Thursday, December 11, 2014

five random thoughts.

1. So, I joined a gym a couple of weeks ago. It was something that I was debating about, something that I wasn't 100% sure about, because I knew how much I lack at self-motivation. By paying for this membership, I would have to force myself to actually go, or else I'd be throwing my hard earned money down the drain, towards nothing. So, I've been going.

I miss working out with my personal trainer in Florida a lot. It might be a self-conscious thing, because I do know what I am doing in the gym. (Mark did teach me a LOT over the years.) The thing is, when I'm there, actually doing it, it makes me nervous to actually legitimately lift weights... even though I know that I know what I'm doing. So today, I did some dead lifts. I felt weird about it, but I did it. I think it was the first step in the process.

I'm also thinking about doing some fitness classes, too. I have a list of classes for the month of December, I just have to pick some out and go.

(I also desperately need to get myself in the pool. I miss lap swimming more than anything. That's my real cardio love. Even though I run all of the time, swimming is my true love.)

2. I'm getting to know myself again. When I lived in Florida, I was always busy. I worked multiple jobs, worked out a lot, and was social with my free time. Some days, I was so exhausted that I would fall asleep on the futon watching a movie with my roommate. (On that note, I still haven't seen the entire Silver Linings Playbook. Sorry Kath.)

So, I've been stepping out of my comfort zone and not allowing myself to work two jobs for as long as I'm in Indiana. I've been spending time with friends and family.. and have been going to the gym for the last few weeks. That has been very important. It has been tough, though, because I'm used to always doing something. I'm used to being busy.

But, I've been reading, writing, thinking about the future, and processing the present.. and it has been good. I'm remembering things that I love, things that I've stopped doing. (like the writing thing.)

I've had the idea to start a photography business. I remember how much I loved photography when I took classes in high school. I wouldn't make it my main source of income, but I may invest in a dslr after Christmas and do some photography around town.

(starting with my mom's engagement photos. no, mom, I haven't forgotten you.)

So, by getting to know myself, by giving myself that time, I'm getting excited for the adventures that lie ahead for me. I feel like I have some good opportunities ahead, I just have to make some decisions. I'm pretty fortunate in that sense.

3. My friend Latefa moved back, too. I'm actually pretty excited about this one. I came back to Indiana, knowing that most of my friends had left and the ones that were still in the same state were definitely not in the same town... then, one day, I got a text when I was out on a run that said, "I'm home!"

After a confusing conversation, I realized that my friend had moved back, too. She didn't tell anybody that she was coming, so she blew me (and her family) out of the water. She moved away several years ago, too, so we had not gotten to have real time together in a very long time. She has jumped right onto my adventuring ideas, though, and we have had a good time.

We've talked a lot about the future and about traveling together, so maybe that will happen eventually.. We went to France together in high school, which was incredible. Now we both want to go to all of the places. It is fun to have a friend with that kind of a mindset, too. I'm very thankful to have her in town.

(even though I think my grandma likes her better than she likes me!)

4. November was a half-success. I didn't succeed at the National Novel Writing part.. life kind of got in the way. (again.) I am a little disappointed in that, but I know that I will eventually get my writing out there. I did write some really powerful pieces about my state of mind, so I'm glad with that. I may try to get one or two published.

I did really put it out there with my Epilepsy Awareness Month personal campaign. For the past few years, I've only talked about it on the internet, through my various social media platforms. This year, though, I was able to talk about my journey with people in person. I am much less inhibited about the issue than I have been in the past. Over the years, I've just become more comfortable with explaining epilepsy to other people, whether it be my own story, or the stories of other people that I know. I think that is important.

I'm excited to keep educating people. I hope that, eventually, I can share it on an even bigger platform that I can right now. I'm working towards that. It's a pretty big deal.

5. I'm excited for the next month or so. My best friend is coming to town for a week and a half or so pretty soon. I can't wait to have some Indiana adventures with her. (and to spend some time with my second family.)

I also have the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend coming up in a month. I'm already freaking out a little bit. I don't feel ready, and I know that I'm not ready, but I'm working towards it. I won't PR again, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed to have a great time. (because, I usually do.) I'm also very excited to see my Orlando friends that I miss so much. I won't be there for long, but it will be wonderful to have that time with them. I do want to scoop them all up and bring them with me on the rest of my adventures.

Then, there's also Christmas. I love Christmas.  I'm a complete Christmas fanatic, I love giving gifts, I love decorating, I love the family time... it's one of my favorite things. I also love going to Christmas Eve Mass. Oh man. I'm very glad that I am in town and that I will get to enjoy all of these thing with my family. If there is nothing else that I learned from living out of state for so many years, it's how precious it is to spend the holidays with family. I'm very excited for this year.

(even though I have to work. it will be wonderful. love love.)

and here's a photo for photo's sake.
this is from October, going to play in the woods with my special two year old nuggetty-cousin.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Epilepsy Story.

It's November. November is the most important month of the year to me, for so many reasons.
(not to be confused with October, which is my favorite month, for different reasons.)

One extremely important thing about November is that it is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. Now, I know that I have been on my soap box about epilepsy so many times, on so many social media platforms, but I have to talk about it here, at least annually.

My story starts back when I was a child, back when I first heard about epilepsy. It was probably 1996 or 1997, when I was 9-10 years old. My dad had a seizure when I was at his house for the weekend. I didn't know what it was, but I could hear him. Thankfully, he felt it coming on and he left the room so that he would not upset my brother or me. He went to the back of the house and I heard strange noises coming from back there, but I did not go back there to check on him. I was concerned, but I was also worried about my younger brother being worried, too. I stayed and continued to play video games, trying to figure out what the strange noises were.

That night, after my brother, Cody, went to sleep, my dad sat me down and explained epilepsy and seizures to me, in the best way that he could explain it to a child. I distinctly remember that conversation. He said that his brain sometimes sends bad signals, that it can make his body do strange things. I tried to understand, but clearly could not truly comprehend seizures or epilepsy, because I was so young. However, I was glad to know that he trusted me enough to try to explain it to me, so that maybe I could understand what was going on.

In August of 1997, my dad died from a massive seizure. I was ten and my brother was eight. It was so difficult to move past that massive loss in my life.

Sudden Unexplained Death from Epilepsy (SUDEP) is a real thing and a problem. Someone with epilepsy is impacted and affected by so many different things, numerous risk factors. Alcohol, irregular medication use, frequent changes in medication, a history of seizures during sleep, and many more factors go into the risk of SUDEP. It is scary to think that so many people have died from something that the public, in general, seems to be so unaware of.

I remained uneducated and unaware for a very long time, for over ten years after my dad died. I knew the little that I knew about his epilepsy and about his death, but I did not go out of my way to learn any new information.

(this is my dad and me, circa October 1986)
Then, in November of 2008, everything changed for me.

When I started having seizures, I was going through a time of high stress. I was in my fourth year of college, but had just changed my major, adding on a few more semesters of school, I had two jobs and 18 credit hours. I sometimes worked until 1 or 2 in the morning, and then would go back to work at my other job at 8, before I headed to my classes for the day. It was also a time of relationship drama, as I was in the middle of a very unhealthy relationship with somebody that I worked with. All that being said, all of the stress that was on my shoulders at that time, I did not have enough epilepsy knowledge to truly understand what was happening in my brain.

My first seizure, I was home by myself. I was reading a book on the couch. I remember feeling strange, kind of like some kind of deja vu, then I started to feel panicked and anxious. I hallucinated, also. Afterwards, my heart was racing and I felt nauseous. I had no idea what had happened, but just let it go. I had minimal knowledge about epilepsy or seizures and had no inkling that I could have just had a seizure.

As the "panic attacks", as I called them, started to become more frequent, I started to wonder if I had schizophrenia. As a psychology major with an interest in psychological disorders, schizophrenia was one of my biggest fears. I was very aware that the typical onset of schizophrenia was in the early twenties, which, coupled with the hallucinations, led to my belief that I did have schizophrenia. I did not actually tell anybody about my fear, called my seizures "panic attacks" and, really, only told two people that I was dealing with them.

At the end of February 2009, I had my first actual tonic clonic seizure. I was at work and chopping lettuce for some salad preparation. I started to have one of my "panic attacks", but noticed that that one seemed a little bit more intense than usual. My vision started to get blurry, then I remember waking up with a group of people standing around me. I was lying on the ground. It felt like I had been dreaming. Somebody said that it looked like I had a seizure and asked if I had a history of seizures. I said no, but started to think seriously about the past several months.

After an emergency room visit, several tests, including an EEG (yes, that was weird.. lots of tubes sticking out of my head.), wearing a heart monitor for 24 hours, among other things, I was diagnosed with.. nothing. All of my tests came back normal. I had a syncope episode.

I was angry and frustrated with that (lack of) diagnosis. I knew that there was something bigger, something deeper than just passing out. If that was the case, I was sure that I wouldn't be having the episodes so frequently. I clung to the idea of the epilepsy, of seizures, and researched as much as I could about them.

I had my second tonic clonic seizure in June of 2009, several months later. I was asleep when I had my seizure, but fortunately, I woke my roommate. Knowing about all of the months of undiagnosed episodes, she wrote down, in detail, everything that she saw. She ended up waking me up at some point, I called my mom, who came to pick me up and take me to the hospital.

That time, I got a diagnosis, medication, and a bunch of emotions to deal with.

Partial complex epilepsy..
So, typically, it doesn't look like I've had a seizure. I don't often have tonic clonics, though I have had them. You would not typically, by looking at me, know that I'm having a seizure.


It has been a long road getting accustomed to my diagnosis, my medications, and my lifestyle. I do have it better than so many people, but that doesn't mean that I'm not impacted by seizures, by epilepsy. It is a part of my life.

I do talk about my epilepsy often. I try to explain different types of seizures, basic first aid, and different facts about warning signs and so on. I think that awareness is the most important thing. If I can make one person more aware or more interested in spreading that awareness even further, I will have accomplished something. If I can get people to seek out more information, to learn something about epilepsy, I will be even more accomplished.

I advocate for knowledge, for awareness.. I believe in talking about my epilepsy, so that someone else can learn something new. I didn't know anything about epilepsy until it touched my own life personally. I also advocate for more research. Neurological disorders are important. So important.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Chicago Marthon recap part 2: race day

So, I guess I should write about the actual... race day. (considering the fact that tomorrow is November... and November calls for a  lot of epilepsy-awareness type things.)

Well, race morning, I woke up early.. if you can call it that, since I did not sleep well at all. I woke up almost a dozen times throughout the night. It felt more like I had been taking a little nap than sleeping. When I got up, I got dressed for the race... aaaand we headed to downtown.

My mom and I tried to stop at a few different places in order to get some breakfast-type food to eat, just so that I would not have to run an entire marathon on an empty stomach. That task turned into an adventure... and an adventure that was more a challenge than it was expected to be. We could not find any fast food restaurant to get something to eat, so we stopped at a drug store.. which was closed. After a while, we ended up going to a little gas station, where I got a Clif Bar. Then, we were finally off to downtown Chicago.

This was my third consecutive Chicago marathon. That was lucky, because I had an idea of where I was going and what I was doing.

..that didn't save the beginning from being dramatic and anxiety ridden, however.

When we got downtown, some of the roads were already closed, making traffic a little bit of a mess. We were cutting it close on time. So, I jumped out of the car and walk/jogged the mile-ish to my corral. I came to an intersection and saw... the wheelchairs go by. That was the part when I freaked out a little bit. Logically, I knew that my coral hadn't closed yet and I also knew that the wheelchairs always start first and, often, start much earlier than everybody else.

But still... when I was trying to cross the streets and they were blocked by the wheelchairs that had already started, it freaked me out a little bit. (by a little bit, I  mean a lot. I may or may not have been borderline panicked at that point.)

Anyways, I ran across the street between groups of wheelchair races and made it to Grant Park, to my corral, then felt much better about everything. I'm very thankful that I didn't have to gear check anything. That saved me from one very very long line. I got into my corral, texted my mom that I made it, she said that she had finally parked. Then I started to get more nervous. For some reason, I was dreading the race. I had hyped myself up for it, especially since last year I had a terrible race, did a horrible job training for it.. and I wanted to do better this year. I did train better, but I was not where I wanted to be. At all.

I was nervous about everything, having a bad race, freaking out, not being able to do as well as I wanted to, and so on.

I ended up talking to some people around me about things. This one woman was running her first marathon and seemed to have a mix of emotions. She was both excited and nervous. We talked about some races that I had done, but mostly... just talked about the day ahead of us. One thing that I enjoy about being a back of the pack runner is that I get to talk to a lot of people in the corral before I get to actually start. Does it calm the nerves? Not necessarily. It's just a nice camaraderie type of thing.

So, then the race started. I decided to push pretty hard in the beginning in order to get a good start, then, if everything fell apart later, I still would have had a good beginning. I'm not sure that was really the best strategy, but it was the best that I had at the moment.

I felt good. Actually, I felt great for many miles. I was killing each mile, on track to smash my PR by at least 15 minutes. I was still on track to beat it by 15 minutes by the time that I got to mile 22. I had a good race. I saw my mom at several different intervals, starting at mile 3 and going all the way through the race. I also saw Katherine and Andi at different places to, but didn't see them until mile 13ish. (I was starting to think that I would not see them at all.)

There's something about having spectators that helps get through the race. It was an energy thing. It's just nice to have someone that you know being there. (though the spectators in general in Chicago are great.)

The streets of Chicago are awesome. I loved running through the streets, seeing all of the buildings. I think that my favorite parts are being between all of the tall buildings. The course, for the most part, is pretty flat. I really enjoy the start, then running underneath the overpass.

One unique thing about running in Chicago is the number of bridges. It seems like we ran over the water a number of times, which was pretty cool. One of the time, at about mile 3, my mom was standing up on the side of the bridge cheering. That was the first time that I got to see her, so that was awesome. The bridges were really fun. I liked that they put carpet over most of them, because it made them easier to run on. (though I did see a girl trip over the carpet. I guess that you can't win them all.)


I started to feel a little bit rough a little bit after mile 22. My legs started to get very tired, my mind started to go negative, in a sense, and I started to feel like I wasn't sure I'd make it. I thought about all of the things of the last year, the tough year that it was, and all of the changes that I had gone through and was about to go through.

At a certain point, it always seems to get a little bit more difficult to run that 26.2. After 24 miles of being on pace to kill my PR, of feeling awesome, of keeping a pretty steady pace, it all started to fall apart. It got tough. I think that part of the problem was that I hit the same point where I really fell apart last year. I wasn't sure if I could run anymore. My legs were heavy, I was frustrated, I was exhausted... So I turned my phone on. I texted both Katherine and Kristie.

Kath and Andi met me and walked with me for about a half mile or so, before I turned off my phone and ran the last part by myself. It was nice to have that support. Kristie gave me a text message pep talk that helped push me through the last part.

I ended up finishing strong. I didn't get my 15 minute PR, since I walked about a half mile. (well, honestly, probably a full mile, if I could the part before I turned my phone on, too.)

When I got to the last push, that last hill right at the finish, I struggled again. That hill kills me every time, even when I'm expecting it. It feels impossibly long and large. I pushed as hard as I could through that point, and ended up finishing with a 6 minute PR.

New marathon PR: 6:24:13

I'm good with that.

The theme of this year: I'm not where I want to be, but I'm on my way. I think that this race showed that.

(thankful for my supporters near and far: those who were physically there supporting me, running all over Chicago, those who gave me words of encouragement during the whole process, and those who sent me well wishes and thoughts that day.)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Chicago Marathon part one: expo day.

Ah. So, today has been a week since the big Chicago Marathon. I can't believe that it's over.

I had a lot to prove this year, at least in my head. Last Chicago Marathon was really rough for me. The whole training was really tough for me, as I had about 800 other things going on in my life that I prioritized. I didn't really prioritize the training the way that I should have. So, the race was really tough, very VERY mental, and I really felt like I needed to do better this year.

So, my training wasn't perfect. at all. It was much better than last year. (somehow, I managed between two jobs, working 6-7 days a week, every week, to run 5 days most weeks, including long runs.. in the Florida heat, starting in the beginning of the summer. On top of moving.) There is more that I really wanted to incorporate into my training- like some strength training and more speed work, but it just didn't happen.

So, since I wasn't where I wanted to be, I was getting pretty nervous about the race, up to about two weeks prior to race day. That's when I started really reflecting and feeling like I wasn't adequately prepared.

So going into the weekend, I was really nervous. I'm not sure if I have been THAT nervous for any race, ever.

So, last Saturday, my mom and I drove out to Chicago for the expo. (by my mom and I, I mean, she drove. I'm a really good passenger.. or freeloader, whatever.) So, we got to Chicago, went to McCormick Place... and met up with Kath and Andi for the expo!

My mom was sad that she was not running this year, so she brought running clothes and hoped she could get a bib from someone, haha. No such luck, and I think she ended up being glad to just spectate.

I've been to the Chicago expo before, as I ran the race in 2012 and 2013, as well, but I am always impressed with the size of the expo and the organization. It's very well organized, and, though it is crowded, the expo never feels overwhelming. I don't think that I had to wait in a line for longer than 4-5 minutes.
Anyways, so I checked in, got my packet, picked up my race shirt, and THEN, we browsed around. My mom signed up for a raffle for every free race that she could find. (and won an entry to Grandma's Marathon, actually. Go Mom!)  Katherine bought my traditional souvenir for my birthday present. (I got a long sleeve shirt. It's pretty awesome.) Andi got really into the expo and took lots of pictures and tried lots of free samples. I told her that she needs to take up running in order to go to more expos. She said no, she'll just enjoy the expos and pretend to be a runner.
We stopped at the information booth and everyone made signs for me. That was fun. I've never run Chicago by myself. (and hardly any races all by myself, honestly.) Knowing that I was going to have spectators was really cool. They made little sheets with my projected times at various spots on the course, which was neat, too. Everyone was all geared up and ready to spectate the race for me on Sunday. (the only thing was that... I was 100 times more terrified than I was excited for the race.)
I got my picture taken with Bart Yasso, which was pretty cool. He joked about my paparazzi, because I had three people taking my picture at once. We talked about the race a little bit. He wished me luck. (no Deena Kastor this year, meeting her was the highlight of my trip last year.)
Deena Kastor, my mom, and me last year. Because I love this.
Walking around the expo was really fun, as it always is. The Chicago Marathon expo is by far my favorite race expo that I've been to. (though, I haven't really done a lot of BIG races. So yeah.)

I was pretty impressed with myself that I didn't spend money at the expo. I had to hold myself back a little bit, because there were lots of things that I really wanted. So yeah me! (I think.)
After we spent about an hour or two (I have no idea) walking around the expo, we left to go hang out downtown a little bit. Andi split up from us, because she had some errands to run, as she lives in Chicago. Katherine came with my mom and me to Michigan Avenue to have some dinner and walk around, which ended up turning into just dinner, before Andi picked her up to go to a haunted basement thing. (I don't do scary.) We had dinner at a cute little soup and sandwich place called Potbelly. I just had soup, which was really good, but I heard good things about the sandwiches, too, from my momma and from Katherine.
When Katherine left, my mom and I walked around downtown a little bit and chatted. It was a nice relaxing way to spend the night before a big race.
(I was still terrified.)
Then we went back to the hotel to sleep for the night. Sleeping was a struggle for me, for sure.

Part two: race day, coming soon.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Year 28: my year of adventure.

So, maybe, I should change the name of this blog, because I don't think that it is only going to be about my running adventures anymore. I'm in the midst of this massive life transition thing... and I am making huge changes in my life.

One of those changes is to actually write. Whether it be in this blog or working on my stories or a novel, I need to write more. So here I am, writing, blogging, multiple times within a month. (craaazy.)

Hmm.. something to think about, I guess...

My birthday was Saturday. Woo hoo, twenty-eight.

I'm not sure if it is because of my birthday or because of... something else, I'm just at this point in my life in which I feel as though I need to make some pretty significant life changes. (like moving 1000 miles, while not knowing or having a plan of exactly where I will be, even a year from now.) I'm trying to push the envelope a little bit, push myself out of my comfort zone, so to speak.

I'm calling this my "year of adventure."

I've made a list of adventurey things that I want to do this year:
(and I'm going to make them public, because I need to be held accountable or else I may never do them.)
1. Get my SCUBA certification. This has been a dream since I was a child. I always told my dad that I would go on a SCUBA trip with him, but he died waaay before I was old enough to get certified. It's time to fulfill it, even if it means I go diving by myself.
2. Go on a solo road trip adventure. By living in Florida and working for Disney, I currently have friends that live in almost every state. I want to see so many of them. (and places. I want to see places.)
3. Move somewhere new. (obviously, this depends on work and jobs.) For many years, I dreamed about living in Chicago or New York, but I've decided that I want to live somewhere a little bit more laid back. I'd like to live my life somewhere beautiful. When I think about moving, I think of my friend, Latefa, who moved to Montana for AmeriCorps after college.. then stayed for a while, then moved to North Dakota. She's not afraid of trying new places, new things (she also told me today that she just bought a motorcycle. I'm not going that far. ha.). I'd like to try new cities, too.
4. Write. Freelance write. Work on my short stories. Blog. Write a novel.
5. Speaking of novel writing, National Novel Writing Month is November. I've attempted to participate once. Maybe this is my year.
6. Travel. I want to see places, do things, enjoy people. I think it may be the best way to learn about myself.
7. Say yes. This is something that I've started in the past year. I used to ALWAYS say no to new things, hide in my comfort zone and around my specific group of tight knit friends. That part of me is over. I need to experience new.
8. Volunteer. I used to volunteer a lot. I taught for Junior Achievement, I volunteered with a leadership group when I was in college... I want to bring that back.
9. Work on my French. I'm a little obsessed with France and French culture. I've studied the language, visited the country... but I want to work on it some more.
10. Get a tattoo. (this is something I've put off for years and years and years... and years. and years.)
11. Epilepsy awareness month. November. I want to get my story out there a little more, get some more awareness. I'm still toying with this idea.


This list is obviously not exhaustive. It will be added to, edited, changed... it's just a list of ideas, at this point.

I just... feel like life is much too short to be stuck in once place, being unhappy. I'm on this journey and there are things that I'm looking for... specifically, joy, laughter, and... following my dreams.

I've been a big dreamer for as long as I can remember, especially when it has come to writing. (I mean, I also wanted to be an Olympic swimmer and a professional baseball player... but I'm just going to have to make some sacrifices for my writing.)

I've been told that I dream too big, that I need to make smaller goals, that I'm setting myself up for failure. However, I've also been told, recently, that I'm inspirational (that one floors me), that I'm brave, that people are proud of me.

I think that I've been waiting until I was ready, comfortable to do these things, but now I'm realizing that I may never be comfortable taking these steps, traveling on my own, getting my SCUBA certification... putting my writing out there. I need to just take the leap. So that's what I'm doing.

(I mean, by trying to write freelance and write a novel... and putting my short stories out there... these things are huge for me. I don't DO that. I don't share my writing with anybody. Ever.)

I need to leave my comfort zone.


On a running note, I'm still going to run my races and write about them, too. I'm just not going to only be the girl who runs and works all of the time.

Time for change...

Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it. And by doing it, they’re proven right. Because, I think there’s something inside of you—and inside of all of us—when we see something and we think, “I think I can do it, I think I can do it. But I’m afraid to.” Bridging that gap, doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that—THAT is what life is. And I think you might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s special. And if you’re not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself. Now you know. A mystery is solved. So, I think you should just give it a try. Just inch yourself out of that back line. Step into life. Courage. Risks. Yes. Go. Now. (Amy Poehler)
Postscript: I'd be lying if I said I wasn't terrified.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

taking big chances, making big changes.

I officially suck at blogging. Well, I've been writing and expressing myself on other platforms, but I've completely abandoned this blog. I'm supposed to be writing about my races here and I haven't been... so here's a list of my races since I've last written.

- The Highlander, March 2013. My first (and thus far, only) obstacle course race. It was SO intense. I lived to tell the tale. I'll do another one day.
- Geist Half Marathon, May 2013. It was really hilly and intense and I was less than two minutes from my PR at the end. (or something like that.) I was super frustrated, but I lived to tell the tale.
- Tower of Terror 10 miler, October 2013. It was better than the previous year, as far as humidity goes, but not great weather by any means. I do like myself a Disney race, though.
- Chicago Marathon, October 2013. Rough race. I was undertrained, to say the least, and basically finished on willpower and adrenaline. Intense. Not my best race.
- Tour de Pain Extreme, March 2014. I PR'd in two of the three races that weekend. I was pretty proud of myself, honestly. That was a rough weekend, but a good one..
- Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon, April 2014. It was a great race, but I was pretty sick and fevery the whole time, so I didn't do well. I probably should not have run, but I am stubborn, sooo.... I couldn't help myself.
(also some 5ks and other short races.)
my mom, brother, and myself after the Oklahoma City Memorial half.


So, life has changed for me SO much in the last year. I started a few new jobs, pushed my boundaries, and changed everything for myself. It's been intense and crazy.

One year ago today, I was preparing for Tower of Terror, my birthday, then Chicago. I was working in a theme park and had been for about two weeks. I hated my job (and actually never even visited the park as a guest while I worked there for two months.). When I wasn't working, I was looking into getting another job, thinking about going to graduate school for creative writing, thinking about doing big things with my life... doing a lot of thinking, but not really doing much planning or ...doing. I was stuck in my comfort zone, hanging out with the same two or three people, working a job that I hated, but was comfortable, just living day by day.

Last November, I started working at a local running store. That's when I started to change, when everything started to change for me. That was my first retail job, save for one Christmas seasonal job many years ago. It was a job that was related to something that I was passionate about and, frankly, I was pretty excited about it. It was a little bit of a step out of my comfort zone, since I wasn't accustomed to working in retail, and because I really only knew the things about running that pertained to myself. I challenged myself to learn a lot about my new job and, so, I did learn a lot.

I also made new friends. I had been in Florida for a little bit over three years at that point and I had pretty much stuck to the same core group of friends, my roommate, who I moved to Florida with all of those years ago and a few friends that I worked with at my previous job. I am, initially, pretty quiet, so it takes me a little while to really get to know people. I did make new friends in my new job, though, friends that really helped me to see things through a new perspective, see how much I could change and really become who I wanted to be.

I applied to go back to school this fall, which would have been last month, and even got accepted. It was a tough choice, though, because I wasn't sure that I wanted a third Bachelors Degree... I really just need to get my Masters. (getting another Bachelors would be like going back to my comfort zone again. This entire year has been about pushing those boundaries.)

Then, last May, I got a second job, lifeguarding. That pushed my comfort zone even further. Though I was pretty much raised in water, love swimming, and swam competitively a little bit, the idea of being responsible for saving OTHER people was a little bit overwhelming. I almost decided to give up as soon as I started, to run back to something that would make me feel more comfortable. BUT, this entire year has been about me pushing my boundaries... so I did. I stayed.

The last four or five months have been really conflicting. My mind has been all over the place. I've been in Florida for four years. Moving here from Indiana was a huge deal. I was 23, just finished college, and moving for graduate school. I didn't finish grad school, which is disappointing, but I learned a lot about myself while I was here. I made friends from all over the world. (literally, from China to England to Canada to... pretty much ever state in the United States.) I always wanted to move to Florida, so I did... and I made it work. It wasn't everything that I wanted, but I gave it a shot and that's what is important.

So, it has been a little over four years.
& now the adventure is ending.

My last day at work is this week, my birthday is on Saturday, and then I am going back to Indiana to work for a while and search for my dream job. (and work on my writing.) I don't know how long I will be there, but I will enjoy my family, go to my cousin's football games, my other cousin's roller derby bouts, hang out with my sister, play with my baby cousins, visit my grandparents... and take some time to figure a few things out about myself. (oh. and I will also get to hang out with some of the best friends in the world. duh.)

I might be most excited for an Indiana Thanksgiving and Christmas.

If I've learned anything this year, it's that I can do a lot of things. I need to focus on the things that I'm passionate about and try to do these big things that I've been talking about doing for years, but have been putting off. I have really stepped out of my comfort zone in the last year, which is pretty big for me, being a comfort zone kind of girl and all... I just want to continue pushing myself. So that's what this plan is.

I've had this lifetime fantasy about my life, since I was very young. Well, the dream really began when my mom was reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie to me, so, probably around the age of five or six. I've wanted to be a writer, I've wanted to write stories that impacted other people the way that those books impacted me and made me think. I've wanted to live somewhere beautiful, to have the kind of life that I can do my writing and then go outside and enjoy the beauty. For a while, I studied Journalism, I even studied Mass Communications in grad school a little bit, but I'm not a reporter. I'm not hard hitting, I'm not in your face. I want to write beautiful stories, live in a beautiful place, and make a small impact in the world.

So that's the dream... and in order to achieve it, I actually have to step out of my comfort zone. I have to share my very personal stories with people. (which I don't do. ever.) I have to learn to stand on my own two feet without leaning so heavily on other people.

...and honestly, I need to stop settling on mediocre. I can be bigger and better than I am allowing myself to be. I've been okay with mediocre for way too long.

"I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it, and, above all, become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be." (Roald Dahl)
Honestly, I'm making massive changes in my life right now. It's terrifying, especially for a comfort zone kind of girl. At the same time, I also realize how important it is. All of it...
As much as this last year has changed SO much about my life, I think that the next year will be even bigger for me. I'm excited, but nervous and terrified.
sidenote: I couldn't have made these decisions without two really awesome people that I know. (well, two and a halfish, maybe three.) The people who told me to do it when I told them about my writing, about my goals, about my huge life changes. (so thanks. just saying.)
over and out.
...and maybe I'll actually write a race report about Chicago this time. haha.
My friend Andi and me, after I didn't die in Chicago last year.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Boston Memories.

It is difficult to believe that it has been a year (and a day) since the bombings at the Boston Marathon last year.

Boston has meant a lot to me since I began running. I have this slightly crazy hope that, someday, I will make it to that race. I have hours to cut off of my marathon time in order to just qualify, but I am (and always have been) a dreamer, so I am hopeful.

Last year, I was at work on the day of Boston. I remember being disappointed, because I would not be able to watch the race online like I had for the previous several years. I checked on the race via my phone a few times during the day. I vividly remember standing next to the elevator with my friend, Kristen, when I got a Facebook notification that someone had commented on the status that I had posted earlier in the day, that I was excited about the race (and about Abe Lincoln, but that's a different story) and that it would be a good day. A friend of mine had commented that it was not a good day in Boston. That's when I checked all of the major news outlets and my heart broke.

I remember that Kristen and I stepped into the elevator and went straight downstairs to the break room to watch the news. It was awful. I could hardly go back to work. I had to keep going back to watch the news, over and over, for the rest of the day. I ran into a friend who had thought that I might actually be in Boston.. she had been worried about me all day. When I got home, I could not walk away from the news, either. Eventually, I did drag myself away to go for a run.

It took me a while to actually feel back to normal... and I was not even in Boston. I was just a girl who had run a handful of marathons (and a lot of half marathons) who had dreams of crossing the finish line in Boston. I was sad, hurt, angry... so many things. I couldn't stop thinking about it for several days.

I still feel so many of those feelings, but I also feel empowered. Someday, I will be in Boston on Patriot's Day, whether it be to run or to volunteer. I would just love to take part in the event.

The next race afterward was the Geist Half. I ran it for Boston.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Neurological disorders...and one reason why I run.

I know, I know... I haven't written in pretty much a year. The last year of my life has been a whirlwind.. but I need to be better about my writing.

Today, on my run, I thought a lot about both my dad and my grandma. My dad had epilepsy and died of a massive seizure when he was 31. My grandma has Alzheimer's, which has taken her beautiful memories and stories. When I think about the fact that neurological disorders are so prevalent in this world, I am both sad and angry. I feel like there is not enough awareness, understanding, or general discussion about either disorder.

My dad's death was unexpected, especially for a ten year old. He told me about his epilepsy just a few months before he died, but I was young and didn't really understand what it was. Then, he was gone. It took me a long time to deal with it. When I was 22, I started having episodes that felt like a mix between deja vu and panic attacks. Because I knew nothing about epilepsy or seizures, I thought that I had schizophrenia, and, naturally, told no one. (also... since I was studying psychology, I knew that schizophrenia usually came on in a person's early 20s. It was my biggest fear.) I was having these "episodes" almost daily, and sometimes multiple times a day. It was horrible. From November until February, I only told my roommates about my episodes, because, obviously, they both witnessed them a few times. My first grand mal seizure was on February 23, 2009. I was at work and had a panic attack/deja vu episode, but that time everything went black. Then I had some sort of a dream like I was floating through clouds. It was actually pretty pleasant. When I woke up, I was laying on the floor surrounded by some of my work friends. Someone said that it looked like I had a seizure. In that moment, everything made sense... at least to me.

After a trip to the emergency room, a day of wearing a heart rate monitor, an EEG, and an ultrasound of my heart... I knew nothing. All of my tests came back as normal. It was pretty awful, but at that time, I did not know that you cannot be diagnosed as having epilepsy unless you have two or more documented seizures. In my mind, I knew that I had epilepsy.

So, fast forwarding a few months to June 24 2009, I had a seizure in my sleep. Katherine woke up to a screeching noise and watched the whole thing. Being the person that she is, she wrote down everything that she witnessed. When I woke up later, she told me that I had a seizure. I remember being upset and feeling sick. I went back to the hospital and was officially diagnosed. Partial complex temporal epilepsy.

It took me a while to get adjusted to having epilepsy. For a while, I was really angry and pretty emotional about the diagnosis. Epilepsy stole my dad, so I didn't think that it was fair that I had it, too. After a little bit, I adjusted to it. I am not as angry about it anymore. When I think about it, it is more an opportunity for me. I have more of a connection with my dad and feel that I can make a difference through my diagnosis. I feel strongly about spreading awareness. I read articles and books about epilepsy all of the time. I talk to my friends about it. When I was first diagnosed, I worked several part time jobs at once and I took first aid information to post at work. I talk about it all of the time and I joke about my brain a lot.

I do get angry sometimes about the fact that people don't know about epilepsy. Every November is Epilepsy Awareness Month... and sometimes, I feel like the people that I know don't understand or know enough about it... and I am just one person. I cannot spread awareness to the entire world. I try to, though.

I do remember one day, a few years ago, when someone asked me about my epilepsy. He had seen something that I shared on social media and wanted to know about my experience with epilepsy. I explained everything that I knew to him. Later, he thanked me for helping him learn about it.

For the most part, I am seizure free and have been for a few years. I have not had a grand mal seizure since the time that I had one in my sleep in 2009. I have had some smaller seizures since then, but not as frequently or as intensely as before I was medicated. I am also much healthier than I was when I first started having seizures. I eat much better and exercise much more frequently (and I started running. a lot.)

My Nana M. has always been one of the best people that I know. I was lucky enough to have a great and close relationship with ALL four of my grandparents while I was growing up. My Nana M. is a big reason for the person that I am today. She gave me a love of photography. I won't forget sitting in her house looking at her photo albums for hours. She had them organized by year... and had so many photographs. The best thing about her photographs was that she had a story for every single one. She told so many great stories. I feel like I know so much about her childhood, even though I was not there to partake in it. I loved listening to them- one of her favorites were about digging a swimming pool with her siblings. I remember listening to her stories, amazed. Looking back, I think that she really impacted my life with her life stories. She's the reason that I love to tell my own stories... and the reason that I would like to write memoirs. She is also the reason that I still love to send (and receive) real letters in the mail. I appreciate the written word so much and she influenced that.

I also got to see many musicals and plays with her. I loved getting that time with my grandparents. There is one very special musical memory that I have with my grandparents. The three of us went to see The Sound of Music. I loved it so much. When we got back to my grandparents' house after seeing the stage version, Nana and I watched the movie version together. We were up pretty late watching the movie. Any time that I see the movie, I think of her and of that great evening.

My brothers and I spent a lot of time with her while we were little, because my mom was in school. I have the best memories with her. (gardening, baseball, going for walks, movies, Rescue 911, swimming, making cookies.... and so on.)

Nana M. now has Alzheimer's. At this point, it has progressed pretty far. She is in a nursing home and it breaks my heart a little. I really don't think that it is fair that someone who loved to tell stories, to write letters, to share memories more than anybody else I know... just does not get to have that any longer. If I could hear one more Nana M. story, it would mean so much to me.

I feel very passionate about Alzheimer's research. There is no reason that the most wonderful people in this world have everything important taken from their mind. I understand that the brain is complex and that we may never know everything about it, but I just would do anything so that nobody would have to go through losing themselves in the slow, painful way that Alzheimer's takes people. It is terrifying and miserable.

Both Alzheimer's and epilepsy make me very angry sometimes. I want more research, more awareness, and more understanding. I am so dedicated to talking about neurological disorders, because they have impacted me in a way that I cannot even express. I need to figure out a way to better spread awareness about both, because my Nana M. and my dad have been two people that have meant a ton to me. They both inspire me to live life to the fullest extent that I know how.


One of the reasons that I run is because I can. Because so many people cannot. I run for my grandma and for my dad. During each of my 5 full marathons, I have thought about both of them when it has gotten rough. They have both helped me push through.

My family means everything to me...