Friday, March 6, 2015

It's a rule ... if you blog you must stitchfix and then you must blog about your stitchfix

What is Stitch fix?

I'm sure you already know because you're reading a blog and all bloggers and blog readers know about stitch fix. But just in case. Stitch fix is a mail order personal shopper service.

I personally think it's pretty great. You sign up and every month (actually for me every other month) they send you 5 items and you try them on and if you like them you keep them and whatever you don't like you send back.

This is the first month where I'm keeping all 5 items.

When I opened the box I was pretty happy with the things and then my little fashionista (my 11-year old daughter) confirmed that they were all keepers.

My lovely daughter took this photo. Raccoon eyes are my new normal look. Black skinny jeans and green top that will be perfect for St. Paddy's day.
A cute blue and white printed dress that I happily wore to a tour of my daughters snazzy new middle-school. I also wore actual shoes and gave myself a ridiculous blister.

Cute little sleeveless top with a zipper in the back.

Me trying to keep a straight face while vamping for the selfie. This scarf is super cute. I would normally have sent it back because it rarely dips under 80F in Miami making scarves unnecessary but I'm taking a trip soon to a cool place and so hopefully this will help me keep my neck warm. I will say that I do feel sort of like I'm suffocating whenever I put it on so we'll see.

And there you have it. Fun stuff.

If you want to try stitch fix I recommend it. I am not a shopper and while I spend almost all my time in run apparel and shorts occasionally everyone wants a real outfit to wear to seem like a grownup. I find this is especially helpful when you have to go meet with a principal because your son's teacher is a moron and you want to be taken seriously.  No matter how serious I might on a certain topic I have learned that beurocrats write me off if I'm in spandex. They shouldn't but they do.

I digress. Here's a code to give me referral credit if you sign up.

https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3847084

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday: Improving the swim

I am trying something new today and I will start with the fact that I don't really know what I'm doing. So I'm following my standard rules and leaping in with both feet without doing any research or anything.

One of the blogs I follow has a "link up" So, I'm trying the link up. That's what I'm doing. Yup. Read on go ahead it won't hurt.

Tri Talk Tuesday triathlon blog linkup 

Ah the swim. The Swim is my nemesis in the triathlon. My training mates always find it odd when I say that because among my core group I'm considered a strong swimmer. But that to be honest is just because none of them are swimmers. Except my coach he grew up swimming and he knows that I'm not a swimmer.

The swim and specifically the swim start and turns are the things that make me nervous on race day. So what do I do about it?

Practice Practice Practice
I'm not a swimmer so I train with a masters program. The guy who leads us through our paces is a former all american swimmer and he's a nice guy. I know he's a nice guy because he doesn't point and laugh when he asks me to do backstroke and I nearly drown making it through the distance. Let's not even talk about breaststroke and to be perfectly honest I don't do fly. I don't know how and while I'm open to learning I haven't mastered it (understatement of the day).
 
My pool. Don't be intimidated by the word masters. It just means grown ups. So all masters programs will have all levels from awesomesauce to beginner.

So, 2-3 times a week I haul my non-swimmer butt to masters swim practice and I do whatever Coach D. tells me to. I ask questions if I don't understand and other than not swimming butterfly (I swim free for those) I do everything he says. I don't question it and sometimes I don't do it very well but I try my best. If and when I fall behind or miss an interval I just chill for a minute and catch the next one. I also take feedback from the other excellent swimmers around me.
Not really a graphic about swimming but it is a picture of a pool and I really like the message.

Sprint
Sprinting is the one thing that has made a huge improvement in my swimming. Specifically sprinting followed immediately by 100 easy - no break. That has taught me how to lower my heart rate while swimming which is super helpful in the case of anxiety or if I have to buckle down and swim fast to get out of a crowded situation and then keep swimming.
I'm getting wrinkly in my old age. But this is just after I swam a 100 in 1:23. Painfully slow by swimmer standards and yet my own personal best. 100 all out is just really really hard that last flip turn I'm just totally out of air and I'm a big fan of air to be honest.


Get in the water - the open water that is
I live in Miami and the ocean is open all year long. Swimming in the ocean in the open water is not like swimming in a pool. It's just not. So part of my routine is to swim in the open water whenever possible. That helps it feel easier and normal and keep me calm.

One of the things that it's good to practice in the open water is wearing your race clothes.
Swim the distance
For me I have to do this. It's a mental thing. I like to swim the distance before the race. You don't have to do this I know and most people don't do this before a race. But I like to because it gives me a lot more confidence on race day.   Swim anxiety sucks and so I'll do whatever it takes to avoid it.

On race day
On race day if I can look back and know that I did my workouts and that I can swim the distance I will be calm. I will start on the outside of the start wave because I hate the dishwasher.   But then I will keep my head down and swim. I don't look at my watch I don't worry about what's around me (other than staying on course) I just pick my rhythm and go until it's time to stop and then I'm sooooo happy.

So those are my tips.

What scares you in the triathlon swim? 

Monday, March 2, 2015

"Wonder" A book report by me for you

My children hate writing book reports. I guess that they probably get this bad habit from me since I've been working on this post for much much much too long.

"Wonder" is a fiction book written by R.J. Palacio for young readers.

I had heard about "Wonder" from the Children's Craniofacial Association website. I bought it for my daughter at her school's Scholastic book fair.  My daughter is 11-years old and in 5th grade.

The main character in "Wonder" is a 5th grade boy named August who was born with an obvious facial difference. The story is the tale of his first year in a main-stream private school in New York City.

My daughter read the book in 3-days. She was captivated by the story. I read it  after and she and I spoke about it every day for about a week. After reading the story she was very curious about some of the things in the story since there are no pictures. Specifically what might August have really looked like and does that ever really happen?

As a mom, I found these discussions very helpful in my continuing mission to teach my kids to "be kind." My mom instinct (like a spideys-sense but for moms) tells me that just seeing me be nice isn't lesson enough. I remember thinking to myself when I was a teen that there was no way my parents could understand my life and my issues and I fully expect that my children thing the same things. Also sometimes my kids also see me be grouchy. We're together a lot and I do actually get grouchy. So, I find myself looking for places where I can really drive home a few key points that I think are imperative to being a good adult. Be kind is one of those big important points.

It's a good book for a young reader. Similar to how a fairy tale gives young children a way to discuss their fears this book gives preteens a safe way to talk about accepting differences and also mean kids.

In speaking with my mom friends I've learned that many elementary and middle school teachers have also found this book to be really special and helpful. I have not heard anything from my own kids school so I need to push that there.

If you haven't read it and it's not in your school I encourage you to get it. It is a best-selling book so it is for sale everywhere but you can buy it directly from the CCA and they will make some money. Raising money for the CCA is my goal in leading up to Ironman Lake Placid (if you haven't already heard.)

It is fiction for young readers. So as an adult some things were a little unbelievable.  Mostly that there is a school administrator and staff that would be so enlightened as in this story. I must admit I have yet to run into a school administrator who is not a total nincompoop. But I did not share that with my daughter when we discussed it.

Like reading a fairy tale allows young children to face their fears reading and discussing this book gives young adults a chance to talk about some pretty serious issues that come up around middle school.

Little kids are blissfully unaware of the differences between each other. Introduce a toddler to another toddler in a wheelchair and they may not even notice and if they do notice they are just as likely to be envious of the other kid's chair with wheels as anything else. As an example when my daughter was 3 she had a summertime friend who was deaf and my daughter never even noticed. But around middle school kids become self-aware.  Some pre-teens crave being just like everyone else and being different becomes a curse worse than anything. As adults we all lived through it. As a gross generalization I will say almost all of us have scars from surviving it.

So reading this book with my daughter gave us the opportunity to discuss several pre-teen relevant what ifs. What do I do if I'm in a situation with a person near me with a visible facial difference? Would I be able to not be afraid to be that person's friend? How would I handle it if there was somebody who seemed nice but turned out to really be mean?


Again, it is a good book definitely worth reading. It was on my radar because I'm currently raising money for the CCA on the road to Ironman Lake Placid. But it's a great book for every child to read.

The photo of the book above is my copy which I'll keep to read with my son when he's a little older. I plan to buy 4 more copies for my kiddos teachers (they each have 2 teachers) to have and to read if they haven't already.

My request from you - my readers:
Have you read Wonder? If you have I ask you to tell somebody else about it. Spread the word. If you haven't I ask you to read it. Check it out from your library or buy yourself a copy. Extra credit: check your children's school library. Is it there? If not ask them to get a copy or donate a copy to the school library. 

Training update:
Training this week went on schedule. 10 hours of training including 3 swims and a long bike of 54 miles. There are 145 days until Ironman Lake Placid. WOOT-WOOT!






Monday, February 23, 2015

Mom first ... triathlete and writer next

Sometimes being a mom comes before updating the blog.

Okay, well all the time being a mom comes first it's just that sometimes there isn't time for both.

That was definitely the case this past week.

My daughter does gymnastics. She has since she was about 4 or 5. Honestly though she's not perfectly suited physically for being a gymnast. She's 11 and already 5 feet tall.
guess which one is mine ... yes the one who looks like me except she's tall where I'm not.

She has always loved gymnastics and while she wasn't the best on her team she was on the team and that was what was important to her. One of the proudest days of her life was getting her first "team" leotard. There is, to be honest, some serious playground "street cred" that goes with being able to do a good cartwheel in kindergarten and first grade. While I scoff at the idea of being a cheerleader ... it is her dream in middle school and I will no matter what encourage her to chase her dreams.

Her closest girlfriends are on the team. The friends with whom she shares her secrets and feels free to share her creative side freely. These are great girls that she's known a long time and she spends 2.5 hours a day with them which honestly during the week is more than I see her.
When you're legs are long you have more work to do to get up high in the jump and bring all those long parts back in line in time before you land.

Her competition schedule started in January. It didn't go well at all. She scored much lower than she was expecting and it was very dramatic and not much fun for anybody. I was at the competition with her grandmother and grandfather. My husband and son were at a cub scout campout.

My m-i-l was beyond agitated she wanted to "write a letter" to the judges, she told my daughter that the judges were "jerks" and she really pushed me to make my daughter quit the sport. She called me almost every day and that resulted in me dodging her calls.

My father-in-law who is less dramatic than his wife did have some advice that I thought was spot on. He observed that she (my daughter, not his wife) wouldn't know how to quit gymnastics by herself even if she wanted to because she has been doing it as a sport since she was so young. I think he's correct there. As adults we know that sometimes when you do something for a long time it becomes ingrained with how you see yourself and even value yourself. Deciding that it's time for a change can be very difficult. 

My daughter is both my oldest child and my middle child. That's because I have two adult step-children. My husband's first children are both in their 20's. It's only relevant because I know intellectually that what my daughter is going through to some extent all children go through. I'm not unique. My step-son dreamed of playing for the NY Yankees.  I remember when he asked us, "why doesn't everybody play for the Yankees?" I also remember that his final season of baseball was really tough for him because he wasn't good enough. But back to my story of parental angst from these past weeks.

This is a transition year for my daughter. She'll be changing schools next year. A lot is going on in her young life. Eventually, I came to realize that if she didn't need to change this thing that was so important to her she shouldn't have to. And of course quitting after one bad experience isn't a great message.

Those who know my daughter might be able to tell that she was already stressed going in to this competition. Isn't she a cutie?
The second competition which was only 2 weeks later didn't go any better. Even though she had worked really hard during those two weeks and she had made big improvements. There were tears after each event and as her mom my goal became just to help her make it safely through the day. She is USAG level 4 so she does big moves including a cartwheel on the balance beam and a short trip up to the high bar in uneven bars. Which is to say that it was in my mind that if she couldn't calm down she could get really hurt. But she did pull it together and complete all four events and stayed and cheered for all of her teammates getting awards even though she got none.
okay terrible picture. But on the left on the stage is my kiddo with her team collecting the team award. She's in the pack of the group and it's hard to see but she's almost as tall as the next tallest girl's hand extended over her head. She towers over this group especially now that the two girls who are a year older are both out injured.

My husband who had been very relaxed about the whole thing did get to see how much she was hurting which was good because he understood that I wasn't overreacting. He's pretty confident that I overreact to most things. But he wanted to let her stop mid-competition she was so upset.

Parenting can be really tough
It has been a parenting challenge. It is incredibly hard to watch your child hurt and want to make it better but also want them to do it themselves and battle with yourself to know what to do. This is just gymnastics ... in the end it doesn't even matter. Except that it is very important to her ... right now. She has the very lucky luxury that this is one of the most important things to her. All that was bouncing around in my head these past few weeks and getting in the way of me blogging (and doing much else except fretting and making my husband nuts as I hashed through it every night).

But I think we're working through it together. I'm 100 percent confident that my daughter knows that everyone in her life is proud of her doing gymnastics regardless of the score. One hundred percent because I have told her in a zillion different ways since the beginning.

This is the best arabesque she's ever done on the beam her foot is up above her head. She has really worked hard on her events and I am amazingly proud of her.
I have delicately started the discussion that she is probably better physically suited to other sports where being tall is a blessing without crushing her self-esteem which is very tied into this sport. That has been the hardest thing without a doubt to try to do and sadly I won't know for about 25-30 years if I'm correct that I haven't shattered her self-esteem.

I have reconfirmed with her that I know that these are her very bestest girlfriends and that I'm not going to ask her to stop going to gymnastics (which I wouldn't do unless she was hurt. Did I mention both other tall girls on the team are at the moment... injured that is. Well they are.). And I have started the conversation about changing the goals in her mind for her next competition so that she can enjoy the day. I have said to her that we do this for fun and so we should enjoy it. As long as she gives it her best (which she always does) the score is just a number.

Now back to me and triathlon... I practice what I preach. 
I do beleive that if you give your all the result is just a number. In gymnastics and triathlon. I really do. But there is some small print.
  • a) you have to give your best in training for your race day result to be the best. Best doesn't mean top effort every day it means following the plan to the best you can. If you are sick the plan changes, if you are busy the plan changes, if you are injured all bets are off. 
  • b) It takes tremendous courage and confidence to take that leap and go ahead and give it your all on the day of the race. 

The confidence to swim the swim without worrying about the bike. The confidence to push on the bike to get the time you want and know that the run will be there in your legs and lastly the courage to run the marathon with all you've got.

When I do that I I feel good at the finish whether the clock says 15:20 or 13:05 or some lower number that I'll hopefully see in the future.  Actually, in Chattanooga I was pretty cranky at the finish for a few minutes but within a few hours despite knowing that I hadn't run the marathon time I wanted I knew I had run the best marathon I had in me so I was okay.

That to me is the challenge of triathlon. That's why I love it. That's why I do it (over and over again).

152 days until Ironman Lake Placid. But who's counting?


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

My recent Ragnadventure - standing by the highway in the middle of the night in the wind and rain waiting for my runner -- it must be The Ragnar Relay Report - Miami to Key West 196 miles

Saturday morning at about 3 am I was standing on the edge of the highway hiding for shelter behind a parked "church van" from the chilling winds and waiting for my runner to come into the Ragnar exchange. Yup ... it's time for the Ragnar 2015 Team We've got the runs race report. Names have not been changed to protect the innocent.

I love Ragnar. It's kind of a mix between a road trip, a sleepover party, a running race and a hazing ritual.
gratuitous photo of another van.

It's really all about the van
There are 500 teams which is 1000 vans (I'm good at math). That's a little over the normal population of available 15 person rental vans in Miami. It turns out you cannot wait until the last minute to rent the vans. Too late! I found us vans but we ended up with vans from Sunrise Van Rental. Very nice guys there but these vans had seen better days. In fact, both our vans got dead batteries at some point during the weekend. A little stressful. But in the end they did the job and got us home safely.


Switching from driving the huge van back to your regular car is a little funny. I stopped short about three times driving the kids to school Monday morning ... my daughter definitely gave me the stink eye.

Part of the tradition of Ragnar is to decorate the vans. We are amateurs in my group at this so we employ child labor in the form of my children who love it and then the adults take over from there.  

People in the van bond for life but dropping out the day before the race gets you hazed
Unless you live under a rock you know the joy and torture of being included in a group text. During Ragnar we communicated via facebook and text.  We had one teammate who is not on Facebook ... I know I know how does she live? But she shared information with us all via text. Including sending everyone in the group every photo she took.

We did have a runner drop out of our group one day before the race. Her punishment ... we never dropped her from the group text. Hope she had fun ignoring all 3 billion messages and photos. Sorry but not sorry. Hope your dad is okay, you seemed not to worried from the selfies you posted from the gym during the race.

The Worlds Hottest 3 second shower, King Ragnar and Speedo man
King Ragnar. You're welcome.
Some people will make it the whole way without a shower. But not us. After the second leg we were all too ripe to go any farther unbathed. So after a quick stop at IHop for pancakes we headed to the Coral Shores Elementary School which for some reason has ample showers for 1000 runners to use during this race.

Clean from the worlds hottest shower. But still not sleeping.
I never showered at school in elementary school and I have children in an elementary school that barely has a cafeteria so I can't explain this phenomenon but I'm happy to be able to take advantage of the shower.
Other people sleeping. The only thing worse than not being able to sleep is clearly being surrounded by people who are sleeping.

You pay $3 and you get a bar of soap and a towel the size of a washcloth. As this was not my first ragnar I brought a shower bag including a towel this year. Then you head to the shower (in your shower flip flops don't be daft) and press a little button and you get 3 seconds of 300 degree water showered onto your body scalding off whatever skin it hits. Lather up, switch positions a little and repeat until all your flesh is either gone or your feel clean.
It's Ragnar the speedo works ... trust me. Actually Roy is on a team that won the whole race last year so he gets to wear whatever he wants.

The Battle Cry: Maddie needs her hair tie!
In van two one of our runners is a fire fighter who drives the big fire truck. She handled the van like a sports car. which created some hilarious moments like when she tried to teach me the official hand signals and I failed when I waived to a friend and she almost backed into another van. Grade "F" for amy on hand signal class.

That's Mario Andretti demonstrating the correct hand signals. Not like me who almost directed somebody to crash the van waving to a friend ... oops.
In leg 35 of 36 Maddie had a hair tie emergency. The wind had literally ripped it out of her hair and she was struggling to keep her pace. The Hair Tie Emergency team left runner 36 at the exchange and ran back to the van to give her a hair tie. Driver Arlene Mario Andretti  issued the command to, "hold on girls!" and floored it accellerating the ancient van from 0-75 in about 2 minutes. Always calm under stress runner Nicole issued commands to find a hair tie which was prepped for transfer.

Driver Arlene honked the horn about 75 times to alert Maddie we were on our way going the opposite way and then she threw a u-turn so fast I am pretty sure not all the wheels were on the ground. But I can't be sure because my eyes were squeezed shut and I was bracing for my life in a cross between preparing for an airline crash and curling into a fetal position. I may have wet my pants.

Then of course I hung out the window while Arlene screamed don't let her get too close to the van and carefully handed her the hair tie while we were still moving. Then we accelerated back to maximum van speed to make sure we were there in time for the final runner exchange.

Then I may have laughed hysterically for about 15 minutes.

Good times.
sunrise.

Sleep is for sissies!
For the second year in a row I got zero sleep during the race.

Mario Andretti not sleeping either.
I made a serious effort this year to get some sleep. In fact I made my whole van defer showering to turn off the lights and get some shut eye at our first break. But no luck. I was lying on my air mattress thinking how incredibly uncomfortable air mattresses are, listening to Lori sleep and wondering why I couldn't sleep so I checked my watch and it was 7:45 pm ... well that's one reason. It was a little early for sleep.

Look at me even with my eye cover and yet no sleep.

I was so tired by the end that it was a serious question whether I would fall asleep at dinner. I was in bed asleep at 7:15 Saturday night. zzzzz. Sunday night I also slept hard, Monday everybody kept telling me I looked like a zombie and finally today I feel human.



We finished the 196 miles in 29 hours. We were 119th overall and 66th in our category. Which is pretty great. We don't treat it as a race other that we do our best. We do this for fun so no pressure. Except to make shirts there is definitely pressure that next year we need shirts and magnets.




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 Triathlonmami.com.

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 www.Itriforgood.com 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.