Monday, April 23, 2018

Getting My Money's Worth

Ever since I saw the size of the Little Rock Marathon's medal (BIGGER THAN YOUR HEAD), I knew I wanted to do that race! Okay, it was ONLY because of the medal, I grew up in North Little Rock and love Little Rock...but that medal is HUGE!

The race is super fun because they change the theme every single year. They make a big deal about announcing the theme and revealing the medal. Every year I've had something going on around the time of that race that prevented me from doing it but I had it on my radar last year as I started trying to get my endurance back up. And then they had the big theme reveal:

The whole idea of a "QUEST" was right up my ally. I decided right then I was going to register.  But I had to wait until December to register and to see the medal:

The idea of doing a marathon is all well and good, but the actual training and running of it is quite another. When I registered I put together a training plan for myself and set out to make my comeback my "quest"...

However, my return into the world of endurance sports was not what I expected it to be. I realized I simply do not have the energy or strength that I really NEED in order to properly train.

Leading up to this race I keep reminding myself that it has an EIGHT HOUR cut off time!! They ENCOURAGE walkers!! With my marathon PR being 4:2?, and having done that talking the entire time, and speeding up the last two miles, the thought of doing an EIGHT hour marathon was a little sad but the thought of being able to do a marathon at all after all I've been through the last two years thrilled me to my core! I spent a lot of time in the beginning of the year on my walking treadmill (it only goes up to 2 miles an hour!). One day I got a full FIVE hours on that thing!

I did a few "long runs" but really I think my longest was only about 6 or 7 miles until the Hot Chocolate 15k turned 7 miler. My training was woefully inadequate to say the least. But ...EIGHT HOURS to WALK a marathon? To me, that boiled down to mental toughness.

I was right.
And I was wrong.

My daughter, potato2ironman was signed up for her first half marathon so we planned to stay together until the half/full split at mile 11. Her cutoff was four hours. Her training was as inadequate as mine was. Really it was even less because she wasn't on the walking treadmill leading up to the race and she didn't have the benefit of past experiences to draw from.

Also doing the race was a guy I've adopted as my brother and (a well seasoned/experienced marathon race-walker), his daughter (for her second marathon), a friend from Huntsville doing the half, an athlete I've been coaching since I first started who is now more of a friend than "an athlete I coach", and my husband! Originally he said he was going to do the race WITH me, but that was when he thought I'd be running more than walking!

My "frathlete" was coming from Canada so we rented a house for the week she was going to be in town in my all time favorite part of town, Hillcrest. I got to see my best friend (sister) and my son before she got into town and then we settled in until Dwayne, Ashley and her boyfriend got there the next day.

The expo was AMAZING!!! It was exactly what I like race expos to be--LIVELY!! It was FULL of cool vendors (90% of which had something to do with running), and FULL of participants. That's fairly easy to do when you have like ten thousand people doing your race weekend! (I don't know how many they have doing the race, but they have a 5k, 10k, half and full marathon plus a kids race.) They had a cool stage area with big self stations, and really cool vendors. I had two favorites...a lady selling race charms (like for necklaces) and another one called 73Threads. I'm not going to gush over just how much I loved them, but I did spend a good bit of money at their booth...and I did invite them to come to the Rocket City Marathon expo...and I did a happy dance when they said yes!!! :D. ((The pendant person can't come to our expo because she is from Dallas and their marathon weekend is the same as ours...bummer.))

We decided to just go to the grocery store for dinner foods since we all had different pre-race dietary needs. And then we turned in fairly early.

Race morning we were all up and about well before sunrise and at the race start in time for the obligatory bathroom stops and photos!

Ashley and I lined up at the very back. We sough out the 8 hour pacers (who we found out were NOT the sweepers*). After what happened to us at the Hot Chocolate 15k turned 7 miler, we didn't want to take any chances with cutoffs. As we lined up I went to make friend with the cops who I thought would be following us all day* and then I met someone who, little did I know, would come in handy closer to the end of the race... a self proclaimed "Fire Ball Aid Station".

Let me explain...this participant had a full Camelbak running bladder ful of Fire Ball cinnamon whiskey!! (Yes, I did have to verify this for myself...I figured the alcohol would kill any germs from the spout...)

About 8 minutes after the "actual" start of the race, we crossed the start line...and it started to sprinkle rain! At least it wasn't freezing cold like the last race Ashley and I did together.

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed the first 11 miles with Ashley. She is a very fun person to be in a race with. We were cheering the spectators and dancing and cutting up. Even when it started raining much harder, she was having as much fun as I was. She had been having some issues with her shoes leading up to the race and ended up having to get new shoes so I was worried about her but as long as we were walking, she was fine. It bothered her if we tried to run much so we just kept our pace up enough to stay with the 8 hour pacers.

It wasn't until about mile 6 or so that I started doing some math. We were WAY ahead of the pace we thought we were. That's when we found out the 8 hour pacers were banking time on the front half of the course because they knew the second half of the marathon course was much slower! That was fine for me, but it meant Ashley was going much faster than she had intended. When we found that out, we slowed down.

Let me just say, I LOVED the course. I loved everything about it. It's HILLY and it has a TON of turns. It goes through some "less desirable" parts of town but it also goes by some of the best Little Rock has to offer. There's even a short bit on the North side of the river. There were lots of spectators (even for those of us in the back of the pack), and the aid stations were all ROCKING. The police were INCREDIBLY friendly, and every single road was protected by police or crossing guard type workers. There was some great music on the course and SEVERAL things to take pictures of along the way. When they say they encourage walkers, they REALLY MEAN IT!! I never felt like I was pulling up the rear of anything. ((Part of that is because I wasn't....turns out, from what I understand, they have an 8 hour cut off for official finishers, but they don't actually cut anyone off. The police roll behind the last people in there race no matter how slow they are!! I NEVER saw them behind me even one time.))

At the half/full split off I said goodbye to Ashley as she headed out to finisher her race alone, and I forged ahead, knowing I still had another 15ish miles to go! It had rained off and on the whole morning and I was pretty soaked, but I wasn't cold and I had good layers to add/subtract as needed. But I was VERY sad to lose my running buddy. I strongly considered cutting my race in half, but I REALLY wanted that marathon medal, and I wanted Ashley to have the chance to do finish this super hard thing on her own. I knew she could do it and I hoped I could too.

I decided I wanted to catch up to the eight hour pacers so I started a nice run/walk by feel. I was feeling strong but I knew there were hills coming and I still had 15 miles ahead of me.

About an hour went by when I got the text saying Ashley had finished!!! I started crying and telling anyone who would listen around me that my daughter just finished her first half marathon!!! They all cheered with me!! :D

I finally caught, and passed the 8 hour group! I was feeling really strong and full of myself but I was feeling a little bit of a hot spot on the bottom of my left foot. It wasn't a fully on blister yet, but it was certainly threatening to get there. I decided there was northing I could do about it, so I kept run/walking along. Not like I would quit over something like that....

And then we hit the real hills...and then it started POURING down rain. It was so hard I thought it might be HAILING!! I actually started laughing. I was coming up to an aid station on the outskirts of Hillcrest (only about 1/2 mile from the house had rented). There was a group of kids working it who were having a RIDICULOUS amount of fun dancing in the rain. Seeing them dancing and laughing reminded me that rain isn't a bad thing! That was just what I needed to keep me moving away from the rent house that was calling my name, bidding me to quit early and just rest!!

Up a huge hill...the one I thought would be the worst because it was SO long....through Alsop Park (the perfect scene for an episode of Criminal Minds thanks to the feeling of isolation in the woods), and down to the river.

Can I say, I love the Arkansas River? I love Rebsamen Park and the Arkansas River Trail (a greenway that runs along side the river although you can't actually SEE the river). But by the time I got there my foot was HURTING. I wasn't able to run much because that hot spot had bloomed and was a squishy, burning, full-on blister. Every other part of me felt GREAT except my stinking foot. The part of the course that runs by the river is a VERY VERY VERY long, flat, straight out and back. It felt like it would never end. When I hit the turn around point I saw the Fireball Aidstation gal!!!

Can I say, Fireball really DOES take pain away? I probably would have finished about 30 minutes ahead of where I did if I had a little flask of that to carry with me!! (Either that or I wouldn't have made it back at all...either way I think I would have been happy!)

But the Fireball anesthesia "shot" didn't last long. My foot was hurting. I couldn't really run at all from the squishy pain. No matter what I tried, I would involuntarily shift my weight which would have caused some other issues that I just didn't want to deal with. At one point I was texting with Dwayne (yes, texting in a "race"...I was WALKING for crying out loud!)...that man actually suggested I QUIT!! It was mile 23.5!! He thought he was trying to be supportive but I quickly told him that was NOT what I needed to hear.... I had less than 3 miles to go. I needed to hear him tell me to suck it up buttercup and get myself to the finish line no matter what. ((That's almost exactly what Bilbo told me when I was winging and complaining to her!))

I forgot to say that earlier in the race Ashley and I saw my "sister" and her kids along with Ashley's boyfriend. It's always so wonderful to see spectators, but it's especially wonderful to see YOUR spectators. I was feeling pretty down when I saw my cheering sister, her kids. my daughter (wearing her medal), her boyfriend and my son who drove over an hour to come cheer for me! Seeing them was WAY better than Fireball! It gave me what I needed to get through my one last challenge.

Before I get to that, can I just take a minute say, it's HARD work to spectate a race!!? You don't train for it. You don't have the excitement of the course moving around you. You have the stress of trying to be at a certain place at a certain time...a time you have no perfect way to know because your runner can speed up or slow down along the way (that is IF you have a tracker on your runner, which I did but most of the time you don't). And, it's fun to cheer for runners, but it's really YOUR runner you are wanting to see, and you only get to see them for a fleeting moment in time. It's hard work. If someone comes to cheer for you at a race...they seriously LOVE you.

When we drove the course before the race I made a point to say the long climb leading into Hillcrest was going to be the hardest for me. It's just such a long climb that never seems to end... But Dwayne said a short little hill at the end would be the worst because it was at the end (like mile 25) and it was steep. But I said he was wrong because it was so short.

Can I just say he was ...right... (again). Holy hills Batman. When I saw that thing I just wanted to cry. There was a gal close to me who asked me if we were really going the right way! (She didn't know!?) I told her we had to be since the road was closed and there were a ton of other "runners" (walkers) ahead of us! It was stinking HARD to get up that dang hill. I don't think it would have been an issue if not for that blister. I had energy (thankfully), and (other than the pain in my foot) I was feeling really good about the day. It's funny how one (not so) little thing than derail all the other things.

After I got over the hill Dwayne was telling me I was super close but it felt like I was still miles and miles away. He told me where he was waiting for me so I started searching for him. ((It wasn't hard, there was pretty much NO ONE out there, but I can't see very well...)) Right before I got to him I came upon the "Lipstick Station"! North Little Rock is home to a Mabeline factory, and they are sponsors of the race. They have a tent set up at the 26 mile marker where you can actually put on lipstick and primp before your big finish! (No, I didn't stop, but I did let her give me some lipstick that I quickly gave to Dwayne to carry!) He gave me a big kisss and I slowly jogged by my cheering section through the finish!!

Can I just say that finish was one of the sweetest moments I've had. It seriously ranks up there with my Ironman finishes and my Mountain Mist finish. Honestly, I think it was "better" than my first marathon finish. When I did my first marathon, I had trained hard. My longest run leading up was 22 miles (or close to it). I had done like 90% of the training the Fleet Feet training group plan had prescribed. I wasn't positive I could finish, but I was fairly confident. For this one, I had NO IDEA if I'd be able to finish it or not. I wasn't willing to risk injury (a blister is not an injury by my definition even though it was painful). And I had NOT trained. I felt confident in my mental toughness to get through a hard thing, but sometimes the hard thing wins.  The ONLY reason I was able to do it was the 8 hour "cutoff" finish time was right around 7:45!! But that's why I picked this race. Okay, the medal is why I picked it, the cutoff is why I was okay signing up even though I wasn't sure how "training" was going to go.

Can I just say I LOVED this race? I will certainly do it again. I hope I'll be trained next time. I hope it doesn't rain next time. Either way, I know I'll have a great experience next time.

Oh...and I took one ONE HUNDRED PICTURES during this race!!! Quote from Dwayne "we had a totally different race experience"... Yes we did, baby! Yes we did!! I'm so very glad I did or I might have forgotten all the wonderful memories from this race!!

Thanks for joining me on this journey!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Holding on to the Why

Several months ago my daughter, potato2Ironman asked if I wanted to go to a race with her in Nashville called the Hot Chocolate 15K. Now I had heard of the race but had never done one. It's a national race that benefits the Make A Wish Foundation. They serve hot chocolate and fondue at the finish and, from what I had seen they have great racer swag. I said I would but not for the chocolate. I said I would mainly because it meant I got to do this really fun thing with her! She talked with the girl she nannies (who is 11, I'll call her Fortis*), and she was ALL IN for the chocolate even though I'm convinced she didn't have any idea how far a 15k was nor did she know how long it would take to finish it!!

Fast forward to a couple of months ago. Our training wasn't going as we had hoped. I took Fortis to the mall on a day with less than pleasant weather so we could spend some time on our feet. After about an hour of walking we had many conversations about what race day would be like. She was plugging along when all of the sudden a fire alarm went off! Now, I'm almost 50 years old and I've NEVER been at the mall when a fire alarm has gone off! Oh, and I found out in that moment that Fortis (which means brave in Latin) has a real fear of FIRES!! We took refuge in the car and after the fire truck came and went (and after I explained if it had been a real fire there would have been more than just one fire truck on scene), we went back in for another hour.

Fast forward to about a month ago. That was about all the training we really did and all of the sudden race weekend was upon us!! The three of us headed up to Nashville. We got checked in to our hotel and headed over to the expo.

Now, let me say, I'm a BIG FAN of expos. I love the excitement and hype leading up to a race. I love looking at stuff and just being around other athletes! This expo was held at the Musicians Hall of Fame Museum. It was small and dark but it was lively which is my main desire! We picked up our packets, bought some race branded merch and ...



I was expecting watered down Swiss Miss for the hot chocolate and some melted Hersey's for the "fondue" but what I sampled was truly the BEST hot chocolate I've ever tasted, as was the fondue. WOW!! It was incredible! I figured that was just the samples and race day would be a disappointment. Spoiler WASN'T!!

After the expo we found a vegan restaurant for dinner and then headed back to the hotel to settle in for a night of rest. But when we got to the room my stomach was not happy with the vegan food. I called down to the front desk to find out if they had any Tums down there I could come and get. To my surprise they told me they'd bring it right up!

I think "right up" must mean something different in Nashville than it does in my head. I gave up on the Tums after about an hour and decided I was fine without them. We FINALLY got comfortable and quiet (being still and quiet when you are 11 and away from home, about to embark on the biggest challenge or your life...yeah, it was hard). We played a nice "go to sleep" meditation from Head Space to help that process along. JUST as it was ending and we were all drifting off to our chocolate filled dreamland... DING DONG!!!  (Yes, the hotel had a DOORBELL!!) Tums. Thanks nice bellhop boy.

Okay, dreamland take two. Again...JUST as we were drifting off...DING DONG!!! My daughter popped out of the bed and flung open the door (thinking it might be the kids in the hallway messing around) find two hotel staff holding out bottles of water and a bag of salted caramel candies saying "everything is okay". We found out the next day it's part of their "turn down" service and they were just running behind. I told them I love a good turn down service, but not at 10pm the night before a race!!

Dreamland take THREE!!! It probably took another 30 minutes for me to finally drift off to a fitful night of "rest". Morning came much faster than I had hoped it would. Not to mention it was MUCH colder and wetter than I had wanted it to be!

We had scheduled an Uber to take us to the race and thankfully he wasn't from Nashville because he was right on time! We got to the start area in plenty of time to take some pre race pictures, stand in line for the portopotties and to find our coral.

The race was a combined 10K and 5K. There were nine corrals, A-I. All but corral I said "NO WALKERS". We were supposed to start in coral G (I think), but it was our plan all along to start off walking and then do a walk run to stay in front of the sweeper and keep the required 15:00 cutoff pace. So we moved back to corral I. About 2 minutes before we started, the skies began to open up with the first drops of rain. ...did I mention it was like 40*?

We were having a GREAT time...walking, jogging...singing at the tops of our lungs, cheering for other runners, seeing sites of Nashville. We weren't going to let a little rain dampen our joy!! Before we knew it, the 5K/10K split off was in sight. We heard the volunteers yelling the sweepers were coming (at least that's what I thought they said) and to hurry up because they were coming to cut people off!! We made it! As I looked behind me I saw other "runners" but I didn't see the sweepers. I couldn't figure out where they could be since we were just over a 15:00 pace. But we started in the front of the corral so they had to be back there.

As we walked/jogged along about mile 4, I saw an "Official Race Vehicle" drive by us. When he stopped at a road about a half mile ahead of us, I told the girls I knew that had to be the sweeper vehicle and he was probably going to cut us off. Turns out I was right. But he didn't pull us off the course, he just had us turn around and head back with the people who were at almost mile 7, effectively cutting off 2.5 miles from our race.

To say this was disappointing to the girls would be an understatement. On the one hand we didn't get pulled out of the race, but on the other hand, we were going to get a medal that said "15K" but our total distance covered was going to be about 7 miles. More than that, we NEVER saw the sweepers. AND, there was NO mention of a cutoff point on the course. AND if we had started in the corral we were assigned, we would have EASILY been past that point when Sweeper Man got there. The whole thing was like a punch to the gut.

Not to mention it was pouring down rain and FREEZING cold. And then poor Fortis' stomach decided to revolt. I think it was the sugar she had downed at the "aid station"...the sugar I had warned against but that seemed like such a treat at the time. Probably more than that, it was the disappointment and stress of the turn around.

But as we plodded toward the (premature for us) finish line, I was reminded how wonderful it was to be out there "racing" again. I mean, "racing" is not really what anyone would call what we were doing, but participating in a fun event. AND...there was going to be hot chocolate at the finish. If it was anything like what I had tasted the day before I just could NOT wait!! And it was going to be HOT!!

The closer the finish got, the harder it rained and the windier it got. We were honestly starting to become a little hypothermic. We crossed the line and found the "food" tent. Most races I've been to have a tent you can stand under to eat your food. Usually it's to get out of the sun. This tent was for the preparation and storage of the food, and participants were just walking up to get their serving, and left to nosh in the POURING rain. I think that (along with the sweeper/course cut off issue) was a race failure. There were a couple of vendor/race team tents that gobtuns (that's southern for "a lot) of people were huddled under, but no where warm or dry. I think if I were directing it I would have rented a tent and some propane heaters, but that's just me...

As we collected our post race goodies, Fortis was really in pain. Her stomach was not even remotely caring about the chocolate she had wanted so bad every day leading up to that one. And she was shaking from the cold.

We found the Farmer's Market and headed inside in hopes of warming up and enjoying the chocolate but we were so wet the cold had seeped down to our bones already! Poor Fortis ended up pouring her hot chocolate out and although the fondue was a little hardened from the cold, it was still edible! we were sitting there walked her mom, brother, and friends to surprise her!!!! I wish I had been able to capture the look on her face!! It was PRICELESS and something I'll remember the rest of my life! I knew Mom was on her way but the plan was for her to get there to see us finish. But since we got turned around at mile 4.5ish, we finished about 30 or 40 minutes ahead of when we were supposed to.

After the race we went back to the hotel to shower, change and pack up, then we all went out for a celebratory lunch.

In that first "training" walk with Fortis, I asked her why she was going to do this race. She said it was for the chocolate. I reasoned with her that she could just go get chocolate, she didn't need to do a 15K for that. She then added, it was for the medal. It was a golden chocolate bar! But at the end of the day it was for the experience of the journey. Embarking on a hard thing for the sake of saying you did that hard thing (or did as much as you were allowed), and overcoming obstacles and struggles...that's what it's really all about.

The real goodness is not at the finish line. It's in the journey.

Thank you for joining me for this goodness!!

Relive 'Hot Chocolate 15k {turned 10k+}'

Friday, January 19, 2018

Best Laid Plans

A lot of people ask me what my training consists of these days. usual, this is what my "planned" week looks like:
  • Monday-teach 5:30am Spin, swim for 30-45 minutes, get on the treadmill until 8:45, then go to Boot Camp (strength training for an hour)
  • Tuesday-5:30am boot camp, spend time either outside "running" or on my treadmill at my desk*
  • Wednesday-5:30am boot camp, swim, treadmill
  • Thursday-5:30am boot camp, spend time either outside "running" or on my treadmill at my desk*
  • Friday-attend 5:30am Spin, swim for 30-45 minutes, get on the treadmill until 8:45, boot camp
  • Saturday-treadmill or "running"
  • Sunday-rest and prep for the week

Now...I know what you're thinking. It IS a lot. AND I haven't done 100% of that planned week even one time! I'm paying VERY close attention to how I'm feeling and VERY close attention to my heart rate variability**.

I'm walking a line so fine I don't even see it clearly most of the time! If you've ever tried to push yourself after an injury, you probably know what I'm talking about. 

In my first appointment with the neurologist who diagnosed the Autoimmune Enchepolapathy, I rattled off all the things I had written down as "symptoms". I felt like a crazy person. None of these things seemed to fit together. One of the strangest ones, or at least the one that made the least sense to me, was my confusion with left and right. I'm not just talking about telling someone to turn right and pointing to the "other right". 

When I would put my hands on a keyboard to type I felt like they were crossed or upside down. I would stare at my hands and move them around trying to come up with any other way to put them on the keyboard that would make sense. One night I was reading a book and had the distinct impression I was reading in the wrong direction. I kept looking at the page trying to figure out what was going on. I had a discussion with Dwayne about it as if I needed to be reminded that it really was correct to read a book (written in English) from left to right, up to down. (That's the night he told me I HAD TO make an appointment with a neurologist.)

When I described all of the weirdness to Dr. Hitchcock, he said those were pervasive symptoms (all over the brain as opposed to being in one area) which led him to believe it was Hashimoto's Encephalopathy. (They don't use that term anymore because they have determined AE has no connection to Hashimoto's, an autoimmune disease of the thyroid.) 

When I look at this chart (taken from the International Autoimmune Encephalitis Society website) I can better appreciate what he was saying. I had symptoms from every area. I'm sure if you read that list you might wonder if something is wrong with your brain too. Let me assure you, if there is something wrong, either you will know or the people closest to you will know. Everyone forgets where their keys are or the word they are trying to say from time to time. Everyone can get an "earworm" stuck in their head, but not usually for days (and nights) at a time.

I fully believe I am mostly recovered now. But when I push too hard (mentally, physically, emotionally) I can have "symptoms" pop up. Imagine you had shoulder surgery. You completed PT and were back to "normal life". But then you went and played tennis all day. Your "recovered" shoulder would let you know it wasn't happy. My brain does that.

I'm not going to lie. It's VERY hard to listen to it sometimes.

I have this thing I say all the time: "ALL stress goes in the same bucket". Stress to the body (workouts, injury, illness, poor sleep), the mind (learning new skills, projects or jobs that require a lot of mental effort), the emotions (going through therapy to deal with "big T" traumatic life events or the loss of a loved one), the will (not being able to do the things you REALLY want to do), the senses (living near a nasty smelling dog food factory*** or hearing loud explosions multiple times a day or living with chronic pain)...all that stress adds up in the same column.

You can't separate one category from the other. You might think that having an incredibly stressful job while you are going through a nasty divorce can be balanced out by killing yourself in the gym (to "work out all that stress"), but you are most likely wrong. Those are all three STRESSES. Relaxation/meditation, deep breathing, massage, LAUGHTER...those are things that go in the other column and will take stress out of the bucket.

Most of the time when overall stress ramps up, and is not properly dealt with, bad things start happening. You start not being able to sleep. You get more emotional/irritable. You might "stress eat". You might have headaches, stomach aches or get sick easier. You might realize you are more forgetful. When stress ramps up in a vulnerable place (an old injury for example), you feel it. You will probably notice it, but you might not take notice of it.

There's another side to that equation. In order to get stronger, systems HAVE TO be stressed. For a muscle to be stronger you have to lift heavy weights. A healthy body will make adaptations in order to handle "more". But these changes don't happen in the moment of stress. The changes happen in the moments of rest.

When a system is under fire, all resources are thrown at the "problem". It's when the pressure is removed that the system can adapt and adjust in order to handle that situation better. This is how we learn new skills, how we handle more of what's thrown at us. 

The art of knowing how much pressure to apply and how much rest to allow is the art of "coaching". A good guitar instructor would never tell a new student to practice 8 hours every day 7 days a week to start out. That teacher knows calluses have to be built up on the fingertips. If someone new tried to play that much, their fingers would probably split open!

But, NO ONE has the opportunity to know your "systems" better than you do. I say "has the opportunity" because we all have our own blind spots! We can want to get back in shape so badly that we conveniently ignore clues that we are overdoing it until it's too late. (Or we can want the Oreos so badly we overlook what it's doing to our midsection!)

Taken from the IAES website.
I have been paying close attention to myself, but I don't always know how to translate what's being "said". Is that headache from stress overload or just a headache? Is that dizziness my brain telling me something or is it a sinus issue? The truth matters but the answer is the same: some kind of "rest" (or subtraction from the "stress" column). Extra sleep, laughter, massage, deep breathing/meditation...

My body might be itching to go work out, but if my brain has had enough, my body is going to have to wait. Think about that shoulder example earlier. If you just had surgery it doesn't matter how much you love to/want to/"need to" swim. It doesn't matter how fit you are cardiovascularly, or how strong your legs are. You will not be able to use that arm to swim (right now).

Sure, where there's a will, there's a way. I'm the queen of "but you can cover incisions with waterproof tape, you can immobilize the arm and do one-arm swimming, you can do drills that don't require that arm...". There's "always" a work-around. But when it's the brain, there aren't really work-arounds that work.

I imagine it's much like someone who has an "untreatable" injury (no cartilage in the knee or a torn labrum in the shoulder). They can push, but they have to know when to back off. (Who else starting singing Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler"?? Surely not just me.)

Thank you for joining me on this journey!

*My treadmill desk...the treadmill only gets up to 2mph. I usually have it on 1.5 if I'm typing something that requires a good bit of thought.
**HRV-there's a lot written on HRV but here's a great place to start if you are interested:
***I have personal experience with living close to a dog food factory. Trust me when I say you don't have to live very close.