Monday, November 21, 2016

Holly's Blog...WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!

Remember when I casually mentioned in my last blog post in JUNE about foot pain?! Well, it is plantar fasciitis. :( I haven't blogged since I went to Sportsmed and was told this news, "Well, it could be 4 weeks, or years until you are fully over it." :( :( :( I've been dealing with this foot for 6 months, coming on 7 months...

I figured a video would be quicker since I haven't blogged in 5 MONTHS! This school year has been hectic and stressful, it's honestly the most stressful school year that I have had next to my first year of teaching, and when I would have time to blog, I would just get sad and think about my foot...I know, I know, cry me a river...and I need to build a bridge and get over it.

I've been in an off and on running slump (foot pain is no fun) for the past few months, but I can honestly say that my foot is slowly getting better, I am seeing progression (praise God!) but I do have random painful days. I keep telling myself to focus on my accomplishments in the last few months and not the negatives. Like I mentioned in the video, I've dealt with anxiety & depression most of my life, and I know what I need to do when I go through a frustrating time like this. Here are some things that have helped:

*prayer/reading my Bible 
*listening to music
* listening to encouraging and caring people
* writing 
*Bikram Hot Yoga (hey, laugh all you want, but my knees are HEALED thanks to Bikram! Now to fix this foot!)
*volunteering at races 
*spending time with David 
*icing or heating my foot, depending on the pain level
*night splint 
*physical therapy exercises 
*eating ice cream to feel better (no, not every day)
*running/walking at races, and not being hard on myself, but being thankful <3 div="" nbsp="">

My next big race? I signed up for the St Jude Country Music Marathon in April, and I'm fundraising for St. Jude (click here to go to my fundraising page). I know this will help me get out of this slump and get motivated to run longer distances. This isn't for a PR, it's for prove to my own self that I can run 26.2. 

You know what I can't get off my mind? Mountain Mist. I DNF'd this past January, and the stubborn runner in me wants to attempt it in 2017 to get that DNF monkey off my back and out of my mind. Part of me thinks I could train and do it, but the other half is saying to wait because of this foot and to not be stupid. 

I'll blog in December, and I'll let you now what I decide. :-O Until then, have a GREAT Thanksgiving holiday! 

-Holly :) 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Yes, I still run! How are ya? :) Holly's Blog UPDATE!

WHOA. Talk about injuries, aches, and pains! The first three years of running, I did not have any serious injuries whatsoever. Last June, I started my summer being goofy at the lake and straining my MCL (NOT running related, boating/intertube, and then this past January I had IT band injuries in both knees, which was totally running related and my fault (I occasionally still feel the aches & pains of those injuries). I started to think during my Grand Slam Training that I was invincible. ;-) And now, out of nowhere, I don't think it's plantar fasciitis, but my left arch is having sharp pains when I sleep and after a run, but not during it! Go figure!

I PROMISE I'M NOT SAYING THIS TO SCARE YOU OUT OF RUNNING! Like I have already mentioned, I haven't had injuries in years...this is just an unlucky past 12 months for me...haha! When it comes to exercise, running is my first love. Any clumsy, non athletic person (like me) can run, all it takes is practice, consistency, and determination.  I have been making my running comeback since Mid-March when my physical therapist gave me the all clear to go back to running, and I can tell you that I am WAY MORE appreciative of being able to run, run, run! I have been focusing more on the half marathon distance, and I can proudly say due to Dr. Franklin at Sportmed (thank you for your running wisdom & honesty...even when I didn't want to hear it), Nesin Therapy for the weeks & weeks & weeks of help & appointments, and Bikram Hot Yoga Huntsville (I am LOVING their Hot Yoga & Hot Pilates classes; don't knock it until you try it!), I have completed 4 half marathons successfully with VERY little to NO pain! 3 out of the 4 half marathons were pretty hilly too...sorry, I just had to point that out as I dust my shoulders off. ;-) Also, this quote below (that I found in another blog) is PERFECT!

OAK BARREL HALF MARATHON- 2 hours 24 minutes- Thank you Katrina for staying by me the whole time and being cool with me taking walk breaks and stretching my legs & knees. You're not only an amazing mother runner :-P, but an amazing friend! You introduced me to this half marathon/distance running craziness, and like I've told you before, I'm not sure if I should thank you or kick you! ONLY KIDDING! Thank you, of course!

BRIDGESTREET HALF MARATHON- 2 hours 17 minutes- I had the privilege of being apart of Team Anthony with the Ainsley's Angels of America team! I know that I have talked about Ainsley's Angels in previous blogs, but be ready for a new, updated blog about this amazing organization soon! I met my fundraising goal of $1000 (click here) this past June, and I'm still on cloud nine...I'm so appreciative, thankful & happy for each of you that helped me reach this...THANK YOU!  I love this group of people...guardians, runners, riders, seriously, I don't tell ya'll enough....YOU ROCK!

VIOLA VALLEY HALF MARATHON---2 hours 6 minutes 15 seconds...which I almost beat my PR (2:05:45!). Even with the hills & heat...this race went sooooo great for me! I wanted to maintain a 9:30 pace, and I got realllllllly close, despite the hills! Jeanie & I ran together for the entire race, well, until she went FULL BEAST MODE at the end and getting herself a new half marathon Viola Valley of all places!

HILLBILLY HALF MARATHON---2 hours and 12 minutes- This course was a hilly HELL, I'm not going to lie! This race made Oak Barrel & Viola Valley look tame, so I was SUPER STOKED that I was able to stay at a 10 minute pace for this race. The race was super fun though..silly hillbillies, great aid stations, and cool entertainment! Kayla & I drove up to Franklin the night before to get some great food and a good night's rest, and wow, what a great time! Congrats Kayla on Half Marathon #2! I'm happy to have been a part of it!

So...needless to say, the comeback has been a fun one. I've been focusing on the half distance, and enjoying 5ks with Ainsley's Angels, the Panera Pounders group runs throughout the week, and yoga & pilates along the way. Will there for a marathon in my future? Hmmm...stay tuned. :) I'm not really thinking Grand Slam is in the picture, but to train for one marathon instread of 3 ultras/1 marathon seems a lot easier, especially on these runner's knees. :-P

Injuries happen, whether on accident or carelessness, and I'm not going to allow that to bring me down, I don't HAVE to run, I GET to run, and I'm forever thankful for that! :) I'm thankful for the amazing friends that I have met on this running journey, and I've been encouraged by others, runners and nonrunners, as I continue to put one foot in the front of the other. Thank You God for this day and the ability to RUN! Here are a few more pictures from recent races since I haven't updated this blog since early February...yikes!

 Panera Pounders at the McKay Hollow Madness 25k & 12k! 
The Harvest Elementary Running Club at the Cookie Dash 5k! Not all are pictured, but I'm proud of all the 4th & 5th graders! They've worked hard all schoolyear! 
The Ainsley's Angels Northeast Alabama family at Miss Albany's Piggy Tail Princess 7k---WOW! All those SMILES! Be ready for an Ainsley's Angels blog SOON and how you can be a part of the fun! #togetherweshall #smilesateverymile #inclusionALWAYSwins  
Cotton Row 2016---Team Austin
Nucor Super Hero Dash 5k---Team Albany! Yes, we were playing peek-a-boo! :-P 


Go for a run, it might change your life. :)

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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Injured Runner Holly's Update: I'll Be Back...

Don't be like me. Don't be stubborn, hurt yourself, and not be able to run. 

Today is a good day, so I will begin writing this blog. What do I mean by "good day"? By a good day, I mean that I am not super sad that I am not able to run. By super sad, I mean depressed,  but I hate using that word because that's been a struggle for me off and on my entire life. People that haven't fought anxiety/depression don't understand. You hear the words "dramatic" or even "childish" or "crazy", but in reality it's a struggle. You have good days and bad days. On the bad days, you do all that you can to look like you're okay and happy. It's like putting on a happy mask to get through the day. My faith along with an active prayer life is what makes me healthy. I had a doctor years ago tell me one time I should take medicine, so, needless to say, I left that doctor. I wanted to try other healthy & holistic things before popping a pill, and exercise, faith, & caring people in my life have helped me fight that demon called anxiety & depression successfully. Running has been such a huge help with this struggle, and I'm thankful. Running helps clear my head of any negativity before and/or after the day even starts. Running has also helped me surround myself with people that make me better.

I have been putting off posting a blog for a long time. I've been meaning to blog about my running experiences in January, but work has kept me busy, and honestly, when I had time to write, I would just feel sad and I just didn't want to write. Sad about the physical pain that I'm experiencing is MY FAULT. Yep, my fault. This is my first running related injury, and I think it hurts me more emotionally because I know that I know better than to keep trying to run when I am in pain. IT WILL ONLY MAKE IT WORSE.

When you read my December blog post after the Recover From the Holidays 50k, I was so happy and thankful for my race experience: no serious pain, no issues...I felt GREAT during most of the race (near the end, I was tired, but that's normal, right?). The day after the race I felt great other than some tenderness/soreness in both of my knees, but I didn't think anything of it. so a couple of days after the race, I decided to go for a trail run on part of the Mountain Mist 50k course. I told myself to obviously not stress about speed or time and to walk as much as I wanted since I ran a 50k three days before it.

I should have stayed home.

I noticed something wasn't quite right after 6 miles into it. My knees were hurting, REALLY hurting, but not enough to make me not want to run. I found it odd...I never had knee pain like this as a runner, especially in both my knees. So, I slowed down, A LOT, and finally made it back to the car. The pain ended by the time I was home, but I told myself to give myself some lighter running days and some cross training and to not stress too much about it. I told myself it would go away, and I would be just fine before the final race in the Grand Slam series, the Mountain Mist 50k. 

Or so I thought.

I would try to run; I would get pain in both of my knees. Sharp, shooting pain that went down my leg and radiated around both knee caps. Every. Single. Time. I even ran a 9 mile trail race and I ended up in tears. I have to Grand Slam, I told myself, so in panic mode I became. Rock Tape. KT Tape. Compression Tights. Aleve. More Yoga/Stretching. Icing and Elevating. Knee braces. Trail Runs. Pavement Runs. Walk/Run Intervals. I tried it all, and nothing was working. The reality of not Grand Slamming was starting to become real. 

Grand Slam hopefuls before the Mountain Mist 50k.  

So, the week of the Mountain Mist Race, I just felt sick. It's like I knew the inevitable. Yea, nonrunners will tell you things like "it's just a race, just don't go" but then you get angered and/or sad by it, not at them, because they don't understand. Yes, I know it's "just a race", I really do, but in the back of my mind I knew that if I didn't try, I would just be sick about not trying.

So, the sum it up, I showed up on the snowy, icy mountain on Sunday, January 24th . Wow, what a BEAUTIFUL snowy day. As I figured, I was in a lot of pain. I made it to mile 18 and was told I was cut off from the race (I wasn't fast enough to beat the race cut off times). I remember being happy at the time because I was in a lot of pain, and I remember the lady working that race cut off station saying "Wow, you're the happiest person that we saw today that we told that they were done."

 A few of the Panera Pounders before the Mountain Mist 50k race. 

I was honestly positive and happy that day. I wasn't sad because I knew I gave it my all. I went home, iced my knees, and told myself  "You have to stop running and see a doctor."

I did. I think the reality of not running for awhile reallllly set in after the x-rays. It really hit me that I had hurt myself. ME. Not me falling off a jet ski intertube and hurting my knee like last summer. That's different. What made it different this time was my stubborn self put me in this mess by continuing to "try" running for a month and not see a doctor. Not one knee, but BOTH knees in pain.

To sum the doctor's visit up, he told me it's IT band issues in both knees. He told me to start foam rolling and physical therapy. He told me it was overuse, and he told me that I better not run OR walk as exercise for the next six weeks. He even told me it could be longer than six weeks. He is a runner as well, and he said he had the same issue in one of his knees and he said it took him 5 months to fully recover. That terrified me, but I think he knew that he had to be honest with me. I just remembered feeling even sicker then and saying to myself, "Oh God, please, not five months....don't let that be me..."

It's only been two weeks since Mountain Mist, but it's been since January 2nd since I realized I couldn't run. I miss it so much. I miss how I feel after a run. I miss races. I miss posting and leading for the Saturday Morning Bridgestreet Group Runs. I miss not having knee pain when I walk (I have good days and bad days). I really really really miss my friends, my great running pals, that had kept me motivated throughout not only my Grand Slam training, but through my running journey as a whole. There are days that I love going to the yoga studio and to physical therapy, while other days I am just sad or angry about it and just want to cry. 

We runners sure are different when we can't run. I really feel like I learned my lesson through all of this, and honestly, I have no desire to complete a marathon distance until Mountain Mist next year, if I even do that. I think the greatest distance I want to get up to for a while would be half marathons, but I'm not sure when I will be able to get back to that distance with my knees in this state. I just want to be able to run again and not be in pain. I want to run and have fun again. 

No, running is not bad for your knees: running too many miles, you know, like hilly ultramarathons, with not enough breaks is. 

Yea, this isn't one of my peppiest, happiest blogs, but it is what it is! I am thankful that my injuries aren't as bad as they could be, and my doctor makes it sound like that rest is what's going to get me through it along with my physical therapy and just keeping my general fitness up. I hope to be back soon. I wanting my next blog to be about my comeback race, whichever race that might be. I would love to be ready for Oak Barrel, but since I've already transferred three of my half marathon race bibs away due to my bad knees, it's quite possible that I might be missing another race. I will do what my doctor tells me. We shall see.

Until will keep me busy along with physical therapy and everything else. Time will fly, right?

I sure hope so!


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Recover From The Holidays 50k Race Report!

Recover From the Holidays 50k 
December 31st, 2015

I had such a great experience at my third 50k race! I know I owe my success to my running friends, cross training, my fueling during the race, and my NEW trail shoes (compared to the Dizzy 50k in November, I was able to knock off almost 25 minutes off my previous 50k time). My best 50k before this race was a 6:53:53 at the Dizzy 50k in 2014, but now I have a new PR (personal best) of 6:48:15. 

Pre Race Experiences

Weeks coming up to the race, wow, was I busy! The last week of school with the students is always fun, but hectic with party planning, wrapping up the schoolyear's lessons/grades, etc. That week, I didn't really manage my time well when it came to my training, it was on the back burner. Granted, you are on taper a couple of weeks before a long distance race like this, but that doesn't mean to not run at all. I only ran ONCE that week. :(

Then, the following week (the week of Christmas), I got a sinus infection that turned into a middle ear infection, and then the doctor said she was pretty sure she saw my eardrum perforated, but she said my eardrum was so red and swollen, it was hard to tell. I still can't hear well in that ear, and it won't stop ringing. I see a specialist this coming week. So, needless to say, the week following my busy work week, I barely ran any miles. I was in so much pain. My ear throbbed, my head constantly hurt, and it was difficult to sleep. I circuit trained that week and continued to work on my 30 days ab challenge plan, but wow, it was really difficult to run, especially outside, due to the cold.  I started to worry how my third race in the Grand Slam series was going to go if the pain continued. 

Luckily, the race was on a Thursday. That following Sunday, my ear pain was very minimal, but I still couldn't hear from it. I counted my blessings. 

The night before the race, Eric and I went to get our race packets. That day when I thought about the race, I didn't feel worried. I didn't feel stressed. Honestly, it didn't even feel like I was running a race of this magnitude the next day. I usually have some sort of pre race anxiety and/or excitement, but not for this race. I found it confusing & odd that I slept so soundly the night before. The only thing I do remember really being thoughtful about was what I was going to wear; it was supposed to be so cold on race day. I kept going back & forth on wearing capri pants or shorts with the compression socks (the later won). What a girl...only being worried about what I'm going to wear! ;-) 


So, it's race morning, and I am feeling super refreshed after a good night's sleep. All my stuff was out, packed, and ready from the night before, so all I really had to do was change & go. My husband, David, was my chauffeur for the day. His plan was to drop me off at the race and pick me up when I was finished.  I've never been to John Hunt Park, so I was actually excited to run on a course that I wasn't familiar with, even if I have to run that course 10 times to get my 31+ miles! 

Eric, Ashley, and I trying to stay warm before the race! 

This race is race #3 out of the 4 in the Huntsville Grand Slam Challenge. I heard a lot of pros and cons about this race. As a Grand Slammer, I was encouraged to run to finish, not to race, PR, etc because you don't want to hurt yourself before the final and most physically difficult race, the Mountain Mist 50k. I was also told to walk "the hill" every single time, which was a smart move because my knees are still hurting over going up and down that ridiculous hill! I remember going into this race telling myself to pace myself at an easy, doable pace, and just have a good time since I had been sick the week before along with my ear still ringing. 

Grand Slam hopefuls at the Recover From the Holidays 50k

What I loved about this race....

*the race directors and volunteers. These people just stood out with their kindness, encouragement, and help during this race! Every time you had to check in and count your 3 mile race loop, they would cheer you in like you were VIP! How kind and supportive! 
*the food/aid station! They had EVERYTHING! You  also could set up your own aid station area, which I did, and it was helpful! 
*the course. I liked how it didn't stay the same for very long. I kept telling my friends that ran with me that yes, you had hills, but you also had a lot of downhill where you can speed up! Granted, you had to run the same three miles 10 times, but races that are repetitive like this don't bother me. 
*how you constantly saw and ran with other runners during this race. This course was an out and back, so you were able to talk to other runners and help keep your mind off what you were doing. 
*the finisher mugs/glasses. What a unique race award! 


There were about 100 runners in this race. I remember Remy and myself starting together at a comfortable pace. I told myself with this race I wouldn't be counting down the miles, but the loops if anything because I didn't want to get my mind thinking about 31 miles...that will stress you out! "Just ten loops" sounds a lot better haha! I'll be honest, because of how cold it was and how it was still not sinking in that I was running a 50k, the first 4 loops (13 miles) went by really fast. I felt really good and was just moving along...I stuck with Ryan for quite sometime because his pace was just perfect...I was probably TOO close to him...haha! Sorry, Ryan, but THANK YOU! I remember after the 4th loop, I was thinking of my sweet friends Katrina & Denise that I knew would be coming by because they said they would. I remember telling them to come by later, because I assumed at that point that the 3 mile loop would feel pretty redundant and to have someone to talk to me and keep my mind off of the miles would be great. When I finished my 4th loop, I saw Katrina standing at the check in area with the BIGGEST smile on her face! She had her phone out, and of course, since we're running selfie divas, we had to take a picture. :-P 

Katrina and I before running our loops! 

Katrina ran loops 5 and 6 with me (miles 13-18ish with me). I remember looking at my watch and seeing the miles that I accomplished. I had them hidden, or I thought I did, so I am not sure how my Garmin watch settings went back to telling me my miles. It somewhat got to me mentally, and I remember telling myself, "girl, you're halfway finished! You got it!". Katrina was a HUGE help because she kept talking, asking questions, etc. I can tell that she really wanted to be there too, and running with her made it feel like the race started over in my mind and I was on mile was nice! :) When we ran in for me to start loop 7, I remember seeing Denise with the Panera Pounders sign, cheering and smiling as I went in! She asked me if I needed anything, and then we started our loops. I was an idiot and grabbed a Mellow Yellow or Mountain Dew (I thought at the time it was yellow gatorade). I NEVER drink that stuff, so I paid for that in my next two loops. My stomach did NOT agree with the Mountain Dew AT ALL. 

Denise and I after mile 22! 

Denise, please correct me if I am wrong, but you ran loop 7 and 8 with me, correct? Or was it just one?! Yikes! I cannot remember how many loops because you helped the time FLY by! Just like Katrina did, she would talk to me, ask questions, etc. This sweet friend was even complimenting my running form, which meant a lot to me because when I am running, whether it's a race or training, I start to think about my form, how my feet are landing, what my arms are doing, etc because when you get tired, your form slacks and that's how injuries happen. I don't know if she read my mind or not, but she complimented how strong I looked and how great my form was at least three times. ;-) I started to feel fatigue/soreness in my glutes/legs by this point as I ran in for my 9th loop. Denise prayed for me as I was entering in to check in my 8th loop. That's when I saw Troy and he offered to run the 9th loop with me. Troy is A LOT faster than me and I don't usually get to exactly run WITH him a lot, so I remembered feeling like VIP once again...LOL! :-P

I'm all smiles because the Panera Pounders crew! Thank ya'll for being there! 

Troy had one of my tough loops, loop 9. I was at mile 25 at that point, and like I mentioned with Denise's last loop, my glutes/legs were tired (not in pain, but tired), and honestly, I was just tired. I kept my mental checklist going. I told myself, "Holly, you're fine. Your knees are fine. Your legs are fine. Your stomach is fine. You head doesn't hurt. You're fine. Keep moving." Troy kept bringing up conversation, and bless my tired little half deaf heart (I still can't hear in my left ear!), I couldn't hear him sometimes, so I would say "Huh?" a lot. LOL! Still though, Troy kept my mind off what I was doing. It's like he knew when to talk and he knew when to just keep moving quietly so that I would keep moving. As we were entering in the check in area for my last and final loop, he prayed with me, and then he asked if he could run the last loop with me, and I told him no because for one, I was so appreciative of what he already did, and two, I was worried that my attitude would start to sour, so I thought some alone time/prayer time/reflection time would be appropriate for my last loop, and I didn't want him to see me in that exhausted state. It was such a nice surprise for him to have ran with me anyway. 

So, I grab some raisins, peanut butter pretzels, and gatorade, and started eating/drinking that quickly. As I was snarfing this down, I remember Jim coming over and talking to me and saying something like, "Okay, let's go!." Keep in mind, I am tired and on mile 28 and I had one loop to go. I had already told Troy "no thank you" for company on the last loop. I don't know if it was because I was tired, delirious, or what, but it REALLY seemed like Jim REALLY wanted to run with me! I can't remember what I told him at first, whether I told him yes or no, but I do remember telling him that this last loop was going to be ugly and that I was going to walk A LOT, but he didn't seem to mind. Once again, he seemed super pumped about going for a run...well, walk/run...but whatever! 

Jim & I at mile face does NOT show how exhausted I truly was! 

I remember Jim asking me questions and talking to me about the holidays, running stuff, and what not, and that kept my mind off a lot of things. I do remember walking A LOT on this lap, and I remember my knee hurting for the first time on this lap, but I told myself that I was almost done and to keep moving. I was thinking of my invisible rope that I would "tie" on to Jim just to keep moving forward. I remember after walking up the hill the final time that it REALLY hit me that I was completing a 50k and that I was almost done, and I got talkative after that! When we got to the park area for the final time, I remember telling Jim that "even if I walk now, it looks like I will have a new 50k PR" and him saying something like "no, let's not do that"! As I ran in, I remember sooooo much cheering and applause from the racers that already finished, spectators, volunteers, etc. Once again, I felt like VIP all day! 

Grand Slam Race #3 complete. Next and final race: Mountain Mist 50k! 

This was a special race experience for me. I want to once again thank everyone that was there to support me along with the other runners on race day. I know this race went as well as it did because of the company that I had, and I appreciate that so much! I pray that I can pay you back like you did for me today. You made me feel strong and capable when I was feeling tired and weak. Once again, thank you!

I ended 2015 with my third 50k. My goal for 2016 is to complete this Grand Slam. 20 more days until Mountain Mist! Go for a might change your life! 


I am fundraising for Ainsley's Angels of Northeast Alabama! Help me reach my goal! :) January's drawing is for a $25 Fleet Feet gift card! Click here. 

Holly's Race Schedule (Schedule Subject to Change Due to Peer Pressure from friends:-P)
January 16th---Elkmont Half Marathon
January 23rd---Mountain Mist 50k (4th and Final Race in Grand Slam Challenge)
February 6th---Tick Ridge Trek 10k
February 13th---Hug a Cub 5k (Ainsley's Angels Race)
March 12---Piggy Tail Princess 7k (Ainsley's Angels Race)
March 19th---Running the Shoals Half Marathon
April 2nd---Oak Barrel Half Marathon
April 10th---Bridgestreet Half Marathon (Official 2:30 race pacer)
April 30th---Chick-fil-a 10k Race in Decatur, AL (Ainsley's Angels Race)
May 7th---Steeple Chase 8k (Ainsley's Angels Race)
May 21st---Viola Valley Half Marathon