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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Meanest Kid I Know

A friendly face on Christmas morning.

There are some parenting tasks that are less desirable than others, like cleaning up puke, dealing with potty training accidents, breaking up the multiple daily fights, or even just having to say "no" when it breaks your heart to say it. Another dreaded chore that I really don't like doing at all is waking up my 3-year-old son from his afternoon naps. 

The kid is not a morning person.

You can imagine my surprise one day last week when he was actually happy to see me when I woke him from his slumber.
"Bubba... hey little bubba, it's time to wake up," I very cautiously whispered as I rubbed his adorable little round belly, bracing myself for the tornado of anger that was sure to follow.
"Mama?," He whispered back as he opened his eyes, yawned, and rolled over toward me. "Hi mama," he said smiling.
Breathe, don't mess this up... what is going on? Why isn't he yelling at you and pushing you away? I thought, not sure what to say.
"Are you happy?" I asked him, trying to mask my surprise.
"Yes mama. I had a happy dream." 
I smiled back. "What did you dream about little man?" 
"You mama. I dreamed about you."
Oh, my heart melted. These are the moments that make the puke, pee, fights and the constant use of the word "no" worth it. These are the moments that make a mom forget how much it hurts to push a baby out of her body. These are the moments that make eating supper while standing at the counter and feeding your kids like a short-order cook okay. These are the moments that we dream about.

This moment was particularly special because it came from my 3-year-old.

Of my three children, he has the most volatile of moods. He is hard to describe because he can be such a loving kid sometimes, but such a mean one too. He uses these manipulative cute little voices and bats his big, beautiful brown eyes at you, leaving your heart with no choice but to fill to the brim with love. He is also very tactile and absolutely needs to touch you, rub or be rubbed, hang onto your hand, and feel your skin close to him. He thrives on touch and constantly tries to be physically close to the people he trusts, which makes me love him even more. His need to be physically close to me reminds of those amazing intimate emotions felt when nursing a child, and I feel such a strong connection to him because of that.

On the other hand...

He is also the meanest kid I know. He can throw out unkind, hurtful statements like its no ones business. If he doesn't want to talk to you when you greet him he will simply glare at you and growl.

He will literally growl.

He is not afraid to say, "I don't like you," to his aunt when she lovingly asks, "Hi little buddy, how are you doing?" He doesn't hesitate to tell his sister that, "You will never be my best friend," when she interrupts his eating by simply asking him to pass her the milk at supper. He is the first to blatantly tell me, "This food looks gross," when he sees nothing he likes on his plate at lunch. He refused to open his Santa presents for quite awhile Christmas morning because he didn't see one of the toys he wanted. You can imagine his reaction when friendly random adults at the grocery store try to interact with him. Oh man, and don't try to take his iPad away mid game... whew.... a world of hurt will come down on you.

Yes, you definitely need thick skin when you are around my littlest man. It doesn't hurt to have an open mind too.

Kids are all different, just like adults are so it isn't surprising that his personality isn't the same as his siblings. Teaching him social awareness and restraint are a little challenging at this age but we are working at it. Sometimes I wonder what kind of person he will become and how much of what I see in him now will still be visible when he is grown. I'm not worried, it takes all types of people in this world, but I do want him to be a happy, kind person some day.

From his loving need for physical affection to his angry spouts of immediate feelings, this kid keeps me riding on an emotional roller coaster, never knowing what twist or turn to expect next.

It's a good thing I love him. And amusement parks.

My little hurricane and his sissy sleeping the other night.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Shoulder Surgery Week 4: What I've Learned So Far

This week my 5-year-old daughter helped me on an evening interval run/walk this past week.

I can't communicate how happy I am that what I initially was told was a rotator cuff tear ended up with my just needing a synovectomy in my shoulder joint instead. I would still be in a sling and unable to use my arm for most anything had I had a tear. I might not even be cleared to drive and I would not have started PT yet either.

This is all wonderful news!

The problem though is that since my doctors, my PT therapist, and basically everyone I talk to about it tells me how lucky I am, which makes me keep thinking that I should be back to normal *right* *now*. This makes me very frustrated because I am not back to normal. Lucky, yes, but 100% better? Umm... no. I'd say I'm at 90% mobility (yay!) but only around 70% for pain.

I have had 2 1/2 weeks of PT now, with 2-3 more on the calendar. We have gone from just stretching my arm out to using resistance bands and even a 1 pound weight during some of the movements (ouch!). Last week was so great! I got the all clear to "jog" and my arm pain seemed to be getting better and my mobility was back in almost every movement I tried. Around mile 2- 21/2 my shoulder starts hurting so 3 miles is still my limit at this point (every other day at most). I go back to my surgeon in 2 weeks for the hopeful all clear to run as much as I want.

Anyone guess what I've been up to?

Alas, this week has felt like a bit of a setback and has been challenging for me though.

Let me rewind a little. I have basically been taking anti-inflammatory medications (both over the counter and prescription at different points) around-the-clock for 5 months to manage pain. Well this week I started having symptoms (TMI but some crazy stuff like Blood, Bilirubin and Protein in my urinalysis) that my liver and/or bladder was not functioning as well as it should be, best guess is damage from all the anti-inflammatory medications. In addition to the low-dose aspirin I take each day for unrelated reasons, this may be too hard on those organs. This is all speculation but to see what happens I am no longer to take Aleve, IBuprofin or other similar drugs to reduce the inflammation in my shoulder joint. Bad news... P A I N is back... sigh.

I didn't realize how dependent I had become on those medications to manage my pain. I stopped taking them this week and now running hurts, PT hurts, and sometimes significant pain while even just resting is back. It is very frustrating because I felt like I was able to do almost everything again with very little pain, but now that I am no longer taking those drugs the pain is back. I can see now that I still have a ways to go. I have been trying Tylenol but it doesn't seem to help as much.

It doesn't help either that I am back to work now this week and typing at my computer desk really bothers my shoulder after even just a few minutes.

It breaks my spirit a little that I can't go out and run 8 miles just on a whim like before... I can't run more than 2-3. This might be one of the hardest parts of the recovery process for my mental health. It is a little depressing, as running is a big part of who I am and I am unable to really do much of it right now.

In the end I am still improving every week- even daily. I am constantly reminded by those around me that it has only been 4 weeks and although not as serious as it could have been, I did still have shoulder surgery. Pain will subside; having so much mobility back so quickly and at such an improved level from before the surgery is amazing news! Being pain-free will come with time as my shoulder gets stronger and stronger.

That is really all I have learned so far. I will update you all again at 6 weeks post-surgery.

Monday, January 11, 2016

How Letting Go of Privacy Has Paid Off

As I look back at my first year of writing this blog I have learned a lot about myself. I have also learned how much dedication it takes to keep up with writing posts, growing an audience, keeping up with social media, and seeking interesting topics to write about.

I really love writing about my life, my children and of course, my running. I like helping other moms and dads see that our crazy parenting adventures are normal and I hope I am helping us all realize that we can find solace together. I like connecting with other runners and writing about issues that we all find important and useful. I like sharing my ideas with the world and allowing some great guest writers to do the same.

I loved writing before I had children, but since having children I love writing even more. I have so much content just thrown at my feet on a near daily basis that it is difficult to keep up sometimes. I remember a few specific conversations with my children that had sparked my interest in writing over the years (below are a few screenshots of examples). Children just see things differently than adults do. Looking at a simple word, sentence, event, or experience through the eyes of a child reveals an entirely new, yet nostalgic, perspective on life... and it provides so much writing content!

Prior to MamaGottaRun I did publish a family, more private blog for seven years. It was technically public so that my friends and family could easily access it, but I never really published articles that did more than update acqaintances with pictures from our fun family adventures or talk about doctor's appointments my kids had. I still have it live, but haven't updated it regularly this year. Serving as my online scrapbook for the last 7 years, I used to love how I chronicled our life there. One of my New Year's Resolutions is to restore that blog and post on it more regularly as a way to keep a sort of online scrapbook once again.

I was a little nervous about publishing blog articles with content written for a public audience intended for public consumption. Starting MamaGottaRun meant that I was going to have to let go of some privacy, privacy that wasn't entirely mine to give away. I had seriously contemplated for years what it would mean to myself, my children, my husband, and my relationships with my friends and family if I started writing about the quirky, stressful or funny situations I encountered with all of them. 

As you know I decided to take that risk. I let go of that privacy, shared it with the world, and decided to see what would happen. I am glad I did because the joy and catharsis that has come from writing, the connections I have made with other human beings around the world, and the professional and personal connections that have come from blogging this year have paid off.

If you have ever thought about starting a blog you should try it. I will tell you that it isn't easy. You won't make everyone happy. You might hurt someone's feelings. You will have to write articles when you really just want to go to bed because you know that if you don't publish regularly, readers won't come back. You won't get paid any money for your hard work. Some articles that you loved writing and felt great passion for won't get read by hardly anyone. Other articles that you didn't put much effort into will surprisingly spark conversations you didn't anticipate.

But you will make people smile. You will inspire others. You will find an outlet for your own personal growth and writing ability. You will learn so much about so many things. 

I am thinking about the changes and the upgrades that I want to do to MamaGottaRun this year. If you are a regular reader I'd love to hear what you enjoy most about this blog. Are there changes that you believe would make this site even more wonderful? Comment below.

It took a year, but I just hit 2,500 Tweeps!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Part 3: We Did It! 2015 Miles Team Member Kate

Grab a box of Kleenexes before you read this one! Part 3 of a 3 part series: We Did It! 2015 Miles in 2015. Click here for Part 1 and Part 2 published earlier this week. In this article team member Kate Bowers shares her vulnerable, genuine feelings of what this challenge was like for her. She was not a runner, nor a walker before this challenge like her teammates. All of her miles were logged in with walks, which take longer than runs oftentimes do. In spite of obstacles, Kate stuck with this challenge and never gave up, racking up just short of 600 miles this year.


Well, I made it……

To write this I went back and read my post from February remembering how excited I was to start a new challenge. I was intimidated by this challenge and frankly nervous that my mind wouldn't hold up. I was afraid that that little piece inside would take over, that piece that makes you stop and think “I don’t need to work out today, I will work out tomorrow” but then tomorrow turns into two days from now, and three days, and four days... and then finally it adds up to me quitting somewhere in the middle of this goal.

"I hope and still believe that this is my story."

Let’s go back a little and start with the intimidation. At first I thought I must be crazy to take on a challenge with two very experienced runners. They both have their amazing stories of where they first started and I hope and still believe that this is my story.

This challenge which at first seemed like it wouldn’t be that hard has literally been the hardest thing I have ever done.

First thing I couldn’t let myself get intimidated by were my teammate’s miles. Starting out, they could both run long distances and I had to remind myself that I was just at the beginning of my journey. When I started I was walking a couple miles at a time. I remember when I wrote my first post in February I had hit 4 miles which seemed like such a large feat, but at the end of this challenge I could walk 6 miles even reached 8 a couple of times! Let’s not beat around the bush my legs hurt and still hurt when I am putting in those miles. There would be times that I felt like I had restless legs, I couldn’t sit in a chair for long periods of time and they would ache. The result though is worth it. Through this pain I have my calf muscles and overall leg muscles back, seems a little silly but they disappeared for a couple years. They have resurfaced and it is awesome- it’s a reward for my hard work!

In every challenge you take on there are experiences that seem to get in the way. Time was always on my mind, bathroom breaks and the dreaded GYM. Time first- it always seems to be a factor. I walked, didn’t run so the length of time it took me to get in three miles was about an hour, sometimes shorter. Between life and work (I work a lot and travel all over the US and world) there could have been so many times when I could have just given up. I had to really plan for each week when I would be able to walk. I unfortunately can’t plan for the month, my brain just doesn’t seem to work that way, so I tried to make a weekly plan. Sometimes it worked and sometimes didn’t.

Another challenge that I faced was always making sure my routes included a restroom break. I know, too much information, right? I didn’t even think this would be an issue when I started this challenge. I had to really make a route that let me get through the entire walk. I had some fun experiences with it though, I am pretty sure the people at the Chinese restaurant down the street think I am crazy.

The GYM…Ugh... this has been my nemesis for as long as I can remember. I hated the gym when I was in softball and then after I was out of college too. It was the stereotypical reasons of why I didn’t like it and I was uncomfortable working out in front of people. This helped me get past that, seems weird but I think it forced me to do so. I also switched gyms in the middle to make it more convenient during the challenge. I can now go any time of the day, it is great. I use the same treadmill in the corner and catch up on life.

"I got to the half way point and wanted out, I felt like it wasn’t worth it anymore."

You know that part I mentioned about quitting, it was a reality about half way through. I got to the half way point and wanted out, I felt like it wasn’t worth it anymore. I had a mental block for a good three months, I had to absolutely push myself every time to walk. I had to tell myself that it was worth it and I wanted to finish what I had started.

I can’t tell you how happy I am that I pushed through that difficult time.

My husband and I were discussing my completing this challenge and he was proud of me for not quitting, he admitted that he thought I would in the middle. But he has been a great cheerleader through it pushing me to get out and walk. I read a quote once that seems to resonate with me for this challenge: “Be stronger than your excuses." I think it pretty much sums up this experience.

Kate's stepdaughter and walking buddy!

The biggest advice I can give, and trust me I do not consider myself to be a pro at this, but it is to do it your way. It is great to have cheerleaders on the side like I did, but you have to make the challenge your own.

I am so happy that I took the leap and said yes to this challenge. It has been tough but I have gained so much more over the last year than if I wouldn’t had said Yes to Traci. I can’t thank her enough for being my friend, mentor and support system.

During my February post I wrote I was scared that when this challenge was complete I would quit. That isn’t my reality anymore. I have taken a few days off but it’s a New Year and I've already signed up for a New Challenge!

I can’t wait to hear what you are doing in the New Year. Comment below if you like!

Lots of love,
Kate getting a few miles in the day before her wedding!

Kate logging miles in Paris!

Kate in San Diego.

The view from a walk Kate took in Prague.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Part 2: We Did It! 2015 Miles Team Member Brandi

Part 2 of a 3 part series: We Did It! 2015 Miles in 2015. In this article team member Brandi Jones  shares what running in this challenge was like for her. Personally, I am so proud of her! She was the only team member to consistently reach her monthly miles goal every single month of 2015. To reach this goal she sacrificed other activities she enjoys, like biking, and somehow logged all of these miles without training for or running in any organized races. Truly commendable! Look for part 3 on Friday by team member Kate Bowers.
I can’t believe it’s over. It seems like the older you get the faster the years go by. December was actually a good month to run outside. We had unseasonably warm weather for Northern Iowa. Averaging around 40 degrees, I was able to get more outside miles. Unfortunately the bad (good) thing about Iowa in December….deer season. I was reminded this when I went to run out of town and the sound of gun shots brought me right back in. If you run every street in my town you get around 9 miles, this is repeating some streets also, so needless to say it helps to change things up a little.
Here’s my stats for the last 365 days. For not racing or training for anything, I’m very happy with my numbers. Thanks to MapMyRun I was able to easily look back through my yearly total. Keep in mind I’m not the 100-140 pound runner. If you're familiar with triathlons…I’m considered an Athena.
      ·         The longest I went without running was 7 days.
·         I ran 216 days.
·         I logged 725.55 miles. My goal set in January was 672.
·         141.87 miles on the treadmill.
·         583.68 miles on the pavement.
·         I averaged 3.36 miles each time I ran.
·         My longest run on a treadmill was 11.06 miles.
·         My longest run outside was 10.01 miles.
·         Fastest 5K – 30.50
·         Fastest 10k – 1:05:27
·         Fastest Mile- 9:53
·         I achieved each monthly mileage goal I set.  This I am very proud of, it sounds like a simple           task but is a ton more challenging than you think.
·         Money spent on registrations $0 – Free year victory!
 Some people make commitments and fall short, some don’t make commitments at all, some make long term, some short. They say it takes 16 weeks continuously doing something to make it a habit or lifestyle.  I am so happy and proud that what I set out to do 12 months ago, I was able to complete. My body held up. I’m not going to lie it was a mental battle to keep pushing thru the aches and pains, the rain, and the cold.

 When I decided 2015 was going to be my year free of racing, it was a welcoming site to see that Traci wanted to do this challenge. Also with Kate joining in it make the mileage total seem feasible. It was a way to challenge myself yet stay true to my “free year.” I can tell you it was very challenging not to race. I missed it.  I missed the running community. Thankfully I was able to volunteer at a few races to fill the void.
This year I have enjoyed helping some of my friends train for races and others who just wanting to start running. They are proof if you truly commit you can succeed.  I get just as much joy from seeing them accomplish their best as I do from myself.  I’m so thankful they helped me in completing some of my monthly miles. A great support person/group is key in reaching any goal. Just a positive word or a challenge can be the one thing that helps someone else push that extra mile. Every person has it in them to help others and themselves. The majority of the time the thoughts going thru your own mind when pushing through a hard run or workout; are the same they are thinking: Be positive – Stay positive.

 About a week ago I found out one of my friends was doing her own 2015 miles in 2015. Yes, all by herself! She did it by using her daily steps. She would walk/run around 3 miles each day, plus stay active thru the day to get steps in. Keep in mind this is an amazing personal goal as you would need to average around 168 miles a month or 5 miles a day. She did come up a little short, but what an outstanding commitment. Have I mentioned this lady is 64 years young!  So to everyone out there who thinks it’s too late to change your habits and start a healthier lifestyle. This lady will prove you wrong!
 Now, the big question…Will I do this again? Maybe in the future, but not in 2016. I enjoyed this challenge, but it took a lot of time away from other things I enjoy, like biking. In a normal week this year I would run and/or walk 3-4 days a week and do a boot camp twice a week. This is on top of a 40+ hour job. So, I would have 1 or 2 days of rest which I needed. I did get a couple of bike rides in and a few days of RAGBRAII but I can’t wait to do more in 2016. Plus I missed the mud and novelty runs. Who knows maybe another triathlon. My possibilities are endless. As long as my body holds up, my mind is strong I know I can accomplish it.
These wonderful ladies joined me for my final miles!
I’m so proud of Traci for pushing through and completing back to back ½ marathons, also to her family members for joining in. Fitness and achieving goals has so many happy endorphins. I wish everyone that is struggling or is in a rut would take a challenge, move out of your comfort zone, find support within your family, friends or community. Stop making excuses and do the thing that scares you!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Part 1: We Did It! 2015 Miles in 2015

This week I will post a 3 part series of my 2015 Miles in 2015 Challenge. Here is part 1 from me, and then Parts 2 and 3 will come later this week. Parts 2 and 3 will be guest posts written by my 2015 Miles in 2015 teammates. 

Our 2015 Miles in 2015 Challenge Summary

We did it! We even SURPASSED our goal of hitting 2015 miles in 2015 and tallied over 2,161 miles! This was definitely a team effort. With my having a few months where I didn't reach my goals due to injury, Kate having a few difficult months with work and wedding planning, and Brandi being our rock of consistency- we all worked together as a team to make this goal happen. If only two of us had done this challenge we would not have made it. All 3 of us were very important to our success.

My last contribution on December 31st.

Even though I still don't have the all-clear to run or even walk (hopefully late this week!) I did go for a very slow cautious walk on December 31st. I just had to get a final few miles in in 2015. I am going stir crazy and as I watched my teammates get some serious miles in this month, I felt the need to put a few more in too. In December I reached 19.14 miles, but my goals was 50. I hate excuses but the last few months my shoulder has really put a damper on my running. Lots of pain... Since I ran those 2 half marathons in 2 days in October the pain level in my shoulder has been much worse. I only had about 2 weeks before surgery to run in December and only reached 19.14 miles during those two weeks. Kind of a let down, but that's life. I wish I could have ended this challenge with explosive drive and determination like I often had in earlier months, but it just didn't happen for me. I did surpass my personal goal of 680 miles, and reached 842, but in my heart I really wanted 1000 miles this year. Oh well... here's to 2016 I guess!

I think my favorite thing about this challenge was taking a different role than normal. As a runner I have focused on my goals and my training- not really on the goals or training of other people. I have never been a cheerleader for others and I really enjoyed this experience from that perspective. I enjoyed this so much that I hope to manage a team in 2016. If I do, I'm certain you will get updates on their progress throughout the year. I am still hammering out the details.

Kate reached a whopping 64.6 miles in December and Brandi reached 54.35 miles. Both of these awesome teammates will be posting guest blog posts later this week to offer a recap of what this experience was like for each of them this year. In talking with them they have both learned a lot about themselves on this journey of reaching 2015 miles and I can't wait for them to share their stories with you.

Look for their posts on Wednesday and Friday.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Shoulder Surgery Week 2: What I've Learned So Far

Christmas selfie with my daughter.

It has been a two long weeks since shoulder synovitis surgery. Since my week 1 post surgery update last week, my three kids are now back in my house, my husband is back to work, and we have participated several holiday parties. I definitely did way too much with my shoulder this last week but I swear I am trying to hold back! Although I have only driven a few times when I absolutely had to the last few days, I still have not walked much or ran at all, but am hoping for the all-clear the end of this coming week.

So what have I learned this week?

I still have some pain.
I am thankful that I did not have a torn rotator cuff that needed repaired, as I would still be in a sling for another week or two, and would I definitely have more pain than I do now.

I can do about everything now with just a small amount of pain, like brush my hair, reach plates from the high shelf, change the laundry, etc, and I do have some pain and discomfort throughout the day and especially in the evenings. The pain is still pretty constant when I use it but very minimal on a pain scale, I'd say a 1-2. Sometimes my shoulder hurts while resting for no apparent reason, and when I over extend it it definitely hurts, at most to a 3-4. I find that I automatically use my left arm more and usually first. I even eat with my left arm sometimes now! 

My range of movement is good. I'll be happy for physical therapy (PT) to start so that I can improve that even more.

Pain medications and therapy are important.
I take all day Aleve in the morning. Sometimes at the end of the day I take a prescription pain medication but I probably don't need to. I do ice off and on throughout the day and at night and I do some PT exercises that I learned this past summer off and on throughout the day. 

I start PT on Monday, and go back for the all clear with my surgeon at the end of next week. I am anxious, VERY anxious to get moving again. The holidays (food, food and more food!) are a terrible time to not be exercising and I do not feel like myself right now. I am a crazy person when I can't run, but I need to get better. I know this. I don't want my shoulder to hurt anymore so I am trying my hardest to stay committed to recovery.

One of my incision areas is still a bit scabbed and a little tender but the other one is completely healed over. 

I am thankful for help.
And I think that is it! I am doing a lot better. Better and better every day. I could not have done this without the help of my in laws, parents, family and friends. The old adage, "It takes a village," is an understatement. 

I'll update again next week, but I think I'm on the mend. I am anxious to be pain free and have to continually remind myself that it might take some time for the pain to go away completely.

I am just ready to be done with this surgery and move on to my next adventure. I have some big 2016 goals I need to get started on after all!