Regaining Balance

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my husband and family (and definitely ate more than I should). But it’s back to reality tomorrow, which includes a lunchtime session with my trainer.

Since I’m coming back from major surgery, I thought it might be a good idea to work out with a trainer for a while. My hope is to regain strength and correct some of the issues that I’ve been dealing with. That way, I’m in a better starting place as I slowly work my way back into running.

It’s definitely been a great challenge! I’ve enjoyed working with my trainer, Maria (who also is a former co-worker who works full-time now as a trainer). In the beginning, we focused on corrective exercises. This past week was the first full week of strength training.

I can tell definitely I need it. It’s not just about working out one set of muscles at a time — it’s about focusing on core and glutes, and keeping my knees from going inward, as they are prone to do, as well as keeping my shoulder back and maintaining good posture. All the exercises incorporate multiple things, so it’s actually a mental workout too. The lunchtime workouts also are a great way to break up the day. It’s better than eating in the breakroom or walking around Target!

In the past, I did core and some strength training, but if I was running short on time, the core and strength work would usually be cut short, if I got to it at all. I feel the training is definitely taking it to a new level, one that surely will pay off in the long run.

By the time the sessions are done, my legs are burning, my pulse is racing, and my arms aching. But it’s a good kind of tired. At times, when I’m stepping up and down or doing lunges, my legs feel wobbly. The image that comes to mind at those times is that of a newborn foal, who’s just taking their first few steps on their own. The foal is unstable at first, but as it gains strength and balance, it’s soon able to walk and then gallop on its own.

That image is appropriate — I feel like I’m reentering again the world of running of physical activity, and regaining the balance I need to go the distance. I’m learning to work out all over again, and I’m hoping for a smooth path to achieving my goal of running and training for races again.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m doing much better, and I’m aware and grateful of all the blessings I have. One of those blessings has been to run marathons, and I’m hoping to be blessed again and able to train for the Houston Marathon in 2016.

Now, I just need to work on the food part!

Amsterdam

Sorry for missing last week! Things have been busy here. Work is busy and will remain so until mid-December, and I’ve started working out with a trainer at lunch three days a week. I’ll blog more about that later, but I wanted to talk about my Amsterdam trip and share some photos with you.

After a nine-hour flight on KLM, I arrived in Amsterdam at 6:30 a.m. on Oct. 26. The sun had not even come up yet as I picked up my luggage and went through customs. Even though I had to wait a bit, the airport shuttle had dropped me at my hotel before 9 a.m. My room wasn’t ready, but the hotel staff agreed to store my luggage so I could get a jumpstart on seeing Amsterdam.

On the advice of the staff, I headed directly to the one thing I always planned to see if I visited Amsterdam — the Secret Annex where Anne Frank hid with her family from the Nazis during World War II. One of my colleagues thought it was really depressing that I decided to see it, and I do agree with his point of view. But after studying her diary in school and seeing countless versions of the play about her family’s time in hiding, I felt like I had to go.

The Secret Annex — hidden in a back apartment in the building that housed her father’s business — is no longer secret. In fact, hundreds of thousands of visitors line up to walk through the tiny set of rooms where she hid for two years. I showed up at 9 a.m. when they opened, and was greeted by a line already wrapped around the block.

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I did have a nice conversation with a man who was in town attending the same work conference as me. He also is a marathoner, so we talked about races we had done. His daughter, in her 20s, had taken the train over from Germany to visit him, and we had a nice chat about all the food you can buy in Europe versus home (and what you can’t get in Europe, like brown sugar, a real problem if you want to bake using an American recipe). Apparently, her dad brings brown sugar — and other food items — over in large quantities when he visits.

The conversation helped the wait go faster, and soon I was buying my ticket to see the building where Anne, her family, the Van Pels (another family that hid with them, known as the Van Daans in the diary) and a dentist named Fritz Pfeffer (called Albert Dussel in Anne’s diary) hid for two years. As Jews, they were subject to persecution by the Nazis in occupied Holland. By the end of World War II, most of the Jews in Holland had been deported to and perished in Hitler’s death camps, and were among the six million Jews who were murdered in Hitler’s plan to eradicate Jews from Europe.

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The outside of the building has been remodeled, but the nearby church that would chime the hour (Anne references it in her diary) are still there. The building is located on a charming canal, with house boats and quaint row houses. I’ve included a couple of pictures below.

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Having read the diary, I knew that the rooms they hid in were small, but you don’t appreciate how cramped the space was until you see it in person. Walking around the floor, I could hear boards creak, so I fully understood why they couldn’t move around during the day (or run water) because the workmen in the warehouse below would definitely have heard them. Seeing the room that Anne shared with Fritz Pfeffer (her movie star and photo collection still decorates the walls), I found it hard to imagine myself sleeping in the small bed that was in there, night after night, and writing in a diary, day after day, hoping to persevere and stay out of the Nazis clutches until Holland was liberated. The size of the room they shared would equal a luxurious walk-in closet of a modern home today.

Inside, it was just as crowded with tourists from every nation, listening to multiple audio translations of the tour. We snaked through the house, winding through until we finally came upon the bookcase that hid the door. I had to duck my head while I stepped up into the Secret Annex, like Anne had done so many year ago. I felt like I was squeezing into a closet, and the feeling of claustrophobia would only get worse.

I could hear people starting to comment on how tight it was inside, and this was only after 20 or 30 minutes. At one point, I was on the stairs going from the first floor of the Secret Annex to the second, and the smallness of the place got to me. The staircase I was standing on was really more of a ladder, and very steep. The fact that I hadn’t slept at all on the flight suddenly hit me, and I felt tired and boxed in. But I steeled myself, thinking, If Anne and the other occupants of the Secret Annex did this for two years, you can do this for an hour. So I climbed on.

The rooms were small, gray, and dimly lit in some corners. For two years, the Franks and the daughter slept in what was also doubled as a living room. Upstairs, the Van Pels’ bedroom also doubled as the kitchen. I got to see Peter’s small room, and the ladder leading to the attic where they could climb up and get some sunshine. I could imagine them tiptoeing around during the day, trying to cook meals with an ever-dwindling food supply, and trying to keep the fact that they were getting on each other’s nerves from undoing them.

Because Anne and her diary are so famous, I realized that, to me, they almost seemed larger than life. But then I saw something in the Secret Annex that changed that. In one corner of a room, the Franks had measured their daughters’ height on the wall to track their growth. Seeing the markings, I noted that both of them would have been shorter than me if we were to have somehow met.

In that moment, I could suddenly see them not as these famous people, but ordinary people that I might see on the street. People with hopes, fears, insecurities, annoying habits, and moments of imperfection. Two teenage sisters who didn’t always get along, but eventually grew close. The older sister, Margot, who was quiet and studious, and Anne, the boisterous, opinionated younger one who always was being told she should be more like Margot. Two fragile human beings who would succumb to typhus at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, not realizing that their father had been liberated by the Russians in Auschwitz and was still alive.

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Another friend one commented that she thought Anne Frank was a spoiled brat. I could see that, and she probably did have her bratty moments. But her time in the Secret Annex forced her to grow up, and in the process, resulted in a diary that remains a well-regarded work today. Like a diamond that results from the great pressure placed on coal, Anne created a masterpiece, and fulfilled her wish to go on living after her death.

Many people may have thought her a silly girl who wouldn’t amount to much, but people can surprise you. I think her father was very surprised — he later said that, after reading her diary, he realized he hadn’t known his daughter. It makes me wonder sometimes how well we really know people, or even how well we really know ourselves.

Studying the Holocaust in school often made me think about how I would have reacted if I had lived in occupied Europe before and during World War II — would I have stood up and tried to help those being persecuted, or would I have looked the other way? After touring the Secret Annex and revisiting Anne’s tragic history, I realize that I have not and probably would never be tested to this limit. All I can hope is that I would be able to choose what was right to do, and not what was easy.

I still remember her famous line — how in spite of everything, she really believed people were good at heart. I wonder how Anne felt when she was in the camps and faced with its horrors, and if she still believed what she had written. Even today, I think about this line and the terrible things that are happening (particularly ISIS), and it can be easy to lose hope in humanity. But by losing our hope, we’re only giving what groups like ISIS want and the Nazis wanted — to fill our hearts with fear and minds with the idea that only certain types of people or races are worthy of life. Despite our flaws and faults, if we start judging and treating people the way that these groups did, then we will ultimately lose in the marathon of life.

Are people really good at heart? I would like to think so. And ultimately, I think we need to believe in the good of humanity to keep going.

Back to Basics

Sorry for my absence! I left last weekend for a work trip to Amsterdam. From the time I arrived early Sunday morning in Amsterdam to when I reached my driveway Thursday evening, I was busy, and ended up not having time to blog. I did take pictures, which I will share along with some my experiences on the trip. I have been sluggish all weekend — I think I’m still not over the jet lag, but hopefully, I’ll be feeling back to normal when I go to work tomorrow.

But the biggest news is that I had a successful test run on Saturday. Granted, I only ran two very slow miles, but it was the best two miles ever. The weather was perfect for it — temperatures in the 40s, low humidity, sunny with no clouds. It felt great to be out on the trails again! I can definitely tell that I’m out of shape, and it will take time to get back to the shape I was in at Houston. I know I’ll have to be patient, but it can’t come soon enough!

My plan is to slowly ramp up the miles. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make the Houston half-marathon in January, but I will find another race this spring if Houston doesn’t work out. I’ve been reading about friends and people I know who have run the Marine Corps Marathon, the New York Marathon and other races in the past few weeks, and it’s making me itch to train for something. Maybe I’ll look at doing a triathlon this spring, I’m not sure. But I’m excited at the prospect of being able to sign up for a race and to actually do the race.

As part of my back to basics approach, I’m also going to start working out with a trainer tomorrow. We’ll meet three times a week for the next two and a half months. I’m also going to start watching what I eat, which might be tricky, given that we’re entering the holiday season when even more candy and sweets are available than usual. But if not now, then when?

Knowing I’ve been feeling down about not being able to train, my husband emailed me this article this morning. I thought the article not only gave some great advice, but had some great travel photos (I would definitely love to run in some of these spots). He always knows how to cheer me up.

Life in the Slow Lane

There’s not much new to report today. I go for my second follow up with the surgeon tomorrow, and I’ve got a busy week ahead as I get ready for my trip to Amsterdam (and I plan to take lots of photos, which I will share here). That quote from the Austin Powers movie (I think it was Goldmember) keeps running through my head about two things Austin’s father can’t stand — people who are insensitive to other cultures and the Dutch! I’m eager to see Amsterdam and what it has to offer, and maybe a few windmills. Maybe I’ll bring back some wooden shoes.

I got a letter from my insurance company about the astronomical bill I received last week. Apparently, the provider appealed their decision not to pay. I’m just hoping it doesn’t fall on me!

Since I haven’t been able to run, I’ve been going for walks in the evenings. There’s a walking path on our side of the townhome complex, and the evenings have actually been nice enough to spend outdoors. I never realized how many lizards we have! I haven’t talked much with the neighbors, but have noticed the same folks walking in the evenings, some with their dogs. A friend said I needed a dog to walk, and the idea appeals to me. But we really don’t have the room, and are not home enough. I would probably need to hire a dogsitter if I went that route.

Anyway, I’m eager to see what the surgeon has to say tomorrow, and to find out how much longer I’ll be doing the physical therapy exercises. I do need to ask him for a referral for some further treatment — my left IT band and hip flexor are bothering me, and I think I may have plantar’s. I think they are related to the back — I may have been compensating in other areas. So there will be more physical therapy exercises at home, and likely some more waiting. Just hopefully not too much more waiting! I’m ready to get out of the slow lane.

Stormy Weather

The stormy afternoon weather matches my mood perfectly today.

Before my surgery, I was told that I had met my deductible for the year, that all I would have to pay was a $300 deposit fee with the surgeon. After that, I didn’t hear anything else about any other bills. Since the surgery, I haven’t had a co-pay for other medical-related visits. I even got a nice refund back from the center that did my shot and through which I was doing a different round of physical therapy from the one now. I thought I was in the clear.

Yesterday, I received a letter that dispelled that notion. Apparently, the bill is from the anethesiologist (I’m guessing that’s it — it doesn’t really come out and say it). When I saw the amount, I did a double take, almost stopped breathing, and nearly dropped the letter. It’s not like we have sacks of money laying around (and who does, except Scrooge McDuck). The amount is way more than what’s in my savings account.

I enclosed a letter with the receipt in the return envelope, saying that there must be a mistake and referring them to my insurance company. My husband told me I shouldn’t worry about it, but I can’t help it! My fear is that it’s not a mistake, and of course, how on earth would I get the money? By robbing Scrooge McDuck?

I think the real reason it’s bothering me so much is that I’ve been wondering if the surgery was worth it. When will I be able to run again? Am I hoping for something that’s not to be? I’ve been stretching and doing my physical therapy exercises, and biding my time, waiting for that moment that I’ll feel fabulous again. I know that I’ve always tried to put on a brave face, especially for this blog. I want it to be about running and the positive steps I’m making to get back to running, not a never-ending pity party! But it’s hard to be brave all the time. And I’m thinking that the improvements will come gradually, not in one shining moment, like clouds suddenly parting in the sky. The changes may occur so subtly, they may not fully register.

Saturday mornings are still strange to me, with no long runs. I’ve been missing my running group, and missing out on a habit that has become a lifestyle to me. I find myself floundering at times. I have attempted to distract myself with things, but I’m still feeling the void left by not running. Yet it would be too easy to let myself get mired in the muck. So I persevere on, still stretching, still doing my exercises on the ball, and still waiting.

I’m also keyed up today because I’m doing the opening and closing remarks for a work event Tuesday morning. Now, I did volunteer for this, and I think it will be something that will benefit my career at my company. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I spent Saturday at my parents, rehearsing my speech, and going over YouTube videos to gather tips for public speaking. I feel like I’m prepared, though I do plan to run through it a few more times before Tuesday.

So I’ve got a lot on my mind, which has created for my stormy mood on a stormy day. But hopefully, the clouds will disappear soon.

 

 

 

Music to My Ears

Given that I haven’t been running, I’ve found myself with lots of time on my hands. I’ve been walking and doing my physical therapy exercises, as well as gearing up for a busy time at work. It has been hard not running, especially yesterday morning, when the weather was so cool. I did sit outside with my coffee and enjoy the breeze, but it’s not the same as doing my weekly long run.

One way I’ve been filling my time is taking piano lessons again. I’ve played off and on over the years, but haven’t formally studied since college. While he was looking for a guitar teacher, my husband found a music school not too far from us that offers piano instruction. So on Sunday afternoons, I’ve been taking a half hour lesson with a teacher.

I thought I was going to be the oldest student, but I’m not (there are a few of us around, according to my teacher). My lesson is sandwiched in between younger students — it’s fun to see the little kids, lugging their violins and guitars in, parents trailing behind. Going to the studio brings back memories of when I was kid. I took piano lessons initially, then later flute lessons when I joined band in the sixth grade.I remember lugging my music books (and flute) to lessons, hoping that I’d practiced enough. Even when I did practice, I would get nervous sometimes and make mistakes (I’m still doing that — it’s funny how some things don’t change!)

While I miss running, it has been nice to indulge in the first passion of my life, music. I’ve been going through pieces that I’ve tried practicing on my own, but need help with. I may finally be able to play through my Charlie Brown Christmas book (jazz pieces give me a harder time than classical) this year!

The ‘cross training’ exercise has been fun, but trying to remember all my theory has been a little strenuous. During one lesson, I actually thought I was going to blow a fuse, trying to remember chords! I still love Chopin, and am still not a fan of Bach (I liken him to kale — something that’s supposed to be good for you, but I just can’t stomach). It’s been fun going through the stacks of music, playing through old movie soundtracks. It’s also like a diary — I associate pieces with particular times in my life. I can look at the songs I played in fourth grade (and see the stickers I got, signalling I had done a good job on a piece), or see what piece I played for my Christmas recital my junior year of high school. It’s fun to see where I started in terms of skill, and to see how far I’ve come and where I can still go.

Hearing that I can run again will definitely be music to my ears, but for now, this kind of music will have to suffice. But I can live with that for a while.

Cross Training

I had a great time in California this past weekend, catching up with my oldest and dearest friend and college roommate. Like we always do, we packed a ton of stuff into a long weekend — great food and wine, the Katy Perry concert, quality beach time, museum exhibits, grape stomping (which my friend says is how they cross train in California) and a movie.

My visit started with breakfast in Hermosa Beach (like we have the past few visits), and finished with me shaking sand from my feet before we left Zooma Beach in Malibu so she could drive me to the airport. I actually was wearing my swimsuit under my clothes for the flight home, but it was definitely worth it! I always take an extra day since I usually fly home late and need time to recover, but the marathon of fun is one race I’m always up for.

As promised, I have pictures! Here are a couple of my favorites — my first time every stomping grapes at Lorimar Winery in Temecula, California, and seeing the space shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Museum.

Endeavour

Grape Stomping

We also caught up each other on our lives. I’ve gone to visit her every year since she moved to California eight years ago, and we always just pick right back up in terms of conversation. We can laugh and joke as we always have, and talk about everything. Or we’re fine just driving in the car, listening to our iPods. That’s the mark of a true friend — someone you can talk with about anything, but with whom you can also enjoy moments of silence.

She got engaged over the summer, so we talked about plans for her upcoming wedding (I’m one of her bridesmaids) and toured some wineries where she was thinking about holding an exchange of vows ceremony/reception. I talked with her about my recent major surgery, and about some major decisions I may have to make in the next few months.  In addition to getting married, she may have a major change on the horizon with her work later this year. So it was great to be able to speak with someone who’s also going through major changes.

It was good to vent, and it was just good to have fun — to stomp grapes, to go on a hayride, to watch Guardians of the Galaxy, to sample macaroons at Bottega Louie (apparently, they’re very well-known for their macaroons — even my co-worker said she wanted to visit them someday). I also got some Vitamin D and color at the beach — since I haven’t been running, I haven’t been out in the sun as much. It’s funny that I’m finally getting more of a tan with fall officially underway, but better late than never!

In short, I got caught up with some quality friend and vacation time. I’m still behind with other things (including getting my car inspected — I was driving home from church, and suddenly realized it expires on Tuesday), and October will be a busy month for work, but I definitely got a good dose of fun and relaxation. I’m back to my physical therapy and cross training, but it felt good to ‘cross train’ with some grape stomping and fun.

During one of our talks, as I wondered aloud about the choices I had made, I lamented the fact that I’m 41. But I loved the perspective she had to offer — sure, we’re in our early 40s, but we’re likely only about halfway through our lives. It made me hopeful for the future. That, and the fact that my back feels like it is slowly but surely healing, is making me confident that the second half of the marathon called life will be filled with good miles, good friends, and plenty more good times.

Building a Better Core

I’m in California this weekend, catching up with my dear friend and college roommate (and I’ll have pictures to post the next time I blog, I promise!). But I did meet with my physical therapist this past week and have started on the program of prescribed home exercises.

The routine includes stretches and exercises to strengthen my core and left hip. As part of this routine, I get to dust off the exercise ball in my home office for back and core work. I went through all the exercises on Wednesday night for the first time, and was sore today! But that’s to be expected.

In the past, I haven’t always been faithful with doing core work and other dreaded exercises (especially burpees). Why can’t I just run, I ask myself? And I should know the answer by now — it’s the core exercises and dreaded stuff like burpees that will keep me running. It’s easy sometimes to cut corners, especially during fall marathon training season. Some days, it’s a rush to get to the track, and by the time the track workout is done, I’m cold or starving and just want to get home. And I’ll tell myself that I’ll do core when I get home. Sometimes it happens, and sometimes not.

As part of this healing process, I’ve made up my mind to do things right. That includes making sure everything is healed and strengthened, especially the core. I definitely don’t want to be sidelined this long again!

Now, you’re probably asking, how is she doing all this while she’s in California? Well, the answer is that I’m doing some of the exercises, but not everything. I tried to pack light (since I have to be careful still with bending and lifting), and decided I wouldn’t have the space for the exercise ball in my bag. But I plan to hit the ball again once I return from my trip.

You may not think of visiting an old college friend as a core strengthening exercise, but it just dawned on me that it does count as core work, in its own way. I’ve gone to visit my friend every year for the past several years. By doing so, I’m maintaining the strength of our friendship, which will hopefully endure for the rest of our lives. It’s the same with going to church, spending time with friends and loved ones, taking the time for doctor’s visits or to prepare a healthy meal. Sleep is another way of building core (and it also allows the body to heal itself, according to my reading). It’s all about building a better core within ourselves, not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally.

During my hiatus from running, I’ve been looking at ways to build my core in other areas of my life. This includes working on my marriage, spending time with family and friends, and devoting time to things such as reading for pleasure. I love running, but it’s amazing how much time it can take, especially marathon training. And while I miss running, it’s nice that I can use this time to build a better core — in more ways than one.

A New Season

I returned to my home and to work this past week after being out for over two weeks for my surgery, most of which I spent at my parents. While I definitely needed the time to recover (and got some quality reading and family time), it felt good to get back to my life. And though I definitely enjoyed the time at my parents, the invalid’s life is definitely not for me – I’m much too independent! I was starting to chafe at the restrictions — like the kid who’s sick of being stuck at home sick, and who’s bored with TV and their crayons and wants to be out playing with their friends again.

My parents did a great job of taking care of me, but towards the end, I was definitely ready to start taking care of myself again. That realization came when my mother insisted on shaving my legs for me (so I wouldn’t have to bend) before we ventured out to walk around the local mall. I didn’t have any jeans with me, and I didn’t want to walk around with legs looking like bristly pipe cleaners. But that moment made me appreciate having the ability to do basic things for myself — things that I had taken for granted before.

I also was glad to get back to work — I didn’t realize how much I had missed it. It felt great to be welcomed back with hugs from several co-workers! I’m glad I went back at mid-week though, so I can ease back into my routine and sort through enormous pile of emails awaiting me in Outlook. It took me most of one day just on the email alone!

Returning to my daily life felt like emerging from a warm cocoon and walking on wobbly legs. I’ve actually been dealing with some calf cramping as a start walking more and going up and down stairs. I can tell it will take time to get my old stamina back even for work, not to mention any running or intense physical activity.

I got the all-clear from my surgeon to start increasing my activity level again, including physical therapy exercises. I can’t run yet, but I can walk, swim and do the elliptical. I will definitely be starting from scratch, which is bad and good. I miss being in the great shape I was in earlier this year, but starting from scratch does have it’s advantages, including the chance to rebuild myself in the best way possible and lay a firm foundation for the journey ahead.

I admit, seeing friends’ posts on Facebook are posting about their long runs is making me itch to run. The cooler temperatures this week — a sweet preview of fall weather that can’t come soon enough — also make me long to hit the running trail near my house again. But I keep reminding myself that slow and steady will ultimately win the race, and that I need to thoroughly heal.

It just struck me as appropriate that fall officially kicks off this coming weekend. Rebuilding myself will mark a new season in itself, and as the weather and leaves transform, I’m hopeful that I’ll start to see a transformation in myself as well.

You Can Go Home Again

I’m midway through my second week of recovery, and each day, I’ve noticed I’m feeling better and better. I’m definitely not ready to go out and do a triathlon — in fact, I won’t be able to run again for another month to six weeks following my back surgery. I still face a long road to recovery, but I feel like I’ve gotten the race towards good health off to a good start.

I have made significant progress over the past week and a half. I was very stiff and in a lot of pain during the drive home from the hospital to my parents’ house. Right after the surgery, I shuffled around the house in agony as the morphine I was given through IV at the hospital wore off and I waited for the prescription pain medication and muscle relaxer to take effect. I was not terribly coherent either. My mother offered me hot tea before realizing I was too out of it to hold the cup, so she sent me to bed instead.

A big factor in my recovery has been my parents, who have opened their home to me and have acted as nursemaids.  I think I underestimated how much time I would need off from work and how much help I would need after the surgery. I ended up taking all of this past week off in addition to the previous week (I had originally planned to go back this past Thursday – what was I thinking?). The doctor also said I could not bend over or lift anything heavy during the initial two week recovery period. I never realized how much bending I do on a daily basis, even to pick up a pencil dropped on the floor, or reaching down to pick up something from a low shelf.  I’ve been grateful for my parents’ presence in helping me walk around, handing me things so I wouldn’t have to bend or stoop. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the home-cooked meals (which have included plenty of protein per the doctor’s orders). I’ve enjoyed home spaghetti, steak, meat loaf, mounds of fluffy scrambled eggs, bacon and plenty of veggies. I finally got to try kale (which is supposed to be a very good food for runners) for the first time. I’m not sure if I’m a fan of it yet or not!

The best part of my recovery has been the time I’ve gotten to spend with my parents. My typical life is usually so busy with work, spending time with my husband and friends, and catching up with household chores,  it can be difficult sometimes to break away and drive up to my parents’ neck of the woods for a visit. We do talk on the phone during the week, but it’s never the same as spending one on one time with them.  As part of my recovery, I’ve been forced to slow down my pace and spend time at the pace at which my parents, who are both retired, live their lives. This pace has a less frantic rhythm than my typical life. During my time with them, I’ve played endless rounds of Yahtzee with my mother, and have discussed current affairs with my dad. My mother has introduced me to some new TV shows, and my dad has given me some books that he enjoys. They’ve also guided me through some bouts of post-operative depression. My father experienced this when he had both knees replaced. Immediately following his surgery, he was scared at times that he would never walk again without pain. But he mowed the lawn this afternoon and even climbed on the roof to blow pine needles off the top of their house! So obviously, his fear was wrong. I’m hopeful that my own doubts about being able to run long miles will turn out to be just doubts and not reality.

Just by being around each other all the time, we get to talk about things we might miss during our phone calls. It’s just like with my good running buddies — the more miles we run together (or more time we spend cross training together when unable to run), the deeper and more substantial the conversations get.

I’m writing this blog on the computer in my old bedroom, which is now my parents’ office. For a long time, it felt strange to come in here, knowing that the wallpaper I’ve had in here since high school is hidden by paint, and that the closet once filled with my clothes is now a huge filing cabinet.  Despite the cosmetic changes to the room, I’ve come to realize that I can go home again.