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.