fighting illness and bubblegum on my shoes

I’ve really been struggling to kick the final symptoms of pinkeye this week. My medicine took care of the worst of the eye symptoms – other than some mild discharge when I wake up in the morning, my eye is in good shape. Unfortunately I’ve had some accompanying cold-like symptoms, too, which have been bothersome. My nose is overactive, my throat is swollen and sore, my voice is raspy, my joints are sore, I have just a hint of a headache, and I have a really annoying cough! To be honest, it probably sounds worse than it really is. Though I have all those symptoms, all of the symptoms are also very mild, just bad enough to be annoying. The worst part of the day is when I wake up in the morning, and body just absolutely does not want to get out of bed!

On Monday of this week, I went for a run. It was pretty standard for me, about 3.6 miles, except that I still haven’t fixed the music issue so I ran without music! I know that there are many runners who run without music all the time, but for me, this was a BIG DEAL. It’s empowering. It felt like a huge breakthrough. Even more surprisingly, my pace was outstanding – 13:53/mile. Not my racing pace, but for an easy training run, that’s mind-blowing awesome.

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On Tuesday, I did a 30-minute yoga routine with the Yoga Studio app. It wasn’t bad, though I can’t say I was blown away either. I selected a “beginner balance” routine, and was really disappointed by the lack of sun salutations and warrior poses. That may have just been the routine I chose, though.

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Prior to Wednesday’s run, I dealt with a major nuisance that I’d discovered after my Monday run. Apparently I stepped in a reasonably fresh pile of gum. The stickiness of the gum attracted sand, stones, and grass, plus the clump of gum created an uncomfortable knot beneath my arch. I spent a good 30-45 minutes getting the gum off my (still reasonably new) shoes. If you’ve ever thrown a used piece of gum onto the shoulder of the road because you were too lazy to throw it in a trash can, I’m pretty sure I don’t like you.

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Finally, I did for another run on Wednesday, also 3.6 miles, also without music. It wasn’t quite as much fun as Monday’s run, but I’m still pretty pleased with it. I’m really proud that I’ve gotten myself running at least a few miles without any music.

I didn’t do an “official” workout on Thursday. I helped a friend with her garden, though I honestly don’t feel like I worked that hard. Today (Friday), I also didn’t work out - again, I was helping a friend. I don’t feel bad at all, since I know I’m trying to kick whatever-this-sickness-is. Even with this illness, I’m feeling stronger than I ever have in my life. That’s pretty awesome.

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swimming, Firecracker Flight 5k, and Freezonis

This summer has been stressful, for sure, but I’ve had such a good week that I don’t care.

Admittedly I haven’t been able to run a whole lot during this week, but at least twice I’ve had the opportunity to go swimming with my best friend Theresa’s three daughters in their backyard pool. Swimming with three little girls (ages 6 and 3-1/2) is a surprisingly outstanding workout! I greatly enjoyed using their diving board to practice diving, and several times I even attempted to do a (forward) flip. I’m still working on that – I didn’t quite pull my body all the way around before my back hit the water, which stung and even left a few bruises. I’m working on finding the nerve to get a really good amount of height off the diving board, maybe a double bounce. Totally worth all the bumps and bruises. So much fun!

On Thursday and Friday, I babysat those same three girls so that their parents could make a quick trip to Chicago. It was a busy time, and it reminds me again why I have great respect for parents. Even with these outstanding girls, it wasn’t easy. I had a great time, though, and I’m incredibly thankful that I was able give their parents a chance to get away.

Also on Thursday morning, I woke up feeling like my right eye was slightly swollen. I didn’t think much of it, but within a couple of hours I could tell that something was definitely wrong. My eye was discharging quite a bit of fluid, and overall it just felt unpleasant. I diagnosed myself with conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye. Since I was babysitting, I couldn’t easily get out to get medicine for myself, and it proved to be a challenge to deal with my eye issues as well as the kids. (Plus of course I was washing my hands every chance I got in an effort to prevent it from spreading.) I was honestly a tiny bit worried that I would have to spend the night at an urgent care center (or worse yet, the ER) to get medicine for my eye. Thankfully I was able to get my hands on an old bottle of Neomycin/Polymycin (prescription) eyedrops around 10:00 that night, and my eye quickly began to improve. The skin around my eye is still quite raw due to the moisture from the discharge, but my eye was largely recovered within 24 hours.

Two or three months ago, before we’d planned their trip, Theresa and I had signed up for the Firecracker Flight 5k on June 27. Trip or no trip, we’d paid for the race and we still wanted to run. Since Theresa and Hubby didn’t return until after 10pm on Friday night, I slept in their guest bedroom overnight. At 6:45 on Saturday morning, we sneaked out of their house and got dressed in another bathroom on their property, where we wouldn’t wake the girls.

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parking lot selfie

Incidentally, this wound up being my first race without my parents (aka my support team). I love my parents, but… I had so much fun at this race without them! Maybe I’ll have to add a few more parent-less races into the mix…

After we parked, Theresa and I collected our bibs and tank tops, then posed for a pre-race photo:

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About two minutes before the race began, I discovered that I had maxed out the data on my phone for the month (meaning no streaming music), plus when I upgraded my OS last week, I’d removed all the music from my phone. That meant no music on my run. It really couldn’t have worked out any better, because I didn’t have the time to panic or get upset about it. All I could do was roll up my earbuds and do the best I could.

The weather was beautiful. I think the temperature was around 70F, with a light wind and partial cloud cover. Couldn’t have been more perfect. The race was relatively small – I’m guessing around 600 people – which meant the course wasn’t too crowded. I’ve never been a fan of listening to my breathing, but without any music, I just did my best to tune it out.

I cheered myself on quite a bit during this race, telling myself I was doing great, to take it easy or to dig a little deeper, that I’m strong and can push on. I had an interesting chorus of trivia running through my head, various factoids I’ve researched lately. Since I had no music, and since I hadn’t trained quite as well as I might have, I reminded myself regularly that I didn’t need to have any expectations on my time – just run the best I could and enjoy it.

I was honestly a little surprised. I knew it would be hard to run without music, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d feared. There were a handful of hills, but those didn’t really bother me. I ran the first mile a bit faster than I’d hoped, but not bad, and I reined myself in nicely on the second mile. In the third mile, I really let loose, and I was able to finish the race strong, which felt fantastic. My chip time was 41:17, an outstanding time considering the hills and the other adjustments from this run.

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As we crossed the finish line, volunteers draped celebratory medals around our necks. This is the first-ever 5k race that has included a medal. It’s like the cherry on top of a great race with a great friend!

After the race, I pulled the car into a QuikTrip to buy us drinks. We were both hot and pleasantly tired, so it seemed appropriate. Inside, Theresa quickly zeroed in on the Freezoni machine, where we could get a nice big icee. It was a brilliant idea.

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us in the car with our Freezonis

Wowee, that Freezoni tasted good… too good, probably! I was just sucking it down throughout our drive home, and even telling Theresa how good it tasted. Unfortunately, the sugar plus the large amount of hydration was too much for my stomach. Back at Theresa’s house, I threw up the drink into a sink. I was so embarrassed!! Lesson learned: don’t drink Freezonis so quickly!

All in all, though, this was still a fantastic morning. I’m thankful that I have a running friend – she makes the races even more fun. And I’m thankful for Freezoni drinks, even if I did make myself sick. It really tasted incredible!

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Running through another hot summer

And so I continue running…

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It’s been a great week. In addition to a couple of runs, I got to go swimming at a friend’s house with her daughters. Her kids are young, and I’m definitely not swimming laps, but it’s still a fantastic workout and lots of fun. (No photos of that, I’m afraid. I haven’t exactly rushed to get out my camera when I’m in the pool, for reasons that I hope are obvious…)

I dug out a couple of resistance bands this week, and I’m now committing to do a (short) upper body workout after I run. It’s not much, but I’ve been thinking for a long time that I need to tone my upper body.  I can definitely feel the effects – I’ve had lots of soreness in my upper (and lower!) body as a result.

The weather prediction for tomorrow (Saturday) and next week is HOT – mid-90s (Fahrenheit) and humid. I’m not yet sure how that will affect my running. I know I want to go on a 6-mile run tomorrow, but if it’s 95 and humid, it may not be a wise choice. We shall see…

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A Stressful Start to the Summer

It’s been a stressful month ’round here.

Earlier this year, one of my aunts was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer. Her health deteriorated, and by mid-May, my parents and I were planning a trip to her home in Texas for a final visit. We drove to Texas, spent a few days with her, then continued our road trip to visit my grandfather and his wife in Colorado. While we were in Colorado, my aunt passed away. We drove back to Texas for the funeral, then finally back home. It wasn’t an easy trip, by any means, though I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

I tried to continue running, as much as I could… but that wasn’t nearly as much as I wanted! Before all this went down, I was doing a pretty solid job of running 3-4 miles, three times a week, and 6-8 miles on the weekends. In fact, I was beginning to push against a breakthrough in my fuel and nutrition for staying strong beyond six and a half miles. Obviously any kind of organized training went out the window while I did what I could for my family. I managed a grand total of ONE run during these travels.

I went for that run while I was in Colorado, around a lake near my grandfather’s house outside Denver.

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Running at this higher altitude was tough on my lungs! Even though I expected it would be a challenge, it still surprised me. I managed 3.6 miles, which felt fantastic.

We got home a few days ago, and almost immediately we welcomed my sister. She purchased plane tickets several months ago so she could come home for a class reunion. We were all exhausted but we just muscled through it. I squeezed in one short run, another 3.6 miles – good enough, but I definitely feel out of shape.

Hopefully the next few days and weeks will bring some consistency and calm to my life, and I’ll be able to get back into shape. What a way to start the summer!

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Independence Park Trot, 2015

One week ago, I ran the Independence Park Trot 5k. This is not the first time I’ve run this particular race or route, but this race definitely had a lot of firsts for me!

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This is me with my friend Theresa. Theresa and her family moved to the Kansas City area a little over a year ago. Theresa is a runner, too, and this was her first Kansas City race.

I’m pretty sure this is also the first time I’ve worn a race t-shirt during the actual race. Theresa had the idea that we could both wear our race shirts, and I figured, why not?

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My mom was our unofficial race photographer. If you can’t tell, Theresa runs much hotter than I do. I’m all about exposed skin; she covers up. :)

They say pride goeth before a poor race time, and this race certainly proved it. Theresa is a faster runner than me, but for whatever reason, before the race I was thinking she and I could run together. Ha! Theresa was running just under an 11:00 pace, while I had been hoping to run around a 12:15 pace. I kept up with her for the first .75 mile or so, pushing myself, but quickly realized there was just no way I could hold that pace for 3.1 miles.

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I finished the race with a time of 39:41.9. It’s a respectable time, though not my best. I really sacrificed some of my time on the back end by pushing at the beginning – I just had nothing left at the end to pull a few seconds off my time.

It was a fun morning and a great way to start a great summer!

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bandages, blisters, and miles of fun

I’ve had a week of bandages.

I should preface this by mentioning that I’m incredibly cheap when it comes to bandages. At times, I am VERY clumsy, and I have to deal with lots of little “owwies”. Band-Aids are not exactly cheap, and often, my wounds are insignificant enough that I can use fabric or paper tape (similar to this) to deal with them at a much lower cost. I also get plenty of “hot spots” and blisters on my feet that require tape.

This is the first time I can recall that I’ve gotten serious blisters on the backs of my heels. Out of habit, I suppose, I was treating my blisters by wrapping them with tape. Doh. At first it was okay. I decided I felt good enough to tolerate a 3.6 mile run on Wednesday (two days post-injury)…

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Eek! I mean, the running part felt great, but my feet felt pretty bad. Both blisters were now open and bleeding. By Thursday night (three days post-injury), my heels were unbearably itchy, wearing shoes was painful, and I suspected I was working on an infection in my right blister.

And so I changed my treatment methods. I broke out the REAL Band-Aids (technically store-brand), gooped ‘em up with Neosporin (also store-brand), and I’ve kept the blisters covered. What a difference! Much as I hate the cost, the pain is gone, and my feet feel 1000% better!

I was very, very tempted to run on Friday. It’s probably a good thing that it rained on Friday and kept me and my injured feet at home! On Saturday afternoon, the weather looked overcast and iffy, but I couldn’t stay inside any longer. For this run, I pulled out my old (and now dry, after last week’s soaking) shoes:

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Ahhh… comfy like an old friend.

I also used my Udderly Smooth udder cream around the blisters on my feet (in addition to tape, just for the run). Usually I just put it on the skin between my legs, sometimes on the underside of my arms, but this was the first time I’ve tried it on my feet. It was fantastic! Everything slid around on top of my skin, no additional chafing. Now I’m wondering if I should use it on my entire foot before these long runs!

Saturday was a GREAT day for a run! The temperature was just below 60 (Fahrenheit), overcast, light wind… could not have been better!

IMG_4170.JPGThis photo was at about 3.2 miles. I felt great, and I was really pleased that I’d made it so far. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve run this distance!

I wound up running about 6.4 miles in total. The sky threatened to rain the entire time I was out there, but it never did. Just me and my thoughts… pushing myself and getting a great pace! I managed to hold myself at just under 15:00 for the entire run.

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By the way… you know summer’s here when the stores are selling Ocean Breeze- and Everlasting Sunshine-scented conditioner! (Yes, I’m a fan of Suave Shampoo and Conditioner. It’s both cheap and effective.)

As for the blisters? They’re still there, but improving. By this time next week, I expect they will be gone!

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Blisters, blood, and 3.6 miles

Ahh, blisters. I’m getting to know you far too well.

You may recall that last Saturday, I ran a 5k race that led to me getting soaked. When I got home, I stuffed my (wet) shoes with old newspaper and set them in front of the refrigerator to dry.

On Monday, I decided to let the shoes dry for a couple more days. I had a new pair of shoes sitting on my bedroom floor just begging for a run:

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And I was off. The weather was beautiful. The shoes felt a little stiff, since they were new, but I felt great.

My pace was outstanding. It was really a great day for a run.

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Boom! Running strong and feeling amazing!

 

Check out these new kicks!

I ran 3.6 miles. When I got home, I felt incredible, but when I took my shoes off, I was alarmed to discover a significant blood stain:

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My feet weren’t much better:

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Okay, it really doesn’t look that bad. But hadn’t felt it. I was surprised, shocked, and (for a moment at least) very worried.

Once I took a shower and cleaned up my wounds, it looked much better. Still raw but not as frightening. The new shoes rubbed impressive blisters into the skin over the back of both my heels. I have an open wound on my right heel (presumably from a blister that popped). The blister on my left heel has not popped, but it’s large enough that I’m not sure if it will survive another run.

I’m determined to run tomorrow. I know I need to tape my heels, though I’m a little concerned about creating additional hot spots from the tape. Ideally I’d like to keep the left-heel-blister whole, and I’d like it if the right-heel-blister didn’t bleed any more… I know the blood gives them character, but those shoes are almost new! I’m not counting on it – these blisters are pretty big! – but I’ll let you know how it goes!!

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Eagle Egg 5k, 2015

What a surprising race!

This weekend, I ran the Eagle Egg 5k. It was hosted by Summit Christian Academy, where my mother teaches grade school.

It’s been awhile since I’ve raced, and I was so sick this winter that my training was pretty much nonexistent for a couple of months. I only had a couple of weeks of training before this race, so I intentionally did not aim for a particular time. I didn’t trust my legs to run particularly fast right now. I went into it with three goals:

1. Run strong and have a good time. The easiest goal, by far.

2. Run the entire distance. I felt pretty confident about this goal. I’ve trained myself enough, mentally, that I can run pretty far even if I’m not fast.

3. Run negative splits - in other words, run the second half of the race faster than the first. I actually have been doing a pretty good job of running negative splits in my training lately, but I didn’t feel too confident about this goal. I’ve run this race before, and I’ve never even approached negative splits. The route seems to have uphills and downhills in all the wrong places.

This morning was a perfect day to run. It was overcast and cool, around 55 or 60 degrees. Perfect running weather. Rain was predicted for later in the morning, but we were pretty confident it would hold off until the race was over.

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Pre-race selfie with my mom!

The beginning of the race was fairly unremarkable. I spent the first mile reminding myself to take it easy, don’t run too fast and burn myself out at the beginning. There were many spectators cheering us on, and it felt fantastic to let my feet lead the way.

At about 1.25 miles, I felt the first raindrop. For just a moment, I thought it would turn into a pleasant sprinkle.

Boy, was I wrong.

The skies opened in an absolute downpour. The rain was coming down in sheets. Within just a few minutes, I and the other runners were soaked.

I had started the race with my sunglasses on top of my head. It was overcast and I really didn’t need them. When it started to rain, I flipped the sunglasses down over my eyes, thinking they would provide some protection from the water running into my eyes. They did… but the rain was coming so fast that the sunglasses remained covered in a sheet of water, which blurred everything, limited my vision to just a couple of feet, and forced me to rely on my hearing somewhat to follow the course. I spent the remained of the race alternating between “no sunglasses, pretty good vision, but water running into my eyes” and “sunglasses, lousy vision, but no water in my eyes”.

It wasn’t what I expected, but I must admit, I really enjoyed running in the rain. In spite of all the challenges that come with it – soaking wet clothes, wet shoes, poor vision – it was really fun to challenge myself to push through it. My whole body was wet, but I felt awesome.

When I was around mile 2.5, I saw what might have been lightning. I couldn’t be sure. I was having such fun running in the rain, and (much to my surprise), I knew my pace was far stronger than I’d expected. There were trees on either side of the road, so I decided (perhaps stupidly) that if that was lightning, I was safe enough. The trees would get hit before I would.

At mile 2.75, there was a cross-street that had been blocked by a police car. As I ran past, a police officer rolled down the window and asked me if I wanted to wait in the police car until the bus came around. Apparently it HAD been lightning, and they were picking up any straggling racers who didn’t want to complete the race.

Did I mention my pace was far stronger than I’d expected? I yelled a “no thanks!” to the police officer and kept running.

I threw all I could into that last quarter-mile and blasted past the finish line. Man, that felt awesome! The rain was still pouring and the spectators had almost all retreated into the school. I could hear my mother’s giant cow-bell from where she stood under an awning. I didn’t know what my time was, but I was confident that it had been good.

As soon as I’d caught my breath, I headed into the school, where the post race activities were being held. At the doorway, a volunteer handed me a paper towel. I wasn’t sure how to respond, which was probably a good thing… I was so wet that a paper towel wasn’t going to help much!

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Cameras were largely put away due to the rain. I had so much water dripping off myself that I didn’t try very hard to get a good post race photo.

Inside, my mother retrieved a couple towels from her classroom and we dried ourselves off as best we could. The hallways of the school had turned into slip-and-slides from all the water dripping off the runners and spectators. We walked through the post-race festivities – booths for insurance salesmen, local fitness clubs, personal trainers, and so on. Papa Murphy’s was giving away free samples of pizza (yum!). Lamar’s donuts had brought several dozen glazed donuts. I can’t even remember what other restaurants and free samples we tried!

My Nike+ app recorded my race time as 39:47, with great pacing:

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Far better than I’d expected! I accomplished all 3 of my goals: a great race, running the whole distance, AND negative splits!

My official chip time was 39:41.9 – about four seconds faster than my best time on this course, and FAR better than I’d expected!

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3.6 miles, sore achilles

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This is what I look like when I’m crushing it. Or possibly when I’m struggling along at a snail’s pace. The difference between the two is very small. :)

Ran 3.6 miles today. It was hard, harder than yesterday. Slower, probably because my legs didn’t get time to recover. There was also a stiff wind blowing too.

My left Achilles gave me some trouble during the first mile. It seemed to improve, although when I was finished it was still sore. I iced it afterward and it seems to be okay now.

Tomorrow I’ll take a break to give my legs a chance to recover. This was a tough run, but still worth it.

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Spring weather and a strong body

I’m so happy. I ran today!

Yes, I suppose it’s a little cheesy, but the weather was beautiful this afternoon (sunny, light winds, 75 Fahrenheit) and I am finally beginning to feel strong and healthy again. After a reasonably productive work day, I changed into my running clothes and strapped on my running shoes.

As good as it felt to run again, I could definitely tell that I’ve been inactive lately. My lungs and my legs rebelled at the workout. My pace was slow (16:00). Since I’ve run before and trained before, though, I didn’t have the same struggles as I had back when I first started running. Some of that, I’m sure, is because I’ve learned how to maintain an efficient gait, but I believe most of it is because I’ve mastered a lot of the mental game. I’ve learned to convince myself to keep going – even when a run/race is long, even when my pace is slow, even when my body feels awful.

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About one mile into the workout, I spotted a police officer on a motorcycle, but parked, partially concealing himself behind a sign and pointing his radar gun at oncoming traffic. I didn’t have the nerve to walk up to him and ask to take a photo with him! I took this not-very-good photo from about a half-block away, but when I got closer, he got on his motorcycle and drove away.

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I stopped halfway to take a running selfie, and I was struck by my shadow. Very pronounced, and very interesting!

My nose is still dripping a bit more than usual, and it was at this point in the run that I had to sent out the first snot rockets. :) Don’t worry, I didn’t hit any people or cars. Just the middle of the street and a lovely flower bed. (sorry!)

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Back on the road, and I felt great. I found my groove and was just letting my feet lead the way. There were actually quite a few people outside today – no surprise, since the weather was so nice. I passed several bicyclists, a walker, and a whole crowd of people waiting at a bus stop.

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I was nearly home when I was stopped by this – a truck with a long trailer backing into a driveway. I’m sure it didn’t take more than three or four minutes, but it certainly felt like longer as this driver blocked the road.

 

I completed 3.61 miles today. It was really quite glorious to run again. If you’re not a runner, you won’t get it. Running is what makes me feel strong and healthy and amazing. Finally kicking the illnesses I’ve had this winter is just the icing on the cake – I am still blowing my nose a bit more than usual, and I’m still coughing a bit, but I finally feel strong. Here’s hoping I’ll be able to squeeze my training in before this spring’s 5ks!

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