Friday, August 21, 2015

Checking In

Hello All!

As with every journal and diary I've ever attempted to keep, the regularity with which I update my blog is less than optimal.

I'm not even going to commit to try and do better, because then I just look like a fool when my next post is 6 months to a year later. Suffice it to say that I am here now, and checking in with a bit of an update, and some thoughts for today.

For those that are unaware, I made a big change last year. I left my dear friends and New England family to come back my "real" family and my Rocky Mountains. I took the plunge last Summer, and aside from missing people like crazy, have not looked back. It was definitely the right decision for me.

I'm currently renting a house from my parents until I can find a buyer for my townhome back in Cumberland, RI. The market there hasn't quite caught up to the national trends yet, and it sat with no action at all for six months before I pulled it off and rented out. My renters are in the process of moving out now, and I hope to have it back on the market in the next few if you know anyone looking for an adorable townhome in Cumberland, send them my way!

From the minute my feet hit Rocky Mountain soil last summer, I've been a regular at Red Rocks Amphitheater...not that this should be a surprise to anyone. I got to see 7 shows last season, and am on track to see 13 this year. I'm officially an addict. The house I'm renting is only 10 minutes away, so that works out well for me. :) This season rounds out with OAR (with VIP passes) and Grace Potter. Not too shabby, in my opinion!

The best part of being home is getting to be Auntie on a regular basis. I missed so much when I lived 2000 miles away. I love being here for the concerts, recitals, plays and birthday parties.

I've also jumped back on the fitness track after my ridiculously frustrating leg injury a year and a half ago. I've been working with a personal trainer for a year now, and have recently started running again...a little. My goal is to be back in shape to participate in a mud run or two next summer, so I'm hoping to be signing up for a few 5K's this fall.

I love the people I work with at my new job, and the transition was easier than I expected, mostly because of those people. I'm working on a project with a client that is in Columbus, OH, so I travel there pretty frequently. Can't say I'm a fan of Columbus, but to be fair, I really only see the hotel and my's not Colorado.

So, that's the brief update. Maybe I'll remember to jump on and share my random thoughts, observations and rants again sometime soon.

Until then, be kind and be happy!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Latest...

Hey All. I've been putting off this update for far too long, so today is the day. I know you've all been sitting on the edge of your seats wondering what's going on with me and my quest to be a distance runner, so here's the 4-1-1.

I got back to training - slowly - in late January, walking on a treadmill. Treadmills are awful any time, but walking on a treadmill is in the upper echelon of torture methods. I built my speed and distance slowly, and by early February I was walking 2 miles at a time, and starting to mix in 1 minute intervals of slow jogging...which is when things got ugly.

The aching in my left leg was back - not quite as intense, or as often, but it was definitely back. Mostly at night, keeping me awake, both because the pain was nagging, but also because of what the pain meant. I tried to ignore it for a couple of weeks, taking meds to control the ache, and avoiding the pounding of a full running workout...something that I knew I couldn't avoid much longer.

I received my formal training schedule from Team In Training, and really needed to start hitting the distances and frequency that they scheduled if I had any chance of making the Nike Women's Half Marathon in April. I was already supposed to be running 12-15 miles a week, and I was lucky to get 6-8 in at this point.

I had a pretty decent, almost pain free week, toward the middle of February, and decided that my weekend workouts would be the deciding factor. I'd run - at least a 1/2 mile interval - and go for at least 2 miles total, even if the rest was walking. If I could do it without pain, fantastic. I'd start adding distance and hope to catch up to my team's schedule. If not, it was time to hang up my running shoes.

It started off ok, but by the end of the workout, I was hurting...and continued to hurt through the weekend. It scared me a little. Being single, and living alone means that I don't have someone to help me, and little things suddenly became difficult. Walking up and down the stairs hurt, badly, and I have a lot of stairs in my house. I drive a standard transmission, and I found myself cringing every time I had to depress the clutch. I could still do it, but not comfortably, and that was scary.

So, I am now officially retired from running. Actually, at the moment, I'm still restricted from any and all high impact activities. That includes my Zumba classes, which I miss terribly!

Sadly, that means I don't get to participate in the 1/2 marathon at the end of April...or ever. That part of this whole ordeal has weighed heavily on me. I vacillate between feeling like a quitter, and being frustrated that I couldn't finish what I started. That's part of why it took me so long to write this update. I'm embarrassed that I couldn't do it - especially after so many people showed me such generous support.

That generosity is what I'm holding on to as evidence that my effort wasn't a complete failure. Because of your generous support, I was able to raise over $3000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I didn't meet my personal fitness goals, but I'm so grateful to have been the catalyst for those donations. I'm proud to be associated to such a fantastic organization, and can't begin to express how lucky I feel to have the support of such generous and amazing friends and family.

Thank you.

You can learn more about LLS, their mission and their successes here:

So...that's my update. I'm out of the running game, and SO ready for the weather to improve so that I can get back on my bike. As bad as treadmills are, stationary bikes are 10 times worse! This low/no impact restriction is for the birds.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Back in the Saddle...

I figured it was time to get back to updating all of you on my journey to 13.1.  I was actually online to write an update the night I got the phone call that my mom had passed, and since then things have been a bit of a blur, so I never really got back to it.

Thank you all for your words of love, support and condolence.  It's never easy to lose someone, and the stress and emotion of the last few months has taken a toll on my family.  I'm blessed with an amazing family, and we're on the road to healing as we move forward with love.

The training update I was planning to write that night wasn't a fun one.  While in Denver for Thanksgiving I developed a sharp, shooting pain in my left lower leg.  I made it about 3 miles the first day, but the second and third day the pain was so intense that I wasn't even able to run a 1/4 of a mile.  The frustration of the whole thing had me in tears.  For the next week I could barely walk and was limited to wearing flat shoes, which was a big bummer when I wanted to wear my really cute boots!

I had an appointment to see my doctor the day I got back to RI, and she sent me for X-Rays and referred me to a specialist, suspecting a possible stress fracture of my fibula.  The specialist couldn't see me for a week, so I was starting to get really anxious about whether I was going to be able to continue my training in time for my January 12th race, only 6 weeks away.

I wasn't running at all, obviously, and, with the rest, the pain was diminishing slowly, but it was obvious there was still a problem.

When my mom passed, all concerns about seeing the specialist and whether or not I could get back to my training disappeared into the background noise as I focused on things of much greater priority.  I had to reschedule my appointment with the specialist, and since it had now been 3 weeks without running, I made the "executive" decision that there was no way I was going to be able to make my distance goals in time for the race, which was now only 5 weeks away.

I called my sponsor at LLS to give him the news that I wasn't going to be going to Florida with the team, and he gave me some encouraging news.  I could change my event to one of several 1/2 marathons that Team in Training has on the schedule any time before the end of June, 2014.  My fundraising totals to date will be applied to whatever the required commitment is for the race I choose.

Great long as I can run again.

The radiologist who read my X-Ray recommended an MRI, so that was my next step.  I have never had an MRI before, and the experience will not make my list of top 10 favorite activities.  They only took an MRI of my lower leg, so I was only in the "tube" up to my waste, and only had to hold my leg still (not my entire body).  It was definitely not as bad as it could have been, but it was a very long 45 minutes!  I can't imagine how Andrew handles having a full body MRI done as often as he does!

The thing about stress fractures is, they are really hard to definitively diagnose unless there is an obvious break...and if you have gotten to that point, well, that's not good.

By the time I actually got to see the specialist and review the MRI results with him, it had been over 5 weeks since I'd run, and my symptoms were mostly gone.  Aside from some aching in my leg at night, and discomfort if I wear high heeled shoes all day, my leg feels really good.  The MRI was inconclusive, but the doctor isn't convinced that I don't have a stress fracture.  The trouble is, the only way to know for sure is to have a bone scan.  Since I don't really have any symptoms now, he's agreed to let me get back to training, slowly, and only resort to a bone scan if my symptoms return.

I've been cleared to run 1/2 mile at a time and only on a treadmill with zero incline...but I've been cleared!  Now I just have to hope that my leg cooperates.  As long as the pain doesn't return, I can continue to increase my distance slowly, and then begin my training runs again in February.

My hope is to participate in the Nike Women's 1/2 Marathon in Washington, DC at the end of April.

Wish me luck!

If you are interested in donating to support this great cause, you can visit my fundraising page here:

Monday, December 16, 2013

How We Mourn

The past two weeks have been difficult in many ways that I did not anticipate.  As my family dealt with the passing of my mother, the complexities of human relationships and emotions were played out in so many variations that it was exhausting.

I have a large family.  Counting step, half and adopted siblings, there are 13 of us, and each of the 13 had a unique relationship with my mom.  Unique and vastly different.  Those differences left each of us in a different pattern of mourning as we dealt with Mom's passing.

As we spent time together, remembering Mom and preparing for the memorial service, I learned a lot about how crucial it is to honor the differences in the way each person choses to mourn.  Actually, not just to honor, but to respect and support those differences.  

Mourning is a very personal thing, and no one can tell you how you are supposed to feel.  No one should try.  

I'm so grateful for our differences.  For the beautiful tapestry of personalities, talents and experiences that make up my crazy family.   And the memories...oh, the memories.  Good, bad and hilarious.  It's the memories that bring us a point of commonality.  A place that we can all meet to mourn together in our different ways.  Yup.  I'm grateful for the memories.

Speaking of memories, I was elected to write the Life Sketch for Mom's memorial service.  It was a challenge I didn't expect, and finding the right words to honor Mom's memory in a way that accurately represented all of us was more difficult than I would have imagined, but I think, after a bit of help from some of my sisters, we got it right.

Here's the life sketch of my mom, Barbara Rose Christley:  

Barbara Rose Stone was born in Boise, Idaho on April 8, 1951 to Dorothy and Ernest Stone.
Baby Barbara was a sweet, charming, well behaved little angel, always dressed to the nines in outfits sewn by her mother or sent from adoring family members back in England.  She was a beautiful little doll, and the apple of her daddy’s eye.  He would often push her pram to work with him, just to show her off.

She loved to dance, and spent hours playing in the sandbox her daddy made for her.

She had a beautiful singing voice, and as a teenager she enjoyed singing with the Borah Lions Show Choir and with friends whenever she had the chance.

It was in High School that she met Randy, and was introduced to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  She was drawn to the closeness that she witnessed in the Nelson family, and the gospel teaching of eternal families.

Randy baptized her into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and they were married in May, 1971. The next 13 years brought 5 kids and a move to Denver.  

Mom and Randy split up in 1984 and she moved on to the next chapter in her life.

She met Warren at a church Singles Activity.  He rode up like a Knight in Shining Armor, but instead of riding a horse, he arrived in a Porsche…complete with 5 kids packed inside.

It was the definition of love at first sight, followed by a whirlwind romance. They were married in January, 1985.  They added to their brood of 10 kids by having one more little girl in 1987, creating their own version of “Yours, Mine, and Ours”.  

Parenting 11 kids was always an adventure.  Groceries had to be purchased in bulk, and laundry was measured by the ton.  There was always a game, rehearsal, concert or other activity going on, and our giant, 15 passenger conversion van got a lot of use.  

Meal time was an adventure all its own.  Meatloaf, spaghetti, beef stew and a variety of casseroles were among the regular menu items, and Mom taught us that anything could be made better by adding cream of mushroom soup and “just a little bit” of Accent salt.  

Despite the challenge of getting 13 people in a room and around a table, we always had dinner together as a family. Our dining room table resembled a conference room table, and was surrounded by a combination of barstools, benches and chairs, but we all fit, and we were all expected to behave with proper English manners.  Manners were important to Mom, a fact that nearly every one of us rebelled against at one point or another, mostly just to drive her crazy.

Keeping the kitchen stocked was a constant challenge, and everything from milk and Little Debbie snack cakes, to giant blocks of cheese seemed to disappear without anyone admitting to eating them.

Later, as some of the older kids began to leave home, Mom and Dad took in foster children, and adopted two more girls, bringing our grand total to 13 kids.

We did a lot of moving around…to Florida, back to Colorado, to Pittsburgh and eventually to Utah.

With every move and every new home, Mom worked tirelessly to make our home beautiful, finding creative and unique ways to decorate and accent things, making the most of limited resources.  There was nothing she couldn’t do with a little bit of fabric, paint and a hot glue gun.  Each of our rooms was decorated with thought and care – a special place of our own, made perfect with Mom’s creativity and insight.

(If only we’d kept them clean once they were decorated!)

Her decorative powers weren’t limited to within our home.  She could also make a church gymnasium look like a fairy tale, much to the delight of many brides.  She would arrange flowers into beautiful bouquets and bake and decorate amazing wedding cakes.  

Mom loved to make things beautiful.

She was also handy with a sewing machine.  Mostly self-taught, there was almost nothing Mom wouldn’t attempt to sew if there was a need.  She would spend tireless hours, often sewing through the night, perfecting costumes, bed spreads, prom dresses, bridesmaids’ dresses and anything else we wanted or needed.

Mom’s favorite holiday was Christmas.  She loved the trees and the lights, the little Victorian Villages, the music and the traditions.  She loved the bows and the boxes, and she loved giving gifts.  Her sewing machine always got a workout around the holidays.  She would sew for days and nights, putting the finishing touches on dolls, scarfs, blankets, teddy bears and other gifts so that everyone had the perfect gift to open on Christmas morning.

Christmas Eve was always a grand celebration in our house.  A feast of appetizers including summer sausage, meats and cheeses, shrimp, sweet and sour meatballs, lil’ smokies, Nan’s shortbread cookies, minced meat tarts, fudge, rolls, every type of cracker - more food than could possibly be consumed in one night - was festively laid out on a perfectly decorated table.  Anyone and everyone were invited to join the party, particularly those who didn’t have friends and family to celebrate with.  It was a night to eat, laugh, sing and enjoy the love and magic of the holiday.  

Mom refused to give up.  She got up and got dressed every day.  Not in comfy lounging clothes or pajamas, but in outfits carefully selected and matched.  Even her hot pink lipstick was a must.

She was up and about as much as she could be, especially when it came to Christmas activities - supervising the hanging of Christmas lights, enjoying the Trail of Lights at Chatfield with the grandchildren, even going shopping at the mall on Black Friday.

There was something about the magic of Christmas that made Mom shine.  Yes, Mom loved Christmas.

Maybe that’s why she tried so hard to hold on at the end, hoping for just one more magical Christmas before she said goodbye.

Her weak and frail body couldn’t hold on quite that long, and she was called home to her Savior on December 5, 2013.  This year, she gets to celebrate with the angels.

Merry Christmas, Mom.  We love you.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


The past couple of weeks have been difficult.  It was so great to be home in Colorado with my family and friends, but there were some challenges that came along with the comfort and beauty of the Rockies.

The biggest, most difficult challenge was seeing my mom struggle with the final stages of her fight with Pancreatic Cancer.  I haven't talked about this much, so some of you may not be aware of her diagnosis.  She was diagnosed in April with stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer.  There were no medical treatment options, and she has spent much of the past few months exploring non-traditional options that may give her more time.

It was painful to see her failing body struggle to maintain some kind of normalcy as she went through her daily routines.

I knew our goodbyes on Monday afternoon would be our last in this life, and I was left  feeling sad for time wasted, and grateful for so many blessings that I can't list them all.

My sister just called, as I am writing this post, to tell me that Mom is gone.  I'm not sure there is ever enough time to prepare for a call like that.  Never enough time.

May angels carry you home, Mom.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mile High Madness

15 Miles so far this week, and surprisingly...I'm still alive!  Even better, I'm still able to walk!  I'd be lying if I said that my legs weren't feeling a bit like rubber this morning, but I did just get off the treadmill, so I'll write that off to adjusting to terra firma.

I'm getting excited to head home to Colorado for Thanksgiving.  I leave on Sunday, and get to spend a whole 9 days with family and friends!  There's something about the Rocky Mountains that inspires and lifts my spirit like nothing else can.  When I am there, I am home.

I'll also be home to watch the next two Bronco games, which is FANTASTIC!  Patriots, and then Chiefs again.  Both should be great, anxiety inducing battles, and I'm excited to watch them with fellow Bronco fans!

I'm a little nervous about training at altitude, particularly because I basically have to get off the plane and run 6 miles on Sunday...but I will just maintain my training philosophy that the distance is key, and listen to my body for the speed.  At very least, training for 9 days at altitude should help me out when I get back to the low lands.  There is a reason they sell running paraphernalia in CO that says "Sea Level is for Sissies!"

Wish me luck!

Love to all, and if you care to donate to LLS in support of my journey, please visit my fundraising page:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Bullet Proof!

This week has been tough.  My life now revolves around running, and the more I run, the more intimidated I am about the distance that I've committed to.  13.1 miles?  What was I thinking?!? I've done a couple of 10K's (6.4 miles) but other than that, the longest run I've ever done before was just under 5 miles.

My body isn't cooperating either.  When I was running back in my triathlon days  (just 2.5 years ago!) my goal was to get my mile time under 9:30.  Now I'm lucky if I can run a mile in under 11:00, and improving my stamina and strength seems to be so much harder, even at the shorter distances.  Getting old bites!

So...I had to make some adjustments to my expectations.

1) Slow and steady wins the race.  It doesn't matter how fast I long as I'm not so slow that they pull me off the course...but I'm pretty sure I can maintain a pace faster than a 17 minute mile. :)

2) Intervals are my friends!  It's the distance that matters.  If I have to walk a bit to get to the the distance, that's ok!

3) My only competition is ME.  I can't compare my pace or performance to anyone else.  This is my challenge, and I'm the only one that can get in my way.

That being said, I've hit some milestones that I'm proud of this week!  Today I reached the 5 mile mark!  It wasn't easy, and it wasn't fast, but it was FIVE miles!  To be honest, it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be.

I also have new kicks!  Visited Rhode Runner this week and had my friend Jim hook me up with some great new shoes.  I loved my old ones, but something was just not quite right with them the past few weeks.  The new shoes made their debut on my 5 mile run today, and I love them!

I have to give a shout out to one of my Cheerleaders, Janet, for giving me her training hint to use music as interval markers.  Run a song, walk a song.  I run until I need to take a break (today it was about 1.2 miles) and then start the alternating intervals.  It was like magic for me, and kept my pace up really well!  It also helped me run 11 miles total in the last 3 days, and I don't feel like I'm going to die!

I also discovered that music is an amazing motivator.  The right music.  Today, the right song was Bullet Proof by La Roux.  The reason?  Andrew.  Brittany and Andrew sing that song together at the top of their lungs, particularly in the car where they can torment Taylor.  Every time I hear it, I think of Andrew...being a silly, happy, healthy kid, and it fills me with joy.  Today it was especially poignant as I listened to the words from his point of view.  No longer did I hear lyrics about protecting a heart from potential heartbreak.  I heard an anthem of courage and strength, vowing that cancer was not going to win.

It's amazing what a motivator that crazy kid is for me.  This week they got the results of his annual full body MRI.  CLEAR!  His body is most definitely not free of the scars left behind by Cancer, but it is free of Cancer, and that is reason for celebration.  

I think I'll have to pad my running playlist with more "Andrew" songs.  If nothing else, it's good for my psyche.

From here on out, the runs are only going to get more difficult, so a positive outlook is a necessary tool.  I'm doing this race in 8 weeks, dang it, and I'm GOING to finish it!  

Thank you so much to those of you who have showered me with encouraging words and support, and to Wilkie for patiently accompanying me on my long runs!  I don't have the words to express how much it means to me!

Additional thanks to those of you who have so generously contributed to my fundraising!  I'm over 1/2 way to my mandatory fundraising total, and closing in on 1/2 way to my personal goal!  You all amaze me!!

On that note, if any one else would like to contribute to an amazing cause, while supporting my journey, please feel free to visit my fundraising page here:

Love to all of you!