Sunday, September 4, 2016

Operation Top of Utah Half Marathon

Over ten years ago, I developed a love for running. I never thought of as more than a great way to exercise. Then I moved to Logan.

While I was living in Logan, I began to feel a need to run. I also was surrounded with more people who ran and they were amazing people and examples to me. I remember going to support my friends who were running a half marathon and seeing the excitement on the faces of those finishing and thinking that I might want to do that some day.

Then I got a job where my boss was a runner. She told me about a half marathon that took place in Logan. That combined to things that I love. I decided that I couldn't do a half but would settle for a 5K or a 10K. After leaving Logan, my desire to run a half marathon had grown, so much so, that I knew I wanted and needed to do it. The rest is history. 

I participated in the Top of Utah Half Marathon last weekend!

Here is a short play-by-play of that weekend:

Friday:

-Left work early to make it to Logan for packet pickup and to keep to the place where I would be staying so I could take it easy and prepare for the race.

-Arrived in Logan and picked up my packet. I got a cool new shirt. 

-Arrived where I was staying (thanks to my amazing friends) and they took me out on a drive to see the course. I remember thinking along the way, "This is where I will hit my wall" or "I might actually survive if I make it to this point". Overall, I was excited because it was a beautiful course.

-Went back to the house, made a pasta dinner.

-While prepping my clothes, pinning on my bib, and making final preparations, we turned on Newsies and watched that. 

-Made sure I had everything set out and ready to go and then headed to bed.

Saturday:

-Woke up at 4:45 and started getting dressed and making sure I had everything I was going to need. I packed my cheese sandwich (breakfast) and headed to the meeting location.

-Arrive for a school bus shuttle to the starting line of the canyon. Found a friend there who was running the half too. We shuttled up to the start and waited there for an hour or so before the race started. During that time I ate my breakfast.

-We began lining up at the start line and waited for the gun to go off. With that, the half marathon had started.

-I kept a pretty steady pace for the first 6 miles or so. Then I began to pick up a little speed, but tried to keep a steady pace. I remember passing the landmarks and being amazed with how quick time was going and how I wasn't tired or hadn't stopped running yet. I didn't die where I said I would or anything. In fact, I ran the first 10.5 miles of the race without stopping.

-The last Aid Station was at mile 11. After that, I assumed it was going to be easy sailing. I was wrong. About a half mile or so later, I realized that I probably should have stopped at that aid station, but I didn't and wasn't about to turn back. I tried to keep going, but it got hard. At one point, I remember being down on one knee, wondering if I was going to be able to finish at all. In that moment, I offered up a prayer, giving gratitude for the help I had received and asking to help me to finish.

- After that the miracle happened and I was able to get up and keep moving. I could see the finish line and knew I could do it. As I drew closer, I knew I wanted to finish running, so I started running. I met up with friends at first who were cheering me on and then my parents. That last little bit, I didn't feel winded or tired, I just knew I was about to accomplish my goal!

-As soon as I ended, they put the medal around my neck and I took a little detour before I met up with my parents and friends. I am so grateful for their support and for the chocolate milk. Yummy!!! We spent some time at the finish area, My foot started acting up, so I got it wrapped and iced. With that, the running of the half marathon was over.

-My parents were amazing and took me to a park to rest while I tried to recover. Once that happened, we went to lunch. After a quick stop, so I could change clothes, we went to a store for my mom (I ended up sitting most of the time) and then went to A&W for dessert. 

-They took me back to my car and they were on their way. Back at my friends' place, they offered to buy me dinner to celebrate. We ended up getting Olive Garden and ice cream. 

-By this point, I was exhausted. I spent the rest of that evening on the couch resting. Although, I did take a bath to help my sore body.

Sunday:

- I'll keep this one short. I went to church and sat around most the day because I was soooo sore. I did get to visit with my friends and some others friends who stopped by. I arrived back to my place around 9:15 and was so ready to sleep. 

It was a long weekend but a great one!!!! I completed a half marathon! :D




There were pictures taken during the race. I am still trying to figure out how to get those. Once I do, I will try to post more. :)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Ten Years

Ten Years. A decade. It turns a child to a teenager and a teenager into a young adult. It seems like a short time in the grand scheme of life but so much can happen.

A lot has happen in the world during the past ten years. There have been so many earthquakes. tsunamis, tornadoes and other natural disasters. There have been numerous terrorist attacks and school shootings. We have had our first black President. There have been 5 different Olympic games. Disney (and it's subsidiaries) have put out over 25 animated movies. My sister added three kids to her family. My brother served a mission, graduated college, live in Albania, and moved out of state for a job. A lot has happened and changed.

In the past 10 years I have: visited 7 different states, developed a love for hiking and running, ran a 5K, trained for a half marathon, lived in 4 different cities, 8 different houses, 16 different roommates, attended five wards, held numerous callings, broken my foot, had one major surgery, one minor surgery, a colonoscopy and a few endoscopies, worked in 6 different jobs, graduated from college, made so many wonderful friends and so much more.

Ten years ago today, on April 10, 2006, I was sitting in a Gastroenterologist's office after to see if I could get some answers to some symptoms and a sickness that I had been experiencing for the past six months. It has started while I was a missionary in Chicago. The doctors there seemed confused and couldn't seem to give me any answers. I was blessed that when I got home, I was able to find a doctor in Idaho, who knew what I had within ten minutes of me being in his office. That day I was given a diagnosis.

To be honest, the diagnosis confused me. I had never heard of the condition. I could not even remember the name. For the first few days, I told people I had a lazy stomach, because that was all I could remember. I decided to do some research and soon found the name. Gastroparesis. A paralyzed stomach. The diagnosis was confirmed later that week after multiple tests.

It's crazy to see how far I have come in the past 10 years. I remember getting to a low of 88 pounds, being so dehydrated and malnourished that I had to be put in the hospital and pumped with liquids before a procedure. I would eat and automatically need to throw up. I could not keep anything down, no matter how hard I tried. After being diagnosed, I was put on an all liquids diet but I struggled with that because with too much liquid, I would throw up. I would have to take a sip of something every 15 minutes or so. I was on a milkshake a day diet, which sounds nice, but gets old. We would lace my drinks with dry milk or Carnation Instant Breakfast, for added nutrition and calories. I was drinking protein shakes. We even discussed giving me a feeding tube.

I was unable to workout. I did not have stamina. I wasn't healthy enough to last. My hands and arms would tingle when I did too much and when my nutrition levels were low. I could do very little without that happening. It was difficult because working out had become a release for me.

There were emotional lows. I remember a few breakdown. One in particular where I lost it completely for weeks. I remember constantly feeling judged by people and them not understanding how difficult it was to live with something that you had no clue what it was  or having to live on a ll liquids and changing your whole lifestyle.

I struggled being social because most social activities involved food or exercise, in one form or another, and I couldn't do either. When I would go to things, I constantly felt like I had to explain myself and that no one really believed what I was going through, let alone understood how extremely difficult it was. There were times where people would have a barbecue and make a milkshake for me so I would feel left out. I was grateful for those times.

Ten years later, a lot has changed. I am much healthier than when I first began, which is interesting because my diet is not nearly as balanced. I can drink more than a sip of something and not get sick. In fact, liquids like 100% fruit juice, Slim Fasts, Chocolate Milk, etc., have become an important source of nutrition for me. I don't have to add extras to them either. I eat solids too. I enjoy cereal, breads, pastas, and other like foods that are easier to breakdown and process.

Because I am able to eat more and am getting more nutrients, I have been able to exercise and do more physical activities, which I have learned to love. A few years back, I pushed myself and ended up running my first 5K, by myself, to show I have power over my body. Since then, I have been determined to run a half marathon, which should be happening this year. At the end of a stressful day or week, I find running or working out, helps me to feel better and more relaxed. I am so grateful I can exercise.

I have learned to cope with it well enough that when flare-ups happen or hard times come, I usually know what to expect and how to deal with it. There are some realities that I have had to face throughout the years, with this condition. They hurt so much in the beginning but I am realizing that there are other ways to manage or that how others think or respond to this condition does not bother me nearly as bad. My condition does not define me. People can choose whether to accept me. It used to hurt to see how some people refused friendships because of this. Now I know that a true friend accepts me for who I am and what I have. There are always ways to receive blessings. They may not come in the way one wants or expects.

I would be lying if I said this doesn't affect my life socially, but I don't let it stop me as much. I still struggle going to dinner groups or linger longers where I can't eat to much because it draws attention to me and my condition, while I am really trying to fit and blend in. However, I have learned to bring something for me to eat to most places I go that may not have food I can eat. I have learned that you can say no without having to explain. In fact, when I hang out with some friends, they barely remember I have stomach issues.

As I have worked through the many ups and downs of this diagnosis, there are a few things that have remained a constant. First, the Atonement. It is the thing that has gotten me through the lowest of lows knowing that there is one who understand everything I was feeling and going through. One of my heroes gave me this advice, before I was diagnosed, to not let the Atonement be in vain. He has already suffered for all of our pains, imperfections and shortcomings. To not use him to help get through trials, is the not use the Atonement in it's fullness. Second, I have received so many prayers and support from my family and friends. Though it is difficult for them to understand how and what I am feeling, they have still done what they could to make this condition easier to live with. They have adapted meals, prayed as I struggled, listened when I needed to cry or vent and supported me as we sought for help and answers in one way or another. I am so grateful for the help that I have received from all of them. I could not do that alone. Third, I have always known that I was given this condition to help me gain empathy and as a way to be able to reach out and help others. It is incredible the opportunities that have come up where I have been able to talk to or share my experiences with others who are suffering. I have had family members and friends who have been diagnosed with similar conditions. I have had others reach our to me when a friend or acquaintance received a diagnosis. I am more than happy to help and assist how I can. I am not perfect in how I cope and live with this condition. I am continually learning better ways every day. Living with this condition has truly made me who I am.

Gastroparesis is still not a very well known condition. It is not an eating disorder. It is a real condition. Gastroparesis affects more than 1.5 million Americans. Up to 1/3 of the cases are idiopathic, or have no known cause. That is mine. The treatment varies for each person and, in most cases, does not cure gastroparesis. It is is usually a chronic and long-lasting. I encourage people to learn more about this condition. I hope and pray that someday there will be better treatments available or even a cure for this condition. I hope that more research and studies will be done to find out ways to prevent it as well. More than anything, I hope that more people become aware that this is a real condition and that is affects so many people daily.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

ABCs

With all the craziness that ensued last year, I have decided to go back to the basics and start at the very beginning, so to speak. Through a friend, I found an article in the Ensign (LDS Church Magazine) from January of 2012 called "Living an Abundant Life", which provided the inspiration for my focus this year and provided me with the three words of the year

I like to keep things simple and how much more simple can you get than the ABCs.

A- Attitude

B- Belief

C- Courage

Attitude:

To quote from the article by President Monson.
"So much in life depends on our attitude. The way we choose to see things and respond to others makes all the difference. To do the best we can and then to choose to be happy about our circumstances, whatever they may be, can bring peace and contentment"

It is interesting how many times I find my self in the middle of a negative though or grumbling under my breath about this or that. I want to change my attitude. I want to be the positive person that I feel is in me. I want to help others. I want to be less hard on myself and on others. I want to feel like I can do hard things. A positive attitude can make a hard day a little better (or a lot, take your pick).You can look for the lessons and the blessing, instead of focusing on the negative. 


Belief:

Again from President Monson:

"Don’t limit yourself and don’t let others convince you that you are limited in what you can do. Believe in yourself and then live so as to reach your possibilities."

There are so many directions belief can be taken. My main focus is to believe in myself and that I am a good, capable, smart person who can do anything I put my mind too. This one has proved to be the hardest one for me. I have a few things that I really want to accomplish in life, but I find myself saying things like, "You can't do it", "You're too lazy", etc. I let what people think, or what I think people think (which is usually a lot harsher than it really is), dictate my sense of self. 


Courage:

One last quote from President Monson:

"There will be times when you will be frightened and discouraged. You may feel that you are defeated. The odds of obtaining victory may appear overwhelming. At times you may feel like David trying to fight Goliath. But remember—David did win!"

This one has proven to be rewarding. I have done some things that have required me to step outside of my comfort zone and to be assertive. This will help me to keep going, even if the odds are against me. Some days it takes courage just to get out of bed and face a new day. Courage is needed to stand up for one's self. It is the thing that picks you up at the end of a hard day or after failing, and makes you try again the next day. 

These are my goals for the year. These three words, will hopefully change me for the better. I encourage you to read this article and find a way to implement it in your life. Happy New Year (a little late) my friends!!!

(P.S. I am writing and publishing this to keep myself accountable.)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Me-Day!!!

Unfortunately, I am one of those people who has a very difficult time making and taking time for myself, but my new goal is to make sure I do just that. This goal just happened a short time ago and I will be the first to admit that I have failed miserably. Looking at the month of December it is easy to see why. Wow! I didn't realize how busy I would be. It gets this way every December though. I should be prepared for it.

In looking at the month, I realized that there was really only one day that I could take the whole day just for me. That was today (Saturday the 12th). It turns out I have something every other day or evening of the month whether it be work, Relief Society visits, concerts, travels, church, parties, etc. Because of this, I decided to cancel everything and take a full day for me. I did take someone friends to the airport but what Whitney Me-Day would be complete without service. I did it early enough that I was able to come home and go back to bed.

I slept in (after that) until almost 10:30 and have stayed in pajamas while doing things for me. I have snuggled in my blanket, prepared for Christmas, rested and relaxed. I have avoided my phone. I am not reading or responding to texts or phone calls (not that I can without a voice). In fact, my phone and I are on separate floors of the house right now. I am treating myself to some meditation, amazing Christmas music and time to do what I want or need. Granted, I may have to leave the house to buy groceries but that is still for me.

I would love to be outside doing something but with the weather and me just getting over stuff, it is better to stay in. Still on the agenda is some exercise and yoga or ballet stretches, a delicious treat and maybe finishing my Christmas wrapping. It would be so nice to do this more frequently and I know I need to settle for doing a little something (maybe 15 minutes or more) each day, but having this one day is very helpful.

Today has been so nice. What do you like to do on your "Me-Day"?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Just a spoonful of medicine...

Okay, You got me. The song does not say a spoonful of medicine. It says a spoonful of sugar. However, the medicine is what is helping me more than the sugar. You see, I got sick again. I got hit with a flu virus. After going to the doctor, I was put on some major medicines trying to avoid the six weeks out, like last time. I am so grateful for this doctor.

I went in and he listened, he looked, and really tried to figure out the best solutions for me. He truly and genuinely cared about me as a person, and not just a patient. He wanted to make sure that I was feeling better before the holidays. He even had me go in the day before Thanksgiving and scoped my vocal cords. He gave me a new medication that day and really wanted me to check back in. He was thorough and explained everything that was happening. I could not appreciate him more.

I had very little appetite when I first got sick. Since taking all the meds, I can eat again and have a desire to. Miracles happen!!! So in my case all those spoonfuls of medicine have helped the food to go down. I am so grateful!!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Just What I Needed!!!

My last post painted a picture of frustration and discouragement, with glimpses of hope. I am happy to report that things have gotten better since that post. That is not to say there still aren't problems and issues, because there are, but they don't seem to affect me that much.

The past two weeks have been especially crazy for me. Between work, my calling, getting a small (I emphasize small) cold, and trying to stay afloat, among other things, I have been exhausted. This past week was especially crazy and by the end, I was ready to escape and run away. I did just that. I spent some time in one of my most favorite places with some of my most favorite people.

Friday night consisted of the Pumpkin Walk up in Logan. I have gone to this for the past four years or more and have never been disappointed. This year was no exception. There were so many clever displays from animals, to Inside Out, to Studio C, to Looney Tunes.







Of course, I had to get a picture of my favorite character Taz. That was followed by focaccia bread. It was fun!



Saturday, I spent a good portion of the day with an amazing friend her kiddos. We talked and played. She and I started working on a puzzle (yeah, we're party animals like that) and got quite a bit done before I had to change clothes and head to a Halloween party. Before I left, she convinced me to stay the night.

I went to the party where I got to see some important, fun and incredible people. It was fun! Being around these people made me miss the friendships and supports I have in Logan. I began to feel like I was home once again. Then, I found out the primary program for my old home ward was the next day.

Sunday, I went to the program and it was so nice and really great. It was good to see the kiddos that I babysat while I was living up there. I miss those kids. They gave me hugs and talked with me.

Some days, a lot of days, I miss my life in Logan. There were tough times, but I had the most amazing support system and friends there. They are wonderful. Moving was hard but it was necessary for my personal growth. I know I am where I need to be and am becoming a better person. I am building friendships here that are such strengths to me. That has been a major blessing. Yet, I am so blessed that on weekends when I want to run away or need a break, I can go to Logan and know that the friends I have there, will still be my friends!!!

This weekend was just what I needed. It was probably on of my favorite weekends in a while. Thanks everyone!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

(Insert a Fitting Title Here)

As I sit here thinking about how to title this entry, I am realizing that I am struggling to put into a few words what is on my mind. This is strange for me because usually writing is an escape and finding the right words tends to happen with some ease. As hesitant as I am to share this, I am also equally sure that it needs to be shared, with very few particulars.

A month or so ago, I began to struggle with a specific situation in my life. I was convinced it was a fluke and that it would quickly resolved. I attempted to push onward. It has not been easy of successful. There have been many days of tears, frustration and confusion. I have been very unclear of my next steps or how I can make things better.

After a particularly rough Monday, and an equally tough Tuesday, I finally confronted someone about how I was feeling and some of the measures I was considering. This person tried to put me at ease, and did to a small extent. However, I left with more unknowns. I decided to give it a few weeks and re-evaluate from there.

By the beginning of last week, I needed a break. I needed to get away. I needed a rest. Some family time was exactly what was needed. I took off Thursday night and ran away, trying not to think about the issue that I was leaving behind me, or hoping to leave behind me and not think about. It worked, for the most part. From Thursday to Sunday, I was able to spend some much-needed time with some pretty great people. It was such a freeing time. When I got back to town on Sunday, I was blessed with hearing from Elder Nash at church and then Bishop Richard L Burton at a fireside. I was very optimistic about returning to life.

Needless to say, it was in vain. Since returning, I have spent much time crying, praying, meditating and trying to find peace that is so badly needed. Last night, I decided to go to the one place where peace is promised and is assured. I went to the temple.


Photo from lds.org https://www.lds.org/church/temples/gallery?lang=eng#

For a few hours, I was freed from the problems outside and I could just reflect. I left with positive feelings and with the goal of having patience to get through this incredibly difficult situation. It was interesting, as I got in my car and drove away, the worry-free feeling was dissipated and the same cloud came over me. This time, however, I was able to calm myself.

I wish I could say that this was the end of the story and that by going to the temple I was able to get the peace that helped put me on the right path. However, the trial is still very real. I know that we are given trials for a reason. They strengthen us. They teach us. They prepare us. We have been promised that blessings come after trials. We can and will be lifted up.

 I am hopeful for more peace, guidance and understanding over the next few weeks. The temple did give me a starting point and a point of peace that I can try to remember when the going gets tough. It has also prepared me for General Conference this weekend.