Sunday, January 4, 2015

New York City in a Nutshell... as if.

It's true. Every word.

On November 2, 2014, I ran my 8th and FINAL full marathon in honor of the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina. My goal was to raise $2,620 (that's $100 per mile) for the HSEC. I can't begin to tell you how many people ask me, "how far was this one?". So... all marathons are 26.2 miles. That's why it's called a marathon. Just saying... I capped off my fundraising at $2,675. Why stop at an even number right? Whoop whoop! Thank you to EVERY SINGLE person who contributed. I cannot even begin to tell you what it meant to me. I think it is very safe for me to admit that my fundraising was my biggest victory in this journey. Like for real. It was the ONLY glorious moment.

So I began this journey by begging you ALL for money. Not for me, for the animals I work with every single day. You ALL came through big time. I surpassed my goal of raising $100 for each mile I ran and maybe, just maybe I felt guilty. That is until I reached the finish line and they made me keep walking, and walking and walking to get to the exit. And then I had to walk more to get on the subway which was miraculously closed nearest the marathon finish. What in the world?! I digress. I traveled the extra distance for the extra money.I swear.

Proud Loser.
The New York City Marathon is a lottery entry marathon. This means that you have to pay $11 to "put your name in a hat" and hope it's drawn. They used to have a rule, that we conveniently got grandfathered into, that states that if you get denied for 3 years in a row, you automatically are guaranteed entry the 4th year you apply. This means, we won for being losers! YES! I'll take a win any way I can get it people. We (my husband and I) were denied for 3 years in a row. We were IN! Three years ago, I would have rocked the HELL out of this marathon. Fast forward to now and my life had a few changes... ( see my last post). Running became less of a priority. My family and my job (which is also my passion) ruled my life in every way. At night before bed, I am A-Okay with that. BUT, I had an opportunity that I didn't want to waste. I was going to run the New York City Marathon... Loser style!

My training was less than PAWesome and my farthest long run was 18 miles. In the words of Pink, "
So, so what? I'm still a rock star. I got my rock moves. And I don't need you." I've survived worse and really, if I have to stop and walk, who cares? It's New York. Everyone walks there! So there's that...

Troy and I planned our trip to include my kids, my Aunt Beth, my cousins Ryan and Casey, Aunt Kevona (my daughters Godmother) and my parents (although only Dad was able to join). We figured if we were spending a billion dollars (registration alone was $225 EACH), we should see family we never get to see and show the kids New York city. Every marathoner knows the cardinal sin of marathons in destination cities is sight seeing. Never walk all day for 2 days before a 26.2 mile race. Are you kidding me, we are in New York! Let's go! We drug our children around that city like there was no tomorrow. They walked and walked and walked and they saw EVERYTHING there was to see. We even trick-or-treated at bars in Brooklyn (don't judge, we didn't have a lot of options). We had a BLAST and I loved seeing my northern relatives that I hadn't seen in over 5 years. That being said, walking requires very different muscle groups than say, I don't know, running. These muscle groups had not been targeted during my "intense" and laughable training. I was sore from high tailing it!

The night before the race, we laid out our gear, pinned our numbers on our shirts and climbed into bed. I don't know that I ever fully fell asleep because I could hear the wind SCREAMING outside our barred windows. Did I mention we stayed in a somewhat sketch part of Brooklyn? We got up at 4am as we had to be on the subway by 5:15am to make it to the Staton Island Ferry for our scheduled departure time of 6:15am. I still haven't figured that out yet since our start time was 10am. I mean, I get there are over 50,000 runners that run this thing, but can we work on the wait time people? The weather was wonderfully craptastic. There were 25mph winds and it was 40 degrees. AWESOME! I can't wait to run across the Verrazano Bridge with 25 mph winds. Oh that's right, I'm afraid of bridges. Wait, I take it back. Do I really have to run?  Don't fret though friends. I came prepared for this weather. Well, I didn't come prepared, but I did go to a Family Dollar in Brooklyn (even more sketch than where we stayed) and purchased 2 key materials. A $5 fleece blanket and a $2 plastic table cloth with the fleece lining. Warmth and wind resistance. I. Am. A. Genius.

After you get off the ferry (which was pretty cool), they bus you to the start where you stand and freeze in a field near the bridge on hay until your coral is called to move forward. You are then ushered like a herd of cows to the slaughter to your ultimate demise. I was luckily distracted by 2 men that were in front of me in throw away warm up suits and faux-fur lined hats with the tags still on them. Runners are really smart when it comes to staying warm before their race. If you toss anything along the way, a crew picks it up and it is donated to shelters and homeless folks on the street so you can't feel too bad about tossing that faux-fur lined aviator hat. We approached and the gun went off.

After maybe 100 meters I hit the section of the bridge that is over water. I was literally being pushed into the runners next to me by the wind and it was cold... cold gusty wind on a freaking bridge. A marathon is about 95% mental and 5% physical ability. I remember my feet clanging together as I picked them up to run and feeling like my anxiety would cause an explosion at this point. All I could say before mile one was, "Honey, I can't do this!" Troy knew I was checked out of the game and tried to keep me laughing and focused. My husband was my rock on this journey and I wouldn't have finished without him. He knows me too well and so he stayed about 5 steps behind me for 26.2 miles, only to move up to check on me or when he saw me fading mentally. We reached the bottom of the bridge at mile 1.5 and we kept moving. Luckily the wind seemed to be blocked a bit by the tall buildings through the boroughs and we just rolled with the punches. I know this will be shocking to most of you, but I typically talk all 26.2 miles of a marathon. I was quite speechless for NY. Maybe it was the fact that I was totally not prepared, maybe I was just taking it all in, maybe I knew it was my last and had a lot to process or maybe, just maybe, I had fallen out of love with running and it hit me at mile 1. I might have broken up with running at mile 2, but I had to get to 26.2 to get my medal and for me, I ain't leaving without that medal! I had to motivate myself to get to the finish line and it became clear very early in the race (like before I got out of bed that morning) that motivating myself wasn't going to be easy. So I chugged along in silence.

This was mile 6 or so. I can't tell you how excited about seeing
this on the side of the road I was. I think she was pretty pumped too!
I searched the crowds for entertainment and as always, it was found on the faces of the 1 million plus spectators. I focused on that for a while. These people were FREEZING and yet they made posters and brought candy and kids of all ages lined the roads just looking for the next high five. The crowd was my favorite thing from NY. The sea of onlookers never stopped. I mean never. Cheering and bands and kids and all kinds of goodness was seen along the course. Troy and I really haven't talked too much about the experience actually, but I can tell you, I've never seen someone love a high five like Troy did that day. He searched for kids on the route and he would make eye contact, point at them and run right to them for a big high-five! I loved watching this interaction and it got me through quite a few miles. I am pretty sure he had no idea that he was my motivation until about mile 10 and then my focus shifted.

This is by far my favorite memory from the marathon.
My family at mile 12.1. From left to right: My cousin Casey,
my Aunt Beth, Nora, Jackson, Ryan and Dad is in the back.
You see, I knew my kids and family were waiting for me at around mile 11. They had told me they would be in a park and I knew it was coming. If I could just get to them and get hugs, I would make it. We hit mile 11 and I saw the park. Troy took the left side and I took the right. For a mile straight, I saw nothing in front of me. I scanned the faces of the crowd just searching for my children. I have been running marathons since 2009 and my Dad and my kids had never seen me run one. I had to find them. We passed the 12 mile mark and my heart was sinking. We hadn't found them. Had we missed them? Should I turn around to go back to find them? The tears began to swell in my eyes and I hit a 90 degree turn to the left just after mile 12. I saw my two tiny humans right on the front line and they saw me. I began to yell to Troy to cross over and ran to them for big hugs. My cousins Ryan and Casey, my Aunt Beth and my Dad were all in tow behind them. If I could have captured that moment and that moment only in my head, that's what I will remember the most. I did everything I could not to loose my sh*t and took a picture with them and let go of my daughter's hand and waved good-bye. It was beyond difficult for me to watch them diminish as I ran farther and farther away from them.

The man in the middle is blind. He has a rope tied to the
guide to his left that he holds in his hand.

One of my favorite things about marathons is their ability to put you in your place in this world. You certainly aren't the fastest, but let's face it, it could be worse. There are people that will beat you that physically shouldn't. They just have more heart, plain and simple. I've been beat by people that are overweight, 80 years old or disabled. Oh and this one time when the lady was pregnant and due in 10 days... yeah, totally happend. They don't beat you because they are in better shape. They beat you because what drives them is deeper than what is driving you. I know this because when I am working what I think is my hardest, they come wheezing upbeside me and I see it in their eyes. Every single time I think to myself, well if they can do this, so can I! It's not always them beating you though. Sometimes, it's people you pass along the way. You almost feel guilty, but it would be wrong of you to stop for them. They don't want your pity. They want you to look at them WITHOUT pity in fact. They are there to prove to you that pity is below them. I ran past quite a few of these individuals after leaving the kids and this moved my feet along the next 8 miles. Team Achilles is there and they are a group that provides "Guide Runners" for disabled participants. I saw many blind runners, runners in wheelchairs moving forward and even a man in a wheelchair that used his feet to push him backwards 26.2 miles. These are people that make you realize you need to quit your bitching and MOVE simply because YOU CAN. As you pass, there are always shouts and cheers from other runners in support of the Achilles runners. So much so that your eyes fill to the brim with tears of some emotion you just can't place when you see them.

My best friend Ke'Vona was waiting at mile 18 and she promised to have a beer and some pretzels for me so onward I marched. When I say I marched, I kinda really mean it. I was like, "Screw this, I'm walking!" I mean I still ran, but a walk break was my best friend. To my disappointment, the crowd was so big, I never found KK.

You can say that again. No, wait. No you can't.
Ain't gonna happen again.
When we passed the 20 mile mark, I was way past done. Troy knew I was at the end of my rope and said not a word, but stayed behind me a few steps to give me room to breathe. I kept trying to take in the sights and enjoy it, but it was clear, this love affair was over and I really wanted this marathon to be over, too. So many thoughts ran through my head. I was sad that running had broken up with me or maybe I with it. I was sad that I waited so long for this journey and I didn't or couldn't get to enjoy it like I should. I just felt sad. Despite this feeling of defeat and loneliness, I had promised my donors that I WOULD FINISH this damn race and at $100 a mile, I better hop to it! We hit Central Park (which means you are SOOOO close to the finish) and I thought I would kill someone. I knew I could make it. Strangely enough, that was never a question. I just wanted to be done with it about 4 hours ago and was ready for the confetti guns at the finish! At this time, I was walking half a mile, running half a mile and on a walking section a spectator had the audacity to yell out, directly to me, "PICK UP THE PACE! YOU'RE ALMOST THERE". If you are a spectator, please don't ever, under ANY circumstance, say this to a person at mile 25 of a marathon. Ever. She then asked, "What are you thinking?! GO!". I glanced back to Troy and he gave me a look that told me he was too tired to bail me out of jail if I decked her so I called her terrible names under my breath and moved on, slowly. Just after I had been heckled I decided this business needed to be over so I stopped walking and ran as fast as I could. Granted, as fast as I could was hilariously slow, but still. The finish seemed so meek despite it's grand stands and loud speakers. I even heard Hugh Jackman was there (If I had known this sooner, I would have finished way faster). It was emotional to say the least. I was devastated in every way possible and yet relieved that I had fulfilled my promises. I felt guilty that it wasn't the glorious experience I wanted it to be. It was certainly the largest race I had ever run with over 50,000 runners and over 1 million spectators, but my heart was more in the Cause Behind the Paws than it was in the feet on the street. It was a bittersweet moment for me, one that I still haven't been able to process.

Managing the best smile I could muster at the finish line.

As we traveled home the following day and spent 11 super fun hours in a car, I was at least happy that the journey was as soul searching as it was. I might have discovered some things about my soul that were a bit painful, but it only reinforced the one thing about myself that I have never doubted and that is that I love what I do for the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina. The hard earned finishers medal doesn't signify a 26.2 mile race for me. It signifies $2,675 raised for a cause I truly believe in. That is the equivalent to 36 dog spays or neuters, or 267 rabies vaccinations, or 60 cat spays. Whatever way you look at it, this journey was bigger than me and served a purpose and for that, I will love every foot strike of the race.

Thank you to everyone for supporting this cause, for supporting me and supporting the animals that we care for at the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina. I cannot begin to tell you what it has all meant to me. Over your lifetime, you will grow and evolve. From year to year, you will find that what makes you tick is different than it used to be. I am thankful for everything that running has brought to my life and it has brought me more than I can even manage to list through words. I am also thankful that I have a driving force in me that is different, yet still makes me happy and proud and will try to just embrace that for a while and maybe every now and then, I'll get in a good run and maybe, just maybe, in time, I will fall back in love with the road. Until then, LET'S SAVE SOME LIVES!

Here are some other shots from the race along the way. Thanks again for all your support!
Just before the start.
We are on the bridge and I might just jump off.
Troy trying to make the bridge funny.
I'm on a bridge.
I really like her poster and I was not that one. Ever. It's a rule I have.
Look closely. This man didn't just run 26.2 miles. He juggled and ran 26.2 miles.
This guy was dressed as the count. His buddy Big Bird was there too, but I didn't manage to get his picture.
Spectators along the way. Look in the windows and fire escape. It was pretty cool.
Kids with candy.
Kids giving high fives, or maybe just low fives.
My obligatory fireman picture.

That is all she wrote. Peace out!

Better Late than Never

photo credit: Brightroom Photography
This was my 6th marathon. I look pretty
pumped about it, right?
So it is now 2015. I ran the NYC Marathon exactly 9 weeks ago today. I kept meaning to post. To tell you all how wonderful and fabulous and glorious I ran and what a wonderful experience it all was, but I couldn't put all of my thoughts together coherently and I'm still not sure it's possible. I would love to tell you THIS is the post that I will tell you about my marathon, but ya'll know I suck at lying and THIS is not that post.No worries though. I'm going to post twice in ONE NIGHT. So here is what has held me back. (WARNING: I told you it was a lot to process)

This marathon was very different than any other I had ever run (which was 7 if you haven't been following). Over the 6 years I have been running, my goals, training plans, training partners, inspiration and motivation have all changed as time progressed. I started off so fresh and new. I didn't know ANYTHING about running in 2008. I ran as therapy after the loss of my friend. If I was sad, I would run. Simply put, this means that I ran a lot. I soon joined a running group and for the first time in a VERY long time, I had friends. Friends that weren't related to me. I ran with other moms, grandmothers, college kids, old friends from high school that I hadn't seen in years. I had friends that talked me through tough days and inspired me on each run to go farther, run faster and really, just believe in me. This was the beginning of my running chapter and I loved every step of it.

ECU Relay for Life 2012. My job looks pretty tough right?
I always give 110%.
This is me at the END of the Relay season.
I'm trying to make it all fun, but man, I need a nap!

Over the years, this group kept me going, but I left the corporate world in 2011 and moved over to non-profit. I worked at the American Cancer Society and I mean WORKED! 60+ hours a week. The job was personal to me. It was emotionally taxing and it would seem I could channel that emotion just as I did when Emily died and pour it into running to burn it off, but it just didn't pan out like that. I have tried for years to figure out the difference and the only thing I can figure is, I didn't have a say in Emily's death. She was dying of Ovarian Cancer. I couldn't fix her, I couldn't change the outcome. We lost her and I could never change that. The emotions I dealt with at the ACS were much different. I HAD a say. I could raise more money, more awareness, bring in more volunteers... I had a say and my say meant that hopefully, I could make a difference. I could save someone's Emily. And so I worked, and worked and worked. My runs became less important. It began to get hard to wake up at 4:45am to make my 5:30am runs because I was up until 2am thinking about everything I wasn't getting done and how I could fit it all in the next day. It's safe to say, I worked too much. I never saw my kids or my husband, my friends, my family, everyone I cared about got put on hold and I realized very abruptly with the thanks to my 6 year old daughter that I had to stop.  I attended an ECU Relay for Life event (that was one of my Relays that I was in charge of) and they had a large white board with the words "If cancer didn't exist". Kids (as in college kids) wrote what that would mean to them. My 6 year old picked up the marker and her first quote made my heart skip a beat as it read, "I would remember Miss. Emily". To her, Miss. Emily wasn't a memory as she was only 3 when she died. She was only someone I had told her about in stories. It was her second quote that STOPPED my heart. It read, "I would see my Mommy more". My six year old got it and I was missing it. I was missing her grow up, missing my son grow up, missing my husband, missing my runs, missing my running group and missing my friends. I submitted my resignation as soon as I saw all of my Relays through that season helping to raise just under $600,000 for my 4 communities and really, I never looked back.

Now I am the part time Executive Director at the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina. Non-profit work has a way of draining your emotions. I am MUCH better at balancing my work life balance at the HSEC. I still work more than the hours I am paid to work (and I have NO issues with that
Photo credit: Capturing Canines
This is Tilly and I can honestly say, I helped save her.
WHATSOEVER), but when my kids need me, I can arrange to be there. I can get them off the bus, help them with homework and enjoy dinners with my family. Still though, I am emotionally drained and running hasn't been a priority. Again, I have a say, I can change the outcome of the HSEC if I work hard enough. I lie awake at night and wonder what else I could do to bring in the donations we need to keep us a float, how to market our animals to get more adoptions and what I can do to educate our community about the HSEC and animal welfare to SAVE MORE LIVES. Staying up until 2am just doesn't compute to runs at 5:30am. So again, my running has suffered. This time though, my work is tangible. I can SEE the difference I am making. Not only can I see it, I can literally touch each and every one of those babies! I can see our donations and fundraising totals rise. I can see my team of co-workers and I all working together to increase adoptions, reduce spending and do everything we can to keep our organization a float. I CAN SEE AND TOUCH AND HUG THE VERY LIVES I AM HELPING OUR TEAM TO SAVE. It's VERY easy to capture in our reports. All of it, but my favorite part is the number of animals we are placing! We have increased adoptions from 376 in 2013 to 600 (plus five return to owners) in 2014! If I had to choose between running and saving the lives of 605 animals in my community, I would always choose lives over footsteps. Always. BUT, I really must find a balance and not always lose myself in my passion, which also happens to be my job.

Spoiler alert.
This is more my running style these days.
Sooooo.... now that I've got that off my chest, this leaves me to tell you all about my glorious marathon through all 5 boroughs of New York City. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Son of a Nutcracker!

The NYC Marathon is in 6 days?
Hold up, I think I'm running that.
I couldn't find a more fitting gif compilation to tell my story about the upcoming New York City Marathon than, of course, The Elf. I mean, he's wearing running tights, the movie is set in NY and come on, it's Will Ferrell. By the way, did you know that Ferrell ran the Boston Marathon in 2003 in 3:56:12? Pretty impressive!

So, back to me. Let's start with my training. So I started off strong. Well, I was running. Regularly. And I didn't die. Then life kinda crumbled a bit and I went insane until maybe next week and training was SLACK. BUT, despite not running much during the weeks, I still got in my long runs. Ran my 18 miles...LIKE A BOSS. Who cares if I didn't run during the week... at all? Not the most solid idea in the world, but in my brain, I just have to make it to mile 20 and from there on out, I can walk half a mile, run half a mile and get my ass across that finish line. I'll totally make it happen. A friend told me it was being televised and asked how to find me. I told her that I would be the one dragging my leg across the finish line with a glass of wine in my hand. I'm not being funny. There is a 90% chance this will come to fruition.

This is miles 1-8. Feeling great. Having some fun.
I am really good at making marathon torture fun. Bizarre, I know, but I bring my camera, take pictures with whoever is willing to participate and laugh at myself even when it isn't so pretty. I make friends along the way and meet the most interesting people with great stories. It keeps me entertained and hey, I just like friends, why not make a few more? You have to make the best of any situation in life. A marathon is no different. I will hit every emotion there is. I will hit excitement at the start and nervousness as my coral begins to roll out.
Rolling out. You start off a little unsure and then you just jump in.
I will feel strong at the beginning and I will reach a moment when I would rather do anything (including deliver quadruplets with no pain meds) than actually run this marathon. I will take a few steps feeling peace when I can see the sun over the skyline. I will think back on why I started running in the first place (that's always my favorite moment) and I will think of funny stories about Emily. I love anything that reminds me of Emily. Then I will hit the wall...
And then there is mile 20-26. This is EXACTLY what it's like.
I will feel defeated from mile 20 until the finish, but at that line, at that glorious line with the crowd of complete strangers cheering, my feet will stop, my heart will pound, my eyes will fill with tears and my heart will fill with pride and maybe a little vomit. It is an emotion I cannot possibly describe in accuracy. They will slide a medal over my head and give me an extra shiny blanket that is so loud you can't hear anything else around you. I will snuggle up in my crinkly space blanket and keep walking until they usher you out of the finish line area and I am done.

Congratulations! Nice to meet you.
This is it. My LAST full marathon. Eight marathons completed. I will know I gave EVERYTHING I had inside of me to finish the race. I will know I asked my friends and family a million and seventeen times to donate to my cause, to the thing I love most... the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina. I will know that not only did I run a marathon, but I saved a few lives while I was at it. 

AND here it is... I am $307 shy of my fundraising goal of $2,620. That is $100 per mile! So far, I've raised $2,313. I can't stop at mile 23.13. That would be silly. I would never reach that finish line moment and let's be real, I wouldn't get my medal!!! Ain't nobody got time for that! So, if you haven't donated yet (don't be a cotton headed ninny-muggins), please take a minute to do so today and help me reach my goal and SAVE LIVES! $300 will fully vet 3 dogs at our facility. That is 3 extra furry lives you helped save. Skip your coffee today and donate whatever you can spare. No amount it too small!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Enough Goodness to Make You Puke

My crazy lady idol.
If you've followed my blog this long, you are well aware that I go one speed and that is called crazy
lady barely hanging on speed. It's a good thing. Really, I swear. This weekend was no exception to the rule. It was crazy, I barely hung on and I miraculously survived. BUT, this weekend is one of those weekends that reminds me of why crazy is SOOOOO good, it will make you toss your cookies.

The reason I started this blog was to keep myself motivated for my 8th marathon at the NYC Marathon on November 2. I pledged to raise $100 per mile for the animals at the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina. This surely would keep my sneakers to the pavement and I could raise some MUCH NEEDED funds for the animals I love so dearly and work for every single day. The Humane Society of Eastern Carolina survives solely on donations and fundraisers. We receive NO funding from the government or from the Humane Society of the US. Just like every other organization that survives this way, we are hurting badly for assistance. I just ran our reports and we have adopted out over 560 animals over the past 12 months. That is 560 super adorable, super furry and super needy lives saved from euthanasia at high-kill shelters. **Insert the happiest of all happy dances here** That is an increase of almost 200 animals saved in a year. The sad fact is though, with more animals, come more vet bills, more staff need, more vaccinations and more in-house meds. We simply can't keep up. It's for real the 4th quarter and we are running out of plays. This fact keeps me up at night and keeps my anxiety levels on high red at all times. Mostly, if you hug me, my eyes automatically leak. Deep breath in... deep breath out.

Fluff and Puff Dog Wash victim number 30. What a pretty boy.
Photo courtesy of Capturing Canines
So this weekend we had a fundraiser AND national adoption weekend at PetSmart.This means the staff and volunteers are hustling and bustling! It makes for lots of excitement, chaos and general busy-ness (aka CRAZINESS). Saturday arrived and the pressure was on. It was cloudy, threatening to rain and our fundraiser that we were counting on was a Dog Wash. Luckily, dogs aren't like cars. You can wash them on a rainy day and it's all good. I mean a wet dog, is a wet dog no matter how it happens! It was also college game day... strike 2. My heart began to sink as the dog wash line was a slow trickle. By lunch we had 26 customers where we usually have at least 45. Yet I looked around me and the volunteers were positive and the people that had come out to support us were beyond giving and kind. There was laughter and encouragement all around and before I realized what happened, an angel appeared by my side. She's one of the cutest angels you'll ever meet too. She's a tiny little thing, but a force to be reckoned with and she happens to be a dog sitter/walker in the area (Danielle's Pet Care is awesome in case you were wondering). She approached with a smile and she could tell I was discouraged. She smiled, picked up her phone and said... I'm texting all my clients to tell them to come out if they can. I laughed and thought, "Gosh I love her" and then the sea of people began to come. We ask each person how they heard of the wash. I'm pretty certain the majority of them responded from that point on, "My dog sitter, Danielle". I even had one lady shrug her shoulders and reply, "my friend's dog sitter?". All I'm saying is, Danielle is my new favorite gal! I mean, I've always thought she was pretty awesome, but this miniature Wonder Woman packs some power. We ended up doing much better than anticipated AND we had a HUGE pallet of food that was donated to the Pet Food Pantry of Eastern NC by our supporters as well, so all and all, I would consider that a success! I returned to the facility to unload the dog pools and tables and walked into a shelter that was rocking and rolling. Adoptions were happening in beyond incredible numbers (that's my favorite) and my mood had shifted from gloom to BOOM!
Not only did Danielle bring us a ton of last minute customers,
but she also volunteered her afternoon as a "runner"
to take the dogs through the dog wash.
Photo courtesy of Capturing Canines

Love Wins. For sure... especially in Italian.
Now on to this morning... we managed to wrangle our kids into the car and make it to church ONLY 5 minutes late. This is like a major high five for us since our church is a 30 minute drive and my kids are related to me. It's like a goat rodeo, in a Jeep Compass. Did anyone bring the wine? At church the sermon hit home and my already emotional self was having an internal meltdown which unleashed itself into an external meltdown with the hug of a very sweet friend. (So sorry Natalie, Velinda and Jeff!). After church, I headed out on a very hot five mile run so that I could go donate blood at our blood drive. Remember, the whole reason I started this blog was because I am RUNNING THE NYC MARATHON and you can't run AFTER you donate so... I sat down and went through all of the insane questions they ask you when you decide to give your blood away (before 1977 did you sell yourself for drugs or money? Ummmm wait, I was born in 77) and then the lady said, "Is your left arm okay?" For the first time EVER I didn't hesitate at all and slapped down my arm tatoo side up! For an explanation on why this is an achievement you can read this. For once, I felt proud of the beauty on the underside of my arm. Just then Jackson came to sit with me and was chatting it up in normal Jackson fashion. The lady put the cuff on my arm and pulled out a marker to mark my vein. Just as I was trying to be all Mom-ish and began to tell Jackson that when he got older he could donate blood too, I glanced back at him and he looked like he might just fall out. I instructed him to go find Daddy and maybe he shouldn't sit with me if it was going to upset him. Before I knew it, I was all hooked up and I heard an American Red Cross worker say, "hey, is that kid okay? He looks really bad". Troy hustled by me with a very green Jackson as I was stuck in my chair with a needle in my arm. As I finished I got up and went to find them. Jackson had his fill of goodness and had in fact tossed his cookies. I think it's safe to say, he and his Daddy just don't have it in them to be blood donors. Sometimes, I find myself feeling the same way Jackson.

I'm gonna seal it with a PRAISE!
Photo courtesy of Capturing Canines
I finished my weekend reading the report that we had adopted out 19 animals this weekend. That would put us at 33 adoptions for September and we are only 2 weeks in! Now THAT is a lot of goodness. Almost so much goodness that I wanted to puke, too. It just reminds me that I have to keep asking people for money, keep asking people to volunteer, to adopt and to donate anything they can! So here I am, asking you to help me reach my goal. So far, I have raised $2,280. This leaves me $340 shy of my goal of raising $100 per mile of my 26.2 mile adventure through all five boroughs of New York City. Let me reword that, I am not asking you to support ME, I am asking you to support THEM. The 560 animals we have saved this year and the 560 animals that still need saving. In Pitt County, over 2,000 animals will be euthanized this year. If the HSEC didn't exist, that number would increase... by 560 lives. I used to hate our old tag line, "Help us help them", but as for tonight, I can't think of a better phrase. Won't you help?
If you enjoy the pics from the dog wash, please visit and give will a shout. He does amazing things with a camera and a dog (he's not too shabby at humans either) and he donated 25% of each package back to the HSEC!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Let's get REAL

THIS is a Flying Turtle and I rocked that thing
down a big ass driveway. That kid looks like he
is going real slow, but it was the face I was going for.
So if I'm asking you to support my passions and ultimately my agenda, there are a few things I should lay out there. I will blog about exactly how I feel and when I feel it. I sound like Lesley Gore "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to..." Sure, if I was a safe blogger I'd keep safe content with safe language and safe political jokes, but safe has never really been my bag of chips. I'm the kid that rode a Flying Turtle down Jamie Brantley's driveway, which was the steepest in town, just because everyone else was afraid to and I felt the need to show them how much fun it was and that it was totally safe. What could possibly go wrong while riding a very low to the ground toy with teeny tiny wheels down a steep cement driveway? Fast forward to the halfway point when I was hauling my turtle ass so fast down that driveway that I thought, maybe I should slow down a wee bit and put my sneakers down. I flipped over the handlebars and rolled down the driveway all the way to the bottom. I think I made a skid sound as I reached my stopping point. I remember looking up and my sister looking horrified at my bloody self. All I could do was break out into laughter. I just kept laughing and laughing and laughing. "See! I told you it was awesome!" Limits have never been anything I have taken notice of in my life. Don't tell me I can't do something if you don't want me to prove you wrong.

Sometimes, even the "happiest" of all
people get sad. When we do, we look like this
and we get angry.
Last night I posted a long, overly dramatic, yet totally true to the letter post on (GASP) Facebook. It was how I felt. I wasn't cruel. I wasn't complaining about the weather or a headache, I was merely stating my human weaknesses and the fragile transition my family is in at the present time. I at least threw in a good ole sense of humor to keep it real when I sealed the post with a closing statement, "Until then, just give me a big high five the next time you see me and tell me it will all be fine and that my hair looks amazing." See, I was still being witty. The thing is, my family is in limbo. We built our "dream" home 7 years ago when we thought we needed more space. Tiny human #3 was still in the plans then and our current home couldn't fit a third child. I had a comfortable corporate job as a marketing director and it was perfect. At the time. We built our fancy 4 bedroom, 3 bath home with a playroom that was big enough for roller derby and we were over the moon. Tiny human #3 never happened and after working a very monetarily fulfilling corporate job for 10 years, I had found my way into the non-profit world through volunteer work and when given the opportunity to actually get paid to do something good in this world with my talents and gifts, I took it. I rode that offer right down that driveway just as fast as I could. It was scary and fast and I even took a few spills, but at the bottom of the driveway, I looked up and just knew I could make a difference. The only problem is, my paycheck isn't as rewarding as the job. It got even smaller when I decided to go part-time to be with my kids when they got home from school. My son struggles with anxiety and he is 11. Mama had to take some time to be a mama. My husband supported me 100% (insert very loud applause and hugs and adoration... what a guy). So, we sold the Mommy Minivan for a reasonable car we could pay cash for that got great gas mileage. We rented out our "dream" house to tenants to cover our mortgage and found a smaller, more modest house to rent ourselves at a fraction of the cost. This worked for 3 years until we needed to move forward and out of the limbo phase we had settled into so awkwardly. I mean, I lived with carpet in my bathroom for 3 whole years people! Do you know how hard that is for someone with OCD? It is time to move on. So, while our house is on the market and our tenants have moved out, it's time to turtle up and move back in until we can close this chapter of our lives with a SALE and move on. The uncertainty of my living quarters and moving not once, but twice (can you believe the buyers are going to kick us out after we sell our house?!) is a lot for a gal like me to swallow. So I did what I do best. I shared. I live a very transparent life. You want to know something about me, I'll probably tell you. I am completely comfortable with me and quite frankly, in my world, I think everyone should be.

What do you mean I share too much?
Does this look like the face of a lady
 who takes herself THAT seriously?
Then I got the message. It was a private message that first asked me if I was okay. It was then followed by the advice that I should probably rethink my last post and delete it. I probably didn't want that many people knowing my business. Whaaaaa? Pretty sure I'm good with it. I realize this person was just trying to be on the lookout for me. He didn't mean harm. So I counted to 10 and I kindly explained that I'm an open book. Take it, or leave it. In the world of social media, it is so easy to paint a picture of yourself that looks like perfection. You are the perfect mom, the perfect employee, the most generous volunteer. You can paint whatever scene you wish to be the star of. I see so many people comparing themselves to others because of this. If I only share the glorious moments in life, I am not telling my story, because there are some really not so glorious moments in my life. So I share it all. Here is what really tickles me about social media. Some people are REALLY annoyed by it, yet they have a facebook page. Some people will comment on one of my very long posts and say they are too long. Well... how would you know that if you hadn't just taken the time to read my post? Why do you follow me if you don't agree with my posting strategy? So, I made my peace with it, posted a snarky comment about "If you don't want real, then don't follow me" (that's the short version) and got over 120 likes and 27 comments saying ROCK ON and a handful of messages from people that just wanted me to know they loved me and thought I was doing A-Okay. I think people on social media need the REAL to be shared more often. I mean, let's keep it funny, don't get me wrong, but some days, some dreadful cloudy days, you just have to throw your hands in the air and yell, "shove it!" Usually when I do share my VERY real and raw, I get private messages all day long about people that are in the same boat or are dealing with the same struggles. They thank me for the post, for being bold enough to share something true and scary, or reassure me that all will be right in the world again. It's a tool people. Use it. Reach out to people and relate to them. It might be through technology and that might seem lame, but my God, if you can make one person feel like they have company on that struggle bus, then I'm all for it. If my not so sparkly days in life make you uncomfortable, you probably shouldn't read my blog or be on facebook. I am guaranteed to disappoint you.

Sometimes you just have to jump in.
We are all just standing at the top of that driveway waiting for the ride of our lives. You aren't courageous if you were never afraid. You can stare down that hill and watch me fly down screaming with laughter or you can join in the fun. I promise, the skinned knees and even the goose egg were definitely worth the ride. The fun part of life is that there are hills and valleys that will form your road, your story. Hang on tight on the way down (or throw your hands in the air and scream) and work hard to trudge your way back to the top, but I guarantee, it's always more fun with company!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Until then... We have HOPE.

So it has been a month since I last blogged. #WorstBloggerEver. It isn't because I haven't thought about it or had brilliant things to say (whaaaaa???), it's because I have been a lazy, scatterbrained, ADHD blogger and couldn't decide exactly what story to tell. There are just so many soap operas in my head at once!!!

Hope really digs the car. This is on the way
home from her news debut on WITN. I think they
got her best side.

BUT, this week is different. This week I knew there was a story to be told. That story is about a dog named HOPE.  On Monday one of our staff approached me and began our conversation with, "Bethann, you are going to kill me". Knowing it was the beginning of the week and we were doing intake from the shelter, I laughed and said, "Oh Lord, what kind of dog did you pull today?" You see, although we are a no-kill facility, sometimes life or death sits on our shoulders. The Humane Society of Eastern Carolina takes on the responsibility to walk down the halls of our county shelter (THAT WE LOVE, LOVE, LOVE) and pull animals that we feel are adoptable to save them from possible euthanasia. This means that sometimes we are fully aware that if we don't pull them, they will be euthanized. That is a hard thing to put on anyone's shoulders. I say all the time that I don't envy the Pitt County Animal Shelter staff. They have a really hard job. One I couldn't possibly do, but unfortunately with over 200 animals coming in a month and less than 80 runs to hold the animals, euthanasia is a reality. So, back to my story... Sistine was walking the hallway to make her selections and came across a pair of big soulful brown eyes. Behind those eyes was a wagging tail and a gentle heart that belong to a dog we named Hope. Six year old Hope is what we would refer to as a trainwreck of a dog. We mean that in the nicest of ways (bless her heart), but when one of my staff said, "It could be worse", I honestly looked at her and replied, "Could it?". So I guess she has both eyes and that's a plus, but Hope is a big hot mess.


This will be hard to believe,
but those are Hope's breasts.
And to think I thought I had
girl problems.

Hope was more than likely used for breeding and breeding and breeding some more. Of course all of this is speculation since Hope can't share her story, but the evidence is there. It's in her breasts that literally drag on the ground and have bruises at the base near her ribcage. This is from litter after litter that Hope cared for and nourished until they were taken from her. You can see it in her bowed out front legs with elbows that she isn't able to hold in when she walks. Probably from inbreeding or from being confined to a crate her whole life. Her ears are thick from old hematoma's that healed leaving extra tissue behind and filled with infections. She was covered in fleas and her skin is infected from all of the scratching. Her teeth are broken and rotted and she walks hunched over all of the time. She also has burns on her feet, knees and the backs of her legs. It could have been from sitting in her urine for so long or from hot cement. Which is worse? Oh and of course, Hope is heartworm positive. Like I said, poor sweet baby is a mess! Luckily for Hope, Sistine saw her worth and decided to save her that day. She is now our responsibility and we don't take that lightly at the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina. Homegirl is getting a full makeover and we just know she is going to pull through and get that happy life she deserves.

Bath time for this sweet girl.
So, Hope just gives me another reason to keep up my training and my fundraising for the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina. This is what we do and I'd like to think we do it well. We cannot, however, do this without donations to pay for the medical needs of our animals. Hope's case will cost us a minimum of about $800. We will get her fixed up and then we will find her a home where she will live out her days full of love. Until then... there's HOPE.

Please help if you can. ANY little bit helps! Hope will need a mastectomy, lots of meds for her multiple infections, x-rays on her legs and so much more. She is recovering in fostercare where she is doing well and LOVES being part of a family. We will also need the perfect family to adopt Hope. Please contact me with any questions or adoption inquiries at

 I "HOPE" you can help.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hang on Tight

Sometimes, life is an emotional roller coaster.
We all view the ups and downs a little differently
and handle them differently too. The point is,
we all travel the journey.
Running is an emotional thing for a lot of runners. It's what keeps us sane most days. If you're happy, use that as motivation for a great run. If you're sad, channel that yuck into your training and just run it out. Possibly the best one though is when you are mad, like really, really mad, like baby with colic purple crying mad... use it. Run it out. Just go with it, dig into your emotion and when you've completed that last mile, take a breath and let it go. It's quite miraculous how well it actually works. (For the record, wine works too. Especially wine in a rocking chair on the front porch with your best friend.)

Summer time is crazy time in my household. My household is always insane. I am legitimately diagnosed and treated for OCD and ADHD and a little permanently PMS'E so there's that. I am relatively good at organized chaos and quite honestly would be bored out of my mind without crazy in my life. My crazy these days is about way less drama and just kinda every-day-life-how-can-I-get-it-all-in-and-make-sure-my-kids-are-still-alive-at-the-end-of-the-day kinda crazy. Kids, work, meetings, foster dogs, some more kids, SWIM PRACTICE every freaking day of our lives, throw in a little Candy Crush, another dog, a few runs, and injured hawk, grocery shopping, laundry and some meals to prepare for my family to make us seem more normal and that's me in a nutshell. My kids are just like me (sorry kids) so our house is always on GO-TIME! This sometimes mean Mommy's emotions get a
This is a normal night in our house.
Ok kids, let's jump and see if we can get some
funny shots. Wait, do it again.
little out of whack. This week I found myself sitting on the couch and crying to my poor husband about the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina and why it is so important in our community. As if he didn't know what it meant to me, I poured it all out there. What would we do without it? What would that mean to the animals that we house and the one's we have yet to save? You would have thought someone was torturing a puppy right in front of me. I maybe, just maybe, got a little worked up about it. The truth is though, the reality of the Humane Society of EC coming to an end is very REAL and it stares me down every morning when I wake up and keeps me up many sleepless nights.

The Humane Society of Eastern Carolina survives on donations and fundraisers. My "20 hr/week" job (let's ALL laugh hysterically at that) role is all about making the money, the adoption numbers and marketing. So our adoptions are up... YAY US! We have adopted out 117 more animals as of this July as compared to this time last year. We are on track to adopt out almost 500 animals this year. That will break our 5 year records for sure. I feel like our marketing and branding have come along way in the 10 months I have been employed here and even our donations and our fundraising are up by significant amounts if you compare us to last year, BUT because we have taken in and adopted out so many animals this year, our expenses are through the woof. (you like how I did that? Always throw in a laugh if you are getting too serious). But SERIOUSLY, we have operated on a deficit budget for many, many years now and our bank account won't be able to do so for too much longer. People always say, well what can you cut from your budget? As if we haven't already thought of that. The answer is, nothing. If we cut staff, medications, supplies or pretty much anything, the lives of our animals will suffer. We are just not okay with that. We pride ourselves on the fact that our dogs not only get out 3 times a day, but they get individual love and attention at each let out. They get walked, play time in the play yard and sometimes, just some good butt scratches in the office. I mean, who doesn't love a good butt scratch. We love that our cats get out in the play area twice a day in play groups or by themselves with a volunteer while staff clean their cages and prepare their food and meds. We love that if we have a dog struggling with being institutionalized for so long that we have training sessions to break them of some of their bad habits or manners so that they can hopefully get out sooner. We love that Wednesday is new squeaky toy day and that Friday's the cats get cage makeovers with pretty blankets from Mrs. Lisa. We love that Warren has leash trained our feline friends and walks them around PetSmart so they get time out of their cages. All of these things we love so fiercely will be gone with reduction of staff time at the facility. So, that isn't an option for me or for any of my co-workers and it's definitely not an option for all of the animals that we love so dearly at our shelter.

I look super official and important. 
I have a few things up my sleeve that I canNOT wait to announce for a fundraising event that just might save us, but until then, I will be using my running and my blog to show others what THEY can do for the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina. I signed up on FirstGiving to fundraise for the HSEC and it took all of 5 minutes to do so. I wrote an "about me" section and shared it with my friends. I challenged myself with running the NYC Marathon for the HSEC and have set the bar at raising $100 per mile. I have challenged myself with raising $2,620 for the animals within our facility. The thing is, YOU can do something to help us by accepting the challenge and setting up your very own FirstGiving fundraiser too. If we all raise a little bit, it can go a LONG way!

Here is the challenge, register on FirstGiving by clicking HERE. Just choose, "Start Fundraising" and choose exactly what you want that to look like. Create a holiday to celebrate, "National Skip Starbucks and Donate to My Cause Day", "It's my Birthday and you Forgot it Last Year so Make a Donation Day", shave your head, train for a 5k, shave your beard, grow a beard, I don't care. As Nike said, JUST DO IT! Join me and help us save the Humane Society and all of the animals within it.

Until then, I'll be sweating out my emotions on each an every run. Some of them will be tearful, some will be full of laughter and some (let's face it) I will be cursing running and all of the glorious pain that comes with it for every single step, but I'm doing it and I'm doing it with lots of love, organized chaos and wine.

Day 22 of training

Total Training Mileage = 56 miles
Total Fundraising = $650

Donors: Megan Hardee, Kay Evans, Shelley Leicht, Chad Smith, Daniel Rankin, Beth (HSEC ALUMNI MOMMY) & Abbey (HSEC ALUMNI) Gallup, Jean Gaskins, Lisa Price, Leslie Bunch, Akiko Barker (HSEC ALUMNI MOMMY) and a super duper anonymous donor I've never met in person, but she's pretty spectacular in every way! THANKS TO ALL WHO HAVE DONATED!