Jillian Loves

Hello to anyone who still has me on their blog roll ūüôā

Back in December 2011, I wrote this post.

It really should have ended there. ¬†It was the right time. ¬†But like many things in my life at that time, I couldn’t let it go. ¬†So I kept trying. ¬†Kept trying to write when I felt like I had nothing to write about, kept trying to make something happen when I knew all along what I really needed was a good long break. ¬†And a fresh start. ¬†So I took time off (real time) from everything. ¬†I stopped doing things that made me sad, dropped the negative people in my life and got my shit together. ¬†It took a while. ¬†A long while. ¬†But I did it. ¬†Finally.

I started really thinking about writing again last year but I still didn’t know how to transition this blog. ¬†I had decided in early 2013 that I wasn’t going to race that year and now I work out just to work out. ¬†This blog is primarily about running, racing, triathlon, training and things that are a part who I was then, but not now. ¬†Finishing is Winning means so much to me. ¬†The people I met and the experiences I wrote about that I get to relive each time I read about them…I love that. I love this blog. ¬†But this blog really does need be left where it belongs. ¬†In the past. ¬†With who I was. ¬†I carry that girl with me, but I am so changed.

But I couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting to write again. ¬†I missed writing and blogging so much. ¬†I like the community of bloggers but truthfully, even if not one person read, I would still write. (But i want you to read!) I just love writing and I feel better when I do it. ¬†So I decided I would write like I work out. ¬†I would write when I wanted to write, about whatever I wanted to write about. ¬†My blog does not have to define me and I do not need to be defined by my blog.

The time for a fresh start is now.

That fresh start can be found here…Jillian Loves¬†‚̧

Hope to see you there!

It’s Official, My Legs Hate Me

Sometimes, as much as the outcome sucks, it is good to know a decision was made based on correct intuition.¬† When I pulled out of Rutgers, it was not a difficult decision.¬† I just knew something wasn’t right.¬† Remember when I said a gut feeling is not just a euphemism?¬† This is a perfect example.¬† I knew what I was feeling wasn’t in my head.¬† Although, I wish it had been.

Turns out, what I was feeling at Rutgers, was not in my head.  I saw the doctor on Thursday when the pain was only getting worse in my foot/ankle.  I was terrified of a stress fracture. 

The goods news is, nothing is broken in my foot!  And seriously, that is some great news!

The bad news is I have a pretty significant case of Peroneal Tendonitis. 

Peroneal Tendonitis refers to painful inflammation of the peroneal tendons located on the outer side of the foot, a little behind the ankle bump. 

There are two peroneal muscles on the outer side of the lower leg. One long one, called the peroneal longus runs from the knee to the ankle, and one short one, called the peroneal brevis muscle runs from below the knee to the ankle. Both these muscles when they approach the ankle, convert into tendons, which are thick bands of fibers that connect muscle to bone. Both these tendons run side-by-side and curve behind the outer bump of the ankle, then run below the foot where they insert into the bones of the foot.

As the muscle contracts, these tendons pull the lower surfaces of these bones, pulling/bending the foot downward (plantarflexion) and outward (eversion).

Once we had a diagnosis, it was time to treat.¬† Out of waitressing for 10 days and lots of RICE method.¬† Additionally in an effort to keep my leg stabilized and because “I can’t be trusted to stay off my feet,” I was also put in the CAM walker for the weekend.¬† Thank God that was only for a few days.¬† If I never have to see that boot again, it will be too soon.

And I’ll be rocking this again for a weeks to keep my ankle stable:

2013-04-29_08-34-02_385I know, I know…desperate for a pedicure!

I was also supposed to do this weird thing…I think normal people call it relaxing?¬† Yeah, I am not so good at that but didn’t have a choice.¬† I spent Thursday night, Friday night and all day Saturday on my couch with my foot up and ice on and off.¬† Sunday, I mowed the lawn in my boot- that was a new experience…!¬†¬† Other than a few errands, my friends housewarming Saturday night and mowing the lawn Sunday, my weekend mostly looked like this:

 wine2Relaxing is better with wine.

As much as relaxing isn’t my thing, I’ll admit it was a nice break.¬† I run on empty most of the time, so to be able to have a reason to do nothing was a good and much needed chance of pace.¬† It is hard to stay off my feet at my day job as well but I am trying.¬† And since I am not working¬† nights this week, and I cannot afford to do anything because I am not working night this week, the above is pretty much my game plan for the rest of the week.¬† For now, running is completely out of the question and I have to wait until I am pain free to get back to ballet/barre but I am hoping next weekend to get a work out in, even if it is just slow on the elliptical and some lifting.¬† I’ll take anything!

It may seem as though my spirits are up; that is mostly due to the fact that I am so happy I don’t have a fracture.¬† But the truth is, I am really bummed out.¬† I did everything right training for Rutgers.¬† I felt so ready.¬† And for things to just fall apart and me to be back off running is a huge blow.¬† I am frustrated.¬† Actually, I am beyond frustrated.¬† I feel like I am always injured.¬† While it seems everyone I know is getting better and faster, I am regressing.¬† My running has never been the same since I broke my foot and I am worried that it never will be.¬† The other day a friend of mine said she really felt like a runner now that she was fast.¬† I said she was always a runner because if you run you are a runner.¬† She replied that before she felt like an imposter.¬† I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.¬† Is she saying that slow runners are imposters?¬† Am I one?¬† I mean, I don’t think so…but when I am struggling, this is the exact thing that gets in my head.¬† The exact thing that makes me just want to throw in the towel.¬† I don’t even know if that is what she meant or if I am just hyper sensitive because I am feeling so low.¬† I have been fighting injuries for so long…I am not getting any better.¬† How long do I keep doing this to myself?¬† I don’t know.¬† I have to see how this PT goes and in the meantime, I’ll be sticking with barre and ballet and lifting and trying to get strong.¬†¬† Both physically and mentally.

In other news, to end on a good note…this came in the mail over the weekend:

bosontshirtBest mail I have gotten in a while!

Rutgers 7.8 Race Report

7.8 what huh?  I thought it was a 13.1?

Yeah…so about that…

My training leading up to the race went pretty well.¬† My 10 miler was a beast but I chalked it up to a bad day.¬† My taper runs went off without a hitch and I saw my sports PT three days before the race and everything checked out.¬† Then, Friday after work my ankle and shin were bothering me.¬† It was a long shift so I just iced and stayed off it most of Saturday.¬† Sunday, I could feel it but wasn’t too concerned.¬† My friend Lisa and I drove up to the race together and while I debated dropping to the 8K, I thought it was all in my head so I headed to the half-marathon start line.

Miles 1-4 were okay.¬† I really did not expect the hills.¬† The race is described as flat but it was entirely full of rolling hills.¬† My calf muscles weren’t happy- I mean, I train in SOUTH JERSEY!- but I was getting by.¬† It was at about mile 5 that my race started going downhill.¬† My pace was still fine but my calves were cramping and my shins were on fire.¬† There was a certain level of “push through it” and a certain level of “don’t hurt yourself” going through my head at the same time.¬† I was walking a whole lot more than I like and no amount of stretching was helping.¬† The last thing I wanted to do was give up but I was getting increasingly frustrated.¬† I would stop, stretch and then less than a quarter mile I would have to stop again.¬† By mile 7, I had pretty much had it with the race.¬† The cramps in my calves were getting worse and every time I saw a hill, I wanted to cry.¬† At this point, I wasn’t running at all and still had over six miles to go.¬† I really did not think it was wise for me, mentally or physically, to keep going.¬†¬† So for the first time ever in a road race, I stopped.¬† At mile 7.8, I pulled myself from the race, walked over to an aid station and had them radio me a ride to the start where I was able to catch a shuttle to the finish line.

I kept waiting for the tears.¬† To feel the failure in the pit of my stomach.¬† It never came.¬† Because I didn’t fail.¬† I made a decision.¬† And truthfully, it wasn’t even a difficult one.¬† I have spent much of the last 3 years injured.¬† It isn’t worth it.¬† I have no idea why my legs failed me- obviously, I need more hill work, but it has to be more than that.¬† Today, I will meet with my sports chiropractor and see what he thinks.¬† We have already talked about the next marathon (another post for another time) and today we will talk about the path for this year.¬† I don’t have any more races planned until July, so for now, I am just going to work on getting these legs back in working order.

After the race, I met up with my friends and we had lunch at a local brewery.  The day went on as normal.

Here is a photo from the day-

Authentic Blogging- Who Do You Blog For?

Before I even begin, the answer to this question is obvious.¬† I blog for me.¬† I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t want to do this for myself.¬† This blog started as a way to journal my experiences as I went from party girl to triathlon girl to runner girl.¬† If you have been a reader from the start, you know triathlon wasn’t something I intended to do past the first race.¬† And I certainly never (ever ever ever) thought I would become a runner.¬† So yes, I blog for myself first.

But I also blog for you.

Who are you?  Well, I know some of you have been here for a very long time.  Some of you, I knew before my blog.  Some I have met through blogging.  I have stayed in some of your homes and I have raced races with a few of you.  Some of you come only when I have a give-a-way (which is almost never) and some of you are brand new.  Some comment once in a while and some on almost every post.  I write for all of you.  For whatever reason you come here- because you relate to me, need swimming advice, think I am funny, because you want to know how my latest race went or because you know me in real life.  I write for all of you.

Being an authentic blogger is tough.¬† This is one of the issues I have struggled with most in my own writing.¬† Not that I feel as though I am not authentic, because I truly believe I am very real.¬† It is more like the struggle to make sure my blogging is personal, relevant and real all at the same time.¬† I don’t want to blog about the same things all the time or post a list post simply because I am not sure what I have to say on a certain day.¬† I want every post to really mean something.¬† There was a time when I did not come first in my blogging and it was obvious.¬† And I had to stop.¬† Having been back writing again, I feel really good.¬† Yet, I still have days where I struggle with “where do I want to go with this post” or “has this been done too many times already” or “will this matter when I look back on it” when I am thinking about my topics.

When I first started blogging, I had been reading Healthy Living blogs for about a year.¬† They weren’t nearly all the rage they are these days, but then again, neither were running blogs.¬† In fact, it was hard to find a good running blog.¬† The ones I was finding were written by people who were “real” runners and I was just trying not to fall off the treadmill for a mile straight.¬† One of the main reasons I started a blog was because I wanted to find other people like me.¬† I have always been a writer but I was so new to triathlon and running.¬† I figured I would keep a blog as a journal and if I were lucky, I would find other people doing the same thing.¬† Little by little people did start reading…caring…asking…about me.¬† It was surreal.¬† And I loved it.

Gradually, I formed friendships, participated in blog meet-ups and even ran this race with one of the very first people I ever communicated with through blogging.¬† I really loved blogging.¬† Then something changed.¬† With the blog world, with me…in general, I guess.¬† Running blogs got really big.¬† Healthy Living blogs had already blown up and now running blogs were too.¬† Suddenly, some of the blogs I had been reading for years became immersed in ads, give-a-ways and shilling products.¬† I felt left out and so for a while, I tried harder.¬† Even though some of the posts that were written during that time are some of my favorites, I am not proud of myself for trying to be someone I am not.¬† Often I was posting because I felt like I had to, not because I wanted to.¬† I was not always authentically blogging.

When I stopped blogging (I truly believed I would never blog again) it was because I needed to remove myself from feeling like I couldn’t keep up.¬† With how much I had going on in my life at that time, I just needed to back away.¬† When I decided to come back to blogging, I knew I would do it only if I could go back to how it was in the beginning.¬† Blogging for me first, then for my audience.¬† These days, most of my old readers don’t follow me.¬† That’s ok.¬† I know the ones that do and have been with me for so long are my friends and I am welcoming new readers every day.¬† I would rather have 10 solid readers who respect what my blog and come here for the right reasons than have to keep up with trends to keep hundreds of readers.

Here is what you will always get on my blog: Real Jillian.  A middle of the pack runner that knows her place in the world.  A regular girl who lives a pretty regular life and likes to document it in this blog.  Reviews only when it is a product I use, like and believe in and a possible give-a-way now and then.

Here is what you will never get on my blog:  product shilling, a boatload of ads, 35 rules to enter a give-a-way or in your face requests to follow me, re-tweet my posts or subscribe to my blog.

You come here for a reason.¬† If you didn’t like what you read, you wouldn’t.¬† I know from my stats that this blog gets quite a bit of traffic and people are reading.¬† I would rather have 5 genuine comments than 200 insincere ones.¬† I feel like if my blog was full of ads paying me to blog, my posts would become less authentic.¬† I would be blogging for traffic and not for me.¬† I would be forced to recommend, through ads and posts, products I don’t use or like.¬† I like my free not-so-big blog and I love the places blogging has taken me and the people I have met.¬†¬† The blog is evolving but I am going to remain true to who I am.¬† Always.¬† That is my promise to myself and my readers.¬† The blog isn’t perfect, but it is mine.

What does authentic blogging mean to you?  Who do you blog for?

Learning To Stop Apologizing

I have a habit of apologizing.  I apologize a lot.  About everything.  Well, not so much anymore, but its been a long road of learning.

My propensity to apologize over everything was pointed out to me by a friend a little over a year and a half ago.¬† “You start a lot of sentences with ‘I’m sorry’ and often apologize for things that don’t necessarily require an apology.”¬†¬† Truth.

I am an insanely honest person.¬† I have no trouble telling it like it is or giving my opinion when asked.¬† I hardly ever start a sentence with “I’m sorry but…” because A- “but” negates the “I’m sorry” and B- I am usually not sorry for my opinion.¬† I do however seem to be sorry for everything I personally feel that has to do with myself, personally.¬† For example, I say “I’m sorry” instead of “excuse me” all the time.¬† If I am coming out of a door while someone is trying to get in, I’ll say “Oh, I’m sorry” even though I have nothing to be sorry about and really I just needed to say excuse me.¬† Apologizing when I should be saying excuse me is like apologizing for being in a certain space.¬† What?¬† Exactly.¬† And it’s a funny thing; if someone doesn’t like my opinion, especially if they asked me specifically for this opinion, I don’t care.¬† But if I think a complete stranger hates me because we both want to use the door at the same time, I get all concerned.¬†¬† I know the latter situation says more about them than it does me and that is exactly why I am working on these issues.¬† ¬† Sometimes, I have actually found myself apologizing for apologizing.

Thank God for therapy!

I had long forgotten that conversation with my friend until a conversation I was having with my therapist about positive changes I have recently made.¬† She noted that I have mostly stopped apologizing for every feeling I have and for every situation I am in.¬† She said that when I first started seeing her I would begin most sentences with “I’m sorry that…” and it almost always had to do with how I felt about a particular situation. (Note: particular situation=R2 for about six months!)¬† This happened all the time during my marathon training.¬† I was always apologizing to R2 because I didn’t order a drink or have dessert or stay up late. ¬† By by making time for my training and specifically my long runs, I felt like I was letting him down.¬† It was in the weeks leading up to my race that my friend made her comment about my constant apologizing.¬† I wasn’t drinking leading up to the race and we were out to dinner.¬† I apologized to her for not ordering a drink.¬† She asked why I was sorry and I didn’t have an answer.¬† I was just so accustomed to apologizing for everything that I was at the point of apologizing out of habit.¬† I did not need to apologize because I didn’t want dessert.¬† Or because I couldn’t stay out late due to an early morning run.

Unfortunately, unlearning something is much easier than learning.¬† Apologizing became a habit; I was already an over-apologizer and my relationship with R2 just exacerbated it.¬† I have learned through talking it out that often my apologizing is a way of looking for validation.¬† For someone to say “it’s okay.”¬† I know now, I really wanted (read:needed) to hear “its okay” and sometimes the only way I got that was to apologize.¬† I know now, I do not need to be validated.¬† At least not in that way.

Apologies are now saved for times when I have to act with class and maturity and truly express regret. ¬† If I come out of the door the same time someone is going in…well, that is just happenstance.¬† Definitely not something I regret or have to feel sorry about.¬† And when I WANTED to go to bed early, get up early or skip dessert even though R2 didn’t like it, I shouldn’t have been made to feel bad about it.¬† Yet, I apologized because R2 made me feel selfish for making these decisions.¬†¬† I know there is a big difference between being selfish and just making different choices.

I am happy to say that I am not apologizing for nothing as much these days.¬† Probably because I don’t hang out with or date people that make me feel bad for living and not having to apologize for my choices has translated into not having to apologize for everything I do.¬† To see if my therapist and I were right, I asked my friend what she thought about my change.¬† We had dinner last night and I straight up asked her if she noticed a difference.¬† Her response:¬† “Definitely!”¬† She even noted when we headed to the bar and myself and another person were headed for the same seat…aha!…we bumped accidentally and I said, “excuse me” instead of “I’m sorry.”

Like everything else, it is a work in progress…but it is still progress!

I worked for a long time on this post and it still seems scattered to me.¬† Sometimes I have so much to say about something that I end up all over the place with it.¬† I would apologize for that, but then I would just be defeating the whole purpose of the post.¬† Instead, I’ll just post it and let it be ūüôā

The Number Means Nothing

scale

During stressful times, like a break-up, some people lose weight.  Not me.  I gain.

In 2007 after my ex-douchebag-boyfriend got another girl pregnant behind my back, I fell into a spiral of drinking way too much, smoking way too much and working out not at all.¬† Ultimately, it was this break-up that was the catalyst for getting into running and triathlon.¬† It had been a few years since I had been to the gym; my work-outs consisted mostly of out-drinking my friends and eating as much as I wanted.¬† I was always athletic and had a high metabolism so even though I ate, drank and didn’t work out, I also rarely gained weight.¬† Until this time.¬† During the course of my unhealthy relationship and the subsequent break-up, I had put on quite a few pounds.

Fast forward to last year.

I once again put on weight during the over-the-top-drawn-out-for-too-long-dramatic breakup with R2.  The difference between 2007 and 2012 is that although I had let myself go between the broken foot and broken heart, was that I luckily had not lost all my fitness.  Oddly enough, when I decided to get my butt back in gear this past December, I weighed the same amount as I did when I started my journey in 2007.   The same exact weight.

compare

                                                                                           2007                                                                      2012

Although I hate both of these photos, I posted so you can see how in both of these photos that I am heavier, but it is also noticeable that even just looking at my face, that I look fitter in 2012.¬† The scale read the same number but you can easily see how different I looked.¬† And that is just judging on my face.¬† (Trust me, it was hard enough to post these photos…no full body shots!)

Now, I am going to post a photo of me currently.  I have been working my tail off since December to get back in shape.  I have been on a nutrition plan and in addition to running and swimming, I have been taking barre and ballet classes.  I knew that I wanted to lose weight and get fit before Mexico, so I really buckled down.

thin

In this photo, taken only a few weeks ago, I am only six pounds less than in both of those photos above.

All my hard work and I have lost only six pounds.¬† But look at the difference in my face. (I really tried to pick three photos with the same head tilt.)¬† I am clearly more fit in this current photo.¬† And that is great, but the biggest difference of all?¬† In the two photos above,¬† I was not happy.¬† In the recent photo, I am. ¬† That is a happy girl.¬† I am two sizes smaller than 2007 and a size smaller than just 3 months ago.¬† So while the number on the scale doesn’t reflect necessarily where I want to be weight wise, I know the number doesn’t matter.¬† When I look in the mirror, I see muscle.¬† I see toned abs.¬† I see a body that is being worked hard for.¬† I see confidence.¬† I see all the things a scale cannot show me.

scale

More important than all the superficial aspects, is that the scale does not measure my health.¬† The number tells me little to nothing about what is going on with my relationship with food or my digestive health.¬† The scale is also no indication of my recovery from activity, my stress level or my sleeping patterns.¬† If I don’t get enough sleep, it is not reflected on the scale but rather, I know by the way I feel.¬† These are the factors that impact my health far more directly than my body weight. ¬† Individual weight is personalized and unique.¬† There is not a one sized fits all number that people should weigh.

With all that said, I will admit, I still weigh myself.¬† Currently, once a week and only on my own scale.¬† I do not weigh myself on any other scale, ever.¬† At the doctor, I get weighed backward.¬† By weighing only on my own scale, I do not have to question or obsess.¬† My scale is consistent to what I know my weight to be.¬† And sometimes, the number does frustrate me.¬† I am still a work in progress.¬† There will be confident days and not confident days.¬† Of course, there will be days I look at myself and say “you go girl!” and days where I think “what am I doing wrong?” but it will be based on how I feel when I look in the mirror, not based on how I feel when I step on the scale.¬† I will not let the number on the scale determine whether I have a good day or¬† bad day.¬† I will continue to weigh myself as a way to monitor my weight in general.¬† Not as a way to determine my worth.

Do you weigh yourself? 

Do you hyper-focus on the number or are you able to see past it?

Racing in 2013

Last year, my race schedule was anything but a schedule.¬† The few races I did were mostly last minute decisions and I bagged quite a few of them last minute.¬† That doesn’t mean this year was without its highlights!

-I was 5th in the swim at the Life is Good Tri!

-My relay team took first place overall at the Belmar Tri!

-I finished the Philadelphia Half-Marathon with little training and was NOT injured!

With everything that 2012 was, I am glad it is over.  2013 has started off quite nicely in the fitness field.

-As a kid, and a teenager, I always wanted to take dance.¬† I never did but in December, at age 31, I began taking ballet classes. I love it!¬† It is an adult class and NO we do NOT wear tu-tu’s!¬† I am also doing Barre Fit and it has been amazing for toning up and getting fit.¬† I see such a difference!¬† I go two or three times a week and it is great.¬† Not only is it whipping me into shape but it is really helping with my core, balance and flexibility as well.

-In addition to the ballet and barre classes, I have been hitting the gym two times a week, no matter what!  Between two jobs, that can be difficult, but I know I want to get back to a fitter and healthier me this year.  One of the additional motivations to stick to this schedule, is that in March I will be heading to Mexico for a friends wedding and I need to be in bikini shape three months earlier than I am used to!

-I have been base building for my April half-marathon.  Short but quality runs, building back up my endurance and getting my legs back into gear!  The real training schedule starts this week.  I am really looking forward to nicer weather so that I can complete all my runs outside and only have to worry about the gym when I want to swim.

-I am continuing to see my Sports PT every other week or so for ART and Graston.  I use the foam roller every night and use a LAX ball for trigger point a few times a week.  I thought the foam roller was the enemy but as it turns out, the LAX ball is the devil!  It is worth it, though.  My very biggest goal of all, is to stay injury free!

-I am done doing triathlon.¬† Yup.¬† Done.¬† You know what…I really gave it a good try; I really wanted to like riding a bike.¬† But I just hate it.¬† I did four years of triathlons.¬† And I enjoyed it and I was good at it.¬† Except the biking.¬† And I don’t even want to be good at it, because I don’t even like it!¬† You know what I do like?¬† Running and swimming.¬† Relay tri’s are still going to very much be a part of my life.¬† And I am determined to find more Splash and Dash races so that I can still compete in both sports I enjoy.

I feel like for the first time in 5 years, I am doing everything right.  Looking back, I feel like something was always off.  There was never a time where everything was on point.  This year is going to be different; at least I am giving it my all to be that way.  Sticking to a strict training plan, increasing my core and flexibility, keeping my nutrition plan together and continuing ART and Graston to keep from getting injured.

So what is on the agenda for 2013?

Rutgers Half-Marathon

Spartan Race

Atlantic City Half-Marathon

Philadelphia Half or Full Marathon¬† (I’ll be deciding this for sure after the RU half.)

I am still looking for a May 10-miler and I know there are a few tri’s I will be swimming for as part of a relay and there is a possible 15k in the fall.¬† And of course some local 5k’s that will be week or day of decisions.¬† I am excited to be training and I am looking forward to racing, but the last thing I want to do is overwhelm myself.¬† I have to constantly remind myself that I am, in essence, starting over.¬† I don’t want to push too hard, or race too much or risk burn out or injury.

How is your 2013 shaping up?  Are you doing anything new this year?

Why I Ran Philly in 2012

I had signed up for the race in April, thinking it would be a good motivation for me to start running again.¬† That was a joke.¬† I was barely running.¬† Signing up for a race only meant I was barely running AND out $65.¬† But then summer rolled around and I had some more time on my hands, so every few days I would go for a walk.¬† Then a jog now and then.¬† And then eventually, I just started running again.¬† But it wasn’t far and it DEFINITELY wasn’t fast.¬† And it wasn’t consistent.¬† By August, I was supposed to run the Wildwood Half-Marathon, but had only been running about 8-10 miles a WEEK at that point.¬† So, I bagged that race.¬† While I was down the shore, lamenting on my inability to get my shit together and just friggen run, I had a major awakening.¬† Major.

[BACK STORY:

I have a friend Jessica who I have known since high school.¬† We had some classes together but we really weren’t close until our senior year when we roomed together on a trip to England.¬† Although we hadn’t gotten close until then, everyone knew Jessica.¬† Jess was the girl with Cystic Fibrosis.¬† She was the one too sick to come to school for days at a time.¬† She was the one so sick over break our junior year, she spent weeks at CHOP and the class took a bus trip to visit her.¬† She was the one in England who had a lot more to pack than just clothes.¬† I remember being legit stunned at how much medication she needed on a daily basis.¬† But man, Jessica lived life.¬† She definitely didn’t let CF hold her back.¬†¬† (For those who don’t know, CF is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.)

After high school we stayed in touch if we saw each other but it wasn’t until Facebook that we really reconnected.¬† The best part about getting back in touch was that I found out she was going to be getting a double lung transplant.¬† And thank God too, because by the time of her transplant, Jessica was a very, very sick girl.¬† Simple tasks like getting out of bed were simply too much.¬† The surgery was successful and life completely changed for Jess.¬† Yeah for new lungs!¬† By the time our 10 year high school reunion rolled around, Jessica was two months post surgery and looking and feeling fabulous.¬† The transplant worked!¬† After the reunion, we definitely got closer.¬† We talked often, usually emailing back and forth since we lived in different states.¬† And then came the bad news.¬† This past Spring after only 2.5 years with her new lungs, Jessica began to experience rejection symptoms.¬† And the report was not good.¬† Rejection.¬† Double rejection. ¬†You see, a lung transplant does not cure CF because the defective gene that causes the disease is in all of the cells in the body, not just in the lungs.¬† While a transplant does give a person with CF a new set of lungs, the rest of the cells in the body still have the CF and may already be damaged by the disease.¬† And for Jessica, it was not a slow moving decline.¬† By the end of summer, doctors determined she was too sick to undergo another transplant. There would be no new lungs.

There…would…be…no…new…lungs.¬† I don’t have to tell you what that means for Jessica.

END BACK STORY]

So here I am at the shore that hot day in August.¬† And it just hits me like a ton of bricks.¬† I have lungs that want to breathe and legs that can run and I better get with the damn program.¬† Because there are too many Jessica’s out there.¬† Too many people who would love to run and can’t.¬† It was time to woman up and run.¬† I ran the very next day.¬† And the next weekend.¬† And slowly, I got began to feel it again.¬† How it feels to feel good running!¬† The training was brutal…and not near what it should have been, but come hell or high water I was running that race for Jessica.¬† And by running for Jessica, that is exactly what I mean.¬† I started up a page to raise money for The Lung Transplant Foundation (Jessica’s choice) and began telling her story.¬† She was my reason for running.¬† I would run for her.

Before I knew it, it was November.¬† I was far under-trained, my nutrition plan was laughable and I was really unsure of how this race would unfold.¬† But, I was going to finish.¬† Fittingly, the night before the race was a Beef and Beer for Jessica, an event I was NOT going to miss.¬† So it meant a late night…I mean, I wasn’t trained anyway, right!¬† It was a great night and I got to spend time with Jessica and it was totally worth it.¬† Between my mom and I, we also won six baskets- BONUS ūüôā¬† While the reason we were there permeated through the night, spirits were high and it was exactly what I needed the night before the race.

I don’t need¬† to go into a detailed race report.¬† I’ll just say this:¬† the first 8 miles, I was having the race of my life.¬† Then my joke of a nutrition plan started its backfire on me, GU decided it did not in fact get along with my intestinal tract and my stomach interfered with my amazing race.¬† The last 5.1 miles were a brutal mix of walking, stopping and using way too many portal-pottys.¬† But nothing was going to keep me from that finish line.¬† I cried a lot…it was physically painful and emotional.¬† I just knew I could not stop.¬† And, many minutes later than I would have liked, I crossed the finish line.¬† For Jessica.

The first thing I did was email her to let her know I finished!  And she emailed me back to say she was proud of me.  She was proud of me!  She fights for every breath.  I am simply in awe of her spirit, grace and inner fight.

I wish there was more I could do than run a race and raise $1,950 for her foundation of choice.  But all I can do is share her story.  Make people aware of the importance of supporting foundations that are often overlooked.  Lung transplantation is a relatively rare procedure and this area receives little research support from National Institutes of Health or any disease-specific research foundation.  Currently, the Lung Transplant Foundation is researching treatments for chronic lung rejection, but there is no cure.  There. Is. No. Cure.  Jessica is still fighting.  But there are more bad days than good.  And, I know what that means. You know what it means.  She knows what it means.

england1999- Trip to London.  Jess and I are next to each other, front right.

jessica

Jessica and I at our reunion.

jess2Sign my mom made and had through the race!

jess1Ran with this on my back the entire race!

philly1#8 done!

I won’t make this part long.¬† Here is the link to the page http://www.gofundme.com/1a3cig

I am trying to raise a total of $3,000 in her name to the Lung Transplant Foundation.¬† I can’t let myself stop just because the race is over.¬† The race is over, but her fight isn’t and neither is mine.

Life Is Hard- My Most Honest Post Ever

I always pride myself on having an honest blog.¬† I am who I am and try not to waver from that on this blog.¬† That is why, when things really just got too hard, I stopped blogging.¬† I couldn’t be honest, at least not completely.¬† Oh, and I was broken.¬† Literally, physically, emotionally and mentally.

So, if you are still here…if you are still reading…park it, because this is going to be a long post.¬† But when it is all over, I know I will feel better and I know I’ll be ready to blog again.¬† It has taken¬†over a¬†full year, but I am finally finding my way back to me.¬† A better me.¬† Which makes everything I went through, worth it.¬† I wouldn’t want to go through it again, ever, but I can at least take comfort in knowing I have come out on the other side and I am okay.¬† Better than okay.

So you know the basics if you were a reader in the past…broken foot, broken heart, crazy roommate, etc…etc…ETC!

But what you may not know is this…I was jealous.¬† And generally speaking, I am not a jealous person.¬† But I was raging with jealousy. ¬†That is the dead ugly truth.¬† Every blog post I read was about someone running, getting engaged or married, having a baby, losing weight,¬†finishing a race and generally loving life.¬† Every damn post was so damn happy.¬† And I was so damn sad.¬† Angry, sad and seriously jealous.¬† I wanted to be running, getting engaged, losing weight and loving life.¬† (Notice, I did not say I wanted a baby!!!)¬† I couldn’t do it anymore.¬† I couldn’t open my reader to all the happiness.¬† In some odd way, it only made me more sad and more angry.¬† Like everyone in the world was happy except for me.

Here was problem #1…I didn’t even know who “me” was anymore.¬† I was 30 years old and a lost little girl.¬† I had to give up a life I planned and find myself again.¬† I had to admit that I was the only one in¬†a relationship working on said relationship.¬† I had to swallow the most bitter pill of all:¬† I loved someone who¬†didn’t love me.¬† It is so easy when you are in a relationship to only see what you want to see.¬† To pretend the bad things aren’t there or that it will get better.¬† And damn, let me tell you…when it came to R2, I was wearing the rosiest of rose-colored¬†glasses ever.¬† And I wish I could say that it all became clear to me after we broke up…but it didn’t.¬† And because of that, I spend the next 5 months or so holding onto something that wasn’t there.¬† Something that was never there.¬† The break-up, the break, the separation…everything was dramatic, difficult and painful.¬† And look, this is a not a public forum for me to bash him and I won’t do that.¬† But I will say this…it was not all sunshine and flowers and the damage my relationship with him did to me is going to take years to overcome.¬† I have been in therapy for months.¬† There was a time when I never would have admitted that publicly.¬† I didn’t think I¬†“needed” help.¬† Well, turns out, this help was the best gift I could have given myself.¬† I have learned so much.¬† Of course these are lessons I wish I had learned before going through so much pain, but at least I have these lessons in my pocket now.¬† I’ll never be as blind as I once was.¬† With that said…as much as I blame him…I also blame myself.¬† No one forced me to put¬†with it all.¬† No one forced me to keep going back when I knew I would only get hurt.¬† And trust me, forgiving him was much easier than forgiving myself.¬† Much.

Problem #2 was that my release for stress is to work out.¬† Broken foot=no working out.¬† I was stuck with my pain and had no way to deal with it.¬† And then, when I could run again, I just didn’t want to do it.¬† I was too far gone.¬† The hole¬†was dug too deep.¬† And in the midst of all of this, I was moving out of my condo with my psycho roommate and looking for a place to live.¬† Thankfully, I was able to stay with my aunt until I found a house.¬† But I had to find a house.¬† It was all I could do to get out of bed.¬† I struggled to get through each day; work was actually comforting because at least I knew my mind would be busy.

Problem #3 was that even when good things happened, I couldn’t actually be happy.¬† I mean, I was happy, but I couldn’t celebrate it because everything was so overwhelmed by my feelings of loneliness and sadness.¬† Everything was a reminder that I was alone.¬†It took everything I had in me to get ready for a night out.¬† I would be exhausted before I even arrived. ¬†Even the biggest and best thing to happen to me, buying a house, served as a reminder that I was doing it alone.¬† I just couldn’t get out of the damn black hole.

Then something happened.

I started solving my problems.

I started letting go of the shit that made me sad, so that I could be happy.

First up, R2.¬† He had to go.¬† He was inhibiting my ability to be happy and I was letting him.¬† The process of letting go was not easy; even though he didn’t want to be with me, he didn’t let me go easily either.¬† (Let’s hear for making difficult situations more difficult!)¬† From the time I first walked away and tried to cut him off, until we finally stopped communicating on a regular basis was six months.¬† He still wanted to be friends.¬† My argument¬†was that he wasn’t someone I wanted to be friends with or have in my life.¬† But I kept giving him chances to make it up to me, apologize…anything.¬† I wanted the time I had spent with him to be validated.¬† But it was just a sick cycle.¬† I would cut him off, he would fight me on it, we would fight, we would make up, and repeat.¬† And repeat.¬† EXHAUSTING!¬† Oh, and ridiculously unfair.¬† It wasn’t until a few months ago, that we were able to talk openly.¬† He finally apologized (sincerely)¬†and I was able to really let him go.¬† Since then, no communication and none intended in the future either.

It is a funny thing when someone stops taking up so much space in your head.¬† I started having space again for other things.¬† I started remembering how much I loved to swim and run.¬† ¬†I ran the Philly Half-Marathon in November.¬† I barely trained and the race was¬†brutal, but I did it.¬† And¬†at some point, I knew I would run another race.¬† And¬†another.¬†¬†I started remembering how much I really loved¬†be with my friends.¬† Taking road trips.¬† I appreciated my house and saw it from a completely different point of view…I was doing something on my own, that many people couldn’t do with two people.¬† Things in general just because more clean.¬† I am not always happy; this is a major work in progress.¬† Sometimes…ok, quite often, I still feel lonely.¬† But I am no longer feeling alone. And for the first time in a very long time, the good days are outweighing the bad days.

I have a job I love.  I have an amazing family.  My friends are awesome.  I own my own home.  I have four races planned for this year.

I am back.