Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Boston Strong

Not exactly sure how to start. I am so blessed to have been apart of Boston 2014. It was so beautiful in ways that you one can not fully comprehend unless there experiencing it and being opened to its beauty. The weekend was amazing with sharing the fun of pre-race excitement with so many runners from around the country to being with lots of Charlotte friends.

Photo: Charlotte runners are ready for Boston!

The city of Boston poured their hearts out into this marathon and it's runners. The crowds of spectators were so overwhelming and powerful.

I didn't really know what the day would hold when I left in the morning but I was open to whatever it was going to be. I had a general idea that I wanted to run pretty easy through the first 6-8 miles and than start working to pick up pace and have a strong second half.

I never felt great but I not bad either. I stopped for a few pics to be taken and texted to my hubby during the first 8-10 miles. I slapped hands like it was my job and soaked up the crowds. I remember taking my second gel around 10 and having a kick in my step. I think I was feeling pretty good around mile 10-11 but wondered okay can I hold this up through the Newton hills?

Than somewhere around mile 12-14 miles, I came upon this runner that was very young and who was having a difficult time running. I slowed to see how he was doing and if I could help him in anyway. His ITband was doing a number on him. He was not in good condition but was determined to finish Boston. He had a red bib in 2000s so I knew he having a bad day. Just from our few second interaction I knew I could not leave him. I turned off my watch and made the commitment to help him as far as I could. He had such a fighting spirit and was in so much pain but he stayed positive and kind. He and I shared our stories with each other during these miles.

He was 22 yrs old and had qualified for Boston with 2:53 marathon and was from Massachusetts. He had such a sweet and kind dissipation that he reminded me of my son.  Around mile 20, we came upon another Charlotte runner friend I knew and she was having a tough day. It was hot and the sun was taking it's toll on many runners. Pat the young runner told me I should go on and told me he was going to finish Boston no matter what. We exchanged information and hugged good-bye.

I left with my Charlotte running friend and up Heartbreak we went and said we would finish Boston together. I let her go for a minute to jump in a Porta-potty to pee when I noticed blood running down my legs. I had severe chaffing and I just happen to be next to a Med tent.

I asked them if they had any band-aids. Little did I know the chaffed area was much wider than a mere band-aid could cover. They cleaned the area, applied gauze and bandages so I could continue on. I never caught back up with my Charlotte friend as I was at med-tent for about 10 minutes. So I pressed on finishing out the last 5 minutes soaking in the crowd.

Finishing I was very happy and satisfied with my Boston experience. It was a beautiful adventure, I had fun and I connected with the city and the running community. Boston for me was not about PRs but about showing up and opening up to something greater than myself.

Pat finished his first Boston in 4:41! He showed more strength, perseverance and character than I have seen in someone before. I am so honored to be apart of his day.

it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful #idhtbptbb  :: Why my home looks worse than yours in real life

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Boston Story

This is a story I thought I would tell last year and it was going end so differently. The story I was going to tell kept my hopes up and heart open during a time of immense struggle.

It was the story of how awesome Boston was. It was a story I had made up in my head to keep my chin up and hopes alive that I would line up in Boston in April of 2013.

I had spent weeks telling myself and close friends how awesome Boston was leading up to the big day.

Just 6 weeks to the day before Boston, I laid in bed crying my heart out that my Boston dream may not become a reality at all. I had worked for 3 years to get to Boston and 6 weeks out from Boston I had little hope that I would be on the buses heading down to the start line.

About 6 months prior to this, I had started feeling lethargic and devastatingly tired all the time. I was gaining weight quickly and I had no idea what was going on. At first, we thought it might be anemia so I went to the dr for a full blood work up. I would get a letter blowing me out of the water saying that my thyroid levels were off. I went in and they told me it wasn't a big deal and that a little prescription of this drug call synthroid and everything was going to be all right.

Little did I know that pill would wreck havoc on my body and mind over the course of 6 weeks. I got a second opinion from a different doctor who would order a full thyroid panel. He actually found the problem was not the thyroid but a autoimmune disease call Hashimotos which is when the body starts attacking the thyroid. Although he didn't tell me how to deal with the disease, he refereed me out to an endocrinologist.

All the while staying on the drug call synthroid. I was overdosed on the drug over the course of 6 weeks. I no longer could run and just going up the stairs left me winded and weak. I lay on the couch sleeping for hours and hours. One day I layed down on the couch after getting my kids off to school, only waking to up to a noise at the door - it was them coming home from school. I was disoriented, weak, and tired. The doctors checked my thyroid levels and sure enough I was borderline walking corpse. I have no idea how my heart survived this period. When you have thyroid levels at the level my were at you are at very high risk of attack heart. My heart somehow managed to survive this delicate period.

I am so thankful that god put an angel in my path, my dear friend Kat who I didn't know before all this started. I knew I was very bad off and knew there was a naturalopath dr that moved in 5 doors down from me recently. One day out of frustration with my drs, I ended up at Kat's front door with tears in my eyes and my labs (blood work) in my hands. Asking her can you please help me. Kat was 8 months pregnant and had a toddler running around her house but opened up her door and heart to me. This begin an amazing dear friendship. Not only did her friendship help me through this dark time but she gave me all the knowledge and information I needed to start fighting this disease.

Back to 6 weeks before Boston, I lay in my bed thinking wow Boston is in 6 weeks. I started to cry. My son who was doing his homework in bed next to me - asked Mommy - what is wrong? I shared with him why I was crying and he said Mommy do not worry Boston is going to be so awesome. I dried my tears in the face of his hopeful eyes. Than he, my daughter and I begin to play this game "Boston was so awesome".

We made up all these awesome things that we did when we were in Boston as if they had already happened. We told ourselves this amazing tale of our Boston trip. All the places were going to go and people we were going to meet - Ryan Hall. And we did me Ryan Hall. Go to a Red Sox game, go to the Boston Finish line and I was going to run the Boston Marathon! I was going to cross that finish line. This story (Boston was so awesome) kept me going when it didn't seem possible that I would ran 5 miles let alone 26.2.

I was finally cleared to run by the endocrinologist when the thyroid levels were finally in a range that my heart was no longer at risk. The first 2 weeks back were painful and scary. My chest was tight and heart rate erratic.

Even though my thyroid levels had stabilized they were still not yet in a range where my heart wasn't under stress so I had to run slowly. Running 10 and 11 minutes mile pace felt like I was sprinting and they were several runs that I had to walk run in order to not let my heart rate get to crazy high.

I was so thankful for my first long run to have company to run with Serena who listen to me and helped me through my first long run on the way to Boston. I think we ran a 10 minute pace and I struggled quietly the whole way and thankful for her talking to distract me. That was really one of the hardest runs of my life.

The runs over the days and weeks slowly got better and better as my thyroid continue to come in a normal range. I was blessed with the loving support of Seton who stood by side through this time. Running with me when I didn't want anyone to know how bad I was really struggling. She kept my spirits up and listened to my heart and dreams. I remember a run when I told her I would have to walk up a hill and she didn't blink but walked with me as if it wasn't a big deal. It was a big deal to me in my heart and will be forever grateful for her friendship and standing by when during this time.

So many dear Baxter friends running with me during this time to help me get to Boston. So thankful for the friends that quietly supported me by running slow with me and keeping me company as I tried to find my way to Boston.

Sure enough with so much love and support - I found my way to Boston. It was everything that we talked about - it was beautiful and awesome. I saw my family at mile 25. Cheering and yelling for me. It was one of those moments that you will never forget and when I left them - I was bawling! I ran that last mile the fastest of the race and my eyes full of tears soaking in the enormity of what I was doing - running down Boylston with crowds cheering and roaring. I couldn't believe this moment! So beautiful!

And than it wasn't! How does pure bliss and happiness turn into tragedy and heart ache? This is something I will never understand.

I was thankfully safely across the finish line and my family far away enough but witnessed enough to be traumatized. We were all shell socked. The shell socked feeling would last for weeks after and I have never been able to reconcile the beautiful and horror of this day.

This was not how the story was written.

This year I am returning to Boston after spending a the year rebuilding my health. Learning how to manage and thrive with thyroid disease.

I feel thankful for my friend Tyler who became my angel in not only being a voice but a heart that helped me through the darkness and showed me that I could come out on the other end. He become my coach to help me re-qualify for Boston. Heck I didn't even know I wanted to go back but thankful that I had run a qualifier marathon just 7 weeks after Boston. Tyler stood by helping and guiding me back to running healthy. It wasn't easy and there have were ups and downs with thyroid levels but thankfully on race day I was healthy and able to run a good marathon.

Even after this marathon my thyroid health was yet to be optimal and I spent another 8+ months trying get my levels right. Gaining weight easily and dropping weight out of now where. Losing so much hair one month that every day I was afraid to brush my hair, having mood swings that would leave me crying in my closet for no reason.

Thank you to the dear friends who listen to my tears during this time Steph, Kim and Kimberly. Having thyroid levels constantly swinging from one side to the other made training and racing to be a wild card game. One day I would feel amazing and run amazing times and a week later, I was not even able to maintain an easy pace. I bobbed quite few races and workouts. I walked away from runs in tears of frustration and from some runs I walked away in tears of elation. Thankfully I would have days in there that said there really is something there under all the crap and just keep going.

After the past year of rebuilding but also wild swings, I was ran into my dear friends Chad and Wendy who said a healing prayer for me. After leaving them, I felt sometime change. Slowly I stopped needing and taking those damn thyroid pills that made me crazy. I am not sure if it was their prayer or all the gazillion steps I had taken in the past year to take care of my health but some miraculous changed for me.

I would eventually not need them (pills) at all and would begin my best and strongest training cycle ever. I had a few mild hormone swings but felt better off the drugs than on them so I went with it. I have spent the last 9 weeks immersed in what I love - running and training to run Boston 2014. I ran an average 72 miles a week for that 9 week period. Running paces that I knew I was capable of but still wowed me with each run.

I have no idea where I go from here but I know it is going to be BEAUTIFUL!

My biggest heart felt thank yous for my dear family and friends that have loved me through this and listen to my heart, tears and hopes. Thank you to everyone who ever said a supportive and loving word to me in this journey. Every word spoken or written has been a source of encouragement to my heart.

I dedicate my Boston Marathon miles to all my friends dealing with Thyroid disease. I love you and you will find your way to health and happiness.

In Love and Light, Jamie