Saturday, July 30, 2011

Run for Blood

This morning I ran for a reason.  I ran because I wanted to support the Red Cross and their efforts toward blood donation.  I have always believed that donating blood is the right thing to do, if you are physically able to do it.  This past year I found a whole new reason to believe that its the right thing to do.  My dad had some routine surgery last December and he ended up with some complications.  Without going in to a lot of detail - because it's not really my story to tell, my dad required a lot of blood during the 3-4 months that his health was in question.  And when I say a lot, I mean a lot - I don't recall the exact number of units but it was a lot over an extended period of time.  I have read that in the US they use about 45,000 units of blood daily for various different kinds of patients.  That is a lot of blood and all of that blood comes from other people who made the decision to sit in the chair and give.  Blood can't be "created" in a lab so it has to come from us.  I had a terrible first experience donating blood in high school.  The poor girl taking my blood was not experienced with difficult veins and it showed.  They got less than a 1/4 of a bag out of me and had to throw it away and the days afterward my arm looked like I had been beaten up from bicep to wrist - it was not pretty!  Needless to say I didn't donate blood again until just a couple of years ago.  I had some good experiences with blood draw when I was pregnant with my daughters so I was encouraged to donate blood at a work blood drive.  It went well and I have been donating regularly since then.  I have even taken over the coordination of the blood drive at my work place. 

This is my dad with his granddaughters:
There are many more people just like my dad who unexpectedly needed to rely on the kindness of strangers to assist their recovery from a health matter.  My dad is doing really well today, he is at a healthy weight, he gets stronger and stronger every day and I am hoping that next year we will be running some races together!  We all know someone that has benefited from blood donation. 

I am not soliciting blood here - I just want to make sure that everyone is aware that some day the need for blood will affect you - maybe not personally, but a friend, coworker, or a loved one may need it.  In order to make sure there is an ample supply, schedule your appt today.  I personally donate at Memorial Blood Center - it's convenient for me.  But I know the Red Cross has drives often throughout the year.  You can donate blood every 56 days - so what are you waiting for?  I also realize that some people are not able to donate due to their own health issues, fear of needles, etc - that's okay, you can give in other ways.  The Red Cross is always accepting donations for their various causes.  Think about, that's all I am asking.

Today I had a great time - despite the heat and humidity - I thought of my dad throughout my run.  I thought about what could have happened if the hospital had run out of blood while he was there.  I thought about him in Montana on vacation right now, enjoying the sun and lake and while I am jealous, I am also just happy.  I am grateful for all of those people out there that gave of themselves to ensure that others would have what they need. 

I have never run a 1/4 marathon before today.  For those of you wondering what the difference is between that and a 10K I will tell you.  The 10K is 6.2 miles and the 1/4 marathon is 6.55 miles.  At first I was worried I wouldn't be able to PR (personal record) today because of the heat.  And then I remembered - I have never run a race that was 6.55 miles so regardless of what I did today it was going to be a PR and something for me to be proud of!  As it turns out I did okay - I finished in 1:09:55 (10:46 mile).  It wasn't as fast as I would have liked - but honestly the heat/humidity kicked my butt!  I think it kicked a lot of us in the butt, I was not the only one I saw taking a walk break that may not usually take one!  And the best part is - I am okay with that.  I am not disappointed that I had to walk a bit, there are times when the elements are so drastic that you just have to do what you have do to in order to finish.  Today that is exactly what I did.  I finished, I finished hard and I am proud of myself.  I ran for a purpose today and it felt good!

For the first time ever at the end of a race I got a medal!  A bright, shiny Finishers Medal.  It was hard, it was tough, but I would do it all over again!  Here's one last picture - me with my medal! This one was for you Dad!  I love you and am so happy to have you in my life! - Memorial Blood Centers website - Red Cross Blood Donation site

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