From Human Microchip to EP Study and Beyond

In the 24 hours leading up to my EP Study on Monday, I asked myself quite a few times if it made sense to go through with the procedure, especially since my high heart rate episodes only occurred when I was running. In other words, even though the risks are minimal, is it worth having a doctor thread a catheter up through my groin into my heart in order to figure out what was going on in there and to possibly “ablate” any problem areas?

For a recap of the history leading up to Monday, click here.

EP Studies

Now let’s talk about EP Studies.

To get to the point of today’s blog, we will fast forward past the referral process to get to the electrophysiologist, the initial appointment with the electrophysiologist, the implantation of my loop recorder, appointment number one with the electrophysiologist’s nurse, a between-appointments phone call with the nurse where I was instructed to begin taking two baby aspirin every night (I was already taking one) and appointment number two with the electrophysiologist’s Physician Assistant (PA), where I was given the choice of medication or an EP Study with Ablation. Because I was hesitant to settle for a medication-only option (I was concerned medication would make me more tired than I already am all the time and would not yield any answers), I agreed to proceed with the EP Study and Ablation on the premise that a) at least I would have answers and b) if I did get an ablation, I would be able to return to running with a likelihood of less risk, more satisfaction, and a relieved mind.

I reported to the hospital at 7 a.m. on Monday, and did a combination of laying around, prepping (there is some cleaning with grown up baby wipes to be done), having a baseline EKG taken, having baseline vitals taken, chatting with the anesthesiologist, a visit from the PA, and a final visit from the electrophysiologist before the process began.

From an anesthesiology perspective, the goal with an EP study (at least with this team) was not to keep the patient completely “out.” I did have them promise not to share any crazy tequila stories I told while I was in and out (apparently either I didn’t give them anything to work with or they are very discreet people!). I was given oxygen. I remember nothing of the actual insertion of the catheter. I remember significant parts of them manipulating my HR to try to replicate the issues I have been having. One of the cool parts of an EP study is that they essentially “GPS” your heart. I had stickers all over my chest that were a part of the mapping process (and is it a good thing when they say they don’t have much real estate to work with?!). The anesthesiologist told me that he could tell at a certain point that I was really getting anxious (and I was trying to stay calm but I guess “trying” is a relative thing in that situation) so he put me farther out.

Fast forward to the recovery room. and beyond. I remembered how still Wayne (my husband) had to be after his catheterization, and how we had to bring Wayne’s dad back to the hospital when he began bleeding from his insertion site after a catheterization so I was determined to be the perfect patient on that front. But I think the process and technology have both improved. Although you are told to remain very still, there wasn’t a nurse yelling at me when I moved my head a millimeter (as one did with Wayne).

All of that to get to this answer:

I do not have Atrial Fibrillation (this is mostly a good thing!). My issue involves SupraventricularTachydardia (SVTs). The good news is that SVTs, even though they feel totally bizarre and abnormal, do not usually lead to adverse cardiac events or fatalities.

Dr. Silberman chose not to ablate – he found two “hot spots” that activate at around 160 bpm, but they return to normal as my HR rate escalates and several other spots activate. It was taking so much medication (isuprel) to get my HR up enough to replicate the issue that they were afraid they would run out mid-procedure and apparently there is a manufacturers’ shortage of it so they couldn’t get more. One option is a different (more involved) procedure with a balloon that can discover/ablate more surfaces at once, but that is not necessarily that obvious route to go. For now, the recommendation is that I take a beta blocker before running and keep my HR to below my zone 4.

Here are the takeaways for now:

Technology is pretty awesome

I am still in awe at what medical professionals can find out via technology. From my Garmin which provided preliminary data about the patterns of my heart rate issues, to the loop recorder that provided more specific information, to the map of my heart and its electrical patterns, we have access to so much data.

Physicians with good bedside manner are pretty awesome

I am grateful for the way in which Dr. Silberman has explained everything at each step of the way. I appreciate the fact that he respects the role of running in my sanity (even though he does say, repeatedly, “you know, you don’t have to exercise at 170 bpm to be fit”).

EP Studies

Dont ask me to interpret but this is the whiteboard from Dr. Silbermans explanation to Wayne.

Good nurses are pretty awesome

I am a little fuzzy on my ability to evaluate the performance of some of the nurses, but all the ones I was “with it” for were great. They were patient, answered my questions, and provided plenty of attention (along with a nifty “discharge note” (below) and a follow-up phone call the evening I was discharged. My last nurse had an interesting mantra — “be assertive” — she said it ten times if she said it once. She’s right of course but it still struck me as interesting.

EP Studies

Remember that post I wrote about how hard it is to get a wheelchair at TMH?

I have to admit, when I remembered (duh) that I would need one of those very same wheelchairs to transport me out of my room and down to my car, I was a little afraid the staff would see my name and all of a sudden develop a very lengthy d e l a y! But my complaint was never about the transportation staff themselves, just the challenging process of getting a wheelchair for my father-in-law, and I am happy to report my chariot arrived to sweep me away from the hospital relatively promptly.

Frequent naps and permission to “take it easy” are awesome

I was told to avoid running/exercise (sigh) and not lift anything heavier than ten pounds for a week. As much as I have missed my usual high-intensity, rapid-fire life, I have to admit having permission to take it easy has its bonuses too. I have probably taken more naps in the past week than I have in the past year (or five…). I think I needed the rest.

Not running is not awesome

Double negative that may be … but if you know me, or if you have had your own period of enforced non-running, you know what I mean. All of a sudden everyone’s off-hand remarks on social media about their “quick three-milers,” “couldn’t help signing up for another race,” and “awful run but I am glad I did it” seem like they are coming from a completely different universe. My paper workout chart, my Training Peaks, and my Daily Mile are all completely blank this week. So is my endorphin quota. It’s odd and not awesome.

So much of your running mojo is in your head

This has messed with my mental status. As much as I have advocated endlessly for the power of the back of the pack, for the fact that every mile matters, for the fact that runners should all support one another, the truth is that I have felt very close to the edge of being excommunicated from the runner fraternity (and I know if anyone else said all that to me I would immediately jump on them and tell them the thousand reasons why they still belong). I’m just keeping it real here. I have finally gotten a little tiny bit of traction and credibility as a Fitfluential Ambassador and am having to work hard to convince myself I still belong.

Not running messes with your nutrition

One beautiful thing about running combined with relatively clean eating habits was that I had a little wiggle room to treat myself to “fun food” occasionally. A few weeks prior to the procedure I announced to my coach that I was “tired of logging.” although I knew what to do to maintain my weight, I also know how easy it is to wander once you are no longer making yourself accountable. Logging and reporting my food logs to my coach every night incentivized me to, for example, have salads on hand for lunches, to skip bread in the evenings, and to keep the long-term goal in mind.

And I think that’s the rub now: there is no long term goal now that I have ditched the sub-30 5K. The things I run for still exist: Gareth, Charity Miles, my team at KR Endurance, my running friends, my health and my sanity.

The challenge is getting my head (and my heart) back in it.

EP Studies

****NOTE: I really hate talking endlessly about myself like I have ended up doing throughout this cardiac health  journey. I continue because I know it has helped me to read of other people’s experiences. It’s a scary and lonely feeling to feel like “the only one” facing this type of issue. A lot of people have helped me, especially Mary Jean Yon. While I don’t feel ready to be anyone’s lifeline yet, it is important to know you are not alone, and to be your own most assertive advocate when it comes to your health. That’s why I keep talking about it. Maybe next week I’ll post about dancing unicorn kittens or something lighter!


I ran the Springtime 10K race here in Tallahassee yesterday. It was my fourth time running the 10K race. It was also my slowest time running this race, not because I am inadequately trained but because I am in the middle of figuring out what is going on with my cardiac health.

After my friend Betty and I crossed the finish line, we walked past a lady standing there with a box of medals. Frankly, I had forgotten that there were medals for the 10K race finishers. When we saw her, I kind of said “oh yeah, medals,” and she explained that those were last year’s medals, that there were no more 2015 medals. I started not to take one, but since I often send my race medal to Gareth, who I run for, I went ahead and took one. Betty followed up on the woman’s admonition to “ask someone” about getting a 2015 medal and through Betty’s inquiries, we figured out that there were no more medals.


I didn’t really think too much about the medal situation. I was happy to enjoy a gorgeous day, to be wearing the TeamRWB emblem as part of RunAs1, to find a compromise between the all-out runner I really want to be and the “keep things moderate” runner I have to be right now.




I did jokingly post a picture of my 2014 medal on my Facebook page, jesting that “And if you time things JUST RIGHT and finish toward the end you get to get on the race time machine and retrieve yourself a medal from the 2014 race from the special time traveler box.”

As it turns out, another runner who finished later than me along with her son was very unhappy about the 2014 medal situation, because she had paid race fees for four people, and it was her child’s first 10K. She posted that concern on our track club’s Facebook page, and what I deemed “medalgate” ensued. The entire thread has now been deleted but the categories of comments were roughly:

70%: people offering their medals to her and reassuring her that it would get handled

20%: people telling her to be grateful for the beautiful day and gracious to an all-volunteer operation

8%: combinations of the above

1%: responses from the race directors providing a brief explanation and instructions for how to pursue a resolution privately

0.5%: a response from the original complainant sharing a screen shot of a negative private message from someone who, to put it politely, disagreed with her stance

0.5% a meme

Our track club still has a members only Yahoo list (remember those?). After reading some of the chatter on there, I drafted a lengthy response. I am sharing it here.

Everyone, I have read every single word of the Facebook conversation started when [name] commented about being given a 2014 medal when there were no 2015 medals left today at the Springtime 10K. Some thoughts …

First of all, I think it is incredible (but very typical) of our club that so many people offered to donate their medals (and someone offered to refund her family’s entry fee).

Social media does make it possible to fire off a concern rapidly and publicly without giving an issue time to be resolved more privately. That pattern is here to stay, and I am writing to encourage you to remember that these situations present opportunities to bring someone into our fold.

I can absolutely understand the logic behind responses in the thread encouraging her to appreciate what a beautiful day it was, to cut volunteers a break (amen!), to use this as a teachable moment for her child, to focus on the positive. I agree with all of those statements.

But by the same token I encourage you to remember a time when you were a running outsider. If you are a back of the packer, the time(s) you wondered if you would be the last person finishing a race and therefore wondered if you should even show up at all. It may not be a medal but I am positive for all of us there have been days when we had to incentivize ourselves to get our butts out the door … maybe it was the thought of a glass of wine, the knowledge that we had to report in to our coach, or the hope that we would PR an upcoming race.

I am not a person who really cares about medals that much. I have kept a few from the races that are most special to me. Most of my others I give to the child I run for or donate. BUT for some people it really is “the thing.” For some parents (rightly or wrongly) they may have spent the last few weeks talking excitedly with their child about the anticipation of getting a medal. Adults, too, may  have seen the medal in their mind’s eye when they forced themselves to push one more mile, lift one more weight, pass up the second slice of pizza.

I do understand the challenges of an all volunteer operation, and how a plan which seemed failproof re: medal quantity didn’t work out that way. This year can help us better plan for next year.

I do think if we advertised the fact that every 10K runner would get a medal, we should try our best to make that happen (and I know the many offers to donate will undoubtedly take care of that). In the same way you wouldn’t ask for filet mignon at the grocery store and say “sure” if they said “you’re getting ground beef instead” it is reasonable for people to expect to get a 2015 medal.

I commend the directors on a FABULOUS and well-managed event. I haven’t ever directed a race but by now I am pretty familiar with the moving parts. As a volunteer, I have been chewed out by people when I didn’t have their tshirt size even though they pre-registered (it happens!).

I have been that obnoxious parent advocating too aggressively for my child. I have been the runner sending single spaced two page emails of “feedback” to race directors. Over time I got a broader perspective and learned a) how to give more succinct feedback b) when to give feedback and c) to remember to say thank you.

Do I wish [name] had held off on her negative post until she had tried to get a private resolution? I think it would have been in everyone’s best interests. For all I know, she is one of those people in the world who approaches everything from the negative, and no amount of offers to donate medals, refund her fees, or prove our goodwill can change things.

But I walked away from yesterday’s incident wishing that it had gone differently.

I want [name] and her family to come back to a track club sponsored event. The purpose of this lengthy reply is to remind us all that we can have a role in making that happen, via our words AND our actions.

Happy Running!

Who’s Running for Who?

I applied to be a runner for I Run for Michael (IR4) back in the early summer of 2013. With IR4, runners are paired with people who have difficulty running due to physical challenges. By July I was matched with Gareth, a young man in Pennsylvania. The reason Gareth’s family had applied for a runner is because he has a mitochondrial disorder which makes it difficult for him to expend energy in a way that is equivalent to other boys his age.

Once you are matched, it doesn’t take long before you start dreaming of meeting your match. You share so much, on the private I Run for Michael page, in messages, cards, letters, and other types of communication. But nothing is the same as looking someone you have come to care about in the eyes.

When I started making plans to do the 2015 New York City Marathon on March 15, 2015, as part of Team in Training/Team SOAR, I started googling around for 5Ks in the area where Gareth lives, since it was within driving distance of NYC. Lo and behold, there was a 5K in his town on the Saturday before the Sunday half marathon! The event was the Warm Hearts 5K benefiting the Sam Vlasics Foundation for Heart Defect Awareness

On Friday, March 13, 2015 (yes, Friday the 13th!), I flew to Newark, and took one of the trip’s many buses into NYC. I dropped my luggage at a hotel room of a helpful friend, visited the race expo to pick up my number for Sunday’s half marathon, returned to the hotel room to consolidate my stuff into a small bag for the 5K with Gareth, and headed out to a bus for his town.

I should note that all throughout this traveling, and for days leading up to it, and until the moment my head hit the pillow that evening, I prayed that the 100% chance of rain for Saturday would be wrong (it wasn’t).

Saturday morning, Gareth, his mom Kim and his dad Nick picked me up and we headed to the race venue! Although I have done the race morning/packet pickup drill countless times, it was exciting to share it with Gareth. He wanted to take a “light jog” around the building and I was all to happy to oblige (because moving = warmth and it was quite chilly!!).

We snapped a few pictures before the race (unbelievably throughout the whole day we never managed to get a picture with Gareth’s parents in it — which is a disappointment but I suppose that gives us an excuse to get together again in the future!).

We did a bit of strategizing. Because Gareth’s mitochondrial disorder (MCAD) makes it difficult to use energy for an extended period of time, we decided he would run the first half mile with me, then wait for me to do the loop around an industrial park that followed the first half mile. We would meet up to run in together. Poor Gareth (and his dad, Nick) had the worst part of the deal … standing around in the cold rain FREEZING while I ran (and, sigh, walked some as I was dealing with the heart rate issues that have been cropping up lately).

Finally I made it around to the spot where Gareth was waiting for me. We had a little under a half mile to go. Having seen several pictures and videos of other IR4 children and runners sharing races together, I have to admit I had in my mind’s eye a picture perfect scene of Gareth and me crossing the finish line together, hands raised victoriously (NOTE: the picture perfect scene fantasy did NOT include freezing rain!).

Gareth and I started toward the finish line. He had lots of pent up spirit, having frozen to the bone while waiting for me. As we approached the finish line, my HR zoomed up (the preliminary diagnosis is Atrial Fibrillation but that is still getting resolved) and I had to stop and walk at what was supposed to be the big big moment!!! Given the choice of passing out (not picture perfect) and staying upright but walking, I chose to walk. It was awesome watching Gareth sprint through the finish line. He waited for me, came back to me, and we did cross the finish line together (chivalrous kid, this one!).

Gareth’s family took me out to breakfast at a local diner after the race. We were all happy to be out of the wet/cold weather and to share a meal together. (And yes, this southerner did have to ask what pork roll is!). As we finished up our breakfast, I checked the bus schedule and we came to the conclusion that we should try to get me to the 1:15 bus (which as it turns out is a Sunday bus (read schedules much, Paula?)). Good thing we arrived at the depot in time for me to catch the 12:45 at the last minute (hence the hasty goodbyes and lack of pictures with Gareth’s parents!). I was able to make it back to the city in time for a lovely warm shower and to get ready for a team dinner prior to my NYC Half Sunday morning.



I loved the fact that the 5K I happened on to was a benefit for a Congenital Heart Defect cause. My friend Karen here in Tallahassee has taught me a lot about CHD (and she sent an awesome goodie bag from Broken Hearts of Florida for me to give Dana, Sam’s mom and head of the Sam Vlasics Foundation). Since our family has a history of Long QT Syndrome, we feel an affinity for all causes heart related. I liked helping a cause close to my heart (yes, I had to say it that way!).

It Takes a Village

I started emailing Dana quite some time ago when it appeared I may be able to do the 5K. I explained the situation with IR4, and the fact that we would possibly need to make some accommodations due to Gareth’s MCAD. Long story short: she said “whatever you need, we’ll make it work.” And she did. I am so grateful.

In addition, I am a person who tends to do things by myself first and ask for help second. I made a plan to stay at a hotel Friday night (because frankly, as wonderful as IR4 meetings seem to almost always be, that’s a lot of pressure on two sets of people who don’t know each other yet), and I planned to take a cab from the bus depot to the hotel. It wasn’t a long distance but not really walkable at night. Yelp reviews such as this one left me feeling a little leery. When Kim offered to pick me up at the bus depot, I agreed. We had such a nice visit, and a quick sandwich (no, I hadn’t thought ahead to plan dinner (ongoing joke of the weekend — you’re a veteran traveler??)). It was really nice to visit briefly prior to race morning and get in our first “getting to know you” moments without the race adrenaline playing a part. I know Gareth and family had to wait around for the bus (which was later than planned), leave early on Saturday morning to pick me up, and make other accommodations to make my visit so pleasant. They were awesome.


You Gotta Have Heart

I was SO disappointed to have an AFib (if that’s what it is!) attack right before the “big finish.” At the times prior to meeting back up with Gareth that I had to talk to keep my HR down, and the times I had to stop and walk right before the “big finish,” all of the negative self talk I have struggled with as I have gotten slower and slower was swirling through my head. BUT of all the people around whom to accept the fact that I had to make accommodations for my health, this was the place to do it. That is Gareth’s life … making adjustments moment to moment to balance enjoyment and the thrill of using energy with the fact that the physical challenges necessitate doing things that don’t necessarily look “active” to unknowing onlookers. (And honestly…the scene of him running through the finish line by himself was priceless to me!).

I Get It A Little Better Now

You can read about mitochondrial disorder. You can tweet about it, try to understand, listen to people’s explanations. I still am no expert, but what I did “get” by being in Gareth’s presence is that like any boy he likes to go places fast. Even a trip to get a napkin involved a sprint or skip. When he and I were starting the race, I explained that I am running slower than usual due to trying to figure out this heart thing and appealed to him to pace me. But of course he wanted to run. Who wouldn’t? The challenge is the pain he may face later if he doesn’t parcel out the way in which his energy is used.

Love Love Love

I am struck, in ways I find difficult to express, with  how much these two parents love their child. Not that they wouldn’t love their child but seeing that love in action, on a day called “warm hearts,” warmed mine. I am sure they think they are just doing what any parent would do, but they do it well and clearly this kid is their heart.

Why is Paula Wearing a Skunk Hat?

This day coincided with the Idiots Running Club Skunk Run. That called for a skunk hat (and skunk shirt, of course). I was a little worried about that until I “got” Gareth’s sense of humor. It all worked out!

Lastly, more pictures:


Race start (Gareth in blue jacket/shorts, me in pink)




Gareth's Finish

Gareth’s Finish


Finishing together!

Finishing together!

Note: The I Run for Michael organization has many more runners waiting for children to run for! For more information, visit the site by clicking this link. (Or ask me! I am happy to answer questions!).

Look Up!


chrysler building

I am keeping tonight’s post short. I have a limited amount of time in NYC and will save a proper thank you for everyone’s generous support of my United NYC Half Marathon effort on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for a future post. I also have a lot to say about the joy of meeting Gareth (the young man I run for through I Run for Michael) and will hold that too.

For now, a reminder to look up. When I lived in NYC, I walked everywhere I could. I would peek in the store windows, people-watch, and marvel at the variety of languages and personalities surrounding me. However, days would go by that I would forget all of the “stuff” above. The beautiful, large-scaled, make-your-mouth-fall-open with awe stuff.

We can use a reminder to “look up” figuratively as well as literally. To be precise, I can. I have been struggling with more tunnel vision than I have disclosed to many people. I am not sure what the way out is or how soon it will come, but I know one of the keys lies in “looking up.”

Thank you for the reminder, NYC.

Bringing “Trailahassee” Alive: Summer Trail Series 2014

This summer, I participated in the Gulf Winds Track Club’s Summer Trail Race Series 2014. The series was first held in 2013, and I did not participate. I spent much of that summer seeing other runners’ posts about the trail races, a combination of victorious and “wow can’t believe I survived in that heat” sentiments and wishing I had been part of it. Since the series sells out early (like, in April) I made sure and secure my spot when the opportunity presented itself this year.

One of my regrets about the trail races is that it was utterly impossible to take pictures of the trails since I was so focused on survival. That’s why you’re getting pictures of me instead of nature’s beauty. But I do have this one on the Cadillac Trail that I took one day while on a training run:

Summer Trail Series

Cadillac Trail

Before I recap my memories of the trail series, a quick look at each race:


The first race, on June 21, was a 4.5 miler on Tallahassee’s RedBug Trail. It began at 6 p.m. I ran my Charity Miles that day for the Alzheimers Association in conjunction with the date of the annual Summer Solstice “the longest day.” (The connection with Alzheimer’s is also why I wore purple.) Finished 113/114 in 1:26:45.

swamp forest two

The second race, on July 12, was at the Swamp Forest Trail. It was a morning race, which meant cooler (relatively) weather. I was excited that this race included me crossing the 750 mile mark in my running for Gareth through I Run for Michael (my green shirt represents awareness of mitochondrial disorders (what Gareth has)). I ran for Feeding America via Charity Miles. Finished 108/109 in 1:04:42.


The third race, on July 26, was at the Magnolia Trail. One of the challenges of this race was the time (6 p.m. and HOT), the fact that I had been in New York City for the week prior, and my trip earlier that morning to my family reunion (and all that good southern family reunion chow!) I ran for Team RWB via Charity Miles in honor of Anna Runs America (Anna was running cross country in support of Team RWB as well as the Wounded Warrior Project). The “train” is my favorite memory of this race (the “train” is the small group of us who remained together for a significant portion of the race … toward the end I stepped aside and the others went ahead … but I loved the comments from everyone behind me about us being a train and “in this together.”). Finished 107/108 in 59:03.cadillac

The final race, on August 9, was on the Cadillac Trail (5.5 miles). I was so happy to be debuting my Idiots Running Club singlet. I was running for Team RWB (and Anna) again, also in memory of Murphy, one of our I Run for Michael children who had passed away (and for Gareth, as always…). Finished 86/88 in 1:40:31.


Choo Choo. As I mentioned in my recap of the Magnolia race, the little “train” of runners we created during the Magnolia race (and replicated to some extent during the Cadillac race) was so meaningful to me. The positive vibes from the runners behind me who liked the pace and were counting on me to keep it consistent made me feel so great. I have so often been last or next to last (which is fine!) but once in a while to feel like I am helping another runner hang in there is the best feeling.

HR Issues. During the two evening races, I came to a point in the race where I was struggling mightily with a very elevated heart rate. Far above my Zone 5 (and I rarely run at Zone 5 on purpose). After the RedBug race, I deactivated the beep that tells me I am above my max HR because it was disturbing to hear and I figured the other people on the trail with me didn’t want to hear the constant beeping either. I know (from conversations with other runners) that I am not the only one who struggled with HR issues during these races, but I found it frustrating (and worrisome).

Trail Beauty. I lost count of the times I thought “I wish I could take a picture of this to share” (mostly this was about beauty but other times I wanted people to see how darn technical and difficult some of these trails are because [wait for it…..] I AM NOT ACTUALLY A MOUNTAIN BIKE! (The races were on Mountain Bike trails.)) Pretty beats hard but these trails had plenty of both.

Trail Etiquette. One aspect of this race series that I loved (and that perplexed me at times) was the emphasis on trail etiquette.  I can’t find the original email, but the parts I remember were: no earbuds, respect the trail, don’t leave anything you don’t take out, and pass on the left. There were other etiquette tips, but those are the ones I recall. I appreciate how much care was taken to respect the natural balance of the trails (including capping the series at 150 participants so as not to overestress it). I must admit I was frustrated to see a runner with earbuds (maybe (s)he had missed the instruction). It was a different set of rules than I was used to and I appreciated the way it made me think about running in this environment.

Popsicles and MoonPies Rock. You won’t see me complaining about the post-race spread (and there were healthy options too). I didn’t miss an opportunity to wolf down a post race Moon Pie. Yum.

Working Harder Than Ever. With the exception of a few ill-advised mid-summer runs I took without adequate (i.e., ANY) hydration before I got a hydration belt, this series was the single hardest running endeavor I have ever undertaken. Of course, the fact that it was the hardest makes it the most valued!

Sponsors. We were so fortunate to have the support of some generous sponsors (and props to the Race Director Bobby York for securing all of these donations). Salomon Running came out to all of the races, and at several of them let runners use their shoes for the race. Other sponsors included: Gulf Winds Track Club, Trail & Ski, Trail Runner Magazine, Earth Fare, Power Bar, Smart Wool, Buff Headwear, CamelBak, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Road ID, MoonPie, Damn Good Bikes, and Reflekt.

Volunteers. We had the best volunteers for this series! It takes some dedicated people to work through the sweat and keep us a) from getting lost b) hydrated c) encouraged and d) happy. These volunteers did all of that and more. They were incredible! The diligence taken to make sure the course was well marked is much appreciated. Don’t think I will ever forget “flags on the right”! Those who planted the flags are much valued!

FRIENDS. Many of our Moms Run This Town Tallahassee members participated in this series. There’s nothing like sharing this experience with friends. Thanks, ladies!

mrtt cadillac

Moms Run This Town Tallahassee Cadillac Trail, August 9, 2014

FINALLY. To close things out, I have a few thoughts on the trail series that elude any type of categorization. I am so glad I did this (I think that shows in my words and pictures). The experience made me explore how I really feel about my perennial back of the pack status. The trail environment put me even farther back than a road race would. As much as I jokingly say to people (frequently!), “oh I can’t tell you the number of races I have finished last in, with the law enforcement saying into their walkie talkies ‘hey do you think she’s the last one?'” I don’t take finishing last lightly. I work hard at my running and there is a competitive fire beneath this relatively calm exterior. Am I glad I never finished last? YES. Would I still be happy if I had? YES. Do I find it amusing that the race director said as I headed out for the final race, “My mountain biker isn’t here so when you pass the aid station, let them know you’re it?” YES (And in fairness I had sent him a message the night before imploring him to proceed with the end-of-race awards even though I would probably still be slogging my way through the 5.5 miles (as long as someone noted my time because Lord knows I wanted it noted!)). There were so many times I asked the people behind me “do you want to pass?” Why did I ask them instead of waiting for them to tell me they needed to pass? It was like a microcosm of my southern-bred polite girl life. I think the trail isn’t the place for that! I am also pleased as punch that I never fell down! These trails were tremendously technical (remember, we were runners not mountain bikes!) and I came close to falling many many times. I am grateful I didn’t (but of course I would have gotten back up and persevered!).

Our Gulf Winds Track Club singlets have the word “Trailahassee” on them in small print.

That small print got magnified in the prism of my own sweat this summer.

I am glad we spent the summer together, TRAILAHASSEE.


A Slurpee-Free #7QT

— 1 —


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!


— 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.)

photo by:

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


Move Nourish Believe Challenge (Week Two Wrap-Up)


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!


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!


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!).


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


Move Nourish Believe Challenge (Week One Wrap-Up)


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

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