Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Maybe I'm Only Half Crazy...

I’ve been a bit hesitant to make a public announcement regarding what I’m about to publically announce.  It’s not life-shattering nor particularly embarrassing (a pleasant change), but it’s something I find personally scary and admitting it in a public forum means I’ve committed myself to this particular activity.

I signed up for my first half-marathon.

This is something I’d been thinking about doing for awhile, especially since I’ve lapsed a bit on training since the Peachtree ended.  I’ve been sticking to my commitment of at least one 5K per month to celebrate my 30th birthday and that’s been fun (in October, I did two in the same weekend—Monday was less fun).  I’ll keep doing them b/c it’s a fun way to spend time with my friends and then eat an absurd amount of Waffle House afterward.

But I missed having a running group and I need the accountability that a running group provides.  And so…  I signed up through Team in Training and committed to the Publix Half Marathon on March 22, 2015.  For obvious reasons, blood cancer research is important to me, not only because it saved my life, but it impacts people I care about.

And like I told my TnT recruiter, I’m tired of being a mascot in my own cancer story.

For all that people gave me credit for how gracefully I handled having cancer, I didn’t do much.  I got well (and, more importantly, wanted to get well) because I was surrounded by friends and family who never let my spirits fall so low, I thought giving up was the better option.  I had doctors, harangued by my father (often and without guilt), who worked around the clock to make sure my pain was as minimal as it could be under the circumstances.

My beloved bestie already has done her part to raise money on my behalf during her experience with Team in Training, and now it’s my turn to pay it forward and to do one of things I wanted to do before I got sick.  I want to be my own hero and finish something I’m not entirely certain I’m capable of.  Paralyzed left diaphragm and bad arches notwithstanding, I’m literally not sure I can last 13.1 miles.I’m also not sure I’ll last through early morning, cold weather training, but I’ve got cute new clothes, so it’s a start.

I’d also apologize in advance for the next five months of fundraising requests, but I wouldn’t actually mean it, so I’ll just promise not to post links to my TnT page too often. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Rebelling the Rachel Way

The closer I get to 30 (!), the more I entertain crazy notions that I need to do something wild to mark the occasion/prove I’m not an Old.  (I think the fact that I unironically use “notions” on a regular basis just proves I’ve always been secretly old.)  Recent ideas have included:
  • A Tattoo: I’ve always wanted one and I’ve got male and female friends who’ve actually got some very tasteful and meaningful tattoos.  Even in college, when I could have gotten one because I am an adult/a rebel/a poseur, I was beyond indecisive.  I couldn’t pick a favorite movie, breakfast cereal, or type of guy, so how could I pick something that would stay on my skin forever?   These days, I’ve been thinking of getting one to commemorate my cancer survival, on my left ribs near my tumor site.  Still undecided on a design though, so the tattoo is back-burnered. 
  • A Piercing: This is mostly due to the fact that I work in a very conservative law firm and I just want to rebel and have an obnoxious number of ear piercings or a tongue ring or even a tasteful nose ring.  All it would do is make my father internally flinch every time he looks at me and that would get old after a while.
  • A Solo Vacation: Other than sick leave and family things, and a wedding where I spent more time in the car than Nashville, I haven’t had an honest-to-God vacation since 2008 (possibly even longer than that).  Anyone says family trips are relaxing is a liar.  I love my family, but we are not a calm bunch.  This one is definitely on the agenda, though it probably not going to happen before I turn 30.
  • Dye My Hair a Crazy Color: This used to be my go-to thing, and I loved being a redhead, but it turns out my natural color is a fairly pretty dark brown.
  • Skydiving: I have very few friends willing to go with me in the event this goes south (no pun intended), but this one is going to happen before 31.

As it turns out, I’m kind of boring anyway, b/c so far the biggest thing I’m doing to celebrate my year of 30 is running in a new race every month from now until the end of 2014. Some I’ll get to do with my friends and some I may just do solo.  Either way, I’m looking forward to having something to commit to and who doesn’t need more race shirts?

I’m ready for August.  July was a strange month and I’m ready for good things to happen.  And if they don’t “just happen,” I’m ready to make good things happen.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Racing Recaps with Rachel

Hello blogosphere.  Hopefully by now, you’ve realized my lapse in entries (while irritating) is somewhat normal, and I did not, in fact, die while running the Peachtree.  I (mostly) hit my time goal, I got a t-shirt in the size I wanted, and I got to spend the day with my best friend.  Victory!
Race Recap
 I actually managed to get six hours sleep.  I wasn’t expecting to be able to sleep at all, but I woke up about 2:30 and was just raring to go.  Like all nerds and good racers, I didn’t have much to do at 2:30 as I’d packed my race gear and K-Taped my legs before going to bed.  But even at that hour, people were awake so I indulged in some late-night texting and Facebooking (apparently Jaclyn was having the same sleep issues I was) and read for awhile.
For those of you who’ve never participated in the Peachtree, the order of the day is “Hurry up and wait.”  And strategic parking is a must.  Some people like to park at the starting line of the race and take the Marta back to their cars (there are also more parking spaces from what I can tell).  However, the flaw in this plan is at the end of the race, you’re stuck in Marta cars with 60,000 other fools who just ran 6.2 miles in July.
Jaclyn and I decided the smart thing to do is to park at the end of the race, and we found the world’s sketchiest parking lot (that we missed the turn for three times—this is normal).  So we Marta-ed, got to the start in plenty of time to hydrate and find my start wave.
One of the many things that’s so awesome about my bestie is that while she is one of the most competitive people I know (and I work with lawyers), the truth is she just loves running and she loves to run with people she cares about.  So while she had the option of an earlier start time and the chance to hit a PR, she stayed with me and my bad shins and kept up a steady stream of conversation the entire (literally) 6.2 miles.  I am not entirely sure I could have finished without her by my side.  And truthfully, it meant a lot more to finish my first race in 3+ with my best friend anyway. 
Also making the day awesome: Cason got up wicked early, drove down from Snellville, and waited by herself in Midtown just to cheer Jac and I on for a few brief seconds.  A random and welcome sighting of one of my co-worker/friends made getting through the half-way point a reality.  And Mom and some other of my co-workers were crowd-control volunteers at the finish line, so my day was filled with people I care about.
Sadly they ran out of post-race bananas and peaches, but I did get Powerade and popsicles (and alliteration), so #winning.
Post-race, Jaclyn and I ate more calories than humans should at the Waffle House and we parted ways until the Enners Family Barbecue that evening at her parents’ house.  I brought an epically awesome potato salad  and I say this as someone who didn’t even like potato salad until I made this.  Of course, Mrs. Enners, in typical mom fashion, sent all of us home with a ton of food.

For my next running adventure, Jaclyn’s already picked out our next race.  Cason made the comment in front of Jaclyn that she would love to do something like the Peachtree next year.  Jac doesn’t take these sort of statements as idle musings; less than two days later, she found the Vinings Downhill 5K which is a Peachtree qualifier, so next year, I won’t have to start in the W’s. 
Me, Jaclyn, Cason
Me and my shirt
Me and Mom

Me and my bestie

Monday, June 2, 2014

Reflections from a Cancer Center Waiting Room

I'm quietly celebrating two years and 10 days of being done with my last round of chemo.  Back to Winship for CT scans (that are now thankfully few and far between).  For some reason, today I'm really struck by the variety of people one finds when going to cancer treatments.

Like any tragedy, I imagine, cancer is an equal-opportunity killer.  I mean if you want to look at something that truly doesn't care about your socio-economic standing, looks, popularity, whatever, cancer is one of those things.  Obviously, there are things you can do to increase or decrease your chances in relation to whether or not you get cancer: smoking, taking birth control, giving birth, exercising, eating super-foods.  But at the end of the day, nothing can truly stop cancer if it decides to take residence in your body.

In today's cast of patients, I was sitting next to a nun during my lab work.  That's what started this whole rabbit trail of thought.  I couldn't help but think, "Here's someone (by all appearances) who is devoting her life to God.  If she gets hit with cancer, what hope is there for the rest of us?"

Also at Winship today were young parents, a older teenager, the elderly.... Nothing in common but cancer.

I don't have a point to this piece (#shocking).  The reason I started this blog was because sometimes I just needed to ask questions about the cancer process and just toss them into the ether.  Sometimes, I just needed to think out loud.  I have a therapist who gets paid to help me deal with these things; it different when you talk about this stuff to someone who relates in some way.

I have my 30th birthday coming up this year and it's making me super-reflective. Plus as I told one of my nurses, two and a half years ago, I wasn't entirely sure I'd see 30, so now I'm just excited that I got all this extra time (and a chance to use all these extra words.)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Running Towards Change

Apologies for the radio silence.  As I’ve actually been following through with my Peachtree training, boot camps, and spending my weekends job hunting, I haven’t had the mental fortitude to write what I fear will turn into a lengthy blog post.  My mother says I should write shorter posts more often.  I said I would write more often if I thought I had more readers.  She said I’d have more readers if I wrote more often. #KarylBoydfortheWin
Training for the Peachtree is going extremely well.  As I’ve said previously, when it comes to fitness, I need accountability.  It’s why I’ve stuck with my boot camp instructor for almost two years and why I feel like I’m having success with this running program so far. 
I’d forgotten how much I really liked running.  I’d forgotten the thrill of pushing yourself just 30 more seconds because the right song is on (in my case “Enter Sandman” or “Since U Been Gone”) and you want the running portion of your run/walk to time out with the music.  I even briefly enjoyed the shin twinges because it was proof I was working my legs. Of course, it was also proof I’m going to need some road running shoes and The Stick, but progress is progress.
I like the running and the accountability so much, I’m actually giving serious consideration to training for the Atlanta Half-Marathon on Thanksgiving Day since I’m going to be in town this year.  I should do it for no other reason than the blog fodder and my readers’ amusement.
As for my dating life... Suffice it to say if this blog were solely about my victories in dating, it’d be like a series of tragic Hemingway-esque six-word stories.  I bit the bullet and joined eHarmony, as I’d previously been underwhelmed with what Match.com had been sending me (however, they also sent the ex-boyfriend of one of my roommates as a potential match—he and I had a good laugh about it).
Here are some of the potential matches eHarmony has sent to me thus far:
o   The guy whose wife hacked his account to inform the world he was still married. 
o   The guy whose wedding ring was visible in most of his photos. I get that he could be separated and just really likes those pictures, but come on—if you’re joining a dating website and don’t have pictures that don’t include your wedding ring, take some!)
o   Guys who can’t spell or punctuate.  This is a pet peeve of mine as an English major and for the fact that I view dating websites as job hunting for a relationship.  Whether for a job or a date, it just seems advisable to put your best foot forward.
o   Guys who don’t know whether or not they have children.  Profiles are set up so you can see the most important info on the first page of the bio (as you can see from mine) and they have icons of the most common deal breakers.  I’ve gotten no less than a dozen guys whose icons state they have no children but in their written bios they talk about how their kids are the most important things in their lives. 
o   The total wackadoo a.k.a. Buffalo Bill.  If it didn’t seem cruel and embarrassing, I’d post pictures because this guy had to be seen to be believed.  The crazy eyes and the creepy micromanaging had me on level-orange alert, fearing he’d want to make a robe of skin.

Obviously the most demoralizing part of all these types of folks is that if eHarmony is sending them to me, what does that say about my psychological profile?  It hasn’t been all bad.  I’ve gotten quite a few promising matches that aren’t hard on the eyes, so hopefully once I step up my own game with a variety of better pictures, I’ll have some more entertaining stories.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Healthy Competition May Kill Me

 Anyone who’s ever met me knows I’m not a type-A personality.  I think people who know my father and me wonder how we can be related.  The last time I got up before 5 a.m. to do something fitness-related was to cheer my best friend on at the Marine Corps Marathon.  The last time my father got up at 5 a.m. to do something fitness-related was this morning.  (It doesn’t matter what the time differential is between when I wrote this and when I published this—believe me, he was awake.)
I’m a high-functioning type-B and that’s always been fine with me.  I don’t need to be in charge of every group; I just need someone to make a decision.  People who can’t make decisions drive me crazy.  This is possibly a side effect of living in the South where people tend to polite each other to death: “Where do you want to eat?” “I don’t care.” “Well, I’m not picky; what do you like?” “Anywhere you like is good with me.”  Holy crap—someone pick somewhere or it’ll be dinnertime soon.  I have literally flipped a coin on multiple occasions to expedite this process.
To reiterate, I’m not type-A and I’m not competitive (unless it comes to trash-talking other SEC schools during football season).  And then two deadly things happened.  I started working at a law firm and then got a Fitbit.  These aren’t new occurrences, nor are they bad things on their own.  I’ve just realized that the Universe has been using these two things to conspire against me and I am helpless to stop it.
The lawyers I work with are relentlessly type-A and competitive.  It’s not a bad thing.  At this type of law firm, you have to have some serious drive and internal motivation to make a success of yourself.   I didn’t realize how much this had rubbed off on me until one of the partners and a senior associate (who are working on their own personal fitness goals) decided to create a firm-wide stair-climbing challenge. 
The rules are simple: Nine floors, 248 steps, two points for going from the lobby to the ninth floor, one point for going down the same distance.  Winners announced every two weeks. Prize: bragging rights and the picker of food and drink for an office happy hour. 
As some of you remember, the fires of competition have been smoldering since I got my Fitbit at the end of January.  Each milestone and badge thrills me more than I thought possible.   I achieved my personal best of over 15,000 steps in a single day on Valentine’s Day, as I wandered through the moors, bemoaning my imminent spinster-hood.  (Or catered a 90-person cocktail party, same difference.)  And it’s just gotten worse ever since.
I reached an all-time high/low on Monday aka Day 1 of the BCNT Stair Challenge.  At least for the day, I blew my competition out of the water with nine points.  And then, at 34 total flights of stairs, I just had to try for my 50-flight Fitbit badge.  So after 34 flights, after boot camp, I come home to my apartment and run another 15 flights of stairs.  I’d met my 10,000 step minimum for the day but I realized how close I was to my five-mile goal, and that led to running across my apartment for about seven-tenths of a mile while on the phone.
I thought I was done.  I’d showered, I was watching Dancing with the Stars, having phone time with the bestie, and managed to get to 10:30 which seemed like a good bed time for the day.  Then I made the mistake of checking the Fitbit one last time.  11,518.  Well, that’s not a round number of any kind.  Sooooo close to 12,000.  I could get there… 
I’m almost embarrassed (can you embarrass the shameless?) to admit I delayed bedtime for another 15 minutes just so I could get to 12,000 and attempt to beat anybody in my Fitbit circle.
As of press time, I’m in the lead for the stair challenge.  I’m also afraid to sit for any extended period of time as I’m just waiting for delayed onset muscle soreness to set in and lock me in place like the Tinman.  And it’s only going to get worse.  I fear for my sanity.  But I’ll have the best lower half of any resident at the asylum.
In other healthy challenges that may kill me, I am officially entered in the 2014 Peachtree Road Race.  I’ve run it in high school, but I think this is the first time I’ve actually cared about finishing it.  I entered the lottery on whim the Sunday it opened.  I was under-caffeinated and didn’t think I had any actually shot of getting a number.  Cut to this morning: “Dear Rachel Boyd, Congratulations! Your entry was selected for the 2014 AJC Peachtree Road Race on July 4, 2014.” Training hilarity will ensue.

I’m having a moment.  I know I’m covered in sarcasm and self-deprecating humor, but I’m borderline giddy.  I’m nervous, but more excited than I’ve been in a while.  I think I’m just fully recognizing the amount of potential my life holds in the few months.  I don’t mind the uncertainty and I feel like a kid on a high dive, working up the nerve to take the leap, getting ready to enjoy the feeling of flying, huge splash as I land, huge grin. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rachel 2.0

Finally!  After last week’s "not much happening scale-wise", I officially hit the 10-pounds-lost mark on the scale.  I’d been close right before the Catholic job fair, but today makes it real.  The actual number I’m at isn’t important b/c at this point in my life, it’s higher than I’d like to toss out into Internet-land, but hey, I lost 10 pounds, so happy dances all around (2 Weight Watchers Activity Points).
I’m think I may have to hit up South Beach Phase 1 again before spring really gets here.   The thought doesn’t thrill me, but I could use the kickstart to make my 10 percent goal that Weight Watchers has set for me.  I have a lot of upcoming events I want to look svelte for including a wedding this spring and swimsuit season.  Not that I should want to lounge in the sun, having had The Cancer once, but I’d like to know I’d look damn good if I did…
Speaking of The Cancer, I went back to Athens last week for a day visit.  (I’ll make a much less insulting connection in a minute.)  There was an education-focused job fair for current UGA students and alumni, so it made sense for me to venture on over.  Plus I could squeeze in a visit with one of my favorite people, so the trip seemed like an excellent idea on all fronts.
All in all, the day was a strange success.  For those who’ve never lived in the Classic City, Athens can be like Neverland for some people, and it’s easy to stay 22 if you live there long enough.  However, being 22 is not every person’s best self.  It certainly wasn’t mine.  Don’t get me wrong—I was fun and nice (I hope) and I was actually pretty responsible, going to school full time and working two jobs when I was that age.  Athens just makes it really easy to live wildly and cheaply.
But back to my awkward cancer story (as if I have other kinds): While waiting to meet my friend at Allgood, I ran into some former drinking buddies, including one guy I always found super-cute.  As they hadn’t seen me since 2010 when I moved away, the question came up of what I’d been doing the last 3.5 years.  I honestly don’t like making people feel uncomfortable or being a downer in conversation, so I hesitated.  The bartender jokingly covered the moment telling me if I’d been in prison, I didn’t have to confirm anything.  I laughed, and said it wasn’t that bad, but I had had cancer.  Un! Comfortable!
The mood recovered and the rest of the day went well.  I even surprised myself by being able to flirt.  It’s not like I had a lobotomy/loss-of-flirtation amnesia or anything.  I just haven’t had much of a reason to flirt since ending cancer treatment, through my self-imposed hermit lifestyle and lack of confidence.  But it was a little fun to realize I still had (minor) game.  In fact, said Cute Guy told me I looked like hadn’t changed since the last time he saw me.  Since I feel I looked way better four years ago, I’m chalking that one up in the “win” column.
Maybe it all boils down to what my shrink said to me earlier this week: It could just be that I’m more confident.  Four years ago, I’d gotten into grad school but I’d really only applied b/c I didn’t know what else to do in Athens.  I wasn’t happy there anymore and I wasn’t happy with who I was.  Being more active in my life through my job search and weight loss has given me more confidence that’s spilling over to other areas of my life. 

Was I thinner when I was 26?  Absolutely.  Was I more of a party girl?  Sure.  But a life-changing disease and a subsequent 14 months of therapy have taught me my time and feelings are valuable, so I don’t waste them on situations I’m not interested in.  I used to have situational confidence when my hair and make-up looked a certain way or I wore a certain outfit, but these days, I don’t feel like I need those crutches to find my value.