Friday, February 19, 2016


There hasn't been a lot of running this week.  It's hard to run when the built in child care is laid up in the hospital.  But, with the lack of running, I have been awake at night to think.  No matter what is happening in life, there is so much to be thankful for.  

Russ had a serious internal bleed.  It was a big deal.  He left the hospital today with no restrictions.

Thank you to the blood donors who selflessly gave the two units of blood that were pumped into Russ. I am pretty sure that saved him.

Thank you to the ER staff who realized that there was something wrong, even if they couldn't quite pinpoint what it was.  They knew something wasn't quite right and decided to keep him overnight to check.

Thank you to the ICU staff (in both units) for their attention and care.  There are really, really sick people in ICU and the staff treated Russ with just as much care and concern as they did for those people.  They realized that the boys needed to see their daddy just as much as daddy needed to see the boys and they helped make that happen.  They explained everything and answered all of our questions.  We were blessed with fantastic care every day he was in the hospital.

This has to be the thing that I am most thankful for our friends.  I called Peggy in a panic and she was willing to drop everything to take care of my boys, having no idea how long we would be gone.  She checked in multiple times a day to see how he was doing and if I needed anything.   Our Cub Scout families filled our freezer with meals and checked in every day, willing to take care of anything we needed - Jeanna even offered to take care of our chickens.  We had a visit from a Lakeview parent, just to check on us.  My aunt came to join me for lunch.  My dad stopped by on this way to work.  We had countless offers to help with the boys or to come sit at the hospital.  We had so many notes, messages, and texts checking on him.  When I needed to back out of a PTA function, the ladies picked right up with no questions asked.  I was overwhelmed by the love and support.  We have appreciated all of the thoughts, prayers, and offers of help.

Thanks to my mom and dad for keeping the boys' week as normal as possible.  That consistency kept our household sane. 

It's been a long week, but now Russ is home and healing and we are able to get back to normal.  Running shenanigans start back this weekend!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Bad Week

What a week!  In the grand scheme of life, it wasn't THAT bad.  I mean, everyone is still alive.  But, I'll get to that....

Let's rewind to Sunday, Valentine's Day.  It started like any ordinary day.  We took the boys to play Laser Tag.  Russ and I played too.  It was super fun.  We had lunch at Steak and Shake and were well on our way to go look at flooring for the house updates.  All of a sudden, Russ got a little nervous and mentioned that the Check Emission System light came on and the car had lost power.  It started stuttering.  We nursed it to the dealer and my dad picked us all up.  We spent a quiet evening in - dinner with the boys and snuggles with everyone on the couch.

Now it's Monday - President's Day.  The car dealership calls to say that it is only a sensor and it will be a quick and relatively inexpensive fix.

It was a Thud-Klunk-Thud kind of fix instead of something worse.

Russ and the boys started working on hooks for the mudroom while I was doing some cleaning.  All of a sudden, Russ started to say that he was really hot and wasn't feeling so well.  He went into the bedroom to take off some of his layers and I found him laying on the floor.  Now, I am not going to lie.  The man flu is strong with this one.  He tends to overreact to illness a bit.  I don't give him a lot of sympathy most of the time.
He was lying on the bathroom floor, sweating and complaining about how he had no energy.  I tried to get him from the bathroom floor to the bed.  As soon as he stood up, he crumpled back down.  Eventually, he crawled to the bed, rested a minute on the floor, and then climbed into bed.  He slept for about 2 hours.  I would go in and check on him and he seemed to be feeling a little bit better.  We both thought he had just been a little too hot.

I was supposed to have a  hair appointment - my Valentine's gift from Russ.  I cancelled it because he wasn't in a place where he could take care of the kids.  We were supposed to have Scouts.  I cancelled it because he wasn't in a place where we needed to be out and about around people.

So, with all of our events off the calendar the kids playing nicely, and my husband in the bed, I sat down on the couch to have a moment of peace.

All of a sudden, I heard my name.  I ran into the bathroom to find him sprawled out on the bathroom floor, with blood running down his head.  He had passed out and hit his head.  He was breathing very fast and very shallow.  He was scared to death and asked me to call an ambulance.  I called 911 and put the littlest one on ambulance watch.  I called my friend to take the boys, but my mom called in the middle of that, so she came to sit with the boys at our house.  My dad took me to the hospital behind the ambulance.

Once we got settled in the ER, it was about 3:30.  The staff was pushing bags of saline because they also thought it was just dehydration and took some blood. The PA and her student stitched up his head with the big doctor came in.  She started asking questions and ordered a CT scan to check for a blood clot.  The CT came back and showed some fluid around Russ's heart, so the staff admitted him to the Observation unit to keep an eye on him and ordered an echo cardiogram for the next morning.  I went home to get the boys settled for the evening and out the door the next morning.

Right around 7am the next morning (we are now on Tuesday), Russ called to tell me that he would be in a different room when I got there because they were moving him to ICU. WHAT??  (He is REALLY, REALLY bad a breaking bad news.  I mean, he is AWFUL!)

He had started passing blood in his stools overnight and the doctors were concerned about an internal bleed.  I raced to the hospital and got there in time to see the first of two units of blood start transfusing and to transfer to the ICU with him.  He went to ICU4, which is the highest level ICU at the hospital.  Needless to say, I was a lot confused and even more concerned.  He was just supposed to be watched over night and now he was in ICU.

The wonderful nurses got him settled and the echo cardiogram team came to his bed to do the test.  I got to stick around and watch.  It was an ultrasound of the heart.  Then the GI team ordered an endoscopy.  That test was pretty quick, but they made me leave.  The doctor came out to talk to me and said that there was a ton of blood in the stomach but he could not find the source of the bleeding.  He said that he was pretty sure there was no ulcer, but Russ had a Dieulafoy's lesion, which is a very rare bleed that is hard to find.  He mentioned that Russ has lost HALF of his blood volume and they had pumped over a liter of blood from his stomach.  All in all, he got 2 units of blood.

Wow!  He lost half of his blood.  He has some rare bleeding, and he is in the ICU at a civilian hospital because he is  too unstable to transfer.  The hits just keep on coming.

The doctor decides to keep him another night and repeat the endoscopy the next morning.

Now it is Wednesday.  I wake up to a text that he has moved rooms again.  Now he is on the second floor ICU, which is more of a step down unit.  I get to the hospital and we sit and wait.  The Cardio doctor comes in a clears him from his care.  The fluid around the heart is insignificant. He is not concerned and doesn't need to monitor it anymore.  In the meantime, Russ gets a call from a doctor at Portsmouth Naval Hospital.  The Navy has found him.  My heart drops as I think he is going to be transferred, but the doctor thinks he should just stay where he is.

I leave for lunch when Russ is leaving for his endoscopy.  When I come back up, he is not back yet.  I start to panic.  The procedure on Tuesday was about 15 minutes long.  He has now been gone an hour.  After 2 hours, I started to get antsy and less easy to deal with.  I wanted some answers and nobody was willing to give them to me.  He finally comes back and the answer is less dire than we thought.

 It was "just" an ulcer.  With the blood cleared, the doctor could see where it had bled and was able to fix it.  The new plan is to let him try to eat on Thursday and head home on Friday.

Again, nothing is easy.  That doctor went off duty and a new, more conservative doctor came in on Thursday.  He pushed the timeline back a day...or so we thought.  All of a sudden, at about noon, a nurse comes in with a tray of food.  I have never seen him look so happy.

The nurse practitioner for the GI team came in.  She expressed concern about his hemoglobin numbers.  They are watching to see if that number goes up.  If it doesn't, he will need another unit.

He's on the mend.  We are still hopeful that he is going home tomorrow.  We are so thankful for the staff at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center for taking such good care of him!  They even let the boys sneak in for a  minute to see him.  This was important for all of them.

It's been a week, but everyone is still alive, and I am thankful for that.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


There is this goes like this:  If you want to run faster, you have to run faster.

Brilliant, right??  It changed your life, right???  

In order to run fast, you have to run faster....that means speedwork.

 It's hard.  It's really hard.  It makes you want to stay in bed or go back to bed to just give up running forever because you are never going to get any better.

But, then you get there.  Your friends are there.  It's 4:45am in the morning and you have work to do.  

On this particular day, the work is 4x800.  Simply, run 1/2 mile at a specific pace.  Rest and repeat.  Seems pretty simple.  But you see, that specific pace is faster than you like to run.  It is faster than you think you can run.  It is faster than you want to run.  But you have to do it....4 (or 6 or 8) times in a row.  You can't slow down.  

Some background.  Our little group is a gab session with a running problem.  If we run too fast (like any kind of at all), we can't talk.  So, we go slow.  It works.  However, we have a time goal at Shamrock....PR for Pegs.  It is going to happen.  After we get her a PR, we are setting our sights on mine.  2016 is the year of smashing goals.  But, we have to run faster.  Our typical pace is a 15 minute mile.  This is talking in full sentences, very little huffing and puffing.  It's slow.....frustratingly slow.

So, back to speedwork.  Our goal for each 800 was 5:50 (An 11:40 minute mile.)  This is BLAZING fast compared to where we have been running.  

So, we put on our big girl panties.  We stopped talking and we ran.  
Speed work is usually done on a track, but the track is REALLY dark at 4:45.  Our normal spot has a good 1/4 mile stretch that is measured and well lit and close to the cars.  It became our track.  Up and back, walk to the other end....up and back, walk to the other end.  

We did it.  We stayed between 5:50 and 6:00 for all 4 repeats.  We didn't use our walk breaks.  We ran.  I like music for speedwork. It helps me tune out and run.  I put in one headphone so I could hear if anything was said, but we ran.  We thought about stopping at 3 repeats because of time.  But, the plan said 4.  What is 6 more minutes?  We sucked it up.  Nobody was late for work. 

It was hard.  It was work.  It was tiring. It was fantastic!!  It was amazing to be back at pace.  It a a confidence boost that I really needed.  It felt good.  

Not all runs are good.  This one was.  I can't wait for the next one.

Monday, January 25, 2016


After the warmest December ever, winter has finally come to Virginia.  It came in like a wrecking ball.  I am serious.  It was 80 one day and about 20 the next and it has stayed cold since New Year's Eve.

The entire Eastern Seaboard got walloped by a massive blizzard over the weekend.  All except us.  No, I am serious.  There was little snow that melted and then a little ice that melted.  We had a 2 hour delay this morning for nothing.  

So, my running friend teaches in a different city than I do.  She teaches in Chesapeake.  When there is a 2 hour delay in Chesapeake, teachers are expected to report as close to on time as safely possible.  When there is a 2 hour delay in Portsmouth, I get to sleep in.  So, we had a conundrum on our hands.  She needed to run early and go to work, I wanted to sleep in and go to work. 
So, our third friend and I took one for the team.  We got up and dark cold thirty and went went running.

It was dark.  It was cold.  It was time to get back to our routine.  Today was supposed to be easy - 1/2 mile run and then 1/4 mile walk.  Everyone has been sick - sinus problems, nasty coughs, not able to breathe in the cold-itis....probably things that should keep us in bed.  So, we run anyway.  1/2 mile stretches were a bridge too far this morning, so we opted for 1/4 mile run, 1/4 mile walk.  

Amazingly, it felt good.  I think I had 1/2 mile stretches in me.  It felt easy.  We were on speedwork pace and it felt easy.  We were talking and running and laughing and having a grand time.  It was easy.  Each mile was faster than the mile before.  That's some progress right there!!

But now, it's 7:18 pm and we are back at it tomorrow for speedwork.  4x800 - that means we have to run 1/2 mile (800 meters) in a specific time (5:50 to be exact).  We get a 1/4 mile (400 meters) rest and then we do 800 again.....4 times.  It ends up being a 3 mile workout.  It's hard work.  I am sort of looking forward to it.....but I am going to bed like a 4 year old.  :)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Back to Racing

2015 was a different year than 2014 and 2013 were in my running life.  I did not do a whole lot of racing.  I mean, I raced, but I didn't race as much as I have in years past.

If you recall, 2013 was my very first half marathon - Disney Princess Half Marathon in Disney World.  I was afraid to stop running after that.  I knew that if I stopped training and racing, I would stop running.  So I ran...and ran...and ran.  I ran 24 half marathons in 2013 and 2014.  That's basically one a month for 2 years.  It's 314.4 race miles in half marathons alone.  I'll let you think about that for a minute.  

2015 was different.  2015 was the year of the marathon.  The whole marathon....the main event.  I ran 2 full marathons in 2015 - Walt Disney World Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon.  I did a lot of training.  Life got in the way of racing.  I couldn't really travel for out of town half marathons, so I ran the races in my backyard.  It wasn't too shabby - I ran 7 halfs in 2015 and all but 1 required a hotel stay.  Heck, I ran a half in Florida and a half in California to earn my Coast to Coast medal.  But, it was a light year for me.  I may be off, but it was only about 170 race miles in 2015.

So, 2016 is back to what I love.  I love racing.  When I started training with Coach Ryan, he made a comment about how I love running.  I laughed at him and told him that I really hate running.  

He proceed to show him the racing schedule that I had just handed him and called my bluff.

I like racing.  I like the energy at the starting line and the feelings of accomplishment at the finish line.  I don't always love the miles in the middle, but the excitement of other two keep me going.

So, here's the plan for 2016 - race more and love running again.

February - no races planned.  Eyeballing the Race for Chocolate 10 Miler on February 13.  Chocolate and wine are worth racing for!!

March - Shamrock Half on March 20.  Every year I say that I am never running Shamrock again.  It's's's boring.....but I will be there.  Trying to get my BRF a sub-3:00 half.  It's going to happen!!

March - Castaway Cay 5K.  It's a "free" Disney race since we are going on a not free Disney cruise.  Running 3 miles on vacation means I can have an extra drink of the day!  :)

April - Garden Spot Village on April 9.  Mom of the Year is going to drive to Lancaster, PA, run the race on Saturday and drive home to put on an epic 5th Birthday party on Sunday.  This is the first race of 2 to earn the coveted Road Apple Award.  If you do not know what a Road Apple is, just go ahead and Google it.  I'll wait.

May - Richmond 13.1 on May 21.  Continuing the tour of speedways, this race is going to take the place of my beloved Run for the Dream, which was cancelled.  It's going to be an up and back to Richmond for the day.  Gonna have to practice my burnout for when I get to Victory Lane!!!

September - Bird in Hand on September 10.  One of my favorite races ever.  It still holds the prize as my personal worst clock time, but it was an amazing experience.  Heading back with the Running Harem to conquer the Fireman Challenge and earn the Road Apple Award that we will start in April.  

October - Crawling Crab Half on October 2.   Not sure if I am all in for the Shell Yeah Challenge, but I am pretty sure that I am going back to Hampton after missing the race last year.

November - Harbor Lights Half in November.   This race is always the week before Thanksgiving, so I am thinking November 19 and 20.  I need redemption after the cold and rainy 3 hours of misery this past year.  

November - Turkey Trot 10K.  The more I run, the more I eat.  This race holds my 10K PR and I would love to see if I can get close to that again.  

December - Surfin' Santa 5 Miler  No date yet, but I really had fun in 2015 and I am looking forward to doing this race again.

All in all, a light year for me.  I want to enjoy running again.  I haven't really run alone in over a year.   I've been enjoying the togetherness of my running friends.  

And all of the training runs will help me get to Sophie all the way in Chicago!  As of today, I have 918.5 miles to go!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

You've Gotta Start Somewhere

Four words that are the basis for encouragement.  I've said them.  I will never say them again. 

I went out for a run today.  I knew it would be short.  I hoped it would be easy.  I was 1 for 2.  On my way back, an acquaintance asked me how it went.  (She is literally an acquaintance.  My kids have played a couple of sports seasons with her kid and I think one might have a class with her kid.)  I told her that I wished I had gone ten miles, but I got two.  She laughed and said those four little words, "You gotta start somewhere."

I wanted to SCREAM!  I wanted to walk her to my car to show her my stickers.  I am not starting.  I am a distance runner.  Two miles is nothing. I was offended.

But, then I really thought about it.  I am starting somewhere.  It's no secret that running has been hard for me.  It's no secret that I have been getting slower, not faster.  It's no secret that running hasn't been much fun.  I am a worse runner now than I was a year ago.  

Time to look a the cold, hard truth.  Time to figure out why.  I have run through a litany of excuses over the past few months.  (Ha ha...see what I did there??)  We moved, I got a new job, I am tired, I have three kids, I do too much...and so on and so on.  The more I thought about it, the more the answer became obvious.

There is more of ME than there was last year.  

I can also run through a laundry list of excuses as to why that happened too - PCOS, 3 kids, no time to prep and cook food, and so on and so on.

It boils down to choices.  I made bad choices....for a year....for more than a year.  I mean, I was running, I needed carbs.  Those choices, combined with the struggles I have with sugar and weight loss have left me 20 pounds heavier than I was last year and 20 pounds heavier than before I had Joshua.  My clothes just kept getting smaller and I wasn't in a place where I really cared.  I knew what I had to do, but I didn't want to do it.  Processed food is quick and easy.  I needed quick and easy.  

My body can't run at this weight.   I know, I know...running is blind.  I have been to races.  There are people that weigh more than me who leave me in the dust and people who could blow over in a stiff breeze finish after me.  This isn't about them.  MY body cannot run at this weight.  It doesn't want to.  It fights me.  Running is hard. 

So, it's time to do something about it.  It's time to make a change.  I've started with meal planning.  I have a list of recipes that are quick and clean (or at least clean-ish....or at least made at my house so we aren't going out for depends on the recipe.)   My shopping cart at Harris Teeter online was full of fresh and frozen produce that will be delivered to the back of my car in a few hours.  The remainder of the cart is whole wheat and ingredients for meals, not quick and processed. I finished my run this morning and came home to do the Total Body Cardio Fix from the 21 Day Fix program.  I am trying Plexus.  (Note about Plexus - I have been using it for a couple of months.  I have not seen weight all.  I am a fan of Plexus because it keeps me from feeling sluggish at 2:00 in the afternoon every day.  I don't feel like crawling under my desk and taking a nap when I still have 2 classes to teach in the afternoons.  You will not see my Facebook feed full of testimonials for Plexus, nor will I push you to try it.  Right now, it is working for me and my energy.)

You notice that my New Year's goals did not mention weight loss.  I am hoping that through purposeful meal planning and a commitment to exercise, I will lose the extra weight that my body is carrying around.  I am hoping that running will get easier again.  As that happens, speed will start to come back....I hope.  

Friday, January 1, 2016

Begin again....more intelligently

It's time for another new year.  So much happened last year.  After spending some time reflecting on 2015, it's time to look forward.  It's time to set goals for 2016.

There is not a ton on the horizon for 2016.  I think this is what our family needs.  There are no weddings or marathons or huge race plans.  We aren't moving and we aren't planning any other major life changes.  Here's hoping 2016 is quiet...for once.

I am still not making resolutions.  I am setting goals.  Since I am in the world of SMART goals, I am going to add some steps to help me keep to my goals. So, here it goes!

1)  Eat clean for the month of January.  It takes 21 days to make a habit, so, after January, the clean eating should be in place by the end of the month.

  • Intentional meal planning
  • 21 Day Fix from January 1-21
  • MyFitnessPal
2)  Keep my house cleaner and tidier than in 2015.  
3) Complete a Reading Challenge.  I mean, I am a librarian.  I need to read...A LOT.  It's for work.
4)  Bring a budget EVERY month in 2016.  I won't forget a month.  I won't skip a month.  We will give ever dollar a name.

  • Every Dollar app.  Thank you, Dave Ramsey!!

5)  Bring my half marathon time back under 3 hours.  I worked hard to get there and then marathon training and life slowed me down.  I will get back there in 2016.  I am not looking for a PR, but I am looking for consistency.

6)  Write a blog post at least once per week.  I love my writing time.  Even if I am the only one who reads it, I love getting my thoughts down.  It's my diary in a digital world.

7)  Virtually run to my IRun4 buddy's house.  Sophie lives outside of Chicago and I am having a hard time figuring out a way and a when to go visit her.  So, I am running to her house.  It is 940 miles from my front door to her front door.  Starting on January 1, I am going to log my miles to get me to Wheaton, IL.

Wishing you and your family a happy 2016.  May you find joy in your life that you hadn't noticed before.