Great Tunes for a Great Cause!

If you are a runner or walker, have you tried Rock My Run yet?

Rock My Run is a free app for iPhone and Android offering unlimited listening to workout mixes that adapt in real time to your body and are proven to help you enjoy every workout more.

Imagine a workout where your power songs play at just the right time, seamlessly blend together and adapt based on your cadence and heart rate. RockMyRun for iPhone and Android pairs workout mixes from the world’s best DJ’s with awesome technology that personalizes music to your body. The app is proven to increase exercise enjoyment and motivation, so leave your playlist behind and get rocking.

Download Rock My Run Now!

Rock My Run deserves some big huge props for giving back to charity. I am fortunate to be one of 11 #PowerRockers! This means that for every download of the app using my special code (PAULAK), $1.00 will be donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Why Leukemia and Lymphoma Society?

LLSUSA has been a “near and dear” cause to me for several years now, especially since my friend Mary Jane was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. She and I did the NYC Half Marathon together as part of Team in Training, and I hope we have another opportunity in 2016.

Support comes with a price, and these $1.00 earnings will add up, but only if LOTS of people download!!!

How to Do It

This is SO easy. SO VERY EASY!

Go to your App Store or Google Play and follow the prompts!

And please remember the code PAULAK because that generates a DOLLAR to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America!

RMR Download UPDATED

 

As a special treat for people who use my code and help LLSUSA, you get my three favorite mixes, which are usually reserved for premium members, FREE!

You get:

Born to Run

born to run

Born to Run is a running mix that not only motivates you to get out for a run but also drags you down the street without effort. DJ eL Reynolds has brilliantly assembled an hour’s worth of songs with titles that all relate to running in some way. Plus, you don’t have to worry about being stuck in one particular genre of music. You CAN like Rock, House, and 80s music at the same time.

In the first quarter of the mix alone, you get The Soup Dragons, Slapshock, Pink Floyd, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Jessie Ware, Amanda Lear, and Flo Rida. It is that type of variety that will have you “Running Wild” from the start as you’re let loose to your own devices. Some of the more popular tracks include Bon Jovi’s “Runaway,” Rush’s “Marathon,” Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby,” and of course Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” Subliminal messages are no more obvious than with Buchanan’s “Run Faster” at the 45 minute mark. Disturb’s frantic version of “Run” will propel you right to the 60 minute mark.

Fuego

Fuego_200x119

Fuego will have you saying “Esta mezcla está caliente!” That’s spanish for “this mix is hot!” You’ll feel the fire coming off these tracks during your run. DJ Remise serves up a running mix with a kick! He’s refried (yes like the beans) an hour of the hottest latin running music on this side of the border.

If you’ve never toured the spanish speaking areas of the world now is the time. These tracks will take you on an international party cruise through Mexico, Spain, Miami, Puerto Rico and more! This mix gets you started with the hard hitting latin beat of  “A Mover la Colita” by Artie The One Man Party. Then, Carlos Santana smoothes out the beat, to keep you moving with his hit song “Smooth”.  Now that you’re in the groove, the party anthem “Suavemente” plays and you forget you’re running instead you’re at a fiesta! And you might even pause to do a little salsa or cha cha while you’re out on your run. Right after you finish your dance “El Mariachi” reminds you of the movie, “Desparado” and you find yourself running through the desert with a hot man/woman by your side. It doesn’t get much better than this right? As you travel through the rest of your party cruise you’ll hear tracks from, Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias, and even Shakira and Lil’ Wayne with the hit “Give It Up To Me”. Then, the Mighty Dub Katz help you finish up your run with a mix of dub step and latin flare.

Get Your Twerk On

twerk

“Get Your Twerk On” is a ferociously motivating 60 minute mix of twerked-out remixes at a brisk 210 BPM. Song highlights include “L.A. Love (Deville Twerk Edit)” by Fergie, “Problem (DJ Valid Remix)” by Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azale, and “Show Me (DJ Coco Bootleg)”  by Kid Ink Chris Brown.

I may be 50 years old but I love love love running to a good #TwerkMix!

nyc finish with mj

Y’all, I want my friend to survive long into her elder years. I want other people I have met who deal with blood cancers to live long, healthy lives. Take five minutes to download this app and help me make a difference for these people, their children, and all of those who love them.

Are you in with me? If so, tweet this to encourage others to rock it out with us!

I am helping @LLSUSA by downloading @ROCKMYRUN and using code PAULAK! Rock it out with me and @biggreenpen?

RMR logo

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Remember Who You Are

Today was a first for me: the first time I have heard a Lion King reference used during a homily said by a Catholic priest. As I sat with my cousin, Karen, at St. Jude the Apostle Cathedral in St. Petersburg this morning, Fr. Anthony referenced Simba, Timon, Pumbaa, and Nala during his remarks. He reminded us of the line “remember who you are.”

I had the good fortune to spend the weekend in Tampa and St. Petersburg. As I scrolled through pictures from the weekend, it occurred to me that this trip rather succinctly sums up much of “who I am” (if you put aside the fact that my husband and kids were not along).

READING (no picture for this one …)

My audiobook choice was a horrible choice if I was trying to escape (because it is about a son being the caregiver for his elderly mother). BUT I am thoroughly enjoying Bettyville and am impressed at the author’s ability to interject humor into a situation which (believe me, I know) is often devoid of humor.

FUN WITH WEATHER/NATURE

Isn’t this sunset over Old Tampa Bay glorious?

Sunset

Although my iPhoneography didn’t really do it justice, this rainbow over St. Pete was beautiful!

Rainbow

This morning’s sunrise over Coffee Pot Bayou:

sunrise coffee pot

RUNNING

My friend Diane Berberian and I ran the Lowry Park Zoo Run Run 5K yesterday morning. The course ran through the zoo and along the river. Seriously, running friends are the best!

Diane

FOOD!

Back when I was making my way along the Tallahassee Burger Trail, Diane had said “if you’re ever in St. Pete, I’ll show you a great burger.”  She did! And I enjoyed a Black and Blue Burger from The Burg (and voted for it in the 4th Annual Grand Central District Battle of the Burg(er))! Yummy!

burger

FRIENDS / COWORKERS / FRIENDS

Being part of a virtual team is great because of the flexibility but there are just times when you want to look each other in the eyes! Megan and I have been social media friends for a while, then became coworkers with Weaving Influence when I joined WI in October 2014. She recently moved to Florida (yay!!!!!!). Her husband Frank and I have been Swarm friends for a while, and narrowly missed a Newark Airport meetup in March. And then there’s Blake, who truly fits that “for this child I prayed” verse. I so enjoyed meeting them IRL and face timing Becky (our founder!).

megan

FAMILY

The genesis of this trip was my desire to visit with my Aunt Faye. I was unable to attend the memorial service in June after my Uncle Marvin passed away, so I had promised to spend some time with her this summer. A few logistical hurdles jumped and it all worked out great — I got to enjoy dinner with her, my cousin Kathy, Kathy’s husband Bob, and two other friends (and snap the great sunset picture above).

Faye

Then, rounding out the cousin visit agenda, I went to mass with Karen (Faye’s other daughter) this morning!

Karen

Lastly, I rarely get down to Riverview to visit our family burial plot. I spent a few moments visiting Ann, Chuck, Wayne’s grandparents Stanley and Lottie, his Aunt Susan, and a few other Thomasson relatives.

Chuck

Ann

When I went up for a blessing during Communion today, the deacon’s blessing was “May you have an awesome week.”

Thanks to a weekend characterized by so much of what I love: Books, Friends (and coworkers!), Family, Food, Running, and Nature … count me “grateful” and on target for an “awesome week”!

I hope your week ahead is full of blessings and “awesome” as well!

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Florida State University: How We Get Made

I recently discovered (via Laura) the “A Learning A Day” series. The series delivers concise, insight-filled emails which prompt recipients to think about work/life issues from different and deeper angles.

This recent post, for example, looks at our tendency to think “if only conditions had been perfect.” My runner peers and I undoubtedly think this frequently:

If it had been cooler (hello summer running in Florida!)

If the race course had been flatter

If my shoes had been newer

If I had not had that second glass of wine last night

The list goes on and on

The Learning A Day post ends with this observation:

The only trustworthy indicator of our performance level is our performance on a bad day.

So, if you get that opportunity to perform on your best day with perfect conditions, revel in it. It doesn’t happen often. But, when it does, it is magical.

On the other hand, if you feel most things are going wrong as you enter that important presentation [or insert relevant challenge/assignment here], welcome to life. This is how we get made.

Over the past few weeks, as I have joined my fellow Florida State alumni, fans, and supporters in sharing what I love about FSU via the #somuchmorethanfootball hashtag, I have been thinking more than usual about all of the incredible memories I made at FSU, the memories I still make here, and how to reconcile decades of great experiences with the FSU (and Tallahassee) which distills itself into the sneer I hear in the voices of national news anchors and celebrities (at least I feel like I hear it!).

A Personally Fearless Time

Through an unexpected series of Facebook conversations over the past few days, I ended up telling a Facebook friend a story that in retrospect is so embarrassing but lends itself to my point. When I was a senior at FSU, I wanted to be Homecoming Princess. The process was detailed and arduous: there were interviews to be selected as one of ten candidates, and then of course you had to accrue the most votes to be princess or be in the top five to be on the Court. I studied my FSU history so hard to be prepared for the interview. I made it to candidate level, and I did make it on the Court.

Florida State University: How We Get Made

With my parents after the Homecoming Parade.

Here’s the embarrassing part: I asked people to vote for me. Not just one or two friends. Another candidate and I went to fraternity and sorority houses who did not have candidates and asked them to vote. I did not hesitate to ask complete strangers to vote. In retrospect, of course it was a completely classless thing to do. On the flip side, I treasure the memories of being on the field during homecoming, proud to represent my university. Putting aside the “tactless” part, I remember feeling fearless in my quest. In the times over the ensuing decades when I have failed myself in the area of assertiveness, I remember what it felt like to tell strangers what I wanted, confident that I had a case.

It’s 2015; Time to Make a Different Case

Florida State taught me fearlessness. It also taught me so many things about Strength, Skill, and Character (Vires Artes Mores). It taught me to learn new things, meet new people, pursue new experiences. The background music of my time at Florida State is undeniably punctuated with the FSU Fight Song, The Hymn to the Garnet and the Gold, and the Alma Mater. I have sat through countless football games, long before we were National Champions, in years when the record was most definitely average. Our family has spent more money than the family budget really accommodated to be Seminole Boosters, purchase tickets, and park among the other faithful (although we are not currently Boosters or ticket holders).

For every #somuchmorethanfootball sentiment we share on social media, I do think we are kidding ourselves if we do not think the image of our football team and the actions of a few players disproportionately influence what the rest of the world sees and believes.

We can make every effort to share with the world all of the accolades which lead us to #praisegarnetandgood. But the headlines are not likely to gush about those when they can rant about the bad.

I don’t know the solution. I do know, that just like a family would not turn its back on a child who has gone astray, we owe it to ourselves to own this series of crises and contribute to a solution.

However we choose to react to the current spate of negative publicity, there may be negatives. Loss of revenue, loss of bragging rights, loss of football season habits and rituals built over decades by generations of fans.

This particular time in the public eye is difficult. I choose to think that these imperfect conditions are part of “how we get made,” that with strength, skill, and character, we can return to the “heads held high” we sing about in the Hymn to the Garnet and Gold.

Florida State University: How We Get Made

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Alex’s Lemonade Days: Thirsty for a Cure

Can you remember the last time you made lemonade? I can’t (unless you count the powdered lemonade mix I used for this Hippie Juice a few years ago, and I don’t think you can!).

The time has come to make lemonade, because Alex’s Lemonade Days are coming up (June 12-14) and this lemonade will do more than quench thirst: it will help raise funds for research to cure childhood cancer.

Alex's Lemonade Days: Thirsty for a Cure

Lemonade Days is held each year during the second weekend of June – the time of year when Alexandra “Alex” Scott always held her lemonade stand – to honor Alex and all childhood cancer heroes.

Alex's Lemonade Days: Thirsty for a Cure

Alexandra “Alex” Scott, Founder
Photo Credit: Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation

Since Alex’s first front yard lemonade stand, there have been more than 20,000 Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) lemonade stands held across the country and world. Alex’s Lemonade Stands make a meaningful difference at any time of the year, however Lemonade Days is a time when supporters join forces and hold stands simultaneously to be a part of ALSF’s largest annual fundraiser. In the spirit of Alex’s ambitious goal to raise $1 million, which she reached before she passed away in 2004, Lemonade Days weekend consistently raises $1 million annually.

Want to Host Your Own Stand?

If you are interested in hosting a lemonade stand for ALSF, click here by June 5 for a special edition Lemonade Days fundraising kit. The fundraising kit includes materials such as posters, banners, thank you notes, fundraising tips, ALSF merchandise and more. (Note: If you are here in Tallahassee, I’ll be glad to help you with your stand!).

Want to Tweet Instead (or Also)?

Please join @AlexsLemonade on May 28th from 1-2pm ET using #LemonadeDays to learn how you can fight childhood cancer and to chat with some “hero families”.

What I Am Doing

  • I am going to dedicate my first race of the Gulf Winds Track Club Summer Trail Race series (May 30, 2015) to Alex’s Lemonade Stand. I will wear my Idiots Running Club bright yellow (or an ALSF shirt if it arrives), and hydrate with lemonade afterwards. I am dreading this race a bit because, although I am adequately trained for it, there is every likelihood I will finish utterly last (the medication I am taking does not exactly speed me up). But this cause will help me keep my perspective. I will remember my young friends like Lauren and Grayson who have had to deal with a lot more than a last place race finish as they have dealt with childhood cancers. My goal is $50, which would pay for an hour of cancer research. If you would like to donate as part of this race dedication, here’s the link.
  • Alex's Lemonade Days: Thirsty for a CureI made a donation to Florida’s “Hero” Family, the Hendrix Family, whose daughter Carolyn had Ewing’s Sarcoma (she is currently “NED” (No Evidence of Disease)). If you are in Pensacola, visit their Lemonade Days event on June 14 from 1 pm to 6 pm CST at Trinity Presbyterian Church! If you can’t attend but would like to donate, there’s a link hereAlex's Lemonade Days: Thirsty for a Cure
  • I am hoping to visit one of the Lemonade Days events hosted by Georgia’s “Hero” Family, the Johnson Family, whose daughter Julia was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2009. The Georgia Family lives much closer to me than the Florida Family, so I hope to make it to one of their stands!Alex's Lemonade Days: Thirsty for a Cure

Down here in Florida, summer is heating up. For families dealing with childhood cancers, the heat is always on to find a cure.

Some people associate yellow with cowardice. In this case, yellow represents the opposite, bravery. Let’s rally around these families and “lemonade up” for a great cause!

Alex's Lemonade Days: Thirsty for a Cure

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Run With Your Friends

Over the past three years, I have become more and more distanced from my local running friendships, and a couple of Facebook conversations this week prompted me to share my conclusion that in-person running friendships are not something to take for granted, that despite your specific training plans which may make it hard to “lace up and go” together, it’s worth figuring out how to make it work.

RUN WITH YOUR FRIENDS

When I first started being coached, I began heart rate based training. The result was that my workouts were structured around lengths of time at specific zones. For example, as opposed to “run three miles,”  a typical workout may be “warm up ten minutes at Zone 1, run 20 minutes at Zone 2, 10 minutes at Zone 3, cool down 10 minutes at Zone 1” or “here’s a workout on iTunes — put it in your ears and do what it says” (not an instruction from my current coach) or “every 20 minutes, run at a higher heart rate zone for 3 minutes and then slow back down”). It was a little complicated to get my head around and I felt awkward telling people “even though I can run faster, I have to watch my heart rate monitor and stay within a zone so don’t pay attention to me.”

Run With Your Friends

A typical “with surges” workout in Training Peaks.

Related to this change, I began isolating myself from group runs I previously had participated in. In addition to the specificity of the workouts, my first coach did not want me racing as much as I had been (translation: almost every Saturday). The withdrawal from frequent racing made sense from a training standpoint but took me further away from the Saturday morning visit/run/sweat/eat routine.

My initial goal of being coached was to prepare for my first half marathon (September 2012) but after that I was single-focused on my goal of the sub-30 5K. That’s why I stuck so religiously to the “less racing” and “more following coach’s instructions to the letter” plan even though it meant being separated from my running peeps.

I vividly remember one friend saying of the Saturday morning group runs, “We’d invite you but we know you do your own thing.”

To be fair, a certain amount of my running has always been solitary. Early morning runs before work are sometimes more easily accomplished by just knocking them out in the neighborhood. I’m not always able or willing to meet a group at 7 a.m. on a Saturday. I love running alone but I also love the people in my running community. The farther I got into my little training world, the more distance grew between my local running friends and me.

I can’t say exactly when I began refusing to accept the impact my coaching plan had on my local running friendships, but I saw a subtle shift about a year and a half ago, when I started meeting a group of Moms Run This Town (MRTT) runners on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 5:30 a.m. for their runs. I was always the “caboose” and still running alone but it made a difference to start out with a group, to say hello to friends, and for someone to know I was out there (and to have a change of scenery from my neighborhood loop). It was a little silly to drive 20 minutes there and 20 minutes back, sometimes for a 40 minute run, but some actions that add quality to our running lives are not measured solely in minutes spent.

Run With Your Friends

The term “local running friends” should be broadly interpreted to include Miniature Pinschers, of course.

The more obvious shift came when I began experiencing challenges with my heart rate, leading to my April 2015 EP study and diagnosis of multifocal atrial tachycardia (MAT). Because an ablation was contraindicated (for now), I am currently taking a beta blocker half an hour before I run and, although I am sure there are plenty of runners out there accomplishing a sub 30 5K on beta blockers, I am dubious that is in the cards for me, so I am re-assessing my goal.

And it bothers me that before I got to the point of reassessing that goal, my path took me farther and farther from my local running friends, leaving me with a goal unaccomplished (I hate that!) and social bridges whose support pilings were on the verge of being washed out due to neglect.

That is why, when I got into those two Facebook conversations last week, I sent back responses that were hopefully articulately, sensitively, and diplomatically worded but were intended to say:

RUN WITH YOUR FRIENDS!

IT IS MORE COMPLICATED AND YOU’LL HAVE TO BE CREATIVE BUT …

RUN WITH YOUR FRIENDS!

I am not saying that coaching is a bad idea AT ALL (I LOVE my coach and my team at KR Endurance) and I believe in the effectiveness of heart-rate based training. BUT don’t abandon your local running friends.Whatever happens with your coaching journey and however many workouts you check off as complete in an online training system, none of that can replace:

  • Scrambling to make it to pre-race photos
  • Shared Finish Lines
  • Conversations over breakfast/coffee/beer/pizza (and Tuesday Post-Track Tacos of course)
  • Sacrificing your time goal on race day to help a friend who is struggling or has injured themselves
  • Sweaty hugs
  • The growth of trust and history with fellow runners that only accretes through being together regularly

Run With Your Friends

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

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.

Now let's talk about 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 the 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”).

dr-silberman-rotated

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.

cardiac-nurses-rotated

 

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!

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Time for Peace

I have a blog post in my head that hasn’t made it to the “page” yet. This is partially because as much as I would like to process via the blog some of my parenting concerns, my blog is a public place and both of my kids are on social media so it simply doesn’t seem fair to them to post the one in my head.

The blog in my head would be about the challenges of coming to terms with your child not being who you envisioned them to be, but rather who they are meant to be.

Even as I write this, I am feeling hypocritical because I am the first to post or share those pieces of content on social media that encourage acceptance, appreciating people for who they are, and embracing all different kinds of abilities.

In all honesty, as my son comes closer to turning 16, I am still not sure what to do with the part of myself that wanted to be a “baseball” mom (and it didn’t have to be baseball … name any sport or activity that involves endless practices, uniform purchases, trips to matches, etc.). Baseball came and went. Football came and went. Gymnastics came and went. Soccer came and went (fleetingly). Speedskating came and went (but is still sort of on the radar screen). Running and triathlons came and went (but hope springs eternal in this running mom’s heart that he will find joy in running again someday).

Time for Peace

Breakfast on the Track 2010

I have also struggled with my son’s lack of deference (not that being deferential has been the way to go for me, in retrospect) to elders. With my father in law living with us for the past ten months, it has been a hard time in many ways. My son has shouldered his own share of the burden in ways I perhaps have not sufficiently thanked him for, but I still cringe when he is short with my FIL or tells me “not to engage” when my FIL is combative (for the record, he is right but still…).

Time for Peace

For one moment today, that all went a little bit out the window.  After Fr. Jim gave a homily about “things you can’t unsee” (which this visual learner appreciated since it had graphics to accompany the message!), it was time for the “passing of the peace.”

As we were greeting the other attendees, I was shaking hands/hugging the fellow attendees but there was an elderly gentleman seated directly in front of me who clearly had mobility issues. He had stayed seated during the Passing of the Peace. It was easy to miss him … to not make the effort to get his attention, make eye contact, shake his hand.

BUT that is exactly what I watched my son do out of the corner of my eye. Wait for the gentleman to see that Wayne was waiting on him, then shake hands and exchange a wish for peace.

On an Easter when our responsibilities for my FIL kept my husband home instead of attending worship with us, when my daughter was at her church home with her best friend and her family, it was a day to put aside “normal” hopes and expectations. In the interaction between Wayne and the gentleman, there WAS a moment when all of the expectations and hopes I have clutched so tightly to my really didn’t matter.

Because the gentleman in the row ahead of us needed something that only my son was prepared to give.

ALLELUIA.

Time for Peace

Easter at St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Tallahassee, FL

 

 

 

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

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.

TAKEAWAYS:

CHD

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.

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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:

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

 

11070086_10203924789059800_5982367890714618485_o

 

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!).

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

Fred’s Drive-By Shooting

When Mama Kat proposed the following writing prompt a few weeks ago:

Write a 26-line poem using all the letters of the alphabet, where the first line starts with the letter “A,” the second “B,” the third “C,” etc., culminating with the final line starting with “Z.”

I knew I had to give it a go! We are at the starting line of my effort — see you at the finish!

Flash 2015 12K Race Shirt

Flash 2015 Race Shirt

At the 7.2 mile mark of my 7.46 mile race yesterday, I was sad that my heart was

Beating SO fast that I had to stop to

Collect data via my patient assistant, after which I

Decided to walk the last portion of the race

Except the

Finish line.

Grouped around the finish line were the volunteers and

Huddled clumps of finishers and supporters braving the cold to see the last runners

Ignite their muscles for their last victorious sprints.

Just after putting the patient assistant away, my mind

Kept grappling with the fact that I had not taken

Lots of pictures before the race like I usually do; no flat

Mama for my Moms Run This Town Facebook Page or Instagram,

Nothing. So many missed

Opportunities to share my excitement with friends and raise awareness for the

People for whom I am running the NYC Half Marathon on a date that is

Quickly approaching! Our

Running

Stories, though, are much deeper than pictures can tell. Even so, imagine how

Tickled and1585 Paula Kiger

Utterly surprised I was when race photographer Fred Deckert pulled up in his

Vehicle as he was leaving and did a “drive-by” shooting

Which resulted in a picture from day

XXI in February 2015 that has a bit of a “drive by blur” effect

Yet allows me to share my

Zeal for making every finish line count!

Finish Line Count

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.

What Team SOAR Means To Me

As I shared in this post, I am participating in the 2015 United Airlines New York City Half Marathon to benefit The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and honor my friend Mary Jane. I will be a part of Team SOAR. Today I am going to break down that logo as I share my efforts to secure funding to help find a cure, support those currently living with blood cancers, and spread advocacy.

What Team SOAR Means To Me

 

The “SWhat Team SOAR Means To Me” in SOAR stands for “spirited” and we’ve got spirits, yes we do! I am excited that details have been finalized regarding the Tequila Social to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS)! Join me at Madison Social on 2/7/15 at 6 pm or 7:30 pm for tequila flights, tasty food offerings, friendship, and the knowledge that you are helping this awesome cause (Madison Social is generously donating a portion of the proceeds to LLS).

 

What Team SOAR Means To Me

 

As the “voice” of The Optimism Light, you can bet the “O” for “Optimistic” means something to me! While I do not know all of the members of Team SOAR yet (I am one of the few team members who does not live in or around Long Island), I see their training. I see their spirit, I see the fact that despite the challenges that blood cancers bring, they face the future with optimism (as well as a heaping supply of love).

 

 

What Team SOAR Means To MeAre you wondering what I am going to do for AND? Don’t worry, I have a plan!! We have spiritsoptimism, AND other ways to contribute! There are still spaces available in the Be My Valentine Couples Circuit Class at 10 am on 2/7/15 (details at Badass Fitness) $10 will get you a workout and fun! Also, for every $5 donated from now until the sheet is full, you get a square on my Superbowl Squares sheet. Whoever matches the half time score gets $100 and whoever matches the final score gets $100. You can donate here and I’ll confirm that I’ve entered your squares!

What Team SOAR Means To Me

 

Finally, relentless. Mary Jane is not the only friend I have who has had to look cancer squarely in its ugly face and decide whether to succumb or choose to fight, relentlessly. For her, for my mother, for the legions of children, adults, relatives, and strangers who have been affected by cancer, I choose relentless.

 

 

Even though I won’t meet most of these people in person until March, I am proud to be SOARing with this team (and looking at this picture, I’m not so sorry my training is in Florida!). I appreciate any support you can give!

What Team SOAR Means To Me

Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many.