Archive for April, 2011

The NJ Marathon is right around the corner – only 3 days to go!! I wanted to take this oppportunity to thank all those who have worked so hard to make this a successful event. I especially want to thank and recognize Karla for her efforts. Due to her hard work and persistence, she has motivated our Team Push to Walk members to raise incredible amounts of money for the organization. When she first started talking about it, I was excited, too, thinking maybe we could raise about $10,000. And I would have been very happy with that amount of money for Push to Walk! Then the figure grew to $15,000, then $20,000. NOW, we are OVER $30,000, and still counting, as people are telling us they have more donations that will come in after the event.

This is incredible, wonderful and exciting!

I want to thank each and every donor, sponsor and team member for making this commitment to help Push to Walk and all those we can help who have spinal cord injuries. I have great admiration for our team members who have dedicated themselves to training for the full and half marathons and to our clients who will be riding their handcycles. Having trained myself, I know what it takes, and I am very appreciative that all of these wonderful people  have chosen to participate with Team Push to Walk, dedicating themselves to our cause.  As the recipient of the funds raised, I promise that we will put these contributions to good use, furthering our programs to help even more people in need.

Together, we can make the difference for people with spinal cord injuries. Thank you for your support! Thank you to our trainer, Karla for making it all happen!!!

Come cheer us on! Check the website for all of the details you need to come to the event! www.njmarathon.org. See you there!!!


Read Full Post »

By all accounts of the accident and the pictures I’ve seen, Jill should not even be alive. As a pedestrian struck by a drunk driver, Jill suffered what is called “internal decapitation.” It is as horrific as it sounds, and I won’t go into the gory details. Jill’s injuries were too many to count, surgeries too numerous to remember (for me, anyway, not for her or her Mom, who keeps track of everything, thank goodness!). Despite the original prognosis of only near survival, which seemed slim at best, Jill is a beautiful, vibrant and personable young woman. Working hard toward her goals of walking with better balance and posture, getting stronger and more independent, Jill has made considerable progress. Yesterday, I watched a video of Jill walking filmed many months ago. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much better her balance had gotten. She is now walking straighter, more evenly and smoothly. Nothing like video to show the true progress.

Jill is taking online college courses, hoping to figure out a way to navigate a college campus with minimal assistance. She’s on Facebook, goes out with her friends and enjoys her shore house with her family. In between visits at Push to Walk, she goes to a local gym and works there, too. She is dedicated and committed to her recovery. She always has a smile for me – I’m not the one telling her to do more 10 more reps or push harder! – and I enjoy talking with her Mom and sharing stories and information.

Jill’s Mom brought in the scrapbook she made about Jill’s accident, hospital stay and news stories. It is quite a testament to where she was and where she is now. It is an amzing story, and one that I know will be filled with more accomplishments and progress in the months and years to come. Keep working, Jill! And keep smiling, too!

So for Jill I ran 6 miles on Saturday. Of course, it was raining and miserable out, and as much as I told myself that I needed to run in the rain just in case it rains on race day, inside I was on the treadmill, pounding out the miles. And I felt good, just 6 miles, I thought! My last “long” run before the final week. Jill’s determination of her own helped keep me going, and the hour of running passed pretty quickly.

As I prepared for the final week of training before the “big day,” I thought of all the work I had to do and appointments scheduled, thinking it was better that I’d be busy and not fretting over the last minute details that are sure to surface.

Please show your support by writing back and letting me know you’re “out there” cheering for me, in spirit if nothing else! I’ll try to write one more time before Sunday’s NJ Marathon, especially because I want to recognize all those participating, supporting and helping us. It has been an incredible journey so far!


Read Full Post »

This past weekend, I spent time re-reading some chapters of the book/program I am following for my marathon training, Marathoning for Mortals. As it outlined what the final few weeks entailed, I was trying to focus on my running (obviously) and eating habits. The final couple of weeks seem more stressful than the weeks of logging many, many miles. Now it’s not the physical challenge, it’s the mental capacity to believe in myself, trust that my training has been done properly, and get out there and “do it.” Easier said than done. Even now, more than a full week ahead, I am tossing and turning in my bed, worrying that the race participants will have their packets and bibs! I know I don’t NEED to worry about this, but this is the way my mind plays tricks on me. Instead of worrying about my own performance, I am nervous about other related, but unnecessary, things.      

I DO feel confident in my training, my endurance and my ability to run 26.2 miles. Now it is the nerves and anxious feelings that have to be dealt with. I have decided to have a list (either in my head or maybe written on my wristband) of all the Team Push to Walk participants to look at while I am running. This is sure to keep me motivated, as I know I can’t let these other 29 people down and not cross that finish line. First on my list will be Darren, Mike L, Mike T, John and Tyler who will be riding their handcycles for the half marathon. Next will be all the members of my staff: Mike, Karla, Eric, Michele, Christine and Amy.  Then will be all the other members of our Team, and a few friends who are running/riding on their own. If I can keep all these reasons in my head to remind me why I’m running, I should do just fine………….

Thinking of the differences between physical and mental preparedness makes me think of our Push to Walk clients. People who have spinal cord injuries have to physically adjust to their paralysis and figure out how to do things all over again. A lot of things can still be done, they just have to be done differently. When I watch Darren drive, use his cell phone, or open mail (as a few simple examples), he does these things differently than I do. But he still accomplishes the same result. What I am not normally thinking about is how he has adjusted mentally to completing the tasks at hand. As close as I am to him, and our other clients and friends who have spinal cord injuries, it is not me. I don’t understand how the mind adjusts, copes, adapts to being paralyzed. But I can make a pretty good guess that the mental fortitude and strength is even more important to successful daily living.  It is the mental drive that can make a difference in a person’s happiness and productivity and success in life.

So it is these things I will keep in mind as I focus on being mentally prepared for the NJ Marathon on May 1st. I trust my body; now I must trust my mind, and heart, and soul. If you can come and cheer on Team Push to Walk in Long Branch, NJ, please do! You won’t be disappointed in seeing the determination and commitment of so many people reaching their goals. And it could be your cheers, your “high fives” or your claps that give the participants that little bit extra to propel them to the finish line successfully.

Hope to see you there!

Read Full Post »

Today is my birthday! I love celebrating my birthday and enjoying the day with family and friends. I even made cupcakes yesterday, but it was so I could eat the cake batter, not the cupcakes! There’s no calories in cake until it’s cooked, right?! I love getting cards, e-mails and reading Facebook posts. Every single one brings a smile and warm thoughts about the person who was so thoughtful to not only remember, but to send a greeting of some sort.

I love the American Cancer Society’s slogan – The Official Sponsor of Birthdays. Whoever came up with that is a genius! While some people I know don’t like to acknowledge or admit their age, don’t like to celebrate birthdays and get depressed when yet “another” one rolls around, I am just the opposite. Not that getting old is so great, but living certainly beats dying by a very wide margin. Even at age 53, there is so much more I want to do, want to learn, want to see. I want more birthdays!!!

Three years ago, I ran my first full marathon 6 days before my 50th birthday. It had been an important goal for me, and I accomplished it with a lot of dedication and commitment. My family and friends were with me all the way and were there to catch me at the finish line. It was an emotional scene that still brings tears to my eyes. Even my long runs in my current training schedule get me choked up, imagining the finish line I will be crossing on May 1st at the NJ Marathon in Long Branch. Running is therapy for me: time to sort out my thoughts and think through ideas. Time for myself, dedicated to myself. And, as you know by now, to our Push to Walk clients.

I’d like to think that the American Cancer Society doesn’t own that slogan all by themselves. If we all live life to the fullest, help ourselves and others celebrate life, we can all be sponsors of birthdays. I’d like to think that Push to Walk can sponsor birthdays as well – helping people with spinal cord injuries stay healthy, live full and productive lives, and live longer lives. I sure hope we do!

Here’s to birthdays! And to celebrating life! May you enjoy your day today as much as I am enjoying mine!


Read Full Post »

If I was this anxious about running 20 miles, I imagine I am going to be down-right nervous about running 26.2! I know I’ve done it once before, but that was 3 years ago! And after feeling like I had been beaten up after running 18, I was worried about that, too. Maybe it was the very pleasant weather and sunshine that helped me this week. I felt pretty good, even though I got a little sunburned, and felt fine afterward, too. Committed to stretching and icing definitely helped. Thanks to all those who helped me realize how important they both are!

So Saturday’s run was about 4 hours. A long time to be with just myself. But I wasn’t alone; I had Push to Walk family members I was thinking about. First up was Charlie. Here’s a guy who tells it like it is. He doesn’t sugar coat anything and will be quick to tell you how much spinal cord injuries suck. Really suck. For a C7 injury, he has regained a lot of function in his arms and hands. In fact, the way he gets around in his chair makes you think he’s a para. And that’s at Push to Walk. I can only imagine what he’s like at the body shop he owns. He says he goes up and over things, through things, and only sometimes around things. I envision an obstacle course that includes steps to either navigate or get carried up/down. The wear and tear on his chair tells you this is not a sendentary person! Charlie keeps active and works long hours. Somehow he manages the almost 2 hour trip each way from the Princeton area for his weekly workout at Push to Walk. The long drive is tough, no doubt about it. But Charlie feels it is well worth it.

He enjoys spending time with his 2 kids and his girlfriend, Michelle. He is dedicated to not only getting stronger and more independent, but to figuring out how to do the same things he used to do before his motorcycle accident. Not much stops this guy, and I give him lots of credit for that.

As I’m running and at times struggling with the idea of “going the distance,” I think of Charlie and his downright stubbornness to not give in to things. Darn it, he’s gonna figure out a way! Well, darn it, so am I!  And I keep on running!

Somewhere around the halfway point, I realize that I’m not thinking of anyone in particular, so I try to focus on someone, something. My mind is all over the place, thinking of things for a brief moment, then the thought is gone. I play games with myself: how much more time; how many more miles; do I have enough water; if I eat an extra gel pack now will I have one at the end when I really, really need it? Then I tell myself to focus again.

I start thinking about what takes 2 hours – the rest of my run. Of course – a workout at Push to Walk! I think about the clients and a “typical” workout. Knowing how much energy it takes them to complete a workout and how tired they usually are afterward, I have a renewed motivation. I break the remainder of my run into 15 minute blocks. First, that’s how often I drink water. Then I think about the different equipment that is used during a workout and the parts of the body that are being worked on. If our clients can do a particular exercise or set of exercises for a 15 minute time period, then I can run for that long. Then it’s onto the next piece of equipment, the next 15 minutes, and a sip of water. One foot in front of the other. I can’t say the next 2 hours “breezed” on by, but I did get thru them, and I felt pretty darn good afterward! Whew!

Am I ready for the full 26.2? I think I am! I hope so!!! I look forward to the next three weeks of “easier” running and preparing my mind to go the distance. If you have any thoughts to share on getting me thru this, I’d love to hear them!


Read Full Post »

My previous post was about my own confidence; this one is about Darren’s.

Darren will be using his hand cycle to ride the half marathon at the NJ Marathon in Long Branch, on May 1st. Due to winter weather and scheduling conflicts, Darren has not been on his bike for many months. His first ride last week was UGLY! I was so worried about him. He only went 2 1/2 or 3 miles, but came back exhausted. Not only was he tired, but he knew he needed some adjustments made to the bike to make it easier and more comfortable to ride.

Darren arranged for a dear friend of ours to meet him at Push to Walk and see what adjustments could be made to the hand cycle. Everyone needs a friend who is handy, creative, and wants to help. Our friend is Dom, affectionately called “Donnie” by close friends and family. He is a life saver! He has worked on Darren’s wheelchair, his rugby chair, his shower chair, now his hand cycle! It was like night and day seeing Darren return from this second ride. He was so much more comfortable in the cycle and positioned better, that his ride was much more enjoyable this time around. Thank goodness! He has so much more confidence now that he would be able to ride the long distance demanded in the half marathon. 

Darren and at least three other Push to Walk clients will be using handcycles in the NJ Marathon. I think 2 are doing the half and 2 are doing the full (not 100% sure about that). Training is difficult and time consuming. But I think because they are part of Team Push to Walk, they are motivated and  committed to participating and finishing the race. I hope I get to see them all beforehand and wish them well!

If you would like to support Darren, anyone else on the Team, or the Team in general, please visit our website (www.pushtowalknj.org) and click on the Marathon banner. We need all the help we can get! And who better to support than the clients themselves, working towards a goal, making a commitment and cycling 13.1 or 26.2 miles!

Confidence, drive, determination – these riders have it all! Good luck!


Read Full Post »

After suffering a minor setback the day after my 18 mile run 2 weeks ago, I am back on track! Thanks to a wonderful neuromuscular massage therapist, stretching exercises and being diligent about icing my back a couple of times a day, I feel great! This is my hardest training week, leading up to a 20 mile run on Saturday. This morning I felt exceptionally good, and even set the treadmill at a faster pace for my last quarter mile. Not that I’m thinking of sprinting that last .2 miles at the NJ Marathon, but nice to know I can do it after a shorter run. It’s all about CONFIDENCE!  

Reaching plateaus, experiencing setbacks and enjoying the rebounds are what our Push to Walk clients face every day. Whether it’s in their personal relationships, performing the daily tasks of personal care, or in their roles as students or professionals, people with spinal cord injuries  encounter challenges of many sorts on a daily basis. As I relate my minor setback to their challenges, I am reminded once again how fortunate I am to be healthy and running. I am running for people with spinal cord injuries; for those who are not running now. Perhaps they were runners or athletes or fitness nuts. Maybe they hated running or any other kind of exercise. But what they would give now to take one step, to walk a few feet, to run 10 yards. I can only imagine. I do not know how that feels. And so I run, day after day, mile after mile, for all the people who inspire me to do what I can.

In the process, I hope to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries, to raise funds to help more people through our exercise program at Push to Walk and to do something for the “greater good.” I hope you’ll help me by supporting Team Push to Walk at the NJ Marathon on May 1st. Check our website to see how you can help! Click on the Marathon banner and check out our fund raising efforts. Or come that day and cheer us on. It would be great to have friendly faces supporting us on the course!


Read Full Post »

Over the weekend, I watched a documentary film entitled “Luckey.”  The man featured in the field, Tom Luckey, was anything but. A reknowned architect of very large climbing structures for children, he fainted, fell from a window and sustained a high C level spinal cord injury.

The film follows his story of his personal and professional struggles. It shows parts of his life before the injury, showing a little of what kind of person he was and the things he enjoyed doing. It highlighted the relationships of people in his family, how they dealt with each other and with Tom, and how they handled life after a spinal cord injury. The story was touching, sad and happy. I could relate all too well to some of the family members’ struggles. And I could appreciate where Tom himself was coming from in describing his feelings and his desires.

Family dynamics were a focus of the film, and some of the segments had me crying……….for those of you reading this blog who know me, you know tears come fairly easy, so maybe it wouldn’t necessarily affect others the same way. But I thought the film was very well done, and I was very glad I took the time to watch it.

Check out the trailer which can be found at www.luckeythefilm.com. I have a copy if anyone wants to borrow it, or maybe you want to buy a copy for yourself. It’s about 90 minutes long, and well worth the time watching. I think you’ll get a good sense of the struggles that a person and their loved ones face after a spinal cord injury. Let me know what you think!


Read Full Post »

After a week of taking it really easy, stretching, icing and only a little bit of running (very little), I felt ready to tackle 8 miles on Saturday. But since I wasn’t overly confident, I ran inside, on the treadmill. I actually felt pretty good, and was pleased at my pace. My back had kind of a “heavy” feeling in the beginning – I guess it was tight, and seemed to get better as I ran. I made sure I stretched more than usual (I hate stretching, which is probably what got me in trouble to begin with!) and iced afterward. I have to say I was really good with stretching and icing all weekend. Now I just have to keep up the good habits!

This coming week is probably the hardest in the whole 20 weeks of training. Lots of running, 2 days of cross-training, and culminating in a 20 mile run on Saturday. It will mean getting up earlier than usual to fit in the day’s program, then stretching and, of course, ice packs!!! I hope my mind is ready for this! After slacking off last week, which I know was important to make sure I didn’t aggravate my back even further, I need to really buckle down and be serious this week. Wish me luck!

I have to admit that I was so wrapped up in how I was feeling, concentrating on any twinges of pain or nagging doubts, that I couldn’t really concentrate on who I might be dedicating my run to. I guess I was running for myself, and that’s not all bad, but now I feel like I really should have been thinking about a Push to Walk client. Maybe then I wouldn’t have been so self-absorbed. Oh well, too late for that now, but I will keep that in mind next time (Monday morning) when I step on the treadmill. Will probably be better if I do dedicate my run, and think of something or someone other than the pain I might or might not be in.

Guess it goes to show that not every workout goes as you want it, just like every day doesn’t either. You have to learn to “go with the flow,” adjust, adapt, take what’s thrown at you. Who knows this better than people whose lives have been completely disrupted by a life changing event like a spinal cord injury? And even when you think you have something figured out, a monkey wrench is thrown in the mix, and you have to adapt all over again.  These are the thoughts I will keep in mind the next time something doesn’t go as planned. It’s probably a trivial, minor inconvenience that I can deal with. Reminds me of that saying, “don’t sweat the small stuff.”

So I’ll tackle this upcoming week with a renewed sense of purpose, and the commitment to my goal of completing the NJ Marathon in just 4 weeks! Wish me well!


Read Full Post »