Please help us in our fight to help loved ones with Parkinson's Disease live better today!

Please help us in our quest to help those afflicted with Parkinson's Disease live better today!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Can I get a refund?

No, seriously! The closer I get to Jan. 1, the more I am freaking out.  Freddy and I signed up for Ironman Boulder back in July, high on the accomplishments of our dear friends who had just rocked the Ironman in Coeur d'Alene and made it look like child's play. I remember sitting at the computer that morning feeling sick-knowing that once I pulled the trigger, life as I knew it was about to change. I thought I would have a year of getting in the best shape of my life. Plenty of time! Except now it's December and I'm no stronger now than I was then.

My friends Nancy, Daniela and I at the start of the Portland Marathon. Don't we all look pretty and fast? 
I am coming off a really bad, no, horribly awful Portland Marathon in October that has left me less than optimistic about my next marathon (which just happens to take place after a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride). Going into Portland, I had been fighting some nagging tweaks including a nasty bout of piriformis syndrome that just would not go away. Like any good marathoner, I thought I was tougher than any silly little nag and convinced myself that if I ignored the pain it would go away. Well, on Oct. 6 during the Portland Marathon, high atop the lovely St. John's Bridge, my piriformis really kicked in. Those who really know me, know I'm a pretty tough cookie. While pacing the Denver Half Marathon in 2011, I felt a horrendous, stabbing pain in my leg at mile 11. Not one to be a pansy, I convinced myself it was just a nasty cramp and I limped to the finish line; shoving away every paramedic along the course who wanted to give me a ride in their fancy ambulance. When I woke up the next morning and almost fell flat on my face because I couldn't put any weight on my leg, I knew this was no cramp. I knew my leg was broken. I got up and went to work all day before facing my fate at ER (call it denial or dedication-whatever). 2013 was supposed to be my come-back year after my break. I did PR at the Garmin Land of Oz marathon in Kansas in April, so that was awesome. But I didn't really try, I just ran the pace that felt right. Portland was going to be it! Aside from my broken leg in 2011, I have never been in this much pain during a race. My mind and the rest of my body were strong and wanted desperately to run. My hips, however, would not move. Period. I slowed to a 20+ minute mile because I could only walk a few steps without having to stop and stretch. It was a horrible, intense pain and one that I refuse to go through again. So, needless to say, I will be incorporating a whole host of preventative measures for Boulder.
That's my friend Daniela, literally kicking my ass on the St. John's Bridge. We had a lovely 17 miles together until the pain in my ass had other ideas.....

I'm terrified. Absolutely, completely terrified of the Ironman. While each distance individually is totally do-able, putting it all together while fighting hunger, heat, exhaustion, and the ever ticking clock,  has me scared stiff. But, I love pushing my body beyond it's limits. I love fighting while every fiber of my being is telling me to stop and go have a frosty margarita and a nap.
So, from now until January, you will find me in the gym with some old lady weights in my hands, trying to bulk up so I can kick some serious tail in Boulder.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My "why"

When you put yourself through these crazy adventures, the question you always need to prepare for from those who don't get it is "why?".  I have a lot of "why's", but my "why" for starting on this endurance ride are two people I love very much: my Papa and Freddy's mom, Carol. My "Papa" (you may call yours your Grandpa-but mine's extra special, so he's Papa) has always had a way of getting me to do anything. I was convinced until I was in my 20's, that Papa's favorite food was canned spinach because when I was a kid, he always said it was his favorite 'cause it made him strong like Popeye. So, because my Papa said he loved it and was good for him, I forced it down the hatch. Imagine my shock when I hesitantly loaded my plate with a gooey mess of canned spinach as an adult and offered to scoop some up for my Papa, who met this offer with a crinkle of his nose and a "Gross.  I can't stand that stuff".  When we would watch "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" together, in the days before remote controls, Papa would make a game of me being his remote and walking over to the tv to turn the volume up or down. He even would get me excited about scooping up some of his favorite ice cream: butter pecan. He taught me how to count by how many snacks he would like us to share. "A couple" meant two. "A few" meant as many as my little hands could carry. That man has magical powers, he does! So, I really blame Papa for getting me into this whole endurance thing. If it wasn't for him (and Freddy's mom), I may still be a couch potato dreaming about doing a marathon. Although I will admit, being a couch potato sounds awfully tempting at times!

Me & my Papa in our younger days. He taught me at a young age to enjoy the good things in life!

My marathon journey began with Train to End Stroke, a training program through the American Stroke Association. I have always loved causes and this was one near and dear to my heart as Papa had had multiple strokes and Freddy's mom Carol recently suffered a stroke. I asked Papa and Carol if they would be my "stroke heroes" and, both being incredibly humble but wanting me to succeed, agreed. I am so proud to say that with their confidence in me, I raised $3500 for the American Stroke Association and became a marathoner. 

I finished my first marathon in 2005 with Train to End Stroke. And I loved every mile of it. Shortly after my marathon, we lost Freddy's mom to cancer. It came as a huge shock to all of us and it was horrible having to helplessly watch her battle this disease. But, if there was anything good that came out of losing her, it made Freddy and I really try to live every day to the fullest and not take any day for granted.  When I first met Carol, we had an instant bond, like we had known each other forever. Before Freddy and I flew to Arizona to meet she and Clair for the first time, Freddy called Carol and warned her about my aversion to my food touching. When we sat down to eat dinner just after our arrival, Carol jokingly served my meal on a kiddie divider plate. I knew then and there that I loved this woman! I had brought with me some pretty awesome fake teeth that I had put in at Freddy's request when I met her. Her response was running to her room to put on some great glasses that made her eyes all buggy. She was always there to cheer Freddy and I on with any crazy quest. She loved watching us push ourselves, but like any good mother, always wanted us safe and happy.
My Fan Club for my first marathon! Freddy, Erica (Freddy's niece), Shelly (Freddy's sister), Kristin (my sister), the next guy-not important, Mary (my mom), Clair (Freddy's dad), seated Carol (Freddy's mom). Little did we know, this would be our last family photo with her and the last time we spent time together before cancer took her from us.

Over 12 years ago, Papa was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. PD is a horrible, debilitating disease that I despise to the core of my being, but one that Papa and my Grandma (Mama) face head-on with humor, strength and resolve that I hope to possess some day. The good to come of this (I am always one to find silver lining in any situation) is that we have aligned ourselves with and awesome group of people through the the Davis Phinney Foundation. Now, we can do events we love so much, for a cause we love even more.

So, although my cause has changed, my "why" is still the same. I do this for those who can't. And because I can.