Monday, November 12, 2012

Full Circle

"C'mon, just a little more, Mom."

One small spoonful of pudding made it into her mouth.  And then another.  And one more before she gave us a small smile and dozed off once again.

My mom looked away from her mother, who was lying on the hospital bed, and smiled at me.

"This is the most she's eaten all day.  I think she is trying to make it until Uncle John arrives..." she said as she looked at me with hope.


You know those moments that will stick in your mind forever?  Etched there as if in granite, never to fade?  This is one of those precious moments in my life.

It was just over two years ago.  Nana was in the hospital and her internal organs were slowly shutting down.  Her body had had enough and her soul was looking forward to joining Papa for eternity.

My mom had called me earlier that evening and let me know that Nana was nearing the end of her journey here on earth and I should come and visit.  It was a rainy Thursday evening and my son had soccer practice, my sister was hours away in Seattle and my little brother had visited her earlier in the day.  I left my older daughter and son at home with my husband, jumped in the car with my infant daughter and drove to the hospital.

Nana was alert when I entered the room.  She smiled at the little girl in my arms and whispered a hello as we sat down near the foot of her bed.  We chatted for a few minutes, my little girl nibbling on her great-grandmother's finger, and then it was time for Nana to eat just a little more food.

So we sat there together.  Four generations of women in one room.  My Nana was just four weeks shy of her 100th birthday and my daughter was just five months old.  Almost 100 years had passed between the birth of these two women.  One entered this world a few months earlier in a hospital room and the other was about to leave this world from a hospital room.

I sat in a chair and nursed my little girl while my mom spoon fed chocolate pudding to her mother.  It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment for us.  My mom and I taking care of the oldest and youngest women in our family, both of whom were helpless without us.  Mother and daughter together taking care of a mother and a daughter.

Six months earlier, Nana meeting her newest great-granddaughter

Nana passed away just 36 hours later.  She made it until her son had arrived from Chicago and she died surrounded by all her loved ones.  Never having been in the room with someone when they left this world, it was a surreal experience.  But the sweetest moment for me of those few days will always be that rainy Thursday evening when my mom and I were taking care of the oldest and youngest of us.


Yesterday I went to a baby shower to celebrate the arrival of my brother and his fiance's daughter.  The shower was hosted by dear friends of my mom's -- all women who knew Nana well.

Of course, my beautiful niece stole the show.

All I could think about on the rainy drive back home was how much Nana would have loved to have been there.  How much she would have adored her newest great-granddaughter.  How much she would have appreciated the food being served on fine china and the wine poured into crystal glasses.  She would have loved the beautiful fall flower arrangements, the table settings that were done to perfection and the petite butter cookies maybe most of all.  Nana never met a dessert she didn't like.

Then I thought about my almost 4 year-old daughter that arrived with my brother for the very end of the shower.  How her eyes lit up when she spotted the cookies and she immediately asked if she could have one.  I even caught her sneaking a second cookie.  Nana would have been so proud of her and would have been sneaking cookies right along with her.

I finally realized Nana was right there with us.  In all of us.  The Circle of Life.

Do you have any moments that you will never forget?


So...I keep planning on writing a running-related post and then something else always is in the forefront of my mind when I sit down to type!  I'll go ahead and interrupt this heavy post with some not-so-serious talk about my running.

The latest update on my foot is that I went to see a podiatrist last week.  Unlike the podiatrist I saw this summer (who basically just gave me a cortisone shot and sent me on my way), this podiatrist is a real advocate of non-intervention strategies.

He took the time to listen to me and after a thorough examination, came up with a slightly different diagnosis than the first podiatrist.  Instead of diagnosing "extensor tendinitis", which is tendinitis of the tendons on the top of my foot, he believes I injured the sheath/ligament/fascia that runs across the tendons in my foot.  The good news is that he believes I can keep running while I do my best to heal the trauma through icing and stretching.

He is also a big advocate of minimalist running (or, really, minimalist footwear for all activities all of the time.)  He encouraged me to remove the cushioned liner from my running shoes and slowly transition to a true minimalist shoe.  Hmmm...  While I have heard great things about minimalist running, I also know many, many runners who remain injury-free in regular, cushioned running shoes.

My current plan is to slowly transition from my Asics GT-2170's to my Brooks Pure Flows.  I already run in my Brooks about half the time so it shouldn't take too long to get me all the way there.  The Pure Flows aren't a true minimalist shoe but they definitely promote more of a "natural" running stride and foot strike.  Assuming all goes well in the Pure Flows, I will likely just stick with them and not move to a (zero drop) minimalist shoe.

Brooks Pure Flows and Asics GT-2170 -- notice how much higher the heel is on the Asics

My foot seems to be tolerating runs okay in the meantime.  This morning's run was an 8 mile progressive run with the middle miles at a 7:30 and then 7:15 pace.  I loved having the run done before anyone else in my family was awake so I could enjoy a little post-run endorphin bliss!  :)

What kind of shoe do you run in?  Have you ever considered a minimalist shoe?  Have you read Chi Running?

- Kristen


  1. I absolutely loved this entire post. You certainly have a great appreciation for the important things in life and a unique ability to describe the things that resonate with you.


  2. Such a beautiful post, Kristen!! Loved it. Your Nana looked great! What a great memory to have. I have several memories like this! Soon I'm going to post about the Round Table in my life. I've been working on it for a while now.
    I run in Nike's completely ignorant to what types of shoes I SHOULD be wearing. Hope you heal up soon!

    1. Thanks, Tayarra! I can't wait to read about the Round Table -- you write SO beautifully and do an amazing job of capturing memories.

      I think you have the right attitude about shoes -- no need to make a change if your current shoes are working for you, right?! I am loving my Pure Flows, though. :)

  3. Kristen, you have a wonderful way with words & a truly wonderful perspective on life! Those are some very special memories and I love the way you incorporate photos with your blog. So sweet!

    I have to say, I'm loyal to my Asics GT 2170's! I'd be a hard sell to convince me to run with less cushioning.... Nice job on your run, though! It's so tough to get out in the cold & the dark these days. I admire your dedication!

    1. Jamie, I am sure you have memories etched in your mind from that beautiful summer day when you and Casey were married!! I think you and Casey must have an incredible perspective on life and love. You two really are an inspiration.

      I have loved my Asics, too. I think I've been through 7-8 pairs of them in the last two years! I may hang on to a pair just in case I ever miss them too much. :)

  4. First let me just say this post brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful family you seem to have, and what a beautiful way for your nana to leave this world. I had such a similar experience with my grandmother, who passed with all of us around her, all of us touching her to let her know she wasn't alone. My then less than 1 yr old son had been around earlier, and I had those same thoughts and feelings about life coming full circle. It was also my first time seeing someone pass, and surreal is the best way to describe it.

    I'm SO happy to hear you're seeing a podiatrist who supports minimalist running!!! Music to my ears since most just want to throw some custom made orthotics in your shoes. If he's correct about your diagnosis, it sounds similar to something I dealt with last year and I had FANTASTIC results seeing an Active Release Therapst. I went to zero drop fr awhile but found my feet's sweet spot in shoes s with a 3-4mm heel differential. Good luck with your transition and hope you heal quickly!

    1. So interesting that you had the same experience with your grandmother passing and also similar thoughts about life coming circle when looking at your young son at the same time. As sad as it is to say goodbye to someone, it is all just part of life and it is so easy to see that when we look at our little ones.

      I am so happy to hear that you had a similar foot issue and had great results through active release therapy! After reading your post, I just called and made an appointment with a chiropractor for an ART session for tomorrow morning. :) It will be my first time so I hope it goes well. Was your foot really sore afterwards? I'm really excited to try it -- thanks so much for suggesting it!

    2. Some of my sessions with my magic ART therapist have been painful, but in the hurts-so-good way! Lol! I hope you get the kind of results that I did. I actually just saw her the other day for a headache I'd had for over a week...magic I tell ya! Healing hugs to you :)

    3. I love things that hurt-so-good! I don't think my results have been quite magical yet but at least I'm still able to run.

      I had a headache multiple times over the last week -- something that never happens to me. I finally realized the headband I was wearing was causing it. Ha!

  5. What a beautiful post! I love this.

    I remember when my blog consisted primarily of thoughtful posts like yours. I need to get back to that.

    I have had ART and it was a lifesaver. I had it on my peroneal tendon and have not had any issues since my ART sessions. I am thinking of getting some ART on my feet now to help with my PF. Let us know how your ART goes.

    1. I love your posts! I'm sure I'll run out of thoughtful material soon and will be posting pictures of my banged-up feet instead. Ha! It is an interesting phenomenon -- writing a blog -- as everyone has a distinct "voice". I think I'm still searching for mine. I certainly am not as serious in person as my posts make me out to be! :)

      My appt yesterday went really well. She did a little ART but also used some Graston technique on my foot and lower leg. Although it was uncomfortable when she did it, my foot felt surprisingly good afterwards. I'm not running again until tomorrow so we'll see how I feel then. I also have new stretching exercises to help relax my arches, calves and hip flexors...which I didn't even know were tight!

  6. Loved your story about your Nana, your mom, you and your baby. Definitely a moment to hold onto.

    I love that your podiatrist is forward thinking. I have been working on minimalist shoes for about two years now. It really was the best thing I ever did for my body. I will say, though, that the areas that will get tender now and again includes tops of feet, so I'm not surprised you're feeling that a bit. Just take it nice and slow and transition at a snail's pace! Good luck.

    1. Thanks so much, Amanda! I love hearing stories about minimalist shoes working for runners. Even if I don't go 100% minimalist, I am excited to make this change. And, yes, this podiatrist is awesome. His office is filled with pictures of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico running in their huraches (assuming you have read Born To Run and know what I'm referring to!) I'll take your advice and stick with my slow transition... :)

  7. Loved reading about the precious time that you ladies got to spend together. What a blessing!

    I'm glad to read that you are able to still run through this. Interesting to read the thoughts from your practitioner. I am one who runs mostly in a cushioned shoe- but races in a lighter shoe (I would still wear a cushioned shoe for a marathon). I like the Brooks ghost5's- the pure flows I can get away with once a week or twice a week, but I wouldn't do it for all my running. (unless that was about 20 miles a week or less)

    Hope you are having a great week!

    1. I am not exactly sure if my foot is getting any better but it isn't getting worse and I seem to be able to continue to run on it. It just bothers me after runs and is more of an annoyance than anything. Of course, I think anytime something hurts, it is your body trying to tell you something. But I just can't figure out what! My fear is that I'll get deep into marathon training and then it will become worse or unbearable.

      I'm still making the transition into my Pure Flows but think I'll keep some cushioned shoes around, too. :)

      Congrats again on your recent 5K!!