Tuesday, March 24, 2015

3rd & 4th Events of 2015...plus health update

Rock 'n Roll DC Full Marathon, Rock 'n' Roll Dallas 5K & Half Marathon and News

Tuesday, March 24th:

A few months back I promised that I'd provide an update as to the health issues I've been dealing with for the past year or so. I don't want to "overshare" and yet I don't want to hide things either, especially with the Get Back UP campaign's focus of overcoming physical challenges. For those of you who don't want the details (I do believe there's such a thing as "too much information"!), you can stop reading after the Dallas race-medal photos near the end of this entry. For the rest of you, keep reading and you'll learn more about the last 8 months and the surgery I'll be having in just a few hours from now.

Again, I'm not going into the details until later in this post but I do want to tell you that I learned at the beginning of the year that I would need this additional surgery.  Even if all goes perfectly, it will be 6-8 weeks before I'm allowed to resume a training schedule. So, I decided to make the most of things by running as many races as I could between January and today; 3 Full Marathons and 1 Half Marathon in the span of 8 weeks. Here are the recaps of the last 2 events:

Friday, March 13th:

I arrived in DC last night and had a great dinner at my parent's house. My dad and stepmom live here (in Northern Virginia) so this weekend was planned as much for a family visit as it was for the DC Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. Hubby, Jim, has been here all week working but now it's time for all of us to enjoy the race-weekend festivities. It's going to be a whirlwind trip--we fly out again Sunday morning at 5am so we're planning a family gathering right after tomorrow's marathon. Dad and Suz will be hosting and cooking for all of us, guests will include myself and Jim, my older sister (Maria) and my mom and stepdad (Anne and Bob) who've been in Baltimore this week with her, my Aunt Yon and Uncle Dan and 2 of my cousins, Abby and Sandy. 

Speaking of Sandy, I'm off now to meet her in the city where I'll hit the race Expo then go to check out her new DC condo. She'll be running the Half Marathon tomorrow, hoping to have a PR (personal record) after running her first full marathon just 8 weeks ago.

I haven't seen a display like this before...but then again, "DC" is much easier to pull off than "New Orleans."
Due to a new medication I suddenly found myself very queasy at the Expo. Sandy and I made quick work of packet pick-up and headed to the metro towards her condo in the up-and-coming neighborhood called "U street corridor". I attempted to eat some soup at her place but to no avail; I couldn't keep anything down...not a good omen for tomorrow's race! 

Here's where I leave you in the capable hands of Ron and Susan Carino. To explain, my stomach issues only got worse so the remainder of my Friday was spent tucked away in my dad's guest bedroom. By Saturday morning I felt a little better but with the rain, the marathon and the rush to get back to my parents' house to cook for the big dinner afterwards I didn't take many photos to share with you. Ron and Susan have done an excellent job recapping the race weekend and have given permission for me to share this with you: 


Here are a few photos I did manage to take:

Jim and I drove from my parents' home in Arlington to the finish line
area at RFK stadium. From here we took the Metro to the start line.
As you can see, it's a rainy dark morning here in DC.

At this early hour of 5:00am Jim and I have the Stadium-Armory
Metro station all to ourselves practically...only a few other runners
are here with us. For now, we're enjoying being dry and out of the cool wind.

It's Pi Day today--I love it!! I'm celebrating by wearing this
makeshift, waterproof "Ultimate Pi Day" sign. Thanks, Dad,
for the protective sleeve!

This is an epic day for Joe Harris! He's running his 100th Rock 'n Roll race
today--the only person to have run this many. Joe was given the royal treatment
by Competitor Group, including VIP access for himself and about a dozen of
his friends...we were among the lucky friends--thanks, Joe!!

All week long Joe has been giving interviews to TV and Radio reporters in the
DC/Northern Virginia area. This was moments before the start of the race.

Joe, you're a natural in front of the camera! Nice work and congratulations again on an amazing achievement.
Now, let's get this party started!

Again, thanks to Ron and Susan for sharing their race report. Here's what I did manage to post on Facebook while in the airport on my way home:

"My 3rd full marathon in the last 7 weeks is in the books. I had a PR yesterday at the Rock ’n’ Roll DC Marathon! Yes, that's right...I'm counting it as a Personal Record: My slowest marathon ever. It was chilly, it was windy, it was raining all morning and the back half had some big f'n hills. But you know what? I feel like the luckiest person alive. I witnessed Joseph Harris complete his 100th RnR race, I had the privilege of running the first 12 miles with my husband Jim Austin and my cousin Sandy Wacker who ran her personal best 1/2 marathon. When I finally trudged across the finish line, soaked, shivering and practically helpless, my RnR Gypsy friends were there and generously helped me recover. Thank you to Ron Carino for getting my gear bag AND untying it...my fingers still weren't working. Thank you to Susan Sprint-Dash Carino for the hot tea--LIFESAVER! Thank you to Joe Harris for pointing out where the heater was and for the AMAZING gift of including us in your VIP experience. Thank you to Sandy for waiting in the rain and cold to see me finish. Thank you to Jim for the cheers, the hug and the dry towels. My congratulations and love go out to gypsies Kamika SmithHyalker L. Amaral,Michelle Bogush, Ted, Sherry Ricker, and Al Hernandez who all braved the weather to run RnRDC in honor of Joe's 100th. My love goes out to all our other Gypsies who were elsewhere this weekend--YOU WERE GREATLY MISSED but you were in our hearts and I know we will see you again soon. Lastly, I feel so lucky because I was physically able to be out on the course in the first place...I will never take this for granted. Lisa Victorius and Mary Kramer, you were especially on my mind the entire day...I hope you're out here kicking my butt again soon."
 Afterword: Had this been "just another race weekend", I probably would've split off with Sandy and Jim to the finish line of the Half instead of continuing on for the Full Marathon. The weather was yucky and I was still feeling weak from not being able to eat anything prior to the race. However, I knew in my heart that this may be my last opportunity to run a marathon so I turned right instead and continued the race on my own. The last 2.5 hours of running (more like "trudging") were emotional for me and although I was struggling physically I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I could be out there at all.

My brace liner (called the Comfort Kit by Allard) was caked with mud on the front
and sides. My shoes were completely soaked with rainwater. The blood you see on my right shoe
was from chafing that started about mile 16--I guess the mud and rain were more than my
socks could handle.

In the end, it was a great day. Celebrating with my family that night was even better.


NOTE: As I'm writing this I've been home from Dallas only 1 day and in 3 hours I'm heading to the hospital for major surgery. Thus, I'm keeping this short and will provide photo highlights only.

Friday, March 20th-Monday March 23rd:

It seemed like it took about 5 days for me to dry out after the DC Marathon, just in time to greet the rain in Dallas. Oh well, even if both races (5K and Half Marathon) are soggy they won't be cold like last week's event.

Heading into packet pickup...

Drew sighting at the Expo.

Hamming it up...of course!

It's the legendary Joe Harris! He survived his 100th race last
week and starts the next 100 here this weekend.

We find Ron and Al with Joe at the Competitor Group booth. Here we go again!

Our daughter, Kristen, lives 30 minutes from downtown Dallas and has recently been
bitten by the Rock 'n' Roll bug: this will be here 2nd race ever. Here we are at the start area
for the 5K race. Left to right: Drew, Jim, Al, Ron, Kristen and Susan.

Rain was predicted this morning but the skies are holding off for now, it will
be perfect running weather.

Kris and Jim are trying to make me feel less short. :-) We've decided to run this race together, our first as a family.

I'm practicing my selfie skills...Ron Carino is still the best though.

Sold out crowd for the Dallas Rock 'n' Roll 5K.

Kristen's hoping to beat her first 5K time, we're going
to try to pace her.

Susan is like sunshine on this cloudy morning!

We did it...and Kristen achieved her PR today!

Thanks to Ron for this shot. Kristen, you're looking great!

After the 5K we headed back to the Expo so Kristen could shop. We took
advantage of the photo ops, too.

Rock 'n' Roll Gypsy fun.

Hyalker got this picture as Ron was taking our photo. Appears to be
a ghost runner in the background!
While Kristen went home to look after the dogs, Jim and I went in search of food. We decided to hit Libertine Bar and Grill, a restaurant we discovered 2 years ago when we were here with my Aunt Dorothy and my mom and stepdad.

Jim ordered the pulled pork & grits, I opted for the vegan high roller.

We took a selfie to send to friends whom we were missing this

When our food arrived, Jim's looked more like one of my usual meals (minus the meat)...

And mine arrived looking like the "bigger-than-his-head" sandwiches that Jim usually

I opted to ditch the bread and onion ring on top and go straight for the quinoa patty.
It was delicious!

The things I make him do....

After brunch we met Kristen in the Bishop Arts District. This shot was in honor
of Virginia Mamone who was here with my last year for the RnR races.

Kristen always wanted to be in a Disney movie...

Simply Austin: Jim and Kristen Austin enjoying the call-out.

One down, one to go. Tomorrow morning we run the Half Marathon
before heading back to NC.

Ron Carino promised perfect weather...and he delivered!
No wind, cloudy but no rain, 55 degrees. Perfect.

Jim and I have been appreciating these last few races. Today will be my
last for awhile, maybe ever, but we're focusing on "Getting Back UP"
in whatever capacity that means. Trying to stay positive!

We run into Drew at the Omni near the starting line.

Here's to everyone dealing with health or fitness challenges.
We can do this!

My amazing and beautiful gypsy friends have been supporting me all weekend and they just
 had the race announcer give me a shout-out at the starting line. Despite
trying to stay positive--and to live in the moment of gratitude for all I've been able
to do in my life--the reality of my upcoming surgery is hitting me. Jim is trying to pull
me back from the tears.
To all the Rock'n'Roll gypsies, thanks for your love, friendship, smiles, inspiration and generosity as we've "shared the road" over and over. I hope I'm back out here soon but if not, I'll be cheering you on from the sidelines. But I'm not done yet, let's do this!!

Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders at the finish line.

Kevin "Bacon" Gonzales is all smiles after a great race today.
Drew and I celebrate the end of another special race weekend.

The bling: 5K and Half Marathon medals...

And the Remix medal for running both, Side 1...
...wait for it...

Side 2!
For the regular readers of this blog, and follower's of the Get Back UP social media outlets, you've heard all about the "Rock 'n' Roll Gypsies". This was the name Jim came up with for the many runners who go from city to city following their passion for these races. You'll hear from all of them that it's not really about the races, it's about the friendships you gain along the way. 

I'm so lucky to have met not only these gypsies, but also the incredible people who've joined our Get Back UP family over the past 3+ years. All of you are so special to me and you've become more like family than I ever expected. I'm not going to lie...I want to be back out here running again soon. But, if it doesn't happen for me I know I'll still have all of you in my life and that is way more valuable to me than any finish line or medal. Thank you to those who were here supporting me this weekend, it has been difficult (to say the least) but you've made it so special. I love you guys.

Just a small peek at the amount of love and support I've been given already:

Health Update:

I've decided to keep this pretty simple for the purposes of getting this written before I leave for the hospital in 2 hours. Basically, over the last year I started noticing subtle declines in my overall strength and energy. After NUMEROUS doctor appointments, blood tests, biopsies and unsuccessful minor surgeries from September all the way through January it was determined that I need a total hysterectomy.

Unfortunately for me, not only does this surgery come with all the risks typically associated with the procedure but due to some complications there's a small potential for "negative outcomes". The spinal/nerve defects I was born with are partial contributors to the problem but there are other factors involved as well.

I won't go into all the specifics, but I've learned I'm not a candidate for the minimally invasive
Laparoscopic Hysterectomy. Instead, doctors will make a long vertical cut in my abdomen to remove the uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes. They're going to try to keep the ovaries but if any pathology is found, they'll be gone too. Over the last few weeks I've had doctor after doctor explaining the risks associated with this surgery and explaining the recovery time of 6-8 weeks due to the large abdominal incision. At this point, I'm going to celebrate every second of those 6-8 weeks if it means that I don't have any of the other possible "negative outcomes." I've been trying to stay positive but the reality of this sneaks in every so often...and more so as I'm writing this now. I'm terrified that any or all of these things can happen: bladder and bowel incontinence, paralysis of the lower limbs, blood clots, organ damage, loss of sexual function...the list goes on and on.

Here are just a few of the many forms I've had to sign off on during my Pre-OP appointments last week:

There's more, but that's about all I feel like talking about right now. Just an aside, don't you love the "anything can happen, from minor to fatal" comment. Really?? I'm supposed to just shrug and sign off on this? 

I did, of course.

So I'll be signing off from this post now and truly hoping to Get Back UP soon. I'm going to try to accept whatever outcomes occur with strength and determination, but please forgive me if I have some lapses over the next few weeks. Obviously I'll not be writing for awhile but I'll be back as soon as possible, I promise. I'm realistic about what I'm facing but I'm also optimistic that I'll make it to Raleigh next month to cheer for all my gypsy friends and family at the Rock 'n Roll races April 12th. Maybe later in the Spring I'll be running beside you once again.

Be well,


  1. Sending you positive vibes, and prayers for a positive outcome.

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