6 days

shoes6 days.

In 6 days these shoes will take me on a journey that I will probably never forget. A journey I can’t yet imagine fully without waves of panic and a little bit of nausea.

The shoes are in honour of my mum who fought Bowel Cancer (or Colon Cancer, dependsphoto 1 which country you live in as to what you call it) for over six years with a ferocity that would surely have carried her through many a marathon.  I can’t believe it was only 11 months ago she was standing in my living room, wearing the hot pink shoes she bought on arrival in Atlanta, to do another walk around our neighbourhood, even after discontinuing all treatment and having two stints in hospital during her three month stay with us.

She never gave up. I hope that I don’t give up on Sunday.

I am running / plodding for the Jodi Lee Foundation. The gorgeous Jodi was a fabulous friend of mine. Jodi was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer at 39 and passed away two years later, after a tremendous battle. Although friends from ‘home’ our families both lived parts of our lives as expats, happily landing us in Asia at the same time. They visited Hong Kong and we visited Vietnam, leaving great memories of fun times – but not the best group photos. Note to everyone, even though you may hate photos of yourself, have photos taken with your friends often, they are not the most important memory but they are pretty good to have.

The Lee / Moffitt trip - Hoi An 2006

The Lee / Moffitt trip to Hoi An 2006

After she passed away, her husband Nick founded the Jodi Lee Foundation. The foundation promotes awareness of Bowel Cancer (particularly in Australia where 1 in 12 will develop Bowel Cancer in their lifetime), education about the importance of screening and the tests available and aims to improve the uptake of regular and appropriate screening by those at risk.

With Sarah in South Africa, 2011

With Sarah in South Africa, 2011

I am running for Sarah, a friend from Hong Kong. Our sons were best friends in pre-school and beyond. Luckily her husband is South African with family in Durban, so we were treated to more than one visit during our time there.

This photo was taken a couple of months before Sarah ran the GreenPower in Hong Kong, a grueling 25km trail race, she set a cracking pace and recorded a great time. The race was one month before she was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer in Stage III.  What followed, was a tough and unimaginable treatment process that lasted almost a year. As with Mum (most of the time) and Jodi, I followed from afar – only able to offer support by electronic and telephonic means. The tears I cried on March 2nd this year when I received the email saying her tests had come back showing the all clear were real, heartfelt and happy.

This past week I cried again, our neighbour’s 34 year old brother died of Colon Cancer. I had never met him, but his family have been our ‘go to’ people this move. They are wonderful and generous and have made our landing here softer. This weekend I will also remember Corey.

Mum, Jodi, Sarah and Corey never gave up. I’m going to try very hard to remember that for 42.2 kilometres on Sunday.

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As the big day approaches I am loving all the messages of support I am getting from places near and far. I appreciate that there will be people thinking of me from so many countries around the world, some of which will have daytime at the same time we do!

I may not get to 42 sponsors by Sunday but I am going to do my best. I will be chasing Sponsors to be Committed to Testing for the rest of the year, and a very long time yet. I believe that awareness of possible symptoms and testing when appropriate are so important.

How to sponsor me for your very own kilometre – click here and don’t forget to let me know which kilometre you want. Still so many to choose from and don’t say I don’t give value for money, your kilometre will last at least 7 minutes!

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Numbers marked in red are taken, perhaps your lucky number is still available?! Snap it up now before those that haven’t chosen yet pick it.

How to be a sponsor committed to testing – send an email to randomthoughtsnikki@gmail.com to let me know and get along to your local GP or pharmacy, whatever way is accepted in your country of residence and do yourself a favour and get tested. I won’t be asking for medical results or certificates ;)

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I’m here, I’m training …

I bought some shoes.

shoes

They aren’t hot pink – but they do have hot pink laces. I have trained in them for the last 9 weeks so they are almost ready to be traded in. I have a hot pink pair on order to transition into for the last SIX weeks of training. *shrieks of terror*

You may recall last year my brother was consulting with a Hawaiian Iron Man participant on my behalf because he was concerned that I ‘wouldn’t have the legs’ to finish the whole thing. That story was part of this post. The upshot being that I should be clocking around 100kms / 62.5 miles a week and my long runs should be a lazy 35km / 22 miles on a regular basis.  At that time, 12 days until the marathon, it was not such helpful information. My longest run to that point had been 25km / 15m miles and I wasn’t about to trot out a quick 35/22.

It is fair to say my training plan last year was on the haphazard side. An international move and a terminally ill parent was not conducive to a super smooth countdown, that was my excuse anyway. This year I did have the opportunity to consider better planning and running programs.

Here’s how that worked out.

A lot of thinking about starting to train for the first part of the year.
As summer drew nearer, thinking about how hot it would be to run in the heat.
When summer arrived – spending ENDLESS mornings of the 77 days my kids were on summer holidays at the pool for Swim team.
When Swim team ended it was the middle of summer, super hot and humid and about 18 weeks until the NYC Marathon. It was time to make a plan.*

In my internet browsing hours I happened to come across the New York Road Runners Virtual Training Plan. There was a 20 week plan, a 16 week plan and a 12 week plan. I was 18 weeks out – a tiny bit late for the 20 week plan but more than in time for the 16 week plan.

It was a fairly straight forward exercise that involved inputting some relevant statistics, determining if I would do a Conservative, Moderate or Advanced plan (tick Conservative here) my credit card number and voila – a 16 week track to running a marathon. It looked suspiciously similar to the training plan my Runkeeper app had produced on my phone for free, but the fact I had paid for it, even a small amount, made me feel I was more likely to follow it.

And although it fluctuates weekly depending on what information I input about my training runs and times, it tells me today my current estimated completion time is 5.16.23 – 5.26.21 just sneaking in under Katie Holmes’ time of 5.30 which was my driving force from last year. It’s not rocket speed, or particularly fast, it’s actually pretty slow – I am no sprinter, but unless you have run a marathon this year or last, or ever, you don’t get to tell me that.

I have been religiously recording my runs and times in and on of all my recording devices, so I am not cheating myself.

I now share them with you – to keep myself accountable.

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Nine weeks of training, it really feels like I’ve run further, but you can’t argue with an App, a    fitbit and a Garmin watch apparently. Triple checked.

recordingdevices

I do have to be a sprinter now though in one respect. Today there are 45 days to go until I hit the starting line and I still want to meet my target of 42 financial sponsors – one for each kilometre and 42 sponsors committed to testing for Bowel cancer.

The first because I desperately want something and someone different to think about every 7 minutes or so – (give or take 45 seconds apparently – uphill, downhill, crazy spurt, extra slow) while plodding my way around the streets of New York and the second because The Jodi Lee Foundation is based on raising awareness of Bowel Cancer.

How to sponsor me for your very own kilometreclick here and don’t forget to let me know which kilometre you want. At the moment only #5 is taken. So many to choose from.

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How to be a sponsor committed to testing – send an email to randomthoughtsnikki@gmail.com to let me know and get along to your local GP or pharmacy, whatever way is accepted in your country of residence and do yourself a favour and get tested. I won’t be asking for medical results or certificates ;)

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Ambitious?  Hell yes, but so is running a marathon if you ask me.

* I thank my three years in South Africa for adding this phrase to my vocabulary, I have no idea what I would have used in the past, but it’s a brilliant addition.

No Baggage

Got my bib number yesterday. I know that readers will be as relieved as I am to discover I am starting in Wave 4 (the last wave) at 10.55am which I am designating the warmest start time. Although depending if I can run down Katie Holmes’ time or not it may also be the designated coolest finishing time.

The Professional female group start at 9.10am even before Wave 1 (when the Professional men start) and given the fastest time for a New York Marathon by a woman is 2 hours 22 minutes, all the pressure of competing for the podium is taken away by knowing that by the time I probably cross the starting line (can take up to 15 minutes) the first woman will be pulling into Central Park to saunter her way to the finish. Phew, good to know I can just concentrate on running my own race from that point.

The bib features important information such as your wave, start and corral number and the magic option – No Baggage.

The No Baggage policy was announced earlier this year by the New York Marathon organising committee – and then reversed because of its unpopularity with runners. You can now ‘opt in’ to have your baggage (phones, extra clothing, reading material) transported to the end from the starting point, where based on previous years, you may have to wait for up to an hour in lines to retrieve it. Anyone not specifically opting in has a default of No Baggage, which sees you able to exit Central Park pretty much immediately after you get handed your giant pumpkin poncho as seen below. Gotta love a sponsor whose colours are orange and blue, thanks ING.

The poncho is the replacement for those clothes you didn’t pack in a bag and transport to the end. It is described as ‘water repellent, hooded and fleece lined garment that goes from head to knees and has pockets’.

No mention of its ability to be laundered. After wearing post race I am not sure of any future potential unless it can be washed, airing I don’t think would work. Not wearing it will not be an option, remember it will be about 5 degrees.

If you want to see a photo of me wearing the orange poncho you are going to have to sponsor me. I am not going to be bandying those around the internet for free thats for sure. There are plenty of spots for sponsorship left to reach my target of 42 kilometres, 42 sponsors and 42 screening sponsors.

I defaulted to No Baggage – which may be a good thing or not. I’m not sure the things I would have liked to have checked in, twenty kilos (currently attached to various inconvenient parts of my body) and my mental state would have been easily parceled up into the designated sized bag at the start line. I may have also conveniently forgotten to collect at the finish…..

I spoke with my Mum last night, the palliative care doctor had been for a long visit the day before, he now apparently also has the New York Marathon as a diarised date. At this moment in time the team in Australia – Team Terrie – are in agreement, I should run this marathon. Of course as end stage bowel cancer isn’t an exact science, its just an awful f*cking disease, things may change and I continue to make my decision on a daily basis.

I am running the marathon because I have trained for it (in a fashion).

I am running it to raise funds and awareness of the importance of early detection of bowel cancer on behalf of the Jodi Lee Foundation.

Bowel cancer an insidious disease that took my gorgeous friend Jodi and is going to take away my amazing and irreplaceable mother.

Bowel cancer that my beautiful friend Sarah spent most of this year fighting away.

I am running it because my mum told me its what she wants me to do, and while I have spent much of my life deliberately ignoring things she says to me, this time I will listen to her.

No baggage.

12 days

When I got back from summiting Kilimanjaro mum said to me ‘Wow, now you have conquered that mountain, you must feel like you can achieve anything you set your mind to’.

I hadn’t stopped to think about it like that, I was still so exhilarated from making it and chuffed I had achieved a goal I had set way too casually over a conversation with friends. For a while after that I did try to apply it to my life, when things were hard I thought, I climbed that bloody mountain – I can do this. Then, as the memory of the hurt and the pain of the climb faded, it seems so did my strong belief in myself to achieve anything I decided to do.

Last week was a tough week, a very tough one. I wrote about it here and illustrated it as below.

I wrote about the cancelled flight – but right there lurking between the two travel emails was another message, a scary one.

The New York Road Runners looms large, they are the ones who kindly send regular emails with all kinds of information about the run, training and race day tips as well as important to know logistical information such as the number of port-a-loos that there will be at the starting point.  1700 is the number if you are interested, should you choose not to use these when the call of nature arises you will be disqualified from the race, a by-law that may have been implemented post the 2005 London Marathon.

Last week not only my flight was cancelled, training was cancelled (one run for the week doesn’t really count), eating wasn’t cancelled – on reflection it may have been better if those two were reversed. It was meant to be the big week, most miles, longest long run big strain before the tapering weeks. Didn’t happen.

My brother – on the phone in between medical and logistical conversations – told me he had sought advice on my behalf from someone who had done a couple of Hawaiian Ironman events and just done the Coolangatta Gold on the Gold Coast. He told Ironman he was worried his sister ‘didn’t have the miles in her legs’ and what should she be doing at this stage?

Let me be clear, although its kind of him to worry, I am worrying plenty enough for everyone that I don’t have the miles in my legs. The answer from Ironman was beyond terrifying – I should be fine if I was clocking over 100km’s a week and doing 35km each long run.  After I put my hands over my ears and sang ‘la la la’ I explained to my brother that as he knows, I am a 42 year old amateur just trying to get through one marathon after which there is a big chance I shall announce my retirement from the sport.

Last week I didn’t feel like I could do anything, I wanted the world to stop, I had moments minutes and stretches of hours where I forgot about the marathon altogether.

Then I thought about what mum had said to me, I thought about why I decided to run this marathon which I wrote about here and how so much of that has changed. The underlying reason is still the same – bowel cancer sucks, big style.

I feel pretty useless sitting around at home with a sore throat, I want to keep busy and do stuff. That will include a run tomorrow after bus drop off in the increasingly chilly no longer Hotlanta mornings, it will be my second this week, back on track for now.

I am still working on my target of 42 kilometres, 42 sponsors and 42 screening tests.

I’ve only got 12 more days to make it happen.

If you’d like to commit to screening yourself for bowel cancer before the end of 2012, please email me on randomthoughtsnikki@gmail.com and I will add you to the tally.

If you’d like to sponsor me and pick your favourite number between 1-42 (that is still available) click here.

PROJECTED WEATHER UPDATE for Sunday November 4th

Looks like it might be a little bit cooler than previously predicted

Lows 38 F / 3 C

Highs 48 F / 8 C

Increasing cloud – Garbage bags optional

42

Today, October 4th, marks one month until race day. I awoke to a text on my phone from the PBM.

One month

That’s all it needed to say to strike fear deep into my heart, head, stomach and my ongoing boob blister situation.

As I sit here and type this the PBM is halfway through tomorrow on the other side of the world, one month minus one day but I still have 90 minutes left to work through the psychological barrier. I am probably going to stay awake to savour every second and then sleep as much as I can tomorrow to avoid the thought of ‘less than a month’.

I can probably manage that, I am pretty tired. Yesterday morning I got off the red eye from San Francisco at 7am, having flown a mere 4 1/2 hours home to Atlanta after seeing my mum and my aunt enter security at the SFO international terminal for their flight back to Sydney. I can report they arrived safe and sound and are currently on a comeback medical tour of the local doctors and oncologist gathering information and medication for what comes next, which is as I write still a TBA situation.

Months ago before I moved countries, started training runs or had my mum to stay for two months and manage two hospitalization events I had a target of 42 sponsors for the marathon, one for every kilometre. I even started keeping track of them and their support. I am bold enough to think its not too late to get one sponsor per kilometre (39 needed and 31 days left) and I’m feeling bolshy, so I’m just going to throw in a new goal as well as a gazillion sponsors and actually running 42 kilometres.

I want to find 42 people who would not have done a screening test for bowel cancer this year to do that test before the year is over. Although this is the whole point of the Jodi Lee Foundation, raising awareness and encouraging screening and why I am doing ridiculous things like climbing mountains and running marathons, I still want to contribute on a more personal level to this process.  I have written before about why this is important to me, one of my closest friends and a sponsor from last year’s Kilimanjaro trip was diagnosed with bowel cancer earlier this year and is currently hours away from finishing a very difficult course of treatment that has involved radiation and chemotherapy over a nine month period.

If these are the same 42 people that I find to sponsor me, that is great. If it is another 42 people I would also be happy with that. If it is more than 42 that would be even better. I understand in some countries you have to pay yourself for screening tests and they are not covered by various health insurance packages and lets be honest its not something that comes up every time you visit the GP. I would ask you to read these stories and consider being screened which is in most cases and countries a very simple non-invasive test you can pick up at the pharmacy. I would consider it a very special form of sponsorship from those that did it. I would like to keep a concurrent Hall of Fame for those that participated in screening along with the list of sponsors, if you wish to remain anonymous on the fame wall I certainly respect that but will record it against the target of 42.

Earlier this year because of my family history I had a colonoscopy in South Africa which was thankfully clear. The surgeon who performed it said to me – if you have regular mammograms, pap smears, any kind of testing, irrelevant of family history you should also have regular screening for bowel cancer. I can probably not include myself in the 42 but I wanted to share my story, the details I can save for another time.

To become a sponsor click here,  let me know what kilometre you would like to sponsor if you have a favourite (1,22 and 42 and the little bit after 42 are currently taken).

To let me know you have done a screening test please drop me an email at randomthoughtsnikki@gmail.com

42 kilometres

42 sponsors

42 people screened

It’s all possible – one month to go.