Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I Have Fibromyalgia: Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month

If you are new to the parts of the InterWebs, first off - WELCOME! And second off, there is probably a lot you don't know about me. Sure, at first glance you may assume I am just a happy-go-lucky, healthy female in my 30s, but what you don't see is the invisible disease that haunts me on the daily!

Let's start at the beginning. It was my freshman year in high school. I was a cheerleader and injured my back in a stunt (I was a 'base' and ended up catching the 'flyer' in a way that caused my L4 and L5 vertebrae to fracture which led to me having to wear a back brace while the healing took place).

Well, after the bones healed, the pain never went away. I went to doctor after doctor, getting test after test (MRIs, ultrasounds, scans, etc), trying treatment after treatment (from hard-core narcotics to pulsating acupuncture, physical therapy, etc). 99.9% of the trips ended in frustration and tears when I was told 'everything looks normal', 'maybe it is just in your head', 'you seem fine'. Let me tell you, I was NOT!


Eventually (I would say it probably took a good year of doctor visits, specialist referrals, etc) we finally arrived at a diagnosis: FIBROMYALGIA. Some of you may have heard of this disorder now that they are beginning to release medication specific to it (Lyrica is one of the meds I've heard most frequently mentioned on TV ads or in magazines).

The easiest way I have found to describe Fibro is that I don't fall into a deep enough sleep to allow my bones and joints to get the rest they need. My body is always in a constant state of pain. I have good days and bad days, days where the pain will stay around a 3 (on a scale of 1 to 10) and days where it hurts to breathe or put on clothes because the weight of the fabric feels like it is just too much to carry.

This chronic disorder is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. (So I guess when I was told "it's all in your head" the doctors were partially correct...)


Women are much more likely to develop fibromyalgia than are men. And people who have fibromyalgia also tend to have a myriad of other issues, including tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and depression. [Thus far I have also been diagnosed with IBS and restless leg syndrome.]

There is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, although a variety of medications can help control symptoms (because I was diagnosed at a young age, most doctors didn't want to put me on meds because they would be something that I would likely be on for the rest of my life and weren't sure how they would effect me in the long run). With that said, I was told to exercise, eat healthy, and get adequate rest. Being told at 14 "you won't die from it, but you will die with it" seems like it should be a reassurance but, believe me, talking about your own death at a young age can be slightly traumatic...
I am often asked, once people find out that I deal with a rheumatic disease, how I am able to run with the pain. The answer, at least for me, is easy. If I am going to be in pain no matter what, then I might as well be in pain doing something that I love. Although doctors will recommend exercise as a way to cope with the pain (the thought process is that if you tire your body out enough you will be able to get better rest), I have not found that exercise alleviates any of my issues. I realize that I may not be able to run for my entire life, but I can run today, so that's what I'll do.


Anywho, enough about me, the point of this post was not to lament on my daily struggles (although sometimes it is nice to know that everyone's life isn't as sunshiney as social media makes it out to be - we are real people behind the 'perfect' pictures we share!), but to introduce what is beginning tomorrow: Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month!

September 2016 marks the first annual Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month (RDAM). RDAM was created by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and its public awareness campaign, Simple Tasks, to raise awareness about rheumatic diseases like arthritis, lupus, gout, and the 100+ lesser known rheumatic diseases (such as fibromyalgia) that fall under the umbrella term of arthritis.


The theme for RDAM 2016 is, “Hundreds of Diseases. One Voice.” Speaking as one voice, we can improve the public’s understanding of rheumatic diseases and advance the health and well-being of millions of Americans living with rheumatic diseases. But first, we need to learn about the issue and spread the word!

Seeing as fibromyalgia (one of the 100+ lesser known rheumatic diseases) effects me daily, I knew I had to help the cause and share the news about this campaign. Congress is actually introducing a bill to officially recognize September as Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month (RDAM), which is awesome (and hopefully means more funding and research will be dedicated in this area)!

RDAM seeks to increase public understanding and awareness of the symptoms, risk factors, treatment options, personal and economic impact, and lifestyle and health care challenges associated with rheumatic diseases. The hope is that Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month will serve as an opportunity for concerned individuals and groups to advocate for the health and well being of those living with rheumatic diseases and to advance health care policies that help patients access safe, affordable, and effective health care.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read more about me and rheumatic diseases! Wouldn't it be great to live in a world that was disease-free?! But since that isn't a reality, the next best thing is to spread the word and help those dealing with disorders and diseases on a daily basis in any way that we can.

Do you know anyone (besides me of course) who deals with a chronic illness?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Dumbo Double Dare Weekend

Can you believe it?! It is already runDisney's Dumbo Double Dare weekend! For those of you not inundated in the runDisney world, let me do a little explaining. The Dumbo Double Dare is a challenge that runDisney started a couple years back (this is actually the fourth year). It consists of running the Disneyland 10K on Saturday and the Disneyland Half Marathon on Sunday. Seeing as the Disneyland Half Marathon is my anniversary race (this year marks my FOURTH year as a runner and my FIFTH, count them... 1, 2, 3, 4, FIVE, Disneyland Half), you knew I had to make it happen (even with the astronomical prices for runDisney races, but we will ignore that fact for the time being).

Anywho, in case any of you folks will be in the Anaheim area this weekend (whether you are running any of the races or not), I wanted to share some of the events/ meet-up's that I will be attending so that hopefully you can make it out as well (and if they aren't already on your calendar you better get them added because I don't want to hear you whining that you didn't know about them and missed out on all the fun!).


First up, the #TeamSparkle Donut Meet-Up! If you know anything about the lovely ladies of Sparkle Athletic, you know that not only do they love sparkle and inspiring everyone around them, but they also LOVE their sweets! And what better way to get some of the #TeamSparkle community together than with a Donut Meet-Up?! We will be hanging out in Downtown Disney (across from the Rainforest Cafe) Friday morning at 10am.

Next is the Cigna Blogger Event Friday afternoon. Unfortunately (for you), this one is not open to the public - but I did want to mention it because the crew will be sharing tons of info about the meet-up on social media. Make sure to follow me on Twitter (@CarleeMcDot) to see some of the fun stuff we will be doing throughout the day - and don't you worry, I will have a full recap in a few days in case you are adulting and can't be on the Twitters during the workday on Friday. PS The official hashtag is #CignaRunTogether if you'd like to follow the conversation live during the event.

Lastly, the #WeRunSocial Meet-Up will be going down on Saturday at Trader Sam's. This is ALWAYS an AMAZING event, so I would HIGHLY recommend that if you are in the area that you stop by! And this year there will even be WRS + Sparkle Athletic shirts given out, so get there early and stay as long as you'd like! Everyone is invited, so bring the kids, the grandparents, the runners, spectators or unenthusiastic participants. Let's have some drinks, eat all the snacks, take some selfies and have a blast all in the name of running!

Along with all of these meet-ups, the hubby and I plan on spending Friday afternoon/ evening in the parks (we haven't been to the parks together in too many moons and I decided he MUST see the 60th anniversary celebration decorations {along with Paint the Night, etc} before they disappear for-ev-er in a couple days). We are also meeting up with friends who live up that way for dinner Saturday night. Oh yeah, and we've gotta fit in watching the Michigan Wolverine's first game of the season too! I'm sure it'll be another jam-packed weekend full of fun, friends, and plenty of memories made, but like my mom always says, "you can sleep when you're dead!".

Where will I see you this weekend?

Monday, August 29, 2016

How We Got Here: The St. George Marathon

If you follow me on social media, then you may have saw the announcement... I will be running the St. George Marathon on October 1st! Not only that, I am going to attempt to BQ (Boston Qualify) on the course!


But before we get into the nitty-gritty details and goals of the race, let's do a brief recap of how we got to this point...

After the Phoenix Marathon in February, I didn't have any full marathons on my calendar (well, I guess that isn't technically true... I had the 2017 Phoenix Marathon and 2017 Los Angeles Marathon on the calendar, but those were over a year away at that point). I decided I should start looking for a fast fall full to train for (because why not?!).

I have found that the best way to find great races is to ask the running community. So, off to social media to find some suggestions. I heard amazing things about the St. George Marathon, Twin Cities Marathon, Erie Marathon, Wineglass Marathon, Steamboat Marathon and an assortment of others. Then it was time to narrow the field.

A friend of mine actually told me that he had won a guaranteed entry into the St. George Marathon (the race is now on a lottery entry system) and if he wouldn't be able to use it he said he would be willing to transfer it to me. Okay, so I decided that I wouldn't enter the lottery and if it was meant to be then it would be.

The friend is a high school band director and his fall schedule is pretty crazy (actually his schedule is always crazy with all the running, traveling, music playing, etc he is doing). I didn't want to pressure him by constantly hounding him about the entry so I decided I would train as if I would run the race, but not necessarily put in all of the speed work.

You see, I didn't want to put in 100% effort to find out that the race wasn't a possibility. I put in the miles, but the track and tempo workouts weren't there as regularly as they should have been (because, let's be real, speed work is HARD!).

Well, about a month ago my friend let me know he was told that he was not able to transfer the entry to me. I was bummed, but decided that maybe it was God's way of closing the door. But being the stubborn one that I am, I thought I'd try one last time. I shot an email to the race director to see if there was any possibility of an entry floating around the office. I prayed and told God if there was a possibility of me BQ'ing at the race (not that getting in would be an automatic BQ, but that my fitness level and ability had the chance to BQ on the perfect day) then He would make it happen.

I never heard back so assume the door was shut. I decided to lick my wounds and gear up to start seriously training to take on CIM as my next BQ attempt. That was, until I saw this post on the St. George Marathon's Facebook page:


Yup, they had 40 late entries and were going to award them to their 40 favorite running photos (in all fairness, they weren't "giving them away", you would still have to pay the $90 registration fee, but hey, I'd take any opportunity I could get at this point). And if you know me, you know I love entering contests!

So, you know what I did? I submitted a different photo every day. I went for the funny (costume races - showing that I could have a good time), I shared strong photos (showing that not only do I love to run and smile while I do it, I put in the effort to better myself and my paces) and I even pulled at the heart strings (mentioning how much of a heart break my last failed BQ attempt was).

Some of my entries

A few days before the contest was set to close we were camping along the Kern River. I turned my phone off airplane mode (cell reception can be spotty up there) and I started seeing texts and notifications saying "Congrats on getting into St. George". I thought maybe they were confused on one of my posts (saying "I hope I get in" and thinking that meant I got in)... that was until I went onto the St. George Marathon Facebook page and saw this:


WHOOOOOOO HOOOOOO! I was so excited! And then the panic set in... Sure I had been training for the distance, but is the speed there? I honestly was worried it wasn't. But then again, when I was chatting with God a few weeks prior I told Him that I would only want to get in if there was a possibility to snag my BQ, so I figured that the feasibility has to be there (although I am going to have to work my booty off to make it happen!).

So at the end of last week I mailed in my registration (yup, although this race is celebrating its 40th year, the registration process is done via the US Postal Service and mailing in a check... can you say #OldSchool?). I haven't received my email confirmation yet (I would assume that is probably due to the speed of the Pony Express), but as of right now, all signs point to the fact that I will be toeing the starting line of the St. George Marathon on October 1st.

And if you haven't looked at a calendar lately, I'll let you know... that means I have FIVE WEEKS to make this BQ a reality! Is it possible? Yes. Will it take everything I've got? I know it will. Am I going to give it my all? You better believe it! Do I believe in myself? Not totally, but I have some amazing friends who believe I can do hard things so I'm gonna start listening to them a little more (or at least trying to). Is it going to hurt? I would imagine so, but anything worth doing/ having takes effort. The hard is what makes it good, right?!

So, these next few weeks will be intense (although I probably only have two to three weeks before I have to start my taper), but when I arrive in St. George I want to be able to leave it all out on the course and see what my body is able to accomplish. As the race gets closer I will share my specific goals, but for now - send all the speedy and calming thoughts and prayers my way! I can use them ALL!

Ideally, how long are your training cycles? 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Workout Recap - Week 35

Sunday, August 21st – 6 mile run with the hubby, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Monday, August 22nd – Strength Training (abs, back, legs and arms), 5 progressive mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Tuesday, August 23rd – 8 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Wednesday, August 24th – 3 mile run with the hubby, 16.5 mile bike ride, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Thursday, August 25th –  8 mile pace run

Friday, August 26th – Rest Day, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Saturday, August 27th – 20 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

I normally don't do a lot of my runs with friends (minus some of my "easy" runs with the hubby), but I knew Kelly was training around the same pace as me and since she was in town I had to take her up on meeting up for our long run. The miles FLEW by... but that might be because our legs were flying! I don't know that I've had a 20-miler that fast in any of my training cycles. And my 8 pace miles workout earlier in the week was one of my strongest I've run. Let's hope that translates to the BQ time at the St. George Marathon that I am gunning for!

How were your workouts this past week?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Friday Favorites

It's that time again... Not only is it Friday Favorites, it's time to start up Friday Night Lights! I love me some football (whether it is high school, college or NFL), so today is double-ly awesome! (Well, in all honesty, I went to the first football game of the season last night, but you know what I'm getting at.)

Garmin's Face-It App

Did you see?! Garmin released a new app last week and it is pretty AMAZING! The new app lets you create a personalized watch face for your Connect IQ compatible devices! Garmin’s Face-It app (available for Android and Apple products) lets you customize your Connect IQ compatible watch face with any photo from your mobile device. Download the app, choose an image from your photo library, add the time and send it to your device to set it as your watch face. Pretty AWESOMESAUCE if you ask me (add a picture of your pup, the kids, a sunset, you name it - it's your choice now!)! And let's just say if I can figure it out then everyone should be able to ;)

I know it isn't the best photo, but I was so excited that I figured out how
to do it (I'm NOT tech savvy) that I was a little jittery when snapping the shot

PROBAR Giveaway

I posted a PROBAR giveaway on my Facebook page earlier this week, but it doesn't end until tomorrow at 11:59pm PST so I thought I'd share it here. I love me some PROBAR but have been stock piling it for a while now and figured I share the wealth and do a little giveaway. Entering is EASY! 1. Follow Carlee McDot on Facebook. / 2. Like the image. / 3. Tag your BRF (best running friend). {You can tag multiple friends, but each tag must be a separate comment}

Five (5) lucky winners will receive a sample pack from me of an assortment of BASE and FUEL bars, as well as some BOLT chews. (**This giveaway is not being sponsored by PROBAR, Facebook, etc. I am just trying to bless some of my fellow runners with the surplus of goodies I have acquired.**)

Conqur LA Challenge Medal

Since I ran the Los Angeles Marathon last year I receive the Conqur Endurance Group emails, but if you aren't on the email list, hopefully you've still seen the post on social media about this bad boy bling (can you see the inspiration from the Olympic rings?)! If you run the Santa Monica Classic (5K or 10K), the Pasadena Half Marathon and the Los Angeles Marathon then you will receive this AMAZING medal!


If you aren't registered yet, you need to jump on it! Registration for the Santa Monica Classic is already at 90% (and once it sells out you won't be able to get this purrrrrrrty medal or participate in the challenge), so jump on it if you aren't signed up! {PS You can save on registration fees by buying the bundle HERE, but in case you can't afford to register for all three races today, don't worry, we've got you covered! You can still get the bling by running the races individually. The deadline to register for the bundle and to receive the bundled discount is Tuesday, September 6, 2016 at 11:59 pm PDT or until it sells out, whichever occurs first.}


Momentum Jewelry Sale

I decided to not extend my ambassadorship with Momentum Jewelry (mostly because I don't want to over commit myself or spread myself too thin), but that doesn't mean I don't love their products and rep them every chance I get. And they currently have a 20% off sale running until August 31st. Use code SUMMERSALE20 to take advantage of the sweet deal! (PS I would totally recommend stocking up for not only yourself but also for your running friends! These make great gifts and Christmas isn't too far away, so place your order today!)


UA Plumbers & Pipefitters 5K

My dad participated in the UA Plumbers & Pipefitters 5K in Ann Arbor last week. Not only did he break 30 minutes and place fourth in his age group, but he was interviewed and is now FAMOUS (okay, I might be exaggerating the last part, but the first three points are 100% real)! If you watch the video below, my daddy-o makes his cameo around the 8:30 mark. My dad mentioned it in his interview, but 100% of the profits will go to the Semper Fi Fund charity (and the UA decided to match what the race raised and double it with their own contribution!).

I'm so proud of my padre! He normally runs a single mile a day (he is quite the streaker!), but every once in a while he will step outside of his comfort zone and knock out a longer distance. HECK YES DAD! YOU ROCK MY SOCKS!

What are you loving lately? 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

REVIEW: Project Repat (& GIVEAWAY)

What do you do with all of your race shirts? 

If you're like me, you have TONS of them! Most of them ill-fitting and never worn (some still have the tags on them)... But even though I don't wear them, they're treasured possessions; reminders of what I've accomplished. Still, mine have been sitting in multiple piles on the closet floor, waiting for SOMETHING to be done with them! And THAT is where Project Repat comes in!

My most recent 30 race tops turned into a gif by my talented hubby

If you've been around for a while, you know that the funny thing is, that the gif above features just some of my shirts from the past two-ish years. You see, back in October of 2014 I sent my first round of shirts to Project Repat. Well, a couple weeks ago I realized my piles were getting a bit out of control again, so it was time to reach out to the experts and turn my hoard collection into something I would actually use.

The process of sending your shirts to Project Repat is easy-breezy! First, select the size blanket you would like to make (I had about 35 race shirts {and have since added a few more to the stack}, so thought I would go with the "Full" size since it requires 30 sides to make). Then pick the color of PolarTec fleece for the back of the blanket (I opted for grey). Finally, select the size of the "squares" (the standard size is 12"x12", but they do have specialty blankets you can do with 8"x8" or 14"x14"). After that, pay for the blanket. Like I said, very straight forward and painless!
The fun part is deciding which shirts to use and what order to put them in. Instead of a chronological order, I decided (with the help of my designer hubby) to lay them out by color. It took us a little while, seeing as I had so many shirts, but we finally decided on a pattern that was just right (trying to avoid areas that looked too dark, having too many runDisney shirts in one area, etc).

The first time I worked with Project Repat they sent you an eco-friendly bag you would use to mail your shirts to them in. Nowadays you are required to cover the cost of the mailing of your goodies (I ended up using one of the medium sized flat-rate box that the Post Office offers - it ended up costing $13.45 with the two-day priority shipping). Not a big deal, but knowing I would need to foot the bill, I decided to get rid of any excess weight by cutting the backs off of my shirts. 

To help Project Repat with the process, they ask that you provide the "side" of the shirt you would like to use (if the shirt has images on both sides). Since most of my race shirts had sponsors on one side and the race image on the other I went through and cut the shirts so there would be no confusion (as well as there would be less weight to ship). [NOTE: YOU ARE NOT CUTTING THEM IN THE 12"x12" SIZE, JUST SPLITTING THE SHIRT IN TWO.]

I cut a template out of cardboard to make sure the panels I was sending were at
least 14 inches by 14 inches so that they would have the necessary size to work with.

Let's just say Walt the Wiener Dog loves this part of the process because he gets new "toys". We make the arms of the long-sleeve shirts into 'ropes' for him to chew on and play tug-a-war with. He has quite the "ruff" life, right?!

I was on the phone the other day and turned around to THIS!
Walt was wearing one of the "ropes" on his head like braids!

The next step is the hardest... Shipping your shirts. No, the physical process is not hard, just put them in a box with your receipt and a picture of the layout you would like and mail them. I was just worried that I might lose my shirts forever (and no amount of insurance on the package would get those memories back if they were lost in transit).

What you need to include: shirts, colored picture of layout, receipt with bar code 

A little excitement mixed with a little fear dropping off my package
at my local post office!

Oh yeah, and the waiting game. Don't get me wrong, Project Repat hand cuts and sews all of the shirts, so a labor of love like this takes times, but I was anxious to get the blanket back. It normally takes approximately 3-4 weeks once they receive your shirts for your blanket to make its journey back to you (of course with the holidays fast approaching the wait time can be longer, although they do offer an expedited option if you are willing to pay the additional cost).

I shipped my shirts out on Tuesday afternoon (via a flat rate priority box for $13.45 from the USPS) and received an email from
Project Repat on Thursday morning that they had received my shirts.

I love that they kept me informed every step of the way! Definitely put my mind at ease!

It took about 2 weeks for my blanket to return (I placed my order on August 2nd, shipped my shirts on August 9th and received my blanket back on August 24th). And when I got it, I FELL IN LOVE!!

Wait, am I the only one so excited about packages that she draws with sidewalk
chalk to celebrate the delivery?! 

It was PERFECT! Since I had worked with Project Repat in the past I knew what to expect, but it is always a pleasant surprise when something rocks your socks and blows your expectations out of the water! Although you lay the shirts out on the floor before you send them and sort of know what the finished product will look like, they are mostly haphazardly placed. The blanket that is returned is so exact and AMAZING!

I do want to say - this is NOT a traditional quilt. One of the reasons that Project Repat can offer their services at a lower price is because they are not quilting or putting in backing into the piece (which can leave it feeling stiff). It is more of a blanket. And a blanket that is meant to be cuddled up in, used, loved and even washed (I mean, it is just shirts).

Snuggling on the porch with my new blankie

One last thing about the company as a whole. If you know me, you know I LOVE to support local companies, ones who keep their products in the USA, etc, which is exactly what Project Repat does!

Although I never wore my race shirts, they were a "trophy" of mine. But let's be honest, they weren't doing anyone any good being in a big pile at the back of my closet. I can now say that they will get a lot of use and will see the light of day much more frequently.

Okay, okay, so enough of me bragging about how awesome my blanket turned out, now it's YOUR TURN to get your joy on! Project Repat has offered up ONE LUCKY READER a $110 gift card! This will get you a twin sized blanket or you could use it to take $110 off your final purchase price.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Just in case you don't win, I would HIGHLY recommend you still consider checking this company out! The deadline to send in your shirts to guarantee you will get the blanket back for Christmas is September 1st. [If shirts arrive after 9/1, your t-shirt quilt won't be guaranteed to you until Jan/Feb 2017 or you will have to pay a $30 rush fee for Christmas delivery.] PLACE AN ORDER TODAY! And if you decide to place an order before the end of the year, use discount code "Carlee2016" and save 25% off your order! 

Now to start hoarding collecting shirts for my next blanket ;)

This giveaway runs through Wednesday, August 31st at 11:59pm PST. The winner will be contacted via the email address associated with their Rafflecopter account and has 24 hours to claim their prize. All entries are verified, so be sure to complete them or a new, random winner will be selected (I don't want you missing out due to a technicality).

Good luck to everyone who enters and remember to enter early & often as some of the options are available daily!