>

running

525,600 Minutes (Times Three)

I can't believe it's been three years already. It also kinda feels like it was a lifetime ago. (If you aren't sure what I am talking about start here, here, here, here, and here. Oh, and here and here.) Today, I am celebrating my Brainiversary. That's at least what I've decided to call it. Joel gives me weird looks when I say it and, quite frankly, I don't care. So what am I doing today?

I'm filming my video interview/Q&A for Career Camp! It's kinda funny that I am talking to Michelle today. If we want to go back to the very beginning. The very moment I started to get concerned that something wasn't right, I was actually on a conference call with Michelle. I was participating in a continuation of one of her programs. Then, my legs started to tingle.

So I paced.

I didn't want to end the call, it was just my legs were annoying me and I didn't really know what to do. So I walked back and forth across our apartment while participating. I remember leaning on things. Pressing my forehead against the cold glass window while trying to stay apart of the conversation happening around me.

Three years and a titanium skull later, I'm finally letting my hair grow out and am mostly not fearful of something else happening. If you want to scare yourself you can read story after story of unsuccessful operations. But why?

Negativity breeds like rabbits. It is easy to go down that hole and never resurface. That can't be me. That won't be me. In my third year my goal is pretty simple: get back to running.

Running the half marathon less than a year after surgery was a tremendous feat. But I need to keep going. I need continue the tradition. I'm attempting to get back to running so I can really attempt to set a half marathon PR in late 2014 or early 2015. I've been looking at a few races, many of them just happen to be around my birthday!

Here is to a year filled with soap, spas and running shoes!

Bramble Berry Athletic Club

Some of you may have seen my posts over on our Facebook page and I also wanted to share formally over here on the blog too. I was selected to be part of the 2013 Bramble Berry Athletic Club (BBAC)! I am super excited! I applied right after we got back from NYC. Being part of the Golden Ticket has given me the empowerment to share about my heath in the Old Town Suds bubble. I have been working on making myself stronger and a healthier person through various activities the past few months, so that is why I applied to the BBAC.

342 days after I had my brain surgery, I ran a half-marathon, that would be 13.1 miles for the non-runners out there, with my best friend. It was a big goal and I was SO HAPPY I accomplished it. I went with several doctors to the event. They also just happened to be my best friend's parents :) Also in tow came all of my paperwork, the will, and the advanced directives just to be safe. I knew what I was doing was making my neurologist not extremely happy.

Several hours later, and at the course time limit, we finished the race. Here is a video of us crossing the finish line:

Finishing the Princess Half Marathon from Steffanie Housman on Vimeo.

Now, I want to make myself even better by restarting my training. I want to concentrating on having the best 5K (3.1 miles) ever! I want to fully run them and not have to do a run/walk combo which is how I did the half. I know I can do it! I have until May 18th and I am running the Back to your Health 5K for Spinal Health.

Then, who knows? Maybe I will make my dreams come true of running the London Marathon? I've already contacted a foundation in London who raises money for neurological research in exchange for entries into the race. It's similar to Team in Training here in the US. 26.2 miles is a LONG race though. Mind over matter though, right?

Day 342 - 13.1 Miles Later

[gallery orderby="post_date"]

I did it! I ran the half marathon!

OK, it was a run/walk combo but I really don't care, it was 13.1 miles of pure torture.The day started with my alarm clock going off at 3am. Yes, 3 in the morning. Amy and I had to be on the resort buses to the race start before 4am to guarantee that we would be allowed to start. I don't think I have ever gotten up at 3am for anything before.

Once you arrive at the starting location, you start to realize how many people are running with you. At one point, the announcers said that 19,000 people were present at the race. This isn't a small race, no matter how you slice it. Amy & I were in Corral E (which was not the slowest). Once we got to the coral, we waited...and waited...and waited...and waited. By 6:30am, yes a full 3 hours and 3o minutes after getting up, we were off and running!

The first few miles seemed to go by fairly quickly. After the first mile, it was time for our first pit stop. In line for the relief, another Ariel said that I looked just like Gennifer Goodwin - which was kinda awesome. (I actually copied her hair cut.) By mile 5, my right foot started cramping. But, we were close to the castle. So close to the castle. With a quick stretch, we were back at to running.

While training, I would visualize running through the castle. It would keep me going & motivate me. In all actuality, I never pictured running through it with 19 thousand of my closest friends... It was a little cramped.

By mile 9, I just wanted the race to be over. I was starting to feel the pain & my foot was getting worse. But, we kept going. There was absolutely no way Amy was going to let me stop - which was a good thing. Around mile 9, we knew we were slowing down. We got a little too close to the pace balloons - behind them at one point. We heard from a team in training coach that if we make it to mile 10, we wouldn't be picked up by the bus. I've never wanted to die more after than run. We made it to mile 10 and I almost started to cry. After we passed that mile marker, I knew I was going to finish - bum foot and all.

Miles 11 and 12 took us back to Epcot and closer to the finish line. I thought we were going to finish the race going around the world showcase but we ran to a parking lot. Yes, we finished the 13.1 miles in a parking lot. By this point, the parks were open and there were a lot of bystanders. I understand why the race had to end in a parking lot - they wanted us to buy passes to get into the parks for the day - but it was kinda disappointing.

Being in true "Steff style", I tired to capture every moment. Between the tweets, videos and pictures, I think Amy got a little tired of my connectivity. But, this was the day I was looking forward. This was the day I checked one more item off of my bucket list. I know that if one day my Chiari puts me in a wheelchair that I ran 13.1 miles. Whatever happens, my brain can't take that away from me. I did it.

The video is extremely shaky. Hey, I was running across a finish line 13.1 miles from where I started, cut me some slack.

Day 342

Today, is the day I have been waiting for. It has been exactly 342  days since my upgrade. To say it has been an easy year would be complete and utter BS. Most of it has sucked, big time. There have been many days where walking wasn't possible. Days where the only think I could do after work was sleep. Days where I knew I had to cancel plans because I knew I wasn't going to be good company. I've hit my head, been hit IN the head, and pushed my body extremely hard this past, almost, year.

Today, I am doing something I never, ever dreamed of doing. I'm running a half-marathon.

Today, I am doing something I never, ever dreamed of doing. I'm running a half-marathon. At Disney World. The happiest place on Earth.

I'm not running by myself, my best friend, Amy, will be there every step of the 13.1 miles. With our many setbacks since we started training, our goal is to just finish. My mom, Joel's parents, Amy's Parents & her Aunt will all be there cheering us on. We've been doing odd things together since we met in our Freshman year gym class in high school, so our parents know what to expect. (Though, I think my mom is still scared that a car will get plastic wrapped or a pick flamingo will show up somewhere or that we will get the idea to move to Europe...again.) See, crazy things, that is who we are.

Hopefully, by the time this posts, we will be well on our way through the course around the different Disney parks.

Day 342 is the start of my celebration

I am just shy of my one year mark, and day 342 is the start of my celebration. I'll be posting regular updates to twitter so be sure to follow us on our journey there. I hope you will join me, my family and friends in our celebration!

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda - Did

Many moons ago, pre-big brain, I put together a bucket list. It is a list of things that, for some reason or another, made its way into a blog post of things that I want to accomplish. After many months of not being sure of how much longer I would be alive, or even if I would be able to walk, I started to revisit this list to see what I can accomplish now. Some things I know I may never finish, for instance I have to demonstrate to the FAA that I am medically able to fly before I can even think about being a pilot in command again. (That will, one day, be an expensive process that may not turn out how I want it to.) But, there are things on here that I don't want to say I should have done this or I wish I would have done that - those things, I can do now.

Big Brains With 13.1 Mile Goals

A few years ago, Disney expanded its sports offerings to include themed races; one of those, is the Princess half-marathon. Amy, my Maid of Honor, and I have talked about running it for years. It is always been one of those things we should do. (I hate the word should. It is evil, but that is for another post.) The registration for the 2012 Princess race opened 4.5 months after my surgery and I was feeling really good. So, Amy and I decided to run it.

When we went to register for the half - the first time - I had a little scare that day with some new potential Chiari symptoms. We were going to potentially put the marathon on hold until the next year, but decided to see what Dr W said. A few days, and several MRIs later, we learned it really is all in my head and I have nothing to worry about. My surgeon gave me a great pep talk and told me that my scans look fantastic. There was a collective sigh of relief because we were worried about the dreaded "S" word conversation again.

Once surgery was out of the question, we were on cloud 9 and Amy and I started training for the half. We'll be running through all of the Disney World parks in February. All 13.1 miles of it. I'll have to battle Princesses, Prince Charming, and evil step-sisters to finish the race. And I will cross that finish line - I may be crawling; but darn it, I am going to finish.

What's Next?

Become a mini-Martha. Well, sorta - I've taken to my own interpretation of this. I still don't cook (unless you define cooking as ordering take-out or making espresso) and I don't really want to tackle anything in the kitchen at the moment. But, I started making everything in our apartment environmentally friendly. I now make cleaning supplies (sprays, laundry detergent, dishwasher soap, etc) so we aren't exposing ourselves to unnecessary chemicals. I already have enough malformations, I don't need anymore from things that are easily preventable. Since I really like the products I've created, I decided to set-up a little etsy shop and a farmers' market booth. I am going to count that as becoming a mini-Martha.

My Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda list is dwindling. There are things on this list, like meeting the Bo Obama, that I think some friends can help me with. ::nudge, nudge:: So, that is my next goal. With how much I obsess over dogs, how can I NOT meet the first dog? (Isn't Bo adorable in that photo!?!) I am hoping I get to meet Bo on our White House Tour next weekend with our Caen, France Sister City Delegation. Everyone keep your fingers crossed!

The Wee Little Fit Bit

Since I knew something was going on with my body, my doctors grounded me. I haven't been able to exercise. The list of can'ts was really, really long. But, one of the things that I can do is walk. I walk everywhere I can. Given I wasn't really feeling up to running I have been looking for ways to just get myself up off the couch. As if you didn't know, I am a gadget person. Enter, the fitbit.

I first saw the fitbit around the holiday season and remember contemplating purchasing it when we were back in Indiana. I passed on it at the time. Then, well, it was time to get back into my work wear and see what my recovery has done to the rest of my health. I had a gift card (for three years) for a chain electronic store so I used that to purchase this nifty device.

How it works

Basically, the fitbit tracks your activity and your sleep. Both things that I am interested in learning more about. It measures steps, distance walked, calories burned and your activity level through a motion detector in the device that is simular to what you would find in a wii remote. I have found it to be pretty accurate. I was wondering how it would handle metro and, so far, I haven't seen it counting metro jolts as steps.

The little device can be hidden really easily. So far, only the people who know about it know I am wearing it. Most of the time I hook it to a belt loop or put it in a pocket. It may get interesting when I bust out the summer dresses though. You can wear it when you sleep too! It comes with a wrist band and I hardly notice it. Though, I can tell you the sleep portion isn't that accurate. It only really monitors when you toss and turn. If you are like me and lay still and start counting sheep; it is going to count that as sleeping.

The Perks

I have found that I want to be more active when I wear the fitbit. The trainers at fitbit set a goal of 10,000 steps a day which I usually get close to and really want to beat. I've only surpassed that once so far. For a regular day, with an effort placed on walking a bit more, I hit 8,500 steps. On Saturday when I didn't have access to a car I walked around DC, took metro home, walked into Old Town; then walked home. All together that was just shy of 13,000 steps. I probably would have caught a cab on the final leg home if I didn't have the fitbit. Partly, because I wanted to prove I could beat the 10,000 mark now.

The Needs Improvement Part

I've had syncing issues with the device. Based on the forums, it doesn't seem to matter if you are on a Mac or a PC - they are all having some issues. The good news is that the fitbit staff are responding to issues and trying to come up with solutions. I also noticed that Wednesday morning I started the day with 495 steps. Which is odd because the fitbit slept on my bathroom counter that night. But, since I forgot to put it on after I got out of bed, and in the process walked about that amount, I wasn't worried.

Would I buy it again?

Now that I have owned the cute little gadget for almost a week, even with its flaws, I really like it. If I hadn't had the gift card I don't know if I would have spent the money on it (I can be cheap like that) but I'm glad I did. (If I hadn't gotten it, I most likely would have annoyed Joel enough saying I didn't want to spend the money that he would have gotten it for me.) There are online parts to the fitbit that I haven't talked about which are sufficient for what I am doing, it basically charts your data, and you can learn more about that on the fitbit website.

 

*In case you missed it in the post, I bought the fitbit & wrote the review because I chose to.