Finisher, but Never Finished!!!

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When I decided to run a 1/2 marathon I thought for sure I would run only one.  Boy I was in for a surprise when I finished my first battle with no intention of being FINISHED!!!  That’s a dirty little “runner’s” secret (well it’s not only for runners). They, runners, don’t tell you about the addiction, exhilaration with the feeling of accomplishment, happiness and well-being that comes when you master an event such as a 1/2 marathon. Even if they did, you won’t believe them until it happens to you.

That is how I live my life.  I may finish something, but I am never truly finished.  I continue to evolve and learn from my experiences and accomplishments.

I completed my first triathlon on Sunday.  It was one of the best days of my life.  That sounds so cliché, but honestly it was a remarkable spate of time.

Lisa, Sue and Sandra waiting to get our swim on!

I am not a swimmer or cyclist, but yesterday, I was … I morphed into a triathlete!!! As terrifying as it felt, I now was a woman on a mission.  Once I started the race, anxiety and fear turned into exhilaration and incurable euphoria.  I was doing it…really, really, doing it.  After the race I met up with family and friends at the post race expo.  In one of the tents, I spotted a purple shirt with the following saying “Finisher, but Never Finished”.  Hello, that shirt had to be mine.  Off I went in search of someone who would take my money in exchange for a message that truly represented my journey.

My favorite tee-shirt EVER!!!

The shirt was from a tri kit company called  re{vici}.  I met one of the founders in the tent only to discover, he had just messaged me on my Long Distance Hero Facebook page.  After he read my story, on the Brooks Running blog, he was offering me a shirt with a message he thought best represented my story.  Ha ha…it was the very same shirt!!  As I was writing this blog I looked up the story behind the company…here is what I found….

What is {re}vici?  From the Latin word for “I conquered”, vici, we started to create something. However, vici seemed to imply we were finished, which is rarely the case. Anyone who has ever chased a “PR” knows that when one race is over, there is always another. Again, we will strive to conquer a new goal. That was it…we conquer goals, races, fears…OURSELVES…again, and again- {re}vici

Wow guys…what an inspiring company name!!!

My two biggest fans!!!!

Another Live Lesson Learned:  The world works in wonderful and inspiring ways most of the time, listen carefully so you don’t miss the knocking when inspiration shows up on your door step!  When it does {re}vici!!! Sue

I’m a survivor baby!!!

Back in the saddle again!!!

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Back in the saddle again!!!

Yes, I’m back running and on my beloved Greenway!!!!!  I mean, I never truly got off the saddle, I just had to ride a different horse this summer.  The summers, here in Charlotte, are hot and humid… not a great running environment for someone on treatment.  Here’s the thing about that… what a great excuse to quit running… it’s too hot, I’m getting chemo, I can’t handle the humidity and this is the kicker… no one… I mean no one, would have thought any less of me if I sat on the couch and rested this season.  In fact that’s what they expected.  Well far be it from me to give the people what they want… I like to shake things up and that’s just what I did.

So happy to be “back in the saddle”!

Team Omega Nation to the rescue.  I knew this summer would be brutal so I devised a plan to keep me in shape and help me fight the fatigue of chemo… biking on a trainer. Lucky for me, so many of my amazing teammates are triathletes… finding a trainer and someone willing to help keep me on track was just a Facebook message away. So now that I had the equipment… I needed motivation. Oh right – the fact that I had signed up for the very first triathlon of my life before I was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer.  Seriously!!!! So biking indoors was the perfect solution!!!!  An hour of biking a few days a week was always my goal… so my plan worked.

Omega Nation Team Sponsored by Brooks!!!

Omega Nation Savannah Race Shirts…Sponsored by Brooks!!!

After a long hot summer, the cooler temps were bestowed on us earlier this year.  The first chance I got, I was on the run.  Back in that saddle.  My first few jaunts were short and slow, but mentally fulfilling.  Then an amazing thing happened… I was taken off my energy zapping, nerve damaging, harder-to-handle chemo.  Perfect timing.  I knew this would allow me to train more and that’s just what I’ve been doing.  My week started with a 6 mile run.  I felt so free, strong, happy and cancer free during those miles.  It’s my magic place… a place where cancer cannot touch me.  Running is a gift and I love opening that present every time I hit the pavement.  I followed that magical week with a 12 mile bike ride yesterday.  Confidence that I can finish my ‘tri’ next week… check!  Now I’m not only in the saddle, but ready to ride this bad boy to the finish line.  The horse I’m riding is named Perseverance!  “Percy,” for short!

Lady and I…getting ready for a ride.

I am still on chemo and will be for the foreseeable future… not an obstacle that will get in my way. I will continue to change saddles as life requires, but won’t get off the horse.   “Percy” will take me to the Savannah 1/2 marathon this November.  This is the 1/2 marathon I signed up for after I was diagnosed… I had no plans to ever stop what I enjoyed most. Cancer does not get to take away… it’s only allowed to give.  It is a wake up call, a kick in the pants, and motivation like no other –  to live like you mean it!  Cancer opens doors that might otherwise never be knocked upon. It brings people into your life that you might otherwise never meet. And, it brings together a team of athletes of all speeds, abilities and successes in a way that inspires all of us to stay in our saddles!!!

Giddyup ya’ll!!!! Sue

 Beautiful Molly!

Shy Natalie…

Molly and Jersey showing us what they think of Cancer…Smart horses!!!!

Long Distance Heroes will leave colon cancer in the dust!

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March 9th is the 4th Annual Get Your Rear in Gear 5K race for Colorectal Cancer awareness.  I am pumped to run along side all of myldh_final-blog.jpg Long Distance Heroes –  old and new.  We are about to show cancer who’s boss.   Just four years ago, I along with my dear friend and survivor, Mary-Karen, brought this race to Charlotte.  Our first year we were told we should only expect 500 participants, we moved mountains and had over 1,100.  This year we are expecting as many as 2,000 colorectal cancer advocates.

Just a few short days after last years event, I was told my cancer was back. One surgery and 22 chemo treatments later, I am thriving not just surviving.  I have run three half marathons and

OmegaBreathe-9945completed one triathlon in ten months time.   I feel fantastic and ironically am in the best shape of my life …go figure!  I am so excited and fortunate to be able to run in this race.  It is truly a gift.

I hope you will consider joining the Long Distance Heroes team on March 9th.  I promise you will not regret your decision and am pretty confident you will leave inspired.  All the race details are below.  p.s. you do not need to run…walkers are ALWAYS welcome. If you are interested in volunteering contact me directly.

The road is long . . .   we’ll go the distance with our everyday heroes!!!  Love,  Sue

Dominator and Sueper WomanTo register or donate please click on the link below:The ManTus

http://events.getyourrearingear.com/site/TR/Charlotte/General?px=1022311&pg=personal&fr_id=1480

Online registration is open until March 6.  Sign up by February 25th to be included in the order for our team identifier…this year we will have red Long Distance Hero hats.

We will have a hospitality tent at the event.  Look for an email with additional race day details.

Getting a Jump on 2013

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A Leap of Faith

Leap of Faith

They said jump…I asked “How high?”

I took a leap of faith yesterday and this image shows the end result.  What we don’t try, we don’t experience and we will never know what we are capable of.  Thank you to my friend Theoden for inspiring me to bust out the kid in me yesterday.  This image pretty much sums up my year.  I had no idea what I could do while on chemo or if I would even survive my diagnosis, but I had faith and WOW amazing things happened.  Don’t get me wrong…2012  had its ups and downs, but it ended on a high note for sure!

2012 Lessons

Rock n' Roll medal for completing two half marathons in one year.  Rock on!!!

Rock n’ Roll medal for completing two half marathons in one year. Rock on!!!

The biggest lesson I learned was to believe.  Believing in miracles and myself. I started 2012 unsure if I wanted to  join the Omega Sports Half Marathon training team. Little did I know that I would not only surpass my goals, but I would do it under very limiting circumstances.  Kind of reminds me of running a hill. Just when you think you’ve made it to the top, the road takes a slight curve and in front of you is the “rest” of the hill.  You’re half way there…no point in stopping.  So here are some highlights from my 2012 uphill journey:

My two biggest fans!!!!  I am big fan other theirs as well!!!

My two biggest fans!!!! I am big fan other theirs as well!!!

1 – Completed my first half marathon – Nashville Rock n’ Roll

2 – Completed my first tri – Ramblin’ Rose Charlotte

3.  Ran my second half 6-months after the first – Savannah Rock n’ Roll

4. Rock climbed, went bowling, canoeing and camping with my girls and John for the first time.

5. Meeting some of the most amazing, inspiring, caring, fun people ever!!!!

I am living large and loving every minute of it.

The Fun Never Ends

So here we are on the cusp of the new year.  The sky is the limit so the planning phase begins.  My next half will be in Folly Beach, South Carolina February 9th.  I can’t think of a better way to spend time with friends and celebrate another birthday.  Speaking of birthdays, we signed-up for the Cooper River Bridge 10k to celebrate my Mom’s 70th birthday (yes of course she’s running it with us).  I can’t wait!

Finish Line

Long Distance Heroes finishing the Free to Breathe 5K. The Omega Nation training team is truly the coal that fuels my engine!

In March the Long Distance Hero team will take to the streets of Charlotte at the 4th Annual Get Your Rear in Gear 5K.  This will be a team of amazing friends, family, and survivors.  We are going to show Colon Cancer who’s boss.  I hope you will all join us … feel free to run , walk or volunteer.  The bigger the team the better.  Registration is now open.  If you don’t think you can run/walk…remember to believe in yourself.  2013 will be the year of the lean, mean fighting machines! You can do this.  www.getyourrearingear.com

Here we go!

Finish Line Savannah 2012

My super amazing husband and I crossing the finish line. I am one lucky lady.

So as you welcome in the new year promise yourself to take a leap of faith and see what wonderful opportunities great you in the year to come.

Peace and Cheer,

Sue

Medical Update:  Since I last blogged I’ve had two scans.  Both scans showed stability.  Yipeee…I’ve stopped this Cancer in its tracks!  My exercise and diet have created a strong immune system and body. I am filled with energy and happiness.  Thanks for all of your support…this journey would not be the same without you!

 

Mary Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

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With Silver Bells and Cockle Shells and pretty flowers all in a row.

Healthy plants, rich soil, and a lot of love have made one beautiful garden.  I received my scan results today and I’m happy to say we have a bountiful harvest to celebrate.  Over the last 6 months I have worked tirelessly to create a strong, healthy bed of beautiful plants to enjoy.   The treatment I received, my strong will to survive, along with prayers and passion for a cure have created  a beautiful bouquet that we can really enjoy.  Now don’t be mislead… I am not cured.  There is still disease in my lungs, but the results of my last scan confirm that we have stabilized the cancer!!!!  As I have in the past, I will explain my results in gardening terms as I find that is a great way to visualize my progress and reason for celebration.

In gardening terms, we have not rid the flower bed of the weeds, but we have stopped them from growing and incorporated them into the landscape.  Studies have shown that the complete disappearance of the weeds vs. stopping the growth of the weeds and preventing new ones from growing is the same.  So this is cause for celebration. The results of my scan have also changed the gardening approach.  I am officially off the ever so toxic Weed-be-Gone. Instead of 12 treatments we are stopping at 10.  The typical length for this chemo is 8 – 12 treatments.  Due to the nerve damage it causes, stopping now is a great move.

I will continue with chemo every two weeks, but gone are the days of the more difficult side effect.  Yippeee…no more sensitivity to cold, numb fingers hip pain, or hair loss. I can’t promise I will get my memory back, but that’s overrated anyway.    Oh, and did I mention, I will be able to run every week…I’m so excited I could pop.  Watch out Savannah Half Marathon… here I come!  My next scan will take place in about eight weeks.  At that time we will see if my new course of treatment has kept the lung nodules stable…if so we will continue with this course of treatment for the foreseeable future.   This is one of many hurdles, but each one should be celebrated with energy and enthusiasm…I think you all know me well enough to know I never pass up an opportunity to celebrate.

Thank you to everyone for your positive energy, inspiration, and prayers. I am one lucky lady and I am so very grateful every day.   This garden is in full bloom…so don’t forget to take time to smell the roses!!!!

Thanks for keeping me smiling,

Sue

Going the extra mile! Motivation or Inspiration?

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My alarm went off twice Sunday morning.  It was reminder to get out of bed and run.  No simple task as I lay there between my warm, cozy sheets.  So I peeled myself off the mattress and got dressed for a much needed run.   What motivated me to get out of bed?  Well here it is…

We all need motivation some need more than others, but it needs to come from inside.  A professor of mine always said “No one can motivate you, but yourself”.  True that!  We can, however, be inspired by others and I seek that on a daily basis.  Using the inspiration gives me the motivation to run, dance, sing and get a little crazy.

So off I went for my run.  At the 1.5 mile marker I asked my running partner if we should…go the extra mile and we did.  Knowing that I exceeded my goals for the day and at a faster than normal pace for me felt so good.   I felt like I had climbed Mt. Everest. On the way home, I opened the windows and the sun roof and sang at the top of my lungs in celebration of my achievement.  This seemingly small goal had big pay offs and I will ride the endorphins as long as they last or until I do it again.   Achievable goals are the ultimate in success and each one should be celebrated with the same amount of energy and excitement as the big ones (Savannah, her I come!).

Following my run and the dance party in my car I got to fully celebrate my run with my ever fun loving, inspirational, and very competitive training team.  In honor of the Olympics, we held a relay event…USA vs. Canada.  It was great fun and I am so happy I MOTIVATED myself to go out and have a little crazy time.

I hope this story inspires you to find motivation and set achievable goals that should be celebrated and enjoyed!!!

Get Your Game On!!!! The Olympics are coming!

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I draw inspiration from many places, people and events in life.  In the last 12 weeks, this has been a major part of my journey.  So, as I tried to rest yesterday, I started thinking about the Olympics and my slumber flew out the door.  I laid on my bed and could visualize my own gold medel just within reach of my finger tips.  Everything I have done for the last 24 weeks will come down to one scan.  I pictured climbing the podium to receive my gold medal along with a scan that showed my progress in battling my disease.  I’ve already had one promising scan and that just fuels the fire to work even harder for the next one.    This is no different than the Olympics.

The athletes that will compete over the next few weeks don’t just practice their sport. Everything they eat and drink, when they sleep, how long they sleep, the company they keep…it all comes down to their thirst for the gold.  As a runner it’s not only about running. They cross-train, eat special diets, and sleep.  It’s their prescription for success.  Ironically it is no different than the model I am working with.  Chemo is not a magic bullet so I have incorporated a wellness lifestyle to get me to the gold.  Time trials are our scans during treatment. They tell us how we are doing and if we are making progress.  I am still three weeks out from my next time trial.  In the meantime, I will incorporate a whole person; wellness lifestyle in an effort to keep myself healthy.  The end of September will be my BIG scan and I hope to bring home the gold.  If not, there are more Olympic games ahead for me. The athletes that don’t win in London this year don’t just pack it up and quit….they are more determined than ever to bring it home four years from now.

I see myself on the podium as they place the medal around my neck.  Red Solo Cup playing in the background as I represent my country of Cureopia.  Being an Olympic athlete is so much more than just being the best at a sport.  And being a cancer survivor is much, much more than scans, infusions, hair loss .. .the list goes on.

So, when you watch the opening ceremonies and the athletes compete, allow them to inspire you to go for the gold.  I don’t personally know any Olympic athletes, but the athletes I do know are my everyday heroes and they inspire me every day to keep my chin up and work for my spot on that podium.