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Team Challenge, Las Vegas, December 2nd, 2012

Hey remember me? I used to blog here. LIfe got in the way and I’ve been a little MIA.

While I was gone I ran this little race called The Las Vegas 1/2 Marathon, oh you know, NBD.

Check that. It was a total big deal. Here’s how it went.

We arrived in Vegas on Friday and the race wasn’t until Sunday night. I had never been to Vegas before so I was pretty pumped to see the city and try to soak it all in. Friday night my team went out to Senior Frog’s and had dinner. I sat at the table with two of my teammates who I didn’t really know. Through the meal and conversations, I realized that I actually knew of my teammates. Well…kinda knew her.

Sometime last year, or maybe even two years ago my sister was getting her hair done at a new salon. Because my family talks about my butt as much as I do, she revealed to her hair dresser that I had UC and MS and that I blogged about it. The hairdresser revealed she also had UC and my sister encouraged her to check out my blog and connect with me because the salon is only a few miles from my house so we must live close to one another. Well, the hair dresser never emailed but it was a cool story nevertheless.

Michelle and I

Fast forward to Senior Frog’s and the hairdresser is Michelle, my teammate sitting across from me at the table. I don’t know if there has ever been a more serendipitous moment in my life.

Saturday night was the pasta party, which is a lot of carbs and inspirational talk. It was nice, a bit of sensory overload, but nice. After we left there, we went to a Cirque show. I chose to see Zumanity because if there is a show with acrobatics AND nudity, I’m all in. It was pretty amazing. Sunday rolled around and the nerves started. The worst part was that the race didn’t start until like 4pm, so I had all day to sit around and be nervous. Normally when I run, I dont eat, or I eat very little before because I don’t want to have to poop especially for long distances. Well this plan was totally shot because our race wasn’t until the evening. I knew that I couldn’t skip all meals before the race so I was really nervous about what to eat. So I went with the safe breakfast foods, soft stuff, everything I’ve ate before and there was no issues. I had walked around a lot the days previous to the race, and my feet were hurting a little so that Sunday morning and afternoon I just sat around in our baller hotel room and lounged in my comfy bed, napped and watched some tv. As race time approached, I really didn’t want to do it. I was worried about my knee and my lack of training and I just wanted to not show up, and just pretend like I wasn’t there for TC.
I’m dumb.

Begrudgingly I started to put on my race clothes, which I fretted over. Too warm? Too cold? Too tight? Not enough pockets? It almost felt like I had never ran before in my life. I was so nervous.

Finally I was out of time. I put on the rest of my clothes, my RFID shoe tag and walked downstairs to meet my team to take the bus to the starting line. This was it. I got down there, and started chatting with my team, and I realized I was ready. I was calm. I was happy. I even had a wonderful young lady who follows me on twitter come up to me and chat with me.

Then I got the phone call. I had actually put on the wrong piece for the RFID tag on my shoe. It was up in my room. The bus was outside and if I didn’t have it, then I wouldn’t have any timing for the race. It wouldn’t even register that I ran it all at. So I panicked. I had to get up to my room and back before my team got on the bus and that was just impossible. Someone told me there would be more busses so I just had to run and hope that I’d catch a bus, if not…I wouldn’t be racing at all. I hauled balls, got the tag, got back and caught the last bus with Team Florida. Crisis averted, although I was panicked and flustered and not cool and collected which was not good. I got to the race, and I couldn’t find anyone from my team, but I did find Lauren from Forward is a Pace, who is responsible for talking me into doing TC.

I waited in line for the bathroom for what seemed like forever, was worried I’d miss the start of the race, and when I got out I saw that my corral was WAY down the line. Balls. So I literally ran to catch up to them. I got to chatting with some more people while we waiting for the start of the race. I had the Girls with Guts symbol on the back on my running singlet, and I had a few people tell me they knew about GWG, which was really cool.

The start line was in sight and as I approached the wind had picked up to what seemed like 50 MPH. It was like a damned tornado out there, dirt and dust flying everywhere with a particular affinity for my eyeballs. But then the gun sounded and it was time to run. The sun had already set, the temperature was chilly but got comfortable when I started to move and as I moved it felt good. I was passing a lot of people, saw many of my teammates and that was really cool. The lights in Vegas at night are amazing and having the whole main strip closed so we could run down it was a really cool experience.

I’ll be honest, I felt like I was killin’ it. I had a great pace. I felt strong, I wasn’t walking. It was like the stars were aligning for me to run the race of my life. The miles were falling away and I felt super good, but then I slowly began to hit a wall. So I ate some GU and kept on chuggin. Along the way I passed a chapel and noticed a TC singlet on the person getting married and I was like “oh cool! Getting married during the race!”. I looked closer, and realized it was one of my teammates. So I stopped running to watch their ceremony, which was awesome. Over all in the race, I stopped once for a bathroom break which was SO awesome. Around mile 8 or 9 things started to get hard. I walked for the first time, which was amazing to me. Like I said, I felt like I was killin’ it. I knew that it was just a matter of the mental battle at this point, that keeping my head in the game was all that was between me and finishing.

I chowed down some more GU, and just kept on crusin. My knees started to hurt a bit, my hips were a little achey, but nothing like how they were in the past. I got to this point where it was much easier to run than walk. Walking was painful, and threw off every rhythm I had. I could see the finish line way in the distance and I knew I was close but it was like one of those trick finish lines where it looks close but you’re in Vegas where buildings are huge and you have no real depth perception. The finish line was far. I started getting annoyed, I wanted to be done. It felt good and I was really proud of myself but I was tired.

Finally. I was there. I was disappointed when there were no fireworks upon my crossing of the finish line. There was no medley sang just for me and no dance crew out there. Not even a damn reporter. Total bullshit. But there were 1,000 photographers shoving cameras in my face as I tried to get to the end of finisher’s section. Every single race photo is awful by the way, which is just super.

So…I did it. I didn’t die. I even liked it. The next day I was sore for sure. I walked all kinds of funny but everyone else at the airport did too, so we all knew it was the 1/2 marathon pimp walk.

I did not hit my goal. My goal was under 3 hours and my time was 3 hours and 3 minutes. When I take into account that I stopped to watch a wedding, I think I would have hit my goal, which is just mildly frustrating. Overall. I think I did pretty well, and I was really surprised at how far I pushed my body and for once, it didn’t push back.

I’m not going to lie…all the training on Saturday mornings and in the heat or the cold…was worth it. That feeling of accomplishment was pretty intoxicating. Everyone is congratulating you, and there was this overwhelming pride of knowing where I had started in 2009 with UC and where I just finished. In Vegas. After a 1/2 Marathon.

It was the ultimate “suck it” to colitis. I was really proud of myself, which is often hard to accomplish when you often feel like a leach on those in your life. TC is really about hitting your own goals and competing with yourself. Sure, I wanted to hit my goal, but I wasn’t racing anyone else there. I was so focused on myself and my run that no one else mattered.

I had a lot of people come up to me before, during, and after the race when they recognized the GWG logo on my back and that was really amazing. Sometimes Charis and I sit here behind our screens thinking that GWG resonates with people, but it wasn’t until I was around people who knew about us that it really rang true. That was an added bonus to the weekend.

Am I done with TC? I thought I would be. I might be. But it comes to Chicago in June…and that might just be too close to turn down 🙂

 

 

The power of playlists

Team Challenge update: I started running again this week. Thursday I did three miles and I thought I’d die. Seriously…I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t run and everything hurt and everything sucked. I just kept feeling like a giant failure. So this past Saturday was our last TC group training session. We were slated to run 8 miles but my trainer suggested that I limit it to just 6 because I’m still nursing the knee. And I was all “Oh really? Just 6 miles? Oh right considering the 3 that I ran just about killed me”. I had to wake up at 6:30 in order to get to training on time because its an hour away. The whole drive there I was just doubting myself. I felt like people would be judging me, and that I was totally just fooling myself. When I got there it was 32 degrees outside…and super windy.

Then it started snowing.

And I was all “I know, God. I got it, I SHOULDN’T RUN EVER”

I was getting dramatic, but the truth of the matter is that I was and am scared about the 1/2 which is now almost exactly a week away. Almost to the hour.

So I start walking..and the wind was blowing my face off and I was angry and freezing balls, so I start running so I don’t start to lose my limbs in what felt like the Arctic Tundra. And I ran. And ran. And ran…and I ran almost all of that 6 miles without stopping.

It was slow. But I did it, and it only hurt a little. And I felt good about it because I remembered how to breathe and how I like to run. I remembered my stride and I started to have fun again. I enjoyed running again on Saturday and a large part of that is due to the little hidden messages I put into my play list.

My running playlist only grows. I don’t take songs off, just add them. The current playlist is 30 songs long…and when it starts to repeat I’m not mad. So here is my current playlist and a few notes about why certain songs are important. Also, I shuffle it everytime so this is in no particular order.

 

Thunderstruck  – ACDC

Bad Romance – Lady Gaga

Ocean Avenue – Yellowcard

This Love – Maroon

Life Of A Salesman- Yellowcard

E.T.-  Katy Perry (This song often helps me find my pace. It seems to be the right BPM for me)

Comeback Kid – Sleigh Bells (Never fails that the iTunes gods always have this one play right when I need a second wave of energy)

Harder To Breathe – Maroon 5 (This song helps me remember to breathe. Always makes me smile too when I get all angry that I can’t breathe)

Fighter – Christina Aguilera (What woman doesn’t love this song? This song always makes me feel like I’m a total bad ass. You know in the beginning she says “After all you put me through, you’d think I’d despise you, but in the end I want to thank you because you made me that much stronger.” And this is always my little running pep talk to myself about IBD. The things I tell myself while running get totally absurd.

Independent –  Webbie Ft Lil Boosie (This song is a jam. ‘Nuff said)

Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac (You guys know that I clearly love this song)

Way Away – Yellowcard 

Breathing – Yellowcard (See a trend here about reminding myself to breathe correctly)

Dance With Me – 112 (There is clapping in this song. I always clap with it. It makes me laugh and keeps me happy)

Twentythree – Yellowcard

Pressing On – Relient K (Never fails…when I get angry or I’m ready to give up, this song comes on. Almost always in the last few miles of my run.)

Believe – Yellowcard

Fixed At Zero – VersaEmerge – The verse of this song goes like this:

There’s a vulture on my shoulder
And he’s telling me to give in
Always hissing right in my ear
Like it’s coming from my own head
It’s got me mixed up
Trying not to give up
Tell me there’s a way to get out of here
Oh, fixed at zero!

I never really thought a lot about this song, until one day I was having the worst run ever. I kept telling myself how hard it was and how much I was not cut out to run long distances. This song came on in one of those moments…and it threw it right in my face that my biggest competition is myself. I am the only one who has told me that I can’t do this. This song is an attitude check.

Miles Apart – Yellowcard

Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been – Relient K (This one just has a good message)

Let Me See Your Hips Swing-  Savage

TiK ToK – Ke$ha

to da window,to da wall –  Lil Jon

Wall To Wall-  Chris Brown

We No Speak Americano – Yolanda Be Cool & DCUP (Good song whenever you need a pickup or are feeling tired)

7 All I Do Is Win – DJ Khaled (ft. Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross & T-Pain) (All I do is win. Bam. Also…my hands always go up when that part of the song comes up. I’m a run dancer.)

Belly Dancer –  Akon

Dance In The Dark – Lady Gaga (My favorite Gaga song)

 

So a lot of the songs on there are just the right BPM for my pace. It took a while to find the right ones that weren’t too fast or too slow but this playlist works pretty well for me. I also did not put any of those songs on there (except Fighter) for any purpose other than I liked the songs. It was from listening to them over and over while running that it was some kind of fate that they found their way onto my playlist and always seem to play at the right time.

Are you going to Vegas with TC next week? If so I’m going to try to organize a big photo with all the internet friends I’ve made!

Thanks for always reading and supporting me.

 

 

Tough consequences…

Today is November 18th, and my half marathon with Team Challenge is oh so very close. Like 14 days away from today close. At this point I’m supposed to be tapering down my mileage.

Instead…

I’m not running at all.

Why?

This is why.

What knee cap?

That my friends, is what I did last Friday night. Since then its turned into this.

And here I am 9 days later and I have just now stopped limping. I still can’t bend it all the way, and if I put too much pressure on my left leg it feels like my knee cap is going to pop right off of my leg. So…what does this mean?

I’m not really sure. I trained at the gym last monday and my trainer told me he doesn’t think I’ll be able to do the half. I’m pretty determined to do it, but at the same time, I’m not training. I’m not running. Its like starting over if I try to do it and do it well. Ugh.

Remember how I was all “I want to do this well and kick its ass”… I will not be kicking any ass TC weekend in Vegas. I’ll be lucky if the hotel has enough ice to control the swelling in my knee after I force it through 13.1 miles. I’m kind of in this place where I’m not sure if it all has set in yet. I haven’t accepted that I really might not be able to do this race. Like…really.

Instead I just keep telling myself that I have plenty of time to recover and somehow magically my stamina will be fine and I will still have that picture perfect moment crossing the finish line like I imagined. That I’ll be running across that finish line…that I will cross it at all.

Am I nervous? Meh. Yea a little, I don’t want to screw anything up permanently. Am I frustrated? Yea. Really frustrated that I raised over $4,500 with the promise that I’d train my ass off, and cross that finish line while simultaneously punching IBD in its face. I really don’t want to be on the sidelines. I really really want to do this race to the best of my abilities and I haven’t realized that “my abilities” might have just changed in the last week.

:::face palm:::

In other news, my semester is almost over. Just a few more tough weeks and I can ::hopefully:: graduate and get a real life that doesn’t include 4 jobs, 2 classes, a 1/2 marathon, and a new non-profit. I’m really hoping that a job will pan out and that I can not stress about money. If that happens it will be the first time since I got sick…over 3 years ago that I won’t have to worry about money. Wouldn’t that be amazing?! I don’t even remember a life where bills got paid on time and going out to dinner leave me feeling guilty.

I want to have money to lead a normal life. And I want time to focus on Girls With Guts. Doesn’t seem like too much to ask for to me!

 

 

Its more Than Showing Up

Recently I’ve been having a hard time training for Team Challenge. I can’t seem to find the time to train properly, I’m getting frustrated and discouraged. For me, just signing up and showing up to the start line isn’t anything worth writing home about. Anyone can register for the race. Anyone can buy the gear. Anyone can say “I’m on a Team Challenge team”. To me…this is about finishing the race. Finishing the race is what will be amazing. There is nothing amazing about showing up. Its about how you finish. And when I say “finish”, I don’t mean how great your time is or how fast/slow you were. I mean that you trained, you showed up, you ran/walked the race and you finished it strong just like how you planned. You don’t punk out along the way. You don’t give up when things get too hard.

I had a long chat with my TC mentor and manager last night about how I was discouraged in my training because I simply do not have the time to run 15 miles a week right now. I had planned on running this race as much as I could and right now, that’s not even close to 13.1 miles. My manager and mentor told me that maybe I should consider changing my race strategy to explicitly run/walking. Which is essentially interval training. I can’t believe I didn’t think about that. I was so focused on how my training was lacking, that I didn’t consider my plan was flawed. Right now all my schedule allows for is running when I can, so that means when race day comes, I’ll run/walk this 1/2 marathon. My body won’t have conditioned itself enough to run the whole thing…and you know what? I am fine with that because this is part of what I signed up for. I signed up to troubleshoot this. It would be easy to give up, or to just say “Fine, I’ll walk it”.

But that’s not who I am. I will fight to do my best. I will show myself and my team that I am stronger than UC. I am stronger than MS.

Sure. Things happen. Life happens. I could go into an MS relapse tomorrow that takes away my vision, or numbs me from the waist down…but I will do what it takes to get out of it, and start training when I can.

Team Challenge is a workout for your body AND your mind. Its improving my mental strength. Its showing me I can do more than I thought that I could and most of the time the only excuses I have are ones that I have convinced myself are true. “I can’t do it because ________”. Pick your favorite excuse. I’ve already used it.

To me its not amazing to show up, its amazing to complete something you’ve trained so hard for. Amazing is the feeling you get when you cross the finish line, not when you register for the race. It doesn’t take courage to sign up, it takes $75 to sign up. It takes courage to do it…and complete it. It doesn’t take much to buy all the equipment and call myself a runner. Running is what makes the runner.

Why I DO fundraise

In February I did this post about why I don’t fundraise. Well as many of you might have noticed….I am fundraising for Team Challenge.

So, what gives?

Well, I still feel exactly the same way I did when I made that video and posted that blog. I think many fundraising events are boring and uninspired. Ask people to raise a bunch of money, walk a few miles and chat with their friends. Meh. Put all that money towards “research”, whatever the hell that means. Find a “cure”, and whatever other bullshit there is.

Now don’t get me wrong. It is important that people do these events because someone somewhere is actually doing research. So you know, good on you guys for that.

But it’s just not my thing. Also…again. I have boat loads of diseased friends. I couldn’t possibly financially support ALL of their walks, golf events, runs…etc.

So Jackie, why the hell are you doing Team Challenge?

I started running and all of my runner IBD friends have done Team Challenge and told me how amazing and life altering it is. And when I made that video I was still like..uh…fuck that.

Then I ran some more and then I learned more about Team Challenge. I like the money structure of TC because literally 75% of the money raised goes to research and more importantly camp. Camp is what struck the chord. 2 Years ago we had to cut back the number of kids we brought to the MI camp because of a lack of funding and that broke my heart. So when I started to run, and kinda liked it, and then realized I could raise money for camp, I was like….whelp…I guess I’m doing it.

Also, for me, this is about me too. I’m not just walking a few miles and chatting with friends. I have to push myself. I have to work. I have to want it or else it wont happen. Its about how far my body has come in the last few years from death bed to potential 1/2 marathon.

So it is mildly selfish because I want to do Team Challenge for ME. But at the same time, the cause means so much to me. It was like serendipity that it all came into my life right now. I met my great “crazy ass gazelle” friends, as Charis calls them. I made that fundraising video. Then all of us met up in Chicago and at that time they were all training for a different Team Challenge event and I kept making jokes about getting donuts while they would be out running.

And now. I’m one of them. I’m a crazy ass gazelle. Team Challenge gives me the opportunity to raise money for a cause that changed my life. It gives me a reason to continue running and to do it further and harder than I ever have. And in the end, it also gives me an experience. It brings me together with my old friends and new friends and lets us share something that is really special.

That is why I am fundraising for Team Challenge.

And by the way…I am at 48% of my goal already! Which is sort of amazing.

If you’re a Team Challenge participant I am making/selling these bracelets to help me raise money.

I am also making ones that say “I run for _____” and insert your person/place/thing on the line 🙂

If you’re interested in buying one, please donate and make a note, or just email me. Thanks guys!

 

Holy crap. Holy Crap. Holy Crap.

Well its official. I bit the bullet. Holy crap.

I joined Team Challenge

I’m only mildly freaking out. Mostly I’m super pumped. During the info meeting there was a video that was shown and I got all emotional because that’s what I do. But I am so excited to do this. I am terrified of raising $3,700! Holy shit balls!

Also…I am not asking you all to donate to me. I try my best not to ask sick people to donate to sick people. Seems unfair. But I’m also not going to turn down your money. So I’m posting the link to my fundraising page here. I will not be posting this frequently because that’s annoying. I hope that perhaps I can work out a fundraiser for you guys where you get something out of it too. Suggestions?! Until then…thanks for being loyal readers. And thank you in advance for all the support I know you’ll give me as I blog about how hard training is!

Donate here: http://www.active.com/donate/MichLV12/JackieZ

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