#4Bunny

Many of you know the meaning of the hashtag, #4Bunny some do not. This post should explain everything.

This may not “flow” as it is very difficult for me to write.   There are a lot of raw emotions with this, some will be addressed, some won’t be, so if there seems to be a gap here and there, that is why.  This is also my second posting.  The first one I took down because to say I got “hate mail” is the understatement of the year….

Not to be cliché but I am going to enlist the help of one lovely lady by the name of Elsa to help tell my story. She is one of the most popular ladies lately and to be honest, her words help me…greatly. (Disney please don’t come after me with your firm fist and legalities, I just have a story to tell and need Elsa’s help…ok?)

My upcoming race has HUGE emotional significance. Will I post pictures? Maybe not. Will I write a race recap? Most likely not. It is personal, it is between Mom and I and no one else.

I am a “pleaser” to a fault. I like to bring love, comfort and happiness to people. To the point to where I have changed myself to be who I need to be for what someone wanted me to be, for them.

“a kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I’m the queen”

2012 I was told I needed to do Triathlons.   I signed up for a bunch.   I like training for them, because I am a runner and love the cross training aspect. I love triathlon. I LOVE IT, as a spectator and Coach, NOT personally as an athlete. It is not who I am. I am a runner. I love to run long, and slow, that is my happy place. But being the pleaser I am, I did what I was told and was miserable.

“Be the good girl you always have to be, conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know”

My Mom and I had a very special relationship. She was unique. Due to our life circumstances (we went through hell together more than once) we grew close. Cancer, death, homelessness, and abuse…we went through a lot together and survived together. We understood and accepted each other for who we were. She was my Mom and scared the CRAP out of me like any Mom should, but I knew 2000% she loved me no matter what. I was lucky to be able to have that 1 person I could always talk to about anything and everything, no matter what.

On August 17, 2013 I called Mom like I usually did on weekends. I had just run the Nevada State Games 5k and won my 2nd gold medal.

Note: Mom has always listened and supported. Always. No matter the situation, she wouldn’t say anything negative. She would show support, no matter what.

That day. She didn’t. For the first time in my life, she let it fly…..

“The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside, (she) Couldn’t keep it in”

She unleashed her fury on me….

Her words: When did I make someone else’s goals mine? When did I become a puppet?  She was angry, VERY angry. She pointed out the joy in my voice that day. She said I was always happy when I was running. I had been chasing and dreaming of ultra distances and suddenly stopped. She said that was when she noticed my joy disappeared.

I will spare the other details of the rest of the conversation, as it was a beautiful, wonderful conversation with Mom. One thing she did do and she was adamant about it, she would not let me hang up the phone until I made a few promises, the big one was to go after my dream of running an ultra marathon.

I promised.

This was the last conversation I would ever have with her.

That following week my world began to unravel. Mom was found on the floor in her home. She was rushed to the hospital. She was already frail from years of battling breast cancer that had spread into her lungs.

I spoke to a nurse via phone at the hospital. Her words “you need to get on a plane, now”.

I flew to North Carolina. My heart in my throat.   Mom was on a ventilator and they weren’t taking her off until I got there.

I remember running in the hallway to ICU. I went through the doors, walked into her room.   She looked at me with piercing fierce eyes and snapped her fingers and pointed at her legal pad and pen.   I handed them to her.   She wrote one word “ultra” and pointed her tiny finger at me. I giggled. My sisters and the nursing staff were puzzled. I put my hands on my hips “OK!!!! Seriously Mom. I promised! I flew 2000 miles for this??? GEEZ!”  She was unable to smile because of the equipment she was hooked up to, but the smile, was in her eyes….

After a lot of ups and downs and long sleepless nights, Mom passed away quietly on Sept 6th. The staff at Moses Cone Hospital was so good to “Miss Bunny” and my sisters and I. I will be forever grateful.

People in the running community were supportive and ran in Mom’s memory “#4Bunny”

I am going to wrap the rest of this up pretty quickly now. I just needed to capture the emotion and significance. After Mom’s funeral a “kink” in my shoulder escalated to THE WORST pain of my life. Only those who have had this know the depth of this pain. It was awful. I was in my own personal hell.

People were upset with me because I wasn’t “there” for them.   It hurt. Then it made me very angry. I did this to myself. It was that “pleasing” nature.   Never again. Never. Painful lesson learned when people turn on you when you are in despair.

“I don’t care what they’re going to say, let the storm rage on”

I’ll admit I was sunshine and roses on social media.

“don’t let them in don’t let them see be the good girl you always have to be”

That is what people expected from me.   What was really going on was more than anyone could even imagine.  I was in a dark place. A very, dark place.  I was confined to a chair.  I could not care for myself, let alone my family.  It took 8 hours for a medical staff to be able to get me to lie down for 30 seconds to get an MRI.   Every time I would try to lay down the pain had me screaming at the top of my lungs. The MRI showed many things wrong but most importantly that I had bone spurs on my spine sawing on my nerve chord.  Surgery was necessary.

My chiropractor was a huge advocate for me and was able to speed up the process and get me to surgery. 10/24/2013.   I am forever grateful.  Dr. Easton and Martha, you both have been more to me than just a chiropractic office.  Thank you.

After surgery true beautiful colors showed and a lot of people supported my family and me. They came with food, helping to care for my son and more.   This allowed me to be able to heal and recover quickly.

I also have to say my husband is a loving, supportive and patient man. He had to do everything as I couldn’t do anything. He was beside me every step of the way as I went through this hell.

Since spine surgery I have been slowly, and carefully rebuilding. My supportive friend, business partner, and coach, Rebecca supports my goals. She “gets” my training happy place. MY goals. Without her, I would not be where I am today.

“the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all”

For those who have seen my profile photo on Facebook, this is what it is about. My Mom’s name is Bunny. Her favorite color is purple (like me).  The promise I made is #4Bunny. On Sunday October 26, I will begin to fulfill my promise I made to Mom.

#4Bunny

As long as can….I plan to continue to fulfill that promise….

“It’s time to see what I can do, To test the limits and break through, no right, no wrong, no rules for me, I’m free!”

 

 

Product Review and Giveaway: Lace Locker

I happened to have the “chance” meeting @lacelocker (TheLaceLocker on instagram) @StashSports on Twitter and Facebook, be sure to give them a like/follow!

First impression was how quickly they arrived, that is always important. As athletes are pretty impatient when it comes to getting things in the mail, we want it and want it yesterday, it keeps us excited and motivated when we have new things arrive. The packaging was also very well branded and professional.

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The test. Simple. Easy to put on, and for those of us who are impatient I didn’t have to look at the instructions on how to properly “install” them.   They work, simple as that.

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I wear elastic, no tie laces in my racing shoes, but that is personal preference, they are not for everyone. However, my cross training shoes all have laces. Laces annoy me. Period. I catch them on weight equipment causing me to trip and fall, they come untied. Don’t get me started on if the lace rubs up on my ankle and I think there is a critter running across and it makes me jump to the ceiling. Lace Locker gets rid of all those lace annoyances. They also come in a variety of colors, even Lady Bug print.

I am not only a Coach and athlete; I am also a Mom of a very active boy who REFUSES to tie his shoelaces. Double and triple knots stand no chance with this boy. Lace Locker fixed that.

Another random use that was discovered, I was recently at the gym doing my first wear test of Lace Lockers.  There was a girl in the locker room fighting with a pair of workout pants that were refusing to cooperate. She awkwardly noticed me watching her antics and responded with a sheepish statement “I accidentally packed my sister’s pants, they are too big and I can’t get them to stay tied, no one needs to see that when they fall off of me!” LIGHTBULB went off. I took one of the Lace Lockers off my shoe and handed it to her and said to find me and give it back at the end of the workout. Problem solved. I was on the treadmill behind her as she was on the elliptical, a few times during the workout she would flash a big smile and thumbs up.

So in keeping with my workout pant friend at the gym, I give Lace Locker thumbs up!

A quality product made 100% in the USA, affordable, easy to use, excellent customer service, commitment to safety and passionate desire to send kids to college (in addition to Neely’s scholarship a significant amount of proceeds go to create scholarships), and finding a product that is a solution to annoying shoe laces.

Here is the fun part: PRIZE GIVEAWAY. That’s right! I am giving away a pair of Lace Locker Pair Neely Inspired.

IMG_20140708_100249_021-2“20% of each pair sold of the Neely Spence Gracey Signature LaceLocker® “Inspired…Get Running” will contribute to a scholarship fund. The fund will be at her undergraduate school, Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, and will first be given for the 2014-2015 academic year. “

What you need to do to win:

 

  1. Like my Coach Kristie PRS FIT Facebook page
  2. Like the PRS FIT Facebook page
  3. Comment on my Coach Kristie PRS FIT Facebook post of this blog review WHY you want to win the Lace Locker Inspired
  4. Give @lacelocker a shout out on Twitter that you want to win and tag me @kristiecranford and @StashSports
  5. Then comment on my Coach Kristie PRS FIT Facebook post of the link of this product review, with the most “likes” by 12:30pm Pacific Time Thursday, July 17, 2014 will win.  In the event of a tie, all names will go in a drawing and my 7yo son will do the honors of drawing the winner.  That’s what Mom’s do!  Good luck.

So…on your mark, get set….GO!!!!

 

 

The Comeback Coach

I have had a lot of sincere inquiries as to my progress on rebuilding myself. So here you go.

For those who know, and who don’t, 2013 was quite possibly one of the most challenging years I have ever had. I lost my Mom and best friend to Lung Cancer, I had a mass removed from my sinus cavity and unexpected emergency spine surgery. The whole year tried me emotionally and physically well beyond my limits. Physically my sacrifice was my most cherished gift, my gift of the run.

Let me translate. I can run again, finally. But it used to be easy, really easy. Now, most days it is a fight. It is hard.   Some days, my legs just don’t work and I just, well, can’t. I have had to start over as if I just started running.

At first it hurt. I cried. A lot. I threw things. I used to look at a 1 hour run and in my head and I would say “easy peasy 6 mile or more run in zone 2”. Now, I am thrilled for close to 4-5, or even being able to run the full hour without walking.

My favorite race is the Philadelphia Blue Cross Broad Street 10 Mile Run. I have a lot of family there, the Rocky soundtrack blares and the spectators are just second to none, and hello there is a soft, huge, ballpark Phillies special pretzel at the finish. I have run it twice. My best time was 1:24:00. I will be toeing the start line for the third time in a couple weeks. My run is not what it once was. It will get there again, but the healing process is slow.   I hope to finish before the cutoff of 2:30:00.   That is a far cry from 1:24:00. Shoot, my ½ Marathon PR is 2:03.

I am 10lbs from my “normal” weight, thank you surgery, 15lbs from “game face” weight. I keep getting snide remarks and have had a few people ask me “when are you due?”. The best one “You’re a Coach? Shouldn’t you be thinner?” People are mean. Some thrive on other’s setbacks. If I have been that for someone to keep them from bullying someone else, I am happy. But you know where I am right now? To be bluntly honest, I am happier than I have been in years. YEARS.

I am healthy. Pain free. I am in remission from cancer since Aug of 2009. My son is growing like a weed and thriving in school. He is my mini me and I love him more than is humanly possible. My husband is handsome, brave, and (TMI) flat sexy. I am a LUCKY woman.   I am a Coach of and a member of a badass team of coaches and athletes at Team PRS FIT.   How many people can incorporate their passion into their career? Only the lucky ones for sure, and I am one of them.

As a Coach, I trust the process. So as an athlete, I trust the process. Coach Rebecca is rebuilding me slowly and carefully. I have to listen to my body very carefully. Some times it whispers, some times it screams, but I listen.

People ask me when I am planning my “comeback”.   I don’t know, my body will tell me. But I will tell you this. There is one thing that has made a comeback, my love of running.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Training in the heat- tips to be smart and safe

IMG_7253-1Summer is fast approaching, days getting longer, and temperatures will begin to rise.  Training in the heat is inevitable and in some cases practically unavoidable (I live in Las Vegas where heat is “normal”).  If you are faced with training in the heat there are a few things to consider keeping yourself cool and safe while training.

The sun is at it highest point between the hours of 10am and 4pm. It is best to avoid these times. Always wear sunscreen and reapply. Wear white or light UV protective clothing (the Coolibar cooling fitness shirt is a perfect example) to reflect the sun’s rays.  Dark colors absorb the heat. Wear a hat and UV protective sunglasses.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  Know your sweat loss rate.  Weigh yourself before and after a workout to know how much sweat you lose and replenish with this amount as well as taking in electrolyte sports drink during activity. Cramping is a sign of mineral loss so make sure you are taking in an electrolyte sports drink to keep you hydrated and replenish minerals lost in sweat.

Help keep the body cool by pouring cold water over pulse points in the wrist and back of the neck.  Also pouring over the top of the head.  A majority of the body’s heat is released through the top of the head.  That being said if wearing a hat be sure to wear a ventilated one so heat can escape and is not trapped.  There are cooling neckbands you can wear.  In extreme heat situations I have frozen wristbands and worn them and continued to pour water over them. The absorbent nature keeping the cool water on my pulse points.  I have participated in extreme heat races and they have provided ice towels and cooling stations.

Be aware of warning signs of heat stress and have an emergency plan in place (carry a phone, wear an ID bracelet with emergency contact information).

Warning signs of heat stress and heat related illnesses (dehydration, hypernatremia, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heat cramps) include but are not limited to: muscle cramps, nausea or vomiting, weakness, headache, dizziness, confusion, cold and/or clammy skin, fainting, fast or weak pulse, hot red dry or moist skin, and even unconsciousness.

Keep in mind there is nothing wrong with playing it 100% safe and taking your training indoors.  You won’t skip a beat in your training and you can train safely without worry sun damage and heat related stress and illnesses.

Be Healthy, Train Smart, Have Fun

 

*this post can also be found on the Coolibar Sun Protection blog, an original article written by me for Coolibar UV Protection clothing*

 

 

Rock and Roll Las Vegas 2013 Race Recap Part II of II

Part II of II

As soon as I saw in the email I could also participate in the Half Marathon, I logged onto the RNRLV website.  There was a 4 hour cut off for the Half Marathon, 1:40 for the Half of a Half.  When walking in recovery I was easily walking well within the pace for the Half Marathon, I was straining a little for the pace required for the Half of a Half.  A quick email to my doctor (yes he is amazing and will answer emails on a Sunday- I am spoiled) and a text to my PRS FIT co-coach, Coach and friend Rebecca Adamson and it was decided, literally just hours before the start…I was going to do the Half Marathon.   My poor husband, just smiled and shook his head.  I am an Idiot (really truly Idiots Running Club Member #41 aka Prom Queen).

membershipcard

I read the back of my membership card.  The oath of the Idiots.  Dumb thing, check.  I planned to laugh, have fun, and not take the event too seriously.  I decided, to have a blast.  As a Coach for PRS FIT our philosophy is “Be Healthy, Train Smart, Have Fun”.  So “Have Fun” was going to be my race plan.  Plain and simple.

Pre-race fuel one hour prior to the start I had 1 scoop of GenUCAN protein with 8 oz of almond milk.

My husband and son drove me and dropped me at the location of the corrals.  Let’s just say I am spoiled, he has connections and is able to get through the road blocks and drop me off right at the start.  Did I mention I am spoiled?

I had plenty of time to hit the porta potty lines and get to my corral.  In a last minute decision I decided to carry my phone with me.  My apologies to anyone who I told I would not have my phone on me, it was truly a last minute decision. I had 2 athletes racing and wanted to keep up with runner tracking.  Also, in the event my neck went on strike and I ended up in a med tent, I wanted to be able to call my husband.

In my corral 3 things started conversation with those around me:

1-     My “Cancer Survivor” Bondi Band.  I am a 12 time survivor.  Every day is a victory. (This photo is from earlier this year)

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2-     The quote on the back of my shirt.

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3-     My Frankenstein scar on the back of my neck

I cannot count the number of people who asked if they could take pictures of the back of me (including my neck and shirt).  A local news videographer did too, however, I didn’t make the highlight reel, oh well.

I was at the back of my corral and to the far right.  I know the course well and was going with runner etiquette.   I would hug the curb so as not to get run over and block those behind me.  I also was able during conversation to warn the front of the corral behind me I was walking and my plan.  I was afraid of hecklers, I received applause and complete support instead.

The first mile was the hardest as I felt like I was standing with my back to a massive wave as it surged against me.   People were emerging on either side of me (even though I was hugging the curb).  But once I made it past mile 1 I was in the clear and it was smooth sailing from here on out.

One thing about RNRLV that is so special is the crowds. WALLS of them.  Cheering, the signs, the costumes, cow bells.  I decided to give a high five everyone that wanted one.  Later on this would turn out not to be my best idea.

I felt great. I kept checking my pace to keep it around the 16 minute pace.  I knew this would reduce impact on my neck and was my comfort area.  If I went any faster I would risk my neck acting up and ending up in a med tent calling my husband to get me.

At about mile 4.5 I realized I needed to check my phone to see the splits for my athletes.  Tracking was only working on one of them, great. The one that was working, was telling me they were SMOKING the course, I needed to get my butt to the left lane at the the median (I was on the far right) because he was going to be passing on the other side any minute.

I was walking.  Everyone was running.  I didn’t want to be “that girl” and walk in front of people.  I was using as much etiquette as possible in this race.  I looked to my left, and as if I had magic powers, I had a clear path open completely from right to left.  I took off and made it from right to left without running, and disturbing the oncoming runners.  Whew.

I started scanning the runners on the other side.  Saw friend Jorge surging by and screamed a cheer for him.  Perfect timing.  Still, I was searching.  Then, I spotted the IRC shirt coming.  BOOM!  Perfect timing, it was Paul (you can find a photo of Paul in Recap Part I).  Screamed a cheer, he looked up and saw me.   Perfect timing again.  Ok, now for me to charge on and finish this race and hope my other athlete (whose tracking was not working) was doing well.

That athlete was racing the full marathon for an amazing cause.  She had been feeling under the weather, and the heavy hand of it started coming down on her, hard.  She called me several times. Throughout the race I kept urging her on to finish for that cause.  One foot in front of the other.   (Teri Radke is a strong athlete and went on to fight tooth and nail and finish the marathon strong- that is her in the pink shirt below).

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After turning around from downtown and heading back toward the finish around mile 9 the crowds were really getting rowdy in a good way.  I was still giving out high fives.  I had one person call me out “Cancer Survivor I got a high five for ya here!” She was smiling, I went over and she hit my hand like a baseball bat hitting a ball out of the park for the winning home run.  At that moment I felt intense pain shoot from my arm straight through to my neck.

Oh. Sh&t.

Etiquette aside, I now moved to the center to avoid high fives.  It would have to be “thumbs up” from here on out.

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Mile 11 my heart was moving to my throat.  I was going to do this.  I was going to finish.  End this year on a high note.

Mile 12 The tears started welling up in my eyes.   Everything leading up to this day is why I was here, why I would finish this.  I was wearing purple in Memory of my Mom.  #4Bunny

Mile 13 my face hurt from smiling.  I could see the finish.

I crossed the finish and the tears started rolling down my face. Just three weeks post spinal neck surgery.  I did it.  My slowest Half Marathon ever.  In memory of my Mom. My most enjoyable, memorable, and most amazing race to date.  This was my 5th year in a row racing RNRLV and for the the 5th year in a row I was greeted at the finish by my husband and son.  I cannot tell you how much it means to me to have them there.   Their love and support is my world.

Post race my #1 focus was going to be full and complete recovery from surgery.  I was ready to get back to being active and able to play with my son.

In the couple days after I was feeling good.  Really good.  My neck was sore, but not more than the usual during recovery.  Then while on a walk with my husband the pain became intense, bringing me to tears.  After review my new symptoms and dissecting the race with my surgeon we came to the realization my exuberant high five lady may have done some damage.  I was put on rest, no more walking and I am to report all symptoms to my surgeon daily.

On November 21 I developed fever and further complications.

I seem to take 1 step forward and 2 steps back. I saw something recently that I am going to think of daily to try stay positive through this frustrating time:

“Optimism is looking at a step forward and a step back, not as going backwards, but just as doing the Cha Cha.”

I’ve never been a dancer, but I am getting pretty good at the Cha Cha.

I have a lot of restrictions and a long and slow recovery ahead of me.  I have been told to expect not to be able to lift weights for 8 months.  I may be able to run again in 6, the key word being may.   I have been told a lot of things that I cannot do.

I started this blog January of 2012 with the post “Mantra”.  I now know more than ever my mantra will carry me through the remaining part of 2013 and for all of 2014.

“Tell me what I can’t do, I’ll show you what I can

My most sincere thanks to the following:

Idiots Running Club, for reminding me to laugh until it hurts and be thankful for this thing called the “run”.

Training Peaks, Raw Elements, and Coolibar. Thank you all for continuing to support me, even in this less than stellar race year.

True friends for “being there” for me during this rough year.

Most importantly my husband and son.  You two are my rock, my world.  I love you.