Friday, April 3, 2015

Team Drea Challenge Guest Post #2: by Sandy (aka Andrea's mom)

Mom Musings or All I Know About Running I Learned From Observing Andrea Lytle Peet
   I have always approached any challenge that was important by thinking there must be a way, if not I’ll make one.  I will do whatever it takes.  Not this time though; ALS is the outlier.  No one has overcome it yet.  Incredibly frustrating for a mom!!  There is nothing that I can do as an individual except join with others.  I know that there is hope through supporting those who have the talent and skill to find a cure.

  Joining with the Blazeman Foundation/Team Drea provides a way to honor Jon Blais and my daughter, Andrea Lytle Peet, in the fight against ALS.  Inviting friends and family to donate money through a race gives me an opportunity to contribute by bringing awareness of this devastating disease and the urgency to fund research.

  I don’t have much of a competitive spirit other than competing with myself.  I usually strive toward mastery though.  I first considered a triathlon but reality set in when I recognized that I didn’t even know how to judge the distance of a mile let alone run one.  I am in reasonable condition given that I’m practically 70.  I love working out.  Andrea calls me a “gym rat” which I’m sure she means as a compliment :)


"Start by doing what is necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."
-St. Francis of Assisi

     Because I love Harkers Island, NC and our little beach cottage is there,  it was a perfect (and relatively flat) place to do my first race ever.  Coincidentally it was also the first ever Core Sound Run. 
I only had 9 weeks to prepare (not a good idea) and was sick for a week (not a good idea either).  Andy, my husband, was wonderfully supportive.  He helped me check out the course, find the ½ mile, etc.   It reminded me of my son-in-law (aka DP) when Andrea did her Half Ironman in Davidson in September 2013.  Both husbands are very nurturing and willing to do anything to help.

  On race day I woke up at 4:30 am because I was excited.  Two hours before the run I had my usual breakfast: steel cut oatmeal, ½ banana, clementine.

  It was about 45 degrees when we arrived.  I swapped out my shirts several times while noticing how other runners were dressed. I kept it simple:  no iPhone, no sunglasses, no head cover so that I had less to worry about.  I decided that if my upper body was warm then I would be fine.  So I wore long sleeve 179 shirt underneath, a short sleeve Team Drea shirt next and finally a long sleeve pullover to be removed if I got too warm.  I stretched.  I resisted the coffee and cookies that were offered.  Then I stayed inside where I was out of the cold.

  While lining up for the run I made a new friend, Betsy Briscoe, 82 years old.  She said that she only runs a 5K now.  I shared that I was running for Team Blazeman/Team Drea because of ALS.  She expressed true concern.  I also met another women in her 30s who started running because family members were regularly competing.  She said that she got tired of being a bystander. 
 My strategy was to walk for the first half mile and then do some sprints when I could.   Starting out I listened to my body – what’s tight, what’s sore; gave myself time to loosen up; how was I processing oxygen? 
Thoughts along the way:
  • Andrea Lytle Peet – In My Heart and On My Mind; second consciousness always.
  • I wonder what “real runners” think about when they are racing? [Editor's note: Anyone who runs is a real runner!] 
  • I wonder what Andrea thinks about when she’s racing?
  • I think I will take some steps for Steve Gay. I know Andrea won’t mind.  Steve is my friend who is a retired Army Ranger no longer able to run.  I have great respect and admiration for him, his service to our country and his new career as a physician’s assistant.
  • Sure glad I ran the course before the race and drove it by car a couple of times beforehand.
  • Love the Down East street names:  Island Road, Davis, Bayview, Lewis, Diamond City, Yeomans, Shackelford.
  • Race officials made it possible to identify key points along the route by mail box numbers.  No doubt local runners know most of the family who live there.  I chuckled to myself thinking that only people in a close community could do this.
  • Of course I noticed the homes with For Sale signs (I’m a realtor).  That one is over-priced; good luck selling this one!
  • I wonder if I will be able to deal with anything unexpected?  Sure enough,  I had puzzled over it earlier, the original course length was more like 3.5 miles instead of 3.1.  A volunteer directed me to skip the Shackleford loop and just turn onto Yeomans Street.  “Wow!  How many times does this happen?  This is a GIFT!!”
  • I thought that I should look for someone to pass when I spotted a woman speed walking about 200 yards ahead.  I couldn’t catch her.  I would sprint awhile; make some headway.  Walk awhile, then sprint again.  Never did catch up nor figure out her secret.
  • I checked periodically for Ms. Betsy.  I needed to know that she was OK.
  • Glad the wind is only a couple of knots.  The day of my practice run the wind was brutal coming off West Mouth Bay and very cold.  Now it has risen to about 50 degrees with a Carolina blue sky.  I relished the fine mix of salt with clean country air!
  • No dogs barking or chasing me.  Yay!!  This is a training hazard in my neighborhood.  I had two dogs jump on me as I ran…no fun.
  • Watched other runners for ways to improve my style: ones who seemed to be efficient placing their feet and controlling their breathing.
  • Some folks came out into their yards to wave a friendly hello or just watch.  They all seemed a bit puzzled.  Was this yet another invasion of “off islanders” (aka dit dots)?  I didn’t worry because people in the community have warm hearts.
  • Passed James Allen Rose’s home.  “J.A.”, a 2000 NC Folk Heritage Award Recipient, was special to our family.  His model boats are known the world over.  When Andrea was little, he built her a “boat bed" and said he'd never make another :)
  • As I approached the “End of the Road” (literally) at Shell Point I remembered the day that the wind and current were just right for our sail boat.  Andrea (about age 10) bailed out onto her boogie board secured by a line to the stern to have a crazy fast ride.  She was ecstatic!  No wonder this area is famous for sail boarders.
   No adrenaline  rush for me at the last quarter mile though I did sprint to the end as soon as I saw Cape Lookout Lighthouse. The music reminded me of Ramblin’ Rose last October when Andrea and Julie completed their incredible race.   Amazing how motivating that was!  Very sweet knowing that I would cross the finish line (Goal 1) and remembered (Goal 2) to SMILE.  Then I noticed that there were rugs on the finish line so I made a quick decision to honor Jon Blais and Team Drea by doing a Blazeman  Roll.  I think I surprised everyone!  So far no photos have surfaced but Karen Amspacher, the Director of the Core Sound Waterfowl and Heritage Museum, vouched for me.

   After I crossed the finish line, I felt never-before tight muscles in my upper thighs so I paced until that went away and  stretched afterwards.  Then I had a great reward!  It was a gorgeous, juicy orange.
  I was pleased to learn that Betsy Briscoe not only finished but placed first in her age group.

  I’m still wondering what real runners think about when they run.  I only know that I had a good time recalling all the sights, smells, sounds and special times on the island.  Andrea Lytle Peet  is always in my heart, always on my mind!

Total funds raised: $1,262


  1. Sandy, you are so inspiring to us...not only for your athletic accomplishments but your writing as well! Andrea is so proud of you...Thank you for your support of the BMF as we all work hard to fund ALS research! Mary Ann and Bob, Jon's mom and dad

  2. Mom, for (poet#179), and for (alswarriorpoet-spirit #179)...I share with you Jon's wish, "always follow your bliss" may have found a new one...but for all the (poets) and poet-spirits)...G-d bless and thank you..."Mo...chuisle"...Andrea and are now a "runner" you all...bmom and bdad...jon's mom and dad.

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  5. Sandy!

    I wrote a reply... thought I published it but something went wrong! We just got off the phone with you, Sandy; We are going through stacks of papers to find items to add to our list for selling the house. After your call, I decided to look at Andrea's blog; and to my surprise you were the guest writer. I began reading aloud to Steve as I let him find "nursery" receipts! When I got to your 4th thought while running; I looked at him and said, "you are going to love this one" What a sweet thought and he sure appreciates those steps taken for him. He tells me he can still run! I am sitting here thinking, "oh man, I need to start running again" I should run for my sweet husband! I should run for Andrea. I should run for those who love running and can no longer enjoy it. I need to run for myself!! The only race I ever did was the army 10 miler. I actually did that 3 times! Maybe I will sign up to do that again in October!! I will have to look up the couch to 5 K program to get started...

    Our thoughts and prayers are with Andrea! As well as all her family and friends!!
    We are so happy that our paths have crossed Sandy!!!

    Steve and Ronda Gay

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