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.