Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Beyond What is Possible

What a week! Just glad to have made it through relatively unscathed. I got in a few good runs before James had surgery on Thursday and the rest of the week was run when you can. James is the priority so weeks like this its not about the 100 miler that's looming a month away or the new trail that is beckoning...nope its all about the boy.

I knew after Thursday running may be questionable so I put in some quality miles early in the week. I made a concerted effort not to push too hard and felt good. My stride felt smooth and easy. I feel like I'm in a good place running-wise. I'm not completely confident that I will be peaking right, but I'm trying to remind myself, I'm not trying to win Leadville, just cross the finish line.

Wednesday night we said goodbye to Dan's parents and headed down to Denver since we had to be at the hospital so early on Thursday. Thursday we checked in and headed to the surgery center. We actually hadn't been here before. When James got his tubes we were just in the procedure center.James was of course thinking it was the greatest day ever since everyone was playing with him and we were all just hangining out. When it was finally time to leave him it was so hard not to keep going in for one more kiss. I'm sure the nurses are used to it and really I didn't care. I didn't want to leave my boy.

Rocking his hospital gown
Everything ended up going well. He had a sleep endoscopy, adenoidectomy, supraglattoplasty, bronchoscopy with lavage, tear duct tubes. So basically they scoped his airway as he fell asleep and noticed his adenoids were a bit enlarged and epiglottis wasn't laying quite flat. The ENT called me at this point for consect of the adenoidectomy and supraglattoplasty. In the background I could hear my boy waking up. Heartbreaking. As we expected the bronchoscopy revealed significant inflammation in his lungs. James is now on steroids to resolve the inflammation. There goes his sports career! During the opthamology part, yes as it has been said before James is complicated and requires three part surgeries, they were able to get one stent placed. However, his left eye doesn't have any tear ducts. For now we'll just wait and see how his left eye does, but at some point he may need to have a tear duct constructed.
Getting back to himself
Because of the adenoidectomy and supraglattoplasty James had to spend the night at Children's. He spent most of the rest of Thursday sleeping while Dan and I watched over him. It reminded me of the days in the NICU. Dan and I sitting there on our computers jumping up at every coo James made. Ready to hold his hand or rub his back at a moments notice. Dan headed home to take care of Seamus and I took care of the boy for the night. As I watched a beautiful sunset over the mountains from James window I was reminded all was right with the world. Friday James was getting back to himself. A woman came by in the morning asking if James would like some toys to play with. It was like she knew him because she came back with his favorite ball and another one of his favorite toys. He immediately lit up and started playing. A bit later another woman came to the door to ask if James could have a visitor. In came a  therapy dog. I signed 'dog' to James and he lit up. The kid may not sign back, but he certainly knows what some signs mean. I sat him on my lap and he held out his hand for the dog to lick. It was so sweet to see. Finally after much drama we were discharged and breaking out of the hospital.

The rest of the weekend was still tough, making sure James was eating enough and getting enough pain meds. Saturday I was in desparate need of getting out of the house so I went for a quick run at Flying J. Sunday I was still worried about the boy and not wanting to go too far from home I opted for 15 miles on the treadmill. Arg...

Well we got through a tough week. My miles may not be where I hoped they would be, but I forced myself beyond what I thought I could handle. People keep saying to me they don't know how I can handle weeks like this. How I can watch my lil guy go through so much. Well we all do what we have to do. We do what's best for our family. And you know what I've learned. I can push so much further than what I've ever thought possible. I'm pretty sure that's about as good as it gets when it comes for training.

"Our limits today may not be where they were yesterday, or where we hope they will be tomorrow. But it is today that counts. And sometimes even in 'today' we can go beyond what we think is possible!" -Lizzy Hawker

Week July 22 - 28

Miles Running: 35
Hours Hiking and Running: 6

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

One Step At A Time

James playing at the RDS booth
Despite the craziness this week I did pretty well getting my miles in. This week was the National Down Syndrome Congress in Denver. On top of that some exciting news on the research front came out this week. Of course with the research came some interesting discussions about how far this research will go. In the new study the researcher was able to "turn off" the extra chromosome in a petri dish. While this is extremely exciting to me it is still such a long ways from having practical applications for our kids. For me any research is exciting and promising and we'll just have to see as we go. No I don't want to change who James is, but if I can take away the cognitive delays, the medical issues...then yeah I'm all for whatever treatment it is.

It has been brought up to me that this research may lead to "getting rid" of Down syndrome. Personally I think we're a ways off of that with the new research. I think prenatal testing is doing a much better job of getting rid of Ds than turning off a chromosome is doing. But who am I to really say. I love my little guy with two or three 21st chromosomes. He's James. He's not Down syndrome. He's not a cause, not a disease, not a syndrome. He's James! He's James who needs a little extra time to learn things, needs a little extra help breathing, a little extra help from doctors and therapists. But he'll get there with everything...I keep reminding myself of this. I want him to live a life just like any other little boy out there, playing in the mud, bringing home worms and in general bringing utter chaos to our home. If there's a drug that comes out that will help him do all these things, be more independent, learn and communicate better that's pretty frickin' amazing!

My chigger bites!
It was another really hot, muggy week. Monday I had the brilliant idea of running Green Mountain. I say brilliant because the backside from my office is totally overgrown. It wasn't so bad going up but as I cruised down the blades were slicing my thighs and really stung. I didn't think much of it other than that it hurt right then but I thought it was just the blades slicing my legs. That was until Tuesday I couldn't stop itching my legs. From my ankles to short line they were covered in chigger bites! Over the weekend I ran my 19 mile loop again. I was a bit disappointed it wasn't as fast as I was hoping, but got to the car and realized it was 95 so I figure not too bad considering how hot it was. I also didn't have any stomach problems so I think I'm starting to get a good plan for my nutrition that seems to be working for my body. Race day is coming quick!

So this week I ran with a bit more in my heart. Having NDSC in Denver this week I was reminded on every run why I am doing this. Why I'm running this crazy Leadville 100 mile run. One step at a time I will make it through each of those 100 miles. And one step at a time we'll get closer to some therapies that will make a difference in James life.

Week July 15 - 21

Miles Running: 47.0
Hours Running and Hiking: 9

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Grittiness Factor

"Within each one of us is a well of grit, gut, determination and resolve" -Ken Chlouber

Lately I've been thinking quite a bit about how I am possibly going to finish the Leadville 100. I'm not the most experienced runner, the strongest or fastest. I don't log the most miles, practice on the course everday or even get up to high altitude much. But I still have this confidence that I can finish this race. So what is it? What is that magical factor that makes me think I have what it takes? And then I remembered an aritcle I read in irunfar a few years ago. It was about the grittiness factor.

You can't teach grittiness, you certainly can't buy it, but it can improve over time. It comes from some place deep inside that you can't really explain, but it doesn't allow you to quit. I know I have grit. And Dan probably has more grit than anyone I know. I can't see him ever just quitting. He may not radiate sunshine and optimism, but when it comes to James and running he is optimistic, determined and full of grit. He was the one who never gave up believing James would heal his heart! At Silver Rush this past weekend there were some really rough and brutal conditions. I knew he was tired, sore and hurting, but I never once doubted I would see him cross the red carpeted finish line. No Dan was going to gut it out. Sometimes I wish I could bottle up some of his grit and take it with me.

So I have to trust the process. The reality is I work full-time, mom to James, which requires a little bit extra and I'm trying to run 100 miles. I know from other people I've read about training that 50 mile weeks is good enough for running ultras, some even say they don't recommend going over 60. All I can do now is keep logging the miles and getting myself mentally prepared for this journey.

I'm not totally sure where the past couple weeks have gone. I've logged some good miles though. I"m finally getting over my post-marathon cold that slowed me down a bit. Dan and I have still been running in the mornings which has been a nice treat for both of us. We slogged through the bug infested marsh at Deer Creek one day. I fought the heat at Falcon one afternoon. Continued my love hate relationship with segment 3 of the Colorado Trail...that section is just so runnable and hilly at the same time. But the day I was out there there were so many other runners, giving high 5s and words of encouragement to each other that you forgot about the 30 hills you hard just run over.

I think James may have inherited Dan and my grittiness! He has finally started army crawling and can nearly push himself to sit. He just gets this look of pure determination on his face and pushes himself so far. I've often thought I can't really tell if James looks like Dan or I, but then I see that determined look and yep, he's definitely our lil kiddo! When he gets himself up to sit he gets the biggest smile I think I've ever seen on his face...he's knows how hard he worked and is so excited he did something on his own. I love seeing that in him!

Week July 1 - 7

Miles Running: 43
Hours Hiking and Running: 8

Week July 8 - 14

Miles Running: 52.5
Hours Hiking and Running: 9


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Leadville Trail Marathon Race Report

James and Robert, what the weekend was all about
Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Jansen
I've been waiting for the Leadville marathon for the past year. And really for the past 10 months it's been one of my goal races. So it was almost hard to believe it was finally the time to run. All the hard work and training I'd done was now about to be put to the test. I spent most of the week trying to tell myself not to put too much pressure on myself, that this was just a race, like all the other races I'd competed in. But let's be honest, this wasn't a race like all the others I'd competed. This race was for Rob.

Friday Dan and I loaded up and headed for Leadville. As we drove down 285 it was hard not to think about the fact that Rob really wasn't here to run it. I could almost hear him going over all the details of the race, our strategies, goals and most of all how many peanut butter balls it would take to fuel us for the race as we ran one last training run together.

We got to Leadville, grabbed some pizza from Mountain High Pies and headed to registration. The Jansen's were getting their bibs at the same time. Hugs, kisses and tears were all exchanged as we prepared for the race, both emotionally and physically.

Finally it was Saturday morning. My alarm went off at 5:15 so I could eat, pump, get the boy ready, get myself ready and get to the starting line. At 7:45 we made our way the two blocks to the starting line. As we approached 6th I heard the announcer talking about Rob, the great race he ran the year before and everyone that was running for him this year. I choked back the tears knowing I had to focus on the task at hand. Tears could come when I crossed the finish line, but no sooner. I had 26.2 miles and 3 climbs ahead of me...there was no time to cry. Dan and I lined up near the front, knowing we needed to get a good spot before the trail bottlenecked. As the national anthem played I took a deep breath, thought about what lay ahead of me and reminded myself to take it easy. Slow and steady up the climbs, then bomb the down hills. Before I knew it the gun went off and we were on our way toward Ball Mountain.

I made it to the dirt road in just over 6 minutes, a bit faster than I had anticipated. I kept a steady climb and was feeling good as we approached aid station A for the first time. About a mile from the aid station I looked at my watch and thought I was way ahead of where I should be so I backed off a bit and took it pretty easy. Of course when I got to aid A I was behind where I wanted to be. I got into A at 48:04, 46:00 was my goal time. I topped off my water and headed for Ball. Looking back I now realize I didn't push myself nearly enough on this section. I didn't know the course and I'm used to 50s so I held back more here than I really should have. Funny to think that this was my 13th marathon, but first trail one and first marathon in over 2 years. I got back to A, now 5 minutes behind my goal time, and knew I was behind, but also knew I had a couple miles down before the climb up Mosquito so I had to stay conservative. As I left A the volunteers said I was in 4th, I thought I was in 7th or 8th, but I also knew it was early. My plan was to make my move on the downhill. Just hold your position I thought as I headed to Mosquito.

Mosquito was actually one of the highlights for me, even though it took 10 minutes longer than I had hoped. I know this sounds strange. But we merged with the half marathoners and got to see the lead marathoners coming down. At aid station B I grabbed some gu brew, topped off my water and headed for the mountain. Near the bottom I came up on Shelagh, Bill and Susan. It was great to see them and their cheers pushed me up faster. It seemed like I kept coming upon one Rob runner after another. I tried to cheer on each person I saw in a Rob shirt, whether I knew them or not. It motivated me more!

And then I began to realize I hadn't seen the lead women yet. I couldn't be that far behind. I kept counting, okay well if I haven't seen them yet I'm within 2 miles, a mile and a half, a mile. It was around this point I also saw Bill, Peggy, Elizabeth, Sarah, Jason, and Adele. Seeing each one of them pushed me uphill even faster. Half a mile from the top I saw two women coming down, but I knew there was one I hadn't seen. Had she dropped, did I miss her? Didn't matter, push on. I topped out on Mosquito and there was Susan. We hugged and then she pushed me back on down the mountain.

Here was where I knew I had to go, and really my times for the last sections were just about right where I had planned. This is my strong area so I had to push it. I kept one eye on the trail and the other on all the people still coming up. It was a bit like a ping pong game, darting around all the runners heading up and bouncing from rock to rock. I saw David nearing the top, high 5ed Ben just behind him and gave a kiss to Dan who was just behind Ben. I heard Dan yell at me that I was in 4th and it was time to GO! I continued pushing it downhill. I passed Elizabeth, Sarah, Peggy, Bill, Susan, Shelagne and Bill again as I continued down. Their endless words of encouragement were a huge help. I refueled at B and then took off back toward Ball.

I was a bit nervous about this section. I knew it was a grinder. A gradual uphill to Ball, where I'd have a good climb before finally making my way back into Leadville. I took it nice and easy, trying to maintain a steady pace. About a mile and a half from B I saw one of the girls ahead of me, she was walking backward up a small incline. I knew immediately she was hurting, but that voice in the back of my head was creeping up telling me to stay behind her until a downhill, that I couldn't hold 3rd on an up. But I kept running. I channeled my Rob legs even more, I looked to the darkening skies that thankfully had kept the temperatures relatively low, and I told Rob I would win this climb for him! So I pushed it, steady, up that hill, passing the girl and moving into 3rd. I nervously kept one eye looking over my shoulder to see where she was. In my head she was right there, ready to pass me at any moment, so I kept charging. I hit aid A for the 3rd time and realized I couldn't see her anymore. But she was probably just around the corner. I grabbed a gu, some coke and topped off my water bottle and headed for Ball.

The climb back around Ball wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I actually should have ran harder here, but I knew I just needed to hold my position.I cruised back into A, grabbed another cup of coke and asked if I was in 3rd. I knew I had the big downhill and if I was really only in 4th this was where I had to take 3rd. They all said no I'm pretty sure 2nd. Did the one girl drop? How was I in 2nd? No time to worry about it, just go. I lost another 2 minutes on this section and was ready to make it up.

At this point I was pretty sure I would make the podium, but that wasn't going to keep me from hammering the last 4 miles. I pushed it like crazy down that hill. The only person to pass me in the back half caught me here, which was a bit disappointing, but if I only got passed by one person that was pretty darn good. Before he passed me we did manage a short discussion on the beer selection at the finish and were not impressed with the change from Dales to Michelob ultra, aka flavored water. Before I knew it I crossed the small strip of asphalt Dan had pointed out to me the night before. Okay you're almost there, now time to really turn it on. My last 2 miles were at a 7 min pace, which I was pretty pleased with. I also ran this last section in basically 30 min flat, I had anticipated 32 minutes, so this was the best section of the day! Crazy how I've turned into an ultra runner and manage to get faster throughout a marathon. If I can manage to get my pace dialed in for trail marathons I think I can be fairly sucessful at this distance.

I finally hit the asphalt and knew I would be turning onto 6th shortly. I breathed a sigh of relief, I knew at this point I was going to do it, I was going to make that podium I had been dreaming about for a year. Rob said he wanted the podium, he thought he could do it, well here it was...Rob's podium. I charged down the street toward the finish line, the red carpet coming into view. As I crossed the finish line I heard the announcer saying I was the third female. I did it! I made the podium for Rob and I knew he was smiling down at me.

Peggy was standing there cheering as I crossed the finish line and wrapped me in a huge hug. We just stood there crying and hugging, the tears I had held back all day could finally be unleashed. And then Haley handed me James and my tears for Rob turned into tears for James. Peggy and I relishing the moment of the past, the future and the present. Now it was time to celebrate! Everyone was hugging and cheering and it was a pretty special time. Something I'll never forget.

This race wasn't perfect, not by any means. Sure I took 3rd, but my time was slower than I had really hoped for. But not having a perfect race means you have a learning opportunity. I definitely learned a lot from this race. I learned that my well of running reserves is a hell of a lot deeper than I thought. That I need to not be afraid to push myself, I started to slow and should have pushed the initial ups faster. I also learned that knowing the course is a huge advantage. You know where you can push, where to hold back, what's coming up. This is something I'll have to work on. While I've seen the 100 course, I still have a lot to learn. Good thing is it looks like I'll have an opportunity for a double crossing of Hope pretty soon.

While I have a lot to learn there are some things I did well. I managed my nutrition well at altitude, even though I had a few twinges of stomach pains, I handled it well so it wasn't constant. I passed a girl on an uphill and held that position, something I've definitely struggled with in the past. And I didn't run myself into the ground in the first half. In road marthons I usually push too hard at the beginning and have really struggled during miles 18-22. This time I may have had a bit too much left in the tank at the end, but with a 100 coming up that's way better than destroying myself in the first 10 miles.

My goals were to run a 4:40 and take top 3 for women. I ran a 4:57:59 and took 3rd. So I didn't make my time goal, but I did still take top 3 so overall a solid performance.

This is Leadville, this is what it is all about. Challenge yourself, push yourself, and never, ever, ever give up! And if you do...you just might surprise yourself with your results!

Dan PRing by 50 minutes!

James loves staring at the pretty ladies!

Momma love!

James and Peggy

First in my age group
I got my gold pan!

Elizabeth getting ready to make a run for it with James!

Week June 24 - 30

Miles Running: 50.0
Hours Hiking and Running: 10