Thursday, September 27, 2012


I often have people ask me how I stay motivated, and to be honest - it's not easy. There it is - the secret is out. While I want all of you to think I'm super human, I'm not. Great, there goes my rep.  The secret to being motivated is...well I don't know what it is. I do know, however, that it takes hard work. It takes pushing yourself. And some days, even for me, it just isn't happening.

One of the ways I am motivated is by being public about my running and even about my health struggles. It helps keep me motivated to know that  other people are following what I'm up to. Before my Crohn's issue a few weeks ago, I was in a super motivated streak. I was working out, both running and cross training, 5-6 days a week. I was feeling great physically and emotionally. Everything was running smoothly. After my overnight hospital stay I took a week off running, and it's been slow going in the two weeks since I started working out again.

In the last few weeks I haven't had time - scratch that, haven't MADE time - to focus on running like I should.  I hate the excuse that you don't have time because we all have time. It's how we prioritize. This week I made time to go to a Detroit Tigers baseball game on a Tuesday night, and we didn't get home until midnight. I didn't feel like getting up at 5:45 the next morning, so I consciously chose not to go running. I hit snooze on my alarm and then felt guilty all day. I had the time; I didn't choose to use the time.

I consider myself a pretty motivated person overall, but some days just aren't as good as others. This week has been slow going, but next week is a new week. I just have to prioritize and make time for running. Making time for running is making time to clear my head and time that enables me to focus on everything else in my crazy busy life. 

So I'm not always motivated. None of us are. But we do the best we can and regroup when the rest of life takes the place of running or whatever your exercise regiment/me time is. Next week is a new week, but I think I'm going to need to disable my snooze button...  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Recharging the batteries

Last weekend was our first chance to enjoy the inaugural season of our West Virginia football tickets, and it came at a perfect time. It's been a busy few weeks at work and at home, and I was really looking forward to a weekend away.  One of the perks of being in Morgantown, WV is that my phone doesn't sync e-mails or connect to the internet, and it's freeing to be a little disconnected.  

Morgantown, taken from Mountaineer Field
I usually take Fridays off from running, but I ran Friday morning before we left so I could take the weekend off. It's been almost three weeks since my partial bowel obstruction, and I'm still feeling a little sluggish while I'm running. I've been running low mileage, but it's been rough going. I'm hoping this week I can get back into it, but first I needed a weekend of recharging.

It was nice to be in Morgantown and be able to sleep in a little bit despite the fact that I was sleeping in a twin bed in the guest room at my parents' house with our 120-pound Golden Retriever. It's not the most restful sleep ever. It's probably a good thing that I wasn't running.

It's a rough life.
On Saturday we headed out to tailgate with one of my friends I grew up with and his wife. We had a great time, and I couldn't wait to be at Mountaineer Field for the first time this season. Our tickets are high up in the stadium (seriously - almost Heaven) but we still have a great view of the field. My Mountaineers won 31-21 over Maryland. It wasn't quite the high powered offensive showing I was expecting, but it was great to be at the game. I love football season, and being in Morgantown makes me nostalgic for college and a less busy time of life.

At Mountaineer Field, one of my favorite places in the world
After the game I found myself completely relaxing like I rarely do - basically only when I'm home in Morgantown. I felt badly not running, but I think my body and my spirit are still recovering. I start racing against this weekend with the Playmakers Autumn Classic 8k, so it was nice to have a weekend off. Now, back to the races...  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Switching gears at the CCRR

We've long established as part of this blog that I have issues knowing when to slow down and knowing my limits. I get it - I'm viciously stubborn and extremely motivated. It's quite the combination. But last weekend I did it - recognized my limits and switched to the 5k of the Capital City River Run here in Lansing instead of running the half for the third straight year.

On Saturday I made my way down to the Lansing Center in downtown Lansing to pick up my packet. I work in downtown Lansing maybe half a mile from the Lansing Center, so I'm really familiar with downtown. But on packet pick-up day all of the available parking nearby is marked "event parking" and it's a total cluster getting down there and finding someplace to park. The expo is not one of my favorites. It seems disjointed and really loud. My husband asked if I wanted to look around, and I just didn't. I just want to get out of there.

The race, on the other hand, I've always loved. It's the perfect time of year for a race, and the weather held true to form in the low 60s. It was gorgeous. The 5k and half marathon had simultaneous starts at 8:30 but going in different directions on Michigan Avenue. The 5k ran west down Michigan Avenue towards the Capitol building and run down Ottawa to the north of the building. I LOVE the view of the Capitol as you come up Michigan Avenue. It's my favorite view in Lansing, and it never gets old.

At the start and runners heading toward the Capitol Building
After running the first mile in 7:53, I realized I had done the same trick I've been guilty of all summer - going out too quickly and then fizzling out at the end. The course cut in front of the Hall of Justice that is home to Michigan's Supreme Court and east on Allegan on the other side of the Capitol. It's a familiar course in that I am downtown every day, and it's also the same loop we did in the Capitol Bancorp 5k in June (only this time with much better weather).

Just past the two mile mark we headed down on Museum Drive and onto the Lansing River Trail, a familiar course because it's where I do the bulk of my training runs. The last mile was a struggle due to the aforementioned going out too fast in the first mile. My watch beeped to signal 25 minutes which has been my goal all summer. I knew I wouldn't make it to the finish in under a minute to beat my 26:00 PR.

I crossed the finish line in 27:01, more than a minute slower than my PR and about 40 seconds slower than I ran a three weeks ago in the Adoption Associates 5k. It just wasn't my day, but considering that I was in the hospital two weeks ago, I'll take it. When I saw the table with medals I found myself really sad that I wasn't running the half and getting another medal.

Later Sunday afternoon I was checking my chip time online and discovered I was second in my age group with over 50 participants. The best part - the top 5 in each age group receive a medal! So I headed over to Playmakers to get my medal. Even though my time wasn't my best, I was still excited to have finished so well in my age group.

The Murphster and me showing off my medal
I love the CCRR and will hopefully be back to running the half marathon next year. But for now, I'll get back into running more distance to prepare for the next long race. It turns out that sometimes switching gears unexpectedly pays off.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Where should we go?

After living in Norfolk, Virginia with and then near my sister for a few years in the mid-2000's, I moved to Michigan seven years ago.  I felt homesick leaving Norfolk, and I still feel a strong connection to the city having worked for the Mayor and with my brother and sister still living there. Being 12 hours away requires extra work, so a few years ago my sister and I decided we'd do an annual sister trip each year - just a long weekend with no real agenda other than to hang out. Last year we met in New York City for a long spring weekend, and this year we went to Chicago.

At Madame Tussauds in NYC, April 2011
Now we're looking to plan out 2013 trip, and we're a little stumped. I mean this is what happens when the possibilities are endless, right? It would be fun to go someplace neither of us have been, but we both travel a lot so that becomes more difficult.

Taking photos of ourselves at The Bean in Chicago, May 2012
I've been wracking my brain for cool ideas, and I have maybe come up with a few. I went to Denver for work four years ago, but I'd love to go again. It's just fantastic. I was also thinking potentially Providence or Newport, Rhode Island. I've heard both are gorgeous, and I love New England. Then in a complete change I was thinking potentially Sedona, Arizona. I've never spent a lot of time in the southwest, and Sedona is supposed to have beautiful scenery and relaxing spas.

All of those sound great...but am I missing an idea? Maybe an off the radar destination we have to visit? I have discovered that the Sedona Marathon is in February. There are lots of 5k and 10ks around Denver. And there is a half marathon in Providence in May.'s not necessary that I do a race during a sister trip, and I haven't yet. But *if* the timing works out, it wouldn't be the worst thing. 

This is a busy fall with a new job for my husband and a promotion for me, so we don't have any trips planned other than to Morgantown for West Virginia football. I'm also planning a trip to Norfolk to see my new nephew who will be born in October. I'm itching for a trip and in a far away place. So what do you think? Any ideas for a good destination for sister trip 2013?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I'm not good at living my life within its limits. I am constantly pushing harder, pushing to do more, do better.  And sometimes my Crohns prohibits me from pushing, and it is still, after 15 years, always a surprise.

Early last week I woke up like any other morning, put on my running clothes, and took off with my husband to walk our dogs. About a block into the walk, I doubled over with abdominal pain. We cut the walk short, and I headed home and collapsed into bed, quickly shooting an e-mail to the office that I wouldn't be in.  I'm a tough guy, so I figured whatever it was would just go away within a few hours.

A few hours later I had to get out of bed because I was in too much pain. I restlessly ambled around my house trying to get comfortable - watching TV, walking around, lying down. Nothing helped. Around noon I called my husband to tell him it hadn't gotten better, and I was swallowing my pride and saying we had to go somewhere. Initially I suggested urgent care, but I know how these Crohns things work. We went to the ER instead where I settled in for what I imagined was going to be a long wait. 

After a few hours and my new symptom, vomiting, I was finally seen in the ER, got an IV, and got some morphine. They ran all the tests and determined that I had an ileus, which is a bowel obstruction. They weren't sure of cause, but suspected scar tissue and adhesions (which just sounds gross). Thankfully there didn't appear to be a blockage which meant no surgery. I ended up in an observation unit overnight, and I was discharged late the following afternoon.  My husband said he realized how sick I was when he saw me put my fabulous new Kate Spade purse on the floor in the ER. That, my friends, is sick.

My fab Kate Spade bag tainted by the ER
I'm on a limited diet kind of until further notice, and it's difficult for me. A lot of Crohns patients are on limited diets, but I have rarely limited myself even knowing that something wasn't good for me. Now I realize I need to rethink my nutrition. I'm working through trying to figure out what I should and shouldn't eat, and it is not easy.

I am registered to run the Capitol City River Run Half Marathon on Sunday for the third consecutive year, and despite my disappointment, I am going to run the 5k instead. I am still hoping to do four half marathons this year, so that means I will need to run two more before January. But this will give me time to heal and figure out this new nutrition scheme before jumping into another 13.1.

People who know me well think I don't know my limits, and while it may appear that way it isn't true. I KNOW my limits. But after 15 years of dealing with Crohns, pushing my limits is part of the strategy. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. This weekend I'm taking 10 miles off my race despite my disappointment. But once I'm back to 100%, those limits had better watch it.   

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Running with joy

On Saturday I ran the Touched by Adoption 5k, the inaugural 5k held by Adoption Associates, the agency my husband and I are using for our domestic adoption.  The race was in Portland, MI, about 20 minutes from Lansing. I've run several races in Portland including my 5k PR last summer in 26:00, and I was excited for this race.

I found myself extremely emotional as soon as we pulled up to the race start. The first person we saw was our case worker, and there were dozens of people with their children.  I don't know how many of these parents were parents by adoption, but my heart felt so happy seeing all of the families.  Before the race a speech was given by a tearful volunteer and mom by adoption, and I felt so much joy to be running this race. Adoption Associates has placed over 4500 children into adoptive families, and I was overwhelmed by the happiness of being part of this group.

The race was along Portland's rural river trail. There weren't a lot of spectators, but the course was quiet and wooded. It looped around near the start just before mile 2. I decided at the start to really push it and try to break my PR, so when I saw my husband I was struggling. It was the opening day of my WV Mountaineers' college football season, and my husband yelled, "Let's Go!" as I passed. I managed to choke out a "Mountaineers" as I ran by.

I really enjoyed Portland's river trail as it looped by a farmer's market and into downtown Portland. The last mile of the race had more spectators, and I let them help push me along.

I finished the race just off my PR in 26:11. I was disappointed that I was so close to my PR, but I was so happy to run the race. My heart was so full being part of the event, and as we drove home, I was so choked up I wasn't really able to talk.

Running is such an important part of my life, and there were so many families there participating in the race. It made me hope that next year, in the second running of this 5k, we will be there with our child who is placed with us by Adoption Associates.