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.

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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.

The lady in the hot pink shoes

She didn’t have the pink shoes when she arrived after six weeks in Europe and Canada with friends and other family, they were purchased on a shopping trip we did to buy new training shoes for me. They were put to use pretty much straight away, gentle circuits of the neighbourhood and its surrounds, greeting the locals, introducing herself and bringing home bits of chit chat from around the place.

Then the pain got worse and the shoes came off for a while, the daily walks being replaced by mornings by the community pool – and laps and laps of walking through the water to keep up the exercise part of her health management regime.

Next there was a hospital visit – the scans showing the American doctors what the Australian doctors already know, there are tumors growing in and around the body and they are causing problems, nasty problems. The one in her muscle that gives the constant leg pain and the others that cause the bloating and ongoing discomfort, pain and worry about what’s going to happen next since the radiation is over and the chemo was stopped due to it doing basically sweet FA*.

Now in a way we know, four weeks after the first hospital visit there was a second one and there were more scans, tubes in noses and a terrible three day hospital stay which at one stage took us all to the darkest places you can go. There were surgeons ruling out surgery, any travel home and Palliative care nurses talking home hospice care set up.

It’s been quite a time at our house recently.

Six and a half years after the diagnosis of Bowel Cancer Stage IV and a week after her release from the second hospital visit on a fluid only diet, lest we wake the beast that is the bowel obstruction, the roller coaster ride continues.

UPS today delivered the scans done in Atlanta, Georgia to her Oncologist in Wollongong, New South Wales and he has called with a plan. The plan involves flying back to Australia in two stages, Atlanta to San Francisco and San Francisco to Sydney, then tests to locate exactly the position of the blockage in the bowel and most likely surgery to bypass. That was one option, the other option was to stay here, do nothing and to use the words of the Oncologist ‘you’ll be dead in six or seven weeks’. Nothing confrontational about that phrasing.

So after that conversation with the oncologist, one with my husband and I followed by a Skype call with my brother, the lady donned her hot pink shoes and took a stroll around the ‘hood. As you do. Keep on, keeping on.

Next Monday I will fly with my Mum to San Francisco, where we will stay overnight, my Aunt will fly from Calgary to meet us and she will take Mum the San Francisco to Sydney leg home. Back to the doctors and medical team that have taken care of her for the last six plus years, to the place we all have to believe is best for her to be.

Then I will board a flight back to Atlanta and wait for news about what comes next. I will keep training for the NYC Marathon in just over five weeks time knowing at least it will fill my days and make me physically tired so I will be able to sleep at night. That’s my plan.

And I will keep telling everyone I know to tell everyone they know to GET TESTED for bowel cancer.

The hot pink shoes go exploring the local waterfall – Roswell, GA.

* sweet Fuck All being an entirely appropriate medical term