All posts for the month July, 2011

To Escape…Why I Run

Published July 31, 2011 by Jasmine

I abruptly woke up rather early yesterday morning. I had really planned on sleeping in since it was my first day off after working nine days straight. Wasn’t going to happen, I was wide awake at 5:00 a.m. What was even stranger was what I was thinking about…running. I realized that one of the great things about running is that for a short time you can escape, and leave all of your troubles behind. One of the things that I need to escape from is listening to my alcoholic dad.

Yes, for those of you who don’t know I am living at home with my parents. I am living at home for a couple of reasons: 1) I am trying to establish my own law practice, which is proving to be more difficult than I thought. 2) I have massive student loan debt. While trying to establish my practice I am doing contract work, but it is never guaranteed and never consistent.  So until I start getting a steady paycheck I will not be able to move out. When you add my massive student loans into the picture without any steady income it is a recipe for disaster. So I am incredibly grateful that my mom told me that even though she couldn’t help me with school, I could live at home if I needed to. I definitely am not proud that at 32 I am living with my parents, but I am not ashamed of it either. It is what it is. Would I like to be in my own place? Absolutely!

My dad, I will actually call him Jeff since I don’t consider him a dad, has been an alcoholic my entire life. I don’t know what it is like to have a dad or a father figure in my life. I’ve never had one. Jeff and I have never had a relationship, and we never talk. We pretty much don’t even acknowledge each other, unless of course he is bitching about me. Luckily, my mom and I have always been very close, like best friends. Jeff has always been insanely jealous of our relationship. When I tell this to people, they always ask if he is my step-dad…because what dad would be jealous of the relationship his wife and daughter have? I do have two younger brothers and two younger sisters. One brother and one sister also live at home. Out of the five of us siblings, I definitely have the closest relationship with my mom.

Not only is Jeff an alcoholic, who is insanely jealous of my relationship with my mom, he has also been unemployed for two-and-a-half years (this was due in most part to his drinking.) The only thing he has done this entire time he has been out of work is bitch, drink, and expect my mom to spend every night on the couch next to him. Boy does he have another thing coming! What he needs is someone to knock him into reality!

Although he has never been physically abusive with any of us, it doesn’t matter because the emotional/verbal abuse is always there. The bitching about me is never directly to me, but rather to my mom.  However, it is usually when I am home so I hear it. Jeff goes on and on about how many 32 year old “lawyers” are living with their parents, how my mom and I must be lovers since we spend so much time together, how when he was my age he was married with kids, and on and on and on. Although I want to build my own practice, I have been applying for jobs and I can’t even seem to get an interview.  If I had a steady income I would not be here. I don’t know how my mom has put up with it for as long as she has, because it is starting to wear on me. Everyone of my siblings and myself have told my mom numerous times to get a divorce, but she doesn’t believe in divorce unless there is physical abuse. According to her, she lets his words go in one ear and out the other. She is definitely stronger than I am.

As harsh as this may sound, I am waiting for him to drink himself to death. For once, our lives would be peaceful. He almost did it once already. He ended up in the hospital in ICU for several reasons related to drinking. The hospital attorney told him that if he didn’t go to treatment voluntarily they were going to commit him. He wasn’t going to, but eventually decided to go voluntarily. Although he was detoxed from his stay in the hospital, they moved him to a detox facility until they could find a program. They were smart. They knew if they let him go home he would go right back to drinking. That is exactly what he did after he finished treatment. After he left treatment, he was on some sort of six month probationary period.  He had the end date of that marked on the calendar, and the first thing he did that day was go to the liquor store. The liquor has always been more important to him than any single one of us, including my mom. He is damn lucky that she is still around.

I know someone is going to jump to Jeff’s defense and tell me that alcoholism is a disease. I have already heard that, numerous times at family week during his treatment, and I don’t buy it. Cancer is a disease too. I don’t know one cancer patient who doesn’t want to get better, who doesn’t wish for more time with their family, who would refuse radiation or chemotherapy if it would cure the cancer. Alcoholism can be cured, but the alcoholics just seem to refuse treatment time and time again.

Jeff doesn’t want to get better, he loves his liquor too much. In fact, more than his family. He has no friends, he has alienated his mother and brothers. When his mom calls, he won’t talk to her. The few times he has been in the same room with her, he ignores her. He doesn’t go to family functions, including Christmas with his own family. By all definitions he is a loser. He is even mean to his own dog, someone who loves him unconditionally.

If you have never had to deal with an alcoholic, especially one in your own family, count your blessings.

Jeff has never once said he is proud of me for anything. He never came to my college graduation. The only reason he was at my law school graduation was because my mom made him. Never congratulated me on graduating from law school, or passing the bar exam. I really don’t want him anywhere I am because he is an embarrassment to me. I have never brought friends to my house, never brought a guy to my house, and I never will. I am ashamed of him, and never know how he might embarrass me or himself. For instance, one Christmas my sister had her boyfriend over for dinner and Jeff was so drunk he fell down the stairs and could not get up. He is ridiculous and I have had it with him.  I ran my first half-marathon earlier this month, which he knew I was training for.  He must have been too drunk to remember the date, because when my mom and I got home that day he accused us of being at the casino because where else would we have been that early in the morning.

Although Jeff is the alcoholic, it’s always “poor him” and he has had the victim mentality his whole life.  People should feel sorry for him. My mom had breast cancer a little over five years ago. Acting like he was a caring husband he took the maximum FMLA time he could off of work.  Instead of helping my mom around the house, and comforting her he sat downstairs drinking and gambling online. Then he got jealous of all the attention and well wishes my mom was getting, and was pissed off that nobody asked him how he was doing.  Poor baby!

Back to the gambling.  My mom would hide the mouse and keyboard so he couldn’t get online.  Now most of you are probably thinking why didn’t he just go buy new ones? Jeff is lazier than I am.  Plus, he spends most of his day drinking so he isn’t going to go out. One summer when my mom was at her brother’s cabin for the weekend, he wanted a keyboard so he could gamble.  Of course he was drunk as always, he told me I needed to give him my keyboard. I told him no.  Then he told me if I didn’t give it to him, he was going to call the cops and tell them I was trespassing. He never did get the keyboard, and he ended up passed out on the couch.

Of course, all of this is just scratching the surface of what my family’s life has been like. I don’t fault my mom for any of it, although I don’t agree with her decision to stay with him. On many occasions I have told him she is just enabling him.  It’s not just the emotional and verbal abuse that is hard. Seeing the great relationship that others have with their dads, and seeing the dads I am friends with interact with their own young children is hard. I think it is a big factor in why I am still single. I have never had a male in my life that I have had a good relationship with. The only example I have had has been unreliable, untrustworthy, lazy, and has always let us down. They say daughters usually choose someone like their father…I’ll be damned if that happens. I think about when/if I get married who will walk me down the aisle? Certainly not Jeff, I am not even sure if I want him there. I think about whenever I am finally able to move out who will be there for my mom. I’ve always said and believed that at any given moment you are exactly where you are supposed to be. I believe there is a bigger reason I am still living at home…to make sure that nothing ever happens to my mom.

Back to my abrupt wake up and thoughts on running. I so glad that I started running because if even for a short time it is an escape. A way to clear your mind, a way to remind yourself that you are powerful, strong, and that you do have worth.  I know that “running” away from problems won’t make them go away, but it certainly gives you clarity. I am also grateful for my girls, Little Miss and Emma.  I will always be the greatest thing ever to them, and they love me unconditionally.

As I am sure it is quite clear, I have no respect for Jeff. How can you respect someone who doesn’t respect themselves or anyone else for that matter. I am sure some of you are judging me, but unless you’ve dealt with an alcoholic you will never understand.

Have you ever left the house for a mid-day run, and questioned whether you should bring your house key with you because you might be locked out when you get home? I have.

My very existence gets under Jeff’s skin.

God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage. If God brings you to it, He will bring you though it.

I just hope I get through it standing on my own two feet.

This is why I run.



Published July 19, 2011 by Jasmine

It is hard to believe that only two weeks ago I ran a half-marathon. Everything went as good as it could have, including no injuries or hurting whatsoever. I was elated.  I finally knew what a runner’s high felt like, not only could I not wait to run again, I couldn’t wait to do another marathon.

Here we are only two weeks later and I can’t even make it 2.5 miles without pain in my knee, hip, and groin area in my left leg.

Coming out of the marathon, I knew that I was going to take a week off and just rest. So my first run was last Tuesday. It was a short run, a little over two miles, and besides a side stitch about half-way through it seemed to be an okay run. However, later that day and the next morning I was noticing that my knee was feeling a little weird. I just attributed it to the fact that it was my first run after the marathon, and after a week of little to no activity.

The following day I decided to go for another run. It started out great, in fact I ran the entire distance without walking (this is only the second time I have done this!), but had to stop after 2.34 miles because I was in pain. It wasn’t just my knee, but my hip as well. It was the most painful thing I have experienced since I have started running. It took me nearly 17 minutes to limp half a mile back to the car. Going up and down stairs was unbearable that day. I was doing them sideways just to keep from having to bend my knee.  The consensus among my running friends was that it was an IT band issue. I needed to ice it and rest.

So for the next five days I didn’t work out, I iced it, and I rested. This brings us to today. Today was the start of a new half-marathon training plan. What I like about this new plan is that it doesn’t call for running a certain amount of miles each day, but rather for a certain amount of time.  Since I also wanted to work on building a better base, I was going to incorporate the walk/run ratios from the Couch to 5k program for the first nine weeks.  So the plan for today was to run for 30 minutes (I mistakenly thought it was 36 minutes!). I would be running for 60 seconds, and then walking for 90 seconds. Again, everything started out great. Around 29 minutes I could tell it was time to stop, my knee, hip, and groin area were hurting. I knew there was a chance the problem hadn’t fully healed, but I wouldn’t know until I tried running.

At this point I have two choices, continue to run with a possible injury (hopefully just IT band but don’t know for sure), or stop for two to four weeks with the hopes that it heals. I am beginning to fully understand why injuries can be so defeating and frustrating. In my heart of hearts, I know I need to stop running. I can’t afford to get seriously injured because I don’t have insurance. It’s just a hard pill to swallow.  I took a month off back in April, for the same problem with the same leg, so I know I can do it again.  Mind over matter, right?

What is most frustrating to me is that I can’t figure out either what I am doing wrong or what I am not doing that I should be doing that is causing this problem. A couple years ago I met with a chiropractor/personal trainer who observed many different movements to determine my alignment and balance. I am pretty sure that my right side was not properly aligned, my balance was worse on my right side, and my overall strength was less on my right side. Maybe this is still an issue and I am somehow overcompensating with my left side, which in turn is causing these problems. I am thinking another visit with him might be in order.

So now I need a new game plan for the next month. It was suggested that I stick to strength training, and low impact cardio.  My question is what constitutes low impact cardio? I don’t like the eliptical, so that is out. That leaves me with stationary biking, the stairclimber, and plain old walking. What do you think? Are those low impact? In addition to core work and strength training, this will be the perfect time to try yoga and pilates.  As far as the injury goes, my plan is to do daily foam rolling and IT band stretches. If after four weeks of no running, and daily IT band stretches it is not better it will probably be time to see the chiropractor or physical therapist.

Frustrating, very, very frustrating!

Feeling Like a Bum, and I Gained 4 Pounds

Published July 7, 2011 by Jasmine

I can’t believe it’s already been three days since the marathon. I absolutely can’t wait for the next event. I am planning on running the following: Torchlight 5k on July 20th; Urban Wildland Half-Marathon on August 6th; Medtronic Twin Cities 10 Miler (if I am chosen in the lottery) on October 2nd; and the Ortho Monster Dash Half-Marathon on October 29th. So I have a lot of running to do!

Prior to the marathon I had decided I would be taking the week after the marathon off.  No physical activity, it was going to be time for rest and relaxation. Plus, I was going to eat and drink whatever I wanted. I worked hard the last five months and felt like I deserved a week off. In hindsight, there was no way I would have been running anyways as my calves were too tight. Today is the first day I can go down the stairs without wincing in pain. Note to self: make sure I stretch next time and think about buying/trying some compression socks.

The problem with this week of rest is that my final weigh-in for the 90 day Weight Loss Challenge is on Saturday. Other than my two short runs prior to the marathon, and the marathon, I have not worked out in the last two weeks. Nor have I been keeping track of my calories. In fact, I haven’t really tracked my calories for about the last month. This finally caught up with me.  The day before the marathon I weighed myself and I had gained 4.4 pounds.  Disgusting!!  I lost 4.2 pounds running the marathon, but that was all water weight so of course it was back the next day. I haven’t got back on the scale because I know I will be disappointed.

To have gained weight before the final weigh-in really sucks, but it what it is. This isn’t about 90 days for me, it is about the rest of my life. As soon as I get back on track with my running, workouts, and watching my calories on Sunday those four pounds will be gone and my life as a runner will just be beginning.

My life as a runner will only get easier as I continue to lose weight. I am currently about 35-45 pounds above my goal weight. So I can’t imagine how different and hopefully easier running will feel when I finally get to that goal weight.  I had already lost about 40 pounds prior to this marathon (this is from the highest weight I can remember being, about 22 of those pounds I lost since March of this year). I can’t imagine trying to run that marathon carrying two 10 pound weights, or two 20 pound weights! But somehow I was able to carry around that extra weight for most of my adult life.

I came across this quote the other day, and it is so true.

If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon.  – Emil Zatopek

So for any of you who would like to experience something you will never forget, I would love for you to join me in one of the runs I mentioned above. It will be amazing, and it will change you!

13.1: I DID IT!

Published July 4, 2011 by Jasmine

I don’t even know where to start. Ever since I picked up my race stuff Friday morning, all I wanted was the race to start so I could quit being anxious, and now I am sad that it is over. It was the most rewarding and empowering thing I have ever done. I really expected to come out of this feeling defeated and not ever wanting to run again. Just the opposite, I could not feel more proud.  In fact, I am crying as I write this…good tears. I am the type of person who wears my heart on my sleeve, and this weekend leading up to the race has been pretty emotional for me. I teared up nearly every time someone commented on my blog, Facebook, or Twitter.  The support was overwhelming and I feel very fortunate in this regard. My mind was also playing games with me…was I ready for this, should I have run more this last week (the last time I ran was on Thursday), I started remembering  my bad runs, I was worrying about the weather, worrying about what to eat, and hoping I wouldn’t have any digestive issues the morning of the race. I really just tried to stay positive, and at many times tried to forget about the race altogether.

So I guess I will start with yesterday.  I didn’t eat a whole lot as I was afraid of having digestive issues today. Of course, I waited until the last minute to actually try on the clothes I had planned on wearing. Glad I actually did this because I decided not to go with my original choice. I also wrote many of my favorite quotes on my arm, just in case I needed to be reminded of them. I also created my own “name tag” so that people could cheer for me! It was so awesome to hear people cheering your name.  Sometimes it gave me chills, and other times it brought me to tears. Not only did I have my name tag, but I wrote my name in pink lipstick on both of my arms. Amazingly, it stayed on both arms even with all of my sweating.

So after I had every thing ready for this morning, it was time for bed. Only problem…I wasn’t tired! I probably fell asleep between 10:30-11:00.  Sometime, I am guessing probably around 2:00, I got up to use the bathroom.  Guess what? I never fell back asleep. I tried, but my mind was moving a million miles an hour. Finally, when my alarm went off at 3:45 I just got up. I still really wasn’t all that tired. I was happy that my anxiety was finally going to put at ease, the big day had finally arrived.

I didn’t eat anything this morning before I left, and I drank about a cup of water. I hadn’t eaten before any long runs prior to this, and I wasn’t going to start now. My friend Chuck, who was also running his first marathon today, was gracious enough to let me pick him up. (Chuck’s time was amazing! His goal was 2:15.  He finished in 2:11.)  This was a blessing because he knew where we needed to go, and where we needed to park! By the time we parked, and walked to the starting area we had about 30 minutes before the race started. Good thing we were early because there were rather long lines for the porta-potties, and of course, I had to go. Have I mentioned how much I hate porta-potties? They are just nasty! After using the bathroom, I put my hydration pack on, got my iPod ready, took my energy gel, and headed to the starting line. Based on all of my previous runs, I was predicting a three hour finish.  I made sure I was close to the back of the line.  I was amazed at how many people lined up behind me…they must not have realized how slow I was going to go!

While waiting in the starting line, I started my iPod.  The first song that came on was This Is My Now by Jordin Sparks. It was at this point, I nearly started crying before the race had even started.  This was going to be MY now.  I told you I was emotional!  This marathon was a BIG DEAL to me!  It wasn’t just about the running.  It was about having the perseverance and mental strength to stick it out, to go the distance.

I am proud to say that except for three minutes on the steepest hill, I never walked more than I had planned.  I was able to stick to my schedule throughout. I don’t have my “official” time yet, but it’s around 2:58 to 2:59.  For those nearly three hours, I walked a total of 37 minutes. The walk breaks saved me, especially towards the end when I could tell I was getting tired. My longest walk break was six minutes, and about four of those were on the steep hill.

Did I already mention that I am sad that it is over? It was an experience that I can’t put into words. My two biggest fears going into this marathon were 1) that I would want to quit somewhere along the way; and 2) that I would be the last runner and the sweep vehicle would be hot on my heels. I am so proud of myself.  Not one time did I ever think of quitting, it never crossed my mind. I never questioned myself about why I signed up for this, or thinking I am never doing this again. I was shocked and still am! Not only was I not the last runner, but I finished roughly 30 minutes before the last runner. There is nothing wrong with being the last runner, as I have stated before no matter how slow you are, you are still lapping all those at home on their couch. For me, it was just an irrational fear that I had. I thought I was the only slow(er) runner out there. The great thing about the marathon was that I learned that I am not the only one. I watched the last couple runners cross the finish line, and it was a proud moment for me, for them. I could relate to them…we were slow but we finished. As a wise friend told me last night, “how you get to the finish line is of no importance.”

I was lucky to have my mom there with me.  She saw me a little after the first mile, and again at the finish line. I am really glad she was there because this was a big moment for me. All she was hoping for me is that I would finish before three hours. Of course, I didn’t know this until I finished. When I first said I was going to run a marathon at the beginning of this year, I don’t think any of my family believed me. As the card my mom gave me this morning states, “Half of doing it is believing  you can.”

I was so happy to cross the finish line in less than three hours, it wasn’t by much but it was still less. My new Personal Record! Going back a bit, before the race started I was asking about porta-potties on the course. I told them I sweat so much I won’t have to use them, and my time wouldn’t matter because I was going to come in last anyways. Amazingly, one of the volunteers who heard me say this was at the finish line when I crossed. He said, “I remember you.  Before the race you said you were going to come in last, and you didn’t did you!” That made me smile even though I was exhausted and overheated. I was so focused on finding some water, that I almost missed getting my finishing medal.

Although the race started at 6:30, it was still sunny, hot, and humid. My heart rate was elevated before the race even began, partially from being nervous. The weather took it’s toll on my body.  My average heart rate was 179, and my maximum heart rate hit 191. After seeing those numbers, I am amazed that I even finished…throughout the race I was at 92% of my maximum heart rate. The good news out of all of this is that I burned 2,351 calories, and sweated away 4.2 pounds (which will be back I am sure)!

I am so pleased with today, and so incredibly proud of myself. I am definitely stronger than I thought. I can’t wait to be part of this experience again. In fact, I wish I could just rewind time and start it all over. It was as good as it could have been. I didn’t have any issues with my knees or my IT band. I didn’t have any blisters or chafing. I am still alive, and I am still walking! I have a feeling that my calves may be a little tight tomorrow, but other than that I feel great. Tomorrow may be another story!

I waited until the race was finished so I could get some pictures in front of the finishing line. They didn’t turn out that great, but are definitely better than nothing.

A few more victory pictures at home, before I get out of my sweaty, stinky clothes. I couldn’t wait to get in the shower! I managed to spill Powerade on myself at some point! I was gross.

I am so pumped. Today was amazing. I can’t wait to run again. Will I have bad runs, yes, but days like today make it all worth it. This has been am amazing journey. Thank you to all of you who have vicariously taken this journey with me.  I can’t wait to begin the next journey, and hope that you will continue along. Your inspiration, encouragement, and support mean the world.


The Big Day is Almost Here!

Published July 2, 2011 by Jasmine

I can’t believe the big day is almost here. Bright and early Monday morning I will be running/walking my first half-marathon. Right now it is a little surreal.  I am trying not to think about it too much so that I don’t get stressed out about it.

Yesterday I picked up my shirt, race number, and timing chip. We also received a commemorative glass, which I didn’t get a picture of. Do people wear their shirt during the race? I don’t think I will be wearing mine as I would prefer to wear a tank top since it is going to be a hot one.

My friend Chuck, who is also running the race, showed me the hilly part of the course yesterday as well. Now I have done some hill work as my neighborhood where I have done most of my running is not flat terrain. This is also one of the advantages of a treadmill…you can do incline and hill work, which I have also done. The steepest hill is right in the middle of the course, mile 6.5, and it is definitely steeper than any hills I have conquered. Worst case scenario I end up walking the hill, but I think I can do it (coming from me as I sit here resting in the air conditioning!)

My biggest concern right now is something that is out of my control…the weather. For those of you not in MN, the past two days have been brutal. The temperatures have been in the 90’s, but with the humidity/heat index it feels like it is around 107 degrees. Yesterday morning at 6:30 (the time the race starts on Monday) it was already 81 and humid. Monday is projected to be 86 degrees and humid, but not as humid as it has been these past couple days. Any humidity sucks, the thicker the air the harder it is for me to breathe.

I’m a bit anxious, and just a little excited. I kind of wish the race was tomorrow.  For anyone who has had anxiety about something, I’m sure you can agree that the anxiety and waiting is usually worse than the actual event. This run is definitely going to be different than any run I have ever done. All of my runs have been by myself, in my own little world. I learned that there will be neighborhood cheer teams on the course who will be competing for some kind of prize. I think they may also have live music in spots.  Good, bad, or ugly it will definitely be an experience that I will never forget.

I was supposed to do my last run today, but have decided not to. It is already hot outside and I don’t want to come back from a run discouraged or disappointed this close to the marathon. Instead I think I am going to head to the pool and relax.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who has read this blog, commented on the blog, commented on my Facebook posts, or sent me a tweet on Twitter. I want to list everyone but am not going to do so for fear that I will leave someone out. You all know who you are! Your encouragement, advice, and support has been amazing and it is truly appreciated.

For anyone reading this who may be sitting at home on the couch thinking you could never do this, trust me you can! It will take a lot of hard work and dedication, but you can do it. I don’t care how out of shape you think you are, you just take it one day at a time. Our bodies are capable of doing so much more than we give them credit for, we just need to remove the obstacles in our minds. Who cares if you don’t run your first marathon for three or four or five years? As rewarding as that will be, it really isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey that got you there. If you have been my following my journey, you know that I have struggled.  I have had many miserable runs, some to the point I said I wasn’t going to run again. And here I am about to run my first half-marathon on Monday. If you were to talk to anyone who has really known me throughout my life they will tell you that I have never really been an athletic or active person. I have always enjoyed spending my time learning, studying, or reading. For some reason, running a marathon was always something I wanted to do. I don’t know why because I have never in my life been a runner, didn’t know anyone who was a runner, and didn’t know anyone who had run a marathon. Although I won’t be running a full marathon this year, it will happen.

One of the greatest things so far in my journey is all of the people I have encountered, mostly through my blog and other social media, who are also runners. One thing that always intimidated me about running was the feeling that I would never be fast enough. I always thought that “runners” were these elite group of people who would look down on me because I couldn’t keep up with them. What I have since learned is that “runners” are just the opposite, they are very supportive. So I am honored to call myself a runner. If you are like me don’t worry about being too slow, because no matter how slow you are, you are still lapping the people who are sitting at home on the couch!

I think it is fitting that my first marathon will be on Independence Day. This will be my freedom run, freeing me from all the limitations that I have put on myself. This run will be proof positive that I (or you) have the freedom to do anything I want, as long as I am willing to put in the hard work.

Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend!