Friday, June 28, 2013

My Angel Tracy~ running for #Run3rd

Tracy Burwell lives in California and I live in Florida. We met online through planning to trip to a runDisney race to Disneyland  happening this Fall. It's a long story but through "feelings" and "chats" we became friends. I call her my  "West Coast Angel". It is amazing how two people from either sides of the world can find each other and have a connection. Some say it might have been fate...but I believe that this strong-willed, kind-hearted, and loving person was given to me as a gift from God. 
As I am writing this a notification just popped up on my Twitter from Joel Osteen that pertaines to this blog post. It ironically reads...

"The people God put in your life are not there by accident. God put you with them on purpose. Don't take them for granted"

She has given me strength  in my weakest hours after an emergency surgery  I just had 7 weeks ago today and has kept me motivated to stay strong and be positive throughout my recovery. The only thing I miss about our friendship  is that we live so far away to actually spend time together. 
Tracy's story is as motivational as it can get. Through her rocky roads she has persevered and found her love of running and in #run3rd.

Tracy is also a EnergyBits Ambassador. She invites you to go to the website 
and read more about this product. For reading this blog she would like gift you  30% off your order using her discount code: TURTLE

 I hope you enjoy her story below!

Im a slow paced, fun loving, big hearted, asthmatic, newbie runner, with ADHD. My titles include wife, mother, Coach, Captain and California native. As an Adapted Physical Education Specialistwith a degree in Kinesiology, I ‘coach’ children, K-12, with mild, moderate, and severe disabilities. They in turn inspire me to accept myself for who I am, and to be the best I can be.
My running story has had many starts and stops. I never intended to become a runner, in fact, my first race was a challenge by a friend to run a 5k for Desert AIDS Project. I had 8 weeks to train. Motivated to raise money and not come in last place, I trained diligently. I did not enjoy the training but I loved the race day excitement! I raised $1500.00 and was far from coming in last! I felt great.
In the race swag bag I received from the first race, there was an invitation to another race in my area the following week. It was a 6k and finishers where to receive a medal. So I signed up for the Palm Springs Tram Road Challenge. That day I learned why they call it the World’s Toughest 6k. I earned that medal running uphill for four miles. My lungs ached, as did my legs. At the finish, when they put that medal around my neck, I felt like I could do anything! I recall calling my parents like a child.
That empowerment was a Godsend, as I was unknowingly goingto need to do the impossible. My father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and had only a short time to live. My world stopped and my focus change to caring for and helping my dad die. It was an honor to be with him and he shared so much about living and dying with me in our middle of the night chats. It was a very special and beautiful time, but extremely difficult.  
I was unable to run for a while. To me, running symbolized that everything was ok, and it wasn’t. I made a feeble attempt to run the Tram Road Challenge the next year, 9 months after my dad’sdeath. I finished, and received a medal, but my heart wasn’t in it.I remember praying, where are you God, this is so hard! But as I ran, a rainbow appeared at the top of the hill.  God was there and so was my dad, only they were in that rainbow at the top,waiting for me, and cheering me on. I missed my goal by 35 seconds and I beat myself up the entire day. After that race, again I stopped running again.
I tried talk therapy, but I wasn’t depressed about my dad. In time I took many tests and agreed to take a drug to help me feelbetter. It made me so sick after only a week, and took nearly 2months to recover and get it totally out of my system. It was during that recovery I was officially diagnosed with ADHD and my medical doctor recommended a drug free approach. He suggested I start burning adrenaline through running, and hire a trainer. This decision to run and train would be life changing!
I worked with the trainer and forced myself to run, but still did not enjoy runningBut I had to keep going! I ran the Tram Road Challenge is 2012 and beat my time from 2010 and 2011!  Upon finishing, my breathing was really labored and I was sick to my stomach. We discovered after that race, I had exercise induced asthma and I began treatment. No wonder I hated to run, I was suffocating every run, and just kept thinking I wasn’t fit or training hard enough. It was good to know there was a reason this was so difficult!
With my inhaler safely tucked on my fuel belt, I ran the Valley of Fire 10k in Overton Nevada and took 2nd for my age

 I just kept going, and in January 2013, the day after my 49th birthday, I ran my first half marathon at Disneyland! I will never forget the hug and look of pride on my husband’s face when we found each other at the finish!
It was that Disney event my running took on a new purpose. This race wasn’t the culmination of my training, it turned out to be the beginning of something much bigger. 

 I discovered a team of runners on Twitter by the name of #Run3rd. They were dedicating their runs and talking about @rundisney. (to dedicate a run go to: 
 I found myself instantly drawn to the concept. Actor Sean Astin  began Team #Run3rd as a twitter campaign to challenge individuals to run 

The concept of #Run3rd is: 
1st for yourself  
2nd for your family 
and to #Run3rd for others by taking race dedications 

This team has kept me running, because it isn’t about me, it’s about connecting and running FOR others. I became an official #Run3rd Team Captain in April 2013 and have been running 3rd, with all of my heart, ever since. My goal is to support and encourage others through my own trials and encourage others to have fun with running and to just keep going!
I’m not fast. I huff and puff, but I run with my heart, and my legs always follow…

How long it takes is irrelevant as long as you keep on going…Rick Warren.

Written by Tracy Burwell
You can find Tracy on Twitter @aturtlespace

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ken Haberkorn ~ My First Inspirational VIP

A few months ago I, along with 20 others, became a Fit2Run Ambassador of the Coconut Point, Estero store in Florida. There was a fun run and then an after party to welcome all the inaugural members. We all mingled and met all of these new faces. It was fun to hear about what races they had run, their goals, and a little bit about them. As the weeks went on we learned a little bit more about each other, became friends on Facebook, and started some new and fabulous relationships such as Ken and Melissa Haberkorn.
 If I had never met Ken (and his lovely wife Melissa) I would never be able to tell you that Ken is one of the most inspiring men I have met! 
While I was in the hospital Ken and his wife sent me the most thoughtful and positive messages anyone could. Not one day went by that he didn't write "Sending positive and healing energy your way".... and somehow I felt it and knew he really meant it!
I asked Ken to be my very first "Inspirational VIP" because he is. His smile is infectious and I had to know where it came from. Someone like this had to have a story and a story he has.

You see, if you saw Ken across the room you would never think he does what he does. Ken is a flight medic...specifically a lieutenant paramedic on Medflight One here in Sw. Florida
He looks like an average Joe, but he really isn't. I swear his heart is made of gold, and his energy is empowering.


Here is a picture of them from their anniversary last Sunday climbing Mount Evans for 7 hrs (left picture)

EVERY week he and/or Melissa runs in a race, a triathlon, bike, or something. The two of them still act like honeymooners and lovebirds even after a year of marriage.(right picture)

So what is Ken's story? 
Well, here it is. Written by Ken himself.

He'd love to hear your comments when you are done and so would I :-)

This is Ken's story...
I started running at a very young age about 7 years old.  We lived up in the wonderful mountains of Colorado.  There really was not much to do.  Back then we had only 3 TV channels and we only watched  The Wonderful World Disney on Sunday nights and Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.  Wide World of Sports on Saturdays. No video games not even PONG was invented yet.  Yes we had to use our imagination and as my mother always said " Go outside and play".  When I said there wasn't  anything to do she suggested I go run down the dirt road we lived on.  So I did. a few hours later I came back home and my mother asked where I ran to.  I told her and she about fell on the floor.  apparently it was about 7 miles away and a runner was born.

 The freedom that I felt running out in nature everyday was amazing to me.  Yes there was the occasional bear scare while running, which by the way WILL make you run faster than you thought you could no matter how tired you are and there was the occasional deer or elk that came darting out across the road.  The wind on my face, smelling spring then summer in the air, feeling the crackling of the falling aspen  leaves and the winters snow crunching underfoot these are the precious memories I have from early on in running.  I felt my whole body come to life and found a love that has only grown.  I ran all the way through high school and into the military. I became a combat medic and served for 13 years.
This is the first part of my I got started running.

How I fell out of running.... 

While in the military I took up smoking to this day I still don't understand.  Initially I did it because everyone did and it and is  was a easy buzz to kill the stress. It quickly became a habit.  I could still run with no problem so i figured no harm.  I would  do my runs and PT tests and light up as soon as I was done.  Smoking took over my life.  I became  addicted to smoking and nicotine so much that I found myself smoking even on the runs... when is the last time you saw that, a runner with a cigarette?  I only bought one pack at a time because I always believed that it would be my last pack so didn't want to by a carton. I continued to believe that smoking wouldn't hurt me. You know young and dumb. But the eventual transformation that comes with smoking 2-3 packs a day is I couldn't run like I did anymore, in fact I stopped enjoying it because it became just to hard and over time I stopped running all together.  Smoking was to important to me and it became all enveloping in my life. 
  22 years later while smoking in the shower and trying not to cough the last of my lungs on the floor I decided I had to stop smoking or I was going to die very young.  I thought what my young children would do without me and how they would feel. I didn't want them to grow up not knowing the real dad I could be.  So I started down the road of trying to quit. I tried the patch which worked well until I stopped the patch then went right out the same day and started again, I tried medicine, no help, I even tried hypnotherapy.. went home and started to smoke right away. How I prayed how am I supposed to ever stop? The addiction was so great nothing else seemed more important to me than smoking.  But I couldn't live with the fact that I wouldn't be long for this world if I continued down this road.  
My health was rapidly decreasing I was about 190lbs and I coughed until I threw up then continued to smoke. Finally after trying all the different methods of smoking cessation it came down to just quitting. Quitting for the family, quitting for the kids, and quitting for me.  Cold turkey no crutch to lean on, just stopped and told myself never ever again.  Didn't seem like the best plan but I tried all the others and failed. 

I tried to take it minute by minute then day by day and tried to remember what did  before I smoked? RUN! 

That's right I used to run!

So I put on my shoes and started down the road determined to run or walk at least 2 miles.  I did. I ran two miles and walked a bunch of it, but I ran and I remembered what it felt like to really breathe for a purpose other than to smoke. I was on my way to actual recovery.  I went through the five stages of grief.  First it was denial I couldn't believe I quit and it was gone from my life. It was the biggest part of my life, how could it just be gone now. Then I had the anger stage, angry at myself for ever going down this road.  Angry at the tobacco industry blaming everyone and every thing but man I was mad mad mad mad!!!! I didn't even want to be around me during this time I was unbearable. Then I hit the bargaining stage thinking maybe I could just smoke a little or maybe I could figure out a way to do this. But I stuck to my guns and didn't light up. I was depressed for a little bit but running helped me allot. I was so sad  I felt like I lost my very best friend.  It felt like a real human loss. unexplainable but I missed it like a loss of a loved one. Finally I accepted the fact that smoking  was out of my life and I could live without it.   In the process of going through these stages that took about 6 months or longer I also learned to run again and enjoyed a smoke free life, stopped coughing constantly and lost 45 pounds. I ran every single day  and after a year started to race which was the first time I did as an adult.  I didn't even know racing was out there! It was fun and gave me focus to improve and work out.
 I started with 5K's then 10K , 20K half marathon and two years after I quit smoking I ran my very first marathon in 3 hours and 45 minutes. It was at Disney in Orlando and I cried like a baby at the finish line I don't even know why but I did it was unexpected.  I still get choked up every time I finish the Marathon there. I have done 4 there now and I am signed up to do the Dopey Challenge in January.
After a two years of running and training for my third marathon I unexpectedly had to have surgery for a abdominal hernia.  As I was waking up from the surgery the very first thing I asked the doctor how soon I can start running again.  He laughed and said to wait and go light in 2 weeks. I ran light for two weeks and then continued to increase. By a month out I still had no real run in me I was frustrated and thought this might be the end of me running hard.  I kept to it and continued to try and make up for the marathon that I missed and figured I just want to get through it again.  The new habit I developed was at the least more healthy for me. One month from the marathon  I was supposed to run with my oldest son, I once again found myself the day before Christmas at the end of a scalpel for a hernia repair of the hernia repair. Apparently not the best patch job initially I had to have the surgery all over again.  The pain from this one was more than I can ever remember I didn't even think about running for at least a month. It crossed my mind maybe I should give it up in a effort to " save my body from stress".  I didn't ever want to go through another surgery.  But after a month a started to run again very easy at first and started to introduce myself to weight training / conditioning to hopefully create a stronger me so I wouldn't fall apart again.  combining the two running and strength training seemed to pay off a year after my surgery I ran my first marathon in two years. It was the only race I did all year I had only trained for the marathon. I continued to run but not race I took up biking for fun and rode around on a hybrid bike it was fun but not the same as running. 

I raced my fourth marathon this last year at Disney with my son. It was a huge proud moment to see him finish.  My son the marathoner finished his first. Proud dad moment, he never even ran track! The two marathons were slow 4:45 and 4:30 but  something happened to me this time at the finish line!
 I inspired my sweet,  love of my life,and wife Melissa  (The wife that said she would never run, don't ever ask me to run, I will NEVER RUN!) to run. She saw what it was that I loved so much about running. She saw time and time again what everyone who completed the run experienced. She was moved in ways that are not possible for me to put into words and she began not only to run but inspiring me to run harder and love it even more. She got me racing again. She showed me what I loved about running.  A month after the marathon I ran a challenge in Tampa where I ran half marathon and then went and ran a 8K a half hour later. Then we raced Susan Koman 5K and I placed.  I couldn't believe I placed. Then we raced another 5K the very next day  in the heat of the day and we both placed! The rest as they say is history. Melissa has raced every weekend but one since the inspiration of the Disney Marathon. We have ran them together and on our own but we both are running. We even got the younger kids 10 and 12 running. They both run 5K's on a regular basis now and both have completed there first youth triathlon.  
My wish is to show them I could be a better man and father to them has come true for me.  Because of running My oldest son ran a marathon, my oldest daughter is now starting to run being inspired by the family running my two youngest are running and thinking about doing more triathlons and think about being healthy.  Running has inspired my wonderful wife and she in turn is inspiring others everywhere.  We have started doing triathlons and duathlons and look for running challenges.  
Running for me is more than any one word or phrase and can wrap up.  It has been part of my life almost my whole life it has lifted me from the bottom several times in my life.  My youth is gone but because of running I have found the fountain of youthfulness and I have found a way to be a better husband, father and better me.
~ Ken Haberkorn

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What's in your mix? Oh WOW! cool tunes!

Funny how things spark a a topic. 
Today I was riding in the car with my daughter and still not attempting to drive after my surgery we were browsing through the tunes on the radio when I came along one of my favorite running songs on my playlist. It took me back to the first time I heard it on Pandora.

 I was training for my first half marathon. While my daughter had hours of softball practice for high school EVERY night during the week for months, I would run the track. Sometimes it was hot out sometimes cold. Weather in Florida during the winter can be unpredictable. My favorite time of the year was when it was so cold out at night and the smell of a fire burned in the air. The sky was so black that the stars looked like shiny diamonds sparkling back at me. It was beautiful!

Running around that track was my therapy from a long day of clients, chauffeuring kids, phone calls, and the news of the crazy world we live in. I would change into my running clothes in the school bathroom, grab my water bottle, and plug myself in to some good tunes and RUN!

I love how a good song can make your run so fun! The rhythm of the song, the words, maybe even the meaning of it. 

If a criminal stole my iPhone and the cops said "Give it back to the person in the line up that matched the songs in the playlists" would never guess me! LOL. 

Don't judge me but I am about to share my TOP 20 LIST of favorites. ( in no favorite order & yes I went over)

  1. Bon Jovi (Wanted Dead or Alive)
  2. Flo Rida  (5,4,3,2,1)
  3. The Pussycat dolls (Don't Cha)
  4. Ester Dean (Take you to Rio)
  5. A.R. Rahman & Pussycat Dolls feat. Nicole Scherzinger  (Jai Ho!- You are my Destiny)
  6. Bon Jovi (Story of My Life)
  7. Flo Rida (Who Dat Girl feat. Akon)
  8. Wham! (I'm your man)
  9. Toni Basil  (Mickey)
  10. Bon Jovi  (This is Our House)
  11. Nelly  (#1)
  12. Carrie Underwood (Just a Dream) 
  13. Kelly Clarkson (Catch my Breath) 
  14. Keith Urban  (Put you in a song)
  15. Martina Bride (Ride)
  16. Poison (Nothing but a good time)
  17. Murphy Lee, Nelly, & P.Diddy (Skake Ya Tailfeather)
  18. Pitbull (Krazy)
  19. DJ Laz  feat. Flo Rida & Casely ( Move Shake Drop)
  20. Jennifer Lopez (Let's get loud)
  21. Bruno Mars (Treasure)
  22. Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull  (Live it Up)
So what's on your playlists? Would we be surprised by your top favorites?
Share them with us below in the comments and Go Run!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Do you have the Disney Spirit? Running is character

When it comes to running Disney races the first question is "When does registration open?"
The second is usually "What am I going to run as?" 
Just recently did I catch the bug to dress in costume. It was fun to be creative & to see others be so creative too. Some outfits were to the extreme that I had no idea how they could run in them. Others, were made so stylish and simple. 

The girls at Team Sparkle have been very createful in putting some fabulous running outfits together using their fashion sense & their products. 

Check out their website (info below) and when ordering tell them that you found out about them on the  "Travel Girl on the Run blog".  

If you are going to the 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon in California they will be at the expo to help you put a last minute Disney inspired outfit together ~ Yay! 
They will have skirts and other accessories such as the new visors and race legs. Let them help you put it all together if you need their creative skills. 

Twitter: @runTeamSparkle (will be changing to @SparkleAthletic).  
Facebook: Team Sparkle 

I think a lot of dressing up has to do with the runner's personality & the race. Running in a costume isn't easy, but it can be if you are are crafty & have a lot of.... well ...let's just say...Character!
When thinking of your outfits do you stay with the race theme? Or do you venture out of the box and try to be different?
Are you girly & and you love princesses?
Are you sporty and worry more about the distance & PR'ing in this outfit?
Are you fun & just want to go all out crazy?
Or are you simple & a Team sparkle skirt will do just fine?

Dressing up doesn't always have to be in Character it can be in team colors and team names on them like Kim and I did for our first race Expedition Everest. then for the Tower of Terror 10 miler we tried to jazz it up just a little more with the Halloween theme.. Disney style! This was my best outfit so far!

When I ran during the Princess HalfMarathon weekend all I could think about was finally being able to dress as a princess with a tiara and the whole get up. I decided Cinderella would be it. I watched the movie for details. I looked at some pictures that other runners had posted then crafted away.

 I bought my tiara, I bought my white running skirt, white elbow gloves, and then my blue tank top. 
I crafted it up perfectly but then when the day came to try it on (luckily a few weeks before the race) I got it on and it was too tight & puckered. OH NO! ... and that wasn't even the worse part. I couldn't get it off! With my hands up in the air and holding my breath- I started to panic. I felt like Houdini trying to magically figure out a way to get it off.  I was wiggling like a fish out of water and I almost considered getting the scissors. It wasn't a pretty sight. I tried to alter it but beautiful Cinderella out fit would not be seeing the ball after all. 
So plan B Cinderella came to be. 

Now with the Disneyland Half marathon and the Dumbo Double Dare coming in a few months I have been thinking of what I want to dress as. Should I go comfortable or Go all out? I have a few ideas but you'll just have to wait and see what comes about. I need 2 outfits. One for the 10k and one for the half marathon. Maybe even one IF I get into the runDisney meet up (cross fingers)

Once you start that race in your running costume the "Disney spirit" sometimes takes over and somehow weather, distance, and all other things go out the window. It''s about having fun, laughing with your friends that came to run with you, and having a "who's cares" kind of time.

I call it the Disney spirit. What would you call it?

Check out some of my Disney Gals that have run in costume and have definitely have the Disney Spirit!
  (maybe we have it a little too much)

Andrea and Friends

Jen Pelham
Jen Pelham

Candy Harmon
Christine and Pam Keenan-

Jennifer Holler, Kristie Scot, Cara Richardson,Crystal Broxson
Erin -
Marcia -
Erin and Marcia
Erin -
Crystal Broxson and Jennifer Holler
Dennis Holler, Jennifer Holler, Crystal Broxson

Thursday, June 13, 2013

In the Spirit of the Marathon 2 ~ Why do you run?

*Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of the blog

*Here is a Rock-n-Roll race registration code for $15 off any race throughout the rest of 2013
Why do you run?
 So last night I ventured out of the house and went to the movies with my friend Kim. It wasnt to see a chic flick or comedy, it was to watch a documentary/movie on our running obsession, The Spirit of the Marathon 2.
While I had seen the first SOTM, Kim had not. She was very lucky because SOTM 2 was way better in so many aspects. The scenery was taken in Rome, Italy and highlighted 7 runners and their story of how and why they ran the Rome marathon. Each persons's life's journey was highlighted that led them to this race.

Do you remember your first big race?

When I started running it was for fun and to see if I could even run a 5k. I conquered it and the obsession began. I ran more and more 5ks until I set my eyes on the half marathon prize medal. My first half marathon was in 2012 at the Walt Disney World marathon weekend. I ran during an anniversary year of the Donald half marathon. Along the way I had to learn about my diet, I had a knee injury, and my family kept saying I was not ready and that I was going to kill myself and die. 
Well, I ran that race and I finished. I cried when I crossed that finish line and the volunteer handing me my medal said "You did it!" and I did! To wear that medal felt great! 
I ran more races after that trying to get better times and beat my PR. 5k's, 10k's, a relay half marathon, and in 2013 another half again at Walt Disney World but this time during the Princess half weekend. 
The meaning of running has now changed to me. While I still do it for the fun & the bling at the end... I do it for me! I do it to stay healthy, I do it as a hobby, and I do it most of all to give myself another challenge!
I know that right now I am unable to run due to my surgery but, in my dreams I run every night. I dream about running in my next race, running for those who can't anymore, running for those who never did have that opportunity to ever run. 
I know my recovery has to be at a slow and steady pace right now... But once I am able to run again I know it will be different. I will enjoy the air around me & the sites that are infront of me. I hope that day will come soon :) 
 Every one has a story.
Everyone has trials and tribulations.
Everyone runs for different reasons.
What is yours? 
 Let's hear it...

Enter to win this Marathon Training Fuel & Snacks giveaway (even if you're training for your first're training!) 

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I have ONE room left for Disneyland Half/ Dumbo

Hi Everyone, 
I had ONE room open at the Disneyland Hotel last night.
I have had a few inquiries already and I will be sending more info back by the time that they were emailed to me by.
Here is the room info.
-Room is at Disneyland hotel 
-Travel Dates are Friday 8/30- Tuesday Sept 3
-Payment is due in full by July 1st, 2013
-Room sleep up to 4. 
-2 Queen beds
-The races start in the parking lot of this hotel ...AWESOME!!!
-You are within walking distance from the parks
-A shuttle from all of the local airports can take you directly to the hotel with out stops using one our preferred airport shuttles.
For a room price and more information please email me at:

Saturday, June 1, 2013

My Life Changing Event

If you told me that May 10, 2013 would be a life changing day for the rest of my life I would have thought you were joking. You see, for the past few months on a Friday night I loved to be home. Why? Because on Friday nights I would go home, relax, eat dinner, and wait for the TV show Fashion Star, to come on and live tweet during the shows to my fellow watchers Christine, Jen, Kim, and that night Lena, & Brandi. Normally we would tweet back and forth about the runway models, the judges attire, or the outfits tweeting  "oh, that outfit is so you!", but this night was different. We all started to watch it but tonight I was not in the game. I had eaten too many weird foods the past few days and that night the show took a backseat to my stomach. At one point I tweeted the girls "I will be watching in bed. I am having an ulcer attack-I am dying in pain!"
 For the next few hrs I began to get even more sick then thinking I may have food poisoning for the amount of vomiting I was doing. It was like clockwork every 10- 15 min. with each time being worse and worse I considered pulling up a pillow and just sleeping next to the toilet. I climbed back into bed. It was getting late and my husband whispered "Jen, I think you need to go to the hospital." If you know me at all...I DO NOT go to hospitals unless I am dying, but tonight I did not argue. I mumbled "Give me 10 min to get sick again..then we can leave". Even with my sickness I was trying to be rational. We were only 15-20 min from the hospital, that should give me time.
He called the ER and told them that we were coming. I became weaker and asked for a gurney, but no they brought a hard wheelchair for me to die in. They brought me into the ER and started to ask me questions. Why do they ask lethargic sick people questions? The next thing I remembered was going for more observation and then someone taking me for a CAT scan. I could barely move onto the table.They asked me to raise my arms for the picture - that was torture from the stomach pain. From there I believe they sent me to a regular room. I was so sick and so incoherent. A doctor came in and told me that I had a twisted small intestine and that they hoped it would straighten out. I remember thinking "How can that happen?"
The next day is a blur. I don't know if it was meds or pain that kept me out of it but all I can remember is my kids and husband coming to see me later in the day. I felt so bad for my daughter, she stayed in the hallway crying. Nurses and Dave, my husband, tried to tell them that I would be OK and that all of the IV's were antibiotics and medicine to help me. Later that night they left me and that's when everything took a turn for the worst.
Every time I would get comfortable and finally sleep someone else would come in to take my blood pressure, give me meds, take my temperature, or take my blood. I was starting to feel like a vampire with all the pins and prick marks all over my body, and they didn't take vials....they took bottles of blood. No kidding! My nurse for the night was Robert. Now when I tell you that I swear that God was watching over me...I mean it, and the nurses he sent to me over the next days had to be hand picked and were my angels. 
It was weird, Robert was about 5'10", older gentleman build, and of all things smelled like my dad, who's name is also Robert, but normally goes by the name of Bob. Robert was my first angel. He was soft spoken, very kind, and kept asking if I needed anything, and meant it. He checked on my a few times that night but it wasn't until he came over to me and touched my arm and called me Darlin' that I knew I had to tell him the resemblance to my dad. he walked into the room and I said to him "I know this is going to sound odd but I swear you were meant to be with me tonight. You remind me of my dad in so many ways. Your cologne, your looks, and he even calls me Darlin'." We laughed and he said to get some rest. 
Later that night I had to call Robert into my room at about 1:00 am. My body started to shake uncontrollable and go into what he called was the "rigors". My temp. spiked to 102.5F and it took 5 blankets to keep my from what I thought was freezing. The next few hours again were a blur until 7 am. At 7 am there is a shift change. At that time the old shift and new shift nurses exchange notes and my history. The new nurse's name was June. June didn't know that the next few hours were going to be crazy for her. I wasn't going to stay with her all day even though she thought so.
Today was Mother's Day. 
"Today I was supposed to be going to Walt Disney World with my kids for the day, I wasn't supposed to be here!"
I said it over and over in my head and when the nurses asked me if I was a mother I said it again. This was not how you are supposed to spend Mother's Day! Why was I here? I eat healthy. I don't smoke. I give back in my community.I am a good person.  I was just fine a few days ago...All of this kept playing over and over in my head. Until, the worst things that could happen happened. My blood pressure started to crash and I was fainting. Nurses started to call nurses and nurses called doctors as I yelled out "I'm fainting please help me!" A nurse put the bp wrap around my arm and I struggled to open my eyes to see it. All I saw was a 45 over 54 and then went out. The next thing I remember was opening my eyes to what must have been a dozen or more white coats and blue uniforms in my room. Some were working on me trying to get more IV's in my arms but they were failing to do so. One even tried my foot. There were IV's in my left and right arms, but nothing was giving. Then the worst experience of the whole week...Potassium drips. If you have not had potssium thru IV let me tell you what it feels like, rubbing alcohol in your veins.The burning was unbearable and I was screaming, crying, and my body was jumping from pain. I begged for them to get it out and finally it stopped. OMG! the worst pain in my life! Then the unthinkable happened. a doctor came in and told me that they needed to operate on me because I had gone septic, a bacterial infection in my small intestine. they needed to take out the diseased portion or it would kill me and they needed to do it fast before it spread. They wanted me to go right then but I couldn't. I needed my husband and kids!! I asked them to call my husband and to wait until he came but I also told them to tell my husband to NOT bring the kids. I could not let them see me like this. I didn't want them to be in a hospital waiting room. At this point I was still their mom and trying to shelter them from this horrible event happening.
My husband arrived at the hospital. Once he got there he was briefed on what had gone on, but I assure you at this point he had missed the show. It was time to go so they wheeled me out of my room on my bed and through the hospital we proceeded to the ER. I was a little foggy, but honestly that was a good thing. There was no time to think, to panic, to even have a thought.The elevator doors opened, it was time to go to get prepped. As we got to the doors they stopped my bed. My husband came to my left and put his head next to mine and cried "I love you Jennie, I need you, please don't leave me." I should have been scared but I wasn't. I held his hand and told him that I would be ok and that I loved him back. He asked me "Do you want me to call anyone or do anything?" I replied "Yes, please call Kimmie!" he looked at me as if to say why. I must have repeated myself 3 times "Just call Kimmie..She will pray with you. Please call her and tell her!"
Kimmie is Kim Requa and I have known each other since our kids have been 3. However, for the last 4 yrs. she has become my running partner and "sol sister". At that moment I felt a strong sense from God who told me to tell Dave to call her. You see, Kim and I started to pray before each race. We do not run a race until a prayer has been said. We have prayed in hotel rooms before heading out, on buses waiting to get off, and yes even the last minute corral prayer.I believe that God has brought us together to strengthen our faith and be supportive of one another and I could not think of a more perfect person to support Dave at that moment. I knew she and he would come together and pray for me and I just had a feeling that I was going to be ok at that moment.
 As I said my goodbyes, I thought of the date one last time and then realized I had never talked to my kids on Mother's Day. Again, if you knew me I would have been crying and freaking out...but something calming was over me that said I would be fine and come out ok.  A part of me whispered "Crap, please don't let me die on Mother's Day God for my kids sake!"

To the ER for prepping.No one was there in that big room except for me. I had 2 new nurses that couldn't of been nicer, more kind, and supportive. I was there a while waiting for the surgeon to come in. I had heard Dave call into the ER and see if I was ok and yes I was still ok. Well, it was time for me to go in... it was my time. The doors opened and it reminded me a video game, The nurse joked "ok pick a door ~ 3 or 4?" I would have picked 3 but nope she took me to 4. It was time for me to go nite nite and that I did.

The next 2 days I was in ICU. I don't remember anything from those 2 days and maybe that was good because I was incubated and had so many IV's, catheters, tubes, EKG wires, and more all over me. Dave said I was funny because I would wake up and ask for a clipboard and try to write things, I don't what I was writing - I really and honestly remember nothing until Monday night when I awoke. They had taken inches out out my intestine because of the blockage and infection. The diagnoses could be Chrohn's Disease. The surgeon had given me not the coolest design on my belly. It was huge going right down the middle of my stomach kind of like a questions mark and with staples.(24 of them I later counted)
I was in so much pain. I was bruised all over my arms from all of the IVs, at one point I heard someone say 17 IVs  because my veins kept failing. I had the worst back pain and I felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck. When I awoke and they were able to take my breathing tube out I was so happy. It wasn't a thrilling experience but happy to have it out. I looked down and my belly was so swollen. my legs were 3x the size I normally was and I had clubbed feet. Omg! I almost started to cry. It hurt so much. Was I ever going to be 115 lbs again?
I wasn't able to eat food or drink water. I was as dry as the Sahara. I would try to talk but my lips would stick to my teeth in a minute. I was able to have water on a little sponge to put on my lips. Later I asked for ice water and sneaked in some cubes when no one was around. My nurse for the first 2 days was Carrie. My husband said she was the best and watched over me like a hawk. He was supposed to leave at 8pm but Carrie let him stay until about 2 am with me. The next nurse was Mike. Mike I remember. He was from NY and thinking back now I swear he reminded me of the movie Michael with the angel? But he looked and acted like my husband. We cracked a few NY/NJ jokes while I was there and he said I had a strong personality even sedated. lol!
Tues morning I really don't want to talk about. the changing of the nurses was horrible. My new nurse was going to be Kerry, but I had other plans of getting out of there. She was horrible. I had not sat up yet and she threw me in a chair and left me there for 40min legs were falling asleep. I had to use the toilet for the first time and when I was done she told me to sit back down and that she'd come back for me when she could because she had to go do something. I was getting upset. She's going to kill me! But then the ultimate happened. As I got back into bed she took my pain meds trigger thing and clicked it. Yup thats right. This is how people die I swear. I called in the head nurse and cried to her and told her what was going on. She tols me she would try to get me to another room and fast. She did, but not before Kerry came in to put me in a wheel chair and yes! pushed my meds button again!
The next few days weren't too bad, except for the usual... every time I would fall asleep another nurse, doctor, lab person, or someone would come in to shoot me up with numerous antibiotics, steroids,potassium, magnesium, pain meds, blood thinners, IV food, you name it.Then there was breathing treatments, Xrays, and a whole lot of other things.
 The nurses I had were even more fabulous here. Each one of them were special in their own way. Again, gifts from God. Natale, a male nurse, was a little younger than me, about 34.He was with me for 2 nights. His wife was pregnant with their 2nd child and we talked about how all they've been seeing lately is chick flick movies ~ I laughed and we exchanged movies he should see. I told him that I was a runner and at night when it was quiet and I couldn't sleep we would talk about me going to Disneyland in August to run. I told him that I was 3x the size I normally was and wondered when I would be able to run again. he told me not to rush it and that when I was able to I would be fine, but with baby steps. He was one of my favorites.
 My other favorite nurse I had for the next 2 nights was Clarissa. She reminded me of a southern strong belle. She must have been in her 50's. She had red-brown hair and had a Sally Fields way about her. She was another night time nurse. At first I thought she was going to be a tough one, and mentally she was a smart strong minded lady. But, on the inside she had a heart of gold. One of my problems being in the hospital was that my days and nights were all messed up. I would go to sleep but then I would be awake from 2-4 am. Those were actually my most peaceful times though. 2 nights in a row I couldn't sleep so I asked one of my CNA's if I could get up and walk the halls for some PT. They said sure and off I went in my hospital gown, my tubes, and my IV stand as my crutch. I'm not quite sure how fast I was going but if I had to pick a mile per minute I'd probably of said 30min per mile, maybe even a 45mm. -lol. It wasn't fast but each day after I did PR :-)
From Kim
Tracy Burwell
One night Clarissa came into my room and noticed all of the flowers and things that flooded my room. She sat for a few minutes because she was all caught up with her rounds.She asked about who gave them to me. I told her of the most awesome friends that I had. I told her that I was a runner and that some of the flowers came from across the country from team mates that I had met online in my Facebook Group Team runDisney wishing me well. I also told her how awesome everyone was with relaying info about me and that I was shocked to know of the outpouring of concern that was for me. It made me cry just thinking about it. She was amazed and said "Honey, with friends like that you will recover and come back stronger than ever. You just need to rest and you will doing what you love to do someday again". I agreed. I told her of my local girl friends that came to see me during the days. I described them as "My Steel Magnolia Friends". I told her "If you put us all in one room and looked at us, you would never think we were all friends. Each one of us looks so different, is a different age, has different careers, and kids of all ages. But we are moms that God has put together and for some reason we all work."  I thought she was going to pull out the line from Forrest Gump about the box of chocolates, but she just smiled and touched my hand saying "Honey, that's what life is about and sometimes those friends are better than family because there is no judgement" and boy was she right.

As the days grew on I was getting antsy to get out of there, but I have to admit I was scared to go home too. What if I had a relapse? Would I know? What if I jumped the gun and said I wanted to go home and no one could help me at home like they did here? What about meds? I didn't have the answer, but I wanted to go home now. 
My patience was wearing thin with my room mate. She was an old lady that looked like something out of a horror movie. She laid there all day and asked for drugs allllllll day long. I was getting upset because I think she was jipping the system to stay there for meds. I kid you not when I tell you about her... son? or whoever some black guy that came to see her. everyday (Ps she was white) My friends and family witnessed this! Every day like clock work as soon as breakfast would come...he would come in. He talked like JJ Walker so we all nicknamed him JJ. He walked in like Bill Cosby and was a big dude. EVERY DAY he would say "hey women, you better eat all your meal 'cuz you gotta get yo strength up to get your ass home and start cookin. mmm, mmm, that looks good. Watcha got today? well, you better eat it, but if you don't -don't worry it won't go to waste and I'll eat it." I am not joking! The stupidity that came out of that man's mouth was of a 3rd grade education. He stayed for lunch and until dinner came and at every meal he would say the same thing. Then, after dinner was served at 4:30, he would leave for the night until 8 am the next morning and do the same thing. But that wasn't even the worst part about the days. They would keep the TV on all day as loud as they could and both take naps. Then when he left he kept the TV on and would leave as she slept...until she asked for more meds...and then sleep some more....and on and on. I was going mad! I couldn't take it anymore. On Friday morning when the breakfast came I sat up in my bed and sobbed. The nurse came in and asked why I was crying. I told her of what went on for the last few days and I think I lost it! I told her "I want to go home and  I don't need meds I just needed the crazy people to leave.- stupidity I tell ya- stupidity! and If she asks for one more round of pain meds I might scream. She's milking the system!" YUP! I lost it!
The poor nurse looked at me and gave me a hug. She felt bad for me and then proceeded to get me the best gift anyone has ever got me...earphones. Earphones to plug in my ipod or to watch tv. Why couldn't I have had these a few days ago?
That day was the hardest for me. I was done. I wanted to go home. My family came like they always did every night and we talked. I didn't want them to go that night but they had to. As soon as they left it was time for me to get ready to get some sleep. I shut my lights off, I plugged in my earphones, and I logged on to Twitter and Facebook for a while. My cell battery got eaten up fast so I could get on for maybe an hr or two. I read all the well wishes and responded to as many as I could but it took me a long time to text for my brain and fingers didn't cooperate together yet. 
That night the BEST thing made me cry happy tears. First was I noticed that our Team runDisney page pic had been changed and my eye went smack dead to the middle where my pic with Kim stared at me from The Tower of Terror race in September. I loved this pic and I got all teary eyed looking at it. Then, as I texted Kim to ask her if she had seen it she replied "Have you seen the video yet?" I texted back "No" and she sent it over to me.
Marc Acosta from our TeamrunDisney group had made a video
Click here to watch video  from all of our pictures that we had all posted over the years on our group page. The pictures were filled of triumphs, friendships, first time runs, meet ups, and memories that were life changing. As I watched under my covers, with my headphones plugged in I started to cry. The moment was overwhelming. As I laid there all swollen up and barely being able to walk 10 ft to the bathroom, I wondered if and when I would be able to run again. Would I have to cancel my dream trip to California to run Dumbo in August? I wanted to meet these wonderful new friends of mine & share in these memories that were going to e made. As I watched the video a few pictures of Kim & I came up and then a picture of some of the Team runDisney girls and I with our medals from the Sarasota First Watch Half Marathon/Relay. Those pictures were from my favorite races. The song was "Go the distance"... I decided at that moment that would be my theme song until I could run again. It would be a long recovery ahead but as strong willed as I am ~ I know I could do it! I may not PR, I may even get sweeped, but my goal and eye was California. Kim and I had started 2013 with big dreams of getting our Coast 2 Coast medal and living the dream of "going to Disneyland" for a once in a lifetime trip... And I that I had to do. 
I watched the video every night before I went to sleep from the hospital. It became a nighttime ritual- it kept me sane & calmed my nerves.  As I went to sleep I prayed that each night would be my last there. Would Friday be my last day? I would have to see in the morning. 
Friday. "Is today my day to go home?" I asked my new nurse at 7am. "No, I don't think today. You still can't go home. You have one more bag of potassium. It's still too low to go home" UG!That wasn't what I wanted to hear!I called my husband and told him of the news. As everyone texted me asking if today was the day..I texted back "Nope not today". I wanted to bust out of hear bad. I sat in my bed that day and did not get up. I called my daughter and asked her to come and see me after high school because I needed some moral support and she came :-) I was so bummed out. Later that day, my husband and son came. They stayed late and they knew I didn't want them to go, but they had too. Visting hours were well over and Dave had to go to work in the morning. Dave was great in this whole ordeal. He had been taking care of the house, replying  phone calls to family & friends, taking care of the kids at home, and working for the two of us doing my clients and his at work. The man was so tired between work, coming to the hospital, and doing the things at home he barely was getting sleep. the last thing I needed him to do was get sick now. Again that night I watched the video thinking it was going to make me rest but that night was the hell breaker!
I don't know if it was a full moon or what happened that night but all hell broke loose that night. It was not be any means a quiet, normal night. There was a lady across the hall starring at me from her bed. She looked like she was from Zimbabwe (I'm sorry-she did) and she yelled "Nurse...Nurse!" all night long. They even yelled at her to stop. It freaked me out! Then into the same room they wheeled a man in. I'm thinking heart attack. They turned all the lights on in the hall (usually they were turned off like a daycare to basically say goodnight..go to sleep people) and they shined in my room. I was the bed nearest to the hall and bathroom, my weird room mate had the window (which she never opened the blinds). Not only did he have all the lights on but the TV blared from his room all night long. OMG! Mad havoc going on all night. Nurses ran up and down the halls, bells and beepers were going off from the IV drips needing to be replaced. People were yelling all kinds of things. At one point I wasn't sure if I should pick closing the door and dealing with the lady's stench or listening to the craziness in the hall. I chose to ask them to close my door half way. Later that night I awoke to see nurses in my room and talking. I kind of laughed in my sleep and shook my head... They were in my room with the door closed to escape the madness too. I kept my eyes closed but uttered out loud to the nurses "What the hell is going on out there? Is it a full moon? This shit is crazy!" Yes, that's right, I said it!
As Saturday morning rolled around I wondered  if I should even ask if this was my day to go home. My nurse that day walked in and it was a familiar face. She was one of my kids moms I had volunteered with. We exchanged stories and a bit about my stay. She was shocked to see what i had gone through in my chart but said to me "Good news, I think today's the day. I will see if you can go home." I got dressed as I usually do and the new nurse fixed my bed and fluffed my pillows. Today was also the first day for lunch that I could eat something other than liquids. The thought of a cooked carrot and some rice made me thrilled.
Remember Natale, one of my favorite nurses?He was walking the hall and as he walked by he caught a glimpse of me and stopped in my room to say hi. He said "You're still here? Are you going home - is today your day?" I told him I was wishing, hoping, and praying. He asked what I had been doing all day and I told him that I was having a movie marathon and if he wanted to come watch with me. He laughed and said he would keep checking on me and see if he could find things out for me. I told you he was awesome!
I had 5 Doctors that all had to sign off before I could go home. The GI Dr, the surgeon, the Infectious diseases Dr, the Pulmonary Dr, and the Admitting Dr. I thought it would be fast...It took the whole day! One by one they came in and signed off except the GI guy.Where was he? It was now 4pm. Natale popped in to see what was going on and gave me bad news. He noticed that I still had a stent IV line in my neck and said to me "Um, so they haven't taken that out yet?" I said "No, obvoiusly..why?" He replied "Well, you are still going to be here a while because that line directly to your heart. Once they take that out, you have to lie flat and not move for about 45-60 min so you don't bleed out." "Natale! Why did you have to tell me that? Now you have me all freaked out-UG!" He told me to calm down and that I would be fine but now every min that passed I thought...Great, another hour from now!It was close to 6pm I finally had the last Dr signed off and now to take this IV out. Yup, you had to stay there an hour like he said. So I watched the last of my movie and called Dave to bust me out of there.
The minute had finally come for me to go home it was 7pm now. I grabbed my flowers and balloons. Dave brought me clothes and I went to change. Ya know when you get a race shirt that is a little too big? Well, let me be the first to tell you to keep it because you never know when you might need something bigger than you usually wear. That's right... I went home as a runner that day wearing my Tower of Terror 10 miler finisher shirt.
As I hopped into the wheel chair I didn't look back. I stopped and said goodbye to the wonderful nurses that took care of me as night shift was starting and the day shift was going home. Even Clarissa was there that night. I waved as I went by her and she smiled and gave a wave back. They all wished me well, but wait! There was one person not there. Natale.I asked them to page him for I could not go home without saying goodbye. He had been my buddy at night and he was there all day checking in on me. I couldn't go home without a proper good bye. My husband stood there and said he was racing down the hall. I gave him a big hug and told him thank you for everything and off I left. Dave told me that when he hugged me he looked a little flushed and maybe teary eyed. I just said awww.
The doors opened up to the outside world and into the car I went. It was very bright out considering I hadn't sen the out side world for over a week. The air smelled fabulous yet my eyes could not adjust to everything I was seeing. I held my husband's hand in the car and cried "I am so happy to be going home. I am so happy to be alive. I just can't believe this happened." He assured me that I would be Ok and that it would take time to recover. I knew in my heart that that was true, I just had to believe and stay strong.

Every day is a new journey and a day God has given us...
and runners... run for someone who can't and wishes they could.

Thank you to each and every Team runDisney member that has sent me get well wishes,flowers, cards, checked up on me, and has given me so much moral support through direct messages, email, or written on my Fb wall or Twitter.. I can't thank you enough and I hope to celebrate with medals around my neck at Dumbo in August.

To my Fit2Run Ambassador Coconut Point Family: You guys have been a life line to me with your support. I thought you people killed me with all the champagne we drank the night before and no food until after the opening. That was the best night and you all have been awesome towards me. I can't wait for the day that I can come down and walk/run with you and see you're smiling faces, but no more "beer hound" for me :-).  Still waiting on my shirt -lol.
Thank you to my local "Steel Magnolia's" girls that came and saw me and have been keeping me in your know who you are.