Thursday, July 29, 2010

Making a splash

It seems I'm not the only one with an athletic challenge ahead. My friend Valerie is taking on something amazing this weekend (when you consider her story you will agree).

Valerie and I are living parallel lives it seems. Living in a suburb of Los Angeles, she and I trade war stories from the dating front and of course we share an understanding of illness. Strangely some of our life goals and interests have aligned in an odd symmetrical path, as though we planned it that way. Val's latest quest is no exception.

This weekend Val will compete in the Crum Pier to Pier 2 mile ocean swim in Manhattan Beach in California.

Two years ago my Val pal and I met in Montana as participants in the survivor retreat at Camp-Mak-A-Dream. We did the Hollywood thing and she drove me all around the rich and fabulous homes of Beverly Hills while I was there on the west coast also visiting my friend Kevin for the week in Playa del Ray. And in 2009-- did we ever cause some trouble in Vegas!

Val was diagnosed with aplastic anemia as a young girl and underwent a life-saving bone marrow transplant. Her struggle didn't end there as life threw her a series of curveballs--lasting side effects of the treatment and even a hip replacement at the age of 21- and age when most of us are aligning other more liquid aspirations, if you get my drift.

And what makes one decide to swim two miles in the ocean?
Her desire to help someone else. And I'm sure in the end Val will say it challenged herself in a way she never would have imagined. Overall though, I think it's Val's big heart that is the true selfless gift she is giving for a friend's daughter-- that is what is driving this pursuit.

I am so proud of Val. We've been both cheering each other on in our respective timezones.
We hit each others facebooks and blogs to track progress. And this weekend as she swims her heart out---I'll be sending my mental good vibes to her.

I will let her tell you the whole story and why she does this because she says it best.

If you feel persuaded to give her a donation...than you can't go wrong. But if you just want to read about someone worth knowing--a kind soul I call my friend...then take a look and marvel.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Perspective is everything

My lungs are stronger now than they've been in a long time, but this is getting tough. Really tough.
One mile? Am I really tapping out at one mile? There's a little more than three months until my first scheduled 5K. I'm not progressing the way other people do who train for's taking me three times as long as they recommend.

The other day I began to beat myself up mentally--angry and frustrated at my own limitations. And then I paused...

I take my mind back to early April...Then an active lifestyle had been so far from my line of vision. It was so far down on my priority list that my five year old sneakers looked as new as if they were out of the box. Shameful. I would gasp for air even attempting to run a couple hundred yards. That struggle is still fresh in my mind, yet there is so much mental distance from then and now.

Instead of bemoaning this stalled mile mark as a defeat-- I choose to see it as a victory.
So what if it took me this long to get here and so what if it takes me much harder work ahead of me to get to the next mile?

I'm a better version of me than I was 100 days ago and many thousand ambitious and quick steps ago. That's what counts.

We're all running our own race. That's a mantra that comes to mind from a friend's recent advice. In other words: I can't measure myself stride for stride with others who attempt the same thing. They may not have come through the same hoops. If it hurts, I slow down. I listen to what my body is saying that day. There are days when I can feel a gentle breeze lift me and it seems to whisper to push harder---and on those days I listen too.

Today my reality check came with a check-up.
Heading to my three month oncology appointment I walked through the sunlit hallway at Wilmot. I spotted a young woman with a colorful scarf wrapped elegantly around her head heading toward me. She was laboriously rolling an oxygen tank with a LiveSTRONG sticker emblazoned on it like a team jersey. She too is running her own race.

We exchanged smiles hello and when she walked past I realized that I had slowed my own gait and cut back the bounce in my step. It was guilt, the heavy pang, one that I feel as a now healthy young woman returning to the cancer center, a place where I cross paths with others still fighting to get where I am now.

So many people I know are currently running against this most cunning opponent in a most arduous race. It makes a 5K look like a piece of cake. It makes a marathon or any other imaginable athletic feat pale in comparison. Truly, it does. I don't say that from a place of disconnected analogy---I've been there and this will never be as hard as that time was. I have incredible gratitude that I can be here to bemoan what I can't yet reach.

When I see those wheelchairs being pushed or the weary looks on the passing faces my brain shifts almost instantaneously to just a couple short years ago. I see the me of the past where they stand or sit--the faint shadow of who I am now (back in vivid color and fully in focus). I am grateful that I am here...but silently wishing for them to get to "here" too.

We can't run the same race at the same time. This is the mystery and unique pattern of human lives. Some playing fields can't be leveled. Perhaps they see me and want to trade places, but could I have even imagined back then that I would be here? Surely not.

I am reminded that there is no place without challenge if you are always in pursuit of something else. Something higher...something deeper.

And so I'll just keep pushing on...

Friday, July 9, 2010


I've been trying to use this vacation to focus my efforts on getting stronger.
The running, as I said the other day, has been out for the past three days-with high heat and humidity.
Swimming and yoga have been my friends.
The other day though I had a nice little surprise as I did my a.m. routine. I got a nuzzle from my furry friend who joined me on the floor.

It turns out Lucy is pretty good (naturally) at downward dog. She likes to stretch out on my mat even when I'm not on it. Hilarious. There is a reason we named her after the redheaded comedienne.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


I've been on a no-run streak. The heat is just too much for me.
I have been enjoying this vacation and I love spending leisurely days on the porch swing and going for quiet walks, but I miss those runs.

It was my dog who spurred me to slow down, not my own sense. I had a little conversation with Lucy, my chocolate lab, after we took a brief break from the run.
She had never complained and never asked me to turn around, but as I was looking down at her panting hard in a fur covered body---and felt my own chest tightening from breathing hard and heavy we turned around and walked home.

"That's it girl. Not until this heat lifts."

The best I can do for now in this 93 degree day is swim...
And of course beside me is Lucy---- whose specialty stroke is the dog paddle.