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.

______________________________________________________________________

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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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

Do I need a garbage bag?

The other day as I was breaking rule number 2 of my own Top Ten Tips for climbing Kilimanjaro and watching far too many videos of the New York Marathon and marathoners from days of yore, yore including last year inclusive of blazing blue skies, I had a shocking and terrible thought.

What if it rains?

I instantly texted the PBM with this terrible thought. Strangely, given our increasingly difficult time zones for communication it was in her waking hours.

Her immediate response.

Or snows?

I can always count on her to reassure me.

Given her reply it seemed perfectly legitimate to research the weather for the NYC Marathons of recent history.

Accuweather.com had the following to say

The average low from past New York City marathons is 47 degrees F, and the average high from past New York City marathons is 62 degrees F.

However, with the race occurring on the first Sunday of November every year, the temperature differences can vary greatly from year to year.

The coldest morning low in New York City’s Central Park on the morning of the marathon over the past 20 years was 34 degrees on Nov. 5, 1995. (This is Fahrenheit – about 1 degree Celsius – YIKES)

The warmest afternoon high in New York City’s Central Park on the day of the New York City Marathon over the past 20 years was 73 degrees F on Nov. 4, 1990.

The ING NY Marathon official website gives the following succinct information

What is the weather likely to be?
Average temperatures from past New York City Marathons:

  • Average high: 62°F/17°C
  • Average low: 47°F/8°C
  • Mean average: 55°F/13°C

Let me commend them right now for using the C there. The trauma of mathematical conversion is more than I can manage.

No-one mentions anything about rain or snow. That’s positive – right? Further searching revealed that in the great chill of ’95 while waiting for hours at the start (what – hours at the start? More research required) there was spurts of rain and snow, excellent – NOT.

Suggestions in this situation are to add garbage bags to your kit in the morning to keep a little dry and warm while waiting for the start. While I am desperately hoping for no rain I am betting any media would love a shot of second time starter Christy Turlington doing a twirl in a garbage bag pre-start.

A site with tips on marathon running in the rain warns of increased chafing, just what I need, and for men to cover those nipples with appropriate items, apparently Breathe Right strips are superior to Band Aids in this situation, take note boys.

Given we are no so close *whispering* to race day I can now search out long range forecasts for the day

Accuweather
Low 42 F / 5 C
High 52 F / 11C
Chance of precipitation – 25-55%

Weathertrends360
Low – low 40’s
High – high 50’s
A little picture of a sun covered by white cloud

Then I went to another site and it wanted $4.95 for a weather forecast for one day in November. I am not that desperate to know if I need to pack a garbage bag or not.

Since my last post 42 I have been so excited to receive messages from people who have sent words of support, sponsored me and also very importantly have taken the pledge to be screened for Bowel Cancer before the end of 2012.

The running tally’s are as follows

and

There is still 22 days left to reach my target of 42 people in each of the boxes.

Folks I am running 42kms in a tutu there is nothing more embarrassing than that for someone who hasn’t worn one since she was 5 and has a physique better suited to say- an Angry Birds bomb bird outfit. Come to think of it, there looks to be a lot of warmth in the bird.

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.

Introducing the PBM

How do you choose your bridesmaids? I remember I spoke about it at my wedding all those *cough* years ago.

I dearly love the three of them and try my best to keep up with their lives, loves and families. This happens more sporadically than I would like with one of them – but she doesn’t seem to live her life through social media, text messaging or Whats App (my most often used forms of communication). Apparently she has a life in the ‘real world’ and I need to actually pick up a telephone and call her, which I do too rarely. My bad.

Another, my fabulous cousin, is –  well – a family member so we’re good on the contact front.

The third is the Prettiest Bridesmaid (PBM) – sorry girls, she claimed it first.

I don’t remember word for word what was said on that most fun of afternoons, sadly my memory is a little foggy & I no longer have a machine that will play the VHS version of my no doubt brilliant speech (note to self – need the dvd version) but what I could have said was

‘I chose Freya because in 13 years time I think we should go to New York and run a marathon together’.

I would have had that marquee in stitches I tell you, the assembled folk even while there to celebrate my special day would have been laughing more at me perhaps, rather than with me. I am not a runner of any note, never have been, never will be, in fact in the very same speech, I remember announcing my retirement from Triathlons, after completing just one (mini) event.  A retirement decision I have not found need to reverse in the intervening years.

On the other hand the PBM – runs, looks like a runner, enjoys it as a key form of exercise and is currently well into her training plan, texting me on a regular basis with pertinent updates. In May she completed the Sydney Half Marathon in just under two hours, two hours flat or something ridiculously speedy for five months to go until the big one.

I would have asked her to climb a mountain with me last year, but she’d already done it, she has also done Everest Base camp and various other physical challenge items that people tend to have in their bucket lists. You get the picture here, the PBM is going to make it, quite smartly – I will be many miles behind at the finish, which is obviously my plan so I can have my own personal cheer squad to run out and pull me get me over the line. I have learnt lessons from Kili, it’s about finishing rather than finishing first, which lets face it I will leave to professionals and Olympic Gold medallists.

When we were discussing (I may have been begging) whether we would do it together, ie attend the same race on the same day, the PBM had just one requirement.

‘We have to finish faster than Katie Holmes’.

She had the stat – 5 hours 29 minutes 58 seconds.

Lets just say in completing the New York Marathon Katie Holmes and I will have one thing in common – training for three months beforehand.

As to the number, I am hoping that the we can agree to a compromise along the lines of adding and dividing our times to a point where we can say ‘on average we both ran faster than Katie Holmes‘.

So PBM after my first ‘long run’ (which was actually only an hour) in my new city and country of residence this week I have you down for around the 4 hour mark.

I think that’s fair warning.

PBM – the runner, 13 short years ago. She didn’t choose the outfit or the pose but she was such a good sport and I didn’t tell her I was using this photo