The past 13 months have been filled with lots of ups and even more downs. I’ve attempted to write it all out a few times, but every time I tried I either got frustrated and gave up, or just didn’t know what to write. A handful of big things stick out in my mind as I think back over the last year. This is a long post, so for those of you that choose to read it in its entirety, thank you!
I spent all of last summer training my butt off while feeling completely exhausted. The feeling of not being able to get through a run is so frustrating and can also be scary. I had never really felt like that before, so I went to the doctor to get checked out, and of course nothing came back. In hindsight, I am thankful that nothing came back, but it was frustrating not having a reason behind the way I was feeling. I was told to rest. Okay. Luckily, this happened right before my husband and I went to Cancun. His side job sent him to Cancun for an event, and I was fortunate enough to have been able to join him. We got some much-needed R&R time, but I still wanted to run. Because Cancun isn’t the safest place, and the only time I really wanted to run was when my husband was working, I decided to play it safe and chose the gym over an outdoor run downtown. The view was spectacular, I could see the resort pool, the beach and of course the Caribbean Sea. I only ran a few miles total while we were there, but it felt good. I always love running when visiting another city and/or country, even if this time it was on the treadmill. We stayed at the Grand Fiesta Americana hotel and would recommend it, although we were very thankful that our room and Jordan’s all-inclusive food package was paid for by his work. We’re still waiting for another call to go again this year! Hey, we can dream, right?
Meeting Running Legends
There are so many local and national ‘celebrities’ in the running world and I have been lucky enough to meet three of them over the past year. Runner’s Roost in Denver hosted a group run and book signing with Kara Goucher and Emilie Forsberg. I’ll be honest, I had no idea who Emilie was before I went to the event, but by the time my friend and I left she was my new favorite runner. Emilie is a Swedish trail runner and is pretty much the cutest thing ever. My friend Katie and I both bought her book Sky Runner and were amazed at the beautiful places that she’s run. Meeting Emilie and having her sign her book was so cool! She’s very soft-spoken but so cute and down to earth.
Kara Goucher is a legend; she’s an Olympic long-distance runner who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I actually met her twice during the event, once before the run and again after. She’s great, nice and funny and I was star-struck talking to her—so much so that I felt like an idiot when I first talked to her to get my book signed. So embarrassing. I made up for it when Katie and I talked to her again after the run. I really liked this event with a run and book signing, and I hope to check out another sometime.
Our ‘A’lberta Anniversary
My husband and I got the idea of an alphabetical anniversary from our friends Sarah and Kyle. For each anniversary, you go down the alphabet and either take a trip somewhere or do something that correlates to whatever letter you’re on. You can totally get creative on these ideas! For our first anniversary we wanted to go somewhere we had never been and somewhere we knew would be special. We chose to start this tradition off by going to Alberta, Canada. It was incredible! I could honestly write an entire blog post about what we did, but I’ll just share a few of the highlights. Calgary is just a quick two-hour flight from Denver, which I was pleasantly surprised about. About two hours outside of Calgary lies Banff National Park; Banff is hands-down the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen, and I live in Colorado so that’s saying something. The mountains are epic, a term Jordan and I decided fit perfectly. The Canadian Rockies are grand and steep and jagged, which look very different than the Colorado Rockies. The lakes are also a perfect blue and the water is so crisp and clean. Each place we went took my breath away. The city of Calgary was fantastic as well. The people were so friendly, and we learned a lot about the Canadian culture. I only ran twice while we were there, but I loved every minute of both runs. We also did quite a bit of hiking which was also really fun! Upon doing extensive research before we left, I learned that in order to get a parking spot at Moraine Lake and Lake Louise, you had to get there before the sun came up; we did just that. We stayed in Calgary (because hotels inside Banff are very expensive) so we left our Airbnb at 3am two different mornings to get to Banff to enjoy the sunrise. The first morning we spent in Banff was at Moraine Lake, which quickly became my favorite stop on the trip.
The second morning we spent at Lake Louise. I could honestly write an entire post about Alberta, Calgary and Banff, and I might eventually. As soon as we left, we wanted to book another trip.
Our first run on the trip was at iconic Lake Louise. I was stunned by the beauty of the Lake with the pristine water and mountainous backdrop. It was chilly, but just incredible. We ran around the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and along the Lakeshore Trail and up some hills along the far side of the lake, and then back.
There was a hike and other trails around there, but we only had a couple hours max to spend in each spot we visited, but even the few miles that we ran were SO worth it! I loved sharing that with my husband, it was a really special experience for both of us.
After our run, we warmed up by walking around the Fairmont and grabbing coffee and a quick breakfast at their café.
Jordan even made a new friend—a little squirrel that jumped up and bit his finger, it was funny, but Jordan spend the rest of the morning thinking he had rabies. We continued our adventure around Banff for the rest of the day. Now that I’m thinking about all the adventures we went on and reading through my notes of everything we did (I am SO glad that I kept a journal of all that we did and saw on this trip), I will definitely write a blog post about our trip in its entirety. I am so ready to go back!
The second run that I went on was in Calgary at Prince’s Island Park. I took this one solo because it was pouring rain and Jordan was a little sore from our previous run at Lake Louise. It took a lot to get me out the door, but I’m pretty sure that I had a smile on my face the whole time (as opposed to the drool on my face as I ran around Lake Louise haha). I ran a total of 8 miles, which wasn’t quite as long as I had hoped, but by the time I finished I was completely soaked from head to toe. The Bow River Pathway has a real-time counter of how many bikers and walkers/runners had passed that spot that day and so far that year—there had been 69 bikers and 1,974 walkers/runners by the time I reached it mid-morning and 307,825 bikers and 1,385,723 walkers/runners for the year!
The path was all paved, which was a welcomed perk considering I was running through puddles and didn’t really feel like adding mud to the mix for the day.
The pathway offered great views of Calgary and even ran through the Peace Bridge, the iconic red foot bridge that has earned the nickname of “Finger Trap Bridge” because of its visual similarity to the finger trap puzzle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_Bridge_(Calgary)
I finished the run and met Jordan at Good Earth Coffeehouse where he had been hanging out for a while. I was so glad I was able to run explore more of the city on foot. I would recommend visiting Calgary and Banff National Park to anyone who appreciates the beauty of nature and friendly hospitality. We can’t wait to go back! Keep an eye out for another post more specific to our trip to Alberta!
30 Before 30 Goal Complete
A few years ago, I set a goal to run 30 half marathons before my 30th birthday, and last September I completed that goal! I signed up for the Boulder Backroads half marathon with my friends Sarah and Katie (both of whom I have already mentioned above). Race morning was perfect, the sunrise was incredibly beautiful over the Boulder Reservoir.
We met before the race, and even had Jordan and my parents there to cheer us along the way. I love having a cheering section at races, it honestly helps SO much. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this a few times before. A few miles into the race, I felt a pain in my knee that just wouldn’t let up. I felt terrible holding the girls back (they are both MUCH faster than I am), and I had a feeling this would happen because it had been bothering me for a while. The girls stuck with me the whole way, and I was so thankful for them when the race got really tough. We crossed the finish line and I looked up to accept my finisher’s medal and looked right at Scott Jurek! Scott is a professional ultra-runner and he just happened to be handing out medals at the race that morning. I usually am really shy when meeting celebrities (like when I got super awkward the first time I met Kara Goucher), but when Scott handed me my medal, I said, “Oh my god, you’re Scott Jurek! Thank you!” It was so cool! I grabbed a quick picture and then went to meet with Jordan and my parents.
My mom made a sign and she told me after a few hugs and a few gulps of water to go back and ask Scott to sign it. I really should have had him sign my race number, but I love having his signature on my poster! I wasn’t happy with my time but meeting such a long-term goal that I had been working towards for years, and spending that with friends and my family was amazing!
As amazing as meeting my goal was, the race was a few weeks before I was supposed to run the Colorado Springs Marathon, and with the amount of pain that I was in I knew it probably wasn’t going to happen. I made the hardest decision to pull out of the marathon. I’ve never not run a race that I signed up for, but I knew that it was the right decision. On the bright side, I talked my dad and Jordan into running the 5k with me, so I was still able to participate, just at a much shorter distance.
I had a great time, and it helped so much running with my two favorite guys in the world and having my mom and sister cheering us on at the start and finish lines.
For a while, I would get a knot in my stomach just thinking about how I didn’t meet a goal that I had been working so hard for. Training for a marathon is not for the faint of heart. It takes hours of training runs every week, logistical planning for the long runs, proper fuel (which I still haven’t mastered because I’m picky and have a sensitive stomach before long runs and races), proper shoes (you might need two different pairs during a single marathon training cycle, cross-training, and REST! I think the most disappointing part for me was that I made it through a 21-mile training run in the summer heat, and it was basically for nothing. Sure, it was cool to brag about for a couple days to my family and friends, and I enjoyed looking back at my Strava stats, but as the big picture goes, it was for nothing since I didn’t make it to race day. I plan to run a redemption marathon sometime in early 2020, I just haven’t decided when or where yet. I have some races that I’m looking into!
Where do I begin? I’ve always been a worrier. That’s just how I am. I stress about the smallest things and let that stress impact my life in ways that I shouldn’t. I won’t go into much detail now (I might write a longer post when I feel like I’m ready to), but for now, I’ll give the Spark Notes version. I had a couple health scares last year that led to two ER visits that ended up being inconclusive (thankfully). What they thought might have been a blood clot in my lung ended up only being symptoms of an anxiety attack. There’s still an unanswered question about one piece to the puzzle, but after the second ER trip my primary care doctor diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I had never heard of that specific term before, but after reading more into it, it makes perfect sense. I stress about nothing. If I start feeling weird, my mind spirals down a rabbit hole of ‘oh my god I’m dying’, which then makes my symptoms exponentially worse. I met with a behavioral health specialist who explained anxiety in layman’s terms and helped me rationalize how and what I was feeling. It helped me realize that different factors were contributing to how I was feeling and by knowing certain triggers, I have become better at identifying those triggers and talking myself through why I might be feeling that way. For example, if my chest starts to hurt during a stressful day at work after drinking my favorite cinnamon almond milk macchiato from Starbucks, I can rationalize that I’m not having a heart attack but can blame those factors on the anxiety that I either created for myself or have added to. I have learned that I can only drink caffeine if I know that I will have a relatively easy day without stress, and that I need to avoid it if I have something more stressful going on at work. I have learned so much about mindfulness and how this tool can help when I get wrapped up in something that I don’t need to be worried about. I always thought that mindfulness was a form of stress relief. It’s not. Mindfulness is becoming consciously present in that given moment. Now, this can obviously help with stress relief, but it isn’t exclusively for that purpose. There are several mindfulness apps that have helped me along the way including ‘Happy Not Perfect’, ‘Headspace’, ‘CBT-i Coach’ (which was recommended by the behavioral specialist) and ‘Insight Timer’. If you’re interested, do some research on the different options and find the one(s) that work for you!
I had a very difficult few months in the fall and winter, but I eventually made it through and am feeling so much better. I have been navigating through this without medication because I tried one prescription for one night (the doctor recommended taking it at night to hopefully sleep through any side effects) and it was awful. I woke up sweating and wide awake at midnight, I couldn’t go back to sleep and had some really strange, fast-moving thoughts. Nothing bad, just strange, and to be honest I don’t even remember what they were. After speaking with my doctor, I decided from that day that I am just not meant to take medications for my anxiety, and I would find a way to navigate this without medication. I have nothing against medications, I just personally chose not to take them. I am so glad that I finally figured out what was happening and why I was feeling the way I was. Asking for help is so important, so if you don’t feel comfortable with your doctor, please find one that you do feel comfortable with. I was fortunate enough to be scheduled with a primary care doctor who listened to me and followed up after my second ER visit, so much so that I now exclusively go to her when I need an appointment. I have a hard time asking for help because I feel so strongly that I can manage on my own, but sometimes you have to!
I still have bad days, but I’m thankful to have a wonderful support system with Jordan, my parents and my favorite snuggle bug Paxton. Dogs are the best gift and their unconditional love no matter how you’re feeling is the absolutely best thing in the world!
I’m Officially a (Run) Streaker
After the failed marathon attempt, I took some time off for my knee to heal. The year before, I attempted to complete the Runner’s World Run Streak and made it only four days. I don’t remember why I failed so miserably, but I was determined to do better the second time around. I started the streak on Thanksgiving Day with our annual Turkey Trot that I run with Jordan, my dad, and my cousin Brooklyn. We had a great time and were thankful for nice weather. One of my favorite things about the Run Streak was not having to worry about distance; all I had to do was run for at least one mile and I was good for the day. I started taking my dog, Paxton out with me for my short mile runs. He did so well, I was a proud puppy mama, and it quickly became the highlight of my days. We would hook his short Bronco leash to his harness and be off! He loved it. Another plus to only having to run one mile if I wanted to was only having to suffer ten minutes maximum in crappy weather. If it was freezing and snowy, I would still get outside for a quick loop around the neighborhood, or even a mile on my treadmill if I just didn’t feel like bundling up and facing the Colorado cold. Did I have days when I didn’t want to even run a mile? Yes. Not many, but there were definitely a few. Between anxiety, headaches or just being tired, there were a few days that I tried to give up. I remember one day, right after Christmas, I almost threw in the towel. My anxiety had taken over and I felt like I was going to die, so I was scared to run. Turns out, running is actually the best thing to combat those feelings that I was having, because by the time I finished a single mile (after 10pm no less) I already felt better. Of course, I wouldn’t suggest substituting running for medication unless you talk to your doctor (which I have), but if it helps, then go for it! It’s amazing what running can do for your body and mind!
I finished out my run streak with my last consecutive day on New Year’s Day—41 days, 77.7 miles and a new outlook on running and confidence in myself. I was so proud of the work that I had put into the streak and it made me excited to see what 2019 would bring!
The Injury Perspective
Professional soccer player Ali Krieger said, “Injuries give you perspective. They teach you to cherish the moments that I might have taken for granted before.” I could not agree more. A little over three weeks ago, I injured a tendon in my ankle riding a Lyft scooter downtown after a Rockies game. We were riding back to our car and came across some broken up concrete. We were on the sidewalk because it was dark and I don’t trust drivers in Denver. If you’ve even been on one of those scooters, you know that they aren’t the most stable. When we pulled up to the broken concrete that looked as big as a crater (okay I might be exaggerating, but it was huge), I was afraid of hitting it and flying off, so instead I put my left foot down instead of slamming on the break, and immediately felt a twinge under the inside of my left ankle bone. I pulled over and held my foot up, but soon kept going back to the car. I held my foot up the rest of the way and when we finally reached the car, I felt okay. I would feel a sharp pain off and on, but I told Jordan I thought I was okay. I was wrong. The next morning, I woke up and couldn’t put any weight on my left ankle. The pain was so bad by the time I hobbled my way to the bathroom that I had to lay on the floor to make sure I didn’t pass out or throw up. I called in to work because I couldn’t move from the bathroom floor without help. Jordan helped me down to the living room couch when he left for work, and I would have to hop on my right foot to get to the bathroom. At one point, I made it to the kitchen to heat up a breakfast burrito, but I couldn’t make it back to the couch and was in so much pain that I ate the burrito on the kitchen floor. It’s crazy how you can take things for granted when you don’t have the ability to do them on your own, like getting up to walk to the kitchen or go to the bathroom or let your dog out. After talking to my friend Kenzi who is currently going to school to be a Physician’s Assistant, she suggested calling the doctor’s office to get advice. Because I hate talking on the phone, I was happy that Kaiser has the messaging option. After discussing my situation with a doctor, she suggested going to Urgent Care to get checked out. I was hesitant because doctor visits tend to cost quite a bit, but considering I was in so much pain and couldn’t even go to work, I needed to be seen. Thankfully, the x-ray came back negative for a break. Then came the worst part—the doctor’s exam. I have never really been injured like this before but learned quickly how horrible the exams for injuries can be. The doctor was nice, but there were times that I thought I would pass out when he pressed on the hot spot or moved my foot certain directions. He diagnosed me with posterior tibial tendinitis, which after reading more into it, can be common in runners. Mine was caused my trauma, but it can also be caused by continuous, repetitive motion. There’s a tendon that runs from your calf muscle along the bottom of the inside ankle bone and under your foot to your toe. That tendon is held in a protective sheath which probably prevented me from actually tearing the tendon. Hallelujah! I was given a walking boot and, after not being able to put any pressure without excruciating pain even in the boot, crutches.
I’ve been very fortunate that this was my first time ever having to use crutches, and I hated it. They’re awkward and awful and people stare. It’s annoying. I was forced to rest for two weeks, and I took advantage of that. The first few days were difficult, and I had a hard time making it through the day at work, so I left early a few times to go home and sleep. One day, the pain was pretty bad, but I was so sick of being cooped up inside that Jordan, Paxton and I went to the park and I laid down there to get some fresh air. That helped so much! It’s hard for me to take a step back to rest. I have always struggled with it. If I’m not working out at 100%, I feel like I’m not making the most out of my time. During this time, I was in the middle of my Liift4 Beachbody strength program. The week of my injury, I took the rest of the week off after doing the first workout of the week that Monday before I got hurt. The rest of the week was spend laying down and elevating and icing my ankle. The following week, I was able to start back into my strength workouts and scheduled a massage with a therapist who focuses on athletes and injuries. Josh (SCI Body Therapy) is fantastic! He found the sweet spot, which was actually anything but sweet—more like HORRIBLY PAINFUL spot and focused on that area with massage and also cupping. The cupping was weird, but I truly believe it helped. I went to two massage appointments and the therapist gave me the okay to run the Colfax Marathon Relay that I was signed up for. I can’t thank Josh enough for fully explaining what exactly he was working on and why.
Brave Like Gabe
The last year has been a whirlwind, but I think the next year will be great! Summer is almost officially here and the days are longer, giving me more time to run and walk my little guy after work. As I write this, I can’t help but think of Gabe Grunewald and her family. Gabe passed away last night after a 10 year battle with multiple forms of cancer. She founded an organization called Brave Like Gabe whose mission is to ‘support rare cancer research and empower all cancer survivors through physical activity’ and has continued to share her battle through social media. It’s a strange thing, I feel as though I don’t have a right to feel this heartbroken about someone I have never met, but Gabe was such a positive light in the running community and her bravery throughout four cancer diagnosis has been incredibly inspiring that I can’t help but feel this way about her death. I just listened to her interview on the Ali on the Run Show podcast from 2018, and at the end of every run Ali asks her guests to give everyone a reason to run. Gabe’s answer was to run because you can and to run for gratitude and health. So that’s what I plan to do, and you should too! Get out there and be #bravelikegabe!