Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Standing United Against Stigma

There have been a lot of opinions shared over the last several days over an incident that occurred on United Airlines involving a teenage girl with autism.  If you haven't seen the story, check out the link here.

I've spent the last two days reading about this incident and feeling all the feelings.  Anger and sadness that a family had to be humiliated and embarrassed over an incident that could have been controlled.  Annoyance and frustration that more hasn't been done to combat ignorance and educate people in all areas of the workforce on developmental disabilities.  Defeat because the task to educate and end ignorance seems monumental.  Finally though, I've landed on determination.  I am more determined than ever that ignorance like this needs to be addressed on a much broader scale than it is currently.

I don't fully blame the flight attendant or the pilot for not handling the situation properly.  Ignorance is a very real thing and appears to be responsible in this case.  At what point do we stop letting ignorance be our excuse for everything though?  How many negative situations have to occur before someone stops and thinks, "Maybe I need to learn more about this so I'm better able to handle a similar situation in the future"?   I understand flight crews and pilots having safety concerns when passengers appear disruptive.  I've lived in a house where tantrums were a regular occurrence and where concerns increased as the size of my brother increased and he struggled to control his physical aggression.  Yesterday I had a large metal trash can thrown at me by a student who couldn't verbalize his thoughts and feelings and felt that aggression was the best way.  When there is an issue involving safety, I am all for taking the necessary precautions.  The problem that I have with this situation is that the teenager was not disruptive in any way and did not pose a safety concern to any passenger or the flight crew.  So why the emergency landing?

As someone who has lived and breathed in this world for the last 21 years, I can't help but be frustrated by the lack of initiative that some people take to learn how to interact with others who are different from them.  So let me just throw a few things out there:

That 15 year old girl that you just kicked off a plane?  She is a human being that has feelings just like you and me.  She may not be able to verbalize those feelings in the same way that you and I can, but I guarantee you that she knows that it was her disability that caused her family so much trouble that evening and feels embarrassed for the attention that her needs have garnered from the national media.    I've seen the hurt in the eyes of the seventeen year old that heard his teachers making negative comments about a behavior he couldn't control.  I've wiped the tears of the fourteen year old who so badly wanted to play in the basketball with other children in the neighborhood but was ignored because he didn't socially fit in with the standards set by his peers.  Emotions and pain are a universal language.

Those parents that you just kicked off a plane?  They are trying their best to help their child live a productive and successful life, despite all of the obstacles standing in their way.  You don't see the private struggle and battles that they go through daily, sometimes hourly, to make sure that their child can live in this socially constructed world that seems to be doing everything in it's power to ignore her.  You don't see the exhaustion from dealing with the sixth tantrum of the day, this one over having to wait for food to be cooked at the restaurant where they've stopped for dinner because Mom was to tired to cook after handing the first five meltdowns of the day.  You don't see the hours spent in doctors appointments and school meetings trying to find the best help for their child or the hours painstakingly planning for any possible situation when traveling with a child with a disability.

In no way am I claiming to be unbiased here.  I have a sibling with developmental disabilities and I'm a school social worker for this same population.  I live and breathe these stories daily and have learned to adapt and be understanding.  But despite all of his quirks and tantrums, my brother is one of the best snugglers I know and wouldn't intentionally hurt a fly if he could control all of his impulses.  The same student that threw a trash can at me started his day today by giving me a massive bear hug and apologizing again for losing his temper.  Both of them are kind, gentle young men that simply have problems communicating frustrations in the same way I do.  That doesn't change the fact that they are human beings that deserve the same respect that you and I expect from others.

I am a firm believer in education and the role that is plays in diminishing the stigma attached to developmental, intellectual, emotional, and physical disabilities.  The solution to this problem is larger than the airlines partnering up with disability advocacy groups and putting some positive PR into the media to show the "changes" occurring.  It is going to require time, money, and effort from employers in all industries to make sure that employees are given the resources needed to best work with this population.  It's not going to happen over night.  But at some point, we as a society need to make a change.

The number of people with disabilities aren't going down, and inclusion in mainstream education and society is becoming more of a reality for people who may have had limited resources in previous generations.  We're long past the days of institutionalizing people with disabilities and pretending they don't exist and that we can't be bothered with them.  It's time to take a stand and be united in the fight against stigma and misunderstanding.  Anyone else up for the challenge?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

GSC 2015: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I've officially completed my third half marathon and my second Glass Slipper Challenge and lived to tell that tale! So here goes- the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I arrived Friday morning with my friends and we headed immediately to the WWoS to get our packets and do a quick sweep through the expo.  I mean it when I say quick- I had seen the merchandise, but I also knew that most of it was gone and I had gotten what I'd liked the two previous years, so I didn't even bother checking out the larger runDisney section for anything.  We split up with a meet up time about 20 minutes later. A few minutes for a new Raw Threads tank and a stop by the Handana table for one of those beauties, and I was good to go! We headed to Animal Kingdom for the afternoon (best part of my day was the giraffe that passed within reach of our safari vehicle) and then back to our room at All Star Sports with a stop for a big plate of pasta in the cafeteria.  It was an early night, since we had all been up since about 4am to catch flights, and an early wake up call was coming!

Saturday: We started the day off bright and early with a 2:45am wake up call, and a 3:30am trip to the bus after debating for ages over how many layers we needed to wear to combat with the 30 degree weather.  We finally made it over to Epcot and spent the next hour or so desperately trying to stay warm.  My BRF Meg and I had decided to go as Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, but ended up ditching our shorts and skirts for black pants instead, which was the much warmer choice.

The "Tweedles"- neither of us is Dum here!
I REALLY enjoyed the 10K this year.  I continue to be slightly disappointed with the first half of the course and the lack of entertainment on it, especially this year when I was looking for any distraction from the cold.  However, by the time we got to the World Showcase, I had managed to lose my throwaway shirt and was able to enjoy a gorgeous sunrise over the lagoon and then on the trip around the Boardwalk.  That has easily become my favorite place to run at Disney, and I can only hope that someday I will have the money to be able to stay at one of the Boardwalk resorts.  My time was the worst 10K time I've had yet, a ridiculous 1:14:50, but since it took almost 20 minutes for me to warm up, I had nagging ankle pain after mile 4, and I was trying to save myself for the half, I was ok with taking things slower than normal.
When taking a picture with the classiest mouse in town,
you pose like she instructs you to pose!

The plan was to take Saturday easy and stay off our legs.  First up on the easy day list though was brunch at Chef Mickey's! I absolutely loved this experience.  For one, who doesn't love the classic Disney characters and getting unobstructed photo opportunities? Second, I don't usually like buffets  at Disney because they are more expensive and I don't feel like I eat enough to make it worthy of increasing my credit card limit. :) However, a buffet brunch 3 hours after running 6 miles was EXACTLY what we needed and we took full advantage of all of the food at our disposal.

After lunch, Meg and I took the scenic route back to the hotel via monorail stops at the Poly and Grand Floridian.  She had never been in either of the hotels, so we took some time to explore and take some pics before heading back for a nap and some time with her family in Downtown Disney.

Sunday: Sunday started much like Saturday had, with the exception of it being a much more reasonable 55 degrees when we headed to Epcot.  The wait on Sunday seemed much more reasonable that it had it years past, and after one last group picture we headed to our individual corrals to get the party started!
Amy, Jenni, Meg, and me before the start!
Miles 1-3: The Bad
I quickly realized that my legs were hating me for running on Saturday and then spending more time on them than necessary the rest of the day.  They felt dead and did not want to move very well.  I started to feel better around the time I got to the Welcome to Magic Kingdom sign, but it definitely took a while.

Miles 4-7: The Good
I always love this part of the course! Starting with the run through the transportation center and seeing our first spectators, running along the Contemporary and seeing the DJ, and of course running through Magic Kingdom makes me super happy every year.  They also manage to be my fastest miles (which is a good reminder to me that a 10K is my distance for strong races and maybe I should focus on that one for a while).  I crossed the 10K mat feeling good, but I also seriously felt like I would be better off stopping there and calling it a day.  My legs were tired, my ankle hurt, and as the sun was coming up I was getting increasingly warmer.

Miles 8-12: The Ugly
I don't even really want to talk about this part of the course.  It was where I kissed any chance of a PR goodbye, where I let the mental part take over my body and slow me wayyyy down. There was little to keep my going, except knowing that there was no way I was stopping unless I was injured.

Mile 13(.1): The Good
I wouldn't be running if it weren't for this girl
and her support!
Running into Epcot (and changing from a 2:1 interval to a 1:1 interval) helped me to get my head back in the game.  I made it through the dreaded hairpin turn and headed out of Epcot with a smile on my face.  I crossed the finish line in 2:38:27, which just barely beat my worst half marathon time from my first PHM.  I didn't even care at the point, I was so over it.  I found Meg at bag check and managed to get a couple of pictures before we hobbled toward the busses and back to the hotel.

We celebrated on Sunday as we always do, with drinks and food all over Epcot.  By the time 7pm rolled around, I was done with the day and ready to sleep.  Health apps said we had put almost 23 miles on our legs that day, and my legs would have agreed (and probably said more).

This will probably be my last PHM/GSC for a while.  I've got my school exams next March right after the race, and I know that those have to take priority.  It definitely won't be my last runD race though- Meg and I are already talking Wine and Dine 2016!

How was your race and how did you celebrate? Any PR's out there this year?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Year, New Goals

Welp, I had good intentions when I started this thing almost a year ago, intentions to post every few days even.  Unfortunately, life laughed those intentions in the face and took over instead.  I raced, I got married, I finished 2 more semesters of my PhD, and I started to put our new house together to make it feel a little bit more like a home.  The holidays came and went, and included lots of traveling and a family trip to WDW where my husband visited for the first time and lived to tell the tale.  He even drank the Disney kool-aid, which makes planning my race-cations even better because he is beginning to understand the appeal of running in my happy place!

My dear husband getting his first glimpse of the castle and celebrating with our bride and groom ears after a long day in the park!

After walking around Disney for 5 days (and fighting off the fatigue that comes with a Disney "vacation"), I really have had no desire to go out and run at all.  Ok, it's not just the vacation, I've had no desire to run in months.  Despite knowing that GSC was coming again, I haven't been able to find the motivation.  New year though, new goals, and getting and staying fit is one of them, especially as I think about long term- potentially starting a family- goals and wanting to have a strong, fit pregnancy.  I figure that should start with fitness goals now too, right? So this morning, I jumped back on the running train.  Got a strong 3.1 in on the dread mill as I ease myself back into running and put together a training plan to get me through the miles before GSC.  I also got my sweet hubby to hang this beauty, which is a constant and simple reminder to get off my large booty and put my running shoes on.

What is everyone else doing to get motivated to run next month? Next on my agenda is figuring out those pesky costumes for my BRF and myself!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Why I'm STILL a Social Worker

As I approach 10 years in DC, I've spent a lot of time reflecting on my decision to become a social worker, a decision I made ten years ago as a naive 18 year old getting ready to start college. After 4 years of being involved in high school service, and growing up with a sibling with exceptional learning needs, I thought there could be nothing better than spending the rest of my life trying to make the world a better place for people with disabilities. I'd witnessed first hand the challenges that children with disabilities and their families faced across multiple systems, and I vowed that I was going to make a difference. I knew then that social work was a thankless job and that the pay would most likely barely cover my expenses, but it didn't matter. I knew that my calling was to be a social worker, and that it was what I was meant to be doing.

Ten years later, social work is wearing on me. Burnout is a very real thing people. I've recently realized how much being in a thankless career can absolutely suck. While I absolutely love being a therapist for kids and teens with intellectual disabilities, the school setting I am in is undergoing a lot of administrative and financial changes that make it very difficult to get excited to go to work everyday. Nothing about me wants to get up and go to work when I know that I'm going to have more work to do than I can possibly get done in the time given to me that week, and that I'm facing a principal who has no respect for clinical services in her school (one that can not and would not exist without clinical services being fulfilled on IEP's).

I am more than used to giving to my kids- giving, giving, and then giving some more- and not getting any thanks for it. I am even ok with this, because seeing the changes and growth that they make in therapy are enough for me to know that I'm doing a good job. However, this past week I realized how important it was to me that other professional adults acknowledge the hard work and dedication that social workers do on a daily basis. This has never been as clear as when our principal purposefully left all clinicians out of an end of the summer recognition ceremony and then treated a leaving clinician, an 11 year veteran who has given everything for these kids, with the most disrespect I've seen in a long time. For the first time, I truly understand what being in a thankless job looks like, and I can't say that I'm thrilled with it.

I've spent the last 5 days yelling about how disrespected I feel at work, crying over how hurtful that disrespect can be, and brooding over whether it was finally time to get serious about finding a new job. While I can't say that I have all of the answers, there is one thing that hasn't changed and has even grown stronger from the challenges I've faced this year:

I LOVE being a social worker. 

I love the looks on my students faces when I walk into a classroom to pull them from group and they know that for the next hour, someone is going to give them undivided attention, love, and the freedom to be themselves.

I love seeing a student finally begin to trust and open up in therapy after years of sitting in silence or talking just to avoid the problems they face.

I love being witness to my students beginning to mature into adults and use the social skills that I've spent the last 5+ years helping to cultivate.

I love the hugs I get in the morning from the student who can't verbalize his appreciation, but wants me to know that it exists anyway.

I love seeing the spark in their eyes as they master a new skill or problem solve through a difficult situation on their own.

It shouldn't matter whether my work is appreciated by others or not, because of these things and millions of other moments each day that make this job worth it. But it does bother me when I'm blatantly disrespected by a professional who wants to preach about how much she appreciates her staff. It bothers me enough that I've spent the first 5 days of my precious 2 weeks of summer vacation mulling it over and over in my head. Ultimately though, this has nothing to do with being a social worker and everything to do with environment and the problems of other people. I still believe that this is my calling: to love and serve and work with some of the most vulnerable. I do it because it does my heart good and because I love the change (albeit very SLOW change) that can be made.

I've realized that no one else can make this better for me except ME. I can't change the way that other people treat me or view my job- I can only allow myself to not be bothered by it and change my environment when I'm ready.

For all of those professors who told me as a naive 18 year old that this job wouldn't be easy, you were absolutely right. What you didn't say though, was how absolutely beautiful and rewarding it would be at the same time.

Friday, August 1, 2014

It's been a While!

Hi friends! It's been a while, I know, but a LOT has happened in the last few months and well, blogging kind of took a back seat. For the 2 minute update, here's what I've been up to!

I got married on May 24th to the love of my life in a beautiful Catholic mass and fairly traditional reception. It was by far one of the best days of my life so far, and I'm so grateful to all of our friends and family for coming and celebrating with us!

We spent a few weeks at home catching up on sleep and getting settled into a new routine before heading to Belize for an amazing honeymoon on the beach that included snorkeling, zip lining in the rain forest, and exploring the Mayan ruins.

Our little slice of heaven for a week!

As if one wedding wasn't enough for my family this summer, my brother got married 6 weeks after us in an equally beautiful and unique ceremony. Kev and I enjoyed getting to spend time with my family and catch up, since we didn't get to see them much at our own while we made the rounds.

I got to introduce Kevin to a Cincinnati classic- Graeter's ice cream is a must on any visit!

The reception was at Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals.

We've also been hiking multiple times, had grown up cookouts with other married friends and their kids, spent time with extended family, and are heading to Colorado soon for one more mini vacation before I go back to school and we get back into a real routine. Who knows what other changes may be coming this year? :) 

In big news, I'm starting my training for the Army Ten Miler in October, and I'm signed up for Glass Slipper Challenge again, so I'm definitely getting back into running, which is a blessing and a curse. Takes up time, but I secretly love the runners high!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I'm a Nut in a Rut

It's been a long 2 1/2 weeks. A REALLY long 2 1/2 weeks.

Side note: For anyone considering working full time, getting a PhD, and planning a wedding at the same time, without help- don't. From personal experience, you WILL want to pull your hair out and punch the people closest to you about 65 days out from your wedding. Prayers and sleep will be your only saving grace.

I'm not exactly sure what's caused the rut that I'm finding myself in right now, but I have plenty of guesses. Not having an upcoming race has definitely left me unmotivated to run, which is only compounded by the continued miserable weather we've seen this month. Classes this semester have kicked back into full gear, and I have no other choice but to use some of my free time to do schoolwork. I'm in a job that I've started to dread going to every day, which makes the day feel so much longer and more exhausting than it probably is. And I'm planning a wedding, y'all. Anyone who has done that knows how much work it is. I had no idea how incredibly time consuming and all emotion consuming it would be, and I'm honestly counting down the days to being done with it.

Motivation comes in strange packages, but I think I've finally found something that's going to get me back out there. Anyone familiar with the female torture device called "spanks?" I've been able to avoid them for a long time, but I caved and picked up a pair before my wedding dress fitting a couple of weeks ago, mostly because I knew my diet had been less than stellar (thank you to all of the contributing factors described above). I wore them for my fitting, and to be humbly honest, they worked their magic and that dress looked incredible. But underneath that dress, I couldn't breath well, my insides felt like they wanted to pop out of the spanks at any point, and I was begging to get them off as soon as they were done fitting me for alterations.

Step right up, Motivation. You've now earned a place back in my life!

There is no way I'm going to be able to wear those things for 12 hours on the day of my wedding. So I rejoined Weight Watchers this week, since it worked so well for me the first time I used it several years ago. And this afternoon, I'll be lacing up my shoes again and hitting the gym for a much needed run before I head back into the abyss that is RSVPs, hair trials, and table numbers, coupled with statistic analysis homework. That 35 minute run on the horizon has never looked so appealing!

Is anyone else feeling in a rut? What's your motivation to keep running/moving as life takes over after PHM?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Disney's Princess Half Marathon Race Recap- Surviving the GSC!

Oh, PHM. I love it. I do. Every year, I love this weekend even more. It's like the drug that I can't get enough of, and keep spending all of my money to come back for more.

This year started like every other year- an unwelcome 2:45am wake up call for the second day in a row. I had laid out flat Erika/flat Belle again the night before, so I was prepared to jump up and go. I did forget to charge my Garmin, and frantically threw it on the charger in the hopes that I could get enough juice to get me through the race. Lesson learned- this was the first race that I had my Garmin for, and you need to charge it after a 10K if you have hopes of getting through the 1/2. Mine just barely held on to cross the finish line, and I was legitimately praying every time I looked at it for it to just hold on another hour, then another 50 minutes... you get the point.

We caught a bus around 3:40 after scarfing down a pre-race breakfast of some water and half a bagel with peanut butter for the second day that weekend. The line wasn't bad at all, I'm pretty sure we were on a bus within 5 minutes. Side note- PHM really does bring people together. I was in line right behind my high school gym teacher, who didn't recognize me for a second, but was still super funny. I'm glad she didn't remember me, though after I introduced herself she probably had that moment of "this girl couldn't finish the mile, how the hell is she doing GSC?" Yes ma'am, I had the same thought myself, you were not alone.

Once we made it to Epcot, through bag check, and 3 bathroom stops, we headed toward the corrals. It wasn't long before we saw a couple of construction porta-potties at the beginning of the walk and jumped off the road to use them before we got to the long lines at the start line. We managed to snag a group shot before we headed off, and also saw a number of the Disbroads follow our lead and jump off to use our construction potties as well. Yes, I did feel a little star struck, and no, I didn't say hi. Yell at me later, but I let my shyness get in the way and kept it moving toward the corrals.

Princess Erika, Meg, Amy and Jenni, ready to run!

After a 5th and final bathroom stop, we were ready to get into our corrals and get moving! Unfortauntely, each of us was in different corrals, but we all wanted to run our own races, so it did work out for the best. Jenni started up in A, Meg in E, I was in H, and poor Amy was back in O (proof of time people- submit it!). I really didn't have a strong goal for this race, other than to beat my time from last years and get a new PR. I didn't care if it was only by a couple of seconds, as long as I could say I PRed the race. I was prepared for it to be miserable again with the humidity, and even brought along an extra washcloth from the hotel room to keep in the pocket of my Sparkle Skirt so I could wipe my head and keep the sweat from my glasses. The first corrals got going and soon H was up and ready to go!

When I tell you it was humid, it was HUMID. Not as bad as last year, mostly because it was overcast, but damn, that fog was brutal. I ran through most of the first mile and then slowed down to start my intervals. I'd recently bumped down from a 3:1 to a 2:1 and found that I was able to maintain my intervals much longer than I was on the 3:1. Coming off of an injury this fall, it helped to slow down too and was probably the only reason I didn't reinjure myself when shoving all of my training for this race into 7 weeks. 

I started noticing around mile 3 that my splits were much better than I was expecting, and started calculating a finish time in my head. I'm not sure yet if this was a good or bad thing, but I realized that I had the opportunity to make this a sub-2:30 half (last year was 2:39), and that motivation sent me into overdrive. I knew as long as I stayed in sub 11:30 miles, I had the chance. It would be close, but doable. I had a new goal, and it felt AWESOME. 

I am not a picture taker, and I generally zone out for good portions of the course, so I can't tell you exactly what was going on before Magic Kingdom. I did manage to see my bestie Greg at TTC, waiting with a "Chafe now, Wine later" sign with all of our names on it. I gave him the quickest cheek kiss of life and probably screamed "THANK YOU!" at him as I kept running, but it was worth it to see someone cheering for me out on the course. The sun was coming up by the time I hit Magic Kingdom, and the one picture I did want to get this year was in front of the castle. But with my new sub 2:30 goal in mind, there was no way in HELL that I was stopping in the lines for an official one. Thank goodness for the kind cast member who knew how to catch and was paying attention as I threw my camera at him and begged for a quick shot on Main Street. It's one of my favorites from the race and was worth the precious seconds that I gave up. 

 From that point on, it was just one foot in front of the other. I loved hearing "Let it Go" at the halfway point and shed a few tears knowing that I was completing a new goal this weekend. The spectators along that portion of the course were great, and helped me keep focus. And then I hit mile 9, and the nausea kicked in hardcore. I'm not sure if it's because of the humidity, because I don't have that problem in training at home, but both years I've gotten horribly nauseous around mile 9-10. Last year I thought it was because of the powerade, but I limited that this year and was still sick, so who knows. I spent most of mile 9-12 just praying that I wouldn't vomit on the side of the road and end up getting picked up by the sweepers. I saw my splits start to get worse, and doubt crept into my head, but I did my best to push it back and keep moving.

By the time I hit Epcot, it was better, even though my intervals were completely off. My Garmin beeped to tell me that I hit the 13.1 mark, but I wasn't out of Epcot yet and knew that the weaving I had to do early in the race was catching up to me and was going to impede my goal time. I hit the home stretch though, through my hands in the air, and did my best to sprint across that finish line with pride. I had completed a 19.3 mile journey that I didn't even know I wanted as badly as I did. It wasn't perfect, and it wasn't always pretty, but the journey was mine and that was enough for me.

I got my medals, took my finisher picture, and hobbled toward the reunion area to look for a bench to crash on. I pulled out my phone to find a text from Meg saying that she and Jenni were back at the hotel showering and one from Kevin, who was getting my splits via text back at home. His simple "Good pacing babe. Keep it up and finish strong! Proud of you!" was my undoing, and all the stress of the day piled on to let out one ugly cry in the middle of the Epcot parking lot. After getting myself together, I found the elusive champagne tent I've always missed and took one last victory shot before heading back for a much needed shower.

Can I be honest? Despite the fact that Disney's official timekeeper tells me I didn't manage a sub 2:30 half, in my head, I did it. Garmin agrees with me too, and if Garmin says so, it must be true right?

Garmin Spits:
Mile 1: 11:22
Mile 2: 11:24
Mile 3: 11:21
Mile 4: 11:18
Mile 5: 11:18
Mile 6: 11:10
Mile 7: 11:04
Mile 8: 11:33
Mile 9: 11:18
Mile 10: 11:11
Mile 11: 11:35
Mile 12: 11:53
Mile 13: 11:39
Mile 14 (.32): 3:38
Garmin 1/2 time: 2:29:19!!!!!!
Garmin official time: 2:31:44
runDisney official time: 2:31:54

We celebrate on Sunday the way that we alway do- lunch and margs at San Angel Inn, followed by tequila shots, and a beer ( or in my case, a glass of Reisling) in Germany. We walked- a LOT- all over Epcot, and by 7:30 I was overtired, barely moving, and slightly nauseous again. Greg had met us back at Epcot after his own spectator power nap, and he was gracious enough to drive me back to he hotel while the rest of the girls finished off the night in Epcot with some apparently amazing French pastry ice cream sandwich.

I've come to the realization that I have a serious love-hate relationship with 13.1 miles. I love running this race at Disney, because it makes each mile go by that much faster and reminds me that my dreams can come true. Never in a million years did I think I could run 19.3 miles in 2 days and survive to tell the tale without injury. But I did, and lived to tell the tale. I still love PHM, and will most likely be back for one more next year before I have to give it a small break. But it was always have a place in my heart as my first and second (and so far only) half marathon!