Race #2!!

Race #2!!

I have been worried about my Saturday, Feb. 28 race all month long because of the frigid temperatures and the tons of snow we have had throughout February.

Unfortunately, the second week of February was the last time I laced up my running shoes and went for a run. This of course adds to the worry because I haven’t been out there running, practicing, training, getting ready for my second race.

I guess this is what happens when you cancel a gym membership and live in a state that although does not get a ton of snow, has the potential of having a white winter.

It’s been pretty downhill since last Monday when the first true snow storm blew through and the snow has remained on the ground since.

I read on the local news website this morning that the Tri-Cities area has had 15.5″ of snow, breaking the season average of 13.3″ inches.  This is why I haven’t been running . . .

With all of this said, I traveled to the Renaissance Center here in Kingsport this afternoon to pick up my race packet for the KingsportARTS Paint the Town 5K.

IMG_20150227_142550It wasn’t until I walked out the door that the excitement for tomorrow completely consumed me. I left the worry at the door . . . I signed up for the race and I will brave the elements, whatever they may be tomorrow afternoon.

I just wish Jason didn’t have to work. It was comforting last time knowing he was on the sidelines waiting for me to cross the finish line.

I’m not nervous for this race, like I was for my first one Thanksgiving morning. I’m more excited that I have the opportunity to run!!! I’m going on a 17 day dry spell and it’s eating me alive!!

The sun has been shinning for the majority of the afternoon, hopefully melting some of the snow. Tomorrow’s forecast, a high near 39 degrees!!! Whooohooo above freezing!!!

 

Blanket of white

Blanket of white

20150218_164759 editI’ve been pretty fortunate this winter . . .

Well, that all changed when the temperatures plummeted and a blanket of ice and snow-covered the area.

There are certain temperatures that I just won’t brave the elements and go for a run. When you add a layer of ice and snow to the mix, I hang my running shoes up.

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I’m okay if a couple of days go by without going for a run, as long as I go at least three times a week.

Unfortunately our wintry mix has left me indoors. My last run was Feb. 10 . . .

The need to hit the Greenbelt took hold with a fierce grip yesterday. My body desperately needs its outlet to wash away the stress of everyday life. My body needs the blast of fresh air while my feet hit the pavement carrying me through much-needed miles.

I miss my “me” time. I miss letting it all go while running and taking in the scenery.

Yesterday in an effort to kick my winter blues, I asked Jason to stop by the Kingsport Greenbelt, so I could take a look.

The walk, which was not a long one because of the cold, was just a tease. I felt like I was home when Jason parked the car and I saw the sign for the Kingsport Greenbelt.

It was breathtaking to see snow covering the path and the outskirts of the creek. It was, however, quite cold as the gust of wind rushed across our face.

20150218_164820 editAs we walked a little down the path our feet stepped on a layer of ice that was beneath a layer of snow. Definitely not ideal running conditions. Definitely not safe running conditions.

In an effort to release some of what has been bottled up inside for more than a week, I breathed in the crisp air and looked, really looked at my surroundings.

Here are a few more pictures of what I was able to capture with my cell phone before the temperatures got to be too cold to bear.

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Hopefully the single digits will disappear soon taking the severe wind chills with it, so I can go back to my weekly routine. I have learned through this dry spell of running, that exercise is extremely important!

With all that said . . . .

My next 5K race is Saturday, Feb. 28, a little more than a week away. I sure hope the temperatures improve, or that is going to be one brutally cold race.

More than a mile increase

More than a mile increase

The dark gray clouds broke away and the blue sky made its presence today. It was truly a beautiful sight to see, a blue sky with an occasional white cloud in the sky. That has definitely been a rarity here lately.  20150116_140254

After interviewing the general manager of the Barbara B. Man Performing Arts Hall this morning, my motivation struck full force. I had no excuses today, the clouds were gone and the temperatures were in the high 30s.

Time to lace up those running shoes. . .

I invited Lucy, my puppy, to come along with me for my run, but she was hesitant, so I left her home yet again. She hasn’t been out on the Greenbelt with me for almost two weeks now.

I have to admit I’ve been enjoying my alone time out on the Greenbelt. My distances have been longer, which might be because I’m not worrying about pushing her too far. With that said, I miss having Lucy with me.

When I got home, we went outside and played in the backyard for a little while. Yeah for big backyards!! She took off running in her little circles, so she was happy. She got some exercise, but not the miles she has been used to when she joins me for my runs.

IMG_20150116_152414Back to my time on the Greenbelt. I started off with gloves on and a sweatshirt over a long-sleeve and short-sleeved shirt. It was a good 2.5 miles into the run I had to shed the sweatshirt and the gloves. Yep, the temperatures were climbing into the high 30s! I did slow down until a fast walk as I took the sweatshirt off, the whole 10 steps before I was off running again.

I was able to run further along the Greenbelt in one direction because the path was not iced over. That was the deciding factor. I was determined to run further than I did earlier this week. It was my sign . . . push those legs to a new distance.

It worked . . . I surpassed my longest running distance by 1.04 miles.

I ran 5.56 miles today. Only if someone was there to witness the smile that spread across my face when I looked at the app on my phone. My last distance was 4.52 miles.

I’m thinking that 10K might just be possible before the end of the year.

When I finished the run, I spotted an egret, which made me smile again because it reminded me of Fort Myers.

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A thought from today . . . I think it may be time to buy a Garmin to track the miles I run. I love the app on my phone . . . but I’m always questioning it.

Extreme comfort

Due to my increased running miles, I finally treated myself to a new pair of shoes on Friday.

My Brooks have been amazing and have lasted a really long time, but were kind of overdue to be retired from the running paths. They carried me through some record-breaking distances and times . . . well to be honest they helped in forming this new passion of mine. Definitely a good pair of running shoes.

Yes, even though these were incredible shoes, I wanted to try a different brand, just to see if there was something better out there that would fit to my needs.

I tend to run a little flat-footed and wanted something that would give me the comfort I so desperately needed. I decided to try on a different brand, one that many of my friends and family already wear, Asics.

I went to three different stores to find that perfect match.

The first stop was unsuccessful and a little discouraging. I set myself a price range to stay under and I was determined not to go over that amount.

I kept positive and traveled to another store . . . which was worse than the first with the selection and the price tags.

The third store, well I had high hopes. If I didn’t find anything there I was going to head home and research different stores I could shop.

As I walked down the many aisles of shoes, I instantly found two that were within my price point and decent looking. I felt like a little girl on Christmas when I found my size in both shoes.

I tried on the Asics Gel-Excite 2 and my feet thanked me. The extreme comfort instantly sent a message from my feet to my brain . . . these were keepers.

20141109_130858I could not believe the amount of cushion these shoes offered. The best part about it all was they were on sale!

I was beaming after I left the store with a bag in my hand. I was super excited to try them out on the Greenbelt, especially since an email reminded me that I had 20 days left until my first 5K race.

Unfortunately Saturday was not the day to take these shoes for a test run. The sun never showed its presence and it was really cold.

Today, oh today, was absolutely beautiful. The sun was shining and it wasn’t bitter cold.

Just as Jason came home for his break, Lucy and I were heading out the door for our afternoon run. Those few moments of seeing Jason gave me the extra jolt of adrenaline I needed . . . I absolutely love seeing Jason in the middle of the day. You ask why? Well because when he gives me a kiss goodbye and wishes me a good day I am still asleep in bed, since he leaves a few minutes before 5 a.m.

Lucy must have received her inspiration after seeing Jason . . . For the first time since we adopted this little pup, she followed me out the front door shake free and followed me to the car. On a typical day she hesitantly follows me out the door and remains by the door. Almost as if her feet were glued and she couldn’t move another inch. After I opened the car door, Lucy instantly jumped in and was ready to go! I can’t even explain how excited I was watching this all unfold in front of my very eyes. Lucy has been a nervous car rider since the day we adopted her. Maybe, oh maybe . . .

So, as Lucy became situated on my lap, we were off and I felt amazing. I had my new belt secured around my waist and my new shoes were laced up and ready to  hit the path.

There was such a world of difference running this afternoon. The impact of my foot hitting the pavement was not as intense. The cushioning was wonderful.

My legs on the other hand, even with two days off from running, had a mind of their own. Although we did not achieve the distance I wanted to achieve, Lucy and I made it to the Greenbelt and clocked the first 2.29 miles in my new shoes.

I have to admit the best part of the run was stretching once we returned home. My legs are extremely tight, so another round of stretching will happen once again before going to bed tonight.

Tomorrow, my goal is to run 2.5 miles.

Here are a few pictures from our cool down walk.

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‘Dunk Your Kicks’

One of the things I enjoy most about my journalism career is the various topics I have the opportunity to write about.

The article below appeared in the SanTan Sun News, a newspaper I write for in Chandler, Arizona today.

I enjoyed writing this article because of its unique fundraising initiative, “Dunk Your Kicks.” It’s a cool idea, collecting old sneakers and running shoes to raise money for pediatric cancer patients.

I talked to two mothers who have son’s going through cancer treatments right now . . . I could not imagine their journey, but am glad there are foundations like the Max Cure Foundation to help them through their hard times.

‘Dunk Your Kicks’ while supporting pediatric cancer patients

Published in the SanTan Sun News Nov. 16, 2013

Parents who are struggling to financially support their cancer-stricken children are receiving help from a unique fundraising initiative in the Southeast Valley.

Three Chandler youngsters Jayden, Angelisa, and Tylar Bailey, spent theirfall break dispersing boxes at various locations to help collect sneakers for Dunk Your Kicks after their mother Erica Bailey shared information about the cause.

Tylar says he is helping with Dunk Your Kicks “because I don’t want anyone to have to fight cancer anymore.”

Started in 2012, their campaign raises money to help find a cure for pediatric cancer. The trio’s goal was also to help low-income and military families who are experiencing financial struggles while their child is having treatments.

Now, instead of the 200 million pairs of sneakers being thrown away each year sitting in landfills producing toxins, the sneakers are earning a profit and helping many families.

The fundraising campaign was created by the Max Cure Foundation in December 2008 by the New York-based Plotkin family. Their son, Max, who was diagnosed with cancer before his 4th birthday, is in remission at 9 years old.

“David, Max’s father, gave up everything to run the foundation,” says Erica Bailey, who began working with the foundation at the beginning of the year.

Instead of asking individuals for monetary donations, Dunk Your Kicks collects gently used sneakers and running shoes.

“It’s been a phenomenal campaign and it’s growing and growing,” Bailey says.

Her children placed boxes at 10 Audio Express locations and Fix 24 Chiropractic, which will remain there until Fri., Nov. 22. Audio Express is offering a $10 off coupon for every pair of sneakers donated.

“Their goal is to raise 20,000 pairs of sneakers,” Bailey explains.

Each sneaker earns $1, which in turn goes to families.

“I will be able to physically show my children that 20,000 sneakers equates to $20,000. It’s visual. It teaches them morals and values.”

An international recycler helps the foundation resell the shoes to merchants in developing countries.

“The more sneakers we collect, the more children we can help and the longer we can help them for,” she says. “We are putting shoes on men, women and children who die from diseases.”

The Baileys’ efforts are providing assistance to three families this year via the Dunk Your Kicks donations. Their children are undergoing cancer treatments.

Delilah Dow’s son Buddy, 5, was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, high-grade brain tumor, in 2011. Soon thereafter, Buddy underwent surgery for tumors on the back side of his brain. He also has tumors on the front of his brain as well as his spinal cord.

The initial diagnosis was shocking for Dow, who lives in Phoenix. Buddy began chemotherapy after his diagnosis and now has treatments every three weeks, Monday through Friday, for three hours at a time. Dow says the chemo is helping the tumors and preventing further growth.

“He is really strong,” Dow says. “He doesn’t like chemo, but he deals with it. He gives me the strength to keep doing what I am doing for him.”

The young boy started school this year at William T. Machan Elementary School where he also attends physical, occupational and speech therapy.

“He misses a whole week of school because his energy level is down,” Dow explains of his week of chemotherapy. “He doesn’t like to miss one day of school. He’s just a kid that likes to learn a lot.”

Another mother has a similar story.

Amber Foley has a similar story. Her son, Maurice Harrison, 9, was diagnosed with a nervous system disease and subsequent brain tumor in 2011.

“Since then he has had two brain surgeries,” Foley explains.

Maurice had his first surgery on Nov. 9, 2011, which was followed by unsuccessful chemotherapy treatments. An MRI was done in March 2012 and he had his second surgery in April of that year.

“Because of where it was, they weren’t able to get all of it,” Foley explains. “That’s why they are doing so many treatments.”

Maurice has had 33 radiation treatments and is on his second round of chemotherapy. Foley says he has at least another year to go with treatments. He has chemo treatments every two weeks for six to eight hours at a time.

“He goes one day every other week,” she explains. “He is just tired that day. This chemo is a lot calmer than other treatments we have tried with him.”

Foley explains her son is willing to give this cancer a fight.

“He is so kind hearted and so willing to help other people before he is worried about himself,” she says.

Although the diagnosis has been with the punches. She says as a single mother of four, she tries to work as many part-time jobs and seasonal jobs as her schedule allows.

“We try to make the best out of what we can and the situation,” she says. “For a child to go through it, it’s heartbreaking. God has a final say and take it day by day.”

The two families voice their appreciation for the Bailey family.

“I am really overwhelmed with happiness with how much help they were able to give me and my family,” Foley says. “I think it’s a wonderful foundation helping kids out here and kids in different countries that don’t have shoes. Everyone wins with this foundation.”

Bailey says so far they have collected 165,000 sneakers this year.

“Most of the time we collect them through mud runs and races,” she explains. “We collect muddy sneakers after the event (because) they typically end up in the garbage.”

If individuals are unable to donate their sneakers, they can log onto dunkyourkicks.org/match-a-dunk, and make a donation. Bailey says the donation will stay in Arizona.

Nine more

There is nothing more gratifying than out pacing your last fastest running time.

This morning I woke and instantly and  got on the computer to crank out some more articles for next week’s Eagle, as well as next month’s Properties of Southwest Florida magazine. As I dove into an article that was number intensive, well just packed with information, from I hearing I attended earlier on in the week, I decided it was time for a break.

What better way to clear your head than lacing up your running shoes and heading out for a good run?

Today’s Pandora’s mix got my feet moving a little faster, allowing me to take an additional nine more seconds off my run. What a great cardio workout!

Now with my brain cleared and my body feeling better, let the creativity flow, so I can finish this rather time consuming article, so I can continue on to the next.

Lazy day turned active …

After Kimber decided to wake me way before I was ready to get up, I relocated to the couch where I snuggled under the covers and became lost in a book.

Well … that only lasted until I fell fast asleep again. A few hours later, once Kimber decided it was time to wake me with her meowing again, I woke up and instantly got lost in a book again.

There is nothing better than staying home on a Sunday being incredibly lazy.

The hours, minutes and seconds continued to tick by before I pulled myself off the couch and away from my book and into my running shoes.

What an incredible run, my body was 100 percent rested, which awarded me with an effortless run.

Now the laziness is behind me …