Its All I Have

As the title says, right now its all I have to just exist it feels like. Running has continued to improve despite efforts by my body to shut down. Training has continued to be a focal point which gives me something to look forward too. With all on the outside appearing normal it has taken all I have to maintain the facade.
Yes, there’s always a facade in most people some of the time. Its human nature to keep to ourselves or at least wanting to keep to ourselves. What does this have to do with running you wonder? Well in my case running has allowed the depression in my life to be minimal most of the time and if not minimal, more manageable without devastating outcomes. Running from problems so to speak has afforded me much good in life.
The last year and a half has been a slow and painful decline from running since my thyroid became diseased. A spiral that started a while back and wasn’t that noticeable in the beginning has culminated in the radioactive iodine treatment for Grave’s disease. Medication worked for a few weeks and was a positive boost in my life. I enjoyed running again and could see gains being made.
Gians being made are important to most runners and I am no different. I had acquired frustration and worry on most of my runs for over a year, so gains made from 11:30 min a mile to even 11:00 min miles were substantial. (7-8 min miles were possible before Grave’s disease) Life was feeling normal again. Not that wanting or even thinking about wanting to run far is normal to most, but it is to me.
Continuing on the path of healing, Dr’s orders were now to take hyperthyroidism and turn into hypothyroidism, a more manageable disease he said. I followed orders and running continued to improve, as well as the other symptoms of Grave’s disease. I often commented during that period that this was the best I’d ever felt, ever being in my life.
It wasn’t long after that that I started feeling down. Feel down and go for a run, things would improve. That did work to a certain degree. Seeing my times improve on the pace runs and speedwork drills are always a bonus. Getting out of bed for workouts got harder. Reminded of late stage marathon training. I’m not training for a marathon though.
Out of bed doing most of my workouts these last couple weeks, I dropped swimming and justified it with “taper” for my A race coming up Thanksgiving was what I told myself. As runners we have a lot of conversations within ourselves to motivate, inspire, adjust, and sometimes lie. I think the “taper” talk was a lie. It was just a 5k that I’d been training for is why I say that.
With the 5k approaching the normal excitement wasn’t there as in events past. I’d even started doubting if I was going to run in it. Depression was setting in and upon review has been setting in for some time. I’d get down and come back up a little. Still running and feeling good, then it was running and not feeling bad. Now the good feeling of having treated the thyroid has dissipated completely and depression has now become in charge. It comes with this type of treatment for Grave’s disease.
Treating my disease and training have gone hand in hand in a positive way for 7 of the last 12 weeks, now not so much. The decline was so gradual to me that I have not noticed it until after having run my 5k. Yes, I did compete and even had some excitement about it. I ran 22:33 which is not far off where I was about 2 years ago. This is outstanding news! Yet, my inside self didn’t feel like that. Don’t get me wrong I am happy that I trained for and reached my goals for this race. I was hoping on a 23 flat so surpassing that let’s me know I not only trained right but am physically healing with my metabolism. Drawback in all of this healing is the depression, you can supercede a superlative of your choice before depression, I have a favorite one that I use. Next week its back to the Dr for blood work and follow up for the synthetic hormone therapy. I am looking forward to that for it carries some hope of relief.
I’ve been writing about relief in the form of running and the hope of the treatment of my Grave’s disease these last few months and they’ve been positive. Today’s blog does have positive in it. I  do know my thyroid is no longer hyperactive. I do know I have regained most of the speed that I’d lost over the course of a year. I do know that running once again has helped my survive tough situations. I do know things will get better despite how I feel at this moment.
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I Now Know

A couple of  months ago my thoughts during a run were “am I going to finish?” Now after 2 months of solid training and improvement the thoughts have transitioned into more positive and goal orientated ideas. If you’ve been following along with my blog you’ve seen my pace pick up quite a bit over the last few weeks. If you are just joining this journey I call my life, July I started treatment for Grave’s disease. Labor day weekend I started running again.
That weekend consisted of 2 runs, a 3 and a 2 mile run at 11:20 pace. My pace prior to the Grave’s disease was a little quicker. Half marathon pace was 8:30 and 5k was 7:10. 11:20 was a far cry from those paces. Hence the thoughts of would I ever finish those runs. Persistence does pay off. As the treatment improved, so did my pace. With my pace improving, my desire to run more inproved.
I still can not believe for a guy that love’s running as much as I do, I fought for the better part of the last year just to run. It was a bitter struggle to put left in front of right. Running sucked in my life. I never knew which run I would bonk out on entirely. It was running roulette so to speak. One day I’d feel great and run well, the next I couldn’t finish and would drop halfway through. Discouraging runs became the norm.
Those runs are getting further behind me and being replaced with runs of “I could have given a little more up that hill” kind of thoughts. The ability to dig deeper has returned and it feels good. I’ve been watching my split times improve dramatically over the last month. Times are starting to get back into the range they were prior to Grave’s disease taking over.
Seeing those dramatic jumps allowed the ego to think it might be farther along than it is. Ego encouraged me to run a 5k this past weekend. Truth be known all of me wanted to run. Its been a long time since I’d pinned a bib on. With my interval training times improving like they were, my ego was thinking sub 23 min 5k. That would put me back at my healthiest phase of running and in only 2 months.
In reality sub 24 would be the better call based on my training times. As this debate went back and forth in my head for the 4 days prior the event, I found myself as anxious and excited about a 5k as I used to get about marathons. I started thinking of strategies and diet for the end of the week. Yes I know! Its a 5k! Like I said earlier, its been a while since I’d pinned a bib on and even longer since I’d been excited about an event. I’d even decided to go out of town and run the 5k. Traveling to a race has its own excitement built in.
The Outer Banks run festival is where I chose to go. Mainly to support a friend running the half marathon but did take advantage of the trip to run the 5k. Race morning was just as exciting as I’d remembered. You can hear the chatter in the air if runners. Goals, wishes and dreams all get tossed around before the gun goes off. I had to keep reminding myself its a 5k to see where I’m at. I kept getting caught up in all the excitement, which wasn’t a bad thing. I didn’t recall all those miserable months of feeling like crap, I  was recalling the last month of good workouts. I had a race plan, logically sound I might add and not ego driven.
I wanted to go out at 7:15 and see where my breathing was. Too desperate or labored and then I adjust. The gun went off and so did I. At the 1/2 mile mark it dawned on me that I’ve been passing a lot of people. Checked the watch and my pace was 6:50, ego said hang on this is going to be fun. Logic won out and I stepped out of traffic and eased my pace back. I did maintain breathing for the most part. I fell into a good rhythm and just ran for the next mile or so, wasn’t a whole lot of racing with the crowd that I was in. Checked my pace after mile 2 and I’d fallen back to an 8:00 min pace. Seriously felt like I was running faster than that. I started to push and wanted to really give it my all this last mile. I dug a little deeper  and tried to keep up with those starting to pass me. Now they want to race, where was this at a mile and a half? I kept a couple people as targets to go get but they were to strong. I did keep digging and breathing. I know I say kept breathing a lot, but that was one of the hardest things for me to do when the thyroid was wacked out.
Entering the last 10th of a mile for the race I was able to let it all go and just run. I like being able to do that. Being able to run as fast as you can is liberating I think. Its motionless, soundless and yet full of both sound and motion. Strongest kick I’ve had in a very long while and it felt good. A look at the watch and I’d come in at 23:50, felt a lot faster I swear. Not what the ego had wished for, but it was what the body could do. I was able to run and finish strong. I was able to go out too fast and recover. I was able to join others and celebrate the run. Now you all know what I now know. I am at just the right place to keep running.

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Life’s Intervals

Its been a while since l last wrote. Not that there has been that much going on, but there has. Training regiment is top priority again and I’m good with that. During the time of not being able to train, I felt out of touch with a great many things.
It was a unscheduled revisit to my past for the most part. Not having direction and looking to get through my days and survive my weeks. Running afforded some structure as I discovered training for my first marathon. As I continued to grow as a runner I was able incorporate things into my life other than eat, train, work and sleep.
During the 4 month sabbatical I had excessive time to do “all” the things that I thought I was missing put on during training. Turns out I wasn’t missing much. Its like the the recovery lap after an interval, its really needed and appreciated moments after the end of the exercision period. Not long after we catch our breath and are ready to go again. It is the repetitive challenge of improving myself that I find most appealing now.
I was fortunate enough to hear a talk given by Deena Kastor this morning, she  has a good message and this was the 2nd time that I’ve been able to listen to her. The 2004 Bronze medalist in the marathon is her claim to fame, her message far exceeds that. As I listened today, she spoke of recovery days after workouts. I’ve been paying attention to those as of late as to not fall into over training and body breakdown. She also spoke and not feeling at her best a few weeks ago just before breaking the Master’s record for the marathon. Chances are I will not break any Master’s records unless I live to be 110.
As I sat gathering inspiration from her, I walked away with train hard, but take care of the body. The kick ass mesage that hit me was regardless of how you feel and no matter how many doubts seem to show up on race day, lace up and go. As in life, it may not start out like we plan, but its not how we start. It is however and how we finish. If starting a challenge and all the difficult stuff shows up early, the end of that challenge will be tolerable and smooth.

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There’s That Moment

On my drive to Salem Lake today. Many thoughts bounced around my head. One that kept reoccurring was about how the “happy spot” in a run changes when it arrives. It has been 5 months since I’ve been around the lake and up until today hadn’t really thought about those happy moments while running.
If you’re a runner you understand that moment to be when the struggle of running and or fighting the run becomes relaxed and free. Hitting stride is another phrase used. My runs as of late haven’t really been long enough or they’ve been too intense due to speed work.  Having run around the lake many a time, I was looking forward to the moment today.
Was not sure as to when it would show up and quickly dismissed the thought that it might not show up. Started my run and felt good through the 1st mile. My pace was a little slower than I thought I could’ve been runing, but didn’t push harder as to maintain my breathing. Didn’t need to bonk on the back side due to over exertion on the front. As many times as I’ve been around the lake, today was like I was going around it for the 1st time again. Long run rules did apply, save the energy for the finish.
To the finish I continued and could still feel my feet hitting heavy around the 3 mile marker. I didn’t bring a water bottle on this run and had planned a quick water stop at the halfway point. Feet hitting not as hard but still not lightly as I appraoched water. Made the turn and ran on by the fountain, chuckled as I turned back around knowing that I’d slipped unknowingly into the zone. Water washed down and onward I went.
Still focued on the feet hitting heavier than I’d liked but pleased that the comfort of the zone had returned. Charging hills no matter their size made me wonder if I’d run out by mile 6. Up and down the hills I went and found myself getting stronger. I do enjoy when my focus is directly in front of me, still not feeling the feet hit right, but enjoying the workout none the less.
Having accepted the workout for what it was, grinding and smiling forward, my feet got quiet and I hit stride. A large smile then took over my face. Just short of the 5 mile marker I’m grinning ear to ear. I can only imagine how I looked passing the other runners coming around in the opposite direction. With all of my health issues over the last year, I can not recall a run where I was as free as I was today. There’s a boost of energy that I’d forgotten about as well.
That boost in energy allowed me to look forward to the hill behind the office. My last run there I bailed at the gate, just couldn’t make my body go. Today I went, I went up that hill as hard as I could go. My time going up that hill has been faster in the past, but I’m not running back there any more. Its about today. My medal came when I was able to carry momentum over the top. I kept that momentum on through the down hill side as well. A good strong kick to complete my run

in front of a crowd of zero made my run the best.
You see, these runs are important for the many moments that occured all the way around. I was looking for 1 particular moment and left with many more. On your next run, go collect some moments and see what you come back with.

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In Time

Time is a fickle friend. When we are unable to run time is disorienting and slow, yet when we start running again all that dissipates for a new disorientation. We sit around wondering when we can run again and days turn to weeks and sometimes weeks into months.
It works when running as well. I restarted with a Sat run and woke on Sunday to run again. 5 weeks have now passed and I’ve met every training obligation with enthusiasm. Training has even been expanded to include swimming as my cross training. I do feel a lot better than I have at any point in the last year, but still feel like I’m missing a step or 2. 5 weeks ago I ran 3 miles and wondered if I was going to finish, now I’m doing speed work on the track and wondering why I’m not faster.
Wanting to be faster is another sign of healing. From wondering if I was going to finish 3 miles to checking splits and telling myself I can do better. Surrounded by time in all aspects of life. Had to take time last week to treat the thyroid with radioactive iodine. Now in time the hormone producing cells will be dead. It is the solution to my problem.
Running has been a solution for many of my problems so I welcome this phase of healing. It will allow me to run. I’ve got time goals and as of now do believe that I will be able to work towards them. Again it will be the time that tells. Being able to run consistently again has helped clear the head of all the noise that I picked up will waiting around to run again. Not a bad deal really, I sat more days in 4 months than I ran and now in 5 weeks I’ve run more days than I’ve sat and the doubting thoughts are disappearing.
I’m really not much good at the “normal” life stuff, I’m not a podium runner,  I don’t have best selling “How To” books out there, but I’m at my best when pounding pavement.
As I run to be my best, I often get caught up in times and wanting to be the best. The circle is constant its the time that’s fickle. My best days are proven by effort when no one is looking, my best times come from putting a lot of best days together.

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Accountability

Accountability has been on my mind a lot. Since being able to run regular again a lot of things that I didn’t realize had dissipated from my life are starting to return. Not discounting the obvious things like the feel good after a workout and the stress relieving factors.
The thing that I didn’t know that I’d missed until lately is accountability. My social networking page contains a lot of useless and humorous post covering the obscure to the out of bounds. I also post a lot about running and the active lifestyle. Having not been able to run for the better part of 4 months I couldn’t post about about what running I’d done. There in lie a problem I didn’t know I had.
You see some years ago God offered me running as a tool to help change my life. All I was asked to do is put left in front of right and tell the story. For those that know me, I do like telling a story. Story telling is an art that’s being lost to 140 characters or less, but that’s another rant for another time. My story today is about I’ve done.
I use my running community as an accountability board. Some of my accomplishments are boasts, but being human is still allowed. When I post my mileage or workout it has multiple effects. Hopefully a person at minimum, might see what I do and say “I can do that too” and become a member of our active society. It also allows me to let people that I know that I am continuing to maintain my active lifestyle.
In this community we often say, post or yell about our upcoming runs or races. Once having gone public in that fashion we are apt to hold up our end of the deal by the pressure of accountability. Many a day I’ve tried or wanted to blow off a workout or run, but having gone public with my active lifestyle, I drag my ass out of bed and do the task at hand.
Accountability is sacrificing the less important for the more important.
We all run for various reasons that are extremely important to each and every one of us, some even overlap as the same. We are all part of one tribe by my point of view. Whether your reason is to run a marathon in every state, run faster than everybody else, run to leave problems behind for a better life or run just to be social, we are all held accountable in those realms and aspects. Thanks for being my accountant.

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Sunshine in the Rain

As another week of training closes, hope for the next week begins. Lots of rain during training lately. Rain is a reminder that we have to deal with things when they aren’t perfect. It feels like I have to dig a little deeper to workout when it rains. Chances are I don’t dig any deeper or any less.
We do seem to remember rainy day events more than sunny day events probably due to the less frequent occurrence of the rainy day. Rain or not, training has gone on. Health is improving as my health improves, seems redundant, but it is true. 3 solid weeks of training have now occured and with the help of the meds and exercise, it is the best I’ve felt in over a year now. Each day that I get better let’s me know how bad I really did feel.
Later next week I start the next phase of healing medically and will start training a little more intensely as well. Not sure how the cessation of meds for a week and the radioactive iodine will affect my energy levels and training, but that’s the way it all comes together. Not beginning marathon training just yet, but will train for 8 weeks to see what I can do in a 5k.
The 5k is a more “normal” way to return to running. That in itself will be new training  for me. I often wondered if jumping in at the marathon level when I started running was too much. I still say it wasn’t and would do it all the same given the opportunity to start over. Still one of the greatest things that’s ever happened to me.
Now I’m a little more seasoned as a runner and know with all the health issues that I have right now, easing back in is more tolerable for the body. It is the body that we have to convince to do what it does. Convincing mine to run faster is the new task. How fast is yet to be seen, but with continued effort I will soon find out. Training is, one might say, the sunshine of my life.

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Run On Sentences

The imperfect circle of life continues. Much has changed in recent weeks yet it all remains the same. Running has improved as of late in direct proportion to effect of the meds I’ve been taking. Going from basically not running at all, I’d run ever so often just to see where I was physically, to running a normal 4 workouts per week has been the improvement.
As it improves other things are improving as well. Desire to improve is one of the best things to have returned. Having run, swim and workout over the last year only to watch my body decay per se has not been fun. It has taken the desire to continue my #getactive #stayactive approach to life at times. Being reminded in all this is the importance of being physically well to reinforce my mental and spiritual health as well.
Having all three on the mend, even in brief spurts, is enough hope to hold onto until the final stages of healing get here. Over the last 4 months running has been sparce. I’ve gone from every couple to 3 weeks to having run 2 training weeks in a row. Further improvement will come as I’ve decided to treat my Grave’s disease with the radioactive iodine treatment. This will reduce my thyroid from the hyperactive stage to a hypo stage, which the Dr informs me will be more manageable.
Being more manageable is a desirable trait. Marathon training can not exist without being manageable. Deep down the desire to run a marathon or in my case marathons has returned. My desires are significant in healing I tell ya.
The marathon is not yet scheduled nor any other race at this point. The training for training for a race (5k) has begun though. With 2 weeks being the longest I’ve trained in many months I am extremely hopeful for the future. My past allows me just enough hesitation to be cautious of the pitfalls yet to come. As in life we conquer those pitfalls with desire to move on. I’ve been moving at times not feeling on, but today I do.

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It Must be Perseverance

As my training week has now concluded, a lot of nothing and some of everything has happened. It is the most mileage I’ve logged in 6 weeks. There have been some good miles in there and or I’m getting accustomed to this situation. Writing today’s blog is exemplary of how my week has gone. I’ve dressed and shown up, but after that it’s been unpredictable.

I’d start the runs with hesitation in preparation for the suck. The suck has shown up in different places this week. The past couple of weeks its been right around mile 2, this week it did push out past the 2 1/2 mile mark. I’ve been trying to have gas at the end of run. Bringing back efficiency to my runs as I did when in marathon training. Although I am trying to focus on speed this year, I’m having to revisit “gas in tank” philosophy. Starting and finishing at the same pace  will bring strength back.

Focusing on being strong in my run was the mental focus early in the week, that run usually sets the tone for the week. During that run I kept focus on breathing and heat rate. I discovered running short of my heart palpitations does help with my breathing. Palpitations have been part of me and running for a long time. In the last year they have become increasingly more prominent and annoying. I’m sure a Dr would disagree with my gauge of effort, but those are the same ones that practiced for almost year to diagnose me with Grave’s, so I’m a won’t judge them by their efforts.

On we go with effort being a key player. My runs are full of effort, setting pace per mile aside, I’ve been giving better effort than some of my past marathon training. It is the key ingredient to my #getactive #stayactive philosophy. My reflections this week have been more on how far I’ve come than where I’m not. Having to run my lessor mileage loops has been a check on my ego, but a great reminder of where I started. 18 min miles is where it began.

I’ve seen some fast 7 min paces as well. I’m not there right now. That’s where perseverance comes in. I, like all the other runners. am out there giving it what I’ve got when I can. Others are blessed with a tail wind that keeps them flying around the streets and trails, others are blessed with endurance to run around or to other cities and towns. I’m not yet blessed with those traits, but we all have perseverance. We all give our best effort to improve the situations we are in, whether it be nursing injury or training for the Olympics. #getactive #stayactive

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Some Like it Hot

Summer brings on hot topics, pun intended. For years I’ve enjoyed running in the hot part of the day. It is a cleansing process on many levels. I also believe that it helps add endurance to runners. Up until this summer, I’ve enjoyed the easy, hot, long runs. From hot I’ve read about Grave’s disease, it talks about heat sensitivity. Due to my shortened weekly mileage I’ve been attributing my difficulty in the heat to lessening fitness level.

Fitness level withstanding, the heat has become an nemesis. Today’s run started well and I held back in the beginning. By  holding back, I wanted energy for the end of my run. I’m not talking about a 14 mile run, this is being done for a 4 mile. After 2 miles, things seemed to be going well. A quarter mile later things started deteriorating. Having encountered the mental twist of should I stop or continue many times before, I just brought my goals closer. Bringing goals closer from a mile out to a quarter mile out, have been used many times before to get through those temporary spots in a run that feel bad.

I continued on, completing the quarter mile goal and readjusting for the next 3 quarters. Making it to mile 3 my body temp become too much. At this point I started doubting my ability to complete Badwater. I know, crazy as it sounds, that thought really did pop into my head. Badwater you ask? Well, I never really considered running Badwater with the exception of right up to the point where I’ve decided to now not run it. Now you see where the title Bobservationrun comes from. The random thoughts that travel with me during run.

Now back to today’s run. Making it to mile 3 deserved a cool down break. Found a water spigot on an unoccupied building and proceeded to cool down. After couple minutes of cool down, I was back on the road. Fresh thoughts for the last mile were quickly drowned out by the heat again. I was amazed at how quickly my body temp returned to “too friggin hot!” Found another shade tree cooled down for another couple of minutes. Started back with a 90 sec run followed by a 90 sec walk for the remainder of my run. As I cover the ground coming back home, I decided this is my speed work. 15 min pace in a walk run as speed work brought smile to my face. That in turn reminded my why I run. It is about the smiles.

Even though I’d focused on the grind of the run, the pain of the heat and hurdles of Grave’s disease, I was still able to gain in all aspects of the run. I’m still in the research and appraisal stage of all of this. My goals are to run faster, I don’t keep that a secret. I would like to run a sub 20 5K. I had a lot of work in front of me before, now I have a little more work in front of me. Working to improve in a run has been what it’s been about all along. With improvements made in my ability to run, I’ve also made gains in life. If you don’t like the heat get out of the kitchen. It applies in many ways, so bring on the heat.

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