Monday, October 6, 2014

Intro to Triathlons: Osprey Sprint (well MY intro into triathlons and we all know what kind of luck I have) (post 2)

The Silver Lining Sexy Bitches (mostly) of SOMD
Look at those waves....
Trying to tri is very new and different for me, unfortunately I'm still me so I have a certain set of expectations for myself.  When running a race you can control MOST of the race day factors, not so with triathlons.

When I am running a race my list of things I cannot control are:

  • Weather;
  • Other Runners;
  • Unexpected Illness, Fall or Injury; and
  • Misleading Race Descriptions/Course Malfunctions/parking and transportation/traffic (or a ½ Marathon that was 12.7 miles or so, whoops).
In Triathlons the list of things I have learned I cannot control based on my *VAST* experience of two tris include:

  • All of the above listed but replace Other Runners with Other Athletes;
  • Water conditions (too cold, hot, or choppy);
  • Jelly Fish
  • Forgetting equipment needed in the transition area;
  • All equipment functioning and in perfect working order;
  • All replacement parts for said equipment packed and on board AND in working order; 
  • Not drowning;
  • Wetsuit not coming unzipped;
  • Swim cap not falling off;
  • Tire not getting a flat;
  • Air compressor not getting stuck and over inflating/popping the spare inner tube; and
  • the list is freaking endless....
A sea of people.
Photo by Nicole McGee
The Osprey Sprint Triathlon was to take place in Snow Hill Maryland on October 4, 2014 and a group of us signed up and began our training in June.   I had had my eye on a triathlon for a long time but had never had the "perfect storm" of circumstances to get me motivated to try and tri.  Working with a group of women who were mostly new to the sport was a huge motivator, my running partner always wants me to train with her but she holds a very high USAT ranking and does full IronMans--training with her sounds super scary (although she has spent a lot of time convincing me to try to tri). 

October 4th is also the anniversary of my postpartum hemorrhage and hysterectomy or "PTSD Frenzy/Flashback Day" (think multiple blood transfusions and being awake in the ICU on a ventilator with a 3 day old baby) as I usually call it.  It's a very hard day to get through with any amount of sanity and I always try to have something fun to distract myself with or I literally fall apart, it's a day where everything has to go perfectly or I lose my shit.  So clearly signing up for a triathlon with the above list of non-controllable factors demonstrates my ability to make great decisions.

Fuck Logic!
Yes, I did. Don't Judge.
Luckily the group of women that I trained and travelled with are dynamic, kind, PATIENT, and incredibly supportive sexy bitches.  We all drove up the day before and had dinner together at a SUPER LOUD cabaret show/restaurant (which I chose (hanging head in shame) as I had been there for lunch and thought the food was yummy) but it was way too loud and long for folks who had to get up and race in the morning.

When we got back to the hotel my roommate and I prepared our race day gear and read through the race description one last time.  I actually slept incredibly well and after spending Sunday-Tuesday with a high fever I felt extra well rested and surprisingly healthy and ready for race day.  

No race is complete without a pre-race selfie.
We arrived at the race start with just enough time to get our transition areas set up, port-o-john visit, wet suit on and get to the open water swim start.  

The Swim:

The water was ROUGH, it was a ½ mile of giant waves tossing you around and each time you went to get a breath you got a mouthful of the Chincoteague Bay instead. Spoiler alert--it did NOT taste good.  My swim cap got kicked off my head about 3 minutes into the swim but I managed to hang on to it--why? I'll never know.  I magically finished the swim in 14:46 which is about 6 minutes faster than I had anticipated even BEFORE I saw how rough the water was.  I think I swam faster because I was desperate to get out of the water as I was terrified of drowning.  My transition time was a smooth and easy 1:43.
All of this, yes.  Tasty too.

The Bike:
The first two miles I felt like someone had put a jet pack on the back of my bike.  I was cruising at 20 mph and feeling amazing I was passing people younger than me and was in total shock at how strong I felt.  Then it happened.  FUCK.  Flat Tire.  

So, I've changed one inner tube in my life and that was only so that I would know how to do it in a pinch--NOT for time.  I pulled to the side of the road and got the tire off and was able to discern that the inner tube indeed had a puncture so it had to be replaced.  FUCK. Put the new tube in, attached the CO2 charger and filled it but the attachment WOULD NOT come off no matter how hard I pulled so it popped the tire with too much air.  FUCK.  It was at this moment that I lost my shit.  I had just wasted 10 minutes and did not have an extra inner tube--this is when I realized I was getting my first DNF on my PTSD day to boot, and the tears came, unexpected and unbidden.  Someone asked me if I needed help and I just said tell them to send someone to get me when you finish.  About 5 minutes later a van pulled up and I was getting ready to pack my bike in the back. But Buzz (who will forever be referred to as "Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue" in my mind) came flying out of his van with an inner tube and a pump.  He had my tire ready to roll in under 5 minutes, I introduced myself, got his name so I could remember my hero, and pedaled off as fast as I could.  

It's entirely possible I overreacted.
My Garmin shows a break of 21:23 on the side of the road but there is no way to calculate how that rest for my legs improved my time for the remainder of the cycle and then the run.  I finished the cycle portion in 1:12:30 with my 21 minute break included and averaged (per my Garmin) about an 18.5-20 mph pace.  Transition two was 1:17 but I was definitely starting to have a little pity party for myself.

An event like this might play to my strengths.
Plus, wouldn't this count as a brick workout???
The Run:
I just ran 3.1 miles on an out and back course.  My pace was just under a 9 minute mile but given how I had just over extended my legs to try and make up lost time on the cycle I'm totally OK with that pace.  I met a young athlete named Jason along the run who encouraged me to keep running and it helped, a lot, he was like a drill sergeant.   

Photo by Nicole McGee
My final time was 1:58:07.  I wish I could just subtract the 21 minutes and say OK, that's what my time COULD have been but I do not think it's that easy.  No matter how I try to reason it in my mind I know that the break my legs got gave me a lot more power in the cycle and run than I would have had otherwise.  More importantly the setbacks made me realize that even when things go wrong triathlons are incredibly fun, the extra challenges and unknowns make the sport that much more intriguing to me.  

On the drive home it also gave me something to focus on besides ventilators, blood transfusions, a missing uterus, and a gorgeous baby that came home from the hospital weeks before I was healthy enough to.  Triathlons as PTSD therapy--this could seriously be a thing.

As for the "Silver Lining Sexy Bitches" I hope we return each year and try to tri.  Maybe the same race, maybe new challenges, but definitely the same group of tri-warriors (different restaurant FOR SURE).

I had to show the pumpkins I bought on
the way home.  Tri-Season is over--let the
training for my spring races begin!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Intro to Triathlons (well MY intro into triathlons and we all know what kind of luck I have) (post 1)

I think I can get used to starting lines that look like this.
This summer has been all about training for a triathlon, I swam, biked, ran and bricked in every distance and variation that I could think of.  As with many marathoners/ultra-runners one day you start thinking to yourself that as much as I love running it's probably better for my body to mix it up a little.  My regular running partner does triathlons (um, Ironman Distance Triathlons) and while she has always been very encouraging and has tried to get me to train for one I have always been hesitant since she's so much more accomplished in the swim/cycle portion of the event.

Age on calf, genius.
Over the past year a friend of mine was diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer, given my history I spent a lot of time with her and helped where I could as she went through treatment.  In an effort to finish her journey with a silver lining she organized a group of her friends who are mostly new to triathlons to "try to tri" for the Osprey Sprint Triathlon in Snow Hill, MD.  Since most of us have never done a tri before this was far less intimidating for me and I was thrilled to jump on board and train with this amazing group of women (and they are completely awesome).

All of the essentials laid out 
in order of use.
As we trained I started thinking (I know--oh shit) that my body is geared more towards endurance, the distances of the Osprey sprint triathlon are: a ½ mile swim, 15 mile cycle and 3.1 mile run.  I was training with a 2 mile swim, 20 mile cycle and 15 mile run.  This does not seem right.  The obvious answer was to sign up for an olympic distance triathlon less than a week before the sprint, right????

I signed up for the Giant Acorn International Distance Triathlon in Lake Anna.  It was a 1 mile swim, 27 mile bike ride and 6.2 mile run.  PERFECT.  I got there early and got all marked up with my bib # on my arm and leg and my age and category on the back of my calf (I think all running races should do this--so if I am behind and see a woman with a 38 I know I don't have to give that extra push to pass her to win my age group and if you have not figured that I am competitive that way then I cannot help you).

Cycle and transition gear ready to go!
After this I immediately saw a friend of mine from the gym in the restroom and our bib/transition area assignments were even close since we were both novices.  This was the BEST way to start my first tri.  I knew I was suffering from a case of pre-race/new-experience jitters but I just let it go and set up my transition area for the tri.  Everything looked in order, so I got in the wetsuit and waited for my wave to start.

The water was perfect and calm in Lake Anna, I had people swimming over me and it was fine.  I kept swimming way out from the buoys, then back in, then back out,  but I was going for the experience so I was totally fine with it.  As I made the last turn for the final ⅓ mile or so I started to realize that I really was not feeling very well.  My head hurt and I felt a little weaker than I should, the water was way too warm and my level of exertion was way too high to have chills.  I of course, ignored this.
Yup, that smooth. NOT.
My very first transition ever was upon me and I was determined to rock it.  I transitioned in 3:08 which was far better than I expected.  On to the cycle.  Soooooo....I have never cycled more than 25 miles or so on anything but flat terrain.  I was not the tiniest bit physically or mentally prepped for the hilly 27 mile cycle, especially since it became increasingly clear to me that I was suffering from more than a simple case of pre-race jitters.  Mike was home with a cold and fever and I was beginning to guess that he had shared with his dear and loving wife.  More than once I thought--"DNF, why not?"  Since I've never DNF'd ANY kind of race, I was not prepared to let my first tri be the race to carry those letters.
This I think I can do.

On to T2.  1:43---YIPPEE.  In and out.  The 10K was VERY hilly but it finished with a wonderful downhill and I was able to maintain a sub 9:30 pace which I am actually proud of given that my temp was 102 when I got home.  The Giant Acorn International was an extremely friendly and perfectly organized race especially for someone who had no clue what in the heck they were doing.  Like, even a little clue.

Even though I had to spend the next two days in bed I am so glad that I went and tried to tri.

My final time was 3:22:35 which put me way at the end of the pack but I DID IT.  Hooray for low expectations and exceeding them!  The best part is that the two women I ran into from my area both won first in their category.  One of them kicked ass as the overall female novice winner and the other was #1 in the Athena category.  Way to go SOMD ATHLETES!

Why I normally stick to just running.  In this instance I ½ assed two things AND whole assed one thing.  I am leaning towards a tri-addiction.  I cannot lie when I tell you that my Iron Man running partner is more than a little excited.
Have you ever tried for a tri?  

What went right and what went wrong?  My transitions were good, everything else...meh?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Endless Summer 6-Hour Run 2014

This is my second time running this race but it is the race that I spend the most time explaining.  The concept is actually quite simple; there is a 4.1 mile course that you run as many times as you can in 6 hours--when you are fairly certain you are nearing your last lap you are handed a flag and when the air horns blare you plant your flag with your bib number on it and that is your total mileage.

When I ran this race two years ago I was in AMAZING shape and had the best running season I probably will ever experience.  I was averaging sub 20 5K's and had PR'd my 10 mile, 10K, 50K, and marathon time--all in under 4 months.  When I did it in 2012 partial laps were not counted so you stopped if you questioned whether you would be able to finish 4.1 miles in the remaining time. This kind of sucked because I had almost 20 minutes left so while my distance is clocked at 36.9 for 2012 I think I could have finished 39 miles easy.  I was still cracking out cartwheels and headstands at this point and feeling zero pain.
⅓ of the way in and still loving life....
Photo by Denise Hyde

Fast forward to 2014...
This summer I have been out of town, teaching aerobics, going to meetings and taking so many medications that I can't tell if I'm sick and need medicine or sick from the medicine.  Either way the side effects are edema, weight gain, swelling, fatigue, nausea, headache, and dizziness.  None of these are super for running but I went from averaging about 60 miles a week to 12-18 a week yet I still decided that ES6 was the race for me.  It's the best ultra because you simply go for six hours and can drop out whenever or walk as much as you like as there is no set distance.

Here's the wrinkle--if I sign up on "UltraSignUp" this means I am running an ultra and that is defined as a distance longer than a marathon.  No excuses, no discussion, donkey ass stubborn.  Although I feel like I am designed to be an ultra runner, endurance, decent speed, and the ability to stop and walk and pick right back up--this was pushing my current abilities a bit beyond their limits.  The fact that I had taught 3 Body Pump classes in 3 days and woke up crazy sore both Friday and Saturday should have clued me in to take things a little easier--but I'm not bright.

You get to see this every 4 miles so it's all good.
Photo by Denise Hyde
5 of us drove up in the "Swagga Wagon" leaving Southern Maryland for Annapolis at 5:45.  We got there in plenty of time to hear the pre-race instructions and even listen to the National Anthem (best way to get race ready--especially when you're raising money for the Semper Fi Fund).  Temperature wise this was the coolest ES6 on record, we were excited and ready.  Laps 1-4 were great, I felt like I was on my average long run (all of the aerobics classes were still forgiving me for my lack of actual running time).

Lap 5 everything started to fall apart--I got a chance to run with our race director for a few miles and explain to him that we actually pack the van with women every year just by showing them his picture and explaining that they get to see him shirtless at least once every four miles.  Although he thought I was joking--this is EXACTLY how we get a large SOMD contingent heading to this race.

Later in the lap I ran into a friend and while having a nice chat I managed to get stung by a yellow jacket right where my sock meets my skin (day two it's a gorgeous black and blue swollen mess--lucky lucky).  This rubbed for the last three laps and while it slowed me down I think a lack of training and an abundance of health issues are what kept my mileage to incredibly low.

I finished my 7th lap about one minute before the six hour mark--hell yeah!  I kept running to plant my flag though.
As always this race is just one of those that are incredibly well run, as error free and friendly as they get with the BEST VOLUNTEERS EVER.  We always say that the volunteers are the best at almost every race--but they always are.  I was smiling and cart wheeling my way through but I have to say that I lacked my normal exuberance.  My body and my mind were simply exhausted from just surviving this past year.
....and walking today.  The best part is that I PAID to do this.
While running makes me extremely happy--this year has been full of set backs and re-routes in my life (totaled car, thrown out back, and illness in general--driving my daughter to and from NIH twice a week for clinical trials has been the icing on the cake).  Things are finally settling down and this race was truly an opportunity to just reconnect.  Reconnect with running, racing, with my AMAZING running friends and the running community.  It was the polar opposite of the Frozen Heart 50K (pun intended) and even though every muscle in my body ached and I chafed in places that connected with nothing but air--mentally I was soaring.
Holy Burning Quads Batman
Once the final tally is in I believe that I will show a finish in the top half of the crowd mileage wise (29 miles and change) but mentally I feel like I WON.  My quads and hams are singing heavy metal death songs and my back and calves are about to get their mouths washed out with soap given the language they set off in my mind.
Hangs Head in Shame
I feel ready again.  Mentally and physically I am ready to get back on the running wagon...finishing gross and disgusting and having one of my favorite runners ignore all of that nastiness and give me a giant hug simply because he was glad to see me sealed the deal.

Wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter, RUNNER.  For balance I need all of it.  This year I hope to replace "patient" with "runner".

Let the race begin.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lululemon~~The Negative Publicity Keeps on Rolling....

OK lululemon athletica , I have closets full of your clothing and have spent entirely too much money wearing and promoting your brand only to find that your idea of Compassionate Capitalism falls somewhere between subpar and non-existent.  I was lucky enough to have one of the Lululemon "Guest Educators" debate the benefits of their Corporate NOT giving policy with me.

I'm sure she could win a debate on the benefits of Luon vs. Luxtreme for Bikram, sadly she would have been out maneuvered and outwitted on almost any other topic.
I am chairing the auction at the my daughter's school and after checking your corporate giving policies and realizing that 60% of your "Metta Movement" funds were distributed at the store level, I went to the Lululemon Bethesda store to ask for a possible product or gift card donation. Each time I recant this story I find myself amused at the store manager's idea of corporate giving. She very firmly told me they do not give product or gift card donations but if I submitted a "written proposal" for my charity they would talk about it at the next team meeting and if they thought it was "cool" maybe one of them could "come be a greeter or something". I asked if this was similar to "Kohl's Cares" where they volunteer and then the school receives a $500 grant from Kohls Corporate and clearly confused--she was like, "no, you get one of us as a greeter". Mind you, I shop at this location AT LEAST twice a month.

Please--Stop and explain to me one more time why I should think having a random stranger greet people they don't know at an event they have deemed "cool" is helpful and charitable.  I'm still perplexed.
After informing her that I was done shopping and promoting for Lululemon I got online and did some research on how much you all give to charity. It was sad, very very sad. There is the one incident in Dallas where you gave $10,000 to smooth over hurt feelings with a battered women's shelter after putting a HUGELY inappropriate display in your window (they denied your lame offer of free yoga classes and explained that battered women don't need yoga--they NEED shelter, food, clothing, legal counsel and protection), $14,000 for yoga for veterans, yet overall your Compassionate Capitalism is disappointing and insulting to the people who build your brand up with their business AND wear it while teaching over 200 students a week in fitness classes. All the while singing the Lululemon praises and product endorsements along the way.
I didn't even try to hide it.
I've learned a lot chairing this auction and my favorite lesson is that Athleta was happy to give our school a $100 gift card--at the store level with no "insider connections" and they have a powerful Compassionate Capitalism program. They also are happy to have instructors wear their product with a 30% discount.

Hello Athleta, buh bye Lululemon with your fat thighs and see through pants.  I'll enjoy wearing what I have but until you get a soul I'm out, but don't worry--I'll still trash your policies at every turn. I'm vengeful that way.
I'm hoping that you address this problem soon because there is no way I will purchase anything from Lululemon until I have a clearer understanding of your Compassionate Capitalism design and giving program and it is more generous than it stands now. Being "a greeter or something" does not cut it, sorry. If you want my business and something beyond negative publicity from your target demographic there needs to be a change. While corporations can choose what to do with their profits I can choose to shop at ones that actually give financially to their community--not waxing poetic over their lack of actual charity.

Yes, to get my business you actually do. Sorry if I expect you have a conscience even when you did not screw up and offend an entire town with your window advertisements.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Frozen Toes 50K Swamp Tromp

Race Recap—Frozen Heart 50K 
February 15, 2014

I’ve done my fair share of ultras, on many different types of terrain and in all types of weather but none of these experiences quite prepared me for the Frozen Heart 50K.  Going into this 50K I knew I was not in peak condition but I am NEVER lacking for motivation and rabid determination; I just assumed these traits would carry me through.  At first my running partner and I were planning on running two loops but I decided that I have always wanted to run an ultra in St. Mary’s on my favorite trail so I was going for all three (heck I’ve run solo ultras there 4 or 5 times but my mini-van was the only aid station).

The week before the ultra was full of scattered showers and snowstorms, we even had actual accumulation on Wednesday the 12th, which we all knew was destined to melt and make for a fun and festive muddy mess.   Almost everyone local had taken the time to run a portion of the newer section of the course and one thing I knew for sure was the new sections were going to be muddy—they just exceeded all of my expectations times at least ten.

Race morning was cold but I was feeling excited and ready.  I was signed up to help with check in and was surprised at how many people were still planning on running all three loops given the multiple phases of weather forecasted for the day—rain, sleet, wind, and snow.  The original prediction called for rain all night, continuing all day until it changed to sleet then snow, although I don’t mind running in the rain I HATE starting in the rain.  Luckily the morning was dry and the real rain waited about two hours into the run to start, but it was COLD. 

As the race began (down an icy slope onto the single track portion of the trail) my running partner and I situated ourselves at the back of the pack and we essentially walked until the dam crossing where runners started separating themselves by pace.  After turning back on to the single track it got icy and wet—quick.  Parts of the trail that tend to be slightly muddy were ankle deep with slushy icy mud and runners were already beginning to fall on a fairly consistent basis. 
I miss MXC sometimes
It felt like this...with ice.
The real fun began on the new section or fire road section of the creek (I mean trail)—this is where we discovered that we had signed up for a triathlon—swim, hike and run (the gymnast acrobatic falls and flips were just for extra points).  For most of us we had reached the point where trying to keep our shoes dry was completely futile and began just trudging through the ankle to mid shin deep standing water/mud on the “trail”.  “Frozen Heart” became the misnomer as everything but our hearts were frozen, staying upright with forward momentum took a lot of cardio-vascular warmth and strength—all appendages trended towards a purplish blue cold hue. 
Yes, I asked myself this more than once....
I cartwheeled into aid station one and the spread of food and warm smiles and hugs we were met with puts this 50K above all others.  We had energy balls, food, drink, more food, more drink, warmed up hand warmers, offers to open and refill our bottles, basically concierge service at its finest.  As we tearfully left the warm welcoming sight of Tom, Sue, Becky, Marcus and Lara we continued running in the creek (trail) and made our way to the end of loop one.

The next aid station with the warming tent was nearly impossible to leave, Kara had seriously put EVERY ultra to shame with the spread of food, soup and hot chocolate she had put together.  Our hands had become useless extensions of our body that could do NOTHING.  I had to ask everyone to open, unwrap, fill and fiddle with anything needing adjustments.  Only 21 miles to go. 
I actually caught the bottle, then my fingers said "I'm sorry, I am no longer working"

My running buddy was only signed up for two laps and she was convinced that the only thing stupider than showing up and running the first loop, was sticking to her commitment to run the second loop.  This was definitely a “you had to be there” race to understand just how horrible the conditions were and just how cold you can be while maintaining forward momentum.  Lap two was colder and it had begun to snow, an added bonus was growing gusts of wind; we forged ahead. 
swoopin' in for dat d
The hilarity on this lap was ridiculous because we KNEW just how bad it was going to get.  One of us possibly slid down a muddy embankment into the deep water (I mean trail), another one of us might have leaned on a tree after losing a shoe in the mud (for the 12th time) and broken the tree and landed on her bottom, there may have been some inappropriate language as brambles ripped open the skin on our legs as tried to avoid the thigh deep water on the “trail”.  Yet as we came up to the aid station the promise of homemade brownies and Rice Krispie treats made all of this OK (and yes, there were still cartwheels—we run happy).
Puddles--What Puddles?

At the conclusion of lap 2 it was time for my running partner to head home and me to continue on.  Poor Cindy had just shown up to volunteer and I had to ask her to pull off my socks—ewwwww—because I wanted to start this lap warm and dry (this was a very good call).  My hands could no longer do ANYTHING so completing this task was a team effort, I don’t know who all helped me, but thanks!

Having been at check in I knew that there were a lot of folks signed up to finish all 3 laps but as I ran (slowly jogged in order to not fall) I realized that I was ALONE.  I saw a couple of runners/hikers not in the race along the trail but mostly I was by myself.  The quiet snowy run was AWESOME and I just went at my own pace and managed to stay upright having fresh dry clothes kept me warm.  Lara, Tom and Becky were still at the aid station and were peppy and helpful—since my hands were finally warm I had to opt out of the traditional aid station cartwheel.

As I was finishing the final 2 miles Blaine ran up along my side collecting the flags and Perry and Becky made an amazing on course cheering squad in the final mile.  Seeing the mostly empty parking lot and warm welcome smiles at the finish was AWESOME.  Marcus greeted me with a bear hug and a twirl; I still had a cartwheel left in me and let’s be honest after 32.6 miles per my Garmin it was a well earned cartwheel.   Crystal and team made sure I had plenty of snacks and drinks and the bonus was my husband and oldest daughter Gracie showed up to cheer me in. 

It took me 8 ½ hours to finish this beastly course but considering only 22 people completed all 3 laps I’ll take it as a personal victory and proof that if you try hard enough you can finish any race, in any conditions, given the right mindset.  Mine was don’t throw in the towel, use it to wipe off the mud, grime and snow, and then keep on going.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Please click here to donate if you are able, if not... kindly share this link with your friends and family. Thanks!

Today I cancelled my hotel reservation for The Boston Marathon and I thought I would be sad, but instead I felt a bit of elation.  July 30th, that is the date, I will be running my portion of the Coast to Coast for Cancer Marathon into DC, as the date draws near I feel a spark and hunger for adventure, it’s almost like a giant springboard towards something new and amazing.  Yes, I have run a marathon, I have certainly raised money for different organizations, but to run 26.2 miles FOR cancer as a cancer survivor while raising $7,500 to help other cancer patients gives me a feeling that I do not think I can put into words.  I truly hope that if you are able to run with me that day you will join me for some, if not all of the miles.  You can purchase a mile for $200, and dedicate it to whomever you wish (but you can run with me regardless of donation).

Giving back, paying it forward, call it what you will…I still deal physically with the aftermath of a horrific birth experience as well as the many effects that cancer and the treatment have had on my body, but here I am, running marathons to help people in my same situation; for the first time in my life I feel like screaming “look at me, look at me”, the feeling is that be able to give back as I am still going through it. 

Running after cancer is THE BEST!!!!
As I raise money through your generous donations I am helping other cancer patients by providing direct patient care, yet on some level I am hoping that I may offer someone a spark of hope, a beacon of hope.  Having gone through cancer at age 36 I did not have anyone I could look to or relate to…I pray that you will share my story if you know ANYONE going through cancer and the rigors and hell of treatment.  Let them know that you can thrive after and even during treatment, that cancer does not end your life…it simply changes your journey.  Your cancer may cause your body to eventually fail but all bodies fail one day, my goal has always been to keep my cancer from killing my spirit.  God has blessed me with an indomitable will, an unusual energy level, and dauntless determination…cancer can take NONE of those things from me…unless I allow it to...sorry folks, I am rooting for me on this one!

If you have been considering donating to my race please do so…do it now!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Being a Medtronic Global Hero...

Medtronic Global Hero
Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon Weekend
October 2, 2011 (Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota) 

Each year the Medtronic Global Heroes program chooses 25 runners from around the world who benefit from medical technology to participate in the Twin Cities Marathon or Ten Mile Run (2011 included runners from Spain, Australia, Brazil, Sweden, Israel, United States and more).  Most of the runners chosen benefit from the use of insulin pumps, pacemakers and stents but I was chosen for being a runner with an Interstim device (sacral nerve stimulator).  Further explanation perhaps….

On October 1st, 2007, we joyously welcomed our third daughter into the family.  The C-section went smoothly and we were looking forward to a speedy recovery.  Unfortunately, things did not go as planned.  Sixty hours after her birth, barely alive, I was rushed into surgery to evacuate a massive retroperitoneal hemorrhage that had displaced my bladder and kidneys and caused my lungs to collapse.  Unfortunately due to the size of the clot and the length of the pressure, permanent nerve damage had been done to my bladder and it no longer emptied naturally, requiring the use of catheters.

I woke up in the ICU on a ventilator, minus a uterus, 57 staples running from my chest all the way down my belly and a long way from recovery.  My baby, along with my dreams of a large family, went home two weeks before I did.  It took an amazing nurse, numerous blood donors, extremely supportive friends and family, and a lot of inner strength to begin my journey back to health.  As we began to search for answers for the bladder issues, with a seven month old baby in tow, I was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer and had to have a double mastectomy.

Enter the run…
I was extremely athletic but never able to run long distances due to my large breasts.   My newly created physique from the mastectomies enabled me to run, and run I did.  Within a year I was logging 50 miles a week on average and found that it really helped me heal emotionally as well as physically.  During this time I also found a Urogynecologist at Washington Hospital Center that not only was able to diagnose the exact nature of my bladder issues, she was able to FIX them with a sacral nerve stimulator, bye-bye catheters…hello long runs with the ability to empty my bladder.  I entered my first race, the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in 2010 and finished with a time of 1:22:01.  My second race, a week later was the Hospice 10K in Leonardtown; I came in second for women and first in my age group.  The seed had been planted and I was hooked.

Living LARGE in the Twin Cities!
When I heard about the Global Heroes Program, I decided to apply never expecting to be selected.  I really liked the premise of the program, it helps illustrate that your body can overcome so much and with enough work, passion and dedication it is possible to come back and be as strong as or even stronger than ever.  We are often surrounded by people with excuses or an “I can’t” attitude, this program is for the people who stand up and decide that obstacles are meant to hurdled, cleared or completely obliterated!

Beautiful City, Beautiful People
Medtronic paid airfare, race entry, hotel, food, and limousine transportation for my husband and me while we were in the twin cities (in addition to making a $1000 donation in my name to the National Association for Continence).  As a Global Hero I also had special race recognition and a ton of free swag from Medtronic and Twin Cities in Motion.  At some point I decided that this race was going to be an experience for me, NOT just another race.  I gave myself a broad goal of a 5 hour finish time and decided I was going milk this experience for all it was worth.  As a mom to three young girls it is NEVER about me, I thought that for these five hours I would make it ALL about me!

Medtronic Twin Cities is dubbed “The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America” and I have to agree.  For 26.2 miles we ran through park like settings, around four beautiful lakes with historic homes on one side of the road and water on the other.  At about mile 20 we began a pretty good climb which took us across the Mississippi River into St. Paul where we ran down streets, including infamous Summit Avenue, with it’s gorgeous mansions and immaculate landscaping.  We started off in the heart of Minneapolis and finished in front of the State Capitol in St. Paul. 

From the start of the race to the end, there was always someone nearby ringing a bell, blowing a horn or banging blue Medtronic clappers, the course was stacked with people 3-6 deep waving signs and wearing costumes.  Most of these “cheerleaders” also knew what the Global Hero shirt meant and gave us a little extra hoot and holler.  The whole city comes together for this race and it is literally a giant block party. 

Love Medtronic
At mile 19.5 I hit the Medtronic tent and as one of their Global Heroes I felt it necessary to crack out a few cartwheels for posterity (and because that is just the kind of energy I have) and then move on my merry little way (with a few hugs and smiles (plus I was only at 3:00:30 (a good 55 minutes ahead of my goal time)).  At mile 21.7 I met a nice man named Jerry sitting in front of his HUGE MANSION handing out beer, I decided that this would be a good time to sit down and make a new friend while drinking a (3 ounce) beer (again, still at least 50 minutes ahead).  He even let me use his chair, since I was running a marathon and had clearly exerted myself a trifle more than he had.  At mile 23.2 I met a lovely woman named Nora, she makes the best bloody Marys EVER.  We sat and chatted for a few minutes while sharing (a very small) drink and a piece of celery but since I WAS in the middle of something I had to get going.  At this point I was still well ahead of my goal time so when I came along a line of bounce houses at mile 24 I just had to take a turn.  Surprisingly not many of the runners took the time to enjoy the toys and games along the way.  I had fun taking off my sneakers for a few minutes and playing with some of the children that had been cheering for the runners all morning. 

Making this an experience rather than a race was probably the best plan I have ever had.  This is a race where the whole city is involved.  The number of signs, costumes and bands along the way was simply overwhelming.  For the six days we spent in the Twin Cities I truly felt like a hero and the marathon was the ultimate expression of that feeling.  As I crossed mile 25 the tears came, unexpected and unbidden, tears perhaps of gratitude for being included in something extraordinary, a once in a lifetime experience.  Yet, as I crossed mile 26.2 my cheers and screams of joy could be heard above the announcer.  I finished in 4:19:14, I ran well, I ran strong, I think that if I had pushed just a little I would surely have had a Personal Best, but I think there is a lot to be said for having a personal best time emotionally.  For me, this marathon was 259 minutes of consecutive smiles, a chance to celebrate life and appreciate the obstacles that make each footfall of each mile so meaningful. 

Here is the link to the Global Heroes Program, if you or anyone you know qualifies I encourage you (or them) to apply.  It is a once in a lifetime experience and truly a celebration of life.

I leave you with a thought that a good friend shared with me:
I do not run to add days to my life but rather I run to add life to my day!

This is one happy Global Hero