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Sunday, December 11, 2011

My friend Stephen Brown is an accomplished athlete with several ironman distances to his name, he is a coach and a motivational speaker - and he has beat leukemia. On his website today he wrote something to think about:

"And on the subject of “the journey”, celebrate the small incremental victories and give yourself credit where credit is due. You can’t eat this elephant all at once. So be happy with the small bites along the way. And conversely, understand that you will have a bad day and may even lose focus of your goal from time to time. Allow yourself to be a little human. But get back to the task at hand as quickly as possible. Sometimes the real world will interrupt the best of plans. That doesn’t mean you’ve been defeated or derailed. Make the necessary adjustment and keep moving forward.

And lastly, be proud but be humble. I see too many people racing for the sole purpose self promoting what they’ve done. Race for the true internal accomplishment that you have achieved. Celebrate having won an internal struggle or battle. Don’t race so you can walk around broadcasting to everyone, “look what I did”.

If you carry yourself the right way, walking tall with confidence and humility, your accomplishment will be known to all. You won’t need to advertise yourself with billboards or tattoos."

If you want to look at his blog/website - go to

Here are his two books

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LILPAT3 12/13/2011 12:26PM

    Thanks for sharing.

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BILL60 12/12/2011 9:20AM

    Great advice. Thanks for sharing.

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BILLALEX70 12/12/2011 6:01AM

    Good stuff my friend.

Although, I still like to use ink for a permanent reminder of the effort.

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JUST_TRI_IT 12/12/2011 3:43AM

    Human-ness is something we often forget about. Thanks for the reminder.

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CALIDREAMER76 12/11/2011 9:53PM

Excellent advice for any of the journeys any of us may be on.
Thanks so much for sharing - will share with others as well!


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LKEITHO 12/11/2011 9:17PM

    Great ideas. Thanks for passing them along!

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ON2VICTORY 12/11/2011 8:10PM

    good stuff. I kike the part about giving yourself some latitude for being human and life getting in the way. I have had many of the same thoughts expressed here. Coming from a guy like that and what he has managed to accomplish, that gives me confidence that i am on the right track and have the right mindset.

Thanks for sharing..

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MNCYCLIST 12/11/2011 6:35PM

    Thanks for sharing this.

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SLIMMERJESSE 12/11/2011 4:38PM

    He sounds like a very special person. Thanks for sharing his wise words.

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DDOORN 12/11/2011 4:31PM

    Great attitude, quiet self-confidence!

Thx for sharing Jan!


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Thanks giving

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Many of you who are reading this blog are runners and when you complete your run you are awarded a medal.

You trained, you ran, you conquered ... exciting feeling isn't it.

I have a colleague at work who has gone through some incredible tough times. Health issues, daughters health issues, not a single mother by choice, son in the armed forces heading to Afghanistan in a month - and this is just the big things.

A day or two after I had run the Columbus full marathon I saw her and she was having some (let me call it) significant health issues and was down in the dumpster. I happened to have my medal in my bag pack - went to the office and back to her and gave it to her.

There was a look on her face I will never forget, and a warmth in my heart. I felt I had made a difference.

She has confided in me and I know a lot about her. However, every time she walks in front of my office two words comes to mind inspiration and preserverence.

How do you tell someone thank you for inspiring you in a meaningful way?

Many people do inspire me in many ways (and I try to tell them) - but few in inspire me in a bigger way than most, you may say they are my heroes. Heroes are awarded medals - my way of showing they are my heroes is to share my 'bling'. - this is my thanksgiving.

Have a great year.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DREMARGRL 12/4/2011 9:37PM

    "Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy"..............I am grateful our paths have crossed and I'm sure your friends there are most fortunate to know you in person!
Happy Holidays, friend.
XO MaryAnn

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BE-THE-CHANGE 12/4/2011 9:30AM

    You are very thoughtful and considerate.

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L3DESIGNS 12/2/2011 2:05AM

    What a great friend!

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ACTIVE_AT_60 12/1/2011 10:01PM

    I want to thank the compliments so far - but don't expect 'hero' to be on my business card anytime soon. I do what my heart tells me to do.

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ON2VICTORY 12/1/2011 9:58PM

    Way to go Jan, that was really awesome. you really made a difference.

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BILL60 12/1/2011 8:10AM

    Way to go!! Super gesture. You're a magnificent human being. I congratulate you for also being a HERO!!

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APPLESBANANAS 12/1/2011 6:03AM

    When my brother was undergoing chemoradiation in high school his cross country coach gave him his Boston marathon medal. My brother still has it hung up, over a decade later.

People who are going through rough times are always being given advice and asked "are you ok?". I think it's awesome that you chose a meaningful way to show her she's appreciated on a deep level.

What a great Thanksgiving gesture!

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HUGGIEBEAR10 12/1/2011 3:44AM

    You are splashing Sparks on others! You are inspiring and a hero!!

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GROEDER 11/30/2011 9:17PM

    What a heartwarming blog!!!!! You just became MY hero!!!! What a kind gesture on your part.
Thanks for sharing your thanksgiving with everyone.

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More from Philly

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I know the last blog I posted had a sad angle, and I am still coping with what happened to these two young people in Philly last weekend.

However, something different happened. My friend John introduced me to Stephen Brown. When he started talking about Steve, he could not be more right when he said - 'you will like steve'. Steve is a unique person as a person and as an athlete. He is an ironman and an 'ultrasport enthusiast'. When he, in 2002 was diagnosed with leukemia, there were some aspect of his coping mechanisms that were - lets say - unorthodox. He did not want his wife to be with him at chemo. In fact he asked her to drop him off at the cancer center - and he would run home. He wanted to forget he had cancer. He continues to do ironman, and of course he is a tri coach for the leukemia and lymphoma society.

When I think of Steve something comes to mind. Nothing is impossible when you set your mind to it. Steve did not let his illness take control over him. My philosophy is no matter what chronic disease you have you need to take charge and live your life. It can be cancer, it can be heart failure, it can be diabetes and the list goes on.

As a Sparker what did he teach me. Have goals - dream big. Move forward. Don't get hung up on minutia. 'I gained a couple of pounds' - 'I did not work out for a couple of days' and you know what I mean. What I also learned from Steve last weekend. You will reach your goals when you set them. However, what makes reaching the finish line a success is the fact that you balance physical training with emotional stability.

Coincidentally I listened to a podcast with an ultra runner last week. He addressed that very issue, and what he said was interesting. He talked about 'running races every month' and how taxing it was for you - not physical but emotional.

As we give thanks for our accomplishments since the last thanksgiving - and we look towards the future. We need to have the Steve Brown's to motivate us, but we also need to listen to the common sense of the ultra runner so we don't burn ourselves up. You may think this is a bunch of hog wash rambling. Keep in mind - people who do triathlons - the average length they are involved in the sport is 5 years. Why? Because they get caught up in the challenges of doing longer and longer distances ... and burn out.

Thank you to all my spark friends for a great year - looking forward to another in your company.

three disciplines-one mission-one goal.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TIGGER622 11/30/2011 2:47PM

    Great blog, such an inspirational guy! Thanks for sharing!

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JUST_TRI_IT 11/26/2011 9:26AM

    Hmm mm this blog comes at a good time. BALANCE is on my mind right now.

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REDSHOES2011 11/24/2011 11:29PM

    Awesome Blog.. Have a great thanksgiving!

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BOBBYD31 11/24/2011 11:29PM

    thanks jan, you always give us something to think about. we had a 10 yr old by collapse today at our 10k about the 4+ mile mark, have not heard anything on that yet

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DDOORN 11/24/2011 11:24PM

    Jan, you and hog wash I don't believe have EVER crossed!

Thx for sharing your wisdom and for being such an inspiration!


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ON2VICTORY 11/24/2011 11:08AM

    That is really cool. The total attitude about focusing on living in spite of the difficulties and keeping it all in balance. thanks for sharing Jan!

had to click the "like" button !!

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BE-THE-CHANGE 11/24/2011 9:57AM

    Thanks, Jan, something to think about!

Have a happy Thanksgiving.

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GIANNA345 11/24/2011 9:36AM

    Thank you. That's a nice thought to start out Thanksgiving day with. I have my challenges too, but taking up bicycle commuting 6 months ago has added greatly to the quality of my life, both physically and emotionally.

Keep dreaming big!

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Thoughts related to marathon deaths

Monday, November 21, 2011

Yesterday I ran the HM in Philadelphia. It was a great run and I was thinking about what I wanted to share with my Spark friends - until my friend (who is a press person) shared that there was a press release that a 21 year old and a 40 year old had died in the marathon. I also heard that one died in the Marine corps marathon.

My friend is not medical, so we discussed what could potentially have happened. Arrythmias, electrolyte disturbances, genetic related heart attacks etc. There is a laundry list of what could happen and we won't know until the autopsy has been performed. No matter what the cause is - my condolences goes to the families and friends affected and to the Philadelphia Marathon organization for the the loss.

It hit me to hear this and to discuss it. I will admit I was in a somber mood. But at the same time noone MIGHT have prevented this from happen. I think we frequently don't realize how we challeng our bodies, and Sparkpeople are no exception. I will confess I am some times amazed to see the lack of respect people have for their bodies. From a professional perspective I am very concerned that people are running half marathons back to back to back - and don't think twice about it. Frankly, did you ask your health care provider if it was OK to have a self induced stress test several days a week? That is what you do when you go out and run distances.

I could go on, but I won't. What I will do is appeal to your common sense and take a serious look at what it is you are doing to yourself and want to accomplish - and ask - is what I do for my health and body - or is it for my ego? Have you even asked your health care provider if he think it is safe to run longer distances (you may not want to say half marathon and marathon, because that may be to abstract to them).

On a lighter note - the Philadelphia marahon/HM is phenomenal . Incredibly well organized, great course in the neighborhoods of Phily. Granted the weather was phenomenal. In addition, the spectator support is the BEST in any of the HM's I have run.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ACTIVE_AT_60 11/22/2011 9:02PM

    I want to point out that we don't know what happened to these two runners before the autopsy and toxicology comes back and like in the blog, I am not going to speculate. It could be a lot of things and it will be unfair to speculate what it might be. These are some of the options - gentics, acute heart failure, electrolyte imbalance, conduction defects - all the reasons we see as the cause for athletes in other disciplines. One was an ironman and I am sure he had knowledge of fueling and hydration.

I think the take home message is - listen to what other people have done in the past and learn from it and be respectful of your body.

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MOXIE-IN-MOTION 11/22/2011 8:50PM

    I ran the Philly Half as well! And I was also shocked to hear about the two deaths of those running in the Half/Marathon. It has been a topic of discussion between many of my running friends....there are so many things that can go wrong, but you have to listen to your body!

And I understand your point about pushing ourselves and doing things back to back to back. I have to admit, I did fall into this category, this time around. But, I knew I was going into the Philly Half in less than ideal physical condition. So I knew to not shoot for a PR, and to take my time, listen to my body, and finish safely.

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BILLALEX70 11/22/2011 6:50PM

    I agree that sometimes we can push ourselves to far and abuse our bodies. We talked about the deaths at work just today. I truly feel that those poor people would have died that day anyway. We can't live our lives being afraid of trying new things and stepping off the ledge; otherwise you're really not living.

I'm sure that those people died doing something they loved and that's important.

Always insightful information!

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APIRLRAIN888 11/22/2011 12:29PM

    Thx I was worried about all the deaths too running first MArsthon nxt yr. Taking my rest day really seriously

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DDOORN 11/22/2011 9:11AM

    I think SparkPeople is all about "tuning into" our bodies, not beating ourselves up recklessly with physical challenges. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and I think we can avoid having any such tragedies visited upon ourselves.

We want to push ourselves...but let's do it responsibly!

And if in doubt? Of course check with your primary care provider or other health professional.

Glad to hear you had such a great run Jan! Thx for being such a voice of wisdom for our SparkFamily!


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HUGGIEBEAR10 11/22/2011 5:54AM

    Very well said. It's very inspiring. "....what it is you are doing to yourself and want to accomplish - and ask - is what I do for my health and body - or is it for my ego? "
However, it is a line very hard to find: how far is too far? You won't really know until it's too late. May we all exercise wisdom. When in doubt, you would rather be under-trained or under-performed than sorry forever..... So, so sad for the families......

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BE-THE-CHANGE 11/22/2011 5:01AM

    Thanks for the words of wisdom.

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DRB13_1 11/21/2011 11:44PM

    Glad YOU had aa great HM and I was also saddened to hear of the deaths... if I were an organizer, I would really dread that possibility, you never want it to happen.

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CALIDREAMER76 11/21/2011 10:58PM

    Again, very wise words! You put good, important ideas out there in a very clear easy to understand way. Please - be careful yourself Jan!

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MCCOURTT 11/21/2011 10:19PM

    I have mix thoughts on this one, first I feel for the families that lost loved ones. It is never easy to lose someone you love.
I fully agree, that if you run, you should let your doctor know, and what you are planning on doing.
But if I was to die running a marathon, or just out running, biking, hiking or whatever I would hope people would take it as I was living life. That does not mean I'm careless about any of those things, I try to do everything I can to be as safe as possible. But life is about living.
Great blog!!

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ON2VICTORY 11/21/2011 9:58PM

    Bravo Jan, and AMEN. thanks for sharing. Sobering thoughts indeed.

what are we really doing this for anyway? are we trying to prove something or are we following after a healthy lifestyle?

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BOBBYD31 11/21/2011 9:44PM

    thanks for the insight as always. i know the things i have done to my body because of being ill prepared and it is not pretty. just like most things moderation is the key! lessons learned(i hope)

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LILPAT3 11/21/2011 8:19PM

    Well said! My surgeon told me if I planned on doing a marathon that I should pick very carefully. He said it would be the only one I would ever do. My knees are now rebuilt, I can't run (heartbreaking), but I still do triathlons. I have developed an ability to walk pretty quick.
I think many of us take too much for granted. Pain is NOT a show of progress, but an extra strong ego will/can drive one to disaster. Sometimes we can't predict what is going to happen to us. Doctors can make mistakes but we as athletes need to use some common sense as well.

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GOEGIRL 11/21/2011 6:27PM

    Very sobering and intelligent questions, Jan. Thanks for the insight.

SO glad to hear that you had a good HM - many more healthy halves to you!

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LADYGWEN25 11/21/2011 6:00PM

    I agree Very Well said Jan.. you'll be happy to know DID ask all of my health care providers: GP, Cardiologist, Endocrinologist, and Chiropracter if they think i was physically ready for a Half IRon Man next year. they all agreed and they all have talked amongst themselves had have set ground rules for me to know if i had to pull out because the work it is too much.. All 4 KNow i did complete the HIM training plan without racing it..and because i was successful at it.. they think i can do it again.. I have 1 more health check in January before i restart the program... And i was VERY clear about which HIM i am doing is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run.

And i do agree with you.. As an athelete.. Sometimes i think it is pride that pushes us to far..One thing i have definately learned in the last year is to listen to my body... You have taught me that and are the voice in my head when i am pushing too much.. You usually say: "really Gwen...are you gonna stop or drop?" :)

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TIGGER622 11/21/2011 5:25PM

    Very well said. Many have brought this topic to my attention knowing that I am a runner and one time marathoner... my answer often is something along the lines of there are so many things that could have caused this OR many people die every day on their way to work... my point being that we can't live in fear... but you are absolutely right, we can live in health... if we are doing this to get healthy and we are training smart *hopefully* we are putting ourselves at less risk. The truth is, it could happen regardless if we are so genetically inclined. It is so sad and I feel for the families and everyone involved. I think we all should think long and hard, as you said, about why we do what we do. Wonderful blog.

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Thanks for the reminder Coach Nancy

Saturday, October 22, 2011

SP_COACH_NANCY says, don't let anyone stand in your way of living your's not about being first or being best, it's about accomplishing a GOAL and having the honor to share it with others!

Coach Nancy. I love this statement. It so reminds me of the journey I have been on for the past 8 years.

Having the honor to share - got a different meaning for me recently when I met a 38 year old woman with terminal cancer. She used to be a runner before she got sick. Now she is unable to run. It is people like her (name withheld for confidentiality) that makes me think when I run ... this run is for you and other people I know in that situation. They are unable to accomplish or share their joy and passion of running. I maintain my wellness through other people's illness.

Wellness or illness - I say (if used - please quote me)
Three discplines - one mission - one goal.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TIGGER622 10/31/2011 1:00PM

    Wonderful, thank you!

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DAVEINSEOUL 10/30/2011 5:31AM

    Jan, I agree - you are such an inspiration to others. Thanks!

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LYNNANN43 10/23/2011 10:50AM

    You just brought tears to me eyes. What simple, but powerful truth.

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LOGOULD 10/23/2011 6:19AM

    Just one of the many added benefits of living a truly sparked life....learning to live life to the fullest and to appreciate all the wonders of this life.

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CALIDREAMER76 10/22/2011 11:01PM

    I feel blessed to have met and know both you and Coach Nancy - both inspirations in your own right! People who selflessly give or do for other people are the true inspirations - Jan and Nancy and so many of my other spark friends

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JEN-LOVES-LIFE 10/22/2011 9:59PM

    I agree too. What a perfect reminder for us all.

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BOBBYD31 10/22/2011 7:26PM

    thanks jan, short and sweet but o so true.

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LKEITHO 10/22/2011 7:14PM

    You and Coach Nancy have it exactly right!

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BE-THE-CHANGE 10/22/2011 5:59PM


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GROEDER 10/22/2011 5:38PM

    I agree completely!!!!! You have inspired me to do things on my bike that I never thought I could do!!!!!
Your advice and encouragement has helped me more than yo will ever know!!!!
"Thank you" just doesn't seem to be enough, but - THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!

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    Jan - you are others inspiration too.

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