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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Zero Days Left! ING Here I Come!


At this time tomorrow I will be trucking it on the streets of Atlanta, proudly sporting my purple on the race course - capital P, PURPLE, of course. For the last week, I've been so jittery with nervous energy - good energy. I feel like I've had 100 cups of coffee every day this week. As I sit here writing this, my leg is pumping up and down. Ok, so maybe I've had a few too many cups of java this morning, but I can't help it! I think I've stared a hole into the little purple race-day counter sitting here to the right. I remember loading the gadget on my blog back in November thinking - March is long way away!

I also remember walking into the TNT informational meeting that month, wondering what was really involved in this Team In Training thing. There wasn't a question whether I would do it. Back in early October I spent a wonderful weekend with Eve and amazing friends in the North Georgia mountains. It was the Thursday before Eve's wedding and we were gathering for her blessing way - a blessing celebration for the bride, and I think it had only been a few weeks since we first learned Eve had lymphoma. At a blessing way, it's traditional to give the bride a personal gift --not something that's purchased, but something that is meaningful to your relationship or symbolizes your friendship. My gift to her was completing this race in her honor. I would train for the ING, raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through TNT and share my journey with her.

Eve has been so open and raw in sharing this grueling and life-changing experience through her own blog and it's touched me beyond words, but most of all it helped me in my training, serving as a constant reminder to push through. I'm so thankful to know that Eve's journey is in a good place and she is cancer free!! So it's all this that I will take to the start of the race tomorrow and through to the end.

So, I'm ready to do this! I've gone through my mental and physical check lists. I'm staying at the Omni Hotel downtown tonight, so I can roll out of bed, meet my awesome TNT teammates and walk down to the finish line. I'm ready and my bags are packed. I've learned that your personal, tried-and-tested gear preferences and training rituals are really important. I've been warned this is not the week to try anything new! Contents include:

1. Purple TNT jersey, personalized with "I (heart) Eve"
2. Favorite Nike Dri-fit capri running pants
3. Favorite Saucony running shoes and Thorlo socks
4. Tested undergarment - yes, in purple
5. TNT cap to show Purple People pride (and who am I kidding, I need to hide race-day hair)
6. Not-too-tasty, but necessary, packets of Gu for electrolyte replenishment
7. Pre-race Elvis breakfast: bagel/peanut butter/banana
8. Anti-chafing agent (I have been warned, chafing = so not good)
9. Post-race anti-inflammatory/pain-relieving meds, creams, etc.
10. Big ol' dose of excitement and pride!

I want to first and foremost thank my coaches Ed and Marie and team mentors, Carol, Bruce and Beth, for their amazing support, guidance and inspiration! It takes a lot of hours and dedication to lead the team through months of training - in the worst weather, no less. Their encouragement has meant so much to me. Also, to my amazing friends, family, co-workers, as well as Eve and Michael's families, who supported me with their hearts and wallets!! You made my goal possible and I hope you know all your dollars are going to a great cause to fight blood cancers. To all those battling cancer and beating it - keep going, you have an army of people who love you and are pushing for you.

And thank you for following along - I hope all of you will consider joining the TNT program whever you are - you CAN do it! If you feel inspired, check out the TNT/LLS links to find out more.

Well, that's all folks! I'll be posting a post-race report!
Peace and love,

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Whew, I don't suck

This week it started to hit me. It's two weeks before the T-H-E, race. This is the culmination of my training since I began way back in November and I can't believe where I am. Thinking back, I didn't know how much hard work was before me. As they say, sometimes ignorance is bliss. It's like today...I really didn't think my bum knee would ever make it past a 10K, but lo and behold I did 10 miles! I'm not going to lie, there were times over the last few months when I thought - "Way to go, Karen, what have you gotten yourself into?" But I must say the mental, and not to mention, physical pay-off has been beyond great. Being goal-driven helps. I'm much more likely to stick to something once I have it in my sight...that, and a dose of huge motivation to help Eve and so many others kick cancer in the arse certainly helps.

So here I am today, sitting on my arse and resting after a hard run - the longest I've ever run, in fact. Today all the Atlanta-area TNT teams met at Chastain Park for a massive group run/training. It was energizing seeing the sea of purple power out there early this morning - friends and strangers high-fiving each other in solidarity, giving pats of encouragement and running their hearts out.

I'll be totally honest, though, I actually was pretty nervous about getting through 10 miles today. Did I mention I had never run that far -- ever? I only got up to 8 miles and I really needed this under my belt to feel I could do this half-marathon. I've struggled with knee pain for so long, that I had been having little twinges of panic -- what if I fail and don't/can't finish? How incredibly disappointed would I be if, after all this time and effort, let Eve and all my supporters down? I didn't sleep well last night and my stomach was turning on the drive to the park this morning. When I got there, it was cold but the sun was shining like crazy (very unusual lately) and we were on a beautifully scenic route. Because this was not our usual training location, we had turn-by-turn directions with no indication of the miles at each turn. This ended up being a god-send because I wasn't obsessing about how miles left to go. Luckily I was with three other awesome teammates which made the time pass easily. (Shout outs to Kristen, Jessie and Dale...woo-hoo! Here's a pic)

Don't get me wrong, I'll crawl across the finish line on March 21st if I have to, but I've learned that running is almost just as much a mental feat as it is a physical one. Needless to say - doing 10 was hard, but it feels so good to put it past me. All I can say is: I don't suck, and I can really do this.

Now, off to my reward -- a pedicure. I think I'll choose purple.