Pain in the neck- Take Two

yep, we are here again. If you recall almost two years ago I had Anterior Cervical Disk Fusion for a ruptured disk in the neck in C5-6 and C6-7. I had made great progress until recently. In March it was discovered the disk above and below the fusion are now herniated. My doctor has told me no running/jumping etc. I need to stay on low impact activities/workouts. I won’t bore you with the medical details but the main concern is C4-5 and C7-T1. My physical therapist and surgeon told me I need to avoid a multilevel fusion at all costs. My real wake-up call was this week when my PT introduced me to someone that has had a multilevel fusion and he told me she is miserable. People have asked me how I am feeling. I am ok. I had cut way back from the running events anyway due to life in general. Last year I had only participated in six events and this year I have only done four. Run Disney recently opened up Princess Half registration for next February and it was a little disappointing because I was hoping to register but you know what it is OK. I will miss the “energy” of the race events but to not have the “option” of going for a run to maintain my weight and fitness level is the most frustrating thing.

I have been fortunate to do 82 events since January 2011. If I never get to run a race again I am grateful. (1-Full Marathon, 21- Half Marathons, 5-10 milers, 1-15k, 10-10k’s, 1-8k, 33-5k’s, 1-mudrace, 4- Trail races, 1-Sprint Triathlon, 1-Sprint Duathlon, 1-70.3 Relay and 2-Paddleboard races. Experiences, Memories & Friendships made= Priceless!

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New Orleans Saints 5k, NYC Mini Oakley 10k, RnR Vegas Half, Jazz Half, Battleship 12k, Girls on the Run 5k, St Jude Memphis Half,  RnR NOLA Full Marathon, Ironman 70.3 Relay in Augusta, GA  just a few of many   🙂

This past weekend I went and spectated at the annual Happy’s 5k race and had a ball. I have a lot of fun, supportive friends.

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Now I just want to retain my fitness and avoid a multilevel fusion. Proper recovery, workouts, listening to my surgeon & physical therapist as well as good ergonomics at work will be key for me. (I have a “stand up” desk on order) I still have more places on my vacation list I want to see and experience. I am not going to let this slow me down too much. Heck, last month I went waterfall repelling in Costa Rica!

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Pura Vida!

Stay focused and stay healthy my friends.

The race distance that’s right for YOU

Once upon a time there lived in a certain town a little city girl with dark locks of hair, the kind at heart creature who every one loved. Her father was excessively fond of her; and her husband and daughter doted on her more. This good girl had little red shoes made just for her. They suited the girl so extremely well that everybody called her Little Red Running Shoes.

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One day her father, having made some pies while visiting, said to her, “Go, my dear, run a 5k and see how you do.

Little Red Running Shoes set out immediately and registered that day. She even invited a friend, who lived in another nearby town.

As she was going through the distance of her 5k run she felt wonderful and met along her path a balding but jolly running coach who loved donuts. She met with the jolly coach afterwards, who almost discarded her but she brought him a box of warm, glazed donuts which he gobbled up in an instant.

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He asked her what distance would she run next, She responded “I think I will try a 10k” . The girl realizing this would be double the distance at 6.2 miles but was not afraid. A couple weeks later as she walked up to the Start line and checked the laces of her red running shoes, she saw her coach on the sides lines and he said “Run your race and enjoy it“. Afterwards she gave him a full report and was excited to say that she actually beat her expected finish time. She showed him her shiny race reward with pride and rewarded her coach with more donuts for his advice.

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After a couple months of continued training Little Red Running Shoes decided she would attempt to conquer the 13.1 Half Marathon distance.Her coach advised her to wait til fall for cooler weather and she would be better prepared. She listened and by October she was ready to once again cross the Start line. This one would be a bit more harder than she expected, she worried at a couple points with the extra challenging distance if she would be able to finish but she came through the Finish line at 2:24. This time her running coach had a warm donut waiting for her which she accepted happily.

Little Red Running Shoes continued her training through Spring and even got up to a whooping “20” miles. She went back to her coach and pleaded with him to let her try the Full Marathon distance of 26.2 miles. He cautiously warned her off of the mighty distance but Little Red Running Shoes was very persistent. She begged “Please Coach, I can do it“. Against his cautious advice she signed up for one that was in a nearby town so she would not have to travel far. When she went to the race expo to pick up her supplies she was greatly amazed to see how large the Full Marathon finisher medal would be. She thought to herself how proud her father and running coach would be of her when she accomplished such greatness.

Race morning came with morning jitters. She barely got any sleep. So many thoughts ran through her mind…..

Did I drink enough?

“Did I eat enough to carry me through 26.2 miles?”

“Did I eat too much?”

” Did I break in my new shiny red running shoes long enough?”

Her running coach met her at the start line as promised and told her the same words as before “Run your race and enjoy it” , she exhaled slowly as the start gun went off.

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The miles ticked by easy at first but as the mileage increased it would become more difficult.

“Mile 10, what big hills you have!”

“Mile 14, should I have stopped for more nourishment?”

“Mile 16, ooooooo that strange watery drink does not suit my tummy well!”

“Mile 19, The heat, oooo the heat, Where did the shade go?”

“Mile 22, Why oh why am I doing this again?”

As she approached Mile 26 Little Red Running Shoes legs ached, her feet were blistered, her mouth parched but she slowly made her way to the grand finish to claim her prize at 26.2 .

“Look Coach at what I did! “Little Red Running Shoes exclaimed. Her Coach replied “Did you enjoy it as much as the Half, 10k and 5k?” . Little Red Running Shoes had to think long and hard, “No, its not as much fun as I thought it would be. Why do I feel so guilty?”

Her jolly coach responded “You are to enjoy the run, some will be more challenging than others but once you lose the joy you will realize which distances suit best .”

And, hearing these words,  Little Red Running Shoes knew the Half,10k and 5k would happily be her distances of choice. Because YES she can have her donuts and run too !

 

 

 

 

Run it like it’s your last

Run it like it’s your last

This is what I kept telling myself as the miles ticked by during the rocky, pot hole filled race route for my 21st Half at Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans . Five years ago in 2011 I completed my first Half at this race so I was thankful to be lining up at the Start once again. Yes,the roads are sub par but the sights make up for it since this is a city that I love. The day before I always walk my legs off at the race expo and I can never skip going by the magnificent St Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter to soak up the culture and sounds of the local artists. This visit was no different just an extra 20k visitors to add to the mix. Afterwards we had dinner at Hard Rock where I enjoyed a couple of Hurricanes and an ice bath back at the hotel would be my penance for my sore legs to get me ready for race morning. We lucked out and scored a room with a balcony at Embassy Suites (which is great when you are wanting to check the weather). We woke up to a beautiful sunrise along the New Orleans river walk.

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Francine and I always lay out our gear the night before so race morning can go smoothly. We gave Alaina a few extra minutes to sleep in but since her 10k started 30 minutes before ours it was soon time to get her to her race start. This would be her 1st RNR event but she showed no fear. We made a plan to meet up after our Half and I decided to run with my phone so I could text her mile 11 to look for us at the Finish. Next we met up with some of our Varsity friends to say a quick prayer, calm each others nerves and wish each other luck.

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Races are always more than PR’s for me, its about friendship and enjoying the journey. Today for me was about being grateful. I felt the strongest I have had since before my surgery and my finish time of 2:13 showed it. Not a PR but I am back to the form I was last January so I’ll take it. Two years I pounded these streets in New Orleans for my one and only Full marathon, once you do that you get a feeling you can do anything. To be among this crowd I felt fortunate so I pushed extra hard knowing that my daughter would be at the finish and I was among friends that are on the same journey. So yes I jumped over those potholes with satisfaction.

<Quick count of runners:  Marathon= 3625 , Half Marathon = 11,353, 10k =2613>

Keep following your journey, you never know where it may take you.

 

 

 

 

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