Fait Accompli!

I’m not sure which is the greater accomplishment; finally sitting down to write this post or successfully completing my first half marathon.  In both cases, fait accompli!

Thanks to four months of training, three main sources of inspiration, two knee braces, one tube of Aspercreme, and loads of support from friends and family, I survived the Country Music Half Marathon.

How was it, you ask?  As one of my pace group friends noted (in Sesame Street style), “[The] half marathon was brought to you by the letter H; hideously hot, kind of horrible, and hilly – oh, and HALLELUJAH I didn’t do the full!”

Might not’ve looked pretty, but I DID IT!

Hideously hot:  The race day forecast was Sunny and 80°F.  Factor in the Twenty Degree Rule – dress as if conditions are 20 degrees warmer – and you get hideously hot.

Kind of horrible:  One thing training couldn’t prepare me for was navigating the stretches made slippery by discarded water cups, banana peels, and spent GU packets.  Perhaps encountering such areas is not a harrowing experience for other runners but, given my past knee injuries, to me they felt like virtual mine fields.

Hilly:  Ask anyone who has ever participated in a race in Nashville and they’ll tell you about the hills.  Since I’d already covered most of the course during training, I had a good sense of what to expect.  But hitting all of the hills during one run in sweltering heat?  That was tough.  As I started up the fourth hill (at mile seven), my mental focus began to crack.  An unexpected shout-out from my buddy Allen (who happened to be camped out midway up) gave me the push I needed to get to the top.

Hallelujah:  Seeing runners being treated by EMTs between miles nine and ten was a wake-up call; though I was tired and hot, I wasn’t feeling that bad.   Mile eleven was my best mile because it was bookended by cheers from family and friends – my parents at the start and friends from the CF Foundation at the end.  I finished the last 2.1 miles (yes, the .1 counts, by dammit) thanks to my friend and running mate Lori.  She stuck by me the entire race, encouraging me along the way.  And though we had hoped to finish in 2 hours and 30 minutes, I breathily said hallelujah as we ran across the finish line at the 2:45 mark.

Ultimately, running the half marathon was a great experience.  The four months leading up to the race, however, were life changing.  While I knew I would reap physical health benefits, I could not have anticipated the mental – even spiritual – transformation that occurred.  As cliché as it sounds, I truly feel that when you put your mind to it and work hard you can accomplish anything. 

Saving the best for last, I’m thrilled to share that two of my CF friends also completed the half marathon, another completed the full marathon, and – to date – Roo’s Crew has raised nearly $6,000 for vital CF research!  I can just see the smile on Andy’s face. 🙂


Running Out of Love and Gratitude

Time is a precious commodity.  It is defined as the measurable period during which an action, process or condition exists or continues.  We measure time in intervals such as seconds, minutes, hours, years.  We measure time by important events that occur in our lives – anniversaries of births, weddings, graduations, deaths.

On April 24, 2002 an event occurred that forever changed my life; I lost my younger brother and only sibling to cystic fibrosis (CF).  It is difficult to believe that April 24, 2012 is the tenth anniversary of Andy’s passing.  This is not an anniversary to celebrate, but it is one that I feel is important to acknowledge.

For nearly ten years, family, friends, and many who never even knew Andy have honored his memory by supporting me and my walk team, Roo’s Crew, in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s annual Nashville Great Strides Walk.  While Roo’s Crew will once again participate in the Nashville Great Strides Walk (*see event details below), I will be doing something different to acknowledge this anniversary and the incredible support we’ve received over all these years.  On Saturday, April 28, 2012, in tribute to Andy and as thanks to all who contribute to the CFF through Roo’s Crew, I will be running the half marathon portion of the Country Music Marathon.

One would think that, over time, it would get easier for me to ask for your support.  In fact, it is quite the opposite – especially in these tough economic times.  Through these many years, some have asked why I continue to be involved when CF is no longer something my family and I have to face every day.   The answer is simple:  I carry Andy’s legacy of hope and faith that we will see a cure for CF in our lifetime.  And I am overjoyed to say that this desire, this mission was tremendously validated in late January when the FDA approved the new drug Kalydeco®.    Please read more about Kalydeco® at www.cff.org

There are myriad reasons why you can feel good about contributing to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation; one being that nearly 90 cents of every dollar goes directly to research, education and care programs.  Whatever your reason and whatever the amount – for no amount is too big or too small – I would be tremendously honored by your support.  To make an easy online tax-deductible donation, please click the GREAT STRIDES widget in the right sidebar, then choose “CLICK TO DONATE”.

If you would like to join Roo’s Crew at the Nashville Great Strides walk, just follow that same link and click “JOIN MY TEAM”.

With love and gratitude,


* WHAT:  2012 Nashville Great Strides 

*WHEN:  Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 1:00 PM

*WHERE:  Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, Nashville, TN

Playing Catch Up

Hello blogosphere.  I have missed you!  It’s past time for updates.  I am anxious to share about my experience on Capitol Hill, but for today, let’s get up to speed on my half marathon training (have you missed my puns?).

In January, at the first group run, our training coordinator noted that this journey would require sacrifice.  The further into this journey I have traveled, the more I appreciate her statement.  My greatest sacrifice is time.  As the weekly training miles increase, so does my time commitment.  Squeezing in a four to six mile run three times between Monday and Thursday each week is challenging.  I sacrifice time with my family and friends.  I put off tasks that have a tendency to become daunting when left undone for too long.  I’m so very thankful to my husband, kids, parents, and friends for being gracious, supportive, and forgiving of this sacrifice of time.

Mileage-wise, I now have ten consecutive miles under my water belt (Admit it.  You missed my puns).  I’ve learned that every run is different; some are relatively smooth, others are a battle to the finish.  Instead of thinking about how many miles and hills I have ahead of me, I’ve realized that I have to focus on the present and take it one step at a time.  As one of our trainers said to me last week, “You’re not a speed runner, you’re an endurance runner.” In the end, whether I’m running, walking, or crawling, I will get there.  Yes, this is a physical journey, but even more so, it is one of the mind and spirit.  In the end, it will be worth it.


Tribute to Andy

Cystic Fibrosis

It’s just two words strung together.  It’s a disease with a definition.  A diagnosis.  It’s all too common for CF to be relegated to mere terminology, allowing for discernible emotional distance.

Cystic Fibrosis

It’s something that happens to other people.  Not you.  Not your sister.  Not your spouse.  Not your brother.

But it happened to my brother, Andy.  He was diagnosed at age three.  With that diagnosis came the revelation that cystic fibrosis wasn’t just a bit of medical terminology.  It was real.  It was solid.  It wore my brother’s face.

Andy, however, knew better.  He did not let the disease define him.  He was a warrior, not a victim.  It is my dream that we find a cure for CF, but it is in my brother’s memory – in deference to the full life he lived in such a short time – that I strive to promote awareness and acquire funding for vital research.

Since Andy cannot tell his story in words, I will share it with you in pictures.

My deepest, heartfelt thanks to Antigone Rising for permission to use Borrowed Time,  to Ali Trotta for offering just the right words, and to each of you who join me and Roo’s Crew in the fight to eradicate CF once and for all.

Link to my Great Strides page:  http://www.cff.org/great_strides/BlakeLeyers

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