Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The gift of Running the Distance

My mind is swimming in a sea of to do lists. I really should write it all down but instead, I choose to work my memory muscles. Writing blog posts has taken a back seat in my life but I miss it, so here I am, at almost 2am, diving into my word therapy. I'm in the final countdown of the biggest race of my life. I am going to have to start prioritizing tasks. It is simply not going to all get done before I head out of town, in a week, to run the Graveyard 100 Miler.

I feel my chronic fatigue settling in during the afternoon and then I get a second wind by the midnight hour. I recently found out that this is common for people living with Lyme Disease. It is almost as if my brain gets rewired by the stillness of the house and the decluttering of my mind from the chaos of my afternoons/evenings, taking care of rugrats and a furry baby. My sleep patterns drive me crazy but I'm not sure I will ever be a morning person. I am envious of my runner friends who can get up at 5:30am and knock out 5 miles to start their day. My body is not functioning on most days until after 8am. Running is usually welcomed after lunchtime.

The miracle is that I manage to get up for every race, exhausted from not sleeping, and to have the courage to start running towards the finish line, while fueled by adrenaline. The more I think about what I do and how I push myself to do it, I realize this running thing is all about training my mind. This is how I know I will finish my first 100 Miler. My body may be in pain but it will not stop me because my mind will ignore it. I may be hungry or thirsty but instead, I will focus on the next step, that will take me to the next mile marker. I will work through temperature issues when I am too hot or too cold and will withstand the discomfort until I can get to the next 20 mile marker aid station to grab whatever I need, from my drop bag. I will push myself with true grit and guts and fight like a girl to get to that finish line. Finishing is not a maybe for me, it is a reality. I've already imagined celebrating my victory and cherishing a prized belt buckle for finishing the most difficult race of my life, nevertheless, running 100 miles uncrewed = no planned human support along the route.

I am afraid but yet, I am not afraid to try. Running has taught me that you can do the impossible if you don't let your fear stop you. Running the distance takes courage, the acceptance that you might fail but more importantly, visualizing your success. When one imagines crossing the finish line so many times, a magical thing happens and somehow your mind takes over your body and through relentless forward motion, you find yourself accomplishing your goal. You must be a leader and go with your heart and not listen to the naysayers who may mean well but really don't have a clue how you got to be in this sweet spot in your life. A spot that I could have only dreamed of until that day I decided to make my fitness dreams a reality. It was a personal decision to want more out of life, to do more, to stop living in my safety bubble, to go outside of my comfort zone. I wanted to push myself where the doctors had told me that I would never go. I wish those doctors that saw me on crutches almost 19 years ago could see me now.

I am running to give hope to those bedridden from Lyme Disease, to those that are feeling hopeless, like their life is over, wondering if this is the end? I was once upon a time there too, in the thickness of the black cloud, wondering if this was it? My life had a huge gap in it but at the time, I was too tired and suffering from too much pain, to make things happen differently. I just wanted one night of rest without having to turn and toss and then struggle with moving my legs in the morning. I have shared my battle with Lyme Disease with many but those that truly understand what I have been through, are the ones who are also fighting this horrible, debilitating, invisible illness, that sucks every ounce of life out of you. The waterworks have begun as I write this. My predication is coming true how my words would become a therapy session, as I remember my life before Running the Distance.

During these last six months, I have been immersed in the world of chronic Lyme Disease. I have taken several courses of antibiotics that have given me temporary relief and experimented with acupuncture which I am finding to be helpful but unfortunately, it is not a cure. I'm learning to accept my disease as it is and grab a hold of the good days and run, soaking every ounce of goodness, out of each moment. I know that I am one of the lucky ones, battling Lyme Disease, who has escaped a life of chronic pain. 

For I have been given the gift of RUNNING the Distance and I am choosing to give back to the Lyme Disease Community by creating awareness by running and fundraising to find a cure. I never want to go back to that black cloud period in my life. It was one of the most hopeless times I've ever experienced. 

I want to encourage others to get up and push through the pain and get moving, releasing the toxins that have invaded their body. I am firm believer that exercise/running is my natural antibiotic against this debilitating disease. Nevertheless, I want to help raise money to find a CURE for those suffering from Chronic/Lyme Disease. It is time for the CDC to wake up and recognize Chronic Lyme Disease as a REAL ILLNESS that has attacked over 300,000 individuals in the United States.

 Can you please join me in helping in the fight against Lyme Disease? Upon request, I will dedicate mile(s) of my race for a Lyme Disease Warrior.
  •  Stella and Dot Fundraiser: 30% of your purchase will go to the National Capital Lyme Disease Association to help find a cure for this debilitating disease. Shop on-line, through 2/28, using this link. 
  • Local Fundraiser at Dogfish Head Alehouse: Tuesday, March 25th, 12pm-11:30pm
13041 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy, Fairfax, VA 22033  (Greenbriar shopping center)               
*20% of total sales will be donated to the National Capital Lyme Disease Association;
 Just Show Up - No flyer or mention needed!  
**I'm still looking for business sponsors for prizes for a silent auction ** And I'm also looking for an acoustic band to play that evening!**
 To read more about my Lyme Disease story:
  •  Swirlgear "Swirl Sister of the Week" FEB 17, 2014 

Please share this post ~ It would be so appreciated! Thank you for your support, positive vibes and cyber cheers!
Peace, Love and Happy Running, 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Running for a Cure ~ a 100 Mile Race, to help those with Lyme Disease!

I am going on the most epic journey in one month, March 8th-9th!!

"Your registration for the 2014 GY100 has been successfully recorded. Our participant page is updated manually, please allow 48-72 hours for this change to be reflected on the participant page on-line.
Thank you for signing up for the Graveyard 100

Brandon Wilson
Race Director
Graveyard 100"

This is a race that I have been talking about since last summer when I was shopping around to run a 100 miler. We were taking our annual vacation in the Outer banks (OBX), NC, and having dinner with my brother-n-law and his girlfriend and the subject of the OBX marathon came up. Somehow this conversation evolved to the revelation of a 100 Miler race in the OBX. I started recruiting the locals for my crew, like my bro-n-law, his friends and the most logical recruit, a bartender at the upscale restaurant where my hubby and I had a date night. I was on Cloud Nine, motivated and ready to make my 100 Miler dream come true.

But that all changed when the doctor's phone call came a few days later, as I was soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the roar of the crashing waves. She told me I had tested positive for Lyme Disease and based on the comparison of test results from 2010, my body was never healed from that Lyme Disease diagnosis. She shared her devastating news - I was battling chronic Lyme Disease. An illness that I will most likely struggle with my whole life.

Scratch that hope of running a 100 Miler. 

And as my Fall 2013 race season begin, I pushed myself to the very limits, relentlessly, over and over again, as I ran a half marathon in September and then, ran long distance races consecutively, for four weeks in October. I was thankful for a few weeks of rest between the Marine Corps Marathon and the JFK 50 Miler.

And then something amazing happened! I felt really good, almost too good, after finishing the JFK 50 and remember blurting out to my friend, who was pacing me, "we are already at Mile 49??!" I remember last year, when I ran the JFK 50, how those last 12 miles were torture and each mile seemed endless.

After my strong finish (with a 19 minute PR!), my body needed to recover but I became somewhat restless. I decided to sign up last minute for the Dopey Challenge, running for the charity, No Kid Hungry, with a month before the race! And again, I challenged myself with four consecutive races, a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and a Full Marathon, a total of 48.6 miles. My body felt strong and it did not fail me. I played somewhat during the races, stopping for character photo's and a roller coaster ride but I was pushing myself with lack of sleep and multiple days of racing. And I got it done because I believed in myself!

The fleeting thought of running a 100 Mile race in 2014 began to surface again. I found a race in September that was in another state but easy to get there by car. The race is in PA and it is not until September. My friend, who I met while filming the "Running" episode on HBO VEEP, was running this one, as well as some runners I knew in my running group, Reston Runners, who I ran with at the JFK 50 Miler.

But it still didn't feel right and I hesitated registering. I wasn't sure if this was the right race for me. I kept thinking about that 100 Miler at the beach. The place where my heart and soul come alive.

Last week, the e-mail appeared. One of my running mentor's said she had taken her friend's transfer bib for the Graveyard 100 in the Outer banks and asked if I was running this one. She remembered me trying to recruit her to run it with me for 2014. This runner girl is also the same friend who I have told that I wanted to run my first 100 Miler with because she is an experienced 100 Miler runner and knows what it takes to get to the finish line. The Universe had aligned to make this happen for me and I decided to go for it!

I registered for the GY 100 with the mind frame that I will finish. I am running with chronic Lyme Disease so I will have to pace myself carefully and listen to my body. We will have 30 hours to finish the race. After completing the 100 Miler, I will be in Virginia Beach the following weekend, running the Shamrock marathon!

This 100 Mile race is bigger than me. I am running for all those individual's afflicted by Lyme Disease. I am running to give them hope and courage to begin moving again! This is the beginning towards a path of hope and healing.

I have partnered with the National Capital Lyme Disease Association to raise money for this organization. It is my hope that the money I raise by running this 100 Mile race, and subsequent races in 2014, will help find a cure to this devastating illness. I have set up a fundraising link on Crowdrise: Running to cure Lyme Disease fundraiser

Please support me in my 100 Mile Journey and help me "Take a bite out of Lyme, one race at a time" by making a donation to the National Capital Lyme Disease Association! It is SO appreciated!

I have created a Facebook page to create awareness about Lyme Disease, to provide encouragement to those battling this illness and to post my 2014 fundraising events/races. I hope you can join the conversation on Facebook: Taking a bite out of Lyme Disease

Please share this post, my Crowdrise link and my Facebook page! It would be so appreciated! Thank you for your support, positive vibes and cyber cheers!

Peace, Love and Happy Running!