i’m a quitter

When you hear that someone is “quitting” something, you probably think it’s a bad thing.  It certainly has a negative connotation to it, like the time I time quit karate after promising my mom I wouldn’t – not too long after my parents bought me the expensive sparring pads.  (Sorry, Mom and Dad.)  However, I don’t necessarily think being a quitter is always a bad thing.  (Quit smoking, you fools…although I doubt many smokers are reading a running/nursing blog, but nevermind that.)  (I should also quit using statement in parentheses all the time, but I never said I was a journalistic genius.)  Moving on.

I’ve quit a few things over the past year, and I think it’s time to talk about them.  Or I don’t have too much to say while injured, so you’re subjected to my thoughts.  Away we go.

diet pepsi

People have so many opinions about soda, even whether to call it “soda” or “pop” or “soda pop” (or “Coke,” which I’ll never understand).  Beyond the naming of it, the health issues with drinking soda are not-so-debated topics with dietitians and population health people.  However, I always figured that if drinking diet soda was my big fault, then so be it.  A 2am Diet Pepsi was my night shift reward and gave me something to look forward to in those wee hours where you’ll use anything to get you through.  Coffee is great, but many times I just wanted something cold a refreshing.

Which was great until I realized that it was less than I wanted it and more than I needed it.  I’ll admit, I love the taste of Diet Pepsi.  (Not Diet Coke, although I’d drink it.)  But on my days off, I’d be walking past Duane Reade and want to stop for one.  Need to stop for one.  Not a terrible thing, I suppose, but after awhile I realized that maybe “addicted” would be a word to describe this and it needed to stop.  My night shift life was coming to an end in August 2014, and I definitely wasn’t going to stop when that little bottle was all that would get me through.  Then, of course, shifting from staying up until 9am to waking up at 6am wrecked havoc on my body, so I wasn’t ready to give it up upon leaving night shift behind.

Luckily (or not so luckily at the time), I got really, really sick after the half Ironman I did in September 2014 – as in, please just give me Sprite and chicken noodle soup.  Or forget the chicken noodle soup, that’s too much work, I’ll just take the saltines.  I went a few days without Diet Pepsi and decided that was the best place to start.  It was definitely rough at first – those first few afternoons where I wanted to head to the vending machine with two crisp dollar bills took a lot of resistance.  I drank a cup of coffee instead, and it just wasn’t the same.

It’s been about seven months, and I haven’t had a Diet Pepsi since.  My soda has been limited to the one time I got nauseated in a cab en route to the airport, so I bought a ginger ale…that’s fair, right?  I can’t say I feel any different – I didn’t lose weight (wasn’t trying to), I didn’t feel less bloated (is that even an expected change?), and I don’t crave sweets less (quitting candy is hard…).  I can’t tell if my gums are better or if I’m drinking more water.

I can’t tell if it even makes a difference that I quit soda, or if I’m just tooting my own horn.  (Kelly and Betsy, please weigh in!)  I don’t know if it’ll be forever or if one day I’ll order a soda and not think twice about it.  It was a tough habit to kick, and I’m not ready to tempt myself quite yet.

picking at my nails

Okay, this might gross some of you out.  I apologize.  For years, I’ve lived with deformed thumbnails.  I’m not sure when I first noticed them – late high school?  Early college?  I think more toward early college.  My thumbnails grew thick with ridges and concave looks to them, which never really bothered me until someone would ask, “What happened to your thumb??” and I never thought it was weird until I realized that it was both thumbs.

I remember internet searching for a reason one day, and koilonychia, or the spooning of nails, came up as an answer.  Koilonychia tends to result from being anemic, which I was in high school.  So I attributed it to that.  I read it might never go away.  But my nails had these horizontal ridges that didn’t quite fit the bill.  Still not being too bothered by it, I moved on with my life.

The only time that it really bothered me (read: embarrassed me) was when people would notice.  I tend to shy away from things like manicures for this reason, as I feel like the nail techs are silently judging me.  (Maybe they’re not, it’s all in my head…and at least I don’t have a nail fungus?)  Embarrassed when my friends would want to go get manicures, I did another round of research and found something called “habit tic deformity.”  When pictures showed up (thank you, google image), it was exactly what my nails look like.

The cause?  Damage to the cuticle, mainly from picking at the skin.  Well my friends, I tend to spend all day every day picking at my thumbnails, so why that never occurred to me before is beyond me.  I do it without thinking about it and even more so when I’m nervous about something (which is just about all the time), so it’s a hard habit to crack.

It seems like an odd New Year Resolution, but I finally decided to tackle this problem.  It’s purely cosmetic, so I don’t really ever need to stop, but it is kind of embarrassing.  The tips for fixing habit tic deformity are very simple – just stop picking.  If only it was that simple, my friends.

I put super glue on my cuticles (or, where the cuticles are supposed to be).  I covered them with Bandaids.  Ultimately, the second those Bandaids came off, I was back to ripping my skin to shreds.  (It doesn’t hurt, in case you were wondering.)  Finally, I decided to do one nail at a time…to ease myself into this.  I covered my left thumb nail with a Bandaid for about a month straight (I should have bought stock in it…), and eventually I stopped.  Nails take a longggg time to grow, so it was hard not seeing the fruits of my daily labor.  It wasn’t until a few months ago that I realized my nail was smoothing out and I actually had a cuticle on my left hand!  It’s the little things in life.

image

Of course, I’ve started and failed at working on my right hand – I just need to buy seven boxes of Bandaids and go for it.  Maybe by the end of the year I’ll be successful.

photo 1 (46) So much fail.  And it’s really hard to get nail polish out of those ridges.

So this wasn’t quite as successful as the soda situation, but I’m working on it.  These subconscious habits die hard.

running

Wouldn’t this be a great way to be like, “PEACE OUT, BLOG!  I QUIT RUNNING!”  Bet you wouldn’t see that one coming, mainly because I like to run too much.  So, I’m not quitting running, but running seems to be quitting me.  Namely, I’m not even going to try to run Eugene (even the half), which works out okay since they’re are plenty of fun things to do in Portland.  I still want to run Eugene some day, but this year apparently isn’t my year.  (In more ways than one, #dramatic.)

I’m still not quite sure what is going on with my hip/groin, but it has been suggested that perhaps it is my SI joint, so I’ve been doing exercises for that.  And Pilates.  And yoga.  And yes, running sometimes.  The x-ray and MRI ruled out a stress fracture, so I suppose that’s a good thing.  When I do run, I don’t run for very long…it’s actually a bit self-limiting because it’s been about a month and it’d be painful to run “long” anyway.  We shall see.  I’ve been told you can get cortisone shots for your SI joint, which might be an option if this pain doesn’t go away in the near future.  I did a whole bunch of squats/lunges/etc on Tuesday, and now my entire body hurts, so I’m not sure what pain is what, ha.  Hopefully some more pilates/stretching/strengthening will help.

Running, you can’t quit on me.

Now taking suggestions for the following:

  • Things to do in Portland
  • Things to do in Seattle
  • Ideas for Nurses Week posts

2015 Boston Marathon – aka cheerfest 2015

When you’re a little down and out on running, there’s nothing like a marathon weekend to get your spirits back up.  I’m trying to be smart about this groin pain, so I’ve been resisting the urges to “try” to run.  I’ve definitely missed training and pushing myself, but I’ve also missed being immersed in the running community.  When internet-searching for possible causes of injury, I keep seeing the phrase, “An injured athlete isn’t an athlete – they’re an injured person.”  I’m still a runner, right?  I’ve got all the shoes to prove it…

Anyway, after missing the Boston Marathon weekend last year (it was Easter weekend and that’s not an easy weekend to get off from work, apparently), I definitely wanted to head up this year.  Luckily, my friend Amy shares my enthusiasm and there was no hesitation in whether or not we’d be cheering!  She’s been housing me/cheering with/for me since 2010 – I’m so lucky to have her in my life!

I took a bus up on Saturday, arriving in the early afternoon.  It was a pretty chill day.  (Literally – there was a chill in the air up in Boston!)  After grabbing some lunch, we headed down to Boylston to meet Chris (who doesn’t really use Twitter anymore, but you can look him up if you like) for some drinks.  I haven’t seen him since we were in Germany for the Berlin Marathon and Oktoberfest in 2013, so we had some catching up to do.  He survived the Boston winter and has been battling some injures himself, so he ran Monday as a pacer for a blind guy til the half mark, then for another girl chasing a crazy fast time (3:01).  We had some beers, then walked to dinner with Meg and her husband. She’s living in southern California and thought 60 degrees was cold – I definitely need to move to San Diego ASAP.

photo 1 (44) Of course, Boston’s sky put on quite a show on Saturday evening – but wouldn’t warm San Diego be so nice??

sunday – expo day + arts and crafts

After grabbing some delicious brunch in Beacon Hill, we headed to the expo!  For my first few marathons, I feel like expos were really exciting, but they’ve kind of lost their magic.  I mainly like them to catch up with people (shoutout to Kim from Nuun!) depending on who happens to be there.  Kim was the only person I ran into at the expo, but it’s always great to say hi.  Otherwise, Boston usually has some good gear, although I try to resist buying anything if I’m not running the race.  Expos usually have some fun activities going on, so we got to check those out.

Picture with Meb!  Or at least a cut off out of him…I also entered to win a trip to San Diego (!!!) to train with him, so fingers crossed on that.  I know it’s just a cut out, but I’m always amazed by how tiny the elites really are.  I don’t think I have 20 pounds to lose, but that’s about what would I need to lose to be elite-sized.

photo 2 (43) MEB!

Boston is in the bid for the 2024 Olympics, so they had a booth where you could put on an olive branch wreath, some gold medals, and grab a country flag.  I like to think the US swept the gold in the CHEERING department:

photo 3 (24) GO USA!

After we finished browsing the expo, we headed back to start working on our signs for marathon day.  Amy’s boyfriend cooked us dinner (pork tenderloin – it was delicious) while we brainstormed ideas.  We put a lot of effort into our signs and even made it onto Boston.com one year!  As a runner, I definitely appreciate a good sign, especially when it’s not the same sign you see over and over again.  We did some searching/brain storming for what would be good for this year.  We have our classic “Smile if you’re not wearing underwear” sign, but we didn’t want to take that out in the rain!  We drank some wine, put on our thinking caps, and listened to a Carly Rae Pandora station…three hours later (this is commitment and a fine art, not just arts and crafts)…

photo 2 (44) Amy in action.

photo 2 (45) Post-marathon, but had to share!

For those who maybe the picture isn’t working, we went with:

  • Pain is just the French word for bread. 
  • Is that a gel in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
  • Watching you run is making me wet.  (Made because of the forecast for rain…)

 

We didn’t finish until after midnight – sign making is a commitment and also SO MUCH FUN.  I pondered making a “Run like someone just called you a jogger” sign, but I think these were much funnier.  You be the judge…

MARATHON MONDAY

I still hold that Marathon Monday is better than Christmas.  It’s such a fun, positive day whether you’re running or cheering.  Amy and I have spectating down to a science, but we had a simple game plan for this year.  Usually we (or Amy) are following at least one runner, so we have three spots along the course.  However, this year we weren’t following anyone specific, so we figured it’d be best to pick one spot and stay there.

My favorite spot to watch is in Wellesley Hills, right after mile 14.  Runners have the energy of the Wellesley girls behind them, and they should still be feeling good at mile 14.  (It’s long 12 miles to go if you’re not feeling good….)  We stand near the end of a downhill, so runners get a little boost from that as well.  If you have a car, it’s super to get to, and it’s right by a train station as well if that’s your thing.  As Amy said to runners who liked our signs, “We’re here every year, folks!”

We planned our arrival for 10:30am, which would give us enough time to get settled before the elite women arrived.  Since we were in it for the long haul, whatever the weather might bring, we packed snacks, umbrellas, and trash bags for our purses and signs.  (SAVE THE SIGNS.)  It was a chilly morning, but the rain held off for a bit…we crossed our fingers (for the runners, mainly) that the rain would stay away until late afternoon.

photo 4 (15) Love this sign!  And you can see our trash bags behind me…

The elite women arrived right on time, and we screamed our heads off for Desi and Shalane – only a preview of what’s to come!  There was a bit of a lull before any sort of crowd arrived, and Amy and I discussed how we wouldn’t want to be running this course by ourselves, which some of the elite women were doing.  That would be so rough, especially with the wind coming right at you.

photo 1 (45) Not the best photo, but Desi is up in front!

I knew Kris would be coming by soon – the elite men (GO MEB!!  AND DATHAN!!) passed her right before she got to us – it must be pretty cool to look back and see that lead pack coming right at you!  Also, unbelievably cool to start as an elite!  (I just want my name on my bib…just once!)

Once the elite men come by, it’s time for the masses.  The super fast guys ran by, then we spotted the first guy without an elite bib.  The crowd slowly started picking up, and these guys were moving fast.  Boston is an interesting race to watch.  Since every is lined up by official times, the front of the crowd is all men and very few scattered women.  The further back you go, it shifts to more women – it’s kind of cool to watch since it’s just how the natural spread goes.  ANYWAY.

We were cowbelling away, but once the crowd thickened, it was time to grab the signs.  I’ll admit that the front of the crowd is probably moving too fast to look at our signs, but we have to try!  Amy had the “Pain is just a French word for bread” sign and I had the “Is that a gel in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” sign.  FUN TIMES.  My phone eventually started dinging like crazy with tracking updates – runners would  be to us soon!

The highlights of the runner crowd include:

  • Ben almost taking down half the pack to head over to us.  Ben moved to Korea with the Army, and I miss him!  I told him to use me chasing him to give him a mid-race hug as motivation to run faster, but he said he wouldn’t dare miss a chance for a hug.  Unfortunately, he was on the other side of the street when he spotted us, and he put a valiant effort forth in crossing the street.  He yelled at me to run to keep up, but my Grandma hip isn’t dealing well with fast movement, so I said I couldn’t run fast enough to keep up.  He later called me out on it, and now I owe him a trip to Korea.  (Obviously.)  Still sad I missed the hug.
  • Michael – Amy and I met Michael in this very spot three years ago.  It was the heat wave that was Boston 2012, and we had signs that said, “Kisses for PRs.”  Michael took the bait and we took his bib number, and we’ve been connected on Facebook since.  Amy sent him a message that we’d be cheering, so he ran up to us and gave us both hugs!  So nice.  We felt bad at the end of the race because he ran 3:00:03, and I’m not sure if those race hugs cost him the sub-3.  Sorry, Michael.
  • Jacy is one of those women you look for in the pack of men!  She’s really fast and it’s inspirational to watch her run.  I love seeing the fast women right up there with the men.
  • Chris (from above!) and Jess – Chris is a rockstar in his own right, but was pacing Jess to an impressive pace.  Looking good at mile 14!
  • Michele – I like following Michele’s training because we have similar paces/goals.  She’s been rocking her training, and I was excited to see what she would do in Boston.  I spotted her coming down the hill and she looked a little surprised, but she was making the pace look easy.  She looked great and nabbed an awesome PR on a tough day.
  • Claire and Robin – I feel bad when I miss people running by, but they both spotted us and yelled.  It was Robin’s first Boston, which is always a special race, and Claire ran a great race in preparation for an ultra.  Just another long run, right?
  • Caroline – I’ve been reading Caroline’s blog for a loonggg time, but we’ve never met.  She yelled hello when she recognized the signs (oh, the powers of Instagram…)…it took me a second to realize who she was (since you know, we’ve never met…), but so fun!

 

And sorry to all those who I missed/left out!  It was so fun to follow everyone and cheer!  It’s also so, so, so much fun to cheer for random people.  I know how much random cheers help my race, so Amy and I try to yell for as many people as we can – picking names/colleges/organizations/etc on people’s shirts to give them a boost.  Otherwise, it’s just a nonstop yelling of, “LET’S GO RUNNERS!  LOOKING GOOD LOOKING GOOD!  KEEP IT UP!”  By the time you finish the three things you usually say, there’s a new crowd of runners in front of you, so no need to mix it up!

Holding the signs is always fun because you can see people reading them – and then their reaction is always interesting.  The gel in your pocket sign definitely got some mixed reviews – it appeared that the older men were more comfortable laughing about it, women didn’t like to have any response other than a scrunched up face, and young men smirked or ignored it. 

As for the bread sign – PEOPLE LOVED IT.  Loved it.  Such a simple sign, but a great sign for mile 14 when that pain might be starting to set in.  We had a few French people say something to us in French (…still no idea what), and a bunch of people told us it was the best sign they’d seen all day.  VICTORY.  Two people even stopped to take pictures with the sign!  Other people told us that they love bread or that they wished they had some bread right now…we eventually started replying, “BREAD LOVES YOU” because…runners.  Right?

Eventually the rain came out, and we put up our umbrellas but never stopped cheering.  It wasn’t bad under an umbrella, but I was happy I wasn’t out running!  Not the best conditions at all.  Amy broke out the “Watching you run is making me wet” sign – also got mixed reviews!  The women seemed to appreciate it the most…but some people maybe thought it was a bit…raunchy?  We’re just here to make you laugh at mile 14 in the cold rain, people!  Some people did yell, “Thank you for getting wet!” which was funny.  We did appreciate when the rain stopped, however.

We arrived at our cheer spot at 10:30am and didn’t leave until nearly 2:45pm.  Over four hours of cheering!  I admittedly don’t see the back of the pack that often, but it was still fun to cheer for runners coming by one at a time.  They really appreciated it, which is awesome as well.

As a side note, I’ve never seen so many people running in trash bags.  So many people.  I can only imagine what running in a trash bag in the rain in the wind is like.  I hope I never find out!

We decided to call it a day around 2:45pm and headed for some lunch and a beer.  Cheering is serious work!  We hung out for the rest of the afternoon, then I boarded a bus back to NYC.  It was a successful Marathon Monday from a cheering standpoint, and a great weekend to lift my running spirits.  I can’t wait to get back out there and chase down my marathon PR dreams.

And since we’re proud of our signs…we secretly hope (okay, not so secretly hope…) that we’ll be famous for our signs, and at least a little part of the internet liked us…

photo 3 (2) VICTORY.

Our sign making skills/cheering skills are for hire.  And by “hire,” I mean we’ll do it for free.  I LOVE YOU MARATHON MONDAY.

And of course, congrats to all those who ran on Monday.  It was so, so fun to cheer you on, and I hope the day was everything you wanted it to be – whether it was a PR, a course PR, a victory lap, or just a day to get out there and do what you love.  Boston is such an amazing, positive day for runners, spectators, and the Boston community, and I hope you loved it…because I know I did.

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