Eight Minutes

Since late March I have been sidelined with a stress reaction in my foot. Yesterday I ran outside for the first time in two months. This also happened to be my first outside run in my 40s. My 40th birthday was almost two months ago. I had grand plans of running 40 laps on the track to celebrate my 40th and running parts of the Boston marathon course on my trip to Boston for a conference just days after my 40th, but none of that happened due to this injury. But I digress…

Yesterday I stepped outside in beautiful spring weather to run outside. It was glorious! Of course I wanted to go up into the Boise foothills and get lost for miles, but my body is not ready for that. My wise and wonderful coach prescribed a 2min run followed by 3 min walk on a soft surface for 20 minutes. I hit the North End alleys.


Sun on my face, flower in my hair and garbage behind me!

Those first two minutes felt strange. Having been accustomed to running on the Alter G for the past month or so, it was wonderful to be moving forward in the fresh outdoor air with the variation of scenery. Lovely wildflowers, spring sounds, people doing yard work and fixing their houses, children playing, animals exploring, and all of these other things I have missed while I have been exercising indoors and rehabbing my injury. I wanted to keep going and going!

But at the same time my foot was pounding! On the hard ground! And I was paranoid. What if I break it again? I was thankful to stop and walk after that two minutes. I am grateful for a smart and conservative coach who does research and talks to multiple health care professionals before determining the best course of action for her athletes.

Although it was not much of a run and yes it was mostly walking (I only ran for a total of eight of the twenty minutes), it felt great because it represented forward progress and I am finally outside again. But instead of feeling thankful for those eight minutes, I found myself spending much of the remainder of the day worried about the future. Thoughts like this ran through my head throughout the afternoon: Is my foot sore? I think it’s a little sore. Maybe it’s a lot sore. Was that too much? Will it feel better by tomorrow? How will I possibly run a marathon this fall if I can’t even run eight minutes without hurting myself now? Ugh. I am going to break my foot again and have to take more time off. And more into the negative thinking hole…

At one point during the day I saw my gratitude journal sitting on my nightstand. It is mostly empty. I have lofty goals of writing in it each night but end up collapsing into bed exhausted and don’t do it. Or perhaps I check emails and Facebook before bed instead. When I saw it yesterday I remembered that instead of worrying about the future or focusing on the negative, I want to make more of a concerted effort to be thankful for the positive in each day. Even being thankful for the little things can make a huge difference in our mindsets.

In yoga practice, they teach you to accept the body that you have each day you come to practice because each day your body is different. I try to apply that to my running as well. The body that I brought to my running practice yesterday allowed me to run eight minutes outside and for that I am exceedingly grateful. I don’t know what body I will have next week, next month or next year and it is a waste of precious energy to worry about it. Instead, I want to be thankful for today. Today I can run. And eight minutes is a fabulous start.

But I Get Up Again

As a runner, I feel like I deal with more than my fair share of injuries. Maybe I am just a glass half empty kind of gal but as I look over the past year I see three significant forced breaks. Granted, one of them wasn’t really a running injury, it was appendicitis, but three forced breaks over a years feels like a lot, especially when you have missed a great deal of the nice spring and fall weather. I guess the universe is still trying to teach me about patience and perseverance and I no I still have not learned. In looking over my Instagram feed the other night I came across this gem which I posted while on Forced Break Number One:

The reality is that if your dream is to accomplish something awesome, it’s not going to be easy. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. People who go for greatness are going to get knocked down a lot. They’ll have difficult times. They’ll struggle with doubt and uncertainty. People around them will question the wisdom of their quest. The issue is not whether you’ll fail, because you will. It’s whether you’ll get back up and keep going. It’s whether you can sustain your self-confidence and your belief in yourself and keep bouncing back.

Failure is only final when you stop striving.

-Bob Rotella, How Champion’s Think In Sports and Life

The last two sentences really spoke to me. Sustain your self-confidence and your belief in yourself and keep bouncing back. You see, when I get injured or sidelined it is very easy for my mind to go to the places that say, “You are not a runner.” and “You are too old.” or too something or not enough of something else and then suddenly I am deflated and defeated and eating cookies for dinner. But champions do not think that way. Indeed, they cannot afford to. In the face of injury, illness or whatever obstacle they must sustain self-confidence and keep bouncing back. Because failure is only final when you stop striving.

Oliver Goldsmith said that success is getting up just one more time than you fall. Just one more time.

Those who are successful make it look easy. But we don’t see all of the hard work and struggle. The tens, hundreds, thousands of times that person might have fallen. We just see that one more time they got up. The success!

We also fail to consider the millions of small steps taken that when viewed alone seem totally insignificant but the sum of which equals greatness. Each day cannot be a personal best, but each day we can take a small step in pursuit of a long term goal. Whether it be getting that extra hour of sleep your body needs to recover, eating some extra veggies for vital nutrients, or pushing yourself a little harder on the track. Maybe it means practicing patience and positivity (ahem, I am looking at myself as I type) because in order to achieve peak performance we must not only be fit physically but mentally as well.

Whatever you do, make sure you keep getting back up, and keep moving forward. One step at a time.

Pool is a Four Letter Word

The day after my 40th birthday I saw the doctor for my mystery foot ailment. At that point I had taken about two weeks off of any real running and had forgone running the Final Four Four Miler in Houston which I had been hoping to run as the last race of my 30s. Nevertheless, the pain in my foot continued. My x-ray looked clean, but after a manual exam, the doctor uttered the dreaded phrase “stress reaction” and told me no running for 4-6 weeks. Welcome to Forty! He suggested pool and cycling and all of those other things that runners just love to do when they are injured. And he prescribed this lovely footplate which does not leave my side:


Francis the Footplate, my new BFF #thisis40

For the entire month of April, my birthday month, I diligently hit the pool, the gym, and tried to find other activities which did not aggravate my foot. I am thankful for the fact that unlike when I had to have my appendix out last summer I can still be very active while recovering from this stress reaction. Nevertheless, I look longingly out the window on these lovely and light spring mornings and desperately want to run. (I think my family wants that too, as each passing week I grow more and more irritable.) I miss my running team and wonder what workouts they are doing and what fun topics of conversation I might be missing out on. Running is not only my chance for exercise and fresh air, it is also a social outlet for me, and I miss my friends!

This week, on Cinco de Mayo (!), I got to run for the first time in over a month and the first time in my forties! I didn’t get to run outside, I got to run on the Alter G treadmill. For those of you unfamiliar with the Alter G, it is an anti-gravity treadmill which allows you to run at a percentage of your body weight. It is a phenomenal piece of equipment for injured runners or runners hoping to take off some of the training load.

I counted down the days until I could try running and when the day arrived I felt equal parts excitement and nervousness. I want to get back to running so badly, but feared having the first step be painful and having to start the 4-6 week clock over again. Finally, my Alter G time slot appointment arrived. Just putting on a running outfit felt amazing. I felt like a runner again! I laced up my running shoes, hopped on, started walking, increased the speed and lowered the body weight.

Per my coaches instructions I lowered the body weight to 60%. When you run on the Alter G, you wear special spandex pants, zip yourself into the machine, and air blows up around you. Your body weight it lowered by the air around you and the machine essentially lifting you by the pants you are wearing. (I am sure there is a more technical explanation, but this is my non-techy description.) As my weight lowered and my speed increased I finally took that first running step. And it felt okay! In fact, due to the decreased body weight, it felt almost effortless.

I was finally running again! It felt easy! It felt amazing! It felt like if I did this for the full 30 minutes I might never get feeling back in my crotch again! At times I felt that I could feel pain in my foot, but at no time was the pain in my foot anywhere near the discomfort I felt in my lady-parts from literally being lifted by the seat of my pants while running. (Guys: How do you manage Alter G running?!?) I took comfort in that feedback, however. It told me that the discomfort in my foot was mostly in my head. Afterwards I iced and had minimal soreness.

Although I will not be running outside in the Boise foothills for Mother’s Day as I had hoped, I am so pleased with my forward progress. I am learning more about patience, listening to my body, and doing my best to enjoy the journey. Even if that journey does involve swimming laps in the pool.

Present Moment Living for the Type A Personality

Eckhart Tolle teaches us that lack of acceptance is at the root of suffering. I’ve been thinking of this quite a bit recently as I find myself wanting things to be different than how they actually are and then recognizing that if I would just accept the situation as it is, my pain and suffering would go away and I would feel more at peace. As someone who has issues with letting things go though, this is much easier said than done.

For example, I want to run the 18.6 mile Payette Lake Run this weekend, but I can’t because I just had an appendectomy two weeks ago. My wanting to run the race and the fact that I am wishing the situation were different is causing me pain and suffering. If I simply accept the situation, I will feel content and at peace. Wow, it sounds so simple when I write it out! Why is it so hard to implement?

Here are some more: My child is being irritating, I want x, y, or z to be different about my body, or I wish that my husband would appreciate me more. All of these things bring about some sort of pain or suffering in my life because they stem from the fact that I am not accepting things just as they are. So how can I do better?

Well, I think Eckhart Tolle would say that I should focus on living in the present moment because the present moment is really all that we have. (But what if the present moment really sucks? Let’s be honest, sometimes it does. But for the purposes of this post I am just talking about when we make it harder on ourselves than necessary. Which for me is a lot.)  Sometimes I focus on my breath and try to really notice what is around me. One way I can do this is by taking inventory of various things I can hear, see and feel right at that moment. But really living and staying in the present moment is difficult. My mind often wanders to worries about the past or future. And that’s okay. If I can live some in the present moment each day I am making progress.  After all I am a Type A control freak (see paragraph 1 re issues with letting go).

And speaking of being a Type A control freak, I went for my first post-appendectomy run today. An easy 3 mile run/walk on one of my favorite trails with my dog. It was a beautiful run in fall-like weather. My legs wanted to go, go, go! They were saying, “Hey, have we been tapering? Let’s race!” My core on the other hand was saying, “What the heck are you doing?! Get back on the couch and let’s watch some more football!” It felt like a weak, achy, unparticipating blob. But at least it’s a start. And now the rebuilding process begins. Hopefully I will emerge even stronger, both physically and mentally.

Waiting My Turn (AKA That time it was going to be my turn until it wasn’t)

“So I’m sitting here and waiting my turn, oh well, maybe next time I will learn.”

-The Connells

It seems that the universe is trying to teach me that I am not in control. A lesson that somehow in almost 40 years I have not managed to learn. You see, I have not run a marathon since 2006, and the last marathon I completed was a bit of a disaster seeing as how I did it on an IT band injury and hobbled through most of it (not recommended). So I have been looking for a redemptive marathon ever since then. But three pregnancies and several injuries have left me nine years later and still no marathon medal. However, this fall was going to be my turn.

I registered for and was accepted in to the St. George marathon, which is on October 3, 2015. I was nursing a hip injury, but training was going relatively well and I was getting enough (read: the bare minimum) mileage in to eek out a marathon. A week and a half ago I ran sixteen and a half miles feeling strong and like I could have kept going. I was thrilled to be within ten miles of the marathon distance and ready to sign up for an 18.6 mile race around a local lake that I had wanted to run for several years.

But the following Tuesday, I noticed a pain in my upper abdomen. I was still able to go for a seven mile run, but I didn’t feel like eating most of the day. By evening, I was doubled over in pain and I didn’t sleep all night. There was some pain in the lower right quadrant, but not too much. I went to the doctor on Wednesday, and it turned out to be my appendix. I had an emergency appendectomy Wednesday evening and am now prohibited from running from anywhere from 2-4 weeks, depending upon who I ask. I cancelled my plans for St. George and am looking at other marathons later this winter.

The rational part of me tells myself that this happened for a reason. Maybe my body was not going to be strong enough to run a marathon in October due to my nagging hip issue. Perhaps the extra rest will give my hip time to heal 100% and I will come back even stronger. But the emotional part of me still feels grief and anger. I was getting so close! And my hip was feeling better! It was supposed to be my turn this fall!

I have to keep reminding myself that I am not in control. That things happen for a reason, even if I do not understand it at the time. That one day (and probably one day very soon) I will look back and laugh about that time my marathon training got derailed by an appendectomy. And one day soon I’ll be crossing that finish line. Right now my job is to let my body heal. That’s an important job and I need to do it right and do it thoroughly. And hopefully one day soon I will finally learn that I am not in control and the universe can stop sending me all of these helpful reminders.

CranioSacral Therapy and the Unquiet Mind

In last weeks’ episode of “Let’s Fix My Hip” I tried CranioSacral Therapy for the very first time. What is CranioSacral Therapy, you may wonder as I did too before I went in for my session? Google taught me that “CranioSacral Therapy is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of a physiological body system called the craniosacral system – comprised of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. Using a soft touch generally no greater than 5 grams, or about the weight of a nickel, practitioners release restrictions in the craniosacral system to improve the functioning of the central nervous system.”

A couple of my friends had suggested that I try CranioSacral Therapy (or CST) to see if it might help my hip pain. As a traditional consumer sports type massages, I was pretty unsure of this whole thing. Soft touch no greater than 5 grams? No thanks, I like it hard and deep. (WAIT, WHAT?!) Massage, deep tissue massage. So I wondered what 5 grams of pressure could possibly do for my chronic hip pain. A quick Google search will result in claims that CranioSacral Therapy can help with things like migraines, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, and orthopedic issues. There are also reports that it is a total scam. Although skeptical myself, I was willing to give it a try.

My therapist was very friendly and the session started off similar to a regular massage, except that I remained fully clothed. I found myself trying to relax in order to fully reap the benefits of the session, but instead of having thoughts float by me like wispy clouds over a summer meadow, they came hurling at me full force like a freight train.

Should I be feeling anything? My nose itches. I hope I don’t sneeze. I hope my stomach doesn’t start growling. Maybe I should have had more breakfast. Will it be time for lunch when I’m done? Why am I always thinking about food? Maybe I should have had less coffee. I should go get more coffee after this. I’ll relax more if I go to my happy place. (Envisions self on beach in Kauai listening to ocean waves and breathing fresh salty air but uh-oh, here comes the freight train again.) Has it been an hour yet? How does light pressure around my chin affect my hip? Are Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner getting a divorce? It’s really hard for me to quiet my mind. I wonder if this is why I’m not better at yoga. I should meditate more.

I think you get my point. After an hour I felt relaxed, but I am not sure my hip felt any different. When I stood up off the table it felt pretty good so that’s positive. Soon after leaving, however, the regular soreness returned. And I found myself wishing that perhaps I had spent my time and money on a deep tissue massage instead. Three days later I saw my regular massage therapist for some deep tissue work, and although she called her deep tissue massage that she had just given me “mean”, I felt so relaxed during it that I almost fell asleep. In other words, no freight trains. Maybe I need some discomfort during my massage to keep me focused on my breathing, or maybe I should give CST a try again. Maybe I need to do more yoga and meditation to quiet my mind. Regardless, I am pretty sure my racing mind is not going anywhere anytime soon.

Trying Differently

I have beat myself up trying to figure out what is wrong with my hip, why it hurts when it does and what I might have done to cause the most current flare up. Maybe I should have taken more rest days after Robie? Maybe I did too many runs on hard surfaces? Maybe I should have done a better job listening too my body on that long run when my hip was hurting? As my counseling professor would say, I am “shoulding all over myself.”  And that is not a good thing.

Last week someone suggested to me that my body is telling me that it is time to hang up my running shoes and find another sport or fitness activity.  My immediate reaction was to become angry and dismissive of the comment, but deep down inside I started to wonder if maybe she was right. What if I am getting too old to run? What if my body can no longer handle the miles I attempt to log every week? My heart ached as I began to imagine a life without my running goals and dreams, a life without my running friends, a life without running. A life without running is totally unacceptable to me.

I am a runner. For the longest time I had difficulty owning that statement.  “I run sometimes,” I would say.  I thought I had to be a certain kind of runner to actually be able to call myself a runner.  Like one who ran track in high school, one who consistently runs races or one who runs at a certain pace.  But now I will call myself a runner instead of just saying “I run”, and this is how running enriches my life: Running brings calm and sanity to my otherwise chaotic mind and life in a way that no other sport or physical activity ever has. Yes, it can be hard, painful and brutal, but as with life, that is also part of its beauty. Running is both my time to be social and my time to be with my own thoughts. I have met some of my closest friends through running. I have seen the beauty of nature and the beauty of humanity through running. And I intend to run for as long as I possibly can.


I have struggled with several bouts of depression in my life.  When I have been in the depths of depression trying with all of my might to climb out I have sometimes felt that perhaps I was not trying hard enough.  That maybe if I worked just a little bit harder I could beat depression. But that was not always the case. I did not always need to try harder. Sometimes I just needed to try differently. A different approach, a different medication, a different therapist, an alternative type of treatment.

So I am applying this approach to my hip ailment. Try differently. It is easy for me to feel frustrated that I am injured in spite of the fact that I do an inordinate amount of hip strengthening exercises, core exercises, cross training, and increase my mileage slowly. However, the negative energy and negative thoughts do no good. I am here now searching for answers and trying the next thing. And keep trying I will until I find some answers and find something that works. Because giving up is just not an option.

Trusting the Process Part II: Uncoordinated Runner Attempts Mountain Biking

I am not coordinated.  I fall while running, while walking, while going up stairs, you name the activity and I’ll find a way to injure myself.  My daughter’s name means “one who walks with a strong proud gait.”  It is my hope that by bestowing such a name on her she will be more graceful than her poor mom.  But I digress…

My husband wants to do a long bike ride for his upcoming 40th birthday and was sweet enough to buy me a nice mountain bike so that I could join him.  The first time I took it out I crashed within 15 minutes.  Today I rode with my husband in lieu of doing my long run.  We were on a beautiful trail in the mountains in McCall, Idaho.  I don’t think this trail would be considered difficult or technical by any standards.  Nice and wide with some ruts, not too steep.  About three miles in I somehow popped my chain off of the gears and got it stuck.  While my husband was patiently trying to fix my bike for me, I was repeating to myself, “This moment is exactly as it should be. This moment is exactly as it should be.”  But although my head was saying that and my eyes were looking around and trying to appreciate the beautiful scenery and the peace and quiet of being along in the mountains with my husband, my heart was screaming the following:

“This moment is NOT as it should be!  I should be on a long run!  Or with my running team at the Famous Potato Races trying to get a PR! What is wrong with me? Why am I always injured? I don’t like mountain biking.  I should sell this bike.”  I almost burst into tears.

But I got back on my bike. Repeating, “This moment is exactly how it should be.”  My encouraging husband kept telling me what a great job I was doing even though he had to slow his pace and frequently wait for me while I walked my bike around ruts that I was too timid to ride around.  I felt like my heart rate was getting higher more from the adrenaline pumping through my body due to my fear of crashing rather than anything my legs were doing to power me up the hills.  My hands were getting tired from white knuckling the handlebars.  I knew there was so much beauty around me, yet I was afraid if I took my eyes off of the trail in front of me, I would miss a rut, rock, or stick and crash.  At one point my husband asked me if I was having fun and I just smiled.  Fear and frustration had been the more dominant emotions, and I didn’t want to lie.  As I rode along I thought also about a passage I read earlier this week in a book called “How Champions Think” by Bob Rotella.  In it he says that “Failure is only final when you stop striving.”

So even though I was slow, clumsy and awkward on the mountain bike, even though I was missing running something fierce, I was no failure.  I was out there.  I was only a failure if I stopped trying. This moment is exactly as it should be.

As my husband and I got to our halfway point and turned around, the most amazing thing happened.  I started to relax and bike a little faster.  I was able to take my eyes off the bike for long enough to enjoy the amazing views around me.  I was able to chat with my husband some and enjoy his company.  A luxury that we don’t get very often with three small kids in the house!  I was actually enjoying myself and having fun!  I returned home from that ride happy, refreshed and with a feeling of accomplishment.  And when I got on the bike again a couple of hours later to ride with my kids I realized that my legs had gotten much more of a workout than I thought.

I will get back on that bike and ride again with my husband tomorrow.  And I will probably be scared.  And I will probably get off of the bike and walk around the ruts.  But I will do it.  And I will keep going.


Trying to keep up!

Trusting the Process

This moment is exactly as is should be. Words spoken to me this week by my friend and coach, who also happens to be a very well rounded and smart woman who I admire and respect.  So I’ve taken these words to heart and tried to make them my mantra with respect to my hip injury, which was the topic of our conversation, and life in general. Easier said than done.

I have no idea what is wrong with my hip.  I have had hip problems since we were blessed with child #3 with the large and non-molding head.  My hips will often get tight and sore along the iliac crest.  I’ve been to multiple physical therapists and do a litany of hip strengthening exercises on a regular basis, yet the problem persists.  On this most recent flare up, which involves my right hip, it seems to have gone up into my side as well.  I feel like maybe I have strained an oblique?  I have an appointment with a doctor next week.  I have not been able to run for about a week and a half now (read: the situation is getting dire!), so I’ve made appointments with various specialists in an attempt to get to the root of this problem.  I made an appointment with an orthopedic doctor, a pelvic floor therapist (doesn’t that sound fun?! I thought so.), and an osteopath. To my surprise, I was able to get in to see the doctor first, the therapist second, and the osteopath a distant third.  Go figure.

Anyway, the forced break from running has made me slightly grumpy.  If you ask my husband he might say it’s more than slightly, but whatever.  The last marathon I ran was the Marine Corps Marathon in 2006.  Against my better judgment, I attempted it on an IT band injury ended up hobbling across the finish line in around six hours.  It was ugly.  I was on crutches for a week afterwards.  Nine years and three kids later, I finally feel ready to attempt another marathon.  I registered for St. George this year and no sooner does the payment clear than my hip thing rears its ugly head to the point that I cannot run without pain.  This moment is exactly as it should be.

Yes, it’s true.  I am doing things I would not otherwise be doing if I did not have the forced break from running.  I am doing more cross training, different types of cross training, I tried a new swim workout, and I am learning new strengthening exercises.  All while listening to some new podcasts and learning some new things.  But I also miss running and my running group.  I fully intend to come back to both with a renewed mind, body and spirit and ready to train.  And meanwhile I repeat (often while gritting teeth). This moment is exactly as it should be.

I am trying to make this my mantra in daily life too.  In the moments that are not so pleasant.  Like when I finally sit down to eat after having driven three hours and having fed all of the little people and then the littlest one crawls up on my lap having pooped in this pants. This moment is exactly as it should be?

Or when all three kids are yelling and screaming at each other in the back seat and I am trying to drive.  This moment is exactly as it should be?

Or when it’s 10:00pm and the kids are still running around like mice on crack and all I want is to watch a TV show or curl up with a book.  This moment is exactly as it should be?

Ok, so this is going to take some time and practice.  I have never been accused of being the most patient person in the world.  Perhaps the universe is trying to teach me patience.  And to trust and enjoy the process.  For it is not the end result that makes the journey worthwhile, but the journey itself.  Yes indeed, perhaps this moment, these moments, are exactly as they should be.