Sub 30 in Sub 30 and Oh Hey I ran a Half Marathon Too.

30 11 2010

This has been an incredible week as a runner.

As a fairly new person to the world of running (I ran my first 1/2 block just this past February at 250 pounds) I believe there are events in your life that shape you as a runner. There is of course the first time you step up to  the starting line of your first 5k and just as equally important the first time you cross the finish line. There is the first time you buy your first pair of running shoes, not off some random shelf, but from a professional running store and they talk to you like “one of them”. There is the first time you run  double digit miles and survive to tell about it. There is the first time you get a swag bag and realize that the shirt that comes in the bag is not to be worn during the race but to be earned and worn after crossing the finish line. There is your first sub 30 5k finishing time and there is the time you run your first half marathon.

I did the last two less than 4 days apart.

I did them this week.

Neither of these two events are less important than the other. One does not shadow the other or take precedent. Both are momentous in their own rights. One helped me to see that the other is possible. One helped me to see that I am possible. I have been running now for close to 10 months but in the last seven days it has been cemented: I AM A RUNNER.

So let’s get to the races!

On Thanksgiving I did the Norpoint Turkey Trot with my friend Michael. It was cold. It was snowy. I was worried I was going to fall so the thought of doing 3.1 miles in under 30 minutes, while it was there,  it was the last thing on my mind. The half marathon was just a few days away and this was just going to be an easy way to burn a few extra calories before the food festivities. Now just a quick note here; Michael is a runner. He’s got long legs and can move pretty damn fast. I don’t. I know I can run about a 10 minute mile so the idea of actually doing my first sub 30 (in sub 30 degree weather) was on my mind but I didn’t want to say anything just in case I started running and it wasn’t going to happen. We cross the starting line (wearing our Santa Hats of course) and off we go onto the snowy streets of North Tacoma and I’m thinking about eating pumpkin pie…

We cross the first mile marker. I know I’m running faster than normal. My lungs are a little sore from the cold air but I feel great and hey I’ve got a Santa hat on so all is good in my world. I look over to my awesome running partner and say (a little labored) “What’s our time?”. He looks at me…Okay maybe he didn’t hear me. “What’s our time Michael”.


NO WAY!!! I mean I’m not dying. I’m not stumbling trying to keep up with my feet. I feel great. I feel like I can keep up this pace so maybe, just maybe I will finish this race and earn my first sub 30 time. I quickly do some calculations (because we all do math in our heads while running right?) and even if I slowed down to my normal pace I could squeeze in under 30 minutes. We keep running. Mile marker two and I look to Micheal…


I have just run the fastest two miles of my life. Ten months previous it took me the same amount of time I just spent running two miles to even run one mile. Another quick calculation and I knew that if I ran that last mile at a 12 minute pace I would not only PR but I would earn the elusive sub 30 goal. What started out as a fun run before the gobbling of the turkey had just turned into one of those events that shape you as a runner….

Oh snap!

The last mile?

All. Up. Hill.

Head down, I focus on the fact that it’s the last mile and no matter what happened at this point I’m going to finish under 30 minutes. I want this. I will have this. I don’t have to run fast, I just have to run. The entire time Michael is talking me up this hill and before I know it I’m cresting the top and running towards the finish line. I crossed over earning my first sub 30 time and blowing my last 5k (33:00) out of the water!


10 / 77 (age division)

88 / 468 (women)

260 / 861 (overall)

Something else happened as soon as I crossed over that finish line. I stopped worrying about the half marathon that was taking place just a few short days later. I knew I was going to show up to the starting line. I knew I was going to finish and it didn’t matter what happened in between because I had just accomplished something equally as important to me as a runner. I stopped thinking about the “what if’s” and only thought about the “I can”. I stopped with the “I wonder” and immediately began to think “I will”. It didn’t matter what happened because I am a runner and as long as my feet carry me over the finish line it was going to be a great race.

I’m not even sure where to begin with this beautiful experience? It didn’t just begin on Sunday morning when I woke up at 3:30a and began to think about earning my 13.1 wings. It didn’t begin on Saturday when I spent every waking hour going over in my head the check list of things that I needed. It really began Friday morning, standing in line waiting to pick up my racing packet. In a sea of runners, I was standing among them. No one knew me. They didn’t know the journey I’ve been on to reach this milestone. They had no idea that this time last year I weighed 103 pounds heavier or that this was my first half marathon. I was just one of them. Oh except for the fact that I kept crying from pure happiness to even be standing in this line, I was jumping up and down from nervous excitement and every time someone passed me I shouted “Good luck on your race Sunday”.

“Hello, my name is 9577”. This is the highest number I’ve ever raced in. I mean I’ve had triple digits but never quadruple digits. For the half marathon alone there were over 9,000 participants. In total there were 17,000 runners / walkers!!! It’s quite an overwhelming feeling knowing you’re going to be one of 17,000 people crossing the same finish line by the end of the day. It’s an overwhelming feeling knowing you are going to be crossing the finish line period.


This is the sign I had on my jacket while I ran. I don’t know about you but knowing I’m about to run the farthest I’ve ever run and do it with 17,000 other people, I need all the encouragement I can get. But this wasn’t just about needing encouragement. I knew there would be other people out there just like me. I wanted to connect with them even if just for a few minutes as we pounded the pavement towards the next mile marker and man did I connect. Every mile there was someone else spending a few seconds of their race with me. Congratulating me. High fiving and fist bumping and telling me to keep going. I met people that had lost a few pounds and were trying to keep it off. I met people that had lost 120 pounds and were fighting for their lives, one mile at a time.

There I am. I know it’s hard to see but look real close. Yhea, that’s me smiling. SMILING!!! I am about to embark on one of the most physically trying events in my life and here I am smiling. I’m nervous but I don’t feel out of place. My husband is taking this picture and God Bless his heart for standing there because once I take off there will be nothing for him to do for the next 2+ hours but wait for me to cross over the finish line. It’s cold and in a mile or so I’ll be warming up. Him, not so much. Oh yhea and that’s my bad ass running jacket that I got at the expo for half off (I run fast AND I’m thrifty!)

As I crossed over the starting line I took a long deep breath and had a conversation with EFT (Emotionally Fat Tara). I knew she was here with me. I made a deal with her. I wouldn’t run the entire 13.1 miles. I’ve been doing a 9 min run / 1 min walk split and I felt that this would really help me go the distance. Instead of relying on my HRM to tell me when it was time to walk I let the mile markers tell me. Funny thing is the mile markers were attached to the porta-potties. Each time I came to a mile marker I would walk for one minute. and I would let EFT say whatever shitty thing (pun intended) she wanted to say but under no uncertain terms was she to yap her mouth at me once the minute was up. Oh she thought she’d get the best of me (“Oh my God, we have to do this 12 more times?”, “You know you can always pretend to fall down and no one will know”, “Is that a cramp in your leg? Maybe we should stop”) but after mile marker 8 she pretty much  shut the hell up knowing I wasn’t going to stop for some silly little whining.

I had a goal of 2:30:00 so I knew as soon as I crossed over the starting line I would be spending the next 150 minutes running towards that medal waiting for me at the end of the race. I knew I was going to get it. I just kept reminding myself that this was my first half marathon: enjoy it. I didn’t need to prove to myself that I could run fast. That happened days before. The only thing I needed to do once I started this race was finish it and if you know me then you know my motto; “You only need to do two things: Start and Finish. Everything else is a party while you’re moving”

And it was a party!

I took in the environment around me. I ran with my eyes open and my mind clear. I let the encouragement from those around me carry me past each mile marker and before I knew it we were crossing the half way point and I was at 1:12:00 and feeling great. I had quickly adapted to those running around me and bobbed and weaved my way through throngs of people and since I had run this course of the race with Team in Training a few Saturdays before hand I knew the toughest part of the race was coming up and I was ready. Mile 7 – 11 was a steady incline. It was hard to run after walking for my minute but each time sixty seconds went by, I took a deep breath, waited for someone to give me a thumbs up as they passed and it was all I needed to keep going.

When mile 12 came by I was in uncharted territory. Everything up to this point I’d done in previous runs. From now until the finish line would be the longest I’d ever run. During that one minute walk I made it a point to say out loud “Can you believe we just ran 12 miles? How awesome is that?” and all the runners around me started whooping and hollering. I had been running with my music but as soon as I started that last mile toward the finish line I turned off my music to take it all in. I was running slow but still within my goal. My watch said I crossed over mile 12 at 2:11:00 (ish).

I was really going to finish this thing.

I had to work at keeping myself calm during this last mile. I didn’t want to be a crying mess and have them snap a picture of me finishing something I never even dreamed possible until a few months ago with snot running down my face (sweat yes, snot no). So many things cross your mind as you see mile marker 12 go by and mile marker 13 come into view:

I can’t believe I’m still standing upright.

I wonder what the medal looks like?

I hope I can find my husband.

Ohhhhh, my first space blanket!

I can’t wait to wear my marathon shirt first time I run after this.

Remember, look up not down when you cross over.

Wow, look at all the people cheering us on.



So I did.


397 / 590 (woman’s age division)

2779 / 4380 (woman’s half marathon)

There is so much more to this race. All the people cheering us on. The military holding American Flags at mile 6 with the names of fallen solders. The “where’s waldo” woman that kept popping up every 3 miles with her cowbell, dancing in the street telling us to keep going. Kids with their”run mommy run” signs or the dads stopping to snap a picture or two with their family before moving on. The people being tended to on the side of the road and all of us looking at each other wondering if that’s going to happen to us. The splitting of the 13.1 runners from the 26.2 runners on the course and saying a little prayer for them as you know they have so many more miles to cover and you smile inside because you’re pretty sure some day you’ll be doing the same thing.

Nothing I say will ever convey what it was like for me.

I am not the same person that started the race.

I love the person that finished.








Meet Maria…

9 10 2010

Today’s Team in Training run is dedicated to Maria and her Mom.

It’s not easy writing about how Leukemia/Lymphoma affects your life. I asked Maria to share her story with me a while back and at first she was very willing. I know all too well that at first we think we’re ready to talk about our loved one’s and watching any kind of sickness take over their bodies. Then the truth hits us: We’re far from ready and often don’t realize how much we’re still affected by the experience (even 10 and 20 years later).

I commend Maria for finding the strength to share her story with me.

With us.

On November 11, 1999, my mother lost her battle with Leukemia.  She was only 57 years old.  I remember things from that day as if it only happened yesterday…

– I watched my mother take her last breathe.
– As I comforted my son, he mumbled, “I only had 7 years with her.”
– The pain was nothing that I had felt before.  It was overwhelming.
– My throat hurt from smoking more cigarettes than I had ever smoked in one day.

For weeks, months and years, I grieved.  I questioned.  I got pissed.  And finally, I accepted.

Today, I honor my mother by living a life that is full of passion, of fear, fear that drive me and by being a kind person.  I am an extension of my mother’s life.  I am her legacy, so I chose to live a good one.

I quit smoking a year after she died, started running, created businesses based on my passion and driven by my fear….  so far, so good.


This is week number eleven. Eight more weeks to go before I step up to that starting line and put the physical portion of this journey we share together to pavement. Thank you for all that you’ve done for me. I can’t wait to give that back to you!

Tara’s Team in Training Page




Meet Natalie and Olivia

11 09 2010

Today’s run is dedicated to Natalie and her niece Olivia!

Olivia was diagnosed with Leukemia when she was 2 years old. It was a scary time for all of us, but most especially for my brother and my sister-in-law. Olivia is their youngest child. As a baby she was a very vivacious happy baby and the spitting image of her sister Anna. Then she started getting sick. She was taken to the doctor and after a battery of tests they diagnosed her with Leukemia.

After that followed a long course of treatment. Even at her young age, she took it like a trooper. My brother once described her as stoic when she went for her treatments. she didn’t fuss or cry, even with all the needle sticks she was subjected to. She has developed some food intolerance as a result of her treatments as well as some cravings. She is not a big sweet eater, but she does like salty things.

Last year after much coaxing from friends, my brother sent in a request for Olivia to the Make-a-Wish foundation. Olivia’s wish was to meet the Princesses. So Make-a-Wish sent the entire family to Disney where Olivia got to have lunch with the Disney princesses. She was in her glory. She even had a tiara and wand.

Olivia is currently doing well and is as about as normal as any other ten-year old.

This run will be week number 7 out of 19. Only 12 more weeks to go!!!! If you  or someone you know has been afflicted by Leukemia/Lymphoma I would be honored to share your story and dedicate a Saturday run to you. Please leave a comment on this post and let’s plan a dedication!

Tara’s Team In Training Page

$1586 / $1800 raised!

A binge, and a good night’s sleep…

22 08 2010

I don’t know how to explain my eating yesterday.

The only thing I can say about it is I started eating at 9am and I didn’t stop eating until sometime after 6pm. I feel like it was some sort of day dream. It went something like this: I got up yesterday morning and had my usual pre-run/workout breakfast (banana and almond butter). After my run I had a banana, a few strawberries and two granola bars. Once home I kept going to the fridge (at least every 5 minutes) and popping handfuls of grapes, blueberries and cheese. Went to my MIL’s house and from there continued to consume more cheese, bbq chicken, ribs, coleslaw and pickled veggies and about a pound of blackberries picked from her yard. Lots of food brought home and I continued to pick at chicken and grapes until I finally forced myself into bed at the late hour of 7:30p.

Looking over the food items it doesn’t seem that bad. Yes, lots of fruit was consumed. Yes I ran 4+ miles yesterday before the chowfest happened but for me this was a lot of food. Enough food that I actually weighed myself and it said 191 (that’s 6 pounds of food in my stomach). I couldn’t stop eating. I am grateful that my food choices were some what healthy (minus the bbq sauce of course) but only because I don’t keep “bad” food in my house any longer. I kept asking myself if I was hungry and the answer coming back was always yes but come on after 3 large pieces of chicken and a crap ton of coleslaw you can’t be hungry enough to eat ribs too.

It was all mindless eating.

Maybe I pushed myself too hard this last week. I worked out with Godfather three times. I worked out with Supergirl Megan once. I biked a total of 40 miles and ran a total of 10+ miles including some really hard hill work. I woke up yesterday sore, tired and run down…so I ate.

I ate until my stomach was bloated. I ate until I was so full I thought I was going to throw up and then I continued to eat until finally my brain shut down and all I could do was go to bed. I slept almost 10 hours and as I write this feel like I could go back to bed for a few more hours.

The damage doesn’t seem so bad now that I’m up and moving around. I’m actually trying to convince myself that in the end hardly any food was consumed (I mean compared to what I was eating just a short 8 months ago) but truth be told: it was a binge. I won’t spend too much time obsessing over it. I won’t go out and hit the gym hard today in hopes of rectifying whatever weight was gained. In fact, I’m taking a much needed day off and the only sweat that will be coming off my face is from working on the front yard because it has been neglected long enough. I may go for a walk on the water front just to clear my head a bit. I’ll choose my food wisely today and may even measure everything just to feel a little more in control.

I’m going to close this week not thinking about all the food I put in my mouth but rather all the sweat that fell off my body. I won’t think about the mindless eating but rather all the mindful moving I did. I won’t think about the “bad” choices because there were none. There were only choices and I am in control of them all.

Meet Bill and his daughter, Ashley…

21 08 2010

I was going to dedicate this week’s Team in Training Run to my Grandmother but this story was passed on to me and the entire team is dedicating our run to this courageous family.

Her story:

Some nights, Bill Aven walks into his daughter’s bedroom to watch her sleep, just like he did when she was a baby. Some days, he walks to the end of the road outside of his Lynnwood home and cries. His little girl has terminal cancer. Last spring Ashley Aven was a typical teenager who hung out with her friends and played softball at Meadowdale High. Other than chronic fatigue, she showed no signs of what she’s battling today — acute myeloid leukemia, a rare and aggressive disease.

According to the American Cancer Society, AML starts in cells that would normally turn into white blood cells. It originates in the bone marrow and quickly moves into the blood. AML is a genetic mutation. Its cause is unknown.

Bill and his wife, Tamara, and Ashley’s pediatrician simply thought her exhaustion was caused by a persistent case of the flu or burnout from softball or the end of the school year. On July 8, the Avens took their daughter to Children’s Hospital. Ashley had a temperature of 104, but she felt healthy enough to walk past the wheelchair that greeted her at the front door. “Dad, why are we here?” she asked. “I have a fever.” Two hours later, they received the diagnosis. “What do you mean she’s got leukemia?” Bill asked.

Ashley spent nearly six months at Children’s. She went through rounds and rounds of chemotherapy, designed to prepare her for a bone-marrow transplant. Her brother, Eric, 14, was a perfect match — too perfect as it turned out. Doctors were concerned that his bone marrow might be so similar that it could be susceptible to AML too. Another match was subsequently found. Before a transplant could take place, Ashley needed to have less than 5 percent of cancer in her system. After the first round of chemo, she was down to 16 percent. After the second round, 6 percent. She never got lower than that. Intensive treatments followed, and the numbers increased.

“She had a high-risk leukemia from the beginning,” said Thomas Manley, Ashley’s doctor from the hematology-oncology department at Children’s. “It’s been super-resistant to therapy.” In early January, Manley and another doctor, Abby Rosenberg, went into her room, stood at the foot of her bed and told her there was nothing more they could do. Ashley asked them if she was going to die. The Avens took their daughter home in early January. Her three cats — Bob, Squirttle and Lucy — were thrilled to see her and followed her to her room. The family was told she had two months to live. They don’t believe that, and neither does Ashley. “I’m stronger than the cancer,” she said. “The cancer doesn’t have me.”

“Nobody’s giving up,” Bill said. “Two months could turn into nine months, and nine months could turn into a cure.”

This was supposed to be her senior year of high school, and she was supposed to be playing softball again. She should be in the cafeteria having lunch with her friends, not having a feeding tube installed. She should be walking down the halls as a healthy, vibrant kid, not dealing with sore feet that are a side effect from her medication. As a softball player, she had really improved. When she turned out for the first time three years ago, she had never played before. In her first game, Ashley drew a walk and went to the dugout.

The opposing coach thought that Meadowdale junior varsity coach Dennis Hopkins was trying to pull a fast one.

“She thinks she’s out,” Hopkins told him. “Nobody had explained to her what a walk was.” It turned into a running joke. The next two years, Hopkins would have Ashley tell new players what a walk meant. Hopkins calls her “Speedy” because she’s one of the fastest players he’s ever seen. A ball would be hit to the gap, and he’d think it was going for extra bases, but Ashley tracked it down. He had no idea how she got there in time. She’s a total teammate, the kind of player who follows instructions no matter what they are.

“Why this kid?” Hopkins asked. “You never want this to happen to any kid, but especially this kid.”

Why this kid? Family friend Melinda Sloan has the same question. For three straight summers, she and her husband took Ashley to their cabin at Desert Aire near Vantage in Eastern Washington. Ashley looked forward to the trip because she got to play nonstop with the Sloans’ toddler. “There’s something about her that everyone loves,” Sloan said. “You’re just kind of drawn to her. She’s always smiling and her spirit’s always positive. She’s fun to be around.” Ashley loves little kids and enjoys babysitting so much that she wants to be a children’s nurse someday. A neighbor across the street just had a baby and they’ve been texting every day.

At Children’s, she made friends with everyone and bonded most closely to younger kids.

“She’s such a sweet girl,” Manley said. “Her caring for others was obvious to all of us.” “She’s incredible,” said Ashley Southerland, a child-life specialist at Children’s who spent a lot of time with Ashley during her stay. “She seems like she’s trying to take care of her family. She’s worried about her parents and her brother more than herself.” Power, the chaplain, added: “Throughout this journey, she has wanted to protect her family. She holds a lot in because of that. They have a close and loving connection. It’s really quite beautiful to see.”

After the Avens came home from Children’s last month, Tamara broke down in her daughter’s bedroom. Ashley hugged her and told her that everything would be OK. She doesn’t want her dad to cry either.

“She’s worried about me,” Bill said.

Then there’s Eric, the cool little brother who made Thanksgiving dinner for the family. He laughs and jokes, coping with humor. Eric and his friends have been selling bracelets outside the local QFC and other establishments with proceeds going to her sister’s foundation. His stored-up emotions have yet to come out, and that concerns Bill too. Meadowdale High Principal Dale Cote talked about the ripple effect at his school. Kids can’t possibly comprehend the thought of a classmate with terminal cancer. Counselors are available for support.

One student stopped by Cote’s office and asked if he could be a bone-marrow donor. Another told him that she was working at Dairy Queen and felt terrible that she didn’t recognize Ashley when she came through the drive-through. Ashley has lost her hair because of chemotherapy. When the boys’ basketball team hosted Edmonds-Woodway on Jan. 26, Ashley was the guest of honor. The announcer introduced her and the crowd went wild. The Mavericks all wore shooting shirts with AVEN on the back and No. 2, her number as a softball player. At the end of the game, she posed for pictures with the team.

Her softball team will pay tribute to her this year too by wearing a No. 2 patch on their uniforms.

If she were to come to school today, Ashley would see a big poster on the Meadowdale stage with messages from fellow students. Cote wants to give her an honorary diploma, knowing that she might not make it to her high school graduation in June. When the principal goes home at night, he’s a different dad. His perspective has changed.

“Kids keeping their room clean is not important to me anymore,” Cote said.

Ashley’s dad is just trying to keep it together. He tries to stay busy. He doesn’t know what to do with himself. Late last fall, Bill wrote on Caring Bridge: “This is the hardest thing I have ever gone through in my entire life. As a father and a husband, all I can do is stand as tall as I can and help my family step over each hurdle as the come our way.” Bill told Hopkins, Ashley’s softball coach, that he opened the Bible and looked for the “Why” section but couldn’t find it. He wanted this story written to increase awareness about AML. He hopes that parents will closely monitor their children. Flu and leukemia have similar symptoms.

Ashley is spending quiet days at home with friends and family. At night she likes to lie in bed and watch TV with her mom — “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy” or any of those chick flicks they show on Lifetime. She’s a kid who was never into makeup and jewelry and used to chase her dad around with two mitts and a ball, wanting to play catch. Bill never missed an inning of her games and always carried her bag. Her whole room is decorated with monkeys because she likes them that much. When she was contacted by the Make A Wish Foundation, she said she wanted to pet a monkey but ended up going to Disneyland instead.

Ashley’s hair is gone, but that smile’s still there along with her will to live.

“We are living life against what the doctors are saying and following Ashley’s lead,” Bill wrote on Caring Bridge. “As she says, she is stronger than cancer, and that cancer does not have her. “So with strong hope and the most incredible positive attitude we can muster up, we will prevail and again be out in the sun playing catch soon.”

Ashley Aven passed away on August 14. We run so that others may live and so that Ashley is not forgotten.

To full or not to full…I have the answer

18 08 2010

A little over a week ago I took on the idea of changing the Amica half marathon into a full marathon if I could reach a certain amount of donations in my Team in Training fundraising. For three days I lost sleep, I didn’t eat and I gained three pounds due to the stress of actually thinking I could do it. At the end of those three days I realized something important:

This wasn’t fun anymore.

It was stressful. It was negatively impacting how I felt about myself. I was already in November when I should be sitting firmly in August. My Saturday run with Team in Training was plagued with thoughts of “This is only 5 in the hell are you going to get to 26.2?” Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of being the distraught fat girl comes back to save the world theory but this is not the time nor the place for me to don my orange body armor and cape with the neon BBee flashing the sky announcing my arrival.

I need this journey to be fun. I need this journey to be slow paced enough for me to learn what works and to examine what doesn’t work. I need this journey to be about pushing boundaries and setting goals that are not only attainable but also achievable in a safe manner. I need to remember that 8 months ago I weighed 263 pounds and couldn’t run a damn block. I need to remember that this is my journey and my negative thoughts that people will be disappointed in me if I didn’t run a full marathon are just that: my thoughts.

I am sticking with the half marathon.

I’ve only been on this journey for 8 months. Why am I trying to hurry to that 26.2 finish line? By the time the Amica comes around I’ll have run 6 races, one triathlon and lost approximately 40% of my body weight. Not bad for a beginner…

Next year will be a good time to aim for a 26.2

This is a good year to aim for 13.1

This is a good year to have fun!

Ashley’s Story…

14 08 2010

I’ve never met Ashley face to face but we share two things in common: We’re fighting to regain control of our lives by making healthier choices and we’ve both lost our moms. I chose Ashley to be my first story and to be the first dedicated run because she has so much love for the people around her including myself with all her words of support and encouragement. I imagine that if we ever did meet face to face, she’s light up the room with that beautiful smile.

I run today for Ashley, and her mom.

Thank you for sharing your story.


Hi, Tara– I had forgotten that I wrote a blog entry about my mom on Mother’s Day.  I think it’s a pretty good story about my mom.  I think about those who run, walk, bike, swim for people like her.  I complain ALL the time about running out in the heat.  Mom endured countless procedures, including bone marrow biopsies (the equivalent of getting a pencil lead shoved in your back), numerous hospital stays, and a lifetime of chemotherapy (her withdrawal off of one made her develop sores on her ankles like you see on diabetics.  She had to have part of her tendons removed).

Anyway, thanks for letting me  ramble on and on about my mom.  I just miss her so much and the wounds are still fresh, sometimes.  This opportunity has been therapeutic, and I forget that I need to remember the pain and joy of her life.  Here’s the blog:

Getting my ears pierced at age nine is still a vivid memory for me. I can still remember the layout of the jewelry store in the mall, the tall chair I sat on, and the sound of the piercing gun right next to my ear. Perhaps the most poignant of memories was knowing that I wasn’t yet a teenager, but there I sat at age nine, getting my ears pierced, a rite of passage specifically reserved for a thirteen year old.

A few years before her passing, mom told me that when she was diagnosed with leukemia, she wanted to experience all of the milestones in my adolescent journey, and getting my ears pierced was one of those steps along the way. I was in third grade, just nine years old, when she was given six months to three years to live. It was then that mom decided that her rule of “only teenagers should have their ears pierced” was meant to be broken.

A funny thing happened along the way, though. She beat the odds… big time. It wasn’t until 22 years later that she succumbed to her disease.

She witnessed things that she was pretty much guaranteed to miss in her children’s lives… summer vacations at the beach, first dates (well, at least for my brother), high school graduations, college graduations, weddings, and the birth of her first grandchild.

Of course, her survival could merely be her placement along the bell curve. But, I also think her zeal and desire for just one more moment gave her the impetus to hang on through some serious complications of leukemia for just one more minute, hour, day, week, year.

Of course I miss my mom. She had a gift of making everyone laugh. We argued A LOT, but nothing more than what is expected from moms and daughters. Now that I have two children of my own, I want to try and keep her memory alive by truly living not just for those years or weeks, but for the days, hours, and seconds. None of us is guaranteed our next breath. Goodness knows, I don’t advocate carelessness. If you know me at all, I am nothing but cautious. But, I should try and take stock of things that matter… playing outside with my boys, when I’d much rather be inside reading a book… spending money at the zoo when I really need (okay “want”) a new pair of shoes.

I know that I will be successful as a mom if my kids love me only half as much as I loved my mom. And as much as I miss just picking up the phone and hearing her voice, I am so thankful for the time I had with her. I always think of the line, “better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.” I was very fortunate to have such a healthy parent-child relationship, and although our time together was cut short, it was full of wonderful, loving memories. What better legacy to leave your children?

Tara’s Team in Training Page