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 invigorating...to 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

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Boston Derailed...

Not this year for me...
maybe one day,
but then maybe not.
Life will certainly
go on...which is awesome.
So as we all know I have been training for the Boston Marathon for quite some time now…Boston is officially out and I have been derailed, sidetracked and otherwise redirected.  About 10 weeks ago I began having a lot of pain in my left tibia…I assumed this was a previous stress fracture from two years ago reasserting itself.  Turns out my last tibial stress fracture was in my right leg and this one was brand-new.  DAMN.  Broken.  THIS does not make Boston look very promising.
Looking for a bright side to this situation I decide that I will take up swimming (immediately jumping into two slow miles a day) and preparing to unleash my inner triathlete.  Since running is out I decide that it is time to get my Interstim replaced (bladder pacemaker) it had not been working for over 4 months and having the ability to empty my bladder is always an added bonus in my very unique little universe.
Running Boston has never been a bucket list item or life goal for me and I am not devastated to miss it, but I am disappointed…for me there would be a kinship with people insane enough to train at that level, shocker right?
Whatever happens at least I won't be doing this for 26.2 miles...
Still swimming and finding comfort working towards a new goal of a triathlon I find out about this AWESOME marathon opportunity.  They are having a Coast-to-Coast marathon to raise money for cancer (Donate Here)…all types of cancer.  There will be 160 runners passing a baton across the ENTIRE country traversing 4,000 miles from Washington State to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware and I am going to be one of those runners…WOO-HOO…this is WAY better than Boston for me.
This is me knowing that I get run
 and help patients with cancer at the same time.
Oh yeah...I've got swagger.
As a breast cancer survivor people always want to know why I do not do more Komen events, the three-day and all of the races…etc.  I am a HUGE supporter of Komen and breast cancer fundraising in general, but so are a lot of people.  The Coast-to-Coast marathon assists patients with ALL types of cancer and that makes me happy. 
Having gone through breast cancer I can assure you that thanks to Nancy Brinker and the Susan G. Komen foundation every single aspect of breast cancer is either covered by your insurance or financed by any one of a number of amazing organizations.  I have watched too many of my friends with other types of cancer fight tooth and nail to get even very basic needs covered by insurance. 
Please come and be
indomitable with me!
Needless to say this race is the first of its kind…runners going from Coast-to-Coast with the goal of raising a million dollars towards cancer research and direct patient care.  My portion is $7,500 and I am going to need your help to get there…please consider donating or even “buying a mile” for $200 (Donate Here).  You can also form your own team or join mine and raise money with me and join me on race day (sometime around July 25th in the DC area…specific time and day soon).
I would love a crowd of my friends and supporters there to fight cancer with me.
Although Boston is not in my immediate future I am feeling lots of new and exciting things on the horizon…Boston Derailed…absolutely.  Opportunity knocking?  Always.  Swimming, Triathlons, Coast-to-Coast for Cancer and a chance to give something back.
Life is full of amazing blessings.
I came across this just this morning:
When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, “I used everything you gave me.”
-Erma Bombeck
Do you want to join me on my big run?
Can you donate?
Do you always try to find the opportunity in the disappointments? 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Boston Training: The Good, The Bad, The Stupid…

Boston is officially under three months away and I have amped up my training schedule slowly but surely.  When my friends are training for Marathons or ½ marathons they often ask me for my advice or how I have trained for specific distances.  Since my running consists of less than 4 years of experience and I am always in the hospital with a bowel obstruction or having surgery I am not sure I am the best person to ask…but I am always happy to help.

Pretty much sums it up....
Typically my response is to encourage them to look online and find a training plan that fits into their schedule and help them reach their goals (faster pace, longer distance, whatever).  If they tell me they want to train like I do I remind them that I am crazy but will give them some of my “trade secrets”.
1.          I have never followed a training plan.  With three children, one husband, two dogs, and recurring hospital stays I cannot consistently follow any training plan.  When you layer in my part time job teaching aerobics it really becomes tricky…trying to run 15 miles after teaching two Spinning classes is not something I can do on a regular basis.
2.         On any given day I am *READY* to run a marathon.  I may not be ready to have a BQ time but if I’m given 24 hours notice chances are I can pop out 26.2 miles…no problem (this is NOT sarcasm).
3.         When preparing for a marathon I am typically registered for 2 or 3 ultra marathons as well…my long runs are actually long races.  For example, the Boston Marathon is on April 15th, 2013 my training “plan” includes running an 8 hour race on February 2nd, and a full marathon on March 10th.  
My general attitude towards maximum weekly mileage.
4.         To clarify, an 8 hour race is basically what it sounds like.  A bunch of crazy trail runners line up in freezing cold weather and try to run as many miles as they can in under 8 hours.  Whoever runs the furthest gets to win.  I am not classifying this effort as sane, but it certainly helps you get your long run in for the week.
Race Cartwheels...a must.
5. There are several things that I personally find especially helpful while in hardcore training mode.  I do a lot of weight lifting (Body Pump) and yoga (Body Flow), granted as an instructor in these programs getting paid to train offers a bit more incentive.  Additionally it keeps me strong and limber for when I need to do cartwheels at rest stops or headstands post race (and yes, these are necessary skills to demonstrate at races).
It's just a good idea =)
6.         Speed and hill work are always on my list of must-dos.  Usually my idea of a speed workout is to go on a 10-12 mile run and sprint for ½ a mile and then jog slowly for a mile.  As for hill work I get on the Step Mill/Gauntlet at the gym for 60 minutes and try to climb 7-8 miles of stairs, it is not easy but it makes for a strong butt.  Lately I have been reading a lot of articles saying that runners get a lot of injuries due to weak glutes, I hope to not have that problem.
The law of my run.  Single track trail, slowest runner in front of me
will NOT let me pass.  No speed work today.
7.         Lastly my general philosophy goes along the lines of: just because you’re training for a 10K does not mean that you cannot follow a ½ marathon schedule.  When I train my goal is to increase my ability to run longer distances a little faster over time…without getting hurt.
It has taken me almost four years to get where I am and I have no clue what I am doing.  Essentially I have learned to run through trial and error, asking my running friends for advice, and a whole lot of research and reading.  I have tried a lot of different methods and strategies and have finally found what works for me. 
I love to run really really far and as I get stronger my speed gets faster.  My advice is to do what feels good for you and if it hurts...don’t do it. One thing I always remind myself when I start to overdo is that I would like to be able to run for a very long time.  It’s my happy place and I pray I will be doing it into my 80’s…and yes, I realize I will eventually have to scale back my training.
Good luck!
What’s your next race?
Do you follow Hal Higdon or one of the other popular training plans?
Which have you found to be the most effective?