July 13, 2015

Half Marathon Training - A Few Setbacks

I have less than 3 weeks until the Minnesota Half Marathon/RBC Race for the Kids and I'm starting to get nervous.

I encountered a few setbacks over the last week with my training.

Setback 1: Canadian Wildfires. 
You heard that right. The wildfires caused some problems here in Minnesota last Monday. The smoke was thick as was the smell - akin something to the tune of burnt plastic. Air quality warnings were up everywhere and those in "sensitive" categories were likely to experience issues. Although not in a "sensitive" category myself, going out to run 5 miles in the smoky haze was probably not the best plan. However, I did it. At about the 3rd mile, my chest had a strange burning sensation so I dialed it back a bit for the last 2 miles. Ha. Take that wildfires.

Setback 2: Blood Donation
For the past 3 years at my job (not counting the year I was pregnant and on maternity leave), I sign up to donate blood at the blood drive here in my office. Seems like a relatively simple thing I can do with my universal blood type to do some good. Save a life. Last Tuesday, I donated my blood. They told me no vigorous exercise for 24-48 hours. Of course I shrugged it off. I didn't run that night, but I did run the next day. Guess what? I should have heeded their advice. Barely two miles into my 5 mile run, I started feeling incredibly ill - dizzy, short of breath, heart racing, nausea. For the first time ever, I thought I might have to call someone to get me home. I took a breather and continued on with walking - I cut my run short at 3.7 miles. In fear of making this situation worse, I took the following night off. Friday night I had plans so no running. Saturday I decided not to run in lieu of my long run planned for Sunday. As I hit up the Google for more information on donating blood while training for a half marathon, I came across a LOT of information. What did I find? That everyone reacts differently when donating blood. Some bounce back immediately where others will encounter decreased performance for weeks. WEEKS??? I'm trying desperately not to let my mind tell me that this is my reason for my performance issues so I'm going to continue to follow my training plan for the next 2.5 weeks and pray that things start to get better.

Setback 3: Mother Nature
I'm not going to get all TMI on you all here, but personal mother nature decided to pay me a visit early. I know women don't like to talk about this business - but aunt flo shuts me down. As an endometriosis sufferer, I endure a lot of pain at her hand and despite all attempts to ignore her, I usually lose that battle. Nonetheless, on the hottest day of the year yesterday, I embarked on my long run with my two teammates starting at the beautiful Hidden Falls Regional Park in St. Paul along the Mississippi River. 12 miles was the goal. At mile 6, I called it and knew there was no way I would be able to make it that far. If I learned anything from Setback 2, it is that you must listen to your body. You must slow down if you don't feel good or something isn't right. I survived 9.1 miles which, you know, hey, it is not a anything to shrug off. Still... I felt like a failure.

I wasn't sure what this structure was at Hidden Falls Regional Park,
but I do know that after running 9.1 miles it was fantastically cold to sit down on. 

Will I ever run another Half after all of this? I want the dorky 13.1 sticker. I want to cross it off my bucket list. I confessed to my teammates that after this year, I will not run another distance greater than a 10k. I want to get back to a place where running is fun. If I'm being honest - this is not fun. I am hurting. I am tired. I feel like I don't have time for anything else. I miss going to Zumba and group fitness classes. Heck, I even miss just getting on an elliptical. All this energy and training focused around JUST this one thing is just sucking all the life out of me and I'm over it.

However... I'm not done after this. While 13.1 will be all but a memory after August 1st I still have 2 major distances to tackle yet this season:

August 28 - 29: Women Rock Starlet Challenge - The great thing about this challenge is that it splits up a bunch of miles into 2 days. Friday night is a 2.5k, Saturday morning is a 10k, a 45 minute break (give or take) followed by the 5k. 4 medals, a necklace and a whole shitload of swag. It's a lot of running in a short time, but I think I've got this one and I'm looking forward to it.

September 12: Mill City Suds Run - Finally a fun run! I'm looking forward to kicking out a 5k, grabbing a quick beer and getting home to celebrate my son's 7th birthday and still be able to walk! Score!

October 4: TC 10 Mile - This is the one race that is a maybe for me - and only because I have entered into a lottery for the chance to run. Two of my teammates and I signed up for the lottery as a team, so we are hoping (well... kind of hoping) that it buys us into the race. Again, kind of a check off on the bucket list to be a part of the TC Marathon Weekend which is a huge deal for runners in my hood. FYI - the lottery for this race closes THIS FRIDAY!!! If you want to do this and need a team to run with - go ahead and choose "Sole Sisters Running Crew" from the team dropdown in your registration and I will welcome you with open arms!

I'm far from giving up on this goal - I will conquer 13.1 miles!


July 10, 2015

Nothing Else Matters

I am guilty in getting caught up in the little things. I'm sure you know what I mean here- sweating the small stuff. Getting worked up over things that truly do not matter. Wasting time on things that suck the good energy out of my life.

My husband and I have been told that we are selfish and don't care enough about other people outside of our sphere. I've been passive-aggressively memed on Facebook for it.

However, I know my truth.

I know that we are dealing with the hardest thing a parent should ever have to deal with - the waiting game. Mackenzie's neurologist called us in for a follow-up with her - 3 months earlier than we had scheduled. She had reviewed her physical therapy notes and felt that she should be walking right now and wanted to see for herself what kind of progress she had made. The end result is more tests. MRI, audiology and genetic tests have been ordered. She wants to make sure there are no tumors on her spine, brain or in her abdomen. I don't think there is a single word that could elicit more fear in the heart of a parent: tumor.

Mackenzie continues to knock all of these tests out of the park - they have yet to find the definitive reason for her delays. She is smart - she listens to our commands and despite the fact she is not talking, she uses sign language to communicate - food/hungry, more, thank you, please... it is kind of crazy how the signing has exploded. Although slow to physically progress, she is indeed progressing. She crawls on all fours over the army crawl/rolling she had done previously, she pulls to stand on anything and everything and has started to regularly cruise along every piece of furniture in our house. She is kicking ass. I just know she will come out amazing on the other end of this.

I refuse to accept anyone in my life at this point that cannot even possibly comprehend the stress and worry that we are under. I will not apologize for putting my kids and their happiness first. That sometimes means making unpopular decisions. Our choices are selfish on purpose. Our choice is to surround ourselves with only the positive - if anyone is to stand in judgement of us and our choices then you don't deserve to be around us at all. I don't have room in my heart for ugly, mean behavior.

With that said, in the spirit of positivity, we refuse at this point to accept that... that... WORD (*whispers* tumor) in our vocabulary at this point. I can't even think about it or comprehend it. I don't want to. If the time comes and it is a reality, I will deal with it then.

But not now. Not today.

Today, my heart has no place for bitterness - only forgiveness. Today, every moment spent with my beautiful kids will be treasured. Today, I will surround myself with laughter and beauty.

Today, I know that miracles do and will continue to exist - I get the great honor of witnessing it every day in my children.











 Nothing. Else. Matters.


July 02, 2015

Half Marathon Training: 1 Month to Race Day

In all my frenzy over Mackenzie's issues this year, I haven't gotten much of a chance to talk about one of my biggest running goals and challenges to date:

Running my first half marathon.

I am now more than halfway through my training program (I am using the Nike+ App Coach) and am about to head into my peak week. That means, my short runs are about 5 miles and my long runs are reaching the 11-13 mile range.

It is beast. It is hard. Sometimes, it even seems impossible.

My colleagues poked some fun at me when I told them that I share my runs and training via social media. I got the "Oh really Jo, you are that person? The person who shares their workouts?"

Yup. I am THAT person. I am keenly aware that there are people out there who are annoyed by this. I don't post it to show off (I don't even post my pace... which is still embarrassingly slow in my mind). There are a handful of people who always, ALWAYS hit the like button on my post. And when they hit the like button and I am out on my run? My Nike app sends a cheer to me. Getting a cheer at mile 9 when I feel like I want to die and crawl back home is about the BEST thing ever. So go ahead and be annoyed, but to those who are supporting me and cheering me on... THANK YOU.

There are many times when I admit that I might have bitten off more than I can chew. The training is rigorous and you cannot let up on it (unless you want to be injured, unable to walk for a week or in extreme measures DIE after the actual race). At this point, I am tired. I am sore. Most nights it takes every ounce of motivation to get me out the door and run for an hour or more. And my long runs? I honestly dread them and the mental anguish I have to put myself through to do them.

Yet despite the naysayer in my head, I am determined to do this.

Thankfully, I am not doing this alone. Two others from my running group are also running the half marathon with me - and for us of us this is our first. Words cannot express how grateful I am for their support and for keeping me going. I honestly don't think I would do it if I had to do it alone.

Kathy - My Sole Sister

Then there is the question of WHY.

This, my friends, is a very good question.

The answer is two-fold:
1) For me. I'm not trying to prove anything to anyone but myself. I want to know that I can set a goal and keep it. For months, I have been starting and quitting Beachbody and DailyBurn programs, but I have not yet quit running. It is my time. Time out of the house. Time to exercise. Sweat. Work out daily frustration. Enjoy the beautiful Minnesota summer. I want to prove to myself that at nearly 40 years old, my body is capable of doing amazing things.

2) For charity. The half marathon I am running is the Minnesota Half Marathon - RBC Race for the Kids. I have run a lot of races in my short running career, and all my high cost fees usually go to charity, but this is one that I truly take to heart. The charity is Ronald McDonald House. Ronald McDonald House Charities, Upper Midwest provides a home-away-from-home for families with children facing critical medical crisis.  They are founded on the belief that a child and family heal best when they are together. I am a mom. My daughter has special needs and my family could very well need these services someday. I want to know they are available not only to me, but other families who want to stay together when their kids are critically ill.

With that said, I am passionate about this cause and about running. So much so, that I am fundraising for the cause. Will you consider a donation? Even $5 will help me in reaching my fundraising goals. More importantly. Do it for the kids!!

http://rbc.kintera.org/raceforthekids/joannekoenig

Those of you who know me know that I never do this kind of thing, so I am hoping JUST THIS ONCE you will consider helping me in raising money for a really great cause.

I promise to start blogging on the regular too and keep you all posted on my journey to the Half as well as my sweet Mackenzie's progress.

Mackenzie - 18 months


 
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