Spiritual Wellness: Death

I tend to be the type of person that needs to listen to something to fall asleep. For the past few months, I put on an episode of Freaks and Geeks and fall asleep within the first 15 minutes of the show. I struggled sleeping last night as it was insanely hot in my apartment from it being almost 90 degrees outside yesterday. So as I was tossing and turning, I was listening to Freaks and Geeks and listening to Lindsey and Sam’s dad use the good old scare tactic approach to parenting. He kept telling them that he knew someone who had done a devious behavior and that person died “because” of it and it got me thinking…

Is death really a scare tactic? We don’t know anything is certain in life except death. Father time is unbeaten. You can go your entire life and live as healthy as possible and you will still die. Sure you can make arguments about your quality of life but to me that is a different discussion. When people say smoking will kill you and that’s why you shouldn’t smoke, is that really the best scare tactic to use? Because I could be sitting here typing up this blog post and could die at any moment or I could go out and sky dive and die. Sure there are things that can increase your chance of dying sooner but regardless of what you do in your life and how you live your life, you are still going to die.

It seems a bit morbid, doesn’t it, to talk about death? The one thing that every single human being experiences – all humans experience life and death and you could argue that those two things are our only true shared experiences in life. From a baby dying a moments after birth to an elderly person passing away peacefully and every single death in between. Once we are born, we are just passing time until we die. What you do with that time makes your life special and unique and I don’t want to make it seem like it doesn’t matter – it does. But death is inevitable. So why does Lindsey and Sam’s dad use it as a scare tactic? Why do we keep trying to outrun it? Why do we feel so scared by it? Why does talking about it seem so taboo?

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Occupational Wellness: How a Marathon Impacted My Work

I’ve done a few of these posts, tying in how my marathon training was impacting different aspects of my life. It’s honestly hard not have a marathon impact your life. Now that my marathon is done, I wanted to take this time to reflect on how it impacted my work.

Pros:

  • If this did nothing else for me, it helped me get used to being the one setting goals and reaching milestones. One of the things I think I have struggled with the most in my professional life is the lack of structure. Gone are the syllabus days of college and grad school where every week was planned out for you by someone else. It is now my responsibility to plan my weeks out and get things accomplished. This marathon definitely helped me feel more confident in doing this task.
  • Helped me dream big. I still have impostor syndrome at work. I almost constantly live in fear for the day they all wake up and realize that I’m not actually who they think they are. I’m not this analytical, data guru. I’m just someone that somehow got this job. Signing up for my marathon made me feel that similar way, but actually accomplishing it and getting it done…man. I don’t feel like I’m a marathoner but I feel like yeah, I’m a runner.
  • Focused yet flexible. I had a focused goal with my marathon. However, as my injuries started to pile on, I need to remain more flexible in my training while still remaining focused on my overall goal. This is definitely something that I have seen myself get more comfortable with at work. I used to be very focused and anything that would throw me off my course would cause me to get distress. Now I’m getting better (I’m not great at it) at being able to be more flexible with my goals and my work that I’m doing.

Cons:

  • Towards the end, I was in physical pain. And being at work while you are in physical pain is not fun and I felt distracted.
  • I spent a lot of time thinking about my marathon and my marathon training
  • I spent a lot of time eating because … well … I was hungrier that usual

Ok, I’ll admit that I was really stretching for those cons but the pros were all heartfelt and honest. I really feel like training for my marathon and completing it was really valuable and useful for me. I’m really glad that I did it. Because there is nothing to give you confidence than knowing that you can push yourself to get up at 5 am every Sunday for 4 1/2 months and run by yourself and be the one pushing yourself to accomplish your goal.

I think my next post should be the impact of my marathon on financial wellness. Spoiler – I spent more money while training for my marathon!

Intellectual Wellness: Fear

Whoa, whoa, whoa. 2 posts from me on back to back days? I’ll be honest, I really enjoyed my time away but at the same time I have missed this blog quite a bit. I’m moving this blog into a different direction and offering more insight on my personal opinions of wellness topics and what inspires me. I got to the point where I felt like I was writing for other people and not writing for myself anymore. So I’m trying to remove the idea that this blog is a business and remember that this blog is a reflection of me. I hope future posts convey this much more clearly. Now let’s get into this!

It’s no secret that I love podcasts. They are my favorite thing to listen to when I walk to work or when I am doing random tasks that don’t really require any brain power but need to be done. NPR’s TED Radio Hour is just hands down my favorite podcast right now. I love the topics they discuss, I love the people that the feature, I love the structure of the show, I love every single thing about it. I find myself listening to it and feeling inspired and motivated and learning all the time from it. One podcast that I recently listened to was about fear and failure. Ah yes, the things that seem to cause us to hold back the most in life. I know a thing or two about failure. Actual failure. My first semester of my undergrad I was a marketing major. I was taking a macro economics class and I walked into the final knowing that even if I scored a 100% of the final, I wouldn’t have a shot at even getting a D- in the class. I didn’t just fail this class, I massively failed this class. I landed myself on academic probation, lost my academic scholarship, I found myself completely lost. While I was never a straight A student with a perfect GPA, I was always an honor roll student with strong grades. School was never easy for me but it was never that hard either. I had never failed this horribly, ever. I never retook that class. It still remains on my transcripts. And it always will. It was one of the hardest and best lessons I have every learned. Because through failing, I found my passion – psychology. Which is exactly what I said in my personal statement to graduate schools I applied to. I wanted to address my poor performance in my first semester of my undergrad because that killed my GPA. I wanted graduate schools to know that I was resilient and that even if I did fail (hopefully not as horribly) I would be able to come back stronger than ever.

See what this story of my failure has to do with fear is that we often have a fear of achieving our goals or dreams. We are afraid of failing and of making mistakes. We see failure as the ultimate let down and not a learning opportunity or an opportunity to grow as an individual. We forget that grit and determination can help us remain resilient in tough situations. And that at the end of the day, even if you do fail or make a mistake, you at least tried. You at least tried to do something new or different or something that was outside of your comfort zone. And even in failing, you grew as a person. You pushed yourself. Whether it is at work, at home, in your workout, in school, with friends, family, loved ones – you made an effort to not sit back and take the easy way. And while that is scary, we should never let fear get in the way of achieving a goal.

Unless it is a scary movie, then fear always wins. I hate scary movies.

Physical Wellness: IMT Des Moines Marathon ReCap

I’ll start this blog off with this…

Finish2

I did finish the marathon. Although there for a while I didn’t think I was going to. Let’s recap the day, shall we?

I arrived downtown around 7:15 just enough time to get in line at a real bathroom and get into my position at the starting line. While I was in line for the real bathroom, a race volunteer came around and told the line of 30 ish women that there were porta potties upstairs with no lines if we wanted to use those. Not a single person moved. We all knew waiting in line to use a real bathroom was worth it. I got a quick chat with Eric in, found my place at the starting line and waited.

Start

This was before things got crazy. I haven’t heard the official numbers yet but I know they were looking at having over 10,000 people at this race. It was huge. And freezing. After what felt like forever waiting, my pace group (4:10) finally made it to the starting line. I warmed up around mile 2. Miles 3-7 were hilly but absolutely stunning. Running through some of the most lavish parts of Des Moines on what was basically a perfect fall day was awesome. Part of me is kicking myself for not snapping a few pics. By the time I hit the 10k mark, I knew something was off about my pace. I only now realized that I never chatted with the 4:10 pacer to see what his game plan was for the race. I just assumed that if I stayed in front of him I should be good. However, all my splits were crappy. I’m guessing they were starting out slower and building speed. Whereas I tend to start out faster and well, lose speed, but the starting out faster kind of equals itself out, in my mind. Regardless, I crossed the 10k mark right exactly at 1:00:00. By mile 7 I was out of the hills and mostly cruising through flat terrain. I started hurting and could feel it the most in my hips which was weird because my hips haven’t been bothering me at all during my entire training. One of the biggest highlights for me during this race was getting to run a lap at Drake Stadium where the Drake Relays are held. I’ve never been on their blue track before but I have seen many times. It was actually really awesome to get to run a race lap on their track.

15

My splits were still slow but I was still in front of my pace group. This is me at mile 15. I was still feeling good and trucking along. We were going through some gorgeous scenery and there were tons of supporters along the course. I purposely wore my UNI tshirt because I knew there would be UNI alums, fans, students, employees, etc. along the course and just seeing a UNI shirt would spur them to yell something supportive. I was right. I even told my mom this before the race and she said that whenever she saw someone wearing a UNI shirt, she would cheer for them. Ok, so everything seems to be going well, right? Still ahead of my pace group, still feeling good, still running. Something happens at mile 18 and I mentally just break. And almost immediately as I mentally break, my pace group passes me. I try to keep up but within 30 seconds they are out of range. My mile times are over 10 minutes, over 11 minutes and I’m just breaking.

20

This is me around the 20 mile mark. At this point I’m 10000% ready to be done. Not only has my 4:10 group passed me but the 4:25 group breezed past me as well. My goal (4:10-4:20) is completely shot. The only thing keeping me going is my stubbornness and refusal to give up and quit. I started walking a bit. I would only allow myself to walk for 30-40 seconds and tried to only do it once per mile, twice tops, As we left Water Tower Park and got into Grey’s Lake, I felt the end was near but still so far away. I used to run Grey’s Lake all the time when I worked at the airport so I knew the route and the terrain. Leaving Grey’s Lake there is a itty bitty teeny tiny hill but I got to it was like “NOPE NO NO NO I’M NOT RUNNING UP ANY MORE HILLS!” So I walked up that hill and that was the last time I walked. Because soon I saw Mile 25 and I refused to walk again. My mile time was dragging. Over a 12 minute mile. But I kept trucking. I kept running. Then I saw Mile 26 and I could see the finish line. It took all I had and I started “sprinting” towards the finish line trying to hold back the tears. I got really emotional. Because at Mile 18 when I mentally broke, I broke bad and went to some dark places. The fact that I was even able to keep pushing after that and get to the finish line…felt incredible. I crossed the finish line and service members from the Army were giving out medals. I felt horrible b/c I could even muster a thank you and thank you for your service. I could barely speak. I called Eric right after and I just I finished and then basically hung up. I completely forgot to stop my watch and it kept going for 10 minutes after I finished.

Finish

I finished in 4:33:41 (10:26 pace). There are a number of things that I could “blame” my time on, wind being the first thing that comes to mind but the past month I dealt with serious foot issues that hindered my training greatly. The week before the marathon I was massively sick (so sick that I puked orange powerade through my nose…and can never drink orange powerade again). So all in all, it wasn’t a total failure but it wasn’t the race that I had imagined. The course itself was gorgeous. The weather was nearly perfect (sans the wind). The volunteers were amazing and the City of Des Moines was fantastic. I honestly highly recommend this race. The half-marathon course is completely flat. But it was so amazing to be around so many athletes, be in a city that is so supportive of this race, and to be running a race that is this well put together. From having plenty of aid stations, to having boxes of tissues and Vaseline and Biofreeze ON THE COURSE! It was awesome.

I felt pretty good after the race, just some soreness in my legs. I made the decision to drive 4 hours home after the race that day instead of waiting and man alive am I glad I did that. My problem foot is a problem and my whole body is sore. I’m glad I got the long drive done yesterday instead of waiting. So I’m home sweet home. And what is next for me? Another marathon? Likely not. I went into this marathon thinking ok, this is either a check it off the bucket list thing or it is something that I will find out I enjoy and want to do more of. For me, the pain is not really worth it. I’m content saying I have finished a marathon. I want to concentrate on shorter distances now (5k, 10ks, and half marathons) and see if I can get a bit more competitive in my age group with those. But for this week, I’m going to take a few days off and recover and hit the gym again. I’m going to be starting a new lifting program specifically designed for runners and starting a new running plan. I love running, the marathon didn’t take that away from me, but I think I love running shorter distances.

Physical Wellness: Marathon Recaps for the weeks

Whoa have I been absent. Marathon training took a toll on me and being injured should have probably led to more posts but it did not. After getting injured during my 17 mile run, I somehow managed an 18 mile run at a 9:39 pace. I didn’t hardly do anything else that week except hobble around. The following week I set out to run 19 miles and within 1 mile I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I felt ill and was in intense pain. So I stopped and turned around. The following week I set out to do 20 miles. At 15.64 miles a guy lunged and screamed at me and freaked me out so much I burst into tears. I had no idea if this guy was crazy enough to try and attack me on  a main road or if he just thought it would be funny. I ended up calling Eric to come and get me as I was in no shape to continue running. I think the guy just thought he would be funny but I genuinely thought he was trying to attack me. And after some of the comments I have gotten from people driving by including an SUV of frat guys that did a 180 and started following me, I don’t think my fear comes from an irrational place.

I was frustrated beyond belief with what happened. I wish so much that I had kept on running and not let what that individual do get to me. It was slated to be my last long run of training. And now I was looking at going into my marathon with my longest run being 18 miles. I felt disappointed and unprepared. Then I decided that I would try for 20 again. This time Eric insisted on riding behind me the entire time to make sure nothing happened to me. For all but 4 1/2 miles that I did on the track, he stayed right beside me and made sure I was ok. I finished my 20 mile run at a 9:44 pace (3:14:42). I was slated to do a 10 mile run this morning but after going home early on Thursday and calling in sick on Friday, I vetoed that run. For the sake of my health, I decided to not to the run. I’m still recovering from whatever it is that knocked me out for a couple of days, but I feel loads better.

This week I will stick to my usual and start planning out what life looks like post marathon. What my workouts will look like and be centered on. Even now, a week out from my marathon I’m so thankful for what this has taught me. I feel re-energized that distance running is more my style. And I feel more determined to keep running distance. My lifting and cross training will reflect that.

In terms of goals for my marathon, obviously crossing the finish line is my primary goal. This past month has been riddled with injuries and illness so just finishing will be awesome. I have some time goals in mind. I’d like to finish between a 4:10 – 4:22 marathon. a 4:22 puts me at a 9:59 pace which all of my runs have been under that pace. I’m hopeful that my marathon will be as well. Whether I will run another marathon or not is not a question I’m ready to decide on but I have been seriously considering signing up for the Kansas Half Marathon which is a couple weeks after my full marathon. I’m not sure how I will be feeling and how I will be recovered but I may do it just for fun.

I’m hoping to return to some kind of blogging schedule soon. To be honest my days have been full with work, training, and spending time with Eric. I know I need to prioritize my blog more, but for the past couple of months it has taken a serious back burner in my life. I need to decide what I want to do moving forward.

Thank you all for your support during this time that I have been training and definitely look next Sunday or Monday for a full recap of my experience. If any of you happen to be running the IMT Des Moines Marathon, best of luck! If you see me, be sure to say hi! I will be wearing a highlighter yellow “Northern Iowa Panthers” shirt.