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I dare you to train for a marathon and not have it change your life….


I have enjoyed running the majority of my life. I ran cross-country all four years in High school. I loved the endorphins and overall good feeling while I was running. After I started nursing school, I more or less stopped exercising all together. I really struggled during this period of my life with trying to get enough time to study every night and work on the weekends. Exercise was no longer a priority of mine. After I graduated from nursing school, I decided to train for a half marathon. I ran my first half marathon in a little over 2 hours but I had not put a lot of time into training and I ended up walking some of it. My dad decided to run his first marathon at the age of 54. He is honestly the only person I have met that took up training for a marathon in their 50’s. My dad inspires me so much every day and it was because of his drive that I decided to take up running again. I signed up for the Brewer’s half marathon in Milwaukee with my brother and dad. I blew my first half marathon time out of the park and ran it in an hour and 45 minutes

My sister was living in St. Louis for pharmacy school and I decided to sign up for the Halloween half marathon there a few months later. This will be my most treasured run as my sister was there cheering me on. Whenever I think about this run, I cannot help but become very emotional as it will always be associated with my sister and one of the last full weekends we had together while she was alive. I ran this race in     , A new PR for me. This was the last half marathon I ran.

It was not too much longer after my 3rd half marathon that I decided to officially sign up for my first marathon. I chose the Wisconsin Marathon on Kenosha. I was so excited and anxious. However, a May marathon meant lots of cold and snowy runs on icy and snow covered streets. I knew I had my work cut out for me. 

I started becoming more acquainted with the running community in Janesville and met some really great friends. They were very dedicated runners and I could almost always find someone to run with every morning at 5 AM, sometimes 4 AM. I put a lot of miles in with my dad on the week days and weekends. It was then that I realized running was so much more than just running at that point.

 It became a social event for me and I loved the time I was able to spend with my new running friends and my dad. It made the days where I just felt tired and worn out worth it.

 

Training was going really good for awhile. I was getting in the miles and speed work. I worked my way up the 20 mile mark a few times. I had been out on a 20 mile training run and I ran it at 8 minute pace.

 

 

It was then that I injured my leg. I was only about 5 weeks out from my marathon. I was absolutely devastated. I was uncertain that I would even be able to run it despite the months and months of training. I tried several short runs in the weeks leading up to the marathon but my leg was not feeling any better. About a week out from the marathon, I ran a couple miles with minimal pain. After much deliberation, I decided to go for it.

Marathon day was here. All the confidence I had prior to getting injured was gone. I felt only anxious and uncertain. I knew that the mental battle was just as important as the physical battle with a marathon. My dad had signed up for the half marathon and had said that he would run with me as long as he could. He ran the first 11 miles with me. It was great to have him by my side cheering me on. For the first 16 miles, I had minimal pain and was able to push through running at an 8 minute pace, despite being attacked by zombies….

 

okay, I kid, I kid, I just found this picture a little funny, anyways, I digress..

After mile 16, everything started to fall apart. My leg started throbbing, the weather was getting warmer and the sun was beating down with no breeze. I could feel myself getting dehydrated and I wanted to quit. I ended up alternating running and walking for the last 10 miles. It was so rough, I started to cry. My Dad had found me on the course with his bicycle and encouraged me not to quit. The finish line felt so far away. I was warned that the last 6 miles would be the worst, and boy, were they ever. I even asked my dad at one point if I could ride his bicycle, only half kidding, but I kept pushing on. I finally saw the finish and was able to limp over the finish line.

 I cried tears of joy, pain and sadness that my first marathon had not gone as well as I had hoped. I finished in 3 hours and 53 minutes which everyone told me was a really good time for my first marathon. I still felt sad and discouraged initially. However, I knew I had given it my all despite the circumstances . I started to feel better about what I had accomplished . Running a marathon is no simple feat and it requires lots of dedication, drive, and a little craziness.

I think if there is something you want to try, you are never too old to try it. Like I said, my dad trained for his first marathon at the age of 54. I truly believe you can do anything that you set your mind to. There will be lots of ups and downs in any feat that you attempt, but that is what makes it worth it in the end. It is okay to feel discouraged, It is okay to stop temporarily, but it is never okay to quit.

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Why do we constantly tear others down?

So who watched the Super Bowl and Lady Gaga’s halftime performance? I thought her performance was wonderful and that she looked absolutely amazing. However, one if the first posts I saw online this AM was about how disgusting her stomach looked….ummmm really ???? That saddens me so much. I do not understand how the standard for how a woman is supposed to look has changed so drastically over the years. I envy Lady Gaga for being able to rock whatever outfit she chooses in front of Billions over viewers. It saddens me so to see the negative thread of comments on how she looked because she is not a size zero? We wonder why so many young girls have body image issues.  The truth is, regardless of how you look, you will always receive criticism.  You need to learn to ignore those that spill negativity into your life.

You also need to accept that you cannot make EVERYONE happy, you are not Nutella.  The only person that you need to focus on making happy is yourself. It is so easy to get sucked into negativity on a day to day basis, I am guilty of it as well.  

The truth is, there is absolutely no reason to be around those that make you feel bad about yourself. If an individual is not healthy for you in your life, you must learn to let them go.

So this is my challenge to you, go spread some light into people’s lives. Let them know just how much you appreciate them. I do not think we as humans tell our loved ones enough just how much they mean to us. ♡♡

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CRAZY CAT LADY STATUS…COMPLETE

If you did not know this about me, I am a bit of a crazy cat lady. Okay, okay, more than a bit of a crazy cat lady, a full blown crazy cat lady. I have always loved cats but my love for them has grown over the years.

Today, I decided to create an instagram page for my cats. I honestly could not believe just how many others have also created instagram pages for their cats. It is truly wonderful to connect with those that love their cats as much as me. I know you probably find me to be the weirdest person you know, and that is okay. I enjoying being a little weird, a little different.  “Be a fruit loop in a world of cheerios….”

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I started buying cat shirts  couple years ago and recently convinced my co-workers to wear them every Friday with me and deemed this day “CAT SHIRT FRIDAY.” It has been pretty amazing. I also have noticed and increase in cat shirts in stores and online in general. I think the frenzy is spreading and I love it…. 😉

I love taking pictures, especially of my cats. I recently had them in Packer Jersey’s and I think they may have secretly loved them.

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I think that cats bring a lot of love and joy into my life. In May of 2016, I lost my 15 year old cat Punky..almost a year to the day of my sister passing. May is a very hard month for me and I know that it will continue to be.

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He was such a sweet cat and he gave me a lot of comfort in the last year of his life after Rachel passed away. There are a lot of research studies that have proven that cats reduce anxiety and stress and just help to provide overall comfort. I think we all need more cats in our lives, but that is just my opinion. However, I cannot have any more cats at the moment, so I make up for it in cat shirts. Awhile back, I counted my cat shirts and I almost had a hundred. I think that has doubled since then. I do indeed have a problem…😂😂😂.

However, I think life is too short, which I am reminded of on a daily basis. So, I will continue to buy lots of cat shirts and continue to be a bit of a crazy cat lady because you should continue to do what makes you happy in life regardless of what others think.

 

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Unplug

We all need to unplug and recharge every once in awhile. I think that society has been bombarded with so many different types of electronics, different forms of social media, etc. that it sometimes feels hard to escape for awhile. I am guilty of spending hours and hours scrolling through my newsfeed and instagram for no reason at all. I then find myself feeling more stressed out because of all the information that is being thrown in every direction. I recently met someone that does not own a phone. At first I thought, wow, that is very odd. I then began to think about it more and realized how freeing that must be. I know that I cannot give up my phone but it did shed some light on my own life. I have decided that I am only going to check my phone in the morning and in the evening for any form of social media and to only use my phone outside of that for making phone calls and texts. I know that I do not live in the moment 100% of the time because of the Internet. It has become a social norm to spend hours and hours on your phone instead of living your every day life. I woke up this morning feeling stressed because I felt like I had to “catch-up” with what was going on in the Internet world. I really need a break from it all to just unwind and focus on some projects that I have been working on such as photography. Sometimes I do miss the days where I did not have a phone because life just felt a little slower and less stressful. If you are being bombarded with constant interaction day in and day out, how do you focus on yourself ? Truth is, you can’t. There are much higher rates of anxiety and stress than ever before because of the constant upgrades to electronics and the instant gratification that comes with them.  I think it causes us to forget the little things. So this is my project for myself, to unplug more every day. I hope to appreciate the beauty that I think I miss when my head is glued to my phone. I know it will be hard at first, but it is so necessary.

These are my goals while I unplug

1) meditate more

2) write more

3) enjoy nature more

4) spend more time with loved ones

I challenge you to make some goals for yourself too. Life is so short, so appreciate the moments that you can spend doing what you love. Pursue your passion, work on a new hobby, UNPLUG. Society functioned for a long time prior to electronics.  We need to change ourselves because society will not change it for us.

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Rachel’s Race for Long QT

If you have read my prior blog posts, I had shared my experience with loss and grief since losing my sister in May of 2015. A few months after my sister had passed away, I had a good friend pitch the idea about planning an event in memory of my sister. At the time, I was not ready. I was still trying to work through the grief process and it still felt too soon . In 2016, my dad brought up the idea again. We decided to form an event committee with two of our good friends. We started having weekly meetings and we eventually decided on planning a run/walk. This was my first time planning an event and to be honest, I had no idea what I was doing. I was so grateful for the help of Jen and Paul. We decided to have the event at Skelly’s Farm in Janesville. Skelly’s was the perfect setting with scenic roads and activities for families. Paul worked on contacting sponsors to help fund the cost of T-Shirts and supplies that were needed for the event. We were able to get several sponsors for the event and we are so grateful for their support. We would like to say a special thank you to Scott Wedige and Northwest Mutual for the very generous donation to our cause.

I had so many friends reach out to me in offering to help with the event. I was grateful for the support we received for our first year .  We were able to line up enough volunteers, many  others were donating beautiful raffle baskets and silent auction items, Daniel’s Sentry Foods donated a lot of food items and E & D water donated water for the race.

We had a family friend work on the Race Logo and we ended up decided on this.

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We decided to become and official foundation and decided on the name Rachel’s Long QT Foundation LLC.

The months flew by with planning and before we knew it, it was October. Event day was here! The weather ended up being perfect. We had a lot of participants signing up that last week which was wonderful to see. The participation for our first year was incredible and it brought so many tears to my eyes. I can only hope that it will continue to grow every year.

The race went smoothly and we received positive feedback from many that were there. We hope to add a few positive suggestions that we received to the next year. We hope to add mile markers next year and make a few changes to registration to help things run a bit more smoothly. I also hope to not leave volunteers on the course for hours after the race is done, so sorry to the Lorrie’s!!!!!

We met other families that were also affected by the disease. We had a family come up from Chicago and a local family here who has been battling the illness for many years. I met another Woman who had lost her daughter to Long QT who was also living with the disease. It is so hard to see how many families are affected by this disease but it was very helpful to talk to others that understood our pain and struggle.

The SADS foundation was so wonderful. They sent us brochures and bracelets for the event. They reached out to our family on several different occasions and featured us in their own newsletter. They are such a great organization  and it is great that we are able to support them and their research with the money that was raised from the event.

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We are currently working on purchasing and AED for the Janesville area with the $7700 we raised and having all remaining funds to go to the SADS foundation. We have decided to make this an inaugural event and are hoping to set a new October date for 2017 very soon.

I cannot express enough how much I appreciate every individual that reached out to us and supported our cause. We could not have done this without YOU! Thank you for helping to honor and remember Rachel Lancour and to continue to raise awareness about this disease that affects so many individuals.

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My inner demons

 I would like to share something with you that I honesly never thought I would talk about. In highschool, I battled anorexia. It took me 10 years to share it with my best friend and 11 years to share with the world. In fact, it was not something I had even admitted to myself for a long time. I battled it through mainly junior year and senior year of high school. I am not even sure what triggered it besides the fact that I was never satisfied with how I looked. I remember when I first started restricting food and how good I became at hiding the fact I just was not eating.  It was such a hard time in my life. I felt so lost and alone because I continued to sink into a deeper hole. Everyone around me was making comments about how thin I was . I did not even realize just how thin I had become. Food became my life. I literally planned every moment around it. If I knew I was going somewhere that involved food, I would become an anxious mess and I would exercise excessively for hours to make up for the fact that I would actually have to eat something. Eventually, others in my life intervened in my life when I hit the 95 pound mark at 5’10. With the support of my family and doctor, I was slowly able to regain some weight. I thank them secretly every day because without them, I would not still be here.Gaining weight back was so very hard.  I had to choke food down and I felt physically sick after I would eat. Somehow, I  started to become a healthy weight again. Unfortunately, some aspects of an eating disorder stay with you for LIFE. It was acually not until last summer that I was able to eat a burger with a bun. That moment was so freeing for me. I still have a very difficult time eating fast food and I still battle my body image issues often. I find myself battling the negativity in my head on a daily basis. Truth is, I am the heaviest I have ever been.  However , I feel strong, I feel healthy , I have energy . The scale is still not my friend though and I try to avoid it at all costs. I guess I am sharing this because it is something I have kept bottled inside for so long. I am hoping that by sharing this, it will give someone hope that they too can battle their inner demons. You are stronger than you think. I believe that our scars, our flaws, they shape us into who we are. They make us unique and human. I am no longer ashamed of my flaws, I now embrace them.

Love yourself.