Wednesday, October 31, 2012

2012 NYC ING Marathon Countdown 4 Days: In a New York State of Mind, Packing Your Bags

We are all still reeling in the impact of Frankenstorm. Many families in the evacuation zones are still in shelters or taking up temporary residence with family, friends and neighbors (there is really no place like home!). Others are without power. Transportation is limited. Airports are finally open.

In New York City, in addition to all this while limited bus service resumed last night, the heart and lungs of our city's transit system, MTA's subway service is still down. Some subway service is expected to resume tomorrow.

In moments of difficulty New Yorkers display their resilience and ability to stand tall and stick together to the end. Neighbors helping neighbors, cut down trees, remove debris, sandbag homes, share kitchens and dens, shop keepers giving out water and food, emergency crews working around the clock to help those stranded in high waters, evacuate senior residences, hospitals, transit teams pumping out tunnels, crews clearing the streets, that is my New York!!
NYC- The most diverse, beautiful metropolis in the world.
Most people heeded the warnings before the storm hit and those who were not in evacuation zones prepared as well. Flashlights check. Water check. Enough food and drinks for a few days check. Plan A, B, and C in case of an unexpected emergency check. List of friends and relatives to call and check-in with as well as to check on check. It may take some time before things are back to normal but the preparedness of all New Yorkers, and of local and state authorities was key in containing the extent of the damage and loss of life in the storm. It is was also instrumental in helping get New York City back in business today. It may take a few weeks to bring things back to close to normal. But we will get there. We always do.

New York Road Runners (NYRR) the host of the NYC ING Marathon announced that it was up to Mayor Bloomberg if the Marathon would go on as scheduled and he announced that it will be. Are your ready?

Being prepared at least a day or 2 before a race, especially a marathon will boost your performance, by eliminating stress. There is nothing worse than rushing around at the last minute, looking for pins for your bib, clean socks, energy gels, keys, etc. Below are a few tips to help you get ready.

Pre-race Preparation Tips: 

Set a spot where you will put all your race gear together; corner spot on a dresser, desk, table, etc.

Put your things in a plastic bin(s) or box. A large gift box can do the trick too. This will keep things from getting lost in a shuffle, falling behind something etc.

Make a check-list of all the things you will need, and cross them off as you put them in. If it is a lot write it down. If it is not or you have a super keen memory, work your mental check list.

Use alternatives. Missing something? If it is not crucial such as your bib number and pins for it, sneakers, D-Tag, heart rate monitor, etc. find something that can work in its place.

For example, if the socks you like to use when you run aren't clean, throw another pair in the box (yes, even the argyle ones, or hello kitty knee highs). The same goes for other articles of clothing. Just in case something happens and you couldn't get to the laundry or shop at a store.

Prepare for the expected and unexpected. Throw in...

  * Medications used regularly & need during, after a race, inhalers, etc. 

  * Band-aids for blisters (a couple of medium and large ones).

  * Cotton balls.

  * Small pack of tissues.

  * Small tube of anti-bacterial ointment.

  * Small tube of Aloe lotion.

  * An ACE bandage.

  * Sports tape.

  * Instant Ice Packs. 

These are great. Shake 'em up. Give 'em a squeeze and they are ready! You got your sports tape to hold them in place.

  * A Bandana. 

I  have used bandanas for many things, besides tying one on to keep sweat from running down my face, I can tie it to form a little pouch which I can secure to my waist pack to hold a small bottle of water. But, more importantly for first aid you can use one to clean a cut, scrape or blister, or hold an ice pack in place.

  * A cane that folds. 

If you are going into a race being a little sore, you hurt your ankle, knee, etc. and you are determined to finish the race, bring it along just in case at the end of the race you may need it. Depending on the size of your bag it may stick out a little.

   * Compression socks or sleeves.

If you are running in a pair you may want an extra. If your are not. They do come in handy after a long run.

   * Your emergency contact person's name and number. 

We will generally have this written on the back of our bibs, but it does not hurt to have it in your wallet, or on a card in your bag.

If you need emergency care, or have to go to a hospital make it easy for the medical professionals assisting you to find your emergency contact's name in your cell phone, besides going through group lists (family, friends, VIP's...).
On most phones if you put an asterisk in front of a person's name it will bring it to the top of your contact list.This does not work on i-Phones. For an i-Phone I would recommend using the letter A followed by a symbol. You get the picture. You can include the person's relationship to you in parenthesis. These are things I started to do after 9-11. Because of "what ifs."

* A mantra

Do you have a mantra in your pocket? We recite or think of mantras to get us psyched and keep us motivated during a race. They are especially handy during the unexpected bumps in the road. If you get hurt during the race. Don't panic. Remain calm. Remember...

"Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all of yourself." 
- Rumi

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2012 NYC ING Marathon Countdown 5 days: Carbs and Candles

There are two things most people will say they can do without carbs and candles.

Whenever someone goes on a diet the first thing they will say they are cutting out are the carbs. It is the one thing most experts agree can effectively help with weight loss and management, more so than avoiding fats. Studies also show that less carbohydrates in a diet versus cutting calories will help you lose the most weight. (Men's Fitness: Cut Carbs, Not Calories).
It is inevitable, especially if you are a woman or for guys if you throw a house warming party, that someone will give you a candle. Perhaps they went as far as getting you one that is not just of the fragrant sort because they know you love the smell of vanilla, oranges, apples, cinnamon, honey suckle, etc. but, a hand crafted work of art like this...
or, this....
Live Long, and Prosper!
that you will never burn, but keep on your mantle for show or as a conversational piece.

If you are training for a 1/2 marathon, marathon or ultra run, you shouldn't be cutting carbs but loading up on them big time at least 2 to 3 days before your race. You can get your carbohydrate fix from healthy foods; fruits (without the skin), grains, cereals, pasta and more.

Check out "Fil 'Er Up," by Dimity McDowell, Runner's World for more tips.

I started to increase my carbohydrate intake last week but starting to seriously carbo-load to get ready for the marathon today.

Breakfast: A peanut butter sandwich (whole wheat bread) and a bowl of farina with chia seeds (1 tablespoon), bananas (half, saved the other half for a snack) and a splash of non-dairy creamer.

Hydration is also important, so after my tea I had some water.

Lunch and dinner will each consist of a pasta dish.

In between snacks, strawberries, bananas and cereal.

In preparation for the arrival of hurricane Sandy, I scrounged around for candles over the weekend.

In my spring and summer cleanings I remember seeing some, I just don't remember where. I am not a candle lover, except when they are on birthday cakes or used in holiday celebrations or other festivities. Having experienced blackouts in the past I always keep a few in case something happens to the flashlights. Ahaa, in the tool box they were, the last place I expected.

Hurricane Sandy has left many without power. The first choice for lighting should ALWAYS be flash lights. If you do not have a flash light there are flash light applications that you can download to your cell phone. Do a quick search and try one. They work by using the flash on your cell phone. If you absolutely must use candles, please follow the following safety tips in their use.
  • Be sure that the candles are fitted in the candle holders securely. They should not be loose or wobble. The last thing you want is to have the candle fall off the holder and start a fire. You, are better off being in the dark with just window light than risk that (go to sleep early). Melt a little wax in the holder before putting in the candle and hold the candle until it sticks.
  • Never, ever, ever, leave a candle unattended, in the reach of small children or pets!
  • If you are going to take a nap, go to sleep or feel like you may doze off... CANDLE LIGHTS OUT!
  • If you are going to leave your home, even if you think it will not be long, you are just going to the corner to get some milk... CANDLE LIGHTS OUT!  
  • If you are leaving a room... CANDLE LIGHTS OUT!
  • Candles should be clear of combustibles; curtains, books, papers on a desk or coffee table, furniture, ETC.
  • Be careful when lighting candles. Ladies be careful of your long hair. Guys careful of your long hair and beards.
  • Never, ever, ever, leave a candle unattended, in the reach of small children or pets!
  • The holders you use should not be made of a flammable material, shatter in heat easily or conduct heat easily. For example if you do not have a candle holder you do not want to put the candle in any old glass (wine or champagne glass), an aluminum tray or can.
For our emergency preparedness we put the candles in corning bowls which we would add a little water to as well as an extra preventive measure.
 Here are some more tips from Clark County Fire District 6 for more info click here.
  • Keep candle wicks trimmed to one-quarter inch.
  • Extinguish candles when they burn down to within two inches of their holder or any decorative   material. 
  • Extinguish candles carefully. Do not leave the room until wicks have stopped glowing.
  • Do not leave children unattended in a room with a lit candle. 
  • Don't use a candle for light when adding kerosene or any flammable fuel to a heater, lantern, or other device. The flame could ignite the fumes.
Be Safe Everyone!

Monday, October 29, 2012

2012 NYC ING Marathon Countdown 6 Days: Charlie Brown Wisdom in the Eye of Hurricane Sandy

No trekking today, not even a walk beyond the corner deli in the morning. A hurricane isn't a coming. Hurricane Sandy is here. So, what is one do?

New York City Transit is shut down. Offices and schools are closed. Which means, quality timing with your loved ones, catching up with cleaning, reading. Snuggling under blankets, playing boardgames, watching videos, storm tracking on every electronic device we own, etc. We may even be doing some sprints of reflecting. "What if today, we were just grateful for everything!"

There is always something in our lives we wish we could change. Maybe it is due to something we feel we are lacking in, is too much of or not the right fit.

But why not give this saying a shot in the arm or buttocks? See how it feels.

Being grateful for everything with a special shout out to my friends who love to share and pass around pearls of wisdom like this. I keep a bunch in my pocket (figuratively speaking, though I do keep fortune cookie pearls in my wallet) that I like to pull out on rainy days to keep me going. On days that feel like hurricanes, sometimes three.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

2012 NYC ING Marathon Countdown 7 Days: 3.76 Charity Miles, Looking Back at My First Long Run

Today was recovery run day. Just a short run. Not more than 4 miles. No running longer than 40 minutes.
I decided to run a route I plotted on MapQuest when I started to get into running 5 years ago. Back then I just ran on my own. I didn't know about sneaker choices, running styles, training programs for beginners like the C25K (Coach to 5K), gear, nutrition, clubs, or the multitude of apps out there, like MapMyRun. All extremely helpful to help you get on and stay on your running track. I plotted points on MapQuest to figure out how long my treks would be. I started with just a mile and added a half mile every week or every other week. I remember how I struggled just to run a quarter mile. "If I can just get up to Taco Bell," I remember thinking, "then I will take a short walk break." I never stopped for a Taco. It was just the best stopping point. One block further than Carvel, which may have tempted me to stop in and get a strawberry coated vanilla cone and head back home.

When I got to a mile I was ecstatic. I continued my loop back home to complete a 2-mile trek. What a workout! My thighs hurt. My shins hurt. My feet hurt. All this pain, for what? To try to be a runner? Who was I kidding. Who thinks about getting into running after they push 40-something(s). The avoidance monster would smother the calls of the running/fitness muse and I would stop trekking for a week or more before I heeding to her call again.

As I trekked up the boulevard I was surprised how light and easily I was jogging. I could not but smile the entire way. My knee is still a little tender and I was not going fast, but compared to the me a few years ago, "Wow!" I was really having so much fun! I was enjoying the sights along the way. Fall leaves blanketing lawns, pumpkins on steps.
Fall leaves on a neighbor's lawn. I just wanted to jump in.
I love this quote by Rumi, "What you seek is seeking you." And, today it was very apropos. I never thought I would be in a marathon, I really just wanted to be able to run the route I plotted 5 years ago without a hitch, be able to do that a few days a week and I did it! 

I have been as consistent and committed to my fitness as I can be. If I can't run I jog. If I can't jog I walk. If I have to mix it up, I mix it up; fartleks, interval training

I made a promise to myself to do Charity Miles every day from October 2nd, until I cross the finish line at the marathon next Sunday, barring some extreme event or physical condition that would prevent me from running, jogging or walking. You know how we promise to do things, but when it is just to ourselves it is easier to slip than when we promise to do something for others, for once I did not slip. My commitment was inspired by my Mom, others who have Parkinson's and my support for the Micheal J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research but also for me. Because without yourself in the picture, when you run or walk or do other activities inspired by or for a charity or for someone you love, the picture is not complete.

Luck number 7- days to the ING!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

2012 NYC ING Countdown 8 Days: The Last 10 Miles

I have been asked by others participating in the marathon if I am doing the last 10 miles. I thought this referred to some marathon training program they were doing but found out they were referring to running the last 10 miles of the NYC ING Marathon course to get familiar with it, not just to their tapering down.

My original plan today was to just trek across and back on the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge (a.k.a. 59th Street Bridge) which I heard was a daunting spot on the course. But after a series of exchanges with other J.K.O. Running teammates we ended up organizing a trek that included crossing the Queensboro Bridge and trekking the marathon route all the way to the finish in Central Park. A last 10 to 12 miles, depending on where each of us started and decided to finish.

It was a stellar fall day for a run. Three of us crossed over the bridge each at our own pace, along the greenway to meet up with the rest of the team waiting on the Manhattan side.

I avoided the slope up, to avoid further risk of injury to my knee which is starting to feel much better. I will tackle the hills and slopes up to the bridges next Sunday. Today was just a meet and greet.
Hellooo! Queensboro Bridge!
Hello, Robert F. Kennedy Bridge. Just passing by.

Hello, Willis Avenue Bridge. Coming through. Coming through.
I never would have thought of going the distance alone, but discovered that the weekend before the marathon many individuals and groups were doing the last 10 miles. There was easily one group passing us every 10 minutes. The Niketown Running Club was well represented. It was nice to get a hug and a smile from a co-worker as the pack she was in passed by. My spirits went up another notch! "Yes, we are so in this! To the finish!"

The trek through the Bronx is rather short, but you still get a taste of the borough's life, its people as you go through. I am looking forward to hearing some Bronx cheers on the 4th.

Heading down 5th Avenue past 110th Street, and Harlem Meer, we were greeted by a sculpture of monument proportions of the legendary Duke Ellington. I could not believe I go this far. Able to jog most of the way with a few walk breaks. Knowing you have awesome teammates up ahead or at your side is priceless! Thank you all so much!
Statue of Duke Ellington in Central Park
The entry into the park was an amazing oasis of color. We marveled at how a city like New York that is always hustle and bustling with movement, noise, could have such a serene setting in its heart. The views were breathtaking. I could not resist stopping to photograph this...

Fall Fever Hits Visitors in Central Park.
It is hard to believe a storm is coming our way. I am hoping that Hurricane Sandy does not hit like, Hurricane Irene, which floored all the trees circling The Grand Army Plaza, and damaged hundreds of others in the park the fall of 2011.

We made our way down, in and out of the marathon loop, ending at Columbus Circle. Not the ending I had planned, but being familiar with the slope up to 72nd Street, I felt it was best to pass. My feet will greet this path for the "kagillionth" time in eight more days!
Maine Monument, Merchants Gate, Central Park
And, what could be better than completing an 11.85 mile trek that has the extra win-win of earning Charity Miles for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, funding 29.63 minutes of research.

Heading back on the train, an arepa de choclo I stashed in my bag and a bottle filled with Emergen-C Pink (lemonade flavor) hits the spot of refresh and replenish.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012 NYC ING Marathon Countdown 11 Days: There is a STAR at every Start

Last Friday the physical therapist said I could start working out using elliptical devices and bicycles. "You can still get your cardio workout without impact to your knees". So yesterday, I went to the gym and worked out on both for about 15 minutes each. I was a little envious of the guy on the treadmill next do me doing super star bad ass sprints (Fartleks). With the marathon less than 2 weeks away I wondered if just doing elliptical and cycling workouts would get me ready.

I repeated the "slow and steady" mantra over and over as the large pedals beneath collapsed and rose with the weight and counter weight of my foot presses. Staring at the digital monitor over the device prompting me to select Login to save my workout details, watch some TV or check out some tunes I notice these five letters in the center of the display.
S-T-A-R-T. How many times have my eyes glossed over it? How many start buttons have I pressed or passed to press in my life? Hundreds? Thousands? Hundred thousands?

S-T-A-R-T. Five simple letters that rule our life from infancy. He started to crawl today. She started kindergarten today. Did you start your homework? When does your vacation start? I need to start over. I'll start it for you. When are you going to start? I am at the start are you coming yet? He is always starting some new project. Shh the concert has started!

I love when announcers call out, "Gentleman start your engines," at the start of an auto race, and the sound of the gun pops at the start of a track event.

But, love more that there is a 4 letter word hidden in this 5-letter word. S-T-A-R!

As I got deeper into my elliptical groove focusing on the S-T-A-R in S-T-A-R-T the little green monster dissipated in the cool gym air, filled with everyone's life breaths and sweat. I appreciated that my neighbor was was doing his super STAR sprints. Way to go dude! And, how the woman next to me was on fire with her elliptical foot presses.

How often d'o we forget that as there are an infinite number of stars in the skies there are also an infinite number of stars here on earth. No two starts are alike. They shine in their own brilliant splendor. There is one in each and every one of us. We just have to look deeper.

As I pause to greet mine, my muse whispers,
My gym inspirations. It's not just the body that's getting a good workout!
I know I am not alone and there are many newbies to marathon running going through the change in mood from I think I can to I know I can throughout training. You can never have too many things in your motivational arsenal to keep you going.

"No matter what you do, with every new undertaking or race... Remember, there is a STAR at every start. That Star is You. Reach for it and let it shine until you reach the finish!"

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

2012 NYC ING Marathon Countdown 12 Days: It Don't Come Easy, But it Does Come! So, Just Do It!

12 days to the marathon. OMG. I am going through feeling, Wow! Oh Yeah! and, Say What? Are you serious? The song "It Don't Come Easy!" is the slogan du jour. No matter what you do you gotta pay your does, so you can have your day in the sun.

So, make a plan, hang tough and...

The mantra du jour!

Monday, October 22, 2012

2012 NYC ING Marathon Countdown 13 Lucky Days: What's in a Number?

When you hear the word number(s) the first thing that comes to mind may be:

At times numbers can be Twilight-zonish
Images like this connoting confusion and complexity. Perhaps you are thinking of Pi=3.14159 which is an irrational number (numbers have been known to cause some to become irrational about them) and it is also a transcendental number (thinking of what you would do if you won the Mega Million, Power Ball, Scratch off, or other Lottery? Maybe you are thinking of going on a 365-day-permanent vacation, buying a new or first home, a giant engagement ring, hiring a maid, a butler, and personal assistant or taking the trip of a lifetime to outer space on Virgin Galactic- you have just been transcended to another place. What magic these numbers have!).

If you have been bitten by number mania (Is there a better expression for one who loves numbers than number maniac? I couldn't google one.) and mystery you may be thinking of the hit TV series spelled Numb3rs. Yes, Numb3rs and numbers everywhere can solve anything! It just takes a little time. And who doesn't like a hot or spicy number?
Hot & Spice & Everything Nice. That's what Numb3rs are made of!
Even if you are one who says, "I don't like numbers!" You must make your peace with them. Numbers are the roommates, family, friends and others that influence us the most, often without our full awareness and perhaps at times agreement.

What time is it? A: A number(s).

How old are you now? A: It's my birthday, ask me tomorrow I want to be happy today? (A number(s)).

What is your weight? What is your HDL & LDL? What did you get on the SAT's, GRE's? Answers: A number(s).

During my training leading up to the marathon, I spoke with others training about pace, distance, number of repeats, reps, time for recovery, percentage increase in workouts week over week, target and maximum heart rate.

While talking to other barefoot, minimalist runners I learned about drop. My New Balance Minimus have a zero drop which means my heel is at the same plane as the front of my foot unlike other running shoes that have a raised heel (2:1 or some other ratio). And, music which is a series of notes in number, and a most welcome accompaniment on long runs.

Numbers are sometimes considered lucky. Lucky number 7. Or, unlucky as in 13. But, today I feel that 13 is my lucky number. My knee is finally feeling better. It does not lock or hurt when I turn to walk left. In 13 days I will trek 26.2 miles or 42.16481 kilometers, in a fox custom (you know you want to see that!) to continue my NYC Half Marathon efforts to raise funds and awareness for TEAM FOX. I am about 25% of my goal. I know with the support of my family, friends (the numbers in my life that I heart- Yes I heart you #'s), I will get to 101%.

To lend your support please click on this link  Mo's Marathon Fundraising for Team Fox 

My deepest thanks to all who have already.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

2012 NYC ING Marathon Countdown 15 Days: Charity Mile Walking, Bagel Club Delights & a Pledge to the Earth

A lovely Saturday morning. Countdown 15 days to the ING so what did we do? We went to get some delish bagels from The Bagel Club (still my fave: an everything bagel with garlic, spinach and olive tofu) and do some more Charity Miles walking for the Micheal J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF).

Walking to the Bagel Club has become a weekend tradition. A good 2.5M walk there and back. Krystal and I always enjoy witty banter, catching-up on what each of us did during the week, what plans we have for the rest of the weekend, chores no one likes to do but must get done (cleaning the kitchen and organizing the drawers, Fall cleaning, me), shadow dancing (me), studying (her), get fundraising material together for Team Fox (me), cuddling and caring for the cat (her). Okay, she has a bit of an easier day than I do today but I will get her tomorrow with the laundry detail-lol.

Some of our chatter on the walk includes the world; the good the bad and the insanity. With respect to the bad, insane and insanely bad events occurring all over, "seriously people, is there a reason we can't all get along better, seriously?" Give me a break with all the nonsensical waste of human intellect, energy, physical and mental capacities to build and do good and unite across all boundaries because of focused efforts to cause divisions for selfish motives and agendas, not to mention waste of time. Time, which everyone seems not to have enough of, but so many choose to spend it causing emotional pain, hardships and strife.

I would like there to be an option on all the bureaucratic forms we fill for hospitals, educational institutions, job applications et cetera that includes in race the option to check-off "human." It is that simple. We are all "human." We are all from a big blue beautiful planet in a universe of infinite complexity, mass, potential, called Earth. If we spent more time collaborating, educating, less war mongering, more peace in keeping what depths in the universe could we not reach, what cures could we not find for the diseases that plague us all, if we spent more time collaborating, educating. I may start checking and filing in the blank for "other" on my forms ongoing. Yes, I know as Krystal would say, "Now Mom that is just crazy talk." But, crazier things have been said or thought that lead to some good inventions and trends of our day. This bit of our banter was inspired by this saying I got from a Facebook post before we started our trek.
"I pledge allegiance to the Earth AND ALL the LIFE which it supports. One planet, IN OUR CARE, IRREPLACEABLE, with sustenance and respect FOR ALL."

The good. There is so much good in the world, so many inspiring stories, some get press, most do not. Here are a few picks of we liked to chat about (besides The Bagel Club, bagels and the efforts of Charity Miles and MJFF).
An Afghan girl makes a stand on the rights of girls getting an education. Needless to say, women who are educated are an asset not a liability. A woman who is educated will pass on this education to her children, will be more knowledgeable to care for the health and welfare of her family, et cetera. For more on the story of Malala click here.

Colombia's peach talks with FARC- Colombia is such a beautiful country. I am hopeful there will be prosperity for all some day very soon and it will be safe for people to travel all over the country.

Vitamins may reduce cancer in men- Glad my Dad has been taking his every day for umpteen years and we follow suit.

Music Therapy has an Educational Beat- We can all use some more music therapy in our lives :)

Friday, October 19, 2012

2012 NYC ING Marathon Countdown 16 Days: Happy Friday Challenge

Remove words from daily vocab such as problem, issue, obstacle, road block, struggle, which focus on the hardships and impart a spirit of "oh man," "oh boy," "not again," "shit," "can't do," and replace with "challenge," which imparts a spirit of "can do," focuses on resolutions and the infinite possibilities of reaching them.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fighting for Your Loved One's Health & Health Care: DO NOT Take "No" for an Answer & Tips for Managing Medications

The title this post refers not just specifically to the word "No" but to all the obstacles that get in the way of getting proper health/medical care for yourself or someone you care for. I have seen this unfold and have experienced it myself at doctor's offices, hospitals, pharmacies, medical centers, labs, and more on more than one occasion. A patient or patient caregiver has a question. The person answering does not have all the facts or does not know the answer. Instead of inquiring to be sure that the patient or caregiver is given proper direction, directing them to someone who may know, or at best saying I have to get back to you and actually getting back to you, some are content with giving any old answer they can pull from their back pocket.

I have infinite regard for healthcare/medical professionals. Working with the in-firmed in some very challenging situations, day-in-day-out, dealing with hundreds of people and inquiries each day is not easy. But, just as you are picky about purchases you make and negotiating in other aspects of your life, be picky and stand firm in your negotiations when it comes to health. No amount of money in the world can bring you happiness, but without good health can anyone be truly happy?

For those of you who are caring for a senior citizen, remember to fight for their care as you would, for a child. Don't buckle under pressure. Be a soldier in their healthcare advocacy.

Background/The Scene Behind the Scene:

My mother used to prepare her pill boxes every weekend for the following week, but as her Parkinson's progressed and she got older her ability to open jars, handle small pills, and sort them into the morning, noon, evening, bedtime slots, has dulled. What used to take minutes could now take an hour. Coupled with bouts of forgetfulness and confusion this was a cocktail for disaster. Overdosing or under-dosing prescription medications by senior citizens can cause serious health complications requiring hospitalization, so for the last few years I prep them.

CAREGIVER TIP / PILL BOX PREP: If a loved one or person you care for insists on preparing their pill boxes, remind them of the other, grander things they can do on their own, remind them that you care for/love them and just want to help.You may find you do this several times a day or during a visit. Be patient, don't give up. Many caregivers go through this. You are not alone.

Prep Pill Boxes Together
If your loved one is insistent on having a role in managing their pill box prep, then try to make it a fun task that you can do together. Like a nurse in an operating room passing equipment to a surgeon, let them hand you the amber prescription jars, and you fill the boxes. Either you or your loved one can call out the name of the medicine. That will be a way to boost their memory too. 

Don't stress, or argue, no one benefits from that.

Call Way in Advance
Don't wait until the last minute. Call 7 to 5 days before a refill is needed.

Get Automatic Refills
Ask the pharmacy if they can set up automatic refills for medications that are taken on a regular basis. You can always have it cancelled if there should be some change.

Ask for Insurance Overrides 
If you will be out of town when prescriptions will be needing a refill and you do not have someone who can take over the task of preparing the pill boxes. Speak with your pharmacist and your loved one's health insurance provider if necessary. Let them know no one else prepares your loved ones pill boxes and that you must have the medications before you travel. Most of the time you will get cooperation from both parties. The insurer may be able to override authorization for a refill if it is too soon to approve one so you do not have to pay full price just the regular co-pay. Be sure to let the pharmacy staff know that this may be necessary. So, they ask for this when contacting the insurer.

Set Deadlines for Having the Pill Boxes Prepared 
Set the deadline to have all the pill boxes filled at least 2 days before your trip. You will need this additional buffer in the event that an issue occurs that causes delay. Such as the pharmacy needing to order the drugs, contact the doctor, insurance carrier, computer system/software failures, changes to policy and/or healthcare regulations, etc.

I have needed to do this on several occasions. Most of the time without a glitch. Once I was not able to get a medication until a day before a trip. I cannot imagine what would have happened if I waited too long to request the refills and did not press on for getting them.

Act I:

Although my mother has been taking the same medications for the last year the pharmacy claims it cannot fill the medication I called for. Apparently it has side effects with another medication she is taken. Why the change in refilling it all of a sudden? The pharmacist says it is a new policy of the insurer and she just needs to speak with the doctor to get an override. The next day the pharmacist says she is still trying to reach the doctor.

The following day a letter from the insurer arrives saying the refill is approved. I assume this means the pharmacy has filled it as well. I wait until my mother sees her neurologist 2 days later, in case he makes a change to her medications, so I just have to make one trip to the pharmacy.

When I go to the pharmacy to drop off the new prescription and inquire about the other I am told it is out of stock and needs to be ordered. It will be ready in 2 days. I leave with one medication.

Act II:

I return in 2 days for the medication. The clerk says it is not ready. Why? Because it now has high side effects with the new medication that was picked up. My mother has enough of the medication for 3 days. The pharmacy follows the same routine of calling the doctor. Pharmacy staff are great about calling doctors and insurers most times, but they are filling prescriptions for many people and making calls all day. They cannot just focus on one client. I understand this. So, I also reach out to the doctor with an email and call.

CAREGIVER TIP / REQUEST AN ADVANCE ON MEDICATIONS IF NECESSARY: There is no need for your loved one to miss taking a medication(s) if there is a pending issue the pharmacy needs to resolve with a doctor or health insurer. Most pharmacists can and will advance 2 to 4 days of medications for refills depending on the issue and how much time they think it will take to resolve. Let them know that you are going to need them to do this! Be polite, but resolute.

Act III:

The pharmacist calls and leaves a message apologizing for the inconvenience and let's me know I can pickup the refill. I go the next morning.

The clerk brings out the white bag, rings up the charge noted on its label and asks me for over 100 dollars. I ask her to repeat the amount, thinking I am hearing incorrectly. She repeats the same number. Why so much? She claims the insurance will not cover it. I note that it was always covered before and ask why the change? She does not know. That is what the insurer says. She asks, do I still want it? Of course I want it, but I will not pay the amount they claim I should, will call the insurer myself and get back to them. She returns the package to its nest. I head to the office.

After contacting the insurer I find out that the pharmacy entered the request too many times and with the wrong code. The issue could be resolved by 1) I could have the insurer complete a paper request for an investigation to the pharmacy, but that could take up to 3 days. Or, 2) The pharmacy just needs to call the insurer's pharmacy line and they can take care of the issue right away. The representative recommends doing both. The paper as a backup in case the pharmacy does not call them back in time.

I call and speak with the pharmacist and repeat what I was told. She admits to the staffs mistake. I get another apology. The medication is ready in the evening.


There can be no greater cause worth advocating and fighting for than your and your loved one's health.

When things are not smooth sailing, take notes and be persistent with follow ups. Learn from the events that present obstacles in your healthcare journey so you can avoid repeat performances.

For More Tips on Medication Management for Senior Citizens go to:

For Caregiver Tips for Loved Ones with Parkinson's Disease go to:
On Support & Caregiving by Lonnie Ali / Micheal J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research

2012 NYC ING Marathon Countdown 17 days: Knowledge is Power!

"Knowledge of what is possible,

 is the beginning of happiness."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Can You Feel It?! 20.52M Charity Miles for the Micheal J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research

This saying says exactly how I felt yesterday SORE but not SORRY!! 

On Sunday I trekked 20.5M. It was the longest distance in my training for the marathon. The first 6 miles went nice and easy. Walk-Jog. Jog-Walk. The second 6 mile stretch got harder. Though my knee brace lent support, I was starting to get sore. So we did a little more walking than jogging. And, the final loop was just a wonderful long 8.5M walk. Knowing I could go this far was the mental boost I needed to feel more confident that "I CAN, YES, I CAN!" cross the NYC ING Marathon finish! It's just 6 more miles. I still have time for lots of strength training and cardio- I am feeling it!

I started my trek in a Central Park teaming with picnicking, cycling, running, walking park goers, and more. The sun ablaze. And, ended with the twinkle, twinkle of little stars making their way into the evening sky.

I kept up with my Charity Miles treks for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research with a 2 mile walk in the rain, last night. All the while thinking, "slow and steady." The walk had the effect of a short recovery run the day after a long run and I am feeling like the bionic woman today getting, stronger, faster, better!!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

2012 NYC ING Marathon Countdown 21 Days: Back to the Tried, Tested and True in Running Shoes

It's just 21 days to the Marathon. Where did the time go? I feel like it was just yesterday when I announced to family and friends "I'm in!" I guess the training days went by so quickly, because I was really having fun!
My longest run to date was 18.76M 14 days ago. I pushed myself a bit but scanning my notes of what I had been doing up that point in my training, what I eat the day before a long run, amount of rest, workouts during the week, pace etc. I found that the the one variable that was different, that may have lead to my hurting my knee was as simple as not wearing the same running shoes I had been wearing all along. I did not know then what I know now about not changing into new running shoes with less than 5 weeks before a marathon. I will add this DO NOT change the type of running shoe you are used to running to something very different. I have been transitioning from sneakers with a lot of support to minimalist ones that have a more barefoot feel for over a year and a half and did all my marathon training in either my Puma H-Street for short runs up to 6M or New Balance Minimus for anything longer.
I am known to run in just my stocking feet for up to 5 miles and will do the occasional full barefoot run. I got into barefoot running by chance. I forgot my sneakers on a business trip so I ran in just my socks on the treadmill at the hotel gym and enjoyed it. I was on the mend from an ankle fracture. All of my PT was in bare feet. Something about the barefoot run just felt more comfortable for me. As time progressed, the shin splints, fallen arches and other issues I had improved. I did my research on barefoot running before looking for and joining a barefoot running group (Barefoot Runners NYC). I got excellent tips on running form from the group's organizers and more experienced members. So, what made me want to change to a running shoe that had a higher wedge and additional support (a pair of Puma's I have that are similar to the Puma 550)? Listening to others about the logic of wearing running shoes with more support and believing that as a newbie to marathon running this would be the best. But, was not the best at this stage in the game.
I love my daughter's catch phrase, "You do you!" Short for "Be Yourself!" "Don't do things just because others are doing them," etcetera, etcetera. Somethings may work for me others may work for you. So, "You do you. Man" "You do you!" Thanks, Krystal for you regular reminders!
Running in his barefeet because there were no more Adidas running shoes in his size, Abebe Bikila gets the gold in the 1960 Olympic Marathon.
A side can be taken pro or con barefoot running, pro or con wearing running shoes of one type, brand or another. Just as you listen to your body to stop when you feel you have run enough or push when you feel you can go an extra mile, choose the footwear that feels just right for you. This will help reduce your, risk of injury in addition to good training and conditioning.

This weekend  those training for the ING Marathon will be doing their last long run before tapering down until race day. Generally 20 to 22 miles depending on if it is their first time running a marathon or not. It is my first so I should be doing 20 miles.Yesterday, my daughter and I trekked 3.3 miles of which we jogged .75 miles while our other J.K.O. teammates ran. It was one very fine Fall day. Today should be just as great.

I want to get to the start of the marathon healthy and ready to rock, so I am not pushing it! In a few hours I will head out in my old faithfuls, my NB Minimus and trek the mode and distance that is just right for me :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Stepping UP! The Charity Miles 26 Day Challenge

About a month ago while waiting with a J.K.O. Running teammate for others to arrive for our weekly evening run, a gentleman asked if we were doing "Charity Miles." There are many groups of charities that meet to run in Central Park regularly, most notably Team in Training and Achilles International. I thought to myself "Charity Miles" must be another one. "No we are not doing Charity Miles," I replied, "What is it?" Gene, the founder of Charity Miles who was in the park to run with others that day, proceeded to tell us about this app he created for Android and I-Phones which allows people to raise money for a charity while they walk, run or bike.

Can you imagine that? Raising money for a charity while you are just enjoying a walk in the park with your dogs? Earn 25-cents/mile if you walk or run or 10-cents/mile if you bike.

The Charity Miles app took moments to install and I have been using it ever since. I love that it keeps a history of my workouts. By tapping on the bar graph icon on the bottom left of the start menu, you can view details of the last 20 you completed; distance, time, whether you selected to walk, run or cycle, the charity and impact.
The impact for each charity will be different. For example, for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research or Autism Speaks, the impact will be funding for minutes of research, for Habitat for Humanity a number of pieces of lumber and for the ASPCA a number of puppy and kitten vaccinations.

If you turn your phone horizontally you will see a bar graph showing the miles you trekked during the last 7 days. You can scroll the history to your first Charity Miles workout by tapping on the right arrow.

The app tracks the distance via the GPS on your cell. You will get an email confirmation with details of your Charity Miles impact along with an attachment of a map showing where you trekked. An added bonus if you do not already have a tool to map your runs.

To use the Charity Miles app you do need to have a Facebook account and to have your workout sponsored to support the charity you selected share a post on your feed. For those who do not have or want to have a Facebook account this is the only drawback of the app. There is an option to tweet as well, but it is not necessary to have your workout sponsored.

The Charity Miles Challenge- Just 1 Mile a day for 26 Days during the month of October - Welcome Fall!

I have been using the Charity Miles app since I installed if for my runs. With the NYC ING Marathon a few weeks away I have been thinking of ways to step up my workouts. Charity Miles sent an email to subscribers on Monday regarding its marathon challenge for the month of October. Trek a minimum of one mile a day for 26 days during the month of October and win a Charity Miles tee shirt.

Since my mother has Parkinson's Disease I decided that I would step up the challenge by logging in Charity Miles every day until, I cross the ING Marathon finish for the Micheal J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. I decided that on the days I do not log in a run, I will log in a walk. For those of you looking for a way to stay fit but cannot find time, consider this, depending on the speed of your walk, whether you are carrying anything etc. you can cover one mile in 25 minutes or less. If you don't have time in the morning, do it later in the day. Set a side some time during a lunch break. Walk to run errands if you can instead of going in your car whenever you can. Get families, friends, co-workers, into the action. The app is FREE and remember #EveryMileMatters.

Singing in the rain or shine, tired or not, I am enjoying skipping the bus and walking home from the train. For Mom :)
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