Friday, January 30, 2015

Back to the beginning

In the beginning there was ... an idea
This is the beginning of my fundraising journey. I want to start by admitting to two shortfalls in my ambitious fundraising plan. First, I do not really know specifically how to raise all the funds I am wanting to raise for the Children's Craniofacial Association and second I have realized that I was not really sure what was the best way to tell Erin's story.

But I do know how to learn ... ask questions.
One thing I'm doing to figure out how to hit my fundraising goal is asking for help from those who have fundraised before me. I recently with my friend Cristina, better known as

When I asked Cristina to meet with me. She mentioned that she was terrible at fundraising which I thought was pretty humorous thing for her to say given her accomplishments. Truth: We are always our own worst critics. Cristina successfully raised money for causes near and dear to her while she trained for Ironman Florida and Ironman Arizona.  She has just launched a new non-profit named ThumbsUp! International. 
We look pretty good I think!

We talked for a long time and she told me many things which I have boiled down into a single salient piece of knowledge. To raise money, I will need to ask people to give me money. Yup, she's a smart cookie.

So I'm going to do that. I'm going to ask my circle directly and on this blog I'm going to ask folks for money too.

But, remember there is another thing that I felt like I didn't know how to do which was to tell another person's story. Well I think I solved that one on my own. I'm going to tell a bit of both of our stories today. I think that one reason that I feel moved to tell this story and to raise this money is because of the parallels or similarities in our stories of momhood.

So, now that those problems are solved let's get back to the beginning. 

The beginning of a friendship.
I met Erin in college. We were both sorority sisters at the University of Kansas.
We were I think Juniors in college here.
Then we graduated. We both got married and eventually reconnected on Facebook.

The beginning of a pregnancy

We are both parents ... moms specifically Pregnancy and motherhood unite moms around the globe. Once I went through this pregnancy journey I was changed forever (and I don't just mean stretch marks).
Oh, how round I was. I was not a fan of pregnancy.

A typical pregnancy is 40 weeks. In the beginning, it's just a secret that you and your partner and maybe your obstetrician know about. Many people "go public" with a sonogram picture which can happen at any point but most people participating in a traditional western pregnancy overseen by an MD / OBGYN will have a diagnostic sonogram which happens at 20 weeks.

I remember my 20 week sonogram. I remember meeting with a doctor before hand to tell me the purpose of the test. I remember wishing that doctor would hurry up because I really had to pee.

"We" had decided not to find out the gender. Since this is a pregnancy story I mean the "royal pregnant we" which is really just me.  My husband went along as if he actually had any say in the matter.

I remember being excited to see hands and feet and noses and all the other cute parts. I remember my husband being concerned that with all his knowledge would be able to see the gender during the sonogram and ruin my planned surprise. I remember us laughing when he realized that an uneducated eye cannot tell the difference between a leg and a penis in this little grainy black and white picture so there was absolutely no possible risk of either of us accidentally determining the gender.
These are early sonograms of my daughter. I had a tubal pregnancy before so I had an early sonogram in the ob's office to make sure that this pregnancy was in the correct spot.

Then I remember taking pause as the technician started to point out important things like, bladders, spines and chambers of the heart. I quickly understood more clearly the reason for this diagnostic test. My children are both healthy but at my daughters sonogram they had some trouble "seeing" all four chambers of her heart. The technician wanted to reschedule for another later sonogram but I was sort of immediately overcome with anxiety.  I didn't want to wait for another appointment to hunt for more heart chambers. In the end the technician yielded to my pregnant hormones and more specifically my husband's negotiations. I wiped off the jelly on my belly walked around, stretched and jiggled and bounced around a bit to jostle the baby. The technician tried again and we were able to get a better angle and see all four chambers. And I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I'm a pretty serious person by nature and I remember sitting in my car afterwards just taking a moment to think about the test and feeling lucky that everything was okay.

I personally wasn't a fan of pregnancy but mine continued normally and I grew to the size of a small planet.  After what seemed like forever but was just 40 weeks I delivered a healthy baby girl who continues to light up my life. 

No news is usually good news when it comes to a pregnancy story
You can probably guess that Erin's story is more dramatic than mine since you know that I'm raising money in her honor for the Children's Craniofacial Association. Like me she has more than one child. Like me her first pregnancy was normal and for her second it started normally too. Then her story get's more dramatic. Trust me, a normal pregnancy is dramatic -  enough any extra drama is not the preferred direction.

Because her first pregnancy was normal she and her doctor didn't do a sonogram until the 20-week diagnostic. At her 20-week sonogram it was discovered that there were two babies in her belly. TWINS.  I honestly can't imagine that surprise. I continue to be very impressed by parents who raise twins.

They were unable to get a clear picture of one of the baby's heads and they were sent to a perinatologist. At this point in the story getting to this specialist also involved a trip to the big city which was "Sioux Falls" (not a very big city).

At 22 weeks they met with the perinatologist who told them, "I think your baby has Apert Syndrome."

This is actually a 3d sonogram of babyA from 30 weeks. I never had a 3d sonogram the clarity is amazing.
The Children's Craniofacial Assocation gives this description of Apert Syndrome:

Apert syndrome is a condition involving abnormal growth of the skull and the face due to early fusion of certain sutures of the skull. Children with Apert's have bulging eyes that are usually wide-set and tilted down at the sides. They usually have problems with teeth alignment due to the underdevelopment of the upper jaw. Some have cleft palate. Among other anomalies, children with Apert syndrome have webbed fingers and toes.

3d sonogram of babyB from 30 weeks. Sleeping babies are cute even inside the belly.

Now is a good time to take a big deep breath
Most of us know in an academic sense that something can go wrong when we're pregnant - that we could get bad news. But as for actually hearing that news? It's hard for me to wrap my head around the idea.  Keep in mind that Apert Syndrome isn't caused by anything. It isn't hereditary. It just happens. It can happen to anybody.

Until I heard Erin's story I had never heard of Apert Syndrome. Neither she or her husband had ever heard of it either until it came into their lives.

Erin and her husband spent an hour in a genetic counselors office learning about Apert Syndrome. I am not an expert on Apert Syndrome and to be honest I'm super afraid of making a mistake in describing it. So if you're curious about details please visit the Children's Craniofacial Association directly.

Living in the moment
Then they went home and tried to process this news. They just continued being pregnant. She describes this time as being "weird." I think that's a good word. They learned that there is a huge range of kids who have Apert Syndrome.  Since they didn't know what would happen yet so they wanted to , "enjoy the heck out of being pregnant with twins!"

So they did. Apparently Erin's husband is a great cook. Which is good because the job of every pregnant woman is to eat. So Erin ate! She says that eventually she needed her own zip code. Every pregnant woman feels that way but women carrying multiples ... they are correct. Erin has a great sense of humor and a wonderful laugh. I remember that from college that her laugh is contagious. It's good to have friends with contagious laughs.
Erin at 35 weeks. There's a lot of baby in that belly :-)

Erin's twins were delivered at 36 weeks. All her eating worked and they were both nice healthy sizes. Eli was a whopping 6 pounds 9 ounces which is huge for a twin. She did a good job of growing nice big babies.

Even though Erin had gone through genetic counseling and had had a 3d sonogram at 30 weeks. Erin says he was much more malformed than any sonogram could have prepared them to see. He was also very sick and was taken directly to the NICU to deal with his medical needs. Erin didn't even get to touch him before he was whisked away. In Erin's words, "it sucked."

Anybody who has gone through delivery knows that moment where you see and hold your new baby is magical. When a new baby is so sick he's whisked away for medical help ... I don't think that's a fun time. 

But don't forget Eli is a twin. In addition to worrying about her newborn son's health. Erin had her newborn daughter Allie to care for. Erin asked if I could imagine and I absolutely cannot imagine. In her own words she describes this time:

It was an extraordinarily difficult time.  Allie was discharged with me.  Eli was in the NICU for 3.5 weeks with breathing, heart, and eating issues.  It was exhausting.  I look at pictures now and have NO recollection of that time.
In my experience raising a healthy newborn is difficult. Twins I imagine is super difficult and to be honest my heart breaks in anguish trying to imagine the challenges these two parents and their extended family faced with one twin in NICU and a healthy newborn to juggle. Erin calls her son a rockstar. I personally think she and her husband are equally deserving of this title.

This is the beginning
So, this is the beginning. The beginning of a story of a family with a son born with Apert Syndrome.  This is the beginning of my fund raising.

Please donate to the Children's Craniofacial Association
As I train for Ironman Lake Placid I am raising money for the Children's Craniofacial Association.

Erin tells me that the CCA does extraordinary work in education and outreach, offering tools to assist those who have just received a diagnosis, those who are transitioning to school, and even adults with Craniofacial abnormalities. They host a retreat every summer for children and adults with Craniofacial conditions and their families. There are seminars but mostly it's a chance to just come together and be "ok" for a few days. And CCA also offers financial support for those who need it when traveling to see specialists. Erin and her family use this group and so I'm very happy to be raising funds for a group that she suggested.

I have a lofty goal of $14,060.00.
Get it?
Hint: An Ironman is 140.6 miles.

Donations are already coming in because Erin has a strong group of friends who love her. Please help me to reach my goal by donating. 

I have chosen to collect funds through a website because every dollar donated will go to the Children's Craniofacial Association. There is no overhead, there are no prizes being bought with the money you donate. You put it in there and in six months they will send over a hopefully very healthy check to this group.

I'm stealing this line from Marlo Thomas because there is no better way to say this. Be thankful for the healthy kids in your life and give to those who are not.  

Click here to donate.

Please share
As a last request. If you happen to be touched or interested by this story please share it. The farther it goes the more people it will reach which should mean the more money that will be donated.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Miami Half-Marathon Recap - Race Report

Just the facts first
I had a goal of 1:50 for the Miami half-marathon. I ran 1:58. Not close at all. But I wasn't surprised to not hit the goal. About 2 weeks ago I attempted a mile repeat workout with the 1:50 pace as the goal. I wasn't able to hold the pace. So, I knew it was a long shot.
This is my official stolen photo from MarathonFoto. This is pretty close to the start because I've already ditched my pants.
It was a cool day for the marathon. Which meant that maybe I had a chance to run faster than expected since everyone does a bit better in cool weather. Standing at the start I was not focused at all. I have run enough races that I know that when I go out to hit a goal I have that goal clearly in my head. I frequently go off to start on my own to run my own race. This year I even said out loud,  "I need to get my head in line if I'm going to do this." I was also pretty sure I was under hydrated even though I had been drinking water the day before. In the end it just didn't come together. It felt like hard work the whole way and when I look at my personal data I was working the whole time so this is just what I had on this day.

While I wish I had hit the goal wishes don't make goals happen. Actions do and I know I hadn't been training enough to make this happen.

About the Miami Marathon and Half-Marathon - It's Miami people.
We start our races here very early because while heat wasn't a factor this year (2015) if it's going to be hot it gets hot very early. But it's Miami, so be prepared to battle stupid traffic on the way, parking is a total pain unless you are really early (we arrived more than an hour early) and of course, the race started late.

Here I am hiding behind a pole from the chilly wind. We actually went and stayed warm in the arena before the start.
The handcarts and physically challenged group was listed as starting at 6:05 but the announcer said the intersections were not closed until 6:10 so they went off late and all of us starting after went off late too. It's Miami - we're famous for being late. I started at almost 6:30. 

Hablamos Espanol
This race draws and enormous amount of participants from "the Americas" so enjoy the multilingual start and the flow of English, Spanglish, Spanish, Portuguese and even French around you throughout the race. If you do the full I read in the guide that we had a cuban coffee station. Seriously, that would be amazing on a marathon course.

The Miami marathon is a crowded race. This year I will say that the start was the best it has ever been organized. The corrals were well manned and people were only allowed where they were supposed to go.  It was still very crowded all the way through the course - but for me not at all un-runnable like it has been before. People are describing it like the new corporate run so still pretty crowded. There is a lot of bobbing and weaving throughout the race. Probably a bigger time gap between corral starts would help.

The Miami Marathon is all grown up.
This is the 13th year of the Miami Marathon and Half-Marathon. So 13 years ago I ran this half totally untrained because I really wanted to support a hometown marathon. Luckily for me it's become a smashing success. This year we even had the Goodyear blimp overhead and we have lots of bands and cheering squads along the way. Sadly, long gone is surprising the cross-dressers on South Beach because that was a highlight in the first few years. There were still a few club goers dazed along Ocean Drive.
In the past this start has been a disaster where you were bobbing around hundreds of walkers for miles. This year was much improved. I started at the front of corral D had only one issue. That was having to weave around 10 teams of charity walkers pushing adults in strollers or wheelchairs in the middle of the road. I saw one collision where a runner collided with a charity stroller team (the stroller stopped short just after a left turn and the runner coming from behind just plowed into them). I do hope that everyone involved was okay. Just like when driving I always wish that slow traffic would stay to the right. I'm happy the stroller teams are there in the race - they deserve to be there - I just wish they knew to stay to the right.

I mentioned it was a cool temperature start and I started with too many layers. instead of shedding my top long sleeve layer and toughing it out while waiting to start I kept it on and after 2 miles had to stop to remove it which was a bit of a process. Oh well it was what it was.

Also, my iPod decided to not function ... bummer. I think one too many runs in the rain did it in. Luckily the course had lots of entertainment.
This is my group chilling inside the arena before the race.

Miami has beautiful sunrises and some colorful characters on the course
Watching the sun peak up over the cruise ships was great, the fire boat was spraying water in the bay, also great. The sunrise over Ocean Drive was beautiful. The music along the course was fantastic. At one point on Miami beach we run through a Jewish cheering section. There are at least two Jewish charity/training groups so we have a Jewish flair to this race that adds even more character.  While personally I learned that Israeli pop music doesn't inspire me to run faster I did enjoy watching the guy dancing by the yellow bus and I think a lady offered me kosher ham... which made me chuckle.

I carried my own fluids for this race so I avoided the water stops. They looked very crowded so I was happy to skirt around them. 

The Miami Half-Marathon course was kept clear and wide the whole way which is a first and that was great. I loved the singing island-homeless lady downtown and the finisher chute was pretty good. 

I was extremely happy to not take the right lane to run the full marathon. 50 people go left and seriously 3-4 pull off for the full. Lonely. For some reason the volunteer there thought I had made an error and kept saying to me, "full to the right" and pointing to me. But I shook my head no (with as much vehemence as I could manage) and thought inside my head ... nope, no way, not today. I had never been registered for the full so I'm not sure what caused his confusion.

There is a tight turn headed into the finish and I was almost knocked over by an over aggressive dude bobbing and weaving to shave off 5 more seconds. But I didn't tumble so all is well that ends well.

All in all a great morning even though I didn't have the speed I'd hoped for in my legs.

Why does not hitting a goal that wasn't realistic still sting?
Hoped is the word there. I hoped I could do it but I know I didn't actually do the work it would take to make that happen so I'm good with not hitting the goal. It is actually my fastest Miami half marathon time. While a lot of people set prs on this course Sunday I don't think it's a PR course for me. I've never thought it was.

Amazingly we all grouped up after the finish and met for breakfast. It's always amazing to me that even with 25000 people out there I can find my friends. The walk back to the car in the chilly winds was super unpleasant. Luckily my friend had my sweatpants and I was able to put them on about halfway to the car. Brrrr.
But it did take a day to have that really settle in. I knew I wasn't trained for sub 1:50. I just came out of the vacation mind-set after Chattanooga. I thoroughly enjoyed the holidays and I'm pretty out of shape. But it did still sting just a bit.  I think missing this goal is actually what I needed though to push me forward.

Is it a good race? Do I recommend it?
I try to run the Miami Half Marathon race almost every year. It's a fun morning. It's not my favorite local half-marathon though. That title goes to a1a in Fort Lauderdale which I can't run this year because of a family conflict. I've never run the full Miami marathon and at the moment I have no intention to do so. While the half marathon has lots of fans the full marathon is pretty much regarded as a lonely sufferfest.

I recommend this half marathon as a fun morning. If you live out of town and want a weekend of fun in Miami - this is a great time of year to be here.

Onward and upward. Next up Ragnar Relay to Key West.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It's all about the veggies, about the veggies, about the veggies - how we make the veggie share work in our house

I'm clearly concerned with what I eat being at least somewhat healthy. And during Ironman training I feel like I eat all the time. Although as I say this I'm relishing the taste of girl scout cookie ... thin mint if you're curious. I just indulged. I'm not perfect and who wants to be?

Over the years I've learned more about food and made my own decisions about what I find to be a good option for me and my family. Food is of course all about options and what works for one person may not work for another.

Know your farmer
Eventually I came to the conclusion that sourcing local and organic foods was very important to me. To that end I signed up for a veggie share. It was called Endlessly Organic and I picked up my box every two weeks and we had a mixed experience with it. Eventually we went on vacation and I put the box on hold and when I got home I cancelled it because it wasn't working for us. The main reason was we had tons of left over veggies.
kumquats. You eat the skin so it's good to know where they are grown.

Shortly after that I found a new share and I signed up for that (much to the shock of my husband who may still have been scarred from the first go around) but that one has worked for us much better although I quit that one too because it wasn't convenient. Now we're on our third go around and I thought it might be worth a go to share how I make it work for us.

First, it really does help if you cook or at least eat at home. If you rarely eat at home it will be tough to use enough of the veggies to make it worthwhile. I'll just be honest about that. I cook a lot for my family and we actually will go through our bag of veggies in under a week. We are a family of four.

My share has full and half shares so another option is to not get a full share and then you get less veggies. They also have fruit only shares and a juicer share - so pick what works for you.

Second - I have learned to shop with the share in mind. My pickup is every other Monday and I go to the grocery store on Sunday or Monday. So every other week I don't really buy produce in the supermarket. That way I have an empty veggie/fruit crisper to fill with the veggies from the share.

There is no filter here. Do you see how red that is? And notice there isn't a huge white stripe. Crazy sweet.
The produce that comes from my veggie share is often ripe and ready to eat. In fact, it has changed what I know about when veggies are ripe. We are getting peppers now, sweet red peppers. They are so red that they put to shame any red peppers I have ever eaten before. Also they have practically no white strip inside.  It will honestly be a challenge to eat traditional peppers again. My daughter loves red pepper with ranch dressing. So I chop these up and put them in her lunch for school.

My share gives me a list of what is expected in the share the day before so I can use that when shopping. It's almost always not exactly correct though since they don't know what they have until the day of and substitutions are the norm.

Third - It should be convenient. I will be the first person to admit that shopping locally can be a huge hassle. After all I can never remember where or when the farmers markets are. This is the third share I've tried and I pick up from a business - not a home which I actually prefer. It is literally two minutes from my home.

Ready, Set ... Salad. I mentioned that the produce from the share is usually ripe and ready to eat. Especially fresh harvested baby greens which I get a lot. So farm share day is salad day. In fact I have learned to try to put at least one or two things from the share straight into dinner. So last night we had salad with fresh greens, fresh tomatoes and fresh red peppers. I also roasted the red potatoes that came with our share for dinner. Today for lunch I had left over salad with added fresh avocado sliced on top. 

An extra bonus for me with the farm share is that I have learned what foods really are local to my region which is different wherever you are. I actually quit one of the shares because it was really just delivering the same thing I could get at the store (cal-organic label and all). We get a lot of citrus, strawberries, green beans and tropical fruits. I've also learned what they taste like when they are allowed to ripen on the tree. It's a huge difference. I guess is makes sense that to get it to the store takes time so it needs to be picked earlier.

Next, I learned to speak up about what I like.  I cancelled my first share because it was too heavy on greens like kale and collard greens. I like kale but seriously too much of a good thing is just too much and I don't like collard greens so not much of that is too much. Some shares aparently offer switching but not mine - what you get is what you get. But in the beginning I just happened to send an email that I was thrilled to have fresh herbs in that week's share and low and behold now I get fresh herbs at least once a month which is really fun.

I happen to enjoy trying new things. We have really discovered a lot of fun things with our veggie share. I live in the tropics but I didn't grow up here. When I get a native local fruit like dragon fruit or thai guava sometimes I don't know what to do with it.

red dragon fruit - there is also white but it's not so pretty
I'm known to post pictures of unknown things on Facebook where I have always gotten great advice. We discovered that we love rainbow chard. We discovered dragon fruit smoothies and lots of other fun things. Some take more than one try. Others we don't like boniata root we aren't sure we like and that's okay too. 
this is a dragon fruit smoothie which is really yummy

I will also email the share if I'm really confused by what something might be. For example Boniata root looks like sweet potato so I cooked it like one only to discover it was most definitely not a sweet potato. So I emailed the share and they let me know what it was and shared recipes to try. I haven't found a winner yet with them but I'll try again next time.

Sometimes it's best to share the bounty. As I mentioned I don't like collard greens. I also don't like squash. I know I know ... everybody loves squash. I'll keep trying it but so please share your recipes but so far it's not my favorite. So I've learned that when I get things I know I don't like I give it away to friends. I literally will take veggies to school drop off and say to a friend, hey do you like squash? If they say yes ... it's theirs. Immediately I hand it to them. They never know quite what to say when I produce a bulb of fennel from my purse for them on the spot.

persimmons and oranges
Yes, of course, it does feel very strange to take veggies to school but I have learned that this little trick almost always returns itself as a bottle of wine or chocolate or an invitation to dinner all of which I happen to like a lot so it all works out.

You can usually customize your share. I get 2 dozen local fresh eggs and 6 organic lemons in addition to my veggies. These are staples that we use all the time in my house so this way I'm sourcing those from a local farm. The eggs are really a lot better and one thing we have a lot of in Florida is local citrus.   Although it can be a challenge to find organic lemons so this solves that problem for me.

I drink a lot of lemon water ... because I drink a lot of water and sometimes adding lemon makes it more interesting.
One last thing to know about me which might help make sense why this works so well is that while I love fresh food I have a totally black thumb. I cannot garden to save my skin. So this is my only option for fresh produce. 

Don't you get like 30 rutabegas or something? I currently have 2 eggplants and two batches or watercress staring at me in the kitchen that I'm not sure what I'll do with. So it's true you can get a lot when things are ripe. I've never actually gotten a rutabega though. But I've learned to enjoy the seasonality of the veggies. They taste better fresh and in season so it's worth it to me.

I did once get a cabbage that was so big I couldn't fit it into the fridge that was pretty funny. My husband called it the mutant communist cabbage. It was so big I needed help to cut it open. I made coleslaw and threw a bunch out because I didn't know what else to do to be honest.

Our current Farm Share is called Farm Fresh Miami. It really is affiliated with a local far. I think it's is a good feeling to support a local farm.. If you're local and want to give it a try I recommend it.

How about you ... do you take part in a coop or a veggie share? If so how do you make it work?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen... I'm in love ... with my Nathan handheld water bottle - product review

My previous water bottle was the Amphipod handheld.

You might remember that this bottle so annoyed me during the Rome Marathon that at mile 24ish I threw it to the side of the road. I gleefully threw it to the side.
The Amphipod water bottle. Love the color - hate the leaks.

But then I bought the same bottle again because it was the only option offered at my favorite running store. I'm really going to have to talk to them about this now that I've found a better option.

I was constantly annoyed with the fact that no matter what I did ... it leaked.  Leaking is (in my opinion) really not an acceptable characteristic for a water bottle. In fact I would say that holding the water in when desired is actually the only job a water bottle actually has.

I posted on twitter asking for recommendations I was referred to Amazon to buy a Nathan  Handheld Water bottle which I bought immediately online through my phone.

Thank you to the twitterverse for the help. 

It arrived and it was bigger than I expected. It's a 16 ounce bottle. But I tried it  and ... I'm in love.

It's superior water bottle technology. I don't know if they've got an exclusive on this top type but if not everyone should change to this in my opinion. Either way I'm very happy to have discovered the Nathan bottle.

There is a suction valve in there. Basically it's closed until you pull water through. It works really well.
What makes the Nathan handheld bottle superior? Well obviously this is just my opinion but these are the things I like:
even though the water bottle is bigger I've tightened the strap down so it's tight on my hand.
  • The hand strap is adjustable.
  • The bottle top does not need to be opened to drink or closed when finished.
  • The bottle fits in my hand even though it's bigger than my last bottle
  • It doesn't leak
  • It has reflective tape for visibility in low-light conditions.
16 ounces of hydration ... so far so good.
I actually might go ahead and order a smaller bottle. 16 ounces might be heavy in my hand. That's the biggest downer about handheld bottles is the weight of carrying those in your hand over 26 miles gets very heavy. But I prefer that weight to the rub of the belt around my middle.

I have to add that Amphipod did get wind of my dissatisfaction via twitter and they have contacted me to send a replacement bottle. They say that their bottles shouldn't leak. I agree ... they shouldn't.  Plenty of people use these and somebody did make the Amphipod suggestion on twitter too. So they get a 10/10 for customer service and I'll update this if when the replacement bottle arrives it is leak-free. It's definitely possible that I just have a bad bottle from them. Twice. Or user error. Also possible.

Monday, January 12, 2015

From Resolutions to goals and including dreams - 2015 Here I come

To me resolutions are not the same as goals and goals are not the same as dreams. 

I like to set goals and I even more like to hit my goals. I'm also a believer in the power of simply writing your goals out and making them happen. I've shared this before but when I finished college I was asked to make a list of things I wanted to do in my life and by when. It was just a list. I found it right after I had my first child 2 days before I turned 30. I have actually done almost all of those things including have my first child before I was 30. (ooooh, creepy, eh?)

I think that the action of sitting down and figuring out specifically what your goal is and what it will take to make it happen is really helpful in getting it started. So, I plan to share my resolutions, goals and dreams here for strangers and all to read them. Today is just resolutions. I'll be honest that's in part because I don't want to announce half-thought out goals and that's what they are at the moment.

To me resolutions are behaviors I resolve to work on with no tangible end and they don't really need to be measurable. They are just things I think are important to do.

Here are some of my resolutions for 2015.

I resolve to not use my phone while I'm driving. It's a no brainer that this is an unsafe thing to do while driving and yet I admit I cheat on this. I will send a quick text or email while stopped at a light. Sometimes I'm not quite finished when the light changes and so I'll finish while moving. It's not good. My kids are 11 and 8. They call me out on this behavior when they see it and they are correct to do so. I resolve to keep my phone where I can't get it and make it a priority to stay off my phone while driving.

I resolve to learn more words in Spanish. This one is maybe actually a goal but this isn't a test so I can put it where I want :-) I have lived in Miami almost 20 years. I can flub my way through basic situations in Spanish. I joke that I speak housekeeper Spanish.  Honestly, it's a real asset to be able to actually communicate well in Spanish in Miami There's a lot that happens in and around this city in Spanish and the multicultural part of Miami is something I really enjoy but I'm not making the most of it.  I make my kids take after school Spanish and I'm going to start for myself.

I resolve to be humble and kind. I find that humility and kindness are hugely underrated and I really appreciate people who practice both of these character traits when I'm around. So I'm going to try to work on being humble and kind this year. 

I resolve to do some serious soul searching about what I want to do with my life. It's a transitional year at our house and I feel like I might need to make some changes. I have frequent thoughts that I might be happier if I had a job. My husband and I are having lots of rounds of circular non-productive conversations about this topic. He's very supportive and he really likes that I'm home with our kids. But for me  I just need to spend some time really thinking about what I want in the future so that I can work towards that ... whatever it might be.

Next up: Goals for 2015. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Farther and Faster in 2015 - 201 Days until Ironman Lake Placid

This year I'm going to do at least one thing I have not done before and that is that while I train for Ironman Lake Placid on July 26th I'm also going to raise awareness and funds for Apert Syndrome and the Children's Craniofacial Association.

There it is ...  the big announcement. Did you miss it. Okay, one more time:

201 Days to Ironman Lake Placid
I've decided to fund raise for the Chirldren's Craniofacial Association as a part of my journey to Ironman Lake Placid. Ta-dah.

Maybe it's not so big. People raise money for causes all the time. Yes, yes it's true but not me and not ever tied to my racing. I have always kept these two things separate. I do good things and separately I race marathons and triathlons.

How did this happen - How did I learn about the Childrens Craniofacial Association?
Here's why and how it came about. I'm 41. A zillion years ago when Facebook came around it was great fun for us old-timers because those of us who had moved far and wide across the world reconnected. It was especially fun to reconnect with my college girlfriends with whom I had lost contact. Over the years we've been able to share the miracles of becoming mothers and raising families. Through Facebook I reconnected with my college sorority sister Erin.

One of her children, named Eli was born with a genetic abnormality named Apert Syndrome. She has been very open with her story of raising Eli over the years. Since I also have children around the same age it has been very touching to me.

Last year, while training for Ironman Chattanooga three members of my team had registered for the event through Team Challenge which included a fundraising commitment to benefit Crohns and Colitis Foundation of America. It was a lot of effort for them to meet their fundraising minimum and so the whole team helped. You may remember me harassing people on the blog and Facebook. While I was hounding my friends for virtual run registrations I was also reading about Erin and Eli going through a rough time recovering from a surgery. She is open about her challenges and it was an emotional time for anyone who knew them. I had moments of guilt because I was working hard on a cause for my friends at the same time somebody I knew was actually at that moment directly in need. So I think the seed was planted in my mind. And like a lot of seeds it slowly grew.

A few months ago I asked Erin if I could fund raise for her cause. She never asks for anything my friend Erin so this was all my idea. She said yes and pointed me to the Children's Craniofacial Association. And we were off.
This was the sunrise on my way to my New Years Day run on South Beach. No I shouldn't take pictures while driving on the highway. And no the photo doesn't do it justice.

Why the Children's Cranialfacial Association? and Why you?  and Why now for Ironman Lake Placid?

Why Children's Craniofacial Association? I asked my friend who she would want me to raise money for as I was inspired by her and her family. She directed me to CCA. Also, because I had never heard of Apert Syndrome.  I think that rare conditions benefit from both exposure and money. The more exposure they get of course the more money to help those affected the more people can be helped.

I had to come in and edit this after the fact because in the first round of this post I had made a mistake. There is no cure for Aperts Syndrome. It's a genetic mutation that can happen to anybody. What the CCA does is work in education and outreach, offering tools to assist those who have just received a diagnosis, those who are transitioning to school, and even adults with Craniofacial abnormalities. They host a retreat every summer for children and adults with Craniofacial conditions and their families. There are seminars but mostly it's a chance to just come together and be "ok" for a few days. And CCA also offers financial support for those who need it when traveling to see specialists. 

Why me? Well ... if not me then who? So there you have it. It's me then.

Why now? Because why not now. It felt like as good a time as any. I'm going to race Ironman Lake Placid - the training will be a long journey. There is a pretty natural tie in between ultra endurance events and other tough battles like parenting a child with Apert Syndrome, I think.

All parents share a similar journey and at the same time every parent walks the road alone. When I read about Eli and Erin and their challenges I am touched to the core of my soul as a parent about the similarities of our lives and also the striking differences.

Raising Awareness and Money
Over the next seven months I hope to tell a bit of Eli's story. If you're interested you'll learn a bit about this syndrome. Plus of course I hope to raise some money. Fundraising is hard and I'm not going to be shy about it but I also am hoping not to annoy everyone at every turn by harassing them for money so let me know if I cross the line.

How to Give
I set up a fundraising site through I Tri for Good to accept donations. I chose this method because they tell me that Every Penny that is put into this account will be given to the Children's Craniofacial Association. I set it up - people donate - after the event they cut a check. Seems like a win win to me.

So if you'd like donate here.

The link if you're curious is

New years eve fireworks in the driveway. This was I think the grand finale which happens when my husband is tired of lighting the fireworks. He just lines up what's left and sets them all off. Not actually a bad plan. This years show had rave reviews from the kids. We also do this around 9 pm and then spend the next few hours trying to convince the kids to go to bed before 12. We never win. But 12:01 bedtime!
The bulk of the posts on the blog will most likely still be blather about my day-to-day training. For example let's do the end of year recap. It's required for bloggers I think to share this.

In 2014 my totals were:
Run: 1058 miles or  216 hours
Bike 1785 miles or 156 hours (trainer miles are only in hours so it's a mismatch but whatever)
Swim 191,995 yards or 84 hours
Brick (no idea why these hours were recorded this way 56 miles or 6 hours

To compare and contrast with 2013
Run 688 miles
Bike 1407 or 141 hours (again mismatch with the trainer hours)
Swim 144866
Brick 57 miles

Thanks for reading.