Moving Beyond Fear

Winter descended upon Colorado in a matter of hours on Monday. I went for a run Monday morning and the temperatures were in the mid 60s. As I finished up, I looked behind me and could see a wall of clouds moving in from the north. The winds
were blowing at gale forces and I was glad I had gotten out to run when I did. I knew the next few days were predicted to be bone chilling, with wind chills below zero. The weather forecasters were not wrong. This week has been bitter cold. Snow began falling Monday afternoon, as the temperatures dipped into the 20s.

After I got done working on Tuesday, I squeezed in a 7 mile run prior to picking up the girls from school. Maybe I am just a little crazy, but I always get excited about the first run in the snow. As winter hangs on into spring, I definitely lose my enthusiasm for running in the snow. But, the first snow excites me every year. So, I ventured out in 16 degree temperatures and was sadly disappointed at the lack on snow on the north side of Colorado Springs. There was a little, and it was pretty, but there wasn’t enough to qualify it as the real first snow run of the year.

On Wednesday I worked from home and then decided to head to the gym. The windchill was -22 in our neighborhood and my dog did not even want to go for a walk that morning. I rarely ever run inside. I have only recently started heading back to the gym to lift weights. I thought perhaps I could make myself do a speed workout on the treadmill to mix things up a bit. I ventured off to the gym, got on the treadmill and instantly regretted it. My body hurts on the treadmill and in places that it does not outside. The constant repetitive motion of the treadmill stresses hurts my joints. I muddled through two miles and then decided to hop on the Stairmaster for an hour. I did some intervals on that torture device and definitely got a workout, but it was not an enjoyable workout. I was frustrated with myself for being so wimpy. Why did I go to the gym? I know that I just do not enjoy it at this point in my life. But, it was good to be reminded of how much I prefer being outside, even when the weather is lousy.

On Thursday, I put on my big girl panties and hit the trail with Tracey and her dog, Arlo. We ran ten miles in the cold and snow and though there was only a small amount of snow on the trail, I would classify this as my first official snow run of the year. The windchill still sat below 0 degrees, but we were dressed for the weather and it was so much better than being inside. Thursday was World Pancreatic Cancer day, and we both donned purple for the occasion.

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This morning was a lot warmer and I ran 16 miles. This is the farthest I have run since finishing the Bear Chase 50 miler in September. It was not pretty but it feels like progress.

I am quickly approaching my one year anniversary from my surgery. Anniversaries are always a time of reflection for me. This week has reminded me how fortunate I am in so many ways. in honor of World Pancreatic Cancer day, I had a number of friends post pictures of themselves wearing purple in my honor on Facebook. My kids wore purple to school on Thursday, and my husband wore purple to work.

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This kind of thing is purely symbolic but it is a powerful symbol of love, support and active engagement in learning about the disease and helping to spread the word about what it is. I am humbled and grateful to have so many caring people in my life.I truly credit the support others have generously given to me during this time with keeping my emotional state buoyed. It is hard to face illness alone. It is much easier when you know you are surrounded by people who care about you.

Not long ago, I was interviewed by Boulder Ultrarunner Wendy Drake for Women’s Adventure magazine. The interview can be found here.

http://www.womensadventuremagazine.com/blog/ultra-runner-beats-pancreatic-cancer/

Wendy’s best friend, Marcy, was diagnosed with stage IV Pancreatic Cancer not long after running her first 100 mile race. Wendy helped to care for Marcy in the weeks and months leading up to her passing. As of result of her experience with this devastating illness, Wendy has been working to increase public knowledge of the disease. I appreciate the opportunity to join forces with others who are passionate about eradicating Pancreatic Cancer.

Finally, I need to mention one more special occasion from the week. My lovely daughter, Riley, turned 17. One year ago, when I was planning my surgery, I was trying to time it between Riley’s 16th birthday and Thanksgiving, because I did not want to ruin any important days. There was still an air of sadness hovering over her birthday, because we all knew that I would be in the hospital the following week and there was a whole lot of uncertainty about what would follow. What a difference a year makes. Instead of worrying about whether I would even be around to see this young woman graduate, I am actively looking forward to starting the process of beginning the college search process.

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As I approach the one year mark of being cancer free, I am happy to now be shedding some of the fears that have occupied too much of my time and thoughts. I have wondered at times if I would ever be able to move beyond the fear associated with a cancer diagnosis. I think I am finally getting to that point. All I know is that I am feeling more secure, and am moving forward by making plans for the future and setting goals, and it feels really good.

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