This goes out to all the single moms out there. The toughest job on the planet and the masters of getting it done day in and day out. With that being said, my hat is off to all the single mommy athletes. We take go go go go to a whole new level. On days where im stressed, overwhelmed to tears and exhausted beyond measure...I know there is a mom out there stretching it way thinner that I ever could on a strong day.
On many of my training runs on the bridges, I passed a woman and her son always walking or running. We merely exchanged a nod, as she appeared deep in thought or trying to be free of thought. As a woman going through some rough points in my life, I understood that need for space. Her son always ran in front smiling and just before passing she would always give him a little nudge to move over. As a regular bystander, one would not think much of this redirection. After years of working in residential facilities, I knew what she was doing. She was teaching him something quite simple...social boundaries. You see, her son has autism. Her life involves daily repetitive cues such as these or ways to curb his obsessive compulsive tendencies. Her life will always be this and she does it bravely. While others see trips to Disney, she uses it as an educational tool. Every day and everything is one big therapeutic plan.
I finally met her while sitting at our chiropractors office...injured. The bond was instant. We were both injured and definitely sidelined. Both of us single moms unable to take our issues out on the pavement. While mine would eventually work themselves out, her battle will be lifelong. She never once made my issues miniscule to hers, she just understood that need to have our outlet. We both craved making those bridges collapse with our worries. She became my shoulder and joined me on the rollercoaster of 2013. She always said, its always easier when there is someone next to you screaming too.
While most of my issues are at bay now, she continues that same routine daily and running up her own bridge. Luckily, she can run about it now too cause shes been broken of the injury chains. Everyone sees this smiling boy so carefree, but we both see the challenges she faces daily. Ive seen so many parents give up and she keeps moving along, accepting this with arms wide open.
Today, I saw them running the bridge together again. She as always, moved him out of my way. His arms waved freely into the air and his smile was ear to ear. I thought to myself, everyone should run that freely. I yelled as they passed, "he looks so happy!!!" I later text to tell her he had made my morning and this, "He just looked so happy running along....we should all be that happy. Sometimes his world is better than ours. Good job momma." Her response, "I agree. Definitely a hidden blessing. A simple mind. If we all could just go thru life like that."
Its that time of year again where the world skips spring and jumps right into summer. Except Florida, we went from not too hot to a mild day in Hades. Unless you are training for Badwater, then training for a fall race can become quite taxing. So, the question is...how do you keep motivated and safe during these cow manure conditions? I can tell you what I do, but please dont necessarily try this at home.
If you dont have many scheduling conflicts then the best would be to join the VRC (Vampire Running Club). Just hit the pavement when the sun isnt out and your only issue will be that glorious feeling of running thru pea soup during a steamy day. I dont always have the opportunity to train during the dark hours, so I use the blazing sun to my advantage. Ive always said being able to run through shitty conditions make you a better runner mentally. Also, if you can work through a sauna run then think about how easy a 6am race start will be in way milder conditions. Work with what ya got. Use the not so great conditions to your advantage.
So how do you fuel for summer? If you recall, fueling for me is a big challenge and im quite weird about carrying things when I run. For the non weird, carry some form of hydration tool. I hate making recommendations because everyone is so different. Go to a store and test those babies out. Im not shy about returning stuff if it just didnt work for me. You can always trade with runner friends. For me personally, I do my long hot runs on a busier road so I know where all the water fountains are. Occasionally I have a crazy friend who wants to bike behind me with my water and a just in case IV. True story, my friend Vance biked behind me during a 20miler with his medic bag. I only sip water cause too much makes me nauseated. If my stomach is too bitchy, then I will try gingerale. During my 50miler to the Keys in nasty conditions, my drink of choice was flat gingerale. I also popped endurolyte capsules like candy. Endurolytes is definitely something I recommend highly and I dont mind some NUUN in my water (You are welcome Kara Goucher). Its all trial and error so definitely try things out on a shorter run.
Body temps can get dangerously high, so always be aware of how your body reacts. Know when its time to walk or call for a ride. Sometimes water is better on you than in you, so go for that good ole fashioned wet tshirt contest. Im also a big fan of laying on my nice cold tile floor when I get home.
So basically in a nutshell...come prepared and make summer your bitch. In just a few months everyone will be complaining about the snow and Im sorry to say that Im no help in that department. Queen of the tropics signing off!
So whats GP you ask? GP stands for the not so awesome disease called gastroparesis. In a nut shell my stomach is paralyzed and either will not digest food or on a good day it takes its sweet little time. Ive had it my whole life, but was only diagnosed about 3 years ago. Every doctor before then just told me to take nexium and call it good. Perfect fix if the issue was just acid reflux I suppose.
To say Ive been nauseated my whole life is an understatement. Ive probably spent more time praying to the porcelain gods than a freshman sorority chick during penny beer night. Ive been in and out of the ER for IV treatment and woke up many nights gagging on stomach acid (so attractive I know). When I eat Im almost instantly full like its Thanksgiving or during remission Im like a raging stoner with the munchies (minus the weed ofcourse). I will spare you all the other awesome details, but just drinking water is a major task that my stomach doesnt not take too kindly to...isnt water key for hydration??? Tell that to my stomach!
All of it is emotionally draining more than anything. I think Im used to the nausea and fatigue at this point. Its quite depressing to feel crappy all the time. Its even more taxing when the people around you think its all in your head. Finally getting a diagnosis was a relief because in all honesty I started to think it was all in my head too. It was a major ahhhhhhHaaaaaa moment when I was told, "0% of your food moved out of your stomach in that 2hr scan...results state significantly abnormal."
So what does this mean for running? It means that any day at any point during a run I can become violently ill. It means that Ive taken a few trips to the med tent and it also means a whole lot of finger crossing before a race. For races it means smalls sips of water, small bites of bagels, no gu, no gatorade, acid reducers, immodium, gasx and B12. GP may be paralyzing my stomach, but in no way will I let it paralyze my spirit. It makes running difficult and it can be difficult for those running with me too. One day I may end up with a pacemaker in my stomach or on a feeding tube, but that day is NOT TODAY!!! "With every broken bone...I LIVED."
"I just don't have the time!!!" Have you said it? Have you heard it? I say it daily to myself, but the truth is the lack of time never wins. I'm a single mom of a 5 and 4 yr old, who are both involved in gymnastics. I work two jobs and I also coach a local RunClub. Needless to say, I'm always on the go. I'm always tired and yes there are days I don't want to run. So, how do I do it? Well, time management is definitely key but managing your time well wont do you any good if the passion and desire just aren't there.
Im NOT a morning person but I still get up at 4am to get things done. I set alarms with motivational quotes or have "crazy" morning folk call to yell at me to get the hell out of bed. I run after my kids get dropped off at school and on my lunch breaks. I do my best not to let my running and cross training interfere with my time with them. Sometimes they even ask to do a workout with me, but for the most part its all done before they wake up or while they are at school. They are very aware of what do and I hear it when they play with their dolls or pretend to read fairy-tales to one another. Once I heard Liz tell her sister, "Once upon a time there was a handsome and strong prince. Strong like mommy because she runs alot." I catch them in my room sometimes just standing in front of my medal hanger in awe. I know at that moment Ive made them proud and that somehow they too will know that with dedication and hard work, they too can accomplish just about anything.
When it comes to work....Ive been blessed with great co-workers who embrace my crazy and my stench or who are quite crazy themselves. I'm sure they are thankful that I always come back to work with a clear head and a way better attitude. I may drag my feet out the door during lunch, but always return with a little more bounce. I can honestly say that Ive never ever regretted a run no matter how terrible. I keep that in mind when I try to find an excuse to not lace up and go. Plus, I get to come back to a room of people telling me how crazy I am.
Do I rest? I'm getting better at allowing myself a break from everything. When I'm always on the go, its just habit to stay on that path without noticing that its time to hit the brakes. Those days involve my bed, coffee, music and a good book. Do I feel guilty? Yes! Its something I'm working at daily. I'm learning to be ok with letting the laundry sit one more day or being ok with not crossing off that one item off the weekly to-do list.
"I hope you spend your days...but they all add up."
The greatest compliment ever paid to me is usually the, "you are crazy lady!" Needless to say, I'm complimented that way on a daily basis. Most people don't get why we run. Don't ever expect them to.
Everyone has a purpose for running. Most people start out with a fitness goal in mind but what they end up discovering is something way deeper than that. My purpose in this phase of my life was to lose the 60lbs I gained from pregnancy, but I ended up gaining something way more valuable. I spent hours on the road alone with just my thoughts guiding me through each mile. With each "mile"stone gained was another path of self discovery. For the first time in my life I really challenged myself and pushed the envelope. Each of those moments became empowering. In the moments I couldn't push myself any further, I pushed for those who battled something way more challenging.
So you ask why I run? Why run twice today? Why run, its raining? Why run, its cold? Why run, you just finished a race?....I say," because its what I love!" Its normally followed by, "you are crazy lady!" All I can say to that is, "thank you!!"
My first steps as a baby according to my parents was actually a run. At 5yrs old my dad took me to the NYC Marathon, but truth be told I had no idea why people were running down the street. All this was foreshadowing for what was to be a life of running almost 30 years later. "If opportunity doesnt knock...build a door."