new “watch” PR, and the way I KNOW with absolute certantiy that my mental break is what truly held me back…. I had it in my head that my watch PR was 2:47, and I fought hard for the last three miles to beat it.  If I had known it was 2:41- I would have fought harder SOONER and probably beat it.

So.  Trying very hard not to beat myself up.  Back at it Tuesday with a five miler.  Praying for the weather to cool off. Happy to have finished. 

“Hey, Josh. Come outside and take our picture!”

OH!  So- after I got home, I walked in the house and was greeted with a terrible smell.  Last week, I cleaned out the fridge- and something must have leaked in the garbage.  The garage had started to smell the day before yesterday.  Tuesday is garbage day- and we planned on rinsing out the can at that point.  It could NOT wait until Tuesday.  I rolled the garbage out, lifted the lid to find so. Many. Maggots.   It was the stuff of nightmares.  I I got some rubber gloves, several garbage bags- and I wrapped the trash bag that was the problem (and the only bag in the can) until I ran out of bags.   I looked down- and there was definitely a maggot on the back of my wrist.  I sprayed my entire arm full blast with the hose while shouting “get off get off get off get off get off!”  I then called a local restaurant within walking distance of my house and asked if I could put a very well wrapped, very stinky bag of trash in their dumpster.  I then walked (all the while still in my race gear- salty and sweaty as ever) to said restaurant and waved a friendly thank you at the man inside as I passed the window with my stink bag.  He probably assumed I was dumping a body.   While I normally would have rinsed off and then taken a post race bath– today required a full silkwood shower.

Stink bag!

Should I wear my medals to work tomorrow?  Since the real reason I signed up for this race in particular was the Fox medal?

My new favorite medal!
He likes it, too. (He’s my favorite Fox)



Pre Race Jitters..

I feel real squirrelly.

I have never been this prepared for a race.  I have never been this anxious about a race.

Six or seven years ago, before I met my boyfriend, before I started running, I went to the doctor convinced I had somehow managed to break my jaw.  Or dislocate it.  Or that I had developed some horrible jaw cancer, and I was most assuredly dying.  “See!  I can’t even open my mouth all the way!” I told the nurse practitioner, the only one at the office who could see me that day.  “Do you think it’s broken?  Could I have dislocated it?… Is jaw cancer a thing?”

“You have strep.”

“No. No.  I’ve had strep a bunch of times.  My tonsils always look like that (gross.)  My throat doesn’t even hurt.  My jaw hurts.”

“You have strep.  I’ll run a culture, but your tonsils are nearly touching.  I’m surprised you can breathe.”

“I don’t have strep.”

“Here are the test results.  You have strep.  Take these massive horse pill antibiotics, and some steroids to reduce the swelling… because if you swell any more- you will die.”

So… maybe those aren’t direct quotes… but pretty close.  Those steroids?  They messed me up.  I was on prednisolone for maybe a week.  It made the swelling go down- and my jaw stopped hurting.  It also made me eat everything that wasn’t nailed down.  It also made me crazy.

I remember very clearly  the sense of NEEDING to be doing something.  Specifically cleaning.  I started by vacuuming.  And that led to scrubbing the ceiling.  Then more vacuuming.  And then I got a lady razor and shaved my couch.  The whole thing.  In fast little manic movements that terrified my roommate when she got home.  The house had never been cleaner.  I had never felt more restless.

That’s how I felt this morning.  So I got to work tidying up and getting some laundry put away.  It didn’t help.  I showered and got ready.  Still felt crazy.  I headed to St. Charles to pick up my packet, and I felt a little calmer.  My boyfriend, Josh, took me out for brunch, and I relaxed a little bit.   We went to Costco, and I lost my damn mind again.  I got all jumpy and panicky.  So now I’m home. We’ve got beautiful prime ribeye cap steaks ready for a fancy pre race dinner.  I have pickle juice in the freezer to make little pickle juice packets for my mid-race electrolyte needs.  I know what I’m wearing.  I know what I need to do to get ready tonight, and tomorrow morning, and I still feel so uneasy.

Snap chatting helps.

I fought it all morning, but I finally gave in and took a Xanax after telling Josh I felt like I was having a slow motion panic attack.   I did a little easy beginner’s yoga.  And now I’m just trying to relax.  I think I’m going to paint my nails.  It always makes me feel like I have my shit together when my nails are done, and they’re currently chipped.

Gross.  My palms are sweaty.  That’s new.



There’s a point in here somewhere..

I’ve been noticing something lately that I was having a hard time articulating. My running has turned a corner.   I think a huge part of that has been mental for me.  Yes, it’s significantly easier to run 40 pounds lighter… but I was always able to run.  Now I enjoy it. It’s still hard, and some days each step is a challenge.  I still have aches and pains.. but I find myself able to better push through things that would have stopped me in my tracks even a year ago.  

I’ve always liked the idea of a mantra.   I tried to find one on my own- to come up with some original thing that resonated with me. Turns out I’m not as creative or well  spoken as I had thought.  I read Scott Jurek’s book “Eat and Run” and tried adopting his “sometimes you just do things.”  But sometimes I just didn’t.   I have an old workout DVD called “yoga booty ballet” that I occasionally like to do for “fun” and they make you say “I love, honor, and cherish my body.”  But I didn’t.  I wasn’t there.  I’ve been at war with my body my entire adult life.  I’ve had terrible issues with body image, and just self confidence in general.  When a run felt hard, I mentally berated myself.  I beat myself up for wanting to walk/stop/go slower. Loving and honoring my body was something so foreign to me that it was almost laughable. I needed something I couldn’t find.  

My good friend Kaitlin is a large part of why I run.  She saw me running, and started running.  I found out she was running, so I kept running.  She signed up for the Naperville half marathon (a distance I LAUGHED at the thought of ever in a million years running) and I signed up. Somewhere during that first year and training for that first half is when we got to be good friends.  She was so patient when we’d run 10 miles at a 13:45 pace with me complaining every single step of the way.  She could have run faster on her own, but she stayed with me, and kept me going.  She introduced me to Oiselle. 

Oiselle is an athletic clothing line made for and by women.  With Kaitlin’s expert gift giving advice, I received a few Oiselle items from Santa that year- and I ADORED them.  The logo for Oiselle is a bird, and since my boyfriend calls me Katiebird or sometimes just Bird, I was so on board for any graphic detail with a bird on it.  The problem was my size.  The items I got technically fit- but in a very painted on- not to be seen in public kind of way.  So I packed them away in the back of the closet for “some day.”  

Fast forward to this spring.   My collection has grown a small amount (both presents received and purchased for myself.) And suddenly- things that were sausage casing tight- fit appropriately.  I became obsessed with shopping online and stalking the website for sales. I’m sure their tag line was always “Head Up, Wings Out” but it didn’t find its place in my brain until this year.  It started out kind of silly- reminding myself not to hunch forward when running. I began to realize that every time I said it- I stood taller, prouder, more confident.  I tested it.  I ran easy, I ran hard, I ran short, I ran long(er).  No matter what, “Head Up,Wings Out” helped.   

My times began to improve pretty rapidly.  I went from running a 12+ minute mile to a 10+ minute mile on short distances in the span of 6 months.  Since my very first 5k (which I think took me 40 minutes) I’ve had it in my head that “real runners” run that distance in 30 minutes or less.  I can proudly say that I have now done that twice.  

First time EVER!!!
When the opportunity to join the Oiselle Volee team opened up- I jumped at the chance.  A year ago, I would have said “someday when I’m a real runner I might join.”  So much self doubt was holding me back.  
A very exciting mail day!
I realized recently that I was a real runner a long time ago.  Before finding my mantra.  Before hitting that time goal.   Before running my first half marathon.  I finally listened to the world when they say “if you run, you’re a real runner.”   I’ve been running for five years, and each step I’ve been a real runner, even if I only realized it now.   I know in my heart that finding my mantra is how I got here.  It’s how I stopped the negative talk and replaced it with positivity. 

This morning was a 4 mile easy run with my fur baby.  He’s napping. 

I’m writing this from the bath tub (don’t judge me.). Pro tip?  Those black charcoal peel off face masks?  They don’t work if you’re sweating in a hot bath.  

Lush: So White bath bomb

Tomorrow is three miles, Thursday is two.  Then TWO rest days before the Foxy Valley half marathon.   I’m stupid excited.  More than I’ve ever been, I think.   I’ve never felt this ready, and while I don’t know if I’ll PR (it’s pretty damn hilly) I’m hopeful I might.  

So yeah. Mantras. Helped me get over a lot of mental garbage that was holding me back. Do you have one? What works for you? Do you stick to the same one- or change it out?  

I’m starting to prune.  Time to go adult.  

110 minutes 2 seconds

Sundays are for long runs.

Ten miles! 10.06 to be exact, but 10 miles! Today was my last long run before the Fox Valley Half Marathon next Sunday.   Second Sunday in a row Kaitlin and I ran a beautiful shady path, second Sunday in a row we had an amazing run.  Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take any pictures this week- but it was just as picturesque and lovely as last week.  

Last week. Please excuse my ham.

I worked a 12 hour day yesterday, and didn’t have to work today- so we decided not to go at zero dark thirty- so less terrifying at the beginning… unless you count me telling Kaitlin hometown murder stories while a stranger ran behind us, or my description of an imaginary man made of squirrels rushing out of the woods to kill us.  I’m the worst.  I can’t believe she talks to me, let alone runs for nearly two hours with me.  

I felt AHHH-mazing.  From start to finish, I felt like a real runner which is something I’ve struggled with.  It’s been five years!  And I haven’t quit!  I’ve quit every type of exercise I’ve ever tried, except running.  I feel like I’m getting strong and making progress.  And I’m kind of in love with it!

We did see a coyote on our way back.  With less than two miles left- I refused to stop/walk/slow down.  I may have been running right toward a coyote- but I figured if it wanted to eat me- I wasn’t going to be able to run fast/far enough to get away- so I took my chances.  I believe he was headed home to his coyote family after a long night of coyote work- and NOT on a direct path for the dog park.  Right?  Right.  

One of my favorite things about long running and not having to work. Bath time!

Lush: Melting Marshmallow Moment bath melt and Bunny Moon jelly face mask

I love baths.  I’m lucky enough to have a boyfriend that knows how much I love baths- and remodeled the bathroom right around the time I moved in- and let me pick out a nice deep tub.  I’m a big fan of Lush bath bombs and luxury bath oils.  My newest obsession are the Lush jelly face masks!  So relaxing!  And my face feels like a dream.  

Lush: Birth of Venus jelly face mask

I’ve got big plans for an amazing Bloody Mary while we watch the Bears season opener today…. and possibly a nap.  

 I’ve got until November first to decide on my next training plan.   Will it be cross fit? Swimming? Boot camp?  We’ll talk about that later.   For now- I’m just going to enjoy a lazy Sunday recovery.