Friday, February 11, 2011

I'm still here!

Just a note to say that I'm still here. I'm more active at www.pk1001days.blogspot.com. Come visit me!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010



My boys. Growing up they were each often asked if their brother had a name because they always referred to each other as "my brother." They were truly best friends for many years. As a single parent I taught them to rely on each other. I constantly reminded them that they would always have each other regardless of what happened to the rest of the world. They grew up together. They played together. They shared friends. They argued and fought like only brothers can...and then somehow found a way to make up every time. When it was time to go out on their own they ended up sharing an apartment together. When it was time for one to become a Daddy his brother slept on the hospital room floor waiting to become an uncle. Together. Brothers. Best friends. My boys.

Five years ago today my oldest was killed in a traffic accident. His brother lost his best friend. His son lost his uncle. And I lost my oldest son.

Our world changed. Actually it shattered into itty bitty pieces. The kind that take years to put back together. And once they are back together the world doesn't look the same. Because it can't. It never will. It's missing a very important piece. But you find yourself learning to live with that missing piece. And you learn that it's okay to smile and to laugh and to find joy - even if a bit of you is still sad. It's okay. It's not always easy but it's okay. It's not moving on, it's learning to live gracefully with that missing piece.

I've learned to let life happen. To ride the waves as they come. To experience whatever the moment brings. Most days it's all good. Some days not so much. Today I miss my son. I miss my boys together. I mourn all the moments that were stolen from us as a family.

But in the same breath I celebrate all the incredible memories that we have together. We didn't have a lot of "things" while the boys were growing up but we sure managed to cram a lot of experiences into those years. And nothing can take those moments away. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Missing you today kiddo. And smiling through my tears as I type. Love you tons. ~Mom

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hot Yoga

So it’s been twelve days since my last run, aka the Girlfriends Half Marathon. I’m still pretty proud of my race - in fact I’m wearing my finishers necklace at work today! It reminds me that I am strong and some days I need that reminder more than others. Today is one of those days.

But let me back up a bit.

Before my HM I’d been toying with the idea of trying hot yoga. Most folks I asked had good things to say about their experience with it and several of my runner friends said that it was a big part of helping them recover after long runs. Hmm…recover after long runs. You mean like after 13.1 miles? Sounded like something I should check out.

So eleven days ago I carefully walked into the local yoga studio and plunked down my $10 for 10 classes. I wasn’t sure what to expect except that it’d be hot and I’d only be out $10 if I hated it. But I didn’t hate it. In fact I loved it. I came home from that first class woefully aware of how tight my lower half was but totally energized and looking forward to my next class. Four classes in I paid for six month unlimited membership – with a huge smile.




So I’m hooked. This has been, by far, the easiest HM recovery ever. I was ready to go out and do a long run less than a week later. No stiffness. No soreness. In fact stuff that was sore before I ran that half eased up too. I walk out of practice feeling on top of the world and incredibly energized. In fact on the days I don’t go I feel a bit out of sorts. I’m guessing that will go away as I add some running and strength training back into my schedule next week. Another “fringe” benefit? Me time. An entire practice session where I’m focused on absolutely nothing else but me, my body and how it is performing each posture. That is a priceless gift in my busy world. And after working my body that hard I find myself making much better fuel choices when I get home. I’m back to looking at that questionable food or beverage and wondering if it’s really worth it. And so far, for the most part, it hasn’t been.




They say that yoga is a full mind, body, soul workout and I have to agree. Unfortunately I came to that conclusion after a full blown sobbing breakdown in the middle of practice last night. I was having a pretty good practice (I finally got my silly leg up close to the right position for the “tree” pose!) and we were only 4 or 5 poses away from the end when the music changed to “In the Arms of an Angel” and I completely melted. Overwhelming grief overcame me and I dissolved into helpless tears as I wept for my son Sean. It’s been several months since I had a breakdown and even longer since it was so deep and so uncontrollable. I was in the corner of the room and I don’t think too many folks saw me and if they did I truly don’t care. Sobbing is my right. I stayed in the room until practice ended (too far away from the door to escape) and then found the instructor. I tried very hard to hold myself together as I explained to her that I am the Mom of an Angel Son and that her choice of that particular song was very difficult for me. She was beyond apologetic and instantly said she’d remove it from her playlist. She found me outside as I was trying to gather myself enough to drive home and apologized again with tears in her own eyes. I could see how horrible she felt and on any other day I would have been able to comfort her but last night all I could do was cry and thank her for coming out to check on me.


So today I’m wearing my finisher’s necklace because I need to be reminded that I am strong. I am strong even through my tears. I am strong because I choose to be. I am strong because I have faced the worst and survived. I am strong…and I’m going back to yoga tonight even stronger.


Monday, October 18, 2010

Girlfriends Half Marathon (aka HM #5))

First of all - half marathon #5??? I’m quite confident that absolutely that anyone that knew me through my school days would have ever, ever, ever dreamt that I’d be writing about the FIFTH half marathon I’ve RAN. Started - maybe. Crawled - possibly. Watched - probably. I was that girl that no one wanted on their team. You know the one. Every class had one. I was a year younger than everyone in my grade. I was several inches shorter - my Mom tried hard to sell “petite” as cute but the classmates never went there. My co-ordination was a joke - actually it still kinda is - LOL. And to make it all just that much worse I was smart AND I wore glasses. Did I mention my Mom dressed me funny? No really. Mail-order catalog in Fairbanks, Alaska funny. I have the pictures to prove it. So I’m going to start this race report with a proud squaring of my shoulders and a mental “take that” to all those kids that argued over which team would HAVE to take me. Bet you wish you had me on your team now - don’t ya!

2:38:21

Again not breaking any land speed records here but it’s a time I’m pretty proud of. Mainly I’m proud of how I got to that time. Because I did it the smart way. I had a plan and I stuck to it - at least mostly. So let me tell you all about it!

First of all Friday I ended up coming home from work sicker than a dog. I mean literally running down the hall to the restroom at work to vomit sick. That was fun. Spent the rest of the day and night bouncing from bathroom to bedroom hoping my stomach would settle enough to get some sleep.

Woke up Saturday morning and felt okay. Not 100% but good enough to pack my bag and head out for the 200 mile drive to Vancouver for the Girlfriends Half Marathon. I figured my hotel room was already paid for and at worst I could either walk the event or cheer the runners on as they passed by the hotel parking lot.
This is me when I got to the hotel.

Once in Vancouver I ran in to pick up my race packet and found all kinds of fun goodies in there. My favorites are the very cool black race vest and the cute pink drawstring bag. A few other fun items in there and definitely a few that got me thinking about the goodie bags I’ll be handing out to my Inspiring Hope runners in May.

Everything you need for a fabulous race!

Since I still wasn’t 100% I decided against exploring the town and instead watched some football in the hotel bar while enjoying a bowl of clam chowder and a beer. I know. I know. But it didn’t hurt me. I promise! Remembering my bread mistake from last year I passed on the bread and instead headed upstairs to get my stuff together.

Sunset from my room.

Before I headed to a very early bedtime I checked my messages and discovered that an online friend that I hadn’t yet met in person was planning to come out to cheer me on during the race. How seriously cool is that? Kate - I can’t begin to tell you how much that meant to me. I’m used to doing stuff on my own and am pretty comfortable with it but sometimes it is just so nice to know someone you know is out there rooting you on. Thank you SO MUCH!

Sunrise from my room.
Dressed and ready to run!

Race day dawned beautiful - clear, cold and gorgeous. I took a quick shower, enjoyed a couple cups of coffee (another error from last year erased) and headed out the door. I found a parking spot only three blocks away and headed towards the Start/Finish line. Bag check was a breeze and I grabbed a banana to go with my granola bar dipped in almond butter for breakfast. I know it sounds weird but it’s really good! As I was stretching with the group I heard my name called and found Kate rushing up behind me. I would have recognized her from across the parking lot. We chatted a bit, she snapped a quick photo and then I discovered that she has a beautiful singing voice as she sang along to the national anthem before the race began. A quick goodbye and I made my way to line up.

Kate took this one. Wish I'd remembered to have her take one of us together!

So I had a plan. The plan included 5 minutes running then 2 minutes walking for the entire event. Recognizing that my training was not up to par for this event I set very modest time goals for myself that I wrote out and pinned to my water bottle, along with the words “STRONG BEYOND MEASURE” and “No Excuses”. I’d refer to those times and those words at many points during the race.

Waiting to start.

Target: Miles 1-2 11:30
Actual: Mile 1 10:57, Mile 2 11:49

So you know how it goes that first mile. I don’t care how carefully I think I’m pacing myself I end up running faster than planned. Period. Now granted mile 1 was about 20 seconds slower than last year but still. One of these days I’ll figure out the whole mile 1 mystery. In the meantime I’ll survive. This mile 1 took us through the Farmers Market, towards my hotel and then to the river. Mile 2 continued along the river and through the first hydration station. Gorgeous route. Watching the fog lift off the river was totally cool. I’d like to say I took my camera out to capture it for you, but...I was busy.

Target: Miles 3-5 11:45
Actual: Mile 3 11:48; Mile 4 11:40; Mile 5 11:40

Close enough I’m calling it good. Kinda impressed actually that I ran right on target! And even better I felt really, really good. I ran through a couple of the areas that I remembered struggling through last year and felt great. You know - those spots where you thought there was a hill, or a bad tilt or something and find that it’s all good. I love it when that happens! Mile 5 was where I started to struggle mentally last year so it felt great to run strong through it. And running along the river and through this incredible park with amazing fall colors was awesome.

Kate took this one at Mile 7.5.

Target: Miles 6-8 12:00
Actual: Mile 6 11:59, Mile 7 11:56, Mile 8 12:14

Again - right on target through mile 7. And and mile 7.5 (just when I was starting to beat a certain evil self-talk demon back a bit) there was Kate on the side of the road with a beaming smile and a camera. It’s amazing how a simple “Go Penny” can make all the difference. I perked up and ran strong. In fact if you look at my Garmin you can see how I sped up through that area. LOL. :0) I think the only reason mile 8 looks slow is that two walk breaks fell in it. I felt good through this area.

Target: Mile 9-11 12:00
Actual: Mile 9 12:54; Mile 10 12:09; Mile 11 12:51

Mile 9 - How I hate you. Running is SO mental. I know it. I’ve experienced it many times. And I came equipped for it. Or so I thought. Mile 9 brought the first true mental challenge of this race. There’s an itty bitty overpass that kicked my rear last year and began the end of a really good run. And I knew it was coming this time. STRONG BEYOND MEASURE carried me up it but it didn’t stop the extra walk break that came after it. Mile 9 sucks. But I got through it. And Mile 10 didn’t suck as bad. Mile 10 had me doing a mental high-five as I passed by the 10 mile sign. I still had gas in the tank. I wasn’t nearly as mentally or physically drained at that point as I had been last year. I was pretty okay in fact. Mile 11 looks slow but actually it’s faster than last year. Mile 11 has that stupid hill at the end of it. And who puts a hill at mile 11 anyway? I knew it was coming and I planned to walk it and I was okay with that. I ran up to the bottom edge and I ran off the top of it. And I’m okay with my time for mile 11.

Target Mile 12-13 12:15
Actual: Mile 12 13:24, Mile 13 12:03

Then there’s Mile 12. Another gentle incline that is truly nothing but became a mental challenge for me. I very clearly remembered struggling through Mile 12 last year. Which made this years struggle all mental - except for my right hip which decided to tighten up about here too. Grr. I tried every trick I brought with me to run through Mile 12 and they just didn’t work. More walking than necessary. Less running than I could have done. But I slapped some sense into myself at the Mile 13 mark and ran to the Finish Line. And I finished strong. I finished without the horrible calf cramps of last year. I finished without wanting to cry (or throw up). And I finished smiling. At least I think it was a smile. I haven’t seen the official pictures yet.

But I'm smiling here. And this is right after I crossed the Finish Line.

Once across the Finish Line I grabbed my new pretty pink water bottle from the girl scouts and my new finishers necklace from the Vancouver Fire Department and headed over to grab a banana and a bagel before retrieving my gear. I wasn’t really hungry but knew I needed to eat so after forcing the food down I changed and headed over for a well deserved massage. Oh - and my well earned piece of fudge! Both were WONDERFUL! After a bit more stretching I headed back to my car for the trip home.
This is after my massage and fudge. :0)


So what did I learn from this race?

~ You don’t have to RUN 13.1 miles to consider yourself a runner. I feel really, truly fabulous today and I know it’s not a result of adequate training but rather a result of my 5:2 intervals. Lesson learned.

~ Have a plan and stick to it. Make it a reasonable, well thought out plan and there’s really not much that can stand in your way.

~ Come equipped to battle self-doubt. It makes a difference.

~ Encouragement on the side of the road is way more important than I ever realized. I’ve just always accepted that I wouldn’t have any. That will change from this point on. Thank you Kate for gifting me with that lesson.

~ Vanilla GU doesn’t suck.

~ Running with my own water bottle is the only way to go.

~ I truly truly love to run. Even when it hurts. Even when everything doesn’t go exactly as planned. I love to run. Who would have ever dreamed I’d be the one saying that? And even more important - I mean it too!


STATS:
2:38:21
935/1394 overall
120/170 age division
25/39 age

BTW - The overall average time of the field decreased by over 8 minutes this year! I need to find out their secret! :0)





Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wow








Today was not perfect. In fact I started the day reaching out for help. I'm willing to admit to the 3 of you reading this that I've been struggling a bit. I'm not 100% happy with some of my recent decisions. I find myself shrugging when it comes to self-care. I feel like I've spent the last few months operating at Mach 5 and most of the time I'm good with that but right now I think I'm just plain tired. So I asked for a bit of help from one of the online communities I'm involved with. And was blessed. And even better? That was just the beginning.

My cry for help this morning was answered by multiple folks but the one that hit home with me was from a gentleman I've "met" only briefly via email. This man took the time to read through over two YEARS of blogs (in a different location than here) to find the answer I needed to hear. What did he do you might ask? He quoted my own words back to me. He carefully pulled EXACTLY what I needed to hear from my own blog and quoted it back to me. Multiple times from multiple entries. And then he reminded me of what I'm really made of. He reminded me that I'm made of pretty stern stuff and I will come through any challenge enriched by the experience. He challenged me to reconnect with the gal that wrote the stuff he quoted and meet my world head on. How incredibly cool is that? How amazing is it that a virtual stranger (literally!) can do that for me? As I said...I was blessed.

But then it got even better!

This may not seem like a blessing to some of you but to me it was bigger than I can put words to. If you are reading this there's a good chance that you know that I've had my share of financial challenges since my son Sean died. Some of those challenges I can trace directly back to my swiss cheese brain and crummy decisions after his accident, some were of my own doing and I own them but any way you slice it these last few years have been challenging.

The year Sean died was the last year I was able to purchase a seasons pass at our local ski resort. Again, may not seem like a big deal, but to me it's huge. My boys and I spent literally thousands of happy hours there. Even when they were difficult teenagers I knew that if I could get them into the truck, once we hit the road there would be no complaints, limited fighting and quite possibly some pretty incredible conversations between the three of us. I cherish those memories more than I can tell you. The year Sean died I felt the closest to him when I was skiing. I skied through goggles fogged with tears. I skied laughing out loud with the joy of it. I skied quietly knowing he was just over my left shoulder - and approved. I skied - a lot. And it was healing.

The last three years I've been an infrequent visitor to the ski slopes. I've gone a few times but honestly I just couldn't justify the cost when there were so many other places that money was needed. I missed it terribly but sometimes we just do what we have to do.

And then my incredible Kindred Spirits teammates stepped in. This amazing group of people somehow figured out that what my soul needed more than just about anything was to spend time on the mountain - without wondering where the money was coming from. They got together and purchased an UNLIMITED SEASONS PASS to the mountain for ME!! In that simple gift they gave me the opportunity to ski with joy. And that is HUGE. This winter I get to spend as much time as I can find outside, in the snow, flying down the mountain, rejoicing in the memories of both of my boys flying next to me. And I get to ski with my youngest son. With luck I'll get to introduce the perfect grandson to skiing. And these amazing people gave me this gift.

I am beyond blessed.

Friday, August 27, 2010



I spend a good portion of my summer...okay my spring and my summer and a bit of my fall...wrapped up in an incredible journey. It's a journey that I willingly take but one that comes with a few sacrifices along the way. I lose sleep...actually, a lot of sleep sometimes. I lose time spent with my family. My weekends are booked. I stress a bit. There might even be a few tears along the way. I might even do a bit of b!tching and moaning occasionally. And yet I can't imagine myself anywhere else.

This journey unites some pretty incredible people. People that I am honored to call friends. People that are committed to making a difference. Who are these folks you ask? Why they are the walkers and crew that make the Breast Cancer 3 Day for the Cure events a reality. They are the folks that step outside their pretty little boxes and do something that can be a bit uncomfortable at times. They ask for money. They walk with blisters. They share stories that make you smile, and then make you cry, all within the same conversation. And they become family. They may not be related by blood ties but the ties that bring these folks together are even stronger sometimes. And I get to be a part of it. I get to be a tiny little part of their journey. And I am honored ...and humbled...and grateful...and incredibly blessed.

So thank you for allowing me along for the ride. I am blessed by your friendship and humbled by your commitment. We will see an end to this monster in our lifetimes. I know it. And YOU will be part of that story!



Some of my teammates are still working to raise the money necessary for them to walk in the upcoming Seattle 3 Day for the Cure. If you would like more information on how to support them please drop me a note at kellam83@att.net. They deserve the opportunity to honor those that inspired them to walk in the first place. Can you help?

Monday, August 23, 2010

And MONTHS roll by...


I'm a bad blogger. Actually I'm not a bad blogger but I am a blogger that writes incredible blogs in her mind and never quite gets them to here. Sorry. It's tempting to try to play catch up and write a bit about my crazy busy life over the last eight (gasp) months but I'm going to restrain myself and just start over.

My world is good. Actually my world is really good. This is my perfect grandson yesterday enjoying a s'more carefully roasted over a fire in my backyard firepit. Yup. Life is good. :0)