February 9, 2014

October 24, 2013

Chicago Marathon....a little late....

  • 5:42:28
  • 22 minutes better than 2012
  • Beat goal time D (5:45)
  • Good nutrition and fuel strategy
  • Back to the half distance for the near future

It has been eleven days since the Chicago Marathon.  There are some things I still cannot wrap my brain around, but overall this year was so much fun!  Don't get me wrong - I loved having my dad with me last year for each step of the way.  That meant a ton and will be a memory that I will never forget.  This year was so different.  It was for time versus the finish.  No matter what it would be better overall than last year because I knew what to expect.

I went in with a series of goal times to aim for and knew that if something did not go well, there was  a new goal to attempt.  The overall goal was under 5:00 hours.  The realistic goal was 5:15.  Neither happened...more on that later.

Our group is crazy.  All in a fun, maddening and loving way.  Due to various schedules we could not all go to the expo together.  They changed the rule this year about picking up packets and each participant had to get their own.  Andrea and headed to the expo on Friday, and we had a good time.  The expo was not very busy at all and getting our bibs was pretty quick.  Once we got our bibs and shirts it was time to walk around and check things out.

Andrea signing the wall.
We ran into a few OE folks and chatted with them for a few minutes.  In addition, I ran into a former student and a few high school friends.  It was pretty cool.

Me, Lauren (1st Marathon), Michelle (ran Berlin 2 weeks before!)

We headed back to northwest Indiana to attend the pasta dinner for OE.  After picking up the dogs from day camp and waiting for KB to get off work, we headed to the pasta dinner.  Overall it was pretty good.  It was in a smaller space this year, so there were lots of people all eating together.  A little too close for my liking, but it is what it is.
Like the table number?! :)
Saturday was busy with getting things packed, the dogs to boarding and trying to stay off of my feet as best as possible.  Pretty much did not get off my feet until later in the day.  Once KB was off work, we headed to the city for the next few days at the Hilton.  It was the official hotel of the marathon, so it was all decked out in pictures and motivation.  Knowing that the start and finish lines were across the street was pretty awesome.  We ate at the restaurant in the hotel and the food was good (and cheaper than the marathon sponsored pasta dinner).  KB and my mom surprised me with a custom made flower vase with good luck flowers.  It was so cool!  It was the picture from earlier this year at the Oklahoma City Half Marathon.

I had set out my stuff for the morning and crawled into bed.  In doing so, I realized that I forgot the wristbands for KB and my mom at home on my desk.  Great.  Fortunately, Vicki had 2 extra and I would get them before the race and meet KB and my mom in front of the hotel to hand them off.  Now it was time to make sure everything else was ready, plugged in and charged for the morning.  For some reason I was not nervous.  Just ready to go.  I know that I did better in training for this year despite having an interruption half way through.

It was race morning.  Weather looked to be ideal.  Helicopters flying over for media coverage and security.  This would be the first major marathon on US soil since the Boston bombing, so security was going to be tight and present.  We called for room service at 5:00 am for my favorite oatmeal and bananas, as well as coffee for the ladies since they were up at the crack of dawn with me.  I took my usual pre-run nutrition and started to get ready.

I met Angie in the lobby at 6:15 to walk over to Charity Village.  This was crazy!  Because of the security, we had to walk further than anticipated.  Once we were scanned and got to the OE tent, we had to hurry out because they were literally closing Charity Village.  I had yet to see Vicki, Dawn, Carey and Kelly.  They got delayed from their hotel trying to get a cab.  And now I was nervous.  After some text and voice call exchanges, we finally connected and started to make our way to the corrals.  On the way we met KB and my mom to give them the wrist bands.  Last minute hugs and away we went to the start area.

One of the coolest moments in the start area was hearing about a documentary that was being filmed on a young man name Maickel Melamed from Venezuela.  We saw Debbie and Lorie as they came in the corral and chatted for a few minutes.  They headed to the other side of the corral.  Wave 2 was scheduled to start at 8:00 am and then our corral was about 14 minutes behind that start.  In reality it was closer to 19 minutes. 

Vicki, Dawn, Kelly (1st Marathon) and Carey

We gave each other hugs, high fives and wished each other good luck.  Before we knew it...we were off!  It was quite erie to not see spectators on the first couple of bridges. It was obvious from the start that the crowds were going to be different this year.  We headed off a good pace.  Dawn took off quick, which we pretty much expected.  She has made such an amazing change since last year - we were all rooting for her to crush her time from last year.  The four of us chatted and enjoyed the company through the first miles.  We saw KB and my mom under Wacker which was fun so early in the race.  The crowds were pretty good through the first part of the race.  People shouting out names on our shirts and giving high 5's and thanks.  It was great.  I quickly commented to Vicki how great that was to hear.

We were moving at a good consistent pace at the 5k point and enjoyed seeing the great sites of the Chicago Theatre, Sears Tower, the Hancock and other notable land marks.  We then headed into Lincoln Park and towards the Striders water stop (mile 5).  It was great to see so many familiar faces and hear them shout our names or 'OE'.  The weather was still cool and we were enjoying a nice pace headed north.  We made the turn on Addison and then quickly south into Boystown.  This is always a fun part of the course and you just never know what you are going to get from the spectators.  It did not disappoint once again.  We continued to head south and I noticed two women ahead of us on the left.  The one had a pacer time and then a Cancer bib "for Tim".  I knew right away this was my cousin Laura.  We quickly caught up to them and they were so surprised to see us!  We chatted and ran through the Lincoln Park area (around mile 9).  I needed to use the bathroom so Vicki and I stopped at the next opportunity.

If you are ever a spectator at ANY running event and participants are waiting to use the port-o-john...GET OUT OF LINE!  There were two spectators that were in line to use the bathrooms designed for the participants.  Go to McDonald's and buy a coffee so you can use their bathroom.  I still cannot believe that I was patient enough to not go ballistic on these two women or the ones in front of us who did not have the guts to say anything.  UGH!  

We saw KB and my mom again shortly after the bathroom stop.  We were still on pace into the half way point.  We headed west towards charity village where I saw another friend from high school at the Mercy Home group cheering.  It was around here we saw my dad and Kathy.  Made a quick stop to say hello and then back on our way.  At this point we were on point for fuel and hydration and feeling pretty decent.  We had lost Kelly and Carey a while back as they stopped for a bathroom.  All of a sudden, Kelly came flying from behind us.  She had lost Carey a while back.  Vicki and Kelly were just ahead of me when my left calf started to tighten.  We had a water station ahead and I walked through it.  At this point I was not sure what I was going to get for this last 10 miles or so.  

The crowd support was still amazing.  There was a guy standing in front of a Starbucks, so I asked him where my latte was....he gave me a high 5 and we got a little chuckle out of it.  This helped keep me going as I could see Vicki and Kelly starting to fade.  I knew at this point I was on my own, so I cranked up the music and dug deep.

There were so many people off the side stretching and hobbling along the way.  I was bound and determined to not let that be me.  The calf loosened up enough for me to get back to running.  I went as long as best as I could until it would tighten again.  I saw my cheer team at various points along the last part of the course.  They were perfectly spaced out and that helped keep me moving.  I loved going into Chinatown and seeing the Pagoda overhead.  These were some of the things that I did not notice last year.  

I was able to draw off the crowd and knowing that I still felt good physically...well as best as I could for the most part.  I was frustrated that my calf was being difficult, but the chips were going to fall wherever they may.  Around mile 23 I ran into on of my dailymile peeps, Andrea.  She gave me a big hug and walked with me for a little bit.  This was perfect timing as it kept me distracted since my calf was flaring up at this point.  This was one of the hardest parts of the race as we head back east before hitting Michigan Avenue.  During this stretch, the crowd is pretty thin and the street surface is not the best to be on.  At this point, the sun was heating up and I could tell that I was not sweating as much as I should have been, so I kept pouring water on my arms and on the back of my neck to keep cool.  

Finally!  The turn on the Michigan Avenue at DeLaSalle High School.  There was a great crowd in this section and I was excited to be running at this point and took the advice of Jenny Hadfield....'go fishing'.  My approach at this point was to find someone ahead of me and pass them or catch up to them.  This was perfect.  It was a good approach for this point of the race.  Once we hit 18th Street the crowds really started to build.  Lorie and Debbie came from behind me and we ran together for a bit.  I waved them off around 24 and told them to go ahead.  I just kept counting down the streets and could not remember what the last street was before Roosevelt.  The big board was in view and my dad and Kathy were off to the left cheering.  The turn onto Roosevelt Road was amazing.  I kept looking for KB and my mom on the bridge.  They some how managed to squeeze into the last available space and I spotted them!  They cleared the rest of the bridge this year, so the crowd was less heading into the finish. I took a quick walk at the top of the bridge and then said to myself "let's finish it".

Made the turn onto Columbus and kept pushing for the finish.  Finally!  Done.  I looked at my watch and gave a fist pump.

I worked my way through the finish area and got my medal.  Thanked the nice lady that was handing them out.  Worked towards the the 312 and grabbed a beer.  I took about 4 sips and realized where the finisher photo area was, so got in line to take a picture.  Then the challenge to get to Charity Village began.  The way I thought I could take was not an option. UGH!  My feet were screaming at me and all I wanted to do was sit.  I got a hold of KB to figure out where they were located and headed towards them at Charity Village.  Yes.  I had to walk about a mile (maybe more) to get back to the Village.  To me - this was ridiculous and I was ticked.  I finally ran into Angie on the bridge over the tracks to make sure I was headed the right way.

Finally!  I made it back to Charity Village.  I took my medal off and put it over KB's head and gave her a hug.  Then gave everyone in the cheer group a hug and thanks.  I then checked in with the OE folks and signed up for the Trainers to do stretching.  I was quickly called and plopped down next to Vicki.  She did a great job and finished in 5:28!  Dawn crushed her previous time with a 4:46!!! Over an hour plus improvement.  I was happy that Carey finished strong and just a few minutes behind me.  Andrea, Brent and Bobby also did well!  

As we were walking back to the hotel (did I mention it was across the street?!?! :)), we happened to see my cousin Laura and her family.  It was so cool to see her with that medal draped around her neck. So proud of her!

We were supposed to go out that night, but I think we were all pretty trashed and tired.  So we ordered Lou's pizza.  KB and I walked to pick it up and then headed back to the hotel.  That pizza tasted so good!  We were all crashed and relaxing.  KB and my mom fell asleep around 8:30 and I was up watching t.v. and looking at facebook to see everyone's posts.  It was nice and relaxing.  

The next morning we met the crew at Yolk on Ohio Street.  We then walked over to Niketown to get our medals engraved (Thanks again Mike & Brent) and some finisher apparel.  The place was packed.  We then headed back to the hotel to check out.  By the time we got back to the hotel all of the marathon decor was taken down. Kind of sad that it was over.
Post marathon breakfast
This has been pretty long, so I am going to wrap it up with the following thanks to all of those that supported my charity, my training and my daily craziness.  You were remembered and thought about at some point along the 26 mile journey.  You kept me going when it got tough and inspired me to finish.

Thank you.  Now back to the half distance for me.


July 28, 2013

Melanoma schmelanoma!

Life has an interesting way of testing us and pushing us to places that we could not imagine.  We never know when it will happen.  How it will happen.  I would have never guessed that at age 40, I would have to worry about the "c" word.  Cancer.

On June 11th I had a mole removed from my left forearm.
the guilty party
I noticed it getting darker, larger and thicker over the last 6 months.  When I was at my doctor for a check up in May I mentioned it to her. "We need to get that off now!  Schedule an appointment."  So before leaving the office that day - I scheduled my mole removal.  Honestly, I did not really even think that this could be cancerous, but to get it removed and tested.  So I did.  Three weeks went by and not a word from the doctor.  At that point, I thought "well it must be nothing since they have not called." I did call a few times during this time frame and was told the results were not back.  Now I know why.  It had to be sent out for more testing.

Finally, on July 2nd the doctor called with the results.  They referred me out to an oncologist and surgeon. I was on it quick and had appointments within an hour of talking to my primary.  Oncologist was first and then the surgeon.  

The bottom line was I had a melanoma, level 1a.  This is the lowest level but the type that spreads.  The surgeon was very aggressive given my age, so he wanted to check the lymph nodes by removing them and sending them for testing.  The surgery was scheduled the next day for the following week (July 16).  Of course my biggest concern was "how soon can I start running?!".  He didn't want to commit, but said maybe 2-3 weeks.  REALLY DUDE!? I was crushed on so many levels and could not filter through it all.  It was too much too quick.  

The idea of possibly having to go through treatments scared the hell out of me.  I don't do needles very well and that is just enough me feel nauseous.  We have dealt with cancer enough the last three years, but for it to now impact us directly was a bit overwhelming, but I think I was in shock most of the time.  Finally, it was surgery morning.

I had to go to one hospital for the tracer to be injected for the lymph nodes.  This was not fun.  The radiologist had to do 6 small injections around the area where the mole was removed.  Really?!  Did I mention how much I don't like needles?  I thought it would be something they would do via IV.  Oh no...6 injections.  First one...okay...2 through 6...OUCH!  You know it is bad when the tech asks if I you are okay.  I was pretty close to going down for the count, but hung in there and gritted my teeth.  They put a warm pack on to help the radiation travel to the lymph nodes.  After 15 minutes of the heat pack, it was on to picture taking.  This would allow them to see where the lymph nodes were located and help the doctor in the surgery.  The images took about 40 minutes to take and then another 30 for development.  Keep in mind...I have had no food or drink since 11 pm the night before...crankiness was setting in.

We (KB, mom and I) then traveled to the hospital where the surgery would be performed.  We met my dad and Kathy there as we had a delay in waiting for the film, but in time to chat before surgery.  It turned out that the other woman that was getting a similar radiation treatment at hospital #1 was also having surgery at hospital #2 by my doctor.  I knew at that point a delay was inevitable.  And that is exactly what happened.  

After a visit from one of my running peeps, Bobby, and total silliness of the balloons he brought - I think my fatigue and hunger were starting to get to me. Yes it was more of a birthday balloon, but the fact it was big, pink and had fur on it was enough for him to laugh the entire time while purchasing, transporting, and bringing it to the hospital.
Awww...thanks Bobby!
Finally...it was time!  Before heading back, I gave all a hug and kiss.  I knew they would not let everyone back there before the surgery, so this was the best time to get last minute moments.  After getting changed into those awesome hospital scrubs, the nurse started the IV...ugh...another needle. They allowed KB to come back and we waited for the doctor to come in and talk pre-surgery.  He came by and marked the places where he was going to cut - left forearm, left arm pit, right arm pit (another dark mole).  Then the nurse came in and gave me "happy meds", and KB and I said our good byes.  
They wheeled me in to the OR and before I went to la-la-land, I asked the OR nurse and other staff members one last question:

"Are any of you Packer fans?!"  I asked it in total honesty and expected an answer...but the next thing I knew I was in the recovery room. 

Apparently, I came out of the anesthesia crying in pain and discomfort.  Well duh! They brought KB back to the recovery room and that helped settle me down.  Maybe I was crying because they really were Packer fans?! ;)

I really don't remember much after the surgery.  I was pretty foggy and sore.  However, I do remember stopping at Starbucks for coffee and then eating dinner.  The next days were filled with pain meds, some work and lots of sleep/rest.  

So a week after surgery, KB and I went back to the doc for test results.  I was very nervous, but felt confident that he got everything. And that is exactly what I heard him say.  Of course 'discussing' when I could go back to running did not sit well with me, but I know that it is for the better.  Cross training it will be for now...or at least until August 5th when the stitches come out.

So what happens when you have surgery - friends and family pitch in...
  • Gina delivered pizza at 9:00 at night...yum!
  • Angie gave a 'goodie bag'...wine (for KB), play-dough, bubbles, a punching balloon and a kazoo!  
  • Vicki brought over a beef roast on Friday morning...and then came back that night with Bobby to help eat it!  It was so good!
  • Carey & Mike brought laughs, pumpkin squares, and cinnamon bread...yummers!
  • Graeter's ice cream delivery from my dad and Kathy.  They drove in from Rockford for the surgery day!
  • E-cards from Linda, Dave, Sean and Leann plus supporting KB for time off from the shop to go to doc appointments and surgery day!
  • Tammy sent a care pack of Swedish Fish, Women's Running magazine, a Starbuck's card and wishes from FL!
  • Funny cards from Dawn & Brent.
  • Chocolate chip cookies from Mary Ann & Dick (neighbors)
  • Mary took off work and spent the night before and surgery day...thanks Mom!
  • Bobby for the visit at the hospital with those silly balloons :)
  • Numerous text messages from family & friends...too many to list! 

What lies beneath?

pretty - isn't it?!  

I feel blessed.  Lucky. Appreciative.  Thanks to those that sent messages, cards, pink fuzzy balloons, brought over food...I think I can speak for KB when we say thanks for the support.  It has meant a ton!

Words of advice:
  • Wear sunscreen...with zinc...SPF 50+
  • If you have any moles - get them checked.
  • Love your friends and family each day - and don't be afraid to let them know it.
The below quote has been one of my favorites for a while.  I had it written in the bill of my hat last year at the marathon, and it has been the by-line of my blog.  Pretty appropriate.

"Sometimes the moments that challenge is the most - define us."

 ~ Deena Kastor

Not this time cancer.