Thursday, August 10, 2017

My little wall of inspiration to keep me going.
This journey to find my quan has taught me a few things- letting go, learning to relax, saying no, asking for help. The big one though, has been reassessing what I'm willing to do. Anyone who's continued to train as they've gotten older can probably relate to this. When you're 25 you can get away with just doing the fun stuff. You can throw on your running shoes, dash out the door, run hard and call it a day. It's easy to put in the work because your body accepts it. When you're 45, that changes. Add in any kind of injury or illness and things those changes are ten fold. You either need to cut back on the running and biking time or cut out something else in your day so you have time for mobility work or naps or eye therapy or whatever it is you need to do to heal.

Basically, you have to ask yourself, "What am I willing to do to reach my goal?" In the years I've spent coaching and training people I've noticed that people have a hard time answering this question. Most of us are great at setting goals. We also suck at being willing to change anything in our lives in order to reach them.  I recently spent an hour helping a client come up with three things she would do every day to help reach her weight loss goal. She almost cried in the process. Grasping the concept that she might have to change something, to be uncomfortable, was almost too much to bear.

So I figured I should ask myself the same question. I signed up to run the Marji Gesick 100 in September so I asked myself what I would be willing to do to finish this thing. Of course the obvious answer would be to run a shit ton, but that would be the easy way out. The fact of the matter is I'm older and I hobble a lot of the time and I'm still recovering from head trauma, which leads to complete meltdowns when I'm tired and causes anxiety over things I might not normally be afraid of, like running in the dark or over bridges.

So when I answered the question, I made myself really think about what I would do not just to run 100 miles, but to run without major hobbling and without a complete meltdown. It's been a work in process. I started with committing to my vision therapy exercises every day. Some days they got done at 11pm but they got done. I started carving out time for mobility work and stretching. At first I fit it in in little bits between clients, half-assing it a bit. Of course, then I realized how much better I felt and now it's become a near nightly ritual on the living room floor. Our living room closet looks like a rehab center but I think I hobble less. Maybe. Just don't watch me go down steps after I run. Or get out of bed in the morning.

I'm not going to lie, I was hoping that would be it. I could do those things and run a ton and it would all be good. Unfortunately there were still panic attacks at stop lights and dizzy spells out of nowhere so I asked myself the question again. "What am I willing to do?" Of course I had to throw in a few questions to help me narrow it down, the main one being, "What makes these things worse?" I hated to admit it, but I knew it was caffeine. So I cut it out. Cold turkey. I haven't had a panic attack since. Granted, I needed a nap everyday for a week and I'm probably a total bitch every day until noon but I think the worst is over. Big E might disagree since he has to deal with me in the morning, but at least now he doesn't have to deal with me crying every time I have a bad day driving. Plus, cutting out caffeine and learning to go to my happy place when I get nervous has led to a lot less candy consumption in the car so he probably won't have to deal my rotten teeth now either.

 Of course, there are still 6 weeks until race day so I know there's so much more I need to do to get ready, but I'm willing. Whatever it takes. I'm willing.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

My Quan


Sometimes in life, there are no words. It's hard to blog at those times. A therapist would probably tell me some crap about how it would be good for me to write about my feelings, but whatever. I prefer crying and the occasional temper tantrum. No one except Big E really needs to witness these moments. (Ok, fine, he doesn't need to either, but someone has to pick me up off the floor and tell me I'm being ridiculous.)

That leaves me left trying to explain the last few months in hindsight, without all the drama.

I was on my way to work one day in February, sitting at a stop light, and I suddenly felt like I was going to pass out, RIGHT THEN. I managed to pull into a gas station, where I proceeded to have a full-on panic attack in my car. I walked across the street to urgent care, where they promptly sent me to the emergency room. A month later, after 4 EKGS, 2 trips to the ER, a primary doc visit, an echocardiogram, a 24 hour chest monitor, a brain MRI, an EEG and every blood test under the sun, the neurologist decided there was nothing wrong with me. I was just anxious, he said.

He seemed unmoved when I said, "Of course I'm anxious. I've been dizzy for a month." He didn't want to discuss my family history, examine the crushed bike helmet I'd brought with me or otherwise consider anything other than the preconceived notion he'd formed before he probably even met me. The only solution he offered was medication, which I took against my better judgment (and the advice of Big E).

Four days later, we were back at the doctor, where I proceeded to have a hysterical fit in the triage room filled with nurses. Apparently Lexapro makes some people crazy. I'm one of them. Let's just hope that's the lowest anyone will ever see me. I did keep my clothes on, but it was tough. Lexapro also gives some of us hot flashes from hell.  Menopause will be a piece of cake after that. Getting me to ever take a prescription medication again in my life, however, will not. I pity the doctor who tries.

Thankfully, since I was pretty much ready to commit myself to a psych ward, a client had suggested an eye doctor who specializes in post-concussion syndrome. After looking at my helmet from this adventure and the results of two hours of testing in his office, he assured me I wasn't crazy. (Ya, ya, I hear all of you laughing about how he obviously doesn't know me that well.) Apparently, it is possible to ride your bike head first into a tree, run 58 miles the next day, function normally for two years, and then finally have your brain give up. Mine was no longer communicating all that well with my eyes, which yes, was making me anxious, but was a problem on its own. One that could be fixed without drugs.

Six weeks of vision therapy later, I'm finally working, running, biking, driving. Granted, the latter still causes anxiety like I've never known, but I'll get over it. There's this little thing called deep breathing that works wonders. (So does sour candy, but Big E is worried I'm going to end up with meth head teeth so I've been trying to cut back.)

I'll admit when I first started the vision therapy, I'd come home grumpy every time. Big E would say, "How was it?" and for once I wouldn't respond with, "Good." He would normally be happy about this because it would be the understatement of all understatements to say I overuse the word "good". Unfortunately it was replaced with, "I hate it."

 Of course, although the five year old in me hated it, the adult side finally realized what a good thing it is, not just for my eyes. Vision therapy is all about not trying. The opposite of how I've always lived. (You try growing up the smallest kid on the block without becoming an overachiever.) As the eye doc put it one day when he witnessed my struggle with an exercise in which my eyes wouldn't relax, "You need to find your quan."

We had a laugh over the movie reference, but it also made me think. What was missing for me? How is that I can run two businesses, work part time on the side, run ultramarathons, ride a mountain bike for 24 hours, run for office, but I can't relax my eyes?

That's just it- the relax part. The letting go. I've always loved the idea of putting in the work. For most things in my life, I've succeeded by doing just that. Working. The concept of not trying was pretty much foreign to me until now. What was missing was being able to let things come to me.

Of course, in true "putting in the work" fashion, I've embarked upon fully embracing this concept and am using it to train for my first hundred mile run. (I know, I know....) What can I say? It's a start...

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Christmas Vacation

Considering the recent break in of our house, Christmas vacation pics are a bit delayed. There's no use going to great pains to make our house look lived in when we're traveling if I'm just going to post pictures all over the internet of us not there.

With a trip planned first to Port Huron to visit Pop and then to Petoskey for some outdoor adventure, we headed out on Wednesday afternoon after a half day's work. Eddie's mad driving skills got us around Chicago (despite my best attempts to kill him by filling the truck cab with human made methane) and into the lovely part of this country known as Gary, Indiana.

Despite our curiosity, we decided to pass on any exploration of this fine place and headed for the MI border. Of course, Big E, ever the night owl, would've been happy to drive all night and surprise Pop at 3 am. I, however, begged for mercy once I knew we were in my home state.

Thankfully, one of Big E's buddies suggested breakfast in South Haven the next morning.  I went to camp there as a kid, so we took a tour up the Lake Michigan coast to the old camp site.

When we reached town, I discovered Pop's favorite restaurant was still open
 and decided against trying to walk all the way out onto the icy pier.
We made it to Port Huron a few hours later and the next day, I treated Big E to a tour of my childhood stomping grounds via bike. Happy to see the old house is still there, minus a few fruit trees and the fence.
The next few days involved lots of food and drink, with a little running on the beach mixed in. The waves on Lake Huron make for some cool beach ice.

We were off to Petoskey the day after Christmas, where I attempted to give Big E a tour of the bike trails, even though I'd never ridden there in winter. Good thing he doesn't mind pushing through deep snow when I drag him places off the beaten path. We did finally find some slightly ridden trails on day two so we could ride up to a cool view.

This is never as impressive when I do it.
We switched into dry clothes after our ride and headed out to scout some hunting land. I wasn't all that happy to be forced to wear orange.
I don't make a very good Teletubbie.
Although I suppose it's better than getting shot.

Day three included some hunting for Eddie and more running on the beach for me.
My Happy Place
By day four we were pretty beat so we spent the day eating, visiting with my uncle and cousins and spending one last night with awesome friends.

One of the best trips ever!