Tag Archives: bereaved parents

One Week to Go, One Week to Get Psyched!

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been increasingly anxious about Hawaii.  I keep thinking, “I hope I can finish!”  This race does have cut off times for each stage:  1 hour 15 minutes after the start for the swim, 5 hours 30 minutes after the start for the bike and 8 hours 30 minutes to finish.  I’ve also begun to worry about my nutrition.  While I’ve been able to figure out what I need to consume for each stage while training, I’ve yet to put it all together.  Then reading about Lance Armstrong‘s struggle with race day nutrition reinforced my own concerns.  (Yes, I know, comparing myself to him is a little absurd.  He and I are in very different categories – actually completely different worlds!  He’s a seven time Tour de France champion and cancer survivor who this year returned to triathlons and in fact came in first place last week at Ironman 70.3 Florida, and I’m just an age grouper and bereaved mother who is hoping to simply finish her first Half Ironman.)  Oh and my left knee is still giving me issues every now and then.

Nevertheless, one week from today surrounded by 1,600 fellow triathletes (including Lance, Chris Lieto and other amazing professional athletes), I’ll be at Hapuna Beach State Park on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island in my tri-suit with goggles and swim cap on and body marked.  One week from today I’ll swim 1.2 miles, ride 56 miles and run another 13.1.  One week from today I’ll find out what 19 weeks of the most serious, structured and hard core training I’ve every gone through will do.  One week from today I’ll have another opportunity to honor Noah.

So starting with this morning’s training session I made a point to shift gears and focus on getting myself psyched.  After all, I’ve followed Pete’s training program.  And while next Saturday’s race will be my first 70.3 distance, I do have seven successful triathlons under my belt already.  And I did qualify for USAT 2012 Age Group National Championships.

As I prepared for this morning’s workout I pushed all negative/anxious thoughts out of my mind.  This worked!  During my two-hour ride I actually found myself dancing (as much as one can while on a bike – yes I’m sure I looked pretty funny) to some of the songs on my iPod.  I had to do a 10 minute 80%+ endurance effort and boy it was hard.  But I kept embracing this challenge more and more; digging deeper and deeper.  Towards the end of my ride I even found myself smiling a bit.  Believe me I did work very hard for the entire time.  With the exception of my 10 minute drill (which as mentioned before was at the 80%+ level), I stayed at the high end of my endurance level throughout the ride.  And I finished my session with a strong 20 minute run afterwards.

To continue psyching myself up this week, I’ve decided to think of all of the positives such as:

  • I’m the fittest I’ve ever been.  I recently hit a milestone.  On the bike I noticed it’s now taking me an additional 20-30 minutes to get my heart rate up to my endurance level — a sign that my body is getting into better shape.  (Also a sign that I need to increase my effort level!)
  • I’m back in CA.
  • I’m racing in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
  • I have the support of wonderful friends.
  • According to my grief counselor I’ve been making good progress.
  • I have MLH.
  • And of course there’s Noah.
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Dedicating Today’s Training Session

Another Heterotaxy baby, Elise, passed away this morning at 6:21 am EST.  She’s 8 days younger than Noah.  During my swim and bike sessions this morning, I’ll be thinking and praying for sweet Elise, her parents and the rest of her family.  Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as well.

Noah, you have another little friend up there with you.

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A Helpful Book: When A Friend’s Baby Dies

This morning I came across this free ebook, When A Friend’s Baby Dies (Helping Your Friend After Babyloss) by  Kristine Brite McCormick who is the mother of Cora.  Cora was only five days old when she died.  (You can learn more about Cora and Kristine on Kristine’s blog, Cora’s Story.)

I agree with Kristine that “Every mother is different.  We all grieve differently.”  (Kristine also talks about fathers in her ebook.)

Unfortunately, 150,000 infants, children, teenagers and young adults will die each year in the United States (according to The Compassionate Friends 2011 Fact Sheet).  And more than 25,000 families will face a stillbirth and more than 900,000 an early pregnancy loss.  So at some point in your life you may need this book to help guide you as you support a friend or to share with your friends.  Perhaps you need this book now.

Thank you, Kristine, for creating such a helpful resource.  You are a beautiful mother.

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What a Difference a Week Makes!

With my six mile run today I completed my first training week using Pete’s online coaching plan.  It may sound a little funny but already I feel very different.  I’ll go ahead and acknowledge the placebo effect is probably at play.   Something along the lines of “oh wow I’m now doing something different so I must experience a change.”  Placebo effect or not, I’m not sure it matters.  The fact that I feel different is good enough for me.

I wrote in my last post that I rarely did a full cardio segment and a complete strength training session back-to-back.  Well a few days after writing that post I pulled out my training plan for Nation’s (which I created myself).  I have a correction to make:  I did in fact do such workouts (also known as two-a-days) early in my training and quite often. I can blame bad memory for thinking two-a-days are new to me but I think there’s something more to it.  For some reason I felt my two-a-days this past week were…well different.  They were much longer and more intense than what I did for Nation’s.  Also, I’m sure since Pete planned them they’re better structured than what I put together.  And there’s the placebo effect.

During this past week’s training sessions I felt solid.  I did struggle some on the bike, specifically with keeping my RPMs and heart rate at the desired levels.  Also the last five miles of my 30 mile ride yesterday was by no means easy.  (And as mentioned before I did have to push it a bit with the weights.)  However I felt pretty good right to the end.  Don’t get me wrong, I definitely worked hard this week but I never felt like I couldn’t finish.  I do realize Pete’s current focus is on base building so I anticipate my workouts becoming much more difficult very soon.

Anyway back to this difference – or really differences.  What are these differences, you ask?  I feel like I’ve taken my training up a level already and I feel more confident.  I think I was a little anxious about not being able to follow Pete’s plan.  Well I did and while I experienced some challenging moments, I completed each session strongly.   I feel more focused.  A lot of this has to do with the need to keep track of my drills during each workout.  But also I’m zeroing in on my very specific goals which are to successfully complete Hawaii 70.3 and improve my splits at Nationals.  With each successful workout my body moves closer to being ready to compete.

I do feel one other major difference but I don’t think Pete’s plan has anything to do with it; I think it’s just a coincidence…or perhaps not.

Over the past week my connection with Noah became much deeper and different.  Outside of training, I think of Noah a lot. Sometimes he’s in-and-out of my mind very quickly and other times I spend quite a bit of time thinking and recalling vivid images of him in my head.  When I train though I believe how I think of him is different from this.

Last May I began feeling a very deep connection with Noah as I became much more aware and grateful that my heart could easily handle my endurance training and I could process the oxygen needed during these workouts.   When I feel or see (on my heart rate monitor) my heart rate climbing and hitting 60-85% effort, it’s almost as if I’m raising it for him.  When I feel my breathing becoming labored, I think of the ventilators he was on and I feel as though I’m breathing extra hard for him.  And it’s the stark and unfair contrast between what I and any other healthy body can do seamlessly with what Noah struggled with all of the time.  It’s this appreciation combined with sadness and a little bit of bitterness (yes still) that helps me dig deeper to find that determination and power to push myself harder, faster and longer.

During my workouts this past week though I’ve started feeling a different kind of deep connection to my son.  I now feel his presence almost constantly and this feeling is definitely different than my “non-training day-to-day” thoughts of him.  During my training, talking to or thinking of Noah is like second nature now.  It’s like at some other level I’m having a constant dialog with him as I swim, run and bike.  I’d like to think he and I’ve gotten used to training together, and our routine has him with me all of the time.  I’ve been thinking about how best to describe this and I’ve come up with “endurance consciousness.”

I continue to push myself to achieve 60-85% of my maximum heart rate (depending on the drill) and reach that labored breathing because there’s that connection I still have with him.  But now I have another one.  I’m so grateful for both.

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On a somewhat separate note, please pause for a moment to pray for or send positive thoughts to the parents of a little Heterotaxy boy named William.  After fighting super hard, he became an angel last Thursday.

It’s probably no surprise to you that I spent my first mile on my run today thinking of William and his parents.  I found myself welling up a bit when I thought about what his parents are experiencing right now.  Nobody should have to deal with losing a child.

Noah now has another friend in heaven.  God bless you, William.

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Thinking of Noah’s Fellow Angels for 7 Miles

On the weekends MLH and I usually workout first thing in the morning.  Yesterday morning when the alarm on my iPhone went off I grabbed the phone to turn it off.  Then without thinking I immediately  switched applications to check email and BAM!  Even before I got out of bed I encountered a trigger.  I came across a message that presented an in-your-face reminder that my son, my only child, is no longer alive.  What a crappy start to the day.  After getting through the initial reaction of being overcome with sadness and shedding some tears, MLH and I agreed that there’s really nothing else to do but go to the gym as planned.  I was scheduled to run seven miles yesterday, and man, I was so looking forward this.

As we drove to the gym and during my warmup I tried to get to the other side of this trigger by thinking about what I could focus on during my run.  I’ll think of Noah as I always do, and l’ll focus on my heart rate and breathing which is one of the ways I deepen my connection to Noah.  But this morning I also thought about dedicating the bulk of my run to other children who have passed away.  From my bereaved parent support group and learning about other parents who lost their Heterotaxy children, I know of quite a few children who left this world way too soon.

As I began to run I thought of beautiful Ava first.  Ava just might be familiar with my running because at one point during the 22 hours she lived, I went for a run and thought of her.  On that run I felt a great deal of love and hope for her and her family.  Like Noah, she passed away from Heterotaxy-related issues.  I’ve been blessed because about a month and a half after Ava passed away I connected with her mother who has become a wonderful friend.

Then I thought of another Heterotaxy Angel, Chloe.  I thought about how beautiful she is; I’ve had the opportunity to see a few pictures of her.  I’ve gotten to know Chloe’s mommy too.  Like Ava’s mommy, she’s a beautiful soul.  I thought of the love she has for her sweet Chloe.

There are other Heterotaxy children who have also passed away.  Although I don’t personally know about each of them, I did think about how there’s quite a few children who are now with Noah, Ava & Chloe.  I thought about how much their parents and families miss them.

Then I thought about the children of my bereaved parent support group.  They’re all significantly older than Noah.  I thought about each one by name, the lives they lived and how much love their parents have for them.  I feel this love every time MLH and I meet with our group.

I gently moved on to Ben Breedlove.  I thought about him meeting Noah in heaven.  I thought about how he was so kind to share his experiences of cheating death before he finally passed away.  I also thanked him again for the comfort he provided me.  I thought about his family and friends and how they too are trying to heal now.

And I can’t forget about those children in Norway.  Last July as the world learned of this horrendous act I cried for them and their parents.  I thought of them around mile 5.  Then I thought of all of the young military soldiers who died; and I thought of their parents, spouses and children.  Since Noah’s death I think of war very differently.  Before last year, I thought of war in more of an intellectual way.  Now I actually feel pain and love for the lives lost and the families they left behind.

As I continued my run I spent some time thinking about just Noah.  I prayed he’ll meet all of the angels who joined him over the past year.

Then my mind shifted to gratitude.  (A few friends last December helped me create intentions.  Gratitude was the first one I focused on.  I returned to it on this run.)  I thought about how grateful I am for Noah & MLH.  I’m grateful for those around me who provide comfort and support.  I’m also grateful that I’ve been able to meet other bereaved parents.

My last mile was pretty challenging.  Seven miles is the longest distance I’ve run in a while.  Like I’ve done in the past when I start to feel tired, some pain or even complacency, I thought about Noah and how much he went through while he was alive; how much his tiny, fragile body dealt with; all of the poking, prodding, discomfort and medications he had to put up with; and all of those cardiac arrests.  Once again I reminded myself that my discomfort is absolutely nothing compared to what Noah went through and he didn’t have a choice.  I chose to go on this run.  With Noah’s help once again, I ran my seven miles successfully.  Because of Noah, I felt strong right to the end.

I did come back to the trigger every now and then while I ran.  And I wasn’t completely over it after my run but at least for most of the seven miles, my mind and heart focused on something else.  Thank you, Noah, Ava, Chloe, the rest of the children who are with Noah and all of their parents for helping me on my run.

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