Monday, March 30, 2009

ASICS rock! First time, 2 hour run, no blisters!

So Saturday morning was my first long run in 2 weeks (as I climbed the Columbia Tower in Seattle last weekend and was nursing a hip injury). As I mentioned in an earlier post, it was time for me to get myself a pair of road running shoes for the marathon and to break them in. I do not know if it is just the fact that my feet are now "callused runners feet" or that I happened upon a marvelous shoe, but after wearing them for the first time on a 2 hour run in continuous rain showers, I could not feel nor find a single blister on my feet! And my feet were wet the entire time! I love my trail running shoes but as I began to run longer, I developed bruising on my toes and blisters. I just totally am amazed I did not develop any wearing these shoes for the first time!

By the way, my shoes are the ASICS GT-2140 from REI.

Although I got up at 6:30 am (an hour later than intended), I did not get to the paved Sammamish River trail in Redmond until 10:15 am. Being my first long run in 2 weeks and my first run on pain medication after my hip became severely painful after some shorter runs earlier in the week, I was sort of hesitant to get out and a little anxious. As a result, I procrastinated getting ready on time and drew out my prepping process.

The run was rather fun! Surprisingly, there were many runners out even though it was a wet day! I felt priviledged to be out among the "real and serious" athletes. whenever I used to see people running out in the rain I thought they were nuts and also very dedicated. Now I am one of them!

One thing about running in the morning is that provides you with the opportunity to say "Good Morning" cheerfully to everyone you pass by. Bikers, runners, walkers, and dog walkers.....I said good morning or hi to all of them. If you make it a goal, it helps you to strive to keep positive.

It is rather neat being a "runner" now because you become part of an exclusive club just as being a scuba diver or motorcyclist. Back in the days when I rode a motorcycle for a brief period of my adult life, you become connected and one with each other. On the road, motorcyclists wave to each other as they pass by even though they do not know each other. It is a culture of understanding and reaching out to like beings. The same applies to runners! I guess I had not experienced this as much before because I often trail run by myself and not in the rain! hehe But being out there and seeing others you connect and there is this understanding between each other with what you are doing. So everyone, the runners in the rain, greet each other with common respect by giving a wave/hand signal as if you know each other and belong to a secret society.

The goal was to run 10 miles but I went longer. Part of the reasons is that I did not think there were mileage markers on this trail so I just decided to run 2 hours to ensure I reached 10 miles. On the trail run with mileage markers, I ran a 10 in under 2 hours. So this was just to be safe. I am going to try to run all pavement for the rest of my training to get used to it for my road race (the half marathon).

But anyhow, as I was running, I figured out these posts with numbers on them were mileage markers. I remember running past a 7 but cannot recall for how long. On the way back I ran past 6, 5, 4. 4 1/2, 3, and two posts which said 2. I never did see a post that said 1. So I ran somewhere between 11-12 miles.

Afterward, I was soaked and had to wear my work out suit (long sleeves and pants) in the sauna to warm up (the temp was 40 degrees in rain showers). Once my body temp was back to normal, I spend a great deal of stretching at the gym and sat in a very freezing cold water bath at home. It is the 4th or 5th cold water soak I have taken since 2006 when I trained to walk the Seattle marathon.

All my methods seemed to work well as I did not feel too bad today (Sunday). I am hoping to feel okay again tomorrow (Monday) as I am scheduled for a 4 mile run. So we will see how it goes. So far so good.

I hope I have another good run in my shoes and that it was not just a lucky break the first time around. It is about time to get myself some new socks too as I have primarily been wearing one pair (believe it or not the right socks make a difference and earlier a different pair bruised my toes horribly).

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Power to Give

This is rather interesting. Lately, we have been exploring the concept and philosophy of giving. Now we have always given amounts here and there but it has never been as tight of a time as now with medical bills accumulated from all of us and the income flow producing drips from a leaky faucet instead of a steady gush. However, there are some very good causes out there that a few friends are participating in and even setting out to accomplish incredible feats. I fully understand the time committment of training and fundraising, dedication to hang in there and strive for personal goals, and even the anxiety of fundraising for something which afflicts you or your family.

So despite bills needing to be paid, groceries needing to be bought, money stolen, and new shoes I direly needed to buy so I can run this half marathon in a month, this week I contributed to some of our friend's upcoming efforts. It felt great doing so! It is very empowering.

In my last post, I wrote about asking and recieving. But the real magic was in the giving just prior to finding such a great deal on a pair of shoes I really needed. I discovered this beautiful reflection by Maya Angelou that sums it up nicely.

From the book Gifts of Beauty for your Soul:

Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later.
Ecclesiastes11:1 TLB

"I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver......When we cast our bread upon the waters, we can presume that someone downstream whose face we will never know will benefit from our action, as we who are downstream from another will profit from that grantor's gift."

Maya Angelou

Can you believe I just happened upon it in a book this week?

For all of you who have given to my past causes and current, I truly believe good things will come to you. You are a blessing and you will in turn be blessed!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Focus on what IS going right!

I am feeling very positive today.

About a week ago, I had an appointment to review the MRI scan that I had 2 weeks ago. I did not see the report until I was in the appointment. It is kind of frantic and overwhelming to try to understand the terminology within a radiology report, read captioning, formulate questions, and then try to keep up with viewing MRI films which would scare the be jesus out of the normal everyday person and continue to amaze doctors (as it is unbelievable I am the same person representing the cluttered mess they are seeing on the film).

I was not expecting any growth so when I saw that some growth was reported (however big or small), I bit down hard to keep tears from overflowing and freaking out Harley. Alas, I am a horrible lier and failed at hiding my fear and panic from Harley. As a result, I think I kind of freaked him out too and all we could focus on was that there was some kind of growth. But it is really surprising because I feel so great!

Trying to keep up with everything in the appointment and the measurements of the tumor on the computer, I could not clearly comprehend it all and the tumor appeared larger than it actually grew (2 fused together so that is why the measurement seemed so enormous when it was actually a small 4 mm growth).

In the midst of all this, my doctor told me that it is actually the only growth out of several which! (which is rather great - less surgeries or treatments). Anyhow, we left the appointment and decided to just put it away and go out for Indian food. After lunch, I was tired and felt like going home to sleep or cry. Instead, I went to the gym which despite the fact that I had to force myself to go, was just the perfect remedy.

Since, I have reread the report thoroughly and the captioning notes. I feel much better now. I am just not going to worry about it and see what happens when I meet with neurosurgery for followup near the end of April (yes, neurosurgeons at OHSU and Stanford have been sent my films and report for review).

I am feeling great though and I have faith and confidence that everything will work its way out (just like the shoes I needed and my foot and ankle injuries that went away). I see it as more things going right in life than going wrong. So I am going to put my full energy into productive/positive things and "enjoy the moment".

It is so freeing to let go of worry and negativity! What a high!

Ask and you shall recieve

Very interesting!

Near the beginning of my training in January, I discovered I was going to need to invest in another pair of running shoes. This was sort of discouraging news as I had just gotten a new pair of trail running shoes for Christmas. I was not anticipating it in our budget to need another pair so soon! Further, I already owned 2 other pair of trail running shoes of the same brand. It was too late to return my new ones as I had already worn them running in the rain, snow, and mud!

Thus, I became presented with a dilemma. I could not just skip out on any old cheap pair either. It is extremely important to buy the right kind of shoes to prevent injuries and that would be comfortable for very long distances. (A trail shoe is different than a road running shoe. They are structured different and made of different materials designed specifically for the kind of terrain one will be running on. Road runners are made for pavement and lighter. About 90% of my running has been on trails and is the reason why I have trail shoes.)

So back in January I began wondering how in the heck and I going to have the resources to splurge on a new set of running shoes. I decided to envision getting the pair I needed but to not really worry about it at that time until I crossed that bridge. I had faith something would develop because I asked and put the request out there into the universe.

I had in mind the amount I wanted to spend for a pair and could not justify going over that amount(especially seeing as I am not a serious and regular road runner; I just really love trails if I am going to run.) I held on to the belief that when the time came, something would materialize and present itself.

Well it worked!!!! About 2 weeks ago, my favorite "toy" store, REI, and the only place I have purchased shoes since my imbalance began in 2004, had a 20% off coupon for any regular priced item. Seeing that all of the shoes are close to $100 or more, that 20% coupon was going to deduct a fair amount from the cost. Yet, even with the coupon, it would still be over the budget amount I had in mind. So I waited a little longer to think about it.

Then a week ago, our REI dividend arrived (that is the amount of credit the store gives you back based on your previous purchases in the year). The dividend was for $50! Plus, I had another $1 remaining on a gift card. Can you believe it? It all came at exactly the right time when I needed to buy shoes 5-6 weeks prior to the marathon (allowing me time to break them in but not get to worn out).

I was aiming to purchase a mid-range shoe (not the cheapest but not the most expensive either. The range is $85-$140.) I do not know if it was part psychology but the pair I wanted happened to feel rather comfortable on. With the discount and credit, I bought a $105 pair of shoes for $35! It was below the $50 budget I had anticipated and I got a top of the line pair of shoes! (ASICS GT-2140)

It is actually sunny out today and I am REALLY tempted to go out and try them! However, my hip pain flared up again and really had not gone away after I took some rest days from running. I am trying out some anti-inflammatory medicine my doctor prescribed last night. So it may be a good idea to skip the run today and give myself a couple extra recovery days for the 10 mile run on Saturday.

I have been asking for my injuries to go away and the problems with my ankle and other foot have! Now I just need to focus my energies on this hip. It is feeling better today (not fully recovered), but I can definitely move better and I am not in as much pain.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The need for Patience

So injury time finally hit after 8 weeks of training. I ended the first week of March with a total mileage if 24 miles, completing the week with a 10-11 mile run in snow showers. Afterward, my hip was a little sore but I thought it would be okay. With plans to snowshoe in the mountains the following Monday, I did what I have never done throughout the training and that is to run on my rest day following my long run of the week.

That Sunday evening it was so nice out that it was a great opportunity to get out for a run. Further, with my snowshoe plans on Monday, it was very unlikely that I was going to be able to get in my run for that day. Therefore, I went out for about a 50 minute run one hour before dark. The run went great and my hip did not seem to bother me too badly. However, I had an uncomfortable pain on my inside ankle and arch of my left foot. At first I thought it may have been my newer trail running shoes that I received for Christmas. It was strange because I had not felt it before when I wore them. I must have kicked my inside ankle on the 10 mile run the morning prior but did not notice it until the next day (I actually get many bruises, scrapes, and injuries and then have no recollection of how they happened).Thus, I just beared through it determined to get in this run. I do not like giving up.

My foot continued to bother me but I tried to shut it out and just deal with it. My hip waw OK, but afterward when I drove home and went to get out of my truck ,I screamed out in pain as a sharp pain jabbed my hip suddenly. I was also pretty sore walking around the house that evening but still managed to go snowshoeing on Monday.

It was clear that I sustained some running injuries and that I needed some time off from running. Every good athlete knows how important recovery is and the need for patience in order to heal. This can be tough because you can be pretty close to an event and be tempted to overdo it, resume training when not ready, or even push yourself to not rest adequately. Worries about missed training sessions and not be adequately prepared creep into the mindset. However, not having the patience to allocate time to heal can cause poor performance and even prevent one from being able to participate. So as difficult as it was, I decided to take 6 days off from running.

Instead, I did lower impact activities such as walking, snowshoeing, stair climbing, and keeping up with my weight lifting. My foot/ankle problem seems to have resolved as I had no pain in my running shoes Sunday and backpacking boots for snowshoeing yesterday. However, after a 10 mile run in the wind yesterday, my hip was pretty painful again.

Yesterday morning I was pretty sore but the snowshoeing was a mild enough activity (with lots of soft powder) that it kind of gave me a rest. Today the hip is not as sore and I feel like I may be able to do a short run. This week was planned as a kind of rest week anyhow as I am resting up for the Big Climb of the Columbia Tower on Sunday (1311 steps-69 floors that I plan to race up).

So over the next 4 days I plan to keep at light 3 mile runs if possible and a rest day on Saturday. When I started the half marathon training, I began early knowing that I had another event planned in the middle. Therefore, I gave myself a couple extra weeks in anticipation of taking a break for the climb and also if any injuries occured. We will see how this week plays out.

P.S. - 2 goals down from my January list:
Read one of the books on my list "The Secret"
Raise $100 for the Big Climb event for blood cancers

My next goal I am working toward for is on Sunday and that is to climb the tower in 14 minutes this year.

I will keep you posted!

Happy Saint Patrick's day! May the luck of the irish be with you! ;o)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


The following words from the "Seeds of Success" newsletter I recieved this morning left me with a "Wow!" impression. So I thought perhaps it could be the fill you need right now in your life also. Therefore, I want to share it with you.

"Choosing Motivation Over Defeat"

Each of us encounters hard times, hurt feelings, heartache, and physical and emotional pain. The key is to realize it's not what happens to you that matters—it's how you choose to respond. You can choose an inner dialogue of self-encouragement and motivation, or you can choose one of self-pity and defeat. Your inner dialogue will be reflected in how you act.

Keith Harrell, corporate trainer and the author of "Attitude is Everything", says there are several steps you can take to improve your attitude.

Here are six to get you started:
1. Repeat affirmations. Words charged with power and conviction, repeated several times a day, can reprogram your subconscious and trigger positive feelings that drive actions.

2. Discover what motivates you to take action to change your life. Basic motives include love, self-preservation, anger, financial gain and fear. Self-motivation requires enthusiasm, a positive outlook and a positive physiology—walk faster, sit up and smile. Believe in yourself and your potential.

3. Visualize positive outcomes to enhance and focus your skills. Peak performers, from surgeons to athletes, use visualization. Now, it's your turn.

4. Be enthusiastic. Enthusiasm is one of the most attractive qualities you can have. It's your burning desire that communicates commitment, determination and spirit. Enthusiasm puts you in motion.

5. Laugh. The more laughter in your life, the less stress you will have. There are also health benefits to lightening up.

6. Exercise. One of the best ways to gain a more positive mindset is to exercise.

It's no secret that life seems to reward us most when we approach it with a positive attitude. To read more from Keith Harrell, visit

It is funny that it came to me today after something I have been emotionally wrestling with and which has been eating too much of my thoughts. Basically I let someone else trample on my accomplishments and try to make me feel bad or wrong for what I am doing.

I realized it bothered me and that I was being pulled into the other person's negativity. The only way out was to focus on the postive people in my life, seek out motivation to bring it to me, and envelope myself with those who I admire, respect, aspire to be like, and want to know. I made a decision that I wanted to reach the goal of becoming "motivational" and that I must focus on the things I need to do/read that will help me get there. So the "Seeds of Success" could not have come at a better time!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Touch Down! 24!

Weekly mileage completed - 24 miles

Well I finally did it! I got out on the trail for a very early morning run starting at 7:04 am. Not only did I get out early as I had planned, but I also completed my third longest run of 10 miles! Further, I slogged through the foul weather of rain and snow showers nearly the entire time!

During the run the double vision was actually not too bad but proved delayed as I had a difficult time reading the large bold font captioning at the afternoon meeting I attended.

There was stiffness and soreness in my knees during the run and in my hip afterward. I am genetically predispositioned to both knee and hip problems so I take "Move Free" pills near daily and Glucosamine juice as needed. (Apparently I have needed quite a bit at this juncture.) I have also been having tight calves and leg cramps so a potassium supplement has become a regular addition to my daily consumption also.

For you endurance athletes out there or those training to become endurance athletes, here is my morning supplement/nutrition intake before the long run:

2 ounces of FRS energy with 8 ounces of water

a wheat english muffin - one half with peanut butter and half of a sliced banana, the other half slathered with nonfat strawberry cream cheese

2 FRS energy sport chews

a cup of white tea

an iron supplement

a potassium supplement

2 reservatol supplement capsules

a vitamin C supplement

2 move free pills

and let's not forget my morning dose of Propolis Bio 30 in a tablespoon of naturally pomegranate extract (This is an experimental trial supplement to suppress tumor growth.)

Thanks to my wonderful friends and sponors for encouraging me in this endeavor and suppporting NF2 reasearch (the reason I am running):

Skip Sand
Olivia Hernandez
Janet Stillman
Sally Still
Sandy Perlmutter
Dr. Lo
Melanie Breitbach
Kris Curry
Karen Arney
Sherry Cochran
Paula Titus
Tonna Frederick
Melinda & Chuck Alegra
Karen Arney
Jennette Braeten
Victoria from ALDA

Thank you all! You are the sparkle in my day and my motivation to "keeping on trucking" as one of my NF2 friends say!

I am grateful for you today.

I am especially grateful today for the positive and supportive people in my life. It is people like you that keep me going and keep me on track at times when somebody wants to rain on my parade, complain about who I am or what I am doing, casts their negativity and self pity upon me, tries to bring me down, and when I begin the cave in to seeds of doubt. It is exactly at that time when you offer your words of encouragement, praise, admiration, and show your support. I am incredibly thankful for you and very blessed that we know each other. I am grateful for you and the things you do/say many days, but on this day you top the list!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Rebecca Dufek is Here!

Have you been thinking of something to be grateful for everyday? If you are struggling or going through a difficult time, it is even more crucial to count your blessings and focus on the positive aspects of your life. Discard the negative thoughts and energy that comes with it and replace it with what IS going right to bring more of it to you.

Yesterday (and actually everyday) I am very grateful for my life.

Have you seen the movie "Henry Poole is Here" yet? If not, I would highly recommend it to provide you a good dose of why it is important to have a belief and to learn that you become what you think about. The movies focuses around a very profound concept. (If you will watch it, you will understand the title of the movie and hence the title of my post.)

You see, like Henry Poole, I have faced my mortality at least twice in my lifetime. There were thoughts at first that "Rebecca WAS here" but I had a faith and belief that replaced the "was" with "is".

So back to what I am grateful for. I AM here! And I am able to see, smell, taste, move, run, love, give, and enjoy to name a few. It is 16 years longer than I originally expected. It is 1-5 years longer than I had feared.

I am very thankful to my husband, family, doctors, and friends who have played a part in making that life happen. Quite a bit to be grateful for, isn't it?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Rays of Sunshine

What a lucky start to my week of training. Or shall I say a "blessed" start to the week after a very discouraging personal incident on Sunday (over $160 was stolen from me!).

So Sunday evening when looking ahead to my training run days, I saw that the forecast for the entire week called for rain! I had planned to start incorporating more morning runs this week too! It can pretty hard to motivate oneself to run outside in the rain (especially after having it pretty good after 2 solid months of training).

"How am I going to motivate myself?" I thought....on a day which the weather forecast showed a dark cloud with rain droplets and a prediction of 90% rain? (as you recall, all my training runs are outdoors because with my balance dysfunction. I am unable to run on a treadmill indoors.) So the task was definitely going to take a little extra "uph" to get me motivated.

Earlier in training when I was having a difficult time with runs (yet I completed them all!) I would think about the people I am doing it for. Then I further thought of the people who believed in me and that I shall honor them also for sharing their gift. The ultimate reason why I am doing this is to help provide a future for others inflicted with NF2 and to provide peace of mind to those loved ones and friends of those lost to NF2 that their plight has not been forgotten. Someone remembers what happened/can happen and is doing something about it.......helping to find a solution. Therefore, it is my responsibility to all who have supported me by getting out there and following through with what I have set out to do. I determined the moment another person made a donation, that no matter what the weather, I was going to get out there and run.

Well blessed day! My fellow cancer survivor friend Janet brought a ray of sunshine into my morning! And lo and behold, that 90% rain forecast was banished as the skies parted and the sun poured into the windows of the loft near my computer! I guess that was a definite sign to get out and do my 4 mile run.

Harley took the dogs for a walk along the trail while I ran. It was so beautiful out that I wore my sunglasses the entire time! What a gorgeous morning! It was so lovely that I greeting everyone I ran by on the trail with a "Good morning!" which further kept me going.

When I had returned, friends fellow endurance athlete Sandy and our dentist Dr. Lo added more rays of sunshine to the day which inspired me to do my 6 mile run yesterday. Unknown to me earlier, Sandy is actually from Eugene and will be running the marathon too although she is even more amazing and will be running the entire 26.1 miles!

Tuesday called for a 60% chance of rain and no sun. However, by late morning the skies again parted to reveal another gorgeous day setting me up for a fantastic 6 mile run. It was so nice to comfortably run 6 miles and not feel like it was going to kill me as it had when I attempted it last summer!

Upon my return, more dear friends had blessed my day (fellow cancer survivor and also TSNW member Sally and fellow NF2er Jennette down in Oregon).

Thank you all for adding your sunshine to my week and motivating me to complete 10 miles so far this week and to keep up the training! You are the shot of inspiration I needed! :o)

Also, thank you to my dear friend Skip who battles Leukemia and my friend Olivia (also a recent half marathon runner with NF2) for their support at the very beginning of my training. Last summer, while Skip was in the hospital enduring another harsh chemo treatment, he told me that he believed I could run 6 miles easy. I was not so sure but I did end up doing it. Yesterday I felt pretty good after running the 6 miles which was hard to imagine back then! Thank you Skip!