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Archive for February, 2011

Well, I made it – 14 miles on Saturday! Whew! I was exhausted and hurting, but I finished! A “lovely” ice bath afterwards has me feeling pretty good as I write this on Sunday evening, but my body is TIRED. I just can’t wait to hit my pillow tonight (like most other nights, actually!).

I decided to run for Christan, as she has been on my mind quite a bit lately. It is her best friend, Boyd, that I wrote about recently, when he donated the proceeds of his second professional boxing match to Dr. Wise Young at Rutgers for SCI research. It is Christan and her family who housed, fed and took care of my daughter, Ari, during her Physical Therapy rotation at Burke Rehab Hospital for the past 8 weeks. And it is Christan who manages to keep everything together, day after day, week after week and month after month.

At Push to Walk, we’ve been trying to increase the amount of videos we have on our clients, and it is Christan who always makes me smile whenever photos or videos are discussed. Christan comes to “workout.” She’ll have on a sweatshirt or t-shirt and sweatpants. She is ready to work hard and sweat, not have her picture taken! So convincing her to let us take video is always a challenge, even though we know she looks great in all of her pictures. But it’s not what she wants “out there” on the website or on YouTube.  She wants to look good, with her hair fixed and makeup on, which is totally contradictory to working out. So it’s always a compromise……….and since we have pictures of her on our website, you can see we’ve won a few of the battles!

But that’s only a small part of the reason I was thinking about Christan as I ran my looooong run yesterday. She was injured at only ten years of age and is now 27. She has researched, learned and talked with people about everything imaginable related to spinal cord injuries. While not trying to focus on her SCI, she also doesn’t hide from it either. She has figured out a way to live her life on her own terms, and do the things she loves to do. It isn’t easy, as I can only imagine, but she lives life to the fullest every single day.

I only know a few people in Christan’s large family, but they are as loving and caring as can be. Hearing how they embraced my daughter and made her part of their family gave me a good idea of what good people they are. Being surrounded by that kind of love and support has obviously contributed to make her the person she is today. I know she is ready to live on her own and be more independent, and I know that day will come very soon. But it seems to me that her family has prepared her for this, and she will thrive on her own.

As with so many of the Push to Walk clients, I could sit and talk with Christan for hours. I enjoy our conversations and the time we spend together. I have learned so much from her. Seeing this bright, hard-working, beautiful young woman make her way in a world not always easy for someone who uses a wheelchair renews my faith in the human spirit. Things might get her down for a short time, but not for long. Christan bounces back, works hard, and then throws you that million dollar smile. Go get ’em, girl! There’s a lot of good things that are going to come your way. I can just feel it! I’m fortunate to know you and very grateful that you and your family are part of the Push to Walk family. I look forward to seeing you soon and giving you a big hug!          

Until next time,

Cynthia

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Yesterday I ran about 5 miles on the treadmill. I was running for our Push to Walk client, Martin. He is a wonderful man, very quiet and private, but always nice to talk with. While he rides the FES bike after his workout, I like to talk with him and his wife, if she’s not out running around and doing errands! When she is around, she does most of the talking, as Martin is pretty quiet, as I mentioned. But if she’s not around, I try to draw him out a bit and we always have nice conversations.

Martin reminds me a lot of my father, who I lost in 2001. I miss him and think of him every single day. Seeing and talking with Martin is another reminder of my Dad, so I have a special feeling when I sit and talk with him. I’ve never mentioned this to Martin or his wife, so if they read this, it might be a big surprise to them!

Martin and his wife and family are loyal supporters of Push to Walk, attending our events and making contributions to our fund raising efforts.  Another part of Push to Walk’s family, it is enjoyable to see them each week and spend time with them.

So today’s run was for you, Martin, with hopes that you’ll continue to improve, get stronger and be more independent. It is obvious to me that you are a good family man, with a lot of loving support surrounding you. Thank you for being a part of our Push to Walk family.

On a running note, I am pleased to report that Thursday’s morning run had me feeling great! When that happens, I get psyched up for my long run on Saturday, which will be 14 miles this week! Wish me well!! The weather report is calling for this rain to end, so I plan on running outdoors. For those who live locally, look for me on the roads in Kinnelon, Butler, Bloomingdale and Riverdale. I’ll more than likely make a pit stop at Push to Walk (great for a bathroom stop and to refill the water bottles) so maybe I’ll see a client or two during my run!

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Cynthia

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Hi Everyone,

I’m back from a wonderful week of skiing at Jackson Hole, and am ready to write again. Sorry for the lapse. While on my ski vacation, I did manage to keep up with my training pretty well. I ran twice and rode the exercise bike once. I was huffing and puffing with the high altitude, but I finished my runs as scheduled. We got back Saturday night, and I did my long run for the week on Sunday, which throws off my schedule a bit, but luckily it was only 6 miles this week. This coming Saturday I need to run 14 miles, and I am hoping, hoping, hoping I can do it outside!

I have continued to follow the “Marathoning for Mortals” program, but have decided to add a strengthing component to my weekly routine. It will not be easy to add yet another thing to my mornings, but I am getting very worried that I am not going to be strong enough thru these next two months of training to make the entire distance. And now, with all that is invested in this event, I want to do everything I can to make sure I am successful. So that will start in the next few days, and I am very excited about it!

In case you don’t know, Team Push to Walk will be participating in the NJ Marathon and Half Marathon on May 1 in Long Branch. If you’d like to support me, or any other members of our team, please visit our website where you can check out everyone who has joined and support us in our efforts: www.pushtowalknj.org. If you are interested in joining us, please let me know! We have about 25 people registered so far, and we’d love to have more!

This week, I’ll get back to dedicating my runs for Push to Walk clients and other people with spinal cord injuries. Being away for a week is always a good thing – enjoying time with my husband, being with friends, making new friends – it’s a good way to recharge the batteries and get new perspectives on things. New friends we met have a granddaughter with progeria, a very rare, fatal disease of accelerated aging in children. Learning about this little girl, her family and their efforts in getting involved with the Progeria Research Foundation was a real eye opener. Living in the world of spinal cord injury can become all-consuming at times, but it is important to remember there are lots of other people out there dealing with their own devastating, challenging situations. Check out www.teamzoey.com and www.progeriaresearch.org to learn more about little Zoey and this disease.

Stay tuned for more client stories – I’ll be writing soon!

Cynthia

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It’s been two long weeks of running inside, and even though I’m battling a terrible head cold and sinus infection, it felt good to be running in fresh air! In fact, I think it was the only 2 1/2 hours in a very long time that I wasn’t coughing my head off! Even now, I am alternately blowing my nose, sneezing, and hacking away. UGH! I hope the medicine I got on Thursday starts kicking in SOON.

I planned my run today so that my 9 mile marker was right at Push to Walk (well it was luck, really, when I mapped it out, it just happened that way!) so I got a bathroom break, and got to say hello to a few clients, too! Only a brief break and said hello to Richard and Steven and I was on my way again. If I stood around and socialized, I would never have wanted to go those last 3 miles! But it was great to see clients and get re-motivated to continue my run. ‘Cause that’s what it’s all about – running for our Push to Walk clients.

Today I was thinking about Lesley. I know Lesley is very private, and I respect that, so I won’t share many of her details here. But she is a devoted mother to her young adult children, who are now clearly devoted to helping her. I can only imagine how their lives were turned upside down with her injury, but it is wonderful to see them bring her to Push to Walk, and see how much they help her. With a husband who travels around the world for business, it seems like a lot of responsibility for them, but both her son and daughter seem to do whatever they need to. They are wonderful, caring young people, and I am glad to have the opportunity to know them. 

I love to talk with Lesley about her parents, and her struggles with them as they are aging and living on the opposite side of the U.S. She feels helpless and wishes they lived closer together. I can relate to the issues she is dealing with, but feel fortunate that I lived close to my parents when they were alive. I love to hear about the beauty of the northwest that Lesley describes, and why her parents love living there.

With all of the challenges that Lesley faces day to day, she usually has a smile and always something nice to say. I love to sit and talk with her while she is riding the FES bike, and wish I could it every time she comes to the gym! I try not to interrupt her workouts to chat, as I know she is concentrating very hard on whatever exercise she is doing at the time.

I’ll never forget part of her workout a few months back. She was up walking, just with the assistance of a trainer and an aide. I was so surprised! She was trying to smile while concentrating, and I couldn’t stop smiling. I was SO excited for her! I had to stay and watch, even though I had my coat on and was ready to leave for the day. It was a great accomplishment, and I was so happy to have seen it. Not every workout includes her walking in this way, but some do, and it is wonderful to see each and every time.

So today’s run was for you, Lesley, and your wonderful, caring family. Hang in there, and keep smiling that beautiful smile of yours. I’ll see you soon!

Cynthia

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Last night, Wednesday, February 9, 2011, Boyd Melson fought his second pro boxing match, and won! Some people might not give this much thought, since Boyd is now just 2-0 in his career. But Boyd is fighting for so much. All of the proceeds from his fights will be donated to finding a cure for spinal cord injury. Why? Because Boyd’s dear friend, Christan, sustained a spinal cord injury more than 15 years ago. Boyd has been by her side, researching treatments and therapies, accompanying her to places near and far so she can do whatever it takes to live a higher quality of life. He wants to find a cure for spinal cord injury, and he’s willing to fight for it – literally.

Boyd has decided to donate his winings to Dr. Wise Young at the W.M. Keck Center at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Dr. Young is one the most prominent and respected scientists in spinal cord injury in the world. The fact that he is right here in NJ is amazing! He is trying to get clinical studies started here in the U.S. and has started a website called www.justadollarplease.org. The amount of money that needs to be raised is a staggering figure, but if each person gave just one dollar, just think how much this would help!

I have had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with Boyd when he accompanied Christan to her workouts at Push to Walk. As a former West Point cadet, Boyd is one of the most polite men I know. And he gives great hugs – the bone crushing type! No wonder he’s a menace in the boxing ring! I have also had the pleasure of meeting several of Christan’s family members, and it is no wonder she is the strong, vibrant, energetic woman she is. But that’s a whole ‘nother blog topic!

Check out Boyd’s website at www.boydmelson.com and see why he’s called “the Rainmaker.” Next fight – March 12 at the Foxwoods. See you there!

As soon as I figure out how, I’ll upload some of my photos from last night’s fight onto our Push to Walk facebook page.

Cynthia

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So the weather did not help me out on Saturday, and I needed to run all 10 miles inside, on the treadmill. Since this snow/sleet/rain had been forecasted for several days, I had resigned myself to the fact that I would not be able to run outside. I got all my supplies ready – water, towel, gel packs – and got started. The worst is Saturday TV shows – what would I watch? I settled on Top Chef, and proceeded to be entertained for a couple of hours.

I felt pretty good running, just a few minor complaints, but I was pretty exhausted afterwards. Including a 5 minute warm-up and 5 minute cool-down, I finished right at 2 hours. Not bad! After a shower and a short rest, I was ready for our afternoon/evening activities of dinner and a wine tasting compliments of our daughter Arianne’s Christmas present. It was a lot of fun, even if I was wincing going down steps. I know all you distance runners out there know what I’m talking about!

But I get ahead of myself –  these 10 miles were for Gianfranco, a young man who is a Push to Walk client. I remember the first time I met Gianfranco when he visited Push to Walk. It was only about 6 months after his injury, and his Mom, sister and her young baby boy came with him. I could tell right away that his family was very supportive. I talked with them as they observed Darren and Tyler working out. They liked what they saw and then they had a chance to talk with Darren, too.

About 4 months later, Gianfranco had his first appointment, and he’s been a client ever since. Meeting Gian so early after his injury and seeing him improve has been a wonderful experience. He has the same injury level as Darren, and is just a few years older, so there are many similarities. I have spent lots of time talking with his Mom, as she describes the battles with various complications of spinal cord injury. I hope my experiences have helped them, if nothing more than to reassure them that things will get better.  Dealing with so many issues that come along with SCI can be frustrating, upsetting and depressing. Just when you think you have things figured out, your body reacts differently to something and WHAM! you are right back to the beginning again. I remember that all too well with Darren.

But Gianfranco and his family are hanging in there, figuring things out, and managing  this “new normal.” They are having a new house built that is more accessible, and Gian is taking some college courses. You can read more about him in the client bio section of our website at  http://www.pushtowalknj.org/clients/testimonials.htm.

Some of the things I love most about my job are seeing the progress of the clients, interacting with them and their families, and learning from them. I wish I could spend all of my time on the gym floor, but they wouldn’t get any work done, and neither would I! So I visit with them before and after their workouts, talk with the parents and get to know them and what they’re dealing with. Sure there are similarities, but as we know, each spinal cord injury is different, and each person with an injury is a unique and interesting person. I enjoy spending time with Gianfranco and his Mom, and I look forward to Tuesday afternoons when they are here at Push to Walk.

I’m glad you are a part of our family, Gianfranco, and I hope to see you make much progress with your determination and commitment to taking care of yourself.

Cynthia

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Hi Everyone,

I was recently asked about the treadmill I used for my training, so I thought I’d answer it right here! Maybe it can help others also looking to buy one for home use. With our winter weather this year, there is just no way I could keep up with my training for the NJ Marathon without one! Luckily I actually LIKE running on the treadmill, unlike many other runners I know. I can get up and run while it’s still dark out, I can run if there’s ice and snow, AND I have the bathroom “right there” for necessary breaks – how much better can it get?? Ha ha.

Seriously, though, I know it’s not the same as running outside, so I do try and do my weekly longer runs outdoors whenever possible. The colder temperatures don’t bother me, but I am afraid of slipping or falling on icy surfaces. But it does allow me to follow the “Marathoning for Mortals” program, and I can’t make excuses for not running.

Here’s a link on the treadmill I have – a True 450 HRC (heart rate control) plus some review-type info. I found this quickly without much research, so I’m sure there is other helpful info out there on the internet. But it’s a place to start.   http://www.treadmilltips.com/true-450-hrc-classic-treadmill.html  I’ve had it quite a long time, more than 10 years, and only needed one service call to adjust the belt. I don’t think I’ve ever used the HRC, so maybe I paid for something I don’t use. The speed and incline adjustments are good. What I really like is that you can pause it with the stop button, but can hit start again and pick up where you left off.  The one I used at the hotel gym this past weekend did not have that option (or I couldn’t figure it out) and I wasn’t too happy about that.

When I was shopping to buy a treadmill way back when, one of my friends said to find one that’s easy to dust. Another said to make sure you can hang clothes on it easily. All too often, treadmills and other exercise equipment are purchased, but not used. I am happy to say that mine has seen hundreds of miles over the years, and has provided me with a consistent form of exercise. It’s all about setting a goal, making a commitment and sticking to it!

I am happy to report that my body is holding up well so far with my marathon training. Easy to say since today was a “rest day!” This Saturday’s 10 mile run will be a good test, and I sure hope the next snow storm comes later in the day so I can run outside!

Happy running!

Cynthia

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