Roadblocks

7.17.09

Week 2 of training is coming to a close and I am exhausted. I’m not sugar-coating it! I am not 100% sure what my body is trying to tell me right now (slow down, speed up, sleep, run), but all I know is that I want to find a soft, comfy bed and stay there for awhile. I somehow forgot the toll training takes on your body or maybe it’s the getting up at 4:20 a.m. in the morning to get my training runs in that is taking it’s toll on my body! Either way, I am arranging a training nap into my schedule this week!

Following what must have been a pretty fierce thunderstorm in the ‘burbs last night my run at Valley Green Trail this morning was speckled with lots of debris big and small, massive puddles and fogs of humidity. SM and I must have been the first visitors to the trail post-storm (no one else seems to be crazy enough to be out there running at 5:00 a.m.) and to add an even more exciting element to the run, the sun wasn’t quite up for the first 20 minutes of our run. We were trying to dodge the road blocks (trees – yes literally down trees, puddles, lots of mud and leaves) without seeing them until they were a pace or two ahead. This requires one to be way too alert so early in the morning!!

The exhaustion my body is feeling certainly played a role in my run this morning. I didn’t quite feel like pushing it too hard. I was questioning how long I could make it and at one point I realized I was begging in my head for it to just be over. That’s when my mind jolted to 2 months ago when all I wanted to do was run and I couldn’t. I would lace up my sneakers and attempt to walk a mile, my stomach would swell up, my pain would zip into full effect and I would go home and cry and wonder why the hell this happened to me and if I would be able to ever run again. Just a quick glimpse of those days this morning pushed me into motion and spurred me forward. It also forced me to reflect on how messy this whole recovery has been for me. I’ve had many road blocks, just like the debris all over the trail. There’s been nothing graceful about the past 7 months – in part because I didn’t want to accept what was happening to me, in part because I had no idea what was happening to my body, and in part because my body just wanted to rest and I wouldn’t let it.

I didn’t always know what to do when I hit a roadblock. I still don’t. I had so much hope coming out of the surgery that I would have a quick, painless recovery and that didn’t happen. I can’t look back now and say what I did right and what I did wrong when I hit those roadblocks. It’s not fair and it’s not going to change anything. I know things didn’t go as planned. All I can do now is know that I’m going to hit roadblocks in the future and it’s my choice how to deal with them.

SM and I had fun this morning jumping over trees, dodging puddles and sloping through mud. We made that our choice. We could have been angry that our shoes were muddy and our pants were splattered with water. We could have turned around when we saw the first tree across the path, but we didn’t and you know what – we have a pretty fun memory of the trail post-storm and we got a pretty great run out of all the dodges and jumps.

I know one thing that today taught me (outside of the fact that I need a nap) roadblocks are going to continue to happen in this recovery, but I’m ready for them now. I’m not looking back at the roadblocks I’ve hit, but I am going to remember they were there because I’ve learned a lot from them. That’s the only way I can move forward and moving forward to health and happiness is the only way I want to go – That’s my choice.

With Gratitude,

SFS

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Be nice…

7.10.09

My run went amazingly well this morning. After assuring SM on the car ride to Valley Green that I was going to “take it easy this morning” because my Wednesday run was quite a workout (shout out and big thanks to RK for a great run), it turned out that today’s run was “easy,” however it was one of the quickest and farthest training runs I have had so far.

Just as the thought crossed my mind, “Wow, we’re never going to get 3 miles in going the speed we are this morning,” SM called out that we were at mile 2 (thanks, Garmond) and should turn around soon to get to the car in time to get to the shelter – WHAT?! I was shocked – wait, how are we done 2 miles already? I feel great, my legs are in rhythm, my breathing is calm and to be honest, I don’t feel like I am working too hard here. We were running about 8 minute miles (when I told her I would probably do 10’s today just because I felt I needed to pull back) and I felt great. Now, this is after my last 4 -5 runs have felt terrible and I wanted to tap out at mile 1.5 (insert “damn surgery”). Matter of fact, after Wednesdays run I questioned whether I was being crazy to think that I could run a half marathon 7 months post abdominal surgery and the loss of 2 ½ abdominal muscles – isn’t your core pretty important to running?! What was happening here today?

For a girl that pushes herself in everything she does to do better, be better, work harder, reach higher, recover faster, I think I just found a little chunk of new motivation. What if by allowing myself to be average, to have a bad day, a slow run or a crabby attitude I did just the opposite – excelled, had a great day, a fast run and a contagious, happy attitude? If I could have a quarter, just a quarter, for the amount of times I have heard friends, family and honestly, strangers say, “Sera, you’re just too hard on yourself,” I would be rich. I know it. I would be sitting pretty in a mansion on a beach somewhere letting the breeze blow in my hair, guaranteed, courtesy of a bunch of shiny silver quarters. I always ignore these comments though because I feel my push, shoot for the starts and kill myself on the way attitude has been my motivation in life. It has gotten me where I am – out of the country, into the city working in finance, running races, living in a fabulous apartment, taking care of myself, but what if, what if my friends, family, and complete strangers were right? What if by not being so hard on myself I would still succeed and succeed past my wild imagination with tons of happiness in my life?

Hmmm….lets think about this – be nice to yourself, don’t beat yourself up when you screw up or have a bad run, or mess up that report, say the wrong thing or just need a little more sleep? Instead, let life happen, accept the inevitable, (bad days, stupid mistakes, and foot in your mouth comments) deal with these moments, maturely by learning from them and actually being grateful they happened – and in the end, achieve more, greater, better, bigger things?

Honestly – It scares me. This idea contradicts 27 years of tough, don’t let yourself down, keep going till your bleeding, discipline in this little head, but I can’t help but think that after today’s run I could be on to something. I can’t promise I’ll integrate this daily just yet, kids, and don’t hold me to it the next time you hear me complaining about not getting a workout in or eating that damn cookie. I’m just putting this out there, asking the question, and hoping the answer comes – maybe as easily as my run this morning. WOO HOO – Happy Friday!

With Gratitude,
SFS

The Hills of Life

*Note: Mondays and Fridays I will be doing my training runs before I go to the shelter for my Back on My Feet run (amazing organization – if you’re not in the know check out www.backonmyfeet.org) bright and early at 5 a.m. These runs will be in the suburbs, on the beautiful Valley Green trails, with my BOMF running buddy, SM. We’ve figured out that we beat the sun by getting there are 5 a.m. – watching the sun come out while running in the trees has been quite a treat!!

7.06.09

After a tough night sleep of tossing and turning, an early 4:30 a.m. alarm, and a detour route on the way to the 1st official training run I seemed to still find my pace and make it through the 1st 3 miles of my PDR journey – YAY! The route SM and I ended up taking was not easy this morning, but I’ve learned to embrace challenges this year, so I faced our hilly route head on. This new, hilly terrain of the suburbs is nothing like the flat, block by block path I am used to on my Philly city morning runs, but more a series of what seems like small mountains. And my not- so- in- running- shape-post-surgery body was not so happy with the hills (or the run to be quite honest) but my mind loved it!!

As I was pumping up what must have been mountain #16 (or really hill #7 – the exaggeration makes my legs feel a little better about the struggle) my legs were burning, breath getting heavy and body aching – it occurred to me that life is like a long run with a few hills throw in. You’re going along smoothly and out of nowhere life throws you a challenge (or hill). You’re never really ready for it and it seems unbearable at first. You have no idea how you’re going to get through it, and as you move through this challenge or “up the hill” it seems to get tougher and tougher to push forward. At some point you wonder, “Can I really make it through this? Could I possibly push anymore?”

Being in the heat of things always makes them feel worse then they are. I find myself questioning myself and my stamina when the challenge gets this tough and the answers just don’t seem to be lining up. What I’ve found is that just when you think the pain might be too unbearable, answers start to come or in my running case, you see the top of the hill. Given the glimpse of hope you somehow push to the peak. It hurts getting there – even though you can see it and solutions are coming – you know the happy ending, the “down hill glide” is close – it has to be. As you hit the peak and start your descend you feel the aches of what you just endured, but more then that you feel relief from the pressure you just put on yourself and your body and you can slightly smile because you got through it. By the time you’re at the bottom of the hill and you’re breath and cadence are slowly getting back to normal you exhale and realize that what you just went through, what just hurt like hell, really wasn’t that bad at all – or maybe it did hurt a lot, but it was so rewarding to get through it and you’re a little better of a person for having endured it. The pain was temporary and by enduring it you just allowed yourself to get a little stronger, a little faster and a little bolder – a little more confident.

Hill #16 reminded me of November 2008, December 2008, and January 2009 and how hard it was for me – the pain of surgery, the frustration of recovery and the heartache that went with all of it. At some points I thought I couldn’t push on. I questioned many times if it was too much for me to get through, but with the help of a lot of amazing friends and a small belief somewhere deep inside me that I could get through this I endured the difficult days, pushed through the fear, pain and sadness. I think I’m on the “decline” now. I pushing through “recovery” right off the peak of the hill and I am smiling because I got through the worst of it. I learned so much going through the pain – some of which I don’t think I’ve even realized yet. I’m pushing my body a little more everyday because I’m stronger, and boy oh boy, I can’t wait till I’m at the bottom of this hill looking up and saying thanks for the challenge, thanks for making me stronger – bring on mountain #17.

With Gratitude,
SFS

My Campaign: Running for Answers

Please donate at: http://www.active.com/donate/sera_dtrf

Mind is everything. Muscle – pieces of rubber. All that I am, I am because of my mind. ~Paavo Nurmi

After spending the better half of 2009 battling back from the removal of a des moid tumor in my abdomen I am ready to take on a new, more exciting feat – running the Philadelphia Distance Run in September 2009 . Over the last 5 years running has become a major passion in my life. It provides me time to reflect on my day, work through challenges I may be going through in my life and it also grants me a great deal of pride just to know that even when I am feeling tired, sore or lethargic I can push through and run that next mile. The sense of accomplishment I get from running is greater than I have ever had in my life. This is why it is so important for me to find my pace and finish this half marathon after the most difficult eight months of my life.

I was diagnosed with a desmoid tumor in November 2008. After a series of tests, doctor’s appointments and a lot endless days searching theinternet, library and reference books, I realized there was not a lot known about this rare tumor, and consequently, there were not a lot of options of dealing with it. Due to the aggressiveness of the tumor it was imperative that I had it removed from my abdominal wall as well as 5 cm margins of my abdominal muscle to be sure all traces were gone. To say that this surgery and the pain following it was extremely traumatic for me is an understatement. Losing a part of your abdominal muscles (or any muscle for that fact), I have learned is a very painful, scary, frustrating process. After months of fighting through the rehab and recovery I still endure the pain that this surgery left me with, but I vow to work through this and be stronger.

I am running this race in part as a phase of my healing process, of getting my life and stride back and proving to myself that I can do this and in part to support and raise awareness for others in thedesmoid community that continue to battle these tumors. The recurrence rate is high for desmoidsand unfortunately many have been fighting recurrences for years, trying surgery, radiation, chemo and multiple medications to eliminate these terrible masses. We need more answers, we need more research, we need more awareness fordesmoid tumors. The Desmoid Tumor Research Foundation is devoted solely to the advancement of research for the desmoidcommunity. It became a lifeline of information for me and my family over the past few months and one of the only places we were able to find answers to our questions, fears and concerns.

As I embark on the difficult (yet very exciting) task of getting back in shape for this half marathon, 3 abdominal muscles short, thanks to my surgery, I ask for your support by donating to the Desmoid Research Tumor Foundation on my behalf. Please join my fight for answers, for information and for health.

Find more information about Desmoid Tumor Research Foundation at: http://www.dtrf.org

Thank you for your generous donations and support of my health and my future.

First Post!

Welcome to my first blog! As I scratch my way back from a difficult surgery and recovery period and train for my first post-abdominal surgery half marathon I am inviting you to get inside my head as I run. I have found over the past year that many of the best ideas, revelations and reflecting of my life come to me when I am running. So, as motivation to get through the next few months of training and as an outlet to release a lot of the mental garbage that sits in my mind I will be blogging weekly to keep you updated on my progress. I hope you enjoy and feel free at any time to comment where you feel your thoughts would help!

With Gratitude,
SFS

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