Run Streak Day 76: The Day I Was Harassed by a Group of Teenage Boys

Running and sexual harassment.

I’m on day 78 of my run streak. I’ve been running semi-regularly since college. In all that time, I’ve never experienced any harassment (while running) as awful as what I experienced the other day.

The weather on Sunday was warm, so rather than just doing a mile, I figured I’d take advantage of the warmer temps and do a 5k instead. I think my neighborhood is relatively safe. I run by myself regularly at almost any time but late at night. I don’t carry mace, mostly because I don’t want another thing taking up space in my pockets. That, and I’m also (probably) unnecessarily worried I’ll accidentally mace myself. All I carry with me on my runs are my phone and keys.

I used to run with my oldest dog, Copper, but her constant stops and starts for potty breaks made it harder, and she’s not great on longer distances. Plus, when we got our puppy, Penny, I didn’t feel like it was fair to take one and not the other (and you’re not supposed to run with dogs until they’re a year old or so). I did always feel a little safer having Copper with me, though, despite not being that intimidating.

On Sunday, about halfway through my run, I saw a group of teenage boys up ahead. I slowed my pace down and tried to count them. I counted at least 7, but there were probably 10 or more. A couple of them were bouncing basketballs, so I hoped they were going to the nearby school to play basketball.

I was hoping that by slowing down they’d eventually turn toward the school and I could keep going. But they kept stopping and starting again, so I had to make a decision: Either run through them, or cross the street and try to run past them. I crossed the street.

I didn’t pick up my pace enough, though, so we reached the next intersection at the same time. Rather than them continuing straight or turning right toward the school, they turned left—toward me. I tried to run past them, but ended up running through them anyway.

As I did, they started murmuring comments, most of which I didn’t hear. I heard two distinct comments, though, as I ran past. One was “Damn, mama.” The other: “Let me eat that pussy.” I kept going, pretending I didn’t hear them. When I was sure none of them had followed me and they had moved on, I stopped. I cried.

A million thoughts raced through my mind. Those were teenage boys. The oldest in the group couldn’t have been more than 15. Some looked as young as 10. And those are the things they thought were appropriate to yell out to a woman running down the street.

I was angry. Frustrated. Embarrassed and ashamed, even. There I was, middle of the day on a Sunday, just trying to get my run in and push myself to run farther than normal. I wasn’t wearing anything revealing. My outfit consisted of capris and a t-shirt. I did nothing to provoke them (unless they were upset that I crossed the street to try to avoid them).

This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced harassment on a run. I’ve been honked at and stared at. I’ve occasionally had guys yells things at me, usually from a car as they drove by. But I’ve never experienced anything as bad as this.

I struggled to finish my run after that. I was fighting back tears and trying my hardest to breathe. I had to walk a couple more times after that. I finished the run about a minute faster than the pace of my last 5k. I should have been proud of that PR. Instead, I was angry that I was forced to stop at all. How much faster could I have finished if that hadn’t happened? Instead of being excited about my improved pace, I was angry they kept me from doing better.

Of course, the anger, coupled with the shame and embarrassment, was followed by blame and thoughts of “What could I have done differently?” I could carry mace, but that wouldn’t do any good with a group that size. My dog may have been a better deterrent in this case, but even that’s questionable.

Regardless, none of them touched me, or made any attempt to (as far as I know). Macing someone for making comments as they pass by is probably an overreaction.

Two days later, I still feel uneasy. I’m still trying to figure out what I can do to keep myself safe when running by myself. At the same time, I’m entirely frustrated that these are things I have to think about at all.

Why should I need to carry mace or run with an 80-pound dog? Why are women forced to constantly find ways to protect themselves from predatory men (and boys)? Why are we not teaching our sons that harassment is not okay?

Instead, female runners (and women in general), have to think:

Is this area safe enough for me to run alone? 

Is this area well-lit enough for early morning or late evening runs? 

Is my phone fully charged in case I need to call someone in an emergency? 

Should I skip the music for this run so I am 100% aware of my surroundings? 

Will I have enough energy to fight back or run away if I’m attacked half-way through my run? 

Do I have anything I can use as a weapon if necessary (i.e. keys, mace, etc.)?

These are just a few of the things women have to think about every time they go out for a run. Men rarely (if ever) worry about these things when they run (or go out drinking with friends, or go shopping late in the evening).

I could write about this topic for days, but I’ll leave you with a couple questions:

What safety precautions do you take when you go out for a run? Do you carry mace? What would you have done in my situation? 

If you have sons (or little brothers or nephews or cousins, etc.), do you intend to teach them what harassment is and that it’s not okay? Will you also teach them how to recognize harassment and stop others from doing it? 

Race to the Shrine 5K Recap & Other Updates

Find out if I PR’d in my most recent race and what I found out about my shoulder.

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Another race, another medal.

I ran my first race of the year on Saturday! The weather was perfect and the course was hilly.

After 60+ days of running, I expected to do a little better than I did. I was disappointed in my pace and overall time. My official race time was 36:57 with a pace of 11:54.

Despite being disappointed in my time/pace, I was proud that I only stopped to walk twice, and that was at two of the water stations. Aside from that, I kept on running—something I don’t think I’ve ever done before.

Although I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, I know why. I haven’t been pushing myself lately. Part of that is from pure exhaustion (4:30 a.m. wakeup calls from a 5-month-old puppy are ruff rough). But it’s also because I’ve been kinda lazy. I haven’t wanted to put in the work.

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Penny, Copper, & Me. They suck at selfies.

I haven’t pushed myself much to improve my speed. And I haven’t been taking the time on weekends to run longer distances. Finding the time to get enough sleep and run more than a mile has been really difficult lately.

That’s all changing as we speak, though. You see, I quit my job yesterday (for reasons I won’t discuss here). So until I find another job, I’m back to freelancing, which is definitely not the worst thing.

Basically, now I get to make my own schedule again. So if I want to go run a 5K in the middle of the week instead of on the weekend, I can. While this certainly isn’t how I wanted things to happen, I’m going to make the best of it.

It will give me the opportunity to find the perfect job, while also prioritizing my health and my goals.

Speaking of health, I got the results back from my MRI on my shoulder. Fortunately (I think), there was nothing visibly wrong with it. My doctor said it’s possible there’s a microscopic tear the MRI didn’t pick up, but the only way to find out is through surgery.

She recommended I continue taking anti-inflammatory meds and doing strengthening exercises and that we only consider surgery if it continues to not improve, or gets worse.

Obviously, something like surgery is out of the question anyway since I quit my job, but I wasn’t really considering surgery to begin with. I’m frustrated that I have no real solution for my pain, but I’m also relieved it doesn’t require surgery (at least not yet).

So there you have it. No race PR (unless you count not stopping to walk as a PR), no job, and no solutions for my shoulder.

It all sounds rather negative. And just a few short months ago, all this probably would have been devastating to me. Right now, though, I feel like I’m in a really good place. I’m only looking at the positives of all this.

Not getting a PR means I can improve before my next race (Turkey Trot). Quitting my job means I’m creating space in my life for a much better opportunity, whatever that may be. And having a negative MRI means I can heal my shoulder on my own, without painful and expensive surgery.

What’s going on in your world this week? Any recent PRs? How do you handle negative issues and tough situations?

 

Shoulder Woes

A non-update/rant about my injured shoulder.

I thought I’d have semi-good news to report, but I don’t. In fact, I almost deleted this post altogether, assuming I’d have some news. So far, I don’t know anything new.

To recap, my shoulder has been hurting since February. I suspect it at least started as an overuse injury.

I went into the New Year at full speed, doing both strength training and yoga every day. By February, I couldn’t do basic yoga poses without feeling some pain in my right shoulder.

The pain has has never been excruciating—more like an annoyance on most days—so I kept putting off going to the doctor thinking it would eventually go away. It didn’t, so I finally went to my primary care doctor.

To start, they did a basic exam and then put me on anti-inflammatory meds. I had terrible insurance at the time, so I put off getting x-rays. Eventually, after getting new insurance through my current job and still having pain, I went for x-rays.

My doctor said I had a bone spur and wanted me to do physical therapy. Well, after about 5 sessions of that, my shoulder was feeling the same, if not worse. So they sent me to an orthopedist.

The orthopedist did more x-rays. After looking at the x-rays, discussing my symptoms, and looking at my range of motion, she said it’s likely that I tore something. But since I’m only 28 and otherwise healthy and active, she wanted to take a more conservative treatment approach.

So she gave me a cortisone shot in the office (and holy hell was I in pain the rest of the day) and told me she wanted me to try another 4-6 weeks of physical therapy now that we had a better idea of what’s wrong.

A couple hours after I scheduled my first PT session, they called me back to let me know my insurance wouldn’t cover more sessions since I haven’t met my deductible. This meant it would cost me $130 per visit. That’s a whole lot of money in just a month’s time.

I canceled the appointment and called my doctor’s office to see if there was another option. Instead of PT, she decided to go straight for an MRI (an arthrogram—meaning they use contrast dye—to be specific) to determine exactly what’s torn and where.

My MRI was originally scheduled for today after work. They called me yesterday to confirm the appointment, and then called back a couple hours later saying they needed to reschedule. Apparently when they made the first appointment, they didn’t pay attention to the fact that my doctor wanted an arthrogram.

I could have rescheduled for Thursday, but I’m flying to Georgia that day, so I had to push it to the week after I get back. So my appointment is a week from today. A week more of pain and a week more of wondering whether or not I’ll need surgery to fix whatever’s wrong.

Really, I’m just bummed. I’ve been dealing with this since February, which is frustrating. I’ve spent more than half the year injured and in pain. Sure, part of that is my fault for not getting it checked out sooner, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

How do you stay positive when injuries or other ailments are causing you pain and keeping you from being as active as you’d like?

 

 

2017 Goals Check In

A look back at my 2017 goals and how I’m doing.

Way back at the beginning of the year, I set 12 attainable goals. Or so I thought. I didn’t do a mid-year check-in, so now that Fall is here, I thought I’d take a look back to see how I’m doing on those goals. (Spoiler: Not great.)

  1. Strength training. This was the first goal on my list. At the time I set this goal, I had been participating in the Harder to Kill program with Steph Gaudreau of Stupid Easy Paleo. I was lifting weights and doing functional movements and felt strong and wanted to get stronger. Then I hurt my shoulder. I’ll be honest, I tried to lift weights anyway—more than once. Eventually, I finally realized I wasn’t going to get better if I kept doing that. Here I am months later, still with no definitive answer as to what’s wrong (I’ll do a separate post about my shoulder later). So this goal is (and has been) on hold for a while.
  2. Yoga. My second goal was to do more yoga. During the month of January, I was doing a 30 day yoga challenge. It was a great way to start the year, but I suspect that may have either caused or contributed to my shoulder injury. Again, I tried to keep pushing through it, but eventually had to just give it up. I can’t wait for the day I can start doing yoga again. It’s such a great way for me to de-stress, plus it’s great cross-training, too. Some day, my mat and I will be reunited.
  3. Travel. This one has actually been a bit of a success. We went to Pensacola back in April for our first real vacation since our honeymoon. I also went to visit my husband in Carmel, IN while he’s been out of town for work. Most recently, we went to Kansas City, MO for the Chiefs home opener. And in a few short weeks I’ll be jetting off to Savannah, GA to visit my best friend for a few days! We may try to squeeze in another weekend getaway or two in later this year, too!
  4. Write. I’m a writer, so you’d think this is an unnecessary goal. But I spend so much of my time writing for other people (clients/bosses) that it’s hard to find the time, energy, and inspiration to write for myself. Over the summer, when I was really struggling with depression and low energy levels, I did almost no writing. Now that I’m finally starting to feel “normal” again, most of my writing has been here on the blog. Which I’m totally okay with. I love writing about running and exercise/nutrition in general, and writing about these topics means I’m also constantly learning.
  5. Read. I set a goal to read one book a month. Totally doable, right? Wrong. I’m not sure how many books I’ve read so far this year, but it’s been nowhere near that many.
  6. Business plan. This one has been on hold. I can’t settle on exactly what I want to do and how. And I need to figure that out before I can make an actual business plan. So maybe I’ll make some progress on this later this year. Or maybe next year. We’ll see.
  7. Volunteer. Unfortunately, I can’t think of anything I’ve volunteered for this year. Once I gave up freelancing and went back to a regular full-time job, it got much harder to make time for stuff like this (and exercise, too). I have pinpointed a few organizations that I would like to volunteer with in the future, so that’s a start at least.
  8. Sustainability. At some point last year we started using cloth napkins and really cut down on our use of disposable items like paper plates, plastic utensils, etc. Since then I’ve been trying to find other ways to reduce the amount of waste we create. My progress was pretty minimal until I discovered the magic of Norwex. Their microfiber cloths allow you to clean using just water. This eliminates the need for extremely wasteful things like Clorox wipes (which I used all the time), Swiffer pads, and more. I also love their makeup remover cloths, which are reusable and remove my makeup with just water. So I eliminate the waste of makeup remover wipes/cotton squares and save money! The company itself is also working really hard to reduce waste from plastic, so I feel good about purchasing their products. (Note: I am officially a Norwex consultant now because I really do love and believe in the products, but I’m not here to sell you stuff.)
  9. Minimalism. Basically, I set a goal to accumulate less stuff. I’ve sort of done okay at this, but there’s a whole lot I need to purge from our home, too. I have yet to create a capsule wardrobe, but I do have a pretty limited number of clothes I wear to work, so we’ll call that progress. I’ve also been better about saying “no” to things I really don’t need or want.
  10. Marriage. Our first year of marriage was hard. We really put it through the ringer by packing up and moving to Dallas less than 3 months after we got married. For 2017, I really wanted to focus on making our relationship as good as we possibly can. I can’t say 2017 has really been easier on us since my husband has been traveling so much for work. But we are taking steps to make sure we’re in a good place. I think this is a goal that’s always going to be a work in progress, and that’s okay.
  11. Social media. My goal was to spend less time on social media. I did take a hiatus earlier in the year, which was pretty great, honestly. But then I got sucked back in. No matter what I try, I can’t seem to find sustainable ways to minimize the amount of time I spend mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. My husband and I are trying to be better about not doing that when we’re together so that we’re actually spending quality time with each other rather than our phones.
  12. Outside. My final goal was simply to spend more time outside this year. I’m not sure I did too well with this the first 3/4 of the year. Since I started running again, though, I’m spending much more time outside. I’m also making a conscious effort to get outside once an hour to take a break from work, stretch, and soak up some vitamin D. We’ll see how long that lasts once winter sets in.

Running was not a goal I had for this year, but all the progress I’ve made has me really excited. You can bet you’ll see some running-related goals on next year’s list!

Did you set any goals for 2017? Are you making any progress? Did you achieve any? Let me know!

30 Thoughts I Had While Running for 30 Days

What it’s like to run at least a mile every day for 30 days.

My run streak is alive and well! I hit a milestone this past Monday—30 straight days of running at least 1 mile per day. Below are some of the thoughts I had along the way (in no particular order):

  1. This is hard, I can’t breathe, my legs hurt, I’m dying.
  2. It’s only a mile.
  3. I hate getting up early…but check out that gorgeous sunrise. #blessed
  4. That run was awesome—decent pace and I didn’t die!
  5. My pace is improving. I’m still as slow as a turtle, but small improvements are still worth celebrating.
  6. Holy cow I just PR’d with an 8.25 pace! Is that even right? It doesn’t seem right. If I post about this, will I have to keep running that fast?
  7. Early mornings aren’t so bad, I guess.
  8. I’m starving.
  9. Why does my foot/knee/calf/whatever hurt today?
  10. See #1.
  11. I should probably change up my route/distance.
  12. Maybe I’ll try intervals.
  13. Why is my neighborhood so hilly?!
  14. I shouldn’t drink/eat this; I have to run in the morning. *eats/drinks whatever it was and regrets it the next day*
  15. I want to run that race. Oops, missed the registration. Maybe I’ll run these 5ks instead. I’ll sign up later. *still has not registered*
  16. I totally want to run a half marathon next year.
  17. How am I going to run a half marathon when I can barely survive a mile?!
  18. A marathon sounds cool, but having to stop for bathroom breaks in the middle of a run sounds terrible.
  19. I really need another sports bra.
  20. Why are my shoes falling apart after less than 200 miles?! *procrastinates shoe shopping*
  21. I should by new shorts/capris since mine all have holes. Thanks chub rub.
  22. It’ll be cold soon, I don’t need new shorts/capris.
  23. What the hell am I supposed to look at while I’m on the treadmill? Also, don’t fall, don’t fall, don’t fall.
  24. I wish I had more time to run in the mornings before work so I could go to parks and such.
  25. Why don’t I go run in a park this weekend? *is too lazy to drive somewhere to run*
  26. It would save me so much time if I could just wear my running clothes all day.
  27. This post-run hair is a frizzy mess. *shrugs and goes to work anyway*
  28. See #1.
  29. How do people run at a “conversational” pace? If I go slow enough to talk, I’m walking.
  30. Woah. I ran every day for 30 days! This feels awesome!

At the time of this post, I’ve extended the run streak to 33 days, and I plan to keep going for as long as my body will let me. And I’m looking forward to the day when I can carry on a conversation while running, or when a mile is just my warmup for a longer run or another workout.

How many of you have had similar thoughts while running—or doing any other type of exercise? Let me know in the comments!

3 Reasons I Didn’t Do the September Whole30

Why didn’t I do the September Whole30? Here’s why.

If you know me or have been following my blog for a while, you know I’m a big fan of the Whole30. I’ve done at least 5 rounds in the last few years and will probably do more. And I always recommend it to others who either want a better relationship with food or who are trying to learn more about how specific foods affect them.

A couple times a year, usually in January and September (September is the new January), there’s a massive group Whole30. It’s great for people who aren’t ready to go it alone, as they share tons of resources and support, and there’s literally thousands (or more) of others doing it with you.

I briefly considered doing the September Whole30 this year, but decided not to for several reasons:

  1. Until recently, I’ve really struggled with my energy levels. While eating Whole30 would certainly help boost my energy, I was worried all the planning and preparation that goes into it would zap any energy I did have.
  2. I wanted to focus more on the things I know I’m sensitive to already without limiting too much else. That meant avoiding dairy, eggs, and gluten, but being free to eat things like rice or corn tortillas (because tacos are basically a food group in our house).
  3. I also wanted to be able to eat at places like Chipotle when I was too tired to cook (the only compliant meat they offer is the pork, which I’m allergic to). Not doing a Whole30 also means I can have store-bought, egg-free mayo because I haven’t found a homemade recipe I like (I buy Just Mayo—it has sugar in it, so it’s not compliant).

After a tough summer struggling with depression, low energy, and almost no exercise, I wanted to focus more on the baby steps: exercising, eating mostly healthy, and doing as little meal prep as possible so I have plenty of time to actually rest and recharge.

I imagine I’ll do another round of Whole30 later this year or early next year when I’m ready for another reset.

Have you ever done (or thought about doing) a Whole30? Did you do the September Whole30?

Tips for Healthy Living

A couple tips for living a healthy lifestyle.

A few weeks ago, I was introduced to Elysium Health. Since I’d never heard of the company, I did some digging. What I found is that they’re a health/wellness company that focuses on cellular health (sounds cool, right?). In my research, I found they have a scientific advisory board comprised of 7 Nobel Laureates, which definitely got my attention.

I was excited to see Elysium included one of my own tips for healthy living in their graphic, along with tips from 3 others. The final graphic, which I’ve included below, turned out great, and includes some great tips on healthy living–both from Elysium and the other bloggers.

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You can learn more about their supplement for cellular health here. (Please note I have not used this supplement, nor am I endorsing the use of any supplements–always talk with your doctor before taking any new supplements.)

As you can see in the graphic, one of my tips is to find an exercise you love and a time of day that works best for you. Yes, variety is good, but sometimes (especially when you’re getting started), just finding something you enjoy is a great way to start. For me, I love running and yoga, and I really like to start my day with exercise. I’ve been running every morning for 22 days in a row now because yoga is off the table (seeing an orthopedist for my shoulder soon).

Here are my 2 other tips for healthy living:

  1. Stay active throughout the day. We’re more sedentary than ever, so staying active is a true challenge. As a writer, I’m glued to my desk and computer all day long. Making a conscious effort to get up and move is crucial. I use my FitBit to give me a reminder to move every hour and I get up and take a quick walk around the office parking lot. It gives me time to stretch my legs and gives my mind a break (especially helpful for combating writer’s block).
  2. Make mindful decisions about your nutrition. You should never follow a diet just because that’s what everyone else is doing. You have to find what works for you. I’m still working on this and my diet is always a work in progress. I highly recommend the Whole30, as it’s a great way to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle while also figuring out which foods are affecting you in a negative way.

What tips do you have for leading a healthier lifestyle? Let me know in the comments!