A Slurpee-Free #7QT

— 1 —

slurpee

I don’t even like slurpees that much (it would be one more thing to report on LoseIt) and face my coach’s nitpicking. I give her plenty of material about which to nitpick (case in point: a recent comment read “you could have had three cups of broccoli for the calories you spent on that rice pilaf”). But I do love the tie-in of today’s date (7/11) with the fact that 7-Eleven stores are giving out free slurpees today. There is no shortage of sadness in Tallahassee that the nearest 7/11 is in Jacksonville (2.5 hours away).

— 2 —

Control A good male friend is going through a tough time emotionally, following the breakup of a relationship. One of the topics we came around to when discussing root causes was the perception some women have had that he has a need to control things. And compassionately I say, as a platonic friend, they have a point. When I dipped my toe in the waters of bringing this up today, the logical next question was “how do I change it?” I guess the good news is that awareness is the first step. The bad news is that the second step isn’t clear nor is it easy. Maybe part of the truth lies in the fact that at 55 and not having been married, maybe he can choose to not change a thing. But to be in a marriage or long-term relationship, he needs to learn to see things as these woman have seen them. This is going to be a tough nut to crack. Walnuts

— 3 —

Four have become five. My father-in-law moved in with us in early June, after a hospitalization during which it became clear he was incapable of continuing to live on his own. This is one of those situations that, if I were not personally in the middle of it, I could see being fantastic blog material, full of observations ranging from the profound to the mundane, with a filament of love woven throughout. But I haven’t figured out how to discuss it without messing with his dignity and, frankly, I feel way too close to the situation to make any perspective-filled observations (yet).

— 4 —

Is it July 18 yet? My daughter and I will be traveling to Boston on July 18. She has been invited to a gathering of “the Tenleys, an event put together for people named Tenley (I think they’re all females) to meet the woman we all consider the original Tenley, Tenley Albright. I’d be lying if I didn’t say this is literally a dream come true.

— 5 —

Is it July 21 yet? I suppose the answer to this is “no,” since the answer to question #4 is “no,” but besides the excitement of the Boston trip, we will be heading to New York City after Boston (with a stop in Connecticut in between). We will be doing Tea at the Plaza, something neither of us has ever done, and I can’t wait!

plaza

— 6 —

More Than Miles. Tomorrow I will be running a 4.5 mile trail race. The trail is called the “Swamp Forest Trail” and it has rained a good bit today, so the “swamp” part will be assured! Tomorrow also marks the 1 year anniversary of my match with Gareth, a young man who has MCAD, a mitochondrial disorder. We were matched through I Run for Michael. Why does it matter that an almost-50-year-old back of the pack runner dedicates her miles to a child hundreds of miles away? For me, as a mom, it matters to support another mom (and dad) whose child faces such difficult challenges. It matters to support a young man who, despite the challenges of his MCAD, still gives back to others (he has coordinated a “Get Up and Go for Mito” walk the last two years. The group has many more runners than it does children to whom miles can be dedicated. If you know a child / individual who wants a runner, click here for more info.

IR 4 Gareth Cropped

— 7 —

Christopher has support! The last time I participated in #7QT, I wrote about Christopher, a little boy in El Salvador who I was asked to discuss in my blog as his family hoped to get a sponsor from Unbound for him. I just learned that he has been sponsored! I am so happy to hear this. Would also love your prayers as I will be volunteering at Good Shepherd Catholic Church here in Tallahassee this weekend as an Unbound priest discusses the program and shares information about sponsorship. It is always exciting to see people start their sponsorship journey (and to talk with people who have been sponsoring for a while already). Having the opportunity to go to El Salvador in June and see the program in action helps me visualize the program’s operations clearly and I am grateful for that trip.

The #BlogUnbound Team

The #BlogUnbound Team

 For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

(I am also pleased to link this post up to Faith Along The Way’s Saturday Soiree.)

Boston 13.1

A week has gone by since I ran my first half marathon, the Allstate Boston 13.1 for Autism Speaks. Whereas I usually feel like I could write hundreds of words about pretty much any workout, that has not been the case with this event. I can’t decide whether to start with the people who motivated me to do the race in the first place; the coach and fellow runners who supported me through the eight months of training, the families for whom autism is a part of each and every day who were among my biggest incentives, or the race day itself, a day that was so autumnally perfect that it almost defied belief.

This experience started on February 14, 2012, when I was the first person to comment on this post by Luau:

In retrospect, there was zero doubt that I would participate in this race from 10:15 a.m. on 2/14/12 when I made this first comment to 7:00 a.m. on 9/16/12 when I started the race. But there were steps along the way …… talking it over with my spouse since there would be a commitment of time (to train) and finances (to travel to Boston). Fortunately, the timing was in my favor because it was Valentine’s Day and I asked for his support of this effort as my gift. (It worked!). There were fundraising steps (as a member of the Autism Speaks team I agreed to raise at least $500), including the comment contest that brought in 278 comments (there were two winners and I came in third, but I really appreciated everyone’s willingness to help me out!). There were also literal steps – thousands of them as my training progressed. My training was transformed in April when I began training with Jeff Kline (Coach PRS) of PRS Fit. Along the way, there was one truly awful run but that was outweighed by progressively stronger and longer training runs the last six weeks that helped me feel utterly prepared for my race.

As race weekend approached, I ran the last of my long runs (14 miles) and started tapering. I flew in to JFK Airport on the Friday prior to the race, spent Friday evening in Connecticut with my good friend Audrey, and drove up to Boston on Saturday, September 15.  I got all my gear (my Autism Speaks team tank, a tech shirt, a dri-fit hat, and my all-important race number) and returned to my room to organize myself prior to the team dinner.

As the dinner approached, I found myself feeling inexplicably anxious about meeting the people who I felt I had come to know relatively well via social media. Up until this weekend, I had been batting 1000 for meeting people in real life who I had first met on social media — in that the “IRL” meeting confirmed all the warm, fuzzy, and our-senses-of-humor-match intuitions that led me to invest in a social media relationship. To go back to my husband’s first reaction (remember Valentine’s Day 2/14/12?) of “but you can run 13.1 miles right here in Tallahassee,” I felt more like a 6th grader attending a new middle school after just having moved to the town; I was nervous. Which led me to procrastinate going down to the dinner and (I thought) miss an opportunity to mingle with all the people who I wanted to match a twitter handle to a real face and voice. When I was in line for my food (pasta, of course), I did find/meet Luau, Jess, and “Jersey” and ended up joining them at their table. That was a real blessing because race day flew by with less opportunity to chat. I also met Ann Marie, another twitter acquaintance, and Beth Clark, who I had just started interacting with on social media but turns out to have a love of things Bronx and NY Theater (and autism support) so that was pretty darn fabulous too. (And thanks to Jess for the best compliment of the weekend which may sound completely wrong out of context but I think we were talking about my theater choices when I ended up in New York after the race and we were talking about Avenue Q, which has “racy” content. Someone said, “If you’re easily offended, it’s not for you,” to which Jess said, “if she were easily offended she wouldn’t be here.” (For someone (me) who spends a lot of time feeling very thin-skinned, that was the ultimate pat on the thick-skinned back!).

Equipped with the all-important cow bell,

I returned to my room and met up with my friend Jacqui, who had driven down from New Hampshire to do the race with me. It definitely helped to have someone along for the experience who had run a marathon before (Boston, actually) and was able to keep the tone light. We both turned in pretty early since the race started at 7 a.m. and we had to drive to Suffolk Downs.

The race started at 7 a.m., and we took off through the horse gates. I remember Jacqui saying “Lucky Seven” as she went through Gate 7 and saying about my gate (8) “Eight is Enough.”

After the horse gates, we were truly off! I have to hand Luau kudos for his mid-stride photography skills (the blue afro is part of his fundraising approach – read more about the blue afro here (and sign the petition to convince Katy Perry to donate a blue wig for his NYC Marathon run here):

One of my concerns pre-race had been that I had never done a run this long without music (or an audiobook). I almost always listen to something when training, but never listen to anything when racing. I wasn’t sure how I would handle the lack of that electronic/audio security blanket. Turns out there was so much activity along the course (people cheering, other runners approaching due to the out and back (and a little loopy) nature of the course) that the lack of music wasn’t an issue; I really think I would have missed a lot of the race environment if I had been plugged in.

There was also the issue of heart rate. Being a bit anal about all of this, and knowing that my coach wanted me to stay at Zone 2 with 3 minute surges into Zone 3 every fifteen minutes, I had taken the time the night before the race to meticulously write down the time intervals for these surges upside down and big enough to hopefully see without digging my glasses out (they’re right above the QR code):

That part of the plan tanked when a) my Polar stopped recording my heart rate a half hour in (and had to be reset), and b) it was clear that Zone 2 was not happening for any of the 13.1 miles. Adrenaline, a new/different terrain, you name it – I was never going to get down to Zone 2 without crawling or sleeping. But I do know from observing my HR monitor that I stayed pretty consistent the whole race, and hopefully that means something good.

I have always admired runners who write race reports with incredible specificity – identifying particular details at named mile markers, such as what their heart rate was, how their breathing was, what they ate, etc. That’s not me.  If I had to pick five specific things about my experience on the course they would be:

1) The first 5 miles really seemed to fly by (relatively).

2) Although I had my own hydration and nutrition with me, there were a lot of water/gatorade stops. That, and the volunteers handing out strawberries. I didn’t want a strawberry but I think that fragrance will always trigger memories of this 13.1 in my head.

3) There was a neighborhood that started around the 8 mile mark — I could see the 9 mile marker right across from the 8 mile marker so I knew that I would loop around and encounter it in a mile; for some reason that was mentally a relief.

4) My left foot. My left foot has had a very subtle “something” (stiffness?) for a few weeks now. It seemed especially notable on Friday as I was flying up for the race. Maybe my hypersensitivity to it had to do with my nerves about the race. I don’t know. Throughout the whole 13.1, it was always “noticeable” — I just wanted to get through the race without it getting so bad that I could not finish on my own terms (which meant running even if my running is slower than some walkers).

5) My thought process at the Ten Mile Marker. When I got to the Ten Mile Marker, I literally thought, “Oh, all that’s left is a 5K.” That is such a big change in mentality for me. It felt great to know that I had run more than 13.1 miles before, that I would be doing it today, and that I was so close to knocking a goal off of my list.

(I finished in 3:09:03.)

As I was thinking over how to close out this post, which has turned into a novel, I ran  across my horoscope for today. It said:

“You have a talent for choosing the right people to hang out with. That doesn’t mean they are always easy to be around, though. Your friends will be mentors, motivators, and reality checkers.”

(Holiday Mathis)

One thing I did “right” was entering into a coaching relationship with PRS Fit. I had to give up things I enjoyed (like the boot camps that involved stadium climbing) and my “regular” Tuesday night interval group. Early on, Coach Jeff pointed out that “what I had always done clearly had not worked” (as it related to running a faster 5K). Being coached made a huge difference in my conditioning level and my mental preparation.

The other “right people” who were along for this run were the donors who contributed toward my fundraising for Autism Speaks. Over the last few years, I have asked for a lot of support for many causes. I try my best to reciprocate but I am pretty sure in this situation much more was given than I can ever repay. I love this image of a heart held aloft, because everyone who contribute (whose names are incorporated into the image) “held me” financially and morale-wise. I can’t thank them enough.

The List, Part Two

Last week I wrote this post, with the intention of modifying the “coming soon” part after completing the Boston 13.1 for Autism Speaks. The revised post is below:

This post is starting today, and, if everything goes according to plan, will be capped off next Sunday by a confirmation from me that I completed the Boston 13.1 Run as an Autism Speaks team member. I don’t plan to write a full post next Sunday (a rarity in the three years I have been blogging weekly) because by that evening I will have run the race in Boston and made my way to New York City. I have roughly 60 hours in the City and plan to squeeze in every moment of BigApple-ness that I possibly can.

On February 14, 2012, I read this post and announced to my husband that evening that the best Valentine’s Day gift he could give me would be an endorsement of my running the Boston 13.1 on September 16. He wisely said yes (not that a “no” would have been anything to me except a minor hurdle!) and the planning began.

There are many reasons why I chose this race, in this place, on this day. I documented three of the biggest reasons in this April, 2012, post. As the precursor to running the race, I want to dedicate each of the miles.

Mile 1:  Mile 1 is dedicated to the Florida State University Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. CARD’s First Words Project provided assessment, support, and services to our family when my son was young and taught me about the pre-verbal developmental signs that may indicate a child has an autism spectrum disorder. And they answered my zillion questions, not to mention empathizing with my spiraling-out-of-control anxiety.

Photo credit: FSU Autism Institute

Mile 2:  Mile 2 is dedicated to the HollyRod Foundation. Admittedly, most of my impression of the HollyRod Foundation’s work on behalf of Autism has been gleaned from reading Holly Robinson Peete’s tweets, and her open letter to Rapper 50 Cent. Those tweets and that open letter were enough for me to know that a) she loves her boy and b) she uses her fame in an articulate and focused way to help others with Autism. That’s enough for me.

Mile 3:  For Thomas. Read his mom’s posts about autism here.

Mile 4:  For Kidlet.  Kidlet is the son of friends. He watches Carl Sagan’s Cosmos on Saturday mornings and he has Asperger’s Syndrome. Of course he rocks.

Mile 5:  For Kyan. Kyan is the son of Mary Foley, who is the Chairperson of Jacksonville, Florida’s, Walk Now for Autism Speaks. Watch the 2 minute video on Mary’s “Why I Walk” post, and I guarantee it will be two minutes well spent.

Kyan

Mile 6:  For Josef, Cher’s son. Cher and I only know each other via Facebook, even though we live in the same town. Josef is 8 years old and has autism; his mom has been so supportive of every single one of my efforts related to autism.

Josef

Mile 7:  Mile 7 is dedicated to Delirious Mom, conductor of her self-described “Crazy Train,” and her daughters. Read about her experiences being the mother of twin girls who have autism here.

Delirious Mom’s Girls

Mile 8:  Mile 8 is dedicated to Giana.  Giana’s grandmother, Christine, became a social media friend of mine through our families’ experiences with Long QT Syndrome. Giana is young and is still having various assessments done.  At this point Giana is believed to have SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder) and is receiving the recommended therapy and is making wonderful progress.

Mile 9:  Mile 9 is dedicated to Boy Wonder, a six year old with autism. I can’t wait to meet his mother, “Jersey,” at the run. That alone will be worth the hundreds of miles traveled to Boston and the 13.1 miles of running. Read her blog; it will only take you a few posts to understand why.

Mile 10:  Mile 10 is dedicated to Carly Dowling. Carly used to be my daughter’s dance teacher but has remained a friend and role model. She teaches children with autism in South Florida. She deserves much more than a mile.

Miss Carly, Teacher and Friend

Mile 11:  Mile 11 is dedicated to “The Menininho.” He is the son of my incredibly resourceful and engaging social media friend, Maya, who blogs about many things, including Marfan Syndrome, at www.marfmom.com. “M” was diagnosed with autism in 2010.

Mile 12:  Mile 12 is dedicated to Temple Grandin, Ph.D. Temple Grandin is an adult with autism who is a prominent author and speaker on the subject of autism. Every time I hear her interviewed, I am blown away by her intellect, her perspective, and the contributions she has made in so many areas.

Mile 13:  Well, Mile 13 and the extra .1, here you are. And I pray that next Sunday by 10:30 am. (race cut off time), that is where I will be too. One family that has gone the “extra mile” and then some is Luau, whose post kicked off this journey and Jess, whose many written-at-4am-to-the-detriment-of-her-own-well-being posts have taught me, encouraged me, entertained me, and motivated me. So for the two of you, for Brooke, and for big sister Katie (and even the dog), this mile point one is for you.

Even the dog “goes blue” to support Autism Speaks

I have only scratched the surface with these dedications when it comes to the people and organizations who have impacted me when it comes to understanding more about autism and becoming an advocate. If I didn’t identify you by name, please know that you and your family matter so much.

[edited 9/16/12]

The Boston 13.1 is now history. I ran the 13.1 miles in 3:09:03. The weather was incredible and the course was gorgeous and lined with music and cheering (and volunteers bearing strawberries!). Most importantly, the course wasfilled  with runners and walkers representing Team Autism Speaks. We did get cool spinning medals, but what will resonate with me long after the medals lose their luster is the love these people feel for their family members with autism and for one another. I said when I started this journey that my first half had to be this race, on this day, in this place. I couldn’t be happier to have done exactly that.

 

 

 

Running Half a Marathon With a Whole Heart

Running Half a Marathon With a Whole Heart
World Autism Awareness Day April 2, 2012

For the past three years, one of my goals has been to complete a 5K run (3.1 miles) in less than 30 minutes. I have written about that over and over.

Therefore, it may come as a surprise to you that this post is all about running 13.1 miles, and I don’t have my heart set on a specific finish time.

I will be running the 2012 Allstate Life Insurance Boston 13.1 Marathon® on Sunday, September 16, 2012, as part of the Autism Speaks team. When I told my husband that I wanted to do this, he asked, “why run 13.1 miles in Boston when you could do it here in Tallahassee?” It has to be Boston, it has to be September 16, 2012, and it has to be with Autism Speaks because someone I have never met asked me to.

Perhaps these statements …. running 13.1 miles in “whatever time I can do” when my main goal is 3.1 miles in 29:59 or less; traveling to Boston to run because someone I have never met and never verbally spoken to asked me to; running as part of the Autism Speaks team when my child does not have autism …. don’t make much sense.

Here are some of the reasons I said, “this has to happen” when I read Luau’s blog on February 14:

1) Beyond the fact that I had seen some made for tv movies about children with autism and done a little reading, my life had not been directly touched by autism until the day my almost-one-year-old failed most of the indicators for “typical development” on an assessment given by the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. No eye contact, no words, no pointing, nothing. Even though Wayne was not diagnosed with any condition on the autism spectrum, I have felt one teeny tiny scintilla of what I hear from my friends and acquaintances who have children with autism. That scintilla is wedged deep within my psyche and even though I have no right to say “I can relate,” …….. I can’t walk away.

2) I have worked for Florida’s State Child Health Insurance Program for 17 years. Our program does not cover autism. Even though I know it’s “just my job” to explain this to families whose child needs far more than the “24 therapy visits in a 60 day period when significant improvement is expected to result,” that are covered, it still breaks my heart to be on the other end of the phone line when they say, “But how will he/she get the intensive, year-round therapy he/she needs?”

3) Because several times a week, I read Diary of a Mom, and am given the gift of Jess’s wisdom, raw candor, and selflessness in sharing her journey (and Luau’s) journey through parenting a “neurotypical” child and a child on the autism spectrum. The only way I know how to pay her back is to try to do something to help her child and other children and adults with autism.

Therefore, I signed on to the Autism Speaks Team knowing that my end of the deal is to raise $500 for Autism Speaks. The good news is I have raised $130.

More good news is that if I accumulate the most or second-to-most comments of everyone participating in this promotion that is hosted by Amanda at Parenting by Dummies, Paula Foster from Moments in Frames will donate a dollar per comment up to $250. Just for your comments!! (This lasts through May 6.)

(ps – if you just want to donate, of course that’s fine too! Click here to be taken to my personal donation link.) [link no longer active – pk]

Running Half a Marathon With a Whole Heart
I am participating in a blogging promotion sponsored by Moments in Frames to help raise money for Autism Speaks. Please help us reach our goal by leaving a comment. Each comment you leave me could earn $1 (up to $250) for Autism Speaks.
Editor’s Notes 7/17/15:
1) I have re-released this blog via an app which reposts older items I have written. The Moments in Frames promotion is over.
2) It is critical to understand that Diary of a Mom’s position on Autism Speaks has changed since April of 2012. Please read the post why I #BoycottAutimSpeaks for her explanation.