Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Power of Thank You

The power of Thank You!

I have been quiet for a while, my family needed my attention. Doesn’t mean I am not just as committed to running and raising money for Stand Up 2 Cancer, just needed to take a brief detour. But I learned a big lesson during this time, brought sharply into focus just this week. The power of “thank you”.

Last weekend Gill participated in the first ever Unified Track meet with Special Olympics and Alaska State High School sports. His acceptance as part of the team and opportunity to participate at the state level has given him such a boost of confidence and level of self-acceptance, put a spark back in him. I was so grateful for the positive impact of this experience. Gill hadn’t spoken words of self-loathing or desire for suicide in weeks. I know preparing for state competition had a lot to do with that. It was amazing.

I was so overwhelmed with gratitude for the change I saw in him. I needed to let those who made this possible for him know how much I appreciate their gift to my son. I wrote an email. One I sent to the head coach of his track team, the other coaches didn’t have emails posted on the team website. Another email I sent to the local rep for Special Olympics. I told them just how grateful I am for the opportunity.

I typed the emails pouring all of my gratitude and appreciation into them. I gave a little bit of Gill’s story, his journey getting to that point. The pain of bullying, desire for death, feeling of not belonging. Not all the gory details, but just enough so they could understand why I was so grateful. I sent the emails off never imagining what would happen next.

The next day I got a call from the CEO of Special Olympics of Alaska, he had gotten the email I sent to the local rep. Jim was calling to thank me for my email. He felt inspired to work harder to get more inclusion sport opportunities in the schools. He told me he had shared it with the head of all Special Olympics, Tim Shriver. Mr. Shiver wanted my permission to use my letter in some promotional material. I said yes, if they thought it would help expand the inclusion program… How could I say no?

I also got a call from the principal at my son’s school, he had somehow gotten a copy of the email I sent to the coaches. He wanted my permission to share my email with the Superintendent and School Board. To support these amazing coaches and promote more inclusion programs… again I said yes.

Friday afternoon I got a call, from Tim Shriver. He wanted to thank me for my letter and tell me of the impact it had. He had passed it on to others within Special Olympics International. It had made an impact as far away as India, inspiring more work and dedication even that far away. He forwarded an email from another person who had just lost a friend to suicide. It had helped them.

I sent a thank you, just wishing to express my gratitude to those who had made a positive impact on my family. Somehow my simple expression of gratefulness and gratitude became so much bigger. Rippled out beyond my tiny email, inspiring and impacting others. These people are thanking me, for thanking them. I have been asked to speak at an event for Special Olympics next month, I am not sure I understand how all that happened.

But I have learned the power of thank you. I learned that thanking someone helps them know when they are on the right track, making a difference. Can give them strength to carry on when things seem tough. Tomorrow say thank you to someone, a deep heartfelt thank you.  It doesn’t matter who or what it is for, just stop completely and say thank you. We take each other for granted so often, when we are appreciated it can change our whole outlook.


Saturday, March 23, 2013


Another bib for my collection

So the other day I rambled on about how slow I am. Today can we talk about how FAST I am? I so rock! Can you do the happy dance and type? Just how embarrassed are my children going to be when all I can say to everyone for the next 48 hours is. “I PR’d this weekend” “I killed my run” “I shaved 2 minutes off my time”

If you couldn’t tell I killed my 5k today, shaving 2 minutes off my personal record. Which means I finally ran UNDER 40 minutes. Now I do realize by Olympic standards I am still slow. But by my standard, I am AWESOME!!

I know that I will be riding a high on this for the rest of the weekend. Maybe I won’t tell everyone I see. But I will post it and blog about it. And if anyone asks what I did this weekend, I say fair game.

Recovery yum!
I did something I have never done before. I exceeded my limits. I say that is worth bragging about. I know my bib must come off. But is it bad form to stay in my tights and skirt? What is the etiquette for running gear in public when the race is over?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Virtual Runs

When you first start running all the beginner articles and books tell you to sign up for a race. Give yourself a goal, something to aspire to. Good advice, goals are important.

I seem to bail on myself a lot. If time is short and I have to choose between doing for me or doing for someone else... I get stood up. Sure fire way to stick to running? Run for charity. Race for charity. Good plan.

So I have a goal, I have a plan. I will run at least one race a month every month for 2013. I will run every local Empire Cup race I am in town for. I will donate $1 a mile for every mile raced to Stand Up 2 Cancer.

I live in Alaska, racing isn't big here in January or February. Nordic skiing is, but I am so not coordinated enough. Maybe I will share my nordictrak accident one day, but probably not. So what to do?

Virtual Runs to the rescue. Some have a nominal fee, I always choose the ones where a portion goes to charity, if there is a medal too....... I am so there. There are also the free ones, 5kAnywhere anyone? I think these virtual runs may be slightly addictive.   I have 3 on my plate over the next month, not to mention the local runs. This weekend I am running the 2nd Annual Anywhere5k and the Bunny Hop 10k, there is still time to register for either one. Both sites have more runs coming up too.

I am finding my race calendar is filling up fast. The next two months have me racing every weekend. I think I might have doubled up a couple too. I am going to need more room for my bibs and bling.
Have a great weekend! Enjoy the run!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Diary entry of a slow runner

I am a tortoise. Yep, that's me, old slow and carrying extra baggage.

I seem to be having my nose rubbed in my slowness lately. First, coming in last at the race last week. This week the track runners sprinting past me. The walkers haven't lapped me... yet, but I am sure some have gotten close. It is hard not to feel a little demoralized.

Here I am running regularly since November, with a pace I would be embarrassed to post for any runner to see. I have not lost a stinking ounce, despite cleaning up my diet and watching my portions. Despite my best efforts my last set of labs were worse than the previous and I am spend more time at the doctor than I do at the salon. Ugh! Enough to make a person grumpy.

I watch a little longer... one of those runners that beat me in the race ran a mile less than I did. She only beat me my a few seconds. So maybe if we ran the same race I could have beat her. The gaggle pushing past me at the track? They need regular water and walk breaks, I can run an hour without stopping. Drink on the run.  The lady sprinter? She is awesome for a lap, then she huffs and puff walking for 5.

There are those that out run me, not going to lie. But it is nice to know that there are a few hares out there too. I am doing better than I realize at first. Will the weight loss come? Will the doctor visits slow? I don't know. But I know today, I am good with how I run. I don't suck as much as I originally thought.

Don't get me wrong, I want to be faster. I want to be hare fast. But I am perfectly happy with slow if it means every step is a run. I am still going forward. And yesterday... I was faster.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Topless Inspiration

I remember going on vacation out of the country I went to the beach with my book. Everywhere was your typical beach activity. I saw this woman a little less in shape than me soaking up the sun, chatting with friends, enjoying the day.  I envied her. I was surprised to find of all the beach bunnies jealous of her. I didn't think she was too fat to be topless, which is exactly what I think of myself. I thought damn, I wish I were that comfortable in my own skin. She was slightly manish, but she was beautiful in her confidence and comfort.

I took my top off that day. I don't know that the sun has ever felt that amazing. It was also the day that planted a seed to start running. We never spoke, I doubt she even noticed me. But she started a change in me I will always be grateful for. I didn't start running right after that. But whenever I felt less, I would think back to her. To the courage she gave me. To the way it felt to lay out in the sun on a public beach.

Since I have started running I have been getting feedback from people. I get odd looks and some sneers from people as they pass me, generally sitting in a vehicle. But in general the feedback is positive, there is even a little awe and admiration. At first that made me very uncomfortable, always waiting for that back hand or the punch line. Then it dawned on me, I am doing something pretty damn amazing. Now I am that woman on the beach.

It is so easy to make excuses not to do things when you are not ideal. Like not sunbathing topless because you are not a supermodel. Or not running because you are not a born athlete. But when an average Joe or Jane is out there doing what we are too scared to try.... that is awesome, that is inspiring.

I hear excuses from loved ones all the time about why they can't or won't ever run. Sometimes I want to call them out on it. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. What matters is how it feels, and it feels amazing once you get past the initial shock of doing it. Once you stop thinking about all the reasons you shouldn't do it, and embrace the sun.

I can't run because...
               My knees - Actually studies have shown running slows the progression of arthritis. Maybe bare foot running is out, although I haven't given up the fantasy yet.
               No time - You forgot we are friends on facebook. I know you spend hours catching up on tv shows you never heard of til you saw it on someone else post about it.
               Too out of shape - how do you propose to fix that on the sofa? The C25K program is available in app form now, you wouldn't even have to put down the iphone.

 I would never run because...
               Not athletic - How long have we known each other? I trip over lint. When athletically challenged finally makes the dictionary, my picture will be right there.
               No clowns chasing me - I can borrow Ivan's big shoes, my nose turns red in the cold, I would love to wear a flower that squirts lemonade. I will chase you, all you had to do was ask.
               Too hard - So is blood sugar monitoring and insulin shots. Heart attacks are tough too. Ectomies and chemo can be a real bitch I hear.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Flannagan's Run

Starting Line!

It was a cold morning, the temp at my house was a balmy 15⁰, but at least it wasn’t snowing. I ate pizza last night so my carbs were loaded. Ok, I know for a 5 mile run carbo loading isn’t needed. But hey, any justification for pizza.

I tried to loosen up and get ready. But mornings for me, they really aren’t my friend. I didn’t take my torsemide, last thing I needed was to need to pee mid-way through. My house is next door to the glacier so it tends to be one of the colder places to be. Luckily the race was in Douglas, one of the warmer, so it was 31⁰. Even better fortune, there was no wind!

The last time I ran this race 4 years ago it was a third up hill and a third down. With the fresh snow fall yesterday, I was really nervous. They changed the course this year, whether because of the fresh snowfall or something else I don’t know. I can say at first I was happy.

I walked several laps around the block to warm up. I can’t say it worked terrible well. But I wasn’t frozen either. So it worked some.

Got my toe up to the back of the pack and started off. I ran down the street and back toward the beach, still no wind thankfully. Back into the woods, down the trail and up the hill. Three loops through the woods up the hill. Then back to the finish line. I ran, it wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t fast. But I ran. I started dead last, it was a choice. I passed a girl on the hill and stayed ahead, so I wasn’t dead last anymore.

Funny thing happened as I closed on the finish line. That girl I passed was walking with her buddy ahead of me. She must have skipped the third time up the hill. They would sprint up ahead every time I closed in. Her friend was so very high school about it too, snarky looks and whispering best left behind in middle school. They did beat me by a few seconds. I wouldn’t have cared but the attitude annoyed me, so did the cheating.

I realize this isn’t a big “race” and she was only cheating herself. Blah, blah, blah. In all honesty they were half my age they should have beat me. I was pretty sure I was going to come in last before I got there. After all it is a snowy winter day, not a race most newbies would show up for. But to be beaten like that? Childish and cheating? Ugh!

But I finished, I did it. I ran! There are those who asked why the 5 mile run when there was a 1 mile option? Because cancer is an endurance race not a sprint. My sister doesn’t get to say, I only feel like fighting a miles worth. She and others like her are in for the long haul, they don’t get to turn back and walk home. DNF is acceptable. So even if I walk, collapse or crawl. I cannot quit. I will not quit.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Added a name to my racing jersey today

This last Sunday I got an email from the IT Manager of my work informing us that he is taking a 90 day leave of absence to deal with his Pancreatic Cancer. Now I really don't know what the pancreas is or what it even does for certain. But I get the gist of Cancer. It Sucks!

I think of all the dreams I had growing up. I think about all those things I still want to accomplish. My dreams for my children, their dreams and goals. What my grandbabies want to be when they grow up. Guess what? Odds are greater we will get cancer than accomplish those things.

I call BS, I say F* Cancer!

I added Dave's name to my racing jersey today. I am my sister's runner, but that doesn't mean I don't run for my brothers too.  On the right side of my blog is a big orange button that says "donate now". Don't push it yet. That button will take you to a fundraising page for My Sister's Runner team. No money goes to me or through me, it is all directly sent to Stand Up 2 Cancer. For a donation of $25 I will put the name of whomever you would like to honor on my racing jersey for the whole year. I am attaching ribbons with the names to the back, so I can wash without dorking up the names. I am also hoping to grab attention for cancer research by looking like a superhero with all these mini capes flapping in the wind.

Still don't push yet. There is another option. You can join the team. Run where you are. Run races to raise awareness for cancer research. Design a page and get others to donate if you would like. Or donate per training mile and racing mile. Do what your heart and pocket book allow.

Ok, push it now! Still thinking? I have 2 sons, 4 daughters, 3 sisters, a mother, father and husband. 2 of the men and 3 of the women in my life will get cancer. My sister and mother already have.

1:2 men

1:3 women