Thursday, October 22, 2015

A little perspective

Wow.  I can hardly find words to describe the humbling experience I had today.  Where to start?

First off, you have to watch this video.... and then come back.  I'll wait.

Just some quick background.  Brian is from NewYork but moved to Utah about 4 years ago to enjoy all the wonderful outdoor things that we have to offer.  This past June he was mountain biking when he had his accident and is currently paralyzed from the chest down.

Here's the deal. I have a good friend that I have "known" for quite some time.  We met through blogging (back in the day was blogging was cool) and have stayed in touch via facebook, email etc.

He contacted me and another mutual friend, Abe, here in the SLC valley and asked if we would be willing to help him out.  He is a family friend of Brian's and wanted to do something special for him.  He hatched a plan to bring him some cheer and motivation.  This dear friend sent money to both Abe and I with some instructions.  Abe was to have his 1st grade class write some get well cards.  I was to find a pair of cool running shoes that Brian could have to look at and motivate him in his therapy.

When the mail came, and the funds were in my hand you bet your knickers I toddled off to Wasatch Running Center.  With Darrell's help, we were able to get him some shoes, shorts, socks, a water bottle, and a WRC shirt and hat.  I was particular on the shoes.  They had to be red.  Knowing that he was a Utah transplant I had hoped that some Ute blood had gotten to him and that he was a fan.  The shoes are sick! (that means cool for you old people)

This evening Abe and I made the jaunt up to the hospital to meet Brian and to give him his presents that our mutual friend had provided.

Can I just tell you that he is quite possibly the coolest person I have ever met?  Upbeat, happy, cheerful, and inspiring.  He's quite sure that he will get his legs back.  In fact, by the time, we left, he had me convinced.  Just seeing the progress he has already made, and watching his grit and determination - the dude will meet and exceed his goals.  He's someone that while I only spent about 30-40 minutes with, will remember the rest of my life.  His amazing spirit is etched in my brain and on my heart.  Our mutual friend who provided this opportunity?  Has my undying loyalty and love.  He is truly one of the best human beings that I have ever not met in real life.
The shoes got a little cut off, so his mom retook the pic

There they are - Mizuno's.  And the coolest part of it all?  His new wheelchair that he ordered with the Drew Brees donation will match the shoes.  Very cool!

Of course, we had to include Ellen and Drew in our pic

As most people know, I've been dealing with my own health issues and some chronic pain for over a year now.  I had neck surgery in March, still dealing with some pain and as of Tuesday, there was discussion of perhaps another surgery.  It's been a year of a lot of miserable day's.  More pain than not, and a roller coaster of emotions.  However, when I was getting ready this morning and again grumbling about my pain, I had a moment of clarity:  At least I could feel my pain.  I am standing up, I am walking, I can run (even if my doc doesn't want me to).  I can shower by myself, I can play with my granddaughters, I can do just about anything I want to.  And while pain least I can feel it.

Perspective indeed.

Best wishes in continued progress and improvement to Brian.  I plan on following him closely.
Thanks Abe for coming with me - it was a great experience.
To my anonymous mutual friend - I love you.  More than a fat kid loves cake.  Thank you.  There are not enough words to express my gratitude.
To my Heavenly Father - thank you for providing some clarity and perspective to me.  I needed it.

PS - If you ever doubted that God puts people in your lives for reasons you may not understand right away?  Stop doubting.  Heavenly Father knows exactly who you are, what you need, and provides it all for you in sometimes the most unexpected ways.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

St George Marathon 2015 - The year of first's and some spiritual thoughts

*blows dust off of blog*

Oh hey..... *looks around*  this place looks vaguely familiar.  It seems that posting on one's blog is a thing of the past.  Unless of course you're some big time writer and you make money and whatnot.  I originally started this little piece of the blog'o'sphere to capture my thoughts and create a journal.  And then all of a sudden I stopped.  Shame on me.

Soooo..... St George Marathon Two Thousand Fifteen!  I really have to gather my thoughts and get them down before they're lost in the wind (like the dust I just blew off).  Disclaimer.....I'm tired and hurting a little bit so my grammer isn't going to be perfect, I might be rambling a bit.

This is my fifth SGM and sadly, I went into it thinking it might be my last.  But I'll get back to that.
This was my daughter-in-love's FIRST marathon's. (marathon? marathons? - I don't know the right way).  Mindy and Karalee are both runners and had both done half marathon's before but this was their first full monty.  The real deal.  The big kahuna.  They both began training, and all three of us had our own set of challenges that we faced but nevertheless, when word came down that all three of us were in, Splenda Daddy booked a condo and we decided to make it family vacay.

We were able to get the whole crew into a condo Thursday evening.  It was beautiful!  The view was amazing, it was large with a beautiful deck and some grass to throw a frisbee and football around on.  Perfect for us.
the view from our balcony

Some shots Splenda too while in Snow Canyon

Don't try to use our pool man

Another view from the balcony 

This mornings sunrise from my bedroom

So freakin pretty

Just wearing Mimi's flip flops and wishing she could go out on the balconey

Thursday night was fairly lowkey, just dinner at Pacho and Lefty's and then while everyone else hung out, I went to bed exhausted and with a sore back and neck.
Waiting for dinner

Sick of being in the freakin car!

Pancho and Lefty's new family favorite in Dixie

Friday morning, the girls and I headed out for a quick 20 minute shake out run and then back to shower and get ready.
Splenda dropped me off at the expo and I met up with my WRC family for a little work.  I LOVE working the expo's.  LOVE them!  Sure, they can be long day's and a lot of standing on cement but I love the fact that I get to see so many of my running friends and family.
Mindi !!

Carl !!  (seriously, this guy gives the best hugs)

Melia !!

I swear to you that me and Vince must be siblings seperated at birth.  Both screwing up the picture.
And DUDE!  He spoiled me freakin rotten with treats!  I KNOW they gave me super powers!  Thanks to the Massa clan!

Once I was done there, the girls came and we picked up our packets, got our runner series shirts and headed back to the condo.  Early pizza dinner and then again, I was the first to go to bed.  I knew how early the 3:45am alarm would be and I also know that I'm older and need more rest.  Oh and my back and neck were hurting so laying down was for the best.

Indeed, the alarm sounded.  We quietly got ready and headed over to the bus loading area where we met up with the rest of our "crew".  It's a pretty remarkable thing that Mindy is able to run, and even more remarkable that she was about to undertake a full marathon.  Brenda helped me get some shirts made and we created a "Team Minderella".  They turned out awesome and I'm so grateful for all those who wore them.  We got a lot of questions and raised a lot of awareness (winning).
Ryan, Karalee, Mindy, me, Mindi, Ellen, Brenda and Candice
Team Minderella (just missing Joni - next race)

Running to Cure CF

We waited until the end of the line for the buses and literally loaded on the very last one.  For me, it was perfect.  We got to the top, left our drop bags, got the porta potties taken care of, national anthem and then we lined up in the corral and was off!

Now originally, us three girls had talked about staying together.  Mindy and Karalee had done so many of their training runs together, that we thought it was be awesome to finish together.  Cross that line holding hands.  But isn't there some saying about the best laid plans?

We started together and stayed together for the first couple of miles but as any runner will tell you, paces are so individual and unique.  Even friends who often start and finish together will have moments of separation, it's just how it works.  Karalee struggles with side aches.  EVERY STINKIN TIME!  So frustrating for her.  So the harder she would push, the more of a side stitch she would get.  She slowly was dropping back to where it was more comfortable for her.  Now what?  We wanted to stick together but our paces were just not the same.

As we moved along, the miles seem to fly by.  I was plotting out how I could cross the finish line with both of the girls at different times when Mindy finally spoke up. "I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but I don't know if I'll ever be healthy enough to run a full marathon again, I'd like to see what I can do"

Well that decided it.  She was right.  We weren't meant to all stay together, because just as life is individual so is a marathon.  You have to run your own race.  She was right about the health.  She has Cystic Fibrosis and while she is pretty healthy and strong right now and is doing well, you just never know with that stupid disease.  I hope this won't be her only one, but it could.  She really should just go all out and see what she can do.  It's her race.

The same was true for Karalee.  It's HER race as well.  She needs to run it the way she wants to run it and not for anyone else.

Me?  I was just so freaking happy to be running that seriously the endorphins hid all the back and neck pain and I just ran for the sheer joy of running.  I was taking in every single step with happiness and gratitude.  Funnest moment was when Brock (one of my extra 'sons') came up behind me with a sweaty hug!  Best.Hug.Ever! I had no idea he was going to be there and just seeing his smile and hearing him talk for a few minutes was the perfect boost!

Mindy and I were making great time as we came into mile 16 where Splenda Daddy was waiting with mine and Kar's bottles of UCan (fuel for the second half).  I told Mindy to go on ahead.  I told Splenda to hurry to the finish line because Mind's was coming in fast and I waited with Kar's Ucan.
So, SO happy!

As I waited, I walked/ran backwards on the course to find her and looked at all the runners as they passed by me.  I watched their faces, their bodies, wondering what their stories were.  One by one, I cheered on fellow Team Minderella friends as they cruised by full of gratitude for their support and happy that they all looked so strong!

I finally found Karalee and she slowed down to walk and talk for a minute.  I explained the plan for Mindy and that I was going to try and catch her, run in until just before the chip pad and then stop and come back for her (Kar) and cross the line with her.  There was some "You don't have to" and from me some "But I really want to" and then she was all about focusing and trying to keep her side aches away.  I wished her luck and away I went to try and catch Mindy.

If you've ever been running for a long time (16 miles - 17 by now), stop, and then start up again, you know that it's more painful to start up again than if you had not stopped.  It took me a few strides to get past the pain in my quads and then surprisingly I was able to lock onto a fast (for me) pace.  Seriously, I'm looking at my Garmin at mile 10 and see a 8:27 pace and wondering what in the crap was happening!  I'm never that fast that far into it.  Again, I credit it all to the endorphins (and maybe the ibuprofen).

I cruised along until mile 24 when it became quiet obvious that I would never catch Mindy.  In fact, I hadn't seen most of the rest of Team Minderella.  I knew Kar was frustrated so I turned on my phone, texted Splenda Daddy to tell him where I was and that I was going to wait for Kar and come in with her.  I turned my phone back off and again ran/walked backwards on the course to find her.

Mile 24 is an interesting place to watch marathoners.  Some were in so much pain that I hurt just watching them.  Many were walking.  Some were limping.  One man was shuffling with his whole body tilted to one side.  He was obviously gutting through some serious pain.  I watched the blind runner that was tethered to a sight runner finally slow down to walk a little bit.  My admiration for her was so immense that I got a little choked up.  And then I started to worry that I had been runner watching so much that I actually missed Karalee.  I finally turned on my phone to see that Corbin had sent me a text WAY earlier saying that Kar wanted to finish on her own and that I should just come in.  Okay doke!

I turned around, willed my quads to cooperate and started running again.  Amazingly, back at a pace that I don't ever see at mile 24, 25 and 26.  I couldn't believe my eyes looking at my Garmin, but more importantly, I couldn't believe how I felt.  Holy Smokes!  I felt good.  I felt like I could keep running.  I felt like I could fly!

As I came into the chute, I heard and saw Splenda cheering for me.  A few feet further and I saw Corbin and Chloee cheering for me.   Another few more feet and there was Preston, Montana and Addy cheering for me!  Oh, what a feeling!
Cute Chloee waiting and watching for her Momma

I crossed the line.Turned off my Garmin and thought - well.  This is a first.  Not only did I take longer than I have ever taken, but I ran further than I have ever run.  Huh.

Mindy was right there to greet me and when I heard she finished in 4:19 I about peed my pants!  Holy smokes!  That's like my own PR time for that course!  She killed it.  Out of all of Team Minderella, the sick girl beat us all!  I am so proud of her!

Yeah, I licked her face.  I needed some salt!

We stayed right there at the finish line waiting for Kar and before I knew it she was in!  She was able to cross the line, go to Corb and Chlo before she came to us.  There were tears and hugs of happiness.  She did it!!  All those months of training, the blisters, the early mornings, the horrible side aches, it all payed off and she did it!  As a mom - my heart was seriously bursting with happiness and righteous pride.
Corb and Chloee made her a cute poster!

I grabbed a man Coke from the cart and we headed out to meet our family outside the runner's area.  I was out of my shoes as quickly as possible.  I knew I had some serious blisters going on, I had felt them since mile 10.  I quickly said hi to my WRC family at the Grand Slam tent, hugged and congratulated some runner friends (it felt like every time I turned around there was someone else I knew, I loved, and I wanted to hug).

Catmull's and Luetkemeyer's

Mindy's pace and splits

The little member of Team Minderella


Then it was time to bail.  We'd been out there for a long time and all any of us wanted was to lay down.

Home to the condo, a shared ice bath and then basking in glow of it all.
Misery loves company when it comes to ice baths
I absolutely love this picture.

As always, my deepest thoughts come while running.  Life lessons, spiritual lessons.....all come when it's me and the pavement (sometimes even surrounded by 7500 of my closest friends).

As much as me and the girls wanted to hold hands and cross the finish line together, it wasn't meant to be. Everyone's journey is different and unique.  Each of us had our own challenges along the course that were individually ours.  Yes we were traveling the same road, with the same end goal and were going to be reunited at the finish, but the experiences were and needed to be different.

As a devout Mormon (member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints), I firmly believe in an afterlife.  That when we are done here on earth, we are reunited with our family, friends and loved ones and continue those relationships into eternity.  Each of us have different experiences in life, but we are all trying to get to the same place.  Some get there faster than others.  Some experience more pain and suffering.  Some have to slow down a little bit, be more careful, and take a slower pace.  BUT, we all get to the same finish line.  And while we were separated for hours I knew that I had family waiting for me and that we would all be reunited when we all were finished.  No one was going to leave until everyone was safely in.  I watched a variety of runners.  Hundreds of them.  Many of them multiple times in my passing and going.  Each person battling something different.  Some having a seemingly easier time than others, some with obvious struggle.  Mile 24 is a great equalizer.  It's hard.  Your body cries for relief.  You want to be done.  You don't think you can carry on or take it any longer.  And dig a little deeper for something you didn't realize you had in you, and you find yourself still moving forward.  One step at a time.  We will all have/face/deal with trials, struggles and those are oftentimes equalizers for us as a people.  We all will have to dig deep at some point in our life, and find the necessary will to keep moving.  As I came into the chute I heard so much cheering, but when I heard MY husband, and MY kids......that's when the real reward paid off.  That's when the tears come, the pain melts away, and nothing but pure joy and ecstasy overwhelm me.  I know without a doubt it will be the same when it's my time to pass to the other side.  I will hear my loved ones cheering me in, waiting with hugs and congratulations for surviving this tough life, for staying faithful, and for finding the will - when it was the hardest- to keep moving forward.

No this won't be my last marathon despite what two of my doctor's have told me.  I've been told to give it up, no more running.  And then on the otherhand, I've had two other doctor's tell me it's okay to run and that I'm better off if I do.  Two months ago, I was in despair and had resigned myself to giving up this part of my identity.  After this weekend, and my 28.46 miles?  Nope.  Not gonna do it.  I might scale back and ease up a bit (in fact, just between you and me, I think my lack of training is what made it so great), but I.Will.Keep.Running.

Huge thanks to all my running friends and family!  Huge thank you to my Team Minderella teammates.  We will race again together!  Huge thanks to my family for their amazing support.  Most of all, immense gratitude and thanks to my Heavenly Father for gifting me with this body that while is imperfect, is enough.  It is enough for me.

Finally - So so SO proud of my girls!  Karalee and Mindy, you amaze me.  You inspire me.  Your righteous influences make me want to be a better person.  Thank you for taking this journey.  I simply am so happy for you I could just......just......cry!

And just one more of the littlest team member

PS - hopefully the girls will each get a chance to post their own thoughts about this weekend on their own blogs: