Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Walking Tour

When the Spicy Chicken and I set out on for our 10 mile training walk last Saturday morning I was not intending on creating a photographic pictorial of our journey.  After the first mile, however, I realized it would be a great opportunity to photograph the town we live in that I love so much and document our morning together (these days those seem to be few and far between).  I am not a photographer nor do I pretend to be.  I do, however, love taking photos and playing around with Instagram. So, despite the fact that it slowed us down a little and it might have started to drive SC crazy after awhile, I, at least, had a ton of fun.  

Below are a few of the pics I took throughout Cville and UVA Grounds.  You can find me on Instagram under  amyeastlack if you want to see the rest.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Goal Attained

I'm happy to report that as of today, October 8, my last day to raise the required $2300 for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, I have not only met my goal but exceeded it! I'm so grateful to my friends and family who have not only stepped up and given monetarily, but have been an immense source of moral and physical support (some even taking 5+ mile walks with me!). 

Training for something like this you spend a lot of time on the road with your own thoughts. I will admit that on several occasions I had the thought "Is this really going to make a difference?"  Inevitably on those days I would come home to find a donation had been made to my account by someone who didn't even know Chrissy but wanted to support me, or someone who knew Chrissy and wanted to honor her memory, or someone who had lost a loved one to cancer. That was all I needed to know that this is indeed going to make a difference. If this changes the fate of just one person it's worth every blister, every minute, every mile.

I was fortunate to be asked to be a guest on 1070 WINA radio this weekend, where I got the opportunity to talk about Chrissy, Charlottesville's commitment to breast cancer, and the importance of taking care of ourselves. Three of my passions all in one six-minute radio spot - how lucky am I?  If you weren't up at 7:30am on Saturday (because let's face it, I wouldn't have been!) you can hear my interview with the fabulous Wendy Edwards via podcast on WINA's website here

I will be updating my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts throughout each day so that you can see the who, what, where and why of my journey.  I'm sure there will be lots of interesting things to see and say! 

PS If you'd like to make a donation it's not too late - just click here.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Always An Adventure

The "Finding Amy...Again" journey has taken me on quite a few different "exercise adventures" over the past few years.  

It started at Clay Fitness + Nutrition, where, from day one three years ago, I was taken far beyond what I believed my body was capable of. This adventure, of course, continues to this day and my body is still challenged to exceed my expectations with every class I take!  

I've done several 5Ks over the past few years. My favorite was the Hilton Head Run For the Heritage that the Spicy Chicken & I did in 2011. Not only was it completely flat (my kind of race!) it was the first race we'd done together since the 1999 Denver Governor's Cup 10K. It was, consequently, also the last race we did together. Hmmm...

I also had a great time doing the Featheridge/Clay 5K Run to Rebuild with Moe in spring of 2011. Okay, maybe "great time" is a slight exaggeration, as this was her first true race and she may have cried once or twice along the way. But we did it, and even have the pictures to prove it!

Training for the Charlottesville Ten Miler this spring was probably the toughest adventure I've taken so far. Running distances does not come naturally to me. Hard as I tried, I never reached that "I love this!" moment so many runners speak of. I did, however, occasionally get to "I like this", which I deemed as success, considering I started from "I f'ing hate this!"Shin splints (which I later found were stress fractures) attempted to sideline me along the way, but with Callie's help I made it to the Finish Line. There are rumors that I uttered something like "I can't wait to do this again next year", but thankfully there's no actual proof!

This leads us to my latest adventure - the Susan G. Komen 3-Day.  Unlike other events, the 3-Day is truly not a race - it's a journey - a 60 mile journey! You wouldn't think you'd have to train for just walking, but you do (think blisters). Even then 20 miles doesn't seem like that big of a deal. That is until you realize that you're doing it all over again the next day AND the day after that...60 miles is a heck of a journey, and I cannot wait to take it!

My adventures have gone from a jog around the block, to 5k, to 10 miles, to 60 miles. What will your next adventure be?  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Blogging Is Harder Than It Seems

Hmmm...what excuse do I use now about not having been blogging lately???  Work? Illness? Natural disaster?

When I started this blog I thought it would be easy to keep up.  After all, I am writing amazing blog posts in my head all the time. How hard could it be to get them from my head to paper, to the computer, edited, and published?  

Turns out, really hard.

While not always "amazing" (that was sarcasm) I am truly always writing blog posts in my head.  I don't remember a day in the last 10 or so years when I haven't thought "that would make a great story!" at least five times and continued to write it all out in my head. This odd, OCD-like behavior is actually the reason I started blogging.  "Now I can actually get those story ideas out of my head. This is the perfect outlet for me - hooray!"  Of course, when I made this glorious revelation I didn't think about the time it would actually take to get my crazy thought process in to something others might understand, let alone the whole sitting down and doing it thing.  

Still, I thought I could do it because, thanks to another OCD-like behavior of mine. I am an incredibly fast typer.  How have I mastered such a skill you may wonder?  Simple,  I am always - and I mean ALWAYS typing. Or at least my fingers are. If you've ever held hands with me this would come as no surprise to you, but those of you who are not my children, my husband or one of a handful of lucky suitors from my youth, are probably wondering what the hell I'm talking about.

It's simple.  When I was in 7th grade we were required to take "Keyboarding" (yep, I'm old enough to remember electric typewriters!). The teacher - Mr. Solem -  sat us in alphabetical order by last name which placed me the back of the room with Reed Walhof - the perfect spot for slacking off in what I deemed to be an unimportant class (recall that at this point in my life I was going to be scientist, so I didn't need 'silly' skills like typing!).  It didn't take long for Mr. Solem to realize that Reed and I weren't taking his class quite as seriously as he did. One day he proclaimed that everyone in the class would get detention if I didn't type to perfection on our next test.  I've never stopped practicing since.

So, if I'm always thinking of stories and always typing, why am I not posting more consistently? I have no freaking idea! 

I read some really amazing blogs and find myself wondering how these women do it. While my life is busy it certainly isn't busier than theirs - some of them have like a hundred kids, after all. So do they sit at their computers all day long and write? (That sitting still thing doesn't work for me!). Do they have keyboards attached to every chair in their house?  (That would totally ruin the feng shui!). Do they write in their cars, on the treadmill, in the shower? (That's the only time I get peace and quiet!). Do they ever sleep? (Oh God, please don't tell me I have to give up sleep!).

What it comes down to is this - I'm not them, I'm me. This journey to "Find Amy" isn't just about eating better and exercising more, it's about figuring out how to balance the things I need to do with the things I want to do.  Thus, "Finding Amy" continues to be an every day struggle.  I wish I could get all of the stories, anecdotes and insanity out of my head and down on paper on a daily basis, but I'm me and, quite frankly, it just ain't going to happen. 

So my solution is to keep typing away, knowing that sometimes my fingers will actually reach the keyboard. And when they do, I hope you will be there to read it.   

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

4 Miles

In the grand scheme of things 4 miles isn't that far.  Years ago I wore a pedometer to see how much (or how little) I was moving on a daily basis and there were definitely days I walked way more than 4 miles.

But when those miles are walked/run/jogged by 3500 women in hopes of finding a cure for breast cancer they mean a hell of a lot.

I participated in the Charlottesville Women's Four Miler this weekend in honor and remembrance of my friend Chrissy, whom I've written about several times here.  This race is held every year (this was the 20th!) in Charlottesville on Labor Day Weekend to benefit the  UVA Cancer Center Breast Care Program. It's an amazing race for so many reasons.  First, to see 3500 women plus thousands of others supporting them lined up along Garth Road on the grounds of Foxfield is awe inspiring.  The fact that the proceeds stay locally and support cutting edge breast cancer research, patient education, support services, and community outreach is pretty great too.  And the "Motivational Mile"  - a display of names honoring those affect by cancer along the last mile of the course reminding each of participant of why we're there.  There were not one, not two, but three posters honoring Chrissy's memory on the Motivational Mile this year - a testament to how much she is loved and missed.

This was the first year that I have been able to participate in the Four Miler as we usually travel Labor Day Weekend.  My friends, on the other hand, have all done it together for the past several years.  This is year was the first without Chrissy, who ran it last year in 49 minutes with feet covered in blisters from the chemotherapy she was receiving at the time.  Talk about inspirational.

We chose to wear yellow shirts with pink writing this year in honor of Chrissy's fight not only against breast cancer, but the evil cancer that metastasized into the rest of her body after initially beating breast cancer. Breast cancer stole Chrissy from us; liver cancer killed her.  

We did this race not just in memory of Chrissy but in memory of all the people who have lost their lives, lost loved ones or are fighting against cancer right now.  I am certain that cancer has affected every single one of us in some way. In addition to Chrissy and also I lost a great friend to skin cancer prior to his 30th birthday - my dad is a colon cancer survivor - Kirsten lost her best friend to breast cancer - Anne lost her mom - Holly lost her dad to cancer and has a mom who is a breast cancer survivor (yay, Monica!) - Cara lost her dad to lung cancer two weeks ago - Erin's mom is a breast cancer survivor (yay, Alice!) - Carrie's dad is undergoing radiation for cancer as I write this.... I'm sure you have a story, too.  

As I've been training for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day I've read some pretty staggering statistics about breast cancer.  At times it feels almost overwhelming, like we'll never be able to find an end to it.  But then I watch a video from a survivor or read a survivor story or look in to the eyes of Chrissy's kids...and I know it will happen.  It has to. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Meet Sam

This is Sam, also known as "Toucan Sam".  From his profile shot you can see why someone a the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA (CASPCA) gave him that name - he's got quite the schnoz.  At our house, however, he's just known as Sam...or Sammy...or Sammy Boy...or Sweet Sammy...

Who is Sam?
Sam is our current foster dog from the CASPCA.  He's been with us for less than 72 hours but you'd think he'd been here is his whole life.  He's that comfortable already.

Sam is the 4th foster dog we've had in the past two years. And yes, it's always super hard to give them back when their time with us is up and no, it does not easier.  More than anything, however, it is worth it because we know in our hearts that the time spent with our family helped that dog not just during the time he/she was with us, but after returning to the shelter, as well (so far we have a 100% adoption-within- 24-hours-of-return rate).

We don't know much about Sam's life before he came to the CASPCA but it's pretty obvious he had a rough go.  In addition to the large bump on his nose (that we assume is calcification from previously broken bones), one of his legs is a little shorter than the other (the result of a break that didn't heal properly) and he recently had a toe amputated (again due to prior injury).  Don't feel sorry for Sam though.  He doesn't let any of those things slow him down.  He's completely healthy, full of energy and he runs, jumps, skips and hops as well as any other kangaroo...I mean, dog.  

So, what is Sam like?
All kidding aside, this dog is awesome. I'm pretty sure that if you looked up "Alpha Dog" in a thesaurus (or on - nobody uses books anymore, right?) "Scout" would be listed as a synonym for "Alpha Dog". Sam, on the other hand, would the first on the list of antonyms. There is not one alpha bone in this dog's body.  This has proven quite beneficial for both dogs this week, as Scout gets to flex his muscles every once and awhile and Sam gets to think Scout is playing with him.  Eventually Scout snaps loud enough that Sam rolls over on his back in complete submission and the game is over. Don't tell Sam that though, he thinks it's just getting started.  

Adopt Sam

Sam will be with us for two weeks before heading back to the CASPCA.  Due to his injuries he's been there for quite awhile healing and just needed a little "vacation" from shelter life.  During his time with us he is still able to be adopted so if you're looking for a sweet, loving, affectionate, active-but-not-too-active dog to be your best friend - come meet Sammy.  He just might be the one!   


While taking a walk a few weeks after my grandmother's death back in 2003 my aunt noticed a beautiful, red cardinal perched on a tree. A few days later she saw another. And  another just a few days later.  

While cardinals are not unheard of in southern Minnesota, it's rare enough that seeing one feels pretty special and seeing several is quite momentous.  So when  my aunt continued to see what appeared to be that same cardinal again and again, she confided in my mom that she couldn't help but feel like that bird was my grandma watching over her.

I, in turn, thought this was crazy and became immediately concerned with how my aunt was dealing with her grief. Lutherans don't believe in reincarnation.  Besides, if grandma did come back, why in the world would she choose a cardinal, of all things?  

A few years later, however, I changed my tune.

Leaving Omaha for Charlottesville was quite difficult for me. My weight sky-rocketed as I numbed my dipping, swirling emotions with food.  By the time we reached our new home I was weighing in at nearly 200 pounds, a place I'd never imagined I'd be.

Walking Scout around the lake in our neighborhood one morning I started to cry.  I couldn't believe I'd let things get so out of control and was struggling to see how I'd pull it together.  As I contemplated the depths of my misery I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye.  I looked up to find a beautiful red cardinal staring straight at me.

I continued to walk Scout along this path for the next few weeks, often seeing my cardinal friend perched in the trees around me.  While I didn't believe in the possibility of my grandma's soul being locked inside this little bird, I also couldn't explain the strange sense of peacefulness I received every time I saw it. It was like the woman I had admired and adored my whole life was there, watching over me.

It wasn't long before I found out that seeing a cardinal in Virginia isn't quite the celebratory affair that it is in Minnesota (it's the State Bird, after all!) and that the bright red cardinals are actually the males and therefore, definitely not Grandma.  By then, however, I was receiving such a strong (and admittedly odd) sense of comfort from our encounters that I wasn't willing to let go of it.

Over time I began to pull out of my depression. My little walks around the lake turned into much longer walks (and eventually runs) that took me on trails and paths all around town. Somehow Grandma always seemed to find me. Sometimes she even brought Grandpa, which was really special to me because he passed away before I was born.  

At times I would hear Grandma telling me how proud she was of me. Other times her words of encouragement were designed to keep me going while struggling up a hill or through the end of a sprint.  And, on occasion, she was kind enough to remind me to stop feeling sorry for myself and get my ass moving (though I'm fairly sure the human Grandma never would've said 'ass').

It's been five years since we moved to Charlottesville and I'm happy to report that Grandma is still watching over me. To this day I always make a point of acknowledging her when I see her.  It's usually nothing more than a "Hey Gram!" or "What's up, Grampa?" but for some reason I feel like I have to do it.  Wouldn't want her to feel like I don't appreciate her support, ya know?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Something's Fishy

I am painfully aware that a major part of my weight problem revolves around food. (Duh!) The problem is actually a lot more complex than just overeating - it's deeply rooted and emotional, blah, blah, blah.  

If I've learned anything from this journey over the past few years, however, it's that trying to deal with too many big things at once just sets me up for failure. For that reason I'm going to attempt to go at this slowly, but surely.   

To begin with I will focus mainly on starting to cook. As a 39 year old mother of two who just celebrated 14 years of marriage you'd probably think this was something I had been doing for quite some time.  If you knew the Spicy Chicken, however, you'd understand why I've never felt like it was worthwhile for me to take it on. Ironic, isn't it, that someone with weight issues like mine married a fabulous cook?

The thing is, the Spicy Chicken travels half the month, leaving me to fend for the 3 of us at the table more often than not. While I don't feed my kids junk on a daily basis I've been known to cook the same basic meals ad nauseum and/or give up and claim "tonight is our one night to go out".  

After stepping on the scale this morning I've come to realize that all that eating out (and the "just one" glass of wine it usually includes) has gotten me back in to major trouble.  It HAS TO STOP NOW!

There are a million theories about what "healthy eating" is but it's fairly widely accepted that fish is a good choice (especially if you choose to ignore the whole mercury poisoning thing).  Though I love fish I rarely ever eat it and am quite intimidated by the thought of cooking it.  Therefore, one of my goals on this little "cooking expedition" is to eat fish at least twice a week.  

So how does someone who just recently touched a whole, raw chicken for the first time go about cooking something as delicate as fish?  You Google "easy fish recipes" and pick the one with the fewest ingredients and shortest amount of instructions, of course!

I was excited that one of the first recipes that came up in my search was Fast Fish Tacos from Recipe Girl.  Not only do I absolutely love fish tacos, I reasoned that if I screwed the fish up I could at least hide it under a pile of salsa.  I realize this recipe isn't rocket science - it's actually about as easy as it can get - but it I'm a big believer in celebrating even the little victories and for me, fish tacos falls under that heading.  

(via Recipe Girl)


  • 1 pound boneless & skinless tilapia fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces, rinsed & patted dry
  • olive oil, salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons fresh salsa
  • 12 corn or flour tortillas, warmed
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage
  • Optional garnishes: cheese, cilantro, lime, avocado


  • Heat broiler, with rack in highest position. Place fish on rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil & season with salt and pepper. Broil until fish is lightly browned on top, 5-10 minutes, until flesh is opaque throughout.
  • Meanwhile in a small bowl, mix sour cream with 2 Tablespoons fresh salsa.
  • Divide fish evenly among tortillas and top with shredded cabbage, sour cream, salsa and other garnishes of your choice.

I laid aluminum foil down on the pan before cooking because
I really hate scrubbing pans, especially sticky, crusty fishy ones.

It really doesn't get any easier than that, does it? 

Though I did make the sour cream/salsa mixture
I found that fresh ingredients like cilantro, lime, red onion, avocado
and salsa were all I needed as garnish
(and eliminated the extra calories from the sour cream)

Throw on a few healthy slices of avocado and some 
fresh-from-Whole-Foods salsa
and it's time for dinner!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

3 Days

I've been trying for months to write about the amazing journey I will be embarking on October 12-14 in memory of my good friend, Chrissy Chadwick.  Today I finally decided that I just needed to start typing - before it was too late. For that reason I'm sure this won't be my most poetic post and I know it won't do Chrissy justice, but you know me, Chrissy, did you really expect I wouldn't procrastinate?

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day is a 60-mile walk that takes place over the course of three days. The race takes place in on different weekends in 14 different cities through the U.S. I will be walking in Washington, D.C. in October.

I've heard that the emotional aspects of the walk are as difficult as the physical. I can't say I know how to prepare for that, or if I'm even ready to confront those emotions yet, but I'm going to because I feel so strongly about the importance of investing in breast cancer research and community programs after watching what Chrissy and her family went through. 

This the first time I've done this walk, though I can't help but wonder if maybe, just maybe, I'd had raised the mandatory $2300 a few years ago I'd be doing this walk "In Honor of..." instead of "In Memory of..."

I'll be honest, when Chrissy received her initial diagnosis it never crossed my mind that she might not beat it.  This was CHRISSY, after all.  Sure, she barely reached 5 feet tall, but every inch of that girl was full of fire. Nothing or nobody beat Chrissy.  Just ask the guys in the greased watermelon contest - or on the volleyball court - or the Sweet Adelines competition - or her running partners - or her kids...Cancer had picked the wrong girl to mess with.  

So when the first six months of chemo, surgeries, sickness, emotions and everything else that comes with the disease ended I really believed her battle was over. I believed that up until the day she died. She did, too. 

Chrissy was the definition of strength. There wasn't a sport she couldn't play - a race she couldn't run - a challenge she couldn't face.  She was the type of person that did everything & anything and somehow had time left to embroider it all neatly on a pillow she'd sown by hand.  If there was something that needed to be done she did it, often without saying a word about it - she just did it.  I've always wanted to be more like that.

This time it's my turn to get the job done.  But I can't be quite about it. I need  to tell anyone and everyone about what I am doing because while I can't bring Chrissy back, I can help ensure that someone else doesn't have to endure what she and her family did.  I'm walking these miles in her memory, but also in celebration of the person she was and for the people who will beat this disease in the future. For her kids - so they know that while losing their mom was heart-breaking and unfair it was not in vain, as something good just has to come out of this.

This spring several of Chrissy's girlfriends got tattoos in her honor and memory (she had wanted one).  This is mine (sorry, only photo I have was taken immediately after getting it done).  I chose the symbol for strength to remind me not only of who Chrissy was but also to reminder myself that I, too, am strong and that it's my job to continue to fight.  I know she will be with me the entire 3 days of this walk (probably coming up with strategies on how I could improve my time...) and she will share her strength with me just like she always did when she was here. 

Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk requires each participant to raise a minimum of $2300 for the cause. Though my dad may disagree, I've never been good at asking for money (which has  hindered my work in non-profit and sales just a bit!) so I'm just going to put it out there now. If you feel compelled I would be grateful for your your support as I take this amazing journey in the fight to end breast cancer - any amount is appreciated.  

(BTW, you can read more about Chrissy here and here). 


To Do

This SpongeBob picture pretty much explains why you haven't seen me here few awhile. The last few months went like this: I got sick - I got sicker -  I got better - I got sick again - I got depressed  - I got lazy - I got sick AGAIN - I got fat - I got frustrated - I got better again...and at some point I pretty much just gave up.  

What I learned this summer was this - doing nothing is a lot easier than doing something. It doesn't, however, make you happier and it certainly doesn't make you healthier.

Okay, I knew that already but it took hitting pretty close to rock bottom before I could actually admit it.  

Important part, however, I am  - once again - working my way back up again. I gained over 15 pounds in the past few months - UGH - but I'm confident I can get it back off again. Why? Because I have a plan, and as my good friend Sissa always says, "You've gotta have a plan!"

So here's my plan: 
  1. Clay 
  2. Tennis 
  3. Yard 
  4. Disney
Yep, that's all I've got right now.  But read on and you'll understand.  There is usually a method to my madness.  Usually.

1. Clay 

When my illness cycle started this spring (which began with the poison ivy I told you about in June) I could barely muster up the energy to get through the basics of the day, let alone exercise.  I was hopped up on so many antihistamines, steroids painkillers, and, if we're being honest, vodka, that I was either in a fog or a fit. (It wasn't pretty). I missed the end of the spring session and the start of the summer one. Two weeks ago, however,  I sent an SOS to Hyam.  I really needed her help. Within 24 hours she had me back in classes and working on a plan for the fall. Hopping back into the cycling class was not, unfortunately, "just like riding a bike" but I survived and am going back for more! 

2. Tennis 

I played tennis in high school and although I really love the game, that was about the last time I picked up a racket.    At the prompting of my friend Tracey, however, I finally got back out there this year. I had a blast attending "Ladies Night" at Fairview, playing with the Spicy Chicken every Sunday and catching an extra night of drills occasionally. Though I'm still nowhere near as good as I'd like to be (or as I used to be) it's slowly coming back and I'm having a lot of fun.  An extra bonus is quality time with both Tracey and the Spicy Chicken!

3. Yard
It's no TRX class, but we have 2.2 acres of built-in strength training just waiting out there for me.  Other than mowing, prior to our moving in nothing had been done to the land for quite awhile.  I've spent hours upon hours out there this summer and my muscles - especially those that I never knew I had - will attest to the fact that it is indeed a workout.  And, if nothing else, it's healthier than sitting on the couch, watching the Olympics and eating bonbons.

4. Disney

We took the girls to Disney in 2008 in the middle of summer (stupid, I know, but I had a conference).  It was fun but really freakin' hot so we ended up spending more time at water parks than amusement parks.  For several years we've talked about taking them back before they're too old (and yes, I realize many of you will say you're never too old for Disney, but my list of "Places I Want Us to Visit" is long so Disney can only take up so much space).  While planning the trip this year I decided that coupling it with my desire to complete a Half Marathon made sense. Okay, so it doesn't really make sense, but ever since my friend Robyn did the Disney Princess Half Marathon last year I've had a strange desire to cross the finish line with Mickey Mouse or Cinderella. Plus it'd be a fun to check "Do Half Marathon" and "Take Kids to Disney" off my list at the same time!  Even better, the Spicy Chicken has a conference there this winter and has almost committed to doing it with me.  If I can get him to commit I think his dad, who is a seasoned marathoner, may join us, too. 

Okay, so that's my plan for staying back on track.  I realize this does not address my eating or drinking, which are major factors in my weight problem.  They are, of course, a part of my plan, just not the part I'm ready to deal with yet.  So in the meantime...

5. Cheers!
I'm just kidding, of course. I am working on the food and drink thing too - it just would've been to long to write about that here too (and I just love this photo I took while the Spicy Chicken and I were staying at the cabin at DelFosse Vineyards this summer). 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Happy National Running Day

Ok, so National Running Day was actually yesterday but I have a cycling class on Wednesday's so in my effort to not overtrain (stop laughing) I held off my celebrating until today. 

And guess what?  It was glorious!  Scout and I went back to the Meadowcreek Parkway (which I guess is now called the John Warner Parkway, who my dad claims was married to Elizabeth Taylor but I'm not sure I believe him).  We've had a lot of rain lately so it's been pretty humid, but today there was a light breeze and a little cloud cover - fabulous.  Since I am truly in the infant stages of getting my runner on again I decided to do run/walk intervals.  I do this very scientifically - running for the duration of one song and then walking for the next (much easier than having to look at my watch). Add to it that my poison ivy has gotten so much better that I can actually move my legs without falling into a scratching fit and I think we can call today one pretty damn successful "Day After National Running Day"!

So, how about you?  Did you celebrate National Running Day with a great run?  How about Day After National Running Day?  If not, no worries.  I've heard Weekend After National Running Day is a great time to celebrate, too!  Just get on out there - I promise you will be happy you did (and so will your dog!).


(Photo Courtesy of Virginia Tech Weed ID Guide)

I spent several hours writing a post the other day about the horrible case of poison ivy I've been battling for the past month.  It was was a pretty good article - complete with photos of oozing welts, bloody scrapes, black, green and purple bruises and a list of my suggestions for remedying the situation (complete with a prescription and over-the-counter drug cocktail and my favorite martini recipe). 

While having dinner with friends last night, however, I realized that there was no reason to post that article.  I can't imagine there is one reader out there who really wanted to see or hear about my ailment and I wondered why I felt compelled to write it in the first place.  I came to the conclusion that it was because it was "only poison ivy" I felt like I needed to vindicate myself.  From the day I realized I had come in contact with it until I literally felt like I was losing my mind in the third week I kept thinking "it's only poison ivy".  Didn't I get this all the time when I was a kid and spent my summers traipsing through the woods around Peppertree Pond?  It's "only poison ivy" for Godsake!  How in the world can I be this miserable from "only poison ivy"?  People are going to think I am a freak!

But nobody did. My friends all listened to me whine and complain endlessly about how miserable I was. They oohed and aahed appropriately when I showed them my welts, reassured me it was as bad as I thought it was and actually cheered when I proudly showed off how much better it was getting (though I'm sure they were thinking it was still too disgusting to be flaunting in the middle of Zo-Ca-Lo).  I got concerned texts, e-mails, and phone calls from  my family (possibly prompted by the photos I texted to my known-to-be-squeamish sister).  The Spicy Chicken even offered to come home from his business trip (though I think that was more because after the "roid rage" fit I threw on Monday evening he may have been a little concerned about the well-being of his children...). 

What it comes down to is that it wasn't "only" poison ivy - it was poison ivy and I was  miserable.  However, thanks to the combination of steroids, antihistamines, ibuprofen, a little vodka and the love of my friends and family I am on the mend.  

As I stated on my Facebook page this morning "I am convinced there is no ailment that great friends, food, cocktails and lots of laughter cannot remedy". 

At least until the drugs wear off...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

This Is My Dad

This is my dad. 

Like many little girls I've always seen my dad as a source of strength and inspiration.  He worked hard and worked a lot when we were growing up but I never felt like he was absent. While I'm sure we have my mom to thank for that as well (amazing how much perspective one gains as they grow older) he was always there when we needed him. He coached my sports teams, watched my piano recitals and jumped in the pool to save me the time I did a back flip off the diving board and hit my head. He was tough on me when he needed to be, but was soft most of the time.  There's a great story about how once when I was misbehaving during church my mom told him take to me out to spank me but I somehow ended up with chocolate on my face instead. I'm not sure I ever got a spanking as a kid, even though I am sure I deserved it (and I do know I got a lot of chocolate...).

This is my dad.

As you can probably see in the picture he has a big lump in his chest (next  to the bow tie).  This is his defibrillator. He started having heart trouble my freshman year of college and it's been a somewhat bumpy road ever since then.  We've had a few major scares along the way, but he always manages to come out of it. Though his diet was most likely a factor in his health, there is a genetic component to his heart disease that can't be denied. My grandfather died after a series of heart attacks and strokes when I was just 5 years old (which I think put him in his late 60s). Both my aunt and uncle were diagnosed with heart disease in their 50s and have undergone triple and quadruple bypasses just to stay alive (and both could probably employ their own pharmacist to keep track of all the meds they take).  And my grandma had so many ailments (whether real or imagined) that I won't even try to go there.

This is my dad.

If you zoomed in a little closer in this photo you'd see scars showing that my dad has also had his gall bladder removed, hernia surgery and has a completely detached bicep.  Depending on the day you might also be able to see the spot where my mom injects his B12 shots that keep him from dying from pernicious anemia. Thankfully, there is no amount of zoom that would show you the scars that prove he is also a survivor of colon cancer.  

This is my dad.

What you can't see in the picture is that at the time it was taken his cancer blood levels were up and he was in atrial fibrillation.  We've known his blood levels were off for awhile but for some reason or another they hadn't been able to find where the cancer is.  Until now.  He found an odd lump a few weeks back and though we don't have any definitive answers yet the scans, tests and biopsies have started. I honestly don't know if finding the lump is good news or bad news.  I hate the waiting for answers almost as much as I hate cancer.  Almost.

And the a-fib?  Apparently it's become so common for him that he ignores it, even though he shouldn't. They've changed his meds, hoping they can control it medically, but it's trial and error.  I don't like the sound of that at all.

This is my dad.

Despite his height (you can see M is gaining on him already!) my dad was a phenomenal basketball player in his youth.  He was actually still listed in the Top 100 Scorers of All-time in Minnesota High School Basketball up until recently.  He didn't let his height set him back then - he just tried harder.  And that is how he is fighting this one.  He could've gone home and sat around waiting for answers but he didn't.  He donned his running shoes, iPod and the horrible mesh shirt he, much to everyone's chagrin, so loves to wear and headed out for a 5 mile walk.  He's quote to the doctor was something to the effect of "You're not going to bench me now, Coach."  

This is my dad.