Monday, March 17, 2014

Luckython 10K and hangin' with Andie of "Andie's Army"

It's Saint Patrick's Day and the day!  Did you participate in a themed race this weekend?  

After a few scattered showers in the Portland area, I spent a beautiful (and chilly) Saturday morning helping out at "The Celtic Crox Half Marathon" which was held in the beautiful Champoeg State Park.  After a few hours on my feet and helping out where I could, I was ready for an afternoon cat nap....

I am amazed by people's strength and endurance to be out in a race and then to do it all over again the next day!   Several friends either ran that half and had a 15K the next day at a local Shamrock Run, or were racing that afternoon at Luckython and then hitting the road for Shamrock.  Such was the case with Andie, doing a 10K on Saturday afternoon/evening and an 8K the following morning.

Chances are you "know" Andie and have meet her on running forums such as "Favorite Run Community" or "Meg's Miles".   If you are really lucky, you might see her while you're out on a run or even at a race.

I was able to catch up to Andie and stay with her, most of the time, at the "Luckython" 10K.  Her energy is unwavering and she was all smiles at her event.  It put my aches and pains and desire for a little nap into perspective!

How Andie got started:
Andie started her journey to walking and joining races earlier this year.  The first obstacle for this task was obtaining a walker.  She had been in a power wheelchair for about 4 years previous.  Her insurance felt that if someone was in a power chair, they "didn't need" a walker.  After several hoops to jump through, the obstacle was mastered and she was out and about on the move!

Andie's first race was "The Heart Breaker" 5k race held on Feb. 16th.  I stood on the sidelines of that race and cheered for people as they passed by with my sign "You make my <3 (heart) race!"  After the half and 10K races started, the 5K came through the course and i first met Andie in person.  "Go Andie!  GO!!"  She was all smiles and based on her posts on the runner's forums mentioned above on facebook, I know that she had an incredible sense of accomplishment.  There is no denying the pride on this young woman's face as she conquers these obstacles that many, for so long, have told her she would never be able to do.

Andie is one determined gal and building up her endurance, she often will walk some distance in the morning and then go out for a second walk in the evening, with a total daily mileage equaling that of a half marathon.
A little more background:
Andie suffers from a form of muscle myopathy.  While in high school, the muscles in her back started to weaken and deteriorate, resulting in a slumped/arched posture and causing some of her disks to fuse.  After several tests and meeting with pediatric neurologists around the US, she was finally able to get some answers and the initial diagnosis.  Once that had been determined, she had surgery to correct her back.  However, it was not long before the disease progressed and attacked her legs.

I listened to Andie explain this to me with a quiet seriousness but an upbeat mood.  I imagine she must explain this a lot or has told her story before.  She is, after all, quite inspirational.  People want to know! But, I felt awkward and over curious with all my questions... but one question had been plaguing me that I wanted to know more about.  I looked over to her with her stoic strength, humbly accepting passing runners' encouragement and cheers or "Hey!  I know you from 'Meg's Miles'!"

I sheepishly asked, "So, this disease... it... it attacks a random muscle group?"
"Yup.  It can."
"At any time?  And you won't know what muscles until it does? Completely unpredictable?"
"Right.  But I'm not going to worry about it."
"But Andie... can it... could it... well, the heart is a muscle.  Could it target your heart?"
She smiles at me and I know she has more courage than I ever could muster.
"Yes.  The heart is a muscle.  Yes.  It could target my heart.  I'm not going to dwell on that.  I choose to remain positive."


Andie conquering a steep hill at Luckython 10K
Walking has helped Andie's muscles to gain some strength and helps her mentally to push through the challenges.  Andie has several races on her radar that she'd like to do, including someday (soon) a half marathon.  Some obstacles she has to face, in addition to the ones she already faces with her health, are races that are "walker friendly" not just to people who walk, but a terrain that will allow her walker to roll on the course.    One thing is for certain though, very little is going to keep this girl off the course.  She is strong, determined and a very caring person.
Official chip time 2:33:59 ...including about 10 minutes or more of chatting with other runners about half way through.

When Andie isn't training, you can find her on "Andy's Army" and learn more about the amazing "Smile Boxes" she puts together for sick children at the various hospitals, Ronald McDonald house, or rehab centers in the area.



I didn't make it out to cheer (or run) the Shamrock race the following day, but I had such a fun time walking with Andie at Luckython.  The course this year was the "South Course" of the Reserve golf course.  The rolling green hills, streams, one wooden bridge, lakes, sand pits and general atmosphere seemed like a perfect spot for a Irish themed race.  I haven't been to Ireland, but I imagined the green rolling hills were something reminiscent of it.  And, as always, Uberthons has some pretty amazing medals.  I'm looking forward to running that one next year!

Did you get out and run a St. Paddy's Day themed run?


6 comments:

  1. What a great article Robin. Andie is very inspirational, she is doing some amazing things with all she has to deal with. I hope others see her and realize that if she can get out there with all that she had going on with a smile on her face then they can get up and off the couch too.

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    1. Thank you! It's true. It really puts into perspective every time i struggle with my runs. It doesn't mean I don't have real struggle, but my reasons seem a bit more selfish now.

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  2. Oh and I was one of those crazies that did the Uberthon 5k (first in my age group) and then the Shamrock 15k. It was a total run weekend and was a blast.

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    1. ;-) And i bet you rocked them both! That is amazing to me!!!

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  3. She is such an inspiration!

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    1. She really is. A calm perspective on the whole thing where i might be a bit more "over worked" or a bit more emotional about the whole thing, she is sincere and smiles and caring more for others. Something i need to work more on.

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