It’s not a setback, it’s just a morning

I was going to go spinning this morning. My first big step back to the bike. It was my first day back to work after vacation though, and I didn’t get much restful sleep. By the time the wee hours of the morning rolled around, I opted out.

Now it seems that my husband has a last minute work trip for the day tomorrow. No spin class then either. Instead I’ll use the early drop offs to get in a quick few laps of swimming. Just a reminder to myself to be flexible in my plans without dropping them entirely.

Now what?

My goal, my mantra, of the year is to start small and finish strong. I ran three races during my recent run streak (currently at 38 days), each of them I went in without any dream of getting a PR. In my first race, I finished far better than I expected, and the second two were personal bests for the each respective race.

Last year at this time, I was considering participating in my first triathlon. I got a bike, even went swimming a few times. Once I started traveling, and changed jobs, that seemed to be too much. To boot, the race I had always figured to be my first, the Iron Girl Columbia always fell at a bad time for holiday breaks.

The next school year starts a week later this week. That means we can go on vacation after I do a triathlon. I’m going to do a triathlon. I’M GOING TO DO A TRIATHLON.

Now I need to find a training plan.

Screen Shot 2015-01-03 at 5.56.50 PM

The best laid plans

2014 was my year of huge goals – massive.

I registered for a fast marathon in hopes of qualifying for Boston. I didn’t run it.

I wanted to run 1,000 miles. I ran just over 300.

I was going to attempt a triathlon. I did not.

I was going to write every day. My last post before yesterday was in May.

My goals were so lofty, and in any given year, attainable. Looking back, I could have done them all. But my priorities changed. I changed companies, spent more time with my friends and my boys. We moved homes. I traveled a lot more than I knew I would at this time last year.

We went to the beach last summer, and my youngest took to boogie boarding like a champ. The first time a wave knocked him off, cliché as it sounds, he got back on and tried again, and again and again. He didn’t start off surfing, but I bet he will one day.

I’m not a novice at running at this point, but managing a home of 4, a job with a fair amount of travel, and all of the rest of daily life…well, running took a back seat. I’m getting back on the surfboard, smaller goals, once I know I can accomplish. Surfing takes balance, something that’s been a hard skill for me, as an all-or-nothing type. Back on I go.

Run daily, at least 1 mile. No more than 2 days off in a row.

Post daily. No more than 2 days off in a row.

Cook one good meal a week.

Practice being present with whatever I am doing, from playing with my kids, to work, and so on.

Keep reading on plane trips!

Capital for a Day 2014 - Photo by Ken Trombatore

Race Recap: Capital for a Day Brookeville 5k 5/3/14

It was a long winter, for so many people. I hate the cold, so that’s easy for me to say. Even people who prefer the cold seemed to be over it, however. I haven’t kept up with my running, which is entirely unsurprising.

I say this in writing mostly because I need to remind myself and not dwell. I made choices at each moment, some I’d make again, and some I wish I hadn’t. Nonetheless, I’m 10 ten pounds more than I was a year ago, which makes me slower. The rule of thumb is about 2 seconds per mile per pound. Not being consistent with running cost me three races so far that I didn’t show up to, because I wasn’t trained. I don’t want to dwell, but I’m mad, knowing I’m back to the start again with training, where I should be.

Capital for a Day 2014 - Photo by Ken Trombatore

But then again, I’m not mad. I know that I have a new job I know I’m on the road every other week as a result. I know that I’ve eaten more sweets, and drank more wine than I generally do, but done it with good friends who bring me joy. Could I have gotten up earlier on Saturdays and run this winter? Without question, but I would have missed out on some amazing snuggles from my two year old. I could have gone to the track on Tuesday nights, too, but I would have missed the dance parties my 5 old loved to have when we were too bored from another. damn. snow. day.

All of this is a long preamble to why I’m pretty satisfied with my 5k time this weekend. It’s part of the MCRRC Championship Series. The fastest three men and women in their respective age groups (and overall) get a prize. Two and three years ago, I was in the top three. Last year, had I completed enough (6 out of 11) races, I would have gotten one as well. It’s not because I’m that fast, it’s because people, especially women, my age don’t or can’t make time to run 6 races. I get a prize simply for showing up.

And show up I did, among a few hundred runners, on Saturday morning. For some reason, I showed up with my wrong shoe tag timer and bib, and with minutes until the start, needed to get re-set up. Luckily the volunteers at the club have this down to a science, and was ready to run pretty quickly.

There was a young run first, which my boys got bibs and timing slap bracelets for as well. They lined up like champs, and we’re off to the races. I lost sight of my youngest behind a parked car, but when I heard a collective “AWWWWW” from the crowd, and then a wail, I knew it was one of mine. Henry had gone maybe 20 feet, and then must have tripped, or gotten scared, and had crumbled to the ground. I picked him up and cuddled him, as we saw Fred turning around the curve. The kids were told they could run up to three loops of the parking lot, but I could see in Fred’s face that he was overwhelmed. Instead of running to the finish line, he ran towards me. So I ran towards the finish line and crossed with him, Henry and all. Capital for a Day 2014 - Photo by Ken TrombatoreCapital for a Day 2014 - Photo by Ken Trombatore

Capital for a Day 2014 - Photo by Ken Trombatore

They love running fake races up and down our block, and I’ll keep helping them learn, so long as they show interest. Running is hard for beginners, no matter the age.

The main race started just after the kids finished I knew I had run the race before, but hadn’t done my usual prep of surveying my old data to recall the elevation. I remembered though. I remember how wind sucked I felt with a very uphill last mile. So when I looked at my watch about .5 miles in and saw a 6:55 pace, I really tried to put the brakes on. I may have been flying, but I knew even that much would bite me in the ass in the end.Of course there’s always a bit of hubris I feel in any race. The adrenaline gets pumping, the leaders charge ahead, and it’s easy to have a fast pace feel comfortable for a little while. There’s that wrongheaded confidence that tells me I could keep that pace. I knew that the hills I couldn’t see we’re coming though.

My first mile was around 7:50, my second around 8:09, and that last mile, very uphill, was a 9:00 pace. After the race, I looked up my time from three years ago. My note to myself was “hills killed me”, and split were 8:28, 8:50, and 10:02. Almost the same decline as this year.

So while there’s that part of my brain who believes that had I not had a cold winter, wine, or travel, those splits would have been 6:50, 7:15, and 8:00, the rest of me is patting myself on the back for a great job. I showed up. I ran. I am three years older and a minute faster than I was, and 10 lbs lighter than then as well.


We all have doubts, and regrets, and hate the hills we have to climb, especially when they steepen, partly by own doing, What sets us apart is how we choose to climb them anyway.

Capital for a Day 2014 - Photo by Ken Trombatore

Long time, no run

I was just chatting with Janel, saying how it’s so hard for me to run for me, but I can run for her. That means, however, that I need to run for her again, and for everyone else fighting for their lives. It’s not a need in terms of feeling obligated in a drudgery way, I want to be clear. It drives me to fight as hard as I can on behalf of others, I want to do this, it gives me purpose. In a perfect world, I could run because it makes me feel good (which it does), or because it’s something I can do for me (which I can). It’s easier for me to do it because it helps someone else, and that’s the way it is.

When Janel got her No Evidence of Disease (NED) diagnosis last fall, we were all so overjoyed. We also knew even then that NED is not necessarily no cancer. Her scan in March was also a good one, which was a huge sigh of relief. For the past few years, the spring checkup has brought bad news, and having that break was another chance to relax further, maybe the worst was in the past.

Janel had some tooth pain a few weeks back, however. Out of almost nowhere, she had massive pain in her jaw/gum area. At first it seemed that chemo had weakened her teeth. However, the oral surgeon noticed inflammation, and removed the tissue for biopsy, as required by law.

Today she got the call. Chemotherapy simultaneously nuked the original melanoma site, but also weakened her soft tissues, leaving her vulnerable to the spread of that very same melanoma. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The biopsied tissue was level 1A melanoma.

The good news:

  • This is considered a spread of the original melanoma, not a metastasis
  • This is not oral melanoma (in terms of originating in the mouth)
  • This was caught very early

The not good news:

  • The cancer has returned
  • She will be back on Interferon Alpha 2a for at least 2 months
  • She needs to have a new lymph node/dye test to check for recurrence
  • She will need a brain scan, depending on the outcome of the above test, as it is soft tissue, and there is a concern on the melanoma’s spread there

This year, I registered for the Chicago Marathon. This spring, I ended up traveling just about every other week. I couldn’t find my mojo to run as a result, and was even starting to wonder if I could run the race in October.

Now I won’t wonder. Janel doesn’t have a choice in fighting or not. The only question is if we raise funds for Fred’s Team again or with the Melanoma Research Foundation, or some other worthy research-based organization. If there’s one thing that I know, and man, we don’t know enough when it comes to melanoma, it’s that treatment options are too limited. If my putting my feet to the asphalt changes that, even a small bit, then that’s what I will do.

Team Bluebird MRF MRF 2