A look back to look forward

2015 taught me you cant plan for everything. It was a tough year and at moments had me lost for words which is why my blog hasn’t been as filled with as much content. Sometimes writing can make you feel naked, to hit “publish” on a blog post or to add a picture can make you feel so vulnerable it makes me question what and what not to share. It can be tough for a woman at times. Working full time, raising a teenage daughter, marriage and juggling personal goals as well as running can leave you wanting a time out and not to feel guilty about it. That’s exactly what I have done. I have hit pause. Don’t get me wrong 2015 had some highlights. I didn’t do as many races but the ones I did participate in gave me some special memories that make me reflect with a smile.

2015 Completed <12>  (with links to my blog recaps):

Reflecting on these races again remind me why I do it, its not for the finish time but for the experience. Each one of these remind me of special times with my daughter that we shared or a good laugh with a friend.

The app #2015bestnine selected my most liked pics from Instagram and I have to say it hit it pretty close.

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What’s on tap for 2016? I am not sure yet. Tomorrow I go to the doctor for a follow up from my spinal surgery, fingers crossed I am making good progress. I am scheduled to run Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans next month and I am currently planning my first trip to New York in June to run in Central Park at the Mini Oakley 10k which has been on my list for awhile. Whatever I do if I am adding special memories along the way I am happy.

Thanks for following along let’s see what 2016 offers…..

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How the St. Jude Half came to be

So when my husband gave me a cuddly stuffed “St. Jude” bear with my Christmas present last year from Kay Jewelers he had no idea of what he was starting. This race in Memphis has been on my bucket list for awhile (largely in part due to my running buddy Francine). Since we started this journey in 2011 she has asked every year “When are we going to do St. Jude?”  well I had decided 2015 would be the year. Bear in hand I asked my Hubby “Can St. Jude be my destination race in 2015?”  ( I try to pick one a year if budget allows) His response “As long as you find a child to give the bear too“. In fact he went and got me a SECOND one. Both would make the trip to Memphis but we will come back to that. Not only did I decide that St. Jude would be destination race but that I would also sign up as an Elite VIP St. Jude Hero which would mean I would have to raise $2500. This would guarantee Francine and I the chance to tour the St Jude Hospital. I am not the type of person that likes to ask for money (even for charity) but the cause behind St. Jude made it easy. I fortunately was able to raise the full $2500 by October 29th, over two months ahead of the deadline.

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All “22” donors I personally thanked and added their names to my St. Jude singlet that I would wear proudly on race day.

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Even an unexpected spinal surgery and lack of training would not keep me down from this experience. This would be my 20th Half Marathon but this race had much more personal meaning to me. St. Jude is a charity special to both my Dad and Francine’s. We wanted to see first hand how St. Jude and the money from donations gives back to the kids and families touched by childhood cancer and how they can make loving, lasting memories when it seems all hope is lost. This year I truly felt the need to do something much more this year with my running, I wanted to #RunForAReason and St. Jude gave me the chance to do just that. So on December 3rd Francine, myself and a couple of buddies (below) were road trip bound to Memphis. I found out in advance I would not be able to bring them to the hospital since you are not allowed to interact with the patients so I decided I would bring them with me on race morning and give them to children before the start of the race as a “Thank you for supporting St. Jude“. From the smiles on their faces that worked out very well :)

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Our tour of St. Jude Hospital was very enlightening, especially to see how every child no matter the race or religion are treated with open arms exactly the way the founder Danny Thomas wanted it to be.  If you are ever in Memphis I highly recommend you to stop by for a guided tour. What made the tour extra special were the two moms whose own children were previous patients of St. Jude and shared there own personal experiences. What I found particularly endearing was there was not one ounce of bitterness but gratefulness for the care they received from the doctors and nurses during their time at St. Jude.

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The expo at the Memphis Cook Convention Center was a breeze to get your bib and race packet. I even found my name on the official St. Jude pace car as an added bonus.

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Next would be the St. Jude Heroes Pasta Party at the Convention Center which would BLOW OUR MINDS. I was not expecting such the celebration. From the moment you walk in the door, people are thanking you for being a supporter of St. Jude. You can smell the delicious food, music is blaring from the speakers, there is a huge video wall, you knew you were in for a treat! After we picked our table and got our food I was literally dancing in my seat. I was so excited with everything going on I could barely eat.

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They also had a social media screen which I was too excited to get on several times, one included with Joe from run8va whom I finally got to meet at the party.

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Once we finished eating St. Jude kicked off the presentation with a touching video that would inspire anyone to lace up their shoes. ALSAC President and CEO, Rick Shadyac said it’s his favorite weekend of the year and welcomed a record year of participants (Estimated 21,500,  13 years running, established in 2002) to raise money and awareness for the work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. It’s here that patients and their families receive treatment at no cost. This race event alone in Memphis raised over $8 million dollars. Check out this special news clip here.

The next morning was the race, cool temperatures to start that would warm up quickly and hills awaited but more than that was the most smiles and high fives you have ever seen at a race event. The 5k started at 7:30am and the Half and Full all started together at 8am. Even though it was a large number of runners the course opened up quickly and gave sight to a beautiful morning in Memphis.

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This just melted my heart

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The race signs say it all

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Does it get more real than that?

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So many young kids, teenagers and adults high 5’ing and cheering along the way made the rolling hills not be as hard.

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Wearing my Heroes singlet proudly as promised

When my lack of training kicked in I remembered something one of the moms said at the Pasta Party the previous night. “Running is hard, but so is Cancer.” and I kept going. Francine and I crossed the Finish line hand in hand in 2:24. A moment I will always treasure.

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Check out more race event photos from participants HERE.

Next was the VIP Hospitality tent which had loads of goodies! It overlooked the Finish area and had TV screens to watch runners cross over the finish line which was a nice touch as we stretched and gorged ourselves with treats . We also took a fun photo after we freshened up.

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As we walked to the exit an overwhelming feeling of sadness struck me, I didn’t want to leave. I looked around and saw families hugging each other, runners taking pictures, signs of congratulations “We are proud of you“. To have taken part in such a race that brought out such emotion from beginning to end I would always be so grateful.

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#NeverForgotten #ForYouDad #RunForAReason #TeamDevin

 

 

Why running with your kids is important

  • They have the goal of the finish line to focus their attention on
  • Gives them more motivation to eat healthy and stay in shape
  • Provides an activity you can do together which in turn will add to their memory bank
  • Your kids may get their own friends involved
  • Teaches them to support and encourage each other
  • Your child will ooze self confidence after stepping over the finish line
  • One day they may do it with their own kids

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Sweet Victory! ‪#‎JazzHalf2015‬

“Your not running tomorrow right?” this was the question friends and race directors from other races that were at the Expo asked me as I was stopping in to get my packet and to say Hello. I showed them my race bib in my hand and sheepishly said  “well, I don’t know if you call what I will be doing tomorrow ‘running’ but my plan is to jog, walk or dance my way to that finish line tomorrow morning”   <For a little back story:> Just a couple weeks prior I got the green light from my doctor that I could start training again, I was excited because this was a full month early. This would help me be in better shape for the St. Jude race in December. I began running three times a week. The weekend before Jazz Half I had gotten to a whopping 6 miles. (in which I was exhausted afterwards) I know what your thinking, to go from 6 miles to 13.1 in a week is not recommended. I know,  but I needed something to boost my endurance and potentially my turtle like pace. I emailed the race contact to remove my name from the deferral list and it was done. Whew! This is crazy, I would tell anyone NOT to do what I was doing but a race on Halloween morning in New Orleans, Oh Wow!! just think of the costumes and sights to see!!! My running buddy Francine had been training hard the past three months and was in good shape to “run” Jazz so I was going to need someone to join me on this fun adventure and it hit me “Amazing Amanda”. I messaged her and she quickly accepted without hesitation. We chatted back and forth about various race outfits and kept an eye on the weather since storms were on the weekend forecast.  <Now that your caught up lets get back > After the expo Francine and I decided to go to Bourbon Street for dinner since our hotel was only a few blocks away. Due to the storms coming New Orleans and other local areas moved up trick or treating to that night so there was extra excitement in the air. We grabbed a table near the window at Olde Nola Cookery to watch the revelers go by and catch some music in the streets. You could not ask for better entertainment the night before Jazz Half.

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Music blaring, smell of Biofreeze in the air, applying ChafX, bread with honey for breakfast,  It’s Race Morning!!!!

One last weather check on our phones and we decided to put umbrellas and ponchos in our gear check bag. It looked like it was going to be very muggy but the rain should hold out until we crossed the finish line. Not PR weather conditions but it should be fun regardless. As we walked to Lafayette Square I was a little nervous that I would not find Amanda to pal around with me during the race but she found me easily. (she had already ran 2 miles that morning and planned to run 4 after the race since she is Dopey training, she really is “Amazing Amanda”) We took a pre-race picture, saw some awesome costumes and checked out the race bling that would be waiting for us. Soon it was time to go line up.

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We lined up towards the back behind the competitive and 5k runners whom had a slightly different route. I told Francine to have a strong race. For me today would just be about finishing. I was thankful to even be able to participate. The first few miles went smoothly, seeing familiar sights and friends along the way. I was soaking up the experience with every mile along with the humidity. Yes, it was going to be challenging. I fortunately remembered to take my salt that morning and knew I would have to take in water/Gatorade along the way. I could see the runners around me looking a little drained and I hoped it wasn’t affecting Francine too bad for her run. Then I felt a tap and lookie-lou! Mama Z had found me!!! Jen looked AMAZING in her Day of the Dead getup! I took a quick photo of her, hugged and she was on her way.

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After mile 7 I could start to feel my energy slowly zapping away and told Amanda I was looking forward to getting back on St. Charles after the Audubon Park loop so we could see the spooktacular skeleton house. This home was perfection along the race route on Halloween morning.

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Spotting this race sign I had to stop since I definitely needed some ENERGY to get me til the end!

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Just a couple more miles left and I was definitely taking additional walk breaks but Amanda cheered me on and said I was doing great. I was especially thankful in that moment to have my own race course cheerleader by my side! With the finish line in sight I knew I was close to completing my goal for the day and Amanda never left my side. Crossing the finish line i let out the biggest breath and knew I would now be ready for St. Jude.

We spotted Francine and she had a challenging run as well. We went to scope out the post race food choices: Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, Hot Dogs and Chili, Sno-balls on a Stick.(Soft sno-ball outer shell covering a creamy ice cream center) We had to try one! There was plenty of choices of food and drinks but we were soaked to the bone in sweat and ready for a shower after a couple of samples. The rain started, we quickly said our goodbyes and left with the satisfaction of a great race morning. Later in the day I was looking at social media and saw something that  truly warmed my heart.

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Races are about supporting each other and enjoying the experience which Amanda perfectly captured.

Sweet Victory! ‪#‎JazzHalf2015‬

Back in the saddle again…. I’m Back!

Cue AC/DC yep I am BACK!! I got the green light from my doctor with a FULL release a month early to start Half Marathon training again. THIS -IS- HUGE! Fall is here and it has been tough to see my fellow runners doing the races and feeling like I am missing out. Since I have started back last week I have noticed my endurance is not where it was due to my three months off because of the neck surgery. BUT I can’t go from 0-60. I have to start back S-L-O-W. Make a plan.

Taking the training wheels off the bike felt pretty good the first night back even though my pace and breathing was labored. (I am not a stellar 8 minute miler anyway but I would like to stay in the 9-9:5 range) Nonetheless a friend reminded me that even though my pace was not on target it still was better than it was three weeks ago and for that I was grateful! Even if I never get to participate in another race again to just be able to workout again is a gift. My mind is clearer and it gives me more energy.

Soaking up a beautiful sunset on my first night back for an easy 3 miler.

Soaking up a beautiful sunset on my first night back for an easy 3 miler.

From today I have 45 days until the St. Jude Half . I am not looking to PR at this race but I have worked hard to fund raise for these kids (with only $275 left to go to meet my goal of $2500). I truly want to do more with my running this year so I will not let them down. Looking at the calendar this gives me 6 weeks to train. Holy Heck!!! Only 6 weeks?!!!

ok, B-R-E-A-T-H-E make a plan. Looking at the calendar I have a couple conflicts to get my long runs done so I need a boost mileage and endurance wise. I realize I am still registered for The New Orleans Jazz Half Marathon to be held this year on Halloween morning. Ummmmm this is only 11 days away but the weather has been great and who could miss out on a race that is actually on Halloween? (Think of all the race costumes and sights?) If I can jog it I can get the feeling for distance again perhaps? Even though I have only done a maximum of 4 miles since early July I foolishly think I have a shot. I just have to take my time and have some fun with it. Above all “Do Not Get Injured”. Gotta go easy or I will kink up my IT Band and really be in trouble. I still think this is exactly what I need to get me a kick start, plus this race benefits the Children’s Hospital of New Orleans so it fits right in line with what I want to do this year. Doing Jazz even for fun will also make St. Jude my 20th Half which is a pretty awesome number. :)

So follow along with me, shoot me some costume ideas and stay tuned!

On the road again to train for St Jude.  #RunForAReason

Participating in our local St. Jude Walk/Run 5k to End Childhood Cancer in Baton Rouge #‎ShowYourGold‬

Walking up the hill to Highland Road Park on an early Saturday morning to a barrage of tents filled with supporters and volunteers was a welcome sight. To see so many people with personalized team shirts displaying their own personal cause to why they were there, smiling, hugging each other and ready to participate in the local St.Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer was overwhelming.

Booths filled with info on St. Jude, donuts, fruit and more to welcome everyone.

Booths filled with info on St. Jude, donuts, fruit and more to welcome everyone.

This cemented my eagerness to do something to give back this year. I have been very fortunate in my journey the past four years. I have participated in races at Disney and even a relay at an Ironman in Georgia. This year I had the urge to do something more. To “run with a purpose” and I picked St. Jude. It was a cause special to my father and I have friends with a direct connection that  has told me how St. Jude has helped their families. This morning gave me just a small insight of what I will be in for when I take my journey to Memphis this December and the excitement started to build. My daughter was with me that morning in which I told her I was thankful, her response “Kids with Cancer come first” and she couldn’t be more right.

Signs along the Start before the Walk/Run started.

Signs along the Start before the Walk/Run started.

My daughter and I at the St. Jude photo booth to capture the moment of what we were feeling

My daughter and I at the St. Jude photo booth to capture the moment of what we were feeling

Hundreds lined up ready to start their walk/jog .

Hundreds lined up ready to start their walk/jog .

Lots of signs along the way personalized from patients of St. Jude. I am sure the same that you would see at the races in  Memphis

Lots of signs along the course that were personalized by patients of St. Jude. I am sure the same that you would see at the races in Memphis.

After the walk/run there was jambalaya, soft drinks, water, snoballs, face painting and lots of other activities for young and old before wrapping up this eventful morning. Later we found out the Baton Rouge event raised over $420k which is remarkable!! 

I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the local ‪#‎StJudeWalkRun‬ . It just reaffirmed everything what I’m trying to do for December’s goal and as a bonus I just got the email invite to participate in the hospital tour in Memphis while I am there. I feel so fortunate to be able to do something for these kids. Please consider a tax deductible donation if you haven’t done so yet. Thank you! 💛  CLICK HERE TO DONATE

For every child treated at St.Jude, thousands more have been saved worldwide through St. Jude discoveries. Let’s not forget those that we have lost and help those that are still fighting.

#NEVERFORGOTTEN

#RUNFORAREASON

#TEAMDEVIN

#FORYOUDAD

Down but not Out

When a pain in the neck becomes more,much more. A couple weeks so ago I found myself in the emergency room and the next day discussing Spinal Fusion. Sounds scary? it was. However my doctor helped me to stay positive by reassuring me that my active lifestyle would help in my recovery and get me back on the roads in 6-8 weeks if I listened and take proper precaution. So surgery was set for my Cervical Herniated Disks that was so severe that I could not even hold my coffee cup in my left hand. I was losing strength fast with numbness and tingling that went down to my finger tips. There was no explanation for my condition just a “it happens”. For me this was quite frustrating and the medical bills will be with me for months but I was lucky since this procedure has a 95% success rate and I had found a doctor that I would be in good hands with (literally)!

It is now nearly two weeks after surgery and I have done very well. My surgeon followup is coming up on Monday and this past week I have already started to get antsy. The fall weather isn’t helping with cooler temperature that beckons me outside. I know I will lose a lot of endurance since I will not be able to run per doctor orders for at least another 6 weeks. This is difficult since my last run was over a month ago due to the pain I was having. I decided I should at least work on strengthening with stretches since I do have weak hips and started to go on 3-4 mile walks. My walks are a bit too hot with my neck brace and I cant go bare and risk UV damage to my scar so right now I am covering it with a scarf until I can get my hands on a Buff guard which offers both 95% UV protection and Coolmax technology. I have had wonderful friends and family get me through this which is helping my motivation stay high even though I have had to defer some of my planned fall races. This is a bit disappointing since it is my favorite time of year and the best time to train for Half’s but I have to look at the bigger picture which is my health. I have to heal properly. The good news is that I am still a go for St. Jude in December. Run, walk or crawl, this race is not just race for me it is so much more. It is a way for me to give back and in my own way a “Thank You” to my body for taking me on this journey the past few years. I am forever grateful.

So yes I am Down but not Out :)

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#RoadToRecovery