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, November 29, 2011

Less Than 5 Days!

Is that right?  Less than 5 days to go before the marathon?  Yikes!

It has been a long time since my last update.  I appreciate SO MUCH the kind comments and caring words many of you have left on my last post.  After a week of vacation with family in Wisconsin (for my sister's wedding), I am feeling refreshed and a little more positive. 

Me with parents and brothers and sisters - I'm the one in the red dress

It's helped that I've been able to do some RUNNING in the last week.  Just a few bullet points on that front:

1) - Broke down and went to the doctor the Monday before Thanksgiving.  Went about as I expected...she said not to run and I said not gonna happen.  She was very understanding...her mom's a marathoner.  Of course, the best thing to do would be to get an MRI, go to physical therapy, etc., etc.  I was going out-of-town, so no time for any of that.  Hmmm...maybe should have gone to the doctor when all this first started.  I hate going to the doctor, but lesson learned for next time.  She prescribed a heavy-duty anti-inflammatory and said to rest at least a few more days.

2) - Bought a foam roller.  I'll just say, "Ouch!"  Wow, those things HURT!!  But, after the first time using it, I was a convert.  My leg felt better than it had in weeks. 

3) - Continued with my stellar cross-training program with Jilian (sarcasm intended) a few more days. 

4) - Once in Wisconsin, I tentatively attempted a 6-mile run.  Didn't feel too badly, so a couple of days later tried 10.  My knee was definitely talking to me the whole time, but I was able to push through.  This past Friday, I thought I'd try 15.  It seems weird that this should be the time I'm tapering, but I'm instead trying to amp it up a little bit to make sure I'm OK for 26.2.  The 15 felt great!  I took it slow, and I'm afraid I'm going to have to do that Sunday, as well, but there was very little knee pain (could have been the four Advil I took before...but whatever works). 

So, what's my strategy for Sunday?  I don't have one!!  Since my training has basically been derailed, my only plan is to take it slow, enjoy the day, and - above all - remember Anna, whom this is about. 

Her 5th birthday (and, as it turned out, her "birthday" into heaven) would have been coming up on December 12.  My sister said that, as the day gets closer, so many events of those last few weeks are sticking out in her mind more clearly, and I agree with that.  I'll never forget my sister telling us that they were stopping treatment, as it was not working.  I will always remember driving through a snowstorm in Minnesota to attend Anna's birthday party, only to be told upon arriving that Anna was "not doing well".  All she could talk about for months was her excitement at being four years old, and it looked like this was not going to happen.  At about 8:00 p.m., we were told that it could be any moment that Anna would leave this earth, but I think she REALLY wanted to turn four.  At only minutes after midnight on her 4th birthday, she left the arms of her earthly parents and ran into the arms of her heavenly Father.  She had fought so valiantly for so long and got to celebrate the best birthday party ever inside the gates of heaven. 

So, really, what's a marathon compared to that?  If a little girl could battle through all that Anna had to deal with, I can - with God's help - for sure run, walk, or crawl a measly 26.2 miles in her memory. 

We love you, Anna.  You will never be forgotten.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Trust Issues

I am where I am, and God will handle it for me.

I read these words on this postIf you don't read Raina's blog, you should.  And I don't know if she knows it or not, but she gave me the words for my new mantra these days.  I hope she doesn't mind the fact that I stole it for awhile.

I haven't posted in awhile, and I had a moment of panic when I saw the number of days left on the countdown to marathon I have in the upper right-hand corner of my blog.  Does that really say 22 days?!? 

When I've considered what to post, I've had a hard time deciding the attitude I wanted to convey.  Depressed that when I went for what was supposed to be my long run of 23 miles last Saturday, I was hobbling by mile 3?  Frustration due to the fact that this is NOT where I want to be 3 weeks prior to the marathon?  Just try to be positive that it will all be OK? 

You may remember that I decided to lay off running for a week.  This was two weeks ago.  Last Friday, I attempted a short 4-mile run.  My knee was killing me by mile 2.  We had some snow the night before, and the roads were icy, so I tried to tell myself that my form wasn't right and my joints were just "cold".  I set out for my long run on Saturday.  It was supposed to be 23 miles, but I was just going to go as far as what felt right, and I was OK with that.  I started out, and it actually felt pretty good for awhile (I tried wearing a brace).  At about mile 2.5, my pesky IT band just flared out of nowhere!  I stopped and turned around for home.  In case you don't know, I can run through a lot.  As many runners can attest to, you just get used to pushing through pain.  I cannot run through this.  So.....

This past week, I became friends with:

I don't like hanging around these "friends" (well, I do like to sleep, just not when I'm supposed to be up running.)  DVD workouts are pure torture, in my mind.  (However, I do feel that some muscles were worked that I don't work while running, so maybe that's a good thing.)  I like my old Garmin, my running shoes, exercising OUTSIDE, etc.  The frustrating thing about this IT band issue is that it feels perfectly fine while doing anything but I think I'm good and then bam!

Today, I have off from work, so I had some time for an attempt at a SLOW run.  I walked for about a mile to warm up, and then started to run.  I'm not going to lie....I felt some twinges all through the run, but it wasn't ever bad enough to make me stop.  I left my Garmin at home, so I have no idea as to pace or even how far I ran because I tried to run only on flat roads, which is nothing like my normal routes, so I ran a few circles here and there.  I'm guessing it was between 4 and 5 miles. 

So, that's where I am.  A friend from work who has run many marathons (her initials are P.R. - how cool would that be to have those initials as a runner?) tells me I'm OK.  I've built up a good base, I've run two 20-milers as part of training, and I have some time to heal before the marathon. 

But, of course, I have trust issues.  Do I feel entirely confident that I will be able to finish the marathon in a few weeks?  No.  Do I trust that I have built up enough base to counteract these weeks of drastically reduced mileage?  No. 

But, then I realize that when I think like that, I'm putting my trust (or lack, thereof) in the wrong place - me!  While it may sound corny, I do believe that, whatever happens, God led me to do this, and He has brought me to this point for a reason.  Maybe He's telling me to just lean on Him, and to not rely on my efforts.  Don't get me wrong...I realize that there are more important priorities in life than running a marathon.  I get that there are people who go through more extreme hardship than having doubts about finishing a race.  I understand that this is not a life or death matter.  But, I also believe that God understands our disappointment or anxiety when we've worked hard for something, and it may end up being for nothing. 

So, bottom line...will I be at the starting line for the marathon on December 4?  Yes!  Will I maybe have to throw all of my time goals out the window?  Yes!  Am I 100% confident that I will finish?  mmmmm.....maybe?  So, I just keep remembering.....

I am where I am, and God will handle it for me.

Sorry for the long, wordy post...see what happens when I don't run enough?