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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 2012 Charity of the Month : WomenHeart

In memory of my late grandmother, Forrest Nye, I chose WomenHeart as my charity of choice for February 2012.  Forrest fought two tough battles with heart disease before it eventually took her life in July 2002.   I always look back at my grandparents, Jack and Forrest, and hope that one day I find that perfect person in my life, just like they did.   They were the true portrait of true soul mates.   They laughed, loved, and cried together.  They gave life and love to nine kids with limited financial resources.   They both exited this world loving one another with the same fire and passion they shared when they first met.   I can't think of a better charity to chose for February 2012.   If my donation can provide resources for research, patient care, and education for women's heart health, it will have served it's purpose.

Again, I chose this charity after researching women's heart health on www.charitynavigator.org.   It was the highest rated charity I could find in the category.  Here is a brief synopsis of  WomenHeart's mission:

WomenHeart is the only national organization dedicated to promoting women's heart health through advocacy, education and patient support. As the leading voice for the 44 million American women living with or at risk of heart disease, WomenHeart advocates for equal access to quality care and provides information and resources to help women take charge of their heart health. Since our inception in 1999, WomenHeart has been at the forefront of providing support services to women with heart disease and educating policymakers, health professionals and the public about the urgent need to make women's heart health a priority. WomenHeart's mission is to improve the health and quality of life of women living with or at risk of heart disease.

I hope you all had a great February.  It's been a February of loss and love for my family.   We said goodbye to my Granddad Kenneth Sloan on February 10, 2012.   It was a month where we mourned the loss of a loved one, but were able to rekindle many family bonds with family near and far.   Here's hoping for a joyous and happy March.  It'll be a month where I turn the page in my own life.  I'll say goodbye to my 20's and welcome in a new decade.  I'm excited for the many new memories to be made.  Until then, run happy friends.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Livestrong Austin Half Marathon

My apologies for the prolonged hiatus.  The last two weeks flew by and I wasn't home more than a few hours at a time.   With the funeral, travel for the Austin half marathon, work obligations, and training, I really haven't spent much time at home.   It's times like these that I'm happy I have a small apartment and no pets because it would have just added to the list of things to do.   Spring always seems to be the busiest time of year for me.   I think it may finally start slowing down after the marathon.  Until then, I'll just have some fun, train for OKC Memorial, and work my way into a more normal schedule when summer hits.

Last weekend I traveled to Austin, TX, to run in the Livestrong Austin Half Marathon.  I used this as a training run and a gauge for where I'm at in my training.   I left Austin with a renewed confidence in my goals for OKC, but the race itself left a bit to be desired.  I don't know if I'm spoiled from OKC's half marathon but I felt the race wasn't very well ran.  My friends and I got caught waiting in line at the port-a-potties before the start of the race because there were not nearly enough for the amount of runners in the race.   Due to this I started the race way in the back, about 12 minutes after the gun.   I was stuck in a pack of runners who were running around a 2:10 half marathon pace and it forced me to spend most of the race trying to pass people.  I ran most of the race outside of the course so I could have some running space.  I felt really comfortable and controlled when I had some room and felt really strong.   The course is a lot hillier than my normal running routes so the fact I managed a 1:45 with pretty easy effort shows I'm well on my way to running a PR in April.   Another complaint was the lack of warning for water stops.  There were no big signs or visual cues for upcoming water stops and many times I was forced to slow and cut across the course to pick up hydration.  It was another factor in a less than ideal race.   The course was really crowded too.  It rivaled Chicago in the lack of open running space, but you expect that in Chicago where they have nearly 40,000 runners.   Overall I think it's a decent course, I just wish they would address a few issues.  I love Austin so I could see myself running it again, but next time I'll make sure to get there a lot earlier to get in my proper pacing corral.

Yesterday was my most recent long run.  I ran 15 miles at Mitch Park in Edmond, OK, which is a nice trail with some rolling hills.   It was the first time I had run there and I was pleasantly surprised.  It's about a 30 minute drive from my house so it's not a convenient place for me to run, but I definitely see myself going up there on weekends when I need to get in a long run by myself.   You can pretty easily make a 5-mile loop out of the trails system.  The run went really well.  My calf muscles are starting to show some perpetual tightness, but overall I feel pretty healthy.  I'm trying to stretch and foam roll my calf muscles to alleviate some of the tightness, but it's only a small concern at this point.   We're now 8 weeks away from the marathon so the next five weeks will be crucial when I hit my heavy mileage.  I'll start inching up that ladder this week when I am scheduled to run 33 miles.  I'm going to try to squeeze in at least one bike and one swim this week as well.  I have a few evening obligations this week so it may require a few early morning sessions on the trainer and in the pool.  

I'll pick my February charity in the next two days and report back with my choice.   I hope you all have a great start to the week.   Run happy friends.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Running is Therapy

On Friday morning about 9:05 AM, my grandfather took his last breath on this earth.   While his passing was expected, losing a loved one is never easy.   What's even harder is watching those you love in pain.   It broke my heart to see my dad and my granny crying and mourning the loss of their father and their husband.  Hearing my granny asking if it was real when we went to the viewing at the funeral home was one of the toughest moments of this weekend.   My heart broke for her as she realized again that her life was changed forever.   The man she loved for nearly 62 years was gone forever.   No words can help.  You feel powerless.  You just hope that she can find peace and comfort in knowing he's better off now.   You hope that she can get used to her new normal.  You hope she finds a new happy over the coming weeks and months.   The funeral is set for Tuesday when we celebrate his life and mourn his passing.  

Today I set out for a bone-chilling 14 miles.   It was an opportunity for me to clear my head.   Mend some wounds.  It was a time for me to be thankful for my life.   Thankful for being able to breathe in that crisp, cold air.   Thankful for a healthy body that allows me to run.  Thankful for my time to myself when everything makes sense.  I love running.  I love the peace it gives me.  I love how it makes me search deep inside and examine my innermost thoughts and feelings.   Today was one of those days when I came out of my run with a renewed sense of peace and calm.   It helped me grieve in my own way.   I grieved by sweating out my tears.  Pounding out the pain on the pavement below me.   Running is therapy in it's finest form.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Time to Swim

I've waited long enough.  After nearly 3 months of no swimming, I've decided to add swimming back into my rotation next week.  I'm going to use this coming week as schedule prep so I can try to fit in my swims and not give up any of my current workouts.   I'm leaning towards swimming two times a week using my old Team-in-Training Olympic distance training plan with anticipation of doing the Route 66 Olympic triathlon at El Reno, OK, in June.  It'll be a great segway from the OKC Memorial Marathon into the summer triathlon/cycling season.   As much as I haven't missed swimming, I know I need to get back in the water.  It'll be great cross-training and get me ready to cut back on running after the spring marathon.  

On the running front, everything is going really well.  I feel incredibly strong at the moment and am excited about what may happen in April.  I'm trying to be cautious though because I know the next 6-8 weeks are the time when the injuries will try to creep in.  Currently my longest run has been 13 miles this training season so I have a lot of miles left to go.  I'm hopeful I'll continue to stay healthy so I can really show what I can do at the marathon distance.  Please keep sending positive thoughts my way.  Time to finish watching the Super Bowl and get the gym bag packed for pilates and strength training tomorrow.  Run happy friends.