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Death ... and Life

Saturday, October 02, 2010

My Nana with her dog Willie
1914 - 2010

I left Beirut Thursday evening to begin the 30+ hour trip to Hershey, PA -- "the sweetest place on earth". Right before I left, I called my mother to catch up. She told me Nana was really slipping. I have mixed feelings because I know she's ready to die and wants to be with my grandfather, but she has always been my biggest cheerleader, and I know I will miss the constancy of having her in my life.

I arrived in Philly, exhausted, having no slept in over 40 hours, rented a car and began the 2 hour drive to Hershey in rush hour traffic. I drove by the exit that would take me to my mother's house and almost went to see her, but I was too tired to be companionable and didn't want to impose on her just for respite before I dashed off again.

I got lost in charming rural Pennsylvania and imagined all the good food in the homey diners I passed, and, eventually, I arrived at my hotel. I had an email awaiting me. Nana died while I was enroute. I was planning to see her next month and suspected it would be our lst time together. Now I'm glad I saw her in June.

She was ahead of her time in many ways. She wore bikinis before they were fashionable and always advocated for women's equal participation in society. She hoped I'd run for president so she could vote for me. I still remember telling my grandparents that I'd been accepted at university. I invited them out to dinner, and when I told them, Nana's eyes filled with tears, and she looked up at Granddad and said, "Stuffy (her pet name for him), can you believe it? Our granddaughter is going to Oxford!" I'll never forget how good it made me feel to make her so proud of me.

So ... anyway, I am now in Hershey. My BFF is running her first ever 1/2 marathon tomorrow. Her DH and kids are coming to cheer her on. They're staying in one hotel, and Dani and I are staying in another. LOL Girl power! After the race, we're going to the Hershey Spa and getting cocoa massages. I wonder how much weight I'll gain from licking myself.

And I fly out on Monday to get back to Beirut by Tuesday night. It's crazy but it's life.

Nana and GD - I take comfort in believing that they are together again.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MAPLELEAFMOM 10/13/2010 1:50PM

    I am very late with this but I am so sorry for your loss Cat... HUGE hugs going your way !! My grandmother passed away in September so I can relate a little to how you might be feeling. emoticon

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BEEHAPPY2 10/8/2010 12:29PM

    I liked reading the blog about your trip but was so sorry to hear your grandma passed away. I have a lot of fond memories of my own grandma was has been gone over 5 years now. Hope you had a good visit with your mom while you were in the States. I used to live near Hershey and remember the sweet chocolate smell in the air! Hugs, Bee

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VEGANLINDS 10/6/2010 11:12PM

    She sounds like an amazing person, Cat. Thanks for sharing about her - now we know where you get some of your awesomeness from.
I'm glad you have a reason to take comfort in your loss of her. May she live on in your heart forever emoticon

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DANI1855 10/4/2010 10:24AM

    I want you to know how much this weekend meant to me. You KNOW I would not have done this race if you hadn't encouraged me. I am VERY sore, but also very proud of us! That was not easy. As I am telling everyone, we are awesome!

If you change your flight, give me a call and I'll be there with you! Your Nana was quite the lady and she will be missed. Give your Mom our love, she will be in our thoughts and prayers but remember you lost someone important to you too! Give yourself some time to grieve.


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SHORTTOOTH1 10/4/2010 10:17AM

    I'm sorry that you lost your grandmother. I'm sure that she's happy now and watching over you.

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INDIE_V 10/3/2010 6:31AM

    I'm very sorry for your loss, Cat. Your Nana sounds like she was an amazing woman who led a very full and exciting life. May she rest in peace and I'm sure she's happy being reunited with your granddad and watching you make her proud from above. emoticon

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SUETINGE 10/2/2010 10:46PM

    I am so sorry for your loss. I'm sure Nana and "Stuffy" are together again. I get the feeling that she was the source of a lot of your spunk. emoticon

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MSEMBERSTORM 10/2/2010 10:18PM

    Oh hun. I am so sorry about your Nana. Hugs.

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    I am so sorry for your loss. They were an amazing looking couple and she sounds like the kind of woman I would have loved to have known. emoticon

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TRACY180 10/2/2010 6:26PM

    Sorry for your loss. I know that you must miss her very much. The memories that you have will always be in your heart.

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AMUNET_RA 10/2/2010 6:09PM

    ((HUGS)) Sorry for your loss, Cat! "Stuffy" and Nana look great! I'm sure they're so happy to be together again and are cheering you on as a team, once more!

Enjoy your time in the land of the sweet... emoticon

Love ya!!

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MRE1956 10/2/2010 5:02PM

    My deepest condolences on the loss of your Nana.....


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NIMAWEYGH 10/2/2010 4:54PM

    I am so glad you are taking comfort in the fact that your GD and GM are together now and Cat you will never forget how proud she was of you and all the things you did together.

My heart goes out to you and I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

Your stories remind me of my Great Aunt Bess she was so ahead of her time and so supportive of me.

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HOPEFULANGE 10/2/2010 4:39PM

    Your grandmother sounds spunky with those bikinis! I'm glad you got to see her in June and that she was so proud of you. That's exactly what a grandmother should be!

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FUNFROG79 10/2/2010 3:15PM

    I'm so sorry for your loss, it's always tough to lose those you love. emoticon emoticon

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FLORIDAFAN 10/2/2010 1:50PM

    Hugs to you! If I can get my hiney moving I will be in Hershey tomorrow morning. MY mom sis and her family are on there way there now. Good luck and enjoy that chocolate! Cant wait to her about your adventure

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BELLALUCIA 10/2/2010 1:29PM

    Your grandparents are gorgeous!

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SLCOLMAN 10/2/2010 1:25PM

    I am so sorry for your loss.
Thinking of you.

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BEAUTIFLDZSTR 10/2/2010 12:37PM


and you licking yourself that made me laugh and with the day I am having I needed it

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MDMNINA 10/2/2010 11:27AM

    She will always be there for you in your heart! I look forward to hearing more about her when we meet in January!

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CJBAGGINS 10/2/2010 11:13AM

    i am sorry to hear that you have lost your greatest cheerleader. But you can still make her proud, you know that! They are still cheering you on.



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CASLAMITY 10/2/2010 10:48AM

    Oh, Cat. So sorry. But I am glad you're finding peace in knowing they're together again. That's a wonderful perspective and oh so true!

Love you lots, and know I'm here (just like all these ladies are) if you need anything. Sending prayers and love for you and your family.

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SIXFULLERS 10/2/2010 10:28AM

    I'm so glad they're together again. It is hard for those of us left behind to deal with the loss of loved ones. And especially hard when such special bonds are broken.

Nana will be with you at the race and she will always be your biggest cheerleader. Listen for her.

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COLEISMYSOUL 10/2/2010 10:24AM

    I am so sorry for your loss. Grandparents are important people in our lives.

Hope you have a great run!

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L*I*T*A* 10/2/2010 10:16AM

    am so sorry to hear of your loss.....
my thoughts and prayers are with you and yours .........
what wonderful memories you have..........
cherish them forever
blessings and hugs..............lita

emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 10/2/2010 10:17:14 AM

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DANIMITE2 10/2/2010 9:58AM

    Hugs, my sweet friend. So thankful today for the hope we have in eternity!

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BRAVAH 10/2/2010 9:32AM

    Dear Cat,

Sorry for your loss. I still miss my grandmother. Grandmas are so special. Glad yours was such a great friend for you!


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DISPATCH91 10/2/2010 9:23AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon I am so sorry.

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JHADZHIA 10/2/2010 9:22AM

    So very sorry about your loss :(( Your Nana sound like a very special woman. Hold that thought she is with her precious Stuffy. Sounds like she led a long and happy life. May she rest in peace..
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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DEBULACLARK 10/2/2010 9:15AM

    Oh Cat. I'm so, so, sorry. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. It sounds like she lived a long, wonderful life. I know it's hard but, you're right, she's with your Granddad now. It doesn't take the pain away but it does console a bit. If there's anything I can do...please let me know.

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NIGHTSKYSTAR 10/2/2010 9:09AM

    Oh my dear dear Cat...I am so very sorry. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you...your Nana was so blessed to have YOU for a granddaughter.
I'm so glad you are thinking the positive, that she is with Stuffy--I truly believe that. They look like Royalty sitting there together. And so happy!! I bet it was because they were smiling at the thought of you, their dear granddaughter. What a lovely Christmas picture that is.
I love you, Cat. I'm here for you. I will be out for a couple of hours at 11:30 till about 3 i would think...other than that i'm here if you want or need to talk. Let me know what i can do. prayers are with you and your family. Lots of love and caring to you all

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Coming Down the Homestretch

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I'm in my last day of Dr. Hyman's one-week detox plan. I won't lie - it was tough in the beginning, and it's not especially easy now, but the scale is loving it! I'm down 6 lbs. with one day left. This is my lowest weight since April, 2009. Yay!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BRAVAH 9/22/2010 6:25AM

    Hi Cat,

Sorry I missed a few of your blogs. I hope that live is good and that this autumn is treating you well!


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FLORIDAFAN 9/3/2010 1:20PM

    YOu Go Girl!

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L*I*T*A* 9/1/2010 1:01PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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FUNFROG79 9/1/2010 11:53AM

    FAN FREAKING TASTIC! emoticon emoticon

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SUETINGE 8/30/2010 4:27PM

    Great job, Cat!

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SIXFULLERS 8/29/2010 8:40PM

    OUTSTANDING!!!!!! What a great jump start! WAY TO GO!!!

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MSEMBERSTORM 8/29/2010 7:37PM

    Whoo hoooo! You go gal!!!!

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MORTICIAADDAMS 8/29/2010 12:18PM

    Great job on the weight loss!!!

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SLCOLMAN 8/29/2010 12:45AM

    Woo hoo!! Glad to hear from you and that you are doing well :)

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LUCY_SHADOW 8/28/2010 1:17PM

    Way to go!! That's fantastic progress, my dear!!

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GINGER_LOSTALOT 8/28/2010 12:12PM

    Hmmm...I've been thinking of doing something like that lately. emoticon

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ESBELL 8/28/2010 12:07PM


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AMUNET_RA 8/28/2010 10:24AM

    emoticon Yay!! Well done! What is the next step?

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COLEISMYSOUL 8/28/2010 9:29AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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FUNFROG79 8/28/2010 9:29AM

    Congrats! How exciting!! emoticon

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DEBULACLARK 8/28/2010 9:19AM

    Good for you Cat!! Great job!!

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INDIE_V 8/28/2010 8:48AM

    Well done, Cat!!!

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NIGHTSKYSTAR 8/28/2010 8:42AM

    Thats WONDERFUL!!! YAY!! i know how tough it has been for you...
Jhadzhia, I believe when it is a qualified doctor or dietitian prescribed plan you are more than fine to do it!!
Cat..hang more day and i know you will make it!! good for you!!!

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JHADZHIA 8/28/2010 8:23AM

    Congratulations! Way to go!
Sparks doesn't advocate those detox diets, but if it works for you and you don't regain anything, more power to you!
Enjoy your weekend!

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

After the high of my June trip, July wasn't such a great month for me. Between work stress, family drama, Spark drama, friend problems, and health problems, I lost focus. When I realised that my three year Sparkiversary is just a couple of days away, I was ashamed of how little I have to show for it

This month, I'm returning to basics. To return to a positive focus, I'm making a series of small changes to build my confidence and self-esteem and get myself back on track. Girls Night In has been rocking it, and I'm counting on them to make this month a fantastic springboard to a brilliantly successful fourth year. I'm excited about my new teams like Charleys, Living Low Carb and Macrobiotic that will help me develop a healthy eating plan and looking forward to addressing money issues with my friends at Debt Haven and Debt Free Living. The 2010 team reminds me that this is a series of baby steps, and my amazing running family at Disney Distance and friends on WDW Marathon 2011 and Injured Runners are my inspiration and sounding boards as I train for the toughest physical challenge I've ever attempted. I love thinking of exercise in new ways with my Zumba team, and Head to Toe Beauty reminds me that health is more than weight and fitness. My True Blood teams feed my *sick* obsession with vampires, and, last but not least, Hogwarts will always be my heart and the main reason I Spark. You witches are brilliant!!

I have many wonderful friends who are not currently on any of the same teams as I am, but they are still a special part of my life and very important to me. I hope I can inspire others, but know that you all are the reason I don't just pack it in, sit on the sofa, and give up. Thank you!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROLIC838 8/13/2010 11:01AM

    It's always good to go back and review the basics. Even when in the midst of a successful streak, it is easy to lose sight of what makes it so. Keep up the great work!

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NMUDDIE 8/9/2010 6:15AM

    You are awesome! Loys of people love, admire, and really look to you for inspiration. Be proud!

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MSEMBERSTORM 8/4/2010 9:59PM

    You are an amazing person! I am awed by all that you have done and look forward to all that you do! You better stick around here a long long long time!!!! Hugs my friend.

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VEGANLINDS 8/4/2010 1:09PM

    Can't wait to see what awesome things you'll do with August! emoticon

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AMUNET_RA 8/4/2010 10:05AM

    After meeting, Ems, CJ, Derek and me I'm sure the rest of the summer was bound to be a let-down! ;-) ((HUGS)) Sorry that July sucked!

Here's to getting back to basics and to a great fourth year here at Spark!


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CJBAGGINS 8/3/2010 11:20PM

    This was me clicking the subscribe box and then it asking me for another comment.



Comment edited on: 8/3/2010 11:20:46 PM

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CJBAGGINS 8/3/2010 11:19PM

    Okay, I'm annoyed. I did not get a notification that you had a new blog. Have to check that the little box thingee is checked again.

Anyway, all the best with August, my friend. I bet it will be way better than July - for both of us!

I'm so glad you have such a varied and supportive group of teams and team members to help you as you enter your third year with sparks.


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L*I*T*A* 8/3/2010 7:31PM

    all the best with your new goals.....
the rest of the year will be better!!!
take care...........blessings and hugs............lita

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BELLALUCIA 8/3/2010 6:23PM

    I'm sorry July sucked! Hopefully things will turn around! Thanks for remembering me regarding my upcoming trip!

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    Good luck with your goals!! You can do this!!

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SLCOLMAN 8/3/2010 3:00PM

    I am getting back to basics and trying to do this again. I lost so much weight one upon a time then I gained it almost all back... I feel like a failure because I gained it back but I know that I can do it again.
We will get to our goals :)

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    You inspire me daily my lovely!

and you have PLENTY to show for your amazing 3 years here at Spark! You have amazing friends, have run amazing races, have conquered all sorts of different obstacles and hurdles!!!!!!

You are amazing!!!!!!!!!!


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SUETINGE 8/3/2010 1:17PM

    As we say over on the Late in Life Mommies team - baby steps. It's a great way to go. It sounds like you've got a bunch of great support from all of your teams.

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LUCY_SHADOW 8/3/2010 12:55PM

    Back to basics is always a good idea. Here's to your fantastic fourth year!!

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ZIRCADIA 8/3/2010 12:30PM

    *HUGS* It's so easy to get drawn into a downward spiral when life is throwing challenges at is - it's a great reminder that we can regain our spark and create an upward spiral with small positive changes every day. :)

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COLEISMYSOUL 8/3/2010 10:58AM

    GLad to hear you are back in the grove. You rock!

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MDMNINA 8/3/2010 10:05AM

    OH, dear. You would have to tell me there is a True Blood team. The last thing I need to do is join another team. Feeling the pull....must resist!!

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    Muhahaha, us witches.... is it bad I take that multiple ways? emoticon
This is a great blog Cat. I know a lot of us have felt the same way lately, and I'm so happy you and I can be jumping back on board together. Here's to a healthy second-half-of-the-year!

I'm here whenever you need me too, ya know!

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NIGHTSKYSTAR 8/3/2010 8:50AM

    High fives..we WILL have a fantastic month!! The Girls Night In challenge is GREAT and i think we are all dedicated and working it...I cant keep track of all your teams but am glad you can--you are getting support and inspiration from them and thats FANTASTIC!!!
I'm right here to support and help you and cherish your friendship!!

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DEBULACLARK 8/3/2010 8:21AM

    I think you, me, Holly, Sarah and CJ are all on the same page right now....moving forward and not giving up! I'm thankful for my sparkfriends too Cat...especially you!

Comment edited on: 8/3/2010 9:20:31 AM

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FUNFROG79 8/3/2010 8:17AM

    Great blog, I think going back to the basics it a great idea! I'll be training along with you soon, we are signing up for the Disney Princess 1/2 in Feb. I think Vampires are an okay obssession! emoticon

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ESBELL 8/3/2010 7:46AM

    You have set up such a great support system with all your teams. I'm glad to have gotten to know you through the Disney Distance and I look forward to sparking together for years to come emoticon

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BRAVAH 8/3/2010 5:46AM


Go Cat! I love the small steps approach! You can do it! I'll be cheering you on. And by the way, having a sick obsession with vampires is nothing new to me! I used to work the graveyard shift at a hospital years ago, and sometimes had time for a lot of reading. One night, as I was driving home at the end of a shift, with thoughts of Lestat swimming in my head, I noticed a brightening in the sky. I nearly panicked, realizing that the sun was about to rise, and that I wasn't yet home, safety ensconced in my dark basement! Then, I realized (somewhat chagrined), that I wasn't yet actually a vampire myself. So, I've been known to obsess entirely too much! :)


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LUV_VICKIE 8/3/2010 3:57AM

    Dearest Cat
Good luck with your renewed efforts. You are such a positive motivating force here on Spark. Now, you need to turn that energy on yourself. You have accomplished a lot. Even with your health and physical problems, you keep right going, training, starting and finishing them marathons. You are my inspiration the way you keep on going.
You can do it

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Living My Dream - Part 2

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A few days ago, I blogged about the first half of my super fabulous holiday. First half recap: did the San Diego 1/2, visited friends in L.A. before making my way up to Idaho to meet Sparkfriend Ems. Completed the Teton Dam 1/2, receiving both a medal and a rhubarb crumble, then enjoyed an amazing day in Yellowstone National Park.

Here's the second half:

My visit with Ems whizzed by and it was time to go before I knew it. From Idaho Falls, I flew to Seattle to visit a non-Spark friend. (I know! Who knew they even existed?) From Seattle, we moseyed our way up to Olympic National Park for a couple of days, including FORKS and LA PUSH! Yes, all my vampire loving, werewolf adoring friends, we were in "the Twilight Zone"!

I didn't see Edward, but I did bump into Alice. emoticon

I honestly didn't expect to have nearly as much fun as I did. One woman told me that this little town of just over 3000 people had more than 70,000 visitors last year! Most of the folks couldn't have been friendlier. We treated ourselves to the suite in the Forks Motel, and when the weather predictably turned to rain, we put our swimsuits to good use in the suite hot tub, watching "New Moon" on my computer. LOL

My friend checks out Sparkpeople.

From the Pacific Northwest, I traveled to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Severe storms delayed me a few hours, but Sparkfriends AMUNET_RA (Bonnie) and DERBO (Derek) were at the airport to greet me when I finally made it. Wow! These two really know how to show a girl a good time! They spoiled me rotten! I was greatly amused to see that Manitoba license plates say "Friendly Manitoba" because both Bonnie and Derek repeatedly warned me about how people smashed car windows to steal and then damaged the cars if they didn't like their loot, and so on. Meanwhile, I just kept meeting the nicest people everywhere we went.

Continuing my racing streak, I attempted to complete the Manitoba Half Marathon for three races in three weeks. I still had a nasty chest cold, so I wasn't 100% sure I wanted to race. However, knowing that CJBAGGINS had signed up for the fun run made me decide to go for it.

On race morning, I was sitting on the ground, taping my knees, when I heard a voice from behind me call my name. I turned around -- and there was CJ! How she recognised me from behind remains a frightening mystery, but she did. She was all smiles as she introduced me to her DH and cute kids. The Bagginses were out in force to support CJ and her daughter, who were both racing.

with CJ

CJ and I chatted until I had to line up, and it took my mind off all the things I normally stress about. I should take her to all my races!

The forecast had called for cold, overcast, and chance of thunder. Nope, nope, and nope. I hope these weather service guys aren't also giving lottery numbers and stock tips! Unfortunately, the organisers decided to pace the race at a quick 14-minute mile based on the fastest runners, not the slowest. The result? They "closed" the first mile before I'd even crossed the start line! This meant that as I worked my way through the course, the medical, food, and drink stops were closing before I was anywhere near. Why in such a hurry? Dunno. Maybe these were the people Derek was talking about, and they were late for their car window smashing. emoticon In any event, it was a stupid plan, and I hope they will revisit it in the future, as some runners had no support during their races. I didn't have any official support until the ninth mile, when the 1/2 rejoined the full, and I was ahead of the (marathon) pace.

However, for the first time in all my races, I had "peeps" and WOW! It makes SUCH a difference! Bonnie and Derek had very kindly driven me to the race starting area. I assumed that they would go home and back to sleep. No! I was plodding along in mile 6 when Bonnie and Derek just appeared with a cold sports drink for me. It was great to see them and know that they were pulling for me to do well. In mile 10, I heard my name and saw the Baggins clan lined up along the curb, all cheering. I thought it was incredibly sweet, given that CJ's race ended a couple of hours earlier. Bonnie and Derek met me again in mile 12, and again at the finish line. Usually, there's at least a couple of "dark miles" in a race, when I want to quit and ask myself why I'm holding myself up to such ridicule. I never experienced that in this race, and I think "my team" made all the difference. Thanks again, guys! You are stars!!!

What the official course lacked in the way of support, the locals made up for in encouragement and good cheer. Much of the race was in residential areas, and local people offered water, turned their sprinklers on us, offered us "showers" from their hoses, and made homemade music. Some people banged on household items; others pulled together an impressive and bewildering array of random instruments. My favourite "band" consisted of three accordions and a saxophone. Play that funky music!

Bonnie at our celebratory lunch

Once again, I found myself having to leave way too soon, as I enjoyed my Manitoba sparkfriends immensely. Finally, I was off to Philadelphia to see my mother, who has remarried and now lives in the Exton area. It was a wonderful visit, until Philly was pounded by an intense storm and her home was hit by a mini-tornado. The winds were 70 mph, trees got tossed around, and a huge old tree smashed her roof beams and made an unplanned "skylight" in her roof. They still have no power, and Philly's suffering a heatwave. I feel terrible for them. They worked hard to make it a nice visit for me, but their minds were on their situation. I'm glad they're ok and hope they can get something on the roof before the next wave of storms forecast batter them some more.

I'm currently in the airport, on my way home. It's been an amazing holiday full of little adventures, and a real thrill to meet my Sparkfriends in person!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NIGHTSKYSTAR 8/26/2010 1:14PM

    ok i want to know how i missed this...but i'm here now!! sounds wonderful..thank you for giving all us "cant go anywheres" a taste of the wonderful world out there!!

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L*I*T*A* 7/31/2010 4:19PM

    what an inspiration you are to us all...........
congratulations on your success........
blessings and hugs.....lita

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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GINGER_LOSTALOT 7/27/2010 11:10PM

    I apologize for not reading this sooner! Great pictures! Thank you for sharing your exciting times! I am inspired by your tenacity! emoticon

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    Your vacation sounded wonderful other than the mini tornado.

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DDUNKIES 7/6/2010 11:35PM

    ok- first and foremost i am TOTALLY JEALOUS of you going to Forks!!! how FANTASTIC for you- and i am so glad Alice was there to greet you-(sorry you weren't able to see Edward but he was with me ) secondly, why didn't you come to Boston and visit me?!!!? seriously, what a wonderful vacation- loved the blog - love ya donna

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SLCOLMAN 7/6/2010 10:13PM

    What an amazing trip :) So glad to hear that you did it!!!

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DEBULACLARK 7/6/2010 12:54AM

    Sounds like you had a great time Cat!!

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DANIMITE2 7/5/2010 2:49PM

    Did you mention the EARTHQUAKES in either of your blogs?

I'm so proud of your hard work. I know that none of it was truly easy, but I love the way you push your body to its limits. The Goofy is just a few months away...can't wait to see you!!!

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SUETINGE 7/1/2010 7:32PM

    Wow, Cat. What an amazing trip. 3 1/2-marathons and getting to meet all those wonderful Spark friends.

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WILDRICE99 6/30/2010 9:39PM

    Awesome Cat! Thanks for sharing. I truly believe that we all do better knowing that people are cheering for us.

Keep up the good work!!!

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ZIRCADIA 6/29/2010 1:00PM

    RACING MANIAC!!!! :D THAT IS AWESOME!!! And I think it's so cool that you went to Forks and La Push! :D Love the signs!

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NEWSTART127 6/27/2010 11:56PM

    Three 1/2 marathons while on "vacation" - OMG, you are totally my hero!
I am so glad that you had such an adventure. I hope that your mom's able to get the storm damaged fixed and that things get better for them quickly - scary!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MBUICE 6/27/2010 9:49PM

    Awesome blog Cat, I really felt like I was there with you! Maybe someday you can come down south and Tina and I can show you some southern hospitality, although summer is the WRONG time to run in Texas.

So glad you had a good time, you totally deserve it!

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COLEISMYSOUL 6/27/2010 11:32AM

    You rock. I love to read about your adventures and it keeps me going! Hope you are well!

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BRAVAH 6/27/2010 8:11AM

    Hi Cat!

It sounds like you had an incredible trip!!! (Minus the roof fiasco). I am so happy that you were able to complete all three races and to meet so many sparkers and other friends! Awesome!


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AIDELADE27 6/27/2010 12:04AM

    I had no idea that you had such a trip! And those Forks pictures were to DIE for!!! i have to apologize for my city (Philly) for not treating you so well. And some of us have to live there, lol! I'm so glad you had a nice time!

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DISPATCH91 6/26/2010 11:28PM

    I am so glad you are having such a blast. So glad the computer didn't fall in that tub. Bonnie you are such a cutie. Cat I am so very proud of you doing your runs. YOu girl are amazing.

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MSEMBERSTORM 6/26/2010 8:50PM

    Wow what an amazing experience! Hope your family is okay. You have done amazing. You rock!

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NIGHTSKYSTAR 6/26/2010 8:26PM

    You lucky woman!! it sounds fantastic..thank you for sharing!

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CJBAGGINS 6/26/2010 5:42PM

    Hey, some of that sounded verrrrry familiar! I wonder why.

That's awful about your mom's home! I'm so glad they are safe. I hope they have power back by now, and something keeping the rain off their heads.

I'm thrilled that you had a great trip, despite your bronchial troubles and those persistent storms.


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FITTYTIF 6/26/2010 5:10PM

    Again so cool! I am jelous! Sounds like a great trip. And how exciting to actually meet all these great people in person. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

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L*I*T*A* 6/26/2010 3:57PM

    awesome part 2 with great pictures too.............
you could have stopped in at Victoria......
ah maybe next time...........glad your mother is ok.......
what an home......
blessings and hugs..............lita

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BEAUTIFLDZSTR 6/26/2010 2:58PM

    OH MY GOSH GIRL YOU HAD ME IN TEARS BOTH KIND, from the "rude" marathon planners to the "great" friends. YOU DID IT THOUGH.... was going to give you a hard time for not coming 3 hours south of Seattle to vancouver, but you were busy so I wont lol.

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AMUNET_RA 6/26/2010 2:25PM

    Wow, those storms sure followed you around, didn't they...? Glad the folks in Philly are all right!

It was OUR pleasure to spend time with you, Cat! I consider myself very fortunate to count you among my friends!

Have a safe trip home, Sweetie!


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    Total shame that they started shutting the course down early...those definitely must have been the window smashers, and they were clearly on a schedule. But hooray for the kind people along the route! I bet they make a world of difference.

And woohoo for meeting up with Bonnie, Derek, and CJ! So fun!! Someday, there's going to be a big SP party and we'll all have such a blast.

Love your Forks pictures!!

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Living My Dream!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What an exciting month! I am living my dream of traveling all over, seeing old friends and meeting my wonderful Sparkfriends as I celebrate my birthday and feed my bling addiction.


After way too many hours of planes and airports, I arrived in San Diego for the Rock N' Roll Half Marathon. It was my first race back since injuring my knee last September, and I was worried. I couldn't begin training again until March, had only walked (no wogging yet), and I'd only worked up to 9 miles. Soooo ....

A friend who lives in San Francisco said she would sign up so we could do it together. Unfortunately, it filled up before she registered. Still, she flew down for the weekend. We only had a couple of hours to chat before I had to go to bed. She got up with me at o-dark hundred and drove me to the race and then met me afterwards. I know! Above and beyond! I really appreciated it, because I had suffered a bit on the course and was the worse for wear.

San Diego ... lovely city. The race left a lot to be desired, though. 30,000 racers lined up at 5:45 for a 6:00 start. However, instead of letting the elites start and then the rest of us, they held every coral for several minutes. The result? I stood on hard pavement - just stood - for over an hour, finally beginning at 7:15! The winner crossed the finish line mere minutes after I began! He had cool weather and overcast skies. I enjoyed four long hours of brutal sun and mid-80s temperatures. They didn't have enough water and fruit for all the participants, and several stations were cleaned out by the time I arrived. I know! Those winning runners might look like skinny twigs, but they consume a lot of (my) resources! So the people who needed the most got the least. Also, we spent much of the course entering or exiting freeways, and the steeply banked roads were tough on my knees. The fun part was listening to all the bands. They dotted the course and rocked the early morning hours, entertaining runners and giving us encouragement. This race is a fundraiser for cancer, and many of the participants had names and pictures on their shirts, telling us whose memory they were honoring. It was so powerful, especially when I saw pictures of children. I also chatted with survivors, competing to celebrate beating their illness, and they inspired me to keep going.

Despite wearing sunscreen and a hat, I got a nasty sunburn and literally spent two days in a dark hotel room, trying to cool my angry skin. So much for creamy pale skin - I look like a tomato with hair! The edema caused by the congestive heart failure became a bit of a distraction as well. I swelled so badly that I resembled Thing from Fantastic Four. Yikes! (But I burned 5700+ calories that day, so WOOT for that!)

I Amtracked up to Los Angeles (sooo much more pleasant than flying!) to visit more friends. I'd forgotten how pretty LA is. We strolled through farmers' markets, went to the movies, ate lots of delicious ethnic food, and caught up on each other's lives. My feet blistered in the race, so we went shoe shopping for "ouchie friendly sandals". Good times.


From Los Angeles, I traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where Ems (SHINYSILVRVOLVO) met me at the airport. She's tall, very pretty, and has a big smile. Don't believe me? She got chatted up while we awaited my luggage!! Yes! Right there at the baggage carousel!

Ems shows off Jackson Hole's charms

Sadly, my luggage didn't arrive. I was salty, because I'd had to pay extra to check it, and the least they could do was deliver it. It finally arrived the next afternoon, in several pieces. Isn't that nice of United? I gave them one, new suitcase, and they returned three partial pieces of suitcase. It was just destroyed. There was a notice from the TSA that it'd been searched, and a note from United that any damage was caused by "normal wear and tear." Oh, and some of my knickers were nicked. I tried not to think about that too much.

I stayed with Ems and her family in Rexburg, Idaho, and you just couldn't find a lovelier family in a nicer community. They were so warm and welcoming, even if maybe they were secretly scared that I was really a knife-wielding maniac (They needn't have worried. I showed up with a small carry on and a toiletries bag compliments of United Airlines. I was obviously unarmed!)

Unfortunately, I'd developed a nasty bronchial infection in San Diego that worsened in LA, and I arrived in Idaho with an ugly case of sniffles/cough/fever. I felt lousy, and my excitement was the only thing keeping my vertical. Ems and her family were patient with my need for rest and my nasty coughing and sniffling, and we did what I could manage in the way of sightseeing.

I signed up for the Teton Dam Half Marathon, which honors those killed in the flood when the Teton Dam failed, and it being Idaho, they held a potato bake instead of a pasta dinner. We have potatoes in Lebanon, but they don't taste anything like Idaho 'taters. YUM! In contrast to San Diego, there were only 1300 racers in all categories total, so it was a much smaller affair. Feeling so unwell, I contemplated scrapping the race all together and just enjoying my visit, but you know I'm just not that kind of girl.

We wandered through a farmers' market. I made a beeline for the rhubarb crumble stand. Sadly, the nice man had just sold the last one. I briefly contemplated finding out to whom and putting a hurt on her to grab the pie for myself, but it's a small town, and everyone knows Ems. So for her sake, I spared the vile rhubarb-snarfing woman. The man - named Nathan - noted my accent, and we got to chatting. I told him I was doing the race and said I wished I'd get to come home to a nice rhubarb crumble. He said he lived in mile 3 of the course and could have one waiting for me as I went by. The mental picture of doing 10 miles carrying a pie tickled my funny bone but was seriously impractical. I paid him $7 in advance for a pie, and he said he'd meet me at the race. As we were leaving, Ems said, "I think you might have just made a donation there." I agreed, if for no other reason than $7 seems like nothing for an entire pie, so I kind of figured that he was having me on.

Early the next morning, Ems' mother dropped me off at the starting area. It was 43 degrees, and I was sweating because I was still running a fever. I knew I was in for a tough race when I could barely summon up the energy to line up. Rexburg being a college town, I was one of the oldest people starting, and they all looked healthy and fit. I hunted around for the other determined fatties but couldn't find any and resigned myself to being the token.

Within two minutes of starting, I realized that I should have considered the altitude. Rexburg sits at about 5000', and I live at sea level. And I was congested. And the course was hilly. Yeah. I was quickly left in the dust. Thankfully, it is such a gorgeous area that I decided to take it slow, enjoy the scenery, and finish in my own time.

That worked for about seven miles until the blisters started. Then the asthma attack. Then the rain. I hid in a porta-loo until the rain passed. I was well behind pace, but God bless them - the volunteers remained on the course. I found them huddled under blankets in cars, but they were unfailingly enthusiastic and encouraging. Some of them sang, some of them danced, and some of them just cheered, but they were terrific!

In miles 8 and 11, I sat down on the side of the road and got out the phone to call Ems. Both times, I talked myself out of quitting and got back up. In mile 12, I thought I saw the Rexburg LDS temple spire in the distance and got excited. I crested the hill -- and it was "just" a church. I was deflated for about 10 seconds, until I looked to my left -- and saw the majestic temple waiting for me. I felt an energy burst because 1) it's beautiful and 2) I knew it's near Ems' house, which is near the finish line!

4:34 and 6000 calories later, over an hour behind the next slowest competitor, I crossed the finish line. I hadn't called Ems because I didn't want to make her wait for me, so it was a huge surprise when I saw her and her sister waiting for me. I thought it was incredibly thoughtful of them and made finishing much more special. And then I saw him - our friend Nathan - standing just beyond the finish line with a huge grin on his face, holding a still warm rhubarb crumble!!! He said, "I've been thinking about you, waiting for you to call, and I know you said you'd love to to be greeted by a rhubarb pie when you crossed that line. (I had said that, but I never expected it to literally happen! I just meant that I'm food-obsessed and dream about yummies the way some people fantasize about -- well, whatever they fantasize about.) He continued, "I didn't want to miss you, so I got here and just waited."

Wow. Just wow.

Thank you, Nathan Ashcraft! You are a star!

Ems and her family cooked me a delicious Brazilian feast and sang me a Brazilian happy birthday song. I met some more of her family, and it was a delightful (and surprisingly healthy) affair. On Sunday, I accompanied them to church and hopefully didn't embarrass them. Ems is a talented pianist and plays for the Sunday school. I should have taken a picture of her, because she looked gorgeous all dolled up.

She's a good LDS girl, but Ems has a wild side - just ask cardboard Jacob!

tee hee

On Monday, Ems, her mother and gran took me to Yellowstone National Park. AMAZING!!! We had a blast! We saw lots of animals, geysers - including Old Faithful - and stunning scenery. Ems' family is quite knowledgeable about the park and it was like getting a private park ranger tour. We enjoyed a big picnic lunch and saw an IMAX movie about Yellowstone before making the long drive home. It was a real highlight for me.

Ems could not have been a more gracious hostess, and her family are just the best. I had no idea Idaho was so beautiful -- or so high up in the air!! Note to self: acclimate before trying to race at high altitude!

I know my finish times are unimpressive, but it feels great to be racing again. Getting to meet my Sparkfriends as I see beautiful places is a dream come true and something I will always treasure.

Stay tuned for part two - coming soon! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DOTSLADY 8/23/2010 2:25PM

    emoticon emoticon. Congestive heart failure? I am not keeping up - I had no idea. YOU ARE A-MAZING!

Jackson area is my fave place on earth. I've been a lot of places, though certainly not as many as you, but still, it's a fave. It was fun to see your pics. And thank gawd you got your pie.


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FITTYTIF 6/26/2010 5:07PM

    Oh I am so sorry i have been so out of it. I would of loved to have met up with you. I am in-between San Diego and La. The train station is just down the road from mr.
Your adventures sound like so much fun. I looked in the the rock and roll butbi am not ready to go that far 5k is my max for now.
I love the pie story. That is just too cool!
What great memories you will have desipe some of the problems. Oh and a little too late but never fly united. They are the worst.

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BEAUTIFLDZSTR 6/26/2010 3:24PM

    I read part 1 before part 2 (ya I tend to read the end of a book before the beginning also). Cried my way thru this one too.... HOWEVER NOW I WANT TO KNOW WHY YOU DIDNT STOP IN VANCOUVER lol pdx is 10 minutes from my house and a MAJOR airport lol

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ELVENSONG1 6/26/2010 1:15PM

    SO....make NH part of the tour :) That would be awesome. And Holly isn't all that far away from here.

Comment edited on: 6/26/2010 1:17:42 PM

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MSEMBERSTORM 6/26/2010 12:25AM

    Wow what a great experience! You are awesome gal! Keep it up! If your ever in Oklahoma look me up!

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SHORTTOOTH1 6/24/2010 8:08AM

    Wow and Wow! What an amazing trip. It sounds like something that I've always dreamed of doing myself.

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AMUNET_RA 6/23/2010 8:31PM

    Wow! I had almost as much fun reading your comments as I had reading your blog!

Nathan is married?? *sigh*

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COLEISMYSOUL 6/23/2010 6:12PM

    All I can say is WOW and HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You have the most awesome adventures. It is wonderful to hear from you. emoticon

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MBVMFLUTIST 6/23/2010 1:41PM

    What an awesome trip!!! I am so jealous!!!!!

And great job finishing 2 races, you are totally amazing. :)

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NIMAWEYGH 6/23/2010 12:04AM


This sounds just like the most fun, interesting, wonderful trip ever. I love all the pictures and it is so nice to see Ems in them. You got to see such beautiful places and do some wonderful races. You can be so proud of yourself for not quitting, I would have passed out at 1/10th of a mile an passed ya in the ambulence...............ha

I can tell by your words that you really made some wonderful memories. And raced for such good causes. pat pat pat on the back.

Hope you are now feeling much better health wise and how is that knee holding up, sounds like just fine.

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AIDELADE27 6/22/2010 11:23PM

    Oh, my god, I don't even know what to say to this blog. So much detail! I'm so glad you had such great races, even though you were sick emoticon Bison is so cute! I'm soooo glad you and Em had such a nice time together! Ahh! Such nice warm feelings after reading this! And emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon on those races!

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-SEVEN- 6/22/2010 8:42PM

    emoticonCat! (and wow, what a trooper!) Sounds like (despite not feeling so great), you had a lot of fun anyway! And hey... what's Em doing kissing my boy??? emoticon

Comment edited on: 6/22/2010 8:43:48 PM

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CJBAGGINS 6/22/2010 8:10PM

    What fun. I felt like I was there as I read!
Looking forward to the second installment.


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ZIRCADIA 6/22/2010 7:42PM

    The sorting hat was here??? How odd.... *doot do doo...*

DUDE!!! Two more race finishes to notch the old belt! :D CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!! Also - I'm amazed Em doesn't realize how gorgeous she is and is always flustered when we say so. GIRL IS DROP DEAD. Never seen her in person, but I imagine seeing the real thing is only better. Anyway - Glad you had a fabulous time! I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT GUY REALLY BROUGHT YOUR PIE! THAT IS AWESOME! :D hahahaha :D *HUGS* I wish I were meeting you - you should've seen the comment I left on Em's facebook photo. I was like YOU GOT TO MEET CAT?!?!?!?!?!? So jealous.

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SORTING.HAT 6/22/2010 7:41PM

    don't mind me...

Comment edited on: 6/22/2010 7:42:21 PM

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NEWSTART127 6/22/2010 7:39PM

    I was totally transported from my office chair into your adventures! How awesome, amazing and fantastic and 1000 other superlatives!!!
You are something special! Hope that pie was YUMMY! emoticon

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DEBULACLARK 6/22/2010 7:37PM

    Everything about you is impressive CAT! GREAT JOB!!! I'm so glad you got to meet Ems during this installment!! I wish I could have been there to meet you both!!
...and God Bless Nathan...that was so nice of him.

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DANIMITE2 6/22/2010 7:25PM

    You said "port-a-loo"! emoticon

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IRISH_AGUIRRE 6/22/2010 4:41PM

  Wow! What adventure!

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    Your bear and moose pictures turned out way better than mine! So much for a dinky zoom... emoticon

It was fun to meet up and realize that Sparkers really ARE real people! They don't just live in my computer!

And I'm emoticon! I will definitely agree that I'm tall and have a big smile...

And guess what!? I went out with airport guy! It wasn't anything special, but I've got a new friend now! He was really nice, but is rarely in the area. But we made plans to get together the next time he comes through, which will probably be October.

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KIMCATUS 6/22/2010 2:30PM

    BISON!!!!!! OMG I heart bison so much!!!!!! *looks around* Oh sorry after all that you did and all I noticed was bison.....LOL

What a fun time!!! I'm so so jealous you got to meet Em!! But it looks like y'all had such a great time!

Isn't Yellowstone just amazingly gorgeous??? And Em too.....SHE is amazingly gorgeous too! ;-)

WOO HOO on your races....that is so awesome! You never cease to astonish and amaze me lady!!

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DISPATCH91 6/22/2010 1:50PM

    Thanks for such a wonderful narrative of your adventures so far. Love the photos. That is definately interesting Em and chalkboard Jacob since I thought she was a definate vamp follower emoticon

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SLCOLMAN 6/22/2010 1:22PM

    You are amazing!! So glad that you had such a wonderful amazing trip and races!!

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NIGHTSKYSTAR 6/22/2010 11:48AM

    oh..and i REALLY want to meet this Nathan...a man who #1 bakes. #2 is kind. and #3..KNOWS that rhubarb is WAY better ALONE than with strawberries. is he single??

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BEEHAPPY2 6/22/2010 11:23AM

    Hi Cat-Glad you had such a fantastic trip doing your races and visiting Spark friends like Em, Bonnie and CJ! Now please rest up a bit at home so you can get better from being sick. I am so glad to be your buddy on this health journey. You are an inspiration! Snakes never stop slithering. Hugs, Bee emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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L*I*T*A* 6/22/2010 9:18AM

    awesome and inspirational at the same time!!
what a wonderful the pictures too!!
hope you are feeling better now......
blessings and hugs..............lita

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BUFFALOGAL1952 6/22/2010 9:11AM

    INCREDIBLE BLOG!!! Wow DID IT!!! You REALLY DID IT! What an experience!!! And sprinkling friends in too! Good for you!!! emoticon

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AMUNET_RA 6/22/2010 8:40AM

    ...and Nathan Ashcraft is famous, now!! What a cutie and a sweetheart for doing that for you!!

Thanks for sharing your story, Cat and for all the wonderful photos! You are truly amazing and such an inspiration to so many of us here!

emoticon Mmmmwah!!

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NIGHTSKYSTAR 6/22/2010 7:39AM

    well i dont care about finish times you ROCK my dear!! and Nathan rocks..first for doing that for you and second for making rhubarb crumble for $7..incredible!! I am so glad you are having a wonderful time and lucky Ems to have you for that long!!
Enjoy the rest....
love ya!!

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FIENDISHSARAH 6/22/2010 7:13AM

    This blog is AWESOME! Congrats on finishing the marathons, and you're sooo lucky you got to meet Ems! Love all the pics, especially the one of her jumpin' in with you at the end, it's too cute! I'm so glad you had fun!

Love ya!! emoticon

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BRAVAH 6/22/2010 7:10AM

    Hi Cat!

Wow! Wow! Wow!!! Two races, and an incredible trip! You go girl! I am so proud to know you. What an inspiration you are!!!

I am really glad that you got to see some friends and hang out with Em! It really looks like an incredible trip. Good for you for completing both races... especially one at altitude!



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