Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Just another 3 miles...

This morning, as I was getting in my car, there was an amazing electric show above my head. Thunderstorms were sweeping through Siouxland which meant just one thing--ANXIETY!! While I used to enjoy the awesome powers of nature, everytime I now hear a roar of thunder or crack of lightning it is usually followed by me running to a RADAR to see if and when the storm will become severe. Part of my job is to know this, to be ready for this, so I can warn the public. This morning however, I was well aware of what was going on and just tried to enjoy the show above me.

On an average morning when clear skies are sleeping silently above my head, I sit down in front of the computer at work--usually around 3:10AM. I have a very set routine and the first thing I do is check my email. I try to be professional first and check my work mail inbox before I wander over to gmail. Since I've started this quest, there is always one email I can count on to be waiting for me bright and early. It's my training schedule. It lets me know exactly how far I'm going to run that afternoon, why I'm going to run that distance, and how it's going to prepare me for October 11 (which I totally just realized was a Sunday!) When I decided to run this marathon, the first thing I did was search for training programs that would help me somehow help me past the finish line after 26.2 miles. I knew people didn't do this on their own so there had to be professionaly made schedules that I could have access to.

Lets rewind just a second. Before I decided to run this marathon, I was putting away anywhere between 16-25 miles a week. Not a huge amount but more than most people can say they've ran during the average Monday through Sunday. Guess how many miles I've ran so far this week? 7.5! Crazy right?

I've decided to let Hal Higdon and his Novice Marathon Program teach me how to run a marathon. So why should I trust someone who on the third day of the third week of training has only had me run 7.5 miles so far this week. Well Hal has ran 8 times in the U.S. Olympic trials and was the founder of the Road Runners of America Club. Post college, Hal was able to run a 4.13.6 mile time. In his life time, Hal has ran 111 marathons and won 4 overall titles.

So Hal says this week I'll only run 15 miles... will do Hal, will do.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

One Week Down, 19 To Go!

It's 8:05PM and I've been laying in bed for almost an hour now trying to fall asleep. No, I haven't fallen into the lifestyle of a 70 year old man, yet it sometimes feels that way. Dinner at 4, and hour of TV afterwards, jello or pudding desert (not for the dentures, just better for you than ice cream haha), then time for bed. It seems a 70 year old man and a morning meteorologist have a lot in common. I have to wake up in exactly 6 hours. As I lay in bed, tired but not able to fall asleep, my mind always begins to wander. This tends to be the time of day where my mind focuses on what I've lost. Have you ever noticed that? When your mind starts to tire, you start to get much more emotional and nostalgic. As I said, this time of night seems to be when I think about my mom the most. A lot of the time, it's as if nothing has changed. Living so far from home, I've been removed from much of the morning process. Of course I still mourn, but being apart from family, friends, and St. Louis sometimes makes it feel a little more unreal. I would much rather it feel real.

It's a wierd feeling, to know that something you had for such a long time you will never have again. I try and picture my mom in my mind, but it always seems as if something's missing. I think the most horrifying thing is that one day I will start to forget--forget her voice, her looks, her personality. Lucky for me though, I know she is never truly gone. How do I know this? Because sometimes without even thinking about it, I catch myself talking to her. Hopefully by now you have a great mental image of me walking down the street, just chatting to myself like there is someone next to me. But you know what I mean, just in my head.

That's what is great about this marathon. I feel like by doing this, by constantly training and thinking about the cause, I'm in some way holding on to a part of my mom. I'm pretty sure whatever it is I'm holding on to, it's not something I'll ever have to let go of. She is the drive behind me and this cause, the reason why this has become so important. I think she would like that alot--to know that I'm trying to make a difference.

So week 1 is over. No turning back now. Team Nancy has already raised close to 25% of our $2,000 goal (yea Vick!). Talk about AWESOME--thanks to everyone who has contributed so far! You really are making a difference. This week was nothing compared to what's ahead. A few days of easy 3-4 milers and a 6 mile on Saturday--piece of cake. And to think I did the 6 mile completely hungover from the night before. Note to self, I have to lay off the alcohol if I'm going to consider this quest a reality. But in all seriousness, eventhough I'm only a week in, it's already becoming an amazing experience. I'm extremely excited to see where the next 19 weeks will lead me.

As for now, time for me to fall asleep. The forecast for tomorrow--heavy rain. Good thing it's an off day...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

5 Months Till Chicago

Last night I had a dream. It wasn't a bad dream necessarily, but it's a dream that I wish didn't have to occur, a dream that shouldn't have to happen. In this dream I was giving my mom a hug; seems innocent enough, yet technically is now impossible in this world. You see, my mother passed a way a few weeks ago. It's her passing that is driving me to run an insane amount of miles in hopes that I can help researchers and doctors continue to make new discoveries in medicine that will one day help cure cancer.

So how did it start? Well first how about a little background on me? I graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in Atmospheric Science--that's right, I'm a meteorologist (pause for laughter). After graduation last Spring, it was time to find a job. I sent out tape after tape hoping that I would get one phone call from an interested news director wanting to hire me. And it happened in the most random place-Sioux City, Iowa. Let's just say before I saw there was a job opening, I had actually never heard of the 85,000 person market 149 town located where Nebraska, South Dakota, and Iowa intersect. Heck, I didn't know those three states even converged (just kidding, I knew that Nebraska bordered Iowa!) So for the first time ever, I permanently picked up my Missouri roots, and moved 8 hours from St. Louis.

Time went by and everything was going pretty good. I've talked to my mom every day on the phone since the very first day of college and nothing had really changed. Instead of calling her between classes, I was now calling her between work and home. We always talked about the same things, how I was doing, my work, the weather, home life. Then last fall hit. All of a sudden our conversations held a little more clout. I would hear about how she wasn't feeling so great, how she was having some issues with her arm hurting and it was hard to breathe (we never actually used the "C" word into she went under the knife). My family liked to play this little game with me. They would never tell me exactly what was going on. It wasn't a fun game, but nevertheless something I would call a game. Finally I found out she was having surgery. The prognosis: my mother had a tumor on her lung but they had found it very early and everything SHOULD be fine--notice how I wrote "should" in all caps. Should was the keyword that kept normal life spinning. While no one wants to hear that they have to have invasive surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, the idea that everything SHOULD be OK does make the situation a little easier to cope with.

After that surgery, time went on and not much changed. My family kept me in the loop of her health--sorta. Things weren't necessarily getting worse, but they didn't appear to be getting much better. That's about all I knew. Every once in awhile I might receive a text saying "Mom has to have surgery tomorrow--nothing to big". Let's just say that I was getting very angry that I was getting this news via text message. Taking a step back though, I try to see the point of view from the man on the other line. For how difficult it was for us kids, it had to be even more difficult for dad. It can't be fun to see the life slipping away from someone you've love for more than 31 years.

Fast forward: It's 5 days before Christmas and my mom has had a few more surgeries and is residing in the hospital. Because of my amazingly inflexible career path and people's unfathomable interest in news and weather, I was scheduled to work on Christmas. If you know me at all, you know how devastating that is. I'm the Clark Griswold of Garden Valley Drive. I obsess over the holiday and attempt to top myself every year with more Christmas lights and bigger Christmas trees. As I said, a few days before Christmas, I start getting emails and phone calls from relatives (and soon to be :) ) explaining why I should use my mom's circumstances to get home for Christmas. Side note real fast--when I say "use my mom's circumstances", that's based off a little joke we had between each other. In the beginning, I was able to take a few days off from work unexpectedly to visit home and be with my mom. My mom liked the idea of me taking days off just to hang out with her, even if it was because of the circumstances. Ok, back to the story though--so my family started turning the coils in my head that maybe it was a good idea to come from Christmas. My optimistic mind wouldn't allow me to think what they were thinking. This wasn't going to be her last Christmas. No way no how would every Christmas for the rest of my life be without the person who made the holiday feel so special. I decided it wasn't a risk work taking. If there was even the slightest possibility that this could be the case, then I wasn't going to let my work stand in the way of seeing my mom on Christmas morning. Little did I know this would be one of the best and most important decision's I've ever made. After work on Christmas Eve I was on a plane and by 9PM I was in the hospital visiting my mom. It would be the last Christmas Eve I would ever spend with her.

Winter ended and Spring came and things continued to pretty much "stay the same". While she was still on regiments of chemo and radiation, things were still pretty much remaining neutral. She was frail and skinny, but still had most of her hair and with that came most of her personality and sense of humor. She had these great wigs that she bought but never really got to enjoy. I still think she went way to conservative--I pictured long blue locks or a nice 70's era black Afro. She thought a short blond wig would be fine instead. One day I was sitting on my floor after a run and I got a phone call from my dad. It was a Catch 22 of sorts you see-I was now getting phone calls for updates on my mom but it was because the news started getting worse. I was happy to get the phone calls. Chemo and Radiation had stopped working and it was time to hit the arsenals and use last hope medicine. A pill that worked like chemo that was to be taken every morning. To my understanding, the pill was very specific to the type of cancer and the type of people it worked on.

This is when things get a little interesting. I was in town over St. Patrick's Day (I think that was the Holiday) and was on the way to Main Street St. Charles for lunch with my sister to meet a few friends I hadn't seen in a while. My sister started talking about my mom and how if this pill didn't work, then the timeline goes into affect. TIMELINE!! WHAT TIMELINE!?! This was the first of this news I had been told and it was because my sister assumed my dad had told me something that he so kindly emitted from our conversations. Lunch ended up being a little more depressing than I had hoped.

We found out a few weeks later that the pill stopped working and it was just a matter of time before my mom died. Talk about a bomb just being dropped. It was like someone just took a piece of your soul and ripped it from your body. It's something no one should ever have to go through--especially when your mom is barely in her middle 50s. Time passed and family visited my home in St. Louis with hopes of seeing my mom one last time. Finally I knew with the help of my family it was time to get home and spend my mom's final days with her, feeding her ice chips and talking to her, trying to keep things as peaceful and normal as possible. On May 18, 2009, God allowed my mom to stop suffering and took her from this world. This world will never be the same.

A long first entry right? However, I think it sets the stage for how important this race, this mission, this opportunity is for me. I've pledged to run 26.2 miles in dedication of Nancy Roberts. The team name that my friend Lauren and I are running for is literally called "Team Nancy". Not the most creative of sorts but hey, I think it gets the point across. We've pledged to raise at least $2,000 for the American Cancer Society in hopes that even this small amount will somehow aid in research and funding for development of new medicines that will one day stop this terrible disease. Through reading my story, you've seen the impact it's had on my life, my family, my friends. It's time that no one else has to go through such a terrible thing at such a young life. So what am I asking of you. Keep me in your thoughts, keep my in your prayers, and if so be it, keep me in your pocket books. I'll continue to update this blog every week to let you know just how training is going. Who knows, you might even hear some funny and interesting stories along the way. But with the help of a great girl behind me, a supportive team mate, loving family, and incredible friends, we are going to raise this money. Look at me, I continue to ramble. Day 1 of marathon training starts today and as we all know (or at least Ashley and I), "Runners Do It On The Road". Day 1: 3 miles--sounds easy enough to me. Until next time, happy running!

Love You Mom

P.S. Here are the links to our Team Websites where you can read more and donate money to the cause. Thanks in Advance!!