2015 nyc marathon–for the burn foundation

When talking about getting back into running and recovering from injury, I haven’t exactly mentioned what I’m in training for.  I’m still in the early stages of training and rebuilding (starting from scratch is hard), but I’m definitely excited to be back in the game and to build in a smart manner.  My plans have kind of evolved over the past couple months until an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up fell into my lap.

Let’s backtrack.

After heading up to Boston to watch the Boston Marathon this year, I really, really wanted to be back out there running from Hopkinton to Boylston – as much as I love cheering for that race, it really is a fun race to run.  Since I took 2014 off from running marathons, I don’t have a current Boston qualifying time.  Of course, I had hoped to get that at Eugene this year, but if you’ve been around for a few months, you know that I dropped out of Eugene due to a hip/groin injury that just wouldn’t go away.  In my mind, I had high hopes to be able to rebuild and just get through a marathon before the Boston registration date – I eyed a small, local race at the end of August or potentially a mid-September marathon, cutting it down to the wire.  I was hardly even running at this time, and I know it’s not smart to place marathon dreams when you’re running two miles at a time.  Plus, I really want to avoid injury, and trying to quickly build up to the marathon distance is certainly a recipe for disaster.  Gone are the days when you could register for Boston through the new year, so I’m pretty sure I’m out for next year’s marathon.  (For the record, I don’t mean to make light of qualifying for Boston, but it’s something I’ve accomplished in all marathons except for one since I first qualified in 2009.  I consider myself lucky with a side of hard work.)

Without the rush to qualify for Boston, I wasn’t totally sure what race to run.  Did I want to risk traveling for another race?  Did I want to run Chicago (my hometown) again?  (Nope, registration is closed…)  Should I aim for something later in the year to give myself more time?  CIM is still on my list…

In the middle of all my time spent on marathonguide.com (love that site…), I found out the the New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation received spots for the NYC Marathon.  I don’t talk about work too much, but I’ve been on a nurse on the burn unit for almost five years.  A signup list went up at work for those who might be interested, and I debated whether or not I wanted to run a marathon this year, and more so whether I wanted to run NYC.  After much internal debate, I decided to throw my name in the hat and just see what happened.

Luckily, my name was drawn!  I was equal parts elated and super terrified – I’ve considered running for charity before, but I hate asking people for money.  (To give reference, I was bad at selling Girl Scout cookies, and those basically sell themselves.)  Additionally, I haven’t necessarily felt drawn to a specific charity before.  I’ve been lucky in that my life has been pretty easy – although I could make an argument as to why I chose a charity, none would have a super personal touch.  Running for the Burn Foundation is about as personal as it can get (without having my own friends/family being affected), as I see the importance of their work every time I head to the hospital.

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What is New York Firefighters Burn Foundation, you ask?  Well, here’s a simple link if you would like to check out their website.  The Burn Foundation promotes, supports, and funds research, prevention, education, and burn care/treatment throughout the continuum of care.  The slogan is, “Because our work doesn’t end after the fire is out.”  FDNY certainly does amazing work, and June 2015 was the first month in 150 years without a fire-related death.  That’s impressive!  However, there is a lot of work to be done for survivors, whether the burns are caused by flame, scald, chemicals, or electricity.  The Burn Foundation provides for burn patients and the burn unit in the following ways, which is certainly not an exhaustive list:

  • Burn care research
  • Skin bank (skin donations used in the treatment of some burns)
  • Hyperbaric oxygen chamber
  • Fellowship program to train future burn surgeons
  • Education and seminars for burn staff, including the annual American Burn Association conference
  • Sending children to burn camp – a summer camp for pediatric burn survivors
  • Fire safety education and prevention work
  • Specialized garments for rehab/recovery

Burns are an especially challenging trauma for patients, as the healing process is very slow and ever evolving.  For example, we tell patients it will take about a year to see what their burned skin will really look like for the rest of their lives.  That’s a long time, and it’s especially frustrating for people who just want answers.  The burn population is generally a unique population with many challenges of their own, and the Burn Foundation seeks to support the best care and treatment for everyone who endures this trauma.  The burn specialty is not the money-making specialty in health care.  The Burn Foundation strongly supports the mission of the burn unit, as well as providing for survivors and the community.

On a personal note, I chose to work on the burn unit.  This post describes how I ended up there.  I’d be lying if I said I loved it all the time, but the truth is I can’t really imagine myself on another unit.  The burn unit is a challenging, difficult place, both physically and emotionally.  It’s a special population to work with.  We cause a lot of pain…but we do make people better.  I work with a strong team of amazing nurses (and doctors and social workers and physical therapists and….the list goes on), and we really do great things.  I am so excited to combine my love for running with my nursing career, and to run for a cause that I truly believe in.

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I would love, love, LOVE your support while I take on this challenge.  I appreciate anything you are able to give – any amount would mean a lot to me and would provide so much for burn patients and the Burn Foundation.  Please follow this link if you would like to donate!  Thank you in advance!

And please feel free to share any tips you may have for fundraising – I’m new to the game!

lots of work = tired legs

Greetings from the other side of multiple shifts in a row!  As you might imagine, the burn unit is host to lots of burn care – debridement/cleaning of burns and post-operative dressing changes.  I would say it’s one of the main differences between our unit/ICU and other ICUs.  A patient may be super sick – on a ventilator, fluids, drips, etc. – which would keep you busy enough, but then we also have burn care on top of all that, which could be an hour (or two!).  Sometimes we might be little pampered on the burn unit – getting a 1:1 (one patient to one nurse) assignment, but you can’t necessarily be aware from another patient for two hours while you prepare/do/clean up from burn care.

Of course, if you don’t like doing burn care, the burn unit probably isn’t for you.  During day shift, we have a nurse assigned to the “hydrotherapy room,” where patients can either shower or get washed in the “tank.”  They also get their dressings changed here.  This role is relatively new to me, as dressings are changed at the bedside on night shift.  It’s a nice role since you’re basically doing your own thing, coordinating with the patients/nurses/doctors.  Depending on the day, it can be a fairly light day or really, really crazy.  Having worked the past three shifts, it got progressively busier.  First day was light, second day was full of big post-op dressing changes, and the third was going to be fairly light before we got a rush of big admissions – so much for an easy day!  It was more of a “ahh, it’s 3pm, I should probably eat something…” Whew.

Needless to say, I was exhausted when I got home from work and fell asleep quite quickly!  Although I slept hard for about ten hours, I didn’t feel 100% recharged quite yet.  I’m going to attribute this to most likely not eating enough during the busy times.  Definitely something I need to work on, but I was to tired to eat anything beyond some ice cream when I got home.  (I generally deny the “too tired to eat” concept, but SO TRUE.) 

Despite all this, I was really excited to get a run in.  I don’t run on the days that I work, which is an idea I have mixed opinions about, but in this case it means I haven’t run since Saturday.  I had a good, confidence building run on Saturday, so I was excited to get back into it.  My initial idea was to run four miles – that sounds like a solid number, right?  While drinking some coffee, I decided to consult Hal Higdon’s marathon training plans – I followed his plans for my first few marathons, and they served me well.  Some solid times (hello, BQ!) and most importantly – injury free!  I’m eyeing the intermediate programs, and the first week starts with a three mile run.

At first I thought, “I don’t want to run three miles, I think I can do four!”  Reminding myself that running more than I should is most likely what got me injured, I came to my senses.  (It wasn’t as smooth thinking as that once sentence summary may have led you to believe.) 

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It’s been awhile since I started marathon training from scratch, and I’m committed to doing it correctly.  Three miles it is!  I did my usual warm up routine, walked down to the Hudson River, and away I went.

Ooooooooooof.

That tired feeling I was talking about above?  I was so feeling it.  Three miles was a bit of a struggle fest.  It wasn’t even that hot out – mid-70’s with not terrible humidity.  Blah blah and blah.  (That’s one blah for every mile.)  You know those runs where you count down every minute?  That was me.  I hate runs like that – I really do love running, and spending the entire time thinking about when I get to turn around really takes away from that.  With about half a mile to go, I think I got tired of being tired and pushed the pace a little.  Not much, just a little.  Still above 8:00/mile pace, but let’s just get this run over with, okay?

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Wednesday, July 1 (time is flying!) – 3.01 miles in 24:57, avg pace of 8:17

And felt every step!  I followed this run with the Piyo Sweat video, which had me dripping all over my yoga mat.  Are your hands supposed to slip in downward dog?  Asking for a friend.

Just so we know what rebuilding looks like, my mileage has looked like this:

May: 11 miles
June: 41 miles
July: Hopefully I’ll hit around 100?  There are 31 days in this month…

The key for this marathon training cycle will be to follow the plan.  Run three miles when it says three miles.  Not four.  Not if I want to.  Not if I actually feel good instead of bad.  Rebuild SMART.  And if anyone knows how to not be so tired after three 12 hour shifts, I’m all ears.

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