Wednesday, June 17, 2009

swamp thing & salmon

First of all I have to congratulate Jamie and Mary for 'escaping from Alcatraz'! Way to go!

Last Thursday, after Abby got done teaching her swimming lessons, we headed down to Wenonah lake for an open water swim. My new wetsuit had just come in the mail, and i didn't want to be standing out in the rain at the lake putting it on for the first time so we just grabbed our regular swimsuits and headed out the door.

We got to the lake and were a little timid because of the cold water. After getting used to the water we took one lap around the lake and Abby was nice enough not to leave me too far behind! The cold water played havoc on my breathing, but I just need to remember to stay calm. Abby then chose to swim a little more without me. It was no great feat of endurance, just about a 1/4 mile for me, but enough to get a feel for the open water and get covered with muck. Everyone was emerging from the water just covered in dark brown slime. It was quite disgusting. I pictured myself emerging from the water covered in muck just like the swamp thing!

When we got home I was so excited about my new wetsuit I couldn't wait until the next day to try it on. So I shimmied it on (it fit wonderfully) between stirring the soup I was making for dinner. The wetsuit is a Fit2Race Sockeye wetsuit. I figured if Mary could swim so fast in hers that maybe I'll be able to swim adequately in it. Anyway, Fit2Race looks like a great company that I'm proud to support.

Abby also got a new Orca race singlet which she looks super fast and sleek in! Hopefully we'll have some photos from Parvins (Parvins State Park Triathlon - after this weekend.

On Saturday we rode our bikes down to Jules and Betsy's house. I slept in a little longer than I wanted, but overall it wasn't too hot and uncomfortable. We finished our 38 miles around 10am. We both agreed that all of the running we've been doing has helped our aerobic capacity and made the ride much more enjoyable. We've only been on our bikes three times since the beginning of the year, but the 12 miles on Saturday shouldn't be too bad (it's mostly flat). I'm a little concerned about my oly in Jim Thorpe in July, but my goal is just to have fun.

I've been sick since Saturday morning (before we rode I had a sore throat) and I have been coughing a lot, but the doctor told me I just have a cold. I'm hoping Abby doesn't pick it before our race this weekend. Well, I should get some sleep. Sweet dreams everyone!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I know it has been a while since the promised re-cap, but I suppose this is better late than never.

I'll start at the beginning. (This race recap will be blurry at best since it is seems like so long ago that it happened).

It was a cold (40's), windy and rainy day in the bizarre town of Long Branch, NJ. A last minute stop at the running store secured me the most incredible long sleeve performance shirt that a girl with a tank top could ever hope for hours before the start of a frigid race. After the race start was delayed 3 times, we finally heard the gun and we were off!

Mile 1: Lots of people, lots of excitement. We ran along a fellow Team In Training teammate, Heather, who is also a blood cancer survivor. (She's awesome).

Mile 2: People playing music, legs feeling good. Crowd starting to thin out a little.

Mile 4: Wow, I already ran a 5k. This rocks!

Mile 6: This is when the rain started to fall a little harder and my brain started churning. I started to think about Casey and all the names I proudly wore on my shirt, and I started to lose my breath in the moment, but then I looked over at Heather,a survivor, smiling, and bouncing along, and then at Ken, with his broken foot, winking at me, and I knew the rain wouldn't stop us.

Mile 7: CLAUDIA, MEGAN AND LINDSAY!!!! I really can't tell you how much of a boost it was to see them. At that point, I felt like I could run the whole marathon!

Mile 8: The only hill in NJ, which happened to bring with it no spectators, and lots of cold rain. Luckily, at the top of the hill was our Team in Training water stop and Therese and her husband were there to cheer us on.

Mile 10: All I remember thinking was, "If I had done the Broad Street run in Philly today, I'd be done now. Man I'm stupid".

Mile 12: First signs of real pain in my poor toes (wet socks + existing blisters = ouch) but we were headed up onto the boardwalk for our final mile and NOTHING was going to stop us. WE saw our cheering section again and my toes pain slipped away.

In the last half mile, as we ran along the grey and misty ocean, I started to think about my shirt again, and all the brave people who had fought battles with blood cancer. I started to cry, hysterically. It was the culmination of all the feelings I had been holding on to for this entire journey. A sense of accomplishment, of pride, and of genuine joy and sadness. I cried until the finish line and probably a little after.

Mile 13.1: 2 hours and 37 minutes later, hand in hand, Ken & I crossed the finish line together, the way we started.

In the moments after the race, our excitement got the better of our good sense and we failed to go inside and put on dry clothes and get warm. Instead, we stood in the freezing rain and waited for our friend Emily to finish the full marathon in an impressive 3:40!

The ride home was painful as our muscles had completely seized up and Monday proved to be hilarious for anyone who saw us try to walk. It was in this pain that I decided that I would never run this distance again. . . and in Ken's wisdom that he knew I would reverse this statement within days.

I have since signed up to be a mentor for the fall season of Team in Training, which means I will be doing the Philadelphia Endurance Run (half marathon) in September (Ken is still undecided as to whether or not he will join me). We have also signed up for our favorite sprint triathlon at Parvins State Park, and Ken is registered for his first oly, the Anthracite Triathlon!

The weeks after the race held this incredible sense of "nothing to do". It is a feeling that Ken and I are not familiar with at all as I am a bit of a scheduling overachiever and take great pride in my ability to attend 2 weddings, a shower, a bar mitzvah and a board meetings in one weekend. So, having "nothing to do", no training runs, no exams to study for, no meetings to attend; left us in unfamiliar territory that closely resembled sloth.

We caught up on our DVR'd programs, spent some time in the kitchen and even managed to read a book! And not a socially conscious non-fiction sure to enhance my concern for the world today read, but a fun book! About camp! We also spent a week on vacation in Ithaca, NY to celebrate my sister's graduation from Cornell.

All in all, it was nice to slow down, however, we're finding it's more difficult to pick up the pace again. But, with races to run, and blogs to be written, we must prevail! or at least get off our butts and get moving. More to come ... at some point.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Short Version

WE DID IT!!! We ran 13.1 miles in the rain and wind AND raised $5,100 to fight blood cancers. We are sore, and tired now though, so a full post will have to wait. I believe John Cougar Mellencamp said it best when he sang, "it hurts so good".

A million thank yous to all our friends and family who have supported us along the way. We never would have made it without you. Also, a special thanks to Claudia, Megan and Lindsay for standing in the rain for 3 hours to see us finish!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

well-wishes, epsom salts & a big thank you

Hi everyone! Ken here with my first blog post!
Usually i just let Abby handle the writing, but i thought it was important for me to personally address my foot situation. First and foremost i want to send out a HUGE thank you to everyone who has sent me well-wishes, good thoughts and prayers! I can't tell you how much it has meant to me!
Once the doctor told me i had a stress fracture in my foot (although the x-rays did not confirm anything), i was told to stay off my foot and elevate, ice and motrin everyday. So my plans changed from a slow taper leading up to race day to a grinding, painful stop.
After the weekend of our last blog, a new pain started in my foot in a different location and it hurt with every step i took for a week. Somehow, with everyone's postive vibes from all over America focused my way, i have been able to stay positive about running the 13.1 on Sunday and let me make this clear - i can't stand not being able to run. My jealousy of Abby running without me and all those people i saw every day walking without limps just kept growing over the past two weeks. All i want to do is run, feeling my feet just gliding along below me, and sweat. I've never been so jealous of people sweating before.
Last week we had a TEAM meeting to pick up Abby's race shirt and receive some more information on the day-of proceedings. While we were leaving i mentioned to the coach, Mike, about my foot, and he suggested i use epsom salts. Apparently epsom salts are some wonder drug that our current culture forgot about! What a difference after just one epsom salt wrap around my foot! The swelling went right away and after a few days of epsom soaks i was feeling like the swelling had dissipated enough for the rest of my foot to heal properly.
Luckily, the last two days I've been able to walk without too much of a hitch. Today was Abby's last planned short run before the race so we decided that i should take a shot at running to make sure i can at least make it to the start line on Sunday!
We went over to Crow's Woods, where we first started training for triathlons 4 (5?) years ago, which is a short loop around some soccer and softball fields. We stretched well and decided it was time to test it out.
This is how it went...
step. step. (Abby) How does it feel? step. (Me) Jeez, i just took two steps, but so far so good. step. step ... at this point I just try to think about anything else other than the fact that I'm running on a stress fracture that is not even three weeks old.
We made it about a mile and a half and other than some tightness in the rest of my legs, which I expected after a week of limping back and forth to work, it went really well!
Now we are ready to face our challenge on Sunday. We are decorating our shirts tonight, Abby will be donning her short TEAM shirt (not made for tall girls) and I will be proudly wearing my Team Katharine shirt. Don't worry, there will be pictures!
I must write a couple sentences about my wife. Abby has been so amazing through everything, but she's always amazing so I'm sure no one would expect anything less! She has found solace in her running and has been able to stay focused and motivated while i was laying on the couch. She has also kept my spirits up and supported me in any way she can, even when I was just being a cranky ole' poop.
So thank you all again for all of your support, all of your well-wishes, all of your prayers, all of your positive vibes, all of your thoughts ... and thank you to Casey for inspiring both of us.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

As promised, this week held many unforgettable moments. Jamie and Trey's beautiful wedding, an incredible 3.2 mile run with my favorite Hokie, and a PR (personal record) in the Clean Air 5k (after a 6 mile run!). But perhaps the most important, and devastating event of the week, was that Ken's foot injury was "classified" as a hairline fracture, an hour after our Run in Remembrance for the hokies on Thursday morning.

During our run, it appeared that Ken's pain was getting sharper with every step, and in the last 1/2 mile, I could really see the grimace on his face. When we arrived back home, he called the doctor and got in for an appointment immediately. She diagnosed him with a foot fracture and sent him for x-rays. The good news, relatively speaking, was that the fracture was so small, that the x-rays did not pick it up, potentially meaning a much quicker recovery time. The bad news, was that Ken could not run in his speedy race on Saturday, or at all, for an undetermined period of time. For Ken, "undetermined period of time" translated to: Long Branch Half Marathon Race Day: May 3rd. After much discussion, we decided that we started this journey together, and our plan is to finish the race the way we started. Together.

Having said that, I still have a good bit of training to complete on my own while Ken takes the next 2 weeks to recuperate. Saturday morning was the first time I have ever run any distance without Ken. He still hopped on his bike though, and met me at my 3 mile turnaround along Kelly Drive with extra fuel and tons of support. On the way back, he rode along side me for a little while, and later told me he felt like Rocky's coach. After the 6 mile run, which I finished faster than ever, we headed (hobbled) to the starting line for the race, and I took off for another 3.1! I learned a lot about myself in those next three miles. I learned that I am so much stronger than I ever imagined I could be. I realized that if I put my mind to it, I really can accomplish anything, and most importantly, I was reminded that your source of inspiration, doesn't need to be right beside you, to keep pushing you along. In the solitude of those last three miles, I ran with Casey and Ken, and 1400 other Philadelphian's who were just out for a run. It was the most empowering run of my life, and I now know that I am ready for 13.1. I am ready to reach my final fundraising goal, and I am ready for whatever comes next.

A huge thank you to everyone for their words of encouragement, incredible spirit, and continued support. We're almost to the finish line, but we'll never stop fighting.

Monday, April 13, 2009

We headed to Hanover, PA for easter weekend and were able to try out a new long run. Per the recommendation of our most recent issue of Runner's World, we decided to head out to the battlefields of Gettysburg to enjoy a crisp easter morning in the park. As our race date approaches, our distances have been ramping up and down to allow our legs a good taper. This week, we were thrilled to ONLY be running 6. (It should be noted that every single time I say "only", I end up having a tough run. Maybe I'll learn someday). It was on this run more than any other, however that I realized how my memory of elevation change is severely impaired. It was comforting to know, on the third major hill we ran up, that Ken also was terribly shocked by these difficult climbs. From my previous experience at the park (which was in a car), I remembered rolling hills and small slopes. My mental recollection of our run yesterday, however, may as well have been a climbing expedition! We took it in stride though (pun intended) and finished our 6 miles with a minor, unclassified injury to Ken's foot, and a lot of great pictures.

The week ahead holds a few important runs. Most notably, on Thursday morning, 4/16, we will be running 3.2 miles for the 32 members of our Hokie community which we lost on 4/16/07. Following this tragedy two years ago, Ken and I met with other Virginia Tech alumni in the Philadelphia Area to determine how we could help and how we could heal. We brainstormed for hours, and felt incredible comfort in the presence of our Hokie Family. It was there that we all decided that a Run in Remembrance of these individuals would be an incredible tribute to their lives, as well as a way to celebrate our incredible Hokie community. Lots of red tape and concerned participants seemed to squash our efforts, but I was so happy to see a few weeks ago that the race will finally be taking place this year on the Virginia Tech campus. Unfortunately, Ken and I will be unable to travel to Blacksburg for the memorial as we did last year, so we will be running on our own. . . but not running alone at all. In an attempt to continue the solidarity that we all felt in those months after the tragedy, we started an email chain, reaching out to any and all runners we could think of, and inviting them to run 3.2 miles with us, no matter where they were. If you are reading this and would like to be a part of our extended Hokie Family, please feel free to join us, by putting on any orange and maroon you have, and hitting the pavement or treadmill. Support is what gets us through the tough times, and helps us to enjoy the good times even more.

Speaking of good times, Jamie and Trey's wedding is Saturday, but before we party hard, we need to run hard too! We have a 9 mile run scheduled for the morning, the first 3 miles of which are the Clean Air Run! Ken has joined the competitive team for his office, which means he will be stretching his Kenyan legs and running nearly twice as fast as we usually do (as I have mentioned before, I am quite slow). I will run at my usual pace, allowing him a chance to recover at the end, before joining me for another 6 miles along the Schuylkill River.

Please keep Kenny's foot in your thoughts. He'll be needing it with this tough week ahead.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Yes I Will

Since we started running outside, I have forgone the Ipod as there are so many more interesting sites and sounds (or cars and potholes) that I could easily miss if too entranced in my tunes. That does not, however, mean that I have left the music behind. The music plays in my head like the soundtrack to my life, and true to form this week, the song which stuck in my head was "Yes I Will" by Michael Franti. It just kept playing over and over again, pushing me mile after mile, and was there with me when we finished our 12 mile run on Saturday.

It was a windy (40 mph gusts) but beautiful sunny day. We headed down to LBI to participate for the second year in the Ship Bottom Sprint for Life 5K to benefit Leukemia and Lymphoma. The only difference between the race this year and the race last year, was that before this years race, we ran 9 miles. Oh, there was one other difference. . . we ran the actual race 1 minute FASTER than last year! We also had the opportunity to do our training run with a great group of girls, and their incredible coach Alanna from the north jersey TEAM. Overall, it was a really fabulous day and has us feeling really confident about our progress, and our ability to complete the Long Branch Half. Yes we will!