Running for Anna

On December 12, 2010 our family was devastated by the loss of my niece, Anna Rogotzke, on her fourth birthday, to a rare cancer called Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. On December 4, 2011, I ran in the California International Marathon to raise money for the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative, a leader in the fight against sarcomas. This blog is created to update those interested in my journey and progress as I train for this event and events thereafter.

....And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

When Faith is Tested

I haven't blogged in awhile, but, lately, I've felt the urge to write and get my feelings on paper.  Since my last post, my family and I had a wonderful summer filled with hikes, trips, and camping.  I didn't run too much because my ankle was bothering me.  I would rest for awhile and then try again and it kept hurting, so I decided to mostly take the summer off.  It honestly wasn't a big deal to me, as I could do almost anything else without pain.  On August 8, I took this picture and posted it on facebook with the caption "bright sunshine behind me - storm brewing ahead of me".  I had no idea how prophetic that caption would turn out to be. 

Without going into detail, something happened in early September that I still can't come to grips with.  People say they feel "kicked in the stomach" when they are surprised with bad news, and that's exactly what I felt. However, I didn't just feel punched in the stomach but so bruised, bloody and beaten that it was/is difficult for me to believe that I could ever heal.  My heart has broken and broken over and over until I wonder if it can recover from being smashed into so many pieces.  I have gone through tough times in the past, and I know that these struggles more often than not lead to strength, perseverance and a certain gratitude for having gone through them because you can see how you and your faith grew once you reach the other side.  And, I just keep praying that I reach that point with this particular event. 

While nobody died or is dying, I am mourning.  I am grieving the loss of dreams, questioning every single decision I've ever made, and -yes - I am questioning God and His promises.    I feel like I am living in two parallel universes.  Since there wasn't a death, there is no real excuse for not continuing in my daily life.  I can't just hide away for awhile until I feel better.  So, in the meantime, I continue to go to work, to carry out my daily activities and to try and maintain an outward "normal", while another me is stuck in darkness and has to focus on just putting one foot in front of the other.  I'm ashamed to say I can't rejoice in the accomplishments of others or share in the happy moments of their lives.  Even as I tell myself that it's wrong, I feel resentful and envious.  As I know in my heart how untrue my feeling is, in my dark moments, I ask God why it seems that some people seemingly never have to endure real pain (like I said, I know it's not true ... everyone has to deal with tribulation at some point). 

I remember reading something and I can't remember where I saw it or who wrote it (I think it was someone with words of comfort for my sister when she was going through the loss of my niece), but it stated something like when we are going through hard times, all we can do is hang onto Jesus and when we can't hang on anymore, he will hold onto us.  I try to keep this as my focus.  I do see little things to remind me that God is still present:  a grove of beautiful aspens changing colors in a mountain canyon; words of comfort spoken in a church sermon which seem directed at me; kind words from people I did not give much thought to in the past but who - as it turns out - know exactly what I'm going through; the immeasurable love and support of my husband; clarity on decisions which I had a tough time making prior to this; and just the little experiences every single day that bring a smile - albeit a small one right now.

Of course, I can't help feeling that this is some kind of painful lesson for me.  I will freely admit I have control issues.  I think I should be able to control every aspect, person and moment in my life.  I have recognized this long ago, and really do make an effort to let go when I need to.  Now, I have no option.  There is nothing I can do except lay everything in God's hands ... EVERYTHING!  While I absolutely hate it, it is also freeing in a way.  There is NOTHING I can do on my own to fix this.  I'm not anxiously wondering if I'm doing the right thing because the situation is out of my hands.  I have to accept it as part of God's plan, continuously pray for his guidance, ask him to give me the right words to say when needed and just trust that it will all work out.   

I realize not many people will read this because 1) - I haven't blogged in awhile and 2) - I'm sure it's difficult to relate to a post if you don't know the specifics of what's going on.  But, it's just something I had to do for me.  Maybe it will be the beginning of more blogging or maybe I just need to write these things down at this time. 

  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5).

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Davis Stampede 1/2 Marathon Recap

Yes, it's been a month since the 1/2 marathon.  I realize I'm not the best at "timeliness", but I do want to record the day.  It was my son's first 1/2 marathon ... it was a 1/2 marathon I started with high expectations for myself (to PR with a better than 2:15 time).  I went into it with optimism and excitement.  Was it all I hoped for?  Yes and no. 

The day started out SUPER foggy.  While it provided - um - "atmosphere", that also means high humidity.  Do I like humidity?  Definitely not.  The high that day was in the high 60's, which seems perfect, but - after training in dry, cold weather for four months - the end of the race seemed "hot" to me and, even though the fog burned off, I could still feel the humidity. 

Anyway, I was so excited to run this with my son, Jacob.  The plan was for me to pace him for at least the first half (he has a habit of starting way too fast). We were psyched to go at the starting line.

My goal was to finish in 2:15 or better.  If you remember, this was my goal for my last 1/2 marathon, as well, and I finished in 2:16:00!!  My son's goal was to just finish, but I knew he had a time goal in mind. 

Miles 1-6 were great.  We got to the half-way point, and couldn't believe we were half done already.  We both felt fresh, and I was starting to feel confident about reaching our goals. 

The sun came out full-strength at mile 8, and I started fading a little bit.  I wish we had more races close to where we live, but, the fact of the matter is, most of the races that we can get to are in central California.  While the climate there is generally pretty nice, it is also much different than the dry, cool conditions I get used to in the Reno winters.  Once the sun comes out and it gets to about 60, I fade pretty quickly.  I need to modify my training conditions if I plan to keep racing in that area. 

At mile 9 we had to climb up a pretty long steep incline to a bridge which crosses the freeway.  It was actually a pretty cool aspect of the race crossing the bridge and watching the traffic speed by below.  But, the climb wiped me out (which is weird because we have plenty of hills in our training runs). 

This is about the time in the race when we planned on picking up our pace.  In reality, I was just trying to keep up.  I knew there was a very real possibility that Jacob would end up pulling ahead of me, but I was hoping to keep up with him until close to the finish.  About mile 10, I told him to go ahead.  He was looking strong and I didn't want to hold him back.  After asking if I was sure, he ran ahead. 

Those last few miles were TOUGH.  Without Jacob's companionship and me feeling like I was in the Sahara desert, I just wanted to get done.  When I crossed mile 11, I looked at my watch and - I obviously can't do math while running - thought at that time I had no chance of reaching my goal, so I backed off my pace a little bit and just tried to enjoy the run.  The path followed a river at this point, so it was quite scenic.  Then I looked at my watch at mile 12, and realized that - if I pushed it - I might have a chance!  So I "poured it on", or at least my version of "pouring it on".  I gave all I had that last mile.  My final time?  2:16:23.  Ugh!  Just wasn't my day for that elusive 2:15. 

Jacob's time?  He told me later that he wanted to average 10:00 minute miles.  His time was 2:11, which is exactly 10:00 min/mile pace.  I am super proud of him for his accomplishment and all the hard work he put into training for this.  I only wish I could have seen him cross the finish line.

My day wasn't a total washout, though.  My husband likes to take pictures of me at the finish line at races.  Most don't see the light of day... they can be pretty scary.  This time, he actually took one that I'm not totally disgusted with.  I think it's because it looks like I'm running rather than the usual "death shuffle". 

(Yes, I did finish ahead of that guy next to me.)

Jacob and I are signed up for a 1/2 marathon 2-person relay on April 7 (my husband is signed up for the full 1/2 on his handcycle).  Once again, it's in central California in the Sacramento area.  However, I'm the first leg, and it's only 7.5 miles, so I'm hoping to be done before it starts warming up too badly.  We are thinking - hoping - we can break 2 hours for the complete 1/2.  Wish us luck!

Monday, January 28, 2013

My Running Partner

Three words I never thought I'd write ... "my running partner".  Running is my "me time", my "alone time", my "nobody call me or text me unless it's a dire emergency time".  My favorite time to run is at 4:30 a.m. before everyone else wakes up and the world is still quiet.  I can think, I can pray, I can plan the day and run away my worries. 

That all changed a few months ago when my son said he wanted me to help him train for a 1/2 marathon.  Of course, I couldn't refuse him but, as I've written before, I worried about giving up that solo morning run for a late afternoon run with another person. 

It didn't take long before I realized the advantages of having someone else to hold you accountable, to push you, to encourage you.  Together, we ran through snow storms, freezing fog, warm sunshine, and rain.  We ran 4-milers that felt like death and 10-milers that felt like magic.  I've watched my son progress from struggling to finish 2 miles to running 12 miles with relative ease.  I've watched myself actually becoming faster (wait... what?) to the point where I'm actually hoping to PR this race instead of just finish.  No doubt, a little part of this is due to the little competitive voice in me that still doesn't want to be beat by my child.   Some runs were completely without conversation.  Most, though, included talks about classes, friends, homework, and other "stuff" that probably would have been left unsaid had we not been spending this time together. 

Life still continued.  My "running partner" got his driver's license (yikes!).  We celebrated  Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my husband's birthday.  Through it all we ran. 

It will all culminate this Sunday when we run the Davis Stampede Half Marathon in Davis, CA.  I am so excited to run this race!  I can't wait to see how well my "running partner" does. 

Of course, just when I'm getting used to and enjoying running with somebody else, he's already talking about running another half-marathon and maybe training on his own in order to get a faster time (sigh).  I'm sure that, soon, I will be back running alone in the early morning hours.  But, I will always remember this time ... the one time I allowed for a "running partner". 

 Pictures from the "freezing fog" run.... yes, it froze even to our hair. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Two Things That Make Me Happy Today

My son's first 10-mile run ever!

A trip to the Under Armour outlet store in Vacaville, CA yesterday

Hopefully, I can add a third tonight with a Packers win over the Vikings in the playoffs.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

As We Begin 2013 ...

I don't consider myself a "New Year's" person.  I get the desire to want to "start fresh"...become a "better person"...resolve to be "perfect".  But, the fact of the matter is our past never completely goes away.  It has made us who we are...sometimes for the better, sometimes not.  Have we made mistakes?  Absolutely!  Do we have regrets?  Unless you are super human, I would imagine all of us have something we would have done differently given a second chance.  However, the person I am today is the sum of all my experiences - good and bad.  I can look back and see that God has led me through the happy times and has used the sad / hard times to develop strength and character I may not have had. 

So, while I don't fault people for making resolutions at the beginning of the year, I realize that I'm the type of person who needs more short-term goals.  Just about every morning and evening, I need to pray for God's help to be a better mother, a better wife, a better friend, a better employee, ... I could go on and on.  I fall short every single day, so a general resolution that should last all year won't do me much good. 

The end of 2012 was kind of tough for me.  My sister said that December probably won't ever be the same for her again.  We celebrated Anna's 2nd birthday in heaven on December 12th (what would have been her 6th birthday here on earth).  I don't think any of us who experienced that day in 2010 will ever view December the same way.  While we rejoice in the birth of our Savior and the promise that it brings, we also remember that the pathway to that promise is often difficult and heart-breaking.  Whether it be a child succumbing to cancer or a gunman entering an elementary school and taking the lives of innocent kindergarteners, we come to realize that God's plans are not ours.  We, by ourselves, cannot comprehend why these things have to be.

As with all tragedies, I hear people ask, "Where is God?".  Or, they just give up on their faith because a loving God couldn't possibly allow these things to happen.  I find that I just have to cling to Him all the more tightly.  I will never understand His ways this side of heaven.  But, I do know He is in control of all.  I do know He is the only one I can turn to and that, without His loving comfort, I would be completely lost. 

On to lighter things ...

My running is going pretty well.  My son continues to train with me for his first half-marathon.  We've had a few interruptions (sickness, travel, etc.), but we're right on track to complete the Davis Stampede Half Marathon on February 3 in Davis, CA.  At some point, I realized this was also Super Bowl Sunday and couldn't believe I scheduled a race on that day.  However, we should be done in plenty of time to get home and watch the game.  If the Packers somehow manage to be in it, we WILL be home in time.

Some memories from the latter part of 2012:

The following pictures are from Thanksgiving weekend.

Our annual Christmas tree hunt in the mountains

Grand-nephew Noah

Grand-nephew Carter

 The next pictures are from none other than Lambeau Field.  My brother texted me one Friday and said he had an extra ticket to the Packers/Lions game.  I got on the Internet and found a semi-reasonable plane ticket to Chicago the FOLLOWING DAY (I live 2000 miles away from Green Bay, after all).  It was AWESOME!  I'm still not sure if my brother was seriously inviting me with his text, but wave a Packers ticket in front of me and watch out!  Ended up going with my dad and three of my brothers.  Was treated to a classic division game - in the snow - on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.  No better way to spend a Sunday evening. 

My son participated in a "We the People" constitutional law competition on December 15th.  He and his team did great! 

And, of course, Christmas...

I never thought I'd be excited about a kitchen appliance, but LOVE this!

Me and my best friend (since 5th grade)

My husband's gift... like the gift wrap?  (This is what I had to bribe him with in order to go to the Packer game)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Summer in Pictures

Since I've been on a little hiatus, just thought I'd post some of what I've been up to using pictures. 

Caught this while 4x4ing in early spring...wild horse against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada Mountains

Memorial Day 10K

BBQing with family

Reno Aces baseball!

June hike with son...rainy, misty day, but still beautiful

Picnic in the park...waiting for fireworks

Road Trip (this is Yellowstone); took 2 weeks in July to drive to the Midwest and back

Visited some nieces and nephews who I miss sooooo much!

2nd Annual Anna Rogotzke Memorial Kickball Tournament - Sanborn, MN

Me with one of my brothers and one of my sisters...if you're wondering about the red faces, we were playing kickball in 90 degree temps and about 300% humidity (OK...maybe I'm a whiny baby from a dry desert climate, but it WAS pretty bad)

The heat didn't stop my husband, Bill, from doing what he does best...BBQing! 

Brother and nephew in Illinois... a little baby girl was added to this family a couple of weeks after this picture. 

Avon, CO (I could live here)

Somewhere in UT

Fishing by the Truckee River

Another hike with son (Spooner Lake by Lake Tahoe....GORGEOUS!)

Even impressive to a 17-year-old

Yes, I made him do this.  It only took about 5 tries to get it right!  :)

Just barely a glimpse of Lake Tahoe

I hope we never get rid of the Jeep because I sure love the places it can take us. 

Nevada Wolf Pack football!! Battle Ready...Battle Born!!!