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I have a secret addiction. To endorphins. The best way to describe endorphins is getting an euphoric high. The feeling is compared to the effects of morphine. But this is no drug. You can't buy it. Can't grow it. Can't beg, borrow, or steal it. Endorphins happen when you move. They interact with the receptors in your brain. Endorphins can block pain and produce pleasure. You ignite them through a variety of activities. But for me. The fastest way to get an endorphin rush is to go running.

Which brings me to a wonderful coincidence. I am training for the Quad Cities Half Marathon scheduled for September 24th. (You can also run a marathon, but I am quite content tackling the half marathon.)

So I've been running a lot lately.

I did invest in a new pair of running shoes. Purchased athletic inserts to line them with, and broke down and picked up a couple pairs of running shorts.

Lessons learned so far. Use vaseline. When you are urging your body on for miles, chafing can bring you to a screeching halt. Which caught me by surprise. Since doctors removed the lymph nodes in my left arm following breast cancer, I have very little feeling in that arm. So it took me a couple of runs to realize I was creating lovely red spots underneath my arms. Now I slather the stuff on.

Temperature control. I hate to keep harping on the after-effects from breast cancer, but there are quite a few that impact this challenge. I am on hormone therapy to help reduce the chances of cancer reoccurrence. It's a daily pill called Tamixofen. I've been on one variety of it or another for about a year now. This type of hormone therapy makes me incredibly sensitive to heat. Along with hot flashes, I find myself in small, incremental steps becoming more and more intolerant of hot weather. Anything above 60 degrees is beginning to feel like it's more like 90 degrees. Fortunately the worm turned, and we've had a few weeks of cool weather. So I have taken advantage of that and logged my longest run at 7.7 miles.

As the summer warms up, I will either have to get up at the crack of dawn or go night running to avoid the sun.

Buddy system. I did get smart and enlist the aid of my daughter while testing out the longer runs. She comes along on her bicycle with water bottles and protein bars in the event I begin to wilt. Already this system has proved a lifesaver and I was able to refuel and keep running.

Weight Lifting. I have found that mixing up the workouts with lifting weights is increasing my stamina and endurance. Plus, I want to look like a stud in my sports bra. I've just started dipping my toe (figuratively) on the pull-up bar. First, I just hung there like a limp flag. Then (since this is a public park and I don't want to embarrass myself), I began to actually try to pull myself up. Unfortunately this did result in embarrassing myself as all I can manage are twitches at the elbows. Eden, providing much needed moral support, said, "It LOOKS like you're doing something!"

Now I want to put this in perspective. I have not run a half marathon for sixteen years. I have not run more than three miles for two and a half years. I am no spring chicken. So this is a huge challenge for me. But I've been hanging my hat on beating breast cancer for too long. It's time to start pushing myself again and turn over a new chapter. Running a half marathon is just the beginning.

One of my favorite authors is Kurt Vonnegut. He (in my opinion) once described death as not when you are buried beneath a tombstone, but when you've stop adding pages to your book of life. I am taking that to heart. I want to grab the wheel, put the pedal down, and drive my life as if I stole it.

Endorphins will keep the tank full.


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