3.57 Miles To Remember Our Heroes

Five Hundred Miles.

Five Hundred Miles in Nine Months.

The “500 Mile Runniversary” of my relationship with Gareth, the child I run for through I Run for Michael, will happen on Thursday.

And on Thursday, Gareth and I will be doing a run “together.”

Here’s the bib:

run to remember bib

On Thursday, I am running my “usual” run as assigned by my coach. The run will probably be somewhere between 4.5 and 5 miles, but 3.57 miles of that run will be heroic (not my heroism, someone else’s). I’ll be:

  • Crossing the 500 mile mark for Gareth
  • Running the virtual “A Run to Remember,” which honors the memory of our fallen military heroes
  • Accruing miles for the ASPCA via Charity Miles in accordance with Matthew England’s love of animals (Matthew is specifically one of the fallen heroes who is being remembered)
  • Running “with” Gareth even though we are separated by many miles and state boundaries (look! it says it right on the bib!)
  • Running as number “357,” a number chosen by Gareth in honor of his dad
  • Helping build the Matthew J. England Memorial Scholarship Fund via my entry fee

Having grown up a military kid, and having the interest in World War II that I do, as well as a true concern for the treatment our veterans receive, I can think of no better way to celebrate Gareth’s and my 500 mile mark than honoring our fallen heroes. At Charity Miles, we have a habit of saying #everymilematters. No time has that been more true than when the miles are run by more than two feet and more than two hearts.

For more information on Matthew England, please visit this link and this link.

AND it’s not too late to join the virtual 5K/10K/Half Marathon (or, in my case, 3.57 miler!). It ends on March 16 (kind of ….. the organizers would be happy to accept your $15 donation at any time as well as your miles!). You can get all the information you need by clicking this link.

Lastly, on the virtual races for heroes front, there will be other events in the future. According to Matthew England’s mom, some people who are going to be running in April, maybe near Matthew’s birthday. The 2nd Annual Matthew J. England Memorial Run will be held this year in November again; it is held in Matthew’s hometown but people can also run anywhere (last year’s event had people in 15 states and also Afghanistan and Germany).

Okay, Gareth, get out your virtual safety pins. We have work to do on Thursday. The ASPCA, Matthew’s Mom, and families of many other soldiers who deserve to be remembered are counting on us. At least 357 of them!

matthew england

Pictures of PFC Matthew J England

 

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Move Nourish Believe Challenge (Week Two Wrap-Up)

MNB LJ

I just completed week two of the Move Nourish Believe Challenge. I do challenges frequently, and often take a “day by day” approach (i.e., figuring out the day’s assignment the night before or morning of); in the case of this challenge I just figured out that the reason the entire week’s assignments had to do with food was because it was “Nourish” week. Duh.

Monday’s challenge was “Go meatless – skip meat today! Try vegetarian/vegan meals.”

Going meatless was pretty easy! I had just made the “Rainbows and Butterflies Pasta Salad” for my #FeedSouthAfrica post, so my lunch was easy. I enjoyed a meatless breakfast and dinner as well.

plated pasta

Tuesday’s challenge was “TYLTW – Take your lunch to work today!”

Now I’m getting a little repetitive, I guess, but it was a day for Rainbows and Butterflies again! Good thing they were tasty!

lunch

Wednesday’s challenge was “Write it down! Journal your food today and share your WIAW with us”!

Probably the hardest (and most illuminating day of them all). I use LoseIt, but for years now I have only used it first thing in the morning to register that day’s weight. On Wednesday, I used it to record everything that went in my mouth (as well as my activity). It was an important reminder that tracking what we eat is a powerful thing (and the ability to scan barcodes to quickly pull up/track a food is awesome!).

day eight

Thursday’s challenge was “Smoothie Day! Happy Thirsty Thursday! Make a healthy smoothie today”!

I didn’t make a smoothie, but I used the day as an opportunity to make my first visit to Axios Salt Spa + Juice Bar. Melissa whipped up a chia-choco-tilla (vanilla almond milk, raw cacao powder, chia seeds, honey, and an added scoop of SFH vanilla recovery whey protein). It was honestly the densest food item I have ever consumed through a straw … it is intended to be a healthy meal replacement and it was definitely filling. Although the smoothie looked like a traditional chocolate milkshake, I quickly learned that it is a bit of an acquired taste since the natural sweeteners are not as intense as the sugary milkshakes I am accustomed to. It’s worth the transition!

smoothie

Friday’s challenge was “Go raw Friday! Choose a recipe and go raw”!

I am usually completely up for a recipe challenge but Valentine’s Day and a busy day at work as well as company coming into town conspired against me. Therefore I just grabbed some fruit and gave myself a raincheck to do a recipe later. (I did in the course of my research (before I gave up on actually preparing a recipe) discover Jill at The Kitchen Goddess – check out her site!).

fruit

Now that I am “on to” this “theme” set-up, I am looking forward to “Believe” week! It’s the last week in the challenge; feel free to join us! For more details, visit this link.

Thank you to Lorna Jane for sponsoring this challenge. Check out their lovely fitness apparel via this link.

As the finale of the week, I had the privilege today of running for Gareth (who I always run for) and for Cheyenne, at the “Flash” 12K race, which is run in memory of Tim Simpkins, a beloved Tallahassee runner who passed away from cancer (Tim used to run through the streets of Tallahassee in super hero garb).  Cheyenne, an infant, died on January 31, 2014, from a very rare form of cancer. Her page is here, and her family can use your prayers.

cheyenne flash

 

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Move Nourish Believe Challenge (Week One Wrap-Up)

MNB LJ

The first week of the Move Nourish Believe Challenge is over. I have really enjoyed the structure of the various challenges, and the new people I have been able to interact with.

Monday’s challenge was “sweat it out — show us your favorite way to sweat”!

Monday was a “stretching” day for me but I shared an older “sweaty” picture of a running day; running is always my favorite way to sweat.

Challenge Day One

Tuesday’s challenge was “Change it up! – Sweat a new way”!

Tuesday was a “regular run” day for me but I shared a picture from my “Kangoo” workout last year. It was definitely a new way to work out and a fun challenge!

Challenge Day Two

Wednesday’s challenge was “Let’s get planking — plank at least five minutes today”!

I did this in five one-minute segments: an elbow plank, a regular plank, a left side plank, a right side plank, and an elbow plank.

Challenge Day Three

Thursday’s challenge was “Buddy Up – work out with a friend today”!

Since I had no buddies for my 6 am run, I shared a picture from last summer, when I got together with my friends Diane and Amelia for a Saturday morning workout (I ran with Diane then kept running while she did an open water swim with Amelia) on Clearwater Beach.

Challenge Day Four

Friday’s challenge was “Show us your five fitness faves”!

Five Fitness Faves

My faves are (clockwise from top left):

1) My coach, Jeff Kline;

2) Yoga;

3) The child I run for through I Run for Michael, Gareth;

4) The camaraderie of runners (this picture is from our day running “Megs Miles” from Badass Fitness);

5) “The sheer joy of running.”

(And although I was only supposed to demonstrate five things, it’s important to note that Charity Miles is almost always part of my running!)

There you have it! There are two more weeks left in the challenge, so please feel free to join us! For more details, visit this link.

Thank you to Lorna Jane for sponsoring this challenge. Check out their cool fitness apparel via this link.

And although today wasn’t an official challenge day, I’ll close with the highlight of the day. My son (who has been sucked into a few years of gaming after many years of being an active youngster) joined me for the “Run for the Cookies” (he ran the mile, I ran the 5K). It was a happy happy moment.

Cookie Run Mother Sun

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Loving Issac

Through my involvement in the group “I Run 4 Michael,” I read stories every day of families whose children struggle with an array of challenges. I see through the interactions on this page that choosing to partner with these families by being paired with one of their children doesn’t make the challenges themselves any easier to bear. Nor does our involvement as runners change anything about the conditions these children and their families face. However, what we do provide is the reassurance that they are not alone. Someone they may never meet is on their side and providing support.

One of the stories I ended up hearing is that of Issac Guy, who passed away at nine months old on July 23, 2013. Issac’s mom, Lori, wants his story to be heard. For that reason, I am giving her my blog space tonight in memory of Isaac.

issac high chair

Lori Talks About Issac

Issac was a amazing boy. When we told our parents about Issac having Down [Syndrome] their first response was get an abortion. I feel the older generation needs to be more educated about it. That abortion is not the right answer. It’s so different today from back then. You’re right I hate how the words Down syndrome have a classification to them.  If people met Issac they would know. Issac had struggles from birth but he was a fighter. He loved life and everybody that came into his life. His frown would make the crappiest person happy.  Making that decision to let him go was very hard. No parent should have to do that. Watching your son take his last breath knowing he’s not going to say mommy or daddy again it killed me on the inside. Issac’s brothers adored him, they each had their own part of his life. Seeing them lose their brother hurt. Issac also enjoyed hockey. The day he came home he was at that rink watching big brother Logan play.I still don’t understand why this happened to me. But as Issac’s mother I’m going to fight for him. Down syndrome are two words that you should fell blessed with not ashamed. I hope this helps you some.

When Lori wrote “I hope this helps you some,” she was really talking to me about the content for this blog. But her story and her child have helped me “some” (and more) by helping me understand one family’s experience with Down Syndrome, and I think their story can help other people have a different perspective on Down Syndrome.

And, Down Syndrome aside, they’ve helped me have yet another glimpse into the ways in which families unconditionally love one another.

Issac Collage

For information about Down Syndrome itself, in addition to ways to help by donating or joining a Buddy Walk, visit the National Down Syndrome Society at this link.  (If you are here in Tallahassee, please note there’s a Buddy Walk on October 13! You can get information about the Tallahassee Buddy Walk and Family Fun Day at this link.)

issac candle

 

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Summer Moments 2013 (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

This week, Mama Kat asked us to list our top 6 summer moments so far. I have eight. Good rule follower, aren’t I?!

First, I have to thank Gini Dietrich and Spin Sucks for featuring me as a Follow Friday selection. The Spin Sucks community has made this non-industry person feel very welcome; they have taught me a lot about communications and public relations, and they have made me laugh! I am grateful. That was May 31; a happy omen for the summer that lay ahead.

Second, there was “the bridge.” When I visited Savannah for my niece’s graduation in June, I ran the Talmadge Bridge. I really hope I can go back to run it officially in December for the Savannah River Bridge Run (double pump of course!). It would be fun to do it with permission and a little traffic control.

talmadge bridge

Third, there was “family picture time at the beach.” Props to my sister in law Brenda for putting this all together. I know over the years to come, we will look back at these photos of our extended family and be glad we dealt with getting everyone to coordinate, hauling everyone over the sand dunes, and the “hunt for the Heineken shirt” in order to capture this moment in time.

beer shirts

Fourth, my conversation with my brother in law Jamie. I’ll bet that even after all these years (26 to be exact) of us knowing one another, there isn’t a single picture of us together. At most family gatherings, he is busy boiling peanuts or convincing the grill to do what he needs it to do. But we had a great conversation by the pool. It wasn’t profound; it won’t change the world, but it was a rare opportunity to share a little bit about each other’s views of the world and the fact that some of the things that people perceive as “a waste of time” are in reality the complete opposite.

Fifth, I am so excited to have gotten involved with “I Run for Michael,” which pairs runners with kids with special needs. I run for “G,” who has a mitochondrial disorder. If I could bottle the compassion, enthusiasm, and candor that are exchanged hourly on the Facebook page, I would! I am happy to run for you, “G,” and to be a part of your family’s journey.

IR 4 Gareth Cropped

Sixth, there was a moment (a fleeting one) when I first met up with Tenley after her three-week absence at dance intensive (at the University of Alabama) when the hug had that intensity that we have with our kids when they are little and really, really need us. In a weekend where she said one sentence that will go down in my parenting annals as pretty much the most painful thing I’ve heard to date, I have to remind myself of those “I need you” moments. (And, as an aside, we both fell a little bit in love with that campus — one that has never been on my radar screen.)

Seventh, to close things out – I woke up on a routine Saturday morning to learn that someone had written a song about me (well, about me and three other incredible people). Oh, Chuck Kent, you made my summer.

Eighth. I have been fortunate to be able to go to Yoga & Meditation at Journeys in Yoga twice this summer. Not only has the yoga been great, but the meditations, centered around the July theme of “identity,” have been good for my spirit. Who knew writing could help you figure out who you really are?

What have been the highlights of your summer?

Mama’s Losin’ It

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Charging Up The Support

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have been thinking a lot about batteries since July 12. July 12 is when I got matched with “G” through “I Run 4,” an organization that matches children who have conditions that make running difficult with runners (and other athletes) who run in honor of those children.

Here’s a little about “G” from his mom, Kim:

G is 10 yrs old and looks like any typical 10 yr old.  However, he lives with a rare, life-threatening disorder called MCAD (Medium Chain Acyl Co-A Dehydrogenase).  Basically his body cannot take stored fat and turn it into energy.  He is at risk for low blood sugar, muscle weakness, and organ failure when in crisis.  We have been blessed that G has been relatively “healthy” or symptom free but the reality is that any illness or fasting episode could put him in a life-threatening situation.  He must eat every 5 hrs so that his body does not create poisons that affect his organs.

MCAD falls under the umbrella of Mitochondrial Disorders.  The Mitochondria are the “batteries” of the body.  Anytime there is a dysfunction with the mitochondria, the energy level of the person is severely affected.

I suppose if you know me personally or are a regular visitor to any of my social media venues, it doesn’t surprise you that this idea appealed to me. But I just have to say, this one is unique! The Facebook page is constantly streaming with support, and not just support from runners to “their kids” but “kids to runners,” “runners to other runners,” “runners and kids to friends of the IR4 community who are stressed or grieving.” The exchange of support constantly flowing in every direction possible.

And it’s so easy! I’m going to be running anyway.  Why not use that time and energy to pass some support G’s way (using a basketball analogy here because it’s a sport he loves)? And it’s a two-way street. One of the first pictures his mom shared of G with the group was him doing additional laps walking in the pool because this group had motivated him so much!

I’m thinking we’re charging more than our physical batteries through “I Run 4″! If you feel like you can maintain a commitment to your child (they really do count on hearing about your miles/laps/steps/pushups/etc.), consider joining us! See number 8 in the list below.

IR 4 Gareth Cropped

I customize this image with the date and mileage each time I run, and post it to the IR4 Facebook page and Instagram!

Here are some additional details:

1) The website: I Run for Michael (the name is explained on the site!)

2) For the Facebook group, click here

3) For the Twitter group, visit @whodoUrun4

4) For Instagram images, use the hashtag #IR4

5) About G’s “Get Up and Go for Mito” Walk (this year’s will be the 2nd annual): www.mitoaction.org/garethswalk

6) If you have any connections for sponsors for this year’s Get Up and Go for Mito Walk (9/15/13), please contact me for additional information!

7) I entered this video in a contest to try to win the sponsorship money for G’s walk. It didn’t win, but hopefully still conveys the message that this walk needs to happen, preferably without G having to dip into personal savings:

8) Last but not least, to get matched (either kids looking for runners or vice versa): http://www.whoirun4.com/match-me/

 

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