Monday, February 24, 2014


You all know how much I love the mantra of Braver-Stronger-Smarter.  But my oldest and dearest mantra is one-forty-five.  And yesterday it took on a whole new meaning for me.  Here's the story.

In February of 1992, I was racing slalom at Crystal Mountain on a Friday afternoon.  The week leading up to this particular race was filled with practice on not-so-great conditions that had me "walking" out of my bindings.  That's skier lingo for, "my boot kept coming out of my binding for no good reason."  It happens sometimes.  So we tightened my bindings a little so that my skis would stay on when they should, but not so tight that they wouldn't release if necessary.

Fast forward to that Friday night.  Six of my teammates were to race that night and I was scheduled as the alternate racer.  Unfortunately, one of my teammates went home from school sick so I needed to step up and fill her spot on the team.  No big deal. I was ready. We had to leave class at 1:45 to catch the bus "up north" for the ski meet.  I was pretty terrible at remembering those things, and we didn't have cell phones with timers, calendars, reminders or alarms.  So, what did any typical high school sophomore do? I wrote it on my hand.  
I recreated it today. This is not the original photo. There is no original photo!

It was my turn in the start shack. I was nervous as all get out, but felt strong and ready. I took the first few gates full steam ahead and was feeling great. I crested the headwall (flat ends and steep pitch down starts) and took the next two gates a little too aggressively and caught the tip of my ski on the third causing the now infamous "sit-down."  I knew there was something wrong. I heard the pop and felt the pain, but my skis were still on. Everyone yelling at me to get up.  I asked for the "DQ" (disqualification) and told the gate keeper to call my coach. Charlie slid down the hill, and dad walked up from the bottom.  And then the ski patrols joined us with the toboggan, strapped me in and and took me down. That was the longest and worst sled ride EVER. 

In the patrol house, they cut my race pants off me and my knee instantly swelled beyond belief. They cut up a cardboard box and duct taped it around my leg to immobilize it.  Mom and dad loaded me in the car and from Dad's portable bag phone (pretty state of the art back in the day), we called ahead to the ER in Mt. Pleasant.  It was the longest drive ever. I can't remember which was worse...the pain or the fear. That was the night I met Dr. Tom Keating for the first time. 

As we sat in the ER waiting for Doc to see me, Dad looked at my hand and said, "Jenna! What on Earth did you write on your hand?"  I turned and looked and said, "oh, 1:45. That's what time I got out of class today."  What Dad saw was this: 
Same recreation, just upside down.

From that moment forward, our family has stuck with 1:45 happens.  And it sure does.  A few years later, my brother gave me this pillow for Christmas to commemorate the now healed knee:

That fateful Friday night, Doc Keating told me that "someday" my activities would be limited but not for a long time.  Well, a long time is here.  I've come full circle on this story.  

Mom, don't be mad at this part of the story, and rest assured that it's not really going to happen.  I have been saying for years that if I could find something that I wanted to remember for the rest of my life that meant a great deal to me, I would get a small, subtle (easily concealed) tattoo of it.  I've never found exactly what I wanted so have never been inked.  After this whole "I'll never run again" thing came up, I realized that the thing that represents strength, bravery and perseverance to me was that clock reading the time 1:45.  So I hit the boards of Pinterest searching for the perfect 1:45 tattoo.  You'll never believe what I found...

Luke 1:45  "Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."  Wow.  I know He does not share His plans with us.  However, if I were to take the beginning phrase only, "Blessed is she who has believed," I think my mantra has actually been this all along, I just didn't know it.  I believe in His plan for me. I believe in my strength, bravery and perseverance.  No ink necessary.  On my hand or as a tattoo.  I have all the 1:45 I need in my heart and my soul.  One Forty Five is an even more spectacular mantra than I could ever have imagined. 

Blessed is she who has believed. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Braver Stronger Smarter. Part II

I know, I know.  I need to blog more frequently.  I have lots to say, pictures to post, updates to share.  But today I need to just breathe and think of the bigger picture.

I've posted about running a lot.  Like here, and here  and here, and here.  And feel free to snoop around and find a dozen more...maybe even more than that.  Today is my last post about running.  Forever.  Not because I am sure you are tired of  hearing about it, but because I will not be running any more.  

It's been 22 years in the making, but two weeks ago I heard the words I was dreading all this time, "you will need a knee replacement someday..."  But not until I am over 50.  In the meantime, my orthopedic surgeon (now know as Doc) said, "I wish you wouldn't run but I know you love it and I don't have to tell you to give it up just yet.  Do it while you can because your days are numbered..."  I thought we were measuring in years.  Not number of runs.  And I didn't know the number was 2.  Yes, that's right.  Two 3-mile runs.  

So, a little history.
My BFF, Angie, is a "coach" with the Beachbody company.  You know, the people who make the workout DVDs such as P90X and TurboFire.  Anyway, it's a bit like Amway, but my Doc said that I needed to do more cross training and I hate the gym so an at-home, cost effective DVD was my weapon of choice.  I began doing the T25 workouts and LOVE them.  Since starting them in November, I've lost almost 20 pounds and about 2" off my waist.  They work and they are 25 minutes five times a week. Can't argue with those results or the time commitment.  

Three weeks ago, I was in the final 30 seconds of the video, doing an in-place full-body run when I heard a "POP" noise and felt shooting pain down my leg.  The same knee that I've already had five surgeries on.  A week and an MRI later, I learned that the good news was that I didn't tear, sprain, strain or break anything. The bad news is that I have moderate cartilage degeneration in my right knee and from time to time I will do something that will slough off another layer of the cartilage causing severe pain and swelling.  Eventually they will probably have to do a debridement surgery to get it out of there, but not until it is debilitating.  Awesome. So I have that to look forward to.  

Fast forward to this week.  Back at the DVD workouts for a couple weeks, I look at my training plan and realize it's time to start running.  I've registered for the Colfax half marathon on May 19 and need to get those miles in!  I ran on Sunday for the first time since before Christmas and felt pretty strong.  My knee was a little stiff and achy, but overall, I was confident I was doing great.  I worked out in the living room on Monday and Tuesday and went out on Wednesday for another 3 miler.  I felt great. Strong. Free. Able.  By the time I hit the 5k mark (3.15 miles) I was stiff, achy and ready to stop. Thankfully I was only a block from home.  By the time I hit the shower an hour later, I was in a great deal of pain and my knee looked like I had inflated a balloon inside. I had no range of motion and couldn't navigate the stairs very well.  It got worse as the night progressed. Tears, Advil, TED (compression & anti-embolism) sock and an hour of ice made it a little better, but the pain kept me up last night.  My hourglass had expired on a perfectly sunny and warm Wednesday in February.  

This morning, after several more tears, and a very long conversation with the most perfect and supportive husband on Earth, I decided to hang up my Garmin permanently.  And being full of the stubborn gene, that was no easy decision to make.  But this is what is best for me and most importantly, best for my family.  

I have no regrets.  I can say that I have completed four half-marathons.  And it all started with this blog post...  And re-reading that, I really do believe that the decision to stop took as much Bravery, Strength and Smarts as the decision to begin.  Thanks Mom.