Archives for category: Inspiration

Team Pop 2017
At mile 4, I started undoing one of the safety pins that held my race number to my “Team Pop” shirt. It was hot. I was tired. I felt done. I would simply pull off my number and sneak away from the race. My car was just across the street from that particular spot on the course. Would it matter if I bailed now? My intent had been sincere. My energy and motivation at that moment were sapped.

But I thought about Pop, who I had met only that morning before the event. Kenny’s dad. Grandpa to Jess and Ken’s 6-month old. Mrs. Morris’s husband. I convinced myself that the overheating misery I was experiencing was nothing compared to the fatigue and illness Pop has been going through as he battles lymphoma. Or the anger and frustration Ken has dealt with watching a parent battle an invisible opponent like blood cancer. And the courage I witness in my own mother as she faces lung cancer head-on.

I re-fastened the safety pin and told myself this was not going to be my induction into the quitting hall of fame just because the run felt hard. Fighting cancer is hard. And so is watching it from outside the ring as a grown child, like Ken & Jess, who only recently became parents themselves.

The conversation that took place in my head included a reprimand to myself with the reminder that this event and this day were not about me. Not in the least. The mental reaming involved a laundry list of thrashings that included the recognition that my ego was getting in the way of why I had come out to be part of Team Pop in the first place.

I thought about standing with my hand over my heart while the national anthem was played before the race and how emotional I felt knowing that Kenny had pulled together a large group of folks who wanted to show their support for him and his dad. I thought about how competitive I am with myself and how at this stage in my life I do not need or even really want the accolades or trophy that come with being first or fastest. That being healthy and strong and able-to are reasons enough to toe the start line and cross through the finish chute. Not an option for Pop right now.

Waiting to cross the finish line with Ken and others from the team he organized made me feel grateful and humble. The smile on Pop’s face, and the appreciation he showed for everyone who had gathered to support and honor him was powerful. The story Ken and Jess saw of their lives only a year ago did not include Pop having to suffer with blood cancer and maybe sooner than later miss out on holding, playing with and passing on wisdom to their child.

Kenny’s effort to do something so tangible to honor his dad, including surrounding him with so many people channeling positive energy in his direction, has to have converted into some sort of healing power, at least for now. I am grateful for the personal awakening that occurred by doing something good for someone else. And I still have not checked the times or results from the race.

I do know that that the lofty goal Ken set of raising $10K for the Leukemia & Lymphoma society was met and will support research and science to help find a cure. That, by far, is the best prize I have ever seen on the podium of any 10-K.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. These are the types of cancer that can affect the bone marrow, blood, lymph nodes or other parts of the lymphatic system. Their mission: cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Funds raised support lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provide free information and support services.

Running for Pop. Fueled by hope and love. Camaraderie. A cause. Distraction from what cannot be controlled. Purple passion. Spirit. Thanks, Kenny. Thank you, Pop.



Photo from the Roosevelt library collection.

“We must fear a resurgence of this dreaded disease.”~ Peggy Bowditch

Read Peggy’s story here.

Join Gloucester Point Virginia Rotary Club as we raise awareness and funds to help eradicate polio as it lurks in just two nations: Afghanistan and Pakistan.   Plants to End Polio is a project where we partnered with Brent & Becky’s Bulbs Bloomin’ Bucks program so that when you select Gloucester Point Rotary Charitable Foundation, 25% of your sale is donated to End Polio Now.  Unfortunately, the “shop” is closed for the season but will re-open in January.  In the meantime, please help us spread the word.  The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will match every dollar donated to End Polio Now 2:1.

Check out this post for hints on growing beautiful bulbs during the dreary winter months.

polio amaryllis

Click here to read Susan Camp’s hints for growing indoor bulbs.

Our Gloucester Point Virginia Rotary Club wants to raise awareness and funds to help End Polio Now.  Through a partnership with Brent & Becky’s Bulbs Bloomin’ Bucks program, when Gloucester Point Rotary Charitable Foundation is selected, 25% of your sale is donated to Rotary International’s effort to eradicate polio.  The store is closed for the season but will re-open in January.  But until then, you can find out more about Plants to End Polio here.

Volleyball Dr. Eric Hegedus, DPT, MHSc, OCS acquainted twenty-five clinicians with the term “rotary collapse” at a recent continuing education course focused on lower extremity dysfunction and exercise prescription for Physical Therapists and PT Assistants hosted by Tidewater Physical Therapy, Inc.

It’s been at least 10 years since PTs have delved into how knee pain can often be caused by hip muscle weakness and poor motor control. Until recently, I have always used the term “dynamic valgus” to describe the movement pattern where the femur collapses in (adducts) as the hip internally rotates instead of staying neutral like it should. This is accompanied by a relative lateral glide of the patella, which in turn often results in pain isolated to the knee. It is also many times the underlying mechanism of injury in the dreaded anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear.

This phenomenon is typically coupled with excessive foot pronation as that body part follows what is happening up the leg chain, or does what is happening at the foot drive everything higher? Until this weekend, I would say I have ignored, or at least not paid close attention to what was happening above the belly button of the patients I have been observing do single leg squats as I determined why they had pain or guided their rehabilitation from ACL reconstruction.

As we increased the challenge of doing a single leg squat during the course by observing each other perform it with hands over head, it was interesting to see the compensatory trunk rotation either away from or toward the test leg that either causes the hip to rotate “in” to maintain balance or is the consequence of that action. Fascinating, if you consider yourself an expert in recognizing deviations from normal movement patterns, because it adds a dimension to exercise correction that I may have neglected that is more complicated than simply “core strength.” Welcome to the term rotary collapse.

Keep in mind that the context of this course revolved around whether we as PTs are returning injured athletes to sports when they are “good enough,” only to have them get reinjured because of the increased intensity of game-day play compared to practice and rehab. Hegedus challenged us to develop exercise progressions that address not just local and regional deficits, but global ones as well (trunk control with arms over head or against resistance, contact with other players) before returning patients to high-level activity to decrease the athletes’ likelihood of getting re-injured.

Picture a basketball player going up for a lay-up (hand overhead while landing); a volleyball player jumping and landing after a block at the net; or a lacrosse athlete with stick overhead throwing forcefully for a goal. The trunk adds another dimension to the stress at the knee. And if that knee has already been injured or surgically repaired, we really do need to make sure we include testing and challenging that sport specific trunk control before we send our athletes back out on the field.

So my relationship with the term “rotary collapse” (hip adduction, femoral IR, knee valgus, tibial ER, rearfoot eversion, midfoot pronation) has moved to the next level: examining the role of trunk rotation and stability, in addition to what we have already been looking at: strength, flexibility, pain inhibition, body structure and fatigue. Rehab will include more speed drills and more simulated fast paced play and effort to reproduce many of the demands my athletes’ bodies will experience when they resume unrestricted play. No more basing decisions on the leg, or knee being “good enough,” (90% on a physical performance test comparing the involved to the uninvolved leg).

Here’s to physical therapists and a deeper understanding of #rotary collapse so that we may all better prepare our athletes for play and life after injury. And ideally, to helping prevent their injury in the first place. Photo: Creative Commons: Texas A & M Volleyball 2014

Doing_the_ALS_Ice_Bucket_Challenge_(14927191426)The Ice Bucket Challenge to raise funds for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) “has been a game-changer,” said Barbara Newhouse, CEO of the ALS Association. To date, the organization has received an unprecedented donation of more than $22 million, unheard of in the organization’s history.

Imagine being a vibrant middle aged man whose symptoms started with slurring speech at work…just enough to get co-workers whispering and wondering if he had been “indulging” on the ride in to the office, only to get the dreaded diagnosis of “ALS.”

Yeah, sure, we’ve all heard of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, but how does it really impact the world and family of the patient? Each family who has experienced the change and decline in their loved one has its own story. And I am quite certain that any one of them would have dumped a hundred buckets of ice water on themselves if it meant more time with that father, mother, brother, sister, daughter or son.

ALS is a progressive disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Motor neurons, which lead from the spinal cord to all muscles, degenerate and eventually the cells die. This means the ability of the brain to initiate and control movement ceases. Eventually, patients may become totally paralyzed, unable to speak, swallow or breathe.

The ALS Association’s mission includes providing services to assist people with ALS and their families. The Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure.

Physical Therapists help people with ALS by designing exercise programs to decrease muscle cramps and stiffness, strengthen unaffected muscles, improve cardiovascular health and make equipment recommendations to improve quality of life.

What will the ALSA do with the donations raised from the Ice Bucket Challenge? According to Newhouse, “invest prudently in helping people with ALS and their families and caregivers in the battle against the disease, while resolutely pursuing all avenues to extend, improve and ultimately save lives.”

Karen Kovacs PT, OCS is a Clinical Director at Tidewater Physical Therapy’s Gloucester Point Clinic. She is helping to coordinate the 2nd Annual Richmond Endurance Athlete Symposium: A Day of Motivation and Education, January 24, 2015 at The Westin Richmond. Endurance means something different to everyone, especially someone living with ALS. Tidewater Physical Therapy and Tidewater Performance are Title Sponsors. Proceeds from the event will be donated to Richmond 2015, host of the UCI World Cycling Championships, and the Brain Injury Association of Virginia.

Photo: Creative Commons by slgckgc

The final day of the Tour de France had the best cyclists in the world racing down the Champs-Elysées in Paris, and I do mean all of the best cyclists, including the professional women.

The women’s race, La Course, was a dream come true not just for the riders but for viewers in 150 different countries who got to see this elite women’s event broadcast live on television. The winner, Marianne Vos described it as a prestigious moment to race in front of huge crowds. She credited her team with placing her in a perfect position and said the victory was high on her list of honors because the whole world was watching.

Despite the fact that women do these races week in and week out throughout the year, this was a rare opportunity for fans and the public to be able watch this group’s tactical, fast, aggressive racing that came down to a thrilling finale with the sprinting cream of the crop attacking and fighting for the line.

A few hours later the men finished their final day of the Tour de France on the same course. The oldest rider and 17x Tour finisher Jens Voigt described the 21-day stage race as “hard, exciting, dangerous, and fast.” His way of saying goodbye as he enters retirement was to “shove his face in the wind” and ride solo for one of the sprint segments before the very end.

Chris Horner, the second oldest rider in the Tour told viewers that every athlete always wants more but “any moment could be your last day.” In his commentary, Todd Harris said, “With over 2000 miles of racing, the cobbles were a reminder that every epic pursuit delivers its fair share of bumps along the way. ”

Today the women moved a huge boulder when they showed the world that they, too, race without fear, even when nerves are high, to have the opportunity to stand on the podium. This includes at the most well known cycling event in the world, the Tour de France.

You’ll have the opportunity to see many of these women compete when the Worlds come to Richmond in September 2015.

Karen Kovacs PT, OCS is a Clinical Director at Tidewater Physical Therapy’s Gloucester Point Clinic. She is a USA Triathlon Coach and helping to coordinate the 2nd Annual Richmond Endurance Athlete Symposium: A Day of Motivation and Education, January 24, 2015 at The Westin Richmond. Tidewater Physical Therapy and Tidewater Performance are Title Sponsors. Proceeds from the event will be donated to Richmond 2015, host of the UCI World Cycling Championships, and the Brain Injury Association of Virginia.

Epic. Brutal. Relentless. Monster. Doozy. These are some of the descriptions cyclists use to paint a picture of the stages that make up the 21 days of riding in the Tour de France.

Even if the last time you rode a bike you were seven years old, when you see a cyclist climb a big hill or mountain, no doubt you empathize with the challenge of getting to the top.

Bob Roll, one of the Tour de France commentators and former professional cyclist said after one of the incredibly difficult mountain stages this year that “riders suffering gives meaning to the struggles in our own lives.” Seeing their effort and obvious misery is something many people can relate to literally and symbolically for the challenges in life that are not mere sporting events.

When I think about what drives people to push physical limits like the professional cyclists in the Tour, I am reminded of the key traits of the highly disciplined triathlete that are discussed in Triathlon Science by Joe Friel and Jim Vance. They include internal discipline and self-direction; commitment to excellence; determination, consistency, organization; concentration and focus; capacity to deal with obstacles; enthusiasm and desire, love for the sport.

You may recognize yourself in both your approach to endurance sports and likely even your work or profession. A favorite quote from Friel and Vance’s book is “adversity builds character and becomes an opportunity for learning, opening the way for personal growth and renewal.”

If you saw Andrew Talansky’s crashes and then watched him stop a few days later for a conversation with his coach, you know Robbie Hunter must have said something to him like, “Whatever you decide to do, go on or quit now, have no regrets.” Talansky’s solo struggle to finish Stage 11 before withdrawing from the Tour de France as a hopeful American podium finisher certainly was a character building moment.

The Tour, like some of what we face in life: Epic. Brutal. Relentless. Monster. Sufferfest. But they both have so many beautiful moments, too. And it’s those moments that keep some athletes pushing for a 1st place finish and the rest from hitting the snooze button for a 5 a.m. workout and missing out on an unexpected gorgeous sunrise.