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Running and Pregnancy

Running while pregnant is certainly not the same as running while not pregnant. In fact, for first time moms like myself, there may even be a very steep learning curve. And can we just take a minute to bow down to all those women who continue walking/running/wogging/working out while pregnant? It’s not easy, that’s for sure.

First off, pace. I’ve learned very quickly that you must check your ego at the door and realize your body is not the same as it was before. A woman’s heart is working 40-50% harder during pregnancy and then if you add running on top of that, things are bound to slow down. Add to that extra weight, achy joints, and overall tiredness and you’re really going to add some minutes to those miles. Perhaps that is why so many women are so much faster after they have children. Their hearts are stronger, their bodies are stronger, and their determination is stronger than ever. But before those post pregnancy runs arrive, you must be okay with being slower. There’s isn’t really any way around it.

Second, clothing. As your body changes, so too does your ability to fit into those tiny running shorts or tight little running capris from lululemon. And sports bras? Yeah, those too are going to get a little snugger. But word to the wise… Target sports bras are NOT even close to the same as Nike, lulu, or Athleta. Last week I decided if I needed a bigger bra, it was better to get on from Target than to spend $60+ on a good one that I might not be wearing a year from now. One workout later and I can promise you it would have been worth the extra money. Maybe my skin is super sensitive, but that sports bra was harsh! Lesson learned.

Along with sports bras, pants may be another struggle. I absolutely loathe tight clothing. I always have and probably always will. The thought of a pair of pants digging into my belly makes me cringe. The solution? Pull them way up over my belly. I have one word for this new fashion statement: awkward. To solve this problem I purchased a pair of maternity running capris. They are the ones with the material that will practically cover your entire belly and chest completely. One run in those pants and I can tell you that if your belly isn’t big enough, the extra material and everything else is going to slide right down to your butt. (I cut that run short, by the way.) Luckily shirts have been the one thing that haven’t caused me any uncomfortable wardrobe moments. A plus!

Third, the bathroom. People tell you when you get pregnant, that you’ll have to go to the bathroom all the time. But I don’t think I fully understood the extent of this situation until the 16 week point. How is it possible to go to the bathroom, leave the bathroom, start running and two minutes later feel like you have to go again? I’m not sure, but it happens. And the only way I know how to fix the problem is to embrace the treadmill or plan my routes very strategically. Unfortunately, I think my days of running out at the Tobacco Trail have come to an end, especially since the leaves have fallen and it’s impossible to hide behind a tree without someone seeing you. Oh, I do love you Baby T-Rod. :)

Finally, the need to have control. Some days are going to be great runs and some days your body isn’t going to want to run 1/2 mile. That’s okay, and it’s what your body needs at that moment. I’m not training for anything right now and I’ve come to realize it’s all about perspective. From the end of April 2014 to the end of April 2015, I will not run one single track workout, complete one run over 13 miles, or even think about signing up for a race (unless it’s for fun). But I’ve come to accept that because I know that it is only for one year in my very long running career. I plan to have at least 30 more years ahead of me. I can give my body a break for 365 days and just enjoy running, for the sake of running. I call this my reboot year.

I’m only at the 18 week point and hope to continue running into the third trimester. Of course, I realize by that point I’m really going to slow down and I’ll probably be walking more than running. However, at this point, being pregnant and 7 months post titanium rod, I’m more than grateful to simply be running.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Tracie

A Hip Routine Named Myrtl

One of the advantages of living in the same building as 2:50 and faster marathoners is…. knowledge. Lots and lots of knowledge. And lucky for me, they like sharing their runner wisdom with those of us who are less competitive. Enter my new 10 minute hip routine.

It is a well known fact that I am prone to injuries, perhaps more so than others. In fact, I’d say 99% of my injuries are a result of something being wrong with my hips. I have no idea what I did in my life to get such finicky hips, but whatever it was, it has plagued me for many years. Well it turns out that I’m not the only runner in this world who has suffered a myriad of injuries due to weak hips. Super fast marathoner/neighbor #1 has too, and he shared with me one of the ways he has gotten past the injuries. The Myrtl routine, named so because it rhymes with girdle (and girdle = hips).

From what I remember of the story, there was a cross country team (I’m not sure where, maybe Oregon?), that always had stellar performances at the beginning of the season, but by the time competition rolled around, most of the team had some sort of injury. Well one running coach decided to tackle the problem, and he developed the Myrtl routine. It’s a very simple hip strengthening routine that can be done before or after a run, although I think after is preferred. The routine is so simple that when I first saw the video, I thought I was watching the wrong Myrtl routine. Five to eight repetitions of each exercise on each leg? How helpful could this really be?

When I wasn’t running for most of the month of October, I completely forgot about the 12 simple exercises. Then this past Friday, as I was finishing up an easy run, super fast marathoner #1 came upstairs to the gym after his run and immediately started doing the Myrtl routine. Ok, ok. Maybe I should be a little more proactive about injury prevention. So ever since my run on Friday, I’ve been doing my Myrtl routine, and I take back anything I ever said about it being ineffective or too easy. In fact, doing those 12 exercises after my run, actually make my hips a little sore and it does get a little difficult towards the end. Perhaps that has something to do with my tight hips or my titanium rod and two screws, but who knows? From what I’ve read, it’s actually quite the effective routine and I plan to keep it a part of my running ritual.

You can watch a video here explaining each exercise or there is a PDF here. I printed out the PDF and keep it near my yoga mat. It serves as a good reminder.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Running/Baby Update: Running continues to be a mental and physical battle for me right now. After my morning runs, I always feel so achy. Therefore, tomorrow I’m going for a prenatal massage to hopefully help the blood flow. Baby T-Rod is almost 17 weeks!

I Ran Long

This past Saturday, I ran long. Not long as in 15+ miles long, but long as in my new definition of long. Saturday morning I successfully ran 8 miles, my longest run since surgery, and it sucked. But was great, all at the same time.

Due to my paranoia about running on slanted sidewalks right now, I’m keeping most of my runs indoors. For all the miles that I run, I stare at a blank wall about 4 feet in front of me. (I’m working on my mental fortitude.) Before I headed upstairs Saturday morning to stare at this blank wall, I decided to meditate. I’m horrible about meditating on my own so I prefer to listen to a guided meditation. The meditation that I chose to listen to Saturday morning was about gratitude, and I thought it would be the perfect way to start the morning. During those 15 minutes, I practiced gratitude for many people, but I also made a point to be grateful for running. Right now I have a love/hate relationship with running. I love it because I love running and have for many years. I hate it because right now it is hard! My legs ache, my hips are stiff, and I can’t run as fast as I once could. But on Saturday morning, I took time to be thankful for this sport, no matter how easy it once was or how hard it has now become. I do still love it.

Eight miles on a treadmill used to be nothing, especially at an easy pace. Now it is a mental and physical battle to watch the miles go by, while staring at a slightly too close white wall. I decided to break my run up into 2-4 mile segments. Run the first 4 miles in my new pair of Zoots (thanks to the awesome new running store, Runologie, opening up next month), and the last 4 miles in my Brooks. The first four miles went by ok but then I thought to myself, how the hell am I going to make it 4 more miles? Thankfully, I had a few ideas to help me along the way. First, cover up the numbers on the display. Nothing makes a run seem like an eternity than watching the numbers slowly tick by. Second, play bad ass music kinda loud. (Thank you Eminem and Maroon 5 for helping me along.) And third, practice gratitude. Like I mentioned, I have a love/hate relationship with running right now. But as hard as running is for me, I still love it. I took the time during those last 4 miles to just be thankful that I was able to run at all. Fast, slow, easy, hard – it doesn’t matter. I was still doing the one thing that has made me feel “me” for so long and for that, I was thankful.

As I’ve started to run more miles and longer distances these past few weeks, I’ve come to realize something. Once again in my life, I am a newbie runner. If you had asked me 8 months ago about running being easy or hard, I would have declared easy! And then tried to understand why it is some people don’t like running. For so long, I’ve taken running for granted and thought it was something that just came easily to me. I forgot what it was long to be a new runner. Now I am reminded of just how difficult it can be, and it gives me a deep understanding and respect for those just starting out on their own running journey. If I could offer one piece of advice to those just starting out, it would be perserverance. It is the one thing that is helping me through all of this.

Two Saturdays ago when I was out for my first 7 mile run, the last 3.5 miles were so hard. I wanted to stop. I wanted to walk. I wondered if I was ever going to make it back to my car. Then I started thinking about my husband, who has a mental fortitude like no one I have ever known. (For example, he ran 35 of the 200 miles in relay event a month ago, with only having a few long runs of 8 miles and a weekly mileage topping out at 12.) I remember he told me a few weeks ago Once I make my mind up to do something, I just do it. That’s what it’s going to take to get me back. A decision to just keep going, no matter how difficult, how slow, or how uncomfortable. In the end, that is what is going to make the difference for me – a new level of mental toughness and a new willingness to just keep going, no matter the obstacle.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Baby Update: I’m a little over 16 weeks and feeling good. We had a doc appointment on Tuesday and all went well. We find out if it’s a boy or girl on December 9th, but I’m not telling anyone until Christmas. Sorry Mom, Dad, and Toni. :)

My first 7 mile run

8 miles on the treadmill

Letting Go (And a Poem)

Have I ever mentioned that a couple of elite runners live in my building? I may or may not have stalked them out. Just kidding. They are actully friends of ours and I feel like I know a few local running celebrities. Anyway, as I was heading out for my run yesterday morning, I saw the elite runner husband finishing up his run and we stopped and chatted for a bit. He asked how my running was going and I replied with the this is not my year for running, I’m so slow, I’m just trying to get back into it lament. We then briefly talked about the benefits of having those easy days and non-timed runs. It gave me something to think about as I headed out for my first 6 miles in over a month.

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I’m the worst at easy days and forget leaving the Garmin at home. But you see, I’m at a different stage in my life right now. I have two major things I’m trying to work through…. a recovering hip and pregnancy. I’m not the same as I was in March and I need to stop trying to run like I’m the same. As I turned around at the 3 mile mark, I decided to not look at my watch for the last 3 miles. (It would have been much easier just to turn the darn thing off.) How did that work out, you ask? Horribly. I didn’t make it ½ mile before I was checking my time. What the heck is wrong with me?!?! It’s like I’m an addict and by putting pressure on myself, I’m starting to take the joy away from the sport I love so dearly. Nobody said I had to work my ass off every single day. I think it’s actually okay to take time and enjoy myself and what I’m doing. And what if I don’t want to wake up at 5:20 am every morning just to be at the gym when they open at 6:00? I think that’s okay too.

All of this got me thinking about a poem I wrote a few weeks ago. Of course, it’s a poem about running and the baby, too! I think I need to continue to remind myself that for long I’ve been so selfish with my running. It’s time to let go and just give myself a breather. Here is what I wrote…

 

Only six short months ago,

I lay broken and weary in a hospital bed.

Running as I knew it,

had become a sad and distant memory.

And the identity that I worked so many years to create,

would never again, be just the same.

But you see, life is funny and the Universe unyielding.

For only six short months ago,

I knew not what lay ahead.

 

Just two short months ago,

I had a plan.

Boston 2015, it would be my day.

I told the world my dreams.

Blogged about it. Talked about it. And even journaled about it.

And as I write this silly little poem,

right at this very moment,

I have realized my one profund error.

I was being selfish.

And have been selfish for many, many years.

 

The Universe, oh I do love the Universe.

You tell her your plan,

and she’ll show you her’s.

Running has ruled my life,

for far too many years.

Who I believe I am as a person,

somehow centered around miles, paces, and races.

And at first, I thought a nearly broken hip

might change my view of who exactly I am.

But with my first 6 mile run,

I was back to where I started.

Assessing my worth,

with every mile that I ran.

 

So with my announcement to run Boston,

and a dangerous cycle starting again,

the Universe said, “No, not yet.

You have not learned your lesson.”

And with my decree,

after I told the world my plans,

I learned the difference between selfishness and selflessness.

For my life is no longer about me and my running,

Instead, it’s now something bigger and something better.

My life is about growing and nurturing,

a tiny little life,

our tiny little baby..

 

A year is so long,

but yet so very short.

In only 365 short, long days,

My life will go

from a nearly broken hip,

to my new role as a mom.

And to add to my story,

I will yet again be in the same hospital,

presumably one year to the day,

where I had the surgery,

that changed the one sport and the one identity,

that I thought was actually me.

 

2014, you have taught me so much

2015, I am open to the new adventures.

(and the pic is baby at 12, 13, and 14 weeks.)

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Six Months Post Surgery and a Big Announcement

It’s been months since I’ve written, and I have a good reason. I promise. You see, in my last post I declared to myself and to the world that I would once again be at the starting line of the Boston Marathon. I would train smart, take care of my hip, and have my day of redemption come April 2015. After I hit publish, I was stoked. It was going to be my ultimate comeback story.

But, as life would have it, I learned the very next day that my day in Boston would have to wait. In fact, it’s probably going to have to wait a few years. And I’m totally okay with that because there is something bigger and better in my future than that finish line on Boylston Street. Instead of running the 26.2 miles through Boston in April, Mario and I will anxiously be awaiting to meet the newest member of our family, Baby Rodriguez (or as we like to call it, Baby T-Rod).

The day after I announced to the world I would be running Boston once again, was the day I found out I was pregnant. We always said we wanted kids after Boston 2014. Somehow I always let running take over my life and I thought crossing that finish line this past April would be the perfect time to take a break. One nearly broken hip later, and I wanted one more shot at that race. Well, the Universe has her ways, and I’m glad she does. On May 2, 2015, almost one year to the day since my hip surgery, I will take on a new role. My role as a mom. (I would also like to add that May 2nd is my birthday and if the little one is actually born on that day, it’ll make two years in a row that I’ve been in the same hospital on my birthday.)

So how has life been since we found out our family of two is growing to three, while at the same time trying to get back into running? Hard, let’s just say that. Both mentally and physically.

First and foremost, you know that whole 1st trimester, feel like crap, only want to sleep thing? Well that is very real. Forget having any green smoothies or superfoods. Carbs, french fries, and potato chips were my go to food of choice. Granted, I did always start the morning out with a healthy breakfast to negate what I would be consuming later. I just don’t think it ever balanced out like that I had planned. My nutrition was headed back to my high school days, but thankfully, 14 weeks in and I once again love my green smoothies.

Second, a lot of people know me as some crazy workout person. I’m not really sure where that comes from, but I think running to the point of having a nearly broken hip had something to do with it. Anyhow, I was determined to not let pregnancy slow me down. Wake up, workout, run, and do my thing. But I had two forces pulling me in completely opposite directions. One said to give my body a break, slow down, stop trying so hard. The other said, heck, you’re just now getting back to running. Try harder! (Maybe I am that crazy person after all?) Well let me just say that was not, nor has not, been easy mentally. I will never forget the day I went for my first 6.5 mile run. I’m fairly certain I slept for the next 4 hours on the couch and then went to bed at 8:00 pm. My body is not the same body it was at the beginning of this year, and it won’t be for many months to come.

13 Weeks

13 Weeks

Yesterday actually marked 6 months since my hip surgery. I remember right before going into surgery, my doc said it would be 6 months to a year before I could run again. At the time, that seemed so far away but yet, here I am. Running for two. 2014 has been a crazy year, full of learning experiences. I left my job, worked to start my own business and figure out this thing we call life, had an injury that took away the one thing that makes me feel the most “me”, and now we’re having a baby. Talk about change! I’m not sure I would have ever envisioned all of this 10 months ago, but it has helped me to realize that nothing stays the same. And six months from today, things will be even more different. I’m curious to see what 2015 has in store.

On a side note, however, I have picked out my two next long distance races. (You can’t take crazy out of the runner.) The City of Oaks Half Marathon in November 2015 and the Tobacco Road Marathon in 2016. If all goes well, that’ll put Boston on the calendar for 2017. And then, I’ll have the best little cheerleader around. :)

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

My Return to Running

Running has been a part of who I am for so long that I’ve forgotten how hard it was when I first started out, 13+ years ago. As I have made my way back outdoors, almost 5 months post surgery, I have just assumed that the miles would come back easily. My hip no longer bothers me and for some reason, I just thought my speed and distance would still be there. I am very, very wrong.

My first run outside was the first week in September. We were in Miami and since there was no treadmill, I knew it was time to take my running to the road. It was hard. Like really hard. My pace was around 10:00 min/mile and I couldn’t get my legs to turnover any faster. Not to mention the Miami humidity wasn’t helping. I made it 4 miles and I couldn’t believe how “far” that felt. My legs felt rusty and it was almost like I was having to learn how to run all over again. To say I was feeling frustrated would be an understatement.

When we finally made it back to Raleigh, I started trying out some of my old running routes. I went out to the greenway, ran along Hillsborough Street, but no matter how fast I felt like I was running, my pace was always around 8:45 – 9:15 min/mile. That’s about one minute slower than my previous average easy pace, and yet it was still an effort to run that. I thought I had done a decent job of keeping up my cardiovascular fitness, but I underestimated what four months off from running can do to the body.

This morning I decided to head out to the Tobacco Trail. The Tobacco Trail is where I always did my Saturday long runs, and I’ve really missed being out there. It really is one of my favorite places to run. I told myself I would run anywhere from 6-7 miles, depending on how I felt. When I think about my old running self, that seems so short and like an “easy” run. Well I have quickly learned that it does no good to think in terms of my old running self. That is not who I am or where I am right now. I managed to make it 6.5 miles and then walked .5 miles, mainly because my stomach wasn’t feeling so great. My average pace was 9:09 and my legs and arms are actually quite sore from the run. Oh how things change.

Even though I’m slower than I once was and can’t run quite as far as I once did, being outside at the Tobacco Trail this morning made me really happy. It was so nice to be outdoors with the all of the other runners, and I got to see some running friends out there who I haven’t seen in quite a while. And even though I feel like I ran 15 miles instead of 6.5, I realize how much I’ve missed that feeling. I’ve missed the Saturday morning running routine, the post run turkey burger at out favorite restaurant, and the nap that always followed.

My doctor told me it would be six months to a year before I could run again. Today marks 4 months and 19 days. Sure, I’m only up to running 6.5 miles at a pace that I’m not quite accustomed to. But that’s okay. I’m not the runner I was earlier this year but that doesn’t mean that runner (or a better one) isn’t in my future. Today I think I finally internalized what a long process all of this is going to be. It makes me appreciate running much more than I ever have before.

I look forward to what the future has in store.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Tracie

Eight Months from Now… Boston, 2015

Bravery is a word being repeated over and over again, and very loudly, in my head as of lately. These past few months have left me feeling stuck, uncertain, and at an uncomfortable place in my life. As I stood at the Eminem concert Saturday night, attempting to rap the lyrics, I became overwhelmed with a profound understanding as to just why I loved him so much as an artist, a a rapper, and as a person. There are few people in this world who have been through all that he has and come out on the better side of it. There are few people in this world who have demonstrated the grit, the determination, and courage that he has throughout his life and for those reasons, I have respect for what he represents as a human being. I want to represent those qualities.

The following night after the concert I had two very vivid dreams. One involving a flood and the other involving snakes, in that order. After a quick google search of the meanings of these dreams it seems that a flood can represent an overwhelming issue while snakes can represent a healing process. As I watched Eminem perform on Saturday that’s exactly how I felt. Overwhelmed with the past few months and done with feeling sorry for myself. There is nothing better than an Eminem song to make you realize it’s time to pick your ass up and move on. That’s how I felt then and I feel even stronger about it now.

September 12 is the day I can register for Boston. I’ve beat my qualifying time by 9 minutes and I know that my third chance awaits me. I met with my very aggressive, heavy handed, painful (but in a good way) sports massage therapist today and we discussed the possibility of running Boston. He says go for it, provided I have a plan and a coach to keep me in check. (Left to my own training plan, I might give myself a second hip fracture. I’m that hard headed.) I want to do it. I want to do it so badly it has become a constant thought in the back of my head. I know people think I shouldn’t do it and considering what has happened over these last few months, it doesn’t really make sense for me to do it. But do things always have to make sense? I think about all the times someone must have told Eminem he was crazy or out of his league, and he just kept on doing his thing. Following his path and his dream. I want to be that person too.

Tomorrow marks 8 months from the next Patriot’s Day. I have three weeks to decide if I’m going to sign up but I can already tell you my heart says yes. I want to do this. I want this to be my comeback story. Of course I realize that it may not be and that I may never make it to that start line, but I’ll be damned if I don’t give it a shot. I have to be brave enough to follow my dreams, my heart, and my path, wherever that may take me. I have to have the grit, determination, and courage to give it all that I have, because it’s going to take exactly that. And I’m ready for it.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

 

Thank You to my Awesome Support Team

Today has been somewhat of a whirlwind of emotions kind of day. It started off pretty crappy and has ended completely the opposite. I have a newfound appreciation of signs from the Universe and my soul feels happy.

I tripped last Thursday and my hip/leg were not very pleased with me. It hurt to walk, I was limping pretty bad, and even swimming hurt. I almost left the gym in tears this morning. It was depressing and I didn’t know what to do. In my world, I had just taken one giant leap backwards. Like 1 1/2 months of recovery thrown out the window. Visions of a second surgery kept entering into my mind and I was so sad. I came home and wrote about how I was crazy, how I couldn’t let my body heal properly because I was too obsessed with exercise, how I was letting this self-created identity of a runner take over my life, and how I was too hard on myself. When I went to hit publish, I was informed that my domain had expired. That post was never published and I actually don’t think it ever will be. Thank you Universe.

As I drove to physical therapy this afternoon I couldn’t resist the urge to listen to my favorite Eminem songs. Partly because I’m going to see him in concert this weekend and partly because his music makes me feel pretty bad ass. I only need to hear “Lose Yourself” one time and I think I can take on the world. Follow that with “I’m Not Afraid” and I’m pretty sure I’m the one in control of my destiny. That was exactly what I needed in that moment.

Before I continue to the next part of my afternoon, allow me to set the stage…. I had physical therapy at 1:30 followed by a doctor’s appointment at 3:30. After my unfortunate incident on Thursday, I wanted to see my doctor so I could be reassured I didn’t rebreak my bone. Now, I mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to take a picture with my doc, for blogging purposes of course, but he’s kind of like McDreamy and I was too embarrassed. Fast forward two weeks later and here I am again, Opportunity #2 awaited me…

Physical therapy was a new experience for me today. Shawn decided to try dry needling and I was willing to do whatever to help my pain. Did I mention needles are the one thing I can’t stand? After four very uncomfortable needles stuck into my muscles, I allowed myself to breathe again and then to stand up. Sore, yes. Still in pain, somewhat. But oddly enough, it didn’t feel nearly as bad as it did when I walked into that office. Perhaps that is why I tripped last Thursday. So I could discover the wonders of dry needling. Why have we not been doing this more?

Before I left for my doctor’s appointment, I wanted to get a picture with Shawn. He’s been so helpful during these past few months and in addition, it gave me practice for asking my doc at my upcoming appointment. (How old am I, seriously?)

IMG_6409

At my doctor’s appointment, everything came out fine. My x-rays looked great, I still had great range of motion, and there was no damage to my hip. Dr. Solic, told me I was fine and in the back of my head, all I can think is I have to ask for this picture. What’s the worst that can happen? He says no? And if so, so what? Well he was more than happy to take the picture and my ego remained in tact. And now I get to share it with you…

IMG_6415

And all of this has made me realize that perhaps that is the point of not publishing my previous post. Perhaps it was so I could say thank you to the two people who have helped me through these past three months. To say thank you to the doctor who put me back together and thank you to the PT who has shown me my body is so out of whack and so out of balance. If you had told me a year ago I would be where I am today, with a fractured hip and a titanium rod, I would have never believed you. But a lot has happened since my surgery on April 30th and I’m grateful for the two people who have helped me along the way.

It reminds me of a quote I read this morning… “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.” I’ll get there eventually. I know I will.

Now I wonder if insurance will cover for them to come cheer me on at my next marathon…. ;)

Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Tracie

 

PS: That dry needling worked wonders and I feel 100% better. For any runner suffering from sort sort of muscle issue, it’s totally worth looking into.

Update: Three Months Post Surgery (and lessons learned)

There is no greater teacher than life itself. For years, I thought I knew a thing or two about mindfulness, determination, willpower, the drive to push harder, etc. In fact, I knew so much about determination, that I walked 7 miles on a fractured hip. There is a thin line between how much is just enough and how much is too much. For some things in life, I believe I err on the side of too much. I’m not sure I ever really understood that about myself until this injury.

Throughout this entire recovery process, I always thought I could push harder and cross train more. I thought my successes were good, but not great, and whenever anyone questioned my ability to return to running, I’d use those words to fuel my fire. I never took the time to celebrate the small victories along the way, but more than anything, I wasn’t really kind to myself. My body is so weak. My yoga poses suck. I’ve gained 5 pounds. I should be doing more.

I’m hard on myself and I’m hard on my body. Even as I write this now I’m thinking that I should go for a short run, regardless of the fact that I already had an interval session this morning, which was followed by burpees, man makers (my new favorite exercise), and leg weights with my PT. Not to mention I’m juicing for the day, which has led to a pretty constant state of hunger. I try too hard. Last Friday, as I stood by the Whole Foods breakfast bar, staring at my spinach and eggs, I decided enough was enough. I picked up the biggest piece of creme brûlée french toast I could find and ate every single bite of it. Sometimes the battle isn’t worth it and you have to give in, embrace life, and stop fighting yourself so much.

Wednesday marks three months since my surgery. Today I had another follow up appointment, and besides being told I should never have that screw taken out (which I really want to happen), it was a very successful visit. My X-rays looked good, my bone is healed, and my range of motion has greatly improved. (Side note: I was going to ask my doc for a pic to go along with this blog post, but I couldn’t do it. He’s kind of like the cutest doctor around, in a McDreamy sort of way, and I didn’t want him to think I was a stalker. Maybe I’ll get over my embarrassment by the time of my next visit. If I don’t, click here.) In the three months that have passed, life has given me the opportunity to demonstrate lessons learned. And because I like lists, I’d like to share my takeaways from these last few months:

1) Celebrate small accomplishments. I’ve been focusing too much on the end goal: running again. It has distracted me from celebrating my small victories along the way. My first 20 minute run, my almost normal range of motion, my warrior 3 pose that didn’t involve me falling flat on my face, the ability to tie my shoes again, my swimming, even if I’m not that great at it. These are all stepping stones along the path and even if they don’t seem like much, they are. It’s important to celebrate the small things.

The first pic in 2 weeks post surgery and the second was taken last week. I never thought my knee would get that close to the ground ever again.

The first pic is 2 weeks post surgery and the second was taken last week. I never thought my knee would get that close to the ground ever again.

2) I don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations except my own. Having that runner part of my identity taken away has really caused me to struggle. I feel like everyone looks at me and thinks she use to be able to run this far and this fast. Now she’ll never do that again. This is a perception I have created in my own head and it is none of my business what other people think about me or my ability as a runner. Nobody else has to travel my path and therefore, whatever anyone else thinks has no impact on me. Only my expectations matter.

3) Negative self talk is toxic. I haven’t always said the nicest things to myself with regards to this injury. I’ve been hard on myself and I’ve sent my body a lot of wrong messages. These three months have taught me to practice a little self-love and to forgive myself when things don’t go as I expected. I should be my biggest fan. Period.

4) It’s okay to let go sometimes. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to eat that french toast from Whole Foods last Friday morning. It sounds odd but every time I go there, I always get a salad and eggs for breakfast. So many times I stare at the waffles or french toast and think how badly I want some. Friday I did, and it was the best feeling to savor every bite of that sugary deliciousness. And then, when I slept in until 7:00 am Saturday morning, I wondered what in the world had I been missing out on! I never knew it was so great to sleep in until after the sun came up.

5) Everything has a purpose. People always say everything has a purpose and I know this. But I’ve never really experienced something bad like this and had to search for the good in it. Every day I search for the answer and every day I come closer to seeing the good. Perhaps the most important and obvious thing this has taught me is that my body is completely out of whack and very imbalanced. My physical therapy sessions are a blessing. But I’m also finding a new level of mental toughness I didn’t even know I had. The first time I ever ran a marathon, I was certain I would cry when I crossed the finish line. I didn’t then and I never have. I believe that the next marathon I run is going to require a mental and physical effort like I have never known before. And perhaps that is the purpose of all this. To find out what I’m really capable of and how deep I can really dig.

Three months have gone by slowly, and quickly at the same time. I’m excited to see what the next three months will bring.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Tracie

There Are No Wrong Turns

I’m a Taurus and so is my husband. It’s the perfect zodiac sign for me and if you’re unfamiliar with the character traits of a Taurus, allow me to share the following, as it is relevant to this post:

“Taurus are not fond of change. In fact, if change is imminent, they get very nervous and worried. They do not like anything new because anything new is unknown and Taurus fears the unknown. Taurus needs order in their lives and when they do not have order, they get very anxious. Taurus will cut themselves off from the unfamiliar in order to avoid the feelings of insecurity that arise when new experiences and situations are present.”

Yep, that’s about right. Change up my routine and I might freak out.

Last week I wrote that I was a lazy ass who needed to step away from cardio and embrace a little strength training. Lucky for me, the Universe decided to see how serious I was about that statement and on Friday, my lovely friend Susan invited me to hot yoga on Saturday morning. Saturday morning!?!? That’s my long cardio day! When I got her message, my lizard brain kicked in. The part of my brain that hates change and risk. The part of my brain that, as Seth Godin puts it, is the resistance that says back off, go slow, compromise. Immediately I started rationalizing in my head how I couldn’t miss my bike ride and elliptical “run”. Saturdays are meant for long hours of sweating.

Seriously? Was I really still making excuses to do 2 hours of cardio after I JUST said I needed to do the exact opposite? Here was my opportunity and I was already trying to shut it down. Perhaps it is the Taurus in me.

Luckily, I made myself commit to Susan before I could talk myself out of it. Then I immediately signed up online and paid for the class in advance. That way there was no chance of me backing out. Saturday morning came and at 7:50 am, I was on my mat, ready to go.

Hot yoga and I go way back. There was a time when I did Bikram religiously for a year. I loved the discipline, the difficulty, and the structure of the class. When I got to class Saturday morning, I had in my mind that all would be fine. I was a former Bikram student who was pretty decent at the poses and could by all means handle the heat. Oh how life has a sense of humor sometimes. You see a lot of things have changed since then. One, I haven’t been to hot yoga in years and two, I now have hardware inside my body. In particular, a screw that I feel jabbing me in the hip joint with just about every step I take. And add to that a left leg that wobbles like jelly because the cut muscles have yet to heal completely. My visions of graceful transitions and smooth warrior poses went out the window with my first attempt at chaturanga, downward dog, hop forward, forward bend. I am not the yoga student I once was and it was a hard reality check 10 minutes into class.

There came a point in class, perhaps while I was shaking uncontrollably in warrior 3, when it occurred to me that I should stop fighting myself. I should stop comparing my poses to the girl in front of me and I should stop being upset with myself that I didn’t have the flexibility or range of motion that I once did. I felt like I was trying to be someone I wasn’t and it was exhausting. I was fighting my current place in this world, the current condition of my body, and there was really no point to it. Why was I spending so much mental energy thinking about how I used to be so much better? That serves no purpose.

Then at the very end of class, the instructor read the following passage:

“There are no wrong turns, only paths we didn’t know we were meant to walk. In the end, to be a success you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to remain perfectly capable of improving. Keep letting your mistakes strengthen you. Life is a series of little journeys. Allow each step to be a teachable moment. And don’t confuse your path with your destination. Just because it’s stormy sometimes doesn’t mean you aren’t headed for sunshine.”

There is a part of me that is still fighting my hip and my body. Every time I take a step, I feel the constant reminder of my 2014 Boston  Marathon experience. And ever since I started running again, just about every day has been an emotional roller coaster. But I’m glad I switched up my routine Saturday morning. I’m glad I went to that yoga class and realized how much I was fighting myself and my body. But above all, I’m thankful for those words shared by the instructor at the end of class. They were the perfect words at the perfect moment. This is my path right now but I know my destination is sunshine.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Tracie

PS: I ran my second full mile on Sunday. It was slightly less painful and 10 seconds faster.

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