Author Archives: dcthmpsn

Week 11 Chicago Marathon

This is a test…a bit exaggerated, maybe a bit of awkward fun (at my expense), but please read to hopefully learn a bit more about how we react to others who may be struggling.

I’m in Week 11 (of 18) while training on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention team for the Chicago Marathon. Training and raising awareness for this important cause are going well (keep those DONATIONS coming!).

But I have a struggle.

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A marathon is 26.2 miles. Anywhere from 1500 – 2000 steps per mile. ~50,000 opportunities for my shirt to rub against certain parts of my body.

Seriously.

That’s my struggle.

Every step can rub.

If it’s super hot or raining it’s even worse.

It’s distracting.

It’s frustrating.

That shower after running makes me want to scream!

Ok…PAUSE and think for a few seconds. What’s your reaction to hearing this? What thoughts went through your brain?

Did you judge?

Think I brought this on myself by running in the first place?

Think I should get over it?

Think it’s not that bad?

Think I should be stronger?

Did you feel awkward and not know what to say? Maybe wish I wasn’t sharing on this topic?

Think that you’ve been through worse so why should I complain?

I’m in no way trying to diminish the reality of mental health struggles…but even for this tiny example think about how you react and process hearing about others who are struggling. Who cares what the struggle is. Who cares how big or small you perceive the challenge. Who cares if you feel awkward and aren’t sure how to react.

We need to work through our own judgments and discomfort to be there for others. It’s not our job to judge. Who knows when something that seems small can spiral into larger issues.

Many of the reactions I listed are in 10 Things Not to Say to Someone With Depression. Be there for those around you. Listen. Let go of your judgment. Let them know that they are not alone. Sometimes all they need is someone to just be there.

If you are struggling, know that it is critical that you share with others. Know that you are not alone. Find someone who will listen. Sometimes small daily steps can help (e.g., meditation, exercise) and other times we need professional help. Share what’s going on and we’ll find a way to get through it.

I’d love your support as we NIP suicide in the bud! ;) Click here to DONATE. WE are saving lives.

And…just so you don’t lose sleep worrying about me…my new favorite running accoutrement is NipStrips. I’m saved. Problem solved. And I love the guarantee on this fantastic product that has made all the difference…if your nips aren’t fully satisfied…

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And just a few quick updates on my running progress. Week 11 and I’m still running strong. Thank you Jen for planning another long route! It is amazing that we can run 20 miles and very soon after be able to eat and grab a drink, and not be sore in the days afterwards. So what’s the difference in just running 6 more miles on race day??? I hope NOTHING this year!

The weather has been fun. Even when I get up early to run it seems I’m facing high humidity and dew points. I haven’t looked yet to see what average temps are for the Chicago Marathon. A nice chilly day in the 50s or 60s would be great!

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I ran almost 20 miles for my long run this week while Minnesota had poor air quality alerts. They suggested that you stay indoors and limit physical activity. Uh…hard to do when I have a training plan and have committed to run for a cause I believe in.

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The sun and sky were hazy cool in the morning.

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Despite some higher temps and poor air quality we ran steady regardless of any changes in elevation!

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Thanks again for your support. WE are saving lives!

Week 10 Chicago Marathon

Wow – great 10th week of training for the Chicago Marathon on the AFSP team! It was a powerful week connecting with others and raising awareness to the importance of mental health for all of us. I was also blessed by so much generosity for this cause that is so important to me and my family. I can’t thank you enough. I went from 4th or 5th in fundraising to #1…let’s keep it that way by keeping those DONATIONS coming in for AFSP! I like to think of it as I’m #1 in saving lives and raising awareness!

It’s always nice to get unexpected gifts in the mail. Here’s a training shirt for the AFSP team. My kids think it is a bit bright – I guess that’s the point :)

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Here are a few recent questions we put on the whiteboard outside of my office at work. I can’t deny the feeling of joy and connection that I get when someone reaches out to me or I get a new donation. The notes and stories inspire me and keep me going. The generosity and support touches my heart. I assume it’s a connection with doing good in the world in my sister’s name and knowing that she would be proud of what I’m doing. What gives you joy and happiness in the world? Do more of those things ;)

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This past weekend we went to the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market (after my 13 mile training run of course!). I stopped by the BBQ At the Market booth which is put on by the Face It Foundation. I met the owner and chatted for just a bit about the work that they do to “give men the support they need to face depression, take control of their recovery and get their lives back” – and all free services. Wow – what a mission. And their food was awesome too – loved it! In the past year or so I’ve had 3 different people let me know that someone connected to them (e.g., friend, neighbor, co-worker) committed suicide, and they wanted to know how they could provide support to the family. The three people who died were all men, I’m guessing all 40+ years old. Guys, you gotta talk. Share what’s going on. There is hope. There is a way out. You will get through this. But we need to do it together. Organizations like Face It can provide support that you need. Reach out to me if you ever want or need to talk. We will get through this. UPDATE: the day after I met the founder of Face It, I had someone at work approach me asking what support they could get for a middle-aged man that they know. Perfect timing. I love it when connections like that happen!

And how did I hear about Face It in the first place? By connecting with someone at work. When we share our stories amazing connections can happen. Soon after I crossed the finish line at Lola’s half marathon earlier this year wearing my “Defeat the Stigma” shirt, I heard a voice yell, “I like your shirt”. I could hear a bit of emotion in that voice, and I had a hunch they were yelling in my direction, so I stopped and turned around. I met a young man that day who shared that he has been struggling most of his life with mental health conditions and has been in and out of treatment programs. So cool that he yelled out to me. We shared our stories and then thanked and encouraged each other. Get out there and share your story, every time you do we take steps to defeat the stigma. We are all in this together. You never know when what may seem like little acts can make all the difference in someone’s life.

Thanks again for the support. CLICK HERE if you’re interested in making a DONATION to support this cause.

Week 9 – Chicago Marathon training

9 weeks of training for the Chicago Marathon, and I’ve run over 230 miles. That would put me over halfway to Chicago from Minneapolis if I were running that route! I’ve also raised $2837 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention team – which is a fantastic start. If you haven’t pledged me already, please consider donating to this cause that is so important to me.

I ran 17.5 miles this past Saturday (40 miles total for the week). It was a beautiful day and the run felt great. Those runs take a lot of energy so I finished the day with a Lion’s Tap Double California burger! So good. I keep saying that this is the year to find my 6-pack abs…maybe I shouldn’t check if Lion’s Tap will be my sponsor.

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I also did the Torchlight 5k recently. It was a great run at night along a parade route in downtown Minneapolis so tons of people were out cheering you on. I didn’t get the memo that nearly EVERYONE else would be wearing blue shirts so my bright green ‘Defeat the Stigma‘ shirt stood out even more than normal! PERFECT! Thank you blue shirts – you all helped me raise awareness!

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I watched this video “A Year After Losing A Friend” recently. I LOVED what they did with feelings of ANGER and being MAD. What if love is “every emotion all wrapped into one”? It’s ok for love to make you mad. Suicide and mental health issues are complex. It’s ok to feel whatever you are feeling. It’s far worse to hide your emotions or deny yourself the ability to feel them. Be ok with whatever mood, word, emotion hit you, and know that these will change. Sit with that. Share how you’re feeling. Find someone who will really listen. Someone very close to me took some exception to my use of the word ‘anger’ in my article for The Mighty last year (side note: I love searching for “The Mighty Dave Thompson” to find this article – ha!). I will gladly talk to anyone 1-on-1 about what I went through, but I won’t apologize for any emotions and reactions that I felt in the first few years after losing my sister. Thinking of any emotion that you have as another way to express ‘love’ really brings this home. I hope you NEVER go through anything close to the complexities and far-ranging emotions that are present with the suicide of a sibling. And I hope the funds I raise from DONATIONS while running in the Chicago Marathon on October 7th will help keep others out of this situation.

Thank you for your support and for helping spread awareness to this important cause. WE are saving lives.

Week 8 Chicago Marathon Update

My first Chicago Marathon post! I finally created a spreadsheet to track my training miles for the Chicago Marathon (Oct 7, 2018) on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention team. Training plans are supposed to be 18 weeks, but apparently I’m now in Week 8 of training – yikes! The good news is I only have to focus on training for 10 weeks now (but also only that much time to fund-raise for AFSP while fighting stigma and raising awareness for all those facing mental health challenges)!!! Not to worry, I’ve been running…just not with a plan.

I looked for some pictures to prove that I’ve still been running…but most of my pictures showed me eating or sitting and watching kid’s sports. Ruh-roh! I have recent runs of 15 and 17 miles (thanks Jen for being a great running partner!), so I’m technically over halfway to a full marathon (26.2 miles), but I also love the advice that the race isn’t half over until mile 20!

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I broke out my FREE Brooks shoes that I got last year while running the 21st mile of the Twin Cities marathon faster than my average pace of the first 20 miles. That was such a great challenge for me. I love the quote in the shoebox, “These shoes are overflowing with possibilities. Show them the ropes. Pound the pavement. Tromp some trails. Wow them. Thrill them. Give them adventure. Run happy.” Amen! That’s how I want to run. Our job is to thrill our shoes and give them adventure – ha! Don’t let your shoes down!

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Some of my miles were in Rochester, Indiana a month or so ago while attending a wedding and seeing lots of family. I love all the different sidewalks and paths. I have great memories of biking with my grandpa in many of these same areas way back when as a kid. Running frees my brain. It makes me focus on the world around me. It is great therapy. Get out there – pause and notice the world (and people!) around you.

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I also did some miles in Colorado a few weeks ago. After I saw the sign below I ran the whole way screaming and waving my arms. No way did I want to be the one to accidentally feed the coyotes!

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I should be happy that I’m 4th in fundraising on the AFSP team out of 110 people. That’s a great spot to be in. I should be happy for the people ahead of me. Ok, I am. But I’ll be happier when I’m ahead of them!!! My dream from earlier this year is to finish in the Top 3 in fundraising (even that doesn’t feel right – I want to be #1!!!). Here are recent standings:

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Let’s get me to the #1 spot and really raise some money and awareness as we support all of those facing mental health issues. I increased my goal to $6000 – I know WE can do that. Click here to DONATE. Spread the word. Help raise awareness. Help fight stigma. Help educate others. We are all in this together. Be there for those around you. WE are saving lives. Thank you!

Change starts with me

Owning My Thoughts May Be More Important Than My Actions

I keep waiting for someone to post my exact thoughts and emotions from this week. Some get close but then lose me for a variety of reasons. I’ve been saying lately that we can all make a difference by how we act. But I’m realizing that it’s acknowledging and owning the thoughts behind our actions that may be more important.

I see denial most everywhere I turn lately. If I’m being honest, I’ll admit that I have judgments about all sorts of people and situations. Some are great, but some I wouldn’t want to say outloud. I am guilty of that. I own that. What I continue to get better at is observing my own judgments, and exploring what is behind them. And then deciding who I want to be, and how I can take actions to make a difference.

One Level of Giving Back

This isn’t meant to be braggadocious, but instead is part of my reflection, and maybe it will inspire you to take action or share what you’ve been up to and what you want to do for next steps. In the past two days…

  • my youngest daughter volunteered at Feed My Starving Children (she and a few friends did enough work in under a few hours to feed eight children from Haiti for a year each);
  • my son and I cleaned out our toy closet and then took lots of stuff to Goodwill;
  • I revealed a wish to a new wish child for Make-A-Wish yesterday;
  • I signed up for the Moustache Run to help raise awareness to men’s health issues;
  • and, last night my three children and Beth went to our church to spend time with Families Moving Forward, to help families that are currently experiencing homelessness.

But What If I Do More Outside of My Comfort Zone?

I’m very proud of these activities, but I’m realizing all of these are relatively safe for us. These efforts may not be enough, especially now.

Maybe if I push harder outside of my comfort zone in my giving, I can make a bigger difference…:

  • I’m proud that my church welcomes and accepts everyone – how can I get more involved with showing public support for others who may be different from me?
  • I see many posts from friends whose skin is a different shade than mine, expressing anger or fear lately – and I don’t know how to express the right emotions and give support – what if I reach out to them and sincerely ask what I can do to help, or let them know I’m here for them, maybe by simply ‘liking’ what they post on Facebook?
  • In this past week, Beth had friends who were taunted on campus, and I saw friends called vulgar names online for expressing their beliefs – how can I be better at getting more involved in the fight against hate, discrimination, and truly deplorable actions?

Change Starts With Me

Change starts with me. My thoughts become my actions. I ask that you take time to observe your thoughts, be honest with yourself, and reflect on who you really want to be in this world. Own it. And then go be that change and make that difference.

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I share over 20 videos below on all sorts of suicide and mental health topics – be sure to scroll down

Pick Me, Pick me

There’s an Internet challenge going around to raise awareness to the 22 American Veterans who die on average each day from suicide. I felt like I was the kid on the sidelines jumping up and down, waving my arms, saying “pick me, pick me”…and then I was nominated by Kelly Hanink (we were on the Eden Prairie Fire Department together – and we both are well aware that suicide and PTSD also affect our police officers, firefighters, EMS providers, and ER staff).

My 22 Days

I did my push-ups from August 6th, 2016 through August 28th, 2016. I’m grateful for all of the people who joined, encouraged, or filmed me during these 22 days, and especially to Tracy McKibben (Pearson co-worker) who accepted my challenge and continued doing push-ups for 22 days to help raise awareness to this important message.

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Educational and Inspirational Videos & Articles

Most days, in addition to the video I posted of myself, I posted a link to new educational and inspirational videos on suicide and mental health issues. I hope some of these videos land well with anyone out there who needs to hear these messages. Here are the links and brief messages I posted on Facebook throughout my 22 push-up challenge.

Day 2 article. A perspective on depression. Be there for all those around you. If you are struggling in any way, please let others know.

Day 3 article. Six-time U.S. Olympic swimming medalist Allison Schmitt recently shared her struggles with depression and suicide. Way to go Allison for sharing your message, fighting stigma and helping save lives. A few key messages I took away are when Michael Phelps sensed she was struggling and said, “I know you’re not yourself…I’m here for you if you need help.” The article also says they “thought it was a passing phase” and “I really underestimated the depth of what was going on”. Yep – that’s how depression works. It’s sneaky. Watch out for those around you – it can make all the difference.

Day 4 video: Here’s one of six, short Talk With Me videos. These are put together amazingly well (by Peter Cannon), and they get my heart racing and put me through all sorts of emotions. The whole point of these videos is that people who are struggling want and need to be heard (“talk with me”). Watch out for those around you & listen – it can make all the difference.

Day 5 article. From Amy Ferris emphasizing the importance of really connecting with others – and keeping the message simple (“i. know. how. you. feel. i have your back.”)

Day 6 video. An article from Guideposts in their “Our Returning Troops” section. This story gives the perspective of a soldier struggling with PTSD and suicide, and how he continues to get through that every day.

Day 7 video and Chirpstory. Echos comments I heard John Moe say during last year’s Stomp Out Suicide 5K keynote, something like “You know what depression hates? Depression hates sunlight, matching t-shirts, and balloons.” You know what else it hates – crazy push-ups and funky dancing with great friends. Thanks Kristin Danner, Wendy Cummins and Colleen Thompson for making our Sweet Corn 5K on the brick streets of Adel, Iowa so much fun today. Today is also the last day to sign up for the Stomp Out Suicide 5K (on 8/20/16) and be guaranteed a t-shirt. It’s a meaningful event filled with celebrating life. Sign up today to help make a difference and save lives!

Day 8 video. From the Veterans Health Administration, explaining PTSD. If you like this style of video, there are several more in this series from the VHA. Several of them focus on next steps and treatment. Let someone know if you’re struggling. Watch out for those you love. We’re all in this together.

Day 9 video. From the Directing Change contest associated with Each Mind Matters: California’s Mental Health Movement.
There are a ton of great videos in this contest – amazing what these students have created to raise awareness and fight the stigma of mental health issues!

Day 10 video. A short but powerful video about the toughest battle the military is currently facing. Help our troops get the support they need as we raise awareness, save lives, and fight the stigma of PTSD and suicide.

Day 11 video. Interview from this morning of Sean and Katie Haines by BOB Country FM, ahead of the Stomp Out Suicide 5k. I hope to see you there!

Day 12 video. Short video from Major General David Blackledge. I struggled with finding messages from military leaders that seemed heartfelt and didn’t feel forced. It was refreshing to hear his message, “Hey, I’ve been through this. I’m not just telling you something that I’ve read off slides or a pamphlet. This is something I’ve experienced. It’s important to come forward if you’ve got these issues. No one should have to deal with this on their own. The help is there. This is no longer a mystery. The medical and psychological practitioners know how to get you through this and help you out.”

Day 13 video. So this happened at work today – eight of us did somewhere around 186 total push-ups. I’m blessed to work with so many amazing people that will jump right into almost any activity as we raise awareness and support each other.

Day 14 video. (actually came from Day 21 but I had extra videos that day). A SoulPancake video (if you’re not familiar with their work, you should check them out – they create many meaningful, uplifting videos that are good for your soul). This video is about anxiety and panic attacks. And about fighting stigma. And about steps that might work for some people..

Day 15 video. A short but very impactful video from the This Able Veteran organization. In addition to my pushups, I shoveled crushed granite all weekend and completely built the two paths behind me – glad I still had some arm strength left :) Only a week left of my pushup challenge – hope I make it ;)

Day 16 video. An entry in the 3MT (3-Minute Thesis) competition on the topic of how personalities may impact PTSD. The extra cool part is that I was thrilled to have Beth join me in push-ups tonight, and that just this year she also put in tons of hard work and preparation to compete in a 3-Minute Thesis competition at the University of Minnesota!

Day 17 video. Video I created. Yep, me. My voice, my content. Maybe not my hand doing the drawing. I created this to wrap up my St. Thomas coaching certificate program earlier this year. I fully believe that taking steps every day to chase your dreams creates positive reinforcements and upward spirals that strengthen and build resilience in your mind, heart and body. “You matter. Today matters. Your dreams matter.” Believe it!

Day 18 link. Local group in Minnesota that raises awareness to suicide prevention while fighting the stigma of mental health issues. The Steuernagel’s lost their son, Jake, just three years ago, and since then they have been very active raising money and awareness on Facebook and at events such as their 4th annual ice fishing event (Feb 4th, 2017).

Day 19 article. Minnesota State Fair edition. I only saw one other person at the fair wearing their Stomp Out Suicide t-shirt from last week. A few years ago I met Bill Goldberg at the state fair (you know, WWE…always spearing people…ok, nevermind). So what celebrities have done the push-up challenge? Here are a few (and I love that Ludacris did this at his concert – so cool to raise awareness with a big crowd!).

Day 20 video. Another video that got my heart beating faster up front but then ended in a much better spot. These videos can be tough to watch but just think of all the people out there suffering from PTSD, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues that can relate to all these voices going on in their heads. As the video says, you got this, you will get through today, you are enough.

Day 21 videos – video 1, video 2, and video 3. Hopefully anyone with PTSD can relate to some of the messages I’ve posted, even though they may seem to be created for different audiences. I’ve tried to find videos on PTSD in the military that are short, informative, impactful, authentic, etc. It’s tough. Many of the military-focused videos are longer and are much more intense. Here are three longer military-focused videos I’ve found that may work for some people.

Day 22 video. My final video is a simple and heartfelt “thank you” to all those that have served our country in the military. To any of my Facebook friends who have served – thank you for your service!

Boston Marathon – done!

Wow! So hard to believe that I’ve already driven to and from Boston and run the marathon! Yes, I finished :)

What a crazy, energy-pumping, goosebump-inducing, powerful, emotional, physical, reflective, cathartic experience that I will never forget. No other marathon or race will ever be the same. The people and city of Boston are absolutely incredible! And it was so great to be surrounded by family and receive so much support from so many people. THANK YOU all for thinking of us throughout this journey. This may be my last marathon-related post (and it may have a few lines copied from an email that I’ll also blast out – sorry for a bit of repetition). Thank you for putting up with my fund-raising plugs over the past four months for this cause that is so important and personal to me. Hopefully I mixed in enough fun pictures and facts to keep it more interesting than annoying :)

The marathon is done but my mission is far from over (and will never end). My $18,000 raised covers over 2,300 support calls by the Samaritans’ team. That is 2,300 people calling or texting in a time of crisis. YOUR donations made that possible. I had the opportunity to stop by the Samaritans’ office in Boston before the marathon. Every person I met had a story to share about how their lives have been impacted by suicide. They are wonderful people doing great work every day. I’m still aiming at raising $20,000 to support this great organization. Donations will be accepted throughout May so it’s not too late to donate today.

HERE’S THE DONATION LINK ONE LAST TIME: https://www.crowdrise.com/samaritansboston2016/fundraiser/davethompson

And now for many photos and probably way too much info about the marathon – enjoy.

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It didn’t look so far from Hopkinton to Boston in this view ;)

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Here’s my Samaritans team at Boston Common before the marathon. This was the first time that I met any of my fellow runners. Many of us have tough stories to tell and are at various stages in our healing process, but I felt an instant connection to all of them and only wish we had more time to bond…and on a day when we didn’t have so much else going on :) Such an awesome (wicked awesome!) group – I hope we all stay in touch for years to come.

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I’ve been to the infield of the Kentucky Derby many times. On first glance, Athlete’s Village looked to have a lot in common…people and trash scattered everywhere (but with less armed guards)! We arrived here after a 40-minute bus-ride from Boston. We found a spot in the shade and spent over an hour applying & re-applying sunscreen (yet, somehow I missed the back of both arms, which were a beautiful shade of bright red hours later) and looking for the shortest port-a-potty lines. Amazing how fast the time went between 7:45 a.m. (meeting for group photo) to 11:20 a.m. (my approximate start time). The sun was out and hot by this point of the day.

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Hopkinton’s claim to fame!

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Despite thousands of people in a large area, we somehow kept finding other team members…here we are just before we started our 1/2 hour walk to the start line. All smiles at this point (little did we know…).

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Chills of anticipation just before the start…

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We cut-up my marathon shirt from last year…and ended up pinning this to the back of my shirt for The Boston Marathon. This kept me going. I heard a few comments from other runners throughout the marathon, and I even had a woman start a conversation with me based on my shirt and we ended up running together for over 10 miles I think (thank you so much for keeping me going Mary!).

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Here’s my cheering section at Mile 14. I love the #ThompsonStrong tag :) Thank you Dan and Jackie for finding a way to make it to the race!

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Mile 14…still smiling :)

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Can you believe the crowds and # of runners at Mile 17? My parents and Beth had a hard time just crossing the road. Can you find me?

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My parents and Beth were at mile 17, along with the Samaritans team. It was a hot day, and despite my smile, I was starting to feel the heat getting to me. They gave me a frozen washcloth that was absolutely the perfect Mile 17 gift :)

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I didn’t see anyone from my Samaritans team after about mile 4 or 5, but somehow Ray and I ended up meeting after the finish line. Ray was also my school bus seatmate for our 40-minute ride from Boston to the start line. Fitting that we started and finished together! I ended up 2nd in fund-raising, and 3rd in finishing the marathon, for my team. I’ll take those stats any day :)

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Here’s all of the trash produced by just ME during the race! Ha!

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Beth and me at the finish! This was after walking around for 20 minutes (trying to cool down still)…I found my smile and a bit of energy again by this point!

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My parent’s hotel was close to the finish and packed with runners. The energy and atmosphere in their hotel was great – loved every minute of it. SOOOOO glad we all stayed downtown – crazy cool to be there with my family. We’ve been through a lot and this marathon was good for us in many ways. After this we all headed to the Back Deck for a post-race event by the Samaritans (shockingly, WE closed the place down).

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Anyone who knows me, knows a huge part of travel for me is for the food. Here’s my lobster roll the next day (and cup of clam chowder). And, of course, malt vinegar on the fries. This is at the Atlantic Fish Company which was right in the blast of one of the bombs from the 2013 marathon. The last two turns of the marathon are beyond words to describe (“Right On Hereford, Left On Boylston”). When you make the final turn onto Boylston and can see the finish line in the distance, you can’t help but be almost overcome by the crowds cheering and energy in the air. The streets are absolutely packed with people – I can’t imagine a bomb going off in the midst of all this. Boston definitely shows its strength and resiliency for the marathon. A few days before the marathon, my brother and I walked a mile down Commonwealth Ave to get to Fenway. I was glad we made that walk so I at least knew how the last mile of the race would go (although at the time I didn’t realize Commonwealth was the road I’d be running down).

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My mom proudly wearing my medal. Her leg had a short-lived pain after the marathon so she was limping around for a bit as if she’d just finished the race :)

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And here’s my sad workout stat. I only managed to get in one workout last week ;)

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Thanks again for all of the support throughout my journey. I couldn’t have done this without all of you. WE are saving 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. Thank you.

Ok, last time, I mean it…here’s the DONATION LINK – let’s hit $20,000!!! (thanks for putting up with me and my requests): https://www.crowdrise.com/samaritansboston2016/fundraiser/davethompson

Peace in the year ahead.

24 Hours To Go

Tomorrow is the big day! What a blur of a week! I started by driving over 1400 miles from Minnesota to New Hampshire to get to my parent’s house. The drive was exactly what I needed to clear my brain & heart a bit. Before I left I said I’d match any donations received from the time I left Minnesota until I arrived in New Hampshire. I was blessed to receive 12 donations during that time totaling $450. I’ll get my matching check written once I get back home! I saw 39 different state/province license plates during my drive here – maybe I’ll get the rest on the drive back home ;)

I stopped after 15 hours the first day in Buffalo, NY. I jogged the next morning before finishing my drive. It shocked me a bit that cold temps were following me: 21F for my 4 mile jog. I unexpectedly came across this great Naval and Military Park. Cool stuff.

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It’s always a mix of emotions to be back home now. So many memories of great times, but also of what is now missing. It’s beyond words to be surrounded by my incredibly supportive family – they are all doing great and the marathon journey has pulled us even closer together. New Englanders are wicked awesome – love the people out here. And I’m very grateful for the visits, calls, and email from so many people this week – I absolutely feel the support. Thank you all.

My brother and I went into Boston on Friday. It was a powerful day. We first went to the Samaritans’ office where we got a great tour (including seeing the call center that answers the 24/7 Crisis Services phone & text lines: (877)-870 HOPE(4673)) and were able to meet so many wonderful people who make Samaritans’ what it is. The staff and volunteers are amazing, and we got to have good conversations with many people. Here we are with Steve Mongeau, the Executive Director.

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April 15th is now known as One Boston Day, and the energy, pride, and spirit of the city could be felt all around.

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I unexpectedly was invited to a small event put on by John Hancock for certain fund-raisers. My brother and I got to hang out in a private suite (with maybe 40 people) and see the Red Sox beat Toronto. Two of the people from our group even went down to throw out the first pitch at the game (a father, and his son who has early onset Alzheimer’s, who will be running the race with two guides – very inspirational). I met many great people who are running in support of charities they strongly believe in. I was the only one there from Samaritans. Part of this event included getting pictures and a chance to talk to past marathon legends who stayed with our small group for over an hour. Bill Rodgers (“Boston Billy”; won Boston 3x in a row, plus other victories in Boston, NYC and other marathons) and Greg Meyer (until 2014, he had been the last American to win the Boston Marathon for over 30 years). Both ran crazy fast but the advice we heard for Boston was, “If you feel that you’re running too slow…slow down” – I like it :)

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Here’s some of my pit crew (thanks Mom and Martie!) working on making my marathon shirt memorable for me. Watch those fingers!

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And, of course, two reminders about why I’m running. My sister’s girls (and all my nieces and nephews out here) are getting so big!

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Today we go back into Boston to get my official race bib. I’m #31114 if anyone wants to track me using the mobile app or via text alerts.

Boston Marathon race-day temperatures were forecast at over 70F a few days ago. The first half of the course is still forecast to be that high, but it looks like Boston’s forecast has dropped a bit. Amazing to think that I trained in temperatures 90 degrees colder than this – ha!

Thanks again for all of the support. We are all in this together. Be there every single day for those you love. Treasure today. Tell someone if you are struggling in any way, and don’t ever hesitate to reach out for help. You will be met with love and compassion. You are not alone.

It’s not too late to make a donation to help support Samaritans life-saving and support services: https://www.crowdrise.com/samaritansboston2016/fundraiser/davethompson

Thanks!

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.