Guest Post: Heather’s journey from lupus to 5k

I recently ran a 5k on February 17th in Nashville, Tennessee.  My niece Kayla challenged me to share my journey on her blog so here I go.

It all really started back several years when my niece decided to change her lifestyle.  It was like she took off running one day and never stopped.  Of course, as an aunt, I supported her wholeheartedly but from afar, kind of removed from what she was really doing.  I knew she was training for races and marathons.  She was making lifestyle changes with her eating habits, getting up early to run, and dedicating herself to reaching her goals.

None of it really sunk in until I attended her first full marathon she was running for St. Jude.  I showed up in the big city where thousands (I mean thousands) of runners showed up to do what they trained so long to do.  The energy was palpable to say the least.  Everyone looked elite to me.  I was wowed!  Runners of all sizes, shapes, colors, ages, and nationalities.  I wanted to be one of them right then and there.  I left there asking myself, “What are you doing with your life Heather?”  It answered back pretty quickly, “Nothing!”

After Kayla crossed the finish line and my heart swelled with so much pride, I decided I wanted to do what she did!  Not a full marathon of course but I wanted to start running.  I returned home and was so scared to tell anyone what I wanted to do.  Deep down inside I wasn’t so sure I could do it.  I didn’t want to tell anyone just in case I failed from the get go.  See, I had turned 50, survived stage one cancer and been diagnosed with Lupus all within the past 2 1/2 years. I let my diagnosis rule my life for two years.  I hurt all over my body.  Most days it hurts to even get up from where I’m sitting or laying.  My joints scream quietly from inside where no one can hear them.  On the outside, I look like a normal functioning individual but on the inside my body  attacks itself and wreaks all kinds of havoc.

I first told my daughter Madison about my crazy idea and ran it by her.  She was supportive from the beginning, believed I could do it and told me I was the only one who could make it happen when I was truly ready for it to happen.  I then called my niece a couple of days later and shared my goal with her.  I remember being super nervous.  She was fully in from the beginning.  The advice started pouring in from her.  She was a wellspring of information and support throughout the whole process.

My first step was to consult my doctor and get the go ahead to beat up my body more.  He was truly excited for me.  I remember him telling me at least a dozen times to take it slow.  So I took to the internet to find a training plan that worked for me specifically.  The plan I found started me out slow, it worked it’s way up gradually, it encouraged rest and recovery times, and most importantly it advised not training on consecutive days.  My body needed more down time in between.

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Next, I amassed a support team.  Everyone was so open to my goals.  My family was instantly behind me.  Friends at work were pulling for me.  But what really got me through were the people willing to train right alongside me.  They will never really know how much that kept me on my path to my endgame.  I mean they took time out of their schedules and weekends to sweat right next to me. In all kinds of inclement weather too.  All the while telling me “You got this!”  I started running around my neighborhood, then at my local civic center, and any greenway that was close to me.

I also quit drinking. This was huge.  I struggled with alcohol abuse for years.  It was my best and worst friend.  I knew I couldn’t train for a race and drink.  My body was already starting at a disadvantage.  Drinking would allow me so many more excuses not to reach my goal.  So I said bye to that relationship.

My last training day ended with a beautiful sunset, so beautiful, I took it as a sign everything was going to be just fine. I took it in with the ones who helped me train the most (Madison and Em) and knew my goal was waiting for me right around the corner.

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On the eve of race day I was so nervous.  I didn’t want to let anyone down but most of all I didn’t want to let myself down.  My support team was right there with me of course.  Then came race day.  My stomach was all nerves but I was actually calmer than I thought I would be.  I had my daughter and niece right by my side the entire time.  I was where I wanted to be.  I zoned out a bit while running.  My niece brought me back down when she told me I just ran an entire mile straight through.  I was so proud of myself.  I stayed focus on the route in front of me never forgetting the love that surrounded me.  My daughter ran out in front to make sure I didn’t trip over anything.  I was bummed at the one mountain (paved hill) I had to stop and walk in the middle of Nashville but I didn’t let it get to me.

Then my niece and daughter, with the biggest smiles ever, pointed at the finish line.  I couldn’t wait to get there.  All the times I had to push through the pain, all the calls and doubts my family had to get me through, all the afternoon training I had dedicated myself to was about to pay off.  I heard my family cheering me on from the sidelines and I think I pretty much floated across the finish line in a happy daze!!!  It was exciting!  I did it!!  I not only reached a goal, I had a plan and executed that plan with my own hard work.  What more can you ask for?

Does running a 5k change your whole life?  Probably not. It’s all the negative internal dialogue you stop listening to that changes your life.  It’s the realization you are the only thing in your way.  It’s setting a plan in motion that keeps you moving forward.  I have fallen in love with life and learned my family is the most important relationship I have.

My goals for the future are running a 5k comfortably without stopping.  I still plan to train every other day.  I’m going to start strength training also to get my body stronger for a 10k race.  I want to thank everyone who has reached out to me with kind words and encouragement.  Could I have done this without you?  No, I couldn’t have.  I love you all.

-Heather Kelly

Kayla’s Running Analysis

As some of you may remember, I had some hip/groin issues during the end of my marathon training. I went to physical therapy at Campbell Clinic here in Memphis. I had two great PTs Nicole and Phillip!

Toward the end of my therapy, they told me about this really great service their clinic offered, a running analysis. Of course, my first thought was Amy Schumer in Trainwreck when she visits Bill Hader at his clinic.

It was not like this, but I will say that every time a doctor tells me to walk normal, I strut for like a split second and have to remind myself I’m not Beyonce!

Instead! It was a wireless system that the analysis guru stuck on my shins that would communicate with a pager like device I carried in my pocket while I ran around the block for about 30 minutes.

 

The analyst, Drew, also watched me run for a bit to notate any physical markers the system might not track. When I got done running for 30 mins, Drew took the pager and connected it to the computer to get the details about my awesome running skills!

IMG_3189Then I was given a ton of information, that made me go huh?! But Drew was great in explaining. My cadence, which is steps per minute, is slow but this doesn’t mean I am slow. It just means that I do not open my stride wide to get more steps in per minute. I take about 100-120 steps per minute and I have an average speed of 6mph.

I favor my right side, which makes sense since I am always injured on my left side. In the photos below you can see that the time I spend with my left foot on the ground is more than the right. Some suggestions he had for this first eval was that I can download a metronome app for running that would help me increase my cadence and stride. This will also help the time I spend from foot to ground to back up. Like, I said, a lot of information!!

 

I had to come back for the final eval which included Drew watching my form on squats, push ups, wall sits, shoulder rotation, neck rotation, trunk rotation and more. All of this information is put into the system and then you are given an at home training plan through the Fusionetics app. Which is really cool.

They give you specific exercises to strengthen your weaknesses. They focus on the area you originally came into physical therapy for. So for me, the hip and groin area. Then they give you exercises to stretch, strengthen and stable your weak areas. They also make you foam roll! And each exercise comes with a video you can watch.

 

 

So all of this is sent directly to the app on your phone. It syncs with your calendar so you know what days you are supposed to be doing it. And the goal is to make a routine you commit to BEFORE running or working out. Which if you know me, you know I am bad about!

So I had to go buy some things, foam roller, resistant bands, exercise ball (which I still need!). I am trying to change my routine to carve out ten minutes before a run to do the stretches and exercises. Since I run at work I was told that you can split up the exercises. Do the static stretches and strength stuff before the run and then the ones that require props, do that evening at home. You can make it work for your schedule.

Now while it seems like a lot and you do have to change your routine I said something to the analysis like “How can I fit this all in?!” He said, “It’s only ten minutes once you get the hang of it. And think about all the time you spent in physical therapy, you don’t really want to come back here do you?!” Touché, Drew, touché.

So huge thanks to the crew at Campbell Clinic for keeping me in tip top shape. Now if I could stop hurting myself when I am not running! *cough* kickboxing *cough*

With healing,

Kayla

Did you know a marathon is hard?!

But super fun, too?!

The above image is me after running for 5 hours 52 minutes!! Of course it was hard, but I trained hard for it too and this will always be something I will be proud of.

To start off, I have to give a huge shout out to my support system! These ladies came out and stayed in the worse hotel in Memphis (Motel 6 don’t go!). They were ran out by bed bugs at 3 in the morning and were standing at AutoZone Park ready to cheer us on bright and early at 6am!

Being surrounded by 26,000 runners to kick off the race was so crazy. It was just so amazing to be in that group of people who were running for so many different reasons.

I was really grateful to start the race off with Sarah since we would not finish together. Let’s talk about badass though! She finished this shit in 4:59!!! Like what? I’m just back here taking my sweet time!

One of my favorite things about the race was the city of Memphis! There were so many fans out there cheering complete strangers on. It was so fun. One street’s neighborhood showed up! They had donut holes, shots, beer, Bloody Mary’s, mimosas, chips, music! I was like Damn! Could you guys move to the end please?!

I also loved being able to run through the St. Jude campus and see some of the patients that I raised money for. Props to those people who helped me reach that goal!

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I didn’t have a goal for finishing by a certain time. I kept my pace around what I trained at, 11:30. Everything was good too. My hip didn’t hurt, my nutrition was working, I was having fun. And then came Mile 20. Which was the furthest distance I had done during my training.

For me to get to Mile 21, it took me 15 minutes! Like what happened? I have no idea. I guess my body just needed to get used to that distance. And it did. After that I picked my pace back up to my normal. Once I got to Mile 23, I was like “You are about to finish a marathon!”

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Photo By MarathonFoto

I told a guy next to me, “Mile 23 to 26 is where winners are made!” He was like “Or failures.” Ummmm, Boy, Bye!!

Once I got to that point, I knew I just had to keep moving. I was dodging so many walkers and one couple was like “You go girl! Keep it up.” I was like “I am just ready to be done with this!!”

At that point though, your body is numb. You’re hungry! And if you walk, you just think, RUN! So this will be over faster. Thanks to the tracking app, my friends and family were sending encouraging texts toward the end of the race which really helped me through.

As I crossed the finish line, I had tears in my eyes and thought, “I cannot believe I just did that. Wait, yes I can. Of course I did that!” It was so amazing. To be able to accomplish something that I had put so much work into was unbelievably gratifying.

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Ignore that time! Me crossing the finish line! Photo by MarathonFoto

After the race, I told people that there was no way in hell I would run another marathon. But now….I don’t know. I might do some more. I will definitely be running half marathons, especially the St. Jude. I highly recommend this race to anyone! The expo was top notch. The after race goodies were great! So many options! Oranges, water, bananas, foil human burrito maker, pizza, donuts, BEER!

And thanks to Sarah for waiting a whole hour after she was done for me to finish! It was great to see her smiling face when I came across. Then we had to walk up stairs to get to the food and beer! Like hello?! Whoever designed that has never done a marathon!

Life has been slowly returning to normal. It only took us the whole month to recap our races. The New Year is right around the corner and we hope you stick with us to see what we have in store for 2018! The Badass Unicorns are here to stay and run around!

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Photo By MarathonFoto

Peace out!

Kayla

What I learned at the marathon preview

Last week, I was able to attend the St. Jude Marathon Course Preview hosted by Breakaway Running and Can’t Stop Endurance. Coach Kevin Leathers did a very informative presentation about how to prepare, what to expect and how to recover.

I thought I would share some of what stuck out to me in case it could be helpful to someone else participating. Sarah was not able to attend so I took extensive notes to share with my fellow over-planning Virgo!

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First off, the marathon will be host to approximately 25,000 runners!! This includes participants in the 5k, 10k, half and full marathon. That is a lot of people at a starting line. Which is why it takes about 40 minutes for all runners to be released from their respective corral and cross the start line.

Sarah and I will be starting in the 11 minute per mile corral. We want to be able to start together because Sarah will be able to run faster, longer, and we won’t be finishing together. But we are starting off as a team, which I am pretty jazzed about! During the course preview, someone asked how do you stay warm in the corrals? You might need more layers while you are waiting to take off. So here’s a tip! Wear some throwaway clothes. Just some cheap layers you can take off when the race starts. The race volunteers will gather these and they actually donate them to the local community.

So the race starts and ends at Autozone Park. If you are wanting to watch any of your friends take off or finish, this is where to do it! FYI: Roads will starts closing by 7am!! Spectators can watch the runners take off on Second Street and you can catch them again on Front Street which is around mile four. The marathoners will pass the stadium area, on Danny Thomas Blvd. near Monroe, again near miles 23.5 and 25.5. This is great place for you to cheer your runner on before they finish! Friends and families can also sit in the stands and watch their runner cross the finish line. Friends and families will not be allowed on the field though. So cheer loud!!

Coach Leathers broke the race down into thirds. And this can be used for any distance. The first third is about Discipline. You are going to be excited and your adrenaline will be pumping. You have to keep in mind to keep your pace that you trained for so that you don’t take off too fast and burn out. The middle of the race you should have a Relaxed Focus. This is where you continue to take it easy. Make sure your hydration and fueling is working for you. Pay attention to your form during this time. And for the last part!! This is where you Dig Deep! You will be hurting. It will be hard but this is why you trained for six months. Welcome the Struggle!

So there are the important logistic points. Now for some fun stuff!

Mile 5.5 is where the runners will run through the St. Jude campus. The kids come out with their signs and cheer the runners on. I am really excited for this part. This is what it is all about. And you can still donate to the cause!

Kayla’s Fundraising Page     Sarah’s Fundraising Page

If you are running the half, around mile 11 is when you will leave all us crazy marathoners behind. If you are running the marathon, don’t panic! Most of the people you are running with will go left while you go right. Important note: if you don’t reach the split point by 11:20 a.m. you will be made to finish as a half marathoner. This means you must at least keep a 14 minute pace for 11 miles. It’s okay! If I can do it, you can do it!

One of my favorite parts of this course preview was that Coach Leathers covered what to do after and gave some good recovery points! Number one Don’t sit down or lay down once you cross the finish line! (SARAH) ! It’s not good for your muscles and you may not be able to physically get up! Change your clothes before you meet up with your group. You’ll be more comfortable for all the selfie taking you’re gonna do!

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He also suggested setting a new goal! Pay for a race and you won’t have a reason to slack off. You won’t have to restart your training. Rumor is we might register to do the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville half marathon in April!

You can find all this information from the source, Can’t Stop Endurance. Coach Leathers will also be doing the presentation again at the expo Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. And you MUST go to the expo to get your packet and bib. There is NO race day packet pick up!

If you aren’t running in the race, you can still be a part of race day! Check out volunteer opportunities here.

I hope this can be helpful for some people participating. If you can catch the presentation, I highly suggest it! It was very informative, as you can tell!

13 days!!

The more you know,

Kayla

Twenty. Venti. Zwanzig.

Yesterday marked 20 days till our marathon! Ahhh! Speaking of 20, this past weekend Kayla and I ran our longest mileage run ever! We both ran 20 miles! Did you know Zwanzig is German for twenty?!

The 20 mile mark in our marathon training was a major milestone. This was our final test before the race. This is where we see if we could actually make it, if our bodies can actually run 20 miles or more.

I thought of the 20 mile long run as the closet comparison to the actual race day. I was nervous. Not only was I nervous to run 20 miles but I decided to run my long run differently this time. Breakaway Running is an amazing supporter of the St. Jude Marathon. They have a training plan you can follow as well as weekly group runs. So I decided last minute that I was going to run with the Breakaway running group. I had no idea what to expect. I knew they would have water stations set up along the route and I looked at the course but I didn’t really study it because I thought that there would be enough people that I could just follow. Also the course was set up for 11 miles. People training for the half marathon would run the course once and people training for the full marathon would run the course twice. So I would actually have to run 22 miles! 22 miles!! Ahhh! Crazy right!?! The run was also at 6 am and the temperature was going to be 34 degrees. Two more running conditions that I was not use to.

So on the day of the long run I arrived at the Breakaway store only about 10 minutes before the run. I stretched a little but not that much. I was so overwhelmed with all the people and trying to figure out what was going on that I didn’t pay attention much to what the speaker was saying about the course. There had to be over 100 people there. It felt like race day. It was super cold and my fingers were freezing but I knew I would warm up once I started running.

22 mile route

 Once we started, I was in the middle of the group. I was trying to pace myself based on how they were running. Everything was going great. As I came up on the 11 mile mark, everyone that was around me stopped and turned into Breakaway. I was totally confused. I knew that I had to run the course twice so I kept going forward.  There were literally only a few people in front of me that kept going but they were pretty far ahead. I was scared that I was going to lose them and get lost on the course.  The course was actual streets going through downtown Memphis, so we were running on busy roads and under overpasses. I was nervous to be running alone. I kept running ahead and after a while I noticed that there several people in front and behind me which made me feel better. At around the 12 mile mark, my tummy was really upset and I had to stop at a gas station and use the restroom. When I got out, I continued to run and noticed that there were only a few people behind me now. At mile 13, my legs were starting to hurt. By mile 16 my feet and legs were becoming so painful. I was almost in tears because I was in so much pain. I had to keep running though. I didn’t quite know where I was and I didn’t want to lose the few people that were in front of me. There were a few times that I was the very last person with no one behind me. That was scary. I didn’t think I was going to make it. I was running so slow that I was almost walking. Everything hurt. Then I hit 20 miles! I knew I couldn’t stop now. Only 2 more miles left to go. I kept pushing, kept going till I finally made it! 22 miles!! I had tears in my eyes because I was so proud, also because I was in so much pain. I did it. Only 4 more miles after that and that would be a marathon. At that moment, I finally knew that I would be able to run a full marathon. I was scared and nervous before, but now there was no doubt in my mind that I would be able to complete 26 miles!  I was ready!

22 miles

-Unstoppable, Sarah

Now for the country girl’s tale of running in the middle of nowhere! Much like Sarah, I was pretty nervous to tackle 20 miles. The Friday before the run, I had visited a doctor so that I could get a physical therapy order. They ended up doing a bunch of X-rays on my hip because it has been hurting for a month or so now. The doctor thinks I have abductor tendonitis, which pretty much means overuse of the muscles there. Of course! Then the doctor asks me, “How important is it for you to do this marathon?”

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Like 100 percent important doctor!! Anyways, he totally understood and gave me some anti-inflammatory and ordered for me to start physical therapy. So with this knowledge, I knew that going into this marathon, my only goal was to finish without completely injuring myself.

Which is the same goal for the remainder of my training. Thankfully, my hip doesn’t completely stop me from running. I made sure to keep my 20 mile run at a steady pace averaging at 12:52 a mile. Which is really slow and I really wish I could run faster but I have to accept that I physically cannot. So that will most likely be my pace for the marathon.

My run was pretty uneventful. I did see some puppies and piggies! I didn’t experience too much pain throughout the run. Toward the end I think my mind wanted to give up but not my body. I just kept telling myself just keep running till the next mile. If you keep running, you’ll be done soon. And sure enough, I was done soon! Jk this shit took 4 plus hours!

 

Being able to finish a 20 mile run though is something I never thought I would do. Once you are done, you know that you can finish a marathon. We have been training since July and now here we are less than a month away from the start line!

During this time, I have learned that I am capable of achieving hard goals. I have a lot going on in my life but somehow I still managed to stick to my training and not give up when the miles seemed too much. I don’t even know what I am going to do with myself after the race. Like I get my Saturdays back!!

As the race approaches, we are going to be doing some fun countdown stuff over on our Facebook page. So make sure you go like us and follow us to Memphis where we will run for the children of St. Jude! (And for the food and beer!)

 

With determination,

Kayla

How Unicorns Run Far

We have made it to November, meaning one month until we toe that start line and put all of our training to the test! Now that we are up to 17, 18, 20!!! mile runs, we thought we would share our long run routines. We thought it would be interesting to share the differences between our routines. If you didn’t know, not all runners are the same. We’d also love to hear about your long run routines! So leave us a comment when you’re done reading.

Okay, so this first part is how Kayla preps for a long run. I thought about referring to myself in third person but I think that would be weird.

I usually wake up an hour before sunrise to give myself time to get ready. So the first thing for me is COFFEE! I take about 15 minutes to drink my coffee and scroll through the social world. Then I make myself something to eat while I finish up my coffee.

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This is my absolute favorite pre-long run breakfast. When I don’t have this, I like to have a toasted peanut butter and jelly. It’s important for me to get enough on my stomach to give me some energy but not too much where I am feeling full.

Next, I make sure to Glide Up! Is it too much information to talk about the chaffing of running? Probably, but it’s reality. This training cycle I found out I can chaff under my arms where it rubs against my shirt. So weird! Just thought my thunder thighs were the issue!

 

Another reason, I have to wake up before the sun is so that I can take my water bottles out to my running route and drop them off. I live in a pretty rural part of Tennessee and do not live around any running trails. (I am pretty jealous of Sarah’s convenient Green Line! Even though I get some great nature shots!) Anyways, I take two water bottles out, one to the halfway mark and one to the two mile mark.

I also carry my handheld water bottle with the strap with me. When I get to my other water bottles, I refill with some nice ice cold water. They make for pretty good rest stops!

Last but not least, I take my first nutritional gel. I used to use Gu Energy Gel but recently I have switched to Huma Plus Energy Gels. They are more natural, lighter on my stomach and seem to give me more of an extra boost. I take my gels at the top of every hour. I have also learned that I need some type of electrolyte drink during the really long runs. So I try to have Gatorade mixed in my waters at the pit stops. This nutritional routine is what has worked best for me. But like I said, everyone is different!

And then finally! I am ready to run! I would love to hear about other’s long run routines. Leave us a comment!

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Kayla and I are perfect examples of how runners can be completely different.

Here’s my long run preparation check list:

The day before a long run:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • Stretch
  • No alcohol at all
  • Eat a carb loaded dinner- now that I am eating gluten free this meal usually contains rice, or potatoes.
  • Charge my wireless headphones!!! – I Always forget to charge my headphones the night before so I usually wake up in the middle of the night and remember to charge them or plug them in as soon as I wake up.
  • Get a good night’s sleep

The morning of a long run:

  • I wake up about an hour before I want to start my run
  • stretch
  • make sure headphones are charging lol because I probably forgot to plug them in the night before
  • Eat a granola bar- the best for me is the Kind brand.kind bar
  • Go to the bathroom – a definite must!!
  • Apply Glide to chaffing prone areas
  • I can not drink much of anything before my run – helps me avoid having to go pee during the run
  • Eat an Energy Gel on the way to my run- I am currently still trying to find the best Energy gel for me. I have tried Gu, Huma, and now Hammer. All pretty good. Huma and Hammer contain more natural ingredients and are lighter on my stomach.
  • I make sure I bring enough Energy gels with me on my run- I consume an Energy gel about every 5 miles.
  • I bring my handheld water bottle with the strap with me on my runs. I refill my water bottle with the water fountain at the beginning of Shelby Farms Green Line and at the Tap Routes along the green line.
  • tap route2  tap route

After the long run:

  • stretch
  • refuel immediately- meaning lots of water, Gatorade, and FOOD!
  • post results on Social Media because I am proud that I am I runner!greenline

-Sarah

How do you prepare for your long runs? Leave us a comment!

Running is Always There for Us

A couple of weeks ago I was listening to Kelly Roberts’ podcast  where she had Coach John Honerkamp as a guest. I have been tuning in to the ones he has been a part of because those episodes are specific to marathon training. Really good stuff, I highly recommend it if you are in a training process for a race.

On Episode 74 they specifically talk about when life gets in the way. He said something along the lines of “When you’re having that bad day or bad week, it’s okay to be selfish and take time for yourself. Running is always there for you.”

And damn! That just washed over me. Running is always there for you. It can be great therapy. It can be a way to refocus on a number of things in your life. When I have that quiet morning while the sun rises, it allows me to be grateful for the good in my life.

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I think it is time I just get it out there. Some people close to me know what I am going through right now, but most people don’t. I am currently in the process of getting a divorce. From my high school sweetheart. Although it is somewhat mutual and we both know this is for the best, it’s still really hard and sad to end an 11 year relationship.

So talk about life getting in the way… Sometimes I feel guilty taking the time to train while I know I need to finish painting my house, make sure the roofers show up, the lawn gets mowed and the weeds get pulled so we can get it on the market. But I need to run. I have to run. I think we have to figure out ways to balance training and life. Running isn’t easy and life definitely isn’t easy.

For example, this morning, I woke up to my pool completely drained therefore flooding my back yard. I just stood there, in the dark, like “Well, what the fuck now?!” Still have to go to work. Still have to get a run in. So I thought back to what Coach Honerkamp said and told myself, “Just run. Run through this.”

So that’s what I did. I pushed through a five mile run with too many thoughts spinning in my head. By the last mile, I broke down in tears. But I kept running. I cried on that last mile. It wasn’t pretty. But it helped cleanse my soul. A wise woman told me this morning that crying can heal us as long as we don’t linger there too long and let it render us helpless.

It also helped when Beyonce’s “Freedom” started playing during this break down. I mean, “I’m telling these tears, Go and fall away, fall away May the last one burn into flames.” “I break chains all by myself Won’t let my freedom rot in hell I’ma keep running cause a winner don’t quit on themselves.” YASSS Queen. Listen below. Seriously, listen to this song!

During this time, I think one of the things I am most grateful for (besides my amazing family) is running. There have been mornings where I am so angry at the whole situation I knock out a 6 mile tempo run and know that this divorce isn’t going to kill me. There are mornings when I am so sad, that I slowly meander through a 5 mile run and even though it’s slow, I kept moving. It helps me know that this divorce isn’t going to drown me. There’s mornings where I have to run 10 plus miles and then immediately work on a house in order to sell and I know that this divorce will only make me stronger.

So I encourage the reader to find something to throw yourself into if you are going through a hard time. It can be running, painting, gardening, poetry, woodworking, or hell even sword fighting! Just find something that challenges you but also brings you peace. Find something that brings you joy even if it makes your heart want to explode! We are stronger than we think and our brains give up long before our bodies have to.

So I will leave you with a poem from a poet my heart connected with immediately, Rupi Kaur. Because this is not a pity me post. This is a soul cleansing one to show that I will get through this. I will get through this with running. I will get through this with my friends, my family and even the random readers of this blog by my side. Because I am strong.

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With determination and courage,

Kayla