The Final Countdown

I am about to age myself, but this is worth it! When I was growing up, I played softball and basketball. The excitement before running out onto the court at a big game was palpable. Your heart pounds. Your palms are sweaty. You feel a little trepidation and motivated all at the same time! One of the songs we ran out onto the court to (along with “We Will Rock You”) was “The Final Countdown.” Anyone born before 1995 will not be able to listen to this without feeling nostalgic :).

The Final Countdown. That’s exactly where I find myself right now. The taper. The last 13 days. The pounding heart. The nail biting (reserved for my thumbs only 🙂 !). The nerves in full force. The expectation for an experience of a lifetime. It’s almost GO time!

There’s no other way to say it – the month of March and early April have been a combination of both incredibly difficult and incredibly rewarding! It has been a hair-pulling, head-spinning, over-scheduled month, including many training hours, many work hours, and tons of kids’ activities, all with Ben in 24-7 work/study mode. On the other hand, we were able to celebrate my son’s 8th birthday on the same day as we celebrate new beginnings because of the sacrifice Jesus made for us, Easter. Another little exciting thing about this past month… I had the opportunity to travel to Boston to meet my Team in Training team, hear two amazing Mission Moment stories, and run our last long training run ON THE BOSTON MARATHON COURSE!! Within 30 hours time, I drove 700 miles, slept 1 hour, and ran 20 miles. A little cray cray and a whole lot of “will never forget!”

March’s stats:

  • 174 miles run
  • 5 cross-training workouts
  • My longest run in March and for this training cycle was 24 miles. I survived.
  • Team Alyssa t-shirts arrived on the 29th. Thank you to those who have purchased a t-shirt! We have 27 left for $10 each. Proceeds go to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. If you haven’t had a chance to jump on board yet and want to, this is an easy way to do it!

   Tshirt frontTshirt Back

Another exciting event was this past weekend. We had a Team Appreciation Party, to thank everyone who has made this journey possible. THANK YOU!! Along with Boston Baked Beans, New England Clam Chowder, Boston Cream Donuts, Fig Newtons, and everything else Boston and LLS themed, thanks to the efforts of my side-kick in this journey Kristin, we were fortunate enough to have Derek Fitzgerald, who is the only “Cancer, Heart Transplant, Ironman” in the world, share his story! This video is absolutely worth the 6 minutes! Please watch it to see exactly why we are passionate about The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society specifically, but in general, about participating in something that is bigger than yourself. We all can make a difference in someone’s life!

 

To date Team Alyssa has raised $12,302!! That number will rise as we send in t-shirt proceeds and also receive the final countdown donations. OUR TEAM IS IN 11TH PLACE OF 90 TEAM IN TRAINING PARTICIPANTS!!!! This is HUGE!!! I feel incredibly lucky to represent all of you and your efforts to make this happen! 

If you haven’t had the chance to yet (or hearing The Final Countdown got you all fired up 🙂 !), please make a donation in support of my efforts to run the Boston Marathon with Team In Training and help get us all closer to a world without blood cancers, http://pages.teamintraining.org/ma/boston16/adourte

 

 

 

 

 

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February and the Run That Nearly Made Me Quit

February has been quite a month! My Journey to Boston continues to become more exciting and intense, with some really difficult parts thrown in along the way!

I logged a total of 173 running miles in February, spread out over 21 runs. Those 173 training miles included three speed, 2 hill, and 2 pace setting runs. They also included two long –  20 and 22 – mile runs. On top of the running miles, February also had 4 cross-training work-outs which included yoga and incline treadmill walking, planks, crunches, squats, and free weights. Then, the other four days that rounded out the month of February were rest days. Ahh, four whole rest days!

You may think that since runners love running, that they love it everyday, and all the time. Not the case. A couple weeks ago, on Feb. 12th, I did my 20 miler. It was horrific. Like, literally, the worst run of my life. By mile 3 I wanted to quit, and yet I knew I still had 17 miles to go. Seventeen whole miles. My legs felt heavy. My knees hurt. My back hurt. I had zero energy. I hadn’t slept much the week prior. I was mentally and emotionally spent. Each step was absolutely draining. If it wasn’t for my mental determination, and knowing that others were counting on me, I never would have finished. And, even with that mental drive, my body literally stopped moving several times, no matter how much I willed it to keep going. So, I stretched. And, gave myself several pep talks. And, continued on. I am convinced, amongst other things, I was experiencing full lactic acid build up. If you’ve never experienced lactic acid build up, you can’t quite imagine it. The symptoms include a burning feeling in your muscles. Your legs feel like concrete blocks that are hardening more with each second. They ache and hurt like nothing you’ve ever experienced. You have cramps, and nausea, and weakness, and exhaustion. It’s very different than the soreness you experience for a couple days after a really intense workout. It’s actually your body’s way to tell you to stop doing what you’re doing. That is how I ran my last eight of twenty miles that day. By the end I was in tears. I told myself that I wasn’t a runner and that I never would be. I convinced myself that I didn’t want to ever run again. Like never. Ever. Ever. Ever.

There will be days2

Two days later, I ran again, because there are people counting on me, and because I was supposed to and I’m a rule follower. It was an 8 miler and it was warm and sunny and it felt good. And, I knew I was back.

Two weeks after my horrific 20 miler that nearly caused me to quit running for good, it was time for my 22 mile run. My mind started to mess with me. You can’t quite know what it feels like in the days before you are about to make your body run a near marathon until you’ve done it. The nerves. The questions. The doubts. The lack of sleep. The pressure. It all adds up, and builds, and builds. And, when you nearly quit on your previous long run, the doubts intensify. I tried to pull myself together. But, it took every emotional, mental, and physical ounce of strength I had to convince myself I could do it.

Thanks to the amazing support of Team Alyssa and those who have been encouraging me and praying for me along each step of the journey, I conquered my 22 mile run last Friday. It was only a decent run, but it was a life changing run at the same time. I spent each mile praying for a specific person or family or topic. And, when God brought someone to mind related to that family or topic, I briefly prayed for them as well, specific prayers, specific names and needs, and then went back to who that mile was focused on. I also took one mile to pray for my church and each staff member and their families by name. I took one mile to pray for our country, politicians, and the current candidates and their families. And, I focused my very last mile 22 to pray about cancer – those who are fighting, those who have lost loved ones, research, and everyone we know who’s been affected. I almost always pray over the course of my runs no matter how short or long, but this was the very first time I focused so specifically on names and needs and topics and outcomes and weaknesses, one mile at a time. And, it changed me. Along with the fact that I know many were praying for me over those hours, I know it was the reason I made it through that run after having wanted to quit.

Another huge February accomplishment is that my team met our goal and continues to raise funds to provide treatments that are saving the lives of patients today. LLS is making cures happen by providing patient support services, advocacy for lifesaving treatments and the most promising cancer research anywhere. And it’s all happening now. Not someday, today. I am so honored to be a small part of this!!

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With just 6 weeks and 6 days until race day, the countdown is certainly on! I can’t say thank you enough to everyone who has supported me both financially and through prayer and encouragement.

March will be a very big month including a 24  mile run in less than 2 weeks and then a 20 mile run up in Boston with Team in Training!! Stay tuned for updates!

What do being a “short order cook” and the blizzard have in common?

I played “short order cook” for lunch today, which is definitely not the norm around here. Because, let’s face it, if given the choice, they’d probably always “order” belgian waffles w/ice cream & homemade whipped cream or something equally unhealthy.

waffles

On a completely different topic, I know that snow removal can be hard work. My driveway is about 3/4 the length of a football field and our snowblower decided it’s belt was worn out during the blizzard.  So, trust me, I understand. And I also am fully aware that days off of school for the kids can certainly be an inconvenience. I work from home, so even when the kids are home, my “show must go on.”

So, what in the world do these two things, being a “short order cook” and the blizzard have in common??

I ventured out this morning for a 7 mile run after two days on the treadmill due to the blizzard. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I bundled up, put on my Yaktrax, and hit the sidewalks (well, what there was of sidewalks). I honestly didn’t want to do it. I even almost talked myself out of it. But, the thought of another mile on my treadmill sent me screeching out my driveway. Have I mentioned how much I dislike the treadmill? I was cold initially. It was dark at first. I hurdled icy spots. I climbed huge piles of snow at street corners. I backtracked to find additional sidewalk space that had been touched by a shovel. I even twisted my ankle. Thinking about the circumstances, I could have and maybe even should have been grumbling and had negative thoughts about how the snow has really been quite an inconvenience (goodness knows I’ve seen enough negativity on FB about it over the last few days to last me a long lifetime!!). But, by the grace of God (because I certainly know it wasn’t because of my own doing), I breathed in the clean brisk air, watched the most beautiful red sunrise come up over the glistening white snow, and listened to Amazing Grace. All I could think about was how thankful I was.

Fast-forward to lunch and having my littles home on this second snow day in a row. There have been plenty of times when I would have been pulling my air out, wishing for school, and hoping that the clock would tick more rapidly. But, today I looked at their smiles as I placed their special order lunch in front of them and all I could think about was how thankful I was.

How can we not all just be incredibly thankful for everything we have?! If it’s not the extra family time, or giggles in the snow, or the hot chocolate mustaches, or a cozy warm house, or a pantry full of food, or a body capable of getting out of bed to shovel, then it has to be the gorgeous sunrise over the glistening white snow this morning, or the helpful neighbor, or the little smiles that have been entrusted to our care that we get to see have another day of life.

Today, being a short order cook and the blizzard reminded me to pause, to pause and be still in the deep pool of thankfulness that sometimes gets filled with life’s clutter.

2015 Wrap-up

2015 has been quite a year of ups and downs! Here are a few updates from Team Alyssa as we wrap-up this year and head into 2016:

  1. The support and encouragement we continue to receive has been overwhelming and incredible. Thank you!!
  2. We surpassed our goal and have currently raised $11,947.60 for LLS!! This is UNBELIEVABLE!!!    Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 5.34.36 PM
  3. We have had nearly 100 families and businesses join us on this Journey to Boston, to help fund treatments that save lives every day, and to do the research that will hopefully soon eradicate blood cancers!
  4. We are in 3rd place of 85 Boston Team in Training members!          Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 6.13.16 PM
  5. There are 15 weeks and 3 days until the big day – The Boston Marathon!Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 5.40.13 PM
  6. Official training started Dec. 1st and is going well! I’ve logged 152 running miles so far along with 5 cross-training work-outs. I ran my 14 miler this morning and have included several speed and hill runs in my new training schedule.

Raise your glasses tonight to a New Year filled with HOPE for a cure for all cancers!

If you’d like to join us, please make a donation in support of my efforts to run the Boston Marathon with Team In Training and help get us all closer to a world without blood cancers, http://pages.teamintraining.org/ma/boston16/adourte

Making Exercise Part of Your Everyday Routine

There are two simple ways to ensure that exercise will become routine for you:

  1. View exercise as a non-negotiable required part of your day.

Just like sleeping, eating, showering, and brushing your teeth… exercise needs to be viewed as one of those things that has to happen for it to be a complete day. If people shower to clean the outside of their body and brush their teeth so they don’t rot, we need to be doing some sort of movement to keep the inside of our body from rotting and we need to view it as a necessity just like the other tasks. Our skin and hair need soap and water. And, our heart, lungs, and muscles need movement. If it’s not viewed as a necessity, excuses will be made, it will be put off and the end of the day will come before it happens. Schedule it in on your calendar if need be. Or, add it to your Wunderlist so you have a reminder and something to check off if that helps. However you do it, view it as a non-negotiable requirement.

2.   Make it fun by doing something you enjoy!

Pick an activity you like doing! Don’t commit to something for the next year that you won’t be able to stick to or that you despise. You may instead end up doing nothing. There are a million ways to move our bodies to get healthy. We all have opinions about what is fun. I happen to love running, but for others it’s a nightmare. So, don’t do it. Choose something else. The important thing is that you choose something! Pick an exercise that is fun or change up your regular routine when you’re bored to make it fun. Here’s my example: Today I brought two pacesetters and bodyguards 🙂 with me to the trail for a training run! Following behind them as they chatted away made my run different and fun!

Mary and Jake

Thank you for your encouragement and support which has made My Journey to Boston so far so fun! What is your new, fun routine going to look like to ensure you are living your healthiest life so that you can enjoy your family and serve others for a very long time?!

Please make a donation in support of my efforts to run the Boston Marathon with Team In Training and help get us all closer to a world without blood cancers, http://pages.teamintraining.org/ma/boston16/adourte

Every 3 minutes…

Did you know that approximately every 3 minutes one person in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer? By the time you read this post, 2 more families will be affected. Worlds rocked. Lives changed. It can happen to anyone at anytime. But, HOPE can be restored because of access to treatments and research to find a cure. This is exactly why I am running on Boston’s Team in Training for LLS. This is why I’m asking you to join our team!

Team Alyssa Update:

I went public with my news about being asked to join Boston’s Team in Training for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society just 3 days ago and we are already 35% of the way to our $10,000 goal! There is still a long way to go and we are certainly hoping a lot more people join Team Alyssa in fighting cancer one mile at a time, but I am personally so thankful to each and every one of you who has offered an encouraging word, helped with fundraising ideas and efforts, and of course provided financial support!!

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  • We currently have 6 Platinum+ Level supporters who will have their name, an “in memory of” name, or a company logo displayed on the “Team Alyssa” t-shirts which will be sold as a fundraiser. We are looking for any additional local businesses who would like to support LLS and be represented in this way. Let me know if you are interested!
  • We currently have 15 Gold+ Level supporters whose names will all be on the shirt that I wear to run the Boston marathon.
  • We currently have 58 people in our Team Alyssa Facebook group who are all supporting and encouraging.
  • We are working on some really fun and exciting fundraising ideas!! Stay tuned! And, let me know if you have an idea!
  • And… today, Team Alyssa moved into the #5 spot for Top Fundraisers on the Boston Team in Training team, with $3,504.40 going to raise funds and awareness to help find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood cancer patients! You guys rock! Way to go!

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Please continue to follow My Journey to Boston at http://www.alyssadourte.com.

Please join our team! We need your help to reach our goal of $10,000 raised by my birthday, January 16th! It takes more than one person to make up a team and that’s why I’m asking you to join me, so together we can fight cancer one mile at a time!  Would you please:

  • Star: Give a $3 Starbucks/week toward LLS through Jan. 16th$42
  • Super: Sponsor me at $2/mile for the 26.2 mile Boston marathon – $54.40
  • Silver: Sponsor me at 10 cents/mile for every training mile I’ll log  – $80
  • Gold: Sign your name on the shirt I’ll wear to run in Boston – $100+
  • Platinum: Team Alyssa t-shirt sponsor- have your name/ logo on it – $250+ (Team Alyssa t-shirts will be sold as a fundraiser and worn by friends and family attending the Boston marathon.)
  • Titanium: Sign a name on the shirt I’ll wear to run Boston; Have your name/logo on Team Alyssa t-shirts; Have company advertised on Team Alyssa FB page & other social media; Receive a drink on me on April 18th if you’re in Boston! – $500+
  • Elite: All of Titanium; Dinner on me on April 18th if you’re in Boston: REI Duffle Bag with LLS logo and DOUBLE the tax write-off J! – $1,000+
  • Share my story with friends, family, and local businesses!

Your donation will help fund treatments that save lives every day; like immunotherapies that use a person’s own immune system to kill cancer. You may not know it, but every single donation helps save a life with breakthrough therapies such as these. Patients need these cures and they need your support.

Please make a donation in support of my efforts to run the Boston Marathon with Team In Training and help get us all closer to a world without blood cancers,http://pages.teamintraining.org/ma/boston16/adourte