meta content='article' property='og:type'/> Tri, Tri Again!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Up until now, I didn't have a real idea of what was going to happen. I was living in a daydream.
I'm not now, I know now what I want is not achievable.
Today, I start doing the impossible.
I even have a plan.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hy-Vee Kids Triathlon Championship and Elite Cup

Last Thursday night Liam (aka Snakebyte) and I loaded up a Tahoe with two other adults, three other kids, and four bicycles to make the 14 hour drive to Des Moines, Iowa for the Hy-Vee Kids Triathlon Championship. The kids have to place in the top 15 of their age group to even go, so just the opportunity to race it was an honor! We all had so much fun and the experience is a life-long one.

SuperDad Mike Singletary with John Marshall, Will, Mia, and Snakebyte at the Iowa state line

Our young Schools of the Sacred Heart triathletes, almost there!

We checked into our hotel and immediately went to the expo for packet pick-up and the race briefing. The whole thing was incredibly well organized and a lot of fun. At the race briefing we got to meet pro triathlete Hunter Kemper, who also has four kids of his own and is the HyVee KidsFit ambassador. The kids got their picture taken with him. He's such a sweet guy! The next day on the course he was out there at the swim start cheering the kids on, and we witnessed him at T2 running over without hesitation and helping a little girl who had fallen off her bike. AND the following day, he won the HyVee Elite Cup with it's $100K purse!

Our awesome kids with Hunter Kemper at the expo

Hunter pep talking the kids before the swim start

We racked the bikes that afternoon and went to sleep asap, so tired! The next morning we finished tattooing up our kids and made our way to the race. John Marshall and Will both competed in the Intermediate group which is a 100 meter swim, 4 mile bike, and 1 kilometer run. Mia and Snakebyte raced in the Junior group, a 50 meter swim, 2 mile bike, and 500 yard run.

Liam aka Snakebyte Koll at his transition. He's very organized and his transitions were so fast!

Mike got this sneaky pic of me talking to Snakebyte, I didn't know he was taking it! I love it. I don't think we should live through our kids, but I'm so glad Liam is into triathlons and I can help him even though I can't -yet- race them again myself. 

Proud Mom KC and son Will Singletary at the swim start! Will has a genetic metabolic disorder called phenylketonuria but he's so tough you'd never know. Gotta brag on KC a sec too, she is an amazing mother and veterinarian. She and Mike are raising some independent and smart kids who accomplish things despite setbacks. The future generation is going to be great with personalities like these.

Mia Singletary - that's one girl who knows she's rockin'!

The Singletary kids race for Crawfish Aquatics and had great swims! This was Liam's first open water swim race and he got a little scared, stopping for a few seconds at a buoy. But then, he decided to start up again and race! To me this is the importance of the experience. My son, all on his own, gritted up his nerve and decided he was going to do this. I *may* have teared up when he told me about it; this is exactly what a kid needs to grow up as a confident adult and it is something that I could never give him, it's something he had to do on his own. Thank you HyVee for giving him that!

The bike course was changed due to flooding, and was changed to the better! All the kids at the end said it was a beautiful ride across the bridge and their favorite part of the race.

The 5150 race. Des Moines is beautiful.

The finish was fun! Mia high-fived everyone on the way in. They all did so well!

After the race we went to Zombie Burger and Drink Lab, so fun! And the Science Museum and watched a show about Great Whites at their IMAX. I really love Des Moines, wish we could have stayed longer.

Zombie Burgers! Fun fact: we loved this place so much that we went again for lunch on Sunday and ran into Rinny Carfrae, Greg and Laura Bennett, and other pros. SEE triathletes do eat!

We went back to the expo to watch the press conference with some of the pros. I got Snakebyte's picture taken with my personal fave Mirinda Carfrae, and with Greg Bennett.

We watched the elite cup the next day, so fun! They raced right past us going into T1, then we headed to the finish line where I, because I have a broken neck, was allowed to sit right at the finish line!!! Mike laughingly makes fun of me for using my broken neck as an excuse for Everything and he's right, I'm totally an opportunist that way ;)

John Marshall hanging out with me at T1

Hunter Kemper winning!

Helle Frederiksen winning!

I got some great shots at the finish line, and that's what I'd like to wrap up with. These guys and girls were all competing against each other for big prizes, and they were so sweet to each other at the end! Hunter holding his baby, sweaty hugs between the Bennetts and Carfrae, everyone encouraging each other and hanging out with each other as they recover from racing so hard. I love what kind of example that sets for our kids about good sportsmanship all the way to the top of the sport. In their respective age groups at the national championship - top of the nation - Liam placed 35th, Mia 31st, Will 51st, and John Marshall 49th. At the very height of their pride and excitement they witnessed the top triathletes of the world showing each other respect and comradeship. I'm really proud I could witness it all.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I Need To Get Paid For Being Me (I'm pretentious I know!;)

HA! Well sorry it's been a while yall, my dog dying hit me hard, and things (good and bad) have been happenin, and I just haven't felt like blogging. But I'll get you updated.

BUSY. Here's what's happening coming up:
*Friday: Taking the test to get my real estate license, to have something to do while I'm convalescing. It's fun learning new things, and I'm really excited to work with the broker who I'll be under  - Gabe Lewis with Titan Real Estate. He's just a cool guy and I have a lot to learn. It'll be fun!
*Saturday: My great Aunt Anna is getting inducted into the Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame at the Superdome in New Orleans, and I'm giving the acceptance speech! So exciting!
*Sunday: Through Tues I'll be at the Association of Avian Veterinarians conference, to renew my vet license. My colleague Kat will be there and I haven't seen her since before clinical year. Stoked to show her my city!
*The Following Saturday: Snakebyte and I are volunteering for the Tour de Scott, the first triathlon I ever did! A bit attached to this race.
*The Following Sunday: BikeLafayette board meeting. This happens once a month but this is a big one for me for a couple of topics I'm excited about. Oh by the way I'm the Treasurer now.
*I was approached by a member of the Sierra Club at the Lon Lomas Memorial Ride (more on that in a sec) about a 55 mile bike trail on top of the Henderson levee that is already approved! Stoked! I'm gunning to get it paved, and I am very excited for those guys, they're doing a great job!
*ALSO, I met with "Red", the owner of Rukus skateboard shop here in town, about getting  the city to build another skater/BMX park to replace the Dust Bowl. UL bought the land, and while it's not happening quickly, they're are taking it (and the dog park) down. NOW is a good time to petition for it, with lots of good reasons! We can do better than the Dust Bowl anyway. Kids, need a place they can actually do something recreational and not just sit around or get in trouble. And did you know we have a nationally acclaimed skateboard team HERE in Lafayette? And Rukus even sponsors pros, but they can't live here, or come down and put on free events like they do elsewhere, because we don't have a place...ssssoooooo..... And Red has this pretty well figured out, too; cost, design, placement, petition with over 2000 signatures. He's put a lot of thought into it. Pretty excited to see it come to fruition.
DUDE, also, Rukus designed these Crawfish Boil shoes that Nike is releasing next month! Can't release all the pics yet but soooon! Rukus is having a shoe release party oh man should Definitely go! They even come with a little crawfish sack thing...stoked about them! And how awesome is it that a south Louisiana shop did this?
*My kid, Snakebyte. He's been practicing triathlon and is racing the Iron Kids Championship next month. That guy is fast! When he puts his heart into something there's no stopping him. We're planning on making the trip with the Singletarys who may be the most perfect family in the world. KC's a vet, so what do you expect? ;)

BUSY. Here's what I've done since we talked last:
*Lon Lomas was legally riding his bicycle and was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Driver was found, but this story is going to happen slowly. The local cyclists, headed up by Scott Coco, organized a memorial ride for him, and a ghost bike was erected. I was in a great position to advertise and promote it, and we had 500 riders show up. I Am Elated how all the different types of cyclists came together as one community and did this wonderful thing. I feel that this has taken a turn for cyclists in the public eye as a viable and loving community, and I am committed to taking that awareness and acceptance and promoting growth and education about cycling in the Acadiana area. My next step is starting a bicycling column to keep the public involved in cycling. It took a terrible tragedy to bring this together, but I always, as you should know about me by now, relish the good that comes out of bad.
*I joined Toastmasters. I just gave my first speech and I won Best Speaker award for the evening! Honored and humbled. Joel Dawson, the President, has been awesome about getting me on track making money giving speeches, everything from marketing to writing a book. It's been great. You guys, Toastmasters less than $100 a year and is invaluable information, you should join!
*I had my hair highlighted. You see, I've been gaining weight because I haven't been doing cardio as I should have, just muscle building. The only real cardio I can get in is on the elliptical or bike trainer and without a race to focus on it's boring. I was a little upset about it, then my friend David Billeaud (owner of T-Coon's) said, "But, you've been too skinny for too long..." And that's when all was good in my world again. I'm not racing weight, but I'm back on track with cardio, and I just can't bring myself to feel bad about myself over something like weight anymore. For better or worse. I say for better. I wanted a change, and highlighting my hair did it for me. I'd like to be a little more outgoing, outlandish. We'll see.

BUSY. Here's what's been ongoing:
*I've been brushing up on my vet skills at Waggin Train. This is a vet hospital owned by Drs. Scott and Kristin Broussard, who are also awesome triathletes. Scott's also a falconer, so cool right! I love these guys for giving me this opportunity. I'll be there hopefully every day starting in a couple of weeks. Come see me!
*Tony Quinn is a local PT, and he just got this new awesome zero-gravity treadmill which I've been using every day. It has been great, I can definitely move faster using it, up to normal walking speed. I'm at about 1.8 mph w/o it, and 3 mph with it. My right ankle and still right quads are my limiting factors. Hopeful...still down but hopeful. I'm still going to Wulf once a week, and my hand and balance are a little better every time. BUT my hand is only getting a little better, and he says he's not entirely sure I'll be able run again, in fact not likely.
Ever onward. I get down. Right now, I'm on the edge of feeling normal again but not quite there and it is exceedingly frustrating. First time in my life I've ever had trouble sleeping. Ever. This is honestly the worst emotionally I've been in my life. But there's so much good going on...things are complicated right now. Dang. Anywhere but here...this is why staying still is never an option.
*I've been hanging out with my best friend from the hospital more. He's been in a down spot and I have too. We're just not where we hoped to be in 2 years. We've decided to talk more and pull ourselves out of this funk. It's working, but no lie I've been crazy dog down about not being able to run. Dreams every single night, the seconds I can sleep. It's hard. See why I stay determined? It's not necessarily a good feeling all the time! It sucks a lot.

Here's a good wrap-up. This first pic I took about a year and a month ago and made it my profile Facebook pic. My first proof that I could stand alone without any assistance again. This second one I took this week. I have shorts on for both of them, can you see all the differences? I came up with four.


1) The first one, my weight shift is to my left. I can't feel my left as good as my right, and I would unconsciously shift my weight that way because that's what felt correct. Ms. Alyce Morgan Wise and her Franklin Method, along with Pilates, helped me find center again. I'm much better balanced now.
2) My knees were more turned in last year, my legs are straight while standing now because I am much stronger.
3) My right leg had lost a lot of muscle compared to my left. The difference is still there, but much more noticeable in the left pic. Anytime Fitness Upper Lafayette has really helped me with muscle building. I go five times a week, see my trainer Damien Living for two, and while muscles take months and even years to build the difference is remarkable.
4) My hair. Paige Billeaud, David's wife, really helped me through a lot when I was first hurt; heck for the last few years even. She brought me to get my hair cut short when I first got out of the hospital to make it more manageable. I agreed, because I vowed when it was long again I would be walking. I wasn't wrong and this pic proves it.
My son asked me today, did I really think he was going to be a champ? He's big into boxing though hasn't been in a real match yet, but everybody calls him champ and he wants to believe it. Our conversation: Did everybody know I could walk again? No, but I did. Not only does nobody else matter, but whatever you believe is what you are. I realistically know there's probably limitations to that but I've never personally found them and I don't suspect I will. Somehow there is more to life than everything realistic. Will over reason. I asked him what he thought, and he knows he's a champ. I know I will run again.
Scared I'm going to be a sad case that you really want to see run again but never will? Yes. But I have no choice, I'm not accepting where I am now, not ever.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Rebel. the post i wrote wednesday night that i hope i never have to publish

Whenever anybody dies, I remind myself of this quote from John Muir: Let children walk with Nature, let them see the beautiful blendings and communions of death and life, their joyous inseperable unity, as taught in woods and meadows, plains and mountains and streams of our blessed star, and they will learn that death is stingless indeed, and as beautiful as life.

I lost my constant. My life is a crazy mix of ups and downs; a long strange trip it's been.. In and out of countries and cities and situations, whirlwind of people and lives, and through it all, for over a decade, I had my dog. Everything must change, but he was my steadiness, my stability,  my sidekick that was at least as awesome as me. I got him on the day of my last final at LSU. He endured vet school with me. My first real job as a biologist, then as a veterinarian, and then as a mother. Then almost dying, learning to walk and to love again.

We want growing old and dying to be poetic and beautiful, but it's presentation isn't always so. Maybe usually not. He's been getting senile, deaf, lost his training, so much more. Went from my kickass partner-in-crime to a sleepy old man. He got into trouble he couldn't get out of when I wasn't home, got a bag stuck over his head. We found him laterally recumbant and non-responsive, hyperventilating, hyperthermic. I stayed with him all night, and while functionally he came around some cognitively he never did, and I euthanzed him in the morning.

There are sadder things than euthanizing your own dog. That knock you down worse, that stay with you longer. That first moment in...forever, walking into an empty house. Right? I don't know life without him, I wonder if it will spin out of control now.

But as always, as always, let the good of his life influence you and not the death. We will all be dead in a century, he is not special in this way. But he is special in the amazing life he was - I'm not exaggerating! An incredible dog. Examples: Diving in the Caribbean, he'd follow my bubbles; I could look up and see him paddling above me. Once we went snorkeling and chased down a Peregrine falcon. He saved my life from a burglar. Teaching orphans about dog safety and handling. So much more. I put some of them in these previous blogs:
Note to My Dog On His 13th Birthday
Note to My Dog on His 14th Birthday

If you've ever read my stuff about Reb, you know this is my favorite pic of him. There's so many more I'll get up when I'm up to it. Those blog posts have some good ones.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Let Me Tell You About the *FIRST* Time I Was Hit By an Unlicensed Driver

What's the chances of getting hit by an unlicensed driver Twice in a lifetime? Well, I really don't know & I don't believe in statistics -- don't get me started, BUT it's at least 1:(all the people you know)! HA! So here's the story of my first one!

My awesome Civic with it's beach-scene airbrushed on the hood. The license plate says "Curvy," which someone had changed to "Mikey has Scurvy". I still have that plate!

I was accomplishing my dream at the time, which was going to veterinary school! I had chosen Ross University on St. Kitts Island for multiple reasons. Partly because they had a high acceptance policy/fail rate, partly because I was single & young & the thought of moving to the Caribbean was Awesome, but mostly because they had the highest pass rates on the boards. They Also came with a huge bill. My student loans are $230K. Starting out pay for a vet is $40-$60K. Things to look into DURING planning for school, not after! Case in point from the New York Times:   High Debt and Falling Demand Trap New Vets

Where I was hit. RUSVM are those white buildings (poor me, right? Having to go to vet school There!;) That narrow strip of road in front probably still has scraps of metal from my car!

I loved my life, I loved where I was, and I was attending a fantastic school. I was living out my dream! Then one day I was leaving the school from the back parking lot and turning back into the front entrance to talk to the stationed guard about her new lovebirds. On St. Kitts, you drive on the left hand side of the road, and the steering wheel is on the right. That's when two buses (they're minivans, but are called buses on St. Kitts) entered the scene. They had just dropped off their kids - they were school buses - and were racing each other on this one-lane-each-way road that circles the island. I was making a right-hand turn (equivalent to a left turn in the States), blinker on, just starting to go. The first bus saw & zoomed around me, but the second one which was right on his tail didn't have time, and the bus named "Crucial Vibes" slammed into the back of my car going over 70mph. As an aside, the driver was unlicensed but was never prosecuted due to island politics, much like my more recent crash. Just as frustrating.

Here's a random story about my awesome car. One time I was driving down the road when suddenly the hood flipped up, then to the right and started dragging down the road, sparks a-flyin'. The left hinge had rusted through (all cars in the Caribbean are salt-rusted) and I had to bang it back in with a brick!

All crash pics from Dr. "LJ" Shank

I didn't have my seatbelt on and that's the only thing that saved my life. I Always wear my seatbelt, and this one time for whatever reason I didn't. Crazy! I was thrown from the driver's seat to the passenger seat, which was the only place in the car that was not smashed.

The passenger side, after they cut me out 

St. Kitts had a brand new "Jaws of Life" and this was the first time they used to cut someone from a car. An ambulance took me the short distance to the hospital, where no lie there were chickens and goats running through. A nurse tried to give me an injection but I kicked her to keep her away - I wanted to be fully alert no matter the pain! I had break-away glass in my eyes that my friends had to wash out for me. X-rays showed that I had a right clavicle "zed" complete fracture. Later I found out I also damaged my hip, but that was misdiagnosed (by a stateside doctor.)
NOT my radiograph, but might as well be! "Zed" fracture.

That hip injury started a Whole other thing, you can read about it & my racing here! My LZ Guest-Blog "Monique's Caught the Triathlon Bug"

I remember everything... The hard hard impact. Harder than anything I've ever felt. Lying there in the passenger seat, with my head out the window. Not being able to move my right arm. Glass in my eyes, blood.  I knew I was too shocky to feel pain. I didn't know if I was going to live or die. But then I thought, everybody I loved knew that I loved them, and I was IN vet school, which had been my goal my entire life. So, I was okay with dying if that's what was going to happen.
Since it happened in front of the school, everyone heard the crash. People showed up from everywhere; workers from the sugarcane fields, friends from the school. The support of my colleagues and the school faculty & staff was overwhelming, I'm brought to tears just thinking about it now! They followed me to the hospital.
I remember there was a shuffling outside of the radiology door & the nurse saying, "Fine! Only one of you!" and my classmate Lauren meekly came in. They knew I wouldn't be going home for a while, and you know, Rebel needed to be taken care of, so could it be her? HA! I've just been smashed up & they're worried about the dog! ;) I love them so much! (Lauren took very good care of Reb by the way.) (I also heard that Dr. Reich's first response was, "Was Rebel in the car?")

Coincidentally enough, my college friend and fellow Shotokan brown belt Sue Chin was coming to visit from the States the very day I was hit. She had to go directly to the hospital her very first day in the Caribbean! It was extremely lucky for me though because true to her nature she immediately took care of me (she's an MD now). Even though I couldn't even get out of bed on my own I was determined she have a good time, and after being in the hospital for a night, I was released & we headed down to my friend X's Shiggidy Shack to have Carib beer and "Ting with a Sting" - I had to start Sue off right! Wow, I just checked out X's website, he seems to be doing well! (meh, now the link's not working) Don't be fooled, he has a silly side, he's a Hasher! ;) Anyway, we traveled around the island, and various friends & colleagues of mine made sure she lived it up in the Caribbean! Such great people there. Sue and I stayed with a colleague, then the school's psychologist Mrs. "Turtle" Jane Sandquist sent her son to pack my bags & have me stay with her until I was better. That may have been my greatest time on St. Kitts because she lived in a beautiful house with the most beautiful property, had tortoises and mango trees and lovely grandchildren, a ton of books, and she is the most fabulous cook. My colleagues would bring me my studies and homework until I could get to school again.

I ended up failing Pharmacology by 0.4% (69.1 and needed a 69.5, Ross doesn't do "D"s), & I decided to take a semester off. I was disappointed that I failed, especially by such a small amount! I knew that I was going through a lot at  the time and it was an understandable thing to fail such a hard class under those circumstances, but I was inconsolable. However, I returned to school the following semester with a vengeance, and have excelled ever since! I had to keep trying.
Life sucks and it's not fair. But what do you do, give up? Fuck that. I wouldn't be a vet now.

Here's some Kittitian newspaper articles:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Feeding Marshmallows to Alligators. I Wonder What Other People Do on Easter.

I'm sitting under a Bald Cypress on the lakefront on the Northshore, on this beautiful springy breezy day. Life life life can be soooo good. Always new adventures.

This morning was a feed-the-alligators marshmallows kind of time. I can't think of a better way to spend Easter.
You have got to watch this video

I've been pretty vocal about the whirlwind of change going on in my life right now. I'm feeling less anxious and more excited, more accepting. I made a vow to myself when I was a kid to experience everything I could in life, and meet all the different types of personalities I could. I guess it's still my goal. Like a sort of Dr. Doolittle.

My best friend in the hospital. Last time we saw each other we were both in wheelchairs.

I enjoy showing my son around New Orleans, where I grew up. We visited my godmother, went to City Park, saw my elementary school Kehoe-France, and hung around the Mississippi River in Rivertown, Kenner.

The world's first heavyweight boxing championship was held in Rivertown over 150 years ago. It was a bared-knuckle brawl in a makeshift ring on the levee. The winner was "Gypsy" Jem Mace. There's a statue commemorating the event.

It's been a good weekend. Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

2014 (Inaugural) Zydeco Half Marathon Race Report by SPECIAL GUEST Annette Coussan (with commentary by me) ;)

The Zydeco Marathon was not my goal race, but one I wanted to do because it was Lafayette's first marathon. I had already accomplished the half at the NOLA RnR, and my focus right now is on muscle building and fine motor skills, not endurance. The amazing and fabulous Annette Coussan joined me the whole way (and private - I'm going to embarrass her by telling you she's been a successful businesswoman, amazing single mother, and world-class rock climber (even on the cover of magazines)). ANYWAY, what I'm immediately most thankful for is her race report here, because I can be lazy this week and not write one. She works at the local state university UL in the disabilities department and documented her experience to inspire them. I'll leave my comments in this bold italics print!
My pre-race posse. Orange again!

It can be really tough to watch people you love work hard, without receiving much of a

reward for their effort.  We all know people who have given up on goals, dreams, and

life, but we also know people who have NEVER given up, despite the reward or lack

thereof.  Recently, I participated in a half-marathon with a friend, who is recovering from

a serious spinal injury.  Her right leg is stiff with only a hint of a bend in the knee. Her

right foot has no feeling. Her stride is full of effort.  She had zero chance of winning the

race, and barely a chance to finish the 13.1 mile course within the seven hour allotted

Already I'm feeling vulnerable. I like to think of myself as tough (and I am), but to have someone I respect so much notice the things I try to heal, it's hard. I even second-guessed posting  this because I don't want you to see my weaknesses. I'm still embarrassed to be around old friends as hurt as I am. But I think the even stronger thing to do is face and accept it, so when I'm even better I can look back on this and see what I accomplished. I can't give that to myself right now, I need to keep looking forward even if looking back means seeing how far I've come, but I know I'll want it in the future.

This wasn’t her first half-marathon.  Last month she competed in one.  It has been her

number one recovery goal throughout the year.  She had even gained national attention

in her pursuit.  You may have already read about her or seen her on T.V.; however, this

race was different.  She was under the radar with no expectations placed on her.  There

were no sponsors, no reporters, no press, and no preparation either. She had spent the

last month recovering from the previous race, and she was working on exercises that

could eventually help her regain the bend in her knee, not training for another 13.1 mile

Except, I thought I had an 8 hour time limit so we Totally goofed around! Which put us in a race to try to finish under the time limit (7 hours). Oops!

This race was going to be tough.  She started at the front of the crowd of racers. In

an instant, they all zoomed past her.  She was left to walk in the quiet streets.  It was

a particularly cool March morning, and her right side balked.  The right leg was more

stubborn than usual that day.  She’d forgotten her gloves, and her right hand battled

the bite of the morning air.  I didn't forget them, I purposely left them - mistake! My body's like a reptile, slower in the cold. As I walked beside her, we crept along the streets of one

of our city’s oldest neighborhoods. I commented on the bursting azaleas and the great

craftsmanship of the homes.  I went on and on until I finally realized how annoying my

comments had become to her.  Pfft, like Annette could Ever be annoying! Good distraction with her comments and silliness and fart jokes, but never ever annoying. Whatever Annette, you were awesome to spend the day with! While my mind had been on flowers and cute houses

during that first mile, my friend was mechanically breaking down the movement of her

lower back, abdomen, psoas, You have Ms. Alyce Morgan of the Franklin Method to thank for that psoas work! quad, and hamstrings. She systematically had to will the

walking process to continue for one more step and another step and then another.

We spent that first hour focusing on the walking process and hoping for the temperature

to rise quickly so that her body would cooperate with her mind.  This is incredibly true. Your body thinks in function, not form, and if I want to train the right muscles to have proper form again I've got to focus all the time. She had to find a

manageable rhythm.  She was concerned about finishing the race, not having trained

adequately.  Of course, I told her she could quit when she felt it necessary.  She had

already met her recovery goal.  I didn’t want to see her in pain, and I didn’t want her to

hinder any potential to get that right leg moving properly again.

She walked on. She was elated when we encountered her fellow racers again, as they

eventually paralleled or lapped her.  To all you well wishers, please know that my friend

has immense appreciation and ever-expanding love for every, single one of you. The

first couple of miles had been so very hard to push through without you.  It honestly takes me 3 miles to warm up Your energy

DID make a difference when we saw you again. Without your encouraging “shout-outs”,

miles three to seven would have been even more trying.   She is a positive, people-
person, who always meets a compliment with a smile and a reciprocal compliment

because that is her nature.   By this point Annette had let me have her sunglasses so I could stop trying to make eye contact with everyone and focus on form, and let her take over the answering back to all you awesome people (much like Dan did in the NOLA RnR). She then started pointing out all the hot guys - quite the good distraction. There's a lot of you out there! Also, it was fun cheering on all you awesome girls! You rock!

 Paul Kieu is an awesome photographer. I saw him at the Holi Festival the day before too! Andy pointed out how he really captured the essence of us here, me sticking my tongue out and Annette being LOUD! :)

I don’t want to give you the wrong impression.  She is hilariously sarcastic, too.  You

see, while my friend takes what she is doing very seriously, she doesn’t take herself

too seriously.  Unable to look up and break her concentration to personally respond

to most of the well-wishers, she would get frustrated.   Later on during the race, she’d

hear, “You are looking GOOD!”  Under her breath she’d say, “Uh, now that’s not really

true!”  Then we’d crack up laughing.  Others would yell in passing, “You inspire me” to

which she’d mumble, “I’m sorry.”  Again, laughing would ensue.  Runners would call out,

“You Rock” and immediately she’d say, “No, you rock!”   Yes, she is sarcastic, but most

importantly, she is resilient and intrinsically self-motivated with the ability to deal with

her current situation without self-pity.  Throughout the race, she used many techniques

just “to deal”: love for life, sarcasm, silence, laughter, etc... This is simply who she is,

and what she does, regardless of the spinal injury.
I'm trying to find something sarcastic to say to this, but I'm a little overwhelmed, so just, thanks for being so perceptive.
What she's not adding is her fart jokes or catcalls or harassing the other runners or gongers and other people on the sideline! And eating doughnuts. Listening to Metallica and whatever else we thought of. And changing in her office on campus.

And also with you

And it was not easy!  It only got harder.  I think mile 9 was the first critical, low point.  It

was as if she doubted if she could keep going.  She questioned herself aloud, “Can I do

this?”  Her response was to keep walking. Dammit, that's always my response. One day I'll learn to take the easy route. Not really knowing if she could finish, she

had hope that things would work out.  Head down, she kept going.  That mile 10 sign

was a relief.  We briefly celebrated with a silly chant, “Mile 10, please send Hot Men!”  I

even posted the chant on her facebook page. #BestFacebookUpdateEverHA!

Then the real fight began.  Fatigue and pain all bore down on her.  Now only 3.1 miles

from the finish line, she was consumed with meeting the 7 hour time limit.  “Who cares?”

I asked her.  “What does time mean for you in this situation?  It’s a limit set for runners,

not someone walking with trekking poles! TREKKING POLES. Dang press got it wrong (except for the Advertiser) last race, called them specialized crutches?! Trekking poles let me keep weight on both sides of my body instead of leaning to one side with my cane for over 13 miles. I got to meet Jennifer Pharr Davis the night before this race (it was a busy weekend), who set the world record for hiking the Appalachian Trail, and nobody mistakes HERS for "crutches". Sheesh! Also, Alyce is to thank for these, they're really hers on long loan to me. Thanks Alyce! Take your time and don’t injure yourself.”

Just sayin. BTW I totally stole this pic of Jennifer Pharr Davis from Facebook, I'll try to make up for it by advertising Blue Ridge Hiking Company

She ignored me and kept talking about meeting her deadline.  Then we found ourselves

at mile marker 11.  I had become very demanding of music at that point. Mile 11 was Rooster by Alice in Chains, I remember clearly.

I wish I could say the journey to mile 12 was easier, but it was more grueling.  The traffic

barriers had been removed, and the cars flowed freely.  There were no more flat streets,

crowds cheering, and water stands.  The race was almost officially over, but there she

was, racing to the finish.  She had to trek the sidewalks outside of downtown and up

to her finish line.  Unpredictable angels, *angles, but I'm not going to correct this because I like the idea of unpredictable angels ;) detours, an accumulation of crispy leaves and

chunky sticks, construction, and the harsh whiz of the traffic tested her.  I didn’t see

the beauty of what she was doing.  I saw anguish.  Trying this hard sucks and I almost

couldn’t stand her suffering effort any longer.  But... how could I say, “Just quit!”  That

seemed almost offensive at this point.   I couldn’t take her pain away, so I told her to

keep going.
Yikes, this was hard to read. I hate that my struggle affected her so much, or that it's even that hard for me to do at all. Annette knew me when I was on top of my game placing in triathlons in my very first year, sucks that stupid Mile 11 was so hard. I know, I know, patience. But wait til next year ya'll,  this won't be a thing anymore. I take that back - "It never gets easier, you just get faster."
I told her we were reaching a tipping point and that if she pushed a little

further, we’d soon reach that mile 12 marker, where a dear friend was waiting for her.

At mile 12, walking did not become physically easier, but her spirits had been lifted.

First, her old friend had joined our little crew. LOEY!! Loey was a college roommate, and fellow veterinarian, who came down from Texas to run her first half with me! She did awesome. Talk about sarcastic... this is when our little posse started gearing up. Second, we figured out that somehow

she had made up some time and had an hour left to finish the last mile. It's that psoas work!  It was very

possible, rather, very likely, that she was going to meet the race cut-off time.  We let

her take over the contemptible sidewalks, and she did her thing.  Serendipitously, with

about .3 miles left, other friends joined our little crew. Nic, Andy, my kid, Andy's kid. Yeah yeah, totally cool having our kids cross the finish line with us. BUT Andy was the best. He had flown down here because I basically forced him into this race ;) He is a seasoned marathoner and he ran the whole, but being from upstate New York he struggled with the heat and humidity. We saw him earlier in the race, and his sweaty hug was cold, not a good sign. At this point though, after he had met and overcame his own struggles, he was quite determined that if he had to go through all that than I sure as hell was going to finish it. There was no chance of quitting at this point even if I had wanted to. Misery loves company ;)  Now, she squeezed out her last

bits of effort.  As we approached the very last traffic light, which controlled four lanes of

traffic, the light turned red, stopping us within mere yards from her finish.  That’s when

the crew ran out in the middle of traffic screaming and waving our hands.  Those cars

just had to stop!  So, I’m sorry if we startled anyone. Ya'll, this was hilarious to see. Those guys totally stopped traffic on Congress. It would have been worth watching the whole race just to see that!

And on she walked those last yards, finishing the race before the time limit with dignity

and utter satisfaction with just a few of the race organizers watching. There were no fan

fare, no press like the other race, just herself to answer to, to impress, and to thank.

She chose to finish that race because she could. TOTALLY worth it. Last race was fun getting flocked by the press and feeling like a celebrity, but finishing up with some of my favorite people on Earth, with the Race Directors that I happened to be friends with and who did such an incredible job pulling off their first marathon, this was the best finish.  She didn’t mean to be hit by a car last

year, but it happened.  She didn’t mean to break her neck in that accident, but she did.

This race, however, she meant to do.  She chose to do, and that is powerful stuff.

Sweetest finish ever.
Photo Credit to the fabulous Christina Gravish

I'll let her wrap it up with the next bit without comment. You've already seen how awesome she is, her following observations she deserves full attention for.
From me, thanks for everything! Thanks to everyone who came down for the NOLA RnR. And thanks to everyone both known and unknown in the Zydeco - we're so close knit here in Laffy, I knew so many of you! Love you all! Looking forward to all of our futures.

Along the race route, we met other people in similar situations as my friend- people

racing when it was hard, real hard, with no chance of winning.  We met athletes with

injuries, determined first-time runners, and exhausted people.  There were a few other

super humans, like my friend: a sweet woman recovering from a traumatic brain injury,

and an experienced marathoner pushing her friend (in an adult-sized jogger), who

obviously had mobility impairments far more severe than my friend’s.  And what about

the people we didn’t meet?   How about the people running away from things?  I’m sure

the race helped exorcise many personal demons that day.

We saw U.S. veterans running with flags, and we saw people running for their beliefs

and causes. For others, it may have been far more simple…an average lady, setting

out to try something new, just for fun or the regular guy, just trying to get in shape.  The

majority of racers, like my friend, were running simply because they wanted to, not to

win.  Only a small percentage of the highly talented, highly trained racers actually have

a shot at winning.

Win or lose, we all have the choice to race- to participate in living- either walking or

running.  As a counselor for college students with disabilities, I often witness that

an ability or disability does not determine a successful student.  Success comes to

students who choose success, and to those who set a course for success.  You see,

many of my students are the first in their families to attend college, and they rely on

federal grants to pay their tuition.  My students are like my friend, “walking” against

runners to the same finish line. Graduation.

These students might not know that success can be theirs, too.  Maybe no one has

pointed that out yet.  They may have doubts, and could use some well-wishers every

now and then.   They may get scared when it sucks to try so hard. Encouragement.

Recognition of their strengths.  These things matter.  They need a course, a well-
planned strategy, and mile markers to keep them looking forward toward their goals, but

they know that their success is ultimately up to them.  

Everyone can choose to give up or keep going, even on a tough course.  We can all

become tough competitors, like my friend, like my students, “racing” because we can.