Turkey Trot and Children’s Miracle Network 5K- I am getting faster… and stronger.

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I am so elated about my progress with running. I was thrilled to beat my goal on my first 1/2 marathon in late October, and I am now preparing for a full marathon, and running outside in the inclement weather, something I used to NEVER do. It was other cardio or the deadmill… But I rallied, bought the cold weather gear (thank you Columbia and Athletica!) and have been running outside regardless of the weather. And I LOVE IT.

I ran the Turkey trot the day after a snow/ice storm, and ran my fastest time overall at that point, and ran a 9 minute mile and and a 10 minute miles, the long drag up the hill killing my final time, and it was COLD. But it was great. I simply LOVED it. I ran a Snowflake race two weeks ago in upper 30’s/lower 40’s and driving rain. I was soaked, but again, I ran a more consistent time, and a 10 minute mile the whole time. Not fast I know, but for me that is progress, and a PR. Next week I am running a 5K, and and I am starting to ramp up to train for a full in April.

I also had an epiphany this week. It came from a misadventure I had… I fell running this past week, and HARD. Backside over teakettle, and almost did a somersault. What is remarkable for me is I jumped up, and kept going. I ran another 2 miles. Now, in the past, this would have been a big deal, and the outcome would have been very different. I would have most likely been really injured, and down for the count. Of course, a few years ago I would not have been running at all.

The 1/2 was a HUGE deal to me because I had almost negative talked myself into not trying, thinking I was not ready, berating myself for overtraining in September, not taking off the 8 pounds I wanted to lose to be in prime running shape… And I realized that was a quick slide to failure. So I stopped the self talk of that nature, and I got my headspace right the day before, and I went for it. And I finished with a 12 minute mile… And I proudly have a 13.1 sticker now, not to brag, but as a reminder of how far I have come on this journey. The same with the fall. I rolled up into a ball, took the brunt of the force on my knee and hip, a bit on my shoulder, and was up and going again with just torn gear and a bruised and bloody knee to show. No big deal. I contemplated this a bit when I ran into one of my previous orthopedic surgeons in the grocery store, and he was simply amazed. He tapped my forehead and stated “this is why you are running.” He went on to say with EDS, spinal degeneration and knee issues it should be physically impossible for me to run, (not to mention the pelvic damage from the tumor). We talked a bit, and I walked on, thinking about something one of my friends said earlier, that she could either get busy doing it or get busy making excuses, but the time would pass and it would all come down to active or passive choices.

I choose to give it all I have. I will never win a Master’s, and I will never place in my age category, however I will finish mid-pack, and for me, that is like placing first.

I can. I will. I want. I do.

Thank you for reading!

13.1… I did it! 2:44:10 on 10/26/2014

Half Marathon Medal Terri running the half

Dear Abby’s Weight Bigotry and Misogyny… All in One Article!

Just in case you missed Dear Abby’s judgmental response to a young woman who signed her letter as ‘Offended in Chicago’. The link is here and will open in a separate window.

I am not sure why I read advice columns, since many make me angry… Dear Prudence and her consistent victim blaming and rape apologia, and Dear Abby often operates from a place of privilege and internalized misogyny. Once in a while one of these columnists will get it right and restore my hope that they can use their platforms for good. I will ignore the trolling and willful ignorance in the comments section… That is a rant for another day.

Cruelty and bullying is never okay.  Bigotry and oppression flourish in the dark, in silence of those who could speak out.  Please join me in speaking out.  This is not okay.

Dear Abby:

I cannot describe the absolute disgust and sadness that flooded me when I read your response to ‘Offended Daughter in Chicago’. This young woman’s mother was not the only one that was harsh. Your response went to a place of absolute brutality, cruelty, and sizeism… a form of bigotry. This young woman stated she was comfortable in her own skin, and reported that she felt attractive and comfortable dressing in shorts and a bikini top at her mothers. You went on the attack, making a number of assumptions that could include… (notice I say ‘could’ because I cannot attribute intent, however I can analyze the observable, which you printed):
-This young woman is unhealthy. You know her blood pressure, her cholesterol, her triglycerides, her overall physical conditioning and muscle to body fat ratio, and not just a calculated one based on a flawed formula.
-This young woman is making choices to be ‘obese’. PCOS, endocrine issues, and other health issues make losing weight very difficult for some.
-This young woman obviously has some misguided sense of pride to be accepting of herself, and accepting despite her mother’s judgement and cruelty masked as propriety, fat shaming, and concern trolling.
-Fat shaming is one of the last acceptable fronts in which to be a bully. Which you are.
-Society is obviously not telling this woman that she is outside what all women should ascribe to be… so you had to cut in and give another level of condemnation.
-Correlating this woman’s weight to her mother’s opinion/pride/regard? On what planet would anyone make a sweeping generalization of that nature on the little bit of information provided, but even the most ‘tone deaf’ as far as sensitivity can see that this relationship between mother and child is fraught with complexity.

I again, cannot assume your true intent, and I honestly do not want to. There are so many levels of internalized oppression and misogyny imbedded in these issues…

Abby, you have a powerful (figuratively) podium to do a lot of good, or harm. On August 10, you were intentionally cruel. Unacceptable It was not just limited to that young woman. A formerly battered woman who was still living with her abuser, who, unsurprisingly, was still using abusing power and control. This woman asked you for guidance, and you did not even Google resources for the domestic violence center in her region, and you stated that there was an expectation of financial reciprocity. I call BULL. She has a right to be safe, to be happy, to be respected, and to have her children grow in a home where she is not treated in the way that she is. In recent weeks you have given advice to others that basically, sex is a right of marriage without discussing power and control, consent, and other important issues. That in itself is internalized misogyny expressed.

Dear Abby, please use your column for good, as you have in the past. You can do better than this.


Life is meant to be lived at full volume… 3 days post op.

Last Thursday I had surgery to repair my badly herniated incision from last August. As I write this from the comfort of my favorite chair, my geriatric kitty on my lap, I am thinking of this most recent medical journey and lessons I can learn, integrate, and use so I do not have to keep learning this particular message.

Now, three days out, I can reflect back on my experiences of the past month or so.  My surgical consult happened rather quickly after I was shaken out of denial-land on the 18th.  I saw the surgeon on the 27th, and the recommendation was surgery, sooner rather than later.  A date of 3rd was offered, and I had to decline due to needing time to prep a few things at home and at work, so the next date available was July 10th.  And how quickly did that date arrive!  State budget crisis, financial threat and all other deadlines be damned, it seems.  My best friend’s mother arrived at my place at 5:30am to have me at the hospital at 6am for my 7:25am surgery.  Check in was uneventful, and all the surgical appointment discussions were reiterated.  They were going to do their best to do this laparoscopically so my recovery time would be shorter, etc.  If scar tissue was too much an issue, then I would awake to the reopening on my mid-line incision, and instead of a short/overnight hospitalization I would be in 3-4 days and off 6-8 weeks instead of two.

I awoke in the Recovery Department with little pain in my midsection, the nursing staff told me I had 13 ‘poke holes’ or access/scope sites and my incision had been opened at the top by about 3 inches or so.  That was good news.  The not-s0-great-news was I was getting horrific migraine, with sound and light sensitivity.  The bad news was there were no hospital beds available, and I would have to wait in recovery until they found one.  The first time I awoke that I remember was just before 10am, and I was in Recovery until after 4pm.  Dr. Page stopped by to dash my hopes of just going home… since the surgery was a bit more extensive, I was definitely there overnight.  Fabulous!  They finally got my migraine managed… and not for lack of trying on their part… it was a bad one.  I was sent up to my room, and they pulled my Foley before I left recovery.  I did tell them that getting my bladder to wake up had been a problem with my hysterectomy in 2007 resulting in a re-catheterization, and after my tumor removal last August, resulting in a subsequent catheterization.  I was sent up to the room, to a semi private room.  Then the real fun began!

Although this surgery was no where as invasive or life saving as the previous one, it is extremely painful.  I asked to get up my first night, and I set no personal records, bent over shuffling along.  I think the nursing staff were sick of my requests to 1- shower and 2- walk.  I had lots of lovely visitors my first day, and the first morning.  The overnight was tough.  Narcotics do little to nothing for my pain, and I am allergic to almost all non narcotic and NSAIDs, so pain was an issue, and feeling sick was an issue.  I would stop taking pain meds for a 12 hour shot, then be a mess.  It was a cycle I experienced the last hospitalization.  The first night they used a straight catheter and drained my bladder.  My bladder was so full, and I was in so much pain, the poke was a walk in the park.  I also was in roommate hell.  She was a sweet lady, and I suspect she would have been most upset to know how miserable I was because of her noisy guests who stayed until after 12 midnight (newsflash stage whispers and kisses are LOUD) and her use of her TV at audible volume all night.  I did not sleep any.  I could have said something, but my feeling was this… I was uncomfortable, cranky, and most likely not going to sleep anyway… if she derived comfort from these things, and could sleep (and sleep she did as evidenced by the sleep talking and snoring) then one of us could have a decent night.  The next morning, I was informed that my lack or urination more than likely would result in an extended stay.  They drained me again with a straight cath (OUCH) and I asked to walk, and to shower.  I knew that walking and the hot water would wake my sleepy bladder, but I was getting a bit of resistance.  The other thing was, the surgeon who saw me at 6am said I could shower, and I could go home as soon as I peed.  I was on a mission…  and that mission was to pee at all costs…

<Cue the mission impossible music…>

I walked or sat in my chair every moment I was not examined by any nursing or medical staff in the local area…  I repeatedly requested a shower, then very directly let my nursing staff know that a shower was happening, and they could assist with capping off my IV or I could do it myself (phebotomy training, no matter how remote, is a dangerous thing for Terri to have, BTW!) so they did, and I happily showered… and sweet relief… IN THE SHOWER!  OH MY GOD NO!  I peed, but I was so embarrassed I cried… it happened in the shower, and there was no proof of me peeing.  I finished my shower and cleaned the shower as best I could, and let the staff know.  They gave one another knowing looks like ‘SURE you did’ and did a scan to see how full my bladder was.  700.  Damn.  I peed again, and emptied over half.  They wanted to have me wait for a urologist, and wanted me to start a horrible medicine I took when I had the tumor related kidney stone.  Um NO.  I saw 3 doctors in the short time I was there prior to leaving (I had fully dressed and packed…I was going!) and explained that with the size of the Fallopian tumor (nearly 11lbs and from pelvic floor to past my umbilicus) that things worked different now, and although this was alarming to them, it was 11 month and counting old news to me.

My friend took me home, and I am so glad I made the decision to allow folks to stay with me, do things for me, and help me.  Getting in bed was not easy, and alone was a 30 minute and painful maneuver.   As the few days have passed, and I have completely stopped all oral narcotics I am doing so much better.  The nausea, the body aches and chills, etc. are all gone.  My midsection hurts.  It is very hard and swollen.  And this will be a bit of a process, but this has been just a bump in the road.

I am so grateful for my health, for my friends, and for my decision to be a healthy and physically active person.  I did myself some major favors by being in the best physical shape of my life before this, and I am confident I will be running again soon in 3 weeks or so.  I will follow doctor’s orders, but I refuse to live a life of excuses or to live on the safe side of the street.  I say it often… life is meant to be lived at full volume.  No one says this is easy, but I promise in the end, it will all be worth it.

Have a great week.  Thank you for reading, and I hope to be blogging about social justice, cats, and running before long!

13 'poke holes' and a small section of original incision reopened.  Very swollen belly!

13 ‘poke holes’ and a small section of original incision reopened. Very swollen belly!

A major health setback. Another opportunity to learn a life lesson I seem to be struggling with?

Last week sucked.  Sorry for impolite and crude vernacular, but it did.  I will not keep you in suspense, I herniated myself.  Less than a year after major abdominal surgery.  I am benched from lifting, I am benched from running, I am benched from the Ab Challenge, and I am seriously not happy at the moment.

Last Wednesday was day 18 of the Ab Challenge, and I had been kicking ass and taking names.  I was doing 3-4 times the level of everything I should be, and it was not that hard.  2 minutes and 30 seconds of nonstop planking.  400 crunches, 350 leg lifts, and 300 or 350 sit ups.  I was very pleased with myself, and was planning to add kettle bells the next week.  On this Wednesday, I planked, I crunched, and I started the leg lifts.  I was at home, and had just gotten up a short time before so I was still in my nightgown before I went out for a run.  (I had a race to run this Saturday).  I felt my nightgown pull in a weird way, looked down and a column roughly the size of a can of soda was rising from my abdomen.  I let out a terrified yelp, and stopped immediately.

This is where the lesson comes in.  I had suspected that possibly I might have a small incision related hernia, but I was in active denial, despite being told this was very, very likely, especially with the amount of working (sitting upright at a computer for hours on end) that I did immediately post surgery.  I had also been very, very fatigued for the past few days, fighting with myself to get going to work out, to run, etc. which is not me.  When I kicked my own ass out the door, I was not getting to my endorphin happy place and instead of a heart rate of 165-175 I was lucky to get out of the 130’s.  That is a HUGE red flag for me, as anytime this happens, I am about to get ill or injured.  But did I ‘get it’?  Oh no.  I filed it under the intellectual dump file of ‘oh isn’t that interesting… will investigate later…”  The exhaustion.  The fact I have been having lower GI issues more than usual since my new normal post surgery.  The fact that I am even less patient and willing to suffer idiots than normal.  This has been coming on for a bit, and instead of being in touch with myself, I have been focused on the 18 lbs I want to get back off, and my goal of the Harrisburg Half in September, and next year a full marathon, a mudder, and several other goals of that nature.  I have had tunnel vision once again.  And have been working too much, and on a scale of 1-10 my job is about a 16.

I called my primary care physician, and they got me in that afternoon.  I spent about 10 minutes sobbing on the floor of my apartment, just so frustrated, and I realized that I could continue to feel sorry for myself or I can own what I did to myself, and revise my timelines and focus on overcoming this bump in the road.  I have a surgical consult this Friday, just 5 days away.  For me, the unknown is the hardest.  I do not know if this can be fixed laparoscopically, if I will need mesh, if there is anything else happening… I am hoping for the best and will simply deal with whatever I am dealt.  All I do know is I feel about as bad as I did prior to the tumor 10 months ago.  Just scary as hell.

I have told several folks, including key coworkers, my board, several friends, and I continue to step out of my comfort zone with that. I have not told my biological family as we are not close like that, and until I know more, I simply cannot take the speculation and drama, and discussion of every horrible possibility that will obsessed upon.

I have had a huge kick in the pants.  I am not Superwoman.  I am not iron clad.  I will need help as I recover, and I will need help at the hospital whether it is a 23 hour hospitalization or a longer one.  I will not send folks away or discourage visits/being with me.  I will not go to ground and deal alone at home afterward.  I trust my friends to do right by me, but I have to allow them to, and I have to ask for what I need, rather than expecting it to happen organically if it is going to. That is a lesson learned.

Keep your fingers crossed for me that this a minor blip.  I want to get back into training mode, but I realize I must do what it takes to heal from this.  No rushing, and no more pushing myself in ways that only hurt me in the end.  Life is too short, and it seems that I have some things to contemplate, and some major decisions to make.

So sick of unsolicited ‘advice’

So- I was out with friends quite a bit this week, and as often happens when the food is good, the wine is flowing, and fun is being had… the discussion turned to dating, relationships and whatnot.  Now, I am divorced and have been single for the past 6 or so years, and am very happy with my singleness.  I tried dating a few times, and I did not enjoy it, and I realized that at that time, I did not want a relationship.  Period.

One would think that folks would realize that, and respect that.  But… NO.  Those who know me well know I was in committed relationships/married for 21 of 39 years when I divorced.  I have seen the best, and some of the worst, that relationships have to offer.  And being alone is new, and I am SIMPLY LOVING IT.  I have several friends that are in their early 40’s to mid 50’s and who are desperately wanting a relationship.  And more power to them… there is nothing better than a balanced relationship based on reciprocal respect, love and trust.

We were good naturedly teasing a friend who was regaling us with her latest hookup.  She then used that time to inform me that I could do that too, if I were not so damn intimidating and unapproachable.  The fact I am always dressed well/in dresses and skirts and the fact I am often freezing and that impacts my body posture was also pointed out.

SAY WHAT?  How did this become about me, and how is being confident in who I am, confident in my decision that I am ‘off the market’ and very happy and whole single, become something negative?  Later, I had a couple of male friends who are married or have since started dating someone in the past few months, tell me that I scare the hell out of them, and I heard a phrase that I have heard multiple times in the years post divorce… “There is nothing that any man can do for you that you cannot do for yourself.”   “You drive a [make of car I have].”  SERIOUSLY?  I was further told that being a CEO of a nonprofit, being confident, being assertive, being successful in my career and the things I do as part of my career, along with my mode of living is seriously frightening.  The fact I am happy and do not ‘need’ someone?  Terrifying.

I was seriously not happy although for the sake of keeping levity and the evening’s fun going I did not call them out as I would have liked… but in the past couple of days I am just amazed.  Our society has such sick, enculturated messages regarding sex stereotypical roles, being partnered, etc. that anyone who chooses to not adopt the societally approved path gets judged, and deemed wanting.

I refuse to operate by other’s stereotypes and biases.  I am who I am, and I want what I want… or don’t want.  Don’t like my choices in my life?  That is fine, you are not living my life.

So just do me a favor.  Stop trying to fix me up to make you more comfortable with me.  Stop trying to change what is not broken.  We will all be a lot happier if you do.  And my friends are right, there is NOTHING someone else can do for me that I cannot do or get myself if I so choose it.  And if that is intimidating, or makes me unapproachable… that works too, and saves the both of us a whole lot of unnecessary expansion of energy.

Just.  Stop.


2014 ArtSHIP 10K- A race of many, many lessons…

Yesterday I ran a 10K, which is the longest race I have ran for a while!  This is my 4th race after a massive tumor and its removal threatened my existence and my ability to run.  As I have mentioned in previous entries, I am trying to figure out logistics, because I truly went to sleep with one body, and awoke with another.  This is NOT a complaint.  I had three wishes prior to surgery, and I got all three.  No cancer, the tumor did not rupture and kill me, and I did not wake up with a colostomy.  

With all that being said, running now is not easy as it was before.  After about mile 3 I start experiencing searing nerve pain in my pelvis, and due to a list of issues I will spare you, I must run pretty much dehydrated and empty.  That is fine for short runs such as a 5K or a 5 mile, and although this was just a 10K, I had several lessons to learn, and some to relearn.  Why only learn after the first time when you can keep doing the same thing several times, just to be sure?  My plans are somewhat simple, I am training to run a half marathon this fall, and I have been running multiple races, training, strength training, running intervals and reverse splits, using the stair climber like I plan to climb Mt. Everest, and the like.  And running is not new to me.  Last fall I was ready for a half when the medical issue sidelined me for months.  

So did I use the knowledge and wisdom I have from previous experience?  

Did I refrain from the tunnel vision that sometimes kicks my butt?

 Um… NO.  

But, I had a good laugh… and want to share those ‘revelations’.

 They include just general observations and lessons of the ‘if you are going to be dumb, you better be tough’ variety:

  • Eating late and poorly the night before will not go well for me in the morning.  For short races especially, there is no need to ‘carb load’ but due to having dinner at a small Italian restaurant with a large party and was the last to get my meal.  That resulted in a very hungry Terri and a whole lot of pasta consumed.  That was not pretty the next day.
  • I had forgotten the threshold for wearing cotton crap shirts to run in.  It is BELOW 6.2 miles by the way.  Also, a laundry fail forced me to wear a sports bra I wear to do cardio and lift in at the gym.  I do have to say the chafing and rubbing under my arms is a sight to behold, and was UGLY in the shower.  The whole ‘never wear a new ANYTHING to a race’ rule?  ::FAIL BUZZER::
  • Due to the interruption last fall of surgery, etc. I somewhat lost count of the mileage on my shoes.  My feet and the two toenails that will soon be saying adieu let me know that the time to retire them was after the last race.  Not this one.  
  • Because it was a shorter race and I was short on time, I passed on using anti-chafe/body glide.  Chafing in certain places is the gift that keeps on giving.  TRUST ME ON THIS.
  • I grabbed some grapes in the morning as is my normal morning routine, and I took a Luna Bar with me to eat right prior to the race (that is what has been working for me thus far).  Guess who parked the car, saw someone she knew, and got distracted?  You would be right.  I forgot.  It was still in my console when I returned later…  So my energy level bottomed out about mile 3, and I struggled for mile 4 and 5, and picked back up in the final stretch.  My time was absolutely HORRIBLE.  But I finished- that is what counts.
  • I knew that this would go to the Rail to Trail, but did not think about the fact that I am, pretty much, a pavement runner to this point.  This course was very, very little pavement, some grass/uneven ground, and a whole lot of shale and gravel running.  I loved the course, and found it very challenging, along with my own stupidity/absent-mindedness that also made it very challenging.
  • Also passing on my headband when wearing sunscreen is not a smart choice.  About mile 2 I had a nice mix of sweat and sunscreen in my eyes.  I was not ‘ugly crying’… but I am sure it looked as if I were!

I finished.  The pelvic/nerve pain was not as bad as it was in the 5 mile race, but most likely since I was running a bit slower and with more effort than the 5 mile race the month before.  After crossing the finish line, I hung around to encourage and congratulate those finishing behind me, and for the awards ceremony.  I have to say that I am a bit disturbed by what I consider to be lack of consideration by some participants. Not just at this race, but the last several I have participated in…  Quite a few folks finished, got their time, and left that did not place in overall, masters or age group.  Many that were remaining did not do anything to encourage those finishing later, and I noticed during the run that many runners did not bother to thank volunteers at safety/crossing stations, the water volunteer, and the like.  I also was concerned to see that during the presentation of the awards to placing runners, that many folks did not stop talking or pay attention, or worse, did not even applaud during the ceremony.  To me, gratitude and celebrating someone else’s success is part of good sportsman-or-womanship, and is merely courteous if nothing else.   I realize this is competitive, but I still think that there is a higher level that we should ascribe to.  

I was disturbed the most by what I have to date merely observed on Facebook run groups and other venues as ‘run snobbery’ and I was nearby when a female racer over the age of 75 was awarded.  She came in about 20+ minutes behind me, and as she was getting her medal a young man who was in the peer group of one of the ones placing overall stated that he thought her placing was bogus since she did not really ‘run’ it.  

I beg your pardon?  Anyone who was there and participated ‘ran’ it.  A finish is a finish, and for me, I merely run for me, and the only person I compete with is myself.  I did not exceed my personal record, and actually ran one of my slowest times.  But I ran.  I created hardships for myself by not being as disciplined as I normally am, and lessons learned.  This is all a process as I pursue completing a half in a few months, and then a full marathon next spring.  I did say something to him, and he apologized for saying it.  Perhaps, perhaps… I hope that there was a lesson learned there other than do not say things of that nature in front of cranky, middle aged women.  

Onward and upward.  I have a couple 5Ks coming up, and am searching to a 10 mile.  Next spring I will be doing a Dirty Girl, and later this summer a Mudder.   I continue to prepare for the 13.1 that will be happening in 3 1/2 months.  My intent is to run an 11 minute mile, with the goal of a 10 minute mile.  Wish me luck!

Not a fast race for me, but I finished!

Not a fast race for me, but I finished!

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