Members of Team SJS just minutes before the start of the 2010 Fox Cities Half Marathon!

Sunday, February 10, 2013 good to be back!

It has been forever since I have come back here.  Things have changed so much and so many things have happened.  I guess with everything going on, I just wasn't able to find the time or the energy to come here.

Since the last time I posted, I ran in the Fox Cities Full Marathon relay with my amazing husband, two dear friends, my incredible sister-in-law and some incredible drivers that made the day fantastic!  It was a fabulous weekend with 8 Survivors.  We ran in honor of Lindsay Estacio, whom we had lost to complications of SJS.  It was a hard weekend, but we got through it together, as we always do!

I finished training for that very first marathon and completed it on October 7th with my bestie running partner, Deb.  She has become more to me than just someone I pound the pavement with.  She has become one of my best friends and a constant in my life.  She makes me feel safe when there are times that I don't.  She allows me to have my "crazy" days of anxiety, anger and struggles through this life I have been left with after my illness.  She is a sense of calm, of security and always good for a lots of laughs!  I thank God for her each and every day!

I finished my 26.2 mils in 5 hours and 21 minutes.  I was tired, sore, and felt broken at the end.  Until 1 mile  from the finish I saw the looming building of St. Mary's Hospital.  When I felt like quitting, it pushed me along once again and I closed a chapter in my life.

The following day, I was in court.  Battling the doctor that misdiagnosed me and prescribed the medication that nearly killed me.  The week was terrible.  It happened that I ended up being on trial, not the doctor in question.  My life was under a microscope and the blame was placed back on me.  I lost the case, making me doubt our legal system and the ability of doctors everywhere.  It saddens me to have become jaded from such an experience, but once again, I will be turning to running to get me through.

I battled an IT Band injury off and on from November until now, so am just getting back to it.  Starting over has proven to be very difficult, but so very much needed.  I refuse to let this set back stop me from moving forward!  I am pulling myself back up by my bootstraps and learning more about myself now more than ever.      I have opened my own hair studio, which I never thought I would do.  I have another marathon on my schedule for this year along with several relays.  I am hoping this year is full of courage, hope, love and joy. Success in whatever way I can make  it happen and time with my family and friends.  It is about overcoming fears and maybe, just maybe, tackling a new challenge.  It's about having fun!  It's about being happy and in order to do that, I will be putting one foot in front of the other.  Won't you join me??

Friday, August 17, 2012

Every Month should be SJS Awareness Month

First of all, thank you Governor Walker for Proclaiming August as Stevens Johnson Syndrome Awareness Month in the State of Wisconsin!!!!  Thank you for recognizing the need for education and awareness.

Believe it or not, the 3rd Annual SJS Weekend is just around the corner and I am looking forward to spending time with fellow Survivors from around the world.  All of us together, spreading the news of SJS and what it can do, is never wrong.  There will be new faces this year and familiar ones as well.  Survivors of all ages and their families as well.  It's a weekend of laughter, of "tears", of strength and courage.  We come together to support each other, to build each other up and to help save lives with the power of knowledge.  Knowledge that most of us were never armed with.  Don't be confused by warning labels on medications or the empty words of doctors telling you that it is a "rare" illness, that it's a rash, that it is not likely to happen to you.  Maybe it isn't.  Maybe it won't happen to you, but it may happen to someone you love or someone you know.

There is no cure  for Stevens Johnson Syndrome or TENs.  There is no way to know how severe it will be for each person.  It is different for everyone.  Some of us had the rash, some of us blistered, some of us lost skin, some of us lost our vision, some of us can't cry, some of us lost finger and toe nails, some of us will never be able to have children, some of us can't even sit in the sun or handle bright lights, some of us now have COPD, some of us died, some of us survived for a few years and then died because of complications due to SJS, most of us live in constant fear of it happening again, and some of us have had it happen.

There is no opinion about any of that.  All of that is FACT!  I may not know all of the scientific reasons for why this happens or how it happens, but I DO know that it happened to ME!  I DO know  that I live with this every day.  Not some days, EVERY DAY!  And I DO know that I am doing a pretty damn good job of living my life.  Along with my family and friends, I have built a new life.  One from scratch, honestly.  I have started from the basics and progressed to training for a full marathon.  There are times that I wonder if I truly am capable of 26.2, but most of the time I know that I am.  I am a Fighter, I am a Survivor, and I will finish it.  The good with the bad, the things I am proud of and the things that I am not will be carried across that Finish Line.  But I will NEVER let ANYONE knock me down for good.  I may rise to the occasion, I may fall, but I will get back up.  Of that you can be certain!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tomorrow's a big day!!

Now we're into the part of the training schedule that has made me a bit nervous from the first time I looked at it.  14 miles tomorrow.  Ok, it's only .9 more miles than a half marathon, which I have done.  No biggie, or at least it shouldn't be.  But I am shaking in my Nikes a bit.  The weather is still horrible and today there is a heat advisory until 9 pm tonight.  Tomorrow is going to be tough on the lungs and a big mental game.  Here's where the 20% physical and 80% mental comes in, right?

So, I'll keep you posted on how tomorrow's "longest run ever for me" goes!  Now to hydrate and figure out how to get to bed at a decent time!  Say...6:30 pm?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

How many miles are in a marathon?

It's official, summer is halfway over!  My dog, Toby, is horribly traumatized by last night's glorious display of our country's birthday.  No, he wasn't with us at the park, but the full evening of fireworks put on by the city and fellow neighbors has me wondering if he will need medication just so he can go outside to do his business from now on.  Poor thing. His constant panting and shaking and running back to the safety of the house reminds me of someone else I know.  I am into full swing marathon training now and there are days that  are filled with panting, nervous shakes and  pulling the covers back over my head to hide from the ever lurking race day.  Don't worry, Toby, I get it!  

According to the counter on my blog, I have 94 days to get ready for this thing.  And so far, things have been going...yep just that...going.  Following my training schedule has proven to be a bit more difficult than I had originally thought.  Three nights a week at the baseball diamond for my boys' games, volunteering to take on the responsibility of the concession stand, working 3 evenings a week at the salon and the unbelievable heat we have had in Wisconsin this year has only added to the difficulty of training for something of this magnitude.

My running partner, Deb, and I have also each had some physical setbacks. We have completed 2 half marathons together and have struggled with each one due to the extreme heat and humidity, not to mention the unbelievable amounts of hills in the Fort Atkinson race.  Jeez!  Oh, and we finished Green Bay this year not knowing that it had been cancelled due to the amount of runners needing medical attention along the course. We knew the heat was bad, but no one had told us that the race had been cancelled a mere 7 minutes prior to us crossing the finish line, so, as Forrest Gump would say, we just kept running. Although our times did not count that day, we knew what we had conquered on that course.  

Deb had a serious scare with a bronchial spasm that brought both of us to tears and she has had it happen a few more times.  I am dealing with runner's knee in my left and an achilles tendon issue in my right ankle.  None of these things would stop us from running at this point.  Marathon training brings on a laundry list of issues that you need to deal with as you progress in miles.  People bruise and lose toenails, ice packs are a common theme and resting on a running day will mess with your head something fierce.  It's just the nature of the beast.  Without all of these things, running a marathon would  mean nothing and everyone would be doing it.  

Our long run this week was a 12 miler.  So we have a long way to go before we hit those really scary numbers like 17, 18, 19 or the big whopper 20!  And then, once we do the 20 miles, on race day we still have 6.2 more miles to go.  Just an easy 10k, right?

My friend, Jenny, asked me this week on the long run if I ever thought I would be running a marathon.  Jenny was there cheering me on the day I finished my first sprint triathlon, and I thought for sure I might die then!  But 7 years later, I have survived TENs and have 5 half marathons under my belt.  I told her that I decided to run those 26.2 miles to push my body past the point that I ever thought it would be able to go just to prove to myself that I am no longer sick.  I am no longer teetering on the edge of  having a pulse and no longer breathing.  Because, honestly, that is what scares me the most some days.  I was just too close to that edge.  One misstep, and I would have missed those baseball games, those fireworks, those moments with my husband and children that I deserve to have.  I would have caused them pain that no children or husband or mother or father or brother or friend should ever have to feel.  This marathon is about continuing to beat an illness that has won in so many other cases, but not mine.  This  marathon is carrying me farther and farther away from death's door and I for one am grateful for it.

So here I sit, resting on a scheduled run day with ice packs on both legs and a heat advisory until tomorrow night at 10 pm.  My mind is racing, doubting that I will be ready.  But I know that I won't be and that will be ok.  Very few first timers can say that they were trained well enough for the big show.  This one is for finishing, for feeling ok when it's over (because I know  I'm not going to feel real great), and for being able to put that 26.2 sticker on my car.  That's what this one's about.  Who knows, maybe one day there will be another and that one can be for everything else.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Enjoying the Journey

It's been nearly 1 year since I met my friend and running partner, Deb.  I had always wanted to find someone to run with that was willing to continue and follow through with training schedules.  Someone to hold myself accountable to if need be, someone to do races with, to have a similar pace so I didn't have to feel guilty for holding him/her back or feeling like I had to push harder to keep up, and someone who loves this sport as much or more than I do.  Well, I have found that in Deb and much, much more.

This Sunday, we are running our first half marathon together.  We have trained through the cold and dreary months, changed our work schedules to be able to run together, have each recovered from surgeries and/or hospitalizations, texted and emailed words of encouragement and support, gotten to know each other's families, are now in a book club together, agreed to sign up and train for our first full marathon, and then after that get matching tattoos of our 26.2 accomplishment.  Nuts, right?

Yeah, maybe, but I will say that my friendship with Deb, and so many other runners that I have met in the community this past year, is more than I ever expected from this sport.  For a long time, I felt very alone after my illness.  Of course, I always had my SJS family that I could chat with through Facebook or even call if things were bad.  But I always felt different when it was just me in my community.  If Mike and I would go out, all I could think was that people were staring at my scarred skin or my prosthetic eye wondering what in the heck was wrong with me  or if they could figure out which eye was real and which was fake.  I was self conscious of putting tears in my eyes every few minutes and I felt as though when people heard my story, they felt pity for me.  I HATED that!  It's tough because you want people to know what you went through in order to educate them about the illness, but you also want to just go back to living a "normal" life and not be just a Survivor of a horrible, flesh eating disease.  I wanted to be me.  That's it.

So when I started at the No Boundaries Half/Full Marathon Training group through our local running store, Fleet Feet, I was amazed to find that the people who were there were incredible in their own right.  Some people were losing large amounts of weight, others were running their first marathon in honor of a loved one who  had battled an illness or lost that battle.  People were running for themselves or for others and no matter what, they weren't giving up. I found myself drawn to their determination, pulled into their passion to train hard and finish strong.  They became my friends and I am forever changed by this community.

Thanks to all of my running friends, I am as "normal" again as I will ever be. When I am with them, I am just another person who runs.  They encourage me, support me, cheer me on and pick me up when I fall.  They are my angels on Earth.

As for Deb, she keeps me grounded.  She pushes me to my limits and has been the main reason I feel whole again.  She doesn't see me as being blind in one eye, she doesn't see me with my nerve damaged feet, she doesn't care that that I have scarred skin, although she has reminded me on a few occasions to wear sunscreen.  She sees me as her running partner, her friend, the idiot who thought it would be a great idea to do our first full this year!

The weather forecast for Sunday is extreme heat and lots of road construction along the route.  So we'll see how we do.  We have goals lined up as A, B, and C.  A is to finish, B is to not end up in the medical tent and C is to just have FUN!  Trust the process, enjoy the journey, right Deb?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Not enough time in a day!

I have said this before and I will say it again, running is one of the best things that has happened in my life!  I have  found a strength I never thought I had, the ability to be an athlete when I never could be when I was younger, I have made some of the dearest friends I ever could have asked for and I have been able to keep depression at bay which in turn has made me a much healthier and better person.  I am so grateful and love it so much!  However, there are some pitfalls to this sport and at this point, I may have fallen into a few of them.

My race schedule this year is bigger than it's ever been.  I swore up and down I  would NEVER do a full marathon, and this year I have signed up and paid for my first one ever!  I must have been under the influence or completely out of my mind when that became a good idea in my head!  There are numerous half marathons as well as a couple of 55+ mile relays of which I am a part of.  It is all so exciting when you're planning your season of races at the beginning of the year, but when you get down to it and the training is getting heavy, it is easy for me to get bogged down with life.

I have a relay coming up in 2 week and then a half marathon in just over 6.  And for some reason, I am feeling ill prepared for that half marathon.  I know that I have been having a difficult time fitting in my training with my family's crazy schedule as well as my unusual work schedule.  My house feels a little something like one of those hoarder shows with papers from school projects, magazines, dishes in the sink, dog toys all over the floor, folded laundry stacked in piles on the dresser, clutter on the kitchen counter, a bathroom that needs to be cleaned and floors needing to be swept.  The fridge needs a good over haul, the dishwasher needs to be emptied, wedding invitations need to be responded to, grocery lists and weekly menus need to be made and there is a sticky film of maple syrup on the dining room table where each of my boys eat their meals every day. To put it in a plain and simple way, I am NOT focused!!

I can't seem to complete one task from beginning to end anymore.  I start one thing, the phone rings, the dog barks, the stack of papers on the counter draws my attention away from tending to the sticky mess on the table and I am forever lost.  I now have a half of a stack of papers that I have sorted with 14 more things that need to be signed and put back in the mail, a dog sleeping under my feet at the kitchen sink where the dishes have somehow multiplied and a quarter less sticky spot on my dining table, but a sticky spot none-the-less.  And that is all on a day that I don't have to work!  We won't even talk about what doesn't get accomplished on those days!!  

How in the world am I to refocus my little world into manageable bits and pieces so that I don't go and completely lose my mind?  It used to be that I would go for my scheduled run and be happier, a little more energetic and motivated, but lately that hasn't been the case at all!   Now I feel like I am drowning in tasks needing to be done, unhappy family members needing more and more of me or my time, friends wondering what in the hell happened to me because they haven't seen or heard from me in weeks, and a training scheduling pointing it's long, skinny finger at me with a scowl on it's face judging me for not getting the miles in while all I want to do is point a different finger right back at it in the vertical position rather than horizontal!

Am I over trained?  Am I trained enough?  Am I headcase or just an every day, average, working mother of two boys with busy schedules, a husband wanting more time with his wife and a little more accomplished around the house?  Is it time to back off on the miles and hit the cross training a little harder?  Is it feasible or realistic to think I can do all of the events on the calendar?  Am I being selfish because that's what I want to do?  Am I bad wife and mother because I have focused so much time on my training in the past?  Is it all just catching up to me?  

I have no idea!  I don't know the answer to any of those questions right now.  What I do know is that I need a shower from this morning's workout!  And a nap would be phenomenal, but that isn't going to happen!  So I think I'll take that shower, defrost some chicken for dinner, grab a cup of coffee, and just take a deep breath! That, I know I can handle!  And maybe,  just maybe, I'll finish those dishes.  Completing something is better than nothing, right?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Surf City Half Marathon

So, nearly two months after the fact, I think I might possibly have a few minutes to write about my incredible trip to San Diego, the events leading up to the trip and the footprint it has indefinitely left on my soul.  I can honestly say that training for that half marathon was the most focused I have been before any event, other than maybe my first triathlon.  It was the most incredible and gracious gift that I had ever been given.  My coach, Rob, handed me an opportunity I didn't know how to refuse, even though my head was telling me that he was crazy for doing it and that I wasn't anything special!  Why would he want to train me, fly my husband and I out to San Diego, let us stay with him and then run a half marathon with me?  Little ol' me?  Really?  Besides, he'd never even met me!!  After being there, meeting my incredible coach for the first time in person and getting to know him better and better, I still can't wrap my head around it.  There are just people in this world that make you want to become a better person.  They do the most selfless things and ask nothing in return and want you to believe that you are worth all of it.  I know this, because Rob is one of those people!  I like to believe that God has brought Rob into my life so that one day I can show someone else the grace that he has shown me. There's just no other answer.

So, the week did not start out the way we had planned!  Not by a long shot!  The short of it is that at the end of the previous week, I began having some problems with my bad eye.  The eye that I wear the prosthetic in. I was in a lot of pain. The type of aching pain like a sinus headache, something I have never really struggled with before, and then there was this horrible swelling under my left eye as if someone had cold clocked me a good one!  It was red, warm to the touch, painful and swollen for several days.  The stupid thing is that I really didn't think too much of it until 4:00 am on Sunday morning when the pain woke me from a solid sleep.  It was then that Mike and I made our way to the hospital.

Thinking it would be one of those, "here is an antibiotic (enter nervous tics and traumatic fear) and some pain meds, come back if it gets worse" kind of deals, but within an hour, I was being admitted.  Admitted??  What??  And then I was being wheeled in for a CT scan of my head.  Three IV antibiotics, pain medication that brought on intense nausea and vomiting, and a pretty scary CT scan left me with a diagnosis of Periorbital Cellulitis.  Of course my first reaction was that this had something to do with FAT!  Had to, right?  Cellulitis sure sounds a lot like cellulite to me!!  But basically, the area around my eye was infected and the fear was that the infection had traveled into the bone between my eye socket and sinuses.  If that was the case, we were looking at 6-8 weeks of IV antibiotics.  We wouldn't know anything for a few days when they would repeat the CT scan to see if there were any improvements.

Of course, my first words were, "Well, I have a plane to catch on Thursday and a half marathon to run on Sunday, so just make that happen!"  Hmmm....I don't think that was even close to being on the radar of the three doctors who were now in charge of my care.  A hospitalist, an ENT and an Infectious Disease doc.  They told me I couldn't fly, then they told me I might be able to fly, but wouldn't be able to run, they told me they would have to put in a PIC line and I would have to go to a hospital in Sand Diego twice a day for IV antibiotics while I was there, then they told me an oral antibiotic just might do the trick.  I had no idea what was going to happen!  The thought of sunny days, warmer temperatures and those looming 13.1 miles seemed so out of reach at that point.  I spent my days pushing my IV pole around the unit, visiting with friends and family and trying to stay positive.  I was going to California, damn it!  And I was going to run the race of a lifetime too!  I had cheated death on more than one occasion, a set back of cellulite or whatever the heck this was, sure wasn't going to mess with my half marathon!

A few changes were made to my antibiotics and, of course, the fear of SJS returning took hold of my heart and mind and ran with it.  I was scared and angry and hopeful all at the same time. Each and every time they would come in with a new bag of fluid, I thought this could possibly be me staring at the culprit of another bout of that terrible illness.  The fear is unlike anything I have ever experienced before I got sick, but lives with me every time I have to take a medication. But after the second CT scan on that Tuesday morning, I was on my way home that afternoon with a bottle of antibiotics, steroids and the best case scenario I could have asked for.  The infection  seemed to be responding to the treatment and I was getting on that plane in two days!!!!

So that's what we did!  Thursday afternoon, Mike and I got on the plane and within a few hours, we were shedding our jackets, driving past beaches and palm trees on our way to Rob's house!  Holy crap!  We were really in California!!!

So many things happened while we were there, but the reason we were there was to run the Surf City Half Marathon in Huntington Beach!  The doctors had told me that they wouldn't recommend me running the race, but I wasn't in any pain, the swelling was gone and I saw no reason not to do it.  So after a week of not running, the three of us went for a short two mile run to shake the cob webs out and fill our lungs with some awesome California air!

We ran the two miles and I was feeling a bit weak.  Of course, our pace was a bit quick for me, but ran along the boardwalk and I could feel the salty ocean air in my face.  The Pacific was so close I just had to walk across the sand to touch it.  The sun, nearly ready to set, was warm on my skin and if I could make tears, I'm sure I would have had one or two for the beauty of it all.

Checking out the Expo with Rob.

 The morning of the race was absolutely incredible!!  The sun was shining, the temperatures were in the low 60's, so getting to run without three layers of clothes was incredibly liberating!!  There were  nearly 20,000 runners between the full and half marathon, so this was a pretty big deal!

Rob and I had talked earlier about a plan.  My initial plan was to run the first 3 or 4 miles at a  slower pace, about 11:00 or so.  Then, after I settled in and could figure out how I was feeling, pick it up a bit and save some for the finish.  My goal was to finish in 2:30:00 and  feel good! That was my plan!

So when the "gun" went off for our wave, although I'm still not sure we started with the correct wave, I was doing everything I could to pull back the reigns a bit.  There were so many runners that I spent a lot of time bobbing and weaving trying to stay between Mike, who was on my right, and Rob, on my left.  I figured if I placed myself between these two big guys, I wouldn't end up kissing the pavement if someone cut me off on my blind side.  And, as it has in the past, my plan paid off!  No road rash on this girl!!!  The first three miles were straight out on the Pacific Coast Highway.  We would catch glimpses  of the beach or Ocean on our left and it was amazing.  I could see that my pace was holding steady at a 10:30.  A little quick, but I was feeling so strong and holding back was difficult with this many people around, so I listened to the Forrest Gump in my head and "just kept running!"  We turned to the right after mile three and ran through a residential area with a few slight hills and lots of curvy streets.  The scenery was beautiful and there were lots of cheerleaders along the route.  Spirits were high and at about 6 we turned back onto  the PCH for another 2 miles North before hitting the turn around to bring it 5 miles back in.  By this time, I was ready for that turn around.  I was holding that 10:30 pace pretty well and I was beginning to wonder where the heck mile 8 was!!

We reached the turnaround and headed toward the finish line.  At this point, my pace slowed and looking down at my Garmin started to become a bit of a problem for me.  I could feel some frustration building as I watched my pace get closer to that 11:00.  I wanted that 2:30:00 so bad, I was quite sure I could taste it.  Rob helped me through some discomfort in my right leg, telling me to widen my stance and shorten my stride. It was helping.  I found myself looking to the ground because I was feeling a slow and gradual incline and at mile 10, that was the last thing I wanted to tackle.  Rob said it was just a bit longer before the incline leveled off, but it never did!  Those  darn last 5 miles were all up "hill".  Again, Rob told me to look straight ahead and watch the bobbing heads in front of me, but that made it all worse!  I knew we were climbing, so looking down was all I could do at that point.  I was getting sore and tired.

And then, like a bat to the forehead, it hit me!  Yet again, I was in a situation where I was finding that I am so much stronger than I ever thought that I was or could be.  After three days in the hospital with a very serious infection, I was thousands of miles from home running a half marathon with my incredible husband and coach!  Yeah, I had run 13.1 miles before, but never feeling as strong as I was that day.  Sure, I was tired and my muscles were burning, but I was going to set a new PR that day, I could feel it in every step and I knew it with every beat of my heart.  Well, that and I was watching the time on my Garmin!  Must have been the Prednisone!  Hmmm...I don't think that is the steroid of choice, but hey, it just might have worked for me that day!

So as we neared the finish line, I savored every brief moment.  Although my body was ready to stop, I didn't want any of it to be over!  I had trained so hard, I had come so far and although finishing was the ultimate goal, I didn't ever want to get there.  Could this be the runner's high they speak of?  Or was it just that I had grown in ways that surprised even me?  The simple parts of life were becoming large, palpable, taking on a life of their own?  Was I truly learning to live again?  Without fear, doubt, anger, anxiety even?  No, not completely, but maybe with less of it than I used to.  And learning to live again after nearly dying, has got to be the scariest thing I have ever done.  Because now you know what you stand to lose.  You are aware of all of the beautiful things around you that before you never even knew were there.  And that in itself is worth living for!

We finished that race, not in 2:30:00, but in 2:25:44.  We had crossed the finish line more than 4 minutes faster than my original goal and nearly 15 minutes sooner than my previous Personal Record!  I had set a new PR for myself and on top of all of that, I felt AMAZING!  There were no dehydration issues, no stomach pains, and other than some tired muscles, I was perfect!  It was a day to celebrate for sure!

Mike and I enjoyed our trip to California so much.  So many highlights from that trip!  Seeing dolphins swimming in the ocean, stepping foot in the Pacific Ocean, getting to know my incredible coach, eating amazing food, setting personal bests, and continuing to learn more about myself.  But one thing that I will NEVER forget is getting to meet Silver Medalist and 2009 New York City Marathon winner, Meb Keflezighi.  Actually, we ate pizza with him!  Oh yes we did!  Meb and Rob happen to be dear friends and Rob asked Meb if he would be willing to join us for dinner.  He also shared part of my story with Meb, who also came into running with an incredible story of his own, and told him of my Surf City PR.  The surprising thing to Mike and I about Meb was how humble he was.  He congratulated me on a great race!  Ha!  He congratulated me!!!  Just a girl from Wisconsin who averages a 10:30 pace all for the sake of raising awareness of an illness almost no one has ever heard of.  A girl who had just weeks before watched Meb  win the Olympic marathon Trials on tv!  I watched him in my sweats, sitting on my couch, finish 26.2 miles in 2:09:07!  It was in that moment that he taught me, and I finally learned, that everyone has a personal best and that a mile is still a mile no matter how quickly you complete it!  In the presence of one of the best distance runner's of all time, I believed I was a runner!  I too am a runner!  Thank you, Meb!

To say that California was amazing would be an understatement!  California was life changing for me and maybe even for my husband.  With all of the wonderful things that we were able to do, I was also reminded that he will always be my biggest supporter!  He believes in me, encourages me and holds me up when  need it most.  What a blessed life I have!