Friday, April 12, 2013

"Marathon Curious" / One Year Out

It's funny to me that it literally took a "court order" to get me to blog again.  So what if it was just a court appointed Jury Duty date.

I will admit that I have missed blogging.  I have NOT, however, missed CANCER or any of the treatment.

I guess I'm writing now because I've been in a pensive phase. I've been doing some thinking (yikes), and I generally do that best when I write the shit down and let everyone who will listen, know about it.

It just occurred to me that TODAY is the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of my Bilateral DIEP Breast Reconstruction Surgery.  I KNEW something had me thinkin'!!! One year ago today I went under the knife for what turned out to be the MOST physically challenging of all the Cancer treatments.  Don't get me wrong, the surgery itself went very well and the end result is actually quite impressive, if I do say so myself, but I must tell you that this surgery brought me down physically to a level that I had not been at any other time during, or before, cancer treatment.  Not just the surgery itself,  which completely trashed the minimal core I had worked up to since my 2 C-Sections, but also the 1 month of mostly sitting in a "puffy chair" and then 2 more months of absolutely no exercise, or work.  Due to my Vicoden induced decision to join the November NYC marathon, and my excitement to get back to life and to running, I was able to jump back in fairly quickly, even if at an extremely slow running pace.  I had a very rough summer of running but then starting feeling a bit better in the fall.  As you know the NYC marathon was cancelled, but I did get to run a marathon in Central Park, which was actually probably a great thing because I did not have a timing chip on so there was very little stress.  After NYC, I decided to go ahead and sign up for another Trail 50 K race in March.  This was the same race that I did last year when I had raced the 50 mile. (Nueces).  When I signed up for the 50K I was very excited because it sounded so short compared to the 50 miler. I was happy also to have made a very sound decision in that I knew that wasn't going to be prepared for 50 miles again this time around!

I had some pretty decent winter running, and some really great times with my old trail running buddies:

And a few really Horrible runs:

But the resultant 50K was Great!

This was a 50K PR for me and a super fun weekend!

I have to admit that even during my 50 K training, and then after,  a certain "itch", or curiosity kept bugging me.  I'll explain...

As you may know, I do at least one day a week of road running and I have been doing that "speed" work with Team Rogue.  I've been running with a new coach there named Jeff Knight.  He's a really cool person and he seems to really know what he's doing.  My thoughts about that were confirmed when, the other day, I met with him to discuss my "Marathon Plan", and he mentioned that I'd come a long way since he met me in September/October.  He mentioned also that, at that time, he'd wondered if I ought not even be there. (Post surgery and all, and that I was SUPER SLOW).  I have to admit that he was probably right, but also chuckled inside when he said it as I remembered that I looked good at that time compared to when I was bald and in chemo and was still attending every Tuesday, 2 years ago.  I thought it very cool that he went with it, despite his doubts and let me keep coming for reason's he may not have even understood at the time.  Not only did he let me keep coming, but he showed interest in me and continued to progress my workouts.  I'll never forget the day that I was having my first good run at a decent pace, and he was driving in the car next to me for what seemed like a mile.  I felt like ROCKY.  It was very inspiring.  But let me back up....

When I first met Jeff, I explained to him that "I'm just the trail runner girl who shows up on Tuesdays."   "I run trail the other days."  It was kinda strange and cool for me that he did not know anything about me or that I'd been doing this Tuesday road run for several years even before and through cancer.   I explained that my "A" race for the year was Nueces 50K in March.  I then explained that this 50K trail race was sort of like "a really, really, long, slow, hilly, rocky marathon", in order to get it inside his wheelhouse.  After this description, he hardly paused for a breath, and then asked me what MARATHON I was going to do?.  Hmm...  I asked..."What's the next one after March?"  He said.."Eugene".  I said.."I'd like to go to Eugene." Which I absolutely meant (for vacation purposes, etc) . I've never been to the great Northwest.  So, for the months of October through March, Jeff trained me for this trip to Eugene that sounded absolutely wonderful.  At some point in January or February I realized that I was, in at least in someones mind (Jeff's), actually going to do this Eugene Marathon.   At that point I had a little talk with  my husband and explained that depending on how Nueces goes, I MIGHT sorta have to do this marathon.  After Nueces I showed up on Tuesday morning at 5:30 as I normally do and began discussion with Jeff regarding my future running plans.  I was pretty tired that day (having just raced 31 hilly, rocky, miles only 3 days before) so I mentioned to him that maybe I should run Eugene NEXT year.   He had a few words regarding my statement that allowed me to buy one more week of introspection.
After a week of fun during SXSW including several days without the kids, I was feeling GREAT, and realized that I still wanted a few more months to try to continue to progress my fitness. Just before Nueces, I had realized that I did not feel that I was going to actually be peaking for that race. I felt that if I'd just have a couple more months, then I would possibly be peaking, and I'd be closer to one year out from my surgery. Nueces ended up being a better day than I had expected, producing a 50K Personal Record for me (including pre-cancer races), but I still just felt I wanted more. The difficult thing was going to be explaining to Richie this seemingly ridiculous desire. I wanted a SECOND "A" RACE within 2 months of the other one, and this one requiring plane tickets to OREGON. Oh yeah, and I want to take my 5 year old son with me who has never been on a plane. Richie was hesitant but agreed. Luckily by the time he realized the price of the plane tickets and began to question why I didn't just run a marathon in Austin, it was too late :).

So, here I am now in my "taper" phase trying to figure out my "purpose" for this marathon. Why did I decide I wanted to do this? What is it that is going to keep me running, or even better, keep me running as fast as I'd like to, when things get tough. Since toughness alone is no longer an option, due to the fact that I had previously vowed against it (in order for bad things that require toughness to get through to stop happening to me), I must find a true "purpose". I explained to my coach that prior to Cancer I was very competitive. I was the girl that would always try to catch the person in front of me and never let the person behind have an inch. Since Cancer I've been much more content to just be wherever I was. So then, why am I, a self-professed trail runner, now signed up for yet another marathon? And why do I have a certain marathon time goal? Especially since I really don't know what that means any more and I have only an inkling of the pace that I'm capable of. In trail running we don't even pay attention to the pace per mile. In fact, for the better part of this training season I didn't even have a Garmin. When I signed up for Eugene, I literally had no idea what pace I should be running. So, since I signed up for this marathon I've had about 4 weeks with a new Garmin and an eye on what might be possible. So, what is my motive? The only things I can really come up with are that 1.) I just feel like doing it, as I mentioned above about just wanting more time to progress, and 2.) I'm curious. Curious about how I will run. Curious what I can do literally one year out from my surgery, having started from what I consider zero.  My lowest point in cancer treatment. In a way I think that I feel it's kind of like a final exam for my comeback. I used to love taking tests in school. I always wanted to see what the best score I could get could be. Have I studied well enough? Will I get lucky? Do I already know the material? Have I done the work? This is a game that the pre-cancer me might have played. Like I explained to Coach Jeff, I've changed in many ways since cancer. Mostly for the better. But, there are some parts of the old me that I have begun to miss.  It feels kind of good to feel like that person again, at least in some ways.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Run Anyway

As most of you have undoubtedly heard by now (becasue it's been almost 3 weeks), the NYC marathon was cancelled.  I'm gonna go ahead and tell you my story, because that's what I'm inclined to do.

On Monday, October 29th, I was made aware of the Hurricane Sandy by my good friend Amy who had been planning on meeting me in NYC to cheer me on at the marathon.  Her sister, Lyndsay, who is also my friend, and a runner, lives near the City in Jersey, so Amy was following the storm and had some concerns.   On Monday night I emailed Lyndsay who was (without my knowing, initially), at that very moment, being hit by the storm.

Exerpts from our emails:

Monday, October 29, 7:57 pm

"Hey, how is it ? Is it bad? Are you safe there?
What do you think the odds are of the race going on?
If it does go on would u want or be able to run any of it with me? I didn't know if that was allowed at NYC Marathon?

It's bad.
I'm scared shitless
Should have evacuated my bldg but I didn't when they told us to
Race is in question based on airports and power outages
It's really hard to jump in bc they have bariers everywhere but i will def try!!
Will keep u updated

Oh no. Be safe!
Yes Keep me posted. I hope Sandy passes through tonight!
There's that word again. Hope.

Just lost power
Shutting down now to conserve
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 2:08 PM
Long night
No power yet
No updates on marathon
Things are crazy messed up here
All subways flooded
No trains or buses yet
Went for a run along the water and there are trees down and debris everywhere
Will take a while to clean up
Most people in know in the city don't have power yet either
Not sure about airports if they are open
Don't have access to the news so you probably know more than me
Keep me updated if u hear anything about the marathon and I will do the same
Today is a big clean up day and I suspect more news will happen tomorrow
Shutting down now to conserve battery
Sent from my iPad
Me (in my mind): Oehw, That does not sound good. It's totally cool that she went for a run.  I love Lyndsay for that.  I imagined what her run might have been like. 

Throughout Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, friends and family were asking me if I was still planning on going to New York.  My responses were...."If it's ON, I'm IN, basically".  Or, "Have you met me?" Wednesday afternoon after Mayor Bloomberg stated that the Marathon was definately ON, I had no question.  I even thought that holding the marathon could, in some ways, help the city get back on it's feet. So, Thursday I commenced my packing, and Friday morning got on the plane with Richie and several other runners from Austin.   We travelled most of the day, figured out the ONE subway that was running from near the airport (JFK- it was open) to midtown, where our hotel was, and made it into the city.  Once there, we get off the subway train, I put on my puffy jacket, get tangled in the turnstyle, drag my huge suitcase up the 20 some steps,  and stumble out onto the street with eyes wide open and a smile on my face. ...typically one of my very favorite moments about arriving in a big city like NYC or San Francisco.....How the city basically opens up and washes over you.   How you instantaneously transition from one existence to another. It's kind of like being re-born.  Or, punching a giant re-set button, if you will. SHPOW!  Then, almost as if it were planned...(? Mayor B?)..... Tri-Tone sound....Text message received..."Marathon Cancelled."  Then, within seconds of the text, my phone rings and I know immediately that the text was not a  mistake. 

Standing there on the corner of 57th and 5th, with my suitcase and my husband at my side (with no kids :)) with this new information, you can imagine my mixed thoughts and emotions.  No marathon. :(  No Marathon :)?   It took me about 30 seconds to realize that this was potentially not so bad.  This was our first trip without the kids since before Ace was born.  I decided pretty immediately that this could be OK, and even, potentially, MORE fun.  Plus, It's what I had to do.

We made it to the hotel, which was a flurry of folks from all over the world, our hotel being one of the marathon host hotels.  There were glances of understanding being shared between runners of all languages.  No one was angry.  Mostly in shock, I figured. We went to our room,  got freshened up, and went out to eat....

We walked around times square and exchanged a knowing smile with "Snoop Dog".

No lack of electricity here.

There was no loss of electricity in Midtown, but just down the way, around 30th street, huge blocks were black as night.  Very spooky with a comic book "gothom" type of feeling.


On Saturday morning, we got up and made plans to work our way toward the Marathon Expo which was still being held.  Then we just started walking like Richie and I tend to do when we travel.  We ducked into an awesome Diner for breakfast and then kept walking toward the Marathon Expo which was a few miles away.  The place was packed! There were (road) runners everywhere! (Not a scruffy looking one in the bunch!) All of the 2012 NYC Marathon Gear was on sale for half price.  I picked out several very cool items and then I saw the check out line.  I realized immediately that while I may be an endurance athlete, I'd never make it to the end of that line, and we bowed out without my souvenirs.  We caught a bus back to the hotel and this is where things started getting really fun.  I had decided that I really wanted to run in Central Park since I WAS there and this was my chance.  I had tried to spark some inerest in Fred's Team to support a run there on Sunday, but there was no response, likely due to their being busy with figuring out what to do about the cancelled marathon, themselves.  So, I decided that I would go ahead and do it this afternoon before Richie and I went out to see a band that night, and not risk being too tired on Sunday.  I got dressed and ready for my run. We took a cab down to central park where the Fred Lebow Statue USUALLY stands around 90th St.,  in order for me to take some photos by the statue and then I'd start my run.

Unfortunately....Fred had already been moved to the "Finish Line" of the "Marathon" which was a few miles away at the other end of the park.  I wasn't going to be able to carry all of my things, make it to the other side for the photo with Richie and still have light for my run, so I gave my things to Richie and started running.  A few loops around the lake in the park, then down the streets of Manhattan back to my hotel.

I, of course, thought this giant Apple symbol in the sky was a "sign".
My run was a thrill! I was well rested, it was very cool out, and I was in NYC!!  I ran about 7.5 miles and I ran quickly due to the weather and the excitement.  I made it back to the hotel and we got ready to go out to eat and to go see the band Jon Spencer Blues Explosion that we wanted to see play that night. We were unable to get the tickets online, but we decided to take our chances and show up at the Bowery Ballroom because, for gosh sakes it was the Blues Explosion! We actually made it into the show!! And it Rocked!

Just before the show, Richie was reading CNN on his phone and there was one small line that mentioned how some people were meeting in Central Park the next day to do a run. After the rock show, around midnight, I noticed a twitter message from my friend Chuck linking me to a twitter site "@RunanywayNYC12".  There were some details on people meeting to run a marathon on Sunday morning in Central Park and raising money for Sandy relief.  I knew then that I had to go there and be ready to run a marathon. 

The next morning I got up and showered, body-glided my eyes (turns out it makes a great make-up remover), got dressed in my Fred's team garb, weaved through the throng of international runners doing group stretches in the hotel lobby who were obviously gearing up for something like a marathon, chose one of the 3 Starbuck's' on the corners near my hotel for breakfast, and made my way to Central Park.  I got out of the cab and walked toward the outer loop where the run was happening. By the time I got there, thousands of people were already running. (I read various esstsimates of 15-20,000 runners).  It's hard to describe the excitement and emotion that was swirling around that 6.1 mile loop of Central Park. Most people were running counter clockwise, with a small fraction of folks running clockwise on the innermost part of the road.  It was amazing.  There were thousands of others like myself who had raised money for causes in order to run NYC, and who had trained and dedicated their runs to specific people and organizations. Just like myself, they wanted, and needed to run to honor those people and follow through with commitments they had made to donors. On top of this, people were wanting to raise money for Sandy relief and victims.

I made my way closer, dropped my clothes then found myself working my way into the flow like a Salmon.  I don't think Salmon think much.  I think it is mostly part of their instinct to "run" with the group.  I was still pretty much in shock, and sort of out of it when I began running.  I was worn out from my busy day the day before and it took me a little while to completely realize what was happening.  I was trying to take it all in.  I began noting the hundreds of people who had, not their own names, but names of loved ones, causes, and their beloved countries marked on their shirts.  People were running free.  It was not a race, but something that people just needed to do.  There was, at the same time, an undeniable presence of the respect that people had for those who had suffered losses due to the hurricane Sandy.  

By the time I made it to my mile 6, which was where the anticipated  "NYC Official Marathon Finish" was to be, there was a  huge clog of people paying their respects to the finish line banner, which we were not allowed to cross under, and also to the statue of Fred Lebow. 

There you are Fred!!  At this point I felt very emotional and elated at the same time.

I ran a couple more laps on this high and then I got a text from Richie!  "I'm here. Where are you?"
Wow! this was so exciting for me.  I had left the hotel with no plans for him to meet me here. I had gone with no idea what I was getting myself into, or what was actually going to happen,so I had just headed over there on my own and told him I'd see him in about 5 hours.  When I called him back, he was only about a mile away from me and I ran with excitement toward him.  His showing up, and knowing he'd be there when I finished is what got me through the rest of my run!  What a beautiful day and an amazing example of a grass roots effort.  This marathon was absolutely self supported.  There was no city support or any official support that I could see other than the various groups that were taking donations for Sandy, and random citizens who had just come out to support the runners!  Random people were pooring water out of gallon jugs and giving away pretzels and gummy bears.  I am very happy that this once in a lifetime event went on, not in spite of a trajedy, but with respect for those who have incurred loss from not only the hurricane, but also from those more common causes that continue to affect millions. I was so happy to be able to complete my run to honor my dedications and my commitments to myself and my Fred's Team donors. And, after my run I was able to donate money to a specific family who had lost their home in the storm.

What a day!

Now back to trail!
Bandera 25K January
Nueces 50K March

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New York City Marathon. Mile Dedications

On April 12, 2012 I went under the knife for Bilateral, Deep Inferior Epigastric Perferator (DIEP) Breast Reconstruction Surgery after treatment for right sided breast cancer, and for preventative measures on the left.  On May 1st (my 42nd Birthday), under the influence of Vicoden, and from the comfort of my “puffy chair”, I decided to join Fred’s Team in order to allow myself entry to run the New York City Marathon being held on November 4th 2012, thereby, committing myself to raising $3,500 for Cancer Research.  Oh yeah, and RUNNING a MARATHON within 6 months starting from the lowest point I’d been physically in 10 years!

About one month later, I woke from my haze, stood mostly upright, looked at my gaping abdominal wound in the mirror and I realized what I had done. I had to come up with a way to raise money, to heal this wound, and to get into shape again. I remembered a time not long before I was diagnosed with breast cancer my old coach Steve Sisson told me that it’s good to do something that scares you. Well Steve, cancer scares me, and I’ve done that, so, I guess now I’ll try fundraising!

With the help of Fred’s Team, I built this Event Personal Page for an easy way to receive donations online. Please visit the site for details on donors list or further donations.

A list of donation benefits from the page are summarized here:

 Donation Benefits:

$50.00 - I will highlight a person of your choice in my blog with a note by you (if desired).

$100.00 - I will dedicate a mile of the NYC marathon up to (26.2 miles) to a person of your choosing and I will carry their name with me along the route. + Blog Highlight.

$250.00 - I will take a photograph of myself with the name of the person of your choosing next to the Fred Lebow Statue and provide you with this photo, plus dedication of mile (up to 26.2), plus blog Highlight.

Over the next several months, my wound healed, and family members, friends, and strangers made their way to my donation site and made thoughtful and generous donations. All while I’m working my way slowly and painfully back to some semblance of fitness…recumbent bike, elliptical machine, slow jogging, some pick ups then slow distance.

I am now very proud to announce that I have completed my whirlwind marathon training, I have raised over $3500 for Cancer Research, and that I am ready to run the 26.2 miles of the New York City Marathon!  As I run I will be dedicating the miles to the following people on behalf of my donors and myself.

Mile Dedications:

#1 Me -I’m going to go ahead and run this one for myself because it will represent
an exciting fresh start for me.
#2 Jennifer Benson- This is a new friend of mine who has recently undergone   
     and survived treatment for Breast Cancer.  Her mother passed about 1 year ago
     due to Breast Cancer, and her Father is currently fighting Skin Cancer.  Jennifer is one of      the nicest people I’ve met recently and I’m gonna run this one for her because it    
     will likely be the easiest mile for me, and frankly I think Jennifer could use
     something easy! It will be an awesome view and on the downside of the
     Varrazano-Narrows Bridge!

#3 Cindy Movold (On behalf of the VanBrunt family)
     by Amy Van Brunt:
The Van Brunt Family would like to dedicate this donation to Cynthia Ann Movold who passed on April 27th, 2003 at the age of 43. We would like her story to be told by her 3 wonderful daughters (My cousins): Jessica, Jennifer, & Ashley.

    By Jessica Movold:
Cynthia Ann Movold. a wife and a mother. a role model and a friend. a shoulder to lean. an extended hand to hold. a warm smile and comforting gaze. an unfailing love. an unspeakable presence.
To find words that adequately express the grace, elegance and beauty that is and was my mother, is a challenge that has the ability to leave some at a loss. Her joyful soul with a giving heart was something made unmistakably recognizable to family, friends, even strangers. My mother's compassion for others and selflessness for herself were visible each and every day through not just kind words, but also by consistent acts of love to everyone in her life, even those simply just crossing her path. To speak about my mother, even the highest most praise, can still only provide simply a keyhole view of the remarkable woman that she was. Rather than looking behind us, as a family we choose to look forward with gratitude and thankfulness for the abundance of blessings we have in our lives because Cynthia Movold was our mom, wife, role model. I have best friends in the sisters that I am blessed with and a father that consistently showers us with his never-ending love and support. We lost our mom to cancer but she has left us with her legacy. That legacy, her legacy, will live on forever.

   By Jennifer Movold:
Being the youngest of three girls, I always felt as though my mother and myself had a special bond, with our own unique relationship. I hold the memories I have with her very near to my heart. She had such a positive influence on my life and helped mold me into the caring young woman I am today. My mother was known for her compassion and lived by the philosophy of helping others. It is a goal of mine to carry on her legacy by living by the same philosophy. Which is why I have chosen nursing as my future profession. When others see me, I want them to also see the same caring traits they saw in my mother so she can live on through me.

   Blog By Ashley Movold Varian

#4 Polly Blackwood (on Behalf of Lisa Blackwood)
   by Lisa Blackwood
My mother was 45 when she adopted me as a 3 day old baby and I was 14 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1983 at age 59. She had a full mastectomy and lymph node removal, and at that time, was only recommended to have radiation. She knew she had something wrong with her breast for 2-3 years before she ever went to the doctor but delayed because she was terrified of the reality. She reluctantly went when her nipple became inverted and the surrounding area black/blue like a large bruise. Once she learned the truth, she fought to get back to normal as quickly as possible. She refused to have reconstruction as she didn’t think she needed it at her age and still donned a bathing suit in the summer with a prosthetic in the bra and proudly showed how a softball could fit in her armpit from the removal. Life was normal for several years and as her 5 year anniversary approached, we all believed she was cancer free. What we thought was an arthritis problem in her back turned out to be a tumor around her spine. She had surgery to remove it and found that she had cancer in her lungs, bones and it was moving to her brain. She lived another six months, where her health declined and ability move around diminished. She died shortly after her 65th birthday. As a woman who didn’t finish high school, she instilled in me a strong desire to excel in academics and get a college degree. She taught me to be strong and be sincere all the time, and to have the confidence to make my own way, and to depend on myself in my career and in life.

#5 Dedicated to Kathleen Johnston (on behalf of Dennis Jameson)
     Kathleen is a dear friend that is a breast cancer survivor but continues to battle
     recurrences of the disease.

#6 Dedicated to Linda Wilson - “Grandma Linda” who is one of the nicest ladies I
      know. She has fought and beat breast cancer. Linda is the mother of Adaline’s   
      wonderful caregiver and our family friend, Jennifer Stark.

#7 Dedicated to Lance Armstrong for being a figure that has given myself and millions of   
     others hope for recovery from cancer and return to a fruitful and even
     successful life.  I was a fan of Lance’s before cancer. I read his books during    
     my treatment and his story provided me with hope for recovery and inspiration to   
     continue my running no matter how weak I felt.  When I half-jokingly asked my  
     Oncologist for blood booster and/or EPO to help my low blood counts before my 50 mile
     trail race he said NO. Then he stated that Lance won the Tour with a Hemoglobin count 
     of 10 (I doubt this is accurate, though). Mine was 10.7 at the time.
     Lance, you could have done it without the EPO or hormones, too..

#8  Mary Crawford (on behalf of Lisa Blackwood)  
  by Lisa Blackwood
I have known Mary Crawford all my life. I grew up with her son in the same church in Dallas and now my husband and I are on a deer lease with her. She has two grown children and five grandchildren. She sings, plays the piano, deer hunts and rides ATVs on our deer lease and is a basically the "matriarch" of our group of 11 families that have hunted together for over 40 yrs.
    The following was written by Mary Crawford herself:
I am not a writer, but family, friends, of lot of prayer with hope and faith got me through the difficult times. I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer 2 years ago from my mammogram. Stage 1 Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) 7 1/2 weeks of radiation followed by a tamoxifen taken each day for 5 years (2 years and counting) Praise God it was contained in the duct and no chemo was needed. Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy, Breast surgery and Breast reconstruction. I am now Cancer free.  God has been my anchor, but Bob, my husband of 54 years, kept me on good solid ground when the words came from the doctors, "Cancer". He has taken care of me, drove me each day for radiation and he has continued to be at my side for all the doctor appointments. I remember feeling as if I was caught up in a whirlwind, and could not let go or I may fall off the cliff. The unknown is scary. I went into surgery not knowing for sure what the outcome would be. I have met so many people along the way who did not have the support that I had and their case of cancer was bad. I thought how lucky I really was, I had received the best of care, from all of my doctors. In the 7 1/2 weeks of radiation that I took every day, there were always someone to share your experience with and you were always encouraged by them that you were not alone in this fight for a cancer cure.  Life is more precious to me now and I stop and smell the roses along the way. I have lived in a fast paced world before this sickness came my way, but I am doing well and I am a survivor and glad to be alive!

#9 Terry Stark - the father of a longtime friend of mine. Terry underwent and
       survived lung cancer and it’s treatment.

#10 Dedicated to Barbara Carl (on behalf of Doug Feick and Trisha Carl).

#11  Sandie Shepherd - Sandie was diagnosed with Lymphoma and bone cancer in  
        September of 2011. She finished her last chemo in January of 2012. Sandie is doing
        well. Sandie has been a follower of Ballotable Records and she always had wonderful
        and encouraging comments.

#12  Stori Hughes, is the daughter of Sandie Shepherd.  Stori had breast cancer in 2000, double mastectomy, reconstruction, and then got a staph infection and had to have both removed again. She chose not to do more reconstruction. More recently she has been battling a blood cancer. They were hoping to get her healthy enough to do a donor transplant, were unable. She is currently on comfort care after 84 days in Duke University Medical Center Hospital.

#13 Derek Pocock- I’m going to dedicate this one to my Step Father Derek who is a
       Lymphoma survivor, an awesome person, husband and grandfather. Derek once
       trained for a half marathon to come and participate with me and support me when I ran
       my first marathon after only ONE phone call.  Derek has been one of my biggest
       supporters during the past two years. I truly appreciate Derek and all of his kind words,
       love, and support.

#14 Susan Selby- I’m dedicating this one to my Mother who has been there for me 
       AND my step father Derek throughout the full courses of all of our treatments.  
       May she never have to enter another chemo room!

 # 15 Mr. Bill- our neighbor across the street who is a survivor of bladder cancer.  His   
         wife was a survivor of uterine cancer and then eventually lost her life to lung  
         and brain cancer. Mr. Bill has been an outstanding neighbor and he is currently  
         fighting medical issues.

#16 Charles Scott Senior (on behalf of Charlie and Mary Scott)-
   by Charles Scott Jr.:
 My Dad, Charles H. Scott, Sr., grew up in Frisco, Texas and lived most of
 his adult life in the Dallas area, working in the semiconductor industry
 at Texas Instruments. He was a survivor of lymphoma, after being
 diagnosed and beating it in the late 80s. In 1994 he was diagnosed with
 small-cell carcinoma and, after a tough fight, passed away in March 1996.
 He is remembered as being kind, caring, funny, and good humored. When he
 was sick, I never remember him complaining and he was always more
 concerned with how my brother, Jack, and I were doing than himself.

#17 Sandy Kennedy was diagnosed in 2003 with Acute myeloid MP3 leukemia. She was  hospitalized for 6 weeks, received several rounds of chemo and a blood transfusion every other month for a couple of years. She then received oral chemo. Sandy is doing very well now and has passed the 5 year mark and counting! Sandy was an inspiration for me during my treatment because I had remembered meeting her when she was going through chemotherapy and I knew that she was a survivor.
#18 Nita Gay Rogers -  Was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer and cancer of the peritoneal lining in 1996.  Nita Gay underwent and survived Chemotherapy and Surgery and is doing very well now.  Nita is a friend of my Mother’s who had never met me but followed my blog and once wrote me a wonderful heartfelt letter of support.

#19 Joyce Selby – My father’s mother, Grandma Joyce, was in my eyes a strong and independent woman who could fish with the best of them.  She died of lung cancer and I wish I’d known her better.

#20 commonly known as “The Wall”: I will dedicate to my family. I will think of my husband Richie who has always been there with tough love when I needed it.   Thank you for being my “gristle”, and for giving me so many reasons to press on. I will also think of my daughter Adaline and my son Ace who challenge me, and provide me with love, and inspiration daily.

# 21 Julian Atkins. “Pappa”. My husbands grandfather who survived prostate cancer for a
        few years and passed due to metastases. He was a smart and funny person and he
        loved politics, Scotch, and playing golf.

#22 Judy Selby- My Aunt who is a wonderful artist and mother of 2. Judy was diagnosed
        with breast cancer and has undergone lumpectomy and radiation. She is doing very

 #23 Orby “Woody” Wood. The original “Granddaddy”.  In my eyes one of the nicest 
        men ever.  A wonderful cook. A loving husband, father, and grandfather. This man
        made art out of fresh water fishing. Granddaddy survived skin cancer with aggressive
        treatment and then later passed at the age of 91 due to metastases.
#24  Lori Miller - a close friend to one of my closest friends Chuck D.  Lori passed due to
       stage IV Inflammatory Breast Cancer.
  By Chuck Duvall
Lori was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She went to both high school and college there. She was from an Italian family. An infectious laugh.
Fantastic with people, social and a person who many gather around.
I knew her at the Portland Spirit where we both worked. She was very successful there and went on to become the Director of Sales.
Everybody loved Lori.

#25 Heather A.  My Online friend and writer of Some Girls Prefer Carnations Blog. 
       Badass scientist.  Knits stuff, and mother of 2 beautiful young girls.  Heather is a  
       Survivor of Inflammatory Breast Cancer. She provided camaraderie, information and  
       inspiration to me, throughout my treatment. 

 #26 and 26.2 - Angelica Torres I’m going to run this for a friend of mine who touched my
        life.  Angelica Torres was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in March and passed
        away with beauty and grace in June 2012. Angelica was a chemotherapy nurse who   
        nursed hundreds back to health, a runner, a dancer, and a great friend to many.

I want to thank each and every person who has followed my blog, supported me during the past two years, and who has donated to this cause.  You all are the icing on my cake!

Power down. Power uP!

I've had a sort of stressful past couple of days.  Work, kids, preparing for a trip, and wondering if I'll get to follow through with this marathon that I have asked for, and received, over $3,500 for cancer research,  promised dedications to fund donors, trained through the Texas summer heat, put off other vacations in order to afford, and scheduled child care.  I realize mine is likely a low stress relative to many of the people experiencing the side effects of the Hurricane Sandy. I've been following the internet as able with my busy schedule to see what I could find about about NYC and the fate of the city and the 2012 NYC Marathon!  Through Twitter, my primary source of social information and news, I've just been informed directly from Katie Couric that Mayor Bloomberg has announced that the Marathon will go on!  I am very excited about this.  I understand that many people will be concerned that the help of volunteers and city employees could better be utilized elsewhere, but I think that the city having a big goal like keeping the marathon running could help many people along the way as the improvements are being made.

I am excited that at this point it is looking more like I will be able to run the marathon and complete this project that I had set forth to do in May. I will be able to honor my promises to donors and to myself.  As my friend Linda E. mentioned, it is a good thing I have experience with triathlon, and trail running because I may have to swim to the start and hurdle obstacles on the route. Other than possibly being a bit cold, that shall be no problem! Also, I've got experience with running marathons in less than perfect situations. See photo above from Boston Marathon 2007, the year of the great Nor'Easter.  I am excited to get to run this marathon because,  I'm thinking of it as that giant post cancer re-set button in sky.  To quote my friend Cindy R., and to use iPhone lingo, I'm in need of a Hard Power Down. It is ironic in a way that much of the city of New York has been experiencing a hard power down of their own, but will work toward powering back up for the Marathon! This is just one more reason to Love NYC and to love running! Thank you to everyone who will make this power UP possible!

Power Howell

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Finished Product

I know we all have secrets.  I understand that I'm slightly less good at keeping mine to myself than many people are.  What I've found is that it seems that people are actually less inerested or excited about your secrets if you come out with them. Lance.

With that said, while I have basically plastered the details of the last two years of my life over the internet, I still find myself walking around with a bit of a smirk, as if I've got a secret. A feeling that I've been given information that many others have not been given.  An awareness of tough times that may not be apparent upon first meeting.  I also often wonder what secrets other people are holding. What experiences have made them who they are. What you cannot tell just by looking at a person.

Two weeks ago Thursday, I completed the breast reconstruction process. The "stamps" of completion, if you will.  After such an emotional and trying 2 years, this day came and went, almost unnoticed.  I got up, got the kids off to school, went by Central Market to buy some flowers and some muffins to thank my Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Ned Snyder, and his office for their compassion and professionalism, and then I headed over there to get the areola tattoos that would complete the breast reconstruction process and provide the final touch in the building of my giant imaginary "re-set button" in the sky.  I really hadn't had much time to think about the whole deal.  I was planning on not feeling any pain, or anthing at all for that matter, and returning to work that afternoon.  Silly me. Good news and bad news.  The good news is that it turns out I have quite a bit of feeling on the left side and some feeling on the right, which is confusing.  The left breast was built with skin sparing technique so it is basically the same old skin with fat from my belly stuffed into it.  The right side was built with a skin graft and fat from my belly so the sensation is less.  It hurt. I'm sure not as bad as a person with normal sensation would have hurt, but it hurt.  I didn't cry, which I'm sure was a relief for the tattoo artist Arnoldo Carillo of "Shades of Gray" tatoo of East Sixth street here in Austin.  His shop was named many years before the book by the way, but I thought it was hilarious that I was getting nipple tattoos from the REAL "Shades of Gray" guy! Can't get much more S and M that that.  So just before they began the tattooing, they proceeded to give me instructions on the care of a tattoo.  I had no idea there was going to be any CARE involved! The only experience I've had with tattoos was when my highschool boyfriend came and visited me in college with a brand new tattoo of my name on his arm and I punched him in it. It was still bleeding, even before i punched it. I'm pretty sure there was not a lot of CARE involved with that tatoo, but maybe I was just naive and unaware.  Anyway, the instructions were something like:  don't get it very wet at all for about 3 weeks.  DO NOT SOAK it. 

OK well, I'm gonna be running 18 miles in 2 days in 78 degrees with 90% humidity. I'm pretty sure it's gonna get soaked.   

After about 12 miles of my run, in which it also rained for 30 minutes I looked down into my shirt and saw this.  So, I ended up running the last 6 miles with a random bra that i had in my car and an old shirt, and worrying the whole time if there was going to be any ink left. Oh well, I'd made my choice.  Now, a week and a half later, I think they still look pretty good, even if possibly a "shade" lighter than they would have been.

So, in the morning I get poked thousands of times by a needle in my breasts and prance around topless in between sessions for viewing/angle puposes for about 2 and a half hours, get gauzed up and then head off to work just like any other day.

But, I'm saving my big hoorah, the punching of the giant re-set button, for New York City, and the NYC Marthon Finish Line!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Double Setback, Double Recovery, Double Fun?

As I sit here with my second sore throat in 3 weeks, I'm almost laughing at myself about how much I've changed in the past 2 years, just as the Oncologist said I would. Since my last post, things have been pretty "Ballotable", if  you will.  UPs and Downs to say the least, as is par for my course.  First of all,  I had the wonderful opportunity to spend 4 relaxing, food and fun filled days on the beach with my best friend from high school.  What a fun time, if not optimal for marathon training.
I did run some, so it wasn't  necessarily a setback.  Then, when I got back and was just "about to get into shape" I came down with the STREP THROAT! I had to miss my 15 mile long run and pretty much stayed in bed all weekend. I missed 4 days of running overall, and the first few runs back were pretty horrible.  The good thing was that this Strep throat bedrest happened to coincide with my utter inability to jog or walk due to having smashed my second to little toe on the left by kicking my suitcase that I had yet to unpack and put away, on the very same night that I came down with the strep.  I think the toe was potentially slightly broken but ended up opting out of the x-ray at the emergency clinic office due to confusion from the fever.  It was funny though when I was asking the nurse if someone could look at this toe thing after they completed the strep test and the nurse said..."the purple one?"   Uh, Yes. 

After the doc came back in and told me I had the strep, he also said it didn't really matter if the toe was broken or not, because all there is to do is tape it to the next one and call it a day.  As far as running.....don't run if it hurts.  I began to explain to him how that was not always applicable, but let it be in my weakened state.

So, I took the antibiotics (most of them....remind me not to do that again) and taped the toes and was back to jogging after 4 days.  Ran 5 days in a row, had some awesome T-Ball moments and now I find myself back here with a sore throat. No fever though so I'm hoping it's allergies. 

37 days until the NYC Marathon.  My plan is to run 16-17 miles this weekend.  We'll see.  Hopefully I won't be back in the bed laid up again.

While all of this sounds pretty typical for me, what's changed is how I am reacting to these setbacks.  I kinda feel like I'm just rolling with the punches.  Adjusting schedules, modifying goals, and enjoying the little things. I'm looking forward to a nice jog through New York City in the name of Cancer Research, and a vacation with my hubby.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Party's Over? or Just Begun?

Boob DeBub
Hey, at least mine are New?

Thanks to Everyone who helped make the last 2 years doable, and to those who made THIS PARTY GREAT!

Funny Richie won that one!

Just as I duct taped my old journals closed after Richie and I got back together for the last time, I plan for this to be the last I acknowledge boobs past.

Only10 long-run Saturdays left until I run the NYC Marathon with Fred's Team in support of Cancer Research!

It's time to get Serious about Running!

Here are a few things I've been doing to prepare:

Camelback Mountain
(Hot Guy in upper lefthand corner.)
Inspiration Point, McDowell Mountain
Chasing my friend Diane up these mountains!
No photos of my 12 mile solo road long run, 'cause who'd want to take a photo of that? Oh yeah, my last blog had a few....Anyway, according to the Fred's Team long run schedule I'm only "running" 4 miles behind schedule.  Luckily I'm used to making some significant mileage jumps from trail running, so I'm still hopeful that I'll be fine.  My primary barriers (PT lingo) to achieving successful long runs have been my less that preferable running nutrition (see cupcake example above), my shortage of running buddies...(HEY! Either get back to running, or get LESS FAST so you can run with me...or C'mon....just run with me....You know who you are!), (Thanks to Cindy S and John, and Diane for hangin' with me!) and my recent emphasis on enjoying life as a priority. 

The school year has officially started back up and this fact opens up a whole (familiar) world of schedules and consistency which may at times seem mundane, but are comfortable for me, and are super helpful for running schedules, progression, and planning.   I think this is going to help.  This, and hopefully some cooler weather in October? 

Please send me bios/info on the folks I'll be highlighting in this blog soon, if you haven't already.  I hope to begin that in the the next few weeks.  I'm looking forward to it!

There is still time to support my run and cancer research at Memorial Sloan Ketterling Cancer Center with your donation.