Another Year

I always seem to get nostalgic this time of year. It seems like so many things happen at the end of May or in June. May marked 4 years since I graduated from grad school in Milwaukee. It was marked 4 years since my Dad’s stroke. I remember him coming home from the hospital and watching the World Cup 24 hours a day while I cooked, cleaned, took care of the dogs, worked, practiced, and took care of both parents. I have to admit that I’m not really excited about the World Cup this time around. As a former soccer player myself I find that kind of sad, but I can’t help thinking back to what was going on the last time the tournament happened. I’m sorry World Cup, it’s me, not you. (thankfully things are better now. My parents still need help. There are ups and downs, and I’m here to help)

Two years ago this week I went out for a Saturday run with a good friend who helped me discover my love of running. Nothing fancy, just a nice moderate run to get ready for the Peachtree Road Race. When I got home my parents were on the phone with my Uncle Clyde who lived in San Diego. At first I didn’t realize how odd this was until I started to hear some of the conversation. (calling the east coast around 10:00 AM was odd considering the time difference) He had pancreatic cancer, and in 48 hours was having surgery. He wasn’t expecting to make it through the surgery, but if he did he was going to fight. At first I thought that it wasn’t a big deal. That is until I started doing a little research on pancreatic cancer. Then I started to get worried. It’s hard to catch because there aren’t symptoms specific to it. They present as symptoms that could be a dozen different things. It’s an incredibly fast growing cancer, and is the #1 leading cause of cancer death (99% fatality rate in the 1st year alone). I went off to some teacher workshops the Monday of his surgery with my phone in front of me the whole day. By lunch time he had made it through surgery and was recovering. Everything had gone well, and everything looked good. I wish I could say that it stayed that way. Everyone was on edge. There were frantic and hysterical phone calls from other family members early in the morning. After a second surgery we thought we were good. There was even talk of what his chemo treatments would be and when they might start. Sadly, things went down hill. In three weeks it will be the 2nd anniversary of my Uncle’s death.

As one of my friends says “it’s best to make lemonade out of lemons.” Which is why I was in a Team in Training information meeting 4 days after my Uncle’s death. I was tired of cancer. My Aunt had beat breast cancer. My grandmother survived colon cancer. There have been other cancer scares as well. There had to be something I could do to make a difference. Team in Training presented the perfect opportunity. My friend was running the San Antonio Rock-n-Roll Marathon, Team in Training was participating, and my Uncle’s sons lived there. It was the perfect fit. The best part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is that they share their research. All of the drugs developed by LLS through Team in Training dollars have been FDA approved. Gleevec has been approved for treatment in several different cancers including stomach and certain types of breast cancer. The others have started or are starting research and trials for treatment in other cancers

This year I’m taking on the Chicago Marathon, and continuing to raise money to find an end to cancer. I want to raise $3000, and I’m 10% of the way there. Maybe you can help me get there. Check out my fundraising site for more information.

When an injury can be a good thing

Until Wednesday I hadn’t had a violin lesson in a week and a half. It has been completely frustrating. Never mind that I had not even touched my violin until this past Sunday. I played for a whole 5 minutes, and then put the violin down in pain. It was one of those “yay I played for 5 minutes!!!” wrapped into “holy crap does this hurt.” Why? Well it all goes back to the finger smashing that occurred two weeks ago. Even after taking a day off and feeling better the combination of smashed fingers and repetitive motion of pounding away on the violin was too much for my poor second finger. There have been a lot of tears, and frustration. For a whole week I did not touch the violin. All that hard work of the past several weeks went down the drain.

After a little experimenting I figured out that I could indeed play my violin again. It meant being super careful. I have to work super hard to make sure I wasn’t pressing too hard, something I needed to work on anyway. It’s forced me to be more aware of several things I needed to work on. So, with great trepidation I went my my violin lesson Wednesday night. In past experiences teachers have not always been very supportive the first lesson back after an injury. It’s always my fault for not practicing enough despite the pain. That didn’t happen Wednesday. If fact my teacher actually noticed that I was using the injury to my advantage by slowing down, and paying much more attention to what I was doing. Plus he encouraged me to continue doing the same thing as the injury healed. I felt like he was jumping up and down saying “yes, yes, yes, this is the right way.” And, to top it all off he actually said this was a very good lesson despite the fact that I had only really practiced for three days. Keep it slow, and then challenge yourself with a faster pace to see if the skills continue, then slow down and fix any form problems (sounds eerily like speed drills in running if you ask me). That’s how things would continue to go in the right direction. My biggest struggle has always been the balance between speed and technique. I often sacrifice the technique to have the speed I need in a piece. Once again my violin and running worlds are colliding with each other.

I will admit that my favorite part of my lesson was finding out that MY BOW WAS BACK FROM SPAIN!! All fixed and pretty after a forte night of traveling and repairs (it didn’t call, or write, or bring back a present). The bow maker is an absolute genius! He saved the gold winding (gold, by the way, is currently going for $1200 an ounce), and only charged me for the labor. Somehow he managed to rewind the gold backwards starting from the top of the winding, tuck it back under the leather which he didn’t touch and secure the top end. All of that is backwards from the way a winding is normally done (usually the metal is applied first starting at the bottom and tucked under at the top. Then the leather is applied on top of the bottom end of the metal winding to secure it). It cost half of what I had saved. Plus, he rehaired the bow, re-cambered the bow, and made it all shiney and pretty. God bless him! I would have paid more, but my violin teacher wouldn’t hear of it. Honestly, if anyone is looking for a really awesome bow at a good price I would be more than happy to pass his name along. If I ever win the lottery I’m going to buy 10 more of his bows. They are that good!

So, now it’s on to getting reacquainted with my bow and violin speed intervals. Oh, and lots of ice still…