What a difference a day–and a good run–make

So I’ve been having a bit of a roller coaster last few weeks. The last few days have especially been trying/emotional/draining, and quite frankly, I wasn’t sure that I was going to be in a good place to take on the challenge of ramping up to our first double-digit mileage run today. Once we enter the double digit territory, the runs not only take a toll on you physically, but surprisingly, they do a number on you mentally as well, and with all of the things that have been on my mind lately, I wasn’t all that confident I’d be up for this run mentally.

But as tends to happen with these “magic runs,” when you least expect it, you can have a workout that just surprises you and it can make all the difference in the world.

For one thing, I had just about the best running buddies on this run that I could have asked for. Janine, Leah, and Carsten kept an easy, doable pace that felt great, but also had me feeling as though I was challenging myself too. More importantly, we had fun, leisurely conversations all throughout and for anyone who’s ever run any long distance runs, you’ll know the importance of being able to make the time pass quickly–these guys helped me do that :). By the time the 10 miles were over, I felt as though I could have run 10 more (ok, maybe not THAT many more :p) and felt better than I had felt post-run in a long, long, LONG time.

At the 10 mile turnaround

Afterwards, the team had our annual Honoree Picnic, in which we celebrate the people who inspire us to get out there and run and raise funds. Hearing their stories of struggle and ultimate triumph would turn even the hardest of hearts into pure mush, and as usual, I was a bucket of tears by the end of their stories. Remembering that earlier this week, it was the 16 month anniversary of losing my friend Brittanie, and remembering that my own father, who may have to undergo his fourth bone marrow exam to determine whether he may have Leukemia, my heart was very heavy, to say the least. There is still so much to be done, so many lives yet to save, and yet when you see these living testimonies of triumph standing right in front of you, it’s hard not to feel inspired and motivated to keep going.

Our wonderful Honorees

Our wonderful Honorees

Good runs like this–good days¬†like this–make the bad ones worth it. They really do.

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Moral victories

Week 4 of marathon training and we’ve begun to ramp up our mileage…

Saturday’s training run was an 8 miler, which was quite a jump for me; I hadn’t run more than 4 miles since the 10K I ran in mid-March, when I had just recovered from my broken ankle–before a rib injury, migraines, and the cold from hell took me out of commission again and stopped my momentum cold. Needless to say, I was somewhat nervous about running this far, with my cardio still a bit iffy from all of the stops and starts of the past few months, but the whole point of training is to get our body slowly adjusted to the growing mileage, so I set aside the nerves and showed up for the run, hoping for the best.

It turned out that I had nothing to worry about. Sure, it took a while to warm up and I found myself a bit out of breath for the first mile or two, but soon enough, I was starting to get my wind, and thanks to my running partner, Leah, the miles breezed by quickly.

An hour and 31 minutes later, I had logged 8.11 miles (overachievers r us ;)) and was feeling pretty triumphant. Not only did I get all the miles in that I set out to run, but I felt strong and good at the end of the whole thing, which in itself is a victory after the last few months of health woes that I’ve had to endure.

Is it the start of my comeback? I sure hope so…

Thumbs up!

Thumbs up!

There’s only one direction to go from here, and that’s up

Made a startling discovery tonight. I’m human (shh, try not to spread the word; I’ve got a reputation to uphold). Yes, the heat really did get to me and I had a really bad time trial–didn’t even finish all 12 laps around the track and had to stop at 10 because my stomach was not very happy near the end.

Ok, not the result I wanted. Far from it. Before I stopped, I was on track to finish the 5K in over 32 minutes–easily my worst time in three years and more than 4 minutes slower than last summer’s time trial. Ouch. But it happened and the earth didn’t swallow me whole. My ego is bruised (severely), but thankfully, the ego heals, albeit sometimes a little more slowly than we’d like :). And when it does heal, I will kick my own butt and beat last year’s time. If the heat cooperates this time, I might just do it, too.

But lest I feel too sorry for myself, the night ended on a very positive note, which put all of this into proper perspective. As tradition after track, we had one of our Honorees give a short, inspirational talk. Tonight, it was Honoree Todd’s turn to tell his story, and we heard his new addendum for the first time: 12 years after his initial diagnosis of cancer, he received the miraculous news that he’s now passed the time period in which they were sure his cancer would come out of remission and return. And this means that he is now in the very, very small minority of people with this type of cancer who is now unlikely to see a recurrence of it.

He is, essentially, cured.

A to the men.

Sucky time trials don’t really hold much weight compared to this, no?

How does the weather know when a time trial is coming up?

It’s time trial time once again, when the team runs a 5K all out to get broken up into pace groups that we’ll be in throughout the remainder of the season, to space out the runners on the trail. The process tends to be a little nerve-wracking, even to those of us who have done it many times before–let’s face it, most of us are perfectionists and want to outdo last season’s time, and I’m definitely no exception :).

And once again, it seems the weather knows exactly when we’re about to do a time trial, because the temperatures all of a sudden heated up just for the occasion. For the third (or is it the fourth?) straight summer, we look to have another scorcher on our hands just in time to do our time trial. Nothing like running all out in excessive heat and hoping you don’t pass out.

Wish me luck, folks–I shall report back with results when it is all done.

Wait, I thought this was the SUMMER team?

57 degrees, pouring down rain, runners dressed in rain-proof gear, tights, and long-sleeve shirts…

 

Is it really JUNE?

 

So it’s not exactly the kind of beginning to the summer season that most of us are used to… It’s not often that we’re giving advice to the newbies about how to dress in inclement weather and reassuring them that, despite rumors to the contrary, we will indeed NOT melt in the rain. Guaranteed. But it’s that kind of summer season so far, and I’m so proud of the team for not only showing up for today’s run, but actually braving the downpour and running 3-5 miles.

 

It just goes to show that the cause that brings us altogether is enough to awaken the crazy–er, I mean, the dedicated in all of us. So the next time it’s pouring down like this and you are in the comfort in your own home, snuggling in a blanket and sipping hot chocolate, think of us poor folk who are out there running in the name of kicking cancer’s ass.

 

And please save a room for us by the fireplace when we’re done :).

 

"Break out the umbrella, ella, ella..."

Break out the umbrella, ella, ella...

A less than stellar debut

Well the first run of the brand new season didn’t exactly go as I had hoped…

After an off-season spent battling various injuries and ailments (I’m talking to you, evil migraines), I was hoping to put the disappointment of the last few months behind me and get back to business doing what I love to do best: training for a marathon. Today was supposed to be my fresh start, my chance to wipe the slate clean of all of the things that have plagued me recently. So of course what happens? I go and get myself infected with a wicked cold virus.

But no matter. So I was a little down and out today (managing a meager 1.34 miles before finally, FINALLY listening to my body and stopping), but it’s the first day of a long season, and there will be plenty of opportunities to get in there and run (I sure hope :)). Besides, I still found a way to meet many of the new participants and give them a great TNT experience, and at the end of the day, that’s my job as volunteer staff.

I’ll get ’em the next time.

Here we go, here we go

While the rest of the world was counting down to the rapture that might or might not happen, we TNTers were gearing up for our favorite day of the year (ok, the second favorite day–I guess race day tops this one!): kick-off.

As adults, we get few opportunities to experience the excitement of back to school, when you’re reuniting with friends after a long break and eagerly looking forward to the next few months, full of adventure, learning, and lots and lots of hard work. Lucky for me, I do get to experience this, every time the summer season for Team In Training comes around. Today was no exception, as we welcomed new participants to the team and caught up with old friends.¬† We also came together in honor of the cause that binds us all: the desire to rid the world of a monster called cancer.

In the course of today’s celebration, we paused to remember a fallen hero named Louie Bonpua, a Leukemia patient who defied the odds by completing an Iron Man (aka a 2 mile swim, 110 mile bike ride, and full marathon all in the same day!) while going through chemo. One of Louie’s good friends spoke today, to honor his friend who, as he recalled, inspired everyone whose paths had ever crossed with his–and even those who never even had the honor of meeting him.

As we watched clips of Louie in the last embers of his life, desperately ill and barely walking, but carrying the 2002 Olympic Torch as hundreds of his supporters walked with him, we all felt the profound impact of this man and there was not a single dry eye in the room. When asked why he did such crazy things as training for an Iron Man–which is a hard enough feat, even without the rigors of chemo–Louie had a simple answer: I’m still here. I’m still alive, and I’m going to do it as long as my body allows me.

His fierce attitude and refusal to let go of hope reminds me of another inspiration in my life, my dear friend Brittanie Siobhan, whose memory always weighs heavily on me when I think about why I am coming back for “more torture.” Like Louie, Britt never once succumbed to the belief that she wouldn’t be able to beat this demon. She fought it with every once of strength she had–and boy, did she have a lot. Till her last breath, she was a shining example of courage, grace, humor, and hope, and even now, as an angel, she continues to give me–and so many others who were privileged to know and love her–strength and courage.

I don’t think there will ever be a time when I won’t feel this hole in my heart because she was taken from us. But I also know that she’d be the first to tell me to take that sadness and use it as fuel to carry on in her example to live life to the fullest and leave as mighty an imprint in this world as she did in her all-too-brief 26 years.

So once again, I kick off this season with this: I hope I make you proud, Brittanie Siobhan. Fly with me, dragonfly.