Of Closure and Gratitude

It’s been well over a month since I traveled to Jacksonville to participate in the Donna Marathon Weekend’s half marathon. I’ve meant to blog about it for weeks, but I think it has taken me until now to understand its significance.

If you read this post a while back, you know this event has become far more important to me this year than when I participated in 2016. Though I walked it back then too, I was in the thick of my marathon and half marathon addiciton…I was seriously running out of control! The proof is in the bling I earned throughout that year…

Oh how I loved my running, it was an obsession that seemed to come out of nowhere…it was a total escape from life’s crazy, and the endorphins were a reward second to none. So much so, that when I found I needed that lumpectomy, I calmly rescheduled it so I could run a half marathon in California. And when I finally faced the music to have the lump removed, I was running another half only days post-op.

Yeah, that was a tough run for me. When I look back at this pic, I’m right back in that moment with the weight of all the feels. I know now, it was the running that kept my mind north of the worry and fear.

But, it’s also clear to me now, I was’t exactly running toward anything…I was running away from things. That girl had a LOT going on.

The running continued nearly every day until later that year when this dumb thing happened…

I awoke the meniscal beast, and though I eeked out another marathon and one more half that year, that was the end of that. Though the meniscus has quieted down, runner’s knee, osteoarthritis and my sports med doc have made it quite clear. I’m finished.

So there I was in Jacksonville, wondering what in the world I was doing. I picked up my race packet and enjoyed the expo with my friend Julie, because I kind of knew it might be my last.

Although we had walked plenty of training miles and planned to walk every last step of those 13.1 miles, I secretly feared my body wouldn’t be able to cut it.

So I gave my regards to Jeff Galloway one more time, just in case!

Before I left for Jacksonville, I checked in with my friends at OOFOS (my beloved recovery footwear company). Mind you, their footwear has supported my body throughout my injury and eased a TON of my pain since. It just so happens they have a Project Pink line…the same amazing comfort, but as part of their charitable giving effort, $10 from every Project Pink Collection shoe purchased goes to breast cancer research! Check out OOFOS’ fantastic Project Pink line here.

Well they generously sent me a pair for the occasion, so what else would I have worn to the pink carpet Expo?

Same amazing comfort/support, extraordinary cause near and dear to my heart! And I’ll just tell you right now, I couldn’t have recovered from this half later without them!

I was really rusty at setting out my flat Carla the night before. I barely remembered how and hoped I hadn’t forgotten anything important.

It had been well over a year since my last event, Friends. Past disappointment, the threat of pain…it was a crazy-loud loop running through my head I could not silence. Where did that even come from? I thought I was over all that. But there it was, and I barely slept that night.

I tried to reason with myself…I was only walking; but I was walking 13.1 miles on a bum knee. Ugh. Well, there was only one thing to do, so I put my best foot forward…just ask Elvis!

And the moment we crossed the start line, I remembered what I love about Donna’s event.

It’s not about the race or my pace. It’s about something so much bigger, and Julie and I were reminded of that with every neighborhood corner we turned…

Those homeowners embrace this race for the important cause it is. And to keep it light…

Though I felt I might lose my emotions multiple times along in gratitude for my own breast surgury scare results, these people kept reminding me to laugh and enjoy the journey.

 

My knee was getting angrier and angrier, and I hate to tell you how many times I thought about quitting. The emotion was raw as it became clearer and clearer with every mile, the race days I loved were drawing to a close. What if all the running was just a temporary vehicle to ease me through a tough time?

A deep, comforting feeling washed over me like the waves of Jax Beach…a gentle yet unmistakable clarity. What a gift to be there, to be able to take that winter walk with a great friend on a beautiful, sunny day in Florida. A day that’s not promised to any of us. A day I was grateful to be alive.

That medal is a symbol of closure I will treasure forever.

 

 

 

Boobs, If You Love Them, Check Them!

Friends, I’m traveling to Jacksonville, Florida this evening on a mission…

Two years ago this weekend, I came together with some childhood friends to participate in a half marathon among other things. It was a great opportunity to catch up with one another and we had plenty of time to do that because we walked every last step of that 13.1 miles together.

This was a great event right there on the streets along beautiful Jacksonville Beach. The weekend was created in 2008 by a three-time breast cancer survivor, Donna. It has become the wildly popular and successful annual Donna Marathon Weekend to FINISH breast cancer.

Back in 2016, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really there to support breast cancer, I was there to share a good time with friends…

As we worked our way along the course, there was a party on every corner! There were lots of posters with boobie humor, and many spectators came dressed for the occasion…like this boob-loving ape!

It was easy for someone like me who was not personally touched by breast cancer to miss the point; I simply viewed the finish line as a fun accomplishment…

But for some reason, my attitude changed. As I looked through the photos from that weekend, they spoke to me…especially the one with the ape. It suddenly occurred to me, I was LONG overdue for a mammogram. And I’m sure glad it did, because as soon as I returned from Jacksonville, I scheduled an appointment.

When one mammogram became another, then an ultrasound, and a biopsy, I slowly began to gain a wider understanding of what that weekend was all about. I was really lucky, though, Friends, my biopsy came back benign. But because the tumor was precancerous, my team wanted that thing out…and that’s when it started getting very real for me. A lumpectomy was my next hurdle.

I’d been working with a health coach prior to (and during) all of this, and I was in a really good place. Rather than fearing the worst throughout the process, I kept my thoughts in check. I kept reassuring myself, and everyone worried for me, that this was nothing until it was something. And at that point, it was still nothing.

Again, Friends, I was very lucky. Blessed, rather. My post-op pathology also came back clean. AMEN!

You’d better believe I made my annual appointment the very moment I could for the following year, where something else turned up, but was much less than last year.

This was all fresh on my mind as I decided to do Donna’s half again this year, as I registered for the event months back, and as I packed this morning. So much so, I called radiology to schedule my appointment for this year before I left for the airport. I’m not due to go back until May, but you’d better believe I will be there and every year from now on!

I look forward to this weekend. I’ve learned my lesson and I know this half will be less about the laughs and ALL about the gratitude!

 

Evolution of a Walk

I’m wallowing this weekend in an upper respiratory nightmare. I had high hopes of getting to the gym this morning, but I didn’t want to be found unconscious beneath a machine, nor did I think anyone wanted what I’ve got. So I invited my husband, who’s suffering the same malady, to join me for a gentle walk on a most beautiful day.

The weather was unseasonably warm for a February morning in Minnesota, so fitness plan B turned out to be the perfect choice. It’s amazing what fresh air can do to restore a person’s head, heart and health.

The thawing warmth, combined with the playful puddles and joyfully singing birds put me in a place of reflection. As we worked toward completing our leisurely 3.5 mile stroll, I considered the evolution of my perspective toward walking.

Here’s what I mean. As I thought back to the time before my weight loss, I remember feeling very differently…like back in 2011 when I didn’t consider shoveling a great workout, it was simply a chore. And if someone had asked me to take a walk after that, I would’ve been too exhausted.

About this same time in 2012…winter camp at my unhealthiest, should someone have invited me to walk, I would’ve recommended they dial 911 before we begin…not. even. kidding.

Friends, here’s where things get exciting because a few months after this picture, I set off on my healthy lifestyle journey and things began to change dramatically! About this same time in 2013, if you had asked me to walk, I would have suggested we do it in the hilly woods of Oxbow Park because I had some serious training to do with around 30 pounds strapped to my back in preparation for an upcoming backpack hiking adventure.

I had lost a significant amount of weight by this same time in 2014 and was in fantastic shape, but if you had asked me to walk then, I would have had to pass. I was very busy doing nothing, or rather healing from automobile accident injuries. Dang it, one step forward, two steps back…

I behaved my butt off during that time so I could return to an active lifestyle better than ever. It took lots of patience and pep talks, but I bounced back with a force to be reckoned with! And should someone ask me around that same time in 2015 if I’d like to take a walk, I may have recommended we do it above ground because I was pretty wildly into high adventure, like swinging through the trees in Flagstaff. Guess I had something to prove to myself, huh?

By this time the following year, I had replaced the adrenaline addiction for a longer sustained endorphin high. If you had invited me to walk with you in 2016 I may have suggested a half marathon!

A lot has changed between then and now. I ran myself silly that entire year and am now taking some much needed time to restore a reluctant knee. So if any of you are interested in a calm walk of any distance, now’s the time to ask…though you may want to wait until my germ circus leaves town. A walk with Eric this morning was exactly what I needed to get my compass pointing true north again, to put into perspective how thankful I am to be back embracing a walk.

This Year I Resolve…

Friends, we are a whole week into the New Year and I didn’t want to share my 2017 plans with you until I had a more firm understanding of them myself. I’m still motivated by and working on a resolution I began a couple years back involving my Facebook friends; I’ll post an update to that one soon.

Before devising my 2017 plan, I found it integral to reflect on 2016. It will begin to make sense why…bear with me!

In hindsight, 2016 was a year I threw caution to the wind in many aspects of my life. I was tired of stereotypes running a loop in my mind, and the more I walked away from them, the freer, more alive I felt. I also noticed many ruts I’d found myself stuck in, and busted out of most throughout the course of the year with amazing family and friends along for the tumultuous ride. Here’s a photo montage sampler.

Tried some relaxing new therapies like meditating in a salt room…


And floating in a salt tank…

Chilling in a cryotherapy chamber…

Surrendering to a sports med doc and my first cortisone injection…

Cozying up to the healing benefits of a laser at physical therapy…

Taking a crack at chiropractic treatment…

I employed a new mindset when it came to some normally tense healthcare moments. In dealing with a biopsy and subsequent surgery, fear and worry were not allowed any energy. I simply chose to believe it was nothing until it was something. It’s still nothing.

I was blessed with new friendships that provided an abundance of generosity and support…  

Which encouraged me to press beyond the struggles…

 

To encourage others to accomplish new milestones…

 

To inspire others to embrace new things, gain confidence…

 

It became ingrained; inspired me to share my love of adventure and fitness within a mentoring role…

But still taking time to fulfill my venturing needs such as these…

 

And these…

 

 

I embraced holidays in new ways…traded Mother’s Day Brunch for a delicious hike…

Replaced a traditional Christmas celebration for something a bit more rejuvenating…

I guess I could sum up 2016 as just that…

REJUVENATE (verb)

  1. to make young again; restore to youthful vigor, appearance
  2. to restore to a former state; make fresh or new again

In breaking with past expectation, trying new things, planning new experiences, I’m REJUVENATED! Friends, that’s my plan for 2017…I’m throwing conventionality out the window and continuing to explore all the many wonders life has to offer!

Nothing is Impossible

Friends, it’s very hard for me to believe what blessings this past year has brought my way. Exactly one year ago this morning, I was in Honolulu starting a marathon…A MARATHON! I admit, if you had told me two years ago I’d run one, I would have told you, “Impossible!”

I’d only just begun running the year before, and never imagined in a million years I would run 26.2 miles. In one day. For fun. Yet I found myself meeting up with Rhonda and Matt, complete strangers at that time, to do exactly that!

honolulu-start

Just a few short years before, this concept was impossible. Unthinkable! Because at 246 pounds, the first few miles would’ve surely induced cardiac arrest!

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But having lost the weight, adopted healthy eating habits, a love of fitness and a wellbeing in my soul, I allowed myself to think crazy thoughts. And when certain thoughts just couldn’t be ignored, I set goals. Little by little those goals became realized dreams I never even knew I had a few short years ago.

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It took everything I had to give that day, but I knew all along it was there.

honolulu-together

And when it was done, I was able to say what I never thought I could…I was a Marathoner!

honolulu-medals

And better yet, with continued determination, the astounding generosity of others, despite injuries, health setbacks and mental blocks…these further impossibilities became realities:

  • Carlsbad Half Marathon, Carlsbad, CA (January)
  • Donna’s Half Marathon, Jacksonville, FL (February)
  • San Diego Half Marathon, San Diego, CA (March)
  • Beginner’s Luck Half Marathon, Henderson, NV (April)
  • La Jolla Half Marathon, La Jolla, CA (April)
  • Rockin’ Robin Half Marathon, Rochester, MN (May)
  • Med City Half Marathon, Rochester, MN (May)
  • Mammoth Lakes Half Marathon, Mammoth Lakes, CA (June)
  • Bubble Run 5K, Madison, WI (June)
  • Mini Iron Man, Many Point, MN (June)
  • MN Nuthouse 5K, 10K and Half Marathon, Rochester, MN (July)
  • RAGBRAI 420 miler, IA (July)
  • Ragnar Great River, WI/MN (August)
  • America’s Finest City Half Marathon, San Diego, CA (August)
  • Med City Fall Half Marathon, Rochester, MN (September)
  • Mankato Half Marathon, Mankato, MN (October)
  • Marine Corps Marathon, Washington, DC (October)
  • Rock’n’Roll 5K and Half Marathon, Las Vegas, NV (November)
  • Silver Lake Walk with Friends Half Marathon, Rochester, MN (December)

And to think it all started a year ago today; all of it seemingly impossible, yet…

impossible

Friends, you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to…ANYTHING! Believe in yourself, your hopes, dreams and ambitions. Set multiple short and long-term goals to get yourself there. Tell yourself I’M POSSIBLE and put your Best Foot Forward; there’s no telling where we can take ourselves if we remember NOTHING is impossible!

2016 Mission Accomplished!

It has been a fantastic day of multi-tasking, and I’m so excited about that, Friends. I finished something I’ve been working all year to complete! My 2016 goal of a half marathon each month was realized today in a unique and heartwarming manner. Yesterday I told you how I intended to fit in those last 13.1 miles here at home. With several participants along for the walk, it was a blast!

december-half

I walked 7.2777778 laps around Silver Lake with great company. As a few friends finished a lap or two, others arrived. I was thankful to have someone with me for each and every mile from beginning to end. Their presence really warmed my heart on this 30 degree day!

We shared wonderful conversations and bounced some ideas around for a new challenge or two for 2017…something I’ve been trying to figure out for weeks; but you’ll have to wait to hear about that.

So remember the part about multi-tasking? Not only did I finish my 2016 goal, I continued to chip away at my Facebook Friends Resolution…you know the one, to do something fit/active with each of my Facebook friends. I’m happy to report I marked Sherri and Marisa off my list. Thanks for your willingness to join me, Ladies!

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But the awesomeness didn’t end there, fellow FIT BFFs! I was also able to record today’s activity on my December challenge…the Advent Calendar of Activity!

december-challenge

If you haven’t joined in on the fun this little calendar provides, stop by here to read about the challenge and print off your own little gift of motivation right now! It’s never to late to get with it…start today!

It feels great to have achieved my goal, but I must admit, I am tired. I plan to retire to the couch tonight. But I won’t plan to get too comfortable, because tomorrow is another opportunity to be consistent…one more way to put my Best Foot Forward!