Traversing the Unknown

I can’t go into this without thanking everyone who has walked through any period of these years with us, and to everyone who has supported us through it all.

There really aren’t words to truly put this season and past two years into words. It’s definitely not the way I expected life to go when Jon and I said “I Do” just a little over four years ago. If you have known me for any period of time over the past two years you know that my body has been through a roller coaster of marathon training, exercise and eating disorder, recovery, balance, stress, job shifts, and lots of unknown. I’ve suffered through the Female Athlete Triad (I have a blog post about this back in 2017), and it’s taken my body (in every way) a long time to readjust even after the weight came back on and I was able to gain control of exercise.

This all came to a climax when my doctor suggested surgery back in early March. After never having been under anesthesia, there was a slight fear of what they might find but we proceeded knowing it might be the only way we could keep moving forward. So, in the middle of April that surgery happened, and after a recovery that went sideways with infection and the discovery of dangerously low iron, I felt hopeless. While my iron levels improved, there was another deficiency that was wreaking havoc on my body, all the while my body still wasn’t cooperating the way it should in other areas. 

In June, I was having bunch of sensory issues along with a sinus infection that just seemed annoying. I was tired of fighting, I went in for another round of blood work not actually expecting them to find anything, assuming it would be more of the same just getting through the days. God wasn’t scared of this challenge though, and much to my surprise the test results DID show something. While my iron had improved and maintained, there was another vitamin at play in the realm of anemia – vitamin B. Specifically for me: Vitamin B12, completely explaining the sensory issue since this vitamin plays to the health of your neurological system. So, we started on Vitamin B12 shots and a regular supplement. They also started me on an antibiotic for the pesky sinus infection, and then another, and then another. At this point I was pretty sure I just needed to go under surgery again and just get my sinuses flushed, but something was just still off in general. 

When I went to pick up my third prescription, they asked me point blank: “are you pregnant? You can’t take this if you are” I told them it was near impossible, but that I would grab a test and make sure before I started the medicine, that sounded good enough for them, I guess. So, I went home took the test: negative. Pretty much what I expected knowing what my body had been through (and not been through). 13 days later I had finished my prescription, my sinus infection wasn’t going away, and my constant body changes left me depleted and I lost it. Puddle on the floor. In that moment, something told me to just take the second test that came with the one I had taken two weeks before. Positive. I freaked, no one thought this was possible and I DEFINITELY couldn’t believe it was real. So, I went out and grabbed two more tests: both clearly positive. Unfortunately, I was headed out of town for four days and couldn’t get a next day appointment with my doctor to confirm. We ended up having to wait a week and change to see my doctor, despite the fact I have had to be there WAY too much they know me and my story and were thrilled to see that we might be expecting, and even more so when it was confirmed. 

You might be thinking at this point: well how far along were you. That’s a good question. We don’t actually know for sure. Through blood work and ultrasounds, we suspect I’m right at 14 weeks, with an anticipated deliver somewhere between mid to late March of 2020. Honestly, I was so in shock and so SICK it has been hard for me to get excited, but I am finally almost there! Having my hormones go from one extreme to the other over a period of weeks has also been REALLY challenging on me mentally and emotionally. Jon has been one incredible man through it all and of course he got excited right off the bat, naturally, which has helped me through some of the toughest days! 

At 11-12 weeks we were excited to hear a strong heartbeat and can’t wait for this next phase of finding out the gender. While we could have found out these past couple weeks, with our travel schedules (Los Angeles, Orlando, South Carolina in consecutive weeks), and a huge event I’m helping plan on October 5th I just decided to wait until our 16-week appointment (yes I, because Jon would have been there two weeks ago). 

So, I tell that story also to say this: God is in the business of displaying his perfect and God sized plan and he literally will do whatever he wants whenever he wants no matter what the circumstances might look like. Oh, you also might be wondering about our adoption plan!! We still plan to, our timeline just looks different now, because God is orchestrating our steps in a slightly different way. Our hearts aren’t any less towards adopting one day SOON! In all honesty, it’s pulled at my heart strings even more so. 

You also may be wondering about running. Every day I can be out there running I am so grateful. Right now, it’s a good bit slower and shorter, but if I can get 3-5 miles in, I am a happy camper. I’m hoping to increase the mileage slightly as the weather cools down in Atlanta, with a goal of doing a 10K each month leading up to delivery. I am of course expecting the Lord to change some of that thinking, but I would love to maintain my running for as long as possible. I will absolutely do some consistent blog posts about it during these next six months so give me a follow if you want to be notified about those! 

If you want to know any more about our story these two years, I would be happy to talk with you via email (Jordan@fuelingherforward) or face to face! 

For now, cheers to a new season, and thank you Jesus for your unfailing love and sovereignty 

Until next week friends (when I finish recapping LA and hit Food & Wine at Disney),

Jordan

Boston: Simple Exploring Back in Time

I didn’t grow up with Harvard paraphernalia all over my walls (read: I’ve watched Gilmore Girls one too many times), but I understand it’s grandeur. There’s also harsh reality of some of our nations history that holds so much weight in Boston. To be upfront Boston was the first trip EVER that I didn’t plan out to a T. Usually every minute, every meal, every adventure has a time and date locked in, but this time it felt different. The three days previous in Acadia I were fairly planned, but now it was time to take in the rich history of this place in our country’s history. And while there were a few things we would have done differently here are 5 Adventures in Boston that hit the top of our list.

  1. Blue Bikes – the city biking system. There is an app that you can pick a trip or a 24-hour pass, grab a code, and bike from point to point. The app is great because it shows you where the stations are, gives you directions, and tells you how full or empty the docks are. The bike lanes are also pretty well done around the city so you feel pretty safe. Needless to say biking gives you a much bigger sense of the city and all it has to offer.
  2. Freedom Trail – Start in Boston Common and take a trip through the city and our nations rich history. You see sites such as the new and old state house, site of the Boston Massacre, meeting sites of our nations forefathers, and Paul Revere’s house. For the most part these places are close together. You can see them on your own or get in with a tour group, just take some extra cash as a few of these places cost a couple dollars to get into!
  3. Cambridge/Harvard University – I dreamt of doing the scene where Rory and Lorelei step up to the front gates of Harvard on their mother/daughter road trip and excitedly step onto it’s hallowed grounds. It wasn’t quite like that, but it was still breathtaking stepping through history, while all around you there is bustle of students getting to start their semester. Take bikes from Boston to Cambridge it’s walkable for some, but a bit of a haul.
  4. Boylston Street – I know Boylston street from my running: the famous and most prestigious finish line for marathoners. However, it also serves as the hub for shopping. Neither Jon and I are much into the luxurious shopping, but each of these streets boasts a unique flavor whether Rodeo Dr in LA, Michigan Ave in Chicago, or 5th St in NYC it’s worth checking out!
  5. Little Italy – Our first night there we stumbled across this festival on a small side street, little did we know it was a 100th anniversary feast of an Italian tradition. This small but robust neighborhood is lined with family owned pizza shops, gelato and cannoli parlors, and family’s and friends eating together on every corner. You feel a sense of pride, unity, and excitement just walking through these flavorful, yet busy streets.

There is so much more that I could say on our explorations. The South End neighborhood, Seaport, the riverside walk, and the area around Fenway are all memorable, but if you want must do’s these are mine.

Foodie post to follow on some of our favorite eats both nice and cheap around the city! Stay tuned friends.

For a Moment I Thought…

Hustling is the cure. But assumptions are often wrong, and so are expectations. When my doctor told me there would be a recovery period of 3-5 days after surgery I took him at his word. Little did I know that 3-5 days was just the beginning, and I allowed it to crush my spirit. After five days when my energy still loomed low and infection had rendered me useless I started to get anxious. I wanted to get back into my normal groove, I was used to being able to machine through and come out on the other side quickly. Shifting expectations and realities can be really challenging, and as I get older I am starting to realize my body won’t bounce back the way it once did.

From Eating Disorders and Anemia, to a schedule that all but nixed rest, I needed a reset. And while I hated the slow rolling of this recovery, it has helped me see my need for slowing down. If it had been three days and I was back to running 10 miles I might have missed it, and the consequences could have been much more severe. However, that doesn’t mean that as I walk in these days 10 weeks later everything is great. It isn’t. My body is still struggling, I am now on B12 shots in a symptom of the Anemia we had tried to treat with Iron alone, my B12 was unable to maintain levels, thus dropping to a critical level. Explaining

You see I am learning more and more about the way that dominoes fall. Most of the time it’s not a one size fits all recovery. There are steps and those steps lead to this or that which leads to more of this or more of that, and if at any moment you don’t listen to your body it might take you down a different set of tracks all together. Life isn’t always fixed easily or conveniently. The Lord loves us enough to give us to allow these circumstances and choices to wave in front of us so that we learn more about our dependence on Him and how He sustains and strengthens us in the valley.

So I am writing this and I don’t feel great, but I know who has given me this day so instead of trying to scramble my way to something better I am going to sit in the fact that the Great Sustainer is giving me exactly what I need and drawing me closer to Himself if I just surrender my desperate desire of control over these circumstances.

A new season is beginning for me this week and the choices I make in the days to come will dictate a lot of how that looks, but for now I am taking the moments a little slower and a little more analytical. The Hustle has it’s place, but there can also be rest in hard work and the slowing down.

Choose wisely friends!

Jordan

Healing Low Iron… And the Smoothie I’m obsessed With

A couple weeks ago I had a small procedure that went completely fine, but what it led to finding has let me on in some crucial info about my body in the past couple weeks. I’ve heard the word “Anemia” since before I can remember, as an endurance athlete both in the swimming realm and running realm vitamin and mineral deficiencies were something we were made aware of young. However, the research has only gotten deeper and more involved the older I get and the more technology plays such a major role.

At my post-op appointment two days later I was weak, like really weak, and really pale – it was not my best look. My doc went ahead and took my blood work again. It was ugly. Not only was I below normal for both Hemoglobin and Hematocrit I was VERY low. I felt like I didn’t know myself, everything felt foreign.  I had lost some blood in surgery, but this went deeper than surgery there was more at play.

The last time I had my Iron checked was in the fall of 2018, not so long ago. My training had decreased and I was just pressing through at the minimum through the end of the year. At that point my levels were in the normal range, maybe a little low for a woman of my age and physical health, but normal. SO what changed in 6-7 months??? And how do I get myself back to healthy???

PAYING ATTENTION TO THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TRAINING + NUTRITION

At the beginning of 2019 I found my zeal for running again, while January and February were slow on the race calendar the craziness that March would bring led me to pick up intensity fast. Simultaneously, I was staying really lean in the animal protein department – I was eating almost NO red meat, even though poultry was still a regular part of my diet, the foods that I ate to make up for it were not rich in that vital nutrient.

So my training increased so my need increased but level of intake stayed the same leading to a negative outcome, and that outcome was huge when it came to my recovery after this procedure.

But, I’m also really glad it came to light, it’s helped me change somethings in my diet and be more in tune to my body in general. And I don’t think I’m alone in the endurance athlete realm who is growing in this awareness and knowledge every day!

As someone who has a Nutrition Certification I am a firm believer in a well-rounded diet. We need protein, fats, and carbohydrates to keep our body functioning at our best. I know some people don’t eat animal protein, but you HAVE to find other ways to get those nutrients. Likewise, people who believe a low-carb diet is best, please make sure to give yourself at least an adequate amount of carbs – regardless of what anyone says you need them in moderation.

All that to say here are a few things I have implemented in my diet to help increase my iron and overall health in general as well as one of my favorite new recipes below!

*Disclaimer: moderation is always key, and these are not long term solutions, but temporary changes to get the most effective results 

DON’TS

  • Limit dairy + calcium rich foods. While you need calcium for strong bones it’s also a big iron inhibitor
  • Limit corn. I am popcorn’s #1 fan, but I also love some corn tortilla chips & guac, not the best idea to go hard when you are wanting optimum iron absorption.
  • Stay clear of gluten. While this normal for me research emphasis staying clear of sugary starches and eat those natural carbohydrates like brown rice and potatoes.
  • No Caffeine! Gosh I was already feeling terrible, but the compounding caffeine headache for three days was not my best life.

DO’Sa

  • Eat animal protein including red meat. Right now I’m keeping mixed between red meat and poultry, but making sure that at least one meal has this as well as at least one meal has eggs (yes the yolks). 
  • If you are a vegetarian eat all the beans! 
  • Get those dark leafy greens. From salads, to sautéing it up with some of protein and carbs, to throwing it in a smoothie it’s essential to get these in your diet. 
  • Flax seed + Chia Seed + Hemp Seeds. The nutritional benefits of these have been researched time and time again, but they are also great for getting those micronutrients you need. I throw the mix in smoothies, peanut butter w/ fruit, and pretty much anything else. 

If you are an endurance athlete, make sure to get your Iron levels tested regularly so you don’t fall prey to the same thing I did. As always ask the doc before taking any actual supplements, too much Iron can be a bad thing. 

Knowing that I needed extra nutrients and was struggling for creativity I found a way to mix it altogether in a delicious way that helps fuel my body with everything it needs.

Jordan’s Iron Absorption Smoothie 

-1/2 cup of OJ (vitamin C for iron absorption)

-1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut milk (for texture and flavor)

-1/2 banana

-1 cup of frozen berries

-2 handfuls of spinach + Kale mix (iron rich)

-1 heaping TBSP of hemp seed + flax seed + chia seed mixture (all the micronutrients)

Blend it altogether and enjoy!

 

urger, but because of the cholesterol and fat I had limited it pretty severely. So right now I am 

Playing with Passions and Remembering the Reason

I like to run… if you are reading this you most likely know that already.

After my competitive swimming career was over in 2012 and I had recovered from 13 years of my body being subject to incredibly intense training, I missed the competition, I missed the goals, I missed seeing how far my body could go. But I wanted to live my life on purpose no matter what I chose as my sport or physical activity of choice.

During college cross-training had involved a good bit of a running, I could naturally hold my own so I thought I would give running a shot. It started with running ONE mile around the front of my parents neighborhood – it’s a convenient one mile loop – and then TWO miles around the bottom loop at Little Mulberry Park, just a few miles from where my parents live. It felt good, I was running farther and faster, so I signed up for a 5K. It was a disaster. To this day, it still haunts me. That was in November of 2012. It would be a full eight months later before I would try my hand at an actual race. The Peachtree Road Race in 2013 was that moment and while it was grueling, rainy, and exhausting it sparked something new in me. Half Marathon #1 was then placed on the calendar. At this point it wasn’t so much a passion as it was a physical outlet for work days.

Thanksgiving Day of 2013 was long, painful, and really really cold. My first half marathon ever was a crisp 18 degrees, and that 13.1 was happening after recovering from knee pain due to lack of stretching and appropriate recovery. Thankfully, I finished and then hopped on a plane two hours later for a three and a half hour flight to Denver. That is never a good game plan. Yes, my dad half carried me through airport and down the sidewalks of this new and short adventure.

I loved the feeling of finishing, but I needed a do-over. You might not love the first races you ever do, you might think it’s not worth it, you might think you’ll come to love it. And maybe that’s true, but I challenge you to give it one more shot. So I signed up for the Nike Women’s Half in DC slated for April 2014. After spending several weeks fully recovering I hopped back into running slow and steady.

Mom took me up to DC and we explored the city where her and my dad fell in love and explored the way Nike took over and made it an unforgettable experience (it’s also where I found Nuun Hydration). I toed the line against the backdrop of the sun rising above the Capitol and off we went. Words don’t fully embody and describe what happened to me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually during those two hours. It wasn’t any faster than Thanksgiving, but it was completely different in the best way. Something clicked.

I say spiritually and it could raise eyebrows, but here’s what I mean: I have always loved the athletic industry, but as I named our athletic association “the devils playground”, it’s a dark world that can leave you dry and stale when your complete identity is wrapped up in the sport you do and the publicity and acknowledgment you get. The Lord sparked something in my mind that made me wonder how I could enter in to that space and help change that perspective. That we are far more valuable and purposeful than an athletic endeavor.

Unfortunately, the road was more winding and roller coaster-esque than I would have preferred. I am rather shy at first and can be independent to a fault and that caused issues as I tried to get more involved in the running community, but still maintaining the one-man show bit. There had to be more.

My times got faster which helped build confidence, and after I moved back to the city and Jon and I got married with community around us I had very little reason to not show up for the community and start building those relationships that the Lord was pressing me to step into. I started showing up for a group run, but at this time running became more of an obsession. I was taking it too far and still trying to figure it out on my own. Enter over-exercise, disordered eating and everything spiraled be down to the pit.

Passions aren’t meant to be paramount. Jesus is our purpose, and the passions are that which we are used to point to him. I lost that in this season, and it took so many months and even years to work through mud and create, what I hope to be, a beautiful story that shines light into darkness.

Enter book right, during this season of recovery and refocusing my passion and purpose it brought lies and darkness that I didn’t even realize was there due to events that had occurred many years ago. In every way this season has been incredibly hard, but it’s also been incredibly restorative and refreshing to weed out some of the yuck and let the Lord start to light it up and give it beauty. And now I sit here smoothing out some of the final edits in my first book centered around all of this and I am so excited to share it with you in the coming months.

Let your passion shine His light, and remember where your focus should truly lie. Identity’s don’t come from earthly things, they come from your Creator.

For now friends,

Jordan

Smiles All Around and Running Lately….

July 4, 2018. I didn’t feel fast, after mile four I actually felt like throwing in the towel. My breathing shallowed, my quads were on fire, and the finish felt so far away. Never imagining what lie on the other side of that finish line. A top 30 finish in the largest 10K in the country, less than one minute away from being considered “elite”, and the impending weight of massive expectation.

July 14, 2018. A last minute 5K in support of an incredible organization: Back on My Feet. At 2.8 Kada collapsed on the ground, unable to move her legs, the pleading of help in her brown eyes. The fear sinking deep to the pit of my stomach that I might lose my pup (I didn’t).

Recovery.

Not a word that is unfamiliar, but one that has been largely tied to the physical aspects of running, but in this past season there was a different type of recovery that had to be done. Mental. The Peachtree Road Race left me numb and unmotivated because the pressure that I allowed to mount was unbearable for someone who was still on the tail end of the greatest mental, physical, and emotional battle of my life to date.

So the races stopped, the high mileage felt far too daunting, and it scared me to feel stuck  in the unknown. There were a few races that I was able to help pace and push-assist and support over this season, but I was never myself, and the community helped keep me going in whatever form that took. My friends and training buddies were with me in whatever way they needed to be and it really was key in keeping me in the game. So I looked at 2019 with open eyes, not really knowing where I was headed, but knowing that I still loved this sport I had found a home and community in.

Now in the remaining few days of January, new wind has blown in my sails, and that smile has crept back onto my face. During December I had to learn to let myself back off without guilt, something I resisted for the first 5 months of this journey. Guilt of letting people down, and even more pressing, letting myself down and not stewarding the gift I had been given had begun to become a banner, and it just couldn’t. So I picked up more cross and weight training and stuck to under 5 miles not sure if that would actually help where I was other than maintaining a base layer of fitness, but I finally learned to be okay with sitting there for whatever amount of time it took. I also found that my people cheered me on regardless. AND THEN in the past two weeks that spark has started to reignite, the excitement for runs has increased, the training runs with my people no matter the weather seem more enjoyable than feeling like a job. However, it’s listening taking the time to listen to where I am mentally and physically every single day that sets the tone.

So, now as I get excited for what’s in store here is a little bit of my training schedule and where I am headed the first part of this year with a smile on my face:

Mon – Cross-training/3 mile shakeout

Tues – 10K: 10 minute warm up, 5 minute progression, 30 minute intervals

Wed – Mobility and Yoga

Thurs – 5-7 mile tempo run

Fri – Mobility, light body-weight circuit, shake out (sometimes just an easy run, sometime striders).

Sat – 10-14 miles steady pace.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

And this week we get the bonus of having back to back 5Ks in the mix! Feel free to hop in!

Fri – Super Bowl VII 5K – medium-quick tempo

Sat – Hearts & Soles 5K – quick-sprint tempo

____________________________________________________________________________________________

On The Horizon:

Well besides the two aforementioned 5Ks to work on speed, here are a few things that are slated for 2019:

  • Road to Gold Test Event (March) – 8.2 miles on the Olympic Marathon Trial Qualifying course
  • Publix Half Marathon (March) – Pacing with my girl A @ 1:45
  • Star Wars Rival Run Half Marathon (April) – This will be my first trained for half in over a year!
  • Peachtree Road Race (July) – The 50th anniversary and excited to see what I can do this year, without feeling the weight of expectation

More TBD!

If you have any questions, or want some race or training recommendations please let me know at jordan@fuelingherforward.com ! I would also love to put my nutrition certification to work so please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Thanks for reading friends,

Jordan