Monthly Archives: March 2016

Week 16 Training Update

Week 16

Wow – where did the time go? An 18-week training plan seems crazy in Week 1, and now I’m at the point where I might just be dumb enough to sign up for another marathon if someone asked me. All of my “long” runs are done – now it’s time to taper. Taper. What a beautiful word. Tapering is

the practice of reducing exercise in the days just before an important competition…for many athletes, a significant period of tapering is essential for optimal performance…the final three weeks of any marathon-training program are the most critical stage of training.

Seems hard to believe – the final three weeks of training are the most critical! How often in life do we go-go-go and don’t pause to slow down, save up our energy and re-charge. What is an area of YOUR life that could benefit from tapering in the weeks ahead? Any marathon training plan clearly calls out the days of exercise and also the days of rest. The rest days are even more important to honor each week. Make sure YOU take rest time to reflect, recover and recharge THIS week.

Who’s sick of seeing me in pictures each week running in snow? Me too. I’m ready to take some pics of me in shorts and sunglasses. Well…if that’s what you want then this post isn’t for you. Last weekend, Eden Prairie literally had 1-2″ of snow on the ground for 4-5 hours, and then it all melted away. Guess when I planned to do my 20-mile run? Yep. I ended up running 21 miles in snow and cold yet again :) Had to get out my snow running gear (wishful thinking that I packed it away I guess) . So…I ran 21 miles wearing extra gear, requiring extra effort to breath in the cold, and needing to stabilize every step…hopefully all that extra work helps me get up ‘heartbreak hill’ at mile 21 in Boston.

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As I was getting ready to leave the house for that long run (the longest run of my training plan), I kept looking outside at the snow and thinking how far 20 miles sounded. This is when your brain starts to work against you. I looked over to see what the outside temperature was, and I was instantly inspired – THIS was the sign that I needed (26.2 is the distance of a marathon!):

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And then I had my hill run on Wednesday (down to twelve “half hills” now). Yet again, “time to run” somehow translates to “time to start snowing”. Fun times. I’m getting a bit faster on hills, and I feel great the entire time, but what I’m most proud of are the near perfect sine waves I can create :)

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Thankfully, through all of my runs I only fell once (and let’s keep it that way!). It was the night that we got 9-10″ of snow, I had driven up our driveway and by the time I could get out the door for a run 1/2 hour later there was snow covering my car tracks. I got about 20 steps from my front door, stepped on a slippery spot where my tire had compacted the snow, and I fell in my own driveway. Sigh. That’s one of those that you bounce up from as fast as you can and pretend that nothing happened and hope that no one saw you. At least I fell into fluffy powder.

I was slowed by a few obstacles this week. Twice in the past week (and it hasn’t happened throughout the last four months), I was stopped on my run by trains. And I also kept running into massive snow piles on sidewalks. Again, this didn’t happen all winter, but for some reason this week the plows clearing parking lots decided sidewalks were a better place to pile the snow than in far away parking spots. Bring on the trains and snow piles and whatever else ya got – nothing is stopping me at this point :)

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This is the time during training that I feel “fragile”. Your mind starts thinking about every little hazard that could twist an ankle and impact your race. Do I stop playing racquetball? Do I stop kicking the soccer ball with Megan in the backyard? Who left those shoes just laying in the hallway and the dog toys scattered everywhere? Do I dare risk carrying the laundry basket down the stairs? Do I stop taking stairs in general? If you see me wrapped head-to-toe in bubble wrap next week just smile and wish me good luck in the race. No need to judge. Until you’ve run 450+ miles (so far) in my shoes, you don’t know what I’ve been through – heh heh ;)

There were several cool, powerful, and impactful things this week:

  • I got a full-page article with a big color photo in the Eden Prairie News. Great article to create awareness and spread messages of fighting stigma. I was shocked to see this article taking a full page – so cool! The sports reporter who covered this grabbed some things throughout several of my blog pages and even came up with the “Dos & Don’ts” section (maybe only visible in the printed copy) – glad I agree with it :) I’m not so hip on the news lingo (which I think is used in web page design too – funny how things do or don’t translate). Someone asked me if I was “above the fold”. Well…maybe I wasn’t “above the fold” (front page articles used to entice people to buy the paper) in Eden Prairie, but this month I was “above the fold” in the Rochester Sentinel – sure it was only 10-pages but at least I wasn’t below the fold – ick, how embarrassing.

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  • I got my official marathon running jerseys. One is long-sleeve and the other is sleeveless. Yikes, I’ve only been running for training – now I need to start doing some curls and shrugs to build up my arms and shoulders in case it’s a warm day for my tank top finish photos :)
  • I got my Boston Marathon welcome packet in the mail. It has my runner passport (necessary for me to get my official race # when in Boston), a welcome packet, and a catalog from Adidas where I can spend up to $250 for a 120th Limited Edition Varsity Boston Marathon jacket (zowy – maybe I’ll start another fund-raising campaign for that!)
  • March 26 was the four year anniversary of Katherine’s death. The support I got (especially online via Facebook) was absolutely amazing. On December 8th (Week 1 of my training) I wrote a post “YOU are running with me” – I absolutely felt that this week – thank you all! My sister loved doing jigsaw puzzles and none of us could come anywhere near the crazy talent she had for putting them together. We did a 1,000 piece puzzle that day in her honor, although we broke every rule of hers when we did it (e.g., we did the edge first; we did the edge at all; we did a puzzle with writing/pics so we could see where they all could go; we laid all the pieces out on the table so we could see them all). Everybody helped but Megan was my true partner in making sure we got it done that day. I don’t think any of us know quite what to do on this day, but doing a puzzle just feels right as we can bond yet also have plenty of time for quite thoughts and reflections.

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As of this post I’m over $15,600 in donations. I continue to be humbled and so deeply touched by the support I receive every single day. I am blessed to be surrounded by so many generous and loving people. What a great way to honor my sister’s life as we all are saving lives!!!

YOU can still help with a donation by clicking here. I am definitely hitting $20,000 – one way or another that is happening!

As always, I can’t thank you all enough for reading these messages, being there for those around you, and helping fight the stigma of suicide and mental illness. WE are saving lives. Thank you.

Hey Boston, see you in three weeks!

The Lesson a Giant Pumpkin Can Teach Us About Depression

I lost my sister, Katherine, at the age of 37, to suicide on March 26, 2012. I didn’t think about her every day before she died. I think about her every day now. Yep, nearly four years later – every single day. Who should you be thinking about every day? Take a few deep breaths…think about those people now. Repeat each day!

It’s amazing the lessons and reminders we get all around us when we find a moment to pause and reflect. My sister, Katherine, could brighten any room with her smile and laughter. She smiled until the end – keeping a brave face and hiding her struggles. So many of us were not aware of the signs of mental illness, depression, and anxiety, and how very real the possibility of a suicide could be.

Bear with me. We grew a giant pumpkin in our yard last year.

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In December it snowed, and I had visions of sprinkling the pumpkin with birdseed all winter long to watch birds and squirrels have fun with it.

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But then it warmed up a bit, and the pumpkin started to sag. As weird as this may sound, it was about this time that I had this random thought that my sister kept right on smiling and putting on a show that everything was ok, even though she was feeling bad. The pumpkin kept right on smiling. Every time I saw the smile on the pumpkin I thought of Katherine.

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I have many random thoughts, some I shoo away, some come back to me often, and this thought kept coming back to me. No matter how bad that pumpkin must have been feeling, that darn smile wouldn’t go away. And I thought of the struggles that are hidden every day by so many people.

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I kept thinking of this connection to my sister and complications associated with depression and the stigma of mental illness…still smiling.

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Of course. Still smiling. “I’m fine” said the pumpkin.

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I thought about the pumpkin while buried under snow and frequent sub-zero temperatures for over two months. The pumpkin could be seen again in March…still smiling. “You ok?”, “I’m ok, don’t worry about me. Check out my smile.” The smile is there, but the pumpkin is not ok.

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We had so much fun growing this pumpkin, showing it off to people, wondering how big it would get, etc, etc, etc, but I never ever would have thought the more the pumpkin rotted away, the more I would feel this connection.

So many people face struggles every day. They try to hide it from the world. They try to hide it from themselves, and they don’t share everything with their loved ones. They don’t know or see any way to get better. The rest of us don’t know what to look for, or think this will pass, or don’t pause long enough to look past the smile.

We cared for our pumpkin and watched it every day when it was growing and healthy.

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Maybe it felt heaviness from us.

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Being pushed or pulled in too many directions.

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Feelings of pressure.

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Or of emptiness.

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That it wasn’t good enough.

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Or was scared.

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But that darn pumpkin kept smiling through it all. Check in on those around you – listen to them. REALLY listen to them. Notice their changes in behavior and understand how very real suicide can be. If in doubt, get professional help. Mental illness, depression, anxiety, etc – they are so tough to talk about and share. You feel judged. You feel like you won’t get better. You feel helpless. With suicide you are fighting to live and die at the same time. It’s not that people in this situation don’t want to face the world and get better, they just don’t know how and don’t see a way out. Smiling puts people at ease and provides some escape from facing your reality and having to share the uncertainty that you have. Smiling on the outside, while caving in from all directions.

That’s what I learned from our giant pumpkin last year. It’s important for all of us to smile, but please be open and share how you’re doing with others. If you’re struggling then please let someone know. If you’re concerned about someone, don’t keep that to yourself. Reach out to them. Last year I wouldn’t have done this, but recently I noticed someone’s post on Facebook and sent them a private message, “…checking in to make sure you have people to talk to and have a good support network.” Sometimes that’s enough to get people talking. And to get a conversation started. But we have to pause long enough to make it happen. Peace in the week ahead.

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CLICK HERE to support this cause and help me save lives.

As always, I can’t thank you all enough for reading these messages, being there for those around you, and helping fight the stigma of suicide and mental illness. WE are saving lives. Thank you.

Week 13 Training Update

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Like my new shirt?

If you hit your initial fund-raising goal in CrowdRise they send you a shirt. I chose this one over “Decent Human” :)

Want to feel better? Happier? Healthier? Donating to my cause of suicide prevention and fighting the stigma of suicide and mental illness, will do all those (I’ll let you google ‘donating and happiness’ on your own).

Want to fight depression? Want to fight YOUR depression? Same answer – donate to my cause :) Don’t believe me? You just said you wanted to be happier, healthier, etc – how’s not donating to me treating you ;) Heh heh. It’s against my nature to always be asking for donations, but guess what? It works. No guilt here (I’m learning). WE are saving lives. A simple donation will fight depression in so many ways. Other small steps referenced in this article that we can all do each day to impact our well-being:

  • Be kind to others
  • Express gratitude
  • Think optimistically
  • Meditate on the good things in life

Today’s the day. Pick one of those. Go easy on yourself. Have fun with them. Make connections. Share these easy tips with others. Save lives.

Training continues to go well. Crazy when 13 miles now is a “short week”. What Yogi Berra said about baseball definitely applies to my training, “…is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.” It’s crazy to think that I only have five weeks of training left, and only two more long runs (a 19 mile run, and a 20 mile run, and then supposedly I’ll be ready). The closer the race gets (< 50 days!) the more questions I get from people. I love the energy, excitement and support around this. Thank you everyone for your thoughts and encouragement.

I also watched a movie this past week, Spirit of the Marathon. It got my adrenaline pumping several times as it followed six runners preparing for the Chicago Marathon. A great quote from the movie was from John Bingham, who said:

“So most of us are out there for the same reason, right? We just want to have a good time. You paid for that course to be open as long as it’s going to be open. And the faster you run, the less value you’re getting for your marathon dollar. So the wise marathon consumer is going to be out there as long as we can…you do not want to rush that experience.”

I love that. I don’t want to rush my marathon experience. If you donated to my cause and have expectations that I’m going to run fast…well…you may want to try getting your money back from me? Ha – good luck with that!

It’s been a great past two weeks in terms of support and awareness. I’m over $12,000 thanks to all of your support – only $7,500 left to hit my next target of $20,000! A highlight is that I was the “Top Story” in the Rochester Sentinel (Rochester, Indiana) on March 2nd (it costs a minimum of $4.50 to see that article – sorry). Rochester (“City of Friendship and Pride”) is the town that my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc are from and/or live in still. It holds a special place in my heart and I’m thrilled to make the news there. My first marathon newspaper story!

And did I mention that I got a free t-shirt :)

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As always, I can’t thank you all enough for reading these messages, being there for those around you, and helping fight the stigma of suicide and mental illness. WE are saving lives. Thank you.