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A Journey Not Yet Done…..

On April 7th I applied to join the Sandy Hook Promise NYC Marathon Team.   I was nervous, but I also knew that this was a cause that I whole heartedly believed in.   I also knew that it would be a long shot for me to make the team.   To my surprise, a month latter I got notification that a spot was mine if I would accept not just the challenge of running 26.2 miles, but also agreeing to raise $3,000.   As much as I knew I would say yes, I also had panic attacks thinking that if I didn’t reach my goal I would be responsible for it.   That being said if I had thousands of dollars to donate on my own I would have jumped without thought, but I’ve got 3 kids with one just starting college.   This was a huge commitment to take on.   One that I couldn’t refuse though.  There were many reasons to politely walk away.

I did it anyway.

Over the next month, there were contracts to be signed, forms to be completed, and registering through NYRR for NYC Marathon.   Then I was able to get my fundraising page set up on May 30th.

Fundraising Page

Off I went.

Fast forward to today where I have reached my goal.   I know that I have said this before, but I have been blown away time and time again during this process.    It has touched my soul to see the outpouring of support for Sandy Hook Promise.    I still remember talking with a friend more than a year after the tragedy at Sandy Hook.   She said to me, “You are very angry and I think you need to do something.”

She was right.   I was angry.   I was angry that more people weren’t angry.   I was angry that more wasn’t being done to prevent these tragedies which continued to happen.   I was angry because I did feel helpless, but then I realized that I wasn’t alone in my anger and wanting to bring about change.    As soon as I learned of the Sandy Hook Promise organization, I became a supporting member.   I continued to share their message and work for change.

As time passed Sandy Hook Promise has grown into more than just a promise, but a plan of action.   They have evolved.   Currently they offer free to schools and communities programs such as Know the Signs,  SOS signs of Suicide Prevention Program, Start with Hello,  and a Safety and Intervention program.    I have been told that my school district will be implementing the Start with Hello program this coming school year.   These free resources to schools are not free and can only happen with the donations that are made to Sandy Hook Promise.

It is with this thought that I decided to tackle my personal fundraising.   I firmly believe that we need to do better for our children.   As hokey as it sounds (and you hear Whitney in your head when I say it)….

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride
To make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

This could not be more true and it is up to us as the adults to lead the way.   Although there are many children who are bolding leading it too.

This whole journey from seeing the application by chance to today has been surreal.    Everything has felt like it has fallen into place and each step has felt like it was meant to be even if I can honestly say there was much anxiety in the beginning.   At some point though, I knew it would all fall into place and if it didn’t that was ok too.   Some might see these as coincidences.   I have started to see them as the signs that they are.

When I joined this campaign, I joined for no other reason than I believe in this cause and want to make a difference in the way that I can.   I find it fitting that exactly 2 months to the day of starting my fundraising that I have met my goal.   Even more fitting that a very dear friend was the one to take me over my goal.   That being said, I am so appreciative of everyone who has supported not me, but Sandy Hook with their donations.   One of my favorite expressions is Together We Can Make a difference and it is amazing to see that in action.

That being said, I’m going to continue this journey for Sandy Hook right up till I cross that finish line and even after:)

 

 

What’s In the Bag?

Today marks 100 days till NYC Marathon.   Training is underway and while some days I do wonder What I was thinking, overall I think it is going good.   I’ve got some kinks to work out and I think adjusting on my Garmin will help with that.    That is what training is for…. not just to get the body ready, but to work out the kinks.

So while training is underway, I got an email for Bag Check.   Many races, it really is a no brainer to check because it really makes no difference.   NY is different.   If you do not check a bag, you get a super comfy Poncho at the end of the race.    It is like getting into a warm blanket at the end of the race.   Ahhhhh.

Last time I ran NY, there was no thought.   I wanted the Poncho.   Besides feeling like heaven at the end of a long day, it says NYC Marathon on it.   As a soccer mom, I must admit that it has come in handy on the sidelines there too.   That being said, this time I don’t need to get a poncho since I already have one, but it would be nice at the end of the marathon.

Also if you check a bag, it does take longer to get out of the park when your done running.    The downside though to not checking a bag is that you do not have any additional items that you may want at the end either.   You know like a change of clothes.   Maybe a sweatshirt.   Additional calcium and such.    There is much to think of because these are all good things to have at the end of a long day.

That being said last time I ran NY, I had none of the above mentioned things and I survived.  So as of now it is a toss up.

But I’m pretty sure that I am going with the Poncho.   I’ve got time to think this through and I’m sure that I will change my mind several times right up until I hit send.   And then I will question myself some more.

What do you plan to do?

Getting It Done

The thing about having an “invisible” illness, a complicated illness, a rare illness is that your start to wonder if it’s all in your head.   It’s easy to do too, because most of the time you keep it to yourself.  Then if you do say something many don’t understand and some will think you are exaggerating.   So after a while you just suck it up and go about your day.   The more you do that, the more you start to wonder if it really is all in your head.  Then you begin to question it all.

Are my legs so sore in  morning because I’m getting older?

Can I not run this fast because I’m just not training enough?

Am I taking it too easy because I forgot how to push myself?

Suck it up Buttercup!

Then you remember…

You do have it.   It is real.   It’s not in your head.   It sucks, but it could be much worse.   Most importantly, your doing the best that you can.

Now the best that I can isn’t what it used to be.   I also know there are many people with this disorder who would love to do what I can do on my worst day. I also  know that I am lucky.   Once when I shared something about Hypoparathyroidism, someone commented to me to my face, “Don’t take this wrong, but everyone has something.”

I was too shocked to do anything but agree with her.   And I do agree with her.   I know that everyone has their own battles.   I will be the first to admit that.   I also know that even the battle that I face could be so much worse.  That being said, just because I share my battles does not mean that I think someone else’s battles are less important.   As the Care Bears used to say, “sharing is caring.”   We all have our stuff and it is good to be able to openly share our battles because it does make the load a little lighter and easier to carry.

These are things that went through my mind on my training run yesterday.   It was the longest run I have done this training cycle.  I notice that it takes my body now a good 3 miles before it gets into the groove of running.   Then I was having some doubts about my running.   Comparing it to the last time that I was training for NY which is crazy because not only was that pre hypoparthyroidism, but I had an amazing running coach who had me hopping.   I never compare myself to other runners, but I do compare myself to where I was which is something that I must stop doing.   I will say that I think I’m in a better place now than when I was training for Chicago.   I do think actually training with the walk/run and following it this time will make for a better race.

Yesterday’s run was good and bad.   That is why we train.   I could start to recognize a pattern.   Start to tweak it.  I also slowed down to wear realistically I should be for my long runs right now.   8 miles with an average pace was 12:23.   I never went into the red zone for my heart rate and kept my heart rate in zone 4 according to my Garmin.   I have recently been trying to pay closer attention to my heart rate as apposed to pace.  I’m also trying to figure out paces for running and walking.   It’s a work in progress, but I am getting it done.  Sticking to the loose plan that I am following.  As the training runs get longer and I approach the NYCM, I want to be able to project approximate target times for distance.   More so that I don’t go out too fast like I did last time.   I don’t anticipate running the paces  I did last time.  If I go out too fast I might not bounce back as I did last time.

 

2016 NYCM

You can clearly see the wall at mile 20.

No Joke.

I think running for Sandy Hook Promise does take the pressure off some and add its elsewhere.   It takes it off because I know that I am not running this for me.  I was serious when I said that I wasn’t planning on any marathons this year.   I am training to be able to run this race as a proud member of the Sandy Hook Promise Team.   Like anyone on a team, your know that it’s not about you.  I don’t want to waste this opportunity given to me.    As I often post with my training runs #26for26.  I am so blessed to be given this opportunity to run for something that I believe in and don’t want to squander this opportunity.

 

Sandy Hook Promise Fundraiser

 

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All In A Day!

So today was many things….

Wear Orange Day

It was Wear Orange Day which has become the defining color for gun violence prevention movement.    Hadiya Pendleton died  way too young and way too violently  on January 29, 2013.  This was just one week after performing at President Obama’s Inauguration and after finishing her exams at her High School Prep School.

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A week after her tragic death, her friends and community came together in her favorite color orange to stand against gun violence.   Every day on average 96 people die from gun violence and 6 of them are under the age of 18.   This is far too many.   To be honest, one is one to many.

So we wear orange.   We march.   We raise awareness and we try to do better.

We can do better.

We will do better.

I wore orange today all day, but especially when I went for my first pre marathon training walk/run of 3 miles today.   I will officially begin marathon training in July, but I need to build back up to a starting point for training.   I would like to get to 15 miles a week before training begins.

One thing that I thought about on my run tonight is how different this marathon training cycle will be.   It will be different for many reasons, but one is my attitude.   I’m training not for time, but to finish, enjoy the experience, and represent the Sandy Hook Promise organization proudly.   So as well as fundraising, I also need to be able to run 26.2 miles.    A marathon is still a marathon even if you aren’t chasing a 4:30 finish time.

Hypopara Awareness Day

Hypoparday

For those new or needing a reminder, I was diagnosed with hypoparthyroidism after my parathyroid glands were damaged when my thyroid was removed 2 weeks after running the NYCM in 2016.

Many people ask, “What does this mean?”

This is a complicated issue as this is a very rare disease and each person manifests it differently.

Here is the official information: The condition affects the body’s production of parathyroid, a hormone that regulates the body’s levels of calcium and phosphorus, the condition has to be monitored and treated with supplements and medication. One of the main issues is very low calcium levels, affecting the strength and development of bones, teeth and nails as well as affecting the nervous system.

What does this mean…. For me, it means that my body feels like it aged 20 years after my surgery. My body aches and is sore in ways it never was even when training for my 50K! It means some days needing to lay down in the afternoon for a solid nap not because I’m drowsy but because I feel like I’ve just finished running a marathon and can’t move another step. It means constantly assesses “how do I feel” because if my calcium gets too low my face will twitch, my fingers with get tingly, and if gets too low it could be a problem. I’ve been lucky in that being a marathon runner prior to surgery, I was very tuned into how my body felt so I know when adjustments need to be made because the only way to find out your calcium level is through blood tests at your doctors.
This is all doable though with medication, supplements and just being smart. That being said, these things take a toll on the mind and body. I also need to monitor my kidney health as the medication to keep my levels at just under the normal range also raises urine calcium levels which is not good for the kidneys. Again, I’ve been lucky in that I’ve found a doctor in NYC who specializes in this. We are working on getting these levels down before issues arise. It’s a work in progress.

All this being said, I refuse to let this stop me. While things are different, I am keeping doing what I’m doing. May be slower and not run as far, but I’m still running (remember that marathon I’ve got coming up in November). I’m still getting done what I need to get done. And I’m lucky enough to have friends that support me when I need them:)

And on top of all of this it was also

National Donut Day, but I forgot to get my donut.

Boo.

 

 

How Did I get here????

If you’ve been following my journey, you know that I whole heartedly did not want to run any big races this year.   I was content to run the NYC Half and call it a year.   I clearly said that I did not want a fall marathon.   I did not want to train over the summer with my oldest leaving for college.   I stomped my feet, crossed my arms, and knew that I was going to sit this year out.

But things change.

Things evolve.

And sometimes, sometimes you are given clear signs that you need to do something that you said you wouldn’t do.

This is what happened.

I am a believer is receiving signs if you are open to them.    At first, I ignored them but then I realized that this was something that I needed to do.   Not to run a marathon, because I meant that part about not wanting to run one.    I will run one though.   I will run it happily because to me this year it is not about the marathon but about the cause.

Sandy Hook Promise

This was a group that I joined almost as soon as I heard about it.    The tragedy at Sandy Hook hit me hard as with so many others.   It changed me.    It made me want to get involved which I did, but I always felt that I could and should do more especially as each tragic shooting occurred.   This is something that I can do.   This is something that is a concrete way to help an organization that is trying to what we all want: Protect children from gun violence.

Here is their mission and approach:

“Prevent gun-related deaths due to crime, suicide and accidental discharge so that no other parent experiences the senseless, horrific loss of their child.”   They are working and implementing in communities and schools research based programs and practices such as Know the Signs programs.   You can visit the SandyHookPromise.org website for more information.

This is my way to help them help others.    I will be running NYC Marathon to raise $3,000 for this cause that I feel so strongly about.    This is a leap of faith because while I know that I can run a marathon, I’m not too sure about my fundraising skills.   I am willing to take this risk.

If you would like to contribute to this worthy cause, please visit my fundraising page at Fundraising Website.

I am excited about this prospect for many reasons and the process of being part of a team of runners who support this amazing cause.   I am heading into this marathon training to finish the race, enjoy the process, and most of all support such a worthy cause.

SandyHookPromise

 

 

Just This Once

When I ran my first marathon,  I went with to it with the running Mama who was the little birdie in my ear telling me that I should register because after running the Runner’s World Hat Trick I was ready.   I was probably an easy sell, but without her nudging I would not have registered.  She had everything in place and needed a room mate, so it all worked out.

I was all set.

I admit that I was a little sad that my family was not coming to see me, but that was understandable and for another post.    During my training, both my mother and “baby” sister who lives across the country (literally) were my biggest cheerleaders.   They had both expressed how they wanted to be there, but I was really ok with it.    My mother is not one to travel by  herself especially to the city and my sister is on another coast.

The day of the race comes and off we go.    When this race took place, both the half marathon and marathon were not only the same day but started together.   I went into this with no expectations as I really jumped in last minute with only one ever 20 mile training run.   As I was heading into the mid point of the marathon, I could hear the finish line for the half.   The announcer was clearing stating how If you are running the marathon, please stay to the left.   All half marathoners, please go to the right for the finish line.  THE FINISH LINE.   This was disheartening to hear.   At this point, I was thinking that there would be no shame just to run the half and was planning to go right.

Until…

Then crap, I had to run a marathon.   My mantra became, “your sister did not fly across country for you not to finish.

So I did.

Towards the end of the marathon, my sister ran onto the course to give me one single rose to carry across the finish line.   I took it, looked at it, and gave it back to her  telling her it was too heavy.

Yes, I really did.   I think the rose was made of metal.  Ha!

Once the race was over, there were many hugs and before my family and I parted ways my sister informed me that she only did this because it was my first marathon.

One year later…

This time, I am running Marine Corps Marathon.    I am going to DC on my own.    That is until my sister informs me that my mother and her are hitching a ride with me.   She flies in and off we go for a road trip to DC.

MCM11

Once again, she joins me towards the end of the race.   This time she brings no rose.   I  am dealing with some stomach issues.   She hears me drop the F bomb a few times, curse the stupidity of running a marathon even going on about how stupid it is for people to want to watch, and then listens as I tell her never again.

I finish.

MCM4

Once again, we both say never again.   I won’t do another marathon and she can’t keep flying across the country.

Then NY.

My sister although a California girl  but a huge part of her heart is in NY City.    She watched the marathon a few times when she lived in the City.    How could she not come in now.    This time she can not stay for the end as she literally had to catch a plane, but does maneuver herself around the city to see me a few times.

nycm16

 

She is not there this time to hear me curse the never again, but we both have the same thought.   We can’t keep doing this.

Then Chicago…..

I am not going alone this time.   I am going with another Mama Runner.   It’s all set and it’s all good.   Then a text from my sister.   Her husband happens to have something in Chicago that week.   She is going to fly out and meet him and then stay for the marathon.

So it seems like no matter how often we both say never again, we keep meeting like this

and

It will be a wonderful thing.

 

 

Was It A Waste?

I’ve been talking about the marathon a lot.   I probably will continue to talk about it a lot.  In a recent conversation,  I was asked since I didn’t reach my goal if I thought having a Coach was a waste.   I’ve got to say emphatically NO.    I’m sure that we have all heard that expression, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”    The same is true with having a Coach.    A Coach will guide you, prepare you, and get you were you need to go but it is up to the runner to take the final step.

Here is why I think that not only was it not a waste that it got me to the finish line.

My Coach has prepared me.   She gave me the tools that I needed to not only get to the starting line, but haul my behind to the finish line. Did not always take the tools given, but they were there for me.  That is on me and not her.

Training was hard.   Training on some days was much more intense than I wanted.  Training was never a walk in the park, but that wasn’t what I wanted either.   You can only get out of something what you put into it.   I also know that due to my life, I did not do everything that I needed to do to be ready for a 4:30 marathon.    If I had followed the plan, I’m sure I would have gotten there.   Besides she is a Coach not a miracle worker!

Here is the thing, I and I don’t like the way this will sound because I don’t think of it as a failure.   I blew the 4:30.   She gave me everything I needed in training and even for the day of the marathon to get me there.   She was upfront and honest about the fact that 4:30 was pushing it for this race.   That being said, she gave me the paces, encouragement, and tools to use.   I just  let myself be carried away till I ran right into the wall.

nycm23

This is the wall.

This is the face of someone trying to pull her shit together and get it done.

This is the face of someone who knows that she needs to keep moving and not give up.

I think if I hadn’t been working with my coach, I would not have known how to push through this wall.   She gave me the tools that I needed to push through, keep moving, and squeak in under 5:00.      Yes, I am also a stubborn mule who doesn’t give up easily.   That is true.   That being said,  all of the training, hard runs, and insight gave me what I needed to dig deep and know what to do.

Preparation.

No it may not have been pretty, but I kept going.

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I walked when I needed to.

Yes, I kept smiling because I’m in the NYCM!

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I ran when I could

and most of all

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I crossed the finish line!!!

And life is meant to teach us lessons.   I have no regrets, but I did learn the lesson of listening to my Coach.

Just because something does not work out the way you wanted or expected, does not mean it is a failure.    Failure is never trying in the first place:)

Still NO Regrets

I said no regrets for NYCM and I have no regrets.   I didn’t get the 4:30 I was hoping for and squeaked in at 4:56:04.

NO REGRETS

It was an amazing day that started off at 5:45 AM  with a van ride with a bunch of amazing women to Staten Island.   Couldn’t ask for a more inspiring group of women to spend my time with.    Once the van dropped us off all we had to do is wait and wait and wait some more.    My wave didn’t start till 10:40, so it does make for a long day.

But an awesome day.

nycm4You’ve got to have fun while your waiting:)

Then off to the corrals and they really are named correctly.   We were herded in like cattle, but no one seemed to mind.  Luckily for me one of these Mama’s was in my same corral and wave!

nycm5

Then we were off!

As I said before, I was going to run this race with no regrets and I have none.   Did I get my 4:30.   NOPE.   You know what?   It doesn’t matter.   You’ve got to have goals as a fiend told me yesterday.   These were big goals as far as my spotty training goes.   I had a plan.   I had paces and you know what it all went out the window when I was running.

I am the cautionary tale.   A marathon is a whole different beast than any other road race.   Pace is key.  I know this and yet I seemed to not care yesterday once the race started.   That is why it is important to run a marathon different than lets say a half marathon.    Well, I didn’t:)   I went out the first two miles as much faster than expected and then it went out the window.

I let the crowds carry me.   I bought into the feeling you get at the beginning of a race of “I feel amazing”  and “this is awesome!”

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This is the face of someone who is feeling good.    But that feeling can only last for so long when you run the first half like you don’t still have 13 miles to go.    I ran the first half in 2:09 and change.    As expected, the second half was much slower.

I have never hit the dreaded wall before in a marathon, but I think that I can say that I hit it yesterday.   And right where they tell you that you will hit it – Mile 20 I ran a 14 minute pace.   My bad.   I must also say that ran might not be the right word.   I walked a decent amount the last few miles.  I really had nothing left to give.   My legs were like lead, my hands and lips had the tingles.   I was honestly afraid I would pass out.   What kept me moving forward was the thought that if I stopped that I wouldn’t start again and if  I passed out I wouldn’t finish.   Finishing was all that mattered!.   So onward I went.   I walked when I needed to and I ran when I could.

It was during this time that I realized even without making my goal, I had no regrets.   None!   I set out to finish and I did.   As I said to my friends, you can’t really say it’s a bad day when you can say you finished the New York City Marathon.  I am not just saying that either.   It was a great day and I am blessed beyond belief to be able to say that I did this amazing race.

Yes there is more to the story, but it is now time to soak in some bath salts:)

How was your weekend?

New York, New York

9 plus 1 – Check

Expo shopping done – Check

I realized this was the first time that I really spent any time at an expo.   It was well worth it.   The excitement of it.    You could just feel the energy.   Plus there were deals to be had!  I may have gone overboard, but I don’t think so.   Besides, I really am only planning to run 1 NYCM, so I need to make it worthwhile!

Bib Pick-up – Check

Photo Opportunities with friends – Check

Gear ready for morning – Check

I am ready as I will ever be.   I’ve trained.   I’ve prepared.   I’m ready

I’ve got a plan too.   You know I like a plan.   If said plan works out I will be rocking along to my 4:30.    What’s my plan you ask?

Well my coach thinks that due to the course that a pace specific plan will work best.   Yes, I wasn’t expecting that either, but I like it and it excites me.   Plus, I’m hoping that worrying about keeping on pace will keep my mind occupied.   We all know that running really is a mental game and I’m mental enough to take this challenge on.

Now tonight all I have left to do is take a nice relaxing soak in the tub and get my pace chart ready.

It’s go time!

Good luck to all running and there will be more to the story:):)

 

 

No Regrets

5 Days

Yup that’s it.

The taper crazies are not setting in as I’ve got too much going on and could use the time away from running.   That being said, it doesn’t mean that my mind is not going.

I’ve been looking at the course.   I’ve been thinking about my goals.   I’ve been thinking about how far I’ve come and it’s been far.

Very far.

I started this journey just a few short years ago.    I think it’s been 5 years now.   How the time goes.

IMG_2278This is me when I started going to the gym.   When I decided it was time.    When never having even done a 5K, I signed up for my first Sprint Triathlon.    It was during this training that I realized that running wasn’t so bad.    That is was actually something to be enjoyed not just endured.    That I would miss it on days that I didn’t run.  That it would bring people into my life that I adore.   It also taught me that I could accomplish things I could only imagine if I just worked hard enough.

Then I thought about my last marathon (can’t believe I use the word last and not only).    I ran Marine Corps Marathon in 4:38:14.    It was a solid race, but there were things I would have done differently.   There were regrets.

 365840_210208824_XLarge(As a side note, I am only 10 pounds lighter here than in the picture above but look at those solid legs.    Remember the number on the scale can lie)

Now back to the story….

The other day I went out for 6 miles.   I spent a good portion of that run having a pep talk with myself reminding myself how far I’ve come.    I reminded myself that I’ve come even further since MCM.    That I am stronger now.   That I have already proven that I can go the distance.   That this year alone I’ve already run more than  1050 miles and still going strong.  Last year I literally was going out at the end of December to hit 1000.    That I am better trained that I was for MCM.   That I’m stronger and faster.  That I need to run (not walk) away from the NYC Marathon with one thing…

NO REGRETS!

Yes, a little phycing out is a good thing.

I came up with my goal.   A realistic goal according to my coach too.

So what is my goal?

I want to run the NYCM in 4:30.

I’ve got a goal and now I’ve got a plan and don’t see a reason why I can’t reach it either.

No regrets.

As long as I give it all I’ve got.    As long as I don’t give up.   As long as I push to the end.

There will be

NO REGRETS