Better than before

This past month, I’ve had to reevaluate who I thought I was. Whenever I’ve gone through a life change or a bump in the road, it’s both depressing and invigorating. Note, I do not get depressed nor do I suffer from that mental illness, I am using it as a describing word in this context.

Having this lingering injury, which is getting better and I have run a few times this past week, actually has broadened my horizons in other aspects. Also, I’m not going to lie, disconnecting from the vegan community and therefore spending less time on social media has given me more time to get interested in other stuff.

For example, I’ve never really been interested in organic or local food. Not to say I didn’t appreciate it, but largely I didn’t care very much where my veggies came from as long as I was eating them. Well, spending a lot of time on the bike gave me a big excuse to watch Netflix documentaries which made me aware of their importance. More on that in some other post. Not only that, but I kind of started to get interested in growing some of my own food.


This is such a shift and really surprising in my mind, because I grew up on a farm and actively admitted it was not for me. I just wasn’t interested and when I was of age, left for another job (make ice cream all summer? Sure!) 

Taking a step back, I wondered if this interest was due to simply being bored or the glorification farming gets in my community. Not to bash people, but most of us don’t understand how hard farming is. We see the beautiful bounty and don’t get it that it took a lot of work and most of it sucks. 


Early mornings, cold temperatures, stubborn animals, equipment that breaks, manual labor, all of it is disguised when those hardworking people show up at the farmers market smiling and offering us delicious food. Those people have a gift, and not everyone has it. Do I?

Honestly, I have no idea, but I love reading about it and can see myself out in those fields and growing healthy food. Whether that’s another unrealistic ideal or not, I’ve decided to scratch the itch and start an indoor garden in my apartment. Not only does it seem doable, it might scratch the itch enough for me to say I’m doing what I can and I’m happy with that.

I am better than before.

Coming back to this lingering injury, I’ve been able to improve myself in ways outside of running, but also have taken time to work on my imbalances, flexibility and core which I had been lacking before. It’s not that I didn’t take time to do them, it’s that I’ve changed the cool down and stretches to better serve me. I’ve made the things I’m doing serve my running rather than wearing me down.

For example, my job is very physical, so any strength training or heavy lifting I’ve done before serves no purpose except it makes me sore and ripe for injury. My job is my lifting, my gym work is about form, balance, mobility and strengthening ancillary muscles. Taking more time to relax or do some easy cross training appeases my need for movement and makes me happy.

I may not be at the same level yet, but in many ways, I am better than before.

A Line in the Sand

I’m not sure how to follow up my last post. I knew what I was in for regarding how I felt and what I chose to do. I know I am letting people down. I know others feel I can remain vegan and fix myself.

Maybe that is true. I don’t know.

I am feeling better lately, that being due to the massive doses of B12 I am taking, eating more in general, not feeling as stressed or including eggs and a bit of dairy, I am unsure what the reasoning is.

Thankfully, even my vegan friends have been, well, not mean I guess is a way to say it. They are sad, rightly so. They feel I have not done my due diligence in being a vegan athlete. Rightly so. Although I got myself here accidentally, an accident is still my fault.

One thing that one close friend said to me struck a chord. It drew a line in the sand for me and I feel as though I must express those feelings.

They said that if they had to sacrifice running or being an athlete to remain vegan, they would do so in a heart beat.

How honorable a thing. I do not say this lightly that I admire that.

For myself, I do not feel the same. If I was unable to pursue my passions and hobbies because being vegan made me sick or unable, I would not be vegan. I choose my health over being vegan. That is my line in the sand. I am not ashamed of that, nor do I look down on others who take the opposite approach.

If that means I was never a true vegan, that is what it is, however by choosing that lifestyle for over 4 years, I saved many animal lives and I am happy for that. That matters.

That said, I still believe, and this athlete proves true, one can be vegan and a high performing athlete. It is tricky and takes more planning than I gave it, but it can be done. I also say that being vegan is a very compassionate and desirable way to live. There is some validity to the fact that you cannot be pro-environment and at least mostly plant-based. A vegan diet is very healthy when done appropriately.

However, I stand by my decision in my last post. I am not vegan right now, no matter how uncomfortable emotionally that makes me feel. Thank you to those who have reached out, from both sides of the issue.

Onward.

Signs

Racing has certainly done a 180 on me this fall. I originally had plans to do a few races leading up to JFK in November as training runs, but the universe had a different direction for me to take.

Starting with Escarpment, where I was very humbled and shaken, manifesting into a nerve issue in my butt at Green Lakes and then travelling to my foot, running this past few weeks has been inconsistent, then non-existent as I work to heal my foot.

It’s getting better, but not at where it should be right now. I understand that and realize that it’s not my fault per se, but another step in my running journey.

I received word this morning that I did not get off from work on the Saturday of the Watergap 50K. The gym I work at part time is small and there are only 4 employees. Two of them have families and the other has a massaging business taking precedence on the weekends. I simply did not find coverage.

Taking this as a sign, rather than push it and try to force another employee to give up their weekend, I am not going to do the race. I have not run in a week and don’t like betting on “being able to run” in a certain period of time. This includes JFK. I continue to see improvements in my foot, but if it’s not better by then, of course I am not going to race it.

Last week was very emotional as I processed facing yet another training setback. I felt like a failure yet again. It took some time and a lot of talking with my friends and other runners, but I have come out of the anger phase of injury. I am simply looking to move forward.

Most people ask what I’m doing different this time, so here is the biggest change…one that is still very hard for me, and one that I’m not sure will be forever, but needed right now.


I have started eating some animal products again.

It’s now out there. I’ve only confided in a few people, and they can see how upset I’ve been over this. They have been nothing but supportive in whatever I choose and I thank God for them.

How did I get here one might ask? After Green Lakes, I was upset with how that went, but then also noticed that even with resting after that, I was still tired, oddly off balance and just in a weird zone. I shrugged it off, and just rested more. However, I could not ignore the symptoms I was having. I say symptoms, not cravings. I was not craving meat, eggs or dairy.

I looked up what I was experiencing and there it was, classic B12 deficiency. I looked at my Inside Tracker panel, and was reminded that I was low in that nutrient back in April when I was tested. The first 3 years I was vegan, I didn’t know about supplementing and this past year, if I get busy or work early, I forget to take my vitamins.

Nothing I can do about that now, except change what I am doing thus forward.

So, I have started incorporating small amount of animal products, a huge dose b12 supplement and more balance work in my training. I’m thinking of this period as a supplement for my body. I just want to get those levels up.

What this time is not: this is not me renouncing my veganism. I still believe it is important to try to eat as close to a vegan diet for the animals, the planet and for your health. I think I should have made more sure to take a b12 supplement, especially because I am an athlete. I am not “breaking vegan” and am not advocating anyone healthy do so. I am doing this for my body and my health.

I am not going to overthink this any longer. I have been in emotional distress the past week over this and can no longer live in that state of mind. I’m following what my body is telling me it needs.

If anyone has any questions, please email me and I can try to answer.

Onward.

My Podcast Interview is LIVE!

A few months ago, I spent a weekend running at Bristol ski mountain with a few Rochester friends. That hill workout was my first workout back from a mostly unstructured off season.

I wrote about that here.

After the workout, my coach and I ate breakfast with Chris O’Brian, local running and podcast legend in Rochester. We then spent an hour or so podcasting for his show Running Inside Out. I had a lot of fun recounting a few races, talking about rest days and remembering why I love to run.


Give it a listen and let me know what you think!

Hold Yourself Back Sea Biscuit

When I feel good running, it is so hard to hold myself back. Especially after a few weeks of feeling flat and stale, feeling good is such a blessing and I almost feel compelled to take advantage of it.


In the week leading up to GLER, I had that amazing week where every run felt good. So I added, a few miles, here and there. No extra speed, nothing too crazy, but adding it up, I ran 20 extra miles that week. 

20 extra miles.

That is too much for my current level of fitness. Even though they felt amazing, they most likely contributed to the nerve pain that prevented me from finishing Green Lakes.

Too much Sea Biscuit.

This past week, I’ve seen a great sports chiropractor and PT who has thankfully gotten my nerve pain sorted out. It is feeling better and I should be looking to running a bit more. I say should, because no sooner did my butt feel better, did my right foot begin to hurt. So much so, I had to limp home yesterday morning in tears.

Tears that I fixed one problem, but had another. Tears falling because I have been trying to hard, doing all my stretches, not running, seeing a PT and I cannot escape this cycle.

Talking to my PT, he thinks I most likely did all this damage at Escarpment in July and it was just a time bomb. Falling twice per mile for eighteen miles is a beating. The extra mileage I ran the week of the race exposed the issue. The pain was coming, all I can do now is prevent it from happening again.

Right now that means allowing my foot to heal, when I can run, doing so cautiously and trusting that my body will use the limited training so I can still compete.

The thing is, through this process, I was reminded that I just love to run. I don’t really care about pace or winning or even racing. I just want to run. Talking to my coach, I told him I want him to remind me of this injury and how smart it is to take the smaller amount of mileage and let my body use it. I want him to remind me that just being able to run is a gift.

Because it is. 

Onward from here!