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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!

Cynthia

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For the past 3 months plus now, I have been running and training for the NJ Marathon on May 1st. I’ve been feeling healthy and fit. I’m eating better (most of the time) and sleeping better. Even though I would say I would run and train “as long as my body held up,” I never really thought it wouldn’t. Whoa! Then came the morning after my 18 mile run, which was the day after the Push to Walk Poker Tournament. I woke up in a LOT of pain, my back hurting and every movement made me wince. OUCH! I guess I over-did it……….

For several days, now, I have been stretching, icing and putting Aspercreme on my back. Each day, I feel better and better, but I’m taking it really easy. No exercise at all on Sunday and Monday. A short 30 minute walk at low speed on the treadmill on Tuesday, and a 30 minute, not very strenuous ride on the exercise bike this morning (Wednesday). Feeling OK, but fearful that it will start hurting again.  This pain scared me like no other pain has in the past. It was interrupting my training! I was hurting! I wasn’t even thinking clearly. My mind was so focused on the pain that I couldn’t think of other things. Not good for working. I need to train; I need to run this marathon…………think of the whole Team Push to Walk and all the people involved. It’s not just me anymore.

I want to walk/run tomorrow on the treadmill and see how I feel. I am promising myself to take it easy and not run thru the pain. I will see how I feel and plan accordiningly.

What a wake up call this was! It brought back horrible memories of back and neck pain. I hadn’t felt pain in so long, I had forgotten how debilitating it can be. But then it made me think of so many people I know who live with pain on a daily basis. I was fortunate and found a solution that worked for me in Dr. John Sarno’s work. Margaret, Darren’s neuromuscular massage therapist, recommended his books to Darren, who then suggested them to me: Healing Back Pain and The Mind/Body Prescription.  I have found that his techniques really work for me. Not that I think the pain I have now is related to stress (although it could be compounding it), but the idea that I have found something that works for me. So many other people have not found a solution, and especially for people with spinal cord injuries, they may never be relieved of their pain. So I count myself lucky, once again, that my pain is temporary and I can get back to running very soon. I worry about so many others whose lives are consumed by pain, preventing them from doing so many things they want to do. It brings me back to reality, and reminds me of how lucky I am to be healthy and well.  

Hopefully I’ll be blogging very soon about my next run! Cynthia

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As I continue my training for the NJ Marathon on May 1st, I mapped out a route of two segments of 9 miles each. There would be about a 10 minute break in-between, to transport me from one location to another. In the past, I have run this stretch of road, and it is just too dangerous. So my husband met me and drove me from the end of the first 9 miles to the beginning of the next. It was kind of brisk weather – mid 30’s – and sunny. I was psyched for the distance and liked the route I had planned. I overdressed (as usual!) and had to ditch a layer and my hat halfway through. Otherwise, the run went well! I was even able to push myself at the end, with the saying “run, Cynthia, run” (as in Forrest Gump) keeping me going.

During this three and a half hour activity, I was reviewing everything about the Texas Hold ‘Em Poker Tournament the night before. The planning was a little easier this time around, as usually is the case, when you are repeating an event. I learned from last year to have more helpers, and that worked out great. I had the best people helping, offering to do whatever needed to be done, and when they finished one thing, they jumped right to the next task.

As the players came in, it was nice to talk with those I knew, thanking them for supporting Push to Walk once again. I met some new people, too, and enjoyed talking with everyone. With more help this year, I was able to “work the room” and wasn’t tied down to a job for the evening. That was nice!

What I thought about most during this run, though, were the people in chairs who came to support our cause, even though they are not clients of Push to Walk. One guy came all the way from Flemington, another lives in NYC and had been traveling most of the month of March. He came back early just so he could come to our event! Between the long drives and the planning it takes to do extra events like this, I was so appreciative they made time for Push to Walk! And several of our clients, too. It was great to see them there, having a good time.

These thoughts morphed into thinking about so many other people I have met who use wheelchairs for one reason or another. In  most cases, a chair is being used for a spinal cord injury, but not always. I have met some wonderful people and their families, all dealing with their injuries and their challenges in individual ways. Some seem to have it all figured out (I don’t know if they really do, or just seem that way), some have challenges that are on-going, persistent and difficult. As I meet each person, I enjoy talking with them, learning about them and spending time with them. It doesn’t necessarily involve any conversation about why they’re in a chair. Sometimes it comes up; oftentimes it doesn’t.

In any case, I guess my mind was quite occupied with these thoughts, as my 18 miles didn’t really seem that terrible  (until the next day that is, which will be the subject of my next blog!). So as I reviewed the success of the event, the people who helped and those that supported us, I was grateful that Push to Walk has so many “friends.” Thank you, friends – all of you – for helping us accomplish our goals. And thank you for the motivation to reach my own personal goal – running a full marathon in just 5 more weeks!

Cynthia

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My run on Saturday was for 8 miles, which I estimated would take just under an hour and a half. I felt good as I was running, and realized that I had run continuously with no breaks for more than an hour. Perhaps it was because my mind was very focused. I had been thinking of the clients who previously came to Push to Walk but stopped coming for a variety of reasons. I had also been thinking about lots of people who had called or e-mailed but never became clients. Both groups of people made my heart sad for one reason or another.

First, the people we’ve met and gotten to know as a result of being a client – I miss them! In most cases, I met one or more family members and formed relationships with them. I learned about their family, their interests, their personal story. Every new story never fails to break my heart – there is never a “good” story about a spinal cord injury. There is always heartache and grief, which hopefully leads to acceptance on some level or at least adaptation in some sense. Everyone finds their own way of dealing with this cruel twist of fate that left them or their loved ones paralyzed.

I think of Luigi, Robert, Cindy, Walter, Matt, Lucas and Ikiyan. I think of Anthony, Heather and Carmen. I think of people who have visited us from out of town: Patrick, Shane, Brittany and Mike because they live too far away to come on a regular basis. People that I know benefitted from Push to Walk’s program, but financial concerns, or transportation or other challenges just made it too difficult for them to keep coming. I try to keep in touch with each of them as best I can, but admit that is tough to do. I don’t want to make it seem like I am “selling” Push to Walk’s program to them. I just want to know how they’re doing. I hope they are all doing well, and finding their way in this world of spinal cord injury.

There are other people I’ve spoken to on the phone, e-mailed back and forth with, and maybe even met. But they or their loved ones never came to Push to Walk. Why? There are as many reasons as there are stories and injuries. Oftentimes, it is the money, there’s no doubt about that. How I wish we could charge less for our services, then so many more people could come. If we could make our hourly fees more affordable, that would make such a difference for so many people. But until we find an angel, or substantial grant money, or win the lottery, we must charge our current fees. Even that amount of money isn’t enough to cover our operating expenses; our fund raising events are critical in making up the difference.

But I feel like I know these people I’ve never met. I know their stories, what they’re dealing with, the challenges they face. I know how many other children are in the family, how they renovated their houses, how their jobs have been adjusted, or even lost, how their spouses are coping (or not) – they have allowed me access into their personal life hoping I can help them. And as much as I do help them, I feel it is never enough. Their stories tug at my heart strings while I try to give them factual information to make their daily lives easier – home modifications, standing frames, other equipment they will need, medical supplies, insurance coverage, government benefits and more. While they may never actually come for services, I try to help whenever and wherever I can. Oftentimes, the phone conversations are lengthy, sometimes at night or on the weekends. When I give my cell phone number out, it might ring at anytime, and I try to make myself available as much as possible.

When a person calls again after some period of time has passed, I can usually recall names, where they live, date and level of injury – all without referring to my notes. Why? Why can I remember these details so vividly for people I’ve never met? I guess because we have the connection of a spinal cord injury; the common understanding of the challenges we need to face; and the need to talk to someone who understands. These people I’ve never met are part of our family now, even though they have yet to come through our doors. Some never do; some do eventually, when the time is right.

These thoughts kept me running for 8 miles, and a good run it was. As I get closer to the date of May 1st when I run a full 26.2 miles in the NJ Marathon in Long Branch, I will think of all these people, near and dear to my heart, some of whom I’ve never met, but think of nonetheless. I will be thinking of them and running for them. With all of these people behind me, I am confident I will make the distance!

Cynthia

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Today, my favorite running slogan wasn’t making much sense to me. “Running is not with the legs or the mind; it is with the heart.” Well, my heart was very heavy today. Last night I received word that a dear friend’s brother was lost to cancer at a young age, far too young to die. I also received news that a long time school friend was diagnosed with a very rare, but aggressive form of cancer in January, and he is undergoing a chemo treatment and hopefully a stem cell treatment in the near future. Add to that another friend’s husband who is battling cancer himself at an advanced stage.

Every one of us has a family member or friend who has been touched with the disease. Some of you reading this have even been diagnosed yourselves. No one is immune from its effects; no one’s lives hasn’t been touched by it. It seems like the medical field has made so many gains against cancer, yet the number of people still struggling for their lives is so staggering.

Stories like the above are a reality check for me. There is so much sadness, grief and disbelief in the diagnosis of and battle with cancer. While I personally know of stories with happy endings, the end result is too often tragic – a person taken way too early, a family left behind, a child lost too young.

Even if we exercise and stay fit, eat wisely and live a healthy lifestyle, there are no guarantees. We can try to avoid those things known to cause cancer, but oftentimes, that isn’t even enough. It’s scary, isn’t it? I was awake a long time last night contemplating this awful disease, thinking about these three people and the others I know whose lives have been affected by cancer. So this morning’s run, with heavy heart, was for my friends mentioned above. With thoughts and prayers for strength and hope and successful treatments – may we all help each other in times of crisis and just be there for each other.

Hug your loved ones and enjoy life each and every day. As I am reminded each day by a print in my office: Live Well, Laugh Often and Love Much.

Cynthia

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I’ve been running, but not blogging; will try to catch up over the next several days. This past Saturday, I decided to drive to Push to Walk from home, run my 8 miles, and drive back home. It’s nice and flat around Push to Walk, not hilly like at home. When I arrived at Push to Walk, I went in to say hello to our client, Richard, who was working out with Mike. Richard told me the fantastic news that he and wife are expecting their first child. How exciting!! That news was enough to get me started on my run in a very upbeat mood, and I must say it kept me going the whole way!

Richard travels quite a distance from Connecticut to come to Push to Walk every Saturday. While living in NJ, it was a little easier, but he didn’t live close then either. Once he moved, he took a break from coming, but is now back. We’re glad to have him working out with us again, and it’s always a pleasure to see him. Thinking about him, his wife, and their little one on the way kept my mind occupied for the hour and a half run.

You can read more about Richard’s story on our website: www.pushtowalknj.org/clients/testimonials.htm

I have to say the eight miles went very well, and I felt good throughout the run. I was running on safe streets, either with sidewalks or not much traffic, so that was less a worry than recent routes I’ve taken which were a bit more dangerous. Still figuring out what my route will be this weekend when I have to run 16 miles. Yikes! I am nervous for this one!

I’ve done my strengthening workouts now several times, and I am still working hard to keep good form. I know that is so important in strengthening. I’ve started to feel muscles that haven’t been used in awhile (thanks, Cheryl!), and am hoping this will be enough to pay off on marathon day – Sunday May 1 in Long Branch at the NJ Marathon. I hope you’ll check out the event on our website! There are things going on for three days: April 29 and 30, and May 1st is the actual race. But there’s a bunch of events on Saturday, geared to families and kids. Check it out! I hope you’ll join us!

I’ll catch up with my blogs and my runs for the last few days. I’m feeling good, but a little nervous to run 16 miles in just a few days. Help me to hang in there! I’d love to hear from you!

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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