Saturday, July 09, 2011

Life in the stress lane

First things first, I didn’t post yesterday, but got in a tough 8.5 mile run, with a 1 mile warm-up.  When I finished my run, I decided to walk up the trail to the shopping center at the top of the hill where an Atlanta Bread Company lays waiting for me with an iced coffee.  It is a 2 mile walk round trip. 

The iced coffee wasn’t as good as Dunkin Donuts (sorry I cheated on you, DD), but I did find where they are putting in a new fro-yo store.  Score, big time!

Today before my run, Husband met me at the trail and we had a 30 minute walk.  I’m trying to get him more active and he agreed to do a run/walk 5k with me in October.  I’m hoping a little exercise will improve the deep depression that has kidnapped him right now.  Towards the beginning of the trail, we noticed a man flat on the ground with a pack of EMTs around him.  We heard the sirens of the ambulance on the way.  As everyone was giving the firefighters space to work on the downed man, we were all talking about how important hydrating ourselves is.  This occurrence happened at 8:30 in the morning when it was only 73 degrees out, but high humidity. 

So, my PSA today is to keep yourselves hydrated before, during, and after your run. 

After our walk, I had a 4 mile recovery run.  I wanted to get some mileage in today, but didn’t want to push it too much because my long run is tomorrow.  I’m really looking forward to it.

I haven’t written in a few days because things in my life are a little . . . um . . . anxiety filled.  I’ve not a shred of creativity and my brain feels depleted.  I have things to write about, but when I sit down to type it out, the words escape me.

One of the biggest struggles I perceive in my life right now is Husband.  He just finished his 12 rounds of ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy).  While, for a time I noticed a slight improvement in his mood, the last couple of days he has been extremely depressed and anxious and fearful.  The effects of the ECT treatments have stressed not only him, but me as well, because I feel like I’m living with a child.  His short term memory is fried, and he can’t remember answers to questions he asked me just five minutes prior. I am taking care of affairs that normally would fall to him and that he previously coped with better. He says he doesn’t feel like himself.  He worries he will never be the same.  I feel helpless.

I don’t know how to help him.  We considered him returning to the hospital this weekend for inpatient treatment, but decided against it, since he sees his psychiatrist on Monday who can make a recommendation as to where to go from here with his treatment.  They’ve restarted him on his anti-depressant, but that takes weeks to kick in.  So it’s really hard to be positive right now.  I can’t handle my own anxiety, much less help him with his. 

On a better note, last night as I was running early to my appointment with Dietician (major epic fail session.), I noticed a sign for a bookstore in a shopping center.  I <3 books, so I HAD to stop!   When I walked in the bookstore, I saw that it was a new and USED bookstore, so my inner Book Snob immediately was judgmental at the thought of used books.    But we looked around anyway and found our way to the Young Adult section.  Surprisingly, most of the used books were in amazingly good condition and were 50% off the book price!  Major score!  Being tight on money, even in a used book store, we could only buy one book, so we found a book by Laurie Halse Anderson titled Prom.  Though it’s not War and Peace or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, it’s a really good, easy read and one I know my female students will like.  My collection of loaner books for my students is growing larger, and I’m really stoked about having so many choices to offer them. 

Lastly, as I was leaving the store, I noticed some chairs and tables lining the walkway outside the strip mall. They belonged to a store called Menchie’s, another fro-yo store!  I went inside and they had all the amazing flavors and toppings that will do my fro-yo addiction proud.  Score, again!

So, even though I’m living life in the stress lane, I’ve had some good runs, took Husband on a walk, found two new fro-yo stores, and an up-scale used bookstore. 

Not bad for someone hanging on by a thread.    

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I’ve had a rough couple of days, filled with missing the Peachtree Road Race, crying, burning the easiest banana bread recipe, and feeling dissociative.  So I’m proud to present for what I'm thankful:
  • I’m thankful my 3 day crying binge regarding the Peachtree Road Race is over.
  • I’m thankful my husband’s 12 ECT treatments were completed yesterday.
  • I’m thankful for my amazing treatment team, sans a psychiatrist.
  • I’m thankful for my dogs, who lick my proverbial wounds by curling up with me on the couch and making me feel safe and secure. 
  • I’m thankful I’m going to visit my in-laws next week who will spoil me rotten.
  • I’m thankful I have a body that will let me run, and run, and run.  “I just felt like running!” 
  • I’m thankful that I just bought a book that I’m excited to read.  This is a BRAND NEW book, and I’m thankful I could honor my inner Book Snob.
  • I’m thankful for you for reading my ramblings. 

Monday, July 04, 2011

Tie Game

It’s a tie game between me and the beast called the Peachtree Road Race.  I didn’t win, but I didn’t lose. 

It started this morning when I woke up at 5:00 to get myself ready for the Peachtree Road Race.  I was tired, but otherwise feeling fine.  I staggered got out of bed and stammered to the kitchen to make my pre-race breakfast.  As soon as I popped my bagel in the toaster oven I began to feel a little nauseous.  I figured it was pre-race jitters and would get better once I got down to the race; I wasn’t too concerned.  As I sat down in the living room to call my cheering posse to make sure they were awake and were running on time, my nausea increased to the point where I asked Husband to get me a carbonated beverage.  When he brought it to me, I was too ill to even drink it.  I got off the phone and went into the bathroom, where I was not only nauseous but also having GI issues.  As the next few minutes progressed, I grew worse.  I was dizzy and shaking uncontrollably.  I started feeling a tingling at the base of my scalp and my vision went black.  The next thing I know Husband is sitting beside me on the floor calling my name.  I had passed out.  He carried me to the bed since I was still shaking and couldn’t walk straight so I could lie down. 

As I lie in the bed, I wondered what could be wrong with me but came up with nothing.  I had hydrated and fueled myself properly the two days prior to the race.  I had received a good night’s sleep.  I didn’t take any medication that was out of the norm.  I had no idea what was wrong, but my symptoms weren’t getting any better.  I feared I would never make it to the race in the shape I was.  Normally I can run through anything, but when Husband asked me if would be able to go, I whimpered and tearfully told him no.  I couldn’t even dress myself, much less make the effort to get to the race and run.

As I heard Husband on the phone with my cheer team alerting them we were going nowhere, I started feeling better.  My nausea subsided and the room stopped spinning.  I started to wonder if my symptoms were due to anxiety since they were receding at the knowledge of not racing.  The visceral reaction I had experienced was retreating. 

I was able to fall back asleep, albeit fitful rest.  When I woke up around 7:00, I was a little wobbly, but otherwise okay.  No nausea.  No shaking.  No dizziness.  No tunnel vision.  I made myself my pre-run breakfast again and contemplated what had happened to me.  I had invested so much emotionally (not to mention financially) in running the PRR, that I was stunned and shocked not to be at the race.  I couldn’t believe I was missing the world’s largest 10k, the race that was going to define me, the race that was going to prove that I was getting better, the race that would prove that I could handle life on life’s terms.

I alternated between berating myself for not pushing through the symptoms (how do you push through fainting?) and trying to find the silver lining of one of the darkest clouds I’d experienced in a while.    Since insulting myself for symptoms beyond my control would only make me feel worse, I decided to do something positive.  I thought if I couldn’t run the Peachtree, I would go run my own 10k.  So I put on my Peachtree Road Race outfit, replete with my new socks and headband, and hit the trail running.  I ran 8 glorious, exhilarating miles.  No problems. 

Given my symptoms this morning and the fact that I was able to still run 8 miles without incident, I’ve concluded that my symptoms were psychosomatic.  Even though I was intellectually ready and prepped for the Peachtree, psychologically and subconsciously I perceived it to be too stressful and traumatic and so my fears manifested themselves somatically. 

So, sadly, I wasn’t part of the racing community today, and I’m left feeling defeated, broken, and damaged.  But I’m trying to look at the positives of the WHOLE Peachtree Road Race experience.    
  • I took risks.  Just signing up for the race was allowing myself the possibility to dream that I could run a large race like a “normal” person.
  • I went out of my element and drove myself to downtown Atlanta to join a group of runners to do a practice run of the course.
  • I took MARTA down to the Peachtree Road Race Expo, where I was packed in, elbow to elbow, with thousands of other runners picking up their race number and playing with new products and treats.
  • I am able to submit my race number to the Atlanta Track Club for a guaranteed spot in next year’s race.

I wrote in “More than just another race” that this race would prove that I can tolerate new, unfamiliar situations.  I wrote that the race would be either the beast that I tame or that would eat me alive.  Well, this year, I didn’t tame the beast, but it didn’t eat me alive either.    In my list of positives, I did prove I could handle new, unfamiliar situations.  Even though I didn’t have the success I wanted, there were moments of triumph along the way.  Now, my hopes are set on next year, when I’ll have the opportunity to toe the start line with the beast again.  Until then, I think the beast and I will just call it a tie for now.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

More than just another race

Tomorrow I run the Peachtree Road Race, the world’s largest 10k, and, frankly, I am terrified. 

Wouldn’t you be?  Look at all those people!

I’m not scared of the 6.2 miles; I’m scared of the unknown.  Even though I’ve read all the Atlanta Track Club e-mails, studied the start and finish maps, examined photos of previous races, rode the MARTA system, and did a practice run on the course, I still have no idea what I’m doing or what to expect.   

Six months ago, my fear of the unknown would have precluded me from signing up for the race.  I never would have had the audacity to dream of running the Peachtree Road Race.  Me?  Driving the highways of Atlanta to a public rail station?  Navigating the underbelly of Atlanta’s rail system?  Fighting my way through a crowd of 60,000 runners, plus 150,000 family, friends, and onlookers?  Not me.  I run shy away from the unfamiliar.

So if I’m such a scaredy cat, why run this race?  What makes this race so special? 

  • Is it because of the 42,500 ripe, refreshing, sweet Georgia peaches asking for me at the finish line? 

Scott Collins of Smyrna enjoys a peach in Piedmont Park, immediately following the Peachtree Road Race.
  • Is it because of the highly coveted Peachtree Road Race t-shirt that runners would sell their children for?

Tempting, but no.

  • ·       Or maybe it’s because I get to wait in line with tens of thousands of people who have to pee and take care of the common runner’s GI issues? 

  • Maybe it's because of the unconscionable hot, humid, muggy, intense Georgia weather for which I want to risk heatstroke?

No. Not that either.  Although it certainly adds to the appeal.  But this race means more than that.

This race is a defining moment for me.

This race is either the beast that I will tame, or that will eat me alive. 

This race means more than my Reeboks plowing across the finish line. 
  • It means breaking out of my comfort zone and putting me in an uncomfortable situation. 
  • It means the unknown.
  • It means surrounding me with a crowd I can’t control.
  • It means “running” toward the healthy, fulfilling life I want to live; free of an eating disorder and dissociative symptoms.
  • It means taking a risk, taking a chance, and not hiding from life anymore. 
  • It means ripping me out of my comfort zone.
  • It means all that and more.  

Mostly it means progress, and, even though I’m afraid of that too, these are risks I have to take to get better.

I’m ready for it.  So I’m putting it all on the start line tomorrow.  At 7:45, in Corral D, when the gun goes off, I’m proving to myself I can tolerate new, unfamiliar situations.  I’m proving I can succeed in places that normally I would run from.  I’m proving that my fears don’t have to dictate my life.  I’m proving I can do what “normal” people do. 

I saw a t-shirt at the Peachtree Expo from that said (I paraphrase), It’s not that I finished the race, it’s that I started. 
Bring it on, beastie!