November 29, 2008

9.5 miles tomorrow!

by Suzy
We're following a training schedule to prepare us for the race at the end of January, and basically it goes like this: 2-3 short runs over the course of the week, and an ever-longer long run every other weekend. Technically, you're also supposed to cross train and whatnot on the non-running days... hmmm, does picking up a toddler 400 times per day count? If so, I'm golden!

So far we've conquered the 4-, 6.5-, and 8-mile long runs. Tomorrow we are getting together bright and early for the next frontier, 9.5 freaking miles. For 4 out of 5 of us, each long run represents the farthest we have EVER RUN BEFORE. And this is actually quite an intense feeling!

Kirsten (she's the one that has actually run a marathon and a bunch of other races already) was chatting with me about this, and she made a good point. Each time you run farther than you ever have before, it's like venturing into completely unknown territory. What might happen? Who knows? Maybe you'll spontaneously combust, or turn invisible, or enter a parallel universe. I mean, honestly, anything is possible, right, when you make your body do something it's never ever done before!

So each long run is kind nerve-wracking, but very exciting. In the day or two before 6.5 miles, I got so nervous I couldn't even sleep. But that went fine, so I felt a little more chill about 8 miles. And that went fine. Now we find ourselves at 9.5, which is awfully darn close to 10, which seems like an awfully big number. I'm not nervous in the same way that I was, but I'm getting a little bit of anxiety about the physicality of it - the question, will my body actually do this?

So far I love running, way more than I ever dreamed possible, and I want to keep on doing it for a long time to come. I'm being careful, but I also feel like there is an element of luck to whether one can maintain running without injury. So far, I've been lucky... but will it last?

November 28, 2008


by Suzy
So I had this tiny little glimmer of an idea to run, and then BAM! Instantly came the fear.

So many fears. Fear of taking on one more responsibility when I already felt drowning in responsibility. Fear that I might actually have bad knees, and be physically unsuited to running. Fear of telling the world and then feeling foolish if it didn't work out. Simply put, fear of failing (with some additional fear around how such a failure might damage my already fragile emotional state).

For a long time, a couple of weeks, I told no one about my idea. I just thought about it. I honestly couldn't tell if it was the best idea ever, or the worst idea ever - but I was pretty sure it was one or the other.

Finally, I told my husband. It sounded something like this: Umm, I kind of have this crazy idea, oh I don't know, it's really weird, you see Cure JM does this run and umm... I was sort of thinking about maybe, oh I don't know, possibly thinking about ummm trying to maybe, uh, try to run the half marathon. I could barely even speak the words; I mumbled, I blushed. It was just so far outside of the way I see myself in the world. But hubby understood, and was supportive.

I continued to mull it over. Finally, I composed an email to two fabulous friends, Kirsten and Steph. I knew that they ran, and in fact Kirsten had invited me to try running with her a month prior to all of this. (Which is actually very significant because if Kirsten hadn't extended that invitation, I'm not sure if my glimmer of an idea would have been sparked at all.) Anyhow, I wrote an email describing my idea to run, and then my finger hovered over the "send" key. I hesitated a long time because I knew that sending that email meant I was making a commitment; I knew that they would be completely enthusiastic, and would sweep me up and off we'd go.

Which is exactly what happened. Very soon, Stephanie took me to a good running store (See Jane Run) to buy proper shoes. I felt dorky and self conscious in the store. When asked whether I was training for a particular event, or just casually running, I gave a long, rambling, incoherent answer... well, uh, I'm not really sure, I mean you know, uh, I'm thinking of maybe trying to try a (ahem) half (cough) marathon, but I've never, umm, you know, run, and I really don't know... and on and on. So embarrassing.

A few days after that, I laced up those shoes and went for my first run. I ran for 17 minutes - didn't want to overdo it! - and again, felt incredibly dorky and self conscious the entire time. Like everyone could take one look and tell that I was a faker, that I didn't have a clue what I was doing.

I know it probably seems silly that I felt so excruciatingly awkward about something as simple and commonplace as running, but for me, this was stepping far out of my comfort zone, far out of my own idea of who I am.

The Idea

by Suzy
First, I had an idea. And then, I was afraid.

The idea was this: to train and run a 1/2 marathon (13.1 miles) to raise awareness and funds for research into juvenile dermatomyositis, a terrible autoimmune disease that affects 3 children out of a million. A disease that affects my daughter.

Here's the backstory. Mielle was diagnosed nearly a year prior... so it had been months of doctor appointments, blood draws, and incredibly intense medications - steroids, chemotherapy, and others - with incredibly intense side effects - weight gain, moodiness and rage. At first she got better, but several months in she relapsed. She was getting worse again. We were panicked. We lost faith in her doctor. We found a new one, and Mielle started intravenous steroid treatments and weekly injections. She kicked and screamed herself hoarse with every poke of the needle.

Finally, finally, things began to turn around. Mielle improved. The new regime of meds was working. We were able to pull back on her steroid dose, ever so slowly, and the side effects began to decrease, ever so slowly. Things were going in a good direction.

And then I got an email from Shari Hume, co-founder of Cure JM, a parent and grandparent-led organization that funds research into this disease, and provides critical information and support to families like ours. In Shari's email, she asked me to consider participating in a run.

Cure JM is an invaluable resource for us in SO many ways. I already knew that the Carlsbad marathon was their major fundraising event. And in the past, I thought about running, and dismissed the idea... Yeah, I'll raise money, but I won't run. I CAN'T run. I mean, I have bad knees... I'm sure I do. (Not that I'd ever actually tried to run, mind you.) I really never gave it more thought than that. I'm no athlete. I'm not a runner; I don't run.

But somehow, on that particular day, for whatever reason, a little glimmer of a possibility flickered. Maybe I could run. Maybe I SHOULD run. Dealing with this disease had taken a huge emotional toll. Maybe running would help me cope. Maybe running would make me feel like something positive could come out of this ordeal, that one can be strong in the face of adversity. Maybe, by running, I could show Mielle that she is loved and supported beyond measure; that anything is possible; that SHE can do anything, in spite of this disease. Maybe...