Brian’s half marathon is less than a week away. Here is his last blog before the big day. Brian was born with clubfoot and he is running to help others walk:
"The Cleveland Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon is less than a week away. I was due to run a 3 mile run this past Saturday, and then a 12 mile run on Sunday. For some reason, my heart, and my body, were not into it this weekend, and I spent the entire weekend just resting quietly at home. I felt a twinge of guilt, but then again, I have trained better and more diligently this time than I have for either of my full marathons. And I had a great 11 mile run the prior weekend wearing my new shoes, one in which had I pushed just a little more, I would have set a new personal best time. I hope that this weekend I have the same or better run.
Physically, I’m in pretty good shape. The new Hoka One shoes take a lot of the load off of my ankles and calves, and I am finding that the big muscles in my thighs are working more, which is a good thing. I wish I had a few more weeks to train in them. I think the extra work in the upper legs would really increase my odds for a personal best. I haven’t lost as much weight as I would have hoped either, but I have lost some, which is better than none.
Mentally, a little less. I’ve been having focus issues while running, and have had trouble getting in and staying in “the zone.” I’ve found that I perform best when I can put my head into that space where I don’t necessarily notice what is going on with my body, and just let my body do what I have trained for. I’m starting to “psych up” for the run now, and have found a couple of albums (oops, showing my age there!) that will help power me through what seems to be my difficult spot, miles 7 to 10.
I have two more days of training runs left, tapering runs, less distance and time than the runs of the past three weeks.
Then, two days of rest.
Saturday, the day before, I’ll head downtown and get a peek at the newly remodeled Cleveland Medical Mart and Convention Center, where the Health and Fitness Expo is being held, and pick up my race number, running chip and goodie bag, checking out the various vendors. After that, I’m thinking a good “carbing up” dinner of potato and cheese pierogi, cabbage and noodles, and kielbasa at Sokolowski’s. Then, early to bed.
And Sunday morning, time to fly. Time to beat: 2 hours, 37 minutes, 49 seconds. They are expecting between 7,000 and 8,000 runners. The weather forecast looks to be a high of 73 degrees, with a 70% chance of thunderstorms. Hopefully, the rain will hold off some during the race.
Wish me luck! I will do my best.
I hope you will all do your best as well. There’s still time to help me reach my other goal of raising $2500 for miraclefeet, and, in doing so, help give others the gift of walking! In these last few days, please help, and give what you can. Every gift counts! We have already raised enough to cure four children in developing countries of clubfoot thanks to you!”
Brian is now only one month away from running his half marathon. Here is his latest blog post about running a “warm up” half this past weekend. Go, Brian: you are truly an inspiration!
"I was due to run a Sunday training of 10 miles. I am now four weeks out from the Rock and Roll Half Marathon, and I saw that, on my 10 miler Sunday, another half marathon, the River Run Half Marathon, was scheduled. Its course crosses the Cleveland Metroparks, running through a section known as the "Emerald Necklace," a chain of parks and green spaces that circles metropolitan Cleveland. I’d run this same half marathon about five or six years ago, and remember running it very slowly. I figured maybe I should try again, as a prelude to the Rock N Roll Half Marathon, to see how I was doing. So, on a lark, I went to the registration packet pick-up the day before and signed up.
“It’s only 3.1 miles more than what I’m supposed to run anyway. What’s an extra 5K?” I thought.
Quite a lot, apparently.
I arrived out at Wallace Lake in Berea, Ohio (home of the Cleveland Browns’ training camp) around 6:30 AM. I thought the race started at 7:30 - turns out it started at 8 AM, so I was a little early. It was cloudy and gray, with patchy fog through the valley, and noticeably cooler than it had been over the past couple days. This actually worked in my favor, allowing me a nice slow warm-up and the hope of staying cool through the run.
The race started, and we were off. I felt really good for the first three miles. The race is mainly downhill, from Berea, OH north through the parkway, along the Rocky River, into Lakewood, Ohio, almost to Lake Erie. However, since it’s through a river valley, the road snakes left and right, following the river. In many places, the banking left and right of the road was extremely noticeable, feeling like you were running on the side of a hill. I really started noticing it in my ankles. I slowed down to a walk to catch my breath around mile five, then ran until mile 8.
At mile 8, I hit a wall. I’m not sure what happened, but I suddenly lost all drive and motivation. I wanted to stop right there and sit down and cry. My feet hurt, I was tired, I was drenched in sweat. There were no spectators other than birds and a few deer, squirrels and raccoons. A lot of negativity swirled in my head. I was ready to quit. I slowed to a walk and posted a note on Facebook about it. Fortunately, a few friends posted some inspiration, and I was able to pick up the pace. After a slow three miles, I started up again, and managed to finish with a not too horrible time. It wasn’t the best of runs, but I persevered, and finished strong, sprinting the last tenth of a mile.
I didn’t give up on this run, and with a month left until the Rock N Roll Half Marathon, I’m not giving up on my training, trying to improve my time and lose a little more weight. I’m also not giving up on trying to hit my goal of raising $2,500 for miraclefeet. That will give TEN kids born with clubfoot the life changing gift of walking, and running!
So I would ask that you give up, just a little bit, to help me reach this goal. Give up a couple of bigger lunches for an apple a couple of days. Give up that fancy Starbucks latte, just for a week. Give up that movie night out with a giant soda and popcorn, just once. Take what you would have spent and use it to help give others the gift of walking. Thank you all so much for your support.”
Donate today here: http://www.crowdrise.com/BriansRockNRun/fundraiser/brianpaganelli
This is Laurie!
Laurie is forty-five years old and was born with clubfoot. After she was born, the doctors told her mother that she would never walk. Her mother never believed that, and she never let Laurie believe that either. Fortunately, Laurie proved them wrong. In high school, she started running varsity track. Recently she has competed in several sprint triathlons, 5K’s, 10K’s, half-marathons, and even a Spartan Race. Her true passion is to inspire others by showing them that, no matter what the obstacle is, hard work and determination will always help you overcome. Laurie has done many races with “MyTeam Triumph – Massachusetts,” a team that pushes children with disabilities who are in wheelchairs in road races. In March 2013, Laurie pushed a child through a half-marathon! Laurie has been searching for a way to help children and adults who still suffer from clubfoot. Laurie came across miraclefeet earlier this year and was thrilled at the opportunity to share her story and to tell those who suffer, “yes, you can!” For her next race, Laurie will be fundraising for miraclefeet.
Aubrey is a typical one-year-old. She loves her baby dolls as much as her brother’s trucks. Everyone who meets her says she is the sweetest, happiest and cuddliest baby they know. Here is more about Aubrey and her first birthday event this weekend, which her parents have so kindly dedicated as a fundraiser for miraclefeet:
"In honor of sweet little Aubrey’s first birthday and her big brother Parker’s 3rd birthday (pictured below), we are throwing a HOEDOWN FOR A HOPE TO STEP to help other children born with clubfoot. Aubrey’s condition was diagnosed via ultrasound. We were really shocked but felt so much better once we realized it was 100% treatable. For that reason, we want to give other parents that same piece of mind and their child the ability to run, walk, dance and play without any restriction.
Above: Aubrey’s big brother, Parker.
Aubrey received her first cast at just 5 days old. Our biggest fear throughout the whole process was she would feel pain or discomfort. When she woke up from her procedure, she was just her usual sweet & happy self. She came home and slept through the night like nothing happened! After an additional 2 weeks in a cast, it was finally time to transition to her new “boots.” We thought for sure we would have multiple sleepless nights, but once again, we were wrong! They did not bother her a bit! Now our biggest worry is how we we will keep her still long enough to get her boots on at night!
Today our happy, smiley, cuddly little girl is almost walking! We are so thankful for modern day medicine and insurance and hope the contributions made in her and Parker’s name bring more “BOOTS for babies.” YEE-HAW!”
As of today, Aubrey’s friends and family have already raised $160 to help give the gift of walking to children born with clubfoot in the developing world!
Above: Aubrey and her family.
Richard Hoffman, miraclefeet’s Director of Programs, recently participated in the XXXIX Ecuadorean Congress of Orthopedics and Traumatology in Quito, Ecuador from August 21 to 23, 2013. Besides providing a chance for Richard to meet with doctors from four miraclefeet-assisted hospitals in Ecuador that are assisting patients through the Ponseti method, it was an excellent opportunity for us to meet with well-known and highly regarded Ponseti practitioners from around the Latin America region.
While in Quito, Richard also met with the director and staff of the Fundación Hermano Miguel, a local NGO that provides direct assistance to physically disabled children and adults from Ecuador and from surrounding Andean countries. The Fundación Hermano Miguel is currently producing and distributing a low-cost, good quality brace and shoe set with miraclefeet assistance that will benefit many children who are receiving Ponseti.
Pictured above (L to R): Dr. Cesar Quiroga (Hospital Roberto GIlbert Elizalde/ Guayaquil); Dr. Bravo; Dr. Jefferson Quiñones Leon (Hospital Franciso Icaza Bustamente/Guayaquil) and Dr. Johnny Melgar (Hospital Roberto GIlbert Elizalde/ Guayaquil)
This photo was taken during one session of the Congress where participants received a practical Ponseti refresher training conducted by Dr. José Morcuende (Ponseti International Association), Dra. Erika Arana (Guadalajara, Mexico) and Dra. Dalia Sepúlveda (Chile). miraclefeet was happy to be a part of this important professional training and networking event.
We are proud to announce that Kunal Premnarayen, a clubfoot survivor and former Wake Forest University tennis player turned successful entrepreneur in India, has joined miraclefeet's board of directors. Kunal’s story of having prevailed over this disability to become a star athlete is one that will inspire children and parents all over the world. “We are thrilled that Kunal has agreed to lend his support to miraclefeet by joining our board,” said Chesca Colloredo-Mansfeld, executive director of miraclefeet. “His personal experience with clubfoot in India, combined with his passionate desire to spread awareness about the disability, and his success as both an athlete and a business person, provides the miraclefeet board of directors with an extremely valuable additional perspective.”
Kunal was treated with a method similar to Ponseti when he was born in India in 1977. He has clear and vivid memories of wearing braces and steel boots to correct his clubfoot until he was nearly eight years old, but this did not stop him from becoming an athlete. Kunal credits much of this athletic success to his 92 year old grandfather/mentor, a tennis professional in his own right who played in both Wimbledon and the French Open and became the number two tennis player in India. He helped Kunal become the 5th highest ranked tennis player in India, despite being born with this disability. Because of his talent, Kunal had the opportunity to move to Florida to attend tennis academies in high school. From there, he was offered a scholarship at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he was a star tennis player from 1994 – 1997.
When asked about his own experience with clubfoot, Kunal is impressively positive: “Becoming an athlete got me through the tough times. Sports are life-changing for someone who has had a hard youth or who has survived bullying because of a disability. For me, being an athlete was the way for me to find my personality and stand up to people. Truly, I may have gone into a shell if I had not become an athlete.” He elaborated about his decision to join the miraclefeet board, “When I learned about miraclefeet, I didn’t just want to be a donor, although I knew that was important. I wanted to make an even more notable difference – I want to look back at my life and feel that I have done something that is very satisfying and that helps many people.” In fact, Kunal and his wife Kavita asked their wedding guests to donate to CURE International India and miraclefeet in lieu of giving wedding gifts when they were married in 2011, thereby raising nearly $10,000 for the organizations collectively.
Kunal says he has thrived because of the support of many people over his lifetime. He recently asked his mom if she and his dad ever thought he would live a normal life when he was born with severe bilateral clubfoot. She wasn’t sure, but she pushed through her fear, trusted their doctor and relied on her faith. When his clubfoot started getting better, that fear went away. He also talks about his wife as an inspiration, “She left a very successful corporate career in New York to move here with me and run an NGO that provided education to women in the slums of Mumbai. It is one thing to give your money, but it is truly another to dedicate your whole life to something you believe in. She shares my passion for miraclefeet, and we look forward to increasing access to treatment and awareness about clubfoot across India.”
Kunal recently attended a renovation celebration for a miraclefeet-supported clubfoot clinic in Mumbai at Wadia Hospital (see below), which we blogged about last month. He said this about that event, “It really touched me because I had gone through this treatment myself. I met every single child and parent before I left there that day because the parents wanted to know how I had fared after my own treatment and what they should do to make things better for their kids. I reminded them not to stop treatment just when they think things are going okay – clubfoot can reverse and it is very important to be consistent with treatment.” He said to the crowd, “I was born with both of my feet facing the other way, and yet I became a highly successful athlete. Never lose hope.”
miraclefeet has been able to raise over $3 million since it started operating three years ago, and is now supporting clubfoot clinics in 11 countries worldwide. Much of this funding has come from individuals and foundations attracted to the very compelling prospect of transforming the life of a child forever with a simple, inexpensive non-surgical treatment.
“miraclefeet has achieved remarkable success with a very small staff and board. The time is right for miraclefeet to add capacity and personal expertise as we continue to grow at a rapid rate. My own son, who was born with clubfoot, now plays tennis, and sees Kunal as one of his inspirations,” said Roger Berman, co-founder and chair of the miraclefeet board of directors.
The past couple weeks, I’ve slowly increased my training efforts, and am proud to say that I’ve continued to adhere to my training plan. The typical runner’s aches and pains are there, and are there more often, but nothing I haven’t dealt with before (or will deal with again.) I’ve had both good runs and “somewhat less than good” runs, times where I have not met my performance expectations, but the takeaway here is that I have kept at it, not slacked, not quit. I’ve also gotten better (a little) with my dieting, and managed to lose almost four pounds! This week brings more challenges there as well, with Little Italy’s Feast of the Assumption, a German Oktoberfest, and a halupki festival, all in a single week. I will do my best to eat wisely (though pizza and gelato, schnitzel and strudel, and halupki are awfully tempting…)
I FINALLY ordered some new running shoes today! Unfortunately, they are on back order and won’t be making it to my feet for about a week. That means the shorter runs during the week will have to be on the treadmill at work, where the “ground” is a bit kinder to my feet than the pavement outside. This weekend’s eight mile long run, however, could be a challenge.
Speaking of challenges, last week, I opted to run my seven-mile-long run through part of the Cleveland Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon course. The Tremont neighborhood in Cleveland is noted for being the locale for several movies such as “The Deer Hunter” and is the location of the house where Ralphie lived in “A Christmas Story.” It is also full of excellent restaurants, including Iron Chef Michael Symon’s Lolita (which I loved even before his Iron Chef notoriety.) What I didn’t realize until last week was just how hilly the neighborhood could be! A steep downhill takes you running through Clark Field, a green park situated next to a railyard and the Cuyahoga River. Then, a steep uphill up West 7th Street, to a gentler uphill on Starkweather Ave., past the onion-domed St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Church. Then, after a flat surface down Professor Ave, you go downhill on Literary Rd, then back uphill on West 7th, past the delicious Sokolowski’s, then level once again. At least until you hit the gentle yet constant uphill then downhill of the 3/4 mile long Lorain-Carnegie Bridge (photo above)!
Overall, I’m pleased that I have risen to the training challenge and stuck to my guns, even on days where I was tired, cranky, or just feeling lazy. I’m planning on continuing forward to reach for my goal of a new personal best for a half marathon. Won’t you help me reach my other goal of raising $2,500 for miraclefeet, and in doing so, help give others the gift of walking? We are already a third of the way there, having raised $800. Thank you! Together, we can all make a huge difference for kids with clubfoot!
Mustapha is eight years old, and, when his family came to our partner clinic in Liberia, they had been living in a refugee camp in Guinea since his birth. They had been actively seeking treatment for his clubfoot for years but had never been able to attain it. One day, Mustapha’s aunt in Liberia heard about our partner clinic, FACORC, on a local radio station. She immediately called Mustapha’s parents in Guinea and encouraged them to come back to Liberia for treatment. His parents risked their place in the refugee camp to come back to Liberia and seek help at FACORC. Here he is with his mom several weeks into treatment and before his tenotomy.
Even though his treatment started relatively late in life, he is recovering nicely and his parents have been elated to watch the transformation of his feet. Here he is after his tenotomy with our Africa program manager, physical therapist Jen Everhart.
We will update you on Mustapha’s progress again soon. It is truly an honor to help people such as his family everyday.
From Brian: “It’s been a fairly productive first two weeks of training for the Cleveland Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. I have managed to adhere to my training schedule every day so far, and even extend some of the runs.
Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about my diet. I wanted to eat lighter and healthier, but a couple trips to Sokolowski’s University Inn, a Cleveland institution, threw in a (delicious) sidetrack. Pierogi in butter, potato pancakes, stuffed cabbage and good Czech beer may excite my taste buds, but definitely slow my pace! I will get back on track and hopefully lose a few pounds in the coming weeks.
The increased training effort has begun to manifest as achy hips and sore feet, so I’m beginning to look around for some new running shoes. My last pair did not fare so well in the wear department. Even with the corrective surgery I’ve had, my right foot still supinates (rolls out) noticeably, wearing the outer edge of my shoes. Usually, the right shoe wears evenly to a slope from the big toe to pinkie toe. My most recent right shoe wore worse than usual, with the inner half holding up, and the outer half wearing to almost a quarter circle. Every step resulted in an obvious rolling of my foot, which put a lot of strain and pain on my outer calf muscle.
On Saturday, July 20, I ran in the Winking Lizard Shot in the Dark 4 mile race wearing my new miraclefeet T-shirt (thanks, guys!). Fortunately, the heat here in Cleveland broke the day before, so we were not racing in 95 degrees. It was an evening race, so it was still around 80 degrees when we started out. I ran the first mile and a half at much faster than my personal record 5K speed, almost 7 MPH, and then wilted, slowing to a walk, and alternated walking and running the rest of the race. The takeaway - pace yourself!
Approaching Mile 3, I had someone pace next to me and ask, “are your feet hurting now?” ”Yes,” I responded, thinking it an unusual question. My feet always hurt at about this point - don’t everyone’s? I then realized that maybe he figured I had a club foot, since I was wearing the miraclefeet T-shirt (and also may have a bit of a limping gait when I run.) Just as I made that connection, a woman ran past, gave me a thumbs up, and said that her sister had just adopted a little girl with clubfoot. So while I didn’t raise any money with this race, I believe I was at least able to raise some awareness. I’ll be sure to wear my miraclefeet T-shirt at any other races I run, as well as during some of my training runs!”
Donate to Brian’s race, and miraclefeet, here: http://www.crowdrise.com/BriansRockNRun/fundraiser/brianpaganelli