Sunday, November 30, 2008


Im walking again!! The last week would have been great if I didn't work the last 4 days in a row. I think I will go running tomorrow, I can't wait. I need to burn off some major emotional steam. I think I would be walking with no pain if I didn't spend 12 hours on my feet running around the floor on Wednesday,Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 

So it wasn't a typical Thanksgiving, but there was something bittersweet about sharing the turkey feast that the HEADstrong foundation put on for all our patients and staff. A nurse who doesn't work on our floor usually said he had never seen anything so wonderful in the hospital before. Picture every patient and their family crowded into our conference room chowing down on turkey in an amid wheelchairs and IV poles. It was a pretty overwhelming sight. 

I suppose I should have mentioned this before, but one of the reasons behind my running is my patients. I work on a Bone Marrow Transplant unit that has people in every stage of leukemia/lymphoma/multiple myeloma treatment. I also take care of people with breast, colon, lung, and pancreatic cancer from time to time. I treat people from initial diagnosis all the way through end-of-life care. Working 4, 12-hour shifts in a row has never been so physically and emotionally draining. Walking everywhere was so painful. The first two shifts it was my achilles, the last two I felt like I had osteoarthritis in both knees. I just needed some time off my legs. But my leg pain compared to the 46 year old women who is fighting the incredibly nauseous affects of total body irradiation and high dose chemo, the 30 year old man who is missing his 10 month old son and 2 year old daughter (who are the CUTEST kids I have EVER seen) grow up, and the 21 year old who has relapsed disease and is in over the holidays with a massive pneumonia. I mean I just ran a MARATHON. I have so much health to be thankful for. 

I found myself overwhelmed again when I popped in on one of my favorite patients in for a month or more for induction chemo (this is the 30 year old). His first question was, "did you make it?!" I told him I did!! and we looked up my official time and he gave me a high five. Over the next three days, and on Thanksgiving he introduced me to his whole family, all 30+ of them, who he "hosted" for thanksgiving on his hospital floor, as the girl who just ran 26 miles. He wants to run a marathon when he beats his leukemia. He had just started to run 5K's. I really hope that I can run a marathon with this guy someday.

I take so much pride in who I am as a nurse. I rarely have days like I am right now where I feel the burden of caring so much about my patients. I think it was working over the holiday, coming home alone to my apartment each night, and then going back to work and helping people to cope with the suckiness of their situation. One of my guys, he's 21 and hopefully getting a transplant in the next month, came in with a really bad pneumonia. He got better over the past four days, and yesterday I brought him in a big carton of Chocolate ice cream... because ours sucks. I asked if he would do a few laps in the hall later and he said, "I don't do laps." Later, after having some really good chocolate ice cream together in his room, who do I see coming around the corner... my guy!! That was my big reward for the stretch of work. We did a few laps together chatting about stuff, but just him having to be here, over thanksgiving, and having leukemia period, just kept pulling on my heart strings.

So I have so much to be thankful: Running is number one right now for me, it is going to keep me sane! my patients daughter who brought me a cup of coffee yesterday morning is up there on the list too! my co-workers. my patients. my friends. my family. and my health. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

2008 Philadelphia Marathon: Kicked Asphalt!

ITS DONE!! My first marathon. Everytime I say that I get a little emotional! I feel such a sense of accomplishment.

The short story:
I felt amazing the whole time. The 1st half with my dad is one of my best memories with him ever! We felt great, he clocked in at 2:24!! I kept that pace the rest of the race and finished at 4:55! Good thing I left lots of room for improvement! I'm a little sore today but I'm already thinking about what comes next!

The long story:
I woke up at 5am and my dad walked over to my place from his hotel. We made breakfast and did some gentle stretching. 
My Breakfast of Champions!

The beginning: The cab arrived at 6am and we were off with all out extra layers and gear bags. The cab took us as far up 22nd street as possible, and then we hit the sea of red lights! It was beautiful, runners were walking EVERYWHERE towards the art museum. My dad and I were kinda clueless as far as runners go. We weren't sure exactly what to do. We figured out where the port-o-potties were, where the gear check buses were. It took as quite a while to figure out the starting line/corral system. We took a few moments to take in the city skyline with the moon overhead, the yellow clock above city hall. It was so peaceful and boiling over with excitement at the same time! I knew they'd be letting us go in waves and when the wave ahead of us went we lost our winter coats. Then we were off. My dad wanted to sprint off, and there actually was room to go off fast, but I reeled him in and kept him at a good pace. My grandparents and cousins were cheering right before city hall! I lost my $10 fleece and shortly after my hat. 

Separation Anxiety:My dad was looking for a spot to pee and there were some great bushes right before the 3mile. So I said I'd wait on the sidewalk and jog slow. He must have been so pumped up he ran right by me. I stayed there for 7 minutes waiting yelling into the bushes, searching the bushes, and freaking out to the max! Eventually almost about to sob, I took off running thinking hed have the sense to wait at a water station when he realized I wasn't ahead of him. 

So I ran a  fuming 8:10 mile, a pissed off- 9:10 mile, then slowed down realizing I wasn't going to have a running buddy for the hills in fairmount park. I was so sad. I called my grandmother at chestnut and begged her to find my dad and stop him! It was kinda ironic, because right before we got separated we talked about how this was going to be so much easier with eachother. I started to feel my legs and realized I'd been running for 50 min and should take a gel. I was taking water at every stop half and half with gatorade. I'm glad I planned to walk through the stations because man were they slippery! And about 30 seconds after leaving a station your feet would get all sticky with ice to the ground for a few feet. I knew my grandmother was at 16th and Chestnut and I was hoping for a miracle...and there he was... we hugged...I screamed...and we took off running! 

Mooning the Schuylkill &The Nostalgic Hills:We cruised over the bridge and got ready for the ascent up 34th street and the hilly part. When my dad was at UPenn he trained to be on the crew team one semester and ran this part of the course everyday down to the river for training. So that was special for him 40 something years later... At the zoo I saw some girls duck under a bridge to pee, and decided to follow, turns out it was a guy and a girl and I didn't want to intrude, so I dropped my pants behind some bushes, and MOONED the schukyll expressway! woot woot! No way was I waiting in lines... real runners pee in the bushes! Up the hill to the park my dad settled into a jog/walk and I kept running along side him cheering him and others up the hill.  Down we went to the river keeping our stride short and low. I started to get SO EXCITED for him, he was so close. I wouldn't let him slow down kept cheering and then it was on us mile 13 (he'd never gone past 12). I whooped him on gave him a HUGE HUG thanked him for coming this far and said I couldn't wait to see him at the Queen's mile where he'd run the last 1.2 with me. 
13.1 to go:I left the divide with a HUGE smile so proud of my dad and feeling blessed for my family. Over the loud speaker I heard that the 1st girl just finished and I let out a whoop for her. There was so much excitement at the art museum, it was hard to leave it! Off I went to manyunk! Umm... where did that hill come from... I thought we just had the river drive out and back? That was very very sneaky of the race course! The uphill was fine, but I wasn't so into the steep down hill, I started to feel my knees.
At mile 17 my friend Sarah met up with me and stayed with me until mile 23! That was amazing. It helped to have someone there with me for that stretch. The crowd support in manyunk was so party-like. I cruised into the town to "eye of a tiger" the beat was awesome! I took a beer cup by accident and fortunately looked down before I sipped! First time I've ever turned down a free beer! All I wanted to do at this point was get to the east falls bridge and run the stretch I'd run a million times (in pain a lot of them) and feel that mental edge! At mile 23 right before sarah left me I realized, in shock, that I was about to finish a marathon?! When she left I whipped out one ear bud of my ipod and listened to my favortite songs with a beat- paula abdul "dance like theres no tomorrow," miley cyrus "see you again," and styx "mr. Roboto" 
The Queen's Mile: At Mile 25 under the bridge I saw my best friend and her boyfriend and took off the ipod and let them jog along side for a minute when my dad jumped in. We snapped a photo and went to finish the queens mile. My best bud snapped a video of my explaining why I wasnt done but had 1.2 miles left. In the olympics way back the queen wanted the finish in front of her palace... which extended the finish line 1.2 miles. Some guy behind me screamed out "The B*$%^!!" Everyone laughed! So my dad only made it to the middle of the boat houses when his IT band started screaming at him, so we separated (again) and I went on up the hill, almost in tears because I was so excited about what I was about to accomplish. The tunnel of people was great and I was smiling, saw my cousins, and crossed the finish line! 
I think it was one of my happiest moments ever. I'm tearing up writing about it. The sense of physical accomplishment was amazing. I thought it was cool that they announced peoples names as you crossed over. 4:55 was my chip time. I felt like I could have run faster since I wasn't really in any specific pain, not even that tired... but I'm glad I didn't push myself to that brink for this one... Next Time! I took my medal, my mylar blanket, got my picture taken and booked it for the chicken broth and rice which my dad had called and told me about for inspiration! Whew!!

My mom and dad, grandparents and cousins! 

My dad and I stretched started to ice. Showered and collapsed in our "chouch" to watch some good movies. 

I'm so excited and thankful:So thanks if you read my marathon recap! The support of everyone meant so much. But the big thanks goes out to my dad who endured countless training phone calls the past few months, ran alone all around our hilly hometown back near Boston and made the trip down here to run with me! I am so lucky to have such a wonderful family! We had breakfast with a guy who ran the marathon this morning (my dad had on his medal so the guy new what why I was walking around so funny). He has run 5 marathons and gave us all kinda of good recovery tips, including what to expect with my toe which I'm sure I'll loose...I am amazed through all of this how friendly runners are, and am proud to count myself as one. I can't wait to see whats next! A lot of rest and ice and advil for right now : )

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Oh. My. Gosh.

well.... Its here... I am to be a colorful lady tomorrow, and my picture is my base layer... not the stuff ill be flinging (safely) into the streets. My dad decided on the 1st half. We picked up our bibs friday night and had a glorious feast with family and friends. 

Today we drove the course... umm those hills... ya... okay... let you know tomorrow. I ran one mile along boathouse row, it was really nice. My dad said if he has learned anything training it is to REST when it says REST on his training schedule, so no run for him.

My dad got a kick out of the timing chip "toe tag" and figured that this was to make it easier for the people scooping all the runners off the streets of philly and throwing them in the wagon.

Anyways.  I was jittery all day. Am jittery now. I can't believe this is here... and its this cold. Tomorrow is going to be a very exciting day! Since I just got off night shift for the last 6 weeks, I've been waking up at 4am pretty consistently, so tomorrow should be nothing. Got breakfast all laid out.  I am going to try to sleep. Cab's coming at 6am! Thanks to all for your support!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

So I walked all over the city today to get "supplies" for the marathon. Cheap throw away hat. check. Cheap fleece (10 bucks!). check. Gu's (expresso Love mmmmmm). check. and I got the brightest blue under armor top. I know you're not suppose to do anything new on race day. But I think this brilliant blue shirt will be a good thing. And K-mart has the coolest gloves ever. 1.99 for  "3 in 1" gloves. They have two gloves, the typical cheap stretchy cotton stuff, except one is fingerless. I figure I'll be cold milling around in corrals for maybe 30-40 minutes so this way I can peel one of the layers off pretty soon, and keep the fingerless ones as long as a like! I got my dad a pair too. So its looking like I'll be wearing  glorious spandex running tights, my brilliant blue top, a fleece vest, and then the "throw away" fleece, hat and gloves. Oh I got a purple ear band to. I hate cold ears from wind blowing by. If I want to get particularly colorful I might throw on a pair of running shorts. I think I am thinking about clothes too much. Good displacement of nerves!

Went on my first road run in 2 1/2 weeks yesterday- 3 miles. It felt great to be on the road again. I felt a little sluggish, but this tapering thing must really do something because I ran much faster than I felt! But it was so cold! When my dad rolls in tomorrow we are planning a brisk walk and then a short boathouse row run /walk on Sat. From the sounds of it he, and my mother, cannot wait until this "running thing of Kristin's" is done. Although I think he is beginning to love the shorter runs. 

In other news: I started to decorate for the holidays as my roommate and I (long time friends) are hosting a little family pre-marathon shin dig. I don't have to cook!- just clean,  decorate and keep procrastinating from school and work responsibilities.

Thanks for the well wishes from my new blog friends Laurel, Denise and Lil Runner! This new blog following definitely adds to the excitement and is inspiring! eeeeeeeeeee 3 days!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

All Clear!

Behold my beautiful, stress fracture free leg! The MRI came back negative, this is the x-ray. I've been doing everything on the elliptical for the past 2 1/2 weeks and am pain free! Hopefully all that shooting-I-cant-walk-oh-no!-pain, was just some serious shin splints acting up after my 20-miler! 

Got my bib number 7759! My dad and I haven't decided if he'll do the 1st 1/2 with me or the 2nd? If he does the 1st he is an "official finisher" He's a little nervous about standing around in the cold for so long. Definitely need to figure out what I'm wearing. The weather keeps changing (and I keep checking like a mad-woman!) Definitely spandex! lots of spandex! So.... lots of sleep, I worked my last night shift last night and should have time to equalize, lots of water, lots of good food and a short run tomorrow and Friday! I'm starting to build up a lot of nervous excitement!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

So I'm running a marathon in 8 days...

I'm not sure it makes sense to start this blog 8 days before the marathon.... This will be my first marathon and I have never run this much in my life!! Previously I had a few 3 milers here and there, I ride my bike to work every day... but the last 14 weeks have been a roller coaster of pain and exhilaration in equal amounts! I got so tangled up in this running that I encouraged my dad to join me! He's 51, amazing and planning on running the 2nd half of Philly with me because he doesn't care about the official finish (even though he's registered for the half!) My mother who is equally amazing is coming down with my dad from Boston this friday with her contribution to training... FOOD!  I don't have much running scheduled this week, just 3 days of work, 2 runs, 2 days of class and 1 big family dinner before 26.2!