running

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Tonight's blog post is brought to you courtesy of the package of cream cheese that's trying to soften on my counter. My house is 60 degrees and this is taking forever.

I bought way too large of a can of pumpkin to make no-bake pumpkin cheesecake and was trying to figure out what I should do with the leftovers. Then I remembered I had an extra package of cream cheese and some leftover chocolate chips, so I decided that I could easily turn that into pumpkin cheesecake bites. And this is all rather amusing because I totally hate pumpkin cheese and yet willingly offered to make both of these things at the urging of no one.

Is this my personal attempt to ensure I don't overindulge on sugar this Thanksgiving? Maybe.

Or is it because canned pumpkin was ridiculously cheap this season and I missed the boat to bake pumpkin goodies this fall because I was barely home in October and need to make up for lost time? Probably. 

I don't even know how to update you guys or what to update you on since it's been so long since my last post. As I mentioned above, I was in Indiana about half of the month of October because I was away on a business trip and then a week later we hopped on a plane to spend several days in Arizona. Somewhere in between there I celebrated my birthday and we got a brand new kitchen floor after THREE failed attempts to get it installed (don't ask, I'm still salty about it).

But look at it! Isn't it pretty?


Please disregard my beat-up toenails. Your homegirl needs to get a pedicure tout suite. My feet have been through a lot this fall. They wore heels during the gala in Dallas, hiked in the grand canyon, and raced several miles.

Since we last spoke, I ran the Monumental Half Marathon and the very next weekend I ran the hilliest 10k of my life. Why? Because Danger is my middle name.

Actually, it's Alexis. But I digress.

My race is what I really wanted to talk about in this post because even almost a full month later, I'm still in disbelief over what occurred at the 2016 Monumental Half Marathon.

If you haven't been following along, let me recap the last year and more specifically, the last few months leading up the November 5th half marathon:

My running took a huge nose dive last year. As I was training for my 2015 fall half marathon, something just went wrong. I started feeling tired during my runs and moving my legs felt like trying to lift boulders off the ground. The harder I tried to run, the slower I got.

I saw several medical professionals over the winter and spring, but I was never given a true diagnosis. I didn't have a black and white injury, so I spent a lot of time and a lot of money on letting people take "educated guesses": My hamstrings are tight. My core is weak. My pelvis is tilted. I have scoliosis. I'm dehydrated. My veins don't pump blood properly (which was actually true, but didn't really affect my fitness).

So I've had a rather frustrating year. I could barely jog 3 miles this summer. I had to downgrade my spring half marathon to a 10k. I skipped my usual summer races. I stopped running completely for weeks at a time hoping my body would reset. Nothing helped.

Towards the end of the summer I started to see a light at the end of the tunnel. There was no rhyme or reason as to why things were starting to improve, but I could run just a little bit farther, easier.

So I cautiously signed up for the 2016 Monumental Half Marathon, telling myself that I wasn't going to miss my favorite race. I accepted that using a run/walk method was better than not participating at all. Even if I ended up walking all 13.1 miles, I was going to be there.

I tried to train to the best of my ability. I managed one or two 6 mile runs before my September and October calendar exploded.

I went had my vein surgery the second week in September and couldn't run AT ALL for fourteen days (not the smartest move when you're trying to train for a half marathon). Then the following week I was in Las Vegas for a conference.

Then I was in Dallas and Arizona in October.

Long story short, I never made it past 8 miles in this training cycle. My final "long run" ended up only being 3.5 miles.

So when I got to the start line of the Monumental Half, I had really low expectations. I never planned or practiced a run/walk strategy. I didn't know what to do. I felt the same nervous anticipation I do at every half marathon, but it was balanced by the disappointment of not being ready. For some reason I was really longing for the feeling of preparedness.

I started the race at an easy pace and begged and pleaded with my body to run the first four miles. I promised myself that if I could run the first four miles, then I'd walk if I needed to. My body didn't feel great, but it didn't feel bad either. I watched the runners in front of me and took in the scenery of downtown Indianapolis to keep my mind in the present.

After what felt like an eternity, I hit four miles. I took an inventory of my muscles and systems and decided to try and run to 5 miles.

Then 5 became 6.

Then 6 somehow magically became 7.

When I passed the Mile 7 marker I made a pact with myself: If I could run to the 8 mile marker, then I would try to run the rest of the race. It's funny because that never used to be a question. OF COURSE I would run the last 5 miles. Duh! No only would I run them, I'd probably run them even faster than the first 8!

I thought about this a lot during the race and had to fight really hard to push those feelings away. That isn't my reality right now. I hope and pray that it will be again one day, but I needed to accept where I was THAT DAY. And that day running 13.1 miles without walking would be a miracle.

As I passed the mile 8 marker, I hunkered down and started to dig deep. I used to be really, really good at pushing through pain, fatigue, and boredom. My mental running game used to be on POINT. But just like my speed and endurance, that toughness faded away over the past year. If I started to feel tired on a training run, I'd just stop. I didn't know how to run through it anymore.

By what can only be described as the grace of God, I did it. I ran all 13.1 of those freakin' miles. Around mile 11 or 12 I realized it was going to happen. If I could just hold on a little longer, I could proudly say that I ran the entire half marathon.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't start ugly crying when the knowledge that I was going to run the whole race swept over me. I'm sure spectators just thought I was in pain or shat myself or something horrible, but I hadn't felt that proud of myself in well over a year. I pulled my emotions together to finish the final miles, but I definitely crossed the finish line with fresh tears in my eyes. When I found Clayton waiting on the sidewalk, I buried my head in his coat and sobbed.

I didn't have to walk a single step. After months of struggling to run more than 30 minutes without stopping, I managed to run over 2 hours. Muscle memory is a powerful thing.

Honestly, I think taking it easy on myself and giving myself permission to walk was the kind of self love I needed to recharge my mental batteries and get through this half marathon. It's no secret that I am rough on myself and even when I wasn't consciously thinking of those bad things, those feelings were still there. They were in my heart, my mind, and my body. What an awful weight to carry around.

I crossed the finish line of my 11th half marathon feeling just as accomplished as those times when I set a personal record ... and probably even more so. I fought really hard for this personal victory. I earned it.

You guys, I ran a half marathon just 8 weeks after having surgery on my freakin' veins. I ran a half marathon after not running more than 8 miles since freakin' April. I ran a half marathon after over a year of tears, doubt, and horrible running. I freakin' DID IT.

And I'm just gonna keep going.

And I'm going to keep trying to be nicer to myself, and not just when it comes to running. I've learned a lot about myself this past year and it would be foolish to waste that experience by not taking it and turning it into something great.


Las Vegas

Vegas, baby

Tuesday, October 11, 2016



Wow. It's been awhile. I feel like I've lived a thousand lifetimes since I last wrote a post.

How are you? That, of course, being a rhetorical question because you can't really answer me right this second and it doesn't matter anyway because this blog is about me.

Goodness, could you imagine if I were that narcissistic in real life?

"Becky, I don't care about how your weekend was because I wasn't there and therefore it doesn't involve me and therefore it was boring and not newsworthy."

When we last spoke, I was recovering from vein surgery and making the journey home from Las Vegas.

I shall update you on both:

It's been exactly 4 weeks and a few days since I had my venous ablation. Once I hit the fourth week, I was officially DONE with wearing compression stockings. No more do I have to forcefully yank skinny jeans over thick, closed-toe hosiery on a 90-degree day. Gone are the days of trying to pretend like I'm not wearing thigh-high socks under my clothes and almost suffocating my butt cheeks because my legs are so short that "thigh-high" really means "crotch-high".

I seriously considered burning all of my compression stockings, but then I remembered I paid over $200 for those socks and figured I'd better keep them just in case compression hosiery suddenly comes in style (if nude hosiery every becomes a popular trend, consider me the next Giselle.)

How am I feeling? Pretty good. I honestly didn't have a miraculous change that allowed me to start cruising down the street like Usain Bolt, but my legs do feel a little lighter. I still have cankles (thanks, genes!), but my feet and ankles do look slightly less swollen. In short, venous ablation wasn't a miracle cure for my running, but it did prevent future problems with my veins.

As you may recall, I traveled to Las Vegas in September to attend a conference called Brand Manage Camp. The conference is a few days of keynote speakers from the world of marketing; including copywriters, branding experts, content specialists, market researchers, etc. I don't consider myself geeky about anything (mostly because I think that saying you're geeky about something indicates that the thing you love isn't cool. I'm sorry, but if you're passionate about something, anything, that in itself makes it cool. Period.) and ... where was I? Dang it. I hate it when I have a thought during a thought.

Oh ya: I don't consider myself "geeky" about anything, but if marketing and communications were the opening night of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I'd be the first one in line wearing a homemade Yoda costume and wielding a light saber.

Did Yoda use a light saber? Please don't correct me.

Long story short: I loved the conference. It fueled my fire to keep doing what I'm doing and reaffirmed that I made the right career choice (which is a huge sigh of relief when you consider my student loans).

Best part? I made friends!


I know, right? The introverted girl who is content to wander the Vegas strip completely on her own and read in her hotel room ended up hanging out with some cool marketing chicks from Pennsylvania

They were my favorite part of the trip. Even though they work in a completely different industry, our company structures share a lot of similarities (and communication obstacles) so we had no shortage of things to discuss.

One night we went to dinner in the Stratosphere and during our walk to the restaurant I got to fulfill an item on my bucket list: Take a picture in front of the hotel I was conceived in.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen. Yours truly was created in Las Vegas during one of my dad's engineering work trips back in 1985.


You're welcome, Vegas. 

But the Riviera hotel no longer exists. It's pile of rubble. Honestly, I think deep down inside the Riviera folks knew that they'd never be able to do better than one Ms. Courtney Alexis and decided to permanently close their doors.

It kind of made for an awkward photo, but I sent it to my mom anyway.





On my last night in Las Vegas, I decided to check out one of the Cirque du Soleil shows. Vegas has several varieties of Cirque de Soleil and since I didn't want to accidentally stumble into one of the naked Cirque shows, I decided to see The Beatles LOVE (plus, I was staying in The Mirage and it was literally 1,000 feet from my room).

The show. Was. AWESOME. I know all of the Beatles songs that everybody knows, but the show really made me appreciate some of their later music as well. The only time I felt a little anxious was was when they performed Mr. Octopus' Garden. I may or may not have been white-knuckling my chair's armrest whispering, "Okay, WHERE IS IT????" But I'm happy to report that there was not actually an octopus of any kind present during that number.

Both my mom and sister are HUGE Beatles fans (my mom even went to one of their concerts when she was a teenager), so enjoying their music made me feel a little bit more connected with my family back in Indiana. I'm glad I paid the small fortune for a ticket and went.

I'm also really happy that I got to attend the conference (I seriously learned SO much), but I wouldn't be upset if I never visited Las Vegas again. The city is quite underwhelming and unless you're there to party your pants off or spend a ton of money on tickets to shows, there's not much to do. It kind of feels like 24/7 forced fun. Like everyone acts like they're loving it but in the back of their minds they're really like, "This is kind of loud and smokey."

I did go on the hunt for Britney Spears at Planet Hollywood while wandering the strip. Of course the ONE WEEKEND I chose to be in Vegas is the ONE WEEKEND she decided to take a break. I held out hope I might catch a glimpse of her by the pool (I have no idea why I thought she might be in the vicinity. I'm sure she was back at her um, I dunno, mansion), but no dice.


I had to settle for taking a picture of a Britney Spears-themed slot machine (and sending a Snapchat to my sister-in-law of the crazy Britney Spears leggings you could buy in the gift shop). But it was fine because I then turned around and saw a Titanic-themed slot machine with Jack and Rose embracing on the top. I was like, "Okay, maybe Vegas does know me after all."

And honestly, it took everything in me not to go into Caesar's Palace and ask the front desk, "This isn't the real Caesar's Palace, is it? ... Did, umm ... did Caesar live here?"


One cool feature of The Mirage is the giant volcano out front that "erupts" a few times every evening. I wasn't aware of the volcano or the eruption until the first time it happened and I seriously thought the world was ending. While I was laying in bed and eating a giant soft pretzel with beer cheese (like a lady), my windows suddenly started rattling and it sounded like the earth was going to explode. I leaped out of bed and pulled back my curtains just in time to see a giant fire ball shoot in the sky.

That little heart attack was a nice way to start my week.

So that was Las Vegas. I just got back from Dallas this past weekend and gotta tell you all about that, too. Then I'm traveling to Arizona next week and Friday is my birthday.

I'm already tired.

Post-op

Saturday, September 17, 2016

If you asked me what I was looking at right now, I'd say that I'm currently looking through an airport Burger King and out the window at a sunny desert framed by large, sandy mountains.

I went from having surgery last week to being in Las Vegas.

It's been a weird week.



My surgery took place early Friday afternoon (and my doctor was fashionably late which did nothing to curb my anxiety) and within 4 or so hours I was back at my house, passed out in bed without a care in the world. I was so groggy from anesthesia that I slept for 15 hours straight, only waking up once to eat a few spoonfuls of chicken noodle soup and watch the first 10 minutes of Bring It On: All or Nothing (you know, the awesomely bad straight-to-DVD sequel).

Since both of my legs were wrapped in bulky bandages, I wasn't allowed to shower and pants were like, really hard. I had to wear my baggiest sweatpants and pretend like baby wipes were an adequate substitute for soap and water. I know I looked a hot mess.

Clayton left to get my prescriptions and thought he had left me tucked safely in bed. However, the second he left and I tried to close my eyes, my neighbor decided it was the PERFECT time to start working on his boat engine. I'm not sure what boat engines entail, but for whatever reason it required revving the motor at ridiculously loud decibels for MINUTES at a time. My bedroom window was rattling. I could literally feel the engine pulsating in my soul.

Now, I'm normally content to seethe in the privacy of my home or at the very least, write a super passive aggressive note to our HOA, but I was on some drugs and feeling the most tired I've ever been in my entire life. Not being able to sleep was NOT an option.

I staggered out of my house, half dressed and in all of my bandaged, post-op glory. My hair was half in a messy bun and half not, my hospital bracelet was still on my wrist, I had on no shoes, my sweatpants somehow got tucked into my bandages, and I was clutching the envelope of a get-well card that my brother and sister-in-law sent me (not the card, just the envelope).

I waddled down the sidewalk to this guy's house and stood at the foot of his driveway. He was too busy tinkering with his engine to look up (and he obviously could not hear me over the sound of his boat motor exorcising demons). So I walked all the way up his driveway and stood next to him while he fiddled with a screw driver.

"Um ... could you please NOT?" I shouted as loud as possible.

Oh my gosh, I startled him so bad! I partly felt bad for scaring him, but I mostly felt satisfied because this guy works on one of his many vehicles all day and all night to the point that Clayton and I joke that he must not like his family because he is never inside his house. I'm sorry, but I wasn't sorry.

"Hi. Ya. I just had surgery and I realllllllllllly need to sleep," I whined when he cut the boat engine.

He apologized profusely and immediately stopped working. I made some half-assed apology for interrupting his work, but then thanked him several times for giving me a few hours of quiet so I could sleep off my surgery.

Anesthesia really emboldens me.

I spent the weekend recouping at home and only left the house once so Clayton could let me hobble around the mall like a wounded soldier. My doctor stressed that I needed to be active and walk to promote healing and other doctorly stuff concerning my newly closed veins.

Going through something like surgery was definitely a reminder that I'm cared for, a LOT. Prior to my procedure, I got several texts of well wishes and talked to both of my parents before I went in. After surgery my sweet brother and sister-in-law delivered a pot of mums and the aforementioned card. My best friend made me cupcakes and brought bacon (I know, right!??). And one of my other best gal pals brought me a vase of beautiful roses and made Clayton and I dinner. I feel so lucky.



Recovery from venous ablation is pretty easy (or so I've heard). The procedure itself is minimally invasive and the down time is next to none. What threw my body for a loop was the removal of the varicose veins that left my legs pretty sore and bruised. I had veins removed on the backs of my knees and the surgical staples made it quite uncomfortable to bend and move (Clayton may or may not have had to lower me onto the toilet a few times).

The other day I found what I thought was a little string from my clothes near one of the incisions. I pulled on it, but quickly learned it was attached to the inside of my body and damn near fainted. I didn't know I had stitches and Clayton had to spend a solid ten minutes assuring me that it was actually a stitch and not one of my veins hanging out of my body. ("Court, they don't just leave veins hanging out of patients. This guy went to medical school for Pete's sake.")

I'm honestly a little surprised by how sore my legs are one week out. I'm hoping it's just from the bruises and their location along the bend of my legs and from those surprise stitches trying to dissolve. Sometimes trying to find a comfortable sleeping position is hard and sitting for a long period of time makes my legs REALLY uncomfortable when I try to stand back up.

The doctor asked me to walk as much as possible, but I cannot run for two weeks. It's been exactly 7 days of no running and it's killlllllllllllllling me. My legs already feel lighter and more energized and I'm practically chomping at the bit to get out there and see if this surgery helped my terrible running streak. I'm trying to be patient, but it's really hard. Simply walking and lifting light weights is not enough for this girl.

Surprised I was cleared to fly less than a week after surgery? Me too. But I told it was fine as long as I continued to wear these babies:


Yup, taking my flesh-colored thigh-high compression stockings across the country. Ugh.

Okay, my flight is getting ready to board and if I don't get a window seat, I will start a riot.

I'll update you on my Vegas trip in a future post.

Have a great weekend!

Surgery

Thursday, September 08, 2016


Hey, it's raining. Did you know that?

Apparently tonight's umpires didn't realize it was raining until we were almost through the first inning. Then they were like, "Hey, it's raining sideways. Maybe we should leave?" So the entire softball complex huddled under an awning until the director almost drowned in a puddle and decided to cancel the games.

Okay, that was a bit of an exaggeration.

I really wanted to play, but we were already losing, so I guess cancelling was for the best.

I love playing softball (25+ years and going strong!), but more than anything, I just REALLY needed the distraction tonight.

Why you didn't ask?

Because tomorrow I. Am. Having. SURGERY.

SURGERY.

And you know me: I have no chill (especially when it comes to being drugged and letting doctors touch me), so I'm having a hard time relaxing tonight.

One of the kind nurses at the surgery center called me this afternoon to go over everything (no food or drink after midnight, don't wear anything complicated like a corset or assless chapsyou know, the usual) and asked me a series of questions that made me start to really reconsider what I was doing.

Nurse: "Now I'm just going to ask you some questions that we have to ask everyone before they arrive. Firstly, do you have a will?"

Me: "Wow. You're just diving right in, huh? No, I don't have a will."

Nurse: "I figured. It would be really rare if someone your age had a will."

Me: "Wait, should I have a will? Why would I need to have a will for this? There's no time to get one now! But I plan on just leaving everything to my dog anyway and I'm pretty sure my husband already knows that so"

Nurse: "It's no big deal! I just have to ask as a formality. Now, do you take recreational drugs?"

Me: "No. People like me should not ingest in mind-altering substances."

I think I kept her on the phone about 10 minutes too long. I don't understand yes or no questions.

Right now I'm doing everything I can to distract myself so I can fall asleep tonight. Professional football officially started tonight, so Clayton is useless right now and I can't focus on my book. I've read the same page about 5 times now and have no idea what I just read.


I'm obviously nervous because hey, it's surgery and no one willingly wants to go through that, but I also know that part of me is worried that this won't be the true fix to my physical problems. Yes, I have venous reflux in both of my leg and yes, I absolutely need to have this done to prevent future problems (leg ulcers, anyone?), but what if this is in no way tied to my struggles with running? What if I come out of this and still feel the same? Then what?

Ugh.

I just ate some ice cream. That helped a little.

In addition to correcting my venous reflux, my doctor is also going to remove the varicose veins that are on the fronts and backs of both legs. I think that's the part I'm most excited about right now. I haven't worn shorts or dresses most of the summer because I've been wanting to hide my legs, so I'm really excited to get some confidence back.

I thought about posting a picture of my veins so you could see what I've been talking about all of these months, but then I remembered that the internet is forever and oh my gosh, what if Beyonce saw it?

If you're a praying person, I'd really appreciate the prayers for tomorrow. Prayers that I don't have a panic attack when I get there and prayers that I feel better. Prayers that the anesthesiologist is good at math.

Here goes nothing.

summer

Summer flavors

Monday, August 22, 2016

We're more than halfway through August and my end-of-summer anxiety is in full swing. As much as I love the fall season, I hate the end of summer because it means that in just a few very short months, winter will be upon us and I loathe winter. Shorter days? Longer nights? No, thank you. Ugh, I'm getting Seasonal Affective Disorder just THINKING about it.

I checked the sunrise/sunset times for this week and the sun is setting almost 15 minutes earlier than it did last week and I like, CANNOT.

Where has the time gone? Where did summer go? I'm racking my brain and can't for the life of me remember any summery things I've done over the past three months. Did I squander it? Did I even have a s'more? Was I too busy with things I can't even remember doing?

Time moves way, way too fast. I know everyone says that, but everyone says it for a reason: THERE IS NO TIME. THERE'S NEVER ANY TIME.

I gotta wash my hair. There I don't have time to study. I'll never get into Stanford. I'll let everyone down!

Sorry, I'm in full Jessy Spano mode right now.

Does anyone else suffer from panic attacks at the end of summer? Just me? Okay. Cool.

I guess you can say I did one pretty summery thing this summer: I made my own ice cream. The only thing more summery than making your own ice cream is going to sleepaway camp, but I'm too old and creepy tired to do that. So I had to settle with making my own frozen treats.

I spent this past weekend toiling over a pinewood bucket and churned cream I made with fresh milk from the cows in my pasture. (Translation: I mixed whipping cream with condensed milk and shoved it in the freezer for several hours.)

Several people shared a recipe for something called Unicorn Ice Cream and after the third or fourth time I saw it posted on Facebook, I decided to try it. It only requires a few ingredients and minimal effort, so it's a lazy girl's dream come true!

And sprinkles. It calls for a buttload of sprinkles.

There are a different Unicorn Ice Cream recipes out there, but here's the one I used. I only modified it slightly by using heavy whipped cream (more milk fat = sturdier cream) and an eyeball's worth of vanilla extract (any "eyeball's worth" is a unit of measurement I made up because I eyeball most ingredients). Plus, I didn't have the required gel food coloring and just used, I guess you'd call it, "regular" food coloring.



I won't bore you with details. All you need to know is that this is magical and you must make it. It tastes like the creamiest, smoothest vanilla ice cream you've ever had in your life.

The rainbow swirls and star sprinkles are so precious, you'll give yourself a headache from being near it. It seriously looks like it was made from My Little Ponies and the sound of children's laughter.

Again it needs repeating: You must make this.

My head is already spinning with endless flavor combinations to try. Fresh fruit? Yeah! Chocolate and peanut butter? Um, yeah! Oreo cookies? YES. Coffee? Yes indeedy!

The added benefit of making rainbow pastel ice cream: It makes for some pretty pictures!





Unfortunately my darling husband is on the Paleo diet, and I had to take one for the team and consume all of this ice cream by myself so he wouldn't be tempted. I am such a good spouse.

Before I sign off and watch another episode of Shameless before bed (we're on season 4!), I had to give you all one other update.

Remember the rug that I cancelled three times, bought, and then exchanged for something different in the end anyway? Remember how I blogged about it twice? Well, new development:

We love the rug (5th time's a charm!) and I think it compliments our decor really well. But I made the mistake of saying I liked it out loud and jinxed the whole thing because the very next day, after not even having it a full week, Joey barfed on it.

I couldn't even be mad. I had it coming.


Gosh, Courtney. Get a pedicure.

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