Category: Team Challange

From the Bathroom to Kona

If you’ve been reading RAD for a while, you will know that I have Ulcerative Colitis.  It is something I used to be embarrassed to talk about, but since I’ve started running and competing in endurance events that is no longer the case.  As I’ve become more vocal about suffering from this disease, more and more people have seemed to come out of the woodwork who struggle with the same issues and I know there is nothing to be embarrassed about.

A few years ago my doctor told me that I should not compete in any long distance running events, but clearly I have proven them wrong.  Sometimes it’s hard…VERY hard to find the energy to train or even get through a short 2 mile run because of my UC, but I just take it one day at a time.

I wanted to share this video with you that I found recently by Grant Henry.  Grant shares his story, From the Bathroom to Kona, as part of the Kona Inspired contest.  Here competitors share what drives them to that starting line and why they are competing in the 2013 Ironman World Championship in Kona, HI.  Winners will receive entry into the 2013 Ironman World Championship, along with many other VIP perks.  Here’s Grant’s story…

From the Bathroom to Kona

Grant is raising money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) and Team Challenge, an organization very dear to my heart.  Last year around this time I was also raising money for CCFA as I was getting ready to run the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon with Team Challenge, proving that UC can’t hold me back!

Medal & Wine Glass copy

So vote for Grant.  Let’s help him get to Kona a show that UC, Crohn’s and IBD aren’t death sentences, we can do anything!

Race Recap: The Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon

We last left off as I was settling down for an all too short 5 hours of sleep.  I didn’t sleep all that well, as I never seem to do so before races, because I wake up every hour to check the clock and make sure I haven’t overslept.  When it was finally time to get up, my adrenaline kicked in and I got all my gear on, made sure to put on plenty of sunscreen, and made sure I had everything for Team Challenge.  We had to wear 2 wristbands during the race, one for the complimentary transportation and one for the admission to the wine tasting after party.  There was also a ticket on our race bib that entitled us to one engraved wine glass…didn’t want to pass that up!

Another thing I got for this race was a PaceTat, which is a temporary tattoo that gives you what your splits should be if you want to finish at a certain time goal.  They are really cool!  More to come later on this 🙂

The night before I had heard some commotion going on outside our door, but I didn’t check to see what it was.  When I opened the door to leave, I was met by a fun surprise.  My team members had decorated my door with a sign and streamers!!  What a great surprise!

I grabbed a half of a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter that brought from home and headed down to the lobby to meet the team.  The coaches did one last review of their race tips and we boarded the bus for the 30 minute ride to the race site.  The night before, Coach Janis warned us that there is a lot of grass and dirt at the site.  There were huge storms the day before, so there could be mud and the grass was sure to be wet.  She advised us to grab the plastic garbage bags from the wastebaskets in our hotel rooms to put over our shoes for when we arrived to protect our shoes from getting wet.  Brilliant!  Most of our team did this and we received a lot of strange looks when we got off of the bus, but later while waiting in line for the bathroom in the wet grass, everyone thought we were geniuses!  It really did help to keep my shoes dry and this is a tip I will keep with me for all future races.

Garbage Bag Feet = Dry Feet

The team gathered to do some warm ups and get some group photos in before the race.  We also got to here some last minute tips from Jeff Galloway, which was really cool!  This was my small runDisney tie-in to this race.  The event was held at Doukenie Winery and it is an absolutely beautiful setting, especially first thing in the morning when we arrived.  There are horses, ducks, a large pond and of course sprawling fields of grape vines.  It is truly breathtaking.  In fact, this whole area in Virginia is a hidden gem.  I never knew there was wine country there.

Sunrise at the Winery

Team Fairfield/Westchester!

Jeff Galloway sporting a lovely garbage bag to keep warm!

Before we get to the race, I do need to comment on the bag check situation there.  This definitely wasn’t a Disney operation…  There was a table set up for bag check and the volunteers were handing out white garbage bags and Sharpie markers to write your name and bib number on the bag.  They then took your back and put it in the (wet) grass behind the table in no particular order.  Yikes!  I was so thankfully Barry was coming after the race with all of my things so I didn’t have to check anything.  This must have been a nightmare to collect at the end!

At about 6:30 am, we headed down to the starting line, which was in the driveway of the vineyard where we waited and waited and waited.  For some reason the race was delayed by half an hour.  There were rumors floating around that there were still some buses heading to the site from the host hotels, but there was no official announcement.  There were no corrals or pace markers when we got down there, so the team just picked a spot about mid-way in the starting area and waited.  Since there was such a delay, many of the runners took this time to take a bathroom break in the vineyards next to the race start.  Let’s just say that the grape vines don’t provide much coverage and I saw a lot more of some female runners than I would’ve liked!

At the starting line…waiting

We faintly heard the starting bell at about 7:30 am and began to move.  While the start was pretty disorganized, I was kind of happy about the delay because it it gave Barry enough time to get to the race.  He was on one of the aforementioned buses.  He was waiting right after the starting line and I was able to get a good luck kiss in 🙂

So here I was running in Virginia.  I started off really well and was doing a 3/1 minute run/walk combo.  I was feeling great.  The course was beautiful and I saw some fun things along the way.  I almost took a detour to the Pygmy Goat and Miniature Horse farm and I found my new home…the Black Cat Manor!!  There were also a TON of Team Challenge supporters out on the course cheering us on, which really helped.

Around Mile 2

Gorgeous Farm Country

Pygmy Goats!

I need to live here!

Yes, things were going great…until mile 5.  This is when the gravel started.  We were told that there was only about 1 mile of hard dirt road with minimal gravel.  Oh no…this was 4 MILES of gravel and the road was very uneven.  I got numerous stones in my shoes, which I had to stop and take out and this also caused a very uncomfortable blister to form on the ball of my right foot.  I have never had blisters on the bottom of my feet before, but I also haven’t run on 4 miles of gravel before so we were in uncharted territory.  By the time I got to the end of this stretch at mile 9, I was not a happy camper.  I saw one of my coaches just before the end of the gravel and she helped push me through, which was a huge help.

Giant Gravel Hill = Hell

The last 4 miles went by fairly well.  My calves started cramping up towards the end, but I pushed though.  I was determined to finish the race in under 3 hours and I was getting very close to that not happening.  The gravel really slowed me down so I had to make up some time.  This is where the PaceTat really came in handy because I could compare the time to my Garmin and make sure I was still on pace.

As I was coming up to the end, I was surprised by an old co-worker who lives in the area and came to cheer me on.  This really picked up my spirits to get to that finish line.  Miraculously, I saw a group of my team members and my 2 coaches right in front of me and we all finished in one big group.  Coach Janis ran next to me right up to the finish line and yes, I finished in under 3 hours!  2:59:17 to be exact.  I sure know how to cut it close 🙂  I was so happy to see Barry right there at the end cheering me on and taking some great photos!  It makes such a difference to have a smiling, familiar face at the end after doing something so challenging.

Almost there!!

I did it!

Under 3 Baby!

After the race, we had to go directly to the Team Challenge tent to check in.  This is to ensure all runners are off the course and so the coaches for each team can come in.  This is also where I got my Team Challenge finisher pin and etched wine glass.  Then, my first priority was to get my sneakers off, deal with this blister and get my compression sleeves on my calves.  I found these awesome Blister Treatment bandages from Dr. Scholl’s that were phenomenal!  I highly recommend them.  After I got my legs squared away, it was time for some food.  Team Challenge hosted an after party for runners and their guests where we chowed down on burgers, grilled chicken, potato salad and fruit.  It was a great post-race spread.

Once I was refueled, it was time to check out the wine tasting!  We received these fun commemorative wine glasses that we were able to use in the wine tasting area.  There were probably about 6 different local wineries there offer a variety of wines.  I wasn’t blown away by the wines in Virginia, but it was a really good time.

Commemorative Wine Glass

Post Race Wine Tasting

Overall, this was a fun race experience.  Running with Team Challenge was an amazing and rewarding experience.  Plus, I’m really happy that I met my goal of finishing in under 3 hours.  The course was not my favorite and because of all of the gravel, I’m not sure I would return unless the course was changed.  It’s a shame because the area is beautiful and the after party was a lot of fun.  We’ll just have to wait and see.    All I know is that half marathon #2 is successfully under my belt and I can’t wait to do the next one!

Race Recap: Leading Up to the Virginia Wine Country Half

Last weekend was the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon.  As I’m sure you know by now, I signed up for the race in January as part of Team Challenge.  What I didn’t realize when I signed up was that I had a HUGE conference for work that I was managing.  For some reason the dates didn’t register as being an issue because I think I was so excited to get started fundraising for CCFA.  It wasn’t until March when it actually clicked and I started to become really nervous about what I was taking on, but at that point I was committed and had already received a significant amount of money.  I couldn’t let my donors down!

So the week of the race came and needless to say, I was completely stressed out.  I had to pack for 2 trips, this conference was looming over me, and there was a lot of car travel in my future.  Needless to say, the conference was a huge success, but it was also very tiring.  Looooong days and a lot of walking, which made my legs and feet tired.  Not good for the days leading up to a half marathon.

I left the conference early on Friday and drove the hour home to switch suitcases and say hi to my cats for a quick second…they totally missed me 🙂

Then it was off to pick up the hubs, grab some lunch and hit the road.  On my way to pick him up I realized I forgot my iPod for the race…ugh.  I don’t like using my phone for music because I like to keep the battery for photos and tweets, you know, the important things!  Luckily there is an Apple store by Barry’s job and there is also a Pinkberry, which totally cheered me up.  The detours set us back a bit and we left about an hour later than expected, but fingers were crossed we’d still make the Team Challenge Pasta Party.

My favorite!

Snazzy New Shuffle

As soon as Barry took the wheel, it was time to slap on my calf compression sleeves and stretch my legs a bit.  They felt so tired from the past 3 days and I wanted to work my muscles out for the race the next morning.  Oooh how I love these things!

Compression Sleeves RULE

The drive was tedious and we hit quite a few strong storms along the way, but after 6 long hours we made it.  I missed the expo, but thankfully my awesome endurance manager picked up my race packet for me.  We were also late for the pasta party and the program had started just was we got there.  We grabbed a plate and headed in to sit with my team.  A few CCFA execs spoke and got the team motivated for the race.  They also announced the top 10 fundraisers for the race and the totals were amazing!  The top fundraiser raised $30,000!

Lastly, the number 5 fundraiser from New Jersey (I wish I could remember her name!) gave a truly inspirational speech.  She has suffered from Crohn’s diseases from many years and told the very difficult story of how she ended up her.  She had me in tears at the end of her speech, but more excited than ever to get out there and run for this fantastic cause.

Team Challenge Pasta Party

After the pasta party, we had a team meeting to go over all of the details of the race tomorrow.  By this time, I was running on fumes and needed to hit the hay.  We checked into our room, I quickly got my gear ready for the morning, and set my alarm for 3:45 am.  The team was meeting in the lobby at 4:45 am sharp so I settled in for my 5 hours of sleep.  Stay tuned for the race recap!

My Experience Running with Team Challenge

This weekend I ran the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon (recap coming soon!) with the Fairfield/Westchester chapter of  Team Challenge and it was a truly inspirational and life changing experience.  If you don’t know what Team Challenge is, you should!  It is the endurance training and fundraising program for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, which is dedicated to finding a cure to these horrible diseases that affect over 1.4 million Americans.  The program provides fundraising support, weekly training sessions with experienced running coaches, a cheering squad on the race course, and everything you could possibly need leading up to and at the race you are signed up for.  The support is unparalleled!

Awesome FairWest Support Team!
Coaches Janis & Dasiy
Endurance Manager Dan

I’ve been suffering with ulcerative colitis (UC) for almost 10 years now and until recently have remained relatively silent about it.  Yes, my family and close friends knew that I suffered, but openly talking about my bowels was not something I was all too comfortable with.  That was until I joined Team Challenge.  It was like everyone started coming out of the woodwork with stories of how either Crohn’s or colitis has affected their lives in some way.  People who I have know for years revealed that they themselves were suffering from this…why have we never talked about this before?!

But it was mainly my Endurance Manager Dan who helped me break out of my UC shell.  He also suffers with UC and tells everyone about it!  As he says, it’s the second thing he tells people he first meets after his name.  I realized that it’s healthy to talk about and and that I’m not alone in this battle.  It’s nice to find someone who can relate to what I’m going through.  Don’t get me wrong, my family is incredibly supportive, but they don’t know what a flare is like and how sick you feel because there aren’t many visual symptoms.  Dan is also an inspiration to those of us trying to stay active and healthy with UC.  Not only has he run numerous half marathons with Team Challenge before becoming an Endurance Manager, he takes part in other grueling competitions like Tough Mudder.  Crazy!  So big thanks to Dan for your support and endless cheering throughout the race this past weekend.

Pure Awesome

Besides the support from Dan and my coaches, it was great to have such a wonderful team to race with.  The night before the race we all sat around and said why we were doing this.  Many people have no ties to Crohn’s and Colitis, but needed a way to get healthy.  I can think of no better way to start.  In the process of changing their lives for the better, they are helping to find a cure.

Check out this great video on what it’s like to run for Team Challenge:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wagn-IxAlD8&w=560&h=315]

Doesn’t that look like fun?!  So why not attend an information session?  This summer local chapters will be hosting informational sessions about the program and how you can sign up to run the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.  Vegas baby!

Together our chapter raised over $74,000 for CCFA and $1.6 million was raised overall for this race alone.  A lot can be done with that!  I’m going to keep running for Team Challenge and sporting my blue and orange.  I believe that one day there will be a cure and I’m proud to be part of making that happen.  I hope to see you at a race one day so we can “run our assses off” together!  Get it 😉

Sporting my TC Gear!

Getting Ready for the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon

My second half marathon is coming up this Saturday, and I must admit I’m a little nervous.  I haven’t been feeling myself lately.  Work is hectic, my allergies are at full blast, and I’m not sleeping well.  Not the best start to a half marathon week.

Oh did I mention work was hectic?  This morning I leave for the MGM Grand at Foxwoods for a large conference I have been working on for just about a year.  I’m there for the next 2 days prepping and then managing parts of the conference.  We have close to 400 people attending, 72 exhibitors, breakout sessions, cocktail parties…you name it!  If all goes as planned, I will be leaving early on Friday by 10:00 am.  Big thanks to my colleagues for covering me.  This is because on Friday, I will be driving (actually Barry will be driving) 7+ hours to Leesburg, VA for the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon.

So let’s see, I will be sleeping in a strange bed for 3 nights before the race, eating foods that probably aren’t the best for me, and partaking in a few cocktails here and there.  I’ve been hydrating for a few days already and I will try to make the best food choices as possible, but my will power is lacking when good restaurants are in view.  All in all, this is not the ideal situation for a race week, hence my nervous stomach.  And then there all my AMAZING friends and family who donated over $3,100 to help me run this race for Team Challenge.  No pressure there… :O

Ok let’s stop looking at the negatives and focus on some positives for the weekend that I’m really excited about.  Wine, wine and more wine.  I’ve never been to the Virginia wine country, but from what I’ve seen it’s beautiful.  Check out some pics from last year’s race.

Absolutely beautiful.  So not only is the wine country nice to look at, but there is plenty of wine to be had.  The weekend starts out with a wine tasting at the host hotel, which I will sadly not be able to make due to my late arrival on Friday.  Then there will be plenty of wine during and after the race.  That’s right, I said during the race.  I just received this in an email today about the weekend:

Wine and Music on-course? Yes, it’s true! Runners will deviate from the course at mile 6 to visit Hiddencroft Vineyards for water station #4.  Not just any water stop, there will also be a band (the Shorthill Mountain Boys) and small sample of white wine offered (Traminette, an east coast hybrid of Gewurtraminer).  

I’m not sure if I’ll partake in this, but I think it’s pretty cool that they are offering it.  Then after the race, there is a post-race wine and music festival.  All runners will get a wine glass after crossing the finish line and be able to have a glass from the hosting winery, Doukenie.  Family and friends are invited to join us for wine, food and music from two live bands!  How fun?!!

Prior to the race on Friday evening, there is a pasta dinner with Jeff Galloway.  As a Disney runner, I am very excited to get to meet Jeff Galloway since he is the official runDisney training consultant.  I also use Jeff’s run/walk method of training and it has really helped me increase my speed.  I have a lot to thank him for!  Plus I will be able to catch up with my Team Challenge teammates during the dinner, many of whom I have not spoken to in a while since I’ve missed a lot of trainings.

So it’s not all bad.  I have a lot to look forward to and I VERY excited to run my second half marathon.  My goal is to complete it in under 3 hours and I’m feeling confident I can accomplish this goal.  I just need to get through the next few days with minimal stress.  Wish me luck and hopefully I will have good news to report on Saturday afternoon!  I don’t think there is runner tracking for this race, but my bib # is 2831 if you’re interested 🙂

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