Running Season 2022

Running season 2022 is officially here! I rarely do spring races, but when I do, it is for charity. Fall races are my preference, as they are easier to train for with the weather conditions. This spring, I am running a half marathon benefitting Ukraine.

Proceeds from my spring half marathon are benefitting UnitedHelpUkraine.org. If you would like to support my efforts, please consider a donation to a reputable charity providing aid to Ukraine.

For the fall, I am very happy to announce that I am officially registered for the Italian Stallion Challenge as part of the Rocky Run 2022! I will be chasing down a hat trick of medals as I go 13.1 miles long.

The Rocky Run has been on my bucket list for quite a few years. This year is going to be really special. Once I complete the Italian Stallion Challenge and earn all three medals, I will have reached my goal of 8 medals from Philadelphia. I currently have 8 stars surrounding my Philly Marathon tattoo on my right arm. My goal has been 8 Philly medals.

This year is also significant for another reason. Once I have completed my Ukraine race and the Rocky Run, that will add four medals to my total this year. By the end of 2022, the goal is a total of 24 medals!

In recent years with my health, disability, and the pandemic, I have been looking at the reality of retirement from the competitive running circuit. My goal is to earn and achieve 26 medals when I enter retirement. 

If I am able to earn and achieve all 4 medals this year, then I only need to earn 2 more medals in 2023 to retire. Retirement does not mean that I will stop running or that I will stop racing. For me, retirement means that I will not need to push myself to compete at the same level I have been competing. To be honest, I’m not sure how many more miles I have left in me. Of course, I am going to keep running until I die or otherwise cannot. 

For me, retirement means that I will not be chasing down medals. I may do more 5k races than marathons. I will do more charity runs. I will not worry about my speed, time, or placement. If I am lucky enough to earn more medals than 26, that is fine. It is my competitive racing days that will be over. Once I’m retired, every mile will be the frosting on a cupcake.

Of course, this is all wishful thinking. I currently have 20 medals. I have to earn 6 more medals to achieve my retirement goal. All of this is dependent upon remaining healthy and COVID-free. 

The big excitement is that my goal is in sight. If I can achieve the 4 medals I have planned for this year, then I only need to earn 2 medals in 2023 to reach my goal.

In addition to my action packing running season this year, I am also working on my memoir, titled: Always Pee Downhill: Tales of Running, Life and Love. I am about halfway through the first draft. My goal is to finish as much of my memoir this year as possible. Each chapter details one of my marathon medals. Not only does it look at my training and race day itself, but also the events in my life that were happening at the time. 

To add a little excitement to this year’s running season announcement, here is a never before published sneak peak of the first few paragraphs of my forthcoming memoir, Always Pee Downhill.

November 18, 2007

Philadelphia Half Marathon

Time: 2:21:29

Age: 28

Medal # 1

At mile 6 of the 2017 Philadelphia Half Marathon, the infamous runner’s grid kicked in. I was at the furthest point from an aide station or a porta potty and I had to pee. On one side of me, cars whizzed by at 70 mph on Interstate-95. On the other side of me there was a sea of runners in the race. Right up ahead, I saw a small grouping of trees. I could squat behind one and hide myself from the other runners. I would still be in full view of I-95, but those cars are going 70 mph. They will go by so fast; they won’t have time to register someone squatting to pee on the side of the highway. 

I ran over to the tree, and squatted to go as quickly as possible. I just needed to get it done and hope I was not arrested. Just as I was almost done, someone ran past me and stopped at the tree next to mine. The back of his shirt said “FBI.” I was pretty sure I was about to be arrested for public urination and indecency. 

The man did a double take look at me, apologized, turned, and whipped his out to pee on the tree in front of me. I was done peeing, so I pulled up my shorts as quickly as possible. I got back into the race. Little did I know at the time, this was common practice for marathon runners to just pee as discretely as possible where and when you needed. Runners in sanctioned races are exempt from public urination laws, yet we are still supposed to use a porta potty as much as possible. Peeing where needed is for emergency use only. 

I ran the next mile like I was being chased by the cops. I was still thinking there might be a slight possibility of getting in trouble for my little pee break. But then I figured Mr. FBI man was doing the same thing. I just kept running. I ran like the cops were chasing me. They weren’t, but I had not seen the guy in the FBI shirt pass by me yet, so you never know.

This has been your exclusive sneak peek at my memoir, Always Pee Downhill! Thank you for reading. It’s time to Cowgirl Up! For running season 2022. 

Will Run for Peace

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Ukrainian President Zelensky announced that if anyone wanted to go to Ukraine to help them fight, they would give you arms. I would love to go. The only things preventing me from going are my cats and the fear that they would not take me to fight in Ukraine.

Ukraine is worth fighting for. Their freedom is worth fighting for. Would I fight for America? No, I would not. America is not worth fighting for anymore. America put me on their euthanasia list.

Both the President and the CDC say that I am they type of person that should die in the pandemic. They want me to die. As part of the vaccine mandate, there was a euthanasia plan for those medically unable to be vaccinated. My euthanasia appointment was immediately canceled as soon as the Supreme Cout struck down the vaccine mandate. The hospital told me that as medical professionals, their first duty is to “do no harm,” and they did not want to euthanize anyone if they were not mandated by politics.

In America, I am condemned to die. In addition to the euthanasia list, we have not had a single mask mandate or lockdown. America is trying to make our COVID death toll as high as possible. I don’t want to die of COVID. I would rather die fighting for something in which I believe. I would rather die fighting for Ukraine. Those people deserve freedom.

I try not to get political on this blog, but it is hard with the times in which we are living. However, it’s a wonder Putin does not have the chutzpah to invade the USA. If the USA was invaded, I would not fight. A country that has condemned me to death for my medical conditions is not worth fighting for. If we were invaded, I would surrender. The healthcare as a POW would be a significant improvement over American healthcare. It would be free.  

Healthcare in America is not accessible. It is not affordable. Whether you realize it or not, as soon as the USA declares the pandemic over or downgrades it to an endemic, millions of Americans will lose their healthcare coverage. We will all be back to paying for healthcare 100% out of pocket. We will continue to die because we cannot afford basic care we need.

My life goal is to leave the USA once the cats are gone. If I could figure out how to leave sooner and take the cats with me, I would leave in a heartbeat. I am 100% willing to relinquish my American citizenship to leave the country. 

Immigration to other countries is impossible for low-income Americans. The immigration regulations for American citizens moving to other countries is strict because other countries know we are leaving because we don’t have access to healthcare here. We can’t afford healthcare. I would love to be able to access the NHS or any other functioning health system. As I stated earlier, even healthcare as a POW would be better than what we have available in the USA.

I digress.

I want to help Ukraine. They are worth fighting for. Since I can’t take my cats to a war zone, I need to come up with something else. So, I’m going to do the only thing I know how to do.

I will run for peace.

I have registered for a virtual half marathon this spring benefitting UnitedHelpUkraine.org. This non-profit organization helps provide medical supplies to Ukraine. 

I am a fall racer. I don’t typically run spring races, but when I do, it’s a charity race.

Medal # 21 will be arriving this spring as I prepare for another half marathon. Please consider a donation to UnitedHelpUkraine.org to support my efforts and assist the people of Ukraine.

Ukraine is worth fighting for. Their people did not ask for this. If I did not have 3 cats depending on me, I would volunteer to go fight. I doubt they would accept me, since I am on the American euthanasia list. Or maybe they would, since the USA wants me to die anyway. However, my cats are my only family. I can’t abandon them to fight.

So I will run. I will run for peace. Here comes another half marathon training. This one is for Ukraine.

Tales from my Surfboard Part 6: The Game

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It was spring 2012 and it was Fenway Park’s 100th birthday. I was also turning 33 and hoping to finally see my favorite player, Jason Varitek # 33, at Fenway before he retired. Although I had made the pilgrimage “home” – to Fenway – many times, I had never been to a game. I just didn’t seem to have time or money.

I was in town for the weekend at the end of May for a race. I was scheduled to run Boston’s Run to Remember. I had contacted Lily to see if I could crash with her for race weekend. She was dating someone at the time, so we were “just friends.” I always asked if it was ok for me to show up when she was with someone so that I did not cause issues with her current relationship. If it was going to cause issues, I would just get a hotel room in Southie.

Lily said it was fine. She was working that weekend and they probably wouldn’t be home much that weekend anyways. I had a key to the house. I could crash on the couch and do my thing. Her current girlfriend wouldn’t mind.

On Saturday, I arrived about lunch time to drop off my stuff and park the car. I would take the T into the city to go to the race expo. The race was early Sunday morning. I went into the kitchen to drop my car keys on the table in case Lily needed to move it while I was in the city.

Sitting on the kitchen table was an envelope with my name on it. There was a single ticket to the day’s Red Sox game. I had definitely not been planning on going to a game. I was in town to race. The night before a race I am typically in bed super early. While the ticket was unexpected, I was also excited.

Lily knew I had never been to a game in-person. I was waiting until I turned 33 to see my favorite # 33 player. He had just retired that year, which completely took the wind out of my sails. However, Lily said in her note that she wanted me to be able to see a game at Fenway for the 100th birthday celebration and she did not know when I would be in town again to go. So she left me a ticket to go to the game.

I took the T into Boston and went to the race expo. After the race expo, I went to the game. It was a day long celebration. Before the game, I had lunch at the most amazing sportsbar just outside Fenway. This sportsbar even had TV sets in the restrooms. I could still watch ESPN even while going pee.

I had an amazing time at Fenway at my very first Red Sox game. I felt just like Jimmy Fallon in Fever Pitch with my own Fenway Family.  It would have been even more amazing if Lily could have been there with me. We would often meet at “home” – Fenway Park – in the city. Lily had to work, but we were able to facetime during the 7th inning when she was on a work break.

Of course the Red Sox won. I had the most amazing time of my life. I also had a little too much to drink, but it was Fenway and I was not driving. I rode the T back to the Cape and Lily picked me up at the T station.

I will admit I don’t remember a lot about that night, but Lily and her current girlfriend were still fine with me crashing on the couch the night before the race. They also had a bit of fun with me. When I woke up in th morning for the race, I had a bunch of Red Sox stuff written on me in red sharpie. I did not have enough time before the race to wash it all off. I had woken up late and needed to get to the start line. 

Waking up that morning before the race felt a lot like the scene in Garden State when he wakes up the next morning with stuff written all over him in sharpie. Lily and her current girlfriend took me in to the city and dropped me off near the start line for the race. It was one of the few times I actually had someone there to see me at the starting line for a race. Even though we were not “together” at the time, it was still nice.

That Red Sox game was one of the top highlights of my life. Even though we weren’t together at the time, she still knew me well. She gave me one of the best gifts ever. 

More than the game, thank you for the memories. 

Tales from my Surfboard is a series that remembers lives of people lost to COVID. Stay tuned for another installment … 

Medals 19 and 20

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Medals 19 and 20 have been earned! The 2021 running season was one of my best in nearly a decade. For the first time in my running career, I ran two half marathons in one month. While I have completed two half and/or full marathons in a year before, I have never done two in one month. My races have always been spaced several months apart.

This year, both races were virtual and I ran them roughly 6 days apart. I completed both races at the very beginning of November due to concerns about weather and some other things that were going on in life. 

My first race this year was supporting one of my favorite charities for homeless humans, Back on My Feet. Back on My Feet has chapters in several large American cities. I know of their program in Philadelphia.

My second race was the virtual Philadelphia Half Marathon, While I have officially completed the race, I am still waiting for my medal. They were supposedly sent out at the end of October.

The Philly Half was done in support of homeless animals. If you remember from my prior post about the 2021 running season, you could donate to the Humane Society in Honor of Jude, the ASPCA in Honor of Jolene or a small non-profit animal shelter in Honor of Simon.

I am especially antsy about my Philly medal not being here due to it’s meaning. 

In 2007, Philadelphia was my first half marathon. In 2008, Philadelphia was my furst full marathon. In 2021, Philadelphia was my 20th medal. Out of the 20 medals I have earned, 5 are from Philly. 

You just never forget your first.

So, I am anxiously awaiting receipt of medal 20. I will feel much better once it arrives. I have plans for the special medal as far as photos and display. 

This also brings me that much closer to my goal. Once I achieve 26 medals, I plan to “retire” from the professional race circuit. I will still run. I just won’t be as competitive or as adamant about earning medals.

I have already chosen my race for the 2022 running season. It is one that has been on my race bucket list for quite a few years now. 

The miles are in and complete. Medal 20 has been earned. Now I am just waiting for it to arrive. 

Running Season 2021

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It’s official! Training has started for running season 2021. It does not seem possible, as we are still in the grips of a deadly pandemic. Thankfully, the race for which I am training is virtual. It is way too dangerous and completely irresponsible for any races to be held in-person.

As we all know, the Philadelphia Marathon was my first half marathon and then my first full marathon. Of my 18 medals, 4 of them are from Philly. I love that race so much that their logo was tattooed on my arm in 2012.

When I originally got my tattoo, my intent was to have a star for each medal. Well, I have 8 stars and 18 medals. I do not see the possibility of adding any more stars to my tattoo. So now I have to be creative with the meaning of the 8 stars.

I have decided that I want the 8 stars in my tattoo to represent 8 medals from Philly, since it is the Philly logo that is the design. I currently have 4 medals from Philly, so I am half way there.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that this year for the first time, the Philadelphia Marathon has offered a virtual option! I can still run and do it safely!

I am currently registered for the VIRTUAL Philadelphia Half Marathon this November. I will be participating from my home area and using my Garmin to confirm my mileage and time.

My 19th medal overall and 5th medal from Philly will be coming this fall!

Training has started this week. I take longer to train due to my disability. I build my mileage more slowly and have more rest weeks built into my training schedule. 

I have always used my races to support some sort of charity. Whenever I have ran Philly, I typically support their homeless services programs. The city of Philadelphia has some of the most innovative programs to combat homelessness in the country.

This year, since I am participating virtually, I am fundraising for a cause near and dear to me – animal shelters. I am still running Philly for homeless services, but this year is for homeless animals, not homeless humans. The cats are the only family I have and my only goal in life right now is to be able to outlive them so that I can care for them and keep them all together.

Therefore, if you would like to “support” me in running the VIRTUAL Philadelphia Half Marathon this November, I ask that you do so in one of the following ways by making a contribution to a no-kill animal shelter:

  • Jude was adopted from a local Humane Society. If you choose to make a donation to a Humane Society near you in order to “support” my race, please do so “In Honor of Jude.”

  • Simon was adopted from a small, local non-profit animal shelter. If you choose to make a donation to a non-profit animal shelter near you that is not associated with either the Human Society or the SPCA, please do so “In Honor of Simon.”

  • Jolene was adopted from a local SPCA. If you choose to donate to a SPCA near you, please do so “In Honor of Jolene.”

Finally, I would like to bring your attention to a great program that gives beds to shelter beds that you can use in conjunction with any shelter. There is a USA company called Kuranda Beds that makes chew/scratch resistant, orthopedic beds for cats and dogs. Consider giving a shelter animal the gift of a good night’s sleep by donating a shelter bed so that they are not sleeping on a hard floor.

If you go to shelterbeds.org, you can choose a local animal rescue near you (Humane Society, SPCA, non-profit). Each shelter has a “wish list” of what size beds they need for their residents (ie. cat beds, large dog size, etc.) Choose a bed size on their wish list and checkout. The bed will be delivered directly to the shelter with a card saying that the bed came from you. It is a wonderful program that gives pets some comfort while they spend time in a shelter waiting to be adopted.

We have been overwhelmed with how much kindness total strangers from across the country and all over the world have shown us in the few months I was unemployed after losing my job. I would like to make my race this year as a way to give back for all the love and support we received.

My only wish in life is to outlive my cats so I can keep them together, cared for, and loved.

Please consider either adopting a furry friend or making a donation to your local no-kill animal shelter. I would be honored to “celebrate” my race this year with you by having donations go to shelters in Honor of each of my cats – Jude, Simon, and Jolene. 

Here’s to hopefully a safe, fun, and productive training season for my November race!

Life and Everything

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Birthdays are my favorite holiday. Every time I get one, it’s like a giant middle finger to the world that I was able to survive another year of what life threw at me. This past year has definitely been a doozy. I am so thankful to be alive. 

I am hoping that this year will be as great as my new number – 42. If you are a fan of Douglas Adams, you will know that 42 is the answer. It is also a great number for baseball. Well before it was International Women’s Day, March 8 was my birthday. 

Right now, my goal is to live long enough to see another birthday. I am really hoping that I get to see 43 with all three cats as well. Another significance of 42 is that my paternal grandmother passed away at age 42, well before I was born or even thought about. If I can make it to age 43, that will be huge.

Living in the middle of a pandemic definitely makes you take stock of life. I know that my priority is being able to outlive the cats so that I can take care of them and keep them all together. My second priority is to stay covid free. I am more scared of getting covid and “living” than I am of getting covid and dying. 

I am a marathon runner. Running is the most important thing to me, after the cats. If I get covid and survive, I won’t be able to run anymore. That’s not life. That’s just a jail waiting to die.

So I look at the cats, and my goal is to outlive them. Once they are taken care of, then it doesn’t matter what happens to me. These three are going to be my last. I’m not going to adopt anymore pets and then have to worry about what would happen to them when something happens to me.

Simon is the youngest of the three. He will be turning 5 in May. So, right now, my goal is to live about another 15 years so that I can outlive the three of them. To make it a nice round number that is easy to remember, I am hoping to be able to live to age 60. 

Given the decreasing life expectancy in the USA right now, I think that age 60 is a reasonable number. I just wish I could retire so that I could enjoy the last 15 years of my life. Unfortunately, that is not economically possible. I will be working until I die.

As difficult as things are, I am so grateful for this time I have had at home with the cats. We are all safe and get to spend quality time together. My only goal is to be able to continue this so I can take care of them. 

At age 42, I certainly do not have the answer to life, the universe and everything. All I know is my goal is to remain covid free and to be able to take care of my cats. At the end of the day, the only things that matter are the cats and running. 

So here is to another trip around the sun. Let’s hope I get the full ride. 

My Quarantine Life: Week 46

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We were able to get blueberries again!

Porch running during winter was a great idea. It definitely helped me to get some runs in on days when the roads were too icy to be out. However, the past few days and in the days to come, the temperatures outside are well below zero. I don’t mind running in the cold, but I cannot risk frostbite, as I have had frostbite too many times already. 

I have not been able to run for about a week due to the sub-zero temperatures and it is driving me nuts. Even though I keep the porch cleaned off, it is still frozen right now due to how cold it is outside. While I would say that my front porch is a safer surface for running than the ice laden streets right now, it is not a great idea.

I have been toying with yoga on and off for about 10 years. Yoga is a great exercise for runners to cross train. I have my own yoga mat. I have taken classes at some high-end yoga studios in a city in which I used to work. Hundreds of dollars later, I finally admitted that yoga classes were a waste of money. I was not able to do even half of what they were doing. I would spend 70% of the class just lying there “peacefully” on my mat. I was not about to pay $40 an hour to lay peacefully on a mat.

I tried a chair yoga class at a local fitness center that was a more affordable option. The instructor, however, was horrendous. The woman was like a military drill sergeant. You can read about that experience in the “my yoga pants went to yoga” post.

Since then, I have tried various yoga DVDs. I have mostly gotten them out of the library so that they are free. No cost involved was a much better option. I was even able to get some yoga DVDs from other libraries through inter-library loan. This was, of course, prior to the pandemic.

Since I do not have treadmill access to run and I am unable to be outside in sub-zero temperatures, I’ve been grasping at straws. MY gaze fell on my yoga mat. Again, I keep thinking I want to do yoga. The problem has been finding yoga that I can actually physically DO.

I asked around a few friends I know who do yoga for their recommendations. I did some research into various yoga DVDs that they recommended. I chose one and decided to purchase it. I figured I would only purchase one yoga DVD. If it didn’t work, then I would forever give up on yoga. I do not have money to burn on yoga DVDs.

I have the yoga DVD in question and it is excellent! I finally found a yoga routine I can actually do. Well, I can’t do all of it. I can do MOST of it, and I am okay with that. When I was trying to take in-person yoga classes, I estimate I spent about 75% of my time laying there doing nothing because the class was way too hard for me and 25% of my time actually physically able to do the activity.

The yoga DVD I have now I am actually able to physically do 75% of the activity in the yoga routine. Instead of just laying there for the other 25%, I am able to do a slightly different modification of the activity. So while I struggle with 25% of it, at least I am not just laying there.

This yoga DVD is one of the best purchases I have made. 

The past few days have kept me indoors due to below zero temperatures. I have been doing the yoga DVD everyday. It helps to be able to do something. I am still going crazy not being able to run. But the yoga DVD is bringing the crazy down from about a 10 to an 8. At least I’m able to do something.

The long range forecast looks like next week will be warmer – above zero. Let’s hope so. I’m going nuts stuck inside. Running on my porch works for days when the roads are too icy to be out, but I can’t risk frostbite on these frigid days.

How are you surviving this winter so far?

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Pandemic Winter Running

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Jolene in the cheese toy.

We have been getting a steady series of ice storms the past few weeks. I don’t mind snow. Snow provides traction. I can run and walk in snow. Ice poses extreme challenges. I do not balance well to begin with and ice is very hazardous for me.

One of the goals for the pandemic is to not fall down. When I fall, I have a tendency to get hurt. With the status of our health system, the goal is for me to need as little health care as possible. 

Last winter, I had a gym membership so that I had treadmill access for when it was ice outside. That all ended in March once I was put into quarantine and am still not supposed to be indoors with anyone else. That means I must run outdoors.

In trying to figure out my pandemic winter running strategy, I have felt a little like Goldilocks when she was trying out porridge. It has taken time for me to figure out how to safely run when there is ice outside.

Last week I was fortunate we had a brief warm up. I was able to run outside on December 30 for my last run of 2020. We have since been continuously pummeled with ice.

A few weeks ago, in an ice storm, I decided to run inside my house. I ran through the various rooms upstairs, This was a disaster. It was slow because there was a lot of weaving in and out of rooms and around items in the rooms. It made me dizzy because there was a lot of turning around. I only got 1 mile in on that “run.” Running inside my house was not going to cut it.

I thought about running around inside the garage, but the car needs to be in there for the men to come help me with the snow and ice. So inside the garage is out as an option.

Since running upstairs did not work out, I decided to do the opposite and try running downstairs. I figured the basement would be ideal because I could just run in large circles around the entire footprint of my home. 

While this was a great idea mentally – no dizziness, no boredom, it was a horrible idea physically. The basement has a concrete floor and it literally killed my knees. I was in pain for days after. I only got in 2 miles on that run. Basement running is out because my body can’t take the pounding.

A treadmill is out for numerous reasons. First, this house is over 100 years old. While everything is up to code, it is in the older end of code. I know that neither the electrical nor the flooring would be able to take the pounding of a treadmill. Second, I looked at treadmills online. They weigh at least 50 pounds. Even if I had it delivered to the house, I would not be able to get it inside and set it up. I am unable to handle anything more than about 20 pounds or so. Even when the cats’ Chewy boxes arrive, I have to open them outside and bring in the contents one at a time because I cannot lift the box to bring it inside.

With upstairs, the garage, the basement, and a treadmill all out, I was running out of options.

Then, somehow it dawned on me. I am not sure if it was inspiration from other people in quarantine across the world or what, but as I was looking out my front window at the ice covered street, I got the bright idea to run around my front porch.

The front porch is one of the reasons why I bought this house. I have a glorious front porch that fully spans the entire front portion of the footprint of the house. It is probably as large as both my living room and the cats’ play room combined. It is wood, so no concrete floor. It has a carpet on it, so no ice.

I ran outside on my front porch today and it was just right!

I successfully got in my first 3 mile run of 2021. Yes, I had to run circles around the porch, but it is large enough that it did not make me dizzy. I was sure to change direction every once in awhile like you do on a track. I was able to be outside in fresh air, which I love. While my running pace was a little slow, it was only about 30 seconds slower than if I had been running on the roads. So the fact that I was running in circles and doing frequent turns did not slow me down that much.

I can’t tell you how happy I am to have figured out my running in winter dilemma. 

I am pretty sure that the front porch took the pounding of my running fine. The front porch feels a lot more stable than some of the floors inside my house. Even if the front porch did have problems, it would be easier and cheaper to have the front porch floor repaired than the floors inside my house.

Not only did my run on the porch go well, but I also have a light on my front porch. So I will be able to run either before or after work, even in the dark, just by turning on my porch light. It will be a lot safer than running in the dark on the roads. Safety running outside is always a challenge this time of year due to daylight hours.

My pandemic winter running plan is to run outdoors on the roads as weather permits. As long as there is not ice, I can run the roads. If there is ice, I will run on my front porch.

Another plus to my front porch running was that it started to rain freezing drizzle on my run. Luckily, I was on the front porch, so the precipitation didn’t bother me one bit. I did not get any on me because I was on the porch. My footing was sure and I had a great run.

I have always said that as long as the cats are ok, I am ok. This is true.  My second saying is that as long as I can run, I am ok.  I am so glad to have figured out a winter running plan. If I can do my 3 miles a few times a week, then I know I’m okay.

Running on my front porch is just right. I didn’t get bored or dizzy, and the surface worked well for my body. As long as I keep the snow off the front porch (I do), then I do not typically get ice on the porch due to the carpeting there.

What strategies have you found for pandemic winter running?

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My Quarantine Life: Week 42

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My cats don’t know I have a disability. Or, if they do, they don’t care. They are well loved and have all their needs met.

Simon stays with me when I do the stairs to be sure I don’t fall. I’m not sure what he would do if I did fall, but he is always right there watching me. On days when I use my walker, Jolene sits on the rollator to take a ride. On good days I run. On bad days I roll. People don’t seem to understand how or why a marathon runner has a walker. Well, it all depends on if my spine decides to work correctly or misfire that day. Jude gives me a wide berth so I don’t trip on him or fall. He waits patiently for me to sit and get settled so he can sit on my lap or next to me on the couch.

All the cats know is that I am here for them and I love them.

In a horrible year, my only goal is to keep us together and for them to be happy. They don’t know we are in a pandemic. They don’t know there are widespread food shortages. I have more cat supplies on hand than people supplies. I always make sure their needs are met first. 

The cats don’t know I am terrified of losing my job. Our entire world would come crashing down if that happened because we would lose the house. This house is what’s keeping us together. I am medically unable to have the vaccine and am in the high risk group, so if I can’t work remotely, I don’t think I would be able to work at all. That is truly terrifying.

All the cats know is that they are warm, fed, and loved. At this point, my only goal is to fulfill their every need. I have to figure out a way to keep us all together and survive the next 15 or so years until they have all lived the course of their natural lives. I worry about what would happen to them if I die first.

We are incredibly blessed to have this time together at home. I am thankful everyday this year that I have been able to be home with the cats. In a horrible year, being able to spend time with the cats has been the highlight of my year. 

The vaccine provides hope. The vaccine is not a light switch. 2021 is still going to be a challenging year. I am unsure if things will ever go back to the way they were. I think life will just be different.

So many people are dying. It breaks my heart. It is so hard to deal with the pain. It is even more difficult when our “leaders” have decided that the economy is more important than human lives and they refuse to shut things down. 

When I get overwhelmed with how bad things are, I play with one of the cats. The fact that we are all together and have our needs met is what makes life worthwhile. 

We are so blessed to be together and that was the greatest gift this Christmas. My cats just love me. That could be because I feed them. But I know they love me. 

My only wish for 2021 is to remain safe and healthy (covid free) and be able to keep my job. My job provides for us to stay in this house together. Home is where the cats are. While everyone else is busy making New Year’s resolutions, I just want to live to see another Christmas. I want to be able to continue to run. I need to keep my family together. 

I’m hoping that our government will get themselves together to help us in 2021, but I am not holding my breath. This situation is going to get worse before it gets better. But for now, we are together. We have love. My cats love me no matter what. 

At the end of the day, love is all that matters. It’s what we need.

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My Quarantine Hat Trick

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Of course, my greatest hat trick in life are these 3 right here.

Consistency pays off. In 2020, it paid off for me in a huge way. 2020 is now my highest mileage year since 2015. I did not even race this year. I did not train. There was no marathon. There was no half marathon. I just did three miles at a time.

The year 2015 was the last year I ran a marathon. Of course, when you spend 5 months training to run 26.2 miles, it is a high mileage year. Then, in 2016, I was in the hospital. At first I was misdiagnosed with a stroke. Now we know it was just a very bad episode of multiple sclerosis. 

Last year, 2019, was very exciting because it was my first year back on the race circuit after my stint in the hospital and subsequent recovery. I did a lot of training last year to prepare for my half marathon comeback.

If you had asked me 6 or even 4 months ago if I thought 2020 would be my high mile year, I would have said no. I toyed with the notion last spring of doing a virtual race this fall. Then my hopes for even a virtual race were dashed because I did not have adequate access to food to train.

The doctor was not happy because between March and July I lost 15 pounds unintentionally. I have had a horrible time trying to get food in the pandemic due to severe food shortages. There was just no food to be had.

There was no way I could train for a race without adequate access to food. But I knew I needed to keep running. Both for my sanity as well as for the fact that running helps me to retain my mobility that MS threatens to steal. I kept running but only did 3 miles at a time due to nutrition.

From October 2019 to March 2020, I had a gym membership. The gym membership definitely helped. The first 3 months of this year I had access to a treadmill. I don’t mind running outside when it is cold. The thing that gets me is ice. I am a fall hazard on a sunny, 50 degree weather day on flat ground. I cannot run on ice. As soon as ice appears, I am stuck inside. 

Having the access to the treadmill for the first 3 months of 2020 definitely helped. 

Being quarantined since March, I have been running outside. I have consistently been running 3 miles a few times a week this year. 

Being in quarantine has helped me to be more consistent with my running this year. Running is my biggest coping skill. Especially in the pandemic, my mantra is that if I can run, then I am ok. 

Being home and not having to drive any place has been helpful to me in fitting in runs either in the beginning or at the end of the day. I actually have enough time to run without having to worry about a 30 minute driving commute. 

I was also able to better accommodate my disability in quarantine. I do not do well in heat. Not only has my MS cooling vest been an absolute life saver, but I have been able to time my runs for the coolest part of the day so I was able to run consistently through the summer. 

Sure, there were some weeks when the heat completely sidelined me and I could only run once in a week or not at all. But being able to work from home and not having to be out and about in the heat was definitely helpful in allowing me to maintain a higher level of functioning throughout the summer.

It’s been 5 long years since I have been able to join the 300+ mile club. I never thought that I would do it with just 3 mile runs. Consistency pays off.

In a horrible year marked by a pandemic and food shortages, I was able to run more miles this year than I did last year when I trained for and ran a half marathon. The achievement completely blows my mind.

Being in quarantine has definitely helped me to manage my MS better, which means that my level of functioning is higher than it was before. When I do not have to drive every day and go someplace, I am able to get more done. If MS has taught me anything, it’s that I can have the best laid plans, but then your body will be like “haha, not happening.” The 2020 quarantine has helped me to regain some control over my own body.

This week running outside has been difficult. We had a freezing drizzle for almost a week straight. Last week I only got in one run before the freezing drizzle started. That kept me inside because I do not do well on ice. I had a hard enough time getting to my mailbox. 

I have to have a winter plan since I no longer have treadmill access. I cannot go to a gym due to my quarantine. I am not supposed to be indoors with anyone else. I can’t even go to the grocery store. 

My plan for the winter is to just run circles around a room in my house. I heard of people doing that in small NYC apartments last spring during lockdown. I figure I can run circles inside my house to get through this winter.

The challenge with that scenario is that I have an old house over 100 years old. The floors are not able to take that kind of a beating. So this past Tuesday when it was freezing drizzle outside, I did run around the inside of the house. I had to do it very carefully and it was the worst experience ever. I only went one mile. 

But it was one mile. If I have to get through 2021 only doing one mile at a time, then so be it. 

But I would rather do 3 miles (or more).

For the record, the freezing drizzle / ice finally did melt this week. I was able to run outside Friday and today. I just have to take winter one day at a time. But I do know that if the weather is too slippery for me to run outside, that I can always run one mile inside my house.

My goal for 2021 is to do a virtual race. I do have one picked out. Now that I have better access to food, I am certain that I will have adequate nutrition to be able to train for a half marathon in the fall of 2021.

I still fully believe that I have at least one in-person full marathon left in me. Right now, I am thinking that the earliest I would be able to run a full marathon in-person safely is probably 2023. We will see how the pandemic goes.

But I know that running is in my heart. When I run, I feel closer to God. I know that God is telling me I still have at least one full marathon left in me yet.

I am thankful that I still have the ability to run. Whether it’s one mile or 3 miles, I will get there.

I am completely surprised that 2020 is my highest mileage year and that I was able to do it 3 miles at a time. This year has been the ultimate running hat trick for me. 

My only goals in life are to keep running and keep my cats together. In one of the most horrible years in history, I was able to reach a mileage goal. I’m still running this year. I won’t stop. I’m hoping 2021 mileage can top this one.   

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