Hopefully routine will stick

Hopefully routine will stick

I felt alive this morning as Lucy and I headed out the door shortly after 6 a.m. to go for a morning run, something we have failed to do for way too many weeks. This morning I was reminded why I need to stick with this running routine of mine.

I was spoiled for two years. I had the opportunity to walk away from my work whenever my heart desired because I worked from the comfort of my own home as a freelance journalist. Since we were living in NE Tennessee at the time, it was not crucial to go running first thing in the morning to beat the heat. We usually went mid-morning to  mid-afternoon when the temperatures were comfortable to run in .

Now I am faced with a new challenge . . . beating the Florida heat, which means going super early in the morning before the sun becomes too intense.

As of June 8, my freedom became no longer as I started my full-time job as the editor of The Islander. I will be completely honest, it has been extremely difficult putting myself on a schedule that included both exercising and giving myself enough time to complete my work without being at the office for all hours of the day and night.

With Jason and I working completely different schedules, I stay up later than I should to spend some time with him, which makes it hard to get up super early the next morning.

So, setting all my excuses aside, Lucy and I went for a 3-mile run last night around 6 p.m. The sky was overcast and there was a breeze, so I thought why not, let’s go for a run. Lucy took off at full speed as soon as we rounded our corner, which became almost a crawl by the time we finished our 3-miles. The run was sticky and buggy, which was a new experience for me. When we got home I had bugs stuck to my arms, shirt and in other places that surprised me. It was gross running through windows of bugs, but I was determined, so we kept on going.

I felt energized in a way I haven’t experienced in a long time. I know running is my outlet. I know running is what clears my head. So, this feeling of energy was welcomed with open arms even when the exhaustion hit.

With the motivation in full swing, I got out of bed before 6 a.m. this morning so I could put some more miles on these running shoes of mine that are still brand new. I figured I would head out by myself this morning to give Lucy some rest after last night’s run. When she saw me putting on my running shoes, she went running into the bedroom and laid in bed with Jason. So, I continued to get everything ready. I unlocked the door and this little puppy reappeared at my feet eager to go with me. After putting her harness on she was ready whining because I was not opening the door fast enough.

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Our run started in the dark and ended with a beautiful sunrise painting the Florida sky an array of oranges. It was by far the perfect way to start a Monday. I was thankful I dragged myself out of bed and started a routine that will hopefully stick.

I’m pretty proud of Lucy and I. In two days, we have ran 5.39 miles after taking 13 days off.

Maybe I needed to take some time off to fully appreciate running again. I know both Lucy and I need that 30-minutes or so workout.

Since we are now starting a new month, I am determined to go running at least four or five times a week like I used to in Tennessee. Time to get this body back into shape!

More than a month ago

It’s hard to believe I returned to Southwest Florida more than a month ago. I have spent a great deal of time with family and friends since returning, something that was hard to live without for almost two years.

One of my new favorite routines happens every Saturday. I spend the week looking forward to my early start that morning.

In an effort to train for my third 5K race, which took place on Memorial Day, I ran with my mother and younger sister Maureen, who were also participating in the race with me. I was so excited to recruit two people to run with me, especially since it was Mom and Maureen’s first race. I’m happy to say I beat my best race time by more than three minutes that morning even in the awful heat. Mom and Maureen finished before me making their first race a memorable one. Although we did not cross the finish line at the same time, it was encouraging to know that they were running the same race with me. I kept my pace going and am happy to say I finally ran the entire 3.1 miles without stopping, making it truly an awesome achievement.

Every Saturday, we meet at Maureen’s house to run along McGregor. I still cannot put into words how much that first run meant to me. I have spent the majority of my time running by myself, or with my puppy Lucy. To run with other people, well it felt incredible, even if we all are not running at the same speed. Even though the race is over, we still meet every Saturday morning. Yes, it’s still a highlight of my week. This past Saturday as I pulled up to Maureen’s house, I saw Dad standing with Mom and Maureen, which made me smile. Our running group is expanding . . . I love spending that time with family first thing in the morning.

As I sit here and reflect on some of the highlights of my time back in Southwest Florida, a trying time, a time that kept me apart from Jason for 47 days already seems like a lifetime ago. I smile when I look back. I smile because of the strength we both had during the time he was in Fort Myers and I was in Kingsport. I smile because that is now a distant memory.

The best feeling in the world is being in the same state, the same city and living under the same roof again. Now we are back to our old routines, some that I love and will never grow tired of . . . a kiss before he leaves for work that is accompanied by have a great day.

I am now a firm believer that the heart grows fonder when you are away from your loved one. I have seen a new side of Jason that I cherish since returning. Our relationship is stronger than before. Jason’s affection and expression of how he feels comes more often making me feel even more loved.

For the first time in a longtime, I really feel like I am home. That feeling is not just because I am living in the area where I grew up surrounded by friends and family, but I am living my dream once again.

As a freelance writer, there is good and bad. I absolutely love the freedom of making my own schedule. I enjoy working from my home having the luxury of walking into my kitchen to grab a snack or cook lunch. I also love having the opportunity to be in the same vicinity as my one year old puppy.

What I was lacking did not show its presence until I moved back to the Fort Myers/Cape Coral area.

I am now spending more time out in the community, interviewing people face-to-face, making my passion for writing truly surface once again. There’s something special about living in the same community in which you work. I did not know how much I missed that interaction until the first assignment my editor gave me took me out into the community.

My passion is in full force again. My passion of writing has taken on another dimension.

Our move back to Southwest Florida was one of the best decisions we have made, especially because of the opportunities that we have found. Jason and I continue to grow as a couple, I’m writing more for editors I truly love working for, I’m spending my weekends with Mom once again and my best friend is only 30-minutes down the road.

Although our lives have been enriched with so much beauty here, I still find myself thinking of Tennessee. I miss the mountains. This past week it hit me pretty hard. Oh, how I miss the pure beauty of that state.

The hiking, getting lost in the woods, is what I miss the most. The clarity the hills and mountains gave me was truly special.

Bittersweet

Bittersweet

The last two days I have been stuck in doors because of the rain. So, this morning after a good night’s sleep, Lucy and I headed to the Greenbelt.

The weather was gorgeous with temperatures climbing into the 50’s. There was not a cloud in the sky. It was the perfect morning to go for a 3.21-mile run.

As Lucy and I ran our old route, emotions were definitely tugging at me as I took in the scenery for all it was worth. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to the pure beauty of Northeast Tennessee.

This place will forever stay in my heart.

This area has given me a sense of peace that I cannot fully explain.

It’s definitely bittersweet.

So, half way through our run, we stopped, so Lucy could go to the bathroom, and I could enjoy one of my favorite places on the Greenbelt . . . a waterfall that was flowing pretty good today.

20150315_113227 editThis is one of my favorite sounds. The rushing of the water, the cascading of water down the rocks. The sound, and sight, pulls you in, clearing your thoughts, giving you a sense of clarity, all while mesmerizing you making it hard to look away.

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Although I know I will find a new favorite spot to run in Fort Myers with Lucy, I’m truly going to miss my home-away-from-home.

It’s my go to place, my therapy, my path that cures all stress.

I’m so happy Jason and I decided to move to Kingsport almost two years ago. It was a move that brought us closer as a couple. A move that gave us a deeper appreciation for the outdoors.

Our run this morning was so good for my soul. It gave me the clarity I needed once again to get through this time Jason and I are spending a part. Time that neither of us want to spend a part . . .

As always, here’s a glimpse of the Greenbelt through Lucy’s eyes.

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Lucy

 

Rollercoaster . . .

Rollercoaster . . .

I have definitely been on a rollercoaster of emotions this week, which I have to admit is very exhausting.

Yesterday, although my day did not start with a phone call from Jason, nor ended with a phone call from him . . . well, it went okay . . . until sleep completely escaped me.

The highlights of my day yesterday, day four of Jason being gone . . .

A phone call from my mom and my older brother Bill, as well as an overdue much-needed run with my best little buddy, my puppy Lucy.

I had a ton of copy editing I had to accomplish for one of the newspapers I work for in Arizona, which kept me extremely busy.

A phone call from my mom prompted an escape from my computer. She knows me well and knows what will help.

Exercise.

Almost every single day since Monday, my mom has made it a point to call and check up on me. I look forward to that friendly phone call, even if there is not anything new to share. There’s a huge comfort that comes with just hearing her voice.

So, after she told me to go for a run, I listened. I threw on my running clothes and put Lucy’s collar on and we headed to our old stomping grounds. Thankfully that portion of the Greenbelt that we enjoy using was open.

It was however a muddy mess with portions of the path still underwater. Yesterday I just didn’t care . . . I needed that run more than anything.

Although the music was streaming through my headphones, I couldn’t tell you what I was listening to during that 3 mile run. My thoughts were jetting in every possible direction. That was exactly the therapy I needed. Sometimes you don’t fully know everything you’re holding in until you are faced with open space and a route you want to complete.

As Lucy and I embraced the 70 degree temperatures and occasional rays of sunshine, our speed was not fast, but consistent until my body told me no more.

I felt good when we called it quits. I was proud of myself for making it to the Greenbelt to go for a run.

Here are a few pictures from yesterday . . .

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20150312_170143 editI was on a runner’s high after we returned home. It stayed with me for quite a few hours. I was excited that my meal, a recipe I found on Pinterest, tasted great. A mixture of hard-boiled eggs, avocado, onion, Greek yogurt, lemon juice and pepper on multi-grain bread topped with a tomato. It was delicious.

With a full belly, it was back to my desk to finish the copy editing I put on hold. This is when I received a surprise phone call from my older brother. I absolutely love hearing from him. No matter how many miles separate us, he’s always there for me, always looking out for me, always making sure I am okay. There’s truly nothing greater than a love from an older brother. His understanding voice, his open ears, lifted my spirits enabling me to finish my work for the night.

I watched a few television shows before heading to bed. I have to admit I was really looking forward to my phone ringing once more. The phone call never came.

I ended up falling asleep, waking to a text from Jason. A text message I never answered.

Last night I only managed to get a few hours of sleep. I thought for sure with exercising and, well, being exhausted from the week’s events would bring on the sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Unfortunately I was terribly let down . . .

I wish Jason was here besides me, or I was already there besides him. I sleep so much better when I know he is laying besides me or in the same house.

My strength is there, although not as strong as I need it to be at times. My smile comes and goes as the tears take its place, still at the most random times.

This experience, although is still in the beginning stages has proven to be difficult, but not unmanageable.

I am beyond grateful I have Lucy, my sweet, affectionate, cuddly, beautiful puppy. There is truly no better companion than that of a dog.

Lucy makes me laugh, keeping my spirits high.

She gives me the comfort I need throughout the day and even while we are sleeping.

Ever since Monday, Lucy snuggles even closer to me in bed. Her body is curled up against mine at all times, never straying away. This comforts me in a way I cannot explain.

Today she has not left my side. She’s been asleep in my lap while I work at my desk, occasionally looking at me with those puppy eyes. I can feel her telling me it’s okay.

Every day is a new challenge. Every day I am faced with new and old emotions. Every day I pray that our time a part is almost over.

I love being independent, but I love having Jason here with me. I love sharing my life with him in the same space without hundreds of miles separating us.

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I only hope that the strength I know I have stays consistant from here on out. I need more of my good days that are filled with high spirits. Those feelings, those emotions, will make the time a part easier to handle . . .

I finished . . .

I finished . . .

Today was the big day, the day of my second 5K race.

I woke up feeling good, nerves free and excited to tackle my second race. I’m happy to say I was granted my wish . . .  completely blue skies with temperatures climbing into the 40s by the time the 12 p.m. race began. Although there was sunshine, snow still lined the streets that took us the 3.1 miles. It was pretty running with a blanket of white surrounding us.

Jason took off for work around 8 a.m. kissing me good bye, wishing me good luck and telling me to have fun. After watching him drive away and Lucy letting me know she was ready to go back inside, I felt completely relaxed. I had about 3 hours to kill before I had to get ready. I had some breakfast, and well, I put on my running gear because I was so excited.

The hours started to tick away, leaving only minutes until I had to get everything together. I am happy to say the nerves were still gone. I got Jason’s MP3 player ready with the playlist he made me for my first 5K and then finished putting the last layer of clothing on, before putting on my running belt, and was out the door with a smile on my face.

Today I had to drive myself to the race because Jason was working. It felt good to make that drive. It felt good to be independent. I arrived at the Renaissance Arts Center  and Theatre just a few minutes later and found a parking spot. As I climbed out of the car I saw some of the runners stretching, others doing short sprints getting their bodies ready for the race.

I checked my phone one last time before I zipped my running belt close to after the race. I had a good luck message from my mom. I was ready.

There were only 63 runners for the KingsportARTS Paint the Town 5k. The runners ranged in age from youngsters to older men and women. There was even a cute puppy that joined its owner in the race. (I wish I knew, I would have brought Lucy with me. She definitely would have helped with the outcome.)

The same feeling consumed me. The same feeling of “you did this by yourself, be proud.” I stood amongst friends chatting with each other and family members getting each other ready for the race.

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I stood behind a few rows of people from the starting line. After a brief message from the organizer of the race, the countdown began for the race to begin.

As the clock struck 12, the runners in front of me picked up their feet and before I knew it I was doing the same thing.

I don’t know if it was the excitement that I was finally running or the adrenaline you get when you’re around other runners, but my speed was pretty fast as we started running on Yadkin Street on the left side of the Renaissance Arts Center and Theatre. I started to slow down my speed once we turned onto Oak Street. As I rounded Forest Street I felt as if I had my stride in check. It must have been a pretty slow stride because a lot of other runners were passing me.

With that said, I felt good. I was outdoors, the sun was shining and I was listening to some great music.

As we made our way to Myrtle Street my body was telling me to slow down. I slowed down to my first walk of the race.

The 17 days of not running caught up with me. The 4 to 5 miles my body got used to running on a weekly basis was no longer the case. I had to listen to my body. I picked my speed back up and then got hit with a hill on Catawba Street and got slowed down to a walk once again.

By this point I was giving myself pep talks.

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I managed to pick up my speed once again and ran almost the entire distance of Center Street before my body couldn’t take the hill anymore.

The route took us along the same roads until we hit Oak Street to make our way back to the beginning point on Yadkin Street.

Unfortunately Oak Street was where I had a mishap. The cop who was standing at this point was talking to someone and didn’t see me go by to direct me down this street instead of continuing along the same route we took the lap before. Fortunately I had a feeling something was wrong and decided to turn around. I rounded the corner onto Oak Street and saw the finish line in the distance.

I crossed the finish line two minutes past my first race’s time. I was hoping I would beat my last time.

Today’s race had its ups and downs. I was frustrated and a little disappointed by the time the race was over. After I grabbed some water and a banana I looked at my phone and saw a message from Jason nine minutes before the race began “Good luck baby, I love you.” That made me smile before I shared “Well good news is I finished.” His response, “All that matters.”

After I left and returned home I became emotional. I became emotional because I know what I am capable of and I didn’t meet my own expectations . . . to finish the race without any walking.

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Nearly all runners know the voice in their heads that tells them to back off when the going gets tough. Part of training is to help you get better at ignoring this voice and continuing to push even though the voice gets louder and louder as you get more and more fatigued . . . Don’t hope that the race feels easy. Expect it to be hard and know that you’re going to have to repeatedly challenge yourself to ignore the voice in your head that wants you to slow down.

After talking with Jason later this afternoon it really hit home when he told me how proud he was of me.

Bottom line, I ran in a race today. Yes it wasn’t a pretty race. Yes I struggled more than I like to admit. But I finished the race 34th out of 63, 15th out of 36 overall female and 7th out of 12 in my age group for women.

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The lesson learned today . . . even if it’s a 5K you still need to train. The bigger lesson . . . I’m not ready to run races in the winter. A very unpredictable winter. A winter that started off manageable turned into a frigid cold February. The only thing that kept me from training for 17 days was the bitter cold, below freezing temperatures, and the snow and ice on the ground. When you no longer have a gym membership to run on the treadmill you rely on the forecast for outdoor running.

With that said, I ran today despite the long time of no training.

The good news . . . Jason lifted my spirits. His words made me cry, yes the good tears. Then later today text messages back and forth from my mom started the water works again. Sometimes you just need to get out of your own thoughts and listen to other people’s words. Words you were telling yourself, but having a hard time believing.

We definitely are our own worst critics. But once we get out of our thoughts, it’s amazing how much positive energy runs through your body again.

I’m happy to say I have already found my next race, a race in May. Yes, May when I know the temperatures should be bearable and the training should be limitless.

Today’s experience did not detour me, but gave me the determination to run another one.

Race #2!!

Race #2!!

I have been worried about my Saturday, Feb. 28 race all month long because of the frigid temperatures and the tons of snow we have had throughout February.

Unfortunately, the second week of February was the last time I laced up my running shoes and went for a run. This of course adds to the worry because I haven’t been out there running, practicing, training, getting ready for my second race.

I guess this is what happens when you cancel a gym membership and live in a state that although does not get a ton of snow, has the potential of having a white winter.

It’s been pretty downhill since last Monday when the first true snow storm blew through and the snow has remained on the ground since.

I read on the local news website this morning that the Tri-Cities area has had 15.5″ of snow, breaking the season average of 13.3″ inches.  This is why I haven’t been running . . .

With all of this said, I traveled to the Renaissance Center here in Kingsport this afternoon to pick up my race packet for the KingsportARTS Paint the Town 5K.

IMG_20150227_142550It wasn’t until I walked out the door that the excitement for tomorrow completely consumed me. I left the worry at the door . . . I signed up for the race and I will brave the elements, whatever they may be tomorrow afternoon.

I just wish Jason didn’t have to work. It was comforting last time knowing he was on the sidelines waiting for me to cross the finish line.

I’m not nervous for this race, like I was for my first one Thanksgiving morning. I’m more excited that I have the opportunity to run!!! I’m going on a 17 day dry spell and it’s eating me alive!!

The sun has been shinning for the majority of the afternoon, hopefully melting some of the snow. Tomorrow’s forecast, a high near 39 degrees!!! Whooohooo above freezing!!!

 

Blanket of white

Blanket of white

20150218_164759 editI’ve been pretty fortunate this winter . . .

Well, that all changed when the temperatures plummeted and a blanket of ice and snow-covered the area.

There are certain temperatures that I just won’t brave the elements and go for a run. When you add a layer of ice and snow to the mix, I hang my running shoes up.

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I’m okay if a couple of days go by without going for a run, as long as I go at least three times a week.

Unfortunately our wintry mix has left me indoors. My last run was Feb. 10 . . .

The need to hit the Greenbelt took hold with a fierce grip yesterday. My body desperately needs its outlet to wash away the stress of everyday life. My body needs the blast of fresh air while my feet hit the pavement carrying me through much-needed miles.

I miss my “me” time. I miss letting it all go while running and taking in the scenery.

Yesterday in an effort to kick my winter blues, I asked Jason to stop by the Kingsport Greenbelt, so I could take a look.

The walk, which was not a long one because of the cold, was just a tease. I felt like I was home when Jason parked the car and I saw the sign for the Kingsport Greenbelt.

It was breathtaking to see snow covering the path and the outskirts of the creek. It was, however, quite cold as the gust of wind rushed across our face.

20150218_164820 editAs we walked a little down the path our feet stepped on a layer of ice that was beneath a layer of snow. Definitely not ideal running conditions. Definitely not safe running conditions.

In an effort to release some of what has been bottled up inside for more than a week, I breathed in the crisp air and looked, really looked at my surroundings.

Here are a few more pictures of what I was able to capture with my cell phone before the temperatures got to be too cold to bear.

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Hopefully the single digits will disappear soon taking the severe wind chills with it, so I can go back to my weekly routine. I have learned through this dry spell of running, that exercise is extremely important!

With all that said . . . .

My next 5K race is Saturday, Feb. 28, a little more than a week away. I sure hope the temperatures improve, or that is going to be one brutally cold race.