Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring Peepers & Rain

Running last night was close to perfect.  Yes it was raining….but it was a warm rain with the sound of spring peepers all around and I loved it!  I had my waterproof jacket on with my cell phone and camera protected in the pocket.  (I had to get a picture for my blog and make a few phone calls to catch up) J  

     I do have to make a note, while running I saw a hill and randomly thought of what I kept trying to remember yesterday that we called the hill on our Ritchie County XC Course….the BEAST….  Funny how things just come to you sometimes, that one took about 3 miles. 
     I probably got approximately 6 miles in last night on the road that we live off of.  I’m curious if the neighbors are wandering who this crazy person is yet?  I have to admit, I miss running on the Rails to Trails in Ritchie County just right across the road from my childhood home.   It was always nice to not have to worry about vehicles so much, enjoy small gravel grounding, and the only traffic interruption every once and awhile might be some horses J 

     I kept thinking of things I forgot to tell mom so I decided I’d just call her on the run…she’s use to it by now and at least hides the fact if she’s annoyed by the constant clicking of shoes hitting pavement.  I hadn’t talked to Holli either in a few days so while she was driving home and I had to get a run in why not entertain each other J  Not many people can understand a conversation while running but hey…you only have so much time in a day and we needed to catch up J 

     By the time I arrived back home it was pouring by then and water was dripping from my hair to my shoes.  However there is just something about a warm rain that distance runners love and I would have preferred to just keep going!  I’m pretty sure Brock and Smokes thought I was silly standing outside the door at this point taking off my dripping jacket and muddy shoes and socks so I didn’t track it inside.  Somehow I’ve found myself crazy about a track sprinter/long jumper…so he’s got some “distance runners” characteristics to get use to.   One of them being weird (which that he might already know) J  There is only so many laps/treadmill runs a distance person can stand before it doesn’t matter what the weather is outside but it won’t phase us.  Dad would always remind me with the quote,

“When you are not practicing, remember, someone somewhere is practicing, and when you meet them they will win”

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pizza and Hills?

A day without writing?....For those of you who know us Spanglers that is definitely the quietest you’ve ever heard any of us J  In our household of girls (when we all lived there), it doesn’t matter who is talking, whichever one wants to truly be heard will only talk louder and don’t think for a second the one prior to that one talking ever quits talking.  Therefore, maybe that’s why dad never had trouble telling stories to others, because he hardly ever got a word in at home. 

I’ve had a few shorter running days just due to timing issues and darkness sneaking in of about 3-4 miles each night.  Running up (ok so I walk a tiny bit SOMETIMES) J and down our hill we live on reminds me of our “mountain” (We can't remember if we called it Big Bertha...The Monster?) dad had included in the first Cross Country course we hosted at Ritchie County.  Well this “hill” he included in our first course was a bit of a challenge to say the least.  If he was aiming to beat the hill on Elkins course he was definitely giving them a run for their money.  (I will try to find a picture sometime of that hill to share with you)
To succeed upon running this hill some sort of motivation had to be brought into play.  Dad is famous for his “motivational” stories (also famous for hearing them more than once, twice, 3 times..well, you get the idea) Right dad?  Somehow he can relate just about anything to some event in his past rather it be in sports, coal camp, cost of items, college, winning, losing, and more.  
     I found myself though night before last when I was slowly but surely creeping up the hill to get back to our house. (The view from the top of a hill to live on is priceless and I love it, but having to climb it after every run is another story)  The mental impact of thinking walking is taking it easy and I’m failing if I don’t run up the hill to get back home however is just painful some days J  The story that crossed my mind with dad at this point in time just made me start laughing out loud literally (hope my neighbors weren’t watching closely).  Sometimes when the tops of my legs start to hurt and I think it really wouldn’t be a big deal to walk one of dad’s stories always starts to play in my head and I start to slightly feel guilty (which I think is actually what his intentions were all along with those).  
This story however comes from dad’s motivational speech’s impact on someone else, but ever so relevant.  I was at Robert Morris University and received a phone call from my “Best Friend Since Kindergarten” Jordan Taylor (We’ve called each other that, well…since kindergarten because I believe since our parents were always doing school events together we were always stuck hanging around each other) As another point, after I publish this I better let him know I was talking about him, so please don’t get to him before I do. J 
So….this call comes from him at Virginia Tech.  He goes into saying I just had to tell you….  “I was starving…I feel like I’ve never been this hungry before….so I ordered a large pizza just for myself.”  (I can only imagine what in the world he’s talking about at this point)  He then proceeds to go on with the overall concept being….  He was tearing through the pizza eating it and got stuffed with one slice left in the pizza box “staring at him”.  He realizes he’s never eaten a WHOLE large pizza by himself.  That’s when it hit him.  Dad’s motivational impact…the days of running and the start of a race and never knowing when you may have an opportunity to do what you can do today because it was a “good day” feeling of running.  You may never be where you are again today to take advantage of an opportunity.  So what do you think Jordan did?....  He ate that piece of pizza no matter how much he thought he couldn’t.  He never knew when he would ever have come this far again with just once piece left in that large pizza and be able to accomplish this task again. 
     So maybe that wasn’t EXACTLY what dad always meant with those motivational speeches and opportunities but motivation has to start somewhere right?  Given it being pizza or a little push at the end of the race when you just think you can’t do anything more.  One more step further today will help you accomplish one more step further tomorrow.  That is why I’m looking forward to today’s beautiful weather (hopeful it stays) and taking advantage of a longer run day and eating a whole pizza by myself….well maybe just running up the hill when I get home so I can then sit on the deck and appreciate the view J  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Trail Run...

I won’t get too “mushy” today…yesterday was enough to make me tear up typing some of that about 5 times..So, today we’ll take a little laughter break J 

                Sunday was a little bit of a longer run for me for the time being so yesterday I decided I’d play it safe running closer to home and through the woods with my new little 4 legged friend “Dakota”.  However, we now call him “Smokes” due to his color and yes I’m well aware of the lack in thinking about what people will think of us because we named our dog “Smokes” J  Thankfully the trail is well marked and I’m familiar with so I didn’t get lost at any point.   
                Speaking of getting lost, it wouldn’t be the first time (and I’m sure by no means last) but sometimes getting lost is all the fun in it.  In my younger days  (yes I’m referring to myself as getting old) when I was the only girl on the whole cross country team we were running at Belpre (OH)…our team was running a little late getting to the course on time for the girls race and I didn’t have much time to warm up.  I was always nervous enough as it was and dad kept reassuring me “Just follow the 4-wheeler….it will be fine”.  Well just like every athlete should do… they listened to their “coach”…… Well thanks “dad”….I followed the 4-wheeler just like you said and it went the wrong way…  Now most might think “Big Deal”… just turn around and go back…..  Well… I didn’t realize we were going the wrong way and we weren’t in a place of the course for many spectators to yell at you to tell you either.  Therefore, I continued to go the wrong way as well as the whole entire group of runners behind me.  So now we have this race completely off course with everyone running the wrong way and they had to stop the race a little after a mile into it…all to postpone the race till after the boys ran and the girls recovered enough to restart the race.  You can rest assured I spend the awards ceremony hiding behind my dad knowing well enough since I was the only girl in a “Ritchie County” uniform I had nobody else to even pretend or confuse the crowd with questioning which girl it was that did that today.   So, for the day, I’m sure I was “THAT GIRL”
                There are many more other “lost” stories (Doddridge County Race….in the middle of hundreds of acres in a State Park Forest at Virginia Tech…miles upon miles away from where I was supposed to be "?" State Park while visiting Old Dominion) but I’ll save them for another day J  I did run about 30 minutes today, with a few breaks of waiting for “Smokes” to drop sticks that were 4 times his size thinking he needed to bring them along with us.

A Few pictures of the trail and my running partner 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Let's Get this Challenge Started

(Just a FYI warning…if you find yourself annoyed by miss-spellings, grammar, and random thought changes this blog may not be for you…I tend to express things without being attentive to some of those things, I’m a marketing major…not the English Teacher my grandma was) J

If you are new to me….my dad…my family, my hometown, my community, my state, etc I welcome you to follow along and learn about a wonderful inspirational person who I just so happen to be lucky enough to call Dad …For the newcomers; my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease the summer I was going off to college in 2001.  He has had a rather progressive battle with this disease from having brain stem surgery with little success to now being confined to bed with very limited speaking capabilities…..We may not have the cure for every heartbreaking disease but together we can work to honor those people who continue to fight those battles everyday and hope that today brings a better day than yesterday and better hope for tomorrow.

Now let’s get this challenge going.....

Since the news came that I could be on “Team Fox” (Michael J Fox's Foundation for Parkinson's Disease Research) for the NYC marathon I’ve had a mix of emotions.  From highs to lows…to emotional doubts…to knowing this is what I’m supposed to do and it’s going to be a positive exciting adventure.  “This is for you Dad” 

I’ve never been the empathetic daughter of the bunch (the boy dad never actually had I suppose)…I have far too much of dad’s stubbornness and no excuse mentality in me to even let a broken bone stop me from playing anything.  For those who have known me growing up we can reflect on the Little Cardinal basketball days of dad wrapping my casts with knee pads and having to make up stories to tell mom that they mis-printed my name in the paper and I DID NOT have 6 points.  We still laugh about that story because how we ever pulled it off for as long as we did without mom finding out being a grade school teacher is beyond me.
            Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m there as much for dad as I wish I could be, sometimes I don’t know how to make any of “this” better from a caregiver’s perspective.  This marathon is so much of who dad helped me to be…and that’s why I’m doing it.  When our cross country team was about to lose the volunteer coach we had, dad stepped in with all of his football coaching knowledge to be a running coach (no he didn’t make us wear pads out of confusion the first practice)…and I’m not sure he ever thought he’d love that as much as he did.  He’d always told me to “get my run in” and usually ran some on his own….but the world of running was a new concept at that point (to most it seems rather silly I’m sure…but that’s what I wanted to do….so dad wanted to make sure the opportunity for kids was there).  That’s why another new adventure of running a marathon is just what we need to do together again.  I’ve ran half marathons, long runs, circles around tracks, over the river and throw the woods many times….but this….this is OUR first marathon…and where else more perfect to do that then NYC.  (Ok the NYC part probably wouldn’t be dad’s first choice but hey… he’s use to not getting his way with a house filled with 4 women).    

            I’ve always pushed through some hardships with working hard at something else.  As a runner you find your solutions to life and find yourself during a long run day and you’re miles from home with just the scenic views around you and it’s easy to escape to reflect.  I think there are days I struggle more with my best friend having something that none of us can make any better right at this given second then anything.  I miss his voice full of advice, his handwritten inspiration notes, and even the typed items that had words so badly misspelled that even spell check didn’t figure out.  (Now please take note where my bad spelling comes from, at least that’s what I blame it on) J  I look forward to these future days of training and running to allow myself to reflect on so many of these things and help me deal with this in some way. 
      When I was home this past weekend I went walking with my mom.  Which might I add in the midst of this first blog …my mother is an amazing individual.  I have always been daddy’s little girl and through the struggle of some of this it has given me the opportunity to become close to my mom.  I told mom, given the hard days I know that will come with being sore, legs hurting, and so forth I will always be able to tell myself no matter how hard a run, a day, or something might be I realize things are much worse for dad. If he has had the strength to battle so much, without question I will be able to do this and I will. 

I’ve randomly been running, but since news of the marathon it’s given me a new meaning to run and a new goal as well. I’m going to do something for this event every day…every single day…no excuses, because neither my mom nor dad gets a day off from this.  I look forward to being able to update dad on how the running is going and all the activities going on to help raise money for this event.  I’m looking forward to going to NYC and running this marathon and sharing “our story” along the way and making people aware of our small town and everything people like my dad do for so many others every day.
I wanted to start this blog to share in this adventure and hopefully reach others who are struggling with the same type of situation.  I want to express the importance to the awareness for Parkinson’s along with Team Fox and embrace the contagious optimism that Michael J. Fox has given to this disease.  There was a lot unknown about this disease when we were first told of the prognoses and we scrambled to try to understand it all.  I usually don’t discuss emotions much, but I look forward to sharing the thoughts I have while running, training updates, and the random “remember when’s”.  I will update on the fundraising efforts, projects we plan to do, and welcome anyone who wants to contribute, has ideas, wants to assist with a fundraiser to let me know.  I have set the goal of money to raise at $10,000….but if we’ve learned anything from dad it is to always do better then what we once hoped…so I do hope through this my goal increases and we are able to make a big impact from a small community.    

Dad Along with Tara, Me, Mom, and Kelly <3