Busy is the new norm. Women, men, mothers, fathers all juggle work, family, and personal time. I know that we do. Running to teach, drop kids off at school, pick kids up at school, drive them to soccer, try to squeeze in a fitness class, etc. We wake up rushing from one thing to the next. A recent mother of another preschool said, “the pace of our lives is crazy. Moms try to take care of the house, kids, and work.” It’s true. We try to do it all and achieve the impossible super mom status. Our society endorses immediacy, a fast paced, and working culture. A lot of moms I know who stay home say they feel people look down upon them if they don’t work outside the home, especially moms in metropolitan areas. It’s increasingly common to have a full time job, send the kids to daycare, or hire a nanny or au pair. It’s just the new normal. Of course moms also stay home and even homeschool, but it seems like most people try to juggle work, family, and play. Is this good or bad? It depends on the family of course. And as my mother-in-law always says do what’s best for YOUR family. Each is unique. Do you need more money? or more time? I know we enjoy going to the beach everyday in the summer and the first few weeks of school are ROUGH! It’s hard to be on a schedule. It’s demanding, stressful, and full of emotions. As my mom asked how things were recently going, I responded, “good, everyone’s crying.” It’s a big adjustment for us all. School is stressful! Time wise, but also kids are pressured to perform well, act well, and be on a timeline all day with little recess or food! (That’s another blog). Today was a particularly begrudging day. The six year old DID NOT want to go to school because today they wouldn’t have recess from a punishment from the previous day. I pretty much drug him there. It was really rough for all of us. I asked his teacher what happened and that my son was very upset. She said the gym teacher said they weren’t listening and that was all she knew. Needless to say the days where your child does NOT want to go to school, puts up a GOOD fight, and you leave feeling like someone punched you in the heart, you begin to question things. Should I homeschool? Should I give tough love? Should I succumb to societal norms and pressures? Should I quit my job? Should I do less? Should I do more? How do we find balance between structure and play?
Time and place for everything. Sometimes in my practice I crave long savasanas and yoga nidra, sometimes I’m rocking arm balances and sweaty, gritty flows. This is why I love the practice so much. It’s always there for you and it’s so fluid and changing, like life.
Three different people approached me today to ask when the “due date” (guess date) was. I said maybe 5-6 weeks? I am 33 weeks. The last baby came at 38. The response was either, “ugh!”, or “you are not going that long”, or a stare of disbelief. As much as I miss feeling like myself, it is an amazing time to cherish with the burgeoning life inside. Each kick is a miracle. Instead of thinking how much time is left, I will try to cherish each moment as it is. Not thinking about how I used to feel, or what it will be like to have him outside of me, but to live in the moment. Embrace each movement, discomfort, and take it all in stride that this is so, so temporary. Although 5-6 weeks may seem like a lot, in the blink of a lifetime it is so miniscule. So if you ask me “how much longer?”, my response will be in due time, or I don’t know, but I’m enjoying today, are you?
Sunday I had a miscarriage. I was about 12 weeks. I thought that I was almost out of the woods at the end of the first trimester. But you never know. I cried for two days-through two boxes of tissues. “You have suffered a great loss,” said the GYN who performed the D&C. “You will recover physically, but it will take longer emotionally,” she added. One day shy of a week, my emotions have ranged from sadness, loss, grief, blame (which everyone says not to do, which is humanly impossible), to ultimately wondering why? what happened?. I arrived home from the ER Monday at 2a.m. I couldn’t fall asleep until 3:30a.m. I kept and keep replaying the horrid events over and over again in my mind every time I try to rest. It’s like watching a horror film on repeat and the DVR is broken. You just want to shut it off, but you can’t. Monday morning my friend brought a coffee. I relished in the venti peppermint mocha latte. It tasted so good after depriving myself of coffee for several months. Several months of nausea and quitting bad habits that felt lost. For what? For this moment of emptiness? I tried to look at the positives-I can drink coffee, wine, & eat lunchmeat again. All of which I did that day. Perhaps too much, too soon. So be it. Monday night a friend brought flowers and a card. We laughed and commiserated. Had a glass of wine and chocolate chip cookies. Trying to find solace in indulgence. She had a miscarriage as well. Seemingly everyone has, or at least 90% of my friends. This made me feel a little more normal-it is SO common. The most repeated statistic I’ve seen is 1 in 4-25% of first trimester pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. I almost felt like I had it coming after two healthy, uneventful pregnancies prior to this one. I tried to move past the questioning, blame, and deepening sadness. I tried to meditate Monday. A themed “happiness” meditation, which was the furthest emotion I was feeling. The centering thought was “happiness is my true nature”. The mantra was ananda hum: I am bliss. I tried this meditation for 20 minutes and ended up crying. I took three days off from meditating. What I did was sleep and eat. I felt like I was merely existing, waiting for a storm to pass; cooped up inside. Tuesday it did rain. Wednesday was a beautiful day with waves. It was painful to not be able to surf. The thing that I was doing when I started cramping and bleeding the Saturday before. Another thing to question and blame. But I surfed through my other two pregnancies with no problems. I sat home Wednesday wallowing in self-pity. Three people suggested I just go sit on the beach. I felt like it would be painful to watch the perfect waves and not be able to surf. Thursday morning I went to the beach in case someone showed up for my yoga class. It was so cathartic to return to the beach. To feel the sand, sun, and salty sea. It was the happiest I felt all week! So I went back Friday evening, and this morning. It makes me so happy just to return to the beach. The last two days I meditated without crying. Today I even got back on the yoga mat. It felt good to move, to breath, to heal. Today’s theme was “I am peace”. To move to spiritual peace where one is content even under difficult situations like this. I am trying to get to the place that the Bible describes as “peace that passes all understanding”. I am so not there, but I am finding moments to smile.
Running less helped me progress in my yoga practice. I learned three new arm balances this week and am holding hand stands and head stands longer since seriously practicing them for two months. I have avoided these poses for over ten years due to fear and busyness. If I had free time, I would run or surf. I always did yoga frequently, almost every day, but I wasn’t pushing myself as hard as I am now. As one yoga instructor stated, we are given so much time and energy. Someone may spend an hour meditating and someone will spend that time running 6 miles. Your choice. Since I haven’t been running due to foot pain, my yoga practice has really deepened. I am grateful for that. Sometimes you need to stop one thing to jump start another. I kept questioning why this foot pain developed. I was looking for an answer. How come I can’t run after running injury free for almost two decades? Why? What is the reason? How can I move forward? If we really listen sometimes answers will come to us immediately and sometimes it can take a long time.
As you know with any habit, it is hard to break. Running was habitual for me. I would run 3-10 miles 3-4 days a week. I never liked running until I realized I was “good” at it. I would run the same 5ks, 10miles races, and half marathons to see if I could place and/or improve my time. This meant a lot of time on the road. I ran through pregnancies, through two different baby joggers logging many miles solo and with the little ones. Then last March when I was training for the Ocean City half marathon, that I have run four times, my right foot began to hurt. It was fine until I got up to 8 or 10 miles. The ball of my foot would hurt after running a few miles and get worse until I had to stop. It felt like a burning fire-y sensation. I am a big proponent of “listen to your body” from my yoga practice. I didn’t want to run in pain. Believe me it was not enjoyable! I told my chiropractor and asked what to do. They recommended heat ultrasound. I began having treatments once to twice a week. Heat ultrasound, cupping, and dry needling to get the pain to reduce and send blood to the painful area. Nothing really helped. I did notice in August that I was able to run barefoot on the beach without pain, but when I tried to run on the pavement in shoes the pain returned. I really took it easy all fall. I tried spinning once a week, but even that hurt after 20 minutes since the affected area is the same area that pushes the bike pedal around. I tried zumba, and that hurt too! I was getting discouraged. The only things I could do pain free were yoga and surfing, which are two of my favorite past times anyway!! Also, I make a living as a yoga instructor, so that was great:)
I was really blessed to be in FL January and February. I could run on the beach barefoot without pain. I also was frequenting a local yoga studio and taking workshops. I was able to run up to 5 miles. I was really happy with this since I hadn’t been running for a while! The first few runs felt awful. Then I hit that sweet spot where you are warmed up after the first mile or two and feel like you can cruise on autopilot. Those two months being able to run saved me from giving up on running. I was also learning new yoga postures and took an acro yoga workshop, something I had never tried before. It felt rejuvenating to push myself in new ways.
After the first of the year, the instructor asked what our goal poses were for 2014. I said that mine was handstand. It was the one pose that I had avoided for ten years. If you’re not good at something the first time, isn’t it easier to quit? It was a very intimidating pose to me. The thought of balancing all of my weight on my hands made me fearful that my arms would buckle and I would break my neck. Aren’t fears callous? So I decided to overcome fear. I started really exploring it for the first time. I like the wall still, but after two months, I have held it for 30 seconds!!! Progress is progress.
My running went from about 20 miles a week to 0. I finally had an MRI and was just recently diagnosed with Morton’s neuroma. This is common. I had never heard of it before, but now that I have a name for my issue, I have met so many people who have it too. Law of attraction? Doesn’t it seem that you aren’t aware of something until you go looking for it?
Ganesha is associated as the “remover of obstacles” in Hinduism. As one my recent yoga practices stated, before the obstacle can be removed, you have to move through it. That is what I am doing now. I am trying to find ways to heal my foot through acupuncture, rest, and belief that it will heal. If not, I have the option of orthotics, trying new shoes, and doing more yoga.
I ran my fourth Ocean City half marathon on Saturday. I was inspired in December by two friends from college. We collaboratively agreed that we should run it together. It would be fun. Yes, it’s fun to run for two hours when you have kids. No one bothers you!! Mommy’s quiet time. Alone on the road with my thoughts. Ahh, two hour meditation in motion. So I decide it’s time to start distance running again. One of the reasons I train for races is I have no discipline without a structured schedule. Do I feel like running today? I ask myself. Nah. So I don’t. But if I have 3, 5, 0r 8miles, etc. penciled in on the calendar, I will do it come rain or treadmill or baby jogger. So I started running more than three miles at a time in January. (See my last blog. I ran 10 miles in October. After that race, I once again resorted to running no more than a few miles here and there because I didn’t have to!). I did a few 5 miles runs in Florida, where we were vacationing in January. It felt great. I decided to pull out my half marathon training schedule in February and really get goal oriented. That would give me three months to train for the half marathon, April 27th. So I started plotting through my schedule. March came along and I decided I should really commit soon! I sat down April 1st and saw that the early bird registration ended that night. That was my incentive. I registered!
April came. Some days I had really great euphoric, I can conquer the world, endorphin educed running highs. Other days I lacked motivation to tie my shoes and thought it was all a mistake. I started increasing mileage as the weeks passed. By mid April, I was up to 10 miles at a time, around 20 mile total weeks. Then something new happened. My foot hurt. The ball of my right foot. This was a new thing. In the past, maybe my knee or hip felt twinged, but my foot has never hurt. I thought it might be that I was training in new shoes. I thought of anything that may help. A pedicure, massage, (neither of which have happened) different stride, different shoes. Two more weeks passed and it hurt on long runs. When I stopped running, it was fine. When I ran more than 4 or 5 miles, it hurt. I got to my last long slow distance (LSD) week, one week before the race. I went down the basement and pulled out my old shoes (one year since they have been worn). I decided to wear them for the 12 mile run instead of the $155 shoes I just bought, since I thought the new shoes might be the culprit. I ran 12 miles in the old shoes. Besides an occasional discomfort, my foot was not too bad. So I decided to wear the old shoes in the race.
Friday morning came. I hadn’t run much that week. Partly because I thought I had done enough training and wanted a break and partly because I wanted to rest my foot. It rained on Tuesday. Oh well, I thought! I have errands to run. I’d rather do that than run on the treadmill. Thursday came. (I usually run Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. The race was Saturday). I tried to do a loop around my neighborhood just to give the new shoes one last chance. My foot hurt again! So I went back home and put on the old shoes and went for a three mile jog with the baby jogger. I felt pretty good in the second mile, and then regretted the decision to run in the third mile. I wanted rest. Friday I surfed. I should have rested, but the waves were good. Then I taught yoga. Then I went home and baked for three hours since I was having my son’s birthday party Sunday afternoon. I wanted to lay down and rest, but I had too much to do. Friday night I went to get my race packet with my sons. Then we went to the beach. The waves were still good. I watched four of my friends paddle out. I sat on the beach with my boys and felt a calmality. A peace. I wanted to surf, but didn’t have a babysitter, and also knew that I needed to rest. I wanted to set a personal record for the half marathon, finishing under two hours. A woman I met that week told me that there were pacers this year. So when I picked up my packet I spoke with the two hour pacer. I was looking forward to having someone to race with since the friends that originally wanted to run with me hadn’t trained and weren’t racing.
Friday night we get home from the beach late. I wanted to be in bed at 9, so I could be well rested and get up by 5:30a.m. With dinner, baths, etc. the boys were in bed around 8:30p.m. and I went to bed after 9p.m. I set my alarm for 5:30a.m. As I was falling asleep, I was planning what I would wear. I could do my hair in pigtails, or braids, or a headband…something fun……….. My husband is tapping me at 6:10a.m. Oh Sh*! The alarm didn’t go off! The race starts at 7a.m. I leap out of bed, make coffee, toast, and am in my car at 6:30a.m. eating breakfast. Oops. So much for optimal digestion two hours before a race. I am debating whether to drive downtown and park on the street (paid) or go to Seacrets (free) where buses would take me to the start. The last bus leaves at 6:45a.m. I might just make it! I get there at 6:45, run across the street, and there’s a line of people waiting to get on the bus. We arrive downtown at 6:58a.m. I find the bus to throw my checked bag in, hit the potty, and find the pacer just before my son’s teacher sings the National Anthem. Everything went very, very smoothly! Considering I had been awake less than an hour. I even contemplate running with the 1:45, or 1:55 group. Maybe I can do better than I thought! Nah, just stick to the plan, I think. The two hour pacer that I had spoke with yesterday had her hair in pigtails, a peace headband, a skort, and knee high hot pink socks. Exactly how I imagined I would look, but didn’t due to my tardy start!
The weather was so perfect-50, no wind, and clear. We paced just under two hours the whole time. The pacer was talking, cheerful, friendly, and fun. All the ladies I ran with were. It made for a pleasant run. Talking and enjoying the entire time. Around the middle of the run, one of my students called my name. I hadn’t seen her since she was behind me and didn’t know or see who was all with the two hour pacer. We ended up running ahead the last mile and finishing together. I ran a 1:57:51. Nine minute miles. I had reached my goal, and felt fantastic the whole time. No pain. My foot felt a little sore here and there, but not bad at all. The next days I also felt fine. I am so grateful that I followed through with my goal. Maybe next year I’ll set a new one.
I planned to run the Seaside 10 (a ten mile race in Ocean City). I had done it twice before, however my training fell short. I ran the Ocean City half marathon in April and then took the summer off (partly because I wanted to surf more, and partly because it was so hot and I wanted a break). So I began training in late August for the Seaside 10 Oct. 27th. September was great. I would integrate my runs into errands. 3-5 miles on Tuesday and Thursday with the jogging
stroller after I dropped Jonas off at school. 5-7 miles runs on the weekends. One week I peaked at 18 miles total. A great accomplishment from my longest run of 3 miles (total per week!) in the summer. Great, I’m on a roll, I thought; I can do this! Then October came. I digressed first from travel. A nine hour weekend drive to Cape Cod for a wedding (one full day there with the wedding included) halted my progress. On top of the time restraints, we had a set breakfast time at the B&B, and I had acquired a sinus infection which craves sleep. OK, so we arrived Saturday around 5p.m. The only breakfast slot left open was for Sunday morning at 9.a.m. That left a few hours for shopping before the wedding at 3p.m. Saturday night. We went out to dinner and had a few drinks at the Chatham Squire (a fun and much needed date night sans children). So, Sunday morning I slept until 8a.m. What a treat!!!! Luka is usually up by 6a.m. daily. Okay I had to pump, and then I had 30 minutes for a run: 3 miles instead of my planned 8-10, but what a great run! Jason and I got to run together and see the lighthouse and various sights on the Cape. I always love to explore a new place by running. It’s quieter in the morning, and I can take in so many details that I may miss by driving.
The next weekend I planned a long run again, but the night before made dinner for a friend who was in town. I hadn’t seen her in a while, we’re chatting, and before I knew it I drank a few glasses of wine. Oops. The next day I set out on my run and returned limping home at mile two from cramps. Dehydration had taken over my goal. Okay, two weeks off, no biggie, I will make up for it next week. Right? Wrong. The jogging stroller gets a flat tire during a run with baby in it. I have a few days setback from that. Then I decide the universe is telling me not to run the race. Too many signs?
I decided to go the race. I have never missed a deadline, and I have to follow through as planned, or I will feel like a slug I decided. So I was driving there not sure if I would run the 10 mile race as planned, since I only peaked at 7 miles. I thought I could just run the 5k-short and sweet, also considering that it was freezing, windy, and gray. Therefore, I did what I always did when I couldn’t make a decision or felt mentally foggy, I prayed. Ask, be still, and listen. I parked the car, got out, and saw my friend’s Mom, Lisa, who I had run the race with before. She asked which race I am running. I told her I didn’t know. She said to run the 10 mile race with her. Okay, I decided. There was my sign. I went and registered and ran. I felt great the first half. My friend’s Mom was pacing us to come in around 1 hour 30 minutes, or 9 minute miles. Then, the turn around came, we picked up the pace and my knees began to hurt. The under-trained over-used pain. I kept pushing on until we got to mile 8. My knees hurt, and I didn’t want to hold Lisa back. I told her to go ahead. I told myself, just keep moving. Just finish strong. Finish strong. Ouch, finish strong, etc. Then I put my music on, and flew to the finish. I came in under 1:30. I PR’ed. God guided me through. I felt the same way when I gave birth-a strong spiritual connection to a higher power that gave me strength.
A few days later I couldn’t find something. I prayed to Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost things, according to my Catholic upbringing. I went outside and noticed that I had a hole in my glove. So I went inside to sew it, and lo and behold the thing I was looking for was next to my thread. Thank you, God! I exclaimed. I could have looked at the hole in my glove as a setback or an inconvenience, but instead I saw it as an answered prayer.
My faith guided me. No matter what people believe in it’s nice to know that we are not alone. That something is with us, helping us, guiding us. Living in faith and not fear is a way I want to live.