Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Good news, bad news

The bad news (an ice pack) is sitting in front of me, mocking me, so I'll start with the bad news first.

In addition to back pain from running (yeah, it hurt a little during Sunday's 9 miles), now my IT band is throbbing. It hurts to walk, it hurts to even put pressure on my knee. In doing some research, it's possible the back problem is actually causing the IT band problem. When the lower back muscle of the hip is weak, the front muscle, attached to the IT band, has to pick up the slack. What's awful is that the two exercises they recommend I do to help the IT band, I already do! I use the foam roller before every run and I do hip exercises, too.

I've been icing constantly and elevating my knee and I'll go buy some Aleve today. But what this all means, I don't know, except that today is the first day since my training began that I can't follow my schedule. It stinks. I was on such a roll, doing it right, doing it slow, never increasing mileage more than 10 percent a week. Oh well. I know that all I can do is try my best. It still stinks.

OK, bad news aside, here's some good news.

I have this recurring dream that I open my mailbox and there are tons and tons of cards and letters for me inside. (In this day, that's a TRUE dream!) Yesterday, I had to tell myself I wasn't dreaming, that this was real. I opened my mailbox to find TEN envelopes inside containing donations for the Wounded Warrior Project. I was so overwhelmed, I almost started crying. To see the names on the return addresses was just an awesome moment. I wasn't dreaming. I'm up to 16 donations and $835 raised, nearly a third of the way to my goal of $3,000! I am so grateful to all who have donated.

And I do understand that many just can't give right now. It's such a hard time for people. But you can still help. I need your prayers/good vibes desperately to get back on the pavement.

I can't give up now.

To donate:

Saturday, September 24, 2011

On my way

I sent out my first batch of fundraising letters for the Wounded Warrior Project on Monday. On Thursday, I opened my mailbox to find one of my self-addressed envelopes. My first mailed donation! As I got into the elevator and opened the envelope, I started to cry when I saw it was from my landlord and how much he donated. I think I've been so worried I wouldn't get any donations that to get something so soon and so generous was just overwhelming. Today, I learned of two large donations that made my heart swell. It fills me with pride to think that, even if I don't meet my $3,000 goal, I'll at least have raised something for Chris' charity, and made more people aware of the hero Chris was.

Training this past week went well. Eight miles on Sunday, three on Wednesday and Friday. My back began hurting again mid-week, which worries me, as my physical therapist thinks the running could be the cause. But it's eased up a tad. I'm hopeful but cautious.

Tomorrow's long run is scheduled to be nine miles, and I must say, each week I get more and more nervous I won't be able to do it. Last Sunday, I was so worried, I waited until noon to run. Not a smart idea. I hope I have more sense tomorrow morning!

Here's hoping for the best.

To donate to Wounded Warriors:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I'll Stand By You

Thank heaven above, this week was another good training week. Seven miles Sunday, three miles Wednesday and Friday. And I'm finding myself able to run more and walk less. I pray I can keep it up without injury. It's been wonderful being out there again. This past summer, when I was unable to do anything, I would literally dream about running. In my dreams, I was effortlessly gliding along, enjoying the moment. This week, I found myself doing just that and was so thankful.

On Friday - what would have been Chris' 37th birthday - my run took me to an unexpected place. I started off with a 5-minute warmup walk and then planned on alternating 3 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking the rest of the way. But the minute I took off in my first running segment, my iPod shuffled to the song "I'll Stand By You." And I immediately thought of a video I had recently watched about the Wounded Warrior Project.

If you have a few minutes, it's worth watching: click here

As I thought about those men and women returning from war with unthinkable injuries, I decided to skip the whole run/walk and just run. Just run and think of them and think of Chris and not stop. So that's what I did for two miles. I did have to walk some in the last mile, but I was proud I was able to push myself a little harder and not let my own self-doubts hold me back.

Birthdays are times when you thank God for bringing certain people into this world. What a gift Chris Campbell was to so many people - not only his family and friends but to all of us. And what a gift he continues to give, with this selfless request that we support the wounded warriors.

He's still standing by them.

To donate:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Today's run

I had a few things going against me this morning:

1. The drunk college students are back, and their whooping and hollering from the street below woke me up and kept me up till way after the bars closed.

2. Around that time I was noticing a twinge in my knee that didn't feel quite right, so I got up to put an ice pack on it.

3. As I left my apartment building at 7:30, I was surrounded by that familiar smell: The Great Dismal Swamp was still burning and its smoke had wafted this way. It was thick.

But as I stood on the sidewalk stretching, I was surprised by this little squirrel who came up right beside me, did a little dance around me and then scooted off. In my mind, the little guy was saying, "Don't worry, it's going to be a great run!" (Yes, I'm aware the squirrel wasn't actually talking. And, actually, as soon as I thought about the above sentiment and hit "start" on my watch, I realized he could have been saying, "Go back home! The run is going to be horrible! Save yourself!")

But off I trotted.

The first three miles, well, let's just say I think I did have the endurance but I was choking on a mixture of humidity and smoke. There was a point around mile 3 where I thought I'd have to swing into the Walgreens to get out of the smoke and catch my breath. It was getting hard to breathe. But as soon as I passed the store and entered a new neighborhood, the air felt much better. The rest of the run wasn't nearly as bad. I was thrilled I was able to complete 7 miles without pain, without blisters and at a faster pace than last week's long run.

It was nice to run without the iPod, to think about things and people and memories.

And at 8:46 a.m., and again at 9:03, as the church bells tolled, I removed my hat, held it to my heart and continued to run.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My guide

I've been extra tired this week, and it's been a struggle to lace up my running shoes and get myself out the door. Before each run (6 miles Monday, 3 miles Wednesday and Friday), I considered flopping back down on my couch and postponing the training.

Then I'd think of Chris.

Not only would I think, "You've got to stick to the training if you want to run the half marathon, and you want to run the half marathon for Chris," I'd also think, "You think this is hard? It's nothing compared to what he faced every day in Afghanistan."

And so I'd hit the pavement.

Despite my fatigue (I actually considered curling up on the side of the road for a nap during Monday's 6 miles), it actually was a good training week. Nothing hurt. And I was a tad bit faster than the week before. And I'll take that. I'm still slow as mo (lasses, that is), but that's to be expected. I need to build back my endurance and drop weight to see improvement. I'm working on both. Chris is my guide.

Tomorrow, I start the climb in mileage. I've been sticking to 6 miles as the farthest run for awhile now while I build back up. Tomorrow I'll shoot for 7. I still worry about injuring myself, hoping I'm not doing too much too soon. I still worry the blisters will come back. But tomorrow I don't want to think about any of that.

The plan is to run minus the iPod. And to run between the hours of 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. For years, I've tried not to think too much about Sept. 11. I avoid the movies about it, the TV specials, most of the newspaper articles. I don't want to relive that horrible day. But something happened to me today that makes me want to acknowledge it, and, more important, acknowledge the people who are fighting, and dying, to make sure Sept. 11 doesn't happen again.

Today, I toured the USS Cole, the Norfolk-based ship that was attacked by terrorists Oct. 12, 2000, killing 17 sailors. I stood where the attack occurred. I walked the hallway lined with 17 stars. And I heard about the crew members who risked their lives to make sure the ship didn't sink.

Every time I encountered a sailor in his crisp white uniform, I saw Chris. And I realized how little I have thought about these men and women who do what they do every day to protect us. I tried to thank each one, but it wasn't - as they probably assumed - a thank-you-for-letting-us-tour-your-ship. It was a Thank You.

We owe them so much.

It shouldn't have taken Chris' death to dig my head out from under the sand, open my eyes and make myself appreciate - truly appreciate - what he and countless others have done for us. It's so easy and more comfortable to avoid reality and not think about what's going on "over there." But I think that when Chris asked us to memorialize him by donating to the Wounded Warrior Project, he not only helped his wounded comrades, he helped us open our eyes and acknowledge - truly acknowledge - the men and women who are putting their lives on the line to protect us. I know, at least for me, it's what I think about as I train and fundraise in Chris' name.

And it's what I'll think about tomorrow.


To donate:

Friday, September 2, 2011

A fresh start

With a new month, some beautiful weather and a few good running days this week, I'm ready to move on and put this summer behind me. It's been rough, for so many reasons, but I don't want to dwell. In trying to look on the bright side, I'll just say that God freed up my time this fall, allowing me more time and energy to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project, train for the half marathon and enjoy my favorite season. He also steered me to a number of good doctors, who have helped reduce my pain.

I realize I have two very large challenges ahead of me: Raising money in a time when people are faced with mounting financial problems and aren't as willing to give, and training for this half marathon in the midst of my health issues. But I'm not deterred. I'll do what I can, with the resources I have, and remember with each step who I'm doing this for.

Two weeks ago, I went to the visitation for Chris in Virginia Beach. I was able to meet his family, see his beautiful daughter and wife and pay tribute not just to Navy SEAL Chris Campbell, but the guy I knew back in the 1990s. There was a poster-size photo of him in the funeral home entryway. In it, Chris squatted in a field of wildflowers in Jacksonville. He had long dreadlocks and a huge smile on his face. It was the Chris I knew. I couldn't take my eyes off of it. In the other photos - of him in his Navy uniform and of him in wartime gear - was a Chris I didn't get the chance to know, but whom I admire so very much.

Chris did so much for his country in his short life, but in his death, he didn't ask for much - just for us support the service men and women who made it home but now need our help.

I've started training for the race (a total of 12 miles completed this week) and plan on amping up my fundraising efforts this weekend. I'll start here.

Any donation to Chris' requested charity, the Wounded Warrior Project, is very much appreciated. In return, I'll wear your name on a yellow ribbon on race day. I can promise you that even if my health keeps me from the half marathon, I'll still be out there, running, walking or, if need be, crawling in the 5K.

To donate:

And thanks. If you'd like to give, but just can't, I'll take donations of good wishes/prayers/good vibes/etc. I'll need them in the weeks of training ahead.