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

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Never felt so alive!!!!!!

Today has been an absolutely amazing day!!! Actually, the entire weekend was great. We spent the weekend camping with a group of amazing friends and boating for two days! Although we got rained on the first night, we were able to spend plenty of time out on the water and the rain never dampened our spirits.

This morning, I woke up to see the sun rising over the water and the complete silence of a full campground. Other than myself and my husband, because I woke him up trying to get off of the air mattress we share, we were the only two people awake! Although the air was heavy with moisture, the temperature was cool and perfect for a run. We ran the entire campground a total of 7 times to make our 9 miles. I felt great during the run and could tell I was pushing myself for a better time. I wanted to stick to my 12 minute pace for a long run and with the help of my husband, I knew it would be possible. And it was! We finished up the run in 1:48:06! It was a great feeling!!

And then, as we were packing up the tent to get ready to head home, I got the phone call from my mom! The article was on the front page of the Sports page in the Post Crescent! I was so excited! I wanted to see it so bad, but when I walked up to the registration building at the campground, there were no newspapers to be found! I was going to have to wait until we got home to see it.

My husband stopped to buy a paper on our way home and as I looked at the picture on the front, I had a hard time recognizing myself! It was the picture I had emailed to the photographer, Bill, after our shoot. A picture of myself wrapped in pig skin and gauze, a feeding tube from my nose, no hair and frail skin. Oh my God! Was that picture really going to be seen by people all over the city? It has got to be one of the ugliest pictures I have ever had taken and I was plastering it all over the newspaper, and on a Sunday too!!! Ugh, what was I thinking? Of course, underneath that picture was the photo Bill had taken on that Tuesday training run. The one that looked like me and the one I could recognize. The article was awesome and it highlighted all of the signs and symptoms of SJS as well as gave websites for where to find more information. I am so happy!!!!

So this weekend is the Green Bay Packer 5k. I can't wait! Part of the course is in Lambeau itself! Being a Packer fan, how can you not be excited for that! Then it's another 9 mile run on Sunday. It's starting to be a little unbelievable to me that I am able to run as far as I am. Honestly, I never knew I had it in me!!

We've sold nearly 50 shirts for the cause and I am hoping to sell more! It would be so great to see all of those blue shirts on race day! Let's just hope I can run through the emotion of that day! It is going to be another amazing one!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Team SJS Race Day Shirts!!

Well, here they are! The team shirts are done and ready to be ordered! If you are interested in helping spread awareness and would like to order one, let me know!!

A special thanks goes to Jason Allwardt for his creativity, time, skill and generosity for designing these shirts! He asked me what I wanted, ran with it and practically read my mind! I wanted something that symbolized the uphill journey that all of us SJS survivors and family members go through as well as the mountain known as training for the half marathon!!! I am so grateful to my dear friend! Thank you, Jason! And I also want to thank his beautiful wife, Stephanie, who is doing the printing of these bad boys! Without her and Eagle Graphics, these may not have been a possibility! Thanks, Steph!!

Now that the shirts are well underway, I am unable to contain my excitement! This entire journey over the past 6 months has really become more than just a dream! It is becoming more and more real every day! Getting to run the half marathon is a dream I have had for about 5 years, but never thought that I could do. I would quit or give up on myself just when I thought it was too tough. Now, quitting is not even a possibility! Oh don't get me wrong, I have thought about it! But my heart just won't let me.

And to share this with my dearest friends and family is almost overwhelming! I have been amazed by the outpouring of love and support from so many people. The number of people who are signing up to do these 13.1 miles is incredible. And for those who aren't able to be here or do it, are supporting me with kind words, ordering shirts and donating to the Stevens Johnson Syndrome Foundation or the Boston Foundation for Sight. My heart is so full of gratitude! I have never felt this way before and I feel so lucky to be able to feel it! Two years ago today, I was on a respirator and the smile I gave my mom before she left the hospital that day was the most energy I could exert! Not anymore!!

Only 66 days until race day!! This weekend is an 8 mile run. So it's full steam ahead from here on out! Let's do it people! Let's do it together!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Blah, blah, blah...

Had a really nice training run this morning. Only did 3 miles, but ran it quicker than I have since being sick. Ran it in 32:51 which is a 10:57 pace. Pretty proud of that!! The weather was nice, but glad I got it done early enough in the morning. I think it's gonna be a hot one today! So it's an afternoon at the pool for me and the boys!!

Nothing else major going on. Waiting for the newspaper article to be published. Can't wait!! The photographer came this morning and took some pictures. So, we'll see if any of them turned out. I told him to do what he could to make me look about 30 pounds lighter! We'll see if that happens!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Photo Op!!

So tomorrow, a photographer from our local newspaper is coming to take pictures of me running for an article they are doing on my training for the half marathon! How cool is that? I'm pretty excited about the article, since I have been trying to get as many people to learn about SJS as possible over the past two years. A little nervous about it as well. I hope the article doesn't just bring light to the fact that the marathon is coming up soon in the Fox Cities, but also gives valuable information about Stevens Johnson Syndrome. My SJS family spends so much time and energy in their own communities to getting the word out there that I hope I don't let them down!

My friend, Eva Uhlin from Sweden, was on the Today Show a few months back and was interviewed by Matt Lauer. It was so great to get the story on the show! Eva did an amazing job, but I was so disappointed in Matt's coverage of her illness. He talked about how Eva's face fell off and focused so much attention on the gruesome details of the illness but very little effort was put into the signs, symptoms, causes, warning signs and absolutely no direction on how to find out more information on it! Ok, disappointed is an under statement! I was pissed!!!! Matt, you really screwed up on that one!! no pressure on Dan from the Post Crescent!! Lol!

Anyway, I got to do my long run amongst the rows of corn and miles of highway in the great state of Iowa on Sunday! It was cloudy, humid and threatening to rain for the entire route, but it held off. Actually, I would have welcomed a few sprinkles since it was so humid!! The air was very still on the way out, but on the return leg it picked up a little and helped to cool us off. My husband ran it with me. It was great to have him along since I was feeling pretty overwhelmed at the thought of this run. The week before, if you remember, I was plagued by a side stitch that wouldn't go away and the heat was nearly unbearable! It's been amazing to me just how much your mental strength plays a part in running long distances. It's usually when I have a "bad" run when my mind isn't in the game. And that was how I was feeling before we set out.

It took me until the turn around at mile 3.5 before I settled into the rhythm of my feet hitting the pavement and my breathing slowed. My legs never felt tired, however, and I was glad for that. It was a great boost in the self-esteem department and I just might be ready to tackle that 7 miler again on Sunday! We'll see how it goes tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I'm past the halfway point!!

Well I sure hope everyone had a fantastic Independence Day!! I know that we had a crazy and busy schedule of driving, eating, boating, eating, driving, eating, swimming, eating... It was well worth it, but I can honestly say that my stamina is NOT what it used to be!! I have had about three days of recovery time from all of the get-togethers and fireworks. It seems that my week has finally begun looking a little more normal and I am well into the swing of our summer activities.

I am happy to report that even though the holiday weekend was hectic, I stayed on track with my training schedule! Saturday morning, before we left for the lake, I got up and ran my first 7 miler!!! Which means that I am now able to run further than half of a half! Nice, huh? Even though it was fairly early in the morning, the humid air hung like a water soaked wool blanket that I couldn't find my way out of. The sun was out too, which made it even hotter. I could feel the heavy air in my lungs and felt a struggle I hadn't had to face quite yet since being ill. The damage to my lungs is still fairly unknown, but I can say that humidity and extreme cold can make breathing difficult, so every inhale felt as though I were drowning. A sluggish run would be a good way to describe this one, but I did it, walking only once to stretch my legs a little.

The other news I have to report is that I received a call from my dermatologist with the results from my recent skin biopsy. I am happy to report that it is a benign lichenoid keratoses, which is a big medical term meaning that I don't have skin cancer!! A few weeks with a pretty strong steroid cream and I should be good to go. So make sure you are all wearing your sun screen before going out for your runs as well as any time you're out in the sun. It's just not worth the risk!!

I have continued my maintenance runs during the week and look forward to another 7 mile challenge this weekend. We are going to Iowa to visit my brother and so I get to run in a different environment, which I am looking very forward to! A change in scenery is always an added bonus. I have also signed up for a couple of other races to help keep myself motivated during this long stretch of training. The Green Bay Packers are hosting a 5k coming up at the end of the month and I'm going to tackle the Otto Grunski 10k in August. That will be the longest race I have evver done before the half, which seems to be sneaking up on me! Hard to believe it is well into July already.

Tomorrow holds a 4.5 mile run and another 4 on Friday morning. Then I'll get to rest up on Saturday for the 7 miles through cornfields in the great state of Iowa on Sunday. Gonna bring an extra cooler along to fill up on that incredible Iowa sweet corn! Don't worry, I'll brag about how great it is when I get back! Happy running everyone!!