Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco

October 19, 2008

It was a hazy, morning in the streets of San Francisco as we gathered, thousands of us, at the starting line. It was still dark outside, but everyone was lively, excited and ready.

Let me back up a bit...

October 17, 2008:

On the plane ride to San Francisco Friday morning, I nearly threw up. I was sweating, dizzy and holding an open air sick bag on my lap. I was trying desperately to keep the protein shake, vitamin and supplements in my stomache as I thought, "breathe." I was about to give in to my fate when the planes wheels touched down on the asphalt just a train ride away from the starting line. I made it with my vital nutrients safe inside my belly. With a cautious smile, I neatly folded the airsick bag and placed it back in the seat pocket. I don't normally barf on planes. My nerves were trying to get the best of me.

October 18, 2008:

The Nike Expo across the street from the hotel was buzzing. We checked in and got our bibs, timing chips for our shoes and other goodies. There was so much to do! The Nike store had a giant pink wall with all the names of the 20,000 marathon participants. We spotted our names and took way too many pictures of our spot.

Thanks Stephon for taking these awesome pictures!

After hangin' out with Brian's family, we headed back to the hotel to attend the Team In Training pasta party. It was held at the Mascone Center, which is this HUGE venue in the heart of San Francisco. We were not prepared for what we were met with inside. As we walked toward the doors, we heard a roar. It emanated loudly from the doors as Brian and I looked at each other in wonder. What was going on in there?

We walked inside to find a row formed on either side of us consisting of all the Team In Training coaches, mentors, supporters, etc. cheering with noisemakers, funny hats, and various hoots and hollars. I couldn't believe how loud it was! We walked toward the stairs leading down into the dining hall and there were more! These people, must have been several hundred of them, lined the entire stairway all the way around to the front of the dining area to cheer for the marathon participants as they walked in to the dinner. I have never heard so much cheering! And it was all for us. It still makes me cry to think about it now. Brian's parents were at the entrance of the dining hall. I was so moved. Words cannot describe.

We ate pasta and bread as we listened to inspirational stories and funny anecdotes shared by the speakers. I enjoyed eating my guilt free carbs and even went up for seconds! Take that Los Angeles skinnies! I ATE CARBS!

October 19, 2008:

4 am - Time to wake up! We had already pinned our bibs on our jerseys, attached the microchip on our shoes (it keeps track of your time from the moment you cross the starting line to the moment you cross the finish line), and layed our clothes out the night before. We drank protein shakes, stretched and headed down to the lobby for the Team In
Training round up.

After meeting and signing in, we made our way to the start line, which was about 10 steps from our hotel. There were
THOUSANDS of people in the street. I didn't know if we would ever find SonHui (my cousin) or Brian's parents. I borrowed a friend's phone (Thanks Irene!) to call my cousin.

Thankfully we were able to find them before the race started! Brian's dad was wearing the jersey we had signed by our team. He was to be our good luck charm. We were ready! I even had my stupid water belt locked and loaded.

I have created a caricature of my self-doubt so I can overcome it. It is a little troll with green, wrinkly skin and a massive under bite. It’s snaggleteeth point up to it’s piggy nose in a comical way that makes it impossible for me to take anything it says seriously.

As the start of the race approached, I started to feel nervous as I looked around at all of these runners. “Who am I kidding?” I thought. “These people look like they belong here and I feel like a phony. I am not really a runner,” my doubtful troll said.

I immediately jolted myself back into focus away from those negative thoughts. I silenced the troll with the phrase, “I was born to do this,” in my head. This mantra really got me through, especially later in the race.

Because there were so many people crossing the starting line, we weren’t able to cross it until 7 minutes after the start of the race.

It was strange, one minute we were just standing there waiting to get started and the next minute we were running, slowly. There were trolley tracks beneath our feet, so I was cautious not to twist my ankle on them. Thousands of feet were slapping the pavement; the energy was incredible!

Mile 1-5: We were like a giant school of fish running together through the streets. With all the buzz and distraction I thought, “this is going to be easy.” There were people along the sides cheering, the scenery was beautiful, we ran by the piers and south along the coast. Coach Brett told us to go to a thrift store and buy warm clothes to wear until our bodies warmed up. After we got warm, we could just throw our sweatshirts and other items onto the sidewalk or in donation bins. They have a team of people who collect the clothing and donate it to charity. It was very liberating to run through the streets of San Francisco ripping my clothes off and throwing them on the ground. We stopped at the port-o-potties so Brian could take care of some business and I saw 2 of our teammates, Rob and Elaine. I was trying to get my thrift store sweats off, but couldn’t pull them over my shoes. I had to sit on the grass while Rob yanked ‘em off. “Don’t tell your husband I took your pants off,” he said. Here is a picture of the earlier part of the run. Note the clothes on the ground.

Mile 6-10: The first major hill on the course shot up in front of us. We were running with our mentor, Paul. He started singing and clapping his hands as we made our way up the steep hill. People running near us began clapping along and before we knew it, we were at the top. There were people at the top of the hill cheering for us. “You did it!” they screamed. The support from the crowds was like a wind pushing us forward. They spent their day standing along the side bringing people encouragement. I saw someone holding a sign that said, “Show us your sports bra!” The crowd was amazing. It made a HUGE difference.

By the time we got to mile 10, I thought about those people running the half-marathon. “If we were doing the half, we would almost be done right now,” I said to Brian. “I feel like we are just getting started.” With the Golden Gate bridge to our right, we ran on. It was beautiful.

Mile 11-15: We came to a spot in the course where the half-marathoners went one way, and the full marathoners went another way. This is the point in the run where it really thinned out for us. A lot of people were turning right to finish the half. Brian and I went left and continued our remaining 13.1 miles.

This is the point where I began to feel some pain in my feet. During training, we ran on the dirt as much as possible to protect our joints. The marathon, however, was all on asphalt. It was unusual for me to feel sore so early in the run. I ignored it and kept going.

Mile 16-18: Brian’s family, my cousin, SonHui, and our friend, Stephon were waiting on the sidelines as we rounded the corner of mile #16. It lifted me up to see them there. I was extremely grateful that we spotted them in the crowd. There were so many people there cheering. There were cheerleaders, various bands and musical acts, people handing out orange wedges, bananas, water, Gatorade… Finding them was a miracle. It was just what we needed to fuel us for the remaining 10 miles.

After quick hugs, we hit the pavement and we were met with the longest hill of the run. It was a 2 ½ mile trek uphill. I started to get tired. I could tell that Brian wanted to run faster, but I couldn’t make my body do it. I puffed up and up and up. Brian stayed with me and we made our way up. I saw a girl off to the side throwing up. Her friend was right there with her, holding her hair. I was touched, but had to look away since I tend to have my own stomach issues when I run. Thankfully, we found a gel that I can stomach and I stayed relatively nausea-free for most of the run. Mile 17 – It was getting hard. I could barely speak. “I was born to do this, I was born to do this…” Toward the top of the hill, there were people standing along the trail cheering as we dragged our tired bodies up the punishing hill. “You only have 200 feet to go!” They shouted. I was walking when I heard that, and it was just what I needed to propel me up the hill, I ran to the top with Brian by my side. The slogan was "Run like a girl," so they had signs up all along the trail with variations of the phrase.

Mile 19-23: In front of us was a massive body of water, Lake Merced. “Do we have to run around that thing?” I huffed. “Nah,” Brian said. “Oh, thank God,” I sighed. As we got closer, the realization hit us like a pile of bricks that we were, in fact, going to run around the entire lake. It seemed impossible. After a bit of swearing, I renewed my determination and we continued.

By this time, it was easier to keep running rather than stop. It actually hurt to stop and walk. We had a love-hate relationship with our walk breaks (run 9 minutes, walk 1 minute). I needed them so desperately, but every time we stopped to walk, my legs would send all the pain messages they had been storing up. Starting to run again hurt like hell. The pounding of the pavement sent shockwaves from my swollen feet, up through my thorny knees, and all the way to my hips. My hips moaned with every step. Around the lake we went. I was only thinking about the mile in front of me. I couldn’t bear to think that we still had 7 miles to go. I thought, “if I can run 20 miles, I can run 26 miles,…if I can run 21 miles, I can run 26 miles…” I kept doing this until the end.

Mile 24-26.2: A hill greeted us on the other side of the lake, much to my dismay. “I don’t think I can do it,” I groaned to Brian. “Come on, Baby!” he said. He let out a spirited roar and put his hand on my back. “Let me hear your roar!” he said. A timid “raaawr” tumbled out of my mouth and Brian started laughing. “That was FIERCE!” he said. I laughed up the hill with my amazing husband and didn’t stop to walk. We were now on the home stretch!

On the other side of the trail, which was headed for the lake, we saw our coach, Brett. “Alright, you guys!" he said, " You only have 2 more miles!”

I couldn’t believe it. We were really going to do this! I almost started to cry, but I knew that would consume valuable energy and I needed all I could get. My dumb feet kept flopping one in front of the other. I was unable to make any sudden movements. Even turning was hard. Any extra muscle exertion seemed impossible.

We came up on our last water stop. The ocean was to our left and the mist cooled our faces. What a beautiful day! My legs were swollen and I couldn’t believe I still had the strength to smile.

At mile 25, we saw Brian’s brothers. All three of them were there, and our two sister-in-laws were there with our niece and nephews. They were screaming and cheering so loudly, they almost blew us off the trail! Brian’s brother, Trevor, started running along the outside of the trail next to us. With a Starbucks coffee in his hand, he yelled, “I brought you guys some coffee…WOOOOOO!” Brian’s other two brothers, David and Kevin, were close behind Trevor cheering us on. We were almost there.

My cousin, SonHui was at mile 26 with Brian's parents waving a sign that read “Go Brian and Jamie!” Brian slapped his parents a high-five as we approached the finish line.

Almost to the end, Brian and I ran the last .2 miles hand in hand. As we crossed the finish line holding hands, I was hit with a wave of all the emotions I had been keeping at bay during the run. We just ran a marathon! I couldn't believe it. My dream ever since the beginning of training was to see Brian's face as we crossed the finish line together. All of the pain, the struggle, the icing and hobbling...it was all worth it. I had the priviledge of crossing the finish line with the man of my dreams.

I was crying and laughing at the same time. The San Francisco Fire Department was dressed in
tuxedos waiting at the finish line holding silver platters stacked with Tiffany’s boxes. Inside the boxes were Tiffany pendants engraved with runners on the front. I thought this was going to be a big highlight for me, but I hardly noticed. With a weepy “thank you,” I snatched my box and threw my arms around Brian’s neck.

WE DID IT! We ran 26.2 miles and raised $10,880 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Our official time was 5 hours and 13 minutes. Brian decided to give his necklace to his mom. We went through a sort of assembly-line after crossing the finish line. We were given protein shakes, t-shirts that read, “Finisher,” silver blankets for warmth and a TNT pin that said “26.2” on it.

We met up with our loved ones at the end and saw that Brian’s best friend, Adam was there with his dog, Augie. Augie was wearing a sweater that had, “Go Brian and Jamie” written across the back. Adam drove for 8 hours to be there to see Brian cross the finish line. He stayed for about an hour and then headed back to Arizona. We were so touched that he came all that way for this moment.

After the marathon:

We were freezing and exhausted. There was no time for napping, though. There was a victory dinner at 6 pm at the Moscone Center. I had no appetite, but tried to force some food down. Everyone there was hobbling around with the “marathon hobble”. It was so amazing hearing our teammates tell their stories from the day. We all got there together.

We were still buzzing, but ended up back at the hotel and in bed by 10 pm. WHAT AN UNBELIEVABLE DAY!

My only injury was a blackened toenail. It’s called “runner’s toe,” a blood blister forms underneath the toenail due to the continued pounding and pressure of running 26.2 miles. It is my badge of honor! I show it to anyone who can stand it.

Yeah! Rockin’ the black toe!

Brian’s dad went in for his first intensive chemotherapy treatment four days after the marathon. I hope he keeps that day with him as he recovers. He has been such an inspiration to Brian and me. Every time I felt like giving up, I thought of Rich and how hard he has to fight. We are all in this together. I can’t wait to be on the sidelines cheering him on, now. He gave us a plaque as a thank you for doing the marathon. It reads, “Our Family, A circle of strength and love…Founded on faith, joined in love, kept by God, Forever Together.” When he gave it to us, I was overcome with tears because I felt so blessed to be part of this family. Thanks Mom and Dad! We love you.

Thank you all for your support, love, donations and encouragement. Thanks to you, we raised $10,880 to help the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society find a cure for cancers of the blood. We could not have done this without you. I’ve learned many things throughout this journey, but the biggest lesson is never, never, never give up. I pulled strength from our teammates at Team In Training, our coach, Brett, our honored teammate, Audrey, Rich and Linda, and most importantly, my husband Brian. Thank you, Baby, for helping me to believe I can do anything. I love you.

Thanks Team in Training! You taught me how to Train, Endure, Achieve and Matter.

Go Team!

Here’s to:

Wearing heels again
Sleeping in on a Saturday
No more frozen peas on the joints
Eating greasy foods
Drinkin beer
Walking without hobbling
Making new friends
Believing I can

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Treat Yourself

To assist with my fundraising, Serene Haven Spa in Sherman Oaks has donated gift certificates for customized facials and manicure/pedicure packages for auction. The Fundraiser show was very successful, but I still have some of these gift certificates left. So...

I am having an E-MAIL AUCTION starting today!

Here is a little information about this lovely spa:

Serene Haven Spa
13511 Ventura Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, California, 91423

Serene Haven's Zen atmosphere was designed to pamper
and ease clients into a state of peace, relaxation, and tranquility.
Serene Haven offers customized facials, nail treatments, and waxing.
Clients can also enjoy a cup of jasmine green tea to aid in rejuvenation.

Here are the items up for bid:

1. Manicure / Pedicure Gift Certificate - $35 value - Starting bid: $10 - SOLD!
2. Customized Facial Gift Certificate - $110 value - Starting bid: $50 - STILL AVAILABLE!
3. Queen for a Day Package (Includes 1 facial gift certificate + 1 mani/pedi gift cert.) - $145 value - Starting bid: $75 - SOLD!
4. Girlfriends Package (includes 2 facial gift certificates + 2 mani/pedi gift certs) - $290 value - Starting bid: $100 - SOLD!

- I also have a nice bottle of chardonnay autographed by Fleet Mickwood of Fleetwood Mack up for auction. Starting bid: $25 - SOLD!

*Instructions for bidding - email me at jamielou_1@yahoo.com with the following info:
1. The item you are bidding on
2. Your bid amount

3. Your full name, address and phone number (so that I may mail the items to

I will send you a follow up email to let you know if you've won the item and send you the link (which is also below) to make your online donation. Once I have receipt of your donation, I will mail the items to you.

My goal is to have these items gone by next Thursday.

Please place your bids by Sunday. The auction will close on Monday morning.
I will let you know if someone beats your bid so you have the opportunity to make a higher bid.

Brian is faster than me, so I want to beat him on the fundraising. He is at $5439 right now. Let's pass the $5500 mark!

my email address: jamielou_1@yahoo.com

Thanks guys!

Friday, October 10, 2008


Where was I at the beginning of training? If you do not remember, I was on what I like to call the stupid bike. The first month of training yielded an ankle injury and too many trips to the gym riding the stupid bike while my team ran outside in the fresh air with each other. After trips to 2 doctors and a specialist, I got myself running again. I remember being so grateful to be able to run. I have a confession...I started to take that ability for granted.

"I don't like to run" I told somebody recently. "I just don't think it is what I'm good at". I found myself just trying to get through with the runs so I could relax. I was getting grumpy on the trails. I was tired, winded, in pain, and what was worse, I had a bad attitude. Whenever we forget to be grateful, we get the gift of a gentle (or sometimes not so gentle) reminder.

After our 20-mile run, I was having pretty severe pain in my groin. I have become used to experiencing pain after long runs, so I didn't think much of it. Brian and I went for our 5 mile run on Monday and that pain was there again. This time, it wasn't submitting to my will. Instead of getting better after I warmed up, it got worse. I had to stop at 3 miles. I wasn't really worried, I knew I had just run 20 miles. I waited as Brian completed his 5 miles and we went home to ice packs and election coverage.

I stayed home and rested Wednesday night and Brian went to meet the team for a short 5 mile run. I had to finish a paper for school anyway. I neglected my stretching and supplements for most of the week. "I'm fine," I thought. We are in our taper phase. In the taper phase, you decrease mileage to let your body rest for the big day.

By Saturday (two weekends ago), I felt ready to run again. We headed to the park for a mere 8 mile run. This seemed like nothing compared to what we had just accomplished. Tina, my running buddy, found me and we ran together. She is at the same pace as I am, so we have bonded. She was kicking my butt, though! I felt so tired. Again, I was just trying to 'get through it'. My groin was full of complaints, but I ran through it as I have done with other pains. At about mile 7, Tina started feeling severe pain in her knee. She tried to run through it, but I suggested that we take it easy and walk it in. With the marathon this close, I didn't want her to take any chances. Inside, I was grateful for the walking. I was in pain too. We took that time to have conversation that is usually impossible when we are huffing and puffing during the run. It was a nice change of pace. I started to remember what I liked about training in the first place.

Brian and I headed to North Hollywood park for our usual Monday night run. This time, I could only run 1 mile. I was feeling a good amount of pain. We agreed that I shouldn't push it, so he did another mile and we walked for a bit. I kept the ice routine and thanks to my lovely friends, Brendan and Aarti, I have a rice bag (you heat it up and apply it to sore areas to help them heal). Ice and heat and ... worry.

I called Jeff Waldberg on Tuesday to ask about my groin. He believes it's a muscle issue. He suggested I...ride the bike. Wednesday, Brian was off to meet the team and I layed on the couch in a puddle of self pity. There are two kinds of pain when dealing with a sports injury; the pain of the injury, and the pain of the depression that sets in because your body can't do what you want it to. Did I ride the bike on Wednesday? Nope. I sat and wallowed.

Saturday, the team was running 6 miles. Brian was up at 5:30 to head to the park. I told him I was going to get up at the same time to go to the gym, but I slept until 9:30. It took everything I had to get myself to the gym and on that bike. I sat there with a scowl, pedaling. I was so angry at being back where I started.

Tuesday night, the team met at California Pizza Kitchen to have a send off dinner. We got there late (the debate was on). When we arrived, I saw a girl with crutches. I looked closer and realized it was Tina. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. "I have a stress fracture at the top of my femur bone," she said. That is a pretty major injury. This is what caused the pain in her knee. The femur is the largest bone in the body, and if you remember from one of my older blogs, I broke mine too a long time ago. This really struck a chord with me. I was face to face with my own demons. All the fear I felt at the beginning of training because of my previous femur injury came rushing back. My heart really went out to Tina. She has been training for five months! Now she can't run the marathon with us. I hope she runs again once she has recovered. She has been such an amazing running buddy.

What a lesson.

This week has been a battle for me but one good thing has come out of it. My appreciation for running has returned. I am still healing, but I feel better every day. I am taking my supplements, applying ice and heat and changing my attitude (which is the hardest part). I do like running. It is hard and painful, but that is part of what makes it great! I feel like one tough chick.

The marathon is 9 days away. I am so grateful for this renewed vision of my quest. I can't believe it is almost here!

Such an incredible journey.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

20 miles

Since Brian and I were away in Santa Cruz, we missed the 20 mile run with the team. This meant we had to run it on our own the following weekend.

Bright and early, we kicked ourselves out of bed to beat the heat and prepare for the longest run in our training. With two cars filled with back up Gatorade and energy gels parked on opposite sides of Balboa park we were ready! The weather was cool and our water belts were filled. One loop around the entire park is five miles. It is best during a long run to break it down into manageable laps.

Lap #1: I would now like to compose a poem dedicated to my water belt.


Ode To My Water Belt
by Jamie Moniz

Devil belt
Why do you slide up my waste
like the greedy fingers of a teenager?
Jiggle jiggle, bounce bounce
You ignore my pulls and tugs
My constant adjusting and re-adjusting of your velcro strap
You seem happiest when bouncing high upon my waste
You get pleasure in my chafed skin and bruised hips
If I could make one humble request, it would be"
YOU STUPID BELT!!! When this is over I will

The End.

Lap #2: See lap #1

Lap #3: This was the lap where I parted ways with my beloved water belt and agreed (after much arguing) to share Brian's gatorade for the remainder of the run. We had two places to refill the bottle, so it wasn't too bad. My groin started to hurt on this lap, perhaps because of the 2-hour wrestling match I had with my water belt. I tried not to pay attention and kept going.

Lap #4: The "cool down" lap. This run was particularly challenging. I almost always gag and throw up when I force those energy gels down my throat. They bounce around in my stomache for ten minutes and I have visions of my face in the nearest trash can. So I had to develop a mantra for these trying times. In rhythm to my feet I silently repeated the phrase, "I feel like a million bucks, I feel like a million bucks". I started talking to my legs, "One more lap guys! Take us home." My green truck marked 2/3's of the way to the finish. It looked so beautiful! It sparkled in the sunlight singing, "Come to me! I have Gatorade." During the long runs, stopping for too long is a death sentence. If you stop running for more than a minute, your body thinks it is time to send you all the back pain messages it has been saving so you could survive the run. Getting started again is painful. So we stopped for a quick second and forged on. Brian asked how I was feeling. I puffed, "I feel like a million bucks (LIE)". The good news was that my body was sort of numb as long as I kept moving. Brian, running at a slower pace the whole way to stay with me, seemed to be doing great. I asked him how he was. He said his calf was cramping up and hurt pretty bad. I felt better that I wasn't in pain alone. I was starting to believe he had super powers. There it was. The end of our run. As we jogged toward the finish, Brian grabbed my hand. We crossed the finish line together! Whew. It took us a total of 3 hours and 41 minutes.

After the run, we walked around for a bit. I knew if I tried to sit, I would fall since I had completely lost the ability to control my legs. We stretched and got in our cars to return home. When I tried to get out of my car, I felt severe pain in my groin. How do you limp with a groin injury? Every part of your leg is attached to that area. I looked like a zombie. I welcomed the ice bath and slept like the dead. Overall feeling, ACCOMPLISHED.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Best Run of My Training

Breathing in the ocean air, water crashing at my feet and a lighthouse beckoning me further. This was my best five mile run since the first day of training.

In mid September, Brian and I went to stay with his family at a beach house in Santa Cruz for a week. We kept up with our training and did a five-mile run through the harbor to the local lighthouse. It was beautiful.

As we ran upon the sandy path to the lighthouse, water splashed up on the rocks as if to cheer us on.

We did a 30 minute run in the sand earlier in the week. It was EXTREMELY challenging. Running in sand is very exhausting. It was a good workout.

Our nights were spent around a bonfire singing and playing our instruments. Brian played his didgeridoo, his mom clanged the shovel against the rocks, Angela, Rachel and I sang, Kevin and Brian's Dad played the bongo drum. We were like the Triplets of Belleville! We roasted marshmallows, ate smores and had a blast.

We knew our longest run was just around the corner, but we relaxed, laughed and ate delicious food. It was a good week.

Friday, September 19, 2008


The timing for this marathon couldn't be more perfect. Brian's Dad, Rich, will be undergoing his stem cell transplant around the same time that we are running the marathon in his honor. This is just too big to be coincidence. We got some great news about his treatment and recovery. So read on!

The results from Brian's Dad's bone marrow taken a month ago show that he has 0.92% myeloma cells, and the doctor said that with the additional month of treatment he has gone through since the test was done, he believes that Rich is in 100% remission…yeah you read that right ONE HUNDRED F’N PERCENT REMISSION!!! Not only that but the doctor believes he is in the 60-70% of people who, after a stem cell transplant, will be CURED FOR LIFE!!!

When Brian called me to tell me the news, I burst with like 5 emotions at once! I was laughing and crying at the same time. I was at work, so I had to walk outside so I could shout, "WooooooHooooo!" Miracles do happen. I know he did so well because of the strength and unity of his family. Rich hardly experienced any side effects from his six-month treatment. He is ready to go in for this surgery strong. I know he will have a full recovery and be cured for life. I believe it deeper than I have ever believed anything.

We are making up our 20 mile run this Saturday. This is the longest run in our training before the marathon. I will have gatorade in my belt and Brian by my side. We can conquer anything!

By the way, come to the fundraiser show I am producing this Sunday night at 8 pm. See the flyer above for details. We are having a silent auction, live music and a lot of laughs. I hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

18 Miles...This calls for some new shoes!

Life has kept me pretty busy, so I am cramming three weeks worth of training news into one blog. Here we go!

August 16th: Ran 16 miles! This marked the second 4-mile jump for me. It was also the day I finally caught up to the team. I kept a pretty good pace (about 10-minute miles). I ran with our Mentor, Paul and teammate, Nick. I was making them sweat trying to keep up with me! At one point, Nick said between huffs, "I refuse to let a girl pass me!" This was a big confidence booster. I went from not being able to run at all, to passing the guys on the team. Brian was still far ahead in the distance, but I will catch up to him soon enough :0) I finished with a blister on my toe and a tired smile on my face.

August 23rd: My birthday! Instead of running, Brian and I went with his brother Trevor and Trevor's wife Rachel to San Diego to see Dave Matthews Band in concert. It was so nice to blow off some steam and relax in the grass. We were on the lawn. Trevor and Rachel bought my first DMB concert t-shirt.

August 30: Ran 18 miles. Every time we increase the mileage, it feels surreal. When I tell people how far I have run, I can't believe it's me talking! I never thought I would be doing something like this. It is changing my life. Brian and I watched the women's marathon in the Olympics. We watched as these women ran 5 to 6-minute miles without stopping for 2 hours and 26 minutes. It took me 3 and 1/2 hours to run 18 miles. People have asked me, "have you experienced the runner's high yet?" What I have experienced is the relief that follows the temporary numbing of the pain receptors in my body so I can get through my run. I wouldn't call this a high. It is more like a defense mechanism of the body. For the first 10 miles, I feel aches and pains. After that, my legs sort of go dumb. They stop sending pain messages until I stop running. I told a team mate about this and she said it was my endorphins kicking in. Endorphins? I didn't feel high, just numb. This is the runner's high. If any of you got the chance to watch the Olympic Marathons, you may remember the faces of the runners. Almost all of them were wincing in pain. You could see them gritting their teeth, and squinting. Not a single one of them looked like they were experiencing the "runner's high" until, that is, they reached the finish line. This is a different kind of high. The kind of high that comes from a sense of accomplishment. From knowing that you have pushed your body further than it has ever gone before. There is a raw, burning feeling in the lungs where every precious breath is felt, down to the tiniest oxygen molecule. The pain starts to set in, but it doesn't matter because you've realized that your mind is stronger than pain, doubt or fatigue. This is my runner's high.

After an estimated total of 100 miles, it was time for some new shoes. Off we went to Phidippides (the best running store ever!) They always take really good care of us there. I got a different brand, but same style shoe. These shoes have little air pocket at the ball of the foot for extra cushion. I love 'em! They feel great. When Jeff, the guy who helped me with my shoes, took off my old running shoes he looked inside, smiled and grabbed the trash can next to the bench to empty out all the tiny rocks and dust that had accumulated inside. I didn't even notice the rocks anymore. We run on the dirt trails as much as possible because it is easier on the joints. My dirty shoes were a badge of honor! I am thinking of keeping them as a souvenir.

Old Shoes after 100 miles...

New Shoes!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Will Not Be Swayed...Not Even By Success

suc·cess [suhk-ses] -noun
the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.

per·se·ver·ance [pur-suh-veer-uhns]-noun
steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement... Or success

I am writing today from a place of love and gratitude. My personal fund raising goal for this marathon has not only been met, it has been exceeded! Thank you all so much for your grace, charity, love, support, and compassion. Because of you, people are finding hope and getting well again. A thousand thanks would not be enough to express my gratitude.

A funny thing happens when a major goal is accomplished. There is a sense of satisfaction followed by a potential "termination of attempts or endeavors". Imagine what can happen if one pushes past that point of success. I feel proud of this accomplishment but with 2 months to go, I know I can do more.

At the May 17th kick-off meeting a Team In Training Honored Teammate, Audrey Duffy, shared her personal story with us about her battle with lymphoma. She has undergone chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant and a stem cell transplant since she was diagnosed in 2002. This year, she is completing her 20th event with Team In Training! She was also a top fund raiser.
When I heard her speak at the meeting, I was inspired and filled with hope. I made a silent vow to be a top fund raiser. As time went on, I started to doubt my abilities. Not only was I facing physical obstacles, I was also far behind Brian in the fund raising campaign. He met his goal in July. Now that I have seen what can be accomplished, I have a fresh determination. I have been given the gift of seeing that I can pass limitations, achieve bigger goals and cross that finish line! I know I will look back on this moment as a life changing experience.

Training has been such a remarkable experience. I ran 7 miles with the team on Saturday, 2 of which were up a pretty steep hill. We are starting to see those San Francisco hills in our minds. I am 35 seconds faster per mile than when I started. I won't give up, for
"I have promises to keep
and miles to go before I sleep,
and miles to go before I sleep"
-Robert Frost

So my question to you guys is

We are doing it together. Your comments, your encouragement, your congratulations are the reason I keep going. I love you.

Thank you. You are my heroes.

To my anonymous donor: Wow! What an amazing gift. I am humbled by your donation and by your selfless act of kindness without the need for recognition or thanks. You represent the purity of a virtuous act.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Hamster Wheel

Like the mighty phoenix
Once again I rise from the flames set to destroy me & take flight
I am Stronger



Kirsti A. Dyer, MD, MS
I imagine that is how cancer survivors feel

After last week's disappointment I had two choices: bow in defeat or rise. I chose to rise...like the Phoenix.

"No more messing around"...That was my mantra this week as I confronted my pain and declared, "I will not go gentle into that good night."

I know I said I would never take an ice bath again, but desperate times call for squealing in ice water. Brian and I sat there, freezing our inflamed joints for 20 minutes while I read aloud the Newsweek magazine with Obama on the cover. My voice trembled as I tried to distract myself and Brian from the thoughts of ice crystals forming on our toes. We emerged numb and cold, but feeling better. The ice baths do really help, even if they are painful at first.

Due to the amount of pain I was in, I had been skipping my strength and cross training in hopes of speeding my recovery. Big mistake. I realize now, that strength and cross training are tools in speeding recovery and preventing further injury. So Monday, I worked my leg muscles with a strength training routine that our coach, Brett, showed me. Then I hit the elliptical for 30 minutes. I felt so tired, so drained, but I kept going.

I decided to skip hill repeats with the team on Wednesday and focus on getting myself running on flat ground. I went to the local park and forced my tired, sore legs to hobble at a slow, gentle jog. I had to walk for a bit to warm up, but I was able to run through the pain. It was bearable enough for me to complete 4 miles.

My confidence was coming back! I started to feel less sore as the week went on. I was eating better and getting more sleep. I realized that I needed to treat my body as an athlete's body. This means demanding better for myself. The discipline required to run this marathon has spilled out past the training days into my everyday life. I think about hydrating a day before my runs. I exchange parties for early bedtimes. Everything I do revolves around my runs. I can't believe this is me!

On Friday my sister, Diana, and her husband, Matt, flew us to Phoenix to celebrate my nephew's 1st birthday with my family. We got in at 8 pm, ate dinner and went to bed. We were up with the rugrats at 7:30 to go for our run. It was 110 degrees outside, so we had no choice but to hit the gym. That is where I found The Hamster Wheel... The tiny track squeezed the gym, requiring 12 laps to complete a mile. It laughed at us as if to say, "See if you can do this without losing count". I felt like a hamster in a wheel. During the first 3 miles, I fought off the insanity of passing the exact same point 36 times. I tried not to think that I would see the same weight set, same aerobics room, same staircase 144 times before I was through. This was a mental battle as well as a physical one. The good news was that I was running without any pain. This kept me going and pretty soon, I found my rhythm.

Brian zipped by with the occasional goose or pat on the back.
He lapped me more times than I care to mention, but I didn't mind. He inspired me to try harder.

I met a girl named Heather on the track. She was also training for an endurance run. She plans to run in the New York marathon in November. We ran together from mile 4 to mile 6. This was just what I needed to take my mind off the dizzying merry-go-round of a track we were on. I started to get more energy and felt my pace quickening. At the end of mile 6, we parted and she took on the treadmill for a while. Her timing was perfect. She got me over that hump. Thanks Heather!

At about mile #9 I started bargaining with myself. "Maybe I'll just do 10 miles," I thought. Once I got to 10, Brian ran by and asked if I was going to do 12. A breathy, "we'll see" blew out of my mouth. My legs were dumb to the running and I felt hardly any pain. My mind, however, was very aware of each lap. I developed a counting system on my fingers so I wouldn't lose track. Each lap was a step further than I thought I could go. Brian ran 14 miles in the time it took me to run 12. He actually completed his run 3 laps before mine was finished, so he ran beside me as I pushed myself past all my mental barriers. When I finally stopped, I couldn't believe what I had just done. Did I really run 12 miles?!? Why weren't my legs hurting? It was like a dream. I CONQUERED THE HAMSTER WHEEL!We left with enough energy to enjoy my nephew's first birthday party. It was a lot of fun! My sister made cakes that looked like baseballs. Jeffrey, my nephew, had cake all over his face. My niece, Sadie, and I decorated the house with streamers and balloons. Jeffrey handled himself in style. He wasn't swayed by the army of kids scampering around, popping balloons. All he cared about was mom and cake.
It was a pretty good day.