Marathon Training – Week 1 Phase 3, Marathon Focus

My training is broken up into blocks. Phase 3 is a 6 week block and the emphasis is now on the full marathon so I will be running longer and increasing mileage. I’m nervous about this phase because I’m not sure how I’m going to find the time to run more, but I’ve done it before so where there’s a will there’s a way.

Hopefully this week is not indicative of what is to come. It was a very emotionally charged week.

  • Monday, 8/10 – Cross Train or Yoga

I did about 30 minutes of yoga and stretching.

  • Tuesday, 8/11 – 45 to 60 minute Easy Run

Nothing! Work took over my life this week.

  • Wednesday, 8/12 – Cross train or Yoga

Again I was pressed for time and work was all consuming. I bolted out the door mid afternoon and somehow managed to run 4.60 miles in 40:17 (avg pace 8:45 min/mile). Map My Run malfunction?!! I’m not so sure I believe that pace, but I know I was pushing it nonetheless. Later in the evening I did 1.68 miles with Kate.

  • Thursday, 8/13 – 15 minute warm up and tempo interval workout: 3 to 4 x1 mile with 2 minutes 30 seconds recovery jog followed by 3 times 200 meters (about 50 sec-1minute) with 200 meter recovery jog + 15 min cool down.

I worked Wednesday night. My stomach felt off all day. Work was just ridiculously busy. So I took the day off from working out.

  • Friday, 8/14 – 50 to 70 minute easy run with stride workout: 10 times 25 seconds starting at 5K and progressing down to mile race effort with 1 minute jog in between

I ran 7.20 miles in 1:10:11 (avg pace 9:44 min/mile). Good run. Felt better.

  • Saturday, 8/15 – 120 minute run (last 3 miles push the pace)

At the last minute my husband found out he had to work at his regular job. This threw off my plan a bit so I scrapped my long run and did Thursday’s tempo interval workout instead. The day just didn’t go as planned. I actually had to work as well. I agreed to see a patient although I don’t work weekends at my insurance job. I had to bring my son to my mother’s. I saw the patient and then came home to do the paperwork. We had plans in the evening and time was ticking away. As I mentioned I was feeling rather emotional all week and it seemed to all bubble over the surface by Saturday afternoon. I had a bit of a cry and finally went for a run.

I drove to the college hoping for some shade around the pond. It was insanely hot and humid. The run sucked. I just couldn’t get my legs moving the way I wanted them to. I stuck it out though and ran 8.01 miles in 1:25:02 (avg pace 10:36 min/mile).

  • Sunday, 8/16 – Cross train or Yoga

I had no choice but to do my long run on Sunday. I ran 12.1 miles in 2:00:29 (avg pace 9:57 min/mi). I was so happy to see I managed the distance in just under a 10 min/mile pace. It was an uneventful run on a boring route near my house. I am craving new scenery.

Total mileage for the week = 33.59 miles

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Everything seemed out of sorts this week. I’m not going to complain about work because I know that I am the only one who can change that situation. I’m not stuck, but I have committed to staying at least a year.

My emotions were all over the place mostly due to a visit from my father. I don’t mention him much here. He lives in Florida. We see him rarely and only speak to him once a week usually on Thursdays, his preference. He has never been very close to me, but I have given him every opportunity to forge a close bond with his only grandchild. When I found out he was coming for 10 days in August, I asked him if he would like me to keep Carlos out of camp for a week and he said yes. Carlos loves his grandpa and had a wonderful time with him last week. As the week came to an end my father made it clear that he was babysitting Carlos for free and in turn doing me a favor. This was infuriating to me because that’s not at all how I saw it. I can afford to pay a babysitter or put Carlos in camp while I’m working. I don’t NEED help.

My dad’s visits inevitably cause me a great deal of stress and always leave me feeling so small and insignificant. He has no idea how much it hurts that he prefers to spend time with his girlfriend and her kids. They’ve been together for about 20 years and she is not the warmest person. It boils my blood that her grandchildren call my dad grandpa. But I have to tread lightly  and watch what I say to my father or he will stop speaking to us. That started when I was 13 and there have been multiple episodes of silence since. The last was when Carlos was an infant. He stepped away from our lives, my sister included, for 2 years until I he finally answered my call. I begged him to reconsider his decision and I convinced him that if he came back into our lives at that time Carlos wouldn’t know any different, but if he waited Carlos would be confused. So he started speaking to us again.

It’s a fragile relationship though and as I mentioned I walk on eggshells around my dad and his girlfriend. My dad had told me they were just coming for a vacation. He failed to mention that the trip was actually planned to coincide with the birth of his girlfriend’s youngest daughter’s third child. On Friday his girlfriend was showing me photos of their outing to a local lake and then the photos jumped to the hospital room. There was my dad with the newborn all smiles like a proud grandpa. I felt like I got kicked in the stomach at that moment. I pushed away the emotions and with a smile said “oh what a nice photo.”

My son was born on my sister’s birthday a week before Christmas. My dad and his girlfriend were flying up the following weekend for the holidays. I had a c-section so I was in the hospital for 5 days. I asked if he was going to change his flight to come see Carlos.  My dad said no. He was retired at the time. He had no reason he couldn’t come up alone a few days early. This was his first grandchild. How could he not be excited about it? Seeing him in that photo brought it all back. It made me wonder how many of his girlfriend’s grandchildren he held just hours after they were born.

Of course there are two sides to every story, but my side remains that I was a kid when my parents divorced. My dad pulled away then despite my mother’s urging to see us whenever he wanted. As the years passed the distance grew as well. I can’t quite understand a parent who doesn’t want to know their child and be as much a part of their life as possible. I don’t think I will ever understand my father.

Hartford Marathon Training – Week 5 – Phase 2

My training is broken up into blocks. Phase 2 is a 5 week block. Phase 2 of training is also preparation for the Bridge of Flowers 10K on August 8th. This phase went by very quickly.

  • Monday, 8/3 – Warm up 10 minutes, long hill repeats: find a 3-5 minute climb, run up 4-5 times, jog back down (the side street Chapel Hill Drive is a good on for this)

I chose to sleep a little longer rather than get up early to run because we got home much later than expected from Pennsylvania. Therefore I had to sneak this run in just before picking Carlos up from camp. It was blazing hot, about 92 degrees, and extremely humid. I did the warmup and then headed over to Chapel Hill Drive. Holy hell that hill was ridiculous. I ran it 5 times. On my last trip up a friend drove by and told me to pop over for a glass of ice water. I stopped and chatted for a bit. I didn’t bother to shut off Map My Run so my pause is reflected in my overall time. I ran 5.04 miles in 54:08 (avg pace 10:45 min/mile).

  • Tuesday, 8/4 – 45 to 60 minute Easy Run

I ran 4.80 miles in 50:25 (avg pace 10:29 min/mile). This was a horrible run. I felt sluggish and weighed down. My legs were heavy. I just wasn’t feeling great on this run.

  • Wednesday, 8/5 – Warm up 10 minutes, 8-10 by 1:30 minute hard running/30 seconds easy running. Get the legs moving and work on a rolling hill course to prep for the ups and downs of the first couple of miles of Bridge of Flowers.

I ran 5.30 miles in 50:11 (avg pace 9:27 min/mile). Now this was a great run. I felt so much. What a difference a day makes! Later in the evening I did a leisurely jog with my friend while our boys were at their cross country practice. We did 2.22 miles in 34:31.

  • Thursday, 8/6 – Cross train or Yoga

I took the day off. I was insanely busy with multiple work issues. I also worked the night before at the hospital. That always throws me off kilter. It’s much different working a night shift and coming home to work all day than when I used to only work nights. I actually miss doing nights full time.

  • Friday, 8/7 – 30 to 40 minute Easy Run

After being up for almost 2 days before finally going to bed Thursday night, the last thing I wanted to do was get up at 4:30 in the morning so I didn’t. My friend brought Carlos and her son to camp in the morning so I went for a quick run as soon as they left. I ran 3.2 miles in 30:21 (avg pace 9:19 min/mile). This run was quite a surprise. I wasn’t planning on moving that quickly, but apparently my legs were.

  • Saturday, 8/8 – Bridge of Flowers 10K

This is my favorite race and favorite weekend of the summer. Prior to last summer when I was out of commission with the Achilles injury, I had run this race for 4 consecutive years.

Bridge of Flowers 2010 – no blog post as I hadn’t started the blog yet. Time – 1:07:36 (10:52 pace)

Bridge of Flowers 2011 – Time – 1:04:16 (10:21 pace)

Bridge of Flowers 2012 – Time – 1:01:53 (9:58 pace)

Bridge of Flowers 2013 – Time – 56:01 (9:01 pace) **Currently my 10K PR

The weekend of Bridge of Flowers it has become tradition for my close friend and former UMass Amherst college roommate, Colleen to come for a visit. She has been one of my biggest supporters since I embarked on this running journey. She is a two time Boston Marathoner and avid runner and hiker. She has been unable to run until recently due to knee issues, but she is beginning to build up her mileage and hopes to join me for BOF 10K next year. The beautiful photos below from Shelburne Falls, MA are compliments of Colleen.

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Orlando and I both ran the race while Colleen and Carlos spectated. Initially Orlando was planning to pace me to a sub-1 hour finish. I wasn’t shooting for a PR, but I was really hopeful that I could finish the race in under an hour despite the mega hill at mile 2. Orlando took off and I lost sight of him at mile 1! I could tell he was itching to move at his own pace  and honestly it was ok. I knew from the moment the race started I had to run this race myself, my way.

I know this course and I was well prepared for the race. The weather was ideal, sunny in the 70s and blessedly not humid. I started out at a steady pace, but I knew I had to go a little faster in the first two miles because I would lose time on the hill. Crittendon Hill is impossible for most to run because it’s so steep. The hill comes after mile 2 and it climbs sharply until just before mile 3. I power walked up the hill as fast as I possibly could and as I neared the mile 3 marker my time was a little over 31 minutes. If I was going to finish in under an hour I knew I had to attack the downhill. Fortunately the downhill is not as sharp as the uphill. It’s a shaded dirt road and it is a steady decline that levels a bit here and there which is not too hard on the knees so I let myself fly!

Heading into the last mile I was on target for a sub-1 hour finish as long as I didn’t ease up on my pace. Thankfully the back half of this race is mostly flat with just a few rolling hills. The spectators are awesome at the end of the Bridge of Flowers 10K and that got my engines revved up. Running over the iron bridge to the finish line never gets old. My eyes welled up as I saw the 59:30 on the time clock. I picked up the pace determined to sneak in under an hour.

Official time: 58:51!!! (avg pace 9:29 min/mile)

Orlando ran an incredible race especially considering he hasn’t run in months. He finished in 50:59. I am really proud of him, but admittedly a little jealous that he can just jump into a fairly challenging course and run it in a very respectable time with absolutely no training. Some things in life are simply unfair!!!

Looking all happy before BOF 10K!
My favorite race spectator
Handsome guys!
  • Sunday 8/9 – 150 minutes long run

I  was still riding the high of my race the day before. I got up very early and hit the road for my long run. Despite the energy my legs were tired. I ran 14.52 miles in 2:31:40 (avg pace 10:26 min/mile)

Later in the morning Colleen, Carlos and I went for a great hike up Mt. Holyoke. The Summit House was open and they were offering a tour just as we reached the summit. It was so interesting. We learned that it used to operate as a hotel and was once the 2nd most popular tourist attraction in North America behind Niagra Falls. It was a spectacular day and the views were stunning.

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Overall it was a great training week. Total mileage for the week = 41.28

Striking a Balance

Biz commented on my previous post and asked if my husband ever gets jealous of the trips Carlos and I take together without him. The short answer is no, but I think it’s a really great question so I am going to expand on it a bit.

Since my husband and I moved to the United States 13 years ago life has never really felt balanced. At first we struggled to find solid ground here and build a life for ourselves. We worked diligently two jobs each to save for a home and prepare for a child. There were few vacations during that time. For years, after Carlos was born, Orlando and I worked opposite shifts and our interaction was often like ships passing in the night. Now we at least get to go to bed together almost every night of the week!

We love to travel and I have made it a priority. I think it’s particularly important for children to see other places and to experience history in person. Most of our trips are as a family, but finding time to vacation as a family during the summer is still challenging.

Orlando’s job is seasonal which means a long lifeless lull in the wintertime followed by endless days of nonstop work during the warmer months. It’s all we’ve known and not completely unfamiliar to me as my father’s job was similar when I was growing up. Because of this Orlando always sort of misses out on summer with Carlos and me. However, he entrusts me with the important job of making sure he knows what must not be missed. If I say this is important and you really should be there he will be there.

I do spend a great deal of time alone with Carlos especially during the summer. He and I have enjoyed many an adventure without Orlando. These trips Carlos and I take are not without discussion and consideration of schedules, finances and the realities of our jobs. When Orlando’s work is plentiful he has no choice but to work. He does not get paid time off because there is the assumption that he will be laid off for the winter offering him ample opportunity to go away while collecting unemployment.

I can honestly say there’s never any jealousy on Orlando’s part. There’s also no badgering on my part when Orlando works late every night and works the weekends as well during the summer. I love when Orlando is with us, but I do understand the nature of his job. Each week we sit and talk about the calendar for the week ahead. If Orlando can shift things around to be with us somewhere he certainly does it, but if not we all get it. I treasure my time with Carlos and I am very grateful that Orlando gives us his blessing to travel when the opportunities arise.

Don’t get me wrong though. I see the family vacation photos this time of year at the rental houses at the Cape, on the coast of Maine, at the Connecticut or Rhode Island beaches posted all over Facebook this time of year. I wonder what it would be like if we could also take a week off every summer to go on vacation as a family. Then I realize it’s only FB envy! It looks ideal in the photos, but truthfully that’s not really my kind of vacation. Orlando would agree. Personally, I hate going to the same place twice. While I like the beach for a couple of days that’s really enough for me. I much prefer our short crazy family weekend getaways to wherever I’m running a race. We also enjoy days trips and long car rides. We love to explore new places and go off the beaten path.

Our longer travels are typically during the winter. We almost always venture somewhere sunny and warm during Orlando’s lay off dulling the monotony of the dreary cold weather. This holiday season while everyone is freezing their buns off here in Massachusetts I will be enjoying summer all over again in southern Africa. While much of the trip will be spent catching up with my in-laws, the three of us always take at least a few days to spend time as a family.

To the onlooker, and even to me some days, our family may appear a bit disjointed and quite unbalanced. However, Orlando and I will be married for 14 years next month. Our relationship ebbs and flows throughout the course of each year due to the nature of our jobs, our outside interests and Carlos’ schedule, but somewhere in midst of the chaos is a fine balance of mutual respect, love and commitment. That is what makes it all work out.

Hartford Marathon Training – Week 4 – Phase 2

My training is broken up into blocks. Phase 2 is a 5 week block. Phase 2 of training is also preparation for the Bridge of Flowers 10K on August 8th.

  • Monday, 7/27– 45 t0 60 minute Easy Run

I ran 6.33 miles in 1:01:39 (avg pace 9:44 min/mile). Great run! I felt good. I was up early. It was hot and humid already, but not terrible because the sun wasn’t out yet.

  • Tuesday, 7/28 – 60 to 75 minute Pace Booster Run: Run 20 or 30 minutes at steady state pace in the middle of the run (up Skinner Mountain for example)

I was up at the crack of dawn to get this run in before the work day. I got to the mountain by 5AM. I ended up running 6.06 miles in 1:00:08 (avg pace 9:55 min/mile). I did a 10 minute warm up then powered up the mountain. I didn’t stay long at the top because I was all business! At the bottom I continued on a flat road to do the sprint intervals.  

  • Wednesday, 7/29 – Cross Train or Yoga

I biked 11.78 miles in 1:25:25. It was a refreshing change to bike early in the morning. I ended up doing a pretty hilly route and there were more cars than I expected that early in the morning. I barely made it home in time for Orlando to leave for work. 

  • Thursday, 7/30 – 60-70 minute Easy Run

I ran 7.20 miles in 1:11:53 (avg pace 9:58 min/mile). Another successful early morning run. I am finally beginning to see some consistency in my 4:30 wake up time. 

  • Friday, 7/31 – 50 to 70 minute Easy Run with Stride Workout: 20x 25 seconds starting at a 5K and progressing down to Mile race effort with 1 minute recovery job between

I ran 6.14 miles in 1:00:14 (avg pace 9:49 min/mile). I seriously love these workouts for some reason. I did this one in the Poconos and the change of scenery was so nice, but there are no shortage of hills in the area. Every way I went I was confronted by another hill so the striders were challenging. I felt pretty amazing at the end though.

  • Saturday, 8/1 – 90 minute run (try to get on a course with some long hills and push the pace a bit more than usual)

I  could not have been in a more ideal location for this run. The Poconos seem to be one long hill after another. I ran 9.26 miles in 1:30:31 (avg pace 9:46 min/mile). Despite the humidity and the hills I felt amazing after this run. I ran in a different direction than the day before and was met with some very pretty views. 

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  • Sunday 8/2 – crossgrain or yoga

I  took the day off actually. Carlos and I took our time getting home. We stopped at Camelback Resort and road the mountain coaster. Then we picnicked up at the top of Mount Pocono. We did walk around a bit at the summit.

Top of the mountain selfie

We stopped off at a lake later and Carlos took a dip.

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Carlos and I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a few days in the Poconos with one of my dear friends from nursing school and her family. They were there for a short vacation and invited us to join them. It’s been ages since we have seen each other. It was such a peaceful place. Orlando would have loved it, but as I’ve mentioned his busy time at work is now.

Despite all my best intentions and actually taking the day off, I ended up working intermittently throughout Friday. I received a number of calls and had to tend to some email, etc. Work has been beyond frustrating lately. However, Friday morning my friend and I took Carlos to ride go-carts and shoot paintballs at targets. We joined him on the go-carts and had a blast!

Later in the day my friend’s husband joined us and we all spent the afternoon at Tree Ventures. They offer a ropes course up in the trees and zip lining. My friend and I proudly made it through the easiest level of the ropes course and then called it quits. I am not a huge fan of heights. My legs were like jello and my knuckles white by the time I finally finished. Her husband and Carlos had long since moved on to the second most advanced course. Here are some photos:

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On Saturday we enjoyed a morning hike at Bushkill Falls. It was a positively gorgeous day. We wandered along, stopping here and there to take photos. After the hike Carlos and I did a mining maze where we had to find the letter GOLD hidden throughout the maze and then hole punch the letters on our card. At the end you time stamp the card to see how long it took. We laughed so much trying to beat each other. For the record I won…by about a second!

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I treasure each minute I am with Carlos, but some of the best times are when we go away. I am more present in the moment and able to really enjoy the time. He’s really such a joy to spend time with and I’m grateful he enjoys spending time with me. I came across this saying later in the evening after returning home from the Poconos and it seems a perfect way to end this post.

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Hartford Marathon Training – Week 3 – Phase 2

Anyone else feeling like this lately?

Anyone else feeling like this lately?

My training is broken up into blocks. Phase 2 is a 5 week block. Phase 2 of training is also preparation for the Bridge of Flowers 10K on August 8th.

  • Monday, 7/20– 45 t0 60 minute Recovery Run

I ran 6.01 miles in 1:01:21 (avg pace 10:12 min/mile). I ran at Mount Holyoke College for a change of scenery. It was very humid, but I felt good despite the heavy mileage over the weekend.

  • Tuesday, 7/21– 60 to 75 minute Pace Booster Run: Run 20 or 30 minutes at steady state pace in the middle of the run (up Skinner Mountain for example)

It was a very frustrating work day. I only had about 50 minutes before picking up Carlos at camp. I slammed the computer shut, drove the 15 or so minutes to Skinner and tore up the mountain as fast as could. I ran 3.64 miles in 36:22 (avg pace 9:58 min/mile). 

  • Wednesday, 7/22 – Cross Train or Yoga

I did nothing. 

  • Thursday, 7/23 – Speed work: 10 minute warmup, 10 by 1 minute hard/1 minute easy, 10-15 minute cool down.

I love these workouts. I ran 4.92 miles in 48:44 (avg pace 9:54 min/mile).

  • Friday, 7/24 – Cross train or Yoga

I did a short run and a little hill work with two friends at lunch time. We ran 2.82 miles in 38:38 (avg pace 13:43 min/mile). 

  • Saturday, 7/25 – 120 minutes long run with last 3 miles pushing the pace

I  ran 12.20 miles in 2:00:40 (avg pace 9:53 min/mile). This was a really strong run for me. I literally ran 120 minutes away from my house and had my husband pick me up after. Towards the end of my run I was treated to this gorgeous sight. 

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  • Sunday, 7/26– Cross train or yoga

I enjoyed a fun afternoon biking with Carlos and our friends. We rode 15.29 miles along the bike trail in Northampton. I also did some stretching and foam rolling.

Not a perfect training week, but not a bad week either.

Hartford Marathon Training – Week 2 – Phase 2

My dad is one of eight children, 4 boys and 4 girls. His mom, my grandmother Theresa, died shortly after I was born. She had cancer. She apparently knew she had lumps in her breasts, but she never went to the doctor to have them checked. By the time she was diagnosed with cancer it was too late. My dad’s oldest sister, Theresa, died of cancer when I was a teenager. My Aunt Joanne was diagnosed with leukemia years ago, but thankfully it’s in remission. My Uncle Joe also has leukemia. My Auntie Mag died of pancreatic cancer.

This left my dad and his younger siblings my Uncle Kenny, Uncle Billy and Auntie Nancy. Two years ago my Auntie Nancy, the youngest of all my dad’s siblings, went to the ER for nausea and vomiting. She was sent home only to return a day later as the symptoms had intensified.

I’m not sure of the exact course of events, but she came home with a diagnosis of stage 4 breast cancer with metastases. She did one round of chemotherapy I believe. The cancer was ravaging her spirit, energy and will to live. She chose to forego treatment at that point and for the last 6 months or so she has been quietly and painfully dying.

Of all my aunts and uncles on my dad’s side Auntie Nancy had the most stable, picture perfect life. She married her high school sweetheart and together they had 3 children. Whenever I saw them it was evident they were still as much in love as they were when they were young. My cousins are successful and all three settled locally to raise their families. My aunt was one of the sweetest people. However, like her mother before her, Auntie Nancy did not see a doctor for over 20 years despite knowing her family medical history.

On Sunday, July 12, 2015 my aunt passed away at home surrounded by her family. She will be missed by so many. Yet another reminder that life is too short and we really must embrace each day as though it is our last.

“Learn to appreciate what you have before time makes you appreciate what you had.”


My training is broken up into blocks. Phase 2 is a 5 week block and is also preparation for the Bridge of Flowers 10K on August 8th. For Phase 2 of training I’m following these pace recommendations:

Recovery runs: 10:00-11:00 pace
Easy runs: 9:45-10:30 pace
Steady state runs: 9:15-9:45 pace (or moderate effort up Skinner Mountain)
Stride workouts: 25 seconds at 8:30 pace building to 7:30 pace
Speed workouts: 7:00-7:30 pace (just go for hard effort)

  • Monday, 7/13– 40 to 50 minute Easy Run with 10 by 10-20 second sprints on an incline at the end

I woke up super late at 6:50AM. Carlos did too. These busy weekends and late Sunday nights need to settle down. My friend came over around 11:30 and we ran 3.08 miles in 44:36. I had loose intentions of doing my planned training run in the evening when Orlando got home, but he worked on a side job until after 8PM and by the time he got home I had made the executive decision to just go to bed. 

  • Tuesday, 7/14 – 45-60 minute Recovery Run

I did yesterday’s missed 40-50 minute Easy Run with 10 by 20 second sprints on an incline at the end. I found a great incline near the end of my run and I gave it my all 10 times up. I ran 5.04 miles in 52:12 (avg pace 10:22 min/mile). 

  • Wednesday, 7/15 – Hill work: warm up 10 minutes, run up a steep hill (30 seconds to 1 minute) 5-8 times, jog back down, cool down 10 minutes

I was planning to run the Recovery Run I missed on Tuesday, but I inadvertently came across a perfect hill for hill repeats so I switched gears and ended up doing 10 hill repeats. My warm up and cool down were both about 17 minutes. I ran 5.06 miles in 52:49 (avg pace 10:26 min/mile). It was super hot and humid. The hill repeats were kind of fun!

  • Thursday, 7/16 – Off or Yoga

I wrote in my gratitude journal for this day that I am grateful for the strength to see me through this difficult day. I worked Wednesday night. I got home around 6:45am and immediately started up my computer for my other job while preparing breakfast for Carlos. I zipped off some emails and faxed a few requests for medical information to doctor’s offices. I took a shower and then hopped onto our Thursday morning 8AM webex meeting. It ran a bit longer than usual and we finished just before 9. I spent the next half hour working. At 9:40 I had to take a power nap. Up at 10 to get ready to go.

At 11 I met my family outside of Holy Name Church for a private memorial mass for my Auntie Nancy. She did not want a wake or public funeral. In keeping with her wishes it was just immediate family and a few close friends gathered for a full Catholic mass followed by a luncheon. My sister and her husband came and my dad had flown in the day before. It’s always nice to see everyone, but not under these circumstances.

The rest of the afternoon was busy. I picked up Carlos from camp and then had two of his friends over for a sleep over. By the time I went to bed around 9:45PM I had been up for an ungodly number of hours. Needless to say this was a completely OFF day!

  • Friday, 7/17 – 40 to 50 minute Easy Run with 8 by 100 meter (or 20 second) striders in the last mile

It was really tough getting out of bed this morning, but I’m glad I did because the weather was perfect running weather. It was cool like a fall morning. It was such a welcome respite from the humidity we’ve had lately. I ended up doing the 45-60 minute Recovery Run I missed on Tuesday. I ran 6.16 miles in 1:00:34 (avg pace 9:49 min/mile). I have to say I was really surprised by my pace on this run. I have felt really weighed down the last few days both mentally and physically. This pace was a little faster than my pace goal, but my splits were very consistent.

  • Saturday, 7/18 – 120 minutes long run

I ran 11.50 miles in 2:00:56 (avg pace 10:30 min/mile). Typically I get my long runs done early in the morning, but since Friday was a long day and night I decided to take my time in the morning. My dad came by around 8:30 to pick up Carlos. He stayed and chatted for a while. Then Orlando took my car to run a few errands. While he was gone I cranked some music and cleaned all of the downstairs windows, vacuumed and did laundry. 

I decided to head to the bike trail for my run. The sky was grim and the forecast was calling for thunderstorms. I hit the trail around 11:50. The skies opened before mile 2 and within minutes I was completely soaked. I really never contemplated turning back. If it were race day I wouldn’t quit. 

The sun broke out around mile 4 giving way to a steamy sauna. I veered off the trail for a few miles and during mile 7 a car nailed a huge puddle as I jumped on the curb sending a substantial wave of water into my right side. I didn’t think it was possible to get more wet than I already felt. The remaining miles were slow. My running pants and shoes were heavy, filled with water. My hat kept dripping water down my face. It was awesome!! 

  • Sunday, 7/19 – Cross train or yoga

Aside from a few sun salutations I haven’t been doing yoga. I can’t make it to classes right now and despite all the free classes online I haven’t committed to in home yoga. I don’t enjoy it as much. After meeting with my health coach she took me on a fantastic trail run. At the end we added the 8 by 100 meter (or 20 second) striders I missed on Friday. We ran 4.06 miles in 54 minutes. It was incredibly hot and humid, but this was by far one of the best runs. I managed not to trip over any roots although I did get knocked down by a dog and scraped up my right elbow pretty good. I do love trail running and wish I could do it more often.

Despite the ups and downs of the week I squeaked out just about 35 miles.

The Pursuit of Passion

I stood at my kitchen counter yesterday afternoon. My eyes welled up with tears. It has been one frustration after another this week and it was only Tuesday. On top of that my paperwork is out of control. My case load is growing daily. Is there a limit? How much is one person expected to do? What the hell am I doing? This job, it’s not me. It’s not what I want to do with my life. I slammed my computer shut, changed into my running clothes and drove to Skinner Mountain. I had to pick up Carlos in an hour, but it was just enough time to get there, run up and down. I stood at the top of the mountain looking down. I felt small and so did my problems from that vantage point. Sure in the grand scheme of things I have it great. I do and I am grateful for all the goodness in my life. As I tore down the mountain at a rapid speed my thoughts turned over as quickly as my feet. I’m destined for something more, I’m sure of it, but what and how do I get there? I have so many more questions than I have answers.

Right now I work as a nurse case manager for the senior care options of a large insurance company. My case load is currently at 98 members and only going up. All of my members are senior citizens, a population I adore working with. I see them at least 2-4 times a year and my job it to assess their need for services, safety concerns as well as assist in coordinating their often complex medical care. I do not assess vital signs or participate in any hands on care. I order shower chairs, canes, incontinence products, etc. I arrange home delivered meals for home bound members. I communicate with primary care physicians to report my concerns about a patient who is confused about how to take their medications. I set up visiting nurse services for a variety of issues. I connect with members after a hospital stay to ensure they have the support required to continue the recovery process.

The reality is the bulk of my work is assessing members who are interested in what is called the PCA or Personal Care Assistant program. If a member requires assist with 2 or more activities of daily living (ADLs) they may qualify for this program. ADLs are essentially personal care – bathing, dressing, grooming, feeding, ambulating, toiling and taking medication. If approved for this service the member may select a family member, relative or friend to be their PCA. That person then receives compensation for the supposed care they provide to the member. In nearly every case of a member requiring assist with ADLs they also require assist with IADLs or Instrumental Activities of Daily Living. These are things such as cleaning, cooking and laundry. It is assumed that the PCA will also assist with those needs as well.

In my experience the PCA are almost never fulfilling their role and responsibilities. I don’t manage the program. Outside agencies provide support for billing and training. The program operates more like an employment agency for patients to employ an out of work family member or friend. More often than not the member is not receiving the extra care they require, but the PCA is receiving a paycheck. It’s maddening.

What qualifies a person as in need of assist with 2 or more ADLs are symptoms such as pain, shortness of breath on exertion, unsteady gait, balance impairment and dizziness, all of which put the patient at a high risk for falls or induce fatigue. It’s a slippery slope. People know these programs exist. They know what to say to get into the programs. A member in need of assist with 2 or more ADLs yields more money for my company, a considerable amount. How I word my assessments can demonstrate a member’s need for services. This is what I hate most about my job.

Then why do it? I won’t do it forever. I will do it for a little while because I need to work and right now it is my job. There is another side to the job that I love. On Friday I received a call from a very sweet 89 year old member. At my last home visit with her she asked if I could get her a hospital bedside table for her bedroom. I told her truthfully I wasn’t sure if that was possible, but I would look into it. There are so many details of this job and you can’t possibly know everything. I have an amazing group of colleagues that I am able to tap into for absolutely any question that comes up. So I reached out and was given information on how to go about ordering the hospital bedside table. When I answered the phone last Friday the first words I heard were “I love you Aimee. You’re my angel.” I knew the voice and I knew why she was calling. After nearly 5 weeks she had received her hospital table. It was a simple request yet it will truly make a difference in this woman’s life.

I’m not really an angel, but it is moments like these when I am proud of what I do and grateful to be in a position to help. It is those moments, though far and few between, that make all the frustrations of this job almost worthwhile. I haven’t quite figured out “what I want to be when I grow up,” but I know for sure insurance nurse is not it. However, I will use the opportunity I have been given (and yes it is an opportunity) to learn, grow and move in a direction that is more suitable for me. I was taught you never leave a job until you have another and when you commit to something you give it your all. That is what I will continue to do for now.

I really envy people who are doing something that they are passionate about and I am genuinely curious to know how they pursued their dreams. Work has always been an obligation for me, a paycheck if you will. I am an incredibly hard working dedicated employee and I give every job 110%. I want to feel excited and energized by my work. I want to do something that moves others as much as it moves me. I want to give back. I want to feel alive in every aspect of my life.

Are you pursuing your dreams? Are you doing a job you love? What is it and how did you get there?