Tuesday, March 11, 2014

One Year Later

Sunday marked one year since the doctor called and said "get to the ER right now. I think you have blood clots." I run past the spot where I got the call every day. It's a daily reminder of where the journey started.  I run the same route every morning where I first realized I couldn't breathe. It reminds me of how thankful I am to be breathing.

I wish I could tell you some awesome, "yay life, wheeeeeeee, I'm now a motivational speaker" type spiel, but that's simply not the case. 2013, was my best year and my worst year, so far. Never before have I been so physically strong, but emotionally and spiritually weak. I worked hard to portray a hard image, I worked hard to seem unbreakable. That was not the case. Being brought face to face with death was humbling. It was terrifying. And while I have an eternal security, I did not cope well. Every ache, every pain, every seemingly innocuous change, was cause for panic. It's hard to explain to someone who has never been faced with their own mortality, but it's hard to "go on with life." Dealing with the panic attacks was rough. I have never been so terrified, as when I had a panic attack while running. Imagine not being able to breathe, but still trying to move. It was all kinds of "no, just no."

I am so very grateful for Jon. I know that I was (and still am) a complete basket case some of the time. (Sorry for the complete honesty). He has put up with my consistent "should I go to the ER?" on a consistent basis. I know that most of my fears are illogical, but it's hard to let them go. I am also so thankful that my eternal destination is secure. It doesn't mean that the process of death isn't scary, but that when I do die, I have "this hope as an anchor for the soul."

People ask me a lot, "when are you having another one?" This question cuts a little. I like kids, and I love my son; however, I have my hands full with just one. Also, having another child means intense medical intervention. I will be on Lovenox (a blood thinner) from start till post-partem, and will be considered high-risk, which means more appointments than usual. Also, JS was a c-section, increasing my likelihood that I will have another c-section which will could cause complications for me. So for now, (for all you curious Facebook friends and family), there is no baby number 2.

But it has not all been negative. I joined a survivors support group specifically for runners who have survived PEs. Talk about putting your experience into perspective. Some of the people I have talked with have been through far more than I could ever have. It has been overwhelmingly helpful, and cathartic. I have learned a lot about living in the moment. Before I would try to rush myself on to the next phase of life, wishing it away. I am doing my best to be present, and enjoy each opportunity I'm given. Always say yes to a coffee date with a friend, always say yes to a family dinner, do my best to answer my phone when my mom calls, take the opportunity to spend time outside with my son. Pray more, read more. Listen more, talk less (this is a real bummer, since I love to hear myself speak). In general, it has really produced an "attitude of gratitude."

Thanks for reading, I love all of you, and I am so grateful for the support and kindness over the past year.

With nothing left to hold onto,
I raise these empty hands to You.
Here's my broken hallelujah.

When all is taken away, don't let my heart be changed.
Let me always sing Hallelujah
When I feel afraid, don't let my hope be erased
Let me always sing Hallelujah.
 -The Afters

Friday, April 19, 2013

Martian Half Recap

Just want to take a moment to express my sympathies for the victims, family, friends and community of the Boston Marathon attack this past Monday. I am so thankful for the law enforcement, military, FBI etc, that is working around the clock to find the parties responsible for this attack. My prayer is that no further lives will be lost, healing will begin for those injured (physically and emotionally), and that justice will be served. We also pray for the people of West, TX after the fertilizer plant explosions. Our thoughts go out to the people struggling with the devastation there.

This past Saturday was bittersweet for me. All winter long, I have been training to run the Martian Full. After I lost three weeks of training due to my pulmonary emboli, I was determined to still run the full. I felt like my high mileage before could carry me through. Of course, we all know I am full of silly ideas sometimes. After fretting and worrying and praying about it, along with the advice of my doctors and a friend who has experience with blood clots, decided to switch to the half. (BOY AM I GLAD I DID!).

Packet pick-up was Friday afternoon from 3 PM-8 PM. I decided to make the hike to Dearborn with my toddler in tow. I was concerned he might have a small meltdown, but figured it was worth the risk of a grumpy toddler, rather than try and fight the tide of traffic after my husband got home.

Let me just say this, the Southfield Freeway is crazy. Never before have I ever thought, I am totally going to get into an accident so many times. I honestly, give props to my husband for driving on that all the time. I felt myself wincing every time we came to a merging point.

Nonetheless, we made it safely to the Performing Arts Center, where the expo was being held. There were many signs pointing me towards the expo, and parking for the expo. Parking was plentiful and we easily found a spot and made our way into the Center. I easily found the room where the expo was held. (And was super grateful I didn't have to tackle any stairs with a stroller). There were many vendors and it was quite organized and not cluttered at all. I briefly paused at the Mizuno table, but refrained from buying anything. (JP is letting out a sign of relief, I'm sure). I tried not to waste too much time looking at anything, as I didn't want little JS to get too cranky before we had to wait to pick up our packet.

Packet pick-up was a whole 'nother monster. The area where we were directed was WAY too small to accommodate the amount of people picking up the packets. There were signs that showed which number you needed to line up behind based on your bib number. Unfortunately, the lines were so long and the space so small that everyone was blending together, and then when they got up to the front of the line, realized they weren't even in the right line all along. There was quite a bit of grumbling among people about this and talk of cutting in line etc. I am sorry to anyone I inadvertently ran into with my stroller in an attempt to work my way into the line. I finally got to the front and got my bib, unfortunately I never actually received a drawstring bag because the volunteer working with me walked away and then never came back. No big loss, got the bib and that was most important.
JS at the Expo

Race day dawned, and since my race didn't being until 8:45, I didn't have to get up super early. The weather was looking iffy. Very overcast, kind of windy, and chilly too. I made my way towards Dearborn and got there around 8:00. The parking mentioned on the website was already full as other races had started much earlier. No biggie, fortunately, I was able to find a spot about 5 blocks away, a bit of a walk, but I didn't have to pay and it wasn't overly stressful.

My next stop was the porta-potties. I waited in kind of a long line, (think I just accidentally picked a slow line). When I got up to the front there was some confusion whether the brown stuff on the floor was mud or otherwise. I decided to take my chances, and use the porta-potties anyway ;)

The race courses were changed at 4 AM the morning of the race due to flooding on Hines Drive. I have never run this race before so I do not know what the "normal" course is like, however, this is the first time in race history that the course had to be changed. Race start time was delayed by 10 minutes, I barely noticed as I was chatting with another lady I met while waiting to start.

The start was straight up a hill. It was also extremely congested, and I had to slow myself quite a bit as not to trample anyone. For the first three miles I was just trying to find my place and pace. I was attempting to stay around 8:45, but somehow ended up around 8:20. I just want to give a shout out to the two annoying men who thought they were "elite" runners, and decided that yelling at everyone to "stay to the right," "get out of the way," "stop blocking me," and then calling people out by their shirt color, was ok race etiquette. Also, the shoving of people, NOT COOL. Sure, some people don't know the rules of passing, but if you're THAT FAST, then start at the front of the race, we were solidly in the middle of the pack. COME ON! Safety first. I saw so much shoving in the race it was unbelievable. Actually saw a girl run straight through the middle of two runners, knocking one to the side.
Photo Courtesy of Greg Sadler Photography
The course was tough mentally for me, it was fairly boring, not a lot to see, and not that many spectators. For some reason, my heart just wasn't in it. Maybe because I was just worried about getting to my best friend's wedding shower on time. I know some people love when they pass their friends coming down the course from further on, for me, that messes with my mind. I think "how far until the turnaround." And it just felt like the course went ON AND ON AND ON. There were a lot of inclines. Not hills perse, but steady inclines. It was a little crowded in spots as well, because there were cars parked along the streets. Thank you to the people who lived in those subdivisions, for being patient with the runners. I know you all did not receive any advance notice, and that many of you were stranded. I only saw a few angry shouts and honks of horns.

The water stations seemed sparse, I don't know if I just wasn't noticing them, but they seemed few and far between. Also, the bathroom situation was not ideal. I saw quite a few people trying to use the park restrooms along Hines Drive, and found them locked. There were also not many porta-potties to be found. If you're a runner, and you experience Runner GI issues, you know how important it is to have restrooms readily available.

I was really dragging by mile 7. I did not feel comfortable putting in my headphones as the course was narrow, and I wanted to be completely aware of my surroundings. I really didn't think I was going to finish. I just felt dejected and sad. I never walk on long runs, and I slowed to a walk around mile 8. I felt a hand on my back. I turned and the girl who had been behind me for most of the race said "don't stop, I've been following you the whole time, and you're pacing me. Keep it up." Thank you to Sara Turshani of Dearborn, much appreciate you lighting the fire under me to get it done. I picked up my pace and managed to stay in the high 8s and low 9s. By then I had adjusted my time goal and just wanted to finish under 2:00 by the point. We slugged on over several bridges, which really seemed to trip people out. Don't think alot of people realized that the bridges moved under the weight of the runners and seemed kind of panicked. I took about three more walk breaks for about 20 seconds. My lungs felt amazing, but my mind was weak. Around mile 12, I ran into Forrest Gump. I found this guy wearing camo cargo shorts, holding his shoes in his hand, running barefoot, and the world's longest beard. I literally don't know where this guy came from, or why he was running barefoot, but thanks for the distraction. Mile 12ish was up hill. I just wanted to finish...Of course around mile 12 we all of a sudden had 20 mph winds and freezing rain blowing into our face.
Myself and Sara. Courtesy of Sadler Photography

I consulted my Garmin, and was surprised to see I could reach 1:54:XX. I decided to push it hard and finished in 1:54:57. An automatic PR for me since, I've never run an official half. Overall, Running Fit ran an great event, especially with all the changes due to flooding. Thank you! I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I was able to run with healthy lungs, and run well. I never take a day for granted. My life was preserved. Thank you, Lord.
Crossing the finish line. Sadler Photography

I met up with Sara, and we said our congrats and parted ways. Thank you again, Sara. I owe my finish to you, my friend. It was a long cold walk back to the car, but I made it home and to the bridal shower, AND I was only 15 minutes late. Good to celebrate the upcoming wedding of my dear friend Jen. A lovely shower was thrown by Amanda, Mary, and Emily.
Bridesmaids. Photo source: Jen D.

The lovely bride Photo Source: Jen D.

Two of my favorite people. Photo Source: Jen D.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Update on my Recovery

Thank you all again for your continued prayers, thoughts, and well-wishes. Whenever I talk to my mom, she says "so-and-so" has been asking how you're doing, and so-and-so said they were thinking about you. THANK YOU. It means everything to me.

A little update on how I am doing/feeling. For the most part, I am feeling really good. I don't have any shortness of breath at rest, or even when walking. However, ever since I got out of the hospital, where my sleep was interrupted every hour, I have a hard time falling asleep at night. So, up until last night, my bed time ranges from 2-3 AM. This is all fine and dandy until I have to wake up at 7 or 8 AM. Then the exhaustion hits. However, last night, I did manage to fall asleep at a normal hour, and hope that this becomes a pattern.

The rough part for me is the anxiety. The doctors forgot to tell me the symptoms of my clots breaking up, which could be: shortness of breath, chest pain, and fatigue. Last Monday, I was having some chest pain, and worried about it all morning. I finally called my doctor, and they brought me in for a PulseOx check and BP check. All of my vitals were strong, and the doctor on call said it is most likely from the clots breaking up.

I have not simply been sitting on my rear these past few weeks. I find I have less anxiety when I am constantly moving and keeping myself occupied. Less time for my mind to come up with crazy ideas. Which, if you have met my son, you know that he pretty much keeps me doing both of those things. Kid is a mover and a shaker, and is turning two on April 1st.

I started a new lifting program last week, with my good friend Jen. It's called "The New Rules of Lifting for Women," and it's based on a book. So far it has been challenging, but nothing crazy, and I'm sure it is helping me get stronger in the off time. When I'm not running I seem to have all this free time, and have been enjoying spending it with Jen, as she is moving out of state very soon.

I also had a follow-up with my PCP, and she said all is well, however, they will not be able to check for clotting disorders until I am off my medication for 2-3 weeks. If they ran blood-work now, it would provide inaccurate results due to the blood thinners.

Along that same line, I had a follow-up today with Dr. Ehteshaam, my pulmonologist. He is a very well-known and in high-demand doctor, and knows what he is doing. They checked my oxygen levels at rest and while walking fast. My levels are really strong, and my BP is low as usual. The doctors have told me many times, if they didn't know I was a long distance runner, they would be concerned with my very slow heart rate (bradycardia). I am usually in the low 50s for resting heart rate. I bragged about this to my husband, who told me the Lance Armstrong is somewhere between 32-34 BPM and Meb Keflezighi is around the same, so I stopped being impressed with myself.

The big news I took away from my pulmonology follow-up, is that I am cleared to run. He said "take it slow and gradually build up again. Don't go running 10 miles on the first day." So, as it stands right now. I will not be running the Martian full marathon on the 13th. I cannot build my mileage up again that fast, and frankly, I don't want to. I may try and switch to the half, or I may not run at all. I just don't know yet.

I did my first run this afternoon, on the treadmill. Dr. Ehteshaam suggested I start there and then try outside. I originally thought I would do just two miles, however, I felt so good after two, I decided to make it a 5K. I did a 5K in 28:07. Not too shabby for three weeks off. I started out very slow, and by the end I had worked myself up to 7.0 mph, and felt very comfortable with that pace. I even cranked it up to 7.5 mph for the last 0.1 miles. I know the clots must be smaller or gone, because I was able to breathe easily on my run (not 100% easy), but nothing like it was. Before I was gasping for air after a quarter mile, and my heart rate was sky-high after that distance too. My heart stayed very steady today, and within a minute of stopping my run, my breathing returned to normal. This is something that did not happen when I was experiencing symptoms.

I'd had a lot of anxiety about returning to running. After almost 3 weeks off, I thought I wouldn't be able to even come close to my average pace. I also thought I might not want to run again after being off for so long. However, a half a mile into my run today, I remembered how much I love running, and I can't wait to start training again!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My Weekend in the hospital

Thought I would update everyone, and try to answer some of the questions I have been getting via text and inbox.

Last Saturday, I was running outside and felt like I was having to "push" more than usual to get to a pace that should've been easy. It was windy and cold that day, so I didn't think much of it. Sunday, I ran again, and I struggled there as well. Thinking that the cold and wind was getting to me, I brought my run inside to the treadmill on Monday. Once again, barely made it through 6 miles. Then I decided I needed rest. I took Tuesday off, and rested. I tried again to run outside on Wednesday morning. I couldn't even make it down the block. I was so winded and an 11 minute mile felt like sprinting. I knew something was wrong. I was only having shortness of breath while running. No other symptoms at all.

I took Thursday off again, just to see if it was a fluke, and tried again on Friday. The result was the same. Extraneous effort with a lot of shortness of breath. I came home and immediately called my doctor. The first time I called, the receptionist said to call back on Monday. I wasn't really satisfied with that answer, so I called again, and a different receptionist answered, and after hearing my symptoms, told me they would see me in an hour.

I went and saw my PCP at 2 PM on Friday afternoon. She immediately thought asthma, however after checking my oxygen levels, and listening to my lungs, she immediately ruled it out. I had some blood drawn, and a chest x-ray, and went along my merry way. With strict instructions not to run until they had a conclusive answer. (Drat, she read my mind.)

Saturday around lunch, I took the dogs for a walk. I was almost home, when my phone rang. It was my PCP. She said my DDimer levels were 800, and that I needed to get to the ER right away to rule out clots. After panicking slightly, I called my mother-in-law and she said my SIL, Melody would be over to watch Jacob, so that Jon could take me to the ER.

Half an hour later, we were on the way to the hospital. I was definitely feeling upset, and anxious, but part of me was pretty sure I didn't have a clot. The ER wasn't crowded at all and I was back in a room within half an hour. Once they heard what my levels were and heard I had shortness of breath, they quickly sent me for an iodine CT scan. This scan sends iodine through your circulatory system, to see where the clots are.

Less than an hour later, the ER doctor popped his head in and said "oh hey, you have blood clots in your lungs. Wish I had better news." Understatement of the year....I was hoping he would tell me I'd won a new car. Clots, are sort of a bummer. I was diagnosed with a Bilateral Pulmonary Embolism. A clot in each of my lungs. After that they quickly started me on heparin (a blood thinner), and hooked me up again to the heart montior. An hour after that I got to go upstairs where I spent pretty much all of my time.

The staff at Providence Park was very calm, and very helpful. Which was great for me, as putting on a brave face was getting pretty old. Smiling when I don't feel like it hurts my face.The nurses weren't sure how long I would have to stay, so they told me at least a few days. I was bored already, after 12 hours. I didn't sleep at all Saturday night. It was too bright, and the nurses and CPTs were checking on me all the time. I was not allowed anything for sleep or pain because of the blood thinners. Oddly enough, my hips started hurting from just laying around. I am so not used to being immobile. The nurse was nice enough to give me a hot pad which burnt my skin off made me feel better.

Sunday and Monday were spent getting blood drawn every few hours, while they tried to get my blood to therapeutic levels of heparin and coumadin. I also had a leg ultrasound to check for leg clots. Fortunately, they did not find any. My clots originated in my lungs, not in the legs. I had a heart ultrasound as well. The doctors all kept saying how strong and slow my heart rate is. Which I wholeheartedly attest to long distance running. Monday, the first nurse in the morning said I couldn't go home. However, after they checked with my doctors, they agreed to send me home if my cardiac ultrasound was unremarkable. Which it was. I got to go home Monday night, and sleep in my own bed. I am however, on a powerful blood thinner, and will be monitored by my doctor very closely.

Lots of people have asked, what caused your clots? I have no definitive answer for that right now. It could be the medication I was on previously, or I have a clotting disorder. The doctors are leaning towards my medication, (I am now off of that med, obviously). However, I will be seeing a hematologist within the next week, and if there is a clotting disorder, the blood work should tell me.

What does this mean for my running? Well, I had planned to run a sub-4 marathon at the Martian Marathon on April 13th. I am slowly coming to grips with the fact that it is probably not happening. As of right now, I am not allowed to run. I am waiting on clearance from all of my doctors. As you may understand, I am incredibly sad, because I have put a lot of time into training for this race. It sounds so silly, but running means a lot to me. And I have worked so hard to get where I am, it's tough to watch it fall through your fingers. However, I am so grateful that if all is well, I will be able to run in the future. I don't take breathing for granted now, that's for sure.

Please, please, I've had a few people tell me "this could've ended very badly." Yes, I know that it could have. I know that this was very dangerous, but reminding me of this only makes me very anxious. As you can understand, I have quite a bit of fear now. Falling on blood thinners can be dangerous, car accidents are dangerous, being pregnant is dangerous. I know all of these things. I can only pray that God will help me deal with the anxiety and that I will learn to trust Him more.

I just want to reiterate, any crazy symptom, like chest pain or shortness of breath. GO TO THE DOCTOR! Don't wait! This is your health.

Thank you all for the calls, prayers, texts, well wishes, and positive thoughts. They really meant so much, and I am grateful for my wonderful friends. Thank you to my mom, for flying out here on such short notice and watching Jake. To my MIL, FIL, and SIL, Mary, Mark and Melody. Thank you for stepping in and helping out so much Saturday and Sunday. And to my friends, Emily, Jen, Amanda, Janssen, Matt, and Danko for stopping by to visit. I loved seeing all of you! Thank you again!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hot Chocolate 5/15K Columbus Recap

True story: I am not a good blogger. Also true, I have no impressive paces to brag  tell you about, I didn't lose 15 pounds in 9 weeks, and I have no impressive dinners to show you pictures of featuring only a burnt squash, brussel sprouts, and chia seeds all blended together. This post is much delayed, as I am just THAT BAD of a blogger. In fact, the only reason I am typing this now, is because my son is hardcore sleeping in today.
Thanks, kid.

Emily and I decided we wanted to do the Hot Chocolate Race because well, we heard there would be chocolate. That is the honest truth. We made an 8 hour round trip for some fondue. I was running the 15K and Emily the 5K. The day to leave arrived, and since we had to make packet pickup in Columbus before 6 PM we had to leave around 1 PM. Our leaving was delayed by Willa the dog, who would not GET OUT OF THE CAR.
This is E's dog Willa. She normally wears sweaters.

The trip to Columbus went by fairly quickly. Emily resorted to giving me a synopsis of all the movies she's ever seen. Including one called "Seven brothers Seven Wives." Which sounded like a new TLC show. However, it turns out it is a movie about a mass kidnapping, wherein the victims eventually succumb to such awful Stockholm Syndrome, that they marry their kidnappers.

We easily found the hotel where packet pickup took place. Now, having heard the horror stories of the four hour wait at the Chicago Hot Chocolate race, I had my East Coast rage self-righteously prepared, if there was another snafu like that. After a long walk through the conference center, (which was also hosting a cat show, and a ball room dancing competition), we made it to the packet pickup. No waiting for me in the 15K packet pickup line. They easily scanned my barcode and I was sent off to retrieve my jacket. We had also heard there was some horrible problems with sweatshirt sizes at the Chicago race, and people were not able to exchange. Well, RAM Racing must've really listened to the passive-agressive imploring cries of the runners on their social media, and had a jacket exchange right there at the expo. In fact, the RAM employees urged us to try on our jackets right away to ensure that they fit. Our jackets fit well, so we had no need of an exchange, but it looked like the exchange process was going smoothly.
Behold, the jackets. Source: RAM Racing

As for other vendors at the expo, I honestly cannot remember, but they had this DJ who was trying to pump up the crowd, but our crowd seemed like they would be more suited for the ballroom dancing downstairs. They would not be pumped...However, there was a local running store there with lots of clothing from companies like Nike, Saucony, Pearl Izumi, with deeply discounted stuff. If you saw something you needed, it was definitely the place to buy it.They also had Hot Chocolate race shirts, onesies, hats. Everything you need to prove you were actually there :)

Onward, to the hotel I booked. This trip was proof, that I am no roaming gnome. I booked what was a 3.5 star hotel in "North Columbus." Not being familiar with the area, I assumed this was on the outskirts of the downtown area. No no, it was a good 15 minutes away. When we arrived, I think Emily contemplated murdering me. It was sketch. Let's be honest. You used a key card to get in the main door, much like an apartment complex, and then your room was located in that building. There were many buildings. We were the farthest building away from civilization. Also, when we arrived there was a large crowd of people tailgating in the hotel  parking lot. Someone had brought a trailer loaded with a few grills, many coolers, and several sets of cornhole. It was all very strange.

Emily and I set out in search of food. After a frustrating navigation of the roads in "North Columbus." We stumbled upon a Waffle House. Now, the Waffle Houses I am familiar with are warm, friendly, inviting places where the waitresses say "Mornin'" when you walk in, regardless of the time of day. Not the Waffle House of North Columbus. It was more like a night club in there. The music was so loud it shook the restaurant. And then, our waitress started singing along with the music.

We went back to the hotel to finally catch some rest. As usual before a bigger race, I did not sleep. AT ALL. It also didn't help that a cheerleading group was practicing in the hall. It is also a good thing I didn't sleep, because E's alarm never went off. We were up and at 'em at 5:00 AM, and made our way back downtown to get good parking.  Also, I didn't take a picture of my oatmeal as my pre-race meal. I think that's a running blog sin.

We'd been warned traffic would be horrible and that parking was limited. Well, at the crack of dawn when we arrived, neither of these things were an issue. We pulled right into a garage a short walk from the start and had no trouble finding a space. And then we got out of the car and froze. THE END.

But seriously, neither Emily nor I accounted for how cold it was going to be. Neither of us were dressed right for it. We got there around 6 AM, and Emily's race didn't start till 7:30 and mine didn't start until 8. So, we had alot of time to kill. There was hardly anyone there when we arrived. (Probably because they realized how cold it was, and decided to come later. Smarty pantses). I have honestly never been so cold in my life. We tried to keep moving and shifting around, but there just was no avoiding it. Emily and I parted ways around 7:15 so she could head to her corral and I could find somewhere to warm up even a little. The corrals...Well, they were like those pants, you know the ones you can't fit into and are busting out the seams. it was crowded. Especially in the 5K. There was no room at all. It was like a slaughter house.

After we parted, I went in search of somewhere to get warm. I contemplated locking myself in the porta-potties till race time. Then, I found that a bunch of people were waiting in the lobbies of the parking garages. It was a balmy 50 degrees in there. Felt like Daytona beach in June to me. I contemplated going to my car too and just staying there. I knew if I didn't warm up, I was not going to be able to run. I killed some time in there being envious of other people's awesome running tights and shirts  warming up. Finally, it was time to go. I made my way to the corral. I could not even wiggle my way into my correct corral. It was that crowded. So I ended up being a few corrals back, which I'm not going to go all elitist on you and say was horrible, but wasn't that great for the first mile or two.

We were off, and let me tell you, I LOVE COLUMBUS. What a nice, clean, city. Not overly hill, but not boringly flat. We made our way through some of the downtown area, with some cool buildings, and neat looking shops, and then headed out towards the outskirts. It was really cool, because we were running along, and then all of a sudden in the middle of this urban jungle, there was a row of what seemed to be brand-new houses. Really nice, and seemed like such a cool place to get to live.

One complaint about this entire thing. The City of Columbus was not able to shut the streets down completely (which I understand) However, we were penned into the area one lane wide with cones. It was definitely not enough space for the amount of runners we had in the very beginning. I cannot imagine how it was in the 5K with the 1000s more runners they had. I saw quite a few people trip on the cones, which then sent them flying towards other runners, who also tripped on the cones. It also made passing difficult, nay impossible for the first 3ish miles. Not a huge deal, but there were cops and volunteers out there yelling at people to get back into the coned area when they strayed outside the lines. 

Since I was running the 15K, and the majority of the people at this race were running the 5K, the crowds had dwindled a bit. But, still plenty of families out there with signs, cheering on their people. Love seeing that! We came to the end of the race, which was a turnaround at a bridge. I was really hoping we'd get to run the bridge, but there were volunteers directing us AWAY from the bridge. Rats. We made our way up a small hill, and the finish line was near.
Here I am finishing.          

I finished in 1:16:26, an 8:12 pace. I was 26/234 in my AG, 190/2232 and 407 overall. I did much better than I anticipated. That is definitely a PR for me. I would also like to mention, that Emily PRed in the 5K at this race.

As usual, Emily was there at the finish line being amazingly supportive and eating fondue. Seriously, she's the best friend one could have. And I made my way over to the line to grab some food. And honestly, my mug looked just like the pictures. No complaints here, it was good stuff. We even saved our mugs. (And I put them in a plastic bag and stuck them in the trunk, and then found them sometime mid-December).
Source: RAM Racing

A good time was had by all, and we didn't lose any fingers or toes to frostbite.  So that was cool. AFter I finished, I scarfed down my food, and we headed back to the hotel. We were both still so cold. It's also a good thing I didn't go to my car in the parking garage where I was getting warm. I was not even in the right garage. So directionally challenged am I. Honestly, this race was well put together, it was fun, and exceeded my expectations. The Hot Chocolate race is coming to Detroit this year, so I think we will be running that one instead of Columbus next year, however, I would love to run in Columbus again! And then we ate Chipotle. Lunch of champions.
Our one and only picture together at the race. Source: Emily

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

LHI Run for Hope 2012 Race Recap

 This past weekend, Emily and I (along with Emily's parents, brother, and friends) ran the LHI Run for Hope 2012 5K/Mile Fun Run. Living Hope International is building an orphanage in Zambia and the money raised will be going towards those building efforts. There was a rendering of the design set up in the church (Oak Pointe Church in Novi). Very cool. Adoption is a cause close to my heart as my siblings and I are adopted (domestic), and I love to run for a great cause!

To start off the race, I took out my camera to take a picture, and my battery said "Exhausted." Ironically, that is exactly how we were all feeling. Friday night, Emily and a group of friends had gone to Cedar Point for Halloweekends. We didn't get home until 2:30 AM. When I arrived home, I found out that "he who shall not be named," had accidentally left the gate open, and both Sydney and Kona had gotten loose. So, at 2:30 in the morning I was combing the woods and neighbor's backyards for my lost dog. I'm sure I frightened everyone...Sorry, neighbors, do not panic, I'm not trying to rob you. Just looking for my prodigal dog. Fortunately, I found Sydney around 3:30 AM, and Kona had run back to the house shortly before.

So after a great night's sleep, of 3.5 hours, I woke up and was out the door by 8:45, to get to Emily's at 9 to leave for the run. Fortunately, this was a 10 AM start run, which gave us more time to try and revive our tired legs. Also, Emily's parents were kind enough to do packet pick up for us earlier that morning, as packet pick-up started at 7:30 AM.

When we arrived at the church, where home base was, it was about 40 degrees and quite chilly, however, I checked the weather and it said "no rain until the afternoon." Around 9:40 we meandered to the start line to watch the end of the "Fun mile" run and wait for ours to start. In between this time, I met a new friend named Kellie. She is a friend of Emily's family and is running the Free Press Half next week. (I am running the full). We started chatting, and I decided to tag along with her on the run. Additionally, the course was USATF certified, and I was excited because this is the first time I've run a certified course! We started promptly at 10 AM, which was great because it was starting to rain and very cold and windy. Kellie and I made our way through a very nice subdivision and down a small grassy hill to a wood chip path. It was really pretty running through the woods, if only for a minute or two. Then, it was back into the subdivision, where we stayed til we reached the finish line. There was one water station in the middle, and hats off to the volunteer standing in the rain holding out water cups! I didn't stop, but I was glad there was a water stop should I have needed it. We were averaging a 8:15 mile according to my Garmin, which is a little faster than my "fast" pace, but it was really great to have Kellie pacing me, and have someone to chat with as well. I never have a racing partner, and she was a life-saver after no sleep, and freezing weather.

We got to mile 3 and all of a sudden Emily's little brother came running out of no where and speedily raced on to the finish line. I was slightly jealous. GO Ian!!! Then the rain was starting to come down and we just pushed ourselves, and I finished with a time of 25:51, over a minute PR for the 5K for me. I also won first in my age group. Kellie won 2nd in her AG! Congrats, Kellie! We then waited for the rest of our group to finish. We were standing on the side watching the runners come in, when we saw a blur of pink barreling towards us. Ian said "is that my mom???." Let me back up and tell you that Mary, is Emily's mom, and is not normally a runner. BUT, she is the fastest walker I have ever seen in my entire life, and walks everyday on her lunch break. Anyway, Mary was running her first 5K.  She said "I got so caught up in the excitement, I had to run." So awesome! Great job, Mary! So glad I got to see it!

After we gathered all our people, we went back to the church, where they had water bottles, and some granola bars and other snacks. I was so thankful that we were able to go inside, because waiting out in that weather would have been killer. We stayed for the age group awards, and since Emily and I had both won 1st in our AG's we got LHI Waterbottles! The overall winners received running store gift certs. A fitting prize, indeed. I also need to mention that this 5K gave out finisher's medals to everyone. That is pretty special, because most 5Ks do not give out finisher's medals. We also received a Brooks long-sleeve tech shirt in our race packets. As always, I am an awkward turtle with sizing, and after a few races where my size small shirt was Barbie sized, I now tend to order a medium. Well, the medium is a bit big on me, but it's such a great quality shirt, I will definitely wear it. You can see in the photos, the tech shirts, as some people wore theirs right away.

The Prodigal dog was found safe and sound.
Also, most of the pictures I will post are from DS Photography    Dan Smith of DS photography, kindly donated his time, and photography skills to photograph the race. AND, he allowed us to download the pictures from his website, free of charge! Most race photos, you have to pay for, so this was a really neat opportunity! Thank you very much Mr. Smith! This was a great event, for a great cause! I hope to run next year as well! Overall, it was very organized and had a great set up. Thank you to all the volunteers, and race coordinator for such a fun time!

Us, the night before at Cedar Point. Some how, I managed to look super geeky. Yes, I am wearing the same neon orange sweatshirt as race day. I had a fear of getting lost at Cedar Point. Made sure everyone could see me at all times :) Photo courtesy of Emily's phone!
Finisher medals: Courtesy of DS Photography

Headed towards the finish: Photo-DS Photography

Ian speeding past Kellie and I. He is also wearing the LHI tech shirt we received in our bags-Photo-DS Photography

Jim crossing the finish line- Photo- DS Photography

Emily, finishing strong: Photo- DS Photography

And it was raining at this point: Photo- DS Photography

Mary, Emily's mom about to cross the finish, a more joyful runner you have never seen! Photo: DS Photography

Here you can see it is pouring. Photo- DS Photography

Miss Heather about to cross the finish line! Photo: DS Photography
Myself, Emily, and my running buddy Kellie! Photo from Emily's phone
Age Group Winner Photo: Courtesy DS Photography
We went to Leo's Coney for breakfast afterwards! Omlettes for all!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Run for the Hills 10K Recap

So, I was super excited about this 10K. It was my first 10K I've run much farther than 6.2 miles, but never on an "official" capacity. I found out about this race through my favorite site to plan all my runs through: Active.com.

I was even more excited when I found out that a race fee discount was available if you registered as a team, and since Jon thinks I am breaking the bank with my racing, a team was created. Girls from the Hills, team name created by my sister in law, Melody. Our team was my BFF Emily, a new friend (to me) Lauren, and my sister in law, Mel.

Day before the race dawns, we receive an email. "Sorry folks, the race website has been hacked. We're sorry for the inconvenience, hope it will be fixed soon." This caused a little bit of chaos, since packet pick-up was supposed to be one place and then at the last minute it was somewhere else, but no harm done. Emily and I picked up our packets, and were greeted by a most enthusiastic race director and lots of help. It was well-organized and quick. Having spent crazy amounts of time at packed pick-up places, this was a welcome relief.

Saturday came, and it was beautiful weather. The weather could not have been more perfect for racing. It was sunny and just a tad bit cool, and after the scorching weather we've had all summer, I'll take it. We arrived at Sorrows Catholic Church, where we were directed to park, and there was plenty of parking, which was so convenient and helpful. Mel and I made our way down the hill to Shiawassee park to meet up with Emily and Lauren. While we were at the bottom of the hill, Emily reminded us that in order to get out of the valley we were in it was going to be a steady incline of many hills. I hadn't previously given that much thought, and was suddenly slightly nervous.

Before the race start, the crowd judged the teams who were in costume. Some of them were more "creative" than others. Some of the memorable teams were "Kiss 2.0" (complete with face paint and costumes), and "The Knights who say knee." "The Knights" had plastic swords and cookie sheet shields. In the end, Kiss 2.0 won. Although, in the end all I think they had was stinging eyes from sweaty face paint. "The Knights" placed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in their age division.

After an interesting rendition of the National Anthem (I was not expecting the high-pitched trill, from the female vocalist), we lined up at the starting line. The gun went off, and so did we. Slow go at first, and then I started to pass people, when I'm racing I get into what Emily calls my "Energizer Bunny" mode, and completely focus on racing. I didn't realize notice anyone at all, except for the mother runner pushing a newborn in the jogger, wow SHE WAS FAST! I was so impressed, and tried to keep up with her, no such luck. We parted ways at the split off for the 5 and 10K.

As expected for the "Run for the Hills" located in Farmington Hills, there were ALOT OF HILLS! It seemed like everytime I got to the top of one hill, there was another hill waiting. I literally didn't think I was going to make it. I felt like I was running in place sometimes. Finally, I started getting into the groove, and looked around, there was no one running with me. I figured I was either dead last or everyone was running the 5K. I looked at my Garmin, the entire time I was running I was in the 8s, which for me is amazing. I felt strong and pressed on. I almost never stop for water, but was really feeling the need to. So I grabbed a cup and started to drink. Then I choked, it was not water, it was Powerade. And I ran on very sticky. GROSS! I got to the top of the last hill, and started running as fast as I could down, small problem though: The cops were not able to stop traffic for us at the bottom of the hill. So I had to wait for a cop to stop traffic on both sides and let us through. I sprinted as fast as I could towards where I thought the finish line was. No one was in front of me, so I ran as hard as I could.  Imagine my disappointment, when I realized the finish line was not as close as I thought. I crossed the finish line, but the finish line clock wasn't working. I consulted my beloved Garmin, and it said 53:04. I was quite surprised. So I grabbed some water and waited for the rest of my team. Everyone did really well, including Emily who reached her goal of under an hour! AWESOME!

We decided to stay for the awards ceremony, and I'm so glad we did, because I placed 3rd in my age division! I missed 2nd place by 2 seconds. But, because of the staggered start times, I didn't actually see anyone in front of me. Nevertheless, I was quite excited! What a fantastic first 10K!

Emily and I are running the Run for the Wind 5K this weekend. Hoping for some great times for both of us!
Team Girls from the Hills

Me, Lauren, and Emily

Mel finishing strong!

Emily crossing the finish line!

3rd in my age division

Photo courtesy of Greg Sadler Photography