Monday, June 25, 2012

running = my sanity. literally

this is the story of how i came to love and appreciate running.  yes that's right, I, Britain Earl said, "i LOVE running."

running has been a part of my cardio routine on and off for the since  i started having a "cardio routine."  it started with Ali cajoling me into a run when the wait at the Rec Cen was too long.  these runs usually took the form of run/walks mostly due to my crying and begging to stop.  these were also the days of the "low fat/no fat diets" where as long as something was low in fat, it was totally healthy.  so, our "runs" were usually followed up with a non-fat frozen yogurt shake to drink whilst watching the latest episode of 90210, the Brenda and Dylan one!  

after college, i found myself running on the treadmill for 30 minutes if i had missed a class at the gym or all the elliptical machines were taken.  are you sensing a theme here?  in short, running was my cardio fall back position.  

fast forward to 2007, i'm living in Verrado, no 24 hour fitness within a reasonable distance, and just had my second baby.  i turned to running once more.  you may remember my first 5k.  i trained, i met my goals.  running helped me shed some of my unwanted baby weight.  during the summer, i mixed it up with my first triathlon.  this was primarily a way for me to temper the running with other exercises i didn't hate as much, namely swimming and biking.  

i spent 2008-2011 largely avoiding running.   but baby number 4 catapulted me into a whole new weight class.  i found myself 4 months postpartum and about 20 pounds heavier than with any of the girls.  i needed a goal, one that allowed me the flexibility of not going to the gym, since Colin was still too young.  

that's where Ragnar came in!  i set my sights on the race and started the training.  it was a slow, gentle, reintroduction to running.  just 15 minutes, 3 times a week.  i knew i could do that!  ever so slowly, the mileage increased and 7 months later I ran 3 legs totaling over 14 miles!  this was a major accomplishment, but i still had lingering feelings of hatred toward running.  

i didn't give up, i soldiered on, still cranking out 3-6 miles 3 or 4 times a week.  but i felt my running lacked purpose, so i committed to a training program and focused on improving my time.  goal setting helped a lot.  but the real kicker, the change of heart came by a very unexpected event.  

June 13, while at Girls' Camp, i had a seizure, the third in my lifetime.  this 15 second event changed the way i feel about running!  i had to leave camp, i had to go to the hospital, i had to see a Neurology team, i had to go through a battery of tests i've had twice before.  the good news is, i'm totally healthy!  there is no reason for my seizures.  if there was, it would most likely be a brain tumor and it's not, so that's good.  

the bad news is i am now being treated for seizures.  i'm on a medication that makes me feel lethargic, tongue tied, and a little crazy.  i can't drive for the next 3 months.  at least.  it's the first time i've ever left a hospital feeling worse than when i walked in. 

what does this have to do with running?  the doctor said i was healthy, he said exercise was great for my brain.  when Jason said, "yeah, but she'll go out and run 8 miles!"  the doctor said, "great, that will help you feel better."

at first i couldn't imagine it.  Jason was witness to the drug making me so sleepy i couldn't even finish a sentence.  but 2 days after i was released from the hospital, we went to the gym.  i tested the doctors theory, and started running on the treadmill.  i felt great.  the clouds began to clear.  i had focus i hadn't felt in days.  i ran 6 miles, and the mental clarity lasted several hours.  it was amazingly simple, and simply amazing!

i now LOVE running.  i need it.  i crave it.  it gives me the energy nothing else can.  (ps: no caffine for me anymore either).  and also is the only time i get out of the house on my own now.  but seriously, i can now genuinely appreciate the benefit running is to me.  and i am profoundly grateful that i welcomed it back into my life 9 months ago!  

thanks running!

and thanks baby number four, for making me gain so much weight i thought my only solution was running!


Melody said...

That's crazy about the seizures, Britain! And that medication sounds like no joke either. Ugh. I'm so glad running has turned into a blessing. I'm still at the point where I basically loathe it (and I'm also at the point where running for 60 seconds is a major victory), but I long to get to where you are, where I crave it. I may need a seizure before that happens, though. : (

britty said...

Mel, keep it up. i don't know how or why, but with a little persistence and a moderately good attitude you can actually come to enjoy running! hopefully, you won't need a little medical intervention to get those feelings of love that i am now experiencing:) good luck!