Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Blue Sunflower Interiors and Design

As I announced in yesterday's post, I have officially started my own company!!! WOAH... Who would have thought that at 24 I would have my own company?? I certainly didn't... So how did I get to this point?  It was quite the process with many months of being extremely unhappy.
    It's not been much of a secret that I don't like my current job, and haven't really liked it since I started 2.5 years ago.  I began to panic, wondering if this was what the Interior Design world was really like, rather than the glamorous version I had experienced in college.  I thought, well crap, if this is what it is really like then I don't want to do this for the rest of my life!  So I started researching possibly switching careers, going into something completely different.  Being able to land a job that had benefits, actually made a difference in someone's life, could feel like I had actually done something of meaning.  I was devastated to think that I was turning my back on Interior Design after pursing it for 6 years now! Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a quitter and yet I felt stuck, utterly trapped. 
   My poor friend Sabrina, listened to me brainstorming all these different options, being full supportive of whatever I decided to do.  The one field that I kept getting drawn towards was nursing.  My sister is a nurse and certainly has no problem finding a job, I'd like to think I'd be a really good nurse... not to toot my own horn or anything! ;)  So I decided I was going to go back to school and I was going to become a nurse.  I thought once I had made my decision I would feel relieved, but that wasn't the case, at all... The more and more I looked into it, the more I realized I'd be in school for at the very least another 3-4 years, especially since I didn't really need a lot of science classes as an Interior Design major!  I'm very financially aware and like to make sure that I can support myself, I consider myself frugal... some people might call it cheap... anyways, the thought of going into debt and moving back home didn't make the decision any easier for me.  My parents, being ever supportive, constantly were telling me that it's the perfect time for me to go back to school because I have no debt, no car payments and that I have them to fall back on for support, so why not just take the leap.  So my decision was made, but there was no relief to my anxious feelings.
     I called my sister Katie of ModlyChic, who lives in Boston to fill her in on the big change I was making in my life.  She was very blunt and said to me, "I didn't know you were the type of person that just gives up when it gets hard."  Let's just say I didn't respond well to that and our conversation ended shortly after that.  I was FURIOUS - how could she say that to me?!  So we didn't talk for a while... a few weeks later she sent me a link to a blog called Life After College.  I quickly opened up the blog, and the post that I read was all about how this girl was unhappy at her job and how it wasn't where she saw herself when she had graduated college and how she decided to take a leap of faith and start her own business.  So I'm sitting at my desk, crying, the tension of trying to figure out what to do finally got to me and I couldn't help but cry.  I texted my sister, telling her thanks so much for making me cry at work.  She quickly responded saying that that wasn't her goal, but that she thought the blog might be an inspiration to me.  Well... it was!  I spent the rest of the afternoon thinking of what my original goals were and where I originally saw myself after graduating. 
    My original goals were:
        1. Land an awesome job for a few years to gain experience
        2. Take my NCIDQ Exam - the licensing exam for Interior Designers
        3. One day have my own company
        4. Basically just loving life

   I cried even harder when I realized that I hadn't met a single goal of mine.  Somehow along the way of the "real" world, I lost sight of what I truly wanted to do!  How is that possible???  Truthfully, it's incredibly easy, just getting wrapped up in trying to make ends meet, being grateful for having a job when the economy is what it is. 
    So I sat there and started brainstorming on how I could possibly meet my goals, when I suddenly realized I could kill three of goals with one move!  So it dawned on me - it was time to start my own company!  A co-worker of mine and great friend and I would go back and forth all the time about starting a company together, but ultimately we are in two totally different stages in our life and it just never panned out.   Both of us are "recent" graduates, but I'm in my 20's and she is in her 50's - I know what an unlikely pair!  So once I had made this decision, I shot my Dad an email saying that I wanted to dinner with him and my Mom and that we had to go out because I had something important I wanted to discuss with them and I knew that if we just did dinner at home with my 6 younger siblings, I would never be able to get out what I wanted to tell them.  I think my Dad was intrigued!

   We met for dinner on a Friday night, and I have never been so nervous in my entire life!  I probably put a little too much store by what my parents think, but I knew that if I was ever going to be able to pull off having my own company I truly needed my parents support!  So I sat there barely eating - of course which my mom commented on - and wringing my hands trying to tell them how I got to the decision and that No I was not going to go back to school, unless it was to take a few classes here and there to improve my Interior Design skills.  I got my entire speech out and suddenly my parents started talking about something completely different, like I had mentioned the weather!  I looked back and forth at my parents not believing their reaction!  So I stopped them and asked them if they could rewind and go back to the reason for the dinner because I would like to know what their thoughts on the subject were... My mom being the practical woman that she is, just asked me about the logistics and how I was going to go about doing this, once that was explained she told me that she thought it was the right move! Woahhh... one down, one to go!  Now Dad,  his response probably shocked me more than my mom's.  He told me that he knew I was going to tell them this and that he knew I didn't really want to go back to school.  That I am talented at Interior Design and that it would be a shame to throw away that gift/talent.  He also said that the same reasons it would be a good idea for me to go to school are the same reasons it is a good time for me to try my hand at owning a company!  What do I have to loose?  He then asked what I needed from them, how much money to get me started?  Umm... what?!  I laughed and said that all I wanted was their support and to know that I am not 100% crazy!  He assured me that I more than had their support and that he was so proud of me for making this decision.

    Once this decision was made and my parents were on board I felt this pressure lift off of my shoulders! Now, don't get me wrong, starting my own company is terrifying but somehow it feels like it is the right decision, I'm so much happier!  I am insanely busy now between working at my job and trying to build a client base and get this company up and running, but I can honestly say I KNOW I made the right decision!  Whether or not I am extremely successful at this or not, remains to be seen, but I know that I will learn so much about the field, about myself and about business in general.

   Thank you all for your support along the way, it means so much to me!  Don't forget to like my facebook page: Blue Sunflower Interiors and Design

Monday, December 12, 2011

Woah Life! - New Happenings

Hello Everyone!!!  It has been a dreadfully long time since I posted anything and I am sorry!  So much has been happening in my life that I haven't had a chance to breathe let alone write a blog post! Sheesh!  So... I think some updates are in order!  Let's rewind a few months...
    August - I went to Spain as a chaperone for WYD -  the most incredible experience of my life!  To see that many people was unbelievable and I sincerely hope that all of the girls that I took had some life changing experiences!  Basically it was 3 million Catholics from all over the world embracing their beliefs and learning so many things from people from all over the world!  We met people from Ireland, Spain, Italy, Alaska, Haiti and many more countries!  The weather was unbelieveably hot and we did our best not to get dehydrated!  Thankfully we didn't have any run-ins with the medical tents set up all over the place.  We also got to make day trips to Toledo and Segovia!  Me, being such a fan of architecture and history absolutely loved Toledo!!! 
Toldeo Architecture!
    With Architecture like this how could I not love it!  Look at the details!! Incredible!!

September and October completely blew by!!! October brought a HUGE change to my family though... my brother, Peter decided to join the Marines.  So we decided to throw him a going away party, which we dubbed a Patriotic Halloween!  It was ALOT of fun and temporarily took our mind off of the fact that he was leaving us. 

From Left to Right: Peter - Marine-in-training, Colton - Bear's fan, Monica - Wonder Woman, Joe - Army Soldier, Mom - Statue of Liberty, Sam - Captain America, Dad - Supreme Court Justice, Amanda - Miss America, Tom - GI Joe, Nick - Uncle Sam, Me - Rosie the Rivetor
We certainly know how to have a good time, and since Halloween is my Mom's favorite Holiday, she really got into the party!  We probably had close to 50+ people that came to celebrate and wish Peter good luck!  He left for bootcamp on Halloween, it was a very emotional goodbye considering we are a VERY close  family and it is a very unusual thing for us to go so long without talking to each other.  He is gone for 3months and can only receive letters!  CRAZY!  We've heard from him a few times, and he was definitely having a rough time in the beginning but he sounds in better spirits now than when he first started thank goodness.  From the sound of his letters it sounds like it feels like Christmas every time they finally get their mail.  Each of the siblings have picked a specific day to send him a letter, so that theoretically he would get a letter daily... However, they don't actually get their mail daily, for whatever reason they hold onto it for a little bit... His last letter he said that they had finally passed out the mail and he had 28 letters!!!  Apparently we are really good at writing letters or they really have held onto the letters for a LONG time!  We are looking forward to Christmas because he might get to call home for 5minutes!  It will be nice to hear his voice!

   November - was a whirlwind month as well!  Where does the time go!?  Throw work and the Thanksgiving holiday into the mix and it was insanely busy!  I ran the Hot Chocolate race - had a blast and I must say, the after party with the amazing Chocolate was incredible!  It was awesome!
We DEFINITELY run for Chocolate!
It was a really fun experience but man was it cold!  Later on in the month I also did a cafe crawl with my tri-team, we run from place to place, such as Einstein Bagles, Jamba Juice and Panera, and run a 10K in the process!  It's a great way to get in some exercise, eat some yummy food and hang out with friends!  

   I also, finally, made an appointtment with an allergist! Thank goodness.  It is quite the process to figure out what you are allergic to! Have any of you ever done it?  They start by marking your arms with lines, counting from 1 all the way up to 50 and then they prick your arms 50 times with different things, such as dog, cat, ragweed, trees, etc.  The second the nurse pricked me with the one for cat I wanted to scratch my arm off! It itched so bad!!!  After they put the 50 items on your skin you have to sit there for 20 minutes without scrathching!  Do you have any idea how hard that is when you can tell you are clearly allergic to alot of the things that are now on your arms?!  If you are allergic, your skin reacts like it has a mosquito bite and then it gets red all around it.  About 10-15 minutes into it, the nurse comes back in and looks at my arms and smiles.  Then she asked if the Dr. had been in to see me, when I responded that no he hadn't she said that she would go find him because I was having such significant reactions that she didn't think we needed to wait the full 20 minutes!  I'm still not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing!  So Dr. Miller came in and looked at my arms and laughed and goes, WOW, You are clearly allergic to just about everything!  Great... just what I wanted to hear... Apparently I am allergic to everything outside from the start of Spring all the way until the first frost! I am allergic to dogs, cats, dust mites, ragweed, trees, grass, and the list goes on and on.  Then we did a breathing test followed with another round of allergy tests.  These tests are actually tiny shots, really going into the skin!  Thankfully needles don't really bother me - I think it's because my sister is a Nurse and would practice IVs, etc on us!  So we are in the process of getting it all under control for me, YAY!!! Hopefully this mean that I will really be able to blow some of my previous race times out of the water now that I will be able to breathe!  But being allergic to all of those outdoor things make complete sense as to why my first trail run was HORRIBLE this summer!  No wonder I couldn't breathe or get my heartrate under control!
    Thanksgiving week is always a blur - we celebrated with my Dad's side of the family at my parents house on Thanksgiving day, followed by my Mom's side of the family on the Friday after Thanksgiving!  It was super busy and exhausting but so much fun to be able to hang out with the family!
    December - Woah, is it really december already?!  Time really does fly when you are having fun... or I guess really busy!  The end of November/beginning of December brought my sister Katie into town.  It's always exciting when she gets to come in, since she lives in Boston and we get to see her about every 6months!  She came into town to visit but to also teach a few classes at our old HS and help out with a fundraiser called Schoolhouse Swap!  It was an awesome event, where girls could pay $12 and bring a bag of gently used old clothes to then swap.  There were vendors that were set-up to sell a variety of items to the people that were waiting to get into the swap.  My sister and I had a booth for our etsy store: BambooBlue - we sell Hobo Sling Bags, basically amazing purses! Just sayin... Once the swap room is set up you get to rummage through all of the other items that were brough in and you get to take as many or as little items as you want!  It was a lot of fun!
Amanda and I looking at the swap items!!

Posing for the camera at the swap!
It was a great event, and it was entirely profit for the school, it was a little smaller than I think they were hoping for the first event but hopefully it will catch on and it will become a regular event!  Who doesn't like new clothes and helping out a good cause?!  While Katie was in town, it just so happened that the 5K Santa run was the same weekend!  It became quite the event!!  It was our sister Amanda's first ever race, and what a race it was!  Just by registering you get a 5-piece Santa suit to run in!  Let me just say... it's quite the site to see thousands of people walking/running down the streets in Santa suits!  It was by far the most fun race I have ever participated in!
We decided to write on the backs of our Santa suits... Mine said, "Meet me under the Mistletoe" My back is actually in the official race photos... haha so fun!
    We all survived the race and I think we have a new runner in the family!  Amanda had a blast but told me I wasn't allowed to pick up the pace because she wanted to stay together with us all!  Our cousins ended up coming out from the city to run it with us!  We had 7 runners all sporting our awesome new Santa suits!
The family of Runners!!! Way to go everyone!!
That night I had my second annual Tacky Christmas Sweater party!!! It was a blast and let me just say there were some pretty tacky sweaters in the mix!  I was excited to be able to have Katie be able to come this year, although we missed Pete this time around!

Look at those sweaters!!
WOW... no words can even describe the beauty of these sweaters!
That essentially bring us up to date with what has happened in my life... well actually... I didn't mention the biggest change in my life, mainly because it deserves an entire blog entry in and of itself... but I will let you in on it a little bit before I blog about it... drumroll please...
    I have officially started my very own INTERIOR DESIGN business!!! More on that in tomorrow's post!  It is called Blue Sunflower Interiors and Design, like it on facebook, here.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Muncie... FAIL

   Most of my loyal readers know that I am a pretty positive person, atleast I hope you can get that from my posts, but every now and then something happens that just makes it hard to be positive.  So pardon me if this post is more complaining and being positive, I'm going to try to be positive, but thought it only right to give you fair warning... That being said...
    As many of you know, I have been training HARD for my Muncie 1/2 Ironman, which was this past Saturday.  I have worked on my strength, watched what I've been eating and drinking and trying to make a good go at it and be injury free!  Jose is basically my miracle worker/ magician, he has strengthened me and gotten me to be so much stronger!  I no longer have knee pain or back pain, of which I can only thank him for that!  Sunday, July 3rd, I ran our local 10k race, its become the one race that my Dad and I do every year without fail.  Because of my knee injuries/problems, my Dad has beaten me every year!  It's become a little bit of a competition and the pressure seemed way more intense this year since I have been training so hard for this 1/2 Ironman.  Somehow, my Dad and I convinced my Mom, younger sister and my brother to run the 5k.  None of them had done a 5k before and it was a pretty big deal.  We all started together and then my Dad and I got into our rhythm and off we went.  Suddenly I realized that my Dad wasn't by me any longer, he was behind me, I couldn't even see him... that's weird!  That NEVER happens!  Should I slow down, or should I just keep trekking?  I figured, ehh, every man for himself and off I went!  We have 2 neighbors that also run this race and Tim (multiple time marathoner - pretty fast too) passed me around mile 4, then Mr. Thornton was on my tail, we played a little game of leap frog as I stopped to grab some water from my brother who showed up on his bike to cheer us on.  I am definitely a run/walk runner and so I'd pass him, to then have him pass me.  We did this for about 2 miles.  Finally right at the end, I always sprint in to the finish, so I kicked it up and off I went!  I ended up finishing before him and my Dad!!!  My first solo running race in 3 years that I didn't have any knee pain, I was ecstatic!  I couldn't believe I finally pulled it off!  My Dad ended up finishing about 5-6 minutes after I did, so it wasn't just my foot crossing before him! GO ME!!!
All the finishers in my family!!!

   On the ride home, I sent Jose a text message to tell him the good news!  I was literally on cloud nine!  But then something happened, and still I wish I knew what it was... but I got home and climbed out of the car and had a weird foot pain, I didn't really pay much attention to it because I just figured my foot was sore.  Then my brother's and I went to my friend's lake house and  hug out there for the day, I didn't do anything crazy strenuous at all, played a nice game of volleyball and just chilled on the lake front all day.  As the day progressed though, that weird foot pain increased and before I knew it, I was limping by the end of the day! WHAT?!  My brothers of course noticed immediately and I told them not to tell my parents, I knew what they'd say, and NOTHING was going to keep my from my 1/2 Ironman! 

   But, no matter how much I wanted to hide the limping, I couldn't do it.  Of course my Mom asked me what was wrong and I tried to play it off as if nothing was wrong.  I just made sure I iced it regularly and figured I'd be fine, thankfully my Dad took my side and agreed (atleast at first) that I didn't need to get it checked out.  Thankfully I work in a cubicle, where I am basically chained to my desk, so I didn't really have to be up and about. At lunch however, we always take a lap around the pond and just that slight walk had me limping and wincing in pain.  As the week continued, I started to panic, my foot wasn't getting any better and now the 1/2 Ironman was right upon me... What do I do!?  My Mom was still pushing for me to go get it checked and my Dad jumped on that band wagon and decided that before I race on it, I needed to know what I was dealing with.

    So Wednesday night, I went to the hospital to get x-rays, which was basically a HUGE waste of time.  The xrays came back saying that I didn't have any bone spurs but that they couldn't completely rule out a stress fracture because those sometimes aren't seen on standard xrays.  They said that it was probably just a strained tendon or ligament and that of course I should stay off of it and ice it.  I went to my parents house afterwards feeling pretty depressed and defeated, how could this happen a week before my race?!  I didn't do anything abnormal, so how did this happen?!  My Dad suggested that I go test it out and go for a ride and a run before I made my decision on the race.  So I hopped on my mom's bike and went for a 5mile ride, and felt OK, but felt that I slightly had to adjust my pedaling... great... Then I dropped the bike off and went for a mile or so run, which was HORRIBLE!!!  Every time my foot hit the pavement, it felt like a nail was slamming up my foot into my ankle.  Great, now what do I do?  Pull the plug on my A race for the year or just suck it up and do it?  Once I got back to my parents house, it took everything within me to not start bawling my eyes out in defeat. 

    Thursday came around and my foot still wasn't feeling any better and I had to make my decision.  Since Muncie isn't very close to me, I had to decide if I was going to go so that if I wasn't I could cancel my hotel reservation.  I got such mixed responses from my friends, some thought I shouldn't do it and why was this even a debate or a question, others thought that I could push through it and would regret it if I didn't race.  But of course no one could make the decision but me.  I'm stubborn a DNF is not something I am willing to have on my record, so if I started the race, you better believe that I was going to finish it, but is that even remotely smart?  What if it is something more serious and this race ends my racing career? Am I ready to sit on the side lines for the rest of my life when I am only 24?

   So after weighing all of my options (and trust me... I did weigh them all), shedding many tears and eating WAY TOO MUCH Dairy Queen ice cream, I decided to sit this race out.  This is my first race EVER that I have sat out due to an injury, typically I just push through.  But an Ironman race, be it a 70.3 or 140.6, you need to be on the top of your game because it is so physically demanding and strenuous.  So it's true, I'm having a pity party weekend, have shed way more tears than seems normal for a race and am feeling utterly defeated.  I know, its just one race, there are many others but I'm still upset.

   I am so proud of all of my Suburban Multisport teammates that participated in the race!  You are all an inspiration to me and I appreciate all of the support you have all given me!  Thank you Cathy for picking up my race packet and t-shirt for me! 
As my Dad said, it's the most expensive shirt I've ever bought and I deserve it just for all of the training I did.

  So, what now?  What does this mean?  My Dad always says that one of the things he likes best about me is my resiliency, that I seem to hit a bunch of obstacles that set me back for a second or two until I figure out how to overcome them.  So that's what I'm going to do!  I've had my pity party weekend, and now I'm done!  I am not going to loose sight of my goals, I am still going to keep my sight set on my full IM race next summer!  I am going to train hard and make sure that this doesn't happen again!  I'm going to listen to my body, I am going to train hard with Jose and I will not let this hold me back.  I WILL BE AN IRONMAN!!! or IronWoman!!! 

  Thank you all for the support, it means the world to me and keeps me going when I feel defeated!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Race Recap: SheROX!!!

   I don't care if you are a beginner runner/triathlete or a Olympian, when you get to race day in your head you have an idea of how you want to perform.  Maybe you have a specific time goal in mind, maybe you want to beat a previous record for the course, maybe you just want to finish and finish well.  And if the race doesn't go like you thought it would, it can lead to some disappointment.  As a Warning... That's kind of how I feel about my performance yesterday... So bare with me as I describe what happened!

   Last year, this was my first triathlon EVER!  I was BEYOND nervous and truly was just out to finish the race and see what happens.  This year, I went into the race thinking of it as a piece of cake since I am currently training for the Muncie, IN 1/2 Ironman race on July 9th! EEK!  I was feeling very confident, and actually wasn't that nervous (which is impressive since I get nervous before EVERY race).  I've been training hard for Muncie and Jose has been pushing me to do things I NEVER thought I'd be able to do - pull-ups for example! Dang those things are hard!  But in the back of my head I am very nervous about Muncie and wonder if I can do it.  I can do each of the three parts, but together... who knows!  Anyways, I was looking at yesterday's race as a decent way to gage how I am feeling about Muncie... if I was SUPER sore after this race then I have a problem, if I couldn't complete it, then I am SO NOT ready for Muncie.  I was also hoping that it would be a confidence booster for me, that it would calm my fears a little bit and I'd feel more confident about Muncie... that didn't happen!
    It's race morning and I am up bright and early, getting pumped up to go! Everything was laid out the night before, just had to get dressed, eat something, load my bike and away I go!  Mistake #1... I spent the night at my parent's because my Mom wanted to come with me to cheer me on.  I am VERY allergic to our dogs, and as a result they aren't even allowed in the room I sleep in... EVER!  So I took an allergy pill before I went to bed and when I woke up I could tell that I was wheezy! Ohhh great...  So we drove to the race and I went to set-up my transition.  I took my inhaler at this point because I knew I wasn't allowed back into transition until after I had done my swim.  Which means I took my inhaler 2 hours before I started exercising and it is ideal to take it 30 minutes before exercising... Mistake #2... My wave finally was allowed in the water and we are all getting pumped up like crazy!  And I had put my swim cap on and my goggles on top of my head... We were waiting for a while so when they finally blew the air horn, I just dove right in! Immediately realizing that I left my goggles on top of my head! CRAP!  So I had to stop and put them on!  And of course then I had water in them! Sheesh!

Can you see my waving and my goggles on my head?
       So I finished my Swim but felt very off,  very phlegmy (sorry to be graphic) but I booked it to my bike and threw on my shoes and took off!  My bike felt incredibly SLOW! I put my heart rate monitor on after the swim and my heartrate was 173!  I couldn't get it to drop below that the entire bike ride!  It felt so labored and like the longest ride of my life.  I thought maybe I should stop and take my inhaler because I was having issues breathing but chose to keep treking on... that was Mistake #3!  I finally finished the bike and saw my Mom right at the bike dismount and she asked how I was doing... I lied and said, "GREAT!"  I dropped my bike off and took off running... within a few minutes I had to walk, I could not catch my breath!  My heartrate was over 175 now! So I was hoping walking would make it drop down... Not a chance!  The first mile was brutal, a crappy combination of walking and running trying to regulate my breathing... I know, Stuipd that I didn't stop and take my inhaler for 2 seconds.  But the thought of a "rescue inhaler" makes me think I should only use it if I am having an asthma attack... and I wasn't... atleast not yet...  So I didn't take it, I just kept trekking along!  But now I was pissed! The race hadn't gone anything like I thought it would and I was frustrated!  So I sucked it up and started really running!  My last mile was by far my fastest!  About a 1/2 mile out I came up behind two of my Suburban Multisport teammates and shouted, "Let's go Suburban Multisport!" and then zipped past! I suppose I should have stayed back and finished with them, but I was on a mission! I had to redeem what I could of the race! So I finished:

I'm pretty pumped!

      I then waited at the finish line for my teammates to run in and cheer them across the finish line!  I'm pretty sure my Mom was very confused why I didn't come over to her right away!  So they crossed and there were hugs all around!  It was very fun!

Susan and I after finishing!
    So, once I walked over to my Mom, just from talking to her she could tell that I was having issues breathing and made me take my inhaler immediately!  My heartrate finally started to drop and I could breathe better! So Memo to Self: The second you think you should/might need to take your inhaler, Do it! DO NOT WAIT!  I am disappointed for a few reasons:  My race didn't go as planned, my bike and run sucked, I wanted to beat last year's time and I didn't.
   But I am going to think of the positive things, such as:
  •  I placed 16th in my Age Group
  •  I took 235 overall out of 1468 (which I think is pretty good, considering!)
  • The run course was different this year (I'm convinced it was longer) and the first place finisher finished in 1:10, I was only about 20 minutes behind that, where as last year I was 30mins behind 1st place.
  • My mom was there to support me and now wants to try it herself!
  • I had a great time visiting and celebrating with my teammates!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Dangers of Marathons... Do you agree?

   As you all know, I am a HUGE fan of endurance sports, specifically Marathons, 1/2 Marathons and Triathlons.  I feel like I have truly accomplished something when I complete one of these races.  But in the back of my head are the horror stories of people who collapse on the course and die.  Just a week or two ago a 22 year old died while running a 1/2 marathon in Chicago!  My heart goes out to his family and friends, who were probably waiting at the finish line for him to celebrate his victory over 13.1 grueling miles, never suspecting that they'd end their day in the hospital.  How terrifying! 
   My Dad and I constantly email articles back and forth about running, different races we want to run and even our own personal race goals.  We are each others running partners and when I run with my Dad it is never about beating each other (although he does like to brag that he has beaten me ina few races due to my knee issues).  So today I opened up my email to see an article from him about Marathon Running and how it leads to an increased risk of heart failure.  Oh great... Is this him sending me a subtle message?  But I read the article and would like to know what you think!

Here's the link: Healthier Talk

   So I want to know...
  1. Do you agree with the article?
  2. Does it change your mind about running these long distances?
  3. Will you continue to run Marathons, 1/2 Marathons, Ultramarathons?
  4. How far is too far?
I'm just very interested to see what you think about this.  It was an eye opener for me in many ways and is certainly something to think about and consider!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Weekend Recharge

     I don't know about all of you, but life has been so busy lately that I have had almost NO down time.  Normally, I like to be busy, but lately I've been so busy that I am feeling very overwhelmed!  Hence the problem with suddenly having a fork in the road and not knowing what to do!  This past weekend, was my last weekend without something going on from now until the end of August!  And let me tell you... Man did I take advantage of it!
     I apologize if it sounds like a boring weekend, but it was much needed!  Friday night, one of my co-workers and good friend had an Art Show in Downtown Palatine.  She is unbelievably creative and talented and has started her own small company on the side called Empty Canvas Art and Design, check out her work!  So a co-worker and I went to support her and then went a drink with her afterwards, it was so nice to relax and just hang out with my friends!

    Saturday, I had a very productive work-out day! After being at the gym for 3 hours or so, I figured it was time to go home and chill out.  So I showered and then got ready for Mass, after mass I headed to the redbox to pick-up a movie and then to the grocery store to pick up something for dinner.  I pulled into the grocery store parking lot and as I was walking into the store, I looked over my shoulder at my car, for whatever reason and realized that I had a flat tire!! CRAP!!!! Well... let me re-phrase that, not completely flat but certainly low...WAY lower than it should have been...It's always something isn't it?!  So I walked into the store and pulled out my phone to call my brother (He's a BMW technician and handles ALL of my car problems!), plus he works less than 5 minutes from my apartment. Naturally he didn't answer.  So I called my other brother Peter, who works as a Porter at the same place Tom the technician does.  He actually picked up! YES! But he was on his way to his friend's lake house and wasn't anywhere near me.  Since I said it wasn't that flat that I couldn't drive on it, he told me to drive home to my parent's house and switch cars.  Which probably would have meant our lovely 12 passenger van... HAHA... right... I don't think so!  So I told him I was just going to go home to my place, and that I thought I could drive home to my parent's the next morning and would probably be fine... hopefully!  Now you are probably asking why I didn't just put on my spare tire, which since I drive a Jeep Liberty is a Full spare tire anyway!  And yes, before you jump to any conclusions or stereotype me, I do know how to change a tire... In fact, the girls in my family were never allowed to even ask to get our license until we knew how to change a flat! Thank you Dad! But I was already driving on my spare, because the seal was bad on another tire and I had to switch them... so I had NO tire to switch too... awesome!  So I went home and made myself a fabulous pasta salad and brats for dinner and popped in the movie The Tourist.  Tom ended up calling me while I was making dinner and said that he'd try to stop by.  He called me a few hours later to say that he and my Dad would definitely be coming over.  I began to panic that maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought and they'd just laugh at me and say, "Em, you just need to fill your tires.." But sure enough they came over and they were shocked at how bad my tire actually was!  I managed to split the tire wall (I think that's what they called it...). My Dad was suddenly very concerned about me driving on it at all, convinced that it was going to blow out... great, even better!  So my relaxing night at home turned in to me going home and spending the night at my parent's with my Dad driving slowly behind me to make sure my tire didn't blow!  But don't you worry... I made sure I had a BIG BOWL of ice cream once I got there! Shh... Don't tell Jose!

   Sunday morning, I woke up and had breakfast with my family and then my Dad and I went over to NTB.  They said I needed two new tires! Thank goodness!  I was fully expecting to have to get 5 brand new tires! So my Dad and I walked home and then got ready to go for a bike ride.  I needed to get a longer training ride in and so I went for a ride with my mom first, 20 miles or so, then I came home dropped her off and picked up my Dad and went for another 20 miles!  Let me tell you... I am certainly rocking some sweet tan lines from my watch, tri-shorts and my bike gloves... thankfully they don't look as bad today... Then I got home and my car was ready!  I picked it up and then went to the pool to cool down and swim a few laps!  It was a great way to end the day!

  Life never seems to go like I have it planned in my head, so I am getting really good at rolling with the punches!  Not the relaxing weekend I envisioned but I am so grateful it happened this weekend, rather than a weekend where I have a bunch of things going on!

Special Shout out to my Little Brother and Baby of the family who turns 9 today!!! Happy Birthday Nick!!! I LOVE YOU!

Friday, June 3, 2011

There's a fork in the road...Don't Crash!

  Have you every experienced that moment in your life where you hit a fork in the road and you just come to a complete halt?  You look down both directions and you know that as soon as you set your foot down and start in a direction there is no turning back and your life is about to be forever changed.  And so you stand there with this internal battle going on inside your mind, left or right? Left or right? You can see that the fork that goes to the left has another fork down the road that is equally as important as the first decision to go left or right.  Then you look to the right and you see a straight path for as far as your eye can see, no variation, it's the "safe, comfortable" path, but it's also the path you have been on for a while that you hate.  What do you do?

   Well, I've hit that point in my life.  My sister likes to call it our quarter life crisis, which I'm ok with since that means I get to live to be 92, which is just fine by me!  But I have NO IDEA what to do, well take that back, I think I know but I am terrified of it.  As many of you know, I graduated in '09 with a degree in Interior and Environmental Design, probably one of the worst degrees to come out into the world with, considering the state of the economy.  But I was hopeful that I would find that AMAZING job I had dreamt up in my head.  Who wouldn't want to hire an energetic, skilled, enthusiastic and passionate Interior Designer?  Boy was I wrong!  My life became just like the Movie/Book Post Grad, well minus Mr. Rico Sauve living across the street and the really good guy friend that professes his love - still waiting for that guy, but I digress... Finally I landed the job that I have today, I was beyond excited!  Just a contract job with the strong possibility of being hired on if you impressed the boss.  I had many good indications and hints to becoming a "real" employee but to no avail.  It's ended up being nothing like I thought it would be, and I've pushed through 2 years, because there aren't design jobs out there.

   My parents and I have really been discussing it lately and finally my Dad told me I have two options last night.  I value my parent's opinions ALOT, in fact sometimes my sister's think I value them a little too much, oh well... So the two options, hence the fork in the road for me.  If I go right, I stay at my current job and just make the best of it until the economy loosens up a little bit more and I can find the design job of my dreams. And, as my Dad put it, try to find fulfillment in other areas of my life.  Which I have done by being involved in: Triathlons/Triathlon Team, Archi-treasures, Culture of Life Board, PHD (Preservation of Human Dignity), World Youth Day, Book Club, etc.  Or... I can go left, left means a leap of faith.  Taking a huge risk and hoping for the best.  It also means, going back to school.  If I got left and start down that path, I am immediately faced with another fork in the road... Do I go for my Masters Degree in an Interior Design related field or do I completely switch career paths and major in something else?

   These are big decisions for me, and maybe you don't agree or it seems pretty clear to you what I should do.  If so let me know!  But until a decision is made, you can be sure that I am cranking out long runs to think through all the options in my head!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wait... I'm a runner? Are you sure?

     Growing up I never thought I would be a runner. In fact, I HATED running in High school.  The only exposure I had was in conditioning for Soccer, it was the section of the soccer season that I hated more than anything else.   I also, ran in gym class for the standard 1 mile, but certainly never pushed beyond that, maybe I would have run track in HS, since my long legs would have been pretty good for hurtles but we did not have a track team.
      Then I got to college and was suddenly afraid of becoming a fat ass, gaining the dreaded Freshmen 15lbs.  So I started running, even with the mileage I was putting in, I never thought I was actually a runner.  I even trained for my first marathon, getting my pace under a 9 minute pace per mile!  People would make comments about me being a runner, etc. but how could I possibly be a runner?  It wasn't until I was injured that I realized that I am in fact a runner!  It killed me to sit on the sidelines, not being able to run especially when the Doctors, MRIs and X-Rays all said that I was perfectly fine, but here take some pain killers and be on your way.

    Really and truly becoming a runner was a conscious decision on my part and I think it is for just about everyone.  You need to ask yourself, Am I willing to push through unknown amounts of pain and soreness?  Will I stick my running to achieve the goals that I've set for myself?  Am I willing to possibly have black toenails and burning through at least one pair of gym shoes a year?  Those all sound like tough brutal questions that make running sound unbearable but there are the positive questions you need to ask yourself too.  Am I willing to experience the indescribable joy at crossing the finish line?  Am I ready to be supported by people that I've never even met before in your life?  Am I ready to make great friends and reach for goals that I previously thought were unbelievably unattainable?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you my friend are a runner!

     What about you?  When did you realize that you are a runner?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bring on the Summer

Hello June!  I thought you would never come!  June is my favorite month for a few reasons, one being that it's my birthday month, and birthdays are the best!  The second reason is that school always got out in June and it meant the beginning of Summer.  Unfortunately, I'm not in school anymore which means I don't get that "typical break", but somehow it still feels like a break is in sight especially with warm weather and a tan right around the corner.
     Now, June marks the beginning of my race season and I couldn't be more excited!  I've worked hard in the "off season" to get stronger and get my knee strong to be able to handle the many miles I will be putting in this summer.  So here's what my summer looks like:
      1. Kick off triathlon of the season! WOOHOO!!!
      1. 10K race - I'm pumped to run this one because I always run it with my Dad, it was our very first race together and I look forward to it ever year now!
      2.  Muncie 1/2 Ironman! - I am super nervous about it but can't wait to see what I can do!
      3.  Xtreme 10 mile race - Last year my Dad and I were rained out, so I am hoping to actually get to run it this year.  It will be my first ever trail run and its near my home town, so I am looking forward to it!

     1. I get to go to Spain for 2 whole weeks! That means 2 whole weeks without work! WOAHHH... Can you tell I am looking forward to it?
     2. I might do the Chicago Triathlon as well once I get back from my trip.

     1. Probably doing the Lake Geneva Triathlon.

What about you?  What big events are going to be a part of your summer?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Taking my own advice to heart!

    Yesterday, I posted the top 10 running rules and I have to admit that I needed to take some of my own advice.  Easy said than done... I told you to JUST DO IT, that if there is a race that you have been eyeing for a while, that you should just sign up already.  What are you waiting for?  Well, I must admit that I had fallen victim to my own fears and that the race I had been eyeing for a while was going to fill up before I built up enough courage to register.
   My race is actually a Triathlon, the Muncie 1/2 Ironman!  I have wanted to do an Ironman for quite a while now, years in fact, but I promised myself that I would build up properly and go through all the different levels rather than skipping to an Ironman or a 1/2 Ironman race, like I did for the Marathon! Last summer I managed a Sprint and an Olympic distance triathlon, so naturally the step is a 1/2 Ironman race.  But I was terrified that my knee (which as you all know likes to give me problems) wouldn't be able to handle all the training and the race and that this recent episode with Exercise Induced Asthma would create problems that I didn't know if I could overcome!  I've made HUGE progress with my knee but it is still an underlying fear.  I haven't had another asthma attack and it seems to be under control! 
   My Triathlon Team has been trying to convince me to sign up for this race for forever!  Teammates have even refused to sign up until I did!  I kept telling myself that I would decide by a certain date, or I'd wait until I ran this certain race to figure out if my body could handle it.  But those dates kept getting pushed back and I still didn't register.
  But... Something happened this morning. I have no idea what it was, but suddenly I just decided to go for it! Just register for the dang thing!  So I did!!! I am officially registered for the Munice 1/2 Ironman race!  My first Ironman distance race.  I am still terrified that my knee won't handle it and that my asthma will act up again and create huge problems.  But I am tired of living in the fearful "what ifs"! 
  So, What if I don't finish?  What if I get hurt?  What if my knee and asthma flare up?  What if it's a horrible time? But... What if I do finish?  What if I don't get hurt?  What if my knee and asthma are completely fine?  What if I have an amazing time doing the race?  Basically it comes down to wanting to give it a try.  I'll never know what will happen until I do it!  
   To everyone out there who has a million reasons not to, find the reason to do it!  You'll be happier with yourself if you do!  

Song of the Moment: Who Says by Selena Gomez

Monday, April 11, 2011

Running 101

My top 10 list of lessons that Runner's should know:
    1. Start Slow - Both with Speed and Mileage!  If you start slower then you won't burn out and you can slowly get faster each mile.  It's important to build up mileage but to do so slowly so that do not get injured!
    2. Make a Plan and Stick to it - Decide which days you are going to run and stick to it!  You will develop the necessary determination and perseverance to stick to your schedule and your training plan!
    3. Take a Rest Day - It's important to let your body rest and recover in order to heal your muscles
    4. Listen to your body - There is a fine line between soreness and pain. It's important to know the difference!
    5. Mix it Up - It's important to add variety to your run, change up the location, the running surface, incline, speed to make it more fun!
    6. Cross-Train - This is extremely important and it doesn't have to be boring or a strict weight lifting plan, make it fun, do something different, like a Hip Hop class, Zumba, playing a pick-up game of your favorite sport.  You'll end up working different muscles and gain overall strength.
    7. Just DO IT! - Do you have a race that you've been eyeing for a while but haven't signed up for?  Just do it!  You don't know if you can or can't do something until you try, so just sign up already!  You can do anything you you really set your mind to!
    8. Have a word/phrase or power song to help you push through - Mine?  Phrase, "I can go the distance!"  Power Song, "Here we go" by Nsync
    9. Reward Yourself - Set-up a reward system for yourself for achieving your goals, whether its a new song from Itunes or a new pair of shoes.  It helps keep you accountable!
   10. Reach High and Set new goals - always challenge yourself to hit your goals and once you do, set new goals for yourself!

Monday, March 21, 2011

1/2 Ironman Race vs. The Chicago Marathon Round 4

As many of my loyal readers know, I am all about running the Chicago Marathon. To me, it is “MY race”, ironically though, I’ve never done very well… or atleast met my full potential running that race. It’s been a huge struggle for me, to accept giving the race my all and then ending without meeting my time goals, or even coming close to them because of this constant knee pain. I know, I know, I should be happy that I have completed 3 marathons, and don’t get me wrong, I am! My problem lies within me, knowing that I am capable of an under 4 hr marathon and being denied that every time due to my knee problems.
This year, I’ve been really focusing on making my knee really strong so that I can run without this nagging pain. It’s a pain that I can only ignore for so long and eventually it leads me to have to walk and depending on the length of the race end in tears or the very least an ice bag wrapped around my knee. So I’ve been feeling really confident about my abilities this year and have been excited about the Chicago Marathon.

As I think I’ve said in a few posts though, I was kind of on the fence with whether or not I wanted to register this year. The only reason for contemplating this is because I do have other fitness goals, such as completing an Ironman race and even qualifying for Boston! Does that make me crazy? Probably, but I am always up for a challenge… obviously! The trick here is that I am being smart about triathlons and promised myself that I would only do an Ironman once I had worked my way through the different levels of triathlons. Last summer I tackled the Sprint and Olympic distances. I think I am ready for the next level, which would bring me to a ½ Ironman race this summer.

So the question arose, which race do I focus on, my ½ Ironman or a Boston Qualifying time at the Chicago Marathon? While technically I could train for both of them through the summer, I want to really focus on one so that I am happy with the results and if it doesn’t go as planned I can’t blame it on my training or lack thereof. My family, for the first year ever, was in 100% agreement that I should take a break from Chicago this year, while most of my runner and triathlon friends were encouraging me to do both! Ahhh… such a decision!

Well, I ended up procrastinating long enough that open registration closed for the Chicago Marathon! NOOO… So I contemplated running it for a charity and looking into it, when the beginning of March hit. I had decided that I was DEFINITELY going to do my ½ Ironman this summer – Racine or Muncie. So my more “intense” training I decided would start March 1st. Two weeks in to it, and feeling exhausted but loving every minute of it, I had my asthma attack! Woah… talk about a set back! I was so physically wiped out by that attack that it has taken me a week to get back to being able to give my workout 100%. That’s so not me, but shortness of breath and chest pain, kind of took that decision away from me… unless of course I wanted to end up in the hospital again. Thanks, I’ll pass!

I’m not a big person to believe in signs and all that stuff… but maybe this asthma attack was my body’s way of telling me to focus on my triathlon this year. Especially since swimming is a great exercise/sport for an asthmatic athlete, which I now am apparently…

So I’ve decided to be a great Cheerleader this year for all those marathon runners out there! Some of the spectators helped me get through all my marathons, but especially my first one! I only hope that I can return the favor to some struggling marathon runner! And one day, one day hopefully soon, I will get my BQ, be injury free and have strong lungs!

Just remember, the struggles that we face in every aspect of our lives make us who we are, so see them as a challenge to overcome with a positive mindset! Don’t let an obstacle hold you back! I’m not going to and you shouldn’t either!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What is Exercise Induced Asthma?

Now that I’ve been diagnosed with Exercise Induced Asthma, I’ve been doing a lot of research on it to really figure out what it is and how to not be held back by it.

So what is it? Exercise Induced Asthma or EIA is a condition where your airway swells and becomes narrow. It is thought to occur when your airway cools and dries up due to breathing fast during exercise. Because your airway narrows, you are unable to get as much oxygen as you normally do and your breathing becomes labored. The most common signs and symptoms of this are coughing, chest pain or tightness, trouble breathing and or wheezing. I definitely had all of these symptoms, and even today days later I still have some of them! CRAZY!

Your Dr. may give you a prescription for various types of medicines, they typically fall into one of these categories:

1. Allergy Meds – Allergy medicine obviously treats allergies, which are commonly thought be triggers of asthma

2. Bronchodilators – These open up the air passages in your lungs and they stop your symptoms from getting worse. They can either be swallowed or inhaled

3. Inhaled Steroids – These open up your airways and reduce swelling

4. Leukotriene Antagonists – These decrease swelling and may stop the wheezing or shortness of breath. They also may stop your attacks from lasting for long periods of time

5. Mast Cell Stabilizers – These prevent your lungs from having more swelling
Typically someone who has been diagnosed with asthma or exercise induced asthma can be seen using an inhaler. The inhaler gives you the medicine in mist form which allows you to breathe it directly into your lungs. It gives out a specifically measured dose so that you get the correct amount.

For athletes and everyone for that matter, it is especially important to be aware of the signs and symptoms. There are actually activities and sports that can be triggers, typically sports that are constant and long in duration such as soccer, basketball, field hockey and long distance running. My life has consisted of 3 out of those 4, never really got in to field hockey… But some better activities for EIA include swimming, baseball, football and short-term track. Swimming is especially beneficial because the air is humid around a pool and not as dry. Dry air tends to dry out your airways which can be a trigger for an asthma attack. Thankfully with proper treatment anyone can participate and excel in any sport or activity, but it is imperative to get the proper treatment.

As I said before, allergies are thought to be major triggers, days with high pollen counts, low humidity and dry air can all affect your asthma. In order to be able to effectively control your asthma, it is crucial that you determine your specific triggers, so that you can prevent an asthma attack as much as possible! See an allergist or immunologist to be able to pinpoint your triggers, so that you can be as healthy as possible!

Here is where I got my information and these websites are helpful for more information:
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
National Asthma Education and Prevention Program

Monday, March 14, 2011

Exercise Induced Asthma Attack!!! What? Really!?

Thursday started out like any normal day for me, but ended unlike any other! In fact, looking back on the situation and circumstances, I’m mad, very mad about it!

I went to work, like always and was probably a little more excited about this day than normal, because I was going out to dinner with a co-worker and then we were going to a Revit class (it’s a branch of AutoCAD, but does so much more and create 3d models with a click of the mouse). Typically I would go to work out and meet up with Jose right after work, but because of the class I was taking, my plans had to altered a little bit. I really enjoyed the class and learned a lot and met some great people! After the class, I decided that I should go work out. In my training for my 1/2ironman this summer (which I have yet to actually register for), Tuesday and Thursdays are my run and strength/weights days. I decided I’d start with the run and then do the weights, just to mix it up a little. It was only supposed to be a 3.5 mile run, which, lets be honest… I could practically do that in my sleep. But apparently not on Thursday…

A few weeks ago, I finally bought myself a heart rate monitor, I figured if I was going to be training rigorously I needed to know my zones and be aware when I am pushing too hard. I also figured it would be a good idea to have since I am trying to get my knee in tip top shape and again it would help me to know if I’m pushing too hard. So I was running or I guess for some jogging a 10 minute mile, no big deal, Right? WRONG! About 3.25 miles in I suddenly started to feel wheezy, like my breathing was out of control. I felt like I needed to cough and clear my airways… ok weird! But I was almost done, so whatever… I finished my run and started my cool down, backwards walking on the treadmill. I get a lot of looks when I do this but it’s actually really good for you, so whatever I just deal with it. But I was getting a ton more looks, probably because I suddenly sounded like I was hacking up a lung! So I finished my cardio and was having such difficulty breathing that I decided not to even bother doing weights, I grabbed my stuff and drove home. Before I left the gym, I texted a friend and told her that something was wrong, that I was dieing… I know over-dramatic, but to be honest that’s how I felt! A few times I was bent over double coughing so hard just trying to catch my breath. My friend called on the ride home and we talked for a little while. She finally decided that since I sounded horrible maybe I shouldn’t be talking on the phone. So I decided to call my Mom and see what she thought. At first I thought I’d just take some benadryl and go to bed but it was just getting worse and worse as time was going on! So I called my Mom who goes, “Emily, it’s 9:30 at night, you better not be calling to chit chat, I’m trying to put Colt to sleep.” Sidenote: Colt is my 2 month old nephew who my mom was watching for my sister who is a nurse and was working the night shift at our local hospital. My response was, “Mom, Something’s wrong, really really wrong.” And then I lost it, I started crying, my breathing was even worse than before. I didn’t even have enough energy to pick myself up off of my bedroom floor so that I could sit on my bed. My mom wanted me to call 911… Ha Ha, not happening! Next thing I know my brother is coming to pick me up so I can go to the hospital with my Mom… Great…

He comes and picks me up, grabs my stuff and says, “Lets Go, Em!” My mom was waiting by our front door, comes running out and we switch cars and go to the hospital. If anyone ever wants to be seen quickly at the hospital all you have to say is that you are having a hard time breathing and having severe chest pain! But I’m sure my completely purple hands helped them to determine something was wrong, not to mention me looking like death! Within 5 minutes of my arrival at the hospital, I was seated in a wheelchair being taken down to my ER room, where a nurse was already waiting and setting up an EKG. I quickly changed into a hospital gown and was hooked up to the EKG machine and every other possible machine. I had to answer a bunch of questions about what happened, etc. I got a chest xray and got my blood drawn, to rule out a collapsed lung, blood clots in my lungs and various other possibilities. The hospital staff was very nice to me, but I think the Dr. thought I was making it up, because by the time she came in my breathing had finally become more regular and the wheezing wasn’t nearly as bad. I had a ton of chest congestion and it felt like I had been suddenly hit with a severe cold in a matter of seconds, where I had almost no voice and sounded extremely stuffed up.

My mom and I hung out in the ER till 2:30 in the morning, luckily my sister was having a pretty slow night so she was able to come down and visit with us for a little while. Based on all the tests, etc. they decided that it was an Exercise Induced Asthma (EIA) attack! WHAT?!?! How is this possible since I’ve never had asthma before??? They gave me a prescription for an inhaler and told me to follow up with my Dr. in 1 to 2 days. Since I was beyond exhausted and worn out, I ended up calling in sick to work, I NEVER do that! So I called my Dr. later that morning and get in to see him that day. I told him what had happened and he said that he agreed with the hospital… great… So he then sent the nurse in to do a Peak Flow Test (PFT). She came in and I did what I was supposed to and then she left the room… I could hear them talking out in the hall. My Dr. “Her numbers were what? Are you sure? Hmm… Ok…” A few seconds later my Dr. came in and told me that with EIA there are two trains of thought… that 1. it is just that exercise induced. But that the second train of thought is that it is the beginning stages of full blown asthma. He looked at me and goes, “Unfortunately for you, I think you’re at the beginning stages of having full blown asthma because your PFT values were 100 points lower than they should be.”

Awesome… That’s exactly what I wanted to hear. Luckily or unluckily, he told me that I don’t need to cut back in my exercise at all, that I just need to pay attention to my body and my breathing to know if I need to stop. I left the Dr.’s office feeling more depressed than when I got there!

So sorry for the rant but I’m pretty upset that this has happened to me. I know it’s not like I was diagnosed with Cancer or something SUPER serious, but it definitely changes things for me… I even had someone ask me how it feels to be super healthy, health-concious, all of that stuff and be against smoking and get asthma and they smoke and live a more “un-healthy” lifestyle than I do!

Anyone out there in a similar situation? I feel like I’ve taken a step back in everything I have accomplished this year, definitely feel down in the dumps about this! 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Running Dilemma

    As many of my reader's know I'm an avid runner, who seems to have a knack for having crippling knee pain. I've never not finished a race but man, I've come close! I finish the races and immediately find the nearest place to get ice, it really has become my best friend! If you've never used it to help you recover, I strongly recommend you start.

    Now, as I'm sure many of my fellow Runner's know, registration for the Chicago Marathon opened Feb. 1st. It is MY race! I have run it the last 3years and it was my first race EVER! I know, I know, who chooses a marathon as their first race? Me, clearly... So, now I reach my dilemma... There's something about running the same race every year, the race that I started on that keeps me coming back every year. How cool would it be to say I've done it every year since 2008 in 30years, 50years, etc?

    But should I do it? As I've mentioned before, I've been working with Jose (my trainer) at the gym to strengthen my knee. So far, I've felt great as I mean that! Almost no knee pain on a daily basis and even when i do things that should or normally would aggravate it, I still have no pain! But... I am only running about once a week! ONCE A WEEK! It is brutal and I long for running more and more but am terrified of the pain...

    I am tired of my knee being the excuse and the reason for not achieving the goals that I've set for myself. I want to qualify for Boston, really really bad! I KNOW that I have it in me, despite the skeptical people in my life! My plan was to run Chicago this year and hopefully qualify to run Boston in the spring of 2012!

    So... What do I do? Register and train like crazy or give myself a full year to really recover and focus more on my triathlons?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Standard Running Form?

   The big debate currently going on in my family is whether or not there is a standard running form.  To me it has always seemed that running is just second nature to all of us, one foot in front of the other.  We learn how to crawl and then walk on our own, so why wouldn't running be the same way?  With my ever constant knee pain and me searching and searching for answers and different solutions, running form is a topic that seems to keep popping up. Most of the time I have paid little attention to it, because like I said, Isn't running second nature to us?
    In my family we always do a Secret Santa drawing between the siblings since there are so many of us.  My little brother Nick, who is 8 years old, picked my name and was trying to think of something I'd really like.  Normally it seems that my Mom and Dad just pick something out and just say that it came from the younger siblings.  This year, apparently, Nick woke up one morning and told my Dad that he wanted to get me a book about running for the rest of your life.  He and my Dad did a google search to only discover that yes in fact there is a book by that exact name!  Run for Life by Roy M. Wallack.  So they bought it for me along with Bike for Life also by Roy M. Wallack.  He was beyond excited and stood at my feet as I opened the present so that he could see my reaction!

   Now, I'm only about 60 pages into the book but am already rethinking my running form!  Roy presents some good arguments about running form and how it should be learned just like someone would learn to golf or play baseball.  One thing I know for sure... I am a heel striker!  Now, if you are anything like me you are probably thinking, "So, What's the big deal about being a heel striker?"  Roy breaks it down into 2 simple explanations.  Heel Striking causing braking and breaking.  Umm... What?  Surprisingly enough when you heel strike it is actually braking your momentum causing you to go slower!    The second part is that heel striking literally breaks you down!  Heel Striking doubles the shock on your body!!! HOLY COW!  Bad running form creates shock that goes up your entire body with as much as 5 times your body weight on each stride!  Our body absorbs the shock in our knees, lower back, hips, tendons, ligaments, etc. 
   You can imagine that I am totally blown away at this point.  Now, I knew that our body takes a mighty beating from running, its why people say that you are running your body into the ground.  I had just accepted it as a fact and was mentally preparing myself for a knee replacement down the line.  But not only do I have knee pain but also lower back pain that is sometimes so severe I can't even bend enough to touch my knees!  So this concept of a standard running form is truly intriguing. 

    In his book, Roy talks about two types of running forms, Soft Running and the Pose Method.  Basically they both have the same concept and goal in mind, to reduce the injury and shock that is absorbed by our body everytime we land. 

   So the question is... Is there a standard running form?  Is running something, like golf and baseball, that to do properly has to be learned?  What do you think?

Personally, I think I'm going to try and change my running form and see what that does for me as far as injuries go!

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Big Reveal: My Place

  I moved into my own place back in October, so you would think that I'd have posted on what it looks like completed (or almost completed) and yet I never did... So here it is for all of you who have been patiently waiting!

The Kitchen:



   Notice, we switched the location of the refrigerator and also raised the cabinets.  I also painted the walls a blue/green and the wall that is shared with the living room a neutral tan color, so that it would work well with both rooms!  The Kitchen table was my family's old kitchen table that we had grown out of, so it came with me!  I think it works perfectly in this space!

The Living Room:



  If you noticed, I carried the same blue/green color into my living room as an accent color behind my couch.  I think it works well to bring together the two rooms.  The book case, end tables and picture frames are from Ikea.  The rug is from Lowes, believe it or not!   Lamps are from target and the couch and swivel chair are an amazing donation from my parents!

The Spare Room/Office (one day):


    I painted the walls in this room as well, they are a neutral pink-beige color.  The can of paint was actually an oops can from Lowes, some how the color was mixed incorrectly.  But I love it and think it works wonderfully in the space!  I plan to eventually have a desk on the opposite wall, directly to your left as you walk in the room, so that it can double as an office space for me as well as a guest room.

Master Bedroom:


   I've gotten a lot of flak for this room.  I LOVE the color purple and the room was already painted purple but definitely needed a face lift.  So I just painted it a new shade of purple, it is purple for anyone wondering.  Sometimes, depending on the light and the angle it can look pink, but I promise it is purple!  The bed was given to me by my Aunt and Uncle, my first queen size bed, so I feel all grown up now!  The dresser I purchased from Ikea and it took me a good 3 days to actually get it all together but it is a great dresser, well worth the effort and time to build it!

The Bathroom:


  I painted the bathroom as well with an oops can of paint!  It is just a neutral beige color but it works perfectly in the bathroom!

  I hope you like the outcome, I'm more than a little pleased with it!