Saturday, May 24, 2014

Michele...My Belle

First, I have to tell you that Michele, is Belle, to my family and I. Nicknamed after The Beetles song, Michele. I've always only known her as Belle.
Sweet, caring, loving, friendly, kind, selfless, thoughtful, beautiful, amazing, bubbly, fun...these are just some of the words that people who love Belle use to describe her. It fills not only my heart but I'm sure it also fills hers to know that is how you remember her. Everyone who has something to say about her all say the exact same things, when everyone says it then you know that really is who she was.
My sister was such a beautiful soul and had an extraordinary gift of love, she truly had the strongest heart out of anyone I know. In this day and age being able to love fully and with out reservations is truly a gift and I couldn't be more proud and so honored that it was a gift my sister had. She loved fully, unconditionally and was always able to see the good in everyone and everything. If I could have half of her heart, I would be happy. She always was putting others before her self, if anyone was ever in need she would do what she could to help them. She would always take time out of her day to talk with others, she would never rush past someone, everyone was worth slowing down and taking the time to talk to.
Belle never wanted anyone to worry about her and only wanted everyone to laugh and smile with her and it was an added bonus if you'd do it on a dance floor, anyone who knows Michele, knows that girl loved to shake her booty. In fact just last night it was said "that girl could move things that shouldn't move". She loved to read, she donated her hair multiple times to Lock Of Love but we all know her true love and passion was cooking, look at he said to me the other day when we were looking through pictures and he was about 80 pounds lighter...I asked him what happened....he replied, that's your sister and 10 years of her feeding me.

Honestly, most of my memories of my sister and I revolved around us fighting, we could seriously throw down. But I really believe that is so much easier to fight with those that you love because you know that through it all your family and with that comes unconditional love and forgiveness. Mom always said that it will change when you get older and she was right. I still remember the day that it changed, I'll spare you the story, it's not important, what matters is she was there when I needed her. Our bond of sisterhood was always there but that day it was sealed together and was unbreakable. From that day forward she was my biggest supporter, she was my number one fan always the first to comment or like my posts on my fan page...I'm sure going to miss that.

Lastly, I have to talk about her smile, oh what a smile it is.  If there is one thing anyone remembers about her it will be that and it goes all the way back to everything I've already said...happy, selfless, passionate, her infectious laughter and the ability to light up a room, joyful, amazing, loving. Everything was said and felt in that smile.
Our lives will never be the same now that you're gone but will be better because you were in in it.
I love you sweet sister and if I can live the rest of my days with half the love you had in your heart, I can say that I lived my life complete.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

How I Celebrated My One Year Cancer Free Annivarsary

One year ago (yesterday) I had a radical hysterectomy done because I had Stage 1B1 Cervical Cancer. Now that a year has past I am finally feeling back to my old self and although it has gone by quickly, my body really did take nearly a full year to recover. I really wanted to do something special today to ring in my anniversary but I didn't want to make it just about me. I've shared my story with you a couple times now so I wanted to celebrate and help St. Jude Children's Research Hospital at the same time.

St. Jude Hospital in Memphis
For my anniversary I did what I do best, run! I put together a Fun Run/Walk with friends to benefit St. Jude. You may have seen my St. Jude run posts on facebook or even the website, it's a charity I've been very passionate about, even more so, after finding out I had cancer. I was a lucky one! I only required surgery as a cure but it still brought along similar hardships, especially the financial hardship. When your fighting for your life, or your child's life, the last thing you ever want to have to think about is a bill. That's why I'm such a strong supporter of St. Jude, no family ever even see's a bill, not for treatment, food, lodging or even travel expenses. Because St. Jude is non-profit and a research hospital they SHARE their information with doctors and hospitals around the WORLD! How can you not want to support a place like that?

I asked my friends and family on my one year Anniversary to join me in celebrating and supporting St. Jude by making a minimum $10 donation to the St. Jude Run I'll be doing this summer. I also asked them to go for a walk or a run, anywhere/time on May 13th, or they could join me at Grandview Drive and we can run together. Of course not everyone who wanted too could join, because its a Tuesday morning, but the donations have flooded my in box ALL DAY!  I'm so excited to announce my little "fun run" has brought in $750!!!!!!

My friends who were able to walk and run!

What was so special to me is that friends who are also St. Jude runners showed up and donated! And one of my friends, Jess (Run With Jess-who also gave me the idea of organizing the run), made some teal ribbon cookies (teal is the color for gynecological cancers) for us to enjoy after the run. I had so many left over I brought them to the radio station and asked everyone to donate a couple bucks for a cookie and that brought in another $30!

Yummy F.U Cancer cookies, in teal to represent Cervical Cancer.

Taking a bite out of cancer!
If you'd like to join the donation party please log on to and make at least a $10 donation.

Now with out furter ado here are the BIG WINNERS in my prizes I had up for grabs. Everyone who donated on or before yesterday was entered into the drawing.
-a $50 Gift Certificate to Running Central - BETH SCROFF
-a pair of General Admission tickets to the Indy 500 SUSAN RENNER
-one box of my favorite energy drink Spark from AdvoCare!!! TINA MORRIS
-Free 6 Month membership at World Gym-Peoria! HEATHER HAYES
-Free Oil Change and Full Car Detail from Green's Finish Line Ford JENNIFER JACOBSEN WOOD
-a $50 gift certificate for Arbonne BARB JOHNSON

I want to shout out to everyone who joined me on my run today and also those to donated: Matt N., Run With Jess, Melissa C., Tina M., Brittany K., Maria D., Amy J., Steve W., Brandy C., Deanna C., Laura L., Oralia Z., Pam P., Kelly B., Scott & Amy M., Jennifer J-W., Bob & Margaret M., Brian & Kate D., Barb J., Diane B., Lindsey N., Patricia C., Teresa S., Carla W., Heather H., Susan R., Cassi Z., Karla J., Beth S., Tracy S., Robynn M., Jeanette H., Yolanda M., Biel A., Oralia Z. and Monique W..

Special shout out to my Matty too because it really made my day that he took the afternoon off of work to run with me. He really had his hands full this past year as I had some struggles. I'm lucky I have such a calm, patient man because calm and patient is what I am not. Love him more every day for always sticking by my side, I may hate him when he pushes me but love him when I succeed.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Race Recap: Lincoln National Guard Half Marathon

Twelve weeks of training, 400 plus miles, average of 5 run's a week, plus five classes a week and a full time job, it all came to an end Sunday. This was the race that Cervical Cancer stole from me one year ago...would I, could I, take it back?

The adventures to the Lincoln (Nebraska) National Guard Half Marathon began Friday afternoon with a my running BFF Jess and the mind numbing drive across Iowa into Nebraska. With a late arrival on Friday night, Saturday morning was the perfect pre-race day, with no rushing, carb loading and relaxing. The expo wasn't too shabby, plenty of booths but really all I care about is getting my bib, shirt and an expo photo, done, done, done.
With Bry (our hostess with the most-est) and Jess at the expo.

From there the afternoon continued to be relaxing with some reading and a nice little afternoon nap, ahhhh. I have to admit I tried to stay awake, for fear it would keep me from an early bedtime, but it couldn't be helped the eye lids were just to heavy to fight. After waking up I felt refreshed and energized so Jess and I took just a quick 20 minute walk around Bry's 'hood to losen up the legs before we were off to the Project Purple banquet. Bry, is PP runner and was kind enough to get us invites to the dinner.

At first I was a bit worried about the dinner because normally my pre-race  meal is pizza but as we got there the wonderful aroma of pasta just called my name. Turns out it was FANTASTIC the lasgna was amazing and they had CUPCAKES. In fact the moment we walked into the door I saw those wonderful frosted treats and my eyes began making love to them.

Yes, I took too, and Project Purple sent me home with two more!

Once we got back to Bry's house it was late and time for B-E-D!I had a very specific race plan for the day, I was to wake up grab my Manderin Spark (Advocare) like always, chill and wait for my body to do it's thang (you should know what I'm getting at) and then it was prep time. During training I must have my electrolytes but I'm not a fan of the Gatorade used on the course so I always train with 3Plenish (Complete Nutrition) and since I can't carry it with me I decided that I was going to sip on that in the morning and have only a little bit of water. I didn't want to over due it and have to pee during the race but I also wanted to ensure my hydration/electrolytes.

Once we arrived at the start of the race we had time for one quick pic with the three of us, a not so quick bathroom stop (why can there never be enough bathrooms?) and then it was a jumble to try and get to the start. So many people trying to get to the same place with not so much maneuvering space. Luckily the race started in waves, I planned to jump in just ahead of the 1:55 pace group which turned out to be a GREAT decision. I wanted to finish between 1:50-1:55. The start at this race does well trying to accommodate the amount of runners (13,000) but takes way too long, took like 17 minutes for me to start. That's why it was a good thing I jumped in front of the 1:55er's or I would have to had wait longer.

Jess suggested that we wear purple to support Bry and PP, so naturally I had t pair it with gold!

As soon as the race started it was smooth sailing, my plan was to keep miles one and two at a 9 minute pace, which I did nearly exact, then after I'd pick it up and aim for negative splits. However, as soon as I picked it up my pace jumped to an 8:40 and I then decided if I could hold it stead anywhere between 8:30-45, I'd be golden. A few miles in I changed the plan again because I kept wanting to go faster, it just felt right, so I adjusted it to 8:25-40. Nearly every time I looked at my wrist I was somewhere in that range. I actually felt like I was constatnly telling myself to slow down. I probably could have ran faster but there was still some lingering doubt, could I keep it up the whole run? Will I tank at the end? I couldn't answer those questions so I just kept telling myself to dial it down some and finish strong.

Honestly, I could tell you absolutely nothing about the course or the miles. I didn't notice any of it, I was so focused and dialed in, I saw nothing. I wanted this race, I worked for it and dammit I needed it. There was a portion of the race where we do run on a trail, it was a bit small for this race and Bry warned us about it so I was prepared, luckily I had no problems. Only twice did I have to step to the side to pass someone. Only a few times during the entire race I felt like I was dodging someone, each pass came easily and effortlessly. One major thing that helped me in this race is I didn't have to walk trhough the water stations, which is normal for me. I just cannot master the pinch the cup, run, drink, I always wear the water, but this race...had lids and straws on their water cups! Yes, lids and it was heaven in a cup and through a straw for me!

This race went so fast, before I knew it there was just 3 miles to go, then all of a sudden two, I think my last mile was the hardest mile for me. Although I felt strong; my legs weren't hurting, my breath wasn't labored, I kept thinking how I was finally running the race I was denied a year ago. That thought was on repeat in my head, with 1200 meters to go, 800 meters. I couldn't stop thinking; this was the race that cancer stole from, this is the race that I was meant to have. I felt the lump in my throat begin to rise and the urge to let the tears come to my eyes for that last mile, but first, I had to finish.

Recovering in my hospital bed one year ago.

As I made my way inside the stadium and to the finish line, I saw the clock (which of course was gun time) and by the looks of it I thought I was finishing very near my last PR of 1:55:40 something. When I crossed the finish and saw my time of 1:51:34, I was elated, I couldn't believe it! A PR of 4+ minutes!

I didn't just PR I rocked that bitch! A volunteer with medals must have seen something in my eyes because we made eye contact and her face light up so brightly and she said "Come here, you earned this" and put the medal around me neck.

You're dam right I earned that!

Final Stats:
Finish PR 1:51:34
Avg Pace: 8:30
Overall: 1334 out of 7175
Gender: 478 out of 4347
AG Place: 89 out of 817

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I Made It To Taper Week!

Always love running with Jess

A week and a half to go and the Lincoln National Guard Half Marathon will FINALLY be here. Really it seems like forever ago that I convinced Jess (yes THE Run With Jess) to go to Lincoln Nebraska and run with me. She has a quest to run all 50 and when she said that race was on under consideration, I threw the dice and said “I’ll go with you and my BFF lives there so she’ll provide a place to stay!” Jess replied with a simple “Done”.  

When I started the training for this race I knew right off I wanted to be aggressive with training because this race is just 9 days shy of my one year cancer free anniversary! I know the marathon was like my big comeback but it didn’t feel like. Everything about that race was hard and it sucked and I hated all of it! Now here I am one year later, I’m finally back at my pre-hysterectomy weight (when they say it takes a year to heal, they weren't joking) and I’m feeling like the strong runner I was a year ago. To say I wanna ‘rock this bitch’ is to say the least. 

Last weekend was my last long run and I wanted to test my limits so I asked my boyfriend to pace me about an 8:45 pace, after an easy warm up mile. I knew he would push me, I was terrified of it but I was ready for it. My time trial splits were: 8:40, 8:35, 8:37, 8:35, 8:30, 8:30, 8:25 & 8:24! With  just a few miles left I was tired but each mile I knocked off my confidence grew and when I hit my cool down mile I was spent but I knew I could finish the half very close to that pace. 

I have a few short runs left this week and next, my longest being 8 this weekend and 7 on Tuesday. All I can say is I’m ready! Let’s do this!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Exciting Day In Boston For Americans And For Some FAST Friends

I was going to blog today about my training and that I made it taper!!! However, I then herd who won the Boston Marathon today and I have to talk about Meb!

This year I have four friends who were running in the race; Bob Swinehart, Jeff Neltner, Matt Eckberg & Ansel Wachter. As of writing this all have finished the race in what I consider spectacular times. Unfortunately Wachter had to drop out of the race at mile 12 after experiencing some calf/leg issues, regardless, I’m so proud of him and all he’s accomplished and he helps sell me my shoes.  When I congratulated my buddie Bob on a spectacular race (3:18:00), my crossfit partner in crime and fellow Viking fan Neltner finished in 3:19:15 and Eckberg around a 3:20 (and he wasn't even "trying" he was just enjoying). They all inspire and motivate me. 

Bob and I before the Steamboat Classic a few yeas ago.

I also have met the winner, not just once but TWICE! The first time I met Meb Keflezighi was in Las Vegas when I ran the Rock N Roll Strip at night half marathon. He’s always been an inspiration to me since reading his book Run To Overcome. I met him a second time before running another Rock N Roll series race the San Antonio Half Marathon. 

Meb & I at Vegas Race Expo.
Meb Keflezighi, who turns 39 on May 5th, finished the race today in 2:08:36, beating his marathon best of 2:09:13 and became the first American to win the Boston Marathon in 31 YEARS!!!!! He finished his first mile in 4:49 and with today’s win becomes the first person in history, man or women, to win Boston, New York (2009) and an Olympic Medal (Silver, 2004). During the race he said he just kept repeating “Boston Strong. Boston Strong. Boston Strong.”

Monday, April 7, 2014

10th Half Marathon In The Bag: Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon

This past Saturday I completed my 10th Half Marathon in Springfield, Illinois at the Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon!!! Wooo hooo!!!
Race Shirt and BAD ASS BLING!!!
How about that medal eh? In years past they normally give out a giant penny (which I have two) I had planned all along to run this race but when I saw the medal this year, a $5 bill, I signed up right away. Every year I always secure a PR at this race (1:55ish last year) but then I end up tanking for the race I'm actually training for.

I decided that I didn't want to ruin my PR chance for the race I'm actually training for, the Lincoln Half Marathon (Yeah ANOTHER 'lincoln' named race), so this was going to be a training run...that plan changed quickly. Last weekend I was in St. Louis and I thought I had got food poisoning but instead I may have picked up some bacteria/virus from the food I ate (I fell ill about 3 hours after eating and so did Matty). This week I haven't felt right, run down, bloated, nauseous and just uggggh. When I woke up Saturday my tummy just wasn't right.

Pre-race photo with the Sole Sisters...hey I finally made a 2nd picture!!!!

After a pre-race photo opp with the Peoria Sole Sisters I dashed off to find a bathroom but the lines were stupid crazy (which is my only complaint this year, I swear in the years past they had more port o pottys).  Matt and I ended up at the VERY BACK of the line ups cuz it was so congested but I figured this was good because then I was forced to start easy.

Mile 3 on I had stomach cramps and felt nauseous, miles 5-7 I debated taking at "DNF" (did not finish) because it was so bad, in fact I couldn't GU my tummy was so upset. With about 4 miles left I finally caught up to Heather and Cassi but I really had my sights on catching Jessica. Who I finally saw just ahead of me at the bottom of one of the last hills so I just chucked it down and was able to catch her half way up another hill. At this point it helped me take my mind of my belly and I just kept moving along. I had forgotten about pace so long ago and now it was a 5k to go, then before I knew it only a mile was left and it seriously was a blur it flew by so fast. It was my fastest mile the whole race.

Overall I'm super happy with the race, it was a training run...while sick and I still managed to pull off a finish in 2:07. Averaged a 9:46 pace which is a lot slower than my previous training runs but I was sick. Placed 63 out of 209. Also to give you any indication of my health...I've lost about 5lbs in one week! Granted my weight is FINALLY where I was pre-surgery I wouldn't recommend this kinda diet to anyone lol.

Last note, I decided I was just going to be a goofball for the camera and make silly faces and stuff. Usually I always try to look like this cool runner chick and end up looking like a jackass. I figured no matter what I always come off looking stupid so lets just be's the results, what do you think?

Completed the look with duck lips!!!
Add caption
I did have a litter seriousness going on!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

One Year Ago Today I Was Told I Had Cancer

Proudly wearingmy teal today for cervical cancer.
One year ago I heard those words no one ever expects or is prepared to hear ‘you have cancer’. On my anniversary I’d like to take you back to that day….

All of this began with my yearly pap exam back in February, which came back abnormal. It lead to a colposcopy and ECC, which lead to a LEEP and that lead to this. My LEEP was done on March 19th and I was supposed to have the results in a week. Well that week went by very slowly and although I never spoke it, I knew it was going to come back as cancer. When that week came and went without a call from my doctor my anxiety went on overload and I kept saying “I’ll give it a day or two.” I think my boyfriend got sick of me constantly worrying because once it hit the two week point he said that I had to call and find out what was going on.

On April 2nd I called and the first thing my nurse said was she was just on the phone to find out what the holdup was. She told me for some reason the pathology lab was showing they sent the results last week, but my doctors’ office had never received them. So they were expediting the results and I’d know the next day. Let me tell you, if I thought the past two weeks were long, that 24 hours was nerve racking to say the least. I knew the answer, I knew it was unlikely and crazy talk, but deep down I knew.

April 3rd, 2013: I sat on ends all day with my phone glued to my hand and always within earshot and wouldn’t you know it when the call came…I missed it! The message was from my doctor himself and I knew it was not good. The doctor never calls people! I immediately dialed back but he had left for lunch. I had to wait another excruciating 20 minutes before he’d call again and when I saw the number finally pop up on my phone my heart began to race and as I said “hello” I got up  from my desk at work and went to an office where no one was at and closed the door. I knew what he was going to say.

All I can still remember from call is doctor first retelling the mix up at the pathology, apologizing for the wait and then those words…. “You have mild invasive cancer of the cervix.”… After hearing that all I remember is hearing a buzz…my mind…my body…it all went numb and into some sort of haze and then after a few seconds it slowly started coming back to his voice talking, explain how he’d pass me along to an oncologist and him putting me at ease how this is early and very easily treatable, more than likely they’ll do a hysterectomy and that’s all I’ll need. There is a chance for radiation but more than likely just the hysterectomy.

In the following weeks I remember having periods of acceptance and periods of denial, I think it was the "mild invasive" that caused it. I kept thinking that once I met my oncologist he was going to tell me it was nothing to worry about and come back in 6 months. I’ll share more about that later as anniversary dates come.

I was a bit hesitant about blogging on this today but then I got a message from someone thanking me and it reminded me why I do share. Cervical Cancer is a gynecological cancer and one of the cancers we don’t hear too much about. Cervical, Ovarian, Uterine, Vaginal, Vulvar are all gynecological cancers and when found early, treatment is more effective. Almost half of the 78,000 women diagnosed with a gynecological cancer every year are diagnosed in the later stages. Mine was caught so early and only because of my yearly pap exam; I had no signs or symptoms. Please visit to learn more and how you can protect yourself.

Thank you so much for all your support this past year, it's ment the world to me.

F*ck Cancer! PS: I've been cancer free since May 13th 2013!