Friday, July 6, 2012

What a difference a year makes....

"You don't stumble into the future.  You create your own future." - Roger Smith

Sitting down looking at my goals that I had written down for 2012 and all I can do is wonder.  I was putting myself out there to make changes.  Setting myself up for big things...Then the year started and that's as far as I got.
The only similarities to this year and last year is that I'm injured....Last year I was getting back in shape, completing my first marathon and ending the year with positive thoughts and a positive outlook towards 2012.
Then the year started....First with a relapse with my crohns and now with an injury that has me on the sidelines.  I haven't been able to workout in 6 months.  Now I'm just trying to stand up or walk without falling.  An MRI in May showed no structural damage.  Strained ligaments, something called condromalysia and damage to my quad.  After a month of being in a brace and with therapy, it doesn't seem better, at least to me.  Therapist tells me it's getting stronger, at least some things are.  My quad, not so much.  For now the inside part of my quad is not working.  The muscle is not cooperating with my brain.  I tell it to move and it just sits there.
Sit on the floor, both legs in front of you straight out.  Now raise your leg up in the air.  Sounds simple right?  For some reason my left leg will not raise.  No amount of mind control magic will work.
Just yesterday I was walking outside and out of no where just fell.  Knee buckled and on the ground I went.  I quickly looked around to see if anyone was watching and slowly got up.  I try and hide my limp, try and walk normal, but sometimes it doesn't work.  I try and picture the day I can walk up the stairs like a regular person and I can't see it...It's been months.  I try and picture the day that there is no pain, but the picture is too cloudy.  I try and picture a day where I just stop saying "it can always be worse," just so I can feel better.
Toughest part about everything is being tied down, not literally of course.  I could go on the whoa is me kick with the past 6 months.  If it's not my crohns, it's my knee, if it's not my knee its whatever.  Life goes on, granted I can make excuses.  They are lined up waiting for me to use, sometimes tempting me to grab.  I'm not a whoa is me type of person.  I may whine a bit, but I always know that someone, somewhere has it worse.  Sometimes that is the hardest part.  Alot of people have no idea, because there is no reason to know.  There are plenty of days that I want to just give up.  Just doesn't feel like it's worth it.  But then there are those days of hope, whether it be because of the sun shining or a smile or just a feeling in the air....
Last month I was feeling well enough to volunteer at the area prisons in Cleveland with the Wing's Ministry.  Something I've done for a few years now and it's such a positive experience.  On top of seeing the inmates with their families and the purpose of the day, you get to see a reality check.  Just like in your everyday life you never know whose life you can touch.  All it may take is a smile or a simple hi, how are you, or simple spending your time with someone...
While 2012 has been a bust and really no light at the end of the tunnel, it's hard not to look back.  It's hard not to wonder what, or why.  The past is the past for a reason...It's there to make us stronger.  Things happen for a reason.
People are brought into our lives for different reasons.  In April I gave a shout out to the Cleveland 10-Miler girls.  It was a year ago that we met and it was a year ago that I can say that you changed our lives for the better.  Jodi, Jenn and myself will never be the same and I know I can speak for all of us when I say that.  I'm still amazed that we are at our spots in life today all because I was hurt.  Granted to be in the right place and right time to take their picture helped...LOL.  Not only meeting you, but mutual friends that have crossed our paths and into our lives.  Still amazed how much an injury could change 3 lives.  You guys are the positive force that everyone should have in their lives.  Thanks for being a positive group, people to look up to and someone I can call a friend.  Just goes to show you that things happen for a reason....
Technically 2012 is not over, as much as it seems.  As much as it hurts to see what could have been, I can only focus on the positive.  (And sometimes that gets tiring and old)  I have to try and focus and rehabbing my knee.  I will complete an Ironman at some point in my life, just not as soon as I hoped.  I will be back out there being active in some form.  I'm looking forward to trying to better myself as a person.  I'm looking forward to meeting new people and embarking on some new journey's.  I'm looking forward to the fall in helping the guys at Otterbein as an advisor go from being a Colony to being a full fledged Chapter of Phi Delt.  I'm looking forward to volunteering more in the fall.  So there are things I can look forward to, no matter how it looks at this moment....2012 can be salvaged.
Life changing events don't have to involve millions of dollars or tragedy.  Sometimes it's the little things that have an impact in our lives.  You never know what can happen.  You never know whose life you can touch or who you can boost up.  Don't wake up one day and realize you wasted all your life thinking about you.  And before you criticize, before you complain about someone...Think about this.  They are human just like you.  Put yourself in their shoes and walk a day in their lives before you judge or think you know who they are or why they do what they do.
Until next time....

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Time to Step Out....

Its been some time since I last blogged. Granted I started this blog last year as a way to stay commited and accountable during training for my first marathon. It was also a way to step outside the box. I had planned to sit down and finish my goals for 2012 last month which included alot of things.  Obviously that was a big fail....This time as I sit, I'm deciding not to talk about running or exercising or even goals. This is going to be about someone I know. They are unsure about me doing this, but maybe it will help. He has been told it's a good idea and that I should go ahead.

My friend has been told he's a great guy.   He probably would do anything for anyone at the drop of a hat. Some would say he has a good life, some would say they don't really know him. He stays positive as much as he can, surrounds himself with great people. But inside he holds with him, not so much a secret, but a part of him that not many know. A part that not many understand...a part that he feels is not important and a part he tries to ignore. He is living with something that is a daily part of his life. This person lives with something called Crohn's Disease.

In all my questions and all my research for this, there were things that I did not know and have come to learn. Yes, it's not cancer, or ALS or MS. Not to say one is more important than the others or his "struggles" are better or worse than others. I realize he feels they are not important, or as important as those things. He knows there are bigger problems out there.

As this person will tell you, it's hard to explain to someone just exactly what Crohn's is, hard to explain what people may go through. It's not exactly dinner/drinks conversation for starters, plus someone can not really grasp it as there is no way to truly understand from words without experiencing it. There is not just one "symptom", not just one "problem". Anyone who has it is affected differently. Sometimes it affects your feet as the swell up like balloons, sometimes your arms and legs, sometimes your back to where you can barely move, sometimes your mouth as it fills with canquer sores from the acid in the gut. But the main headquarters is all in the gut. The gut is your second brain. Through research, I've found its ALL about food. Food choices, food sensitivities, food allergies....

Most people say the obvious...Just go to the doctor or go to the hospital. They will give you a pill and it will make it all better. If only that were the case. Granted everyone has their own opinions, has their own thoughts. Some people feel pills are a gift from God, some feel they do more harm than good. It's just not that easy.  But that may be for another day, another blog....

Dealing with this, there are days he feels normal and days he feels lost.  There are tears from the pain.  There's hospital visits and rehab.  This person goes through uncertainty each day. While most people take the everyday things for granted, or the routine things for granted, he has to plan and think in advance and take surroundings into account. What to eat, when to eat, where to eat. Yes, most people "plan" what to eat, but planning in the sense of knowing your surroundings in case you eat certain things. There are times when he wouldn't eat if he knew he had plans later that night. There are times he won't go out, out of fear of something happening.

He has come to the point where he doesn't know what is next. One day it will get better, then next day its ten times worse.  Most of all there is regret as this has overtaken his life and he seems to think he's let it win and allowed it to.  All he can do is have faith and pray. Pray that it will turn.  Somedays this person is not sure if that is enough....

This person....well, this person is me.

There are two doors to choose, two roads to follow....For some it may seem the choice is easy, some may feel that there isn't an option and the choice is clear. The past few weeks/months have given me doubts. Doubts about me and doubts about my future, if any....Do I choose to stand strong or choose to step off the ledge.

Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tis the season...

It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts - Robert H. Schuller

I thought about not starting out with this, but here we go.......
Well, it's been awhile since I last blogged....LOL  Yes, I've been a stranger when it comes to this, but I'm hoping to change all that and get back into the swing of things...

It's that time of year again....The holiday's....A time where good and bad come together.
The good....Time spent with family and friends, time to give thanks, time off from work, time to shop and time to give and receive.
The bad...Not enough time in the day, time to shop, time for excuses, time to overeat and gain weight.
For a lot of us, that is....
Just like with anything in life...It's all what you do with your time and how you look at things.

Going through some goals for 2012 I was trying to come up with some new challenges, new things to keep me going.  Last year at this time I was in the process of losing 35 lbs in 10 weeks to get myself ready to start training for my first marathon.  2011 saw me "finish" my first marathon and while it was not completed (how I wanted, that is), I plan to do another one at some point.  This time doing it right.  But for next year that will have to wait.  I want to get into shape cardio wise and health wise for my ultimate goal, which will be an Ironman.  Hopefully I can work my way to that in the next year or two and get a few sprint & Olympic distance triathlons in along the way.
A friend of mine brought up a challenge called "Tough Mudder".  10-12 miles of mental and physical "fun".  Ok, it may not be complete fun, but looking through the course it does really seem interesting and also something that you can not just get up off the couch and do.  Maneuvering your way through water, walls, ropes, fire and live wire sounds like a cool way to spend a few hours.  Ok, it's freakin nuts, but what the heck, you only live once.  The "race/challenge" is coming to Columbus in the summer of 2012, but have yet to finalize a date. 
So my first step is obviously get back into game shape.  In tackling this preparation for Tough Mudder, I decided I needed to whip myself into shape.  I lost touch with workouts while being injured, which I regret now, but it is what it is.  So tomorrow I am starting something crazy.  Something quite insane.  I have committed to doing the "Insanity" program.  63 days of butt whipping, in the comfort of my own home.  Well, the goal is to do the full 63 days, but I want to make it through the first day, then take it day by day.  Definitely looks intimidating, but I just need to plan, focus and take it one day at a time....It will be February 2nd before I know it and I'll be ready for swimsuit season...heehee

Another thing that will also keep me busy next year....Phi Delta Theta is now on the campus of Otterbein University.  They were installed as a colony last week down at headquarters in Miami (OH) University.

I am honored to be able to help these guys as one of their advisors.  They are a solid group of diverse young men and look forward to helping them through the process of becoming the best that they can be and making not only themselves proud, but Phi Delt proud as well.
They will have plenty of challenges ahead of them as Otterbein is mainly a campus of local fraternities.  Phi Delt will be the 2nd national fraternity on campus and it will be their job to mesh as a Greek community.
By the time pledging starts next semester, they should have 40 guys to kickoff their inaugural class.  These guys have the opportunity to be part of something special.  I will never forget my time as a Phi Delt at Ashland.  Our chapter had our 45th anniversary last month and it was great going back and seeing all the alumni and meeting the actives.  These guys will be able to look back and be part of history as 20, 30, 40 years from now they will realize the legacy that they created.

This weekend I get an opportunity to participate in another Wings Ministry program for their Christmas event at the prison in Lancaster.  It was an amazing experience last year volunteering and while the other 2-3 programs that took place during this past year at other prisons were enlightening, nothing beats this one.  Very powerful stuff in my opinion.  Makes you think and makes you appreciate.  I just hope to be able to move as I may or may not be reallyyyyyy sore after 3 days of Insanity...LOL

So no matter what your schedule is like......This holiday season take a step back, examine what is in your life and appreciate it.  Make it a goal to not make excuses, make it a goal to stand up and be healthier and just be a better person.  You only live once and most don't get second chances.  Only you can live your life....

Until next time....

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Columbus Marathon Spectating Recap

Before the Marathon Sunday, I had some prior engagements to attend.  Headed to Ashland for Homecoming.  It was also the 45th Anniversary for the Phi Delt chapter on campus.
I guess I didn't clear that with Jodi's best friend Deb, as she replied..."What, he's not going to be here?"  Supposedly she was under the impression that we would be discussing the "spectating" route for the next day during dinner Saturday...
After putting the finishing touches on a gift bag I headed up to Ashland.
The A.U. campus has changed quite a bit since graduation.  New student center, new streets with buildings, new sports facilities and a brand new state of the art football stadium RIGHT NEXT to our fraternity house. 
New Stadium, Phi Delt House in the background
I mean, had that been there back in the day, I definitely would have gone to more games.  Of course they also built a huge new pool, which would have been awesome to use.  Our practices and meets were in a pool with barely any deck space.
New A.U. Pool
Didn't really have a plan for the day (shocking I know), so I stopped by the house, then headed to the parking lot where the brothers and alumni were tailgating.  Ashland is a "dry campus" but I guess they allow alcohol in the parking lot during the games for tailgating (as long as it's in cups)
After awhile we headed to BW3 to watch the games and hang out until the Phi Delt dinner.  Definitely weird seeing people old and young, as well as realizing I was in the 'old' category.  LOL
Headed back to the house to change and get ready for the reunion dinner.  We had about 175 people, which included alumni, family, actives and pledges at the PumpHouse Grill in downtown Ashland.  Had a few speakers and presentations before settling into an amazing buffet dinner.  Pasta, salmon, pot roast, veggies....Luckily for me I had not eaten all day.
Awkward moment time.....So a woman approached me, waiting as I finish a conversation I was having.  I notice a camera in her hand, so I figured she wanted me to take a picture.  No, she asked if she could take a picture of my fraternity pin that I was wearing.  Her exact words were...'Oh, I don't want you in the picture, just a close up of the pin.'  We laughed and I was fine with that.  After 2 attempts, I guess the lighting was bad and the pictures were blurry.  Well all of a sudden she says..."Ok, I'm gonna need you on the floor now".  I tried not to laugh and she told be to hurry up and lie down, she doesn't have all day.  Well, I was looking around the room for cameras thinking I was getting punked.  It's not everyday I get told by a woman to get on the floor (insert laugh here)  In my typical smartass self, I responded....'You think it'll be better down there, huh?  Do I get to at least get to know your name first?'  She paused and said not important....She never got the picture and later in the night as she walked by she laughed and pointed at me telling her husband that I was the one she wanted on the ground....
Tried to mingle and meet all the new guys as well as the older alumni, saw the plans for the new fraternity house and listened to some music.
As the night came to a close I needed to head back to Columbus.  Would have been nice to hang out more and chat, plus the actives were having a pancake breakfast at the house in the morning.  But I figured it would be more fun to hang out at a little race instead.  :-)
Jodi had told me that I could crash with her and Deb in their hotel suite and left a key at the front desk.  That helped me out, seeing how it saved me time and got me about an extra 45 minutes sleep, so decided on the couch rather than my  Plus I would not have to worry about not waking up as we planned all meet up around 5:30.
As for the football game, it was a successful Homecoming weekend for them.  Ashland won the game 20-17 on a field goal as time expired.  They played undefeated Wayne St University, who was ranked #6 overall in the country (Division II)  The win moved A.U. into the Top 25 in the country at #23.  It may not be big boy football like the Big 10, but still cool to see the alma mater play well....
Missi and Deb drove down from Cleveland Sunday morning (they are both early birds), so we hung out until Jodi was ready to rock and roll.  So Deb, Missi, Deb and myself headed out to take Jodi to the start.  On the drive to downtown it seemed like everyone and their mother was out in traffic at 6am.  So Deb decided to take a different exit and go the backroads, which helped get us there alot quicker (and saved Jodi from stressing)  Made our way to the start line after a pit stop and got as close as we could.
Pre-race with Jodi and Missi
After a few hugs we headed into the nearest building to hangout, warm up and chat while Jodi headed thru the maze of people for the start of the race.  As we were hanging out, one of our objectives was to figure out how we were going to maneuver around the course to support Jodi.  I had screen shots printed out of different mile markers, as well as the map of the course.  Originally we figured we could drive to mile 7, but after looking at the map more closely it made no sense.  It would be easier to walk a few blocks south to mile 9.  This also helped because then on our way back to the car we could stop around miles 12-13 and surprise Jodi again.
We settled in at mile 9 and guesstimated the time that Jodi would pass by.  In the meantime we cheered on the runners and also did a little people watching.  Saw a 7ft guy running in a bear costume, a couple dressed as Fred Flintstone and Wilma along with a few other odd looking costumes.  Then there were a few "was she/he really wearing that?" type clothing.  I really do think people need to use the mirrors at their homes.  I realize that it's not a fashion show, but wowwwww.
We finally saw a quite surprised Jodi running along the side of the road and she looked really strong.  Wasn't even breaking a sweat.  Watching a half marathon or marathon, it always amazes me the people who make it look so easy and effortless and others that look like they are in complete agony...The four of us headed back and planned to hangout around mile 12.5, although first the girls grabbed some coffee.  They ran out of hot chocolate, so I was sh*t out of luck.  Timed it perfectly as Jodi saw us and again had the effortless, fun times smile on her face.  The easy part for us was done, now off to the important part...Finding our way towards mile 18 so Deb and Missi could join Jodi on the course when she needed it most.
Seeing how the 3 girls are from Cleveland and I live in Columbus, you would think I would be the one to navigate us around.  Well, not so much.  I'm blaming all the road closures, although the girls won't buy that excuse...LOL  But no problems, we made it to the spot pretty quickly, parked and walked to the corner.  This is the part of the race where people start to wonder, people start to break down, not sure why (insert sarcastic giggle)  You could tell some of the runners were feeling it and you could tell just the opposite.
As we support the runners we know Jodi will be coming down the road.  Sure enough we see her and yet AGAIN, if she was feeling tired you would not know it.  I think she was partially excited to see us and partially exhausted but she still looked strong.  As she comes up she almost tackles Deb and I and gives us a big hug, then joins Missi and Deb for a hug as they join her on the course to take her to the finish.
Deb and I head back to the car and try to navigate to the next stop, where I will attempt to hop on the course.  I would have loved to jump in at mile 18, but 8 miles is a bit much since I just am coming back from injury.  Again, we relied on the printout and Deb's phone app, but we made it there pretty easily.  As we were waiting we chatted and supported the runners.  I made the mistake of supporting too much.  A guy came around the corner and slowed down to a walk, hands on shoulders and head down.  I told him to keep it up and he's got this...all he did was turn and look at me and I think he was thinking to himself...Dude, shut up, how about you run...
The girls come around the corner and for the first time Jodi's face looked of pain.  She wasn't happy to see me....heehee, I'm kidding.  Miss and Deb looked at me and just shook their head, sort of a silent "not up for talking" shake.  I hopped on the course with the 3 girls and Deb hurried back to the car to meet us at the finish line.  I could tell Jodi was trying to focus and her head was spinning, but I already knew I had something up my sleeve (besides my arm that is).  It was really quiet until we came to mile marker 22.  This number is significant to Jodi based on her past 2 attempts.  The first one, she literally has NO memory of anything past this marker and the second one, is what I like to call the awakening and a creepy mist left her body as we ran the streets as she called out mile 22.  So this time I got her attention, smiled and asked what she saw.  She kind of chuckled and yelled out 22.  At this point she picked up the pace and relaxed a bit....mission accomplished.  We continued along the course and I kept doing that at every mile marker.  Around mile 23 she had mentioned that she was running all on her Uncle Joe's reserves.  Her uncle passed away a few months back and she was dedicating the race to him.  Miss and Deb both joined in with words of encouragement which at this point Jodi needed.  As we approach mile 25, I knew she needed all the strength she could muster up.  So I asked her what that flag said.  She responded with a "25", but that was not good enough.  I asked again and she responded.  Still not good enough.  After about 3-4 times she yelled 25 pretty loud and with a SMILE.  The funniest part was the reaction of the other runners around us. I actually think her yelling might have awoken them as well to help them realize and finish strong.  At this point Missi took over and in her best boot camp instructor voice, told her to finish strong and enjoy the last 1.2 miles.  This was HER day.  We approached mile 26 and my eyes were on Missi (no not cuz she looked hot, though she but because I was waiting for the go ahead to get off the course and let Jodi finish what she started.  I know Jodi had mentioned to me that she wanted us to cross the finish line with her, but this was not our race, this was HER race.  Luckily she just kept going towards the finish.  Granted she may have been slightly distracted knowing she was going to finish and she may have been a bit tired.
I needed to catch my breathe since my arse is slightly out of shape.  Missi was feeling good so Deb and I followed her towards the finish until the corner with about 0.1 left.  We tried getting off the course and people were yelling at us not to stop, which was kind of comical, especially with the looks on some of their faces.
We made our way to the finish line/family area to find Jodi and give her our congrats.  Her smile said it all.  Deb unfortunately got stuck in traffic but we finally all met up and slowly headed back towards the hotel to shower, grab a bite to eat at California Pizza Kitchen for a post race meal before the girls headed back to Cleveland.
This was HER race. (you can read her recap here).  No Cleveland demons, awesome training runs topped off with beating her goal time.  Nothing like earlier in the year.  I mean who else can say they ran a marathon AND beat their personal best time by almost 2 hours? 
Words can not explain how proud I am of Jodi for her day.  I was honored to be able to share in her day with her and friends.  She did not allow thoughts or people to distract her, she was not going to have a repeat of May.  In the hotel afterwords, she tried to act surprised while telling us her next stop was a sub 4 hour marathon.  We all knew better, since she made no secret of that desire.  But we also know one more thing.  When she tries for that sub 4....she will get it!
The inspiration.....Jodi with her medal and a smile
I headed home and pretty much crashed.  The past 2 weeks caught up to me both mentally and physically.  I am definitely looking forward to this weekend....Where the plan is to do NOTHING at all....LOL
Until next time...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chicago Spectating Experience - Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of this blog, click here to read the first part of the weekend...
On the way to mile 16, we met a guy originally from Perth, Australia, who was cheering on his girlfriend for her first marathon and was also with her parents.  The reason we started talking was because I was trying to see who looked like they knew what they were doing.  Come to find out others were doing the same and he was giving pointers.  He's lived in Chicago for over 5 years now and uses the trains to get around and we just chatted about the city.  He asked why we were not running (since we obviously were dressed to run a race) and Jodi told him her story, about the marathon next week and about Cleveland.  Then we mentioned how we were meeting friends at a certain point to run with them on the course to support them later in the race.  Right then the girlfriends father stopped us and immediately asked "you can do that!?!"  We explained its probably frowned upon, but plenty of people do it, so it shouldn't be a problem.  We chatted some more and it was time to switch trains.....They followed us (or I guess we followed them) and found the next one....
On the next train we also came across a guy who was cheering on his girlfriend.  One of the fun parts of these events is seeing all of the signs of support, people dressed up in outfits, silly costumes, etc, etc.....During the conversation he mentioned what he did, which I found hilarious.  He made a HUGE posterboard cutout.....of HIS FACE.  He wanted to do something different, along with a little embarrassing for his girlfriend.  Obviously the looks he got were different as people were running and seeing this huge poster and look down and see him.  At least she would not be able to miss him on the course.
We get off the train and make our way to the bridge.  We knew we had plenty of time, just not sure how much.  We decided to relax and enjoy ourselves and had our bagels that we brought.  But instead of walking towards mile 18, we felt, for some reason, just to hang out around mile 16.5 mark.  Around that time we get a text alert, showing Missi and Deb have crossed the halfway point.  Mixed emotions because we could tell something was off.  That just wasn't their pace.  I also continued to worry about Amanda, since we still never got the 10k update to our phones and was hoping she was ok.  I decided to text her and she responded saying she was at mile 15.  That was a relief.  We figured we had about 15 minutes from where she was so we got off the grass and found a spot on the side of the road.  My original idea/plan/hope from the start was to run 2-3 miles with Deb, Missi and Jodi and then stop and wait for Amanda to run a mile while Jodi finished with the girls.  This was based purely on their paces and "goal finish".  Well as we all know, marathons don't always go as planned (see my  So I suggested to Jodi, how about we both just run to 18 with Amanda.  Made perfect sense and now know "why" we felt the need to stay back.
While standing there looking out for Amanda and watching the crowds of people, I notice the guy from Australia.  At that moment we see his girlfriend running up and she gives them all hugs.  All of a sudden her Dad, who btw was a rather big boy, probably 6'4 300lbs and a knee brace, hops on the course and starts to run with his daughter.  I look over to get the attention of her mom and she sees me, smiles and gives me a thumbs up.  I don't want to take credit for that, but honestly seeing him on the course made me feel good.  I mean, would he have even been able to share that moment with his daughter had they not met us?  By the look on his face when he asked if people can jump on the course, I don't think so.  Those are the little moments that people remember and while it was probably only 100yds or so, it was still a moment.
I let Amanda know approximately where we were at and we would be on the lookout for her.  She had no idea of our plan to jump in with her.  We saw her coming and each gave her a hug and asked how she was doing.  The look on her face was priceless when we jumped in.  It was a combination of "oh cool and where are you guys going"  LOL  We ended up running through the streets of where she went to college.  She looked really strong.  Now I must admit throughout the past few weeks that I sorta gave her a hard time about remembering to smile during the race.  To the point where she probably wanted me to shut up already.  But for that day, she had actually wrote, in black marker on her left forearm...MILE = SMILE to make her remember to smile at each mile marker as suggested.  Of course the funny part is during our run she asked when mile 17 was approaching.  When I told her we already passed it, she yells out "crap I forgot to smile"  LOL.  I guess we distracted her.  We made it to the mile 18 marker and got off the course to wait for Missi & Deb.
We did some stretching, cheered some runners on and even took pictures of people by the mile 18 marker. (With their camera so they could be in the picture...haha)  One thing we did see which I thought was funny was a guy running to the side of the road to meet a group of people cheering him on.  He grabbed a beer and chugged it and then finished the other, got some hugs and went on his way.  I'm fine with drinking a beer AFTER running.  But to run 18 miles, drink then run another 8.2, well kudos to him.  I personally may have tossed my
Jodi and I figured we would play it by ear as far as the running goes, depending on how Missi and Deb were feeling.  She was scheduled for 8 miles in her training for Columbus next week and my plan was to go as far as 21, depending on how I felt and the fact that the nearest train station was in the area.  We had an idea of how things were and where they were at based on the text alerts.  Either way, Jodi said she was sticking with Deb, no matter what.  We saw them coming and you could tell something was not right.  The emotions of the day had gotten the best of them.  I just sorta stayed back and observed, since at this point it was about the 3 girls who have trained together all summer.  I was just kinda the 4th wheel, so to speak.  I could tell it was similar to Cleveland with Jodi, in the sense that Deb was drained.  So we all started off running and asked Missi if she wanted to run a bit and that Jodi would stay with Deb for now.
We headed through the streets of Chicago.  It was an absolute party.  The one thing that amazed me were the amount of people outside supporting the runners.  The music was always blaring, people with hoses spraying the runners as they ran by.  The atmosphere was incredible.  Missi and I chatted a bit, asked each other how we were feeling and I was just trying to make sure she was still having fun, because that is the whole point.  Friends and fun and memories.  Then again, I think fun is her middle name.  The girl doesn't know how to not smile or not enjoy herself through any situation.  She must of been reading my mind because at mile 20 she asked if we could stop to let Jodi and Deb catch up, which was fine with me.  I wanted to run with all 3 of them.  We hopped back on the course shortly after as they were not that far back and made it to mile 21.  Missi even gotten to use her "Sweat is just liquid awesome" line with a woman...She laughed at her and the woman's response said "oh my god, imagine if my kids heard me talking like this"  We all started walking as this was a water station.  At this point Deb was pulling a "Jodi".  By that I mean telling Missi to just go finish and run her race.  Missi of course wasn't falling for it and they went back and forth how it was not gonna happen.  She even said something about "are we going to have to throw down right here or are we going to run".  Ok, so normally, I may have been rooting for a cat fight, but there was no pillows and they were in sweaty running gear....Oh wait, my bad, I got off topic, back to the marathon...LOL  I wanted so badly to continue, but I know the next train station back to the finish line was over two miles away.  I was torn between helping them get to the finish line and trying to be smart so I don't injure myself again since I just got back to running.  I regretfully headed to the train station to go to mile 26 to meet them as they finished.
I positioned myself near the final turn and luckily it was a good spot, since they had cops and volunteers ushering people off the course who did not have bib numbers.  Makes sense and the majority of the people smiled and left.  One or two people actually had to be taken of the course by force, which was kinda comical and few of us commented on the lack of common sense that people have.  But it would be easier to find Jodi this way, rather than in a sea of spectators.
The set-up for the end of the race was a disaster.  Actually it was worse that that.  Just rediculous.  Granted, part of our issue was that we had Deb's phone, so we had no way or idea of where to meet up.  Normally at races you can meet at the finish line.  Not here, they have everything fenced off and closed.  We finally made it to an area to wait as runners were coming out and after awhile, found out this wasn't the only exit.
Amanda met up with us since she was at the hotel across the street and hung out for a bit.  We talked about her race and how she was feeling.  Finally after about at least an hour, we decided it would be best to find our way back to the hotel, since we had the key and said our goodbyes to Amanda.  Wouldn't you know it, but after walking 5-10 minutes I get a call from Amanda letting us know she ran into Deb & Missi.  Thousands upon thousands of people walking around downtown Chicago and she runs into people she just met the day  We made our way back to the hotel and tried to relax a bit.  Missi and Deb needed to catch a plane.  It was definately a long day and I didn't even run the darn marathon...I have a newfound respect for those spectating and supporting people during a marathon.  I even called Morgan, who has been the queen of spectating the past 6 months due to an injury.  Heck she did this in a walking boot.  Another shout out to her for being there back in May while we ran Cleveland....Once you get back out there I will return the favor.
Deb & Missi at the Expo with the perfect caption.  Lets run TOGETHER
Running Recap
As far as my legs and feet go, they feel pretty good.  I was really happy to get through the 4 miles.  My only issue was cardio, but I've been a lazy bum, so that was understandable.  (That's going to change soon, at least that's the I was still able to go at a decent pace, and talk a little as well.
Jodi ended up doing 9 miles and I think got to experience the other side of the struggles of a marathon.  On our drive home, she would randomly thank me again for helping her through Cleveland or ask/tell me how she now realizes what her marathon meant and why it happened and what she learned.  As her running "coach" told her, thats called good karma.
Amanda rocked out the marathon with an unofficial time around 4:50.  I say unofficial because later in the day we found out why we were not getting text alerts....Her timing chip didn't work and was not recording the time.  I know she was really bummed about it, but she started and finished and has her finishers medal, along with some stories/memories.  Doesn't matter what a website says, you can't those things away.  I can remember a time during her training that she said she wasn't sure if she could do a marathon.  Look at you now....***Update***  Amanda received an email from the Chicago marathon today and was told they fixed it and she is now official.  Woohooooo
Missi did her thing.  This was her 3rd marathon, so she is a seasoned veteran when it comes to this.  She was there to run a marathon, to experience the biggest marathon in the country and to be there to support her friend and training partner.  Mission accomplished.  She may be one of the most positive and inspirational person I have ever met and I'm glad I was able to be there for it.
Deb finished her first attempt at a marathon.  It may have not been how it was planned or how she liked, it may have not been perfect, but with all the outside factors going on....Her Mom, getting a cold, first marathon jitters and the warm weather....She did something that most people never do, never want to do or never are able to do.  She set a goal and FINISHED a marathon.  I do know there will come a time where she will look back and understand the great things she did.  She is an inspiration.
The whole "Chicago Experience" brought new meaning to things for me.  Those 4 girls, along with countless number of people we met throughout the weekend, without even knowing it, showed me a thing about life.  How to live it, how to deal with it and how to learn from it.
Next up is the the Columbus Marathon this weekend.  It's Jodi's turn as the tables will be turned on Missi and Deb as they join to support her to cross the finish line.
There are plenty of things you get second chances at, sometimes even third chances.....But you only get one chance at life.  Live it, Experience it, Love it....well, at least do your best at it.
Until Next Time.....

Chicago Spectating Experience - Part 1

Develop success from failures.  Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success - Dale Carnegie
This past weekend I had the distinct honor and pleasure to take part in some friends marathons journeys.  Jodi, who is in training for the Columbus Marathon the following week joined me to support Missi, Deb and Amanda.  You can read her experience here.  Missi and Deb are friends that I met back in April and for those that have followed my blog, know they are part of the "Cleveland 10 Miler girls" and are just amazing.  I met Amanda for the first time this weekend after following her blog during her training and lives in Illinois.  Missi is doing her third marathon.  Deb and Amanda are both attempting their first.  Deb ran in honor of her Mom, who passed away of cancer last year and ran with Team DetermiNation, raising money for Cancer research.  Amanda ran for UPS for Downs in support of Down Syndrome.
Missi and Deb took an early flight out so they got to experience a fun day.  Sightseeing and shopping.  Jodi and I decided to drive or well, when we talked about going out to surprise the girls back in May, it was more like I was told I'm driving.  LOL  Headed up to Cleveland to pick her up bright an early.  When I got there her son had a request....that I let Jodi wait for him to get on the bus...What am I going to say?  Really?  So I gave her husband another chance to go with us and he laughed.  I'm guessing a quiet house sounded better.
For the most part, the drive was smooth.  Got off an exit to find some food and hopefully a bookstore and there was nothing.  Of course the lovely Garmin decided to take us all over the place EXCEPT to a road with an entrance to the highway.
Once we got back on the Interstate, we decided to find a mall at a main exit because I needed to get some books for the girls to finish off their gift bags.  After finding everything, we left and realized we were right near Notre Dame.  Not intentional but I sorta wanted to sightsee, never been there before.  I joked if Jodi wanted to surprise her cousin, who is the starting long kicker for the football team, but we really needed to get to Chicago, especially before rush hour.
We finally made it to ChiTown, a little later than we wanted, but it is what it is.  A scenic unplanned tour of a small Indiana town, dogs crossing the interstate, people singing in cars....We had our definitely had our entertainment as we drove.  Not to mention numerous requests from someone in the car saying they needed to use the restroom....cough cough, not naming any names, but it was not me  :-)
We finally made it to the hotel and hung out until Missi, Deb and her friend Mary Jo came back from their sightseeing of downtown Chicago.  We sat and relaxed and talked before heading out on the town for some dinner.  Headed down to the Navy Pier and decided on Harry Carry's Bar & Restaurant.  It was a great dinner and fun conversation to end a long day.

Deb, Jodi, Me and Mellisa

Woke about and got ready for the day.  Didn't have an exact plan, so we headed out to get some breakfast at a nice family run place, The West Egg Cafe.  Then it was off to the convention center so Deb & Missi could pick up their packets.
The expo was huge.  I mean it makes sense, seeing how the Chicago Marathon is the biggest in the U.S.  We walked straight to the back to get their shirts and packet.  After that we headed over the the DetermiNation booth for Deb to sign-in.  Honestly it was pretty emotional watching Deb fill out a sign for her Mom.
Personally I think at this moment, everything hit her.  The memories, the first marathon, everything became "real".  I'm extremely proud of everything she has done.
We then just headed to explore all the booths.  There was no ryhme or reason, since I was just following the girls.  It was their weekend.  As we turned the corner we saw a sign for Hal Higdon, who is a best selling author and the longest contributor to Runners World magazine than any other writer.  Along with books, he also writes training plans for runners, from brand new to experts....I used one of his plans for the Cleveland Marathon and Missi and Deb got theirs from him as well.  The best part though was when Missi realized Hal was ACTUALLY sitting there.  She was like a teenage girl meeting Justin Bieber for the first time in person.  It was really a cute moment.
There were lots of vendors and free samples of things and I'm sure we could have spent hours walking around.  While the girls went to look for shirts, Jodi and I went to the Nike Wall, where all 45,000 runners had their names located in alphabetical order.  We took some pictures once we found them and went back to see how the girls were.

During this time I had been texting Amanda since she had said she wanted to meet us, so she was nice enough to make her way back to downtown, since she picked up her stuff the day before.  I introduced her to Deb & Missi and we decided we would make our way back to the shuttle drop off to find a place to eat since we had not had anything since breakfast.  So we hung out, exchanged stories and just relaxed.  I guess Missi and Deb were under the impression that we had known Amanda for a long time, so they were quite surprised to find out that that was our first meet up, outside of blogging and emails.
Amanda, Me and Jodi
We decided to walk to the Navy Pier, take some pictures, walk around and just enjoy the great weather and company.  Then it was back to the hotel while Amanda took a bus to her car.  Of course I had to give her a hard time and remind her to smile and we wished her good luck in the case we could not meet up before the race.
It was getting late and we were all hungry, so just decided on pizza for dinner.  Chicago deep dish, only fitting.  Still is weird looking at pizza with sauce on the top, but it was really good.
The girls headed to bed, which I suppose was ok since they had plans early in the morning.  So Jodi and I decided to head downstairs for a drink and try to figure out a plan of action for the next day.  We busted out the "spectator map" and tried to figure out where to go, when to stop, how to get there.  Of course I mostly heard "I'm just following you", since Jodi is slightly directionally challenged.  heehee  But we thought we had a good plan, especially since we had backups just in case.  I was excited and nervous and I wasn't even running.
Sunday - Race day
Woke up bright and early.  Jodi and I had our own itinerary and really had to just be prepared and not do anything to panic or disrupt Missi & Debs preparation for their day.  Memo to self....When you are in a different time zone, change your watch.  I may or may not have commented on how it was 6:15 and we needed to get changed also, since they wanted to head down around 6:30.  Well, slight problem since it was really only 5:15, so insert foot into mouth.  I figured if they were not awake, that at least got the blood flowing...LOL
The start line was about a 10 minute walk from our hotel.  There was a point where they only let runners through, and we didn't want to make the girls nervous, plus had a few things to get as well as figure out how to get to the train station at some point.  So we took some pictures, said our good lucks and hurried on our way and told the girls we would see them at mile 18. 
Deb and Missi morning of the race
Granted, we didn't fill them in our plan to see them sooner.  Headed off to the store to purchase our train passes, get some bagels and some flowers for the girls.  Once we dropped stuff off at the hotel, we headed out and with the help of a friendly couple, made it to the station with ease.
On the train to mile 7 we met a guy...well, a 20 year old kid with an Ironman Finisher T-Shirt and hat on.  Seeing how I really want to do one, I had to of course ask him which one he did, how he did, if he liked it, etc, etc.  He finished the Wisconsin Ironman last month and was very modest with his answer to how he did....I did "ok".  His sister had to jump in and explain that he finished 5th in his age group (18-24yr old) with a time of 10 hrs and 18 minutes, which is inspiring.  I checked the site and he ended up 41st overall out of 1,630 men.  For those unfamiliar with Ironman times, they give you 17 hours to finish in order to become 'official'.  The high end/pro athletes do it in around 9 hrs.  So the kid knocked it out of the park.  He already was signed up to do Louisville next year and is hoping to qualify for Kona.
We made our way to the mile 7 marker and the train station just happened to be down the road from Wrigley Field, which was pretty cool.  The streets were jam packed so we weaved our way in and out, found an open spot and snuck in to watch the runners.  Being the really shy person that I am, we struck up a conversation with the people around us.  One of the guys next to us was holding a sign that said "Chaffed Nipples are Sexy".  The sign was a hit with everyone it seemed as the runners always laughed or made comments.  Some even pulled up their shirts to show their bandaids.  Unfortunately for me, they were all dudes that did that...LOL
We ended up getting text alerts (from the 10k mark) so we knew the girls were near and when to expect them.  Unfortunately we saw them too late and they were on the opposite side of the road.  Although Deb did turn her head as we yelled and maybe she thought she was just hearing things...heehee  At that point it was back to the train station.  We thought about toying with the idea of heading towards the halfway point, but decided it would be a risk, since the main deal and the main purpose was to be there at 18.
But we decided to leave and not do any of it and just drive home...Ok, ok, ok, just kidding...heehee
To be continued....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Back to normal....whatever that means

Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength. -Unknown

The first attempt at running again was mostly successful.  I say mostly because nothing is ever how you want it to be.  I was cleared to run two weeks ago and thought it would be a good idea to run a half marathon.  Of course despite you thinking an ACTUAL half marathon, I was just going to hop on the course with a friend of mine while she ran.  Myself, I could only do around 2 miles, per doctors orders.  So I drove up to Cleveland to support Kim at the River Run Half.  My plan was to jump in around mile 10 or 11 and see how it goes.  Well, this was not a very "spectator friendly" course and the majority of it was run through the metro parks.  Great scenery for the runners, but tough for those cheering on to support everyone.  I parked at the area high school and took the shuttle that they provided to take people to the finish line.  The course started in Berea and was a straight shot north, so my only option was to walk the course backwards (I was walking forwards, since I wanted to see where I was going....come on I know someone chuckled)  They told people to stay off the road and stay on the trail, which of course was fine, other than the fact the trail didn't always follow the road.  I walked for about 45 minutes and came to a point where other spectators were.  I figured this was the best spot and thought I was around the 10-11 mile mark.  After chatting it up with a few people and cheering the racers on, I decided to walk down the course.  I wasn't sure how close Kim was and I wasn't sure if I was "technically" allowed to just jump in and start running.  I waited for a while, checked my watch and kept an eye out for Kim as I gave some support to the runners.  Some seemed to be relieved, but I may have let a "keep it up, you're almost done" slip out of my mouth.  By the look I got, I knew exactly what it meant, since they still had about 2-3 miles so they were not "almost done" 
Finally, I hear a voice yell "Hey Whinnem let's go"  Sure enough it was Kim, sooner than I expected.  I joined her on the course.  Now, a side note, this is also just when one of the "pace cars" passed, so here's me, worried I'm going to get in trouble as we run behind the people in charge of the race.  (Guess I need to get used to hopping on courses though at least for the next month)  :-)  She told me that she has not stopped once and was feeling good.  Once I heard that, I felt the need to make sure she didn't stop and I could tell she was checking to make sure I was feeling ok and not dying...LOL  I felt really good and ended up running a faster pace than I anticipated.  I got to experience Kim's quirky noises that she lets out out of the blue as she runs.  The first "whoooooo" caught me off guard and made me laugh.  I made it until just before the 13 mile mark and hopped off the course and walked the trail back to the finish.  Kim ended up crushing her best time and for the first time ever completed the half without stopping, so I was pretty proud of her.
We waited near the finish line to cheer on her friend Michele who was running the half as part of her marathon training.  Speaking of marathon training, as we stood there, Jodi met us after her 20 mile training run.  Her, Mellisa and Deb headed out on the trails bright and early for their training runs, but Jodi was the only lucky one to have 20 miles that day....heehee

The after effects....My legs felt pretty good.  I obviously can't complain being that I was with people that just ran a half marathon.  The days following it were a bit off.  I started feeling pain in the area of my leg that I had the stress fracture and all I could think of is "damn, I overdid it".  I came to the conclusion that it was mainly due to me running on the "uneven" road of the metro park, which makes sense.  Even so, I decided to just back off and just hit the elliptical later in the week.  My feet were a bit sore as well, but nothing painful, just needed to do alot of stretching.  This past weekend I tested my legs again, not with a run, but 18 holes of golf.  Ya, used some muscles that have quiet for awhile, due to my not-so-proper form.

Yesterday marked my LAST DAY for physical therapy as I was discharged.  She told me that I'm at a point where I can do everything on my own.  She was a bit concerned over the soreness in the bottom of my feet, but thought it would be ok.  I actually didn't even realize she was discharging me.  Her assistant was giving me ultra sound and mentioned it and I had a blank look on my face.  I have to say I have mixed feelings about it.  Sure, it's great, but there is also uncertainty.  What if the pain comes back, what if it's not healed.  Guess the only way to find out is to get back on the horse, so to speak.

This morning was my final follow up with the sports doctor.  He was happy to hear about the end of PT and pleased with my updates.  He agreed with my assessment of the soreness being due to the uneven road and told me I should be fine.  We chatted about his upcoming marathon and he said he is in his taper mode.  This weekend will be the first long run under 20 miles in about a month or 2.  He's running the Chicago marathon and hoping to break 3 hrs for the first time.  I told him I'd join him for a few miles but something tells me I wouldn't keep up.  My "plans" as far as what I'd be doing for runs are pretty straight forward.  Nothing too long, just enough to build a base up.  I figure if I can consistently get up to 3-4 miles in the next few weeks and get my cardio back, that would work for me.  Especially considering the races that I will be "joining in"  A new pair of shoes are in the future though and possibly orthodics.

So for me it's just getting back out there and being smart, something I'm not known we'll see.  :-)

Until next time.....