Archives for posts with tag: 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.


polio girlwithcrutches

Photo by Amber Case

Click here to read A Child’s Memory by Susan Camp

Our Gloucester Point Virginia Rotary Club is working to raise awareness and funds to help eradicate polio, once and for all.  The virus persists in two nations: Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Plants to End Polio links to an online store that is closed for the season but will re-open in January.  In the meantime, we want to build an on-line community of supporters.

REAS Flyer 2015  jpegExcited to announce that CHRISTIAN VANDE VELDE, former pro cyclist and Olympian, will speak about life in the peloton at the 2nd annual Richmond Endurance Athlete Symposium & Expo Jan. 24, 2015 at the Westin Richmond hotel on Broad Street.

He joins an incredible line up that includes ANDY POTTS, HUNTER ALLEN, BOB SEEBOHAR, Andrew Dahlgren MD, Paul Maloof MD, Molly Fostek PT, and Katie Allen CSCS who will educate and inspire athletes who are passionate about endurance sports.

Tidewater Physical Therapy is hosting the Symposium. Proceeds from the event benefit Richmond 2015, organizers of the world cycling championships in September 2015 and the Brain Injury Association of Virginia.

USA Triathlon will award 5 CEUS to coaches who attend the event. Registration fee is $75 for coaches who want continuing education credits,  a bargain for an all day event filled with education and inspiring presenters.

Registration includes lunch, afternoon snack, and a happy hour beverage.
$50/adults, $45/military, $30/students. Price increases Jan. 10th.

If you have a product or service appropriate for this target audience of endurance athletes, here is a link to an electronic information packet with details about sponsorship levels, etc. (pdf is at the bottom of the linked page):

The Westin Richmond, Virginia is offering a discount for the Richmond Endurance Athlete Symposium & Expo for $109/night. Just mention Tidewater Physical Therapy and that you are attending the Symposium to get the discounted rate.

There will be a Happy Hour at 4:30 pm providing an opportunity to network. Last year, all of the keynote speakers stayed to interact with attendees.

tri swimRace Times Don’t Tell the Competitors’ Stories




When I was reviewing the finishing times from a half iron distance triathlon I recently completed, I remarked out loud that those numbers don’t tell the competitors’ stories.  They are just a  series of digits captured from an electronic timing mat at different moments during the event.

They don’t tell about the motivation, the misery and suffering associated with hours of solo time training, the insight gained,  and the goals of the person attached to the timing chip.

The numbers leave off the explanation about the extra long swim time attributed to stripping off a wetsuit in the river that kept the overheated swimmer from a full blown anxiety attack.The minutes recorded don’t reveal the hours of self talk on the bike to redirect negative thoughts back to a positive focus.

The  longer than anticipated run time doesn’t reflect the gratitude of being handed ice cold water and receiving  words of encouragement from volunteers and spectators.  The slower than expected pace does not divulge being grateful that despite a calf cramp, tired legs could still find their stride.

The male and female winners’  fast times tell nothing about the pressure they may have experienced being in the lead, whether they felt confident or just prayed and maybe bargained with a Higher Power to stay strong.

I’m not sure which total time on the list represents the lady who had the ice bag taped to her ankle and was walking the half marathon.  Or which time belongs to the person for whom finishing is symbolic of a renewed life’s purpose.  Or the guy who was changing his flat bike tire on the side of Wilcox Neck Road.

None of the hours and minutes that are recorded reveal the support system of family, friends, and perhaps coaches who shared in making this athletic pursuit a reality.   There is no record of how their guidance, kind words, and positive energy factored into that time.

Life changing events are part of those numbers: the athlete who crashed her bike into the back of a car during training and ended up with jaw reconstruction and five new teeth, yet overcame her fears by getting back on the bike again.  And came to compete, not just finish.

Ranking the times becomes a judge of performance, good or bad, fair or not.  It’s a record in history, forever on a web page, of a day with near perfect temperature, low humidity and a calm river.  For some, the numbers, no matter where they fall in the computer generated list, are attached to pride and a sense of accomplishment; for others, a reminder of disappointment.

There is no doubt that for everyone who participated  in this event, the time, recorded in hours, minutes and seconds,  is the culmination of intense dedication to a focused plan that may or may not have turned out as hoped.  It stands for the lessons learned about ourselves during the training and a placard that will move when the next challenge is revealed.

Photo: Creative Commons by Gergio Montersino

Physical fitness is discipline, not luck. It is planned, organized, and made a priority during any given day. It is a way of life. It feels good. It includes eating food that is nutritious and provides adequate fuel (but not too much) to get through a day filled with activity.

Physical fitness can be attained at any age or stage in life, with discipline. For some, perhaps there is a genetic predisposition to be more coordinated, more athletic. But for most people, fitness comes down to hard work, dedication and a commitment to one’s self. And that is not to be confused with being selfish.

Personal health is one of those circles in the diagrams we have all seen that overlap to reflect a balanced life. It intersects with work, family, and social obligations and goals. When personal health gets out of kilter, there is no doubt that it interrupts the delicate balance we call being “centered.”

My mother in law shared a quote that I have always appreciated. I took the liberty of substituting William Jennings Bryan’s original word, destiny, with fitness. “Fitness (Destiny) is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

I am inspired when I hear about an 80 year old mother of a friend who “demands” that if she is to move closer to her daughter, she must have a house that: 1) has stairs that have to be climbed to get to the bedroom; and 2) is located within walking distance of a grocery store so that she can walk there daily.

Now that is a cool “elderly” woman. She recognizes she may have some limitations in her aging body but she wants to do as much as she can for as long as she can. I want to be her when I grow up.

And fortunately for me, I have had an amazing role model for a mother. At almost 78, she maintains a ridiculously busy schedule each week including all her own yard and house work, 20 plus hours of volunteer work, a social network, at least three sessions at the gym, and almost daily walks. I have a hard time keeping up with her. Seriously.  I certainly don’t think of my mom as old.

The limitations we associate with aging are driven by low expectations from society. The workouts to maintain physical fitness in our eighties may look different than what we did when we were younger, but they still require planning, commitment, dedication and in some cases, choices about how hard earned and saved dollars are spent. Physical fitness has to be a priority.

Tribute to Ann and Anne

I am fortunate to have had two amazing Ann(e)s influence my life as an adult: my mom, Ann, and my mother-in-law, Anne. These two women both taught me that time interacting, nurturing a relationship or simply having fun should almost always take precedence over mundane chores or a task that can be accomplished at another time. I recognized this when this morning my mom hesitated for less than a nanosecond (probably because she was driving) after I suggested we order mimosas to celebrate a gorgeous, sunny day and that she had gotten up at zero dark thirty to escort me to a point-to-point 8 mile running race so that I would not need a shuttle to get back to my car. What struck me today is that my mother-in-law would have done the same thing (minus the nanosecond pause)!

I was reminded that we have to celebrate the simple things: a mother and daughter getting to share an unplanned breakfast out on a glorious Saturday morning with a spectacular view of the York River and Coleman Bridge. Trust me, I know how good I have it. I’m mad that I never took my mother-in-law to the Duke of York for a mimosa or her favorite, a bloody mary, because I know she would have also loved the moment.

As I seek to understand my role and place in the universe, I know one thing for certain: no one of us knows how much time we have on this planet. The quest to balance work, personal goals, health and family requires attention and diligence and discipline. Janice Marturano wrote, “There is no work-life balance. We have one life. What’s most important is that you be awake for it.” Today I got to make the most of those waking moments.

Anyone who has ever suffered during an athletic endeavor can relate to professional cyclist Taylor Phinney’s experience of talking yourself out of quitting that he described during the recent 209 km 6th stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico bike race in Italy. To keep himself out of the conflicted misery of wanting to quit the race alongside his peers, he focused on his Dad, a former professional cyclist and the challenges he now faces living with Parkinson’s disease. I can only imagine the conversation inside the 22-year old Phinney’s head:

“My body is strong. I have trained a ridiculous amount for this race. What idiots designed this course with a 27% incline? Why did I pick this stage race? I can  do great things in the time trial tomorrow if I just get in under the cutoff time today. If these guys around me will just dig deep and we all work together, we can finish. Why don’t I bag like the rest of them? ”

“My dad would never quit. He didn’t achieve the success he did by pulling over to the side and jumping in the sag wagon. My dad never let anyone push him up a hill. Dad calls himself Turtleboy because he’s stuck in a body that won’t cooperate, even though his mind is as sharp as ever. I can do this. If my Dad can make himself get up every morning and face the day with a can-do attitude, I can finish this stupid bike stage. ”

One of the aspects of preparing for competition that we often neglect is the mental training that is a necessary component. This skill and practice is really what sets successful athletes at all levels apart from their peers. Coaches, personal trainers, and self discipline provide us with the opportunity to be pushed to the edge and experience the misery of going on even when we crave stopping to end the discomfort.

I was made aware that there are 1440 minutes in a day when I came across a video of Mark Williams from Human Dynamic Solutions speaking about Mindfulness training. The video was sponsored by the 1440 Foundation. Mindfulness sparks my interest as a performance enhancement tool for endurance athletes and as a mechanism for patients suffering from chronic diseases or pain to improve their quality of life. Shinzen Young wrote that, “Mindfulness practice trains your nervous system to know itself better and interfere with itself less.”

I have no idea if Taylor Phinney or his Dad have had any formal instruction in this art of extreme focus but as I read about the younger Phinney’s miserable day on the bike, I couldn’t help but admire his perseverance. And for those of us who work with people living with Parkinson’s disease, a chronic and progressive movement disorder that leaves a person unable to control movement normally, perhaps in Mindfulness training there is a strategy to make daily life less frustrating.

In my personal quest to manage stress and maintain a positive outlook, I am continually drawn to the Buddhist teachings and wisdom of the Dalai Lama which remind us that essentially the only thing in this world any of us can truly control is our own behavior and that includes how we react to the situations and people we encounter in our daily lives. Jason Gay introduced many of us to Taylor’s dad,  Davis Phinney, “Turtleboy.” Gay reminded us that for people living with Parkinson’s Disease, “ordinary life requires patience.” And patience is at the root of Mindfulness.