More races completed — 57.9 miles down, 62.1 to go! PLUS, marathon training has started!

Sorry for not posting much the last couple of months.  It’s been a busy few weeks — lots of traveling, work & running!

Bright Night 5K (3.1 miles) was on the evening of Saturday May 18th, in the pouring rain.  It was delayed a few minutes, but the rain kept coming so they finally went ahead.  I wasn’t expecting a great race; was there with friends to support 2 great causes:  Ovarian cancer research (the benefit of the race) & Parkinson’s research (as part of my 120 miles).  The whole family came out to support me!Image

I started out a little faster than I should have, especially with the heavy rain.  My first mile was my fastest (low 8’s) & I fought hard the other 2 miles to maintain that pace.  I kept it under 9 though & finished with some VERY heavy, rain-soaked shoes in 26:53.  You can’t see it in the picture above, but the back of my Diva’s shirt says “12 months ~ 120 miles ~ $12,000 for Parkinson’s ~ IN HONOR OF MY MOM.”  I have 2 shirts with this printed on the back (paid for out of my own pocket, not with your donations) that I try to wear to each race.  I want people to know what I’m running for!

My next race was Lookout Capital half marathon (13.1 miles) on a very sunny, warm & dreadfully humid Saturday, June 1st with my running friend Heather.  I went into this race prepared & hoping for a new PR under 2:10.  The humidity worried me though — strike one to my psyche.  Start was at North Hills in Raleigh — great area for a race, plenty of parking.  The first couple of miles were a lot of downhills in a nice residential area, which meant the finish would be a torturous uphill battle — strike two to my psyche.  We turned onto paved trails shortly after mile 2, I believe, & had a very flat out & back for a few miles.  Heather started to struggle a bit into mile 5 & told me to go on ahead.  I was feeling great & was keeping a great pace to meet my goal, low 9s.

Then the “ut-oh, I might have to pee” urge hit me.  This was during mile 8.  I didn’t want to stop, but worried about what might happen if I didn’t.  So I stopped at the mile 8 water station.  At a portapotty.  Sitting out the blazing sun.  With temps in the 80s & humidity so high I looked like I had taken a shower.  Not to mention I had just run over 7 miles, so my body was very hot.  I step in the portapotty & have never felt so hot in my life.  Seriously — like EVER!  The longer I squatted there, the hotter I got.  What felt like 10 minutes was really less than 1, but the damage had already been done.  I was VERY hot & never could get my pace under 10:00 after that.  Curse you portapotty!  I will take my chances next time.  😉

Back into the neighborhood for mile 10, then onto another paved trail for 2.5 miles.  Shortly after turning onto this trail, I felt the first twinge of calf cramping.  Oh no — not again!  Then I started thinking about the uphill climb to the finish line I have yet to face & the fact that to still meet my goal I could NOT stop & walk.  But I had to.  Sometime into mile 12 I walked & ate a mustard pack.  Yes, you read that right.  I ate a pack of mustard.  It’s rumored to help stop cramping & you know what — it actually worked!  I walked for maybe 4-5 minutes after that but was then able to start running again without cramping.  Woo hoo!  Made a mental note: always run 13.1 miles or longer with mustard packs BUT try to figure out how to keep the cramps from happening in the first place (I am working on it).

Kept running into mile 13 & the final half mile, 123′ climb to the finish line.  It was brutal.  After all I had been through during the race, I HAD to run the entire uphill to even come close to meeting my goal.  But I just couldn’t.  I didn’t have it in me mentally.  I walked most of the hill, but ran the last couple hundred yards to the finish line in 2:13:29.  3 minutes & 30 seconds past my goal, but all things considered I was pretty proud of myself.  Wish I had kicked my mental butt into gear that last mile, but proud anyway.  It was smoking hot by this time — whew!

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Next race was the Flat Out 5K (3.1 miles) on Saturday, June 22nd.  This race also served 2 purposes for me: wrapped up the Run for God class I lead (this was their 1st 5K) & as part of my 120 miles for Parkinson’s research.  Had planned to take it easy, but started out fast — too fast again & finished in 26:39.

Monday of this week, June 24th, was the beginning of my 18 week marathon training to get me across the finish line after 26.2 miles at the Marine Corps Marathon on October 27th in Washington, DC.  I am so very excited to finally begin my training.  I hope to have updates often so stay tuned!

Please don’t forget donations are greatly needed.  All funds go directly to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, where eighty-eight cents of every dollar are spent on research for a cure!  I receive absolutely none of your donated funds & all race expenses are paid out of my pocket.  You can donate online here.

Thank you for your support & your prayers!

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Divas North Myrtle Beach half marathon

Yesterday, April 28th, marked my 3rd half marathon (2nd on this 120 mile journey).  It was a great weekend with 19+/- other fabulous Diva women.  We had so many laughs!  For at least 4 of the women with us, this was their 1st half marathon; including my great friend Crissy.  I promised her I would stay with her & we’d cross the finish line together.

Divas group

Our group arrived in plenty of time to make it to the starting line, but the port-a-potty stop proved to be problematic.  Note to all runners –  keep stopping at the first port-a-potty you see.  Please.  It keeps the line I get in at the furthest port-a-potty even shorter.  😉  We’re waiting & waiting for everyone to get out of the potty & it’s like 3 minutes until the start of the race.  The National Anthem is being sung (yikes!), so we dash to the starting line & get in the first place we can….the sub 6:00 minute corral.  Ha!  As if!!  I couldn’t run sub-6 if a bear was chasing me.  Gun goes off & off we go.  Like any big race, the course was very full the entire route & crowded for those 1st couple of miles.  Since I wasn’t running for time (was hanging with my friend Crissy), I wasn’t as annoyed because I didn’t have to constantly pass people.    That’s a good thing.  I think it made the entire race that much more enjoyable.

The first mile or 2 was in the commercial area of North Myrtle Beach, but after that it was all residential until around 11.5 miles.  The residential areas varied & some of the houses were beautiful to look at & dream of owning.  We ran through a beautiful new neighborhood around mile 9 or 10 & a nice golf course area shortly after.  The DJs kept the music pumping, well except for this one guy who was playing some mellow TLC music.  The race seriously needed some music & enthusiasm at the end of mile 12.  Mile 13 was tough: on a 4-lane divided road (we had 1 lane) during a transition from residential to commercial & there really wasn’t much to look at or listen to.  That was the most disappointing mile, IMO.  Made the finish line seem so far away!  But once we rounded the corner onto Main Street & saw the finish about .2 miles away, it was on like Donkey Kong.  Checked my watch & it was just barely 2:39, so I told Crissy we could make it under 2:40 — LET’S GO!  We did!!  I am so very proud of her for running her first half marathon & doing so in 2:39.  Glad I could be there to run it with her.

Les & Crissy at finish

The best part about the race, however, was all the support I received from other runners when they passed us.  While I was wearing our group “Run like a Diva” shirt, I paid extra to have the 120 miles logo put on the back.  So everyone who was behind me knew why I was running — for Parkinson’s & in honor of my Mom.  So touching to receive all that support.  The running community rocks!

So I’ve now completed another 13.1 miles on this 120 mile journey — 38.6 done.  It is going by so quickly & I honestly want to savor every moment!  Donations are still needed.  Visit my Team Fox fundraising page to give directly to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.  Eighty-eight cents of every dollar you give goes directly to Parkinson’s research & is greatly appreciated!

Eastern Run/Walk for Autism (5K) & Pirate Alumni Road Race (5K) completed! 25.5 miles done, 94.5 left to go.

I’ve recently completed 2 more 5K’s.  On Saturday, April 7th I ran the 5th annual Eastern Run/Walk for Autism with my 7 year old son, Sean, in honor of his good friend Tanner.  Sean hadn’t done any training, but this was his 3rd 5K running with me.  I stayed with him the entire race & we crossed the finish line in just over 36 minutes.  Super proud of him.  I hope he sticks with this running thing!  🙂

On Saturday, April 20th I ran the Pirate Alumni Road Race & finally obtained a new PR at 25:35.  Placed 2nd my age group too.  I wore my 120 miles race shirt & had a couple people stop & ask me about what I was doing — pretty cool to be a part of putting PD out there for people to learn about.

Up next is Divas half marathon in North Myrtle Beach on April 28th!

Don’t forget, donations are still needed to reach my goal of $12,000 & NO amount is too small!  You can donate to The Michael J. Fox Foundation by visiting here.

Registered for MCM!

I did it!  I somehow got through the fumbling registration system on Wednesday, March 27th.  Took me over an hour, due to massive server & system failures with Active.com; but I did it!  I am registered for the 37th annual Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) in Washington, DC on Sunday, October 27th.  I am both honored & excited to run this particular marathon.  No, make that ecstatic!  Every now & then I’ll have a “What am I thinking?” thought, but it is quickly replaced with “I can totally do this!”  And it’s all to raise awareness of & funds for Parkinson’s research.  So very honored!

I’ve researched training plans & I will most likely go with Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 program.  Any of you seasoned marathoners have suggestions?  Fire away!  Training start date is the week of June 23rd.  I’m so excited!!

Tobacco Road Half Marathon

I had a nice, long post typed up about this race but I went to post it, got an error message & it’s gone.  POOF!  So I’m taking that as a sign that nothing needs to be said about this race.  I didn’t meet my under 2:10 time goal due to muscle cramps, but I’ll get it next time.

19.3 out of 120 miles completed!

The crew from Greenville at Tobacco Raod

The crew from Greenville at Tobacco Raod

Cupid’s Crawl & another 3.1 miles completed!

On the brisk Saturday morning of February 9th, I drove to Elm Street near the start of Cupid’s Crawl 5K.  This was my 2nd race in my quest to run 120 race miles in 12 months to raise funds for PD research.  I was a little nervous, however — always seem to be no matter if I’m running 3.2 miles or 13.  What made this even more nerve racking was a photographer with The Daily Reflector was meeting me so pictures could be taken for an article that’ll run later (post to follow).  I had a special 120 miles shirt made, but I completely blundered in ordering it.  It’s a DO NOT TUMBLE DRY type of shirt.  Anyone who knows me well, knows if it can’t go in the dryer it will likely only be worn once.  Ha!  So needless to say, I washed AND dried the shirt & what happened?  It shrunk.  But I knew this guy was gonna be at this race to photograph me specifically for 120 miles, so I knew I had to put it on.  I stretched it out as best I could, but it was still a little too tight for my liking.  I wore it anyway.  I am now regretting that decision (see Article post to come later — ugh).

Anyway, after having a few pics snapped of me, I ran into Emily Wynn who I’ve chatted with  numerous times but had yet to meet in person.  So excited to finally meet her.  This was her very first 5K — super proud of her & her son for running.  🙂  We lined up together at the starting line…ok, the BACK of the starting line.  I started in the front 1 time & I will NEVER do that again.  All those people passing me totally killed my mental game.  I’d rather pass than be passed.  Sorry.

Soon the race was off.  I started out slow, staying with Emily for about half a mile, when all of a sudden that really good “this is awesome” feeling kicked in & I just took off.  I wasn’t setting out to win anything or set a PR (personal record), as the course is a little tough with 2 good hills one of which is in the last mile.  I just kept pushing with the iPod going full blast.  Don’t ask me what type of music I listen to because my answers will likely have you dying with laughter.  Maybe I’ll save that for another post.

So I get to the last mile & I look at my Garmin & notice I’m doing rather well — better than expected.  I round out of Ragsdale neighborhood onto 14th street & see my parents waving at me from Peppermint Park.  That gives me the boost I need for the last mile….because I HATE that last mile.  Any last mile.  I don’t care where it is, if it’s mile 4 or mile 13, flat, hilly, cold, hot, rainy or dry…I hate it with a deep passion.  I’m very resentful of that last mile & wish it had come a mile sooner.

I hit the last hill & I’m giving all I can.  Keep checking the Garmin — close to a PR.  I push & turn onto Elm & the home stretch.  I cross the finish line at 27:44 chip time.  I think this is a new PR (I recently found out it isn’t — my PR is 27:40 at Bright Night 5K last May).  I’m ecstatic with my time.  Placed 5th in my age group too.  🙂  No award, but it’s a big improvement for me.

So I’ve now completed 6.2 miles of my 120 mile journey.  Still training for the Tobacco Road Half Marathon on March 17th & it looks like I should have no problem meeting my time goal of 2:10.  Training is going really well.  Had a short set back of 6 days due to the flu, but I bounced back just fine.

Please don’t forget your donations are desperately needed.  Help fund Parkinson’s research through the Michael J. Fox Foundation by visiting my fundraising page here.  I receive none of these funds & all of my race expenses are paid for by myself.

2013 race schedule

Working diligently on my race schedule.  I am registered for races listed in bold.

1/1/13: Resolution Run 5K (Rocky Mount, NC) 3.1 miles, results  HERE.  Chip time – 28:29, placed 2nd in my age group.  My 1st time ever placing!

2/9/13: Cupids Crawl 5K (Greenville, NC)  3.1 miles, results HERE

3/17/13: Tobacco Road Half Marathon (Cary, NC)  13.1 miles, results HERE

4/13/13:  4th Annual Eastern Run/Walk for Autism  5K (Greenville, NC)  Register HERE

4/20/13: Pirate Alumni 5K (downtown Greenville, NC)  Register HERE

4/28/13:  Divas Half Marathon (North Myrtle Beach, SC)  Register HERE

5/18/13:  Bright Night 5K (Greenville, NC)  Register HERE

6/1/13:  Lookout Capital Half Marathon (Raleigh, NC)  Register HERE

6/22/13:  Flat Out 5K (Greenville, NC)  Information HERE

7/20/13: Historic Beaufort Road Race 10K (Beaufort, NC)  Information HERE

AUGUST:  ?

9/6&7/13:  Blue Ridge Relay (NC mountains)  as part of a team of 12 with Greenville Running Group.  Information HERE

10/5/13: Good Samaritan 5K (Greenville, NC)  Information HERE

10/27/13:  Marine Corps Marathon (Washington, DC)  Information HERE

12/7/13: Reindeer Dash for Cash 10 Miler (Greenville, NC)  Register HERE

God is already at work!

Around 3:00 pm on December 1st I went public with this idea to raise awareness of & money for Parkinson’s Disease.  Less than 24 hours after going public with this whole idea/journey/plan/cause, God planted me right in the path of someone who would validate this journey!  Wow — I was blown away, honestly.  So what happened?  Here we go.

I volunteered to help with the Reindeer Dash for Cash road race on Sunday, December 2nd at 1pm.  The whole week leading up to the event, I keep asking myself WHY I volunteered, as things were quickly becoming hectic & busy.  I should’ve known this as a Mom of 4 with kids in different activities.  I originally volunteered because I was sticking to my “TAKE DECEMBER OFF” rule I had made myself in regards to running, but I still wanted to support the cause.  Volunteering was the best way.  I signed up to work the Finish Line, you know putting the medals around the 10 milers necks & handing the dog tag souvenirs to the 5k finishers.  The COOL part, to me anyway.  When I got to the volunteer tent it was apparent they had plenty of Finish Line people but were short on Backup Time Keepers & Course Monitors.  A young lady, Maddie, had signed up to be a Backup Time Keeper with a friend but that friend was unable to be there.   I was standing next to her & the guy in charge looked at me & I immediately said I’d do whatever he needed me to do, so Backup Time Keeper it was.  I will admit, I was a little bummed I wasn’t going to place those medals around the runners’ necks but I had no idea what God had in store!

Maddie & I walk over to the finish line area as instructed.  Two other girls walk over with us…hmmm, odd as only 2 Backup Time Keepers are typically needed.  The guy in charge of “time management” (i.e. the guy from Precision Race) seemed stumped as well, but put the other 2 girls to work as the Backup Time Keepers.  He then spent time figuring out what to do with Maddie & me.  This gave the two of us lots of time to talk, small talk at first.  She’s much younger than I, a sophomore at ECU studying to become a physical therapist one day.  As our conversation developed, I told her I usually run in this race but that I was taking time off in December to prepare for 12 months ~ 120 miles ~ $12,000 for Parkinson’s.  Her eyes lit up & she says “My Dad has Parkinson’s!”  Wow, really?  God directly at work here, let me tell you.  What are the odds?  I got chills, people!

As I told her more about the plan, she got excited & volunteered to run in a race with me & to help raise money.  We then spent what seemed like an hour discussing her Dad & my Mom & how our families handle living with PD.  Her Dad & my Mom are different PD patients: her Dad, Jack, has young on-set PD and is no longer able to work (his former job had him on the road & driving is something he is no longer able to do).  It was comforting to hear another daughter talk about PD, even though our walks with PD are different as well: she was very young, school-aged, when her Dad was diagnosed while I was busy in my career about to have my 2nd child when my Mom was diagnosed.  Still though, there was some comfort to meet someone else who was like me: a daughter of a parent with PD, struggling to figure out how to help.

So when the race was over & our duties fulfilled (we ended up working the Results Tent, which was cool), we parted ways having already “friended” each other on facebook & planing to stay in touch about this journey.  Maddie messaged me via facebook later that night – she had already checked out this blog & the facebook page & found a race she wanted to join me in!  Later, her sister decided she wants to join in as well.  So Maddie & I may end up working together often on this journey, as she seems as passionate about this cause as I am.  I’m more than willing to have her assistance as much as she’s comfortable with.  We’re already throwing around some big ideas for fundraising & raising awareness in the area!  🙂  To top it off, her Dad is working on a logo!  He was in advertising/marketing & so designing a logo is right up his alley.  Now, how awesome is that — having the logo designed by someone with PD?  Can’t wait to see it!

I feel so silly now, when I think back at how stinking nervous I was on November 30th about going public with this idea.  I had prayed over “120 miles”, but I never asked God for a sign that this was exactly what I should do.  I was convicted it needed to be done without His giant sign of approval.  He certainly gave me one though & pretty quickly too!  How amazing is He?!

This cause also received it’s very first donation over the weekend.  BIG thanks to those who have donated!  If you’d like to make a donation, visit the Team Fox fundraising page here.

I’m very excited about 2013 & it hasn’t even started yet!

The beginning

So, here I am on the eve of unveiling my big plan to the world. I’m anxious & very nervous. I don’t want this to be about me. It’s about Parkinson’s awareness & raising money to fund Parkinson’s research. This is just the best way I could come up with to actually do something constructive for my Mom.

So what am I doing? My Mom, Debby Gray, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) during the fall of 2005. This was a disease I knew very, very little about . After researching PD I realized that while there are treatments & drugs to help with her PD symptoms, there is NO CURE. I’ve watched her PD slowly progress & her symptoms become somewhat worse, especially during the summer of 2011 when she selflessly became a participant in a PD drug study. After the study concluded, we learned she was in the placebo group. My Mom volunteered to hopefully help others who are diagnosed with PD & that is always her intention when it comes to “treating” her PD. I have struggled for years with how to help my Mom. Recently, it came to me!

I began running in May of 2011 to shed some post-baby #4 weight. It worked & I was quickly hooked. I love running! I ran my 1st 5k in October 2011 & 1st 10k in March 2012, all local events. I set my goals on greater things: completed Disney’s Tower of Terror 10 miler in September 2012 & my 1st half marathon at Rock & Roll Savannah in November 2012.

I am now ready for more & setting my sights on my 1st ever marathon! Shortly after completing my 1st half & deciding I want to run a full marathon, the idea hit: I can use that race to help raise money for PD research! But not just by running 1 race, I want to run at least one per month during 2013, including my 1st ever marathon in the fall — all for PD research. How could I do this though, handle the fundraising side? Ah, ha! I found Team Fox (a part of the Michael J. Fox Foundation) online & realized I could make it a reality: I could run my heart out AND help my Mom & those with PD! 🙂

My goal is to run 120 race miles by completing a handful of local races, 4-5 half marathons & my 1st ever marathon; all during 2013. I am currently in the process of scheduling each race & will keep this site updated with the events I am running.  I WOULD LOVE FOR FRIENDS TO RUN WITH ME!  Running is much more fun with a friend (and warning, I may wear a tutu).

Please support me with your prayers. I must stay healthy to accomplish my goals. Many of you know I currently have issues with my iliotibial bands, which cause pain in my kness (left mainly) about 3 miles into each run. I am taking December 2012 off from running to rehab my ITBs. I appreciate your prayers tremendously. If you are lead to donate to Parkinson’s research & my goal, please visit my Team Fox fundraising page here: my Team Fox website .

TENTATIVE LIST OF RACES: (bold denotes races I am registered for)

1/1/13: Resolution Run 5K (Rocky Mount, NC)  Information HERE

2/9/13: Cupids Crawl 5K (Greenville, NC)  Information HERE

3/17/13: Tobacco Road Half Marathon (Cary, NC)  Information HERE

4/6/13: Eastern Run/Walk for Autism 5K (Greenville, NC)  Information HERE

4/20/13: Pirate Alumni 5K (downtown Greenville, NC)  Information HERE

4/28/13:  Divas Half Marathon (North Myrtle Beach, SC)  Information HERE

5/18/13:  Bright Night for Ovarian Cancer 5K (Greenville, NC)  Information HERE

6/1/13:  Lookout Capital Half Marathon (Raleigh, NC)  Information HERE

6/22/13:  Flat Out 5K (Greenville, NC)  Information HERE

9/6-7/13: Blue Ridge Relay with the Greenville Running Group (VA & NC mountains, aprox 17 miles)  Information HERE

10/5/13: Good Samaritan 5K (Greenville, NC)  Information coming

10/27/13:  Marine Corps Marathon (Washington, DC)  Information HERE

11/28/13:  Beau’s Buddies Turkey Trot for Tots 5K (Greenville, NC)  Information coming

12/7/13: Reindeer Dash for Cash 10 Miler (Greenville, NC)  Information HERE