Catching Up (In a Nutshell)

So, after I wrote that initial “coming back” post I once again got overwhelmed with the idea of trying to catch up on the past two and a half years and put off writing a follow-up. I have a lot I want to write about in terms of what is happening in my life right now, but I also think it’s important to write about everything that has happened leading up to this point. So I decided to write a quick bulleted version now, because some of what I will be sharing won’t make any sense without some background information- if you’re someone who doesn’t know me in real life. Or if you do, it may fill in some holes. Either way, here we go!

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January 2016: My (ex) husband tells me he is unhappy. Things start to go downhill. Kevin is a little over 3 years old and Kyler is 8 months old.

February – March 2016: We formally separate and ex-husband moves out. I wrote this “Life Update” post that was my best attempt to explain what was going on at the time.

April – December 2016: Rode the struggle bus of single parenting, dealt with anxiety/depression/panic attacks/anger, therapy, medication, and a whole lot more. Worked hard to get my house ready to sell because I couldn’t keep up with it or afford it anymore. Finally agreed toward the end of the year to give my boys’ dad more custody mostly because my boys needed it, but also for my own mental health. We now follow a 2-2-3 schedule and have 50/50 custody (more on that later). Started a new school year and begin to get to know a “teacher friend” better, a man I had been working with for the past two years.

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January 2017: I decided 2017 was going to be the year that I followed my heart and took chances and opened myself up to new beginnings. I realized the future I had thought I had figured out for myself was no longer possible, which meant anything could happen and I could decide the direction of my life from there. I finally sold my house and moved into a 2 bedroom apartment with my boys. I started dating the “teacher friend” (Jason). Since we had already known each other for a while things moved quickly. It was both very exciting and very scary.

February – July 2017: I found my happiness again. I still had my fair share of ups and downs, but I was able to handle them much more productively. I fell suddenly and deeply in love ❤ and got to know my new boyfriend’s two children (ages 12 and 16). We had an amazing summer together blending our families and going on adventures. We traveled across the country to Utah and Oregon to visit both of our families who lived out there. It was perfect.

August 2017: We got engaged!

September 2017: Jason moved in with me. He had sold his house the previous year as well and was living in his own apartment 30 miles away. We lived in close quarters for a few months, especially when he had his kids every other weekend. But thankfully our kids are super flexible and awesome so it worked out just fine- and we were able to save money and house hunt in the meantime.

December 2017: Jason and I got married outside in the snow in a small ceremony with just our 4 kids in attendance. We also closed on our home just a few days before the new year.

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January 2018: We moved into our new house!

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February 2018: We were very excited and surprised to find out we were expecting a baby in early October (more on this story later)!

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May 2018: Currently 18 weeks along, still running, wrapping up my 10th year of teaching, and counting down the days until summer break with my family.

I didn’t mention running much in this recap but throughout this time frame I also trained for and ran 4 marathons, burning myself out and ignoring a nagging injury in the process. But it was truly the only thing that helped me manage my life at the time. Running is still a very important and necessary part of my life and I am doing much better now both physically and emotionally. I just have some different goals these days, which I will get into later.

I think part of the reason that I feel more ready to write about the past is that I am in a much better place now and I have better relationships with everyone involved in my extended family circle. I want to be very careful to be respectful toward all of us when I talk about certain things and I wouldn’t have been able to do that a year ago. It’s further complicated by the fact that the person my ex-husband ended up with who is now my kids stepmom is someone we all knew very well. It has taken a tremendous amount of work, sacrifice, humility, tears, forgiveness, communication, and ability to see the big picture, and overall, love for our children in order to move forward. Nothing is perfect, but it’s so much better than it was two and a half years ago and I’m thankful for that. We are now able to participate in shared events, trust each other, communicate regularly in a positive way about the good and the bad. It has given me a tremendous amount of peace in my heart and has had a very positive impact on the boys as well.

I have so much I want to share beyond just the story of my marriage ending and rebuilding from there. That’s just one small, yet significant, chapter of the story. I want to talk about my running journey and how it’s evolved. I want to talk about how I manage my depression and anxiety now without medication. I want to talk about my amazing boys and all that they are doing now. I want to talk about the crazy story of my relationship with Jason over the past four years and the challenges of remarriage after both of us have been divorced. How I am adjusting to being a stepmom to two teenagers and blending our families. And I’m really excited to share about my third pregnancy!

Whew… that was a lot to get off my chest! Hopefully it won’t be long before my next update. I post regularly on my Instagram page (@katieallen1001)- mostly about running- if anyone would like more frequent updates. But I promise I’ll be back soon!

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It’s been a while…

Well hello!

I’ve been on quite the journey the last 2.5 years. After more than 5 years of consistent blogging I disappeared on here. I’ve been thinking about returning to blogging for a while now because it was such a nice outlet for me and a way to preserve memories and milestones of life, family, and running. But I’ve been putting it off because so much time has passed and so much has happened during that time. The thought of explaining it all/starting over was overwhelming. So I decided I would return to blogging without any pressure on myself to post regularly or to tell my whole story all at once. Instead I’ll tell it bit by bit and catch up on all that’s happened in life, relationships, my kids, training and races, all the ups and downs along the way, and whatever happens from here.

To sum it up, I’d say 2016 was about survival, 2017 was about change, and 2018 (so far) has been about making amends and finding peace. I have learned so much about myself along the way. I’m excited to share more about all of this soon.

I really enjoy writing as a form of therapy and expression, especially as an introvert. Writing helps me reflect and process all the craziness that is in my brain. I express myself through writing much better than I do in speaking. I am nearing the end of another school year (my 10th as a teacher!), there is so much going on including some very exciting recent developments, and a lot I want to say. It’s time. I’m back!!!

Hartwood 10 Miler [2016]

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Over a month ago on August 18th I ran one of my favorite local races, the Hartwood 10 Miler. This was my 4th year running this race and I’ve had a lot of success with it in the past. Even despite it being a hilly race in mid-August, the weather has usually cooperated enough for me to pull out a time I was proud of, and even a new PR a couple of times. I had high hopes for the race this year. In 2015 I ran it for fun since I was 3 months post partum. I don’t even think I wore a watch. I was building my mileage base back up and wasn’t overly concerned with getting faster again quite yet. Over the course of the following year I had worked a lot on my speed, so I wanted to use this race to test myself and see how I had progressed.

As the date of the race got closer, I started stalking the weather forecast and getting nervous. This summer was absolutely BRUTAL in Virginia, as I wrote about often in my marathon training recaps. I was holding out hope that the 95+ degree, 100% humidity days would go away just in time for me to have a great race, but it didn’t happen. It was another sweltering, sticky, uncomfortably hot day, with the real feel already at 89 degrees and 95% humidity before 6 AM the morning of the race. I knew it would only get worse closer to the 7 AM race start and as the sun came out.

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Weather at 5:51 AM!

I knew I had two choices: 1) Run the race like I wanted to, HARD, and feel miserable and defeated and/or die in the process, or 2) Throw out my goals for the race, run with friends and have fun. I chose the latter 🙂 We also chose to be brave, take off our shirts, and run in our sports bras. That was a racing first for me!

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Once I adjusted my expectations for the race I felt so much better. We arrived early, found parking easily, chatted and hung out in the park until the start. I love this race because it’s small and local and has easy logistics, plus the course is on beautiful back roads that are normally unsafe to run on when a race is not happening. I felt pretty naked at first in my sports bra but it helped a ton knowing my friends were right there with me, and I forgot about it after a few minutes.

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The sports bra squad!


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Moms Run This Town!

We met up with more friends from our Moms Run This Town group and lined up at the start. I thought the weather might deter a lot of people from running, but there was still a good amount of people out there. I was sweating just standing there waiting, so I knew we were all in for an interesting race!

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Soon we were off, and I immediately was thankful that I didn’t have any extra clothing to deal with. The air was thick and heavy and felt like a wet blanket. Our friends Stephanie and Kimmie went ahead while I stayed with Dina and Laura. Our first mile was a little fast out of excitement, but we slowed it down after that.

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The only way to get through a race under these kinds of conditions (in my opinion) is to have fun with it. So we did! We laughed, talked, ran, walked when we wanted to, ran again, cheered on runners around us, and had a great time.

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This course is beautiful but the hills are no joke! There are some decent ones in the first half, but the bigger rolling hills happen between miles 6-9. We stuck to our word to stay together and walked whenever one of us needed to.

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Finally, we re-entered the park and ran the final half mile to the finish line. The picture below doesn’t even convey how soaking wet we were. My shorts felt so heavy because they were DRIPPING and my socks and shoes were filled with sweat. Gross!

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We were so happy to cross that finish line, get a cold towel and some water, and of course some beer! One thing I love about this race is that in addition to a nice race shirt, you get an awesome engraved glass as well.

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I took a few minutes to change into dry clothes before heading over to the post-race area where we got food, drinks, and recapped our races for each other. When the awards ceremony began we were so excited to hear that a few of our ladies got age group/masters awards! So impressive especially on such a tough day!

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We definitely earned that beer!

Even though this year’s Hartwood 10 Miler wasn’t the race that I originally wanted, I still had a great time and made the best of it. I plan to continue to participate in this race in the years to come, I’ll just be crossing my fingers for slightly better weather 🙂

Finish Time – 1:42:18 / 10:13 average pace

Previous Hartwood 10 Miler recaps:

Turning 30

In 2 days I will turn 30. Like usual I can’t sleep so I am reflecting. Last year on my birthday I never in a million years would’ve predicted what the following year would bring. I was happy, life was good. I had a loving husband, a 3 year old, a 4 month old, a busy teaching job, was getting ready to officially launch my coaching business, and my running was starting to really progress after baby #2. I was excited for the future.

And then all of a sudden, in what felt like the blink of an eye, everything changed. Nine months later, I am still processing it all and working through pain, sadness and anger that comes and goes as I figure out life as a single mom/co-parent. A life I never wanted or expected.

I have learned a lot about myself over the past year. I’m not the same person as I was a year ago. I am more tired, stressed, emotional, overwhelmed, with lots of ups and downs on a daily basis- but I know a couple of things for sure. I am a hell of a lot stronger both inside and out. I know exactly what I want and don’t want in my life. I have learned to trust myself and my intuition. I have learned how to guard my heart while also leaning on those that love and support me. I try to make the most of every minute with my boys since I have to share them now. I have worked on letting go of the past and forgiveness so that I can truly move forward into a better future, and be a positive role model for my kids. It can only go up from here. I’m very excited for my new chapter and this fresh start as I enter my 30s. Here’s to a brand new decade.

I also realize I’m extremely behind on blog posts. I need to recap 3 races, Chicago Marathon training (leaving in one week!!!), updates on Kyler since he turned 1 and Kevin who just turned 4, and more. Blogging had to be put on the back burner for a bit while I dealt with a crazy work schedule, mommy duties and marathon training. More to come soon… I promise!

Chicago Marathon Training: Weeks 8 & 9

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I’m really behind again – but for a good reason! I’ve been having a lot of fun and enjoying my last few weeks of summer vacation. This post will recap both week 8 and 9. I’m also nearly through week 10. Oops! Week 8 was a glorious cutback week and week 9 was spent in beautiful, amazing Oregon visiting family. So much to catch up on, including two races! Here are all the details.

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The black is what I had planned, the purple is what I actually did.

WEEK 8

  • Monday: Yoga. I have really been enjoying doing yoga on my rest days. I just do it at home, and I’ve been liking this Youtube channel called Yoga with Adriene. She has a Yoga for Runner’s playlist, but I especially like this 30 minute practice that hits all my tight spots!
  • Tuesday: Easy Run – 4.3 miles @ 8:48. Tuesdays are usually a speedwork day for me, but since this was a cutback week and I had a 10 mile race on Sunday I had to just do easy runs all week. However, I still met up with the Moms Run This Town ladies for Track Tuesday. Once we said hello and chatted for a bit I headed out to a nearby neighborhood to get my miles in. Everyone in the group dedicated their miles to one of our member’s sister, who passed away and would have been turning 43. I ran 4.3 miles for her ❤

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  • Wednesday: Easy Run – 6 miles @ 8:19. So much for keeping all my runs easy this week! My “easy” 6 mile run turned into a hard, hot, humid, hilly, too fast run with my friend Steve who as always, slowed way down for me. If I didn’t have him pushing me and keeping my mind off the weather I would have probably cut it short and slowed way down. Running buddies are the best!!! But really… is it fall yet?

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  • Thursday: Easy Run – 3 miles @ 8:59 + Upper Fix. On this day I did a quick early morning run before my mommy duties resumed. I don’t love back-to-back runs (legs felt soooo heavy) but my youngest was with his dad overnight and the oldest is at the beach. I have to make the most of the time I have to myself, even if that means two runs less than 12 hours apart. It does make me want to do a Ragnar race though. Good thing one is already in the works for 2017! Later on in the day I did upper fix while the baby was napping.

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  • Friday: Easy Run – 4 miles @ 8:37 + Lower Fix. I think my waffles had something magical in them this morning because I felt really good on this run! Kyler and I ran our favorite loop which is mostly by the water. It’s weird how different it feels to push a single stroller and without 35 pounds of threenager! I was only planning to run 3 miles but he fell asleep and I felt good so I went 1 more then walked some. 4 miles at an average pace of 8:37 and each mile was faster than the last. Later on I did Lower Fix for strength training.

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  • Saturday: Rest. I normally run on both weekend days, but I took a rest day because I had a 10 mile race on Sunday. Later on in the day I realized any chance of a PR was going to be non-existent, so taking a rest day wasn’t really necessary, but oh well! The forecast showed that it was going to be very hot when it started at 7:15 (80s-90s) so I changed my race plan. Rather than kill myself in the brutal heat and humidity I decided to take it easier and stick with my friends.
  • Sunday: Hartwood 10 Miler @ 10:13. A full recap of this race is coming, but it was SO HOT! I loaded up on sunscreen and body glide, put on my shorts and sports bra and bared my mommy body and runners tan to the world. This was super out of my comfort zone but luckily I had an awesome group of friends who joined the Sports Bra Squad with me and we decided to all run together and just have fun. We ran, we walked, we stuck together, we sweat buckets, and we had so much fun! This was definitely not the day to “race” for me, but I’m glad I made the best of it and made some awesome memories instead. I ran the entire race with 2 friends and we finished at an average pace of around 10:13/mile. And then we celebrated! My 4th Hartwood 10 Miler is in the books.

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Week 8 Totals

  • Run: 27.3 (4 miles w/ double stroller)
  • Strength Training/Cross Training: Upper Fix, Lower Fix, Yoga

WEEK 9

  • Monday: Easy Run – 5 miles @ 11:39. A few hours after running the Hartwood 10 Miler on Sunday I hopped on a plane to Bend, Oregon. I went to visit my sister who recently moved out here, along with other family members. I absolutely LOVE Oregon. It’s my favorite place to run because it’s beautiful with cooler temperatures and low humidity. It just makes me so happy! After arriving late on Sunday night I let myself sleep in a bit on Monday. Once I finally got up my sister and I did a 5 mile walk/run. We had a little trail, a little road and gorgeous scenery. While we were out we even ran into Lauren Fleshman who lives here! She is a recently retired elite runner, creator of Picky Bars and my beloved Believe training journal! She slowed down to say hi as she passed us, and my sister and I totally geeked out. We love her!

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  • Tuesday: Speedwork – 2 mile WU, 1 minute on/1 minute off (2 miles), 2 mile CD (6 total @ 8:21 average). On Tuesday morning I started the day with a 6 mile run right after sunrise (at 6:47 AM, Garmin was still on east coast time). The track in Bend was closed for repairs so I did modified “speedwork” instead. After warming up for 2 miles I did 1 minute hard/1 minute easy for two miles, then cooled down for two more. Elevation of 4000 feet and hills made it feel harder than it should have been, but the scenery and the cool weather helped a ton! My “fast” minutes were run at around 6:35-6:45 pace, so I was happy with that!  A little later my sister and I went on a hike around a beautiful lake with a gorgeous view of some mountains.

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  • Wednesday: Easy Run – 4 miles @ 8:27 + 2 hours of standup paddle boarding. I wanted to show how much humidity plays a part in summer running in Virginia. It was 75° in Oregon when I ran without a single cloud in the sky, but no humidity. As you can see in the picture, my clothes were totally dry after 4 miles and I only broke a little sweat. It’s so strange! In Virginia where it’s been 75-100% humidity everyday lately my clothes are soaked within a mile! Breathing felt a bit easier on this day, but I did feel tired more quickly since we were at higher altitude. At the end of my run I saw two ospreys in a big nest by my aunt’s house! Later that afternoon I went out for two hours of standup paddle boarding with my sister. It was my first time, and it was so much fun! I felt unstable and shaky for the first 30 minutes or so (I have really bad balance thanks to years of ear infections growing up), but started feeling more comfortable after that. We went against the current first which was hard but an awesome challenge. Before we turned around to head back we hopped off to swim. Such an amazing experience with my sister. I definitely felt the effects of that workout later. So many beautiful sights and fun things to do in Oregon! I love it.

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  • Thursday: Twilight 5K – 3.1 miles @ 7:15 + 2 WU miles @ 8:35 + Yoga. I went into this race with no expectations and didn’t take it very seriously. I even drank a beer before! But I ended up doing better than I thought I would, and won 2nd place in my age group. Not a PR but I’ll take it! Maybe I should drink before all of my races? I always do better when I have no expectations. This felt hard because it was in the evening and 85 degrees. The air up here is so dry that it hurt my throat when I was breathing heavily. But I somehow pulled out tempo pace which is what I wanted. Woo hoo!! I was happy! Earlier in the day I did my favorite 30 minute yoga video that I linked above.

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  • Friday: Easy Run – 3 miles @ 9:03. Just a nice little morning run on a new-to-me trail by my aunt’s house. It was interrupted at the halfway point by a FaceTime call from my boys, which made me super happy!

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  • Saturday: Long Run – 18 miles @ 8:35. I was nervous for this long run. 18 miles is a long way to go in an environment that my body wasn’t entirely used to yet. But it ended up being amazing and I couldn’t believe how comfortable it felt. My pace stayed steady at around 8:30-8:35/mile and I didn’t need to make any stops. I felt strong both physically and mentally for the entire run, and I also just felt so happy and lucky to be able to run like this. I love it so much!

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  • Sunday: Rest. I had a full day of travel starting with leaving for the airport at 4:45 AM and arrived back at home at 7:30 PM. Needless to say, I knew this would be a rest day, especially because the next day I went back to work full-time. Ahh!!

Week 9 Totals

  • Run: 41.1 miles, all in beautiful Oregon!
  • Strength Training/Cross Training: Yoga, Paddleboarding, Hiking

My successes during these weeks were getting all my runs in, both in the heat and terrible humidity in Virginia during week 8 and while on vacation during week 9. The last few weeks have been amazing for my confidence and I’m enjoying riding that high right now! My challenges during these weeks were just acclimating my body to all the different types of weather/environmental changes that were happening and trying to run through it all. This challenge has actually been harder to manage right now during week 10, but I’ll talk about that more in that training update post.

My thought of the week is one that I love not only for running but for life. I have a lot of fear in all areas of my life that tries to creep up on me and take over. I’m working on pushing that away and trying to focus on the positive. Not easy when there is a lot of unknown ahead of me, but this quote really helps me stay hopeful and optimistic for whatever lies ahead in my future! Maybe even a BQ 🙂

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Previous Chicago Marathon Training updates

PS. I try to post daily updates on my runs on my blog’s Facebook page, so follow me there if you want updates in “real” time 🙂