My view on Shingles

We’ve all seen the commercials.

If you’ve had chickenpox the shingles virus is already inside you.

Sounds creepy. That’s exactly what shingles is though. Creepy.

When I found out I have shingles, it made the last few weeks make sense. The week prior I went to the gym on Tuesday. I was overly worn out and not even wanting to go run. 2 miles in and I was burning up so I called it quits. Went and sat in the massage chair to relax a bit before heading home. I remember feeling a weird burning pain on my back. I would touch it but feel nothing. This went on the next few days and I just figured it was something they used to clean the massage chair. That weekend my back was hurting, I figured I had a trigger point in my back that I needed to massage out. Took some baths hoping that would help. Monday comes around and all day at work my back was itching/burning. I was going to ask someone in the bathroom to check my back and see if they saw anything but decided against it because I am not that comfortable with people. When I get home I use my phone to check my back and I look in the mirror. Didn’t see anything at all. I did notice a weird set of bumps on my side, camouflaged by my tattoo. I attributed it to a rash from my sports bra and didn’t think anything about it. The next day I wake up and my dog is covered in red bumps all over her belly. I gave her some different treat a few days prior and figured she was having a weird reaction, then I notice I have a new set of bumps under my left breast.

This is where I begin to lose my sanity.

After my dentist appointment on Tuesday I stop by the vet to show them the picture of Nalah. They tell me to bring her in the next day (Wednesday). I go home and wash everything the dog had contact with. Pillows, blankets, towels, bed sheets. Everything. Strip my bed and spray my mattress with flea spray and with spider spray. In my head, something was biting me and bit Nalah. Made the bed and got some sleep. Wednesday I leave work early to take the dog to the vet. They didn’t find any mites or bugs on Nalah at all. She was having a reaction to something and got sent home with antibiotics and shampoo. She started the medication Wednesday afternoon. Meanwhile, I am still cleaning up and getting rid of any bugs I think are in the apartment. Get to class and I am more tired than usual. When I got home and showered, I noticed more bites on me. This is when I decided to draw circles around my “bites” so I can easily distinguish new ones from old ones. Thursday I noticed new bites on my back. That night I decided to take benedryl before I go to sleep to help get rid of the “bites”. Friday at work my skin felt like something was crawling on it. The bites under my left breast were irritated by my bra so I put calamine lotion and gauze on it to protect it. The “bites” were starting to itch. I had no idea what was going on with me or what was in store for me.

Friday night after work I was exhausted. I began doing research for my paper I had due over the weekend. I shower and get ready for bed. Put calamine lotion on, take a benedryl then go to bed. Midnight, I woke up screaming in pain. In a benedryl-induced daze, all I remember is screaming and knowing I needed to get to the doctor but I couldn’t drive. I get on my phone and look at what time the doctor office opens in the morning. In my head, I had gotten bit by a brown recluse and this was it. If I survived until the doctor office opened I was going for sure. I was in and out for the rest of the night. Probably got 2 hours of sleep total. The pain was intense. Go to the doctor and sit in pain waiting. Finally get into the room and am told I have to put a gown on, “open to the front”. When the doctor walks in I had already been crying from being in pain that was unrelenting. She lifted up the gown and said, “Oh you poor thing, you have shingles…..not the worst case I have ever seen but it’s pretty bad.” Shingles? Like in the commercial with all the old people? How did this happen? The doctor tells me stress can cause the outbreak. Great. So I ask how long will this go on for and she tells me, the rash could last 2-3 weeks. The itching and pain could last up to a month, sometimes longer if there is nerve damage. That was not the answer I was hoping for. I had thought my “bug bites” were getting better. Turns out I was far from getting better.

—Fast Forward to Today—

I got 8 hours of sleep total for the weekend. Night time is the worst pain ever. Taking 2 Tylenol 3 gets me 3 hours of dead-like sleep. Then its tossing and turning the rest of the night. Day 3 of taking a million pills a day and I am over it. The pain isn’t getting any better, its actually getting worse during the day. The bumps are getting darker. I noticed a new small set of bumps. I AM SO TIRED. I cannot remember anything except for how tired I am. I need sleep but I know I will not get it. There is no getting comfortable.

Yesterday I told myself I needed to be positive through this. There is an end. But then seeing how I am still in the beginning stages really lets me down. Being in pain all day is wearing me down, on top of already being worn out. I can feel the depression trying to start in despite my knowing I need to fight that. I am running low on fight. I feel so alone and still have things I need to do. It’s my last week of classes, I have finals. I didn’t get anything but a paper wrote over the weekend, none of the housework got done. Work was more frustrating then usual today. I just want to relax as best I can. Just sit and not worry about homework, housework, work, or anything at all. Just sleep or zone out. I just want to be done with this. I will not let you break me though shingles. I am tough and I will win.

The end is nearing…..

Not indefinitely…..just the end of 2015. I like to think I have had a successful year. Did a decent amount of events, not as many as I had planned but life happens. Here is a recap of my 2015:

  • 1- mile in the sand
  • 9- 5ks (one AG placed)
  • 1- virtual 5k
  • 1- 7k
  • 2- 8ks
  • 1- 10k
  • 1- virtual 10 miler
  • 1- virtual 11 miler
  • 7- half marathons
  • 1- marathon
  • 1- polar plunge
  • 1- kill that 5k
  • 3- GoRuck Lights
  • 1- GoRuck Tough

That doesn’t include all the training miles and fun runs with friends. I feel like there are more, I didn’t complete my goal of 10 half marathons this year but I stand at 11 half marathons total in my almost 2 years of running. Many lessons learned and many challenges completed/overcame. Next year this list might be shorter, besides beating my marathon time I would like to do a 50k and I forsee a ton of GoRuck events since my boo-nugget has decided to start doing them too. 

How was your 2015? Did you complete any goals and have you thought of any for 2016? Feel free to share as I am always looking for things to do! 

Christmas Woes….

Happy Birthday Rachael. Used to be the first words out of my mouth as soon as I saw her. She would be 32 today, the same age as I am. I never got to say goodbye. That’s what hurts the most. I was on deployment when she suddenly left the world, not able to make it back in time for the funeral. This happened two times to me, both deployments I lost someone close to me and couldn’t make it back either time. It sucks. I think I saw her the Christmas before she passed, I can’t remember exactly because it was years ago but in my head I saw her, happy and healthy, and was able to say Happy Birthday to her one last time. I just didn’t know that it would be the last time I would ever be able to say it to her. She was my best friend growing up, always having sleepovers at each others houses…..those continued on to even when we were adults, she had her own place and I would go stay the night at her place. We were close, so not being able to say goodbye bothers me to this day. We had nicknames for each other, I was Paco and she was Pablo, how we came up with them I have no idea but I will never forget them. Every Christmas morning I still wake up and say it, quietly to myself, I know she is watching down over me and hears me say it. One day I will be able to say it to her again, when my time has come and I go visit the big guy upstairs. Until then, I know my Grandma and other family members got to say Happy Birthday Rachael. I love you cuz and I think of you often. I hope I am making you proud and living life the best I can for both of us.

Not your average thug

When I think about this in my head, I am quite the thug. Heck when I write it, some of you might even think the same thing.

I have quite a lot of tattoos, including one going down my hand that says Thug Life. I also am from Detroit, I own and carry a gun, my dog is a pitbull, the windows on my car are really dark, and I listen to rap as loud as possible.


When I hear “Thug life” I think of two things, Tupac and Pineapple Express. One is funny, the other is gangster.

I currently live in Virginia Beach, in not the best part of town, there was a shooter running through my complex a month ago. Does this make me a thug at all? No. So why am I writing about this? Because stereotypes are out there and every day I hear a new one. I do not sell drugs, despite being asked many times by people in my complex. I don’t even drink or eat meat.

So nice to meet you, my name is Bre and I am the sober, vegetarian thug from Detroit. Watch out! It’s funny cause I am a 5’2 white girl and my dog is a 50LB pitbull princess who acts more like a cat than anything. The two of us might look intimidating (sarcasm), but I can assure you we are a couple of scaredy cats (literally for Nalah).


Nalah, the big scary pitbull.

Next time before you judge someone, take a second to really look at that person and maybe get to know them. Heck, maybe you will make a friend or even have your views changed. Just cause someone looks rough around the edges, they might be the nicest person you meet or they could teach you something. Never judge a book by its cover.

A little explanation on my thug life tattoo…..for those who do not know…..Thug life means: The Hate U Give Little Infants F-cks Everyone. Simply put, raising children to hate or dislike things is only going to continue the downward spiral this country is already going down. Hate the cops. Hate certain races. Hate whatever. Spread love, not hate. When you go into things with an open mind and an open heart, anything is possible. I bet you never heard a thug say something like that. Anyone can be a “thug”, heck my 86 year old grandmother is probably more of a thug than half the people in Newport News.

My grandmother always tells me I am going to regret my tattoos when I get to be her age. I tell her when I get to be her age I will be lucky to remember my tattoos.

Just to confirm from my last blog that I had another “this is why I am single moment” today…..this is how we get down on a Saturday night.


This….This is the reason right here.

I think every single woman has said this at some point during the time they were single….This, This is the reason right here why I am single.

Realization is the first step. At least that’s what I am told. My problem is I say this to myself at least once a day.

I am not single, I am just alone A LOT. You can read the backstory in my previous blogs.

So every day, I do something that makes me realize why I am in the predicament I am in. Tonight was especially funny.

It’s Friday. Single women everywhere are preparing themselves for something. For some its work, others its to go out. I prepared myself in a different way. I feel as though its a more practical way. So I stop at the store on the way home from work and grab a few last minute Christmas gifts and snacks. I come home and take out the Nalahmonster, then get out of my work clothes. Turn on my favorite after work show, Hot Bench and Family Feud, and start filling out Christmas cards for my co-workers. Once I finish those up, I make a snack and cuddle up on the couch with the dog and start watching Scandal on Netflix. One particular episode they are talking about a gun being hidden for 10 years and not being rusted. This makes me remember that I haven’t cleaned my gun in months. So I continue watching the show while disassembling my gun and cleaning it.

This is where I realize what I am doing and laugh. Here I am, alone, snuggling my dog on the couch while watching Netflix and cleaning my gun. But, I prepared myself for something I guess. Heck if I wasn’t cleaning my gun I probably would have been in the gym, I’ll save that for Saturday night though.

Well hello December

I haven’t blogged in awhile. Life and shenanigans have gotten in the way and I have had zero free time. What have I been up to you ask??? Well let me see…..

Halloween I did a GoRuck Light with a couple friends. I dressed as a dinosaur, which turned out to be a terrible idea (for the second time). I am not sure my dinosaur onesie will ever be the same.


We spent a lot of time in the water and I am impressed by the amount of sand and water that can be held in a fleece suit. I am also impressed that I am still finding sand and shells in my ruck.

November…..I spent the first weekend in North Carolina. Had a pretty good time just relaxing. I am a full time student as well as working full time so most of my weekends involve homework and trying to catch up on sleep that I lose out on during the week.

Veterans Day…..after looking at the event calendar, I learned that there aren’t any special events for GoRuck in Virginia next year. So last minute I booked a hotel room in Charlottesville and registered for the GoRuck Challenge (Tough). My life was still crazy and I felt like I needed to do this for me. Plus there aren’t any other chances of me getting my GRT in for a few months and well I wanted to do it then.

For those that do not know, GoRuck Challenge is 10-12 hours of Good Livin. During those hours you will cover between 15-20 miles. I’m betting that doesn’t sound like fun to some of you. Give it a try!

So the event starts at 9pm on Friday. I take the day off work so I can pack and make sure I have everything together, then drive 3 hours to the hotel room and relax and get the dog set up for the night. I leave the hotel at 8pm, my phone says it will take me 15 minutes to get to SP but I also had to get cash and find a place to park. I should have left earlier. I couldn’t find parking as there was a UVA football game that same night. I finally find a place to park and end up running to find SP, which was easier than I thought it would be. 10 hours and 18 miles later I am limping around UVA campus lost and trying to find where I parked my car. I was tired and sore. I wanted nothing more than a hot shower and a warm bed. After limping around for an extra 40 minutes I finally get to where I parked the car (note: if you EVER go to UVA and park by a starbucks…..remember another place too because there is a starbucks on two sides of UVA and they are far apart….I know) and head back to the hotel. I take the dog out, shower, then crawl into bed. Of course I couldn’t sleep. Too sore to get comfortable. I napped off and on throughout the day. I was supposed to leave Sunday morning to head back to the beach but I got frustrated and left Saturday night, driving 3 hours off of barely any sleep. It was nice to get home and crawl into my bed and sleep all night comfortably though.


Besides being happy for finally becoming a GRT, working my butt off and trying to maintain my 4.0, I really haven’t been doing anything at all. I have two weeks left of busting my butt in school until I get a much needed break until January, and I leave in 2 weeks to go back to the mitten to spend the holidays with my family. Not sure I am ready for that kind of cold yet though.

Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank Marathon Review

IMG_5275When I woke up the morning of Sunday October 18, 2015 everything in my mind and body told me to stay in bed. It was 4:15am, I laid there and debated whether to go back to sleep or get up and get ready. It was nice and warm in bed, I could just “oversleep” since I haven’t been sleeping well. It seemed like it would be a good idea, but I forced myself to get up and begin to get ready.

My mom drove me downtown and was going to try to show up at random spots along the course to cheer me on. She was at my first half marathon and now she was going to be at my first marathon. I am very close with my mom, having her there made me happy. We arrive downtown and find a parking garage, then begin our walk to the starting area. I had so many feelings, nervousness was the predominant feeling. Could I do this? Well I decided that I would quit if I felt like I couldn’t. I didn’t have anything to prove to anyone except myself at this point.

I line up by corral J, which is what corral I had been placed in. I try calling the true athlete, who was at drill for the weekend. Voicemail. Try again. Voicemail. I text him telling him I had tried calling but it went right to voicemail. Then he calls me. The only thing I cared about was hearing his voice and him telling me good luck before I embarked on this 26.2 mile journey around Detroit and Canada. He told me good luck, to not push myself to where I got hurt, and that he knew I could do this. I cried. He was supposed to be there with me. He was supposed to be telling me this face to face, then sitting with my mom while I ran. It made me so sad he wasn’t there.

They called away to start the Canada National Anthem to be followed by our National Anthem. I take off my hat and stand with my hand over my heart. Being a Veteran, it really irritates me to see people walking around and talking during the National Anthem. This was the first race in a long time that I saw so many people being downright disrespectful. I made a comment to someone afterwards and they just ignored me. Such a shame.

I join the rest of the runners in corral J and say a quick prayer before the race starts. Then I look around and see a couple other runners with green bibs like mine. The green bib means it is your first marathon, those with more marathons under their belt had a blue bib. I walk over and tell a fellow newbie good luck out there. While waiting for the other corrals in front of us to begin we all look up and what do we see? Snow. All I could do is shake my head, Michigan never ceases to amaze me anymore. It was a chilly 30 degree start, around 26 degrees with the windchill. I hadn’t ran in weather like this since the winter lol. The day before I ran a 5k at Chene Park in Detroit so I had an idea about the weather. I bought gloves and a pair of cheap sweatpants that I could discard during the race if I needed to.

Finally our turn to start. We begin at a nice pace, just trotting along taking in the sites of Detroit around us. Then, the girl that was running next to me falls. I run and pick her up, asking her if she is alright. She shakes it off and continues along. I felt bad for her, tripping early in the race, hopefully it didn’t cause her any problems later on in the race. Everyone was talking and laughing while we began our journey towards the Ambassador Bridge.

The cool things about this race are this: you run across the Ambassador Bridge into Canada, then you run around Canada for a bit before running a mile underwater in the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel to get back into Michigan. You then run around Detroit before running across another bridge onto Belle Isle, run around part of the island then take the bridge back before beginning your journey to the finish line.

Running across the Ambassador Bridge was fun. You could see pretty far, would have been beautiful had the sun been out but it was a cloudy morning. We get to Canada and are welcomed by border patrol and a man with a microphone. He was a pretty funny guy, that announcer. He told us that strippers were included in our race fee, but they were afraid of shrinkage. I have always said, anything goes in Canada. As we round the corner from the bridge I decide its a good time to lose the sweatpants. I mean, I wanted to be able to say I lost my pants in Canada. On the Canada side of the race, the views of Detroit were great. I love Detroit skyline. The crowds cheering were a lot of fun. It seemed like Canada went fast because in no time we were coming up on border patrol again.

The tunnel was my favorite part of the race. It was warmer than it was outside. I could make loud sounds to hear the echo. Then we came up on the dividing line. Of course I took a picture pointing at both flags on the line. The we come out from underwater to be greeted by some of the most energetic border patrol ever. They were high giving us and telling us we got this. Round the corner to the street and were greeted by a crowd of people cheering us on. It was a cool feeling. All these people were braving the cold weather to cheer us on. Then we cross the timing mat and the announcer said my name and city over the speaker! I felt like I was famous. Crowds cheering and my name being called out. Really kept my head in the game. We ran along the freeway, which was a little boring but I was still feeling good from the tunnel so kept chugging along. I was looking for my mom along the way, I hadn’t seen her since the start but figure she went to nap in her car.

The amount of support along the course was great. There was a water stop every couple miles, restrooms were plentiful, people cheering in all the right places. We came up on a huge cheer station where Team RWB had their tent. They were handing out bacon and bourbon. Well we all know this wouldn’t work for me so I kept chugging along while people got their treats. We finally made our way to the halfway point. I was feeling good. Decide to call the true athlete to tell him I am at the halfway point and I am going all the way. Then I saw my mom! She was there cheering me on, I run over to her hug her and tell her Im doing good and going for it. She tells me I got this and I continue on my way.

It had been awhile since I felt good after a half marathon. I crossed the halfway point at 2:48, which was 12 minutes faster than my last half marathon. All things considering I was proud of myself. The next stretch was rough. It was a long lonely road. Not many people cheering, just the people at the water stops. We lost a large number of people, the international half marathoners finished. The US only half marathon had yet to begin, they were lined up waiting. We kept chugging along the lonely stretch of road, turning into a neighborhood. There was polish music, more alcohol, a huge “wall” we could run through, people cheering, kids laughing. It was a nice change of pace. Even the cops blocking the roads were happy and cheerful. Take a couple turns and then we are headed towards the bridge to Belle Isle. At this point I was tired. My body was sore. I had yet to hit the wall. I had all kinds of snacks and candy from people. Belle Isle itself was well supported. Nice cheering crowds and water stops. The wind on the island though was rough. Cross the bridge back and continue along. Then I hit the wall. I had been warned about what could happen. I was walking. I physically could not get my body to run again. It wouldn’t go. I felt helpless, but all I could do is laugh about not being able to run. We walked a bit more then I tried again. My knee had been hurting before. Then it started switching from knee to knee, I knew it was in my head, wanting me to quit. Telling me I couldn’t do it. But I had made it this far, I knew I would finish.

By the time we were heading towards the finish, other runners were leaving and telling us we only had a little bit further. Then I look up and see my mom again! Telling me to run, I tell her I can’t run anymore. She says she will run the last mile with me so I hobble to start my slow run. Then she stopped and fell behind on the phone. I just needed to keep going to finish this race. I could see the finish. Hearing the crowd. I cross the finish line with tears in my eyes. Crying. He was supposed to be there. He was supposed to rush to me and put my medal on me. Kiss me. Tell me he is so proud of me. I come up on the people handing out medals and I look at the girl, while I am still crying, and she says “I want to put the medal on the newbie.” Still crying I choke out a thank you and she hugged me. I get my heat blanket and I really feel like I did something. I did this. I ran a marathon. I get my picture taken, my snacks, then I wanted to hear his voice. That was all I cared about. He answers and says well??? I say I just finished. I am an international marathoner! He says congrats babe I am proud of you. Im crying. He is happy. I wish he was there. Despite everything. All I wanted, all I needed was him there with me.

Before we could leave I had to find my mom again and exchange my race shirts. I always seem to have issues with getting the right size. Every tech shirt seems to be different. These ones were small. Luckily I was able to get it exchanged after the race at the New Balance tent. I wanted the next size up, which they didn’t have so my shirt is a little big. I would rather it be a little big than too small. Heck, I just ran 26.2 miles, I was going to flaunt this shirt.

I was an international marathoner. I was part of the 1% of the population that has completed a marathon. I did it. Despite all that life had thrown at me in the last week. I did it.