I am finally doing the race I have been avoiding since this running thing has become a habit! I have always wanted to do the Nike Women's Half Marathon but the hills scare me! Well, my shins are the best they ever have been so I am going to "Just Do It!" You can follow my journey here:
These are words that I uttered over and over on race day. They just don't seem to cover my gratitude for all the people that helped me get to the finish line. My race weekend started like any other....off to the expo. Bought my traditional pin (I have one from every race), necessities, and walked around for a bit. The next day brought our TNT Inspiration Dinner which always puts things in perspective. We heard from a teenager from Tucson named Gabbi, who is a survivor who has seen more in her 15 years of life than any girl should. We got out last minute instructions and took pictures. We all headed home where we would try to sleep but most won't. Of course I didn't, I was too busy getting updates and then watching my friend, Jennifer, get 3rd runner up to Miss America. What is even cooler than that is the fact that her platform helps kids with life threatening illnesses and her ambition is to be a pediatric oncologist. So, she helping the fight in her way while I am helping in mine.
Race day is here! I got up too early....after getting very little sleep due to my hacking cough. One thing that I have not had happen before a race is getting sick. I had come down with the crud that everyone had right before Christmas and had the lovely residual cough, one that would haunt me for 26.2 miles.
So, we all meet up and head to the start. Check in our gear bags and head to the corrals. Almost all of us were in corral 8, so it was really cool starting with all my friends, even though we all run at different paces (waaaaaayyyyy different in my case). Our rolling/walking pit crew, Denise, Mary, and Sarah were at the start as well. I knew that I was going to appreciate their jobs, but at that time, I didn't realize how much I would. Delayed start. WHAT? I just want to get this show on the road for pete's sake! Finally! We are off!! Here we go.....no turning back now!!
I was doing pretty well for a few miles when the cough started in. Bummer! I was trying to keep my run/walk intervals going but this cough was making it a little hard. It made my first half slower than I would have liked. Thank you Coach Sara for walking most of this with me!! I loved hearing your opinions on the different houses we passed and just chatting with you. Luckily, you got the normal side of me before things got ugly.
Before I forget, our rolling Pit Crew: Denise aka Ribbon Girl, Mary, and Sarah - they were on bike/foot/car and each time I saw them, they had different signs, gu, crack beans, and anything else anyone needed. Some signs were for any runner, but some that were inside jokes for just me. They made me laugh and helped me get to the next time I would see them.
Next up, the second half.....the half that I was so eager to see. Saw Ed at mile 14, which was nice. Love that he's a realist and said, "See you in 3 hours." Yep, you sure will.......more than that even. LOL!! Was still doing okay until about mile 18. Here's the wall that I had never experience. Judging from the text sent Mary, it was about 18.5 where I, and I quote, "wanted to die." Who shows up when I am feeling horrible? My rolling pit crew. Mary sent Denise my way with a sandwich that I really couldn't eat but tried, crack beans that helped later, and moral support that was much needed. Thanks Coach Gary for getting me through this portion of the race.....the ugly one where I got really quiet and you just walked or talked to me. I heard you were good at the "ugly" part of races. Yes, you are!!
Mile 22: An obstacle that I tried to avoid and will remain nameless for now. I was feeling pretty defeated because of this and who should appear but Denise, Mary, Sarah, Heather, and Vanessa. We walked for a bit longer and I heard my name again........Meredith and Amber from the LLS staff. They joined up and walked with us too......at the wrong time because not far ahead was a hill. I may not have looked like it or sounded like it because I had become pretty silent at this point, but all of these people walking with me was keeping me going. I wanted to give up so many times at this point but knew that I couldn't. I had gone so far and trained so hard, I wasn't going to let a stupid cold keep me from finishing a race that I was running for people who can't. At one point, I remember Amber saying, "remember those names on your back....you are doing this for them." Thank you Amber for reminding me of that.....I needed it!
Okay, now I see the Mill Ave bridge......the greatest bridge ever at this point. The last mile of the course. I think it was right before the bridge that more coaches joined us, including my own coaches, Emily and Tom. Not that I don't love the other coaches because all our TNT coaches are amazing, but it was great to see faces that I had trained with every Saturday and who had helped me each week get to this point. Later on the bridge, more coaches, including another one of my EV coaches, Steve joined us. I had a posse! Somewhere on the bridge, my sister, Hope was there. She joined in the posse. I am pretty sure that at this point, the race officials just wanted the stragglers to be done, so no one said anything about a quarter of my posse not having race bibs!
Almost to the finish line: LLS Staff - the girls I had worked with for 6 months and gotten to know and love so much. They had made good on their promise to me at the finish line.....LOL.
Finish line: Greatest feeling ever! Finished something that I said I would NEVER do and I did it with the support of people I love for a cause that I love. While I said I didn't want to be the last TNT participant to cross the finish line, I would not have it any other way. While I love every race and every experience, nothing can top this one.
My Teammates who waiting around hours for me to finish: It meant so much to have you at the finish line! Seeing you guys as I came around that curve is where I started to lose it. You all have been there for me through a lot this past year and I could not have gotten this far without you.
LLS Staff: I really had no idea what you folks do until I helped do it myself and I will be forever grateful for all you do for us participants. Thank you so much for what you do to help our mission. So many people have no idea what they don't see that goes on behind the scenes. I very much enjoyed getting to know you guys a little better and will forever have your backs! How can I not?
EV Coaches: Emily, Tom, Steve: You all rock as coaches and I could not have done this without you. Whether it was out on the canal, in the Biltmore loop, in an email, or out on the race course, your encouraging words got me to the finish line. Thank you so much for all you do to get all of us to the finish line for this cause.
Pit Crew: I cannot emphasize the fact that I probably would have keeled over and called a cab if it weren't for you guys. Denise: I am so thankful that you biked the course and helped me, as well as other runners. It was comforting when I felt bad knowing that I would see orange in the distance and know you were there. Mary and Sarah: Your signs were amazing!! They brought laughter when I needed it the most!! I wish I could do the same for you guys in CA but know that I will be there in spirit and someday, I will repay you for that race course support. Mary: My playlist was amazing and made me laugh several times. Thank you so much for that as I know it was a little time consuming!! I hope you think of me and that you guys get a space blanket after Tinkerbell!
Family: Whether you were cheering for me from afar or the race course, you always support me in whatever I do. Thanks for those who have supported me financially or through kind words. All of it means a lot! I do every race in memory of Grandma Vanderlin and thank you all for being a part of that in your own way. Thank you Hope for being out there! I know it was a long day for you but I don't think that I could have walked very well, let alone danced at the victory party if it weren't for your magic hands. I know you know how it feels to be out there and I am so glad you were there and part of my posse at the end!
Ed: Thanks for being the best finish line photographer ever! I appreciate that you don't care that my new found love for races takes you different places and that trips end up getting planned around marathons. I also appreciate that you end up getting the raw end of the deal when I get up the stairs and won't come back down and you end up bringing me ice packs, water, food, and anything else needed post race. You are the best and I love you!
So, for those who weren't out there, here is video courtesy of Mary and Sarah:
Thanks again to everyone involved. I apologize if I forgot anyone. I am grateful to everyone who helped me get to the finish line! If you are interested in having an amazing experience of your own, visit http://www.teamintraining.org/dm/ to find out how. You can join me in San Diego this summer!!
I will be on the race course.....hopefully about halfway there. We had our last group practice yesterday and got all the necessary details about race weekend. I am by no means a first timer to this scene but this time, it's different. I love each Team in Training event I do but there is not the same nervous feeling for me before half marathons because I know what to expect. Sure, I still get excited and love the whole race experience but it's not the same as I felt before that very first half marathon.....until now.
Those of you who have talked with me in the past about marathons know I have said numerous times that I would NEVER do a full marathon. I would say I had no desire to find out what happens to someone after 13.1 if they keep going. I am not sure what changed in me but something did and I did want to see what it feels like to keep going when I would normally cross the finish line.
So, once I uttered those words to my Team in Training family, there was no turning back. I said it out loud and had to move forward and make good on my statement. Next, I decided that in order to finish in the cutoff time that the Rock n' Roll races have, I would have to do more than walk. Up to this point, I had walked each half marathon that I had completed and loved it! I would take pictures along the route and enjoy the race either by myself or with my crew. I never thought I would even entertain the idea of adding running to the mix because I hated running. Let's be realistic; there is a lot of me to run around with and that was one of the reasons I hadn't wanted to in the past. Knowing I had to buck up and bite the bullet, one of my coaches gave me a run/walk plan for this season. He was a coach I had not worked with in the past and I was kind of nervous because he is all business when it comes to running. I love all my coaches that I have had and they are all my good friends but I think it took an outsider to come in and say, "you should run for this long and then walk for this long and see what happens." And so it started. I coined it "Project Hurt Less in January" because I am not dumb. I know it's going to hurt but if I did everything in my power to prevent it from hurting less, I was going to.
We had our Kick Off for the Season in August and I followed the training schedule to the letter. Man, I was not ready for this part-time job called training for a full marathon when you have never run before. What is this sweating thing? I used to be able to run errands after going to the gym but not anymore; I was gross! And why didn't anyone warn me about the whole legs feeling like bricks thing? Sheesh! What I didn't expect was to enjoy it so much! Running is truly therapeutic and I needed that after the whirlwind of a June I had.
At the same time, I was trying to figure out what I was going to do about a job. Luckily, the part time opportunity of working for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society fell in my lap thanks to little Katie and her mommy's maternity leave, so I was still busy. In addition, I ended up having the opportunity to teach in the classroom for the first time in a community college setting. This was something I could not pass up since I had no previous experience and the department chair was willing to give me one. Man, that is one time consuming activity! I am so glad I did because I know that I can do it and know what to expect. I was also still teaching online classes so technically, I had 3 part time jobs and was training 5 days a week for this race. I was busier than when I actually had a full time job!!
So the training months went by and I think what I needed during this hectic time was a goal to reach for; something that I had never done. In the process, I lost some poundage; which made running easier and and continued to enjoy the whole new experience of running and walking. I have always known my TNT peeps were supportive but in embarking on the uncharted waters of a full marathon, I remembered why I am with this organization outside of the obvious mission of curing cancer. Every week, there were encouraging words and high fives, which was no different than any other season except for the fact that I really needed them this time. I was doing something so new and foreign to me and I forgot how much that support helps in the process. I cannot tell you how much it meant to have people tell you over and over again how proud they are of the progress being made and how excited they were to see me accomplish this goal. As the Saturdays flew by, I started running more and the intervals increased, which is still something that I laugh about since I said I would never run. Along comes the Women's Half in November, which was my first race where I was going to see how this run/walking thing works during an actual race.
What I needed at this point was proof that I had progressed and the Woman's Half game me that! I finished with my best time yet: 3:02. Many of us had personal bests that day and I have to think it had a little bit to do with the fact that we were all out there running/walking in honor of our friend and TNT Teammate, Heather. She is a breast cancer survivor and this was her first race back after treatment. We formed our own little team - The Purple Nurples! Heather is amazing and such an inspiration to all of us and we wanted to do this for/with her to celebrate her battle and that is exactly what we all did!
Here come the holidays.....I was so excited because I had made it this far in the season with no new injuries. In fact, my shins and feet were fantastic, which was a worry because of issues I have had in the past. Nope, my main source of pain was just the stress related knots that always exist in my shoulders. That's not going to go away completely until this household is fully employed and I know that. And it happens.....I catch the crud that is going around. Down and out for a good 10 days with a hacking cough that is not okay. One trip to Urgent Care and some drugs later, I am okay. I accepted the fact that I didn't get another long run in because I was so sick and decided that I had trained hard for this race and that I was going to be okay......with a little help from my friends of course.
The last practice of the season is always a little bittersweet because it means the season is almost over. All of our locations come together and run the last few miles of the course for PF Chang's. As we are getting our info and directions for the weekend, the group was asked who was doing their first half or full marathon. I never raise my hand because it's not the first time for me so I kind of spaced the question. I heard my name and it was one of my buddies from another training location telling me to raise my hand. I love that my role as Mission Captain for the past 5 seasons has given me the chance to get to know people from all of our training locations because there are some really cool people I would have missed out on. I have so much support on race day and I am so fortunate because that is what is going to get me to the finish line.
Speaking of support on race day......I believe that I have a pit crew that rivals Ricky Bobby. What happens when your friends decide to do a different race? One hops on her bike with a pack filled with snacks and supplies and the other two do their own mini full marathon as spectators. I swear I feel like I have known these people for years and years but in reality, it's only been one or two if that. My circle of friends who have come out of these different race experiences have been the one's who have been there for me the most when I have needed them. Checking on me long after the supposed friends from my old job stopped caring. I really found out who were my real friends during that whole ordeal and it never failed, my TNT peeps were always there. So, nothing less will happen on race day. What is amazing about this group is that I know there are people who will finish their race hours before I will and they will be at the finish line when I cross. That's what we do; we are a TEAM.
So, I felt compelled to share my thoughts as race day approaches (and I am avoiding grading...again) and really just send out a huge thanks to my friends and family who have helped me along this journey these past months. Those who I saw every Saturday, or every trip to South Mountain, or our long runs. Those who have emailed me in response to mission emails or those who have responded on facebook. My family who have donated this or past seasons and who will be out there for me this weekend and have supported me each race that I do. Ed for putting up with this hobby and always being at the finish line. All your support and encouraging words mean so much. Thank you!! And to my TNT family.....a huge Go TEAM to you and good luck next weekend or in a few weeks in CA.
Stay tuned on facebook for updates.......I am better about that than blogging as you can tell.
"Who's coming with me?" This is currently my favorite line from Jerry Maguire. If you aren't familiar, take a look:
This came to mind as I was being walked out of the building on Monday after being let go. Almost 7 years of service and my position was "eliminated." Whatever. I think there is more to it judging by some of the people in the company who are still around but who am I to say anything? So many emotions in the past few days.....anger, fear, sadness. Monday is just a blur but Tuesday...well, that is when it hit me. Didn't have an alarm go off....didn't get in the car with my carpool buddy to ride to work....nope, that is when I realized that Monday was not a nightmare and that it really happened. The way the whole thing went down was awful and I hope that no one has to go through that because it's a horrible feeling. Now, I am more sad than anything that I have no closure with the people who made coming to work okay when it really wasn't. I know I will see and talk to you all again but it's so different.....you are who helped me through the last year or so when work got so bad. The carpool therapy sessions, coffee clubs, visit to the 2nd and 4th floor when I needed to get away from my desk, dominoes, bake sales, co-workers/friends who really understood me, and the kind people who just listened. That is what makes me so sad.....I know things can't stay the same forever, but it sucks that they ended so abruptly.
So, don't think that you are safe in your job, because you aren't. Don't keep a bunch of stuff at work because having to pack it up at a moments notice sucks. Have your resume up to date now.......you never know what the next meeting planner is going to bring you.
Thank you to all of you who are my friends.....you know who you are and I am thankful for you. Thanks to all who called, emailed, texted and posted on facebook and who have showed interest in my well being. I am so appreciative to all of you for caring.
I am headed to Alaska bright and early tomorrow and I am so excited. I am going to forget the events of the past few days and just have fun with my teammates and have a great time taking care of another 13.1 miles in the name of blood cancer research. My loss of job is nothing compared to what others go through so I will never stop helping in that arena, no matter what. You can keep up with me on facebook of course or here....I will try and blog during race weekend but can't promise anything. Thanks again for all of your support that got me to my fundraising goal for this trip....I couldn't have done it without you.
I have been away for awhile....mostly for lack of time but this has been a rough week to say the least. Have you ever felt so connected to someone you have never met before? I had not until about 9 months ago when I heard that the son of a classmate of mine from Sunnyslope had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma. This is an aggressive childhood cancer that has no cure and the treatments are pretty aggressive themselves. That is when I met Ronan and Maya Thompson. Everyday, I was checking my email for updates on the blog to see where they were at or how his treatment was going. Every day and every night, I would check in to see if there was an update. Monday morning, there was no update. My heart sank and I hoped that it was because it had been Mother's Day and Maya was having a nice day with her family. I wish I could say that was why. Rockstar Ronan lost his battle early Monday morning.....the day after Mother's Day, days before he was to turn 4 years old, and less than a year from when he was diagnosed. I was so sad and angry all at the same time. How is it that we have all this technology and we don't have a cure for these diseases? It reaffirms why I am involved with Team in Training fighting for a cure for blood cancers. I am connected to this cause because I lost my Grandma to leukemia but with all the research, finding cures in one form of cancer can lead to progress in another. While cancer sucks for everyone, seeing someone who had such a life ahead of him lose it at such a young age made me sick to my stomach. Seeing these little kids who are bald from chemo and think that needles and ports are normal is not okay.
I write Mission emails to my teammates every week as Mission Captain and here is my letter for this week:
Hello TEAM Arizona!
I hope everyone had a great weekend and all the Mom's out there had a great
Normally, I send out my mission emails towards the end of the week but
today is different. Today I am reminded of why I continue to get up early on
Saturdays and why I ask people for money until they ignore my emails for
awhile....it is for people like Ronan, the little guy we have been talking about
more for the past week or so.
Sadly, Ronan lost his battle this morning with cancer, an ugly childhood
cancer that is so aggressive that it took his little life 9 months after he was
diagnosed, the day after Mother's Day, and 3 days before he was to turn 4 years
old. Why? That is one question I will never understand but one that make me
fight even harder.
www.rockstarronan.com - if you need
inspiration, there it is. In the form of the most beautiful blue eyes that are
now looking down on all of us from above. So many tears shed today across the
country for this little boy; tears of sadness and anger. Disgust that there is
not a cure for these cancers.
I know that I sleep better at night knowing that I am doing what I can to
make a difference and that people are helped because of the money I raise and
you should all feel the same way. Your hard work and dedication to this cause
makes a difference in many lives and for that, you should be very proud. I
am...proud of all of you for sticking with this goal you set months ago. Not
only are you completing an endurance event, which not many people can say they
have done. You are doing so for a cause, which makes the experience a much
sweeter one in the end. Thank you for being here and for fighting for those who
are currently fighting, who have fought and won, and for those who fought the
good fight and did not win.
I hope everyone has a wonderful week and a great practice this
weekend...whether you are running, walking, or hiking. You are inspiring to
those around you.
In honor of Ronan, a huge fan of Star Wars, I leave you with a quote from
Yoda, "Do or do not, there is no try." Thank you for going above and beyond
trying and just doing what you are with TNT for all those
affected by a blood cancer.
May the Force be with you as we approach all of our events.
Go TEAM! Joy
Gaeraths Mission Captain
LLS Mission: Cure
leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of
life of patients and their families.
Ronan - take care of your amazing family - Mama Maya, Woody, Liam, and Quinn need you to get through this. You have touched so many people all over the world.....thank you. Now, you can be our Yoda and show us the way....May the Force be with you, Ronan.
So, I am too busy and lazy to add the pictures of the marathon here. I am gearing up for another half marathon here in Phoenix in a little over a week, so follow this link to my pictures on Facebook of LV. I don't believe you have to have a Facebook account to view them.