Cleveland Half Marathon Recap

Running is all about the numbers. Distance, time, splits, mileage, pace, they all mean something. But one number stands out, a milestone, a goal, a number to crush. After 3 years and 15 half marathons, I finally met my goal. On Sunday, at the Cleveland Half Marathon, I finally ran a sub 2:00 half marathon.

After I ran the Medina Half course last weekend I had doubts about running sub 2. I had put in the miles, and I’d been faster in my races. But the Medina course had me second guessing everything I had done this year. So with the few days leading up to Cleveland, I decided my best shot at running sub 2 would be there. Inside I was bursting to tell everyone that I was going to give it my all on Sunday and hopefully see that little “1” on the front end of my finish time. But instead I kept it to myself, scared I was setting myself up for failure.

Friday after work I went to the expo, and quickly made it through with just a shirt and a few Sport Bean Recovery Beans. As I went down the last aisle, I ran into a familiar face, Coach Kara, my favorite high school coach, and pace coach for Cleveland Marathon. We spoke briefly, and I told her of my goal, hoping to get words of wisdom. She believed I could do it, and handed me two pace bands. If I stayed between the splits, I’d get it.

Goal range

Goal range

Sunday started at 3am for me. I already had everything laid out, so I ate an extra helping of breakfast, stretched, read my previous Cleveland race recaps, and may have shed a few tears. By 4:30, I was on the road and made it to Brunswick to meet up with Jeanne and her neighbor Laurie. By 5:15, we were on the road and making our way towards Cleveland. The drive was fairly easy and we avoided most of the traffic, but I couldn’t help but feel nervous the closer we got.

Accidental team neon green!

Accidental team neon green!

After we parked, we made our way to the bag drop and visited the port-a-pottys a few times to get rid of all last minute nerves. We lined up in corral C, mentioning the plan to possibly stay together, and hopefully get me in under 2. The gun went off and we walked toward the start until it was finally our time to run. This was it, I was going to give it everything I had in these next 13.1 miles no matter what.

The first mile, as always was congested, and we were dodging and weaving to find an open space in the crowd. We quickened our pace and tried to get to where we needed to be, instead of starting out too slow and playing catch up. I was a little nervous I was going out too fast, but I knew it was easier to slow down later than speed up when I was worn down.

Everything felt great, and I was keeping up with the pace pretty well. Jeanne was a little ahead of Laurie and I, but we had her in sight and I wasn’t too concerned about being left behind yet. I was taking sips of water after every mile, and by mile three, the crowd had started to thin out just enough that we weren’t running into each other anymore.

Mile 1-8:44
Mile 2-8:37
Mile 3-8:45

Laurie and I kept running together, checking our watches every quarter mile or so. We knew we were still ahead of pace, but I was feeling good, so we kept with it. I took a sport bean after mile 4 even though I felt I didn’t need it yet. It was around this point that I noticed I had pretty much zoned out on the race. The miles had ticked by quickly, but I hadn’t really been paying attention to them. I was so focused on staying ahead of pace that I blocked everything else out. It was a blessing really, I wasn’t analyzing every second of the race, instead I was just there, running it.

Mile 4-8:42
Mile 5-8:32

By mile 5, I started to wonder what exactly I was doing. My pace had been under 9 for the entire race, yet my legs were feeling great, and I felt oddly comfortable. It was a surreal feeling, but knew that it could change at any mile. As we checked our pace, I mentioned that I’d rather have a little extra time, than cut it down to the wire at the finish. So we would keep going until we needed to slow down.

We were approaching the 10k mark, and I saw Sarah out of the corner of my eye. I yelled hello, and waved, and went on my way to the 10k mark, hitting it at 55 minutes. We continued on our way, half of the race behind us, hoping my legs could keep up for the second half of the race. Any while my splits were still sub 9, I was completely surprised at the times I was hitting. I was well ahead of my normal pace, and still 4 minutes under the 2 hour mark splits on my pace band. We caught up with Jeanne, but after about a mile together she veered off towards a port-a-potty. I was nervous to be left alone, but Laurie stayed with me, and kept me on pace.

I took another sport bean at mile 8 and noticed my hips had a small twinge. They were starting to get sore, but I tried to block it out. I couldn’t let anything get it my head. Eight miles down, five to go, the countdown was on.

Mile 7-8:41
Mile 8-8:35

I was finally back into familiar territory in this part of the race. I enjoyed the moments of shade and tried to keep my pace consistent. I couldn’t help but think back to the Hermes 10 Miler and the Flap Jack 15k, I had done great until the end, and hoped that my body wouldn’t start to shut down by mile 10. I hadn’t pushed myself this hard in a race of this distance before, I was starting to enter the unknown and I had no idea how my body would react.

That thought left my mind as I saw Elayna and Marissa on the side of the course between mile 9 and 10. I was beyond excited to see them, and was quickly overcome with emotion. I started to cheer up and before I knew it, I was running over to see them. I attempted a weird side hug, but my legs steered me back on course. Not even a minute later, my emotions got the best of me and I started coughing and gagging. I couldn’t throw up, not with so much left in the race. I did whatever I could to get back into a normal pace, and about a half mile later, I was finally good again.

It took a while, but I was back on pace. At this point, my hips started to ache more and I was concerned as we approached the last two miles. I knew there was some incline, but my legs weren’t ready for it. I tried to focus on my watch, telling myself that I’d come so far, I couldn’t let the last few miles break me down.

On a mission

On a mission

Mile 9-8:44
Mile 10-8:53
Mile 11-8:48

The next two miles were hard. For the first time all race my pace was over 9 minutes, and by a lot. The combination of the inclines, my sore hips, and running a pace I wasn’t used to for 11 miles hit me hard. I mentally started to break down, questioning if I could do it. Every time I reached the top of the hill, I’d see another. Laurie helped to push me along, and it helped me more than she could ever know. I didn’t want to give up, but it was hard. So I kept telling myself, I’m going to do it, I’m going to break 2. I had to do whatever I could to keep the momentum up.

As we reached the last hill, I could feel my pace start to pick up, and after two incredibly hard miles, I finally felt confident about breaking 2. I had worked so hard for the first eleven miles, I wasn’t going to let the last two get to me.

Mile 12-9:48
Mile 13-9:31

I took advantage of the decline and the straightaway as much as I could. The crowds were getting louder, and I could feel the city pulling me in. Knowing the course showed up long on my watch, I kept staring down to see what I hit when it turned over to 13.1. When 1:55 was on my watch, I couldn’t believe it. I had never seen those numbers together, and honestly never thought I would. I couldn’t help but smile.

I started to pick up my pace, knowing I was so close to the finish, yet I still wasn’t done. I started to fade and veered off to the right of the crowd. I didn’t feel myself, and couldn’t control what would happen next. Instead of running towards the finish with a smile on my face and hands up in the air, I was throwing up, over and over as I made my way to the finish until I finally got there.

Don't puke, don't puke!

Don’t puke, don’t puke!

Last .3-9:06

I got sick again, but I was finally able to walk it off. I grabbed my medal, met up with Laurie, and finally looked at my watch. 1:58:00. I had done it. I broke 2 and ran a 7 minute, 55 second PR. And I had left everything I had on the course while doing it.

Happy as can be!

Happy as can be!

We found Jeanne and got a group picture before grabbing food and taking a seat in the sun. And although I was excited, it hadn’t quite hit me yet. But I soaked in the moment as much as I could. After a while we made our way back to gear check, then the car, and we were back on the road towards home. I made sure to stop at Panera on my way home to grab a cinnamon roll that would be my reward for making it through another long run. It wasn’t until I pulled in the garage and turned off my car, that everything hit me, and I finally cried tears of joy.

I couldn’t have asked for a better day on Sunday. The weather was perfect, the course was greatly improved and for most of the race, my run felt effortless. I didn’t know what I’d feel the first time I broke 2, or when it would happen, but I’m glad that I did it at the race that started it all.

I can’t help but admit that there is a feeling of what now. This number that I held up with so much admiration and fear is no longer there, a feeling of being a little lost. I don’t know if I’ll break 2 again, or if it was a one time thing. But one thing is for certain, I’ll never forget the day I finally broke 2 hours.

Race swag

Race swag

Official Results:

Garmin Time: 1:58:00

Age Group 25-29: 148/726

Gender: 652/3589

Overall: 1752/6113

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St. Malachi 5 Mile Recap

Saturday I ran the St. Malachi 5 miler for the second time. It’s hard to believe that I haven’t run this race that much before, because it is becoming a favorite. With such a unique distance, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to race it or use it as part of my long run. I decided I’d take it easy and use it as part of my long run. Somehow I was able to convince my friend Elayna to sign up for the race so we could run it together. Because this was her first St. Malachi, I asked her to do a recap to get her perspective on the race.

“In a not-so-typical last minute fashion, I agreed to race with Chelsea for the St. Malachi 5-mile.  Prior to this, I had gone on a few runs that were between 3-4 miles, but I hadn’t really pushed much more than that.  About 20 minutes before I left that morning, I checked the map, and instantly got excited. The race ran through downtown Cleveland, up and around Cleveland Browns Stadium, and finished off in one of my favorite spots—Ohio City.  Even though I don’t really enjoy running too much, I really like spending time with Chelsea, so it always ends up being fun…and I feel pretty good when I finish running too!

So we hustled down to the Ohio City area, desperately looking for a parking spot. Luckily we had just enough cash to pay for my entry and parking. We ended up having a little warm-up jog, dodging everyone who had finished the two-mile to pick up my race packet, run back to the car, run to the bathroom, and head out for the race. As we approached the start line, it was clear the race had started just a few moments before—so we were off!!

I have done 2 races other than Malachi in my life—so I’m not exactly speaking from experience here. But the first mile felt pretty good–it was a lot of weaving before we found a comfortable pace. Chelsea was kind enough to slow down and run with me, which is typically a 10-11mi/mile pace.  About a half a mile in, we passed some cute Irish dancers accompanied by traditional Irish music, which picked up the spirits of the whole group of us running down St. Clair.  The second mile we felt pretty comfortable, and by the 3rd we spotted one of my husband’s best friends booking it around the stadium on his way around. He paced under a 7mi/mile finish, so he was quite a ways ahead of us at that point. It’s always fun to see a familiar face! The 3rd mile was a bit rough for me; drinking the night before seemed to have caught up, and I started cramping up a bit (from dehydration?) and I had some mild medial ankle pain in both feet. It was nothing worth stopping over, so we kept on trucking, nice and easy.

Honestly, there’s nothing like a few long hills to put you in your place. Miles 4-5 both had longer inclines that slowed up more than a few of us, but we kept on going. It ended up being well worth it, because as we plateaued on the Detroit-Superior Bridge, you get this great view of the mouth of Ohio City. The downhill toward the finish is full of fans on the sidewalk, cameras, and echos of the finish-line celebration down closer to the Flats.  Chelsea, with all of her wisdom, told me not to run too quickly, but honestly I thought the finish line was much sooner than it ended up being! I found myself wondering, “where the heck is the finish line?!” once the hill bottomed out.  We made it eventually, with a little bit steeper of a decline this time, and finished just over 53:00 minutes.  It was well worth it. I’d recommend the race to other people who A) want to consider running a little more seriously (there is a 2-mile option), B) want to start off St. Patty’s Day Weekend in Cleveland right, or C) want to explore downtown and the shore way a bit!

I am really excited for what Spring and Summer have to hold. This winter has been rough on all of us out here in Cleveland, and I think that cabin fever has lead me to enjoy the weather and running a bit more than I have in the past. I’m looking forward to doing a few more races before the fall, and hopefully I’ll do some of them with Chelsea. I don’t think I would have made it if I didn’t have someone to talk to who’s as great as her.”

photo

St. Malachi Finishers!

 

Winking Lizard Shot in the Dark Recap

Saturday night was just your normal evening: go for a run, hang out with a couple hundred other runners and be a hot sweaty mess. Not your average Saturday night? Sounds ideal to me, but I’m sure it wasn’t to a few of my friends who tried their hand at their first race. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I have friends who don’t truly enjoy running. So what do I do about this? I try to get them to become runners!

Months ago I mentioned to my friends the Winking Lizard race, and I may have told they they’d get free beer if they ran two miles (small white lie, no big deal). As time got closer, I kept bribing encouraging them that they really should sign up. They’d get a free t-shirt, food, glow in the dark necklace, beer and they’d only have to run two miles. I may have even batted my eyes a few times and given them a sad look until they gave in.

I didn’t have too many expectations going into Saturday’s race. That morning I did a hard 10 miles and my legs were feeling it all day. I also knew it would be super crowded for the first mile and there could be a possibility of us walking or stopping at any point. I planned on pacing the group at an easy pace. I knew it would be humid and like most runs after work, harder to breathe. We met up, picked up our race tee’s and waited to get the race started. The starting line was pretty crowded, but they did a good job at keeping the 4 milers to the left and the 2 milers to the right.

Some kind of bells, maybe jingle bells were shaking, and we were off! It was a walk/jog to cross the line and then the 4 and 2 milers split off pretty quick. I made sure we had everyone (a group of 5 is not easy to run side by side) and we tried to find a pace that everyone was comfortable with. The first half mile was pretty flat, and it quickly brought back memories of Cleveland Half, only this time, I wasn’t struggling to get to that finish line. We got to the bridge and we slowed our pace, but finally got to the top, hoping they’re be a water stop. Nope, just lots of people sweating and out of breath. The first mile went over well and now we were in the home stretch.

The second mile we walked a bit and then ran a bit, and we did this a few times. We started as a group and wanted to finish as a group, we didn’t want anyone left behind. We came down the bridge and made our way to the finish line. Darren of course had to sprint ahead of everyone just to say he beat me. No worries, I still beat him for running the most miles that day.

The whole group

Overall I felt great. I was really surprised with how loose my legs felt after that morning’s brutal run. It was a great event to do a fun run with friends and the post run party had a lot to offer. I liked that we got to run together rather than one after another like normal relays, it made it more fun.  This is definitely something we’re looking forward to doing again next year.

Team D&C

Garmin Time: 20:57  2 mile, 41:41 Team time

Co-Ed Team Place: 62/93

Overall Personal Place: 214/327

A Beautiful Occassion

Over the weekend, I had the honor of being a part of one of my best friend’s wedding. We’ve known each other since kindergarten (almost 20 years!) It was a wonderful time, and the weather couldn’t have been better. We started the day at Revelations for mimosas and girl time, then headed to St. Mary’s in Avon. The ceremony was beautiful, and tears were kept to a minimum. We headed to Edgewater Park for pictures afterward, and had the perfect view of Cleveland. The reception was held at Wagner’s where we danced the night away. I wish you the very best Marissa and Dave, happy honeymoon!

Mr. & Mrs.

Best of friends

Cleveland Take Two

Before I start on my race recap, let’s back up to Friday and the expo. Outside of the whole parking ordeal, I was pretty excited to get my race shirt and see what other items I could live without needed. I got there around 6, so I only had an hour, which was probably better on my wallet anyway. I saw a few familiar faces, but I was on a mission to get to the pacers booth. One of my coaches from high school just happened to be in town for the race. In fact, the same coach that encouraged us to run with Second Sole back in high school. We spent a good half hour catching up and discussing a number of topics. She gave me great tips, and told me I could definitely go sub 2 soon. Encouraging, but it didn’t cross my mind for Sunday, or even this summer. More importantly, she agreed to help me pace my marathon in October. Seriously, I couldn’t ask for anything better. It was a great start to the weekend.

An inspiration

So fast forward to Sunday. I was feeling pretty good when I woke up at 4:30. I was nervous though, after running the 5k on Saturday, I was concerned on how I would handle 13 miles in the heat. I still had the words “it’s ok if you don’t finish” stuck in my head from my dad. He told me not to go all out, and just take it easy. I continued to get ready and was headed down town early enough that traffic wouldn’t be an issue. I had a parking pass, so I easily found a spot next to Brown’s Stadium and I was ready to go.

I spent the next hour trying to calm my nerves and prepare myself for the heat. I made a quick decision at bag check to run with my fuel belt. It would be my first time using it, and after a quick few steps of warming up, it was already bouncing around. Should I use it, should I go put it back, should I wear it as long as I can handle and then just toss it somewhere on the course? This became my new stress for the next half hour.

Finally the race was ready to start, I decided to use the belt for as long as I could handle it. When that moment came where it was too annoying, I would figure out what to do then. I started out behind the 9:30 pace group. If I could start faster while the weather was cooler I knew I had a better chance of finishing. The first mile was slow and congested, and the heat set in as soon as we turned the corner. I  immediately thought of last year in Columbus where I was mentally done in the first mile. But I didn’t let that thought last long, I had to stick it out, I couldn’t give up yet. Until mile two, I felt off. My fuel belt was slipping and one of the bottles was leaking. My left knee was already stressing from the few smaller hills and I started to think I’d feel this way the entire race. Soon enough I got my belt into the perfect position, just seconds before the first water stop. I grabbed a cup and noticed a familiar form running past me.

Lucky for me, my aunt was just feet from me, so I sped up and tapped her on the shoulder. My intention was to say hi, run a mile together and fall behind her quicker pace. Things didn’t go quite like that and we ended up running together until mile 10 or so. The miles in between were probably the toughest and most rewarding.

Miles 3-5 were quick. We kept up about a 9:00 minute pace and even had a chance to talk. At this point though, my left arch and knee where letting me know they were already getting tired. I could also feel a blister start on my right foot. I told her I may not finish the race, but I would hold on and see how I felt. Mile 6 came and went, and we were under an hour. The temperature was rising and shade was minimal. I had taken advantage of some Gu, all of the water stops, and my water/nuun combo I had in my fuel belt. By the time mile 8 rolled around, I was in shock with how quick the race was flying by. We were a little slower, but still bounced around a 9:30 pace. Not bad, considering everything that wasn’t on our side that day.

Mile 9 has always been my check point. If I’m over 1:30 I know I’m in poor shape, if I’m under 1:30, I better hold onto what ever I have and just run with it. We came in under and started counting down the miles. Running was getting harder, our pace was slowing at points, but we still kept going. Until the hill. This was new and I was a little hesitant on the down hill part, because when you go down, you have to get back up. I looked up and everything was in slow motion. No one was running, everyone was moving at a snail’s pace to get up there. So I shuffled as slow as I could, only to hear two phrases that sent chills up  my back. The man left to me yelled out “I think I tore my Achilles” Ouch, I could feel his pain. Then the lady next to me yelled out, “Call 911” I turned around and saw a gentleman pass out. Everyone was pretty much in a panic and just wanted to get to stable ground again.

Mile 10, just a 5k to go. I checked my watch and I was at 1:35, still at a good pace but I knew that one last bridge was ahead of me before I was home free. Half way on the bridge, my aunt told me to go on without her. She wasn’t feeling her best and didn’t want to hold me back. I felt bad, I was in her same shoes last year at the same exact point on the bridge. So here I was, alone for the last 2.5 miles, it was either fade into the crowd and coast in or see if I could keep this pace for the rest of the race.

A lot of thoughts went through my mind in these last miles. I quickly did the math and knew that I would be finishing in under 2:10. I wanted to keep my pace, I wanted to finish strong. This was the first race that I didn’t rely on my watch or iPod, I just ran. I spent a majority of the race not stressing about time or where I should be with my pace. I was like everyone else, making my way through, hoping to cross the finish line. A mile to go, and I was under the 2:00 mark. I wanted to quicken my steps, but I knew I could easily ruin everything I worked for if I went in too strong. Following everyone ahead of me, I knew we were getting close, I recognized some of the streets and that final turn would be any second. And it was there. The sun was shining, the crowds were cheering and I could taste the finish line. With less than a quarter mile to go I saw my uncle. I sprinted up to give him a high five and told him my aunt was on her way.  This was exactly the encouragement I needed. The winding finish felt like it would never end. I kept checking my watch thinking that seconds were flying by. In those moments, I wanted a number, I needed that number. I was suddenly on the heels of a PR.

PR Party

Crossing the line was surreal, emotional and unbelievable. A year ago I was finishing my first half. In the same place that it started, I ran a new PR. Looking back, I honestly don’t know how it happened. I am not a heat runner at all, I struggled the day before in a 5k. All I can think of is that I had the motivation of running for Team JDRF on my mind and the support of my aunt along the way. We both had low points, but we needed each other. Neither one of us would have made it if we ran it alone.

Race partners

So here I am, my second shot at Cleveland, and a completely different experience. Not only did I experience my first half here, but I ran my best half under crazy conditions. I find it bittersweet. As much as I’ve loved my Cleveland Experience, I knew it would be my last CLE half for a while. I love everything about Cleveland Marathon weekend, but my love for Green Bay wins this next round. Instead of lining of outside Brown’s Stadium next year, I’ll be outside the greatest place on Earth, Lambeau. Thanks Cleveland, for giving me my first and best.

Results:

Official Time: 2:05:55-PR!

Overall: 2593 / 14635

Gender: 1045 / 8262

AG: 139 / 898

Half number seven, The Cleveland Half Marathon

Second Home

Back in high school I ran with the Second Sole group from Rocky River twice a week. Our coach was heavily involved with Second Sole and offered this as an optional training day during the summer. This became a tradition throughout high school and we spent Tuesdays and Thursdays running in the metro parks, followed by Mitchell’s for a little post run snack. After I left for college, and took some time off from running, I stopped running with the group. Lately I’ve been thinking about going back, but was always afraid they’d smoke me.

So  yesterday I finally decided I would run with the group again. I had no idea if I would know anyone, what distance they were interested in or how fast they’d be running. I showed up early and there were just a few guys. First thought, can I still back out, I can’t keep up with them, they look way too fast. Eventually more people started showing up, and they mentioned only 3 miles were on the schedule for tonight, no one wanted to over do things before Sunday. They also broke off to pace groups, and I fit comfortably in with a group of 6.

We started off, and the group asked a few questions, they wanted to know if I was running Sunday and what my goal time was. They also wanted to make sure I was in the right pace group and if I was hoping for more miles. We ran a short three miles, 10 minute pace on the way out and negative split on the way back. As soon as we started, I felt comfortable, I felt home. I normally don’t like running in groups, but running with a group that cares just as much as you do is amazing. There was no competitiveness, just the path and the runners.

I loved every moment of running with SS and made a promise to myself that I would join them as much as I could. I may not realize it now, but these runners could very well help me when I’m struggling to do 20 miles later on this summer.

Cleveland training may be over for many, but if you have other races coming up or the motivation to keep running, then Second Sole running group is a great opportunity. To find out which days work best for you, check out their site. I’ll be there Thursdays!

Lucky Number Seven

A year ago today, I ran my first half marathon. On Sunday I’ll be running my 7th, right back where it started, in Cleveland. This time around is a lot different. I’m not terrified or concerned I won’t make it to the finish. I’m relaxed, in control of my running, and most importantly, running it for a reason.

A lot has changed in the past year. I find that running 13.1 miles is comforting, almost the perfect distance. I’ve learned how to better pace myself throughout a race and how to control my breathing. I’ve tried new things, like Gu and Nuun, wearing a race belt, and using compression gear. I’ve gotten the hang of running a half marathon, and now I’m on my way to getting better and faster. So what do I expect come Sunday?

No goals. This race isn’t for me, I’m not trying to get a PR or take revenge on last year’s race. I’m running it for Team JDRF and everyone affected by Type 1 Diabetes. I just want to go out there and run. I ran about 3 days in the past two weeks to let my body recover and get over the nagging pain in my knee. I’m not expecting to wow myself out there. I want to enjoy it, I want to take it all in. I want to have fun.

But… I can’t help but have a competitive side, so of course I want to beat last year’s time of 2:15:47. And it would be even better if I got down to my current PR or better. However, the weather isn’t looking ideal for Sunday and I’m not ready for heat just yet. But overall, I’m ready to run Cleveland again. I love this city and everything about it.

Guest Blog: In Pursuit…

I’m so excited to have my first guest blogger. I asked one of my oldest and closest friends to write a post, I was pretty pumped when she agreed.

While this won’t be your typical running post, Elayna has a lot of great topics to talk about. Here’s your chance to hear about what she has to say….

Having worked in the hospital for a week and a half now, it didn’t take me long to realize that ordinary days in the hospital can turn into extra-ordinary days in a matter of moments.  We still have our good days and bad days in the hospital.  After learning that one of our patients had passed away earlier in the day, and another one was given a terminal diagnosis of cancer, I thought my emotional rollercoaster was over—it was just a bad day in the clinic.  But instead I found myself reflecting on how even after the darkest days, the sun will rise…and that’s exactly what happened in the clinic today. Below, I reflect on three individuals’ decisions to transform one of life’s most unfortunate experiences—death—into something that brings new life to those in need: organ donation.

You see, I am a physical therapy student in my first acute care (inpatient) clinical rotation in a hospital.  My clinical instructor is a 30-something physical therapist and Cleveland native. She is the most patient, kind-hearted PT I’ve met in the field—and her smile is just about as big as her heart. There’s something about the way she manages her patient-care that I can’t quite quantify or put words to… but I hope that someday I’ll be able to reflect the quality of her care in my practice.   She has two young boys and a loving husband who was placed onto the kidney transplant list about 8 years ago or so. They have spent the last 8 years waiting.

I was sitting in the nurses’ station, charting up our treatments for the final patients of the day…when something extra-ordinary happened.  While we were finishing up our documentation and getting ready to end the day, she received a page from her husband that read: “23 911 911.” Now, “23” happens to be their anniversary date—a code they use to designate good news. (The 911 meant there was an imminent situation on their hands.)  She immediately called her husband and received the news—after 8 years of waiting, they had a kidney.  A 60-something year-old man had chosen to donate his organs.

Earlier in the week, on Monday February 27th, a very unfortunate incident at Chardon High School lead to the death of 3 students, while another victim holds a medical status that has yet to be determined.  Two of the three students who were killed by this tragic shooting, Russell King Jr. and Demetrius Hewlin (aged 16 and 17) chose to be organ donors.  Their matured decisions to be organ donors led to gifts of renewed life for up to sixteen individuals in the Greater Cleveland area in waiting. While few people anticipate death in a constructive way, especially at such a young age, both Russell and Demetrius made a commitment to life by pledging their bodies to those in need.

You can do this too—if you are not already an organ donor, you have the power to register at this link. To learn more information about organ donation, please visit http://www.organdonor.gov/index.html.

Elayna is a student in The Ohio State University’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program and native Clevelander. Her interests are in wellness, volunteering, food&drink, and all things Cleveland. If you like what you’ve read, please visit her blog at enowak.blogspot.com.

Happy Valen-versary!

This past weekend was a pretty fun one. The fact that Valentine’s Day fell on a week day and the hour distance made it a little hard for Darren and I to get together. We also have our anniversary coming up in a week, but someone decided they wanted to go snowboarding in Colorado that weekend (hint: not me) So we celebrated both Valentine’s Day and our anniversary this weekend.

We started Saturday with a trip to the new Greater Cleveland Aquarium. It was super busy, we had to wait an hour in line just to get our tickets. The structure was absolutely amazing and I loved seeing all of the sea creatures. It is definitely a place for those of you who have kids, they will love it.

My favorite

Check out those teeth!

“Can I swim with him?”

After the aquarium we headed to the IX Center for the Cleveland Golf Show. This part of the day was purely for Darren, I still don’t think I understand golf any better than before. But he had fun, and I was content after I found a giant glass of wine to keep me company.

“Look how good I am”

After a long day we headed to Nemo Grille, absolutely amazing. This is defitenly a date night restaurant, and everything on the menu is superb!

Yumm…Salmon 🙂

It was a fantastic weekend, tons of fun on our day dates, an amazing dinner and exchange of a few gifts. I’d say I’m pretty lucky 🙂

Just a few things

While I’m in Canada, I wanted to fill you in a few fun things.

This past weekend we hit the slopes to enjoy the most recent snow storm. Last year I tried snowboarding and after remembering my large amount of falls, I wanted to try something easier and safer. So I decided that I’d spend a few hours skiing. I’ve never done downhill, but I grew up doing cross-country skiing, so I felt I kind of had an idea of what I was doing (not really). I took the beginners lesson so I wouldn’t completely embarrass myself. I definitely learned the basics and felt comfortable going down the easy hills. However, an 8-year-old in the group showed me up and was better than me the first time down, he also didn’t believe that I was in my mid-20’s so I had lost all faith from him. I spent a couple of hours on the easy slopes until Darren tricked me to try a harder one. Sorry buddy, it wasn’t easy and I pretty much had a panic attack on the top of the mountain.

Notice the harder hill I was tricked into

Somehow I made it down, secretly proud of myself that I could do it after just a few hours of learning, but didn’t want to try it again that day. I plan on going a few more times this year, and eventually investing in making it my winter sport. Of course nothing compares to running.

Skiing 101= Survival

Next up, I’m running Cleveland Half for a reason. I’ve decided that the Cleveland Half marathon will be dedicated to running for Team JDRF, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. My goal is to raise $500 by Cleveland to help support those who are looking to cure this disease. No surprise, the reason I’m doing this is for Darren, who was diagnosed with Diabetes when he was just 3 years old. I appreciate any donations and encourage you to learn more about Diabetes.

The final and maybe most exciting thing is….there are 3 more days until Columbus registration opens up! I haven’t even started training or planning for this, but I’m already getting excited, I can’t help but get goose bumps every time I think about it. 2012 is the year of races!