Monday, February 22, 2010

New Challenge

(snow in Austin 2-23-10-edited photo so you can see snow on my hat:))

(70 degrees in Austin on 2-21-10, crazy change in temps!)


Great news on next fundraising goal. Running For Ryan for Wounded Warrior Project is going to team up with the Chicago Area Runner's Club (CARA). This is another non-profit org. that will train you for a marathon, and in exchange you can run for a charity. There is a fee for this training, and I will give the details as soon as we have it all put together. But basically they will be your training club and you would pick a charity to run for, like us!:) You don't have to be a part of this club to Run For Ryan, but this is going to be a great option for someone who wants to run the Chicago Marathon and lives in the Chicago area and needs a running club. I had a great 7 mile run today around Town Lake. No one was out in the semi-snowy weather, so I enjoyed a private run and the snowflakes that brushed my cheeks. It feels good to be out and getting some miles in again. I definitely needed this after taking a week off.

2-22-10 Post Marathon Emotions

First official day of this next challenge. I took a week off after the Austin Marathon, and maybe that's my problem. I cannot sleep. I have been an insomniac lately. First couple of days I was probably living off the excitement of finishing my first marathon. Then, I came up with the idea to do another race/fundraiser, so I thought about that. Then, the anxiety crept in, what if I fail, and ruin the high spirit of what we just accomplished in Austin? Since I am being so open with my feelings, I balled my eyes out last night (Sunday). In the middle of all this I also had a riff with someone close to me. It has nothing to do with Running For Ryan, but it was something extra to throw into the potpourri of emotions I felt after my first marathon. So, I called a friend up and told this person, I am going nuts. This person, said, "no it's normal, it's the post race blues".

Feeling a little better, I took some advice from this friend, and headed out for a run after work. Max in tow this time, with stroller, I did an easy breezy 3 mile run. Instantly my shoulders relaxed, the cool air felt great, and Max hopped out and ran a mile with me! He seems to like running already. No pressure on the kid, but it was pretty cool to jog along with him. Gotta get him going on the bike, because, at nearly 5, it's a haul to push him in a jogging stroller these days.

Still a little wired tonight, I feel a little more at ease, and very excited to have found a potential solution to getting this team built for Chicago. I will let you know soon.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


(be a part of the team)

(CPT Matt Cavanaugh -Army Athlete of the Year!)

My thoughts are with anyone directly hurt by the plane/building crash today.
Crazy to drive home and see a building slightly resembling the aftermath from 2001.
But it reminded me of our servicemen and women who work hard to protect us/ and or save us when something like this happens.

So today, I am going to stray away from my fundraiser challenge and put the spotlight on a friend of mine, CPT Matt Cavanaugh. He was my inspiration when I first started my WWP challenge, and has a sweet personality and is dedicated to his work and helping out his wounded comrades. He has raised nearly $45,000 for the WWP and was just named Army Athlete Of The Year! Technically, he's my competition, but I don't view it that way. As we are all raising for the same cause, I am happy to put his blog up, so you can follow an active duty Army Captain reach awesome goals, and donate to his page if you'd like.
I almost convinced him to run the Austin Marathon with me, but he decided on Myrtle Beach (financially easier as he lives out East), but Myrtle was cancelled because it snowed! He has several other races lined up, so check out his schedule, and if you are at one of his races, be sure to cheer him on loudly. Maybe we can convince him to do Austin next year:)

Matt, congratulations, and all the best on the rest of your running and fundraising journey for WWP.
You are the epitome of a great serviceman for our country.

GOAL: 26.2 miles around 4:15 time, raise $26,200 for Wounded Warrior Project

Honestly, I don't know how I am going to do this, but , I felt drawn to this specific marathon and this date. Three 10's, it just seems like a lucky day. We were lucky this past Valentine's Day at the Austin Marathon, as we have raised nearly $13,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project in my brother's memory. I finished my first marathon with a sub 5 hour goal time of 4:33, and now I feel like all the support has given me courage to continue.
I had to sit on this a few days before talking about it because it's a lot of work for a single parent, with limited cash flow, and have to take my Lupus condition into consideration this time around. I was diagnosed last summer, and pretty much didn't run for the better part of the summer as inflammation was at its peak. However, I have never been happier in my life, and I cannot imagine stopping just yet as literally hundreds of supporters have been just as happy as I am to keep Ryan's memory alive.
There were moments I was overwhelmed with this last challenge for the Austin Marathon, but my arms were open to anyone who wanted to help, and that's how it was possible to do what we have done so far.
So, I will adapt to running in the sun with as minimal exposure as possible, and start asking for help immediately.
We had a 12 member running team, plus myself for the Austin Marathon. I would like to recruit another 12 member team. I would like to ask anyone who is running the Chicago Marathon and wants to run with Running For Ryan to contact me at:
Ideally, you will produce your own entry fee, and fund your own trip. Myself and another team member from Austin will raise money as well before heading out to Chicago, granted we can fund our trip. That's a separate issue, but I am positive with over 6 months to go, we will make it work.
I would ask that you set a goal of $1,000 to raise individually for the cause. I will provide the uniforms through sponsors just as we did for Austin.
When I first started the challenge for Austin, Gary Brimmer and John and Stacey Conley, and Joey Trimyer didn't wince once at the idea as they were the first to reach out a hand to me. So, I need to take this optimistic attitude into the next challenge and hope that we will all succeed again.
Please let me know as soon as possible if you are game, and we will go from there.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


A few of the team members

(right after the marathon, with cheryl lowe)
(left to right (front), Joe, Kenton, Me, Nancy (back) Gabi, Andrew)
A new adventure is in the works. Now that I have had a taste of one marathon, another one seems like the next best thing. Is it normal to feel this enthusiastic? I sincerely love all the supporters. When someone asks you, "what's next?" well that's all it takes to stay motivated. Max was my hero tonight, carrying the bags out of the car for mama. He even made a bed on the couch for me so I could rest my legs. A little time off for now, and then some planning. If you are thinking about running your first race (whatever the distance) do it! Everyone has a reason, and it really has made this journey that more sincere. Goodnight.

As I thought would happen, little sleep last night, but finally got in a couple of hours before the run. Didn't know if I could even think about writing tonight, because of the shock on my body and the overwhelming emotions I experienced today.
The run was great up until mile 20. About 2 miles in, I had to pee, and waited 4 minutes for a pit stop. So, being anxious, I ran hard to make it up because I wanted to see if a 10 min pace was possible. I did it up until mile 21, than I just went ouch, body doesn't want to run anymore. The last 5 miles were brutal. I hated them. The sun was plastering my face, which is horrible for potential Lupus flare up, and I could feel it. Forgot to put sunscreen on, and besides weather called for clouds, not sunshine. Seriously, I was going for a sub-5, so why I am complaining about missing a 10 min. pace? So, I will shut up about that now.

When I saw my friend/coach approach me a mile and a half before the finish, I cried instantly. This emotion carried me through the finish when I saw a team mate, some family members and my son cheering me on with a sign he decorated, my heart melted. I just wanted to pick him up and squeeze him hard, but than I noticed I couldn't walk. Now I know what it's like to have that stiff, just ran a marathon body.

Headed back to the hotel to meet family and friends, and ran into Bart Yasso again. Embarrassingly enough, I don't really know many names in the running world, so when I first met him on Friday, I said, your name looks familiar. Well, the rest is history. He is a very cool guy, and said, "You did it, great job." I just balled my eyes out, because it was at that moment, that everything just came full circle. All I could think about was Ryan. I miss him so much. Today it aches. But so MANY awesome people that I don't even know pushed me to finish this just as much as those who know me, that it just makes me the happiest marathon finisher to know the memory of my brother is still strong in the hearts of many.

When I finally headed home, and tried to get out of the car, that's when the physical pain went full throttle! I was so cold, I took a hot shower and wrapped up in a blanket and passed out on the sofa. When I woke up, I could barely move, and did an ice bath. Wow! Freaking cold, but totally heavenly for my knees and calves. Never tried it before, but learning some running do and and don'ts every day.

Popped some Motrin for my screaming headache, and now I am pretty okay.
Emotionally, a little off (what's new). All I want to do is run another marathon. Yah, funny, because I told my coach, never in a million years right towards the finish. But Running For Ryan was developed from a dream I had about Ryan, and now the dream I had to finish this race and meet a fundraising goal has been completed. So what now? Running For Ryan will continue. Donations can be made as long as the WWP exists and I will keep the link there.

I am going to find a way to keep running, which means I will have to make some changes in the future, but this past 6 months introduced me to the world of running and non-profit work, so we will just see where it leads. This was one of the best days of my life! How fitting that it was Valentine's Day, as there was love everywhere on the Austin course today. A great race organization, a great city to call home now. Thanks Team Sente for your support and love. You guys are so kind! Let's run together again!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"It is necessary to dig deep within oneself to discover that hidden grain of steel called will." -- Ryan Shay

(start of Austin Marathon in Afghanistan, via CPT Johnston)
(The Sente Team)
(A good friend I have known over the past few years from afar while on a previous deployment, hanging out with some super kids)(Ryan smiling big on day before his wedding)
2-13-10 Not the First
My older brother Case ran the NYC marathon in 2008, a year after Ryan passed away. He was very jet lagged and still managed to come in under 3 hours! Along with some of Ryan's Notre Dame buddies, they honored his memory that day. So, I am proud to be able to do it this time around. I have been nervous, excited, and now relaxed in the course of the last 24 hours. The last time I was with Ryan was in Flagstaff, a few months before he passed away. On the visit, the last thing he was thinking about was racing. His biggest agenda was trying to get Max wrestle with the dog. It was obvious he was enjoying a visit from his sister, brother, and nephew as Alicia and Ryan were heartwarming hosts. It makes me realize too, before I run tomorrow that running isn't life, but life is about running. I love it now, and it's a part of me, but no matter the outcome of my finish, I have had a huge support group, and love you all.

And please keep the donations coming! For veterans looking to run their first race with life alterning injuries, the WWP helps with such events. All I have to do is move my 2 legs but some of these brave men and women are doing it with one or less. Bless you all! I look forward to having fun on the Austin course tomorrow!


I really haven't slept well since my apartment was robbed last Friday. But today there was a good energy in the air, especially with the continued support of the fundraiser and the marathon challenge. Due to a drop in temperature, which I loved, the trail was dead. I thought it was a perfect day for a run and took advantage of the solitude on the path. Then, something amazing happened, I think I had the best run of my training so far. Not once did a break my pace, and I pretended it was race day because I felt like my legs wanted to continue forever. It took me back to a dream I had about Ryan a few weeks ago. Not, the one that got the ball rolling;when my legs felt like lead and wouldn't move. But a few weeks ago, I called my parents and let them know I had another memorable dream. Ryan and I both had running bibs on ready to start the NYC Marathon. I was in the elite group(remember this is a dream) and the gun went off...suddenly there were all these obstacles, and I turned to him and asked how we were going to finish now? Suddenly we were crossing over a bridge in NYC, and soon it became a single rope and we commando crawled to a tree house that was high on a pole in the sky. Ryan sat down and in a peaceful voice, said, I have to go now, and so do you. Open up that door and jump and you will find the road again. So he closed his eyes, and I jumped, and my feet hit the ground and I just started running. I can't explain how he really has been a phenomenal positive force in the past 6 months. I don't how it's possible to feel him around me all the time, but I just can't shake the feeling, and tonight, once again when I ran over the I35 bridge and looked down at the water, as it sparkled so happily that I didn't even question why I felt so good, I just went with it and had the best run in a very long time.


Friday,apartment robbed, check(get renter's insurance, I didn't have it, duh!). Saturday, car smashed in store parking lot(bad hit in run while in the store, big white truck driving guy didn't leave me his insurance info., shocker! But it runs, barely, and Max was not inside ), check. Sunday, realized not only was my computer swiped, but my small jewelery box. I probably cried a good hour, feeling all invaded and creepy inside knowing a stranger was taking my memories away stored in that box. Besides a few valuables, there were a couple of Ryan memorabilia I will never get back. I despise you dear thief, for this made me cry more than losing my technical equipment. No sleep, check, for I feel like someone is still creeping around my home. Great run on Saturday, yes, surprisingly, due to lack of sleep. Having breakfast with the team was uplifting as well, as Sente is just a group of the nicest people you will encounter.

On a serious note, (yes the above was pretty serious), my courageous sister has been laid up for a week. She can walk, barely with the help of a walker. I pray for an answer and hope the doctors will found out quickly what is going on! She surprised me a couple of weeks ago by telling me she would arrive Saturday to watch the marathon, and apologized for not being able to walk(tears). Obviously, I told her, are you crazy, get better! But she has a great sense of humor, and we try to make light of it for now. So, sis, I will pray for your recovery and run for you too! Tonight, probably zone out to John Mayer, and do nothing...


I have been so swamped for time, aren't we all, right! American, work, work. It's hard to get a blog in these past few weeks. But with all the hard work comes the sweet reward of knowing I have helped kept Ryan's memory alive as well as honor our awesome men and women in uniform.

Although I started alone with a dream to do this challenge, the end result of success comes from dozens of loving supporters.

Thanks to Gary Brimmer who found my blurb on line about doing this. He got me in touch with John and Stacey Conley of Conley Sports. They have been the best support team, and I appreciate all the help. Pam LeBlanc introduced herself to me at a fundraising event and is the kindest type of person you could ever meet. I am bless to know her, and thank her and the Austin American Statesman for their support in sharing this story and promoting the cause.

Andrew Smith from Sente Mortgage, but more importantly someone who once met Ryan and opened his heart to this challenge and introduced an entire team to help raise the second half of the goal amount. Team Sente, I appreciate all your efforts, and know you will continue to do good in the future with your charity chapter of your company.

Amanda and The Notre Dame Club of Austin (Ryan's Alma Mater) Thanks for the race uniform tops! We will run proudly in them!

Local Austin Businesses such as: J Conn Roofing, Granite Properties of Texas, Go With The Flo, Red Licorice Events, Jack and Adams Bicycles, Rogue Running, Bettysport, Highway Technologies, STN Properties, Abilene VFW Post, and many others who wish to be anonymous.

Thanks to all the supporters from my home state of Michigan. Some of you know me, but many of you were fans of Ryan, or coached with my parents. Thanks!

Thanks to Joey Trimyer, my media guy. I have no idea how to make a web page, so thanks for building it for me, as well as your support with fundraising events! You are a easy to work with, and it's been fun!

Thanks to my coworkers who I have annoyed for 6 months with all the running talk. Yes, I once was annoyed by runners who talk about running, and now I do it! However, I do have to say, I am impressed with Terry and Barbara for training just as hard for the 1/2 marathon. Yeah!

My parents have been a huge support. I have never talked to them more in my life! It's a good thing!
My brothers and sisters, who I miss extremely and love so much. I wish we all lived in the same city! It's hard not to cry right now, just thinking about you all!
My best friend on deployment, you know who you are!
My ex-husband and well, my friend. You have been very supportive since returning from your deployment. I am glad this experience has allowed us to grow as friends. I wish you happiness in the future. Now that's growth!:)
Charlotte and JP , and Barbara. While Max's dad was away, you bent over backwards to help with Max while I trained. Thank you!
Christine and too! Thanks for being there for Max and I.

My son! I love you more than anything in this world Max! I know it's been so busy at times, but you have always been such a trooper. I can't wait to see you at the finish line. Because as you told me once, "I want to see you win mama because we are getting money for the hurt soldiers." You are such a kind and caring boy. Many kisses xoxo.

To everyone I might have forgotten (on accident), and to those who privately support this challenge, thank you! I have been touched by emails, and words of encouragement. I really feel my life has changed for the better. Most of you supporting this cause are not rich like myself, but we knew we could make a difference, and it's been awesome. If I could keep running for charities and quit my job, I would (no offense job, but it would be cool). There's an addiction to lacing up some shoes and going for a daily run. Add a very worthwhile cause in to the mix, and you have the best feeling out of life one could imagine.

Thanks to CPT Johnston for supplying the photo above. He too has become a fan of running. The picture is a group of servicemen and women completing a half or full marathon in Afghanistan with support from the Austin Marathon. That is cool!

Six months have flown by. Ryan has been with me every step of the way. I love you dear brother. You left us way too soon. But your beautiful, young, angelic face is etched in my memory forever. Included in this blog, one of my favorite pictures of you from the day before your wedding. You were beaming from ear to ear.

I look forward to an exciting future with you guiding me along the way.

To all of our men and women in uniform, THANK YOU!