Saturday, December 24, 2011

Seasons of Love

Leaving Providence St. Joseph,
December 23, 2010

As I sit here on this December 23, I reflect on the past year. These last few weeks have been filled with touchstones at the very least— The MRI showing the sudden collapse and near disappearance of the residual brain tumor came nearly a year to the day from when I was diagnosed with a two-inch brain tumor.  I let December 15 slip away like a bad dream and aside from wishing a co-worker a happy birthday, the day passed without incident.  The first days I was in the ICU, despite my doped-up state, I knew it was important to stay calm and not move much so I would affect my ventriculostomy, causing my CSF to drain too much. And while I was there, in the early days, I kept singing to myself lines from a DC Talk song, “I want to be in the light as you are in the light.  I want to shine like the stars in the Heavens… all I want is to be in the light.” And, staying in the light is something I crave and helps me get through some of the more difficult times. The days from December 15, 2011 quickly passed by me as I was spending time with family, skipping from holiday party to holiday party and traveling home to see the rest of my family and meet my adorable niece.

No snow this Christmas,  nonetheless
I get to run by this converted
milking  barn on training runs.
Today felt like it called for a little more reflection. I woke up in the room I grew up in, rolled over and turned off my alarm. I looked at the calendar and mused, “hey, one year ago today, I woke up in a hospital and was discharged in the afternoon.” Other than having passing thoughts about where I was last year, the day was pretty much like any other day before Christmas. Then, the family piled into the cars to go on our training runs.  I had intended to do somewhere between 2 and 3. When I got a four-corner intersection, I chose the road with the least amount of hills and started down it. I just figured I’d keep going ‘till I hit about 1.5 miles. I then figured I’d run to the next road. It wasn’t fast, and ultimately, I only logged 3.6 miles when I got back to the cars, but it was a very exhilarating 3.6 miles. Between getting a cold just after Thanksgiving and then these holidays, getting any mileage in always feels like a miracle. As much as it pains me, I’ve re-jiggered my schedule again and I am settling into Hal Higdon’s NOVICE program. I’ve run one half-marathon doing something like this, and I know I can do another one. It feels like I took a giant slide backwards after Thanksgiving, I’m giving myself the grace that I would urge my friends to give themselves.  

So, it’s been a year since I was discharged.  I am still not used to people calling me a miracle or learning about strangers praying for me or meeting someone new and having my story touch them, causing tears to well up in their eyes. It has been quite the year. Reflecting on what the year has meant and everything that has unfolded.  I couldn’t put it better than Jonathan Larson who wrote the Broadway musical, RENT and composed “Seasons of Love.” 

Thank you all for being part of my seasons of love.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Christmas Letter for You

In honor of the time-honored obnoxious Christmas bragging letter, please enjoy the next post.

December 15, 2011

Regretfully, Dear Friends I was unable to get out a 2010 Christmas letter as I was hospitalized at the peak of letter writing season. Not to shortchange you, I’ve included some highlights from last year.

Let’s face it, I am awesome. After working for the Senior Vice President of my old company & stretching the position & salary, I left to assist the Executive Producer of two local court shows.

On December 10, I found a new way to get across town. Hot damn. What good looking chauffeurs! There is no better way to travel at excessive speed & not get a ticket than in an ambulance. In short order, I arrived at my holiday vacation spot (aka Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center).

I figured I’d keep my research for the Grey’s Anatomy spec script going & have some surgery on December 15.  Odds are if you are born on this day, I will remember your birthday, if not, too bad for you. PS for the record- the OR DOES NOT LOOK ANYTHING LIKE THE OR IN GREY’S ANATOMY.

In June, I traveled to La Jolla to visit my brain-tumor specialist & figured while I was down there, I might as well do my 6th half marathon.

In August, I was going to have the opportunity to get drilled again, & as much as some girls are eager to get drilled, I passed.

Christmas came early, & in the fall, I was promoted to Associate Producer. Fall was also filled with imbibing & not enough running. Coupled with good eating, I added another 7 pounds… This was all a subconscious need to put on extra weight in case I had to get on chemo. Well, that’s the lie I’m telling myself.

I started dating! I’m really dating to lose weight. My December 9, 2011 MRI shows the tumor is shrinking. I’ve got the tumor on the run! I better start really getting some running mileage so I can keep this tumor & my waistline shrinking.

I do not want my new route to Burbank to overshadow darling rescue cat Robert, who has been busy growing 6 inch whiskers when he’s not busy taking gargantuan naps. He & I are both busy getting advanced degrees in how to speak the ancient language of Podling & often spend many a quiet evening doing so.  We are looking to travel in 2012 & use this in our encounters with other felines.

Robert says “hello.” We both hope you have a very Merry Christmas.

Love & kisses forever.
Sarah and Robert

Monday, December 5, 2011

Half Marathon Minus 11 Weeks

Gosh. When you talk about having a half marathon on February 19, it seems so far away. There are so many things to get through, Christmas, New Year’s, Martin Luther King Jr Day, Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine’s Day.  There are friends, work, and countless pet projects. THERE ARE ALSO 11 WEEKS UNTIL I LINE MY TOES UP TO THE START LINE of the Rock n Roll Pasadena Half Marathon.

I cannot find the name of the project and/or artist, but this
was on the website Close
I got a cold that put me on the sidelines last week (also known as Week One of my training). Now, I am a week behind. I don’t even have a cool story of why I stopped or why I got sick. I simply got sick. While frustrating, it’s easier and almost a badge of honor to say, “well, I was training so hard, my immune system became depleted” or “I was training so hard, I needed some rest” Anything is better than saying, “I got one of those holiday bugs because my body recognized it was okay to relax.” NO. It’s not time to relax IT’S TIME TO GET BUSY WITH TRAINING.

Now, there are other obligations that interfere with being a diligent runner like holiday parties and like travel to San Diego for my next MRI. Sure, one can do a half marathon with minimal training, but I need to finish and I need to finish strong for my own ego.  I cannot have a repeat of October.  I have been advised not to chase a PR and just have fun with the journey. As I’ve seen with friends and one running buddy in particular, he did not chase a PR, he simply had fun with training, got bad sleep the week before the race and still managed to knock 10 minutes off of his half marathon! Pretty impressive. While I likely won’t use his training paradigm, it is a good reminder to just get out there and run. I’m a little competitive and am secretly (or not so secretly) chasing that PR.

This week marks 11 weeks until race day. I’m going to pretend like I ran last week and do what I can with the schedule considered that I have the holidays pulling me in a million directions. Despite the frustration of being waylaid by all this, I am eternally grateful that I am here to be enjoying the festivities and that I can enjoy them as much as possible.  Until Friday, I am resting in the confidence that as my neuro-specialist says, “there’s a lot of room for (residual tumor) growth.”

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's Just Like Riding a Bike

Sports have never been my forte. Even the simplest childhood activities were difficult.  I always marveled at my baby sister who would careen around the yard on her bike with mud splattering up her back when she would ride through puddles. Our parents pleaded with her to stop ruining her clothes. It was only then that she started riding her bicycle in a swimsuit. When weather would turn to snow, we would ride our bikes in the barn. For someone who already had difficulty turning her bike, the proposition of turning a bike in the 10 foot wide aisle contending with obstacles of hay, wheelbarrows, dogs and a sister, it seemed insurmountable. I’m not sure if I was ever able to deftly maneuver around all this without stopping, standing and pivoting the bike below me.

The Midnight Ridazz at one of their night-time cycling events.
Several years ago, I purchased a bike. It's nothing fancy, just  a regular bike from Target. Despite my best efforts to pedal and stay erect, it seemed that whoever came up with the adage “It’s just like riding a bike” should be shot.  Riding a bike as an adult is not as easy as it was when I was a child, and considering I had a very difficult time all those years ago, my frustration only continued to grow each time I would take my bike out. I had spent some time looking for the optimal size bike and settled on a children’s bicycle. I considered ways to make it easier, like getting the brakes reversed so I would be able to use my left hand on my back brake. (Apparently, getting brakes reversed is a benefit of growing up in a small town because the bike shops in Los Angeles refused and went as far to say that changing the brakes to do this in the states is illegal.)  Once I had the bike and made my peace with having to brake with my right hand, combining pedal movement, forward momentum and staying upright was tough…. I would wake up early on the weekends and take my bike out before the cars started revving their engines and the roads would be filled with the din of LA traffic. Each time I took my bike out, I would get marginally better… but only marginally. That is, until today.

Tour de France map.
Still lacking in confidence to ride with the big kids down the road, I peddled up and down the dead-end road by my apartment. Bigger than lacking confidence, I lacked something else, that two-inch brain tumor. You world be surprised how much easier bike riding is without this thing getting in the way, misshaping my brain and causing it to swell. The only thing swelling now is my ego. The speed was slow. The distance covered was not vast. I have now realized that stories kids come up with while riding or phrases they tell themselves like “crisis averted” come from near misses with bushes or luxury cars.  Today was a step and each time I take the bike out, it will get easier and easier.  As the laps increased my grip on the brake loosened.  I’m not in a hurry to get out there and commute to work on my bike, but the idea of one day being able to ride several miles with friends just ‘cause will become as easy as running 10 miles with friends. Both of these are far away right now… after looking at all the Hal Higdon half marathon training schedules, it seems that the best one would be with cross-training built in. This program will not only get me to my next half marathon, it will turn me into a cyclist. I don’t expect to join the local club the Midnight Ridazz, but adding one more thing into what I can do is pretty exciting.

I never thought I would look at several laps on a dead-end road as anything remarkable, but on today, on my first bike ride since brain surgery, it is a huge victory.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sharing Brain Tumor Guilt

I visited to my old office yesterday. I did not anticipate the deep need to reconnect with friends and old coworkers and their need to reconnect with me. I arrived at 1 o’clock and left after 7 pm. During my time there we talked about life, running and current creative projects. I met new people who knew my story. I had learned that one good friend there (who is also a running buddy) was instrumental in getting a prayer group organized while I was in the hospital last year.  One fellow he introduced me to is interested in running a half-marathon. We encouraged him to run the Inaugural Rock n Roll Pasadena Half-Marathon. Then my friend caught me off guard when he said, “Sarah is a miracle. Look what she can do and she had a brain tumor. If she can push forward, you can do this too.” I’ve joked over the past months with friends about having a brain tumor and that they can't say they can't do something if I can do that activity with a brain tumor or post surgery.  Most recently, I quipped at one friend (who was lamenting she signed up for the Malibu half marathon and didn't realize it had so many hills) "You have to do it. If I can do it with a two-inch brain tumor, you can do it." Yesterday showed me that my tumor and story are apparently are large enough for friends to share and guilt people they meet into achieving their best.  While I want to inspire and help people reach into their souls and dig down to find what they can do, I did not expect the ripple effect this would have on my friends…  them pointing to me a benchmark for what success and drive can be… what is possible with the power of prayer and grim determination.

The grim determination got me through a lot- it’s why I was adamant to get physical therapy multiple times a day once I was stable enough to have it, and it’s why I needed to get out and run as soon as I did. The half-marathon 6 months post-op was a need. The attempted half in October was an epic failure, but a good lesson. I have been running for fun and getting better about making it a priority and shifting workouts to get them in before a long day of work. I did some research for a new running friend and found a training program for her. After joking around last Saturday and telling her she better get on it and train to do the Pasadena Half Marathon with the running group this February, I realized HOLY SMOKES THE HALF MARATHON IS 12 WEEKS AWAY! While my paradigm has been continually shifting, I must shift it again. I have to stop running for the sake of running and letting heat/cold/time (name the excuse) get the best of me, and I need to TRAIN. The program I found is not too different than what I had laid out for myself, but it’s from running guru HAL HIGDON.  That said, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is exactly 12 weeks from the half-marathon I have already committed to. I want to have the best experience possible while pushing myself physically and mentally. The question of the next marathon still lurks in the distance, but getting to a marathon as in life, I have learned, is about a series of successes and setbacks- it’s all about how you handle them and push forward.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another Paradigm Shift...

With taking on a fitness challenge, setbacks are inevitable. I wouldn’t be serving myself or anyone else if I weren’t honest about the stumbling blocks I’ve encountered. I have continued to repeat Week One, hoping that I would be able to be more successful than the previous week. I’ve been told that “hopes” should be reserved for Santa Claus and that I need to be pro-active with my paradigm shift.   (Even though I have already shifted my paradigm once from a sedentary lifestyle to endurance runner.) People tell you to “grab the bull by the horns,” but really, this is difficult, no matter how many times you have or haven’t done an activity.

You cannot compare yourself to others; you must compare yourself to yourself.  I know what my body is capable of, but still this year is different than last year. Sunday marked the 3rd Malibu Marathon. It is only a year ago that I ran my 5th half-marathon with a 2-inch honkin’ brain tumor. Today, I need more sleep and face other challenges. Fortunately, my health isn’t in jeopardy like it was last year, but my health is different. Even though the tumor is gone, I was not able to maintain cardiovascular or quad fitness it takes to tackle the Malibu Hills. I can blame one of my doctors for sending me into a spiral depression so I said, “forget running,” or I can blame God for giving me a brain tumor. Really, the only person I have to hold accountable is myself.  It is for that reason my poor workout accomplishments are above.

The laundry list of failing each “new” week is quite extensive. With my setback, I remember to relish some of the accomplishments, and attempt to keep those as reminders to forge ahead. I over came a frustrating summer.  My Garmin died during one run and I have yet to send it back to get a replacement. I started wearing my Timex like I did when I fist started running. I took it back even more and threw my “drt equation” (distance equals rate times time) out with the trash- I simply started focusing on distance… I’d get there when I’d get there. Speed would come. And so far, it is slowly coming back. I did all this, and then I was saddled with something that added another layer of complication: more responsibility at work.  That said, I have taken the advice of other running enthusiasts: Get your run in before work, then it won’t matter if you work late.

Last year at this time I was feeling pretty crummy and couldn’t understand why.  My journal even quips that I wonder if I have a brain tumor because it’s the only thing that could make one feel this bad. I’ve got almost everything I want- family/friends, my health, great job, and soon a 7th half-marathon. I’m not worried about time (although, if we’re being honest, it is fun to think about), I just want to finish and finish strong.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger David Haas!

The Importance Of A Cancer Fitness Program

Someone facing the struggles of cancer will have a hard time thinking about staying fit. But exercise is vitally important, whether he has just been diagnosed or is going through treatment. Maintaining some level of exercise each day can make all the difference in energy level and treatment outcome. A sensible cancer fitness program can help.

Exercise benefits
people with all forms and stages of cancer. Oncologists can recommend the best programs for their patients. It may be hard for men with advanced mesothelioma to do anything more than walk across the room, due to breathing difficulties. And women are consigned to basic physical therapy and breathing exercises following breast cancer surgery. The intensity and duration of exercise will differ for each person, but almost everyone can do something during cancer.

The Benefits Of A Cancer Fitness Program

Exercise benefits everyone, and it is essential for
cancer recovery. Patients can do a lot more than they think, even during chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Certain physical tasks may be too hard for some, but physical therapists and personal trainers can design realistic programs for their patients.

The National Cancer Institute
describes exercise as a “critical component of energy balance” which, along with diet and weight, influences health. Exercise controls weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels; maintains healthy bones, muscles, and joints; strengthens the lungs and heart; and promotes emotional well being. Copious research links exercise to reduced cancer risk, increased survivorship, and improved life quality.

Three Components Of A Cancer Fitness Program

Medical experts note three important components to a
cancer fitness program -- flexibility exercise, aerobic activity, and strength training. Stretching keeps joints and muscles limber, which is essential for people who are bedridden for long periods of time.

Aerobic exercise, known as “cardio” in the gym, is anything that works up a sweat, increases the heart rate, and gets the blood pumping. Jogging, bicycling, and swimming are good aerobic activities for people with cancer. Cancer treatments zap the strength, but strength training combats this side effect with muscle building. It keeps patients strong for the fight. Isometric exercises or lifting weights are good ways to get this type of exercise.

The American Cancer Society
recommends between 30 and 45 minutes of exercise, five or more days a week. The exercise should be moderately to vigorously intense. As each cancer experience is unique, patients should talk to their oncologist before starting a cancer fitness program.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Marathon Drop Out- No Shiny Medal For You... (to the tune of "Beauty School Dropout")

Yesterday, I had one of those runs that no runner wants to have— I dropped out of a race.  No one ever trains; pays registration; wakes up early all to drop out of a race. There are a myriad of reasons why a runner may do this, but I guarantee that odds are if you do this once, no matter what the distance, you’ll likely never do it again. If you were sick, you may tell yourself that you will never race while sick again and if you got injured, you may say, I’ll train smarter. Sometimes these dropouts come out of the blue and no matter what you do, it can’t be avoided…. A spectator crosses into you causing you to tumble over; a twisted ankle; etc.  Yesterday marked my 8th long-distance run in the three years I’ve been long distance running, and every race I’ve seen a runner hobbled on the side of the course… yesterday, it was me who pulled out. We all have our reasons for dropping out, and even if it is sensible to others, to us, it is the end of the world.

But, Sunday was a learning experience.

Part of the NF Endurance Team
walking to raise money...
I had been diligent with training, so much so that six months after brain surgery, I was able to do a half-marathon. Did it hurt? Sure, but I did it... But yesterday showed me that each race is different.  The summer was very difficult, with 90+ heat after work and the weight of a suggested second brain surgery for this fall, staying in marathon shape was more difficult than I could have imagined. Thinking about the ICU, and the slow rehabilitation runs and how my neck hurt from longer runs because the muscles had been sliced apart…. This idea alone messed with my training more than the surgery itself. Training, really training and doing 20-40 miles a week was something I wasn’t emotionally equipped to do. Despite the poor training, I was going to take the opportunity to walk with the NF Endurance team and spend the whole 13.1 miles supporting friends doing their first half-marathon and getting to know each other more while raising money for the little-known condition, neurofibromatosis.  Having missed them at the start and then not being able to find them at mile 1.5 on the back portion of the out and back- facing 13.1 miles alone was daunting at best.

Fall started blowing into Los Angeles recently, training didn’t seem so difficult with cooler temperatures. Little things like my running GPS dying did not bother me, nor did the unconventional work hours. I had a rollercoaster summer, but made it through August and September with no surgery and two surgeons telling me to stay far away from the O.R. These small setbacks were not going to get me down… I’m training like it was my first marathon again. The only difference is- Now I know how much work it takes and I know how terrible the wall feels.  Even though some weeks were tough on my training schedule and I’ve been repeating them, I knew getting back to where I was would take some effort since I allowed one opinion of “You must have surgery” to scare me into nearly a nearly static life.

I’m sure this residual brain tumor will take me on a rollercoaster for the rest of my life, I just have to mentally prepare and remember that I should just keep doing what I love doing.  Even though I have been better about training, I need to take Sunday’s setback of dropping out of a race and use it like most of my setbacks and let it springboard me into something better.

It seems that there’s no point in having setbacks if you don’t learn from them to be a better you. August taught me to just stick with it and push forward and the Long Beach Half Marathon taught me to train smarter. Together- training, along with friends and prayer, will push me to my next race February 19, the Inaugural Rock n Roll Half Marathon in Pasadena

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I feel like I’ve gone a couple rounds with Tyson

I feel like I’ve gone a couple rounds with Tyson. 

During hiatus, I flew to Connecticut to see my family and throw my very-pregnant sister a baby shower.  Following my time, the plan was to fly to San Diego see my brain-tumor specialist/lead doctor and the neuro-surgeon vetted by him so we could plan for surgery. Following the meetings, we’d drive back to Los Angeles so I could go to work.

Anticipating surgery, we looked into UCSD housing for patients and families. Everything was going according to plan. I met with my lead-doctor and the next day met the new neuro-surgeon. During my meeting with this very fancy surgeon, we got news that rocked our world. The surgeon said, “I don’t want to do surgery.” THIS IS THE HEAD OF THE NEUROSURGERY DEPARTMENT! He elaborated that StereotacticRadio Surgery (SRS) was the way to go with this type of tumor.  He was afraid of hurting me further with another craniotomy, spilling cells, etc...

Now, rather than messing up the second half of my hiatus, I had to miss work on account of this blasted tumor. I phoned my very understanding bosses to let them know I was going to miss work while the superb nurse practioner strong-armed the radiation surgeon to see me the next day. SRS is a great type of surgery for those with NF2, but there is little evidence for those with NF1. (I have been told in the past, radio surgery or any type of radiation could turn me into the toxic avenger.) Now, it was time for more research to find the merits/drawbacks of SRS. We enlisted family, friends and whomever we could bring on as allies.  The search involved experts from Boston, to Baltimore, to Los Angeles and everywhere in between. While getting knocked around this whole, I feel like I became Pac-Man, gobbling up as much information as I could and asking for more.  (I’m still at the asking for more point.)

We were not fully on board with radiation, but we tried to embrace this concept. Serendipity struck when we ran into my lead doctor in the parking lot at the Radiation Center. He was as shocked as we were that I had a visit.

We embraced this new procedure as much as we could. Here we were, putting our faith in one paper that touted the merits of SRS on patients with NF1 when we got a call from Baltimore.  DO NOTHING AND WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT GET RADIATION. She talked about her three patients- all were like me and all didn’t fare well with radiation to the point where there health was worse for it.  You could not deny her very definite opinion, but the Brain Tumor board still had to meet to discuss my case. I was numb. I did not want to get happy or sad until I had the final meeting with my lead doctor after the Brain Tumor Board meeting.

Despite the plan to get eight hours of sleep, the sleep I got this whole week has not been restful. It’s been tough to trust the papers and tough to wade through all the studies done. My lead-doctor quipped that I “went on an email blitz.” But, that’s what you have to do- I want to make sure everyone is talking and giving me as much information as possible so I can make an informed decision.  

After getting knocked around this week, the Brain Tumor board came back, and the result is still the same as it was in February and then June. DO NOTHING. Come back in 3-4 months, and we’ll see.  I’m breathing a bit easier, but I don’t feel comfortable taking breaths of ease

Interestingly enough, I grabbed one of my Runner’s World magazines before heading out the door- “RUNNING WITH CANCER.” My bloody tumor is not cancer, but I still have a foreign object in my head, and I still have to fight. The runners profiled had to get on chemo, or radiation, or lose a limb. We all have our hurdles to deal with as runners and non-runners. Running has certainly helped me before I began this journey in December, and I know it will help me as I continue down the road of MRIs and doctor’s visits. 

The small town I grew up in does a marathon every year. It isn’t your standard loop and it’s not a point-to-point course like Boston… It is a several mile loop that you repeat until you’re done with 26.2 miles. One friend suggested I make that one of my next races. Who knows, I might. The town has been very worried, and after Hurricane Irene has blown through, my sister is anticipating driving around to tell them that it was a false alarm by a vey well-intention doctor. Right now, I have two half marathons on the horizon, one with the NF Endurance Team and other in February with friends. While there will be good and bad days with this tumor, there will be good and bad days with my training.  I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and move forward.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Retrospective on the Last Month

As anyone living with a brain tumor can tell you, the process is not easy. Like training days- there are good days and bad days and some days will be easier than others. I was prepared for this, but when I got the declaration from my secondary brain-tumor expert that I need surgery, and no, I cannot wait a couple months, hanging out makes me feel like an elephant in a room. 

I love my friends, and I’ve always relished opportunities to hang out with them and meet their friends. To be able to connect more with the people and be able to pull them into my fold of friendship is something that I’ve always enjoyed. But for the past month, hanging out with friends where people I may have met only a few times before was not appealing. There was that thing looming over my head like a giant neon sign- brain tumor. When will the surgery be? Where are you having it? What kind of brain tumor is it? Is it Cancer?  Aren’t you scared? These questions not only put me on edge, but they took away from the meaning of why we were gathering. The gatherings were not for me to receive attention and questions.  The gatherings were for something bigger— a birthday, a return home, a baby shower…  I do not want to have the focus put on me, especially in this way.  If/when these questions are not asked, it feels like they are on the tip of everyone’s tongue.  Those who are friends quietly ask me a more provocative question away from the group, and those that are on the perfierary may want to know more and when I tell them, I get the look and usually the series of questions.

For a long time, it seemed best not to tempt fate or to start a series of actions that will result in the same thing- a question or look of “Poor Sarah.” For this reason, I have chosen my activities carefully.  Sometimes, there are prior commitments that keep me from celebrations where new and old friends will be, and other times, it’s just easier not to be the elephant in the room.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Training Detours

Training for a marathon takes commitment and guidance. If you look online, many of those schedules are 18 weeks long and then you have the big race. I think the theory behind this is to get the inexperienced runner across the finish line with minimal injuries before they get bored of the training. The problem is, training this quickly can result in injury, and the best way to run a marathon is to train steadily. I’m still supremely grateful to my running coach who laid out a plan of 33 weeks. It allowed for multiple long runs of 18-20 miles and it allowed for injury and detours.

These detours are never fun, and sometimes you find it necessary to shift your prospective. It’s even more frustrating when detours stop you from getting to the start line of a race.

With my traveling to see specialists, staying on a schedule was already difficult. I was shifting my training from afternoon to morning just to beat some of the summer Los Angeles heat, but when you try to see doctors before work just to muster up the courage to run in the heat after work is difficult.

The weight training I have added to my routine has made me stronger, but hasn’t helped my cardiovascular system to keep me going the 26.2 miles to get me across the finish line of a marathon.  Naturally, to get across the finish line, I would have to add in more weekly mileage. But, this recent training has focused more on building total-body strength.

After nearly 8 months, my neck is finally stronger and I have been able to start back with pushups with a stability ball. The Ragnar Relay of 190 miles through Napa Valley was on the books with a half-marathon to raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation was going to be October 9… all those will have to wait for future races.

I still have the benchmark goals to reach as I get back into marathon shape, but as with most training schedules, I must take a detour. Unfortunately, this detour won’t take me a couple days off course; it’s a detour of several weeks, and more likely several months.

I’ve sought opinions from many renowed specialists in their field, and they have encouraged me to have ANOTHER operation. Well, at least this won’t be looming over my head, but darn- it’s frustrating. Surgery will likely be the same week as the Ragnar Relay (naturally, I won’t be able to participate in that)…. And it leaves a big question mark over competing in the Long Beach Half-Marathon. I have friends competing there and I want to be there to support them, but weather I will be going as a spectator or as a runner/walker will be contingent on my surgery, and the blessings of my doctors. After all, I want to have a long running career, and if that means sitting on the sidelines rather than jumping the gun and risking injury, spectator/cheer support is what I will do.

Among prayers and good medicine, my doctors credited my running as one of the reasons for my speedy recovery. As co-workers pointed out I only missed 7 weeks of work.

My current doctors have said that I am much healthier than my last surgery and it’s “only a little tumor,” and I will be out of the hospital in about 72 hours. I bring Ryan Westmorland, a Center Fielder for the Red Sox who had to have surgery to remove a similar tumor. He walked the day after surgery, and I have repeatedly said that I want to do that. They again assure me that I will be able to do physical therapy the day after surgery.

It’s tough not to fall down in the pit and let it get the better of you- you can always question- what’s the point? Why should I bother doing anything? I’m just going to have to do it ALL over again. The truth is, sure I will have to do it all over again, but if running more miles a week in the sticky icky CA sun and combine it with weight training means a more speedy recovery, then that’s what I will have to do.  Other outlets in my life have taken a nosedive, but now’s the time to focus on health so I can do all those other things for many more years.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Just before my head is about to sink below the surface and I’m going to drown in frustration and self-pity for all the setbacks I’ve had, whispers of encouragement come from so many places. Last Saturday, I stayed in the Valley and ran with friends since the 405 was closed. (This closure was dubbed as Carmageddon.) The pace felt blistering fast, but when it was over, it was about an hour. It’s slightly slower than what I was running at prior to surgery, but I know without friends at my side, I may not have been able to push myself to accomplish this. (A 5-mile run in under an hour was my secret goal.) So I came close to meeting my secret goal. And I accomplished what was on my training schedule which includes weights and running. 

This week I’m continuing the weigh lifting, but I’m increasing my mileage.  (Yay!) One area that has been sorely neglected has been my neck.  Legs and cardiovascular are a given and for long-distance running, core is a smart thing to build up, but I had neglected my neck. It had bothered me during long runs, but exercising the neck is just so, well, boring. It didn’t really hit home until I was doing a push-up using a stability ball and after a set my neck bothered me. So here I am, training for an ultra-relay (190 miles)  and half-marathons and I have to worry about my neck. (This does make sense since my surgeon in essence filleted my neck to get to my cerebellum to resecet that darn tumor.)   So, I’ve committed myself to doing these lame exercises in addition to my normal long-distance training.

Not too far after surgery, a running friend who also goes to Bible study with me recommended that I read IN THE PIT WITH A LION ON A SNOWY DAY.  I never made it to the bookstore to buy it, but with my recent iPhone purchase, I downloaded it to the Kindle app so I could retrieve this book. Without turning a marathon training blog into a book report, the author, (Mark Batterson), raises a good point, “He (God) is always using past experiences to prepare us for future opportunities.”  So far, I highly recommend the book. Moreover, this idea slapped me in the face to just take what I’ve viewed as setbacks to my life and to training and let those experiences be my springboard to something else. 

This week, like all weeks for people on a training schedule, will be a challenge to balance with work, and friends, while increasing mileage and/or speed. It's not just the ultra-marathon relay or the charity half-marathon the following month, the training is about getting to each race and crossing each finish line at my personal best. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Friends Make the Best Jetpacks

The summer wind blew back a friend that moved away in 2007. We’ve been friends since college- doing a lot of the same TV production co-curriculars and ultimately migrating to Los Angeles. During school, we faced similar challenges and our move to Los Angeles was no different. We struggled to stay sane, to find a religious community, and ultimately to find work.  She’s always been one step ahead of me in many aspects… She found the church first and took me along- and that became my place of worship for many years. She kept me sane and when I was struggling to make rent she sat me down and dealt me the harsh truth… “I know you don’t want to, but you should consider getting a job in retail to get you by.”  I applied for and got a position to help open a new Linens N Things that ultimately carried me to my next position at Paramount.

Like all my friends, this one bares a great light and love and wisdom.  In 2008, she ran her first marathon.  Her courage to complete the 26.2-mile journey gave me the courage to listen to the voice within me that had been yelling for years, “I want to run a marathon.” A day after, she crossed the finish line of the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon, I signed up for my first marathon – The San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon.

She is now challenging herself in a different way- with a new exercise program. She looks terrific. It’s more than just the way her shape is transforming, her spirit has transformed as well. Again, she gives me the insight to step into who I am deigned o be. Over lunch, we talked about food and challenges that it has, especially with portions when you eat out. While I had started down this road on my own, the uncertainty of my cranial future has put me into a foul mood, and I felt like, “why bother eat right and exercise when I have to do this whole recovery thing again.”

I have been neglecting every training schedule I looked at and every running article I read. At the most, I've been running 10 miles a week. This past week, I had slowly started my accent from this low, looking hard at my future races and production schedule and designing a new workout routine incorporating weights and running, and ultimately doing mid-week runs in the hills. But this visit with an old friend was like strapping a jetpack to me.
All the doctors credited my long-distance running as why I “bounced back” so quickly. Despite my frustration of only walking a little over a mile on Christmas, that was 10 days after surgery, and when there was the possibility, I could have “the dexterity of a 1-year-old,” I am now thankful for that one mile.

I know that getting into the shape I want to be in will be a mental and physical challenge, but as I’ve told myself before, “if it were easy, everyone would do it.” I can create the life and health I want. Even though I know I will be having surgery in the next couple years, I can design my recovery now. Simply looking at it as staying in shape to have the optimum recovery is a little bleak. BUT, if I can incorporate races and other physical challenges, staying in shape won’t have this dark cloud lurking over it.

Shortly after surgery, when it was clear I was going to be okay, my running buddy goaded me into signing up for a 187 mile relay with 10 of our other friends. This challenge is what made me train off-and-on, but in eleven weeks, I will be running a Ragnar Relay. It's time to get serious. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and the Crummy

It is nearly 6 months since I underwent my craniotomy. Last week I put my final thank you cards in the mail for the gifts I received while I was at the hospital (including thank you cards to my boss and another co-worker who bullied me into taking the ambulance).  I have two final thank you cards ready to go out in tomorrow’s mail to my neurosurgeon and ICU nurses, telling them the good news about my half-marathon.

Six months post-op, I’m now at the benchmark where my neurosurgeon said I would be in my recovery and almost healed.  Six months to a year he said it’d take for me to heal completely. I’m feeling better than I’ve ever felt.  
The future has more than marathons… I have more MRIs, more doctors visits, more surgeries. The surgery is hard to get past. I have pushed so much to get here, to be able to do another half-marathon, even though the overall time was abysmal.  Friday marked my second EMMY celebration since moving out here… The first nomination was for a Public Service Announcements I co-wrote, and now one of the shows I work on was nominated. It’s a very surreal thing to be able to say this.

I have a deeper and clearer understanding of life and despite my happiness with my current state and looking to the future, there are shades of grey. Despite the excitement of this and knowing I had years and years of physical therapy growing up, it’s hard not to get trapped into the spiral of, “well what’s the point, they could screw up and I might not have the ability to run again.” I feel like I’m trapped in the Molasses’ Swamp, almost unable to get out. My neurosurgeon was judicious and now, one of my doctors is suggesting another craniotomy. I knew at some point the craniotomy would be necessary since it was impossible to remove the entire tumor without causing damage to me. I was hoping that I would be able to pretend to have a normal life, despite trying to live it in an any but normal way. Normal to most is go to work, come home, flop on the couch, eat dinner, watch TV and go to bed. Regretfully, my life has taken on a shade more like this, but I’ve been running, and despite the facade of Los Angeles being uber-fit, it isn’t. We are like most cities- Pay a gym membership but try to get the closest parking spot to our destination. I’ve tried not to be “normal” but I’ve tried to be above average in my existence.

I want to do so much and make a big difference on this world. Now, that I am getting closer to my normal of work + run + friends + bigger goals, I am told that all that again may have to be put on the back burner AND I may have to go to a different hospital. It is odd to say, but I have a very warm place in my heart for the ICU at Providence St. Joseph’s.  Now, I have over a year to stress about the surgery wonder if I’m making the right decision… even though there really isn’t a decision because the residual tumor needs to come out.  I have a year to get mentally and physically prepared. I want to be in the best shape of my life- I want to be able to walk the day after surgery.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Workout DVDs- How Good Are They, Really?

Ugh. The Perfect Pregnancy Workout is not so perfect. I haven’t seen any improvement from when it was shipped to me to today. I suppose that there is more to unwrapping it and using it three times. Despite being fatigued when I return from work, I have to give myself credit for actually doing the excercises and not sitting down with a glass of red wine on the days when I did pop it into my DVD player.  

Part of my resistance of use is from time and energy constraints. The other portion is inclination restraints. I am not inclined to work on my abdominal tone. I’m more inclined to go out and run. It’s an odd position to be in since I hated running in the not-to-recent history. I was slow then, and I still at what I like to call my own “Turtle Pace.”  When I took up running, I would not have been prepared to run 10 miles “just for fun,” and I know I need to approach the abdominals with the same attitude: Do it because it’ll satisfy a larger end goal. Thinking of long-term health and fitness goals will do a lot more to motivate me than making sure I can blend in with the rest of the California girls on the beach. Despite living in the heated (or hated as Zach Morris would say) Valley, baking at the beach is not something I’m inclined to do.  I would rather walk to the local frozen yogurt shop and get something to eat than go to the beach. BUT, beach going or not, abdominal strength is needed. A phrase that has held me in good stead is, “If it were easy, everyone would do it.” So despite my hatred of the ab workout, I need to do it.  Despite my fatigue and lack of commitment to do the abdominal work because it’s hard and/or inconvenient, I need to invest more time and energy.  There is no end date- just to be more healthy. You never know when the next race (or surgery) will be.

Monday, June 6, 2011

13 of 1 OR Half of Another…

“It's not about how fast you go. It's not about how far you go. It's a process.” - Amby Burfoot, The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life

I’m a multi-tasker; I can’t help myself.  If I can do one thing, but add another activity to either enhance the primary activity or cut down on the time it will take me to do activity #2, I’ll do it. This is how I ended up completing my 3rd post-op MRI and 6th Half-Marathon in the same weekend. I figured since I was already in San Diego county for my MRI, I might as well do a half-marathon.

With every race, you learn something. Part of my lesson is- I will never again say, “just a half-marathon.”

A best friend, Rachel- Who has been
with me nearly every step of the way,
from the ER to the half-marathon.
I knew I couldn’t set a PR (Personal Record) at this race, but I did this race to prove something to myself- that I have more power over my life than my brain tumor.  My realistic goal was sub 3 hours; I figured with a little pushing this would be possible. To make sure I didn’t focus on time, I left my Garmin at home.  At Mile 8, my feet felt bruised and at mile 8.5 my hip-flexors were sore. Somewhere in there, a girl passed me wearing a Philippians 4:13 shirt.  (This happens to be a friend's go-to Bible passage for when things get rough and on his first run back after the his difficult marathon, we did a 10-miler together and he shared this with me.) My body still ached but I pressed on. The bands nearly every mile fed some energy to me and the other runners, but the stretch along the sloped 163 was void of crowds and bands. I buckled down and sang from a song another friend burned for me  “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ ‘Till You See What God Can Do…”  It has helped with just the normal healing process and helped here to get through the less eccentric areas of the race. 

There were portions of the race where I just couldn’t run, and hobbling several yards was the best I could do. From mile 10 to mile13.1, each mile was 3 min slower than my starting pace, which was slower still than my old training pace.

I am not a gifted athlete. I love what I do and I try really hard.  My found love of long-distance running is what made me a great patient and helped with my initial recovery. I’m not going to set the world on fire with my pace, but I will always be grateful that I can put one foot in front of the other and run 13.1 miles (especially on 6 months post-op).  

It’s not “just a half;” it’s a journey. It’s a journey that took me 2:50:00 to complete and a heck of a lot of post-race Ben Gay. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Slippery Slope of Fueling and Marathon Training

I’ve always had a healthy appetite, but my stay in the ICU caused me to lose weight. Part of this was because I was in a fair amount of pain from being intubated. I’d assume the O.R. used the smallest tube they could find, but still at only 4’ 11 (and half), my mouth and gums were bruised and it hurt to eat. I’d try to eat a little bit between my drug-induced naps, and still couldn’t manage to finish my meal before the next one would arrive. The 5 pounds I shed during my stay was putting me over the hump and well on my way towards those last glorious extra pounds that everyone wants to lose before they reach their ideal weight.

Shortly after being discharged, I was indulging in stress and holiday eating with my family. Despite walking a mile nearly every day after Christmas, and slowly building into short run/walks, I quickly gained the weight back. Then, I gained back even more weight.  I was operating under the guise “I survived brain surgery- I deserve to have cookies for a breakfast appetizer.”

I’m still short on the weekly mileage that I was running prior to surgery. Now, I’m walking the slippery slope of marathon training that many people encounter… I’m wicked hungry and I WANT FOOD. The problem here is that, I also need to lose weight. Many people want more food while they train, and who can blame them? When begining a new excercise plan it's tough not to gain weight. Many first time marathoners fall into the trap, I'm running more, so I need to fuel more. Then they gain weight. Now that I’m feeling healthier and a little more vain, I need to date again, at the very least to lose weight.

Shortly after I took up long distance running, I started dating my last boyfriend.  He is a runner, and even qualified for Boston. If he told me to run, I’m so stubborn, I woulda said, “are you off your rocker?” Lucky for the two of us, I already had the fire burning in my belly to run a marathon when we started dating. It was a perfect storm for weight loss success- cardiovascular activity + new boyfriend + vanity = 17 pounds lost. J 

Now that I’m single, losing the weight is more difficult. I have no one to impress.  When I was dating my ex, I didn’t want to look fat or gluttonous, so I didn’t eat as much as I wanted when we were together, which was usually every night after our runs. Naturally I lost weight.

May has been a good turn-around for so many things. I’ve got the most energy I’ve had since surgery, and my mind is becoming more singularly minded on being fit and healthy. I still need to remind myself that I don’t need dessert with every meal and that being a little hungry is okay, but with my 5 small (pre-planned) meals a day and my mantra when I go into the kitchen, “I know what cookies taste like,” helps get me through. My huge desire to reduce my carbon footprint also helps with my weight-loss goals.  Weight loss isn’t fun, but it helps not to think of it as weight loss. Last time I lost the weight, I kept telling people, “I’m not trying.” Their response was, “You’re running almost every day, that’s trying.” I’m taking each day in stride, working to get stronger and just make the healthiest choices for my body while remembering to enjoy life and make time to have unexpected fun and indulgences.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

I love the Smell of Expo (in the morning) - A look at the weekend of May 14 & 15

If you’ve never gone to an Expo before a race, I’d recommend it to see what you’re missing, and if you’ve gone you know what I’m talking about. 

Member of Team Ray at the Children's
Tumor Foundation walk
Despite running the Malibu a half-marathon one-month before surgery, Saturday was my first expo in nearly a year. The Expo at the Malibu Marathon consists of a couple vendor tents set up next to the beach and a few folk passing out bibs and timing chips. The Expo prior to the Pasadena Marathon series didn’t smell like salty ocean air— It smelled like Expo, combination of Tiger Balm and Ben Gay. It was more ritualistic like other expos: Walk to the wall and look up your bib number, check in and get your bib, packet & D-tag, then walking up and down the rows of vendors. Doing all this made me feel even more like I’m back.

The Expo makes me hungry to eat the road for breakfast tomorrow, even if it is going to go down at a much slower pace than what I was once training at.  Nonetheless, I realize that I have to stop comparing running speeds I had when I first started running and after I was running consistently to today. I need to keep just looking forward to the next mile.

I feel like I’m finally getting healthy….
Yes, I’m working 40+ hours a week.
Yes, I’m running 15 miles or more each week.
Yes, It’s not brain cancer; it’s just a tumor.

But this, this is the picture of health- smelling crippled runners getting to put their toes to the starting line and push their bodies to do their best.

Storm Troopers at the CTF Walk-
A good reason to walk fast!
And this weekend was not about running- it was about enjoying the company of fellow athletes on a journey. Saturday, I did a 5k walk with the Children’s Tumor Foundation (CTF) and ended up walking with a friend from the NF Endurance Team.  After this, I went to the expo to pick up my bib and race packet for Sunday’s Pasadena Marathon series.

Sunday, I took the to the road with my running buddy and his girlfriend and we raced to raise money & awareness of Celiac Disease. And here, again you can see the indomitable spirit of the runner… she was training to RUN this as her first official 5k, but she had a cold for several weeks that she couldn’t shake. Still, she trained. And, it wouldn’t be the Pasadena Marathon if it weren’t raining… We huddled in the dry as long as we could before we put our toes to the starting line to see what we could do.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Off the DL

Last week, while I was leaving the control booth of our TV show, one of my bosses paid me the complement, “Wow, Sarah- you actually look good.” I had spent more time putting on makeup, using my 10x magnifying mirror, but still I was a little shocked. My other boss called me back and gave my boss a lesson in how to pay a complement, which was marginally better. At the end of the week, he did a little groveling and basically said that I don’t look as tired.  THIS was probably the most accurate thing he could have said.

Two days after I returned to work in late January, the Disability Department phoned to tell me that my neurosurgeon indicated that I could return to work as late as May 10, 2011. Apparently, I looked less fatigued last week because I was less fatigued. I hadn’t realized I still looked that worn out from just healing.

The healing process has only made me marginally more patient. I want to get better quick, and like many friends who are going through brain surgery or some kind of Cyber Knife therapy, we are all impatient with healing. The need to get better and to run and just be normal won’t be satiated a few weeks after surgery. Lacing up the shoes and feeling your feet click against the road feeds the spirit. Even on days where I feel crummy, but still run, it reminds me how far I’ve come from lying in the ICU.
My incisions have healed, the hole from where my head was secured to the operating table has vanished, and my hair is slowly growing back. Here, on May 10th, the day I could have returned to work from disability, I did my full 8-hours and then a 3.5 mile run after work. This was one of those days that I’ve had since surgery where I feel better than I’ve ever felt. As I’ve gotten farther and farther away from surgery, the number of those better than ever days have increased. It feels as though with my workouts, I’ll be battling myself more and my “To Do” list than battling recovery fatigue.  On those days where I am tired, I’ll have to access if it’s a true fatigue (where my body is telling me it needs rest) or that lazy “To Do” list waiting kind of fatigue.

I struggled with training consistently prior to surgery because I had taken on a new job with new hours and new mental demands. On the upside- I am now lacking a brain tumor, so sticking to my training schedule is possible.

Let's hope I can maintain this positive attitude after a follow-up tomorrow with an additional doctor I gained this year.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Yesterday, I woke up fatigued. It felt like I drank a bottle of cheap red wine for dinner and promptly went to bed.  I quickly realized that I was fighting a different dehydration.  With the increased heat we are experiencing in Los Angeles and the added extra exercise, I did not nourish my body properly with water.

Add caption
The “extra” exercise is a major milestone in my recovery and training. This realization added major excitement and joy. This marks the first week where I was able to run three days in a row consistently after work.  On the eve of my long run, my workweek mileage stands at 8 miles.  After my long tomorrow, I should be closer to 15 or 16. Getting back to 20 a week where 10 miles at a crack feels just fun, is where I can’t wait to get back to, but for now, I have to look at each mile.

The most difficult part of training still remains me, as I’m sure it is with all runners.  It is difficult not to look at my Garmin and say, “I should be running faster,” or “I used to be able to be at this spot by x time.” The park I’m running at was the base for my first training, and thanks to an Eagle Scout project, the distances are already calculated… outer loop 1.3 miles and the inner loop is .5 miles… Running here, I know I can run a 5k by doing a combination of outside and inside and get my suggested daily mileage. In my early training, I did this without a Garmin and just focused on mental math. It’s difficult to go slow and I feel like I should be doing better. These three miles are two, three minutes slower than my “normal” three miles. And even though I want to berate myself and say I should be better, better than what is the question.  Sure, if I didn’t take the winter off or have life-changing surgery, I could be running at a faster pace. Giving myself the grace to run slow has been one of the biggest challenges. I keep telling myself that it’s not about the pace, it’s about the distance, and speed will come. Naturally, these are words that have been spoken to me since I took up long distance running three years ago.

The milestone has a larger mean than just being a convenient part of our vernacular- They’re constructed to provide reference points along the road. They reassure travelers that the proper path is being followed, and to indicate either distance travelled or the remaining distance to a destination. Each consecutive day I’m able to run, I look at as a milestone, and each of those days contains a milestone in its own right with each time my Garmin rolls to an additional mile.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Four Months Post-Op

This is NOT one day post-op.
That photo is not fit to print.
If you told me four months ago that I was going to run 10 miles, I would’ve laughed and called you overly-optimistic. I was one day post-op, lying in the ICU, drugged to my eyeballs and having fond memories of things that never happened and seeing friends that weren’t even visiting.

The drugs were there to help me not be completely aware of the massive pain my body was in. Their intent also was to keep me mostly motionless because of the ventriculostomy that was placed during the surgery. An over-arching concern was that I was going to over-drain the excess cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) that was in my head. Four months ago, I wouldn’t have believed and thought that you may be on the same heavy-duty steroids that I was on.

I’ve never been so glad I fell in love with long-distance running. I was told that my stamina made me an ideal patient and that it would help with recovery. Today was not a marathon 8+ hour work day, but I had to buckle down and do my long run.

My intent was to stay close to home since the majority of my running group was going to be in Boston for the marathon & my normal running buddy was out of town volunteering. The forecast of upper 90s persuaded me to drive to the beach. The weather at the beach was still 77*, but far more arable than what I would’ve found in The Valley. After putting a second coat of body glide on, one of my other running friends showed up. This was his first run back since facing and conquering the torrential rain at the LA Marathon.  He had been persuaded to get back out there and keep training.

We shared our distances… I was going to run 7 and he was going for 10.  The plan was to run a bit together before we settled into our own paces and training regimen. After the first mile and a half, and our first water break (and loading up our Nathan’s), he switched his pronouns on me, and all of a sudden WE were going to run 10 miles!

Along the way, we shared our Bible power verses to get us through tough runs…. He: Philippians 4:13 and me Isaiah 40:30-31. He stayed with me the whole way cheering me on to our turn around and then all the way back to our cars.  Being very conscious of the heat, we hydrated every mile and made sure we had plenty of water with us. After my last long run, I also realized that I MUST fuel during the run even if I think I won’t/don’t need it.  The Clif shot block every 45 minutes was key for my last training and proves to still be a necessity. The last mile was not fun. I was tired. BUT, this last mile felt different than the last mile during last week's 7 mile run. My muscles were fatigued, but my body did not ache and was not cold (which are signs of lack of nutrients).
Ten miles was my favorite distance prior to surgery, and it still is— DOUBLE DIGITS wow. Today’s run, while it wasn’t fast, it was what I needed.  I'm so grateful to have friends who push me and stick with me for the long run and when they need a little pushing to do their best, I'm glad I can do the same for them. More than anything, after today, I have more motivation to stick with my training schedule— Today's run tweaked my mind and my body to the direction it needs to be in to be in Marathon Shape.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

An Unconventional Workout DVD...

A week without much running, and still I need another nap during my lunch break.  It’s getting a little warm in Los Angeles to be sleeping in my car, but with the windows rolled down, it’s rather cozy.

Still lacking in energy to run, but with the steady realization I need to increase by abdominal strength, after I got home from work, I popped in the Perfect Pregnancy Workout DVD.  It involved a lot more stretching than I expected. I know the stretching will keep me loose and is also an important part of log-term health. Many of the moves were similar to Mat Pilates classes I’ve taken.

There was one move where I was REALLY concentrating to keep my balance and my sweet little kitty made a noise that I had never heard. His pupils filled his eyes, and then he attacked me… (claws and teeth, the works). You may want to put your kitty, dog, etc away if you try this DVD. While the moves seem simple it’s a great workout. **Remember to concentrate on breathe and core.** As you get adept at a level, there’s a way to modify the workout to make more difficult.

I will keep this is my repertoire but despite fatigue, I cannot skimp on my runs. I know the runs will be tough because not only am I coming off an injury (aka brain surgery), I’m basically coming back from taking the winter off.  I need to keep reminding myself that it’s ok to be slow, just get the miles in... Speed will come. I spoke with my neurologist a couple days ago, and she said I need more sleep but can and should keep running.  So running and this DVD it is. So, I just need to stick to my plan and remember it may be awhile before I can run 20+ miles a week like I was doing one month before surgery. I need to keep plugging away  and just be healthy and sensible about my fitness goals.

Tomorrow is Friday and the night before my long run...  Pasta Dinner and Salad is on the menu.