Friday, February 14, 2014

Heavy Lungs

I had grand ambitions of writing more this year, I truly did. I even managed to put out a few posts, and if I had a dollar for every time I included specific blog posts/topics on a to-do list, I'd probably elevate myself into the next tax bracket.

But I'm struggling. For starters, I'm not sleeping great, which should probably get an entire post of its own, but I've been waiting for some sort of resolution that hasn't come yet, and since my follow-up anymore is shoddy, I don't want to write a Part I that will never see its Part II. But suffice it to say that it's affecting my health and mostly my mood and I'm tired a lot and really sort of apathetic a lot. I don't have the energy to write. I barely have the motivation to jot thoughts down and so a lot of good ones are getting a way. 

I want to blame the winter. It seems like an easy target. It's been bad this year. Bad everywhere. I don't think it's necessarily that, though I don't think that it's been helping. I've been taking Vitamin D on someone's suggestion, and that doesn't seem to be making a bit of difference. It's not even gray and dreary, a lot of times it's bright and white and snowy and sunny and that's different than the last few winters have been. It's been cold, too. Sooo very cold. But I don't really think it has anything to do with anything. Probably. Maybe. I don't know.

I feel very mechanical, getting up each day and going through the motions and there are bright parts of most days and there are lots of times when I just want to cry for no reason and I think that's probably normal but I'm the last person that is qualified to speak on normal. I've been sluggish and I know that "blah" isn't a very good descriptive word, especially from someone who likes to fancy herself a writer, but it's pretty apt. 

I've mentioned before, probably, that I have struggled with depression and anxiety for years. It always feels weird to just outright say. I always cringe a little bit, like I'm outing myself as someone who is mentally unstable. Truth is, I'm a pretty textbook case, a common statistic. I don't want to use "mental illness" but I don't want to make up pretty euphemisms, either, and I wish this wasn't so ridiculously difficult to talk about. At any rate, the chemical brain imbalances that cause a state of mental unwellness runs pretty rampant through my maternal gene pool. According to my mother, we can trace it back at least four generations, so who knows how far it goes. It's kind of reassuring, in a way. It's not my fault, I just got a raw deal in that particular genetics lottery. 

The thing is, it doesn't feel like my depression, not the way I'm used to it, not the way I've categorized or experienced it in the past. Normally I feel like I'm drowning, like I'm crawling out of my skin, that it's hard to breathe and it's hard to want to breathe. What I'm feeling now is a really dull listlessness, a sort of quiet indifference. I ricochet between feeling lonely and wanting to be entirely left alone. Looking at it objectively, I think this is the depression segment of the Crappy Fun Times Show, while all of that immediate, desperate emotion that I was calling depression actually plays more into the anxiety part. I always lumped them together as being intertwined and possibly the same, and I think they finally decided to differentiate themselves for me, in a way that is unavoidably obvious. 

I'm doing my best to keep my head above water. I wish I could say that I was trying really hard, but I don't really feel like I am. "Keeping up" seems like an ambitious goal some days; my main objective is to just get through the day and make it to the next one. I'm keeping a running mental tally of all the things that I'm getting behind on, and I'm slowly working my way through them when I can. I suppose that's a positive thing; on some level, my brain is registering that this is a temporary patch of bleakness, and eventually things will be all right again, and when they are, we'll want to make sure that everything doesn't get too fucked while we're trying to keep afloat.

There's this quote that's been floating around the Internet and I don't even know who to credit it to, and I've always kept it in my back pocket for the days when my depression gets bad. To use as validation when I struggle, that, hey, I did it, I made it through the day. It's okay if the only thing you did today was breathe.

I don't know who to credit this to.
I've seen it so many places the source is nearly impossible to trace.

Anyway. I'm still here, sitting in my corner, breathing in and out, every day. I think I might try acupuncture on the recommendation of a friend who also has crap sleep. It won't fix my particular sleep disorder issues, but it might give me some of my energy back. Maybe it will even help with the depression and malaise. I don't know, I've never done it. Which is precisely why I might: it's an avenue I've never tried. I don't think my insurance will cover it but I almost don't care. If it can help, it would be worth every penny. The worst case scenario is that it doesn't do a damn thing, and I will be no worse off than I am if I hadn't tried. Have any of you tried it? Thoughts?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Run, Kelly, Run!

I was never going to be a Runner. I hated running. Haaaaaaaaaaated it. I would scoff at it and actively avoid it. I always had flashbacks to running track in high school, jogging around the school parking lot on chilly March days in a pair of lined windpants that had probably been purchased sometime in the 80s. Every once in a while, even when I was in college, I'd step outside on a spring day and sniff the air, and it would smell like track season. Burning lungs, tired legs, crisp air. It haunted me. And then I got fat. Well, fatter. Downright obese compared to what I had been when I was a teenager. I didn't have the sense to realize it then, because of course the media machine had already gotten to me and I was convinced that I was unworthy. I found a photo of myself from the summer after my junior year and I was scrawny as hell. The gift of hindsight, I guess. I kind of want to go back in time and slap my seventeen year old self in the face, though. Just because.

But I gained weight in college and then later at my desk job, as one is likely to do, and I thought that maybe running would be good exercise. Cardio, right? Burn those calories! Except I could barely go a minute or two before my lungs started burning and I had to stop. On a good day, I could get through an entire song on my iPod. It was futile. I continued to avoid it mostly because I couldn't do it.

Then, sometime in 2012, I got the random  notion in my head that I wanted to run a 5K. Why, I don't know. I couldn't even run 1K. Or probably half a K. But I knew there was a Couch to 5K program and "anybody could do it" and I figure I fell into the category of anybody, just as much as, well, anybody else.

Long story short, I didn't make it to a 5K in 2012 but I did manage to run a miraculous (and snail-worthy) 32 minutes that year. My all-time PR, even from when I was young and in shape. I'd never run that long before. Ever. In my life. Not continuously, that's for damn sure. So I started running again as soon as spring came around in 2013, trying to build on that. I wasn't even sure how "into" running I would be, but, again, I knew it was a good cardio workout and I still had my white whale to capture - running a 5K.

I started keeping track of my runs in April as a means of tracking my progress. I started taking post-run photos simply because Runkeeper prompted me to the first time I used it... and then it just sort of became a tradition. From there, I decided to document each excursion in a similar manner. Consistency, and whatnot. Blogging helped, also, to keep me accountable. (Yes, yes. Despite my inability to keep up THIS blog, I started a whole new one. That one, however, is remarkably up to date.)

Which is a roundabout way of saying: I have a lot of data and I find stats to be pretty interesting. So I've taken the time to compile everything that I recorded in 2013 in to a nice year-end summary.

The biggest surprise, when tallying everything up? It was only my 6th run of the year when I ran my first 5K equivalent (3.22 miles) on May 10. (Which gives me hope that it won't take me too long to bounce back in 2014 after taking some time off over the holidays/in the winter.)

Number of Runs Per Month
April - 2
May - 8
June - 11
July - 12
August - 6
September - 8
October - 9
November - 3
December - 1
Total Number of Runs in 2013: 60
Month with the Most Runs: July (12)

Total Recorded Time Per Month
April - 45 minutes
May - 184 minutes
June - 269 minutes
July - 277 minutes
August - 133 minutes
September - 146 minutes
October - 215 minutes
November - 105 minutes
December - 15 minutes
Total Time Spent Running in 2013: 1389 minutes (23.15 hours!)
Month with the Most Time Spent Running: July (277 minutes)
Most Recorded Time in a Single Week: 93 minutes (10/20-10/26)
2013 Personal Record, Longest Time/Single Run: 55 minutes (6/21)

Total Recorded Distance Per Month
April - 1.77 miles (only one run was tracked)
May - 15.12 miles
June - 22.69 miles
July - 22.05 miles
August - 8.82 miles
September - 11.57 miles
October - 17.41 miles
November - 8.05 miles
December - 1.22 miles
Total Recorded Distance in 2013: 108.7 miles
Month with the Most Distance Run: June (22.69 miles)
Most Recorded Distance in a Single Week: 7.6 miles (10/20-10/26)
2013 Personal Record, Farthest Distance: 4.29 miles (10/20)

Total # of Organized 5K Races Run in 2013: 4

Number of Runs Per Days of the Week:
Sunday - 15
Monday - 6
Tuesday - 11
Wednesday - 5
Thursday - 6
Friday - 7
Saturday - 10

It is perhaps not surprising that most of my runs landed on a weekend, especially since in the summer I had softball on weeknights, and in the fall once it started to get dark by the time I left work. There were definitely some patterns starting to emerge each month, which was interesting because I never had a "set" running schedule.

Looking ahead: 2014

My #1 running goal for 2014 is to run 5 miles. I was so close last year, I think I can do it! My #2 goal, if I can run 5, is to eventually run a 10K (which is ~6.2 miles). I'm not ready to commit to a goal of a half marathon just yet, even though a lot of my friends are doing it (peer pressure!) but if I have a good year this year and stay injury-free, that might be The Goal for 2015.

I'm also considering investing in a GPS Watch this year. My UP band has suited me pretty well, but it's always frustrated me just a little bit to not know how far I'd run until after I was done. I think it might also help me pace myself while doing 5Ks. They're about $130-150 but I shouldn't need to buy new shoes or gear for a while (unless I magically lose a bunch of weight, but if that happens, I will not be complaining!) so it might be my big splurge for the year.

Lastly, I'm planning on running more 5Ks this year. Probably a couple in the spring, a couple in the fall. Summer is kind of busy since I'm planning on coaching softball again, and late summer is just miserably hot and humid. But we'll see! If a fun one pops up here and there I won't say no! I don't have a set number that I want to do. I don't want to spend too much money on registration fees, and I'd rather do more charity runs than novelty runs. (In other words, I won't be running the Color Run in 2014. I might get talked into participating, but it will be strictly leisurely. Too many people and obstacles.) It would be nice to do a couple of the same races as last year just to see what kind of improvement I can make from last year, so hopefully all the dates will work out.

In the meantime, I am itching to get outside again. We had one really nice day a couple weeks ago - it actually got up to 50°! - but it was such a tease, because the next day we were back to cold and snow. It felt nice to run though - and I managed to last twenty minutes, which is much longer that I expected for the first time out of the gate. Right now, it's just torture, waiting for nice weather.

Listen to me! I think the assimilation into the Running Borg is complete. Yeesh.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

[Insert Interesting Title Here]

ALERT. I have been named to Almie's (aka Apocalypstick) "Most Interesting People Under 38" list because screw Forbes and their 30 Under 30 and also because her list apparently didn't have very stringent criteria. I feel a bit out of place given the other people on the list that are actually interesting and deserve to be there, but I have evidence that it happened and you can't take that away from me. Pride may be temporary but screenshots are forever.

So, click through and scroll down. You'll also see fellow #BiSCuits Simone, Jessica, and Casey, who are, of course, much more qualified to be there. In addition to Almie, of course. Because, duh.

Or, if you're lazy, here:

(The "this" in question is the time Target got permission to use my tweets and then had models strut down the runway holding snack food and pout and be sultry and then recite my tweets before catwalking away. It was still one of the more bizarre things that has happened to me during my tenure on the Internet.)

I have no closing for this post, so I'm just going to kind of awkwardly inch toward the door and then turn and flee suddenly. BYE.