Lessons from the marathon

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When I graduated high school I took a conditioning class at a community college and developed a serious passion for pushing and challenging myself.

I became something I NEVER would have dreamt.

I became a runner.

Not a fast runner, not even really a good runner, but a runner nonetheless.

I lost 50 pounds with out really trying and I became obsessed with my 6 day a week workout routine. For the first time in my life I was a morning person. Very quickly into this transformation I set my eyes on something that, according to statistic brain, would make me part of 0.5 precent of the US population.

The marathon.

Now you have to understand the only sports I played involved minimal running. Softball was my main sport from middle school through high school. I never learned to slide into base, I always thought ‘please let me hit the ball’ when it was my turn, and when I was in the field I always wished the ball to be aimed somewhere else. I swam and played tennis too but was never great.

I was driven by this seemingly impossible goal despite my own belief I couldn’t do it. Actually the need to prove myself and others wrong pushed me even harder.

Even during my training and even after finishing the marathon I corrected everyone who called me a runner.

‘No I am not a runner – I just run’

What is it about this term that this idea exists that there is a threshold either of speed, accomplishment, or enjoyment that needs to be met before you are in fact ‘a runner’?

Crossing the finish line at the Twin Citied Medtronic marathon I knew I accomplished something crazy – I don’t care that it took me the whole allotted time. I was proud and accomplished and I was going to complete 50 marathons by 50 years of age in all 50 states … Except maybe Alaska. Maybe even the iron man in Hawaii.

I signed up for two more marathons immediately – I was hooked after all.

I started to notice a funny thing though – that 99.5% of the population I left behind started discrediting me. I couldn’t be a runner because I walked part of the marathon, my finish didn’t really count because I used the entire allotted time, and let’s be honest, I didn’t look like a runner either.

Standing at the starting line for Grandma’s in Duluth felt different. I wasn’t filled with excitement and adrenaline – I was filled with doubt and uncertainty. I clearly wasn’t a competent runner and my breakfast pre-race of an orange juice and a doughnut surly proved that fact.

I hadn’t trained as well and was dealing with knee pain and plantar fasciitis. So my preserved lack of competency was reinforced when I was in significant pain by mile 5.

I finished the marathon. I crossed the finish line. But I quit running. Without buy in, that prove you wrong motivation wears thin.

Until I started writing I had annex on telling you what a great thing my marathon experiences were. But I started pondering why it has been almost 5 years since I ran and why I planned on never doing another distance event.

Here is what I learned:
– That marathon showed how strong my mind is, my body hurt and told my brain that it was too hard but I kept moving.
– Grandma’s showed me I am a social runner. While I normally am an introvert, the lack of spectators in Duluth really made the marathon a mental battle
– It’s mind blowing what you can accomplish one foot in front of the other.
– I am, in fact, a runner.
– There will always be someone to bring you down, but you have the choice to let them in your head.

So this morning I firmly believed I would never do another marathon – this afternoon I will be searching for my running shoes, lacing them up this weekend, and taking that first step.


Finally some good news


I really thought I would be writing this post saying our family had to say goodbye to Lucy. I was so sure of this fact that I spent the morning yesterday crying and bingeing on video games.

When I got to the vet I didn’t make past the front desk before I started to cry again and by the time the vet tech made it into the room I could hardly talk.

After a quick blood test, I was given good and bad news. The good news is that Lucy is responding to the steroids and is no longer at risk of spontaneous bleeding. The count is still low – between 60 and 70 – so she will be on the meds for sometime, but we are closer to 200 than we were.

Turns out all the reasons I was so sure Lucy would be put down were just side effects to the prednisone. The panting is annoying and peeing in the house is not going to work so well – but we can get her outside more to avoid peeing in the house and we can deal with the almost constant panting.

We still aren’t positive what caused this and as a result will have to keep an eye on her. Even after we reach normal levels and complete treatment two weeks later (expected to be about 4 months) she could have another episode requiring higher doses of prednisone. Fingers crossed this is a one time thing.

While this is good news it does not rule out cancer completely. She needs to be checked again in 3 weeks to be sure the prednisone is still working. If she does not have improvement at that time the vet would be suspecting stomach cancer. For now we are keeping her on the restricted wet food diet, crossing all available fingers and toes, and making sure she gets her meds.

One more sleepless night

I am finding it hard to sleep despite my early wake up the previous morning. Lucy has a follow up tomorrow with the vet and I just keep thinking the worst. I akeep listening to her breathing as she lies next to my side of the bed, hoping tonight isn’t the last night our room is filled with that sound. Fingers crossed.

Groceries July 28


So the grocery budget got a little out of control today … but it’s okay because I have been under budget recently.  The beauty of good budgeting and planning ahead!

Some of the meals you will see this week are repeats of last week due to leftovers and such.  Our dog has been sick and it has caused a little extra stress and distraction.  We needed to have someone sit with her while I went to the grocery store today while my husband worked and I needed to load up on a few goodies my brother could eat while he watches her tomorrow while my husband and I work.

If you are paying attention to the calories I include in the list note two things 1 – these are approximations and 2 – I will add treats like a coffee or an extra amount of something here and there to ensure I meet at least 1200 calories per day.  Here is the meal plan.

Today I spent $35.75 at Aldi and got:

  • Bread
  • Almond milk
  • 3 pizzas
  • Eggs
  • Watermelon
  • Grapes
  • Vanilla yogurt
  • Canned pears and mandrain oranges
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 bell peppers
  • Diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 2 cans kidney beans
  • 2 cans chili beans
  • Peanut butter
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Cooking spray
  • Biscuits
  • 1 bag of chips

The chips, pizzas, and watermelon were in large part to have food my brother could snack on tomorrow.

Target was a $34.15 trip.  They had a coupon for $5 off a $20 or more meat purchase and pasta sauce and tomato sauces were both on sale and on a cartwheel deal.  As a result of these two things I stocked up and did a future purchase for meat.  I used my surplus budget from previous shopping trips to fund the stock up and I will get at least one or two freezer meals out of this week. Had I used both the gift cards I had from Target (one for a purchase and one by using shop kicks) I would have been at $24.15 for this trip and still had $0.10 in my surplus for future shopping trips.  At any rate here is what I got from Target:

  • Jimmy Dean sausage
  • 4 large cans tomato sauce (2 cans for future use)
  • 4 Jars of pasta sauce (3 for future use)
  • Water-chestnuts
  • Rice noodles
  • Brown rice (will have left overs for future use)
  • 1 lb ground beef (future use)
  • 2 cans hominy beans
  • 1 bag apples
  • 20 oz ground turkey
  • Beef thin top steak
  • Diced ham
  • 1/2 gallon 1% milk (again for my brother)
  • String cheese

Many of these are meals from Pinterest.  It has been requested that I share the recipes that I am using.  I won’t be posting all of them but I will be linking to the recipes on interest below.  Throughout the week I will share some of the ‘family’ recipes I use that I grew up with.



This week you can look forward to at least one and maybe two ‘family recipes’.  These are things that my mom made growing up but I modified to my own liking.  The turkey chili recipe will for sure make an appearance this week.

Happy eating.


Lucy Update – Day 3


From the number of questions we continue to get about our furry family member, I thought it would be prudent to provide an additional update.

That’s our little girl giving her do a good morning Lucy hug.  It isn’t the cutest picture we have of them together but it was the picture we took right before bringing Lucy back to the vet.  I think it serves well to show how much A loves the four-legged member of our family – and how much our dog is willing to endure for her littlest person.  

Lucy developed some bright red spots on her skin on her belly.  We noticed them and worried it could be a sign of internal bleeding.  We brought her back to the vet and nothing had changed.  Lucy’s platelet count was at 1,000 which is far below the 200,000 to 500,000 that the vet looks for in a healthy dog.  This isn’t terribly surprising since Friday’s first blood draw was 3,500 and the second blood draw was too low for the machine to read.  The steroid she is on is supposed to help increase that number.  At that point we should be able to determine if she also has an obstruction in her digestive track and/or if the issue is due to a cancer or tic borne disease.  If it is tic borne the remaining month of antibiotics should fix it right up.  It can take 24 to 48 hours before you see the platelet count increase due to the meds.

At the end of that appointment she was sent home again to continue the treatment we had already started.  The vet thinks the spots were already there (or whatever caused them was already there) but they hadn’t made their way to the surface just yet.  Over all no more concern than what there was the day before.

While we really won’t know until the blood draw on Tuesday if Lucy is actually getting better or not, we have noticed that she is doing things she used to but hadn’t been lately.  Again, I thought some of those things had stopped because of her age.  As a reduce dog, our guess of 8 is just a guess and comes with a fairly wide margin of error.  It is encouraging to see that she wants to be where we are in-between her frequent rest breaks in our room and that she is panting a little less heavily these days.  She is in good spirits.

Your continued positive thoughts are appreciated. 

How is Lucy – Day 2

I have had a few people ask since last night how Lucy is doing, I thought an update would be appropriate.  If you didn’t catch the unfortunate day we had yesterday, you can read about it here.

Here is the hard part of this whole thing – she seems fine, maybe a little more withdrawn from the family than normal but mostly fine.  This morning she was following behind as A and I were ‘running’ around the house.  My daughter has way more energy than I know what to do with, when I try to work on something else she turns and looks at me and says “mom, ‘mere” waving me towards her.  Lucy played the follow the leader game for a little while but quickly retreated to the calm and quite of our darkened bedroom. 

I didn’t sleep well last night, I woke up every hour or so and my first thought was to check to make sure the dog was still breathing.  It’s really hard to gauge how serious this is since the vet tried to be optimistic and not raise too much alarm.  At one point I asked her if Lucy did start to bleed if she would die in our house.  Her response was that we would want to bring her immediately to the emergency vet.  The trouble is that if the bleeding is internal we might not know, so I asked her if she were to bleed and we didn’t know it immediately, if she would die.  She told me ‘I don’t want to be so blunt but yes’.  

Anyway, day two of meds and watching her closely.  We really won’t have an indication of if treatment is working or not until we get the second blood draw on Tuesday afternoon.  Our dog is really still herself if not just a little more tired/slow moving than normal.  But it is hard to judge if it is the start of old age or related to whatever she has going on.  Because the risk we are most concerned about right now is that he platelets are so low we won’t know if there is improvement without testing or if she bleeds out – so things remaining the status quo are preferred.

I am working on finding a sitter for her on Monday to ensure she doesn’t get into thing she that she shouldn’t be eating – like the throw pillow on my chairs in the living room.  Tuesday I will be staying home to take her to the vet in the afternoon for her follow up blood work and I will be sure to provide an update for those who are interested.

Thanks for the thoughts so many of you are sending our way.  

Man’s best friend – Lucy


Yesterday I came home to yet another accident in the house curtesy of our beloved 4 leg friend.  Of course my first reaction was irritation – who wants to clean that crap up after having been at work all day and running various errands and having to wrangle an almost 2 year old?  

As I was cleaning up her mess, I noticed that there was some blood in her stool.  That signaled it was probably time to take her into the vet.  Unfortunately we still don’t have a clear cut idea of what is wrong with our furry family member but we do know that she has an almost non-exisitant platelet count and there is an unidentified obstruction somewhere in her stomach.

For the next several days she will be ‘in a bubble’ and getting 5 meds a day between 2 and 3 times daily, on a special bland diet, and at serious risk for bleeding out.  The vet wanted to send her to the emergency care clinic for the night … and maybe it would have been safer for her … but knowing that she could still bleed out there and would have spent all day today and all night tonight being with strangers and being poked with needles AND it would have cost $1,500, it just didn’t sound like a good idea. 

The suspects at this time are either a tic borne disease or cancer.  If it is tic borne she needs a month of antibiotics.  We had to do this treatment when we first brought her home but the antibiotic was $9 for 1 month.  Today the price has changed as drugs tend to do and we are paying about $400 for a 1 month supply.  Since we don’t know it will work and we don’t know that she will make it through to her follow up on Tuesday we only purchased 1 week.  How odd to buy drugs planning for end of life being near.

Our dog is on 2 antibiotics, a steroid (which should help the platelet count increase), and a drug to coat her tummy and reduce any upset from the meds.  I know logically the money is crazy money but she is truly part of our family.  Our daughter loves her puppy companion and our house is just not the same when she is gone for a day let alone the rest of our lives.  Clearly it is inevitable at some point – but today will never seem like a good day. 

She was so excited when we picked her up and brought her home and she is following our little girl everywhere.  It’s hard to remember that one small bump on her leg could cause her to bleed out.  Tonight our family will huddle up on the floor together, watch a movie, and hope that the life lesson our daughter will inevitably learn from our dog about life and death will hold off for another day.