2015 - The Year Ahead
2015. The New Year. None of that "New Year, New Me" nonsense for me. I have never been a New Year, New Me Resolutionist and I doubt that I ever will be. I did not resolve, in 2011, to lose weight, get in shape, and run a marathon. I said it. And then, with a little help from some friends, I did it.
In 2014 I said I was going to qualify for the 2016 Boston Marathon. I hired Coach Jennifer Kimble with RunOn! to show me the way. I am a Project Management Professional and as such I set about my normal cycle of PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) with a Coach to provide the necessary expertise. She understands my goal is to run faster. And she gives me a Plan each week. I Do that plan. We Check the work done the week before, make adjustments for better or worse, and then I Act upon those changes with the new Plan. Repeat. Week after week. The goal is the motivation and I know that if I don't Do the work nobody else will. And it's working. Since teaming with Jennifer I have set new personal bests in every distance from the 5K to the marathon.
I have not yet ran that Boston Qualifying marathon. But, it's OK. Registration for Boston 2016 is in September of 2015. I have time. Sunday, January 18th I'll head south to Houston to run the 2015 Houston Marathon with Grant's Gang to benefit the Epilepsy Foundation of Texas. Will I run a Boston Qualifying marathon? Given the recent half marathon PR to model a marathon run, no. But, it's OK. I have time. But first...
After I run the Houston Marathon I am taking a few weeks off as a runner. Recently I learned that a co-worker has an autoimmune disorder that has destroyed the bile ducts in his liver. The only cure for him is a new liver. And recently I learned that we have the knowledge and ability to safely remove a portion of a liver from a live donor and transplant that portion into a person in need of a transplanted liver. The liver then grows to a full size, fully functional, normal liver in both the donor and the recipient. We have one of the top surgeons in the world, here at Baylor Medical Center, in the field of living liver transplants. I volunteered to go through the screening process to see if I am viable to donate to my co-worker and friend. First question, Blood Type? O. Perfect. Universal donor. Have you ever had any of the following (insert loooooonnnnngggggg list of medical problems)? No. How much do you drink? Are you taking illegal drugs? Do you consider yourself fit? Are you willing to undergo surgery, not microsurgical robotic arm surgery, but full surgery if you're healthy and you match? Yes. Ok, let's do this. I was interviewed by the transplant surgeon, the transplant advocate, a social worker, a non-involved surgeon, and a non-involved liver specialist (hepatologist). I had 16 vials of blood drawn and they were tested for every possible sign of a malfunctioning liver. I had a 90 minute hi-res MRI with two different contrasts to provide the surgical team every possible view of my liver and the big pulmonary vessel that feeds it. Is there sufficient healthy, non-fatty liver tissue to remove while leaving sufficient healthy, non-fatty liver tissue to function in my body while it re-grows to full size? Yes. Will that piece of liver fit well in the recipient's body? Yes. My liver is perfect. It's lean (especially for a formerly obese 50 year old man). It's healthy. And there's enough of it to share. Surgery is scheduled for Monday the 19th. My co-worker, my friend and I enter Baylor with 2 full size livers, one healthy and one unhealthy. We'll leave sharing a single liver and over the course of the next few months that single liver will grow into two full size, healthy livers. How amazing is our knowledge of the human body? How incredible IS the human body? So, for a few weeks I'll heal. Rest. Recover.
And then, I'll run. To qualify for the 2016 Boston Marathon.
And I'll advocate to ensure everyone I come in contact with is a registered organ donor. There are thousands of people, like my friend, who need an organ. The waiting list is really long. And there are many who will die and be cremated or interred without first having these lifesaving organs removed to be transplanted. Please make sure you are registered. Donate Life has all the information you need to ensure you are registered in your state. It's not enough to check the box on your drivers license - you must register. And, equally as important, you must ensure that your next of kin are 100% aware of your intent to be a donor. And I'll tell my story. Not for praise or accolades. I am no hero. I'll tell my story in the hopes that one day, when the need presents itself, the knowledge of this process will encourage another to be a living organ donor - be it kidney or liver.
So, 2015... let's do this. The Unicorn awaits.
This time of year is often set aside to reflect on those things we are most thankful for, and while I would hope we do this all year long, I thought I would take a minute to express the things I am most thankful for, here publicly.
First and Foremost, I am incredibly thankful for the love and support of my beautiful and amazing wife Dione. She has been my rock for 23 years and I love her more than life itself. As I transitioned from 250 pound couch potato to gym rat to runner she supported me in every way possible. Immediately after completing my first half marathon in October of 2011 she was there, at the finish line, with a hug and the statement "I love you. I am so f**king proud of you." and that is a tradition she continues 22 half marathons, 10 marathons, and 3 ultramarathons later. Even when I ran destination marathons that she was unable to be there for, upon finishing and calling her, the first words she said were "I love you. I am so f**king proud of you." As I train to run faster and faster, with the goal of one day running the Boston Marathon, I draw upon those finish line hugs for strength knowing that one day she will stand on Boylston Street with the words "I love you. I am so f**king proud of you." after I cross the greatest finish line of all.
I am thankful for my children. I have three amazing children. I have ridden 3 rides and run 1 half marathon with my oldest and countless 5Ks with my youngest. The middle child hasn't shown an interest in the athletics herself but she's always been very supportive and proud of her running Daddy. I want to inspire my children to know that no matter what it is they want to accomplish in life, it is possible with hard work and determination. I hope that as they've watched me transition from the old out of shape me to a runner, that they've seen that I accomplished the goals I set for myself, because I wanted them bad enough to get up at 3:00 AM for a long run or to get back out there after an injury or by doing the really hard work that is found within speedwork and hillwork.
A "What I am thankful for" blog would not be complete with a bow to my friend Abel Berry, who in December of 2010 challenged me to come to the gym with him and workout 3 or 4 days per week. Upon accepting that challenge he was at the gym with me for almost 9 months busting my ass on the weights and the machines as we watched pound after pound shed. I became stronger. More in shape. Healthier. And even happier. And with that newly found fitness I had the courage to sign up in June of 2011 to run a half marathon in Dallas with TEAM in Training to raise money in memory of my nephew Mavrick whom we'd just lost to blood cancer. And with that decision a runner was born who actually ran a full marathon that season with TEAM in Training in Dallas. I am grateful that Abel's accomplishment in transforming me gave him the courage to go on and become a certified personal trainer and use his ability to motivate and his knowledge of the "gym" to help others.
And I am thankful for Running. Not just for what it does for me physically, mentally, and emotionally but more for who has it brought in to my life. I have become friends with some of the most amazing people in the world through running. The TEAM in Training program introduced me to some of the absolute most selfless people I've known through my long 50 years. Jessica Watkins, an assistant coach my first season, ran every single step of a cold, rainy, miserable 5 hours and 32 minutes, marathon with me in Dallas. David and Meg Burdette, season after season, are out there coaching all levels of runners to complete their first or their fifth event. Dianna Bacon, TEAM in Training's number one cheerleader and hardest working volunteer. I have found new inspirations in my life in people like Rhonda Foulds, a rock of daily inspiration in my life, who has run more half marathons and full marathons since recovering from a stroke and with Parkinson's Disease than most of us will ever run in our life. Or in Kelly Thomas, mother of a child with blood cancer and breast cancer patient herself, fundraised and trained with TEAM to complete a half marathon and then went on to establish a charity outreach program (Love is Louder Than Cancer) to directly assist and aid families with cancer. I have seen people turn disappointment into triumph from one marathon to the next, like friend and fellow RunJunkEe Sponsored Athlete, Mike Peragine who completed the Chicago Marathon with a BQ time of 2:59 after he disappointed himself 6 months earlier in Pittsburgh. For all that running has done for me physically and for all that I've personally accomplished I am far more thankful for the people it has brought into my life. For it is those people... their courage, their selflessness, their drive and motivation, their kind hearts and support of each other that drive me daily to continue on no matter how bad the suck may be. I have found the Magic in the Misery. In each of you. And for that I am truly thankful.
There are 5 basic stages of coping with an injury that I go through, as a runner, every single time I'm injured. Recently I was out running a scheduled 18 mile long run when my left Achilles tendonitis became so painful at mile 9 that I ran/walked it the two miles to the house and I was done. My long runs ceased. My hopes and dreams of running the 50 miler at the Yellowstone Teton Races on the 20th of September faded quickly.
My 5 stages of coping with any injury are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Denial: No. Absolutely not. I am not injured. I'm fine. A little ice and a day of rest and I'm good to go.
Anger: NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. I AM NOT FREAKIN' HURT. KISS MY BUTT. DAMMIT. WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN? I DID EVERYTHING RIGHT. STRETCHED. ICED. RESTED. THIS SUCKS. SO. DAMNED. BAD. WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN TO ME?!?
Bargaining: Ok. So, maybe I can keep running through this. It doesn't hurt too bad once I get a few miles in. I'll go to my chiropractor. He'll make it better. He's a runner. He understands. Yes! I can make this work. Please, just let me get through this next big race and I'll take 6 weeks off afterwards to let everything rest and heal completely.
Depression: Life sucks. I can't run. I'm a total loser and a complete poser. All I wanted out of life was to run that particular race now. This year. Shoot. Maybe I'm not really a runner after all. I mean, real runners, shake it off and just keep going. And at times I've found myself actually crying over a lost race.
Acceptance: Ok, so I can't run. I can ride. I can work out in the gym. I can eat even cleaner to keep the weight in check while I'm not running. There are other races and my life as a runner is about longevity not any one single race. I can cross-train and keep in shape while resting the injured body part and allowing it to heal. Rehab with the chiropractor. Following his orders and communicating with my coach. And it gets better when I've rested and recovered and allowed myself to heal properly. My short runs get faster and my long runs get longer and before I really even know it happened, I'm back. And all that time I was injured and struggling to maintain fitness, both mental and physical, I realize was a few short weeks in what will be years, nay, decades of running marathons and ultramarathons.
There is always someone out there far less capable than me doing far more than me, even at my healthiest. Remaining positive, finding alternative endorphin inducing forms of training, and drawing upon their inspiration are the keys to getting from Denial to Acceptance to Healed as quickly as possible.
Your "I Can't" is Not Valid
I have recently began sharing photos of amazing people accomplishing incredible feats of strength and courage with the caption "Your I Can't is Not Valid." to remind myself, daily, that at any given point if I find myself saying "I Can't" that it simply isn't true. I am healthy. I am whole. I am physically fit. And there really is no excuse whatsoever for me to utter the phrase "I can't." So, what motivates me? People like these three athletes:
And these are but three of the people, on a daily basis, that I turn to for motivation when I'm thinking "I can't run that long run today." Or "I can't be serious about qualifying for Boston because I can't run that fast." Or "I just can't." period. Rhonda, Misty, Amanda, and that little girl Elizabeth with Amanda, render my "I can't" invalid.
I've often been told that I have inspired someone to lose weight, get in shape, run a half marathon, or otherwise complete some physical task they might not have otherwise thought possible. I'm humbled each and every time someone says that because honestly? I'm just a guy who let complacency add a pound or two here and there until one day I was obese and diabetic who chose, with the help of my friend Abel Berry, to take my life back from obesity. And yet, there are so many out there who could legitimately say "I Can't" but choose and work very hard to say "I Can. And I Will.
Motivation. It's all around us. Never for a moment believe that You Can't.
To Be a Wicked Fast Runnah
I am a happy runner. Running is my comfort zone. It has been for three years now. For three years I have run aimlessly without any specific goal race. I never really thought about running Boston. Hell, you have to be a wicked fast runnah to even qualify to run in the Boston Marathon and wicked fast I'm not. So, I just adopted the position that I'd find that pace I could run forever and run really long races. I get up every morning, put on a pair of shorts and a pair of shoes, and I just run whatever feels right that day. Some days a 9 minute mile for a 10K, other days I just lay back and run an easy 10:30 or 11:00 for miles, and yet other days I'll try to bust a 5K PR. But my running has always been a day to day whatever strikes my fancy that day.
And then Meb won Boston. At 38 years old, Meb - an American won Boston. What? Against all odds and with not a single soul expecting him to place even top 5, Meb wins Boston. Oooohhh... I want to run Boston. I want to qualify to run Boston. But. I can't run that fast. That's not my run happy place. When I try to run fast I seem to hurt myself. But, I want.to.qualify.for.and.run.Boston. I can run back to back marathons. I can run 50K's. I'm sure I can run a 50 and one day a hundred. But. I want to run Boston.
"Your comfort zone is not a place that you want to remain in. Dare, discover, be all that you can be." Catherine Pulsifer
To this end I've sought out and hired a coach to help turn my run happy ad hoc training into a disciplined training plan with speed work and strength work that builds this week upon last week's work. My coach is Jennifer Kimble, a coach with RunOn! and an accomplished runner and very motivational and inspiring person. Her job is simply to push me out my run happy comfort zone, show me how to run harder and faster, and keep me focused until one day, hopefully very soon, I break a 3:30 marathon and earn my ticket to Boston. And if anyone can do this, I'm sure Jennifer is that person. Because I'll do the work.
Yes. To be a wicked fast runnah. To dare, discover, be all that I can be.
Cross training. Most runners hate it. All we want to do is run. But running only works the heart, the lungs, and everything from the waist down. I have found, in a short three years, that core strength is just as important to being a balanced and healthy runner as strong quads, hams, and glutes. But first, let's go back to the beginning.
I weighed 250 pounds and was dying a slow death from type II diabetes and high blood pressure.
And my friend Abel Berry took me under his wing, so to speak, and into the gym with him. We killed it 4 days per week. I cut excessive nonsense from my diet. I started eating smarter. And I lost 50 pounds in six months. No running. No specific cardio. Just hit it hard and heavy in the gym and changed up the way I ate. And then I started running solely for the purpose of running a half marathon in memory of my nephew. But running and I hit it off really well. I loved running and found that I'd rather run than to the gym so I stopped working out.
And then... the injuries. Recurring injuries. IT Band Syndrome. Piriformis Syndrome. Glutes were weak. So weak even that my chiro commented on them more than once. Herniated L4/L5. Twice even. And I found that injury recovery and long run recovery took longer and longer. I had lost that "core strength" and with that I had lost upper body stability. So earlier this year I returned to the gym two days per week. In a few short weeks I found that my running improved. I am getting faster. And running longer. Recovering faster. And most importantly, not injured repeatedly.
Cross training. I believe, firmly, that strength training is the most important thing a runner can do besides running. I go to the gym two days per week and work all the muscle groups. One day I do heavy weights with lower reps and the other day I do lighter weights with higher reps. And I work both upper body and lower body both days since I know I'll be running the other days. Squats are a runner's best friend. And do not neglect the abs. Upper abs, lower abs, and obliques all need to be worked and kept strong.
I strongly recommend Weight Training for Runners: Ultimate Guide by Rob Price which you can pick upon Amazon in either book or electronic form.
If you don't have a gym membership bodyweight strength training can be done in your living room and there are plenty of great exercises you can do with nothing more than your body that will get you the real muscle strength you need to be an effective, strong, and injury free runner.
Don't neglect the rest of the body. It really is one big kinetic machine and all of it has to work together to run strong.
A bit more than 25 years ago a man named Bruce Cleland's daughter Georgia was diagnosed with leukemia so he and a few of his friends signed up to run the New York Marathon while raising money to benefit leukemia research. And that evolved into the program known as TEAM in Training that has raised millions of dollars to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society while training and enabling thousands of people to become endurance athletes and complete marathons, triathlons, hikes, and century bike rides. Once when asked about the program, Bruce said "In the beginning it was all about fundraising." And so it was for my journey from a 40 something couch potato to runner.
On June 11th, 2011 my daughter Krystal and I got lost trying to get home from downtown. We drove by Children's Medical Center of Dallas, which is where my nephew Mavrick lie losing his battle to blood cancer. We stopped to visit and there we visited with a boy who, unknown to us at the time, had less than 12 hours left on this earth. The next day, June 12th, 2011 Mavrick's battle ended.
The week before, my friend Bea McKnight had completed the San Diego Rock N Roll Half Marathon in honor of Mavrick after successfully raising over $5,000 with TEAM in Training to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. So, Monday, I called her and suggested we complete a season to run the Dallas White Rock Half Marathon with TEAM in Training in Mavrick's Memory. And two weeks later, June 27th, I put on an old pair of "tennie shoes", a pair of shorts, and a cotton t-shirt and headed out the door to run for the first time since having left the Air Force twenty years before. I had only one goal on that first run: Get to the railroad tracks, turn around, and come home. Oh and between here and there was a hill that goes up at a 5% grade for close to a quarter of a mile that even today I run every single time I leave my house as it's the only way out of my 'hood. 30 minutes later I was back at my house. Sweating. Out of breath. And pretty sure I was going to die after running that far. I had no idea how far the tracks even were from home yet. But I knew, that however far that was, that I'd run that far tomorrow and that eventually, in Mavrick's Memory, I'd run 13.1 miles through the streets of Dallas. The next morning I drove to the tracks and back and found I'd run all of .9 mile there and .9 mile back. Less than two miles. And that damned hill on Summit.
About 4 weeks later I attended my first TEAM in Training meeting with Coaches David and Meg Burdette and was a bit ahead of the training schedule as I had progressed to running out to 4 miles. I had also learned a few things through the internet: Cotton is bad and shoes should be fitted by someone who knows how. Running in clothes that wick and shoes that fit and support correctly for my pronation wasn't nearly as hard as that first week of running to the tracks and back.
The 4th week of training I ran into Meg at Run On! and she said that her and David wondered why I hadn't signed up to train for the full marathon since I was already so far ahead of the half schedule. I told her it was crazy to run 26.2 miles and I wasn't even doing this because I wanted to run as much as to use it as an excuse to ask people to donate money to the LLS in Mavrick's Memory and as I had more than doubled my fundraising commitment I felt like completing the half was enough. But, then, on the way home I had a moment of clarity and in that moment I realized that I actually loved running and training for a full was completely achievable. If I was going to run White Rock it might as well be the full. So, I emailed her and David that evening to tell them it would be the full for me.
I ran my first 5K race in September of 2011, my first 10K in October, my first half marathon in October, and culminated that season as a marathoner on December 4th, exactly 20 weeks after that first slow painful climb up the hill on Summit to the railroad track and home. And I was hooked. Totally. I was a runner.
But, in the beginning? It was all about fundraising. As it is even now.
You can help me by donating to my campaign to raise funds while I train to run the Marine Corps Marathon.
This is Mavrick Andrew Veal. The young man who started it all.
Fellow RunJunkEes™ Sponsored Athlete Megan Caton posted an amazing blog today, which can and should be read here, in which she talks about the struggle she faces some days to get out the door and just run. In that blog she challenged, the people who are out there running for what seems like forever, "to tell us, the ones who are in park or idling in neutral, is there ANYTHING that will help us to find our drive? Is there anything that we
can do to hijack our lives back and push us forward? Are there tricks we can do to help us along? "
As a RunJunkEes™ Sponsored Athlete I promised, after reading the article, to answer the challenge.
As many of you know I began running on June 27th, 2011 - not that long ago really and in less than 3 years have completed 20 half marathons, 10 marathons, and 2 ultra (50K) marathons. I have run many training runs of 16, 18, and 20 miles and even run 34 miles in a day around around a 3.1 mile loop. I love to run. I love chasing the elusive runner's high, which should never be confused with the simple endorphin rush that we experience when exercising, day in and day out. I would rather be running than working out in the gym, spinning, or road cycling. Yet, there are those days, when I get up, get dressed, and then doink about the house trying to just get out of the house to push the start button on the Garmin. But, much more often than not, the button is pushed, the feet move, and 6 or 7 miles later I've completed the run I dreaded and I feel amazing for doing so. What drives me each and every time?
I hate to let myself down. I can, quite honestly, handle rejection from others but then that's not even likely to happen as runners are all incredibly supportive and rather than tearing another down for being unmotivated seek to help that person find his motivation while offering virtual hugs. I know, that whether or not I run, my wife and children will love me. I know that I can raise money for the causes important to me without ever running again. I know that if I never post another run to DailyMile or Facebook that it will matter very little to anyone. Except me. And I hate to let myself down.
Don't get me wrong, there are days I'm just too tired and I've learned to listen to my body and rest those days. But on those days where physically I am capable but mentally blocking I tell myself: Six miles. For you. Nobody but you. Remember how amazing you felt yesterday? Half mile of suck, 4 or 5 minutes, less time than you've spent arguing with yourself over it. And I'm out the door, the Garmin button is pushed, and every single time a half mile or less of suck later I'm feeling it... and the miles roll by... and I feel amazing. And I commit that feeling to memory, intentionally commit that feeling to memory, for the next time I need to to get myself out the door.
Sounds simple, right? Not always, but for me it has always worked. I hate to let myself down because I am worth much more than that to me. Most days I run to train to run races to raise funds and awareness for people with blood cancers, but there are those days I need to run for nobody else but me. Because to quote an amazing friend, Michelle Tomlinson, I Am Worth It. And so are you.
We were asked to share what works for us as runners during the summer months to keep running and training.
First and foremost, what works for me is not a sure thing for you. Generally though, as human beings our physiological make up make general recommendations a perfect starting point for any of us.
The two most important factors, in my opinion, are hydration and protection from the sun. My first coach in Team in Training, David Burdette, taught us simply to drink water or sports drink often. His general guidance always worked for me which was "Drink before you're thirsty because if you've waited until you're thirsty, until you're craving water, then you've waited too long." There are other symptoms such as urine color (the lighter the better) but ultimately if you're thirsty and craving water, you need to drink.
Don't forget to replace the electrolytes and sodium you are sweating out. S-Caps, Salt tablets, most of the gel products, and sports drinks are all excellent sources of electrolyte replacement. I have no one single product that I recommend. Experiment and find one that works for you. When I buy an electrolyte replacement product that I've never tried before I will try it before even running. I'll take it while at home just to see if it upsets my stomach or makes me feel funny. It's better to find out a product makes you ill at home, close to the bathroom, than it is 3 or 4 miles from home.
I'll close on the subject of hydration and electrolytes by sharing this excellent page from Navy Fitness that covers hydration and the impact of altitude and humidity on your body's hydration.
Protection from the sun is equally as important. Runners and cyclists spend an amazing amount of time out of doors exposed to the sun and its harmful rays. As it gets warmer the clothing we wear covers less and less of our skin and thus we become more and more exposed to the suns ultraviolet rays that, with prolonged exposure, burn the skin and with longer prolonged exposure are proven to cause skin cancer. Protect yourself and be generous with sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. I've read reports that state products with an SPF higher than 30 are really not any more effective than the 30, so I always buy at least 30, waterproof, and sweat proof products. I've also found the "stick" products work amazingly well on the face. Again, I have no specific brand recommendations and haven't had any bad experiences with any one brand over another. And summer time is a great time to wear a very light, designed for fitness, cap to protect that head from the sun. The RunJunkEes shop has an amazing cap designed for runners that I personally own in every color and strongly recommend. The white, red, and yellow are perfect colors for the summer months.
I'll close on the subject of protection from the sun by sharing this excellent infographic from the American Cancer Society about skin cancer, the most common form of cancer diagnosed every year, with you.
Now is the time of year to become a vampire runner whenever safely possible and run during the dark hours. If you run at night please be safe and run in well lit areas, run with friends, run with a pepper spray product, and run with lights such as the amazing Knuckle Lights. Running indoors on a treadmill or indoor track is an excellent option to train on the hottest of all days, but if you're racing this summer remember this: You perform best on race day trained for the environment you'll race in. Running out of doors, even on the hottest of days, is totally possible and safe so long as you remain hydrated, slow your pace a bit, and protect yourself from the sun.
Check out the other RunJunkEes Sponsored Athletes' blogs as they've also shared what works for them. Feel free to ask any of us questions or join us in the RunJunkEes Virtual Run Club and exchange information and experiences with runners from around the world.
The Journey Is the Reward
I was at the mall shopping for a new pair of shoes for my son Paul and the salesman said he really liked my shirt. I was wearing my "Bright As The Sun Orange" RunJunkEes shirt that says "The Journey is the Reward" on the back. He said he always spends so much time worrying about the end result, of whatever it is he's trying to accomplish, that he misses the fun of getting there. I told him that I am a RunJunkEe, an avid runner, and that for every finish line I have ever crossed and every medal ever hung around my neck the real rewards had always been found in the training leading up to that moment. The money raised for the cause, the friends met along the way, the stories learned of others and their reason for being there, and the many moments of zen and clarity found while running - the rewards were always received long before hitting the finish line timing mat. And he said "And so it shall be with life. I will look for the rewards on my journey." I bought Paul a nice new pair of Vans and we left the store.
The Journey is the Reward is by far my favorite mantra for this thing I do called running. Everything about my life has been enriched by running. I am fitter and healthier than ever before in life. I find myself surrounded by amazing people weekly at social runs, while training with TEAM in Training, and at races. My Facebook newsfeed is filled with positive and uplifting people daily. I've learned to Embrace My Joy on a daily basis. It is pretty amazing how this journey has rewarded me on an almost daily basis. Believe me, if this weren't true, I would've never run more than that first half marathon I set out to accomplish to raise money in memory of my nephew Mavrick.