The Mayo Clinic

After the MRI on June 12th and while we were waiting on the genetic testing, my husband and sister were encouraging me to get a 2nd opinion.  Actually, my sister who had just went through her own cancer scare last year, kept really encouraging me to call the Mayo Clinic.  She had gone to Mayo in Rochester, MN for a cutting edge throat cancer surgery and had phenomenal success.  She lives near Charlotte, NC and was shocked to learn that Mayo was in network with her insurance company.  Click here to read about her trek.    And while you are on her blog, search around.  She has a few more updates hidden among all her travels.

She kept pressing me to just see if Mayo was in network for me.  Well since my hubby also wanted me to get that 2nd opinion, I figured the least I could do was to call them.  Mayo has a Breast Center in Jacksonville, FL and that’s only about 6.5 hours away from our home in Clayton, NC.  I called them on June 19th and our insurance was also in network!  I couldn’t believe it!  I was on cloud nine.  At first they gave me an appointment of July 22nd and I happily agreed.  However, after many friends praying for me and me praying like crazy, the schedulers called me back the very next morning and had an appointment for me on June 27th!  That was only one week and one day from the day that I called them!

I was a little worried about the logistics of making all this happen but my hubby and sister kept telling me not to worry about that so I’ve pushed all those thoughts away.  We are only going to be out the gas and lodging and hopefully that won’t be too bad.  My sister is the Airbnb queen so I know we are going to be in good hands.

Speaking of logistics and organization, my good friend Desiree, just happens to live in Jacksonville and she is going through breast cancer at this very same time.  She has been a world of support to me!  One of the first things she recommended to me was this book.  Now that I’ve read it cover to cover and watched the dvd thanks to my other rock star cancer survivor friend, Connie, I can also recommend everything from Kris Carr.  Go check out her website!   But back to logistics.  In the book, Kris recommends you setting up your cancer trek as a business.  I’m the CEO of “Save My A$$ Unlimited.”  I’ve elected my hubby Ron as chief record keeper and CFO.  He’s in charge of all the insurance stuff and bills.  My sister Rosa, is in charge of all travel.  My sister Tammy, is in charge of all things recovery and humor.  Tammy lives in Missouri and even if she can’t be with me during my entire recovery, she’s still in charge of making sure someone has my back.

Here Rosa and I are at an outside healing meditation area at Mayo.

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On my first appointment at Mayo, I could tell right away that things were really going to be different.  My Raleigh doctor was very experienced (over 34 years as a breast surgeon) and she was kind.  My only beef with her was that she wouldn’t give me her recommendation.  Heck, I’m a newbie in all of this and she just kept saying that we could try a lumpectomy and see if we can get clean edges.  But then at the same time, she said a mastectomy would bring the same survival rate.  I needed her expert guidance and she kept side stepping my every question.

My first doctor at Mayo didn’t hesitate at all to tell me her personal opinion.   She said without a doubt, she recommenced a full left mastectomy.   The comment that really hit home to me was when she also said that they could biopsy the satellite nodules that the MRI had reveled but that even if the biopsy came back negative, she would not believe it.  These areas of enhancement are in a straight line leading from the main tumor heading straight to my nipple.  I’m a layman and it really seems logical to me that anything at all showing up on the left side had to go!

Oh and by the way, my DO, also recommended a full left mastectomy.  He was the doc that I’ve been going to to help me with nutrition and whole body care as it trek through cancer.

So there you had it.  2 docs so far telling me the same thing.

On the 2nd day at Mayo, I met with the breast surgeon.  This guy walks in and I immediately think of a video gamer.  I thought to myself, that even if he doesn’t have a lot of years of experience, I think his hands are going to be quite nimble.  Then I learned that his mother was a breast cancer survivor and that is where his passion came from.  He as well didn’t hesitate at all and told me left mastectomy with no nipple sparing was my best choice.  It felt great to have 3 doctors telling me their honest opinion.

That was it for day 1 and 2 at Mayo but then they called me back and I had to go back on July 5th to meet with the plastic surgeon, the oncologist, and the radiation oncologist. These appointments all went great too.  Everyone is very hopeful that I won’t have to have chemo or radiation but because of those darn satellite nodules, there is a chance I may have to.  Bad part is, I won’t know until about 2-3 days after surgery.  And because of that, I can’t do immediate reconstruction.

My favorite appointment on this second Mayo trip was with the plastic surgeon.  We went over all the choices and again, I looked to the expert and asked for his honest opinion.  Should I go with implants or should I trip DIEP.  A DIEP procedure uses fat and capillaries from your tummy to reconstruct your breast.

He didn’t hesitate either.  He said that I was an excellent candidate for DIEP.  I was young (Yay!  I felt great to be called young at 54).  I was a non-smoker.  I was healthy.  And, I had enough fat and skin in my abdominal area.  (Yay for belly fat!)  Actually this is the only good thing that will ever come from my belly fat.  You have probably heard that carrying your weight around your tummy is the worst place health wise to carry your weight.  You know the apple shape is so much worse than the pear shape figure.  It is actually so very true.  My cancer feeds on estrogen and your body can make its own estrogen from belly fat.

So that is our plan.  He’s going to put in some tissue expanders right after the breast surgeon completes the mastectomy.  I’ll have to go back once a week for 3 weeks to get the expander slowly filled until the left reaches the correct size.  Then we can proceed with the DIEP.  Only slow down is going to be if I have to have chemo or radiation.  We can’t start with the DIEP until 3 months after the last day of radiation.  I am praying so hard for no chemo or radiation!!!

I got the call today with my surgery date.  It is going to be on August 2nd with an August 1st pre-op appointment.  These next 3 weeks can’t pass quickly enough!

Thank you all for your prayers and positive thoughts.  With God, I’ve got this!

xxoo,

Melissa

 

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My Trek through Cancer

How do you like my new title?  I really couldn’t stand the “My Cancer Journey.”  It seemed depressing and sick to me.   I’m not sick!  And, I’m not depressed.  Heck, I’m already calling myself a cancer survivor instead of a cancer patient and I haven’t had anything other than tests and consultations.    So, since I love hiking, I decided on my trek through cancer.  Trekking through is is exactly how I am viewing this.  Even though cancer may be with me for the rest of my life even if it is only in my thoughts, I’m hoping to finish this through hike and make the most out of it as I go.

Let me pick back up from June 21st until today.

I decided to get the uber expensive genetic testing done to help me decide if I want to remove the disease free breast while we’re at it.  There are a lot of very rare cancers in our family and I didn’t really realize it until I had them all down on paper.  My sister lost an eye to the very rare ocular melanoma last year.  She also had HPV16 throat cancer.  I have a nephew that had melanoma at age 25.  An aunt that died of the very rare bile duct cancer.  And I have one first cousin that had breast cancer at age 47.   We have some other precancerous issues running in the family as well as some non-melanoma skin cancers.  With all those, the genetics counselor opted to run the full panel of cancer testing and not just the test for breast cancer genes.  They asked for a rush on the test and I got the results back on July 2nd.

Drum Roll!

I’m negative in all areas!  There are no variants in my genes that are known to increase the cancer risk for any cancers.  Woot!  Woot!  This was a huge relief not so much for me but for my 2 daughters.  They of course could still be positive but I am hopeful that since I am negative, it will mean they may not have to worry about breast or any other cancers as long as they take steps to stay healthy.

That brings me to the question of what caused my cancer.  Let’s face it.  I bet at least for the last 10 years since I have been running and trying to eat healthy, I have been one of the healthiest people you would ever meet?  Now don’t get me wrong.  I’ve had my on again off again vegan/vegetarian episodes over the last 10 years and have had my share of fast food and meats on occasion.  Sometimes, even the vegan foods I’d choose were really junk food vegan choices.  Hello Beyond Burgers and Newman O’s!

I don’t think it was the occasion bad food choices though.  No one knows for sure and I’m really trying not to focus on the why.  But if I had to bet, I believe it was the hormone replacement therapy that I was on for the last 3 years.  When I hit menopause, I got hot flashes like crazy.  I was handling it okay at first but then I started to get some other symptoms and I hope this isn’t too much information so this is warning.  Stop reading now if you don’t want to hear about female issues.

 

STOP!

 

I also got vaginal dryness and started having painful sex.  Bam!  I told you to stop reading.  LOL!

Anyway, my mother took HRT for years and years with no problems and even though I had heard about the risks, I figured I was so healthy anyway, I could take the chance.  I started Prempro almost 3 years to the day prior to my May 21st fateful mammogram.  If you Google Prempro, you’ll find that most cancers after Prempro show up 2.5-3 years after starting the medication.  The dimple or dent as I call it, appeared months and months prior to May 21.  I don’t know for sure when I first noticed the dent.  I know if was less than a year ago.  It was probably about 9 months or so ago.   When I talked to my primary care physician about this she of course said no one could know for sure.  One thing that she said was that many of her patients that were on Prempro would get angry with her when she wouldn’t renew their prescriptions without getting their annual mammograms.  Hmmm.  Wonder why getting a mammogram is the determining factor in whether or not she would renew their prescription?  Doesn’t add up to me.  Needless to say.  I am not taking Prempro any longer!

Another culprit may have been the very very strong antiperspirants that I used ALL MY LIFE.  Many will say this is an old wives tale but no one can dispute the increasing numbers of breast cancers that are in the upper outer quadrants of the breast. (exactly where my main tumor is)  I again had heard of the risk of using these strong aluminum based antiperspirants but I thought I was healthy enough in all other areas that I could cancel out any negatives from the aluminum.  I have switched to Tom’s all natural deodorant now and love it!  I have to apply more often but I think it is healthier.

Speaking of changes since May 21, here’s my list!

  1. Praying and keeping God in first place!  One of my good friends that is also a cancer survivor sent me her list of favorite verses.  This is one of my favorites!
  2. No more Prempro
  3. Completely vegan
  4. No aluminum based antiperspirants
  5. I’m juicing now.  I’m shooting for 64 ounces of fruit and vegetable juices per day.  Some days I only get 32 ounces or so and I have missed a few days but not many.  My go to ingredients are celery, beets, beet greens, apple, carrot, ginger, turmeric, and garlic.  All of these are super noninflammatory agents.
  6. Trying to get plenty of sleep.  I get 8 hours most nights now with only an occasional 7 hours.  In the past, sometimes I’d exist on 6 hours for days on end.  Sleep is critical!  I don’t have my cell phone charging on my night table any longer.  It is in the Living Room now.  I try to make our bedroom as dark as possible and I even wear a silk eye mask.  I keep the sound machine running for the first hour and I also take melatonin.  I don’t have any trouble going to sleep but the melatonin is helping to let me sleep through the 3:30am hot flashes that are now back with a vengeance.
  7. I stopped going to Burn Boot Camp and my Running Speed Class.  BBC and Speed were intense workouts and I am trying to let all my spare energy go to my immune system so it can fight like crazy to keep this cancer from growing or spreading any more.
  8. I am working out though.  Just on a less intense schedule.  I still run on Wednesdays mornings but on this run, we always keep it at a slow conversational pace.  I am also rebounding and have a trampoline in my bedroom. Click on the link to see the benefits of rebounding.  It is also great for your lymph nodes.
  9. I’m using my essential oils for relaxation and cleaning more and more now.  You should have seen all the toxic cleaners, makeups, and perfumes I finally got the nerve to actually throw away now.
  10. I’m seeing a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine now and he had even prescribed Frankincense for me.  I just paid for it today and it should be coming to me early next week.  His directions are to take 2 drops under my tongue morning and evening.  I’ve already talked to my sister and another cancer survivor who has been prescribed this special blend of Frankincense and I know it is going to really take some getting used to for me to be able to get it down.  Here is my doc if you are interested.  He is amazing!
  11. My DO tweaked my vegan diet.  He spent over an hour on a conference call with me on nutrition alone.  Now for at least for 4 weeks, I am not only vegan, I am gluten free, soy free, and oat free.  Gluten causes inflammation and he wants to keep that down all we can.  My diet is so simple now.  I have quinoa and blueberries in the morning, a huge salad with beans at lunch, and then a potato with broccoli at dinner.  That with all the juices I have is about all I can eat!
  12. One other crazy thing my DO has me doing is taking a  TBSP of EVOO with 10 drops of lemon juice, a pinch of salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper.   It isn’t bad at all and is supposed to protect my gall bladder with all the changes in my diet.
  13. This one is a suggestion from my neighbor.  Her brother-in-law has stage 4 lung cancer and he is doing this and his tumors are shrinking!  I ran it past my DO and he said okay so I’m going with it.  Hey why not?!!!   It is one tsp of black strap molasses with 1/3 tsp of sodium bicarbonate.  (aluminum free)
  14. I’m practicing peace and meditation and am trying to keep all negative thoughts away.  Picture this.  Every cell in your body is eavesdropping on your thoughts.  Make sure they are positive!
  15. I’ve also tried Essiac Tea.  One breast cancer survivor that I listed to swears by this.  I’m out now but I will get again.  In the meantime I’m drinking matcha green tea.  No more caffeine for me.
  16. Not using any plastics and not using the microwave!

There are probably more but this post is so long already and I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet.  So sorry.  I’ll end now and I promise, tomorrow I’ll post an update with more details of my surgery choices.

Much love and happiness.  Now go out there and be at peace.  Eat your veggies and love one another!  Ditch the aluminum, save the world one straw at a time, and Check for the Dimple.

xxoo,

Melissa

 

 

 

 

Why Me?

For the record, I have never once asked this.  My question was more like, “Why not me?”

On May 21st of this year, just before we were getting started with my routine mammogram, I casually mentioned to the technician that I had a dent in my left boob.  I had noticed it earlier in the year and had felt around for a lump.  I didn’t feel anything.  My hubby noticed it too but we both thought it was just part of aging.  We didn’t know.  But the technician did.  She immediately asked me if she could call my primary care physician to request approval to do a diagnostic mammogram instead of the normal screening one.  It didn’t take but a few minutes and she was back with the approval and took a zillion images.  Then she said she needed the ultrasound tech to check things out.  A few minutes later, I was laying on a table and an ultrasound tech was rubbing jelly all over my left boob.  She even checked my armpit and said she was checking my lymph nodes.

I was doing well through all of this and wasn’t freaking out at all.  I knew my boobs were very dense and I honestly didn’t think anything about all the fuss.  However, when the radiologist came in to talk to me about a 1” mass that had showed up that wasn’t there the previous year, I started getting worried.  As he was leaving the room, I asked him how my lymph nodes looked and he quickly said they looked fine.

What they didn’t tell me that day that I now know because I have the reports.  My mass was “highly suspicious for breast cancer.”

The next day, I found this article.

You see, the dent was being caused by the tumor pulling the skin.  I was getting really worried.

I went back in for a biopsy two days later on May 23rd.  I was thrilled that they could work me in so quickly for the biopsy but I wasn’t prepared for it.  I’ve heard from many people since this and some women do just fine during the biopsy. However, a very good friend of mine admitted that the biopsy part was the most painful in all of her breast cancer journey.  It hurt!  I’m not going to sugar coat it.  They take this long needle and first put in the numbing medicine.  Then they go back in there and grab a few samples of the tumor and pull them out.  You hear popping noises and that part was scary for me but manageable.  Everything was fine until they were all finished and I set up.  I blacked out immediately!  I scared the technician so much.  It was only for a second and since I used to be a big fainter back in my late teens and early 20s, I knew exactly what was happening.  The worst thing was I got nauseated.  I asked for help and the tech was running around everywhere trying to find me a barf bag.  Luckily, my stomach settled down and I didn’t end up vomiting.  They gave me some Ginger Ale and crackers and after about an hour, I was good to drive myself home.  Looking back, I don’t think I fainted because of the pain or the medicine or anything.  I think it was due to stress.

Next came the big wait for the results.  May 23rd was a Thursday and the normal turnaround time was 3-5 days.   My only problem here was that the Memorial Day weekend was coming upon us and I knew it would probably be Tuesday before I could hear anything.  We were headed out on vacation and it really did help to get my mind off everything.   I’ll be honest though.  Form May 21 on, breast cancer was the first thing I would think about when my eyes would open in the morning and the last thing I would think about before finally falling to sleep.  I tried to work that Friday after the biopsy and I did get a little work done but I kept catching myself on Dr. Google.  This was a big no no and I knew it but I couldn’t help it.  I tried to not think about it while we were on vacation and I was successful most of the time.

On Tuesday, May 28th, the radiologist called me with the results.  She was all cheerful, asking me about my wound at the biopsy site and how it was healing and for a split second I thought everything was okay.  Then she let me know it was cancer.  Women I have spoken to since did not get there results over the phone.  I’m not sure why my radiology center handles it this way.   I hated getting the news this way but then again, I didn’t want to wait any longer.  Within seconds after hanging up with the radiologist, a Patient Navigator called me to set up an appointment with a breast surgeon.   She kept apologizing for saying that the first available appointment wasn’t until June 10th because my surgeon was going to be out of the office.  I was still on vacation and since I was in shock, I happily agreed to June 10th.  If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t have waited so long.  It was only 1 week after I got back from vacation but the waiting has been the very hardest of all.

June 10th finally came and I leaned that my breast cancer as Estrogen + Progesterone + and Her2 -.  My doc said if you get breast cancer, you want those markers to be just what mine were.  My clinical pathology at this point was Stage 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.  The tumor measured 2cm on the ultrasound.  The surgeon was nice and very qualified but I didn’t like that she wouldn’t give me her opinion of what to do.  My choices were lumpectomy and see if we get clear edges, radiation and the 5 year pill to block the estrogen or a mastectomy and the 5 year pill.  The only thing the surgeon did recommend for certainty was that I get an MRI.  Since my boobs are dense, she wanted the MRI to make sure nothing else was hiding in there.  A good friend had suggested I get an MRI so I was thrilled.  Or so I thought.  The MRI meant more waiting.

The MRI was June 12.  Since I fainted during the biopsy, I was on high alert for the MRI.  I wasn’t worried about the claustrophobic nature of the test.  I was worried that I might get nauseated again and have to stop the procedure.  I know, I know.  I am a baby!  I stress at the drop of a hat.  Luckily, the MRI went very well.  I think it lasted about a half hour.  I was very cold and they did put a warm blanket on me that helped a lot.  I did start to shiver a little and I was so scared that it would mess up the test.  For the MRI, you get an IV and then you lay down on your tummy and let your boobs hang out through this little attachment.  It is very loud and you hear all kinds of knocking and banging noises.  I chose to wear headphones and they played relaxing music.  I really surprised myself with how well I did.

June 12th was a Wednesday and they said I should hear back in 2-3 days.  I was going crazy by the end of the day on Friday and I still hadn’t heard anything.  My patient navigator told me my surgeon was out on Fridays but she was sure she would call me on Monday.  I decided to call the radiology center.   I don’t think they should have done this but they let me know that they faxed the surgeon the report earlier that day and offered to email it to me.  I let them.  I really shouldn’t have allowed them to do this.  When I got the report late that Friday afternoon, I was panicked!  The MRI measured the tumor to be a little over 5cm with other satellite areas of concern within the left breast.   I don’t think I slept a wink on Friday night even with the good news the MRI showed. (no evidence of disease in the right breast, lymph nodes, liver, or sternum)

I’ve been an on again off again vegetarian/vegan since 2009.  But on that fateful May 21st day of the first tests, I promised God that no matter what, I would be vegan for the rest of my life.  I first got interested in vegetarianism and being vegan for health reasons.  I really do believe we aren’t meant to eat so much of the factory farmed meat in the United States.  Then through the years, I stated being drawn to being vegan for the ethical reasons.  It breaks my heart how animals suffer.  I’m fine with occasional fishing and even hunting to an extent.  I know that many animals just don’t have many natural predators anymore.    I have a problem if you don’t use what you shoot for food.  If it’s just for sport, count me out.

I’ve actually been juicing since we got back from vacation.  I try to drink 64 ounces of fresh juice a day.

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Well, I was heading out to Food Lion on Saturday the day after I got the MRI results to get some carrots.  I purposely left my phone in the house.  Sometimes, I think we are tied to our phones and I wanted a break.  My hubby came running out to me as I was driving out the driveway holding my phone.  He just thought I had forgotten it and wanted me to be safe.    People, my grocery store is all of 3 miles away from our home.  However, I took it from him and thanked him as cheerfully as I could.  This was a God thing for sure because, just as I got to Food Lion, my breast surgeon called me.

She caught me off guard calling me on a Saturday but I was so thrilled.  She said she was on call that weekend and had noticed my MRI fax on her machine.  She let me know of the increased size and also the satellite nodules.  She just wouldn’t give me her recommendations.  All she kept saying was that it was my choice.  I could still try the lumpectomy but she warned me that my breast would be very disfigured.  Or I could go straight to the mastectomy.  We decided at that point to move up my genetic testing so I could make a better decision.

I really wanted to know if I’m carrying that breast cancer gene so I could decide if I should just go ahead and get a double mastectomy.  That test was set for June 21st.

So there you go.  May 21 to June 21.  That’s the first 30 days of my cancer journey.  I actually really dislike describing this as “my cancer journey”.  I’ve got to think of another way to describe this $hit!  If you have any ideas, please share!

This post is so long already so I’ll stop now and pick back up tomorrow.

Stay tuned….

The End of Challenges

Okay, it is time for an update for the Epic 50 Day Christmas Challenge.  Or should I say the EPIC FAIL of my 50 Day Christmas Challenge.

IF you remember, here were my goals:

  1. Beginning today and for the next 50 days, I’m going to follow Lindsay Nixon’s slimming options. I’m not going to cheat and eat candies, breads, chips, and vegan junk food.  I’m really going to eat clean!
  2. 64 ouces of H2O daily! It’s happening!
  3. I’m not going to run or do any of the boot camp exercise groups that I adore. No long and vigorous exercise sessions.  I’m going to focus on yoga, push-ups, and planks.  Probably 15 minutes a day or so.
  4. Along with these, I’m going to try and add some good habits. First up is flossing my teeth nightly.  I do it religiously for a while and then I don’t.   I really want to make it a habit that will stick.  After about 2 weeks, I’m going to add getting enough sleep to the agenda.  7+ hours minimum.  I’m so bad at staying up late and then getting up at the crack of dawn.  No more.  Sleep is so crucial to good health!  Then after another 2 weeks or so, I’m going to add on making sure my sink is clean every night.  My hubby and I are so bad about leaving dishes!  We rinse them out but we don’t take that extra step to unload the dish washer so we can put the dirty ones in.

So for #1 I started off pretty good.  I was following Happy Herbivore’s slimming options and had gotten to the lowest weight I had been all year.  After the marathon, I couldn’t stop eating!  I saw a post on a Marine Corps Marathon FaceBook page from another marathoner that said she couldn’t stop eating either.  That just gave me more of an excuse.  After a week, I tried to get back into really watching my diet but I just couldn’t muster up the motivation.  For the last 50 days I’ve been eating everything in sight.  (and even some omnivore dishes too – cheese included!)

#2 I’ve done really well on!  On Black Friday, we got a new Big Berkey Water Filter and I have been rockin’ the H2O.  We use our Berkey water for cooking, drinking, and even for washing our fruits and veggies.  We also use it to water our organic micro greens.  I’ve got this water challenge in the bag for life!  We even got a Berkey shower filter so we can let our bodies’ largest organ, our skin, enjoy the benefits!  Thanks so much to my sis and brother-in-law for this suggestion!

 

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For #3 I didn’t run, do yoga, or practice my push-ups or planks.  I did go 4 times with my good friend Heather to Burn Boot Camp.  I loved it!  It is sorta like Camp Gladiator except that you are indoors and they provide all the wonderful equipment!  They were running a New Year’s special and I have signed up for the next 6 weeks with them.  I want so desperately to get stronger and I’m not going to get it done on my own.

For #4 I did pretty good on flossing and I have done great on sleep.  I failed miserably on keeping a clean sink.  Oh well.  No Fly Lady certificate for me!

So there you go.  Looking back over the list, I don’t think it was as epic of a fail as it felt like.  So that’s a good thing.

Since it is almost 2019, my gut reaction was to buckle down and whip out a new set of challenges and give it a go again.  However, my WordPress buddy that inspired me to take on this challenge, recently published this post that has me questioning everything!

I also love this post from Happy Herbivore and everything from this blogger!

Whether or not you make a list of resolutions or try some 30 day challenge, I pray your New Year is blessed with love, kindness, and all the blessings you could ever imagine!

Happy New Year!

 

 

50 Day Christmas Challenge

My WordPress buddy who I swear is my long lost sister since we are so much alike, has been posting some monthly challenges and experiments lately.  She’s a wine lover and decided to give up alcohol for 1 month to see if it would help in weight loss.  She also just did an intermittent fasting challenge.  Check out her blog.  It’s really inspiring!  So inspiring, she has motivated me to make a blog post and I haven’t touched this blog since December 26th of LAST year!  And I used to love blogging.  Hmmm, wonder what’s up with that?!

Anyway, I have this little countdown app on my phone and I used it to count down the days until my last marathon.  It was the Marine Corps Marathon and I ran it on October 28th.  It was a wonderful experience and my hubby and I had a nice vacation.  He hadn’t been to DC before and we did all the touristy things.  We had a ball!  I promise.  I’ll write up a race review ASAP!   But for starters, here’s our celebration photo.  Ron ran the 10k that day and had time to shower and nap while I finished up the marathon.  LOL

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Getting back to the app, when I went in to amend it, I found that I could pick any date on my calendar.  I randomly picked Christmas since I don’t have another race until next spring.  I watched the little app count down last week and I realized it would be getting close to 50 days out soon and an idea popped into my head.

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What if I did a 50 day challenge!!!  But what could it be?  I had already told my running coach and running friends I was taking a break from running.  My original plan was to take all of November off.  What would happen if I took December off to?  I remember last year I had a January marathon and I loved it so much because it kept me focused all through the holidays.  Maybe I could use the 50 day challenge to keep me focused this year?

I adore Lindsay at Happy Herbivore and she preaches that “abs are made in the kitchen.”  You know, the whole you can’t outrun a bad diet manta.

abs

So that was it.

I was getting burned out on running and I was ready to take a hiatus from it.  I have some IT band issues that need more time to heal too.

Here’s the plan:

  1. Beginning today and for the next 50 days, I’m going to follow Lindsay Nixon’s slimming options. I’m not going to cheat and eat candies, breads, chips, and vegan junk food.  I’m really going to eat clean!
  2. 64 ouces of H2O daily! It’s happening!
  3. I’m not going to run or do any of the boot camp exercise groups that I adore. No long and vigorous exercise sessions.  I’m going to focus on yoga, push-ups, and planks.  Probably 15 minutes a day or so.
  4. Along with these, I’m going to try and add some good habits. First up is flossing my teeth nightly.  I do it religiously for a while and then I don’t.   I really want to make it a habit that will stick.  After about 2 weeks, I’m going to add getting enough sleep to the agenda.  7+ hours minimum.  I’m so bad at staying up late and then getting up at the crack of dawn.  No more.  Sleep is so crucial to good health!  Then after another 2 weeks or so, I’m going to add on making sure my sink is clean every night.  My hubby and I are so bad about leaving dishes!  We rinse them out but we don’t take that extra step to unload the dish washer so we can put the dirty ones in.

So there you go.  My Christmas present to me.  In 50 days I hope to be a lean, strong, flexible, rested, push-up machine that just happens to have healthy gums and a clean kitchen!    Ha!

What gift would you like to give yourself this year?  Do you like countdown apps?  Are you a list maker?

Thanks so much for spending time out of your day with me.  I pray your holiday season is joyous!

Melissa

 

KIAWAH!

Now for Kiawah!  I have wanted to run this race for about as long as I have been running.  It’s an old race on the resort island of Kiawah, South Carolina.  This year was the 40th anniversary of the race!

My run club picked it as a focus destination race and a lot of my friends were going.  This was the year!  I checked with Ron and he was free that weekend so I quickly signed us both up.  Since I knew we’d be with friends and no one would want to wait 5.5 hours on me to finish a full, I signed up for the half as well.

We had a blast!  Ron and I stayed with 3 other couples and 4 of the 8 of us were running!  Here’s a shot of Kim, Connie, me and Ron at the finish!

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The drive to Kiawah from our home was about 4.5 hours.  It wasn’t a bad drive but it was raining the entire way and the traffic got a little busy once you make the turn to Kiawah from Charleston.  For anyone thinking about doing this race, I’d recommend that you make it down to Kiawah early in the day or even 2 days before the race.  Kiawah is a private island resort and all the cars have to enter through the main gate.

Also, I’d highly recommend that you plan early and stay on the island.  Pick a place close to the start/ finish line and once you park at your rental home, you won’t have to drive again.

Connie had us covered and took care of all the arrangements.  Here’s a few shots of our room.  The home had 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms!  We loved it!

The funny thing though was as nice as our home was, when we actually got out the next day on the run and saw all the mansions on the island, we realized as my friend Kim put it, that we were staying in a shanty!  LOL

Connie, Kim, Ron, and I all ran together for the first 6 or 7 miles.  We were doing 2 and 1s I think.  That’s when you run 2 minutes and then walk 1 minute.  We are all former or current Galloway runners and this method is very good to keep you injury free.  Ron stayed with us but he decided to slow down at bit and then we split up.

It was a great run.  The crowd support was awesome and even though the previous day was all rain, the day of the run it cleared up.  It was cold but no rain!  We were all thrilled.  When you’re a runner you know you have to deal with the cold and you have to deal with rain but when mother nature attempts to throw both of them at you at the same time, it can be a little much for you to wrap your brain around.  We were so happy we only had the cold to deal with.

I highly recommend Kiawah!  Go run it next year and plan to have a blast!

Here’s a shot of the race shirt and the medal!  Best race shirt ever!  Check out the  hood and the thumb holes!

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Happy Running Friends!

 

 

 

RDC Inaugural Marathon

November 12th was the day!  RDC was going to be my comeback marathon.  Charleston was such a disaster and Oak Island wasn’t too much better.  I was determined to fuel well and really give it my all.  I had certainly trained well all year so there was no reason RDC shouldn’t go very smoothly.

Ron and I were ready to run!  Ron the half and me the full.

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Let me step back a minute and let you know about RDC, Raleigh – Durham – Chapel Hill.  This was the first year for this marathon.  The route was almost exclusively on the American Tobacco Trail.     We practice all the time on this trail with my run club.  It is almost completely flat!  Here are a few of my favorite training run shots.  The first and last one are on the ATT but I think that middle one was on a greenway maybe around the lake at Koka Booth Amphitheater.  That’s me and Connie in the first picture and I’m with Deanna in the middle.  Me and Connie again and more friends from our run club in the last one.

 

RDC was a great race!  I liked that it was local and that they were raising money to help find a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The race expo was held at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.  It was a very cold day and the expo was very small but it was well run.  I liked the shirt okay and they gave out a nice sweatshirt.   Here I am a few hours after the race all showered up and sporting the swag.  The medal was great!

 

 

The night before the race we were at home so I was able to easily eat my normal night before a long run meal.  I had a Quorn chicken cutlet and baked Japanese purple potato.  My good friend Claudia swears by a small meal similar to this and she runs a race just about every weekend.   I tested this before my 23 miler and my 18 miler and those runs went very well.

I really wanted to do well in this marathon but I knew I had to be realistic.  All the numbers from my training runs pointed to me doing between a 5:15 and a 5:30 full.  So, I decided to hook up with the 5:25 pacer as early as possible.  I knew I had to keep it slow in the beginning if I had any hopes of finishing strong.

Here I am with Charlotte.  She was the 5:25 pacer and I hung with her from around mile 1 until mile 23.

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Charlotte wears a costume in all of her marathons and I remembered her from Charleston.  She wore a Southern Bell costume in that race that was so awesome.  Complete with a parasol and everything.   This costume was the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland and she wasn’t gonna let us be late!

Around mile 23 I slowed down a bit to put my earbuds back in my fuel belt and she got a little away from me.  I caught back up with her but something happened and my legs just wouldn’t move any more.  I was still running but I kept slowing down more and more.

I smiled and told her to go on and she did and she finished the race right on her 5:25 pace.  She was so sweet to stick around and cheer me in when I came in 11 minutes later.  That’s right.  I finished in 5:36 and lost a full 11 minutes in the last 3 miles!  So bummed!

I’m really thankful to Charlotte though because up until mile 23 I had a great race!  I felt wonderful!  Not a smidgen of pain anywhere and I was all smiles the entire course.  Even after I slowed down, I still had a good run.  So many of my friends were on the course racing and it was a beautiful day.  It was a little cold but not too bad and the day was sunny with no wind.

I’m excited for Charlotte because she has been  trying to run a marathon in all 50 states and will be able to achieve this goal in April of 2018.  She’s running the Garmin Marathon Land of Oz in Olathe, Kansas.  They have the Wizard of Oz theme and Charlotte has a lot of costumes planned.  She told me about this article that was in the news about her and I found it.  Click here and learn more about my awesome pacer!

Here I am at the finish with my good friends Connie (on the right) and Deanna (on the left.)

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Connie has been trying to run a sub 5:00 full for some time and she knocked it out of the park!  Deanna was in beast mode too and finished this marathon only 3 weeks after running the Marine Corps Marathon.

RDC is a great marathon and I might consider it again next year.  I love that it is so flat and even though you are on the American Tobacco Trail for practically all 26 miles, you will have a little crowd support.

RDC finishing times

Ron gives RDC 2 big thumbs up.  He had a great half marathon and loved waiting around for me due to the fact that they had an awesome craft beer on tap!

Happy Running friends!