Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Benefit vs. Risk | Pregnancy, Depression, Suicide and Antidepressants. Fun stuff.

I’ve been gone for a while. I needed a break from...well, pretty much everything. I feel like I can’t jump back into this blog until I talk about where I've been. So this is the story of where I've been since I last posted five months ago. Actually, I've been writing this story for almost as long. So please forgive me if it seems a little off, or weird, or the time frames don’t make sense. This is basically five months of brain dump that I attempted to package into something that might border on coherent. And it’s not pretty...but the last two years haven’t been all that pretty either.

I've known for almost two years that I've needed help. I thought that I could manage on my own, that it would pass, that I was ungrateful, that I just needed to try harder to be happy. But some things you cannot accomplish on your own. Like a home in need of much repair, the longer I let this go, the more tools I needed to repair the problems. I wanted to write a flowery story about this seemingly infinite sadness that ends with me telling you that I am all better now. That there is, at the very least, a pinhole of light to strive for in this darkness. I enjoy telling stories that make people happy, give them hope, or at minimum, make them smile a little. That isn't the way this story goes...not right now anyway.

Instead I’m going to tell you about how I've stopped being myself. How everything I present to people is actually a result of me standing outside of my own body and puppeteering my way through the motions of life. The past two years have been a slow but steady decline of depression and anxiety. A variety of issues brought on mostly by bad circumstances but made worse by chemical imbalance. Fatigue, sadness, loneliness, unrealistic and heightened expectations of myself and others, insomnia, agitation, increased impatience (but let’s be honest, I’m not that patient to begin with), hopelessness, panic attacks over simple, everyday tasks, complete inability to fulfill commitments to myself and others, falling in and out of numbness. I have become an expert at avoiding, shutting down, and finding negativity in even happiest moments.
It comes and goes. Some days are dark and hazy; others were not brighter but the haze less opaque. No day ever has full light and just as I’d start to feel hopeful and awake, the darkness would come again. I feel very much like a spectator in life. I’m watching everyone around me grow and flourish. I feel like a small tree in their big forest and they were squelching all of the light that I was so desperately reaching for. 

Was. 
Because I am no longer trying to reach but simply maintain. Every day I become more shriveled and weak. 
I am insignificant.
I am needy.
I am a parasite.
I am a burden.
I am tired. 
Tired of pretending to be happy – or at the very least, pretending to be okay. I am tired of crying every day, at times literally all day. I am tired of pushing back the tears and the lump in my throat so I don’t make you uncomfortable. I am tired of pretending to enjoy the company of others. Truthfully, I don’t enjoy much – I’m just really good at faking it. I continue to forcibly participate in life but I am simply here…at least my physical self is here. I am not making memories with my husband and child and friends. I am disconnected. I am angry with myself for creating these anchors in my life that kept me from leaving, that make me continue to care enough to make an effort. More than anything, I am angry with myself for creating this burden for them.

I have stopped smiling. 
I have stopped laughing. 
I have stopped speaking unless I needed to speak. 
I could almost stop breathing if it were not for the natural will of my body to force me to gasp for air. 
I have to remind myself to react to others; feign interest and emotion for their sake. Don’t complain. Don’t be a downer. Don’t be a burden. 
It takes 26 muscles to smile and 62 to frown. Unless you are depressed. Then the frowning simply happens and the smiling requires the whole effort of your spirit, mind, and body. It is exhausting.

For the few that I’ve allowed to see a tiny piece of my pain, I am further exhausted by their platitudes of everything will be okay, you just have to look on the bright side, and sometimes even their simple act of listening. And I hate how ungrateful that sounds. It’s not that the efforts and kind words are not appreciated, they are. But I’ve wanted, needed, just one person to attempt to rescue me. Come take me away somewhere and let me scream and cry and throw things and hurt with me until it didn’t hurt anymore.

But how do you ask for that? I won’t ask for it. It’s not who I am. And don’t tell me its always been available to me as if I’d be asking to simply borrow a cup of sugar.
It was at my first prenatal appointment that I truly realized that I had let this go too far. I was not having a good day. I wasn't even excited about hearing the baby’s heartbeat – though I’d become pretty good at faking the excitement.
I was filling out a battery of the usual paperwork when I got to a form about emotional health. It was a quiz that ran on a scale of 1-10. These are a handful of questions from the worksheet:

Can you find humor in a situation?
How often do you feel down, depressed or hopeless?
How often do you have trouble sleeping?
How often do you feel badly about yourself or that you are a disappointment to others?

10.
10.
10.
10.

Then the question came that I’d been refusing to ask myself for months.

How often do you think about harming yourself or ending your life?

There was no number designation that was appropriate for this question. Ten was not a big enough number. I wrote ‘yes’ and broke down in the waiting room.

The truth is that I had spent at least the last six months, if not longer, fantasizing about ways to die. I thought about it everywhere. At work, at the movies, while talking and laughing with you, in the car, in my bed, everywhere and nearly every minute of the day. I could ‘get lost’ on a run, step off the curb at the precise wrong moment, accidentally rear-end or cut off a dump truck at a high rate of speed. In the morning when I showered, I wondered how difficult it would be to dismantle a disposable shaving razor. What kind of accident could I have that would keep my family from experiencing the pain that comes from living with suicide. Or would they simply be relieved that this was finally over? I just wanted to fade away. I simply wanted to be gone. No muss, no fuss. Just erase me. 
My doctor listened and let me cry over everything and nothing and she hugged me and told me we’d fix it. Even now I don’t fully believe that we can. We discussed my options – of which there really were none. Most of my depression stems from a situational problem that I cannot resolve in the foreseeable future. She suggested medication and in my desperation, and despite my objection to medications during pregnancy (including aspirin), with slumped shoulders and a defeated spirit, I agreed.
She explained that the benefit of taking the medication was much higher than the risk of not taking it. In the moment I didn't believe her and immediately felt guilty, as if even the thought of medication meant I was sentencing this child to birth defects. But then I thought about the child I’d already left behind even if I was still physically present. That night I picked up a prescription for a low dose of Zoloft. 
At 28 weeks, I've been on Zoloft for almost five months now. It has not been easy to take that tiny pill every evening. It is a pill filled with regret, guilt and worry over what it might be doing to our baby because I am not smart enough, strong enough, rational enough, or some other shortcoming enough to just be happier. I wish I could tell you that it has lifted the haze. I wish I could tell you that I no longer have those thoughts as I pass a big truck on the highway. 
The truth is that the medication has only made it different. The tears are fewer and farther between but the sadness is still there. The thoughts of hurting myself only come on the really bad days and can often be pushed away. When I’m around others I can almost always find a way to be joyful - even if I have to expend a huge amount of energy pushing back the darkness in order to get through the moment. But it is all still very exhausting and very real. I’m scared that I won’t ever remember how to actually be happy - if it’s even possible. I’m worried that this fog has already erased who I really am. There is a sense of loss and mourning for my lost self that is difficult to explain.

Some people might find all of this very confusing. If you are friends with me in real life or on Facebook, you probably won’t see much out of the ordinary. I still crack jokes, I converse with others, I do everything that seems normal. More often than not, it’s simply a desperate attempt to not lose my grip on what is left of a lifeline. Just goes to show that you never really know what is happening with people. But this behavior also gives me hope that I’m still lurking in there.

Being here is better. I know this in my rational brain and in my heart. And I often ask myself what happens if I get too tired to go on? What happens if I lose my grip? There’s no way to know...but I’m going to take my chances. Because the benefit of trying makes the risks of ‘what if’ worthwhile. I’m going to find me again. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

You watched me shrink...

Now watch me grow again!

We started our Spring planting early this year!

Who would have thought I'd be excited about getting huge again? Hopefully it will just be my belly that grows and everything else will stay (relatively) the same size. 

P.S. I totally got pregnant just because I ran out of blogging material. ;)

Monday, August 12, 2013

How being on #TeamPolar helped me get my fitness mojo back #FitFluential

Okay, so I feel like I have to start this post with a confession.

Me and running - we kinda broke up for a little while. Me and running broke up so bad that I even gave it back the friendship bracelet made out of safety pins from old bibs.

Ask me to go running - or pretty much any physical activity, and this is the reaction you'd probably get:

I couldn't put my finger on it but the motivation just hasn't been there. But then this beautiful darling showed up on my doorstep.

What has been missing is visual results. Even though I've gained back some weight after reaching my goal last year, my body looks relatively the same. I used to get a lot of gratification from watching my body constantly change. Now that I don't have as much to lose to get back to goal, I needed to find a new source of visual confirmation that I was (or wasn't) working hard enough.

The first time I used the Polar RC3GPS, this is the readout I got when I synced my monitor to their Polar Personal Trainer site. 

I was all "C'mere visual confirmation. I'mma snuggle you." And then I rolled all over the monitor just like this:
Yeah. Let's do that again.
Yeah! Go me!
I've totally found my motivation again.

I've tried out a few activity tracking tools and apps in the past. Most of them counted my steps, some tracked my route, and some told me a rough idea of the calories I burned (and either grossly under or overestimated that number). With all of the money I wasted on those things, I could have purchased the Polar RC3GPS twice over and I would have gotten all of the above and then some. 

The  Polar RC3GPS not only tracks and analyzes your activity and gives you a visual of all the hard work you are doing; but the Polar Personal Trainer site will help you build a training program to help you meet your goals:
I'll be honest, the first few uses of this device were a bit rough. I was used to devices that were much more simplistic. In the beginning it was a little bit of information overload. But hey, that is what the user manual is for, right? Around my third use, I had this device down pat. So here's some loves, and not so loves about the Polar RC3GPS:

  • PRO: The chest strap is comfortable. No, really! It's made of a very soft elastic and has a bra-strap style slider for easy adjustment. And the strap gets very long. So if you are a bigger person, no worries, it will fit!
  • CON: I think that the clip that secures the strap is a little weak. It's made out of very durable metal (steel?). Unfortunately though, it doesn't seem to have enough 'hook' to it. There were a few times, during very vigorous activity, that the clip would come undone. I resolved this issue by tightening the strap to increase the tension on the hook. That seems to have resolved the problem for me but I'd love to see a more secure hook. 
  • CON: A little overwhelming for an unexperienced user.
  • PRO: That you will get over it when you see all the cool stuff that it does! Seriously. Don't be scared. It doesn't hurt...unless you want it to. And then watch those calories BURN! BURN! BURN!
    Also they have this handy video for new users:
  • CON: The app that accompanies the product does not work with an iPhone 4, only 4s and 5. I had the super sadz over this.
    Dear Polar: At&t is selling the iPhone 4 for 99 cents. For real. They are practically forcing people to use them. Please make your app compatible with the 4 and my heart rate will increase ten-fold and I will burn more calories and super love your product more. LYLAS!
  • PRO: I can totally make do with the website until you get around to fulfilling the above request. Because the website, seriously, it kicks ass. 
My verdict: Worth every flippin' penny. Not only am I back to working out regularly, I'm working harder than ever. Between running and CrossFit Bootcamp, I've given this device a run for it's money and it has not disappointed me yet. It tracks my mileage, heart rate, and calories accurately. It grades my performance in comparison to previous workouts. It allows for tracking of a variety of sports - not just running. And my favorite part by far is the amazing logs on the website and the personalized training plans.

So who wants to go burn 700 calories at CrossFit with me?

I received the Polar RC3GPS as part of a sponsored campaign with FitFluential.
All opinions and experiences are my own. 
If you'd like to buy this great running GPS click ::here:: and use code: “fitfluential” during checkout for a 25% discount! This discount is valid only on the RC3 GPS and will expire on 8/31.

Monday, July 8, 2013

We're going to have #BetterNights with GoodNites! #ad

“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and GoodNites, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #BetterNights.”

Do you know what happened last week? It was very traumatic. I can barely speak of it a week later.

Our baby turned five.

FIVE.

She starts kindergarten in the fall. My heart, it breaks.

Okay, so that is a wee bit dramatic. But my little girl is growing up and I think every parent knows that little ache in your chest as your child reaches yet another milestone. And speaking of ‘wee’, this is a milestone that we are still working on. Izzy has been like, 95% potty trained since she was two. However, nighttime training has been a challenge. 

We can’t seem to get Iz out of training pants in the bedtime hours – and frankly, it’s getting pricey! I’m sick of buying case after case of trainers that don’t quite live up to the challenge of a five-year-old bladder. You know what’s fun? Bleaching a brand new mattress. So now that Izzy is going to be a big girl heading off to kindergarten, it's time to stop having such a lackadaisical attitude about the nocturnal bathroom issues. 

Here are some tips for encouraging nighttime dryness:

  1. Daytime dryness should be established first. Check!
  2. No trainers for naps and waking hours. Check!
  3. Encouraging lots of liquids in the daytime hours but limit them closer to bedtime. In addition, keep the evening quantities small and limit them to water or milk. 
  4. Tinkle is so nice, we do it twice! Hit the potty 30 minutes before bed and have them try again just before lights out. 
  5. Remind your little fire hydrant that anytime they wake in the night, they should try to go to the potty.
  6. Lastly, no trainers! Eeek! But this is where the fantastic GoodNites Bed Mats and GoodNites Bedtime Underwear come in.
    If you aren't quite ready to go trainer-free, use the GoodNites Bedtime Underwear. They are super-thin and feel a lot like real undies. 
    I am loving the GoodNites Bed Mats for a few reasons. One: they are not noisy! No crunchy noises as Izzy rolls around at night. They also breathe! No sweaty Betties up in this bedroom!
    But my favorite feature on the GoodNites Bed Mats is the sticky backing that will hold the sheet in place as she performs her aforementioned nightly acrobatics.
So here we go! Tonight will be our first night of (sort of) big girl underpants in bed and using GoodNites Bed Mats as a backup. I'll let you know how it goes. Are you still working nighttime training? If you stop by Target, you can pick up GoofNites products with a store coupon and get a $1.50 off any GoodNites product.

Do you have any tips for me on how we can help Izzy be successful with nighttime bathroom trips? I'd love to hear your success stories!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mohawk Licensed To Spill Tour comes to Philly! #ad

Have you ever heard the story of Sarah Winchester and the Mystery House? In short, Sarah was convinced by a medium that her family was haunted by the spirits of all the people that had been killed by Winchester rifles. To appease these spirits, she was told that she needed to build a home large enough to accommodate all of the spirits. Thus began years and years of endless, 24/7 construction. Doors that led to nowhere, constant renovations, and often the need for a map to navigate the home. Can you imagine what it must have taken to carpet that place?

My home, with it’s meager 950sq ft, hardly needs a map for navigation. However, like the Winchester Mansion, we have been in a constant state of construction. Unlike the Winchester mansion and its construction of many rooms, I am talking about one room in our house. One teeny tiny room. For almost 5 years I’ve been waiting on the completion of this room. 

Crazy right? Well there were a lot of factors at play. Originally, this structure was a porch, then a sunroom, and then the previous owners eventually turned it into an actual room. And they did an awful job. For starters, they didn’t level the floor. Which would have been great if we were going to turn the room into a bowling alley. But the real problem was the roof. The roof from the house did not butt up to the roof on the addition very well. So every time it rained, the water would slide off one roof and under the other. This is something I discovered to be a problem one day while vacuuming and with a gentle bump, my Dirt Devil went through the wall. Oops. And ew.

Initially, before we realized that the water was coming from the roof, my husband and, my father gutted the one damaged wall and replaced it. 


After they put it all back together and I recovered from my heart attack, all was well. We got some new carpet, moved all the furniture back in. It was great.

And then it rained. And honestly, there wasn’t much we could do about it for a while. We just threw towels down and kept up with rain storms as they came. That lasted for about a year. Then Christian’s dad decided to take a crack at the room. He came out from Arizona to stay with us and he and Christian, once again, gutted the room, fixed the roof, leveled out the floor and rebuilt the room from the ground up...except not really. See, by the time Christian’s dad had to leave, there was still a lot of work to do. It got done little by little, a nail here, some spackle there. And a year later, that is how I became the Sarah Winchester of the state of Delaware.

Finally though, my time in the neverending house is coming to an end. We are FINALLY ready for one last coat of paint and … this is the exciting part … CARPET! 
Okay, carpet isn't that exciting. But when I found out that Mohawk Flooring and their License to Spill tour would be in Philadelphia at the Italian Market Festival, I was kinda stoked to go check out what they have to offer. So I set out with the kid and two of my favorite bloggers, Melinda and Rachee, and off to the festival we went!

(Also, when I heard that Chef Peter McAndrews of Paesanos and Gus of Isgro Pasticceria would be serving up their famous sandwiches and cannolis - well, you don’t have to ask me twice to attend.)
I was really excited to see a demo of this carpet after reading up on it. I usually don’t buy into claims of carpets being ‘stain resistant’ - especially if there is a lot of pre-treating involved.

My little mud-slinger got right to work on giving this carpet her best dirty work.

Any doubts I had about this carpet were put to rest immediately. With just a few shots of water, Kool-Aid, soy sauce, and who knows what else, fell right out of the Mohawk SmartStrand carpet. Even tough stains, like ketchup and even red wine will clean easily out of SmartStrand carpet with a little soapy water!

Treated carpets are often stiff and kind of smelly. The Mohawk carpet had neither of these traits. I was pleasantly surprised by how soft this carpet is. But what I like best is the low maintenance! Typically, stain resistant carpets need to be treated regularly. SmartStrand has permanent stain and soil resistance that will never wear off. Most carpets have stain and soil treatments that are applied topically to the fiber. Over time, in the face of foot traffic, and due to wear and tear, the topically applied stain and soil treatment wears off leaving carpets looking old and worn. None of that with Mohawk SmartStrand!

I really enjoyed ‘shopping’ for carpet with the Mohawk License to Spill tour. We were introduced to a quality product in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. How often can you take your child to a flooring provider and let them make a huge mess? Or meet this handsome guy?
 
Chip Wade from HGTV’s Elbow Room was on hand for babysitting. Okay, no not really. But he does want you to watch his show.

Thanks, Mohawk, for the fun day out at Philadelphia’s Italian Market. We learned a lot, ate a lot, and got to rub shoulders with some of Philly’s most fun characters. Be sure to check out the tour when it comes to a city near you!

Want to cut a rug with us? You can enter to win your own 6x9 SmartStrand Silk bound carpet rug from Mohawk Flooring. 
video

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Broad Street Bully | A Guide to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Broad Street Run

I’m doing it again. I’m taking on the 10 mile Blue Cross Broad Street Run for the second year in a row.
Last year I was so scared. This was not only my first big race - but my first solo race as well. I had to get into the city all by myself, well before dawn, navigate the public transit system, and find my corral all by myself. 

Fun fact: I’m a nervous tinkler. Being a nervous tinkler among nearly 40,000 runners who are nervous poopers does not make for fun times at the port-o-potty city.

This year I’m nervous for very different reasons. I have been completely slacking in the running department. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed a significant lack of #proof in my stream over the winter and early spring months. I went through a terrible depression over the winter and thankfully I’ve been coming out of it in the past two months. While I wallowed in self pity, I completely fell off my exercise regimen and now I am playing catch up. It has been quite a challenge. Last year I ran though the bitter cold of the winter months and by the time May came, I was more than ready for Broad Street. This year I’m slower, less motivated, and feeling like this race is going to kick my ass. I’m hoping that I can at least match my time from last year.

However, nerves over my performance are getting settled because this year I have quite a few friends that are running Broad Street, including my husband! Even though I am still really nervous, I am super excited to share that energy with people I love. As a veteran of the race people have been coming to me for tips. So I thought I’d answer their questions here and share some tips from other veterans as well.
Do you have any questions or tips you’d like to share? See anything here that isn't quite accurate? Leave your questions, tips, and clarifications in the comments below and I will update this post as the week goes on.

PRE-RACE PREP

Picking Up Your Bib

By now you should have gotten an email telling you your bib number and corral assignment. Print that out and bring it to the expo hall with you. It will make the process go a lot quicker.

Can’t pick up your bib? Give your email to a friend with a brief note authorizing them to pick up your bib. They will also need to present a photo ID.

EXPO

The Expo at Lincoln Financial Field hours are:
Friday, May 3rd, 10am to 5pm 
Saturday, May 4th, 8:00am to 5:00pm
The catch: BSR is asking that people try to follow the schedule below base on the alphabetical order of your last name for packet pick-up in order to ease congestion in the expo hall.

Friday, May 3rd: Open pick-up - 10am to 5pm (Sharp)
Saturday, May 4th
G-M 
8:00 A.M. to 9:00 A.M.
N-Z 
9:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M.
A-F 
10:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M.
All letters: 12pm to 5pm (Sharp)

RACE DAY!
Parking

There is NO PARKING at the start area. It is suggested that you park at the stadium complex (Citizen’s Bank, etc.). You can also park at FDR park. Lots open at 5:15am. I highly suggest you are there when the gates open. There will be a line of crawling traffic to get into the complex on race day. Keep in mind that even after you park, you still have to catch the train to the start. There is a massive wait to get onto the very packed train. 

Ladies, if you are ovulating and planning on riding the train...well good luck. It’s packed so tight you might come out pregnant. Sorry.
There is no parking available at the start area, on Pattison Avenue or inside the Navy Yard.

Getting Dropped Off For the Race

If you are getting dropped off for the race, please, PLEASE, do not cram yourself onto the train. Get dropped off as close to the starting area as you can manage. But don’t think that means you can wait until the last minute to show up. Streets will be closed off and there will be plenty of traffic to contend with. Check out the corral map to figure out where you can be dropped off.

Getting to the Start

Okay, y’all, this is where the shit really gets hairy. If you can, get dropped off near the start. Taking the train from the stadium area to the start is an up close and personal experience. You will touch other people. The BSR website encourages you to board the train no later than 630am. Follow this advice. SEPTA will offer every registered race participant a free ride on the Broad Street Line. Additional buses will be running from Little Broad Street just north of Pattison Avenue.

Running Traffic

Mychal of My Life in Mommyland who is a Broad Street 1st timer and speed demon has lots of questions. The most important of them being about the potty situation.

How bad is the "traffic" while running? Will I be slowed down by other runners?
At times, yes, others will slow you down. However, thanks to the corrals, runners go out in waves. I believe a new wave is released every 15 minutes (I can’t remember!). It will be very crowded for about the first mile and then people start to spread out, get ahead, or fall back. Don’t be afraid to pass people! The traffic really thins out around mile two. You will see a lot of go-getters sitting on the sidewalk; people that started out way too fast.

By and large, I didn’t have any issues with people slowing me down. However I do wish you dang walkers WOULD MOVE TO THE SIDE. Seriously, its a running race. I get that lots of people will need to walk at times and even I will be one of them. But get the hell out of the way!

Last year a guy on the train gave me a great piece of advice: He told me to run in the middle of the road and even on the median. He said that it’s the flattest part of Broad Street. It doesn’t look it, but Broad Street does have a lean to it as you get closer to the sidewalk.

Would you recommend staying in the city the night before? If so, why?
Eh...I’m torn on this. If you live within 45 minutes of the city, I say don’t waste your money. It would be awesome to not have to get up at 430am to get to the race on time. But on the other hand, by the time the race starts, I’m all warmed up and ready to run. If I was able to flop around a hotel room until 730, I’d have a really rough start for an 830 run. 

I Gotta Pee!!! (or alternately: Oops! I Crapped My Pants!)

What's the port-potty situation REALLY like? 
It’s hit and miss. When I parked at Citizens Bank Park and tried to use the port o potty in their lot, it was roughly 630am and it was a gigantic shit-fest. For real, someone must have either had the beer shits or been so nervous that brain matter came out of their ass. 

Once I got down to the starting area, the potties were much better. However, the wait times were CRAZY. Once you step off the train, immediately head for port-o-potty city. If you are in the Yellow corral with me, you have prime potty real estate. Even though there are more than 300 toilets, again, make it your FIRST stop after the train.

Kelly from the Fabulous Food Fairy recommends carrying some tissues with you as emergency TP. I agree...I had to air dry last year. ick.

So the short answer to the potty situation is that it is bearable...better than Woodstock ‘94 but worse than the port-o-potties at the big family reunion in the park.

Phone Tips, Finding Your People, Music, Connectivity

Tips from Lindsay of The Naughty Mommy who became ‘Lost Runner’ once and ended up on the Island of Misfit Milers.
  • Make sure your phone is charged. 
  • Are you running with a partner or meeting someone at the finish? Write down any phone numbers you might need and keep them in your pocket. If your phone dies, you can still get in touch with your companions by borrowing someone else’s phone. 
Other phone tips:
  • Conserve your battery. Listen to MP3’s on your phone (or better yet, a separate device). Apps like Pandora will quickly drain your battery life. 
  • ‘I read that we are not allowed to run with music. How can I run 10 miles without music?’Pull your running shorts out of your crawl. You can run with music. Technically you are not allowed to use headphones at all. But it is not enforced at all.
    There are a few reasons for this rule. Broad Street is timed race that people use to qualify for other races such as the Boston and NYC Marathons. There are many races around the country that you must qualify for by running at a certain pace. Many believe that music gives you a mental advantage. To keep the playing ground fair, you cannot use any music to fuel your run.
    Additionally the use of music will disqualify you from being eligible for the cash prizes involved in this race.

    Secondly, it is a safety issue. You want to be aware of who is around you. If you can’t hear someone behind you yelling ‘On your left!’ as they attempt to pass you, a sidestep on your part could result in an accident.

    All of that being said, bring your earbuds and play every power song in your library. If you are a casual runner, #1 does not apply to you. As for #2, keep your tunes at a reasonable level that allows you to be aware of your surroundings. Or you can do as I do and only wear one ear bud. Besides, there are lots of awesome people and bands along the route that are cheering you on. You want to be able to hear them. Believe me when I tell you that the spectators will fuel your run better than any energy goop or music in your iTunes library.
  • 3G, 4G, and the city’s free WIFI connection will be taking a beating. You will be lucky if you can get a connection for all of your favorite running apps. 
    • Additionally, last year I was not able to use my phone at the finish because I could not get a connection. Set up a predetermined meeting point with your companions. AND STAY PUT! The finish line and surrounding area is a sea of people. Get your medal (YAY, YOU!), snack, swag, and head to your meeting point. Check out this map to pick a spot.
      If you have friends and family in the spectator area, keep moving through the runner refreshment area and to a different meeting point. Don’t clog up the finish line by returning to the spectator area.

Water

Personally, I do not like to run with too many supplies. Water bottles and fuel belts really mess up my stride. I get distracted by my annoyance over extra weight. I don’t even like armbands for my phone but will probably begrudgingly use one so that I can put my ID in the sleeve too. Basically, if I can’t cram it in my bra, I don’t want to bring it with me.

However, if you like to carry your water with you, Jeannette from Eco Incognito suggests that you go green by bringing your own reusable water bottle or using a Camelbak water system.

If you like to travel light, like me, water stations are conveniently located at the start, 2.2, 4.2, 5.2, 6.3, 6.9, 7.8, 8.5, 9.1 miles and the finish line. Water stations at 2.2, 6.3, 7.8, and 8.5 also have Gatorade in green cups.

Finding Your Corral

By now you have probably received the email with your official bib number and corral. If you are a slowpoke like me, then you are probably in the Yellow or Pink corrals. 

The corral line-up goes as follows:
 Corral  Anticipated Finish Time
 Elite & Seeded  N/A
 Red  Under 1:05:59
 Purple   1:06:00 to 1:15:59
 Orange   1:16:00 to 1:24:59
 Green   1:25:00 to 1:30:00
 Gray   1:30:00 to 1:40:00
 Yellow   1:40:00 to 1:50:00
 Pink   1:50 Plus

Do you plan to run with a friend but they ended up in a different corral? Don’t cut the line! Move back to the slower corral. In my opinion, this is just good etiquette. Slower runners are in the corrals further back for a reason. You don’t want to jam up traffic by starting with a pack that is faster than you.

When Will The Race Start?

Technically the race starts at 8:30am. The corrals are released in waves to reduce congestion on Broad Street. Unless you are an Elite or in the Red corral, don’t expect to start before 9am. Last year when I was in the Pink corral, the back of the pack, I did not even see the starting line until approximately 9:20am. It’s kind of annoying but it allowed me to scoot off for one more bathroom break and then jump back into the pack before they even started a slow jog. Your timing chip (which is on your bib) will not start until you cross the start line. This long wait will not affect your overall time. Your nerves are another story.

When Will The Race End?

The Finish Line: Both Whitney of Mommies With Style and @KayKyungsunYu1 wanted me to caution you that the race DOES NOT end at the entrance of the Naval Yard. KEEP GOING! “I have literally had almost every experienced runner warn me of this because apparently it can be sucky” says Whitney. I can attest to this. It took the wind out of my sails a bit when I realized that I still had about a quarter mile left to go. As Kay said to me on Twitter, “#DontKickTooSoon”. Pace yourself on that last leg and then finish strong!

Kelly from the Fabulous Food Fairy wants to remind you to pace yourself. “I ran it for the first time last year, and the best advice that I can give is to run your own race. When I first started, I was in a huge pack of people who ran a faster pace, and about a mile in, I was fighting to keep up. That is when I decided to stop keeping up, and run at my own comfort level. It was the best decision, and it allowed me to run with success.”

How long will it take me to finish? The answer to this question varies. Currently I am averaging a 12min mile - give or take a few seconds. So it should take me about two hours to finish. However, most people tend to run a little faster when they are in the pack. I am hoping to either meet or beat my time of 1:52:29 from last year.

Even if you have to walk parts of the course, as long as you manage to eek out a 15 minute mile, you will be finished with the course in a breezy two and a half hours.

What Should I Wear?

NO NEW GEAR! Do not wear anything that you haven’t worn while running in the past. Now is not the time to show off that snazzy new gear that you just picked up at the expo hall. You don’t want to risk ill-fitting shoes, slippery socks, chafing fabrics or annoying doo-dads that seemed functional when you bought that super-cool looking jacket. Save the fashion show for the running newbs at the park. For once you can be the cool kid that the new runners aspire to be.
Wear whatever you are most comfortable in. And for God’s sake don’t be the dork that wears the official race shirt. 

No, I am totally kidding. I just wanted to sound like a douche bag that would say that. Wear your shirt if you want. Be proud. You are running 10 miles and you are a badass. If anyone laughs at you for wearing it, rub their face in your sweaty armpit. If it’s pre-race, shart on them with your nervous poops.

Disposable Gear: I highly recommend wearing a sweatshirt that you don’t mind tossing. It will be chilly in the morning, so you definitely want something to keep you warm. But you don’t want to be fumbling with that sweatshirt or jacket the entire race, right? I don’t know about you but I loathe tying my jacket around my waist. So I will be wearing a sweatshirt that I am ready to get rid of and when I get too warm, I will toss it on the side of the road. Volunteers will be collecting discarded clothing along the path to donate to the homeless. Don’t have anything you want to part with? Hit up the thrift store this week.

Gear Check

If you can avoid it, I would advise against checking your gear. It’s simply a pain in the butt. But if you must bring a bag to be checked, be advised that this year it must be in a clear bag. Checking gear is also another reason to arrive as early as possible - all gear must be checked by 8am.

You can read more about gear checking on the BSR website.

Myths, Tricks, and miscellaneous stuff

Christine from Love Life Surf wants to know if there are tricky parts and is it really is all downhill. 

Don’t believe it! Running the ‘hills’ in Broad Street aren't like climbing Kilimanjaro - but Amanda and I both agree there are slight dips and waves in the road. If you don’t mentally prepare for them, they will bite you in the butt. The first hill I struggled with was right around Mile 3 at Temple. Thankfully their awesome marching band was out there playing for us and cheering us on. 


As for tricks, I think the only truly tricky part is telling your brain to shut the hell up. Your brain is going to tell you that you are nuts, that you can’t do it, that your knees hurt too much, you are tired, you have to pee, you want to walk. Tell your brain to shove it.

The Anatomy of Your Broad Street Bib


How To Wear Your Bib: This might seem like a no brainer...but you would be surprised. You must wear your bib on the front of your shirt. Not on the side. Not on the back. Not on the leg of your pants. Not on your butt. On the FRONT of your shirt. Like, where your nipples are.

Safety x4: Use four safety pins to affix your bib to your clothing. Don’t get chincy because that thing will be flapping all over the place and for 10 miles, that is insanely annoying.

I.C.E.: Fill out the emergency contact and medical information on the back of your bib. This is important! You may never have an accident during a race. But do you want to chance falling unconscious and no one knows anything about your or how to contact your family? Fill that shit out!


The Most Important Parts

Have fun! Now that Broad Street has adopted the lottery system, who knows when you will get to run this awesome course again. Running Broad Street is truly a delight and a moment that should be savored at every mile. It's the people of Philadelphia, the people that come out to cheer us on,  that we have to thank for that. And in that spirit, as you run through this great city, take a moment to remember all of the people affected by the Boston Marathon bombing. 

On that note, I want to leave you with this excerpt from a blog post I came upon after the Boston Marathon tragedy. It was written by Philadelphia native Dan Colameco. These are the words I will be carrying in my heart on May 5th. These are the words that will carry me through these 10 miles and the many miles of running in my future.
And Today, we run on borrowed strength, strength that cannot be killed, for it belongs to none of us. It is not ours to keep, but rather to pass between us, when needed.
You can read Dan's beautiful Runner's Prayer in its entirety on his blog, Running As I See It.

And last, but certainly not least, my running-mentor-in-my-head Malinda from TWINS RUN in our family has an epic recap post from last year that is like a huge daisy chain of links to other recaps.

Remember, if you have any questions or tips for Broad Street, leave them in the comments below and I will update this post as the week goes on.

I hope everyone has an awesome race day!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I was pregnant...for like, 30 seconds.


Today we are going to talk about my uterus. There will be much TMI. This is a rare moment on the blog because nothing skeeves me out more than talking about the crap that comes out of or goes into one’s vargeena.

But stuff happened. Stuff that went into my Ute and then stuff that came out. Stuff that made me happy and then stuff that made me sad. Stuff that first resulted in no clean up and then resulted in a big ol’ mess.

Look, I told you there would be TMI. You had your chance to turn back waaaaaay up there in sentence number two. But ooooh nooooo. You saw talk of lady bits and you just HAD to hang around.

Perv.

Anyway.

This is my uterus.

She is mostly healthy.

She gets a lil cyst on her ovaries once in awhile.

That made it hard to lose weight and made me feel like crap at times. I was told that this could result in fertility issues. But you know, we all have our ‘issues’. I can’t expect my uterus to be on top of her game all the time.

And her cervix has been through some tough times.
But I can’t blame the uterus for having a shitty roommate, can I? That’s not fair.

All in all, she’s had a pretty good run. We work well together. I know when she’s gonna do what she do; and she knows not to mess with that cycle. I show my gratitude by not screwing up her hormones with birth control pills.

We went through a rough patch somewhere between puberty and late 80’s/early 90’s feminine protection (thank god for black stretch pants and Midol). But once we hit the end of those tumultuous years, we were totally on the same page. After all, any partnership must allow for some growing pains.

Many years pass with not much of anything to note. She does her thing, I do mine. Then in 2007, the husband and I decide that we are ready for a baby. The Ute and I reviewed the calendar and acted accordingly. She did all the right things: released an egg, baked the egg, housed the egg - and then my body was all ‘Screw this. I soooo did not agree to any kids. What the hell, Ute?’ and my body promptly started to develop pre-eclampsia. My doctor induced me, broke my water with what can only be described as the Devil’s knitting needle and then, as if none of that was traumatic enough to the poor Ute, then my kid took her first dump before she ever left her temporary lodging.

Oh...the Ute was pissed.
And in true feminine fashion, she showed her annoyance in small, passive aggressive ways. Ways like:
  • clinging to parts of the placenta, causing the need for it to be cut out
  • gigantic, ninja post-birth clots. 
    • me: oh yay! postpartum bleeding is over!
      ute: psssh bitch please ::12 hours later:: Tsunami-style bloodbath in yo pants, bitch!
  • ermahgerd the cramps. Who installed barbed wire in my fallopian tubes?
  • calendar? what calendar? Surprise! Here’s your party favor, a tampon that will do you no fucking good.
  • oh what nice white sheets you have...go ahead, go to sleep. There won’t be a giant, ass-shaped red stain there in the morning. ::snicker::
  • sexy time? how about ‘watch the disappointment wash across your husband’s face’ time?
She was annoyed, I get it. And like any feminine creature, you have to let them work it out in their time and in their own way. 

Finally after 3-ish years, things started to return to our normal, peaceful state. Then the Ute got lonely. She missed having a project to work on. Screwing with me wasn't as fulfilling as it used to be. And truth be told, I was feeling it too. We were frenimies who had lost their common cause. We had grown tired of trying to best each other and we were finally ready to work together again.

But much like any cooperative arrangement, time, budgets and circumstances would not allow for us to pursue any new projects. So we sat back and watched while others announced, gave birth to, and cradled new babies. The Ute and I had many quiet moments of reflection, wondering if and when it would happen for us again. We cried together, hoped together, ached together and we were just together...as we had always been. It was in those days that I was never sure what suffered worse - my heart or my ever-empty associate.

Just as we had both grown accustomed to the idea of more waiting...and quite possibly never moving forward, something happened. We got this:
I had been clueless to the secret that my Ute had been hiding from me. Lately, the days come and go with nary a glance at the calendar. And it wasn’t until I noticed the date on the calendar that I became aware of this secret. Then for nearly 48 hours we were allowed to linger in the joy, the exhilarating fear, the hope, and the idea of what could be.

I felt the push and pull of happiness and guilt. Happiness for happening upon a pregnancy that, while far ahead of schedule, would fit into our lives just fine. Guilt for lamenting over ruined summer plans of climbing walls and jumping over fire in obstacle races. Happiness in delighting our daughter with the news of a much coveted brother or sister. Guilt for having waited so long and how hard the adjustment might be on our daughter - despite her excitement.

And then it was gone. 

The spotting started. Then a smear of blood. By the third day, there was no mistaking that this was not meant to be. This was a chemical pregnancy.

After 3 positive tests, there was no denying that for a brief moment, I was pregnant. But it was never a baby. It was merely an idea. Hopes and fantasies about how we’d like our life to be. 

We didn’t even have a chance to give it a nickname.

And for as sad as I am about this; I’m equally, if not more so, okay with it. I’m an emotional person but my logical brain will always win out. We weren’t even trying. And even though this was a happy ‘oops’; we weren’t exactly ready. There is also a biological reason that my Ute let this go. Something wasn’t right and my body simply would not hold onto this clump of cells any longer than was necessary. Maybe the Ute fell asleep on the job...I don’t know. 

I won’t wax poetic or pretend to be sad about losing a ‘baby’ - because a baby it was not. But I will mourn the letting go of an idea, some hope, and certainly a lot of excitement. I am sad about those things. These are not things that are easily put to rest.

But the Ute and I, we are resilient creatures. We will have our moment, flush out the bad, and begin again. So please, don’t tell me you are sorry for my loss. We have not lost anything. We will try again...when we are ready. I am disappointed but not discouraged. The Ute and I are stuck together for a long time to come. Surely we’ll come to an agreement on this project at some point.

If not, I’ll get that bitch yanked out and get a dog.


 
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