Questioning my identity as a runner

Lately, Michigan weather has been CRAZY. We had a couple of days last week that were up to 73 degrees and sunny! I was able to drive with my windows down and wear short sleeves... in February. And then it got down to 30 degrees, overcast, and windy. And yesterday, we had some freezing rain in the morning.

A week of Michigan weather (not sure who to credit for this cartoon!
If you know, please let me know so I can give credit)

So, my last post was my Wednesday Weigh-in. I feel like I've been writing so much about my depression lately that I've just been avoiding writing any more because I'm tired of talking about it. After several hours of phones calls to the doctor's office and the insurance company, and jumping through many hoops, I was able to get my insurance to approve my new antidepressant. I am going to stay on the waiting list to see a psychiatrist, though, just in case this new med doesn't work out.

I'll keep this brief, and then hopefully as this new med kicks in, I will be feeling better and depression won't be such a huge part of my life at the moment--and I'll write about happier things! ;)

I started taking the new med on Thursday, and the initial side effects are a little annoying. I've found this to be the case with other antidepressants as well, though, and the side effects usually go away after a couple of weeks; so, I'm not really worried about them. Right now, I'm just having a lot of ups and downs with my energy level (sometimes I have lots of energy, other times I have zero), and I am having a hard time sleeping at night.

The hardest part for me has been when I'm lacking energy, especially because I'm training for Indy right now. Yesterday, I was supposed to do an eight mile long run, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I don't blame the medication entirely, because I still haven't gotten back my running mojo, so it's been hard to make myself run at all for the past several months.

I did bundle up for a walk with Andrea at the State Park yesterday, though, and I realized just how much I love walking. Running is something that I love when it's over with--it gives me that "runner's high" and that's a great feeling. I usually don't get the runner's high anymore unless I'm doing a really tough workout. But walking... I actually really enjoy going for walks.

I don't want to make any decisions yet, but I was thinking that if my running mojo doesn't come back, I might choose to walk the Indy Mini instead of run it (or maybe do a run/walk method). I think I feel like my identity is tied to being a runner, especially considering the title of my blog; but I've declared the year of 2017 my year of giving "zero fucks" about what others think of me and doing what makes me happy. So, if I would be happier walking the half, then that's what I'll do. But if my energy picks up in a couple of weeks, I may still choose to run it--we'll see.

It's interesting how much my running lifestyle has changed in the last seven years:

Beginning: Didn't feel like a "real" runner, but was getting there. Excited once I ran my first race.
Then: After my first race, I was hooked and couldn't get enough. I wanted to keep increasing my distance and my pace.
Next: Run ALL the races, get ALL the medals.
Then: Focus on one distance or one race, to become a better runner overall.
Next: Burnt out, deciding to try running "for fun".
Finally: Feeling like maybe there is more to life than just running, and it's okay to do other things ;)

Recently, I've been thinking how nice it would be to really expand the different activities I do, and focus much less on one particular exercise (running). My friend Andrea really likes to do water aerobics and aqua jogging, so I'd like to do that with her at least once a week; I miss riding my bike, so it'd be fun to do that 1-2 times a week, when the weather is a little warmer; running is an efficient way to keep in shape, so I could do that 1-3 times a week; and then I can use walking or other activities to fill in the other days.

When I told Jerry about possibly walking the Indy Mini instead of running it, I felt almost ashamed for a minute; then I realized how ridiculous that is. I remember reading Andie Mitchell's story about how she just gave up running one day because she really didn't want to do it anymore, and you know what? Her life went on and she was happy. I don't want to give it up completely, but to cut back significantly (at least for a while) sounds nice.

Basically, my overall fitness goal is to stay active and healthy doing things I enjoy. The activities I enjoy:
  • Walking (especially with a friend)
  • Running 2-4 miles at an easy pace on a nice day
  • Leisurely riding my bike
  • Hiking (I've only gone a few times, but I LOVED it)
  • Kickboxing (I used to do this in college, and it was super fun)
  • Strength training with machines (again, I used to do this in college, and I actually took a course to become a certified personal trainer; I'm not crazy about free weights, but I do like machines)
  • Racquetball 
  • Yard work with the family on a nice day
  • Cleaning the house with loud music playing
  • Kayaking (I've only tried it once, but it was fun and I'd like to do it again)
Some of those are a stretch (like cleaning) but for the most part, I wouldn't have to talk myself into doing any of those things. The things I don't enjoy:
  • Forcing myself to follow a training schedule on days that I just don't want to do it
  • Long runs (occasionally, I do enjoy them; but I don't like making myself do it to follow a schedule)
  • Riding my bike solely for exercise (trying to get my heart rate up high)
  • Aerobics classes
  • Swimming (although, I'm learning to like it more now... I'd like to keep trying it)
  • Body weight exercises like squats, plank, push-ups, etc.
  • Sports like tennis, volleyball, basketball, etc.
This year, and possibly last year, has been kind of odd for me because I am liking the cold weather less and less. I used to LIVE for the cold weather for my runs, but now it's very hard to make myself go run when it's cold. 

I've very aware that my attitude toward running right now could simply be my depression talking--and maybe once this antidepressant starts working, my mood and ideas will change. That's one of the reasons I've been avoiding writing--because "Depressed Katie" is not the same as "Normal Katie". I'm more pessimistic, and I don't find joy in things that I used to (including running). I think this is the longest depression episode I've ever dealt with, and it's been frustrating. I just want to feel normal again! I am feeling better than I was a couple of months ago, so I'm hoping that trend continues.

I'm also being more proactive at feeling better. I've been making tons of plans with friends and family so that I get out of the house and be social. This weekend was super busy, and I had a lot of fun! Friday, I spent the day with Andrea; Saturday, I had a fun afternoon date with Jerry; and yesterday, Jerry and I took the kids bowling with Brian and Becky. I always enjoy getting together with them, and I love that they live just 30 minutes away now (as opposed to Minnesota). 

I got the most random email yesterday from someone who coordinates Ariana Grande's tour, and she invited Jerry, the boys, and me to Ariana's concert on March 12 (including a backstage tour)! How crazy is that?! I'm really looking forward to it, because I've actually NEVER been to a concert in my life. My kids haven't either, so this will be quite the experience. Jerry screamed like a 12-year old girl when I told him, hahaha. 

Another thing I'm looking forward to is a local meet-up that I planned for From Fat to Finish Line peeps on March 18. Of course, any of you reading this are more than welcome to come as well! We are going to go for a 5K walk/run at the State Park and then go to Cracker Barrel for brunch afterward. I was expecting maybe 2-3 people to respond, but surprisingly, there are 12 people who said yes, and 6 more who said maybe! After having met so many nice people in California, this was something I really wanted to plan. 

The following weekend, I'm hosting a game night with friends at my house. I expect my belly to hurt from laughing so much as it usually does when I hang out with these people, so I can't wait for that!

Overall, outwardly, things are looking good... and I hope my mood will soon follow suit! Hoping all of you are doing well :)  (Did I say I was going to keep this brief? Haha!)

Wednesday Weigh-in: Starting Anew

This week has felt so messed up. My kids didn't have school on Monday for Presidents' Day, so that made yesterday feel like Monday. I was so sure it was Monday all day long! But today feels like it should be Friday ;)

Eli had an appointment at Children's Hospital in Detroit yesterday, so he got to play hooky from school. I was concerned about his legs, because he has joint pain, so I took him to a pediatric orthopedist. The doctor said he has tight hamstrings and cords, and pronated feet, so he's going to do physical therapy and get orthotics. Thankfully, it wasn't anything serious. 

Motivational Monday #138

Happy Motivational Monday!

It's been a long time since I've done a Motivational Monday post, so I'm excited to bring it back today. For a while, I wasn't getting many submissions anymore, even though I was getting a ton of feedback from people saying they loved Motivational Mondays. So, I made the decision to stop doing it (I didn't enjoy scrambling to put something together each week). So, we'll see how this goes...

I was excited to kick off today's post with three very motivating stories! I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did :)

How to design and hand paint a wooden sign (craft tutorial)

I promise to try to get started next week with posting more regularly--the themed posts I mentioned in my last blog post. Now that I've been feeling better, I've been trying to catch up on things that I had lost focus of for a while. It's been nice getting back into the groove, and feeling excited about things again, but I've been busy! I've put the blog on the back burner, but I hope to put more focus on it soon.

I recently made a gift for John and Ric (whose house I stayed at in San Diego) as a thank you for hosting me.

Big goals and plans!

Why, oh why, is the time going by so quickly?! I cannot believe that it's been a week since I've been home from California. I don't feel like I've been insanely busy, but looking back over the week, I guess I have been.

I've been doing really well as far as my depression goes. I still feel the effects of it, but I am actively working on making plans and doing things that will make me happier in the long run. I know I've been writing a lot about my depression lately, but it felt like it was all-consuming for a while. There are a lot of people who have expressed that they are grateful that I've been openly discussing it, so I wanted to write candidly about it. Now, I am hoping that I'll be writing more and more about feeling better and getting back to the "normal" groove I strive for.

I've been thinking a lot about what exactly caused this tailspin last year.

Plans for the year

Okay, so now that I am back home from California and I've had a few days to settle in, I need to make a plan for this year. Going on the trip made me feel excited about things again--and I haven't felt excited in a long time. I'm not saying that the trip totally cured my depression (I've done a fair share of crying the last couple of days), but it gave me hope and that's what I needed more than anything.

California therapy

Holy smokes. What an adventurous weekend!

I will start by spoiling the ending, and saying that this trip was EXACTLY what I needed for my mental health. The day before I left, it was like a bunch of stress accumulated and came to a head, and I just had to do something. I felt like I wanted to just go to sleep and wake up a couple of months later--just put everything on hold for a while.

Of course, avoidance doesn't solve anything, but I was worried I was going to have some sort of breakdown if I didn't get a break. Thanks to a buddy pass from my brother, hopping a plane to San Diego at the last minute was a possibility, and it ended up being just what I needed to destress.

I left off my last post on Saturday morning, when we were getting ready to drive up to Huntington Beach for the Surf City Half.

Since my trip was so last minute, none of the other people going to HB knew that I was going. There were a few fans of the film that were going up for the race, and John was really excited for them to meet me.

It was fun to surprise Colin on Friday night, and he was going to be picking us up from John's. While we waited for him, Shawn showed up. Shawn is a big fan of the film, and I saw a post she wrote on Facebook that I was on her bucket list of people to meet. How fun to get to surprise her, right? ;) So, she came in to John's house, and we chatted for a little while before Colin picked us up.

Shawn is amazing, and I'm thrilled I got to meet her! She does a lot of fundraising walks, including Relay for Life and the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. For Relay for Life, she walked 55 miles around a track in about 23 hours. I can't imagine walking that far, but to do it around a track?! Just wow. Anyway, I was so impressed by her endurance.

Colin picked us up at John's, and then we drove up to Huntington Beach to meet up with everyone else (Angela and Jennifer, the producers of the film; Nora, who works for the FFTFL company; and Teri, a fan of the film and part of the FFTFL community). Everyone kept telling me that Teri was going to be crazy excited to meet me, which made me a little nervous (I always hope that I meet people's expectations of me!).

They hadn't arrived just yet, so Colin, Shawn, John, and I grabbed a quick dinner at Quizno's. Surprisingly, I've been sticking to my challenge of eating a salad every day! I had a Caesar salad and soup at Quizno's (which I later regretted because we went out to dinner with everyone else at a really nice place and I wasn't hungry!).

We went to the hotel, where we waited for the others in the lobby. It was super fun to surprise them, and I was excited to get to meet Nora and Teri. I always love seeing Angela and Jennifer, too.

Packed into the elevator at the hotel
The eight of us went to dinner at a place across the street. I didn't order anything, but I tried one of Colin's frog legs because I'd never had frog legs before (it was surprisingly really good). The owner came over and chatted with us, and we learned that he, himself, had lost 100 pounds! He was in REALLY good shape, and I never would have guessed he was once overweight, but he showed us his before picture. Very inspiring!

Dark photo, but: John, me, Shawn, Angela, Teri, Nora, Colin, and Jennifer
On the walk back to the hotel, I got a chance to talk with Teri, and she is super inspiring. She's lost a lot of weight (I can't remember exactly how much--but I want to guess 80 pounds?). She showed me her "before" picture, and I didn't even recognize her. So amazing!

Teri and me (my hair is enormous from the "heat" in California--60's, haha)
The next morning was the Surf City Half. I had been hoping to walk the race, but it was too late to register and we couldn't transfer a bib to my name. Colin wasn't doing the race, and was planning to just run eight miles on the boardwalk while the others were walking the race, so he said I could join him. That sounded like a good back-up plan to me!

I was really hoping the sun would come out for me, but
it stayed cloudy the whole day. Bummer!
We stayed at the starting line until John, Jennifer, Shawn, and Nora started the race, and then Colin and I walked to the boardwalk and started our run. Colin does heart rate training, so he runs at a pace that keeps his heart rate under 150. He guessed it would be about 11:30-13:30 pace, which sounded perfect to me. The scenery was gorgeous!

We ran an out and back right along the beach, and we discovered early on that the boardwalk was a big part of the marathon course (it was still open to the public, despite the race). It was fun that we were able to run the course, but without having to run a full marathon ;)

We were wearing From Fat to Finish Line shirts, and I was so excited because people actually recognized me from the film! How crazy is that?! There were some guys who set up a Beer & Bacon Station (not part of the race, but just for fun). I think this should be part of races all over! I did have a little beer, because I was thirsty and I obviously wasn't going to take anything from the water stations on the course without being part of the race. Beer always tastes so good during a run!

Chatting with Colin made the time go by really quickly, and before I knew it, we were back at the starting line/finish line. We did 8 miles at a 13:00-ish pace. Lots of fun with this guy!

We met up with Angela at the finish line, and I was on the lookout for Martine, who I asked to come meet us as well. Martine is a reader of my blog that I've gotten to know through emails. She always used to leave the nicest comments on my blog when I had the "Anonymous" option for commenting, and then she'd sign them "Martine". When I turned off anonymous commenting, I felt bad that she'd no longer be able to comment, so I emailed her to let her know my reasoning and to apologize for it. We then started emailing pretty often, and when I decided to go to San Diego, of course I wanted to try to meet up with her. She came to the finish line, and I was happy to see that she is just as delightful in person as she is in her emails!

Martine's gorgeous smile
We hung out at the finish line to wait for our FFTFL crew to come in, and we saw lots of inspiring people! The "back-of-the-packers" are our kind of people, so we enjoyed cheering for them. There was one large group of people that came through, walking, wearing matching shirts. They were celebrating the 90th birthday of the woman walking in the center of the pack for the half-marathon!! How amazing is that?

Although, I do want to say that this particular race is NOT good for walkers or back-of-the-packers. I was shocked at all of the faster finishers who were taking huge armfuls of food and drinks at the finisher's chute, and then there was nothing left when the 3:00-4:00 half-marathoners came through. After our FFTFL people finished in 3:55, there was nothing for them to eat, and there were still half- and full-marathoners on the course! I think it's terrible that people would take so much when there were still people on the course. The race was not set up for slower runners or for walkers, unfortunately.

Nora, Jennifer, Colin, me, Shawn, and John
Anyway, we were all starving by that time, so we walked to a little restaurant near the finish line for lunch. I had chicken tortilla soup and a salad.

After that, I really had to figure out my plan for getting home. I had been planning to take the red-eye from LAX on Sunday evening, to arrive home on Monday morning. However, Becky called to tell me that the flight filled up, so I needed to do a different option.

Flying stand-by is great when you want to take a last-minute trip, but it's kind of a pain because you have to watch flight availability and your options are limited to what's available at the last moment. I thought about staying until Tuesday and leaving from San Diego, but I really needed to get back home to my responsibilities. There was a direct flight out of LAX on Monday at 6:50 AM, so I ultimately decided to get on that flight.

Martine ended up driving me (in her little BMW roadster!) to Angela's house in L.A. on Sunday evening. Angela, meanwhile, was staying another night at the hotel in Huntington Beach. I wished I'd have had time to plan an adventure in L.A., but going up there was so last-minute. I didn't have a car, so from Angela's, I walked down the street to a Carl's Jr. for dinner. I'd never tried Carl's Jr. before, so I actually looking forward to it.

I got a burger wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun (I figured I should save calories wherever I can) and it was really delicious. I wish we had Carl's Jr. around here! I was surprised at how much I liked the burger without a bun, too. I have nothing whatsoever against carbs, but hamburger buns seem like a waste of calories because they are just used as a tool to eat the burger without adding any flavor. I'm going to do the lettuce wrap whenever I can from now on.

Anyway, I walked back to Angela's house and just had a relaxing evening. I went to bed early, because I knew I had an early flight to get up for. I'd never used Uber or Lyft or any sort of service like that before, so I was nervous to try it! But it ended up being super easy. I had Lyft credit from someone handing them out near the race course, and John told me if I use the option to share a ride, it'll be even cheaper (whether someone shares the ride or not).

I requested a ride at 4:00 AM, and Tris, my driver, showed up in about two minutes. I was worried about safety, but the app shows a picture of the driver, a picture of the car, and the license plate number. Tris was super nice, and we chatted the whole way to the airport. The ride was 25 minutes, but only cost $9! I wish we had services like that around where I live.

Thankfully, I made it on the flight without any problems, and I even had a window seat with an empty middle seat next to me! Jerry and the boys picked me up from the airport after school.

I am SO so so grateful that I was able to go on this trip! I feel rejuvenated and ready to make some changes for myself that will be good for me in the long run. I realized that even though I'm an introvert, it's worth stepping out of my comfort zone to meet new people and make new friends. I loved every single person I met this weekend, and they're so inspiring.

Anyways, I'm home now, feeling a million times better than I did just a week ago, and motivated to move in a positive direction. Hope everyone else had a good weekend!

The most spontaneous thing I've ever done

Hola from San Diego!

This trip was decided on Thursday morning, and I was on a plane Thursday night. Crazy, right?! I had a string of bad days as far as my depression goes, and I really just felt like I needed to get away for a couple of days. I thought about driving out to my sister's with the kids, or something like that. But then I had the (insane) idea that maybe I could visit John.

John is a friend of mine that I met through my blog and SparkPeople, and then asked to join my Ragnar Relay team. He was Runner 12 for the Florida Keys Ragnar, so you can see him in the From Fat to Finish Line documentary. Then, in 2014, John and I captained another Ragnar team, Strangers to Sole Mates.

Anyway, John is very understanding of depression, and I knew talking to him would be therapeutic in itself. As a bonus, he and his husband Ric live in San Diego! Could there possibly be a better place to escape from Michigan for a couple of days, considering it's February and 12 degrees at home? I can't think of one ;)

When I asked John about it, he said the timing would be perfect for a visit, because he's walking the Surf City Half on Sunday and Jen and Angela will be there. Jen and Angela are the documentary's producers (and Jen is one of the runners in the film). It'll be fun to see them today when we drive up to Huntington Beach!

Anyway, John was thrilled for me to visit (John and Ric host people at their house a lot--otherwise, I don't know that I would have asked). My sister-in-law, Becky, listed me on a flight Thursday night using a buddy pass from Brian (Brian was on a trip in Paris). Without a buddy pass, the ticket would have been $1500! There is no way I'd have been able to go without the buddy pass. The flight had 40 open seats, so the chances of getting on the flight were really good.

I made it onto the flight and arrived in San Diego late Thursday night. Yesterday, I got in 15,424 steps while walking around San Diego! John took Ric to an appointment in the morning, so I walked Ruthie, their dog, around the block (she doesn't like to walk far); and then I walked on my own for a few miles to just get some sun. I was amazed at how good I felt--the change of scenery instantly made me feel better.

John, Ric, and I went to the beach where I walked out on a pier, and it was amazing. It was fun to watch people surf.

Me, Ric, and John
We went to Hodad's for lunch, which is a burger place, and the atmosphere there was awesome! When we were leaving, I saw something lying on the sidewalk--and it ended up being a fairly large amount of marijuana. Haha! I felt like I was on a hidden camera show.

Then, we went to Cabrillo National Monument, where I saw the most amazing view of San Diego. I took a photo, but photos NEVER do sceneries justice. I couldn't get over how gorgeous it was!

I was cracking up at all the people wearing winter coats. It was in the mid-60's, which is shorts and t-shirt weather in Michigan! I was wearing jeans, but wished I'd brought shorts because I was really warm.

Then Ric dropped John and I off at a fun bar for afternoon margaritas. We were able to catch up with everything, and it was awesome.

I also got to meet Colin, who is a fan of the film. What a nice guy! He's lost 100 pounds and is training for his first triathlon--an IRONMAN. He is going to be going up to Huntington Beach for the race as well.

Colin, me, and John
The three of us were chatting at John's, and I literally fell asleep on the couch at 7:30. The time change is definitely an adjustment! It was 10:30 at home. But the long day with lots of walking tired me out.

Anyway, I can't believe I didn't think to do this sooner. This trip has been so therapeutic and I know I am going to go home in a much better state of mind. I'm really grateful to my family for being so cool with this, too. It's amazing what nice weather and great friends can do :)