July 11, 2016
Today was a great day. I ran the Crazy 8’s Practice Run in preparation for the real Crazy 8’s 8k on Saturday. As I am training for my half marathon I am using smaller races to just have fun and to push myself. Plus, it does a lot for your body and soul! Seeing my old running group really made this day special.
I have noticed while I was changing into my running shoes today, that I am getting more excited than I used to before a run. I now have the feeling I can keep up again; that I belong with the group. I am starting to regain my confidence on the road. It also has helped my confidence in my physical ability that we have now tested the waters with workouts and understand the limitations of my throat during activities. But the best part is, we have found great solutions for keeping my throat cool and inflammation down during runs or other outdoor activities. I also can, and have used, these tricks in my everyday life. All of these things are “Two Thumbs Way, Way Up! ” in my book!
If you are a runner, you know that it can be very easy to start a race “too hot”. Meaning, you basically throw out your game plan, your intervals, and what pace you should be running and follow the crowd. This can be a very dangerous thing for someone who is training for a half. Smaller races, like this, gives me the opportunity to overcome my pre-race jitters which can lead to these race errors. I highly recommend it!
Today was proof of that. I did great, but due to the extremely high temperatures, we cut the run short at 4 miles. It really was the best decision. It was not due to anything I did wrong. I kept my intervals, hydrated and stayed within my pace range. It was Marshall calling it and me reluctantly agreeing with him.
Honestly, there was a time I felt like giving up as I made the first loop of the race, before I sent Marshall the text. But I realized that the things that were hurting me, actually had nothing to do with my throat (at this point). It was little things like blisters, heat, bad shoes , my water on my hips got hot. (Which does not help my throat cool down) And lastly, if my whole purpose behind this blog is to be transparent, then I have to admit to you I was missing Marshall while I was running. He has been training with me this whole time, until this run; he is my rock.
It was weird not having him with me and being surrounded by strangers. People that had no idea what I am working towards or what this race meant to me. This was a milestone! To get this feeling was a new factor I never thought would be an issue or that would even come up. Before my surgery I had competed in several races and Marshall was there waiting for me at the finish, cheering me on; no big deal, right? Then I realized, the heat was making me create excuses and one of the biggest issues holding me back I could easily fix, so I sent him the text. We are not in Florida yet. This is a practice run for a training race and November is far off. I do not HAVE to run alone yet.
Marshall and I went forward as a team, exactly what I needed. Then as we crossed a few more intersections we looked at each other and went to a shaded area to escape the blazing sun while we discussed what the best game plan would be. I will admit, I might have shed a few tears while we were sitting there, but I knew “calling it” was the right thing to do. This was not an actual race, conditions were even dangerous for the seasoned runner and I knew Saturday was my real goal. As a side note, prior to this run, my training has allowed me to achieve longer distances than this, so you can imagine my aggravation and feeling of defeat.
After I got cooled down, realized that it was not just me that was struggling, it was ALL of us, we compromised; ending at 4 miles. My heart sank as we made the choice to turn around, but those conditions are out of my control. (As Marshall had to keep reminding me until I got it through my stubborn head, ha!) . The heat was just a nightmare. Regardless, it was a great run and I am beyond proud of myself.
July 16, 2016
Seeeee, I told you I could do it! My race was amazing! I learned a few things on my run that I need to keep in mind for the next one. The biggest adjustments I will have to make is in the clothing department once my running hydration pack gets here. My ice pack would not stay where I needed it to, in the top I was wearing. Right now, my hydration system is on a belt and has become more difficult to use than I initially thought. So, I will be switching to a hydration backpack where I will keep (2) instant ice packs, ID, gummies, phone, my music and a few band aids (just incase). But this is why you practice and train. You learn what works and what does not before the big day!
Marshall and I ran the last 100 yards together. He had been on the side lines cheering me on the whole time, but he met me at the end and we crossed the line hand in hand.. What an amazing night!
I plan on doing a “Pack” update once I get all these items narrowed down and weighed. That post will be a lot of fun to write, I can already feel myself getting MORE excited since I just completed my 8k! Until next time, enjoy the pictures below!
Here are my race day pictures!!!
Watch The Starting Line! It is SO cool!
As many of you know, the last two years have been nothing short of the greatest obstacle of my life. What was supposed to be a simple routine surgery to remove my tonsils, turned into 3 surgeries, modified bed rest, months of speech therapy, swallow therapy and physical therapy. Hemorrhaging out as an adult was a risk I was very well-informed about, however, I had to have the surgery. It really was not an option for me to say “no”. Regardless of all the bad, I am still truly thankful that I did it. I am healthy, happy and loving life. I get stronger everyday. All because of the amazing team surrounding me.
Now, thanks to my doctors, whom I can’t say enough good things about, I have been released to do this great race and raise money as a St.Jude Hero! A true passion of mine. But many people have asked me “Why? Why a half marathon?”, so I thought I would shed a little light on the subject.
When my husband and I were trying to decide on how we wanted to celebrate overcoming this adventure, I told him I wanted to do something that covered 6 criteria.
– Had to benefit someone else
– Physically challenging
– Location : A place we had not been TOGETHER
– Something a year ago, would have been absolutely impossible to accomplish
– But also something that I HAD done prior to my surgery. To prove, I was getting back to “me”.
It was in this 6 criteria, we decided on a half marathon through the St. Jude Hero program. This would allow me to do my fundraiser for the kids, run in a location neither of us have been together, physically challenging and it is going to be a blast!
I was first a St. Jude Hero at the Rock N Roll Half Marathon – Nashville, one year after my little cousin passed away. (You can see my original post HERE). It was emotionally very difficult, I spoke to Aaron every step of every mile. And at times, I am pretty sure he even carried me. This run allowed me to grieve. It was exactly what God had planned for me. It was one of the greatest moments of my life.
When you lose a child in your family, you really do not know how to react or how to process it. But this run and raising money for the children at St. Jude Research Hospital gave me a place to keep his fight alive. We made a difference with every step and in Aaron’s honor and memory. I couldn’t have picked a better way to celebrate him.
The Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon means just as much to me, if not more. We are raising DOUBLE the amount of money to send to the children! To be able to make a difference in the lives of these children and their families, truly leaves me speechless. In my first run, I raised enough for 20 families. With this run, it will give assistance to 40 families! I have seen first hand what this money will do. How much it means to them. Especially, in a time when all their focus needs to be on the little lives that are before them, finances should not be a priority or worry. It is ALL taken care of, 100% , because of YOUR donations.
As far as the physical challenge, I had to do a half marathon. A 5k or even a 10k would not allow the mental and emotional battle to have its peace. That I did it. That I, above all odds, defeated the very thing that tried its best to bring me down. The bar had to be set. I had to put it to a level where I knew I could obtain it, but a distance that also required your body to be trained and conditioned. I would have to truly work for it. So we settled on the half.
When I cross the finish line, I told my husband to be ready to catch me. I will probably be crying with tears of joy, relief, pain and overwhelmed with emotion. I can see it all happening, even as I type this post. That everything I have gone through the last two years was for this. To be a St. Jude Hero, running for Aaron and all the children. To give talks, share my story and help change the lives of others. Reminding everyone, never give up. You never know what God will use your story for.
People often say “it is just a half”, but for me….. it is 20,000 steps I couldn’t take two years ago.
Please support my fundraiser as St. Jude Hero. We are almost there!
Below is a post I had written for my St. Jude Hero page, the very first time I did this fundraiser and prepared for the Half Marathon in Nashville, TN .
(Written The First Year After Aaron Earned His Angle’s Wings)
All my life I have competed in one way or another. Swimming, dance, pageants, riding horses..the list goes on and on. In that time, I developed a since of competition with a purpose, knowing that win or loose, the efforts were still contributing to something bigger than yourself. Nothing held more true than the night of June 5, 2010 when my own idea became reality and hit home.
The final night of my National competition the phone rang and my worst nightmare came true. My little cousin, Aaron, had lost his battle with Leukiema and I was far away from home and far away from my family. However, I could not leave the competition. Not because I physically was unable, but because I made a promise to a little boy lying in bed at home, that wanted nothing more than to come watch me compete at my big event that I would stay. Aaron told me the night before I left, “I am so proud of you and promise me whatever happens, you will finish. Win or loose, you will always be my queen. I love you.” The last words he would ever say to me before he died and big words at that. These words came from a child who had spent months at St. Jude’s fighting a Leukiema that was extremely aggressive and caused much pain, and knowing he barely had much time left. Regardless of what he felt, he found the strength everyday to put others before himself in every aspect of his life and his treatment.
Aaron was the child, that loved unconditionally and without cause. When he spoke to you, he made you feel like you were his favorite. A gift that truly was unique and special.
During his illness he was more worried about his family being o.k and going through the process of treatments,traveling , and the education of his cancer, than he was for himself and what he would and did endure. He never wanted tears and he never wanted pain for all around him and spoke of that often. He wanted everyone to be happy and enjoy each day they had. A remarkable young boy with a huge heart filled with wisdom of love and kindness that normally takes a lifetime to obtain.
I truly believe, that with the help of St. Jude’s , that thousands of child’s lives will be saved because of Aaron. That they will find a cure to this rare and aggressive form of cancer normally found in adults, that has discovered its way into children.
Aaron taught me my own life lesson. A thought and moral standard my parents instilled in me for years. He brought it home, he lived it no matter how bad things got. If he can go through, numerous treatments, bone marrow transplants and tests and still put others above himself, then I can run 13.1 miles in his honor to help St. Jude’s come that much closer to finding a cure to save the lives of thousands.
Aaron did his part in contributing to this process, now lets do ours. Please donate for this worthy cause and support me in raising my monetary goal in Honor and Memory of Aaron. The boy who loved others the way they wanted to be loved, the one who put others before himself no matter what he endured and the one that saw his purpose in the big picture.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart,
“With Great Coaches, Comes Great Responsibility. ” – Me
With my training for the half marathon quickly becoming more intense as the weeks go on, there came a point where I said, “I can’t do this on my own.”
After such a difficult and unusual situation from my surgery, plus being on bed rest for so long, I quickly discovered that my mind told me I could do all the things I did pre-surgery, but my body was telling me to think twice.
This is the point where I was surprisingly blessed to be introduced to these two AMAZING coaches, Shawn Dunn and Brooke Neeley.
In my earlier competitive years, I had the opportunity to work with a few different personal trainers. However, none hold a candle to these two! They really are more than I deserve.
What makes them different? We hold ourselves accountable to our responsibilities.
When I say “With great coaches, comes great responsibility” , I say this because there are FIVE major parts to a coaching relationship that I feel are truly important . Shawn and Brooke excel in these areas!
1. They Have A Responsibility To Me: To Be Their Best
This category is pretty self-explanatory, however one of the MOST important. This one key element sets the tone and effectiveness of your personal training experience. Brooke and Shawn use every available resource and training they have to help me reach my goals. This includes nutrition, safety, workout variety, injury recovery, injury prevention and goal expectations.
They also have to be their best mentally. Be the “up” for me when I am down. And my safe place where I can have break down if I need it, due to the emotional and physically taxing journey I am on. Lets be real, there is not a single part of this journey that is easy. But that is why they are here. They are a big part of my support system. In my book ,they definitely deserve 5 stars in these areas.
Let me remind you of you one key point in this section. Your trainers are also HUMAN, so make sure to keep that in mind if they need to move your session or reschedule. You have no idea what is going on in their lives and by them rescheduling on you, it could be the difference of an effective session or not. You want them to be at their very best!
2. I Have A Responsibility To Them : To Be My Best
This does not mean to only be my best whenever I show up at the gym, giving 100% of myself. Yes, this does help and makes our sessions go well. But this also applies to all the things I am asked to do outside of my workouts. If I apply all the things they recommend for me, which they take special care in creating the correct nutrient plan and tips based off your personal goals and body, this will keep me healthy and uninjured. There is a REASON they give you the material that they do.
3. They Have A Responsibility: To Protect Me
Example: As I mentioned in my last post, my knee was giving me a little bit of an issue this week. I told Shawn I was going to go for a run on Wednesday. He advised me to hold off after what he observed with me in our session Tuesday morning. I was much weaker than I thought.
His job is to protect me. Sometimes that even means protecting me from myself. I REALLY wanted to go for a jog to see how my knee would feel, but he wanted me to rest it. At this point I was crying inside, because a week off from running when I am preparing for a half marathon, makes me cringe. I am only at a 4 mile base and I have to get to 13 miles!! Yes, cringing might even be an understatement!
Turns out, my knee needed more time than a week and we went for two. Two weeks are nothing, to what a knee injury could do in the long run. It could take me out of the race all together. As hard as it was, I listened and obeyed.
Protecting me also applies to the workouts they create and spotting me. I wish I could put into words the attention to detail Brooke and Shawn put into these two areas. They take very seriously the safety of their clients and adjust the moment they feel you are reaching muscle fatigue. You may want to keep going, but they WILL stop you.
When you are in a session with them, their focus is on you and you alone.
Too many times I see trainers get distracted by their gym buddies and sometimes it even can make you feel like a third wheel. That is NOT the case with them! When you are in a session, yes people will come by and say hi, but they have made it known that when there is a client before them it will be a “hey man! ” (which I would want them to) but it will not be a full conversation. Your safety and your well-being is ALL that is important to Brooke and Shawn. Again, 5 stars in my book!
When you have been through training programs before, you feel you have gained some knowledge about what to expect and what your body should feel like when performing certain exercises. And lets get real honest and say, it sometimes can be hard to fully trust a brand new person in your life. It takes time. Unfortunately, time is something you do not have in the gym. Your trust must be instant until proven otherwise. If trust is lacking there is a real, serious potential for someone to become injured.
Besides safety, sometimes we can get in our own head and not like a workout because we (you and I) think we know better and should be doing something different to impact muscle “X”. That is where trust comes in. Shawn and Brooke are introducing me to workouts I have never seen or heard of before. Why? Because I have to modify my workout schedule based on my neck and throat, while still accomplishing my fitness goals.
Last week, we had this exact conversation. They were having me do a movement that was a little odd to me and I said, there is no way that is working muscle “X”. I was severely mistaken! If you think for one second that you are not working the muscle groups they tell you, wait until the next morning. When you roll out of bed, it basically feels like you fought a ninja in your sleep and you are not really sure if you won or lost the fight. They will make a believer out of you!
5. We ALL Have The Responsibility Of: Communication
Communication is what makes all of these responsibilities blend together to create a beautiful couching relationship. Is it easy? No. Does it take time? Yes. Will it help me reach my goals? Absolutely. Because without communication your trainers will have no idea what is working, what pushes discomfort into pain, what adjustments need to be made both during workout and outside of gym time. In all honesty, the list of why communication is needed by all parties could be a post all its own. But I know you understand the necessity of it. Communication creates, great results, more confidence, prevention of injury and great relationships.
The most important thing I have found is the way Shawn and Brooke communicate and speak to me. Not only during workouts but outside of workouts as well. By having the constant communication with them through the week, they are never guessing what they want to work on with me, in our next session. I found it refreshing to get a text the day after my first workout with them to see how I was feeling and asking me if there was anything they needed to be aware of as far as pain or other issues. My first thought was, “Ok, this is normal. First workout they just want to make sure I am not dying and that I am coming back”. Then my next workout came and went, then I received a similar message, which then ended in a phone call to give me tips on how to adjust my protein smoothies due to my food allergies and it still taste good! I knew from that phone call they were going to be completely different from any other trainers I have ever worked with. It is times such as these, I love being pleasantly surprised.
I know a lot of these responsibilities fall more heavily on the trainers, but that is because they are the professionals. Not you.
As you can tell, I have an amazing team surrounding me during my training. I am truly blessed and so thankful. The best part is, I still have more people I want to introduce you to as the weeks progress! So make sure to subscribe and follow along!
Blessings and Love,
Good morning to everyone!
I woke up this morning and decided it was time for me to start blogging my training experiences and accomplishments. I have been using a “Fit Journal” that I LOVE! But it gives me limited space. Here, I can share my ups and downs as well as tips I find along the way. I think this will be something I will look back on and be extremely happy I did.
First things first, what is the latest?
The latest is, I am into Week 4 of my 24 Week training program for a Half Marathon. I am running in November as #StJudeHero in memory of my little cousin. (More on that in my next post!)
This includes two areas of training.
1. Running – gaining mileage and endurance each week
2. Personal Training Sessions (2x/ week)
For example: This Week
Monday: 28 Mins. Workout (2 Min. Run, 2 Min. Walk – x 7)
Tuesday: Cross Training: Personal Training Session (Body Weight Workout Only)
Wednesday: 30 Mins. Workout (3 Mins Run, 2 Mins Walk – x 6)
Friday: Cross Training: Personal Training Session (Body Weight Workout Only)
Saturday: Long Run (4 Miles – Intervals)
Now, as I am writing this and it is Monday, I will already be making adjustments to the schedule this week. I woke up this morning and my knee is giving me a little bit of an issue from my long run Saturday. This is the same knee that has given me issues my entire athletic career. Nothing new. Therefore, unless something changes by the time I get off work, I will not be running today.
My personal feelings on this is “LISTEN TO YOUR BODY”! I have plenty of time to train for my race and there is ZERO sense in doing something that could create an injury. Which ultimately, could make it to where I would not be able to race at all. Trust me, it is not worth it! You work too hard to mess it all up by not listening to yourself. Just enjoy the day off! So that is exactly what I am doing.
Now, I am getting ready work! Listening to music, dancing around the house, loving on my fur babies and enjoying every moment!
I am feeling great and excited about this blog coming back. I have missed it! I hope all of you will enjoy it as much as I do. This journey is going to be something worth following. PLEASE make sure to subscribe!!!
Blessings and Love, Deanna
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Spring has sprung! And I for one could not be more excited. For those of us who are active people, winter can be extremely hard for us. Cold weather, less sunshine, going stir crazy inside the house, the list goes on and on. Not only does it affect us physically but also emotionally.
Our energy gets bottled up and we do not have any to release it. Think of it as a dropping a mentos mint into a coke bottle. The majority of us know the outcome to this…… It will eventually expload! Well, the workout people of the world are about the same way. The smallest of things will start to drive us crazy even when we do not realize it. That is when our loved ones step in. They shake the head at us, nod and shove us out the door. They make us run, swim, bike, walk, whatever the case may be. Because they know ultimately, it is best for all parties involved.
But now, no more cold weather, maybe some rain and racing season has started! The next few post will be focused on physical strength and mental strength to build back up our endurance for those of us, for whatever reason, have not been able to run lately. Make a few bench mark goals and plan the first races of the season.
Lace up your running shoes and lets go!