But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. - Isaiah 40:31

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Will I Be Running Again?

As some of you may or may not have noticed, this blog seems to have been abandoned. Only temporarily!

I've been a slug all winter. But spring is coming and Romie and I intend to get back with the running program as soon as there is a break in the weather. No, we didn't join a health club for the winter, as we'd once considered. No, we haven't done anything to keep up our level of fitness. (Old habits die hard.) But soon, all this cold and snow nonsense will be a thing of the past and we'll once again don our running shoes and start the process of getting in shape once again.

Would I have done this before last year? No way. I hated running, remember? I can't say that I've fallen in love with it, but it does appeal to me in a way that has taken me by surprise. My training last year is beckoning me to do a repeat performance. Maybe not as disciplined as I was, but I'm determined to run several 5Ks as soon as I am in shape for them. I know there will be some popping up around here, come May or thereabouts, so as soon as it warms up a bit, I'll be hitting the road.

Shocking, isn't it?

Monday, October 6, 2008

One Week Post-Race

It was strange to see myself on the Indiana's News Center Fort4Fitness commercial all last week. And I've lost count of how many people have told me they saw me on TV, either the day of the race or in the commercial.

So now it's been more than a week since the race and I've not walked more than a mile or so on any given day and even that was just a couple of times. I didn't intend for it to be that way. It just happened.

I can see the value of having a goal. Without a goal, there is no purpose to anything. We set goals for ourselves all the time, whether they be tiny or gigantic. I think it's just the way we humans are made. We seem to need that carrot dangling in front of us all the time in order to accomplish anything.

My friend Diana is going to hold me accountable to my walking though. We're scheduled for a get-together at the Greenway this weekend, where we plan to do 10 miles - so she says. We'll see!

It's hard for me still, this not being able to run. I think if I knew that all I could do forever was walk, I might be okay with it, but since I know that at some point in the future I'll be able to run again, somehow walking just doesn't hold the appeal to me. Yet, I have to stay in shape somehow so that when the day comes that I am allowed to run, I'll be ready for it. My next eye exam is December 2nd and I'm hoping that I get the okay at that time.

I'm having second thoughts about doing the Fort4Fitness half-marathon next year. I'm happy that I have managed to get myself in pretty good physical condition over the course of this past spring and summer, but I don't really have the desire right now to work towards another long-distance race. Maybe I'll feel differently when next spring comes along.

I do still want to keep working on that 5K distance though.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Many of us from the training group gathered at Linda's last night for a post-race party. Words were not in short supply as we recounted our experiences not only of race day, but of the entire experience of training for it.

It was obvious that while we shared this common bond and had similar feelings and experiences, we also had those that were unique to each one of us. I think I was most touched by Rhonda's story, as she likened falling into Jamey's arms at the end of the race as a glimpse of what it will be like as we enter heaven. Not that we ran the fastest or best, but that we ran the race, with the guidance of our leader, who didn't expect perfection. He accepted our weaknesses, never giving up on any of us, and gave us a "Well done" when we finished.

Though not everyone that was in the group was there physically, all were in our thoughts as we reminisced about "the early days." Days when we thought running even a mile without stopping was just not going to happen. Oh, we'd come SO far...

Jamey talked with us about the possibility of each of us doing some group training of our own in preparation for next year's race. He would guide us and groups would meet with him from time to time, but we would be the weekly leader of our own groups of runners. We're to think about this and get back to him, as planning for next year's race will begin soon.

We had a great meal of Mexican Pile-up, tossed salad with strawberries and poppy seed dressing, and cake.

It was rather hard to say goodbye when the evening was over, as we knew we'd accomplished the goal that brought total strangers together, but we left knowing that close friendships had been formed and it wasn't the end. I hope we do stay in touch, because we all were a big part of each other's lives for the last seven months. We know things about each other that...well...never mind. ;-)

Front L-R: Barb, Linda, Rhonda, Me
Middle: Esther, LeeAnn, Margaret, Terry, Bill
Back: Kevin, Monique, Jamey, Roger

Words of Inspiration

"Believe in yourself. Dare to be remarkable"
- inscribed on a bracelet given to me by
my mom the morning of the race

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Day I Walked 13.1 Miles

4:00 AM
Alarm went off. Got into a hot bath to get the muscles loosened up. Got dressed. Hair and makeup fixed.

4:30 AM
Ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Drank a Fresca.

5:00 AM
My groupies arrived and we headed to Fort Wayne.

6:00 AM
We parked in the parking garage and walked to the Start line, where Channel 21's Jeff Bowman (cameraman) and Mary Collins (news anchor) were ready for broadcasting.

Seven months ago, I would never have believed I would be standing on a street corner in downtown Fort Wayne, Indiana, at 6:30 in the morning, excited at the prospect of walking 13.1 miles as fast as I can walk it. I wanted to be running it, but at my eye doctor appointment yesterday, I got the no-no for that.

As members of our training group trickled in, we were all smiles and ready to go. We'd been through so much as a group - moaning and groaning as Jamey put us through our paces, sweating as we used muscles we didn't know we had, encouraging each other in the down times and rejoicing with each other over the many milestones we passed along the way. Now we were putting all of that together as we prepared to walk/run either 4 miles or the full 13.1 mile half-marathon in the first ever Fort4Fitness event.

The race registration reached its limit of 2000 for the half-marathon and another 1000 for the 4-mile weeks before and next year those numbers will be doubled. I have no doubt they will reach that, given the comments heard after today's race.

Mary began her coverage of the race at 6:30, and she interviewed our group somewhere around 6:50. She didn't talk to each of us, but I was one of them she did. I don't recall a single thing she asked me or what I said, with all the excitement coursing through my veins; I just hope it was somewhat intelligible.

We did some stretches, then headed to our starting areas. We were to place ourselves in the corral that corresponded with our expected pace. My walking partner Diana and I guessed at 12:00 minute miles, although I knew that was probably optimistic. It didn't really matter being that far back, because the serious runners were yards in front of us anyway. It turned out that most of the rest of our training group started at this point, too.

The crowd started to move forward and in a few minutes, we passed the starting point.

We wore timing chips on our shoes and as we passed over the starting line, the blue pads detected our chips and recorded our official start time.

There were large crowds lining both sides of Main Street as we headed west, just as the sun was coming up.
My family and some friends that were there to support me were sporting yellow t-shirts, designed by our older daughter Kara.

Jim, a friend from Chicago, had brought a large orange sunflower so I would be able to find them along the route. I have to say that helped a lot, as I looked ahead several times on the route for that sunflower, knowing there would be smiling faces and cheers of encouragement when I got to it.

For about three miles of the race, the 4-milers and the half-marathoners shared the same route, but then the two groups split, after going through historic West Central neighborhood and rounding through Swinney Park. We headed north at that point, and I wouldn't see my groupies until the end of the race. They had taken a donut break before attempting to meet me around mile eight and they missed me. I have to say that I missed them, too, as I was expecting to see them somewhere around that point.

I didn't begin to take advantage of the water/Gatorade that was offered until halfway through the course, wanting to stay hydrated, yet not wanting to have to take time out for a bathroom break either.

We went by the beautiful University of Saint Francis campus. I especially enjoyed the scene to our left as we passed the Bass Mansion overlooking the lake.

We then headed north towards Franke Park and I was glad to get to the port-a-potties. That took a minute or two, which would prove to be just enough to prevent us from meeting our time goal. :-(

All along the route, there was so much encouragement from those that lived along the route and those that made an effort to be there to cheer us along. The police department did a great job of patrolling the streets that had been blocked off and they also shouted out encouragement to us as we passed by them.

There were several people that had cow bells they rang as we went by, and one woman in particular moved along the route as we progressed and whooped it up with her well wishes. We saw her several times.

Somewhere around the 12-mile mark, my right thigh began to cramp up. I tried to relax it as I took my steps forward, which required a lot of concentration, but it didn't help a whole lot. I felt myself falling behind the pace and no matter how hard I tried to make my legs move faster, I just couldn't. I almost felt like I was walking in slow motion. I tried to ignore it, knowing we were nearing the end.

At this point, we met up with Bill, one of the members of my training group. As we rounded the last corner, Diana's brother met us, having finished about an hour before us and he went the final .4 of a mile with us. Also at this point, I encouraged Diana to go ahead and run in for the finish, which she did, although being the sweetheart she is, she was reluctant to do so.

I was never so glad to see that finish line up ahead and even happier as I saw my family and friends along both sides of the route. At this point, there were even more people cheering as I finished, since my first name was on my bib and there weren't that many people coming in around me. That felt great as I approached the blue mats at the finish.

Once I was over the line, Mary Collins was there to give me a hug and the emotions just came rushing out. Mary was crying and then I was crying and I just don't think I can find the words to express how all of that felt. Mary said to me, "You did it! I wish you could have seen the look on your face as you came to the finish line. You were beaming!" I was. I don't know which hurt worse - my legs or my cheeks from smiling so much.

Jamey then came and hugged me too and at that point I just collapsed into his arms. Had he not been holding me up, I would have been on the ground, because my legs just gave way.

Romie then came up from behind and he held me and told me how proud he was of me, followed by the rest of my family and friends. It was just such a great moment! I'm actually tearing up as I write this.

I went on to the tent beyond, where they cut my timing chip off my shoe and I received my medal. Then I got an apple, a bagel, and some pretzels, along with a bottle of water - all provided free by the race committee. It all tasted wonderful.

In that last mile of the race, we had passed near the Perfection Baking Company and we talked about how the smell of bread baking was making all of us very hungry.

Mary was interviewing each member of our training group as we finished, and once again, I don't recall a lot of what I said, but I do remember that it was hard to talk. I was quite emotional, my voice was cracking, and it was just hard to put things into words at that point.

I remember I commented on how our training group made all the difference in the world in my meeting this goal. I told her if you have even just one person to go through it with you, it helps immensely. I would have quit twenty times had it not been for the group.

Barb and I walked past the Healthy Food Expo booths, where many Ft. Wayne restaurants offered food for sale. Past those, at the east end of Freimann Square, was a tent where the official times were posted. I finished the 13.1 miles in 3:02:02. Not bad, for walking. That gave me a pace of 13:54 per mile or about 4¼ mph. I'm capable of walking faster than that, but to maintain a faster pace for thirteen miles is another thing altogether.

Now that it's over, I'm not sure I realize fully what it is that I accomplished just yet. It doesn't seem like such a big deal, yet 13.1 miles is about how far it would be from our house to Van Wert. Walking or running to Van Wert just seems ridiculous, yet that's in effect what I did. Maybe I'll realize it more in a few days.

I'm asked if I'll keep running. I didn't think so a few weeks ago, but Romie and I talked and we want to run a couple of miles three or four times a week to stay in shape enough to do some 5Ks together. And after doing this half-marathon and not being able to run it, I really think I want to do it again next year and hopefully run it. Kara has told me she and Adam want to do it next year, so we'll likely make it a family affair. We'll encourage Jenna and Joe to join us.

I've learned a lot about myself through all this. You can do things you don't think you can, if you do them in the right way and you have people to encourage you along the way. I'll try to be more of an encourager to others, now that I know what it takes to get from Point A to Point B.

One of the reasons I signed up for this was to hopefully find a way to improve my fibromyalgia pain and fatigue. As far as the pain is concerned, I don't feel that it helped in that respect, although an unrelated hip pain that I'd experienced for about three years disappeared shortly after I began training and hasn't returned. (Yay!) But I haven't had many of those "totally wiped out" fatigued days that I had so many of before I did this.

No doubt my cardio-pulmonary condition is greatly improved and I know my muscle tone is 200% better than it's been in decades. You just can't train like that and not experience a dramatic effect. I didn't gain or lose any weight throughout this, but Jamey didn't think I'd experience much of a change in that respect, other than perhaps a slight weight gain as I built up muscle.

I spent the rest of race day taking it easy for the most part. I was incredibly sore all over and walking was pretty painful. On Sunday, it was a little bit worse, but Romie and I took a leisurely walk of a little over a mile to help prevent more stiffness and soreness. I still limped a little, with my right hip joint and thigh muscles giving me the most problems. That was where I experienced the cramping during the race.

This morning, things were better. No more limping, and the soreness has diminished to a very specific couple of spots, mainly my gluteals. (That's butt cheeks, in case you don't know.) I know it will only get better and rather quickly I would imagine. It was worth every bit of it though. I will schedule a full massage later today for sometime this week with a gift certificate given to me on Mother's Day this year by Kara and Adam. That will feel wonderful!

I want to say a big thank you to those of you who have followed along, giving encouragement via comments on this blog or by e-mail or personal encounters. You have no idea how much each and every one of them meant to me. You all were an important part of my experience.

I also want to thank Mary and Jamey for choosing me to be a part of this very special training group. Not only would I not have done this without you and them, but I've made some great friends that I will stay in contact with long after this race is history. I know that I was given an incredible opportunity and I don't take that lightly. Thank you.

There will be a party at Linda's tonight for our group and it will be fun to talk and compare notes about our experience. I can't wait to hear what everyone has to say about their own personal journey. Everyone has a story!


Edited to add: Mary's interview with me can be seen on the Channel 21 web site here. Scroll down the page and click on my name and the interview video will begin.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Night Before the Big Race

I worked this morning, then had my eye doctor's appointment in the afternoon. While I was hoping my report would be that I could once again run, I was told that it wouldn't be in the best interest of my eye for me to do that. So I'll walk it.

This evening, Fort4Fitness festivities began with the Health Fair being held at the Allen County Public Library. Various health-related businesses and organizations were set up in the halls and under a tent outside.

We walked around a little bit, and ran into some familiar faces - people that I wasn't aware of that were running this thing. I also spoke with Jamey and a few of my fellow group runners, a couple of which I hadn't seen in awhile. We had looks of trepidation, calm, excitement - pretty much the gamut of emotions showed on our faces and in our conversations.

This is it and now I'm off to bed to try and get a few hours of sleep before the alarm goes off at 4:00 a.m.


Well. Here we are, just 24 hours away from race day. This time was so far off when we started this thing in February that it seemed like it was a day that would never come. But the reality is that for the past seven months, we have been training for September 27th - a day that we will for the first time in our lives, run/walk 13.1 miles. A half-marathon.

It's been hard work. Just as difficult as the physical aspect of it has been the mental. I can't say how many times I thought, "My body is willing, but the flesh is weak." There were times when I just didn't want to run even one mile, let alone the four or five that was on the schedule. I cried a few times, knowing that wasn't going to get me down the road any further. Still, I needed the release that the tears brought. Then it was back to business.

As Channel 21 News revs up for coverage of the weekend's events, I'm getting excited. I've been asked if I'm nervous. I'm not - not at all. I am looking forward to being with 3000 of my closest friends, hoofing it around some of the best parts of Ft. Wayne on a beautiful fall day. I'm grateful for the opportunity that was given to me and thankful for all the wonderful support I've received.

I don't know that I'll ever be a runner, but I now know that I can be if I want to be. I ran three 5Ks this spring and summer and I enjoyed them all. I never thought I would say that, though I've always liked the feeling of being totally spent, totally exhausted, sweat and all, and that's what it feels like after running 3.1 miles. I had some measure of success doing those - two firsts and one second in my age group - and a real feeling of accomplishment, mainly because I never thought I could ever or WOULD ever do such a thing. Right now, I won't rule out running just enough to stay in shape to do a few of those next summer. Just a couple of miles a few times a week would do it. We'll see...

I've been asked if I "feel better" (physically) because of all this. In some ways, yes. Undoubtedly, my body is in much better condition. I feel the firmer muscle tone just about everywhere, not just in my legs. When I was actively running, my cardio was fabulous, with my resting heart rate running in the high 40s, down from my usual 55. So the benefits of regular exercise have been proven by me. And shortly after I began training, the hip pain I'd experienced for about three years disappeared and hasn't returned.

Is it enough to keep me doing it? Well...knowing myself, I'm not making any promises, but I know it's been hard work and I'd hate to lose all that progress just by being a slug all winter. If I don't run, I'll certainly do something on a regular basis to stay in condition. For me to want to do that is a real accomplishment in and of itself. You have no idea how much I have always hated exercise and have never done it before now.

So, just 24 hours until the gun goes off, signifying the start of the race, the adrenalin is already pumping. Tonight, I'll be downtown at the Health Fair, picking up my race packet and participating at the Channel 21 Indiana News Center booth. I plan to soak up the fun and hopefully will get a decent night's sleep tonight, if I can relax enough for that to happen.

The news station will be providing coverage starting at 6:30 tomorrow morning. The race begins at 7:30. Information can be found here regarding all aspects of the weekend events, including race results.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


This morning was just about perfect for a nice, long walk and that's exactly what I did. This time, Diana drove over here and we walked to Paulding. We had to take some quirky turns to make the distance total 10 miles, but that just made the walk that much more interesting.

We passed the reservoir, the fairgrounds, the nation's first county Carnegie Library, and the first house Romie and I lived in after we got married. We shouldn't have gone by the fairgrounds because the Flat Rock Festival was going on and the traffic was horrible. It isn't a whole lot better to deal with on foot than it is in a vehicle.

Romie met us at Subway, where we picked up lunch and brought it back home to eat. When we finished, my thighs and hips were aching and the second toe on my left foot felt like the toenail was going to fall off, but by the time we got home, my legs didn't hurt anymore. In fact, I felt pretty good.

We'd completed the ten miles in exactly 2.5 hours and we hadn't walked it particularly fast. So we both decided we could do the 13.1 on Saturday in just under three hours. That's what we're going to try anyway!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

I'm 51 years old today. If you'd told me a year ago that I would be running or walking a half-marathon at this age, I wouldn't have believed you. Yet that's what's in store for me in just eight days. And I actually signed up for this by choice.

It's a good thing. (So says Martha.)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Walking Through Johnny Appleseed Park

We had training tonight at a new location on River Greenway. We met behind Wizard Stadium and took off towards the west through Johnny Appleseed Park. It's so named because not only did John Chapman travel through this area, he is buried at this park.

The Greenway follows the river through this wooded area on the north side of Ft. Wayne and is just as great a place to train as it is in New Haven. There were seven of us altogether, and we walked/ran four miles. I walked alongside Linda while she ran and amazingly enough, I was able to keep up. This is not to say so much that Linda runs slowly, but that I walk very fast.

I walked the four miles in 50 minutes. This actually was encouraging to me, knowing that I could keep up with some runners. I always have walked fast and yes, I was pushing it tonight, but that's what I've been doing while training. Even though I'm walking this thing, I don't want to be the last to come in.

I left the training session feeling better about things.