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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Right Environment- 2014 Goals

Team CMT member Chris Steinke and his Crew at Thanksgiving Run


"You are the product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you toward your objective. Analyze your life in terms of its environment. Are the things around you helping you toward success or are they holding you back?"- Clement Stone

I strongly believe in the power of goals. As a professional trainer I've taught classes in how to set "smart goals".  One of the most important steps you can take is to write them down.  There was a study done in the 50's of a group of Princeton graduates. The group was 10 percent of the class and were asked to write down their goals.  The researches found this group outperformed the other 90 percent of the class.

When I set the goal of running the Boston Marathon, I wrote Boston 2011 and put it up on my bulletin board at work. I looked at that goal every day as a reminder. All my energy was focused on achieving that goal even when I had no idea if I ever would qualify or get in.  Writing down a goal will focus all your mental energies on achieving it. So I have started to give some thought to what I want to achieve in 2014.

Team CMT
We have now grown to 142 members in 27 states and seven countries. We have over two dozen CMT affected athletes. One of our athletes recently posted he felt alone until he found out group.  We will continue to create a space for CMT affected athletes, their family and friends. We will continue to harness the power of this group to raise awareness of CMT and funds for CMT research. We will continue to show those in the CMT community the power of being active to slow progression of CMT.  We will continue to create an environment for our CMT affected athletes to succeed!

Running for My Life
My story of being a CMT affected athlete was published in December of 2013. It took just about nine months from writing to publication.  Now the hard work begins to promote the book.  I have the feeling that writing was the easy part. The book field is crowded with lots of interesting titles.  So I will be taking a seminar early in 2014 with my publisher to learn how to market the book. I will be giving some thought and setting some goals to help use my story to raise even more awareness of CMT!

Boston 2014
I will return for my third Boston Marathon. This year my goal is to finish in the top 3 in the Mobility Impaired Division. I thought last year would be my last Boston, but I am returning this year to support the people of Boston. I will be joined by Team CMT member CJ Charboneau. I will be doing more biking and less running this time around to help me to be ready for the triathlon season that starts shortly after Boston.

National Paratriathlon Sprint Championship-Austin Texas May 2014
My goal is to win this race. I have a shot if the new standards will allow me to compete. The low point of my season was when I was rejected for a second time last May. I almost quit triathlon competition.  There are lots of things I am doing to be ready for this race:

  • Hired a new coach to do a training program with this as my "A" race.
  • Set a goal to decrease my bike leg by 3 minutes.
  • Improve technique on my swim and run to increase efficiency and decrease these times

The new standards are due out in January. I may not know until I am assessed at the race if I will be allowed to compete. In any case I will be ready.

Team USA/World Duathlon Championship
I always hoped I would compete at a World Championship as a paratriathlete.  I have a plaque in my house that says "When God closes a door, he opens a window".  I never expected I would be representing Team USA and competing at a World Championship as an age group athlete. I never thought I had the athletic ability to do that. Yet I will be in Spain in May as a member of Team USA. This race is just a few days after the Austin race. So I am doing this race just for the experience. My ultimate goal is to race as a triathlete in Rio for the paralympics in 2016. This race will be good experience for hopeful future events like Rio and World Championships.

I already have Rio 2016 written on a piece of paper on my board at work.  Everything I do as an athlete is with that goal in mind. Everything I do from the diet, to work outs is to  create the right environment to help me succeed. Every competition I select will be made to improve my race resume and get me ready for 2016.

*****************************
Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have almost 142 members in 27 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.


Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Boston 3- Week One, Off Season is Over

Tri Wisconsin Class of 2013 Training Group
"After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb."-Nelson Mandela

Week 1
Monday- Walk 50 minutes, 20 minutes weights
Tuesday- 45 minute run
Wednesday-50 minute walk, 20 minutes weights
Thursday- Off
Friday-1 hour tempo run
Saturday-2 hour run
Sunday- 56 minute walk, 30 minutes of weights

My triathlon season ended at the end of October.  For most athletes this is their prime season. Not for me. Despite the fact I do lots of racing, it is all sprint distances. To me it's just fun. While this time of year is off season for most athletes, for me my season is just beginning.

This week I started training for my third Boston Marathon. The hard work is starting as I spend the next 18 weeks gradually increasing my workout distance. I will do at least three runs of 20 miles or more.  This is also the time of year when I do the majority of my running events. Each week is a small hill I have to conquer. It is all to get me ready for the big hills I will climb on marathon day.

Both my former coach and my current coach would like me to stop running marathons. First because they are hard on my body.  Second I won't be recovered from Boston when I compete at Nationals at Austin and at the World Championship in Spain.

I may need to give up running the Boston Marathon in order to concentrate on triathlons.  Running this distance is also hard on anyone. I still have injuries on the outside of both my ankles. I sill have the cyst on my right ankle. I constantly have to manage both ankles with taping, ultra sound and Graston treatments.
I hope I can squeeze one more marathon out of these legs.

I thought last year's Boston might be  my last. But after the terrorist attack last year I wanted to return to support the great Boston fans. I know it is going to be an emotional day.

My training program will also be different this time and that is a bit scary for me. Most runners getting ready for an event like Boston run six or seven days a week. I usually only run 2 or 3. The rest are cross training with swimming and biking.  I will be doing even more biking this time around. My long runs in the past had been 22 or more miles. This time longer bikes will be used and less miles in the long runs. I am trusting my new coach and hope the new program gets me to the starting line healthy and sets me up for my next season of triathlon racing.

This first week was really easy because I was in Dallas for the holidays. I don't have access to a pool, a gym or my bike trainer.  I got to do all my long runs this week with the family dog, Mojo. He has such a joy for running, he makes my workouts fun.

I feel really good after two weekends of long running.  The miles are still easy. The tough work is yet to come. I am willing to put in the hard work, the experience the pain and the fatigue, because when I cross the finish line in Boston it will all be worth it.

*********
Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have almost 140 members in 27 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.


Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

Friday, December 27, 2013

One Last Gift


"Because of the gifts and opportunities I've been given, my running has a platform, a spotlight, a chance to affect other people. What it means to them, what they take from it I cannot control. But what I can do is strive to reach my full potential, giving my best effort each and every run."- Mike Cassidy American Elite Long Distance Runner


It was a really nice Christmas holiday with my family in Dallas.  It has been a good monthly actually. I have been on vacation most of the month. That gave me lots of time to workout and recover. I had lots of time to get ready for Christmas.

In addition to the fun of spending time with my brother sister in law and two nephews, the weather has been great for getting outside and working out. While the weather has been cold and snowy in Milwaukee, it has been sunny and in the 50's here in Dallas. Perfect outdoor running weather. I've started doing long runs to train for Boston. A 2 hour run outside is way better than a 2 hour run on a treadmill.

Still there is something missing.  I got some nice gifts for Christmas and the things I wanted still on my Amazon wish list I ordered right after Christmas. Lots of tri gear on it's way to the Milwaukee address.

There is one gift I couldn't buy, put on my Amazon wish list or be given by my family. I knew it would not be here in time for Christmas. The gift I am waiting for is due any time from the International Triathlon Union (ITU). The ITU has promised the new classification standards for para triathlon.  The new standards must be done because para triathlon will be a paralympic sport for the first time in Rio in 2016.

The current standards have 7 categories including one for neuromuscular conditions like CMT, MS and Cerebral Palsy.  Unfortunately assessors here in the U.S. have not really understood how to assess for CMT. The current standards really are tests for MS.  Most athletes with CMT continue to be screened out. Only those with very severe impairments have been allowed into competition and then can't complete with those with less severe impairment. So the system has been unfair in many ways.

Some athletes with CMT have chosen  not  to go to competition and fail the assessment process.

I hope the new standards include those of us with CMT. It is easier to assess CMT than some other neruomuscular conditions. Most types of CMT can be determined with genetic testing and impairment with EMG and nerve conduction tests.

Even though my CMT is mild, it does affect my athletic performance. I cannot be competitive with other athletes. Being classified would be great for me personally since I would be able to compete at the national and international level.

A classification system that accepts those affected by CMT benefits the wider community.  I 've seen the conversations change in facebook groups. Doctors used to warn against exercise. Members of the community used to warn against exercise. I think the success of CMT affected athletes from Team CMT has helped to change the attitudes about exercise. Now I see conversations about what type of exercise would be the right one. We fund the work of Dr. Robert Chetlin on the effects of exercise on CMT. His research has shown those with CMT can gain strength through exercise. Plus exercise has many positive benefits for overall health and pain control.

Some organizations like the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) do not fully serve those with neuromuscular conditions.  Our conditions are not as visible as those with amputations or in wheelchairs. I am hoping from greater visibility groups like the CAF will help with developing more programs and adaptive equipment for those affected by conditions like MS, CMT and CP.

Athletes like myself competing at the highest levels, inspire the CMT community.  We all have challenges from CMT. Sometimes it is too easy to give into those challenges.  We can provide inspiration to the entire community and show that you can live a full and active life with CMT.

There is benefit also to making invisible conditions like CMT visible.  In my own family I have members that keep CMT a secret. We will never find a cure or treatments until this condition becomes more well known. We need strong and positive role models to lead the way.  Competing in high level events and getting media attention is huge step in raising awareness and making or invisible condition visible.

So I patiently wait for word from the ITU. Will they recognize those of us with CMT as para triathlete? Will they only make room for those with MS? Will they only allow the most severely impaired with CMT to compete? Will they make room in competition for all of us with CMT?

I hope when the new qualification standards are announced that those of us with CMT will find a place in competition.  We have over two dozen athletes on the team affected by CMT. I hope they have something to be excited about as well in mid January when the new standards are announced.

***************************
Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have almost 140 members in 27 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.



Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.



Saturday, December 21, 2013

Becoming Unstoppable



"It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do and then do your best."- W. Edward Demming

I first saw the You Tube Video "I Am Unstoppable"  Wednesday night before our time trial in Computrainer class. Coach Heather likes to show us videos to inspire us and the video about Spence West is the one she shared Wednesday night.

Spence West was born with the genetic condition Sacral Agnesis. It caused doctors to amputate his legs just below his pelvis when he was a very young boy.

He struggled all his life to fit in.  A friend that knew he was struggling asked him to go to Kenyan to build a school for a charity. It changed Spenser's life. He learned several things; first he found a purpose for his life that gave him meaning and he realized everyone has challenges.  He felt he had to do something with the life he was given to make a difference.

While in Africa he climbed Mt Kilimanjaro. This man with no legs inspired his friends to finish the hike when they fell sick. He told them they would go as slow as they needed to go and take it one step at a time.

This man with no legs will let nothing hold him back.  He wanted everyone to know that we all have limits, we just have to try.

So what will it take you to become unstoppable?  What is your purpose and what are you meant to do?

When I was diagnosed with CMT, I realized I too had a good story. To be able to run long distance is a rare with CMT. I knew I had to use my running to make a difference. My challenges are small compared to Spenser's but I agree we all have challenges and we all have to try.

So to those in the CMT community what will you do to be unstoppable?  What will you do to raise awareness, find treatments, raise money for research and ultimately a cure?

No matter what your limitations we can all help.

Raise Awareness
We won't raise money for research until CMT is widely known. It is difficult to raise money for a condition no one has heard of.  So share posts from the HNF or my blog on Facebook. Ask your family to share them as well.  Doing this is something anyone should be able to do. Give a copy of the HNF publication on CMT, give a copy of my book to friends and family. Support those of us working to raise awareness. Join the CMT support groups on Facebook and be supportive of others in the community.

Be Open
We each need to be open about having CMT.  Be willing to tell others you have CMT and what it means to you personally. Be the face of CMT among your family and friends. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We have done nothing wrong. We were born with CMT.  So be brave and be open.

Patient Registry
Join the HNF patient registry. We need this database of those affected by CMT. This will be important as we someday move toward treatments and a cure.

Be Supportive
I have seen members of the CMT community be critical of those working to raise funds or awareness. Sometimes it is because we are working for the MDA or the HNF.   It is time to stop creating divisions within the CMT community. The CMTA, MDA and HNF are all supporting research and programs helping those affected by CMT.

Leadership in these organizations also need to be honest about how close they are to treatments and a cure. If you have not even started clinical trials you are not close to a cure. To say otherwise raises false hope and is deceptive. It looks like a ploy to raise money for research. If that statement makes you angry, maybe it is because your organization is the one doing it.

Support Team CMT
We now have 140 members. Join our team and walk, run, swim, bike or just wear our shirt to support us. Contribute to one of our fundraisers. We will have two members running the Boston Marathon this year.  I will be promoting these efforts in the month to come. I hope you will support us. That support is so important. Several members have told me recently they felt so alone until they joined Team CMT. Now they have a group that supports and encourages them.

Maybe you have ideas for your own fundraiser. We would be happy to hear about them.

I hope like Spenser none of us lets the challenges in our lives defeat us. We all have a purpose and a part to play. What will you to to be unstoppable?


*********************
Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have almost 140 members in 27 states. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.


Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Because I Can




"Every game is an opportunity to measure yourself against your own potential"- Bud Wilkenson

I admitted in my last blog to being a bit of a workaholic. On my staycation this week I decided to at least mix a little fun in with all my projects.

So yesterday the fun item I selected was an ice skating session at the Petitt National Ice Center. This is an Olympic Training facility for local speed skaters. When the speed skaters are not practicing,the indoor 450 meter oval is open for public skating.

About four years ago I was on a work schedule where I would work the 3pm to midnight shift once a month. During that week I would always go to the Petitti for ice skating. They had an open session from 11 am until 2 pm.  Usually there was no one on the oval. Sometimes it was just me and the skating guard.

However the last time I went three years ago put me off skating for a bit. The afternoon I skated I shared the ice with a rather large school group.  They really were not there for long and the problem was not the group but what one of their guides did to me.

I had left my shoes under a bench on the inside part of the oval. No one else had anything around them. The school group left and I happily skated on the ice for about an hour. It was me and the skate guard.
When I was done I went to retrieve my shoes and they were gone. I searched everywhere. I went to the office. Thinking the school group had taken them I made the office lady call one of the group's teachers.  Sure enough one of them had picked up my shoes and taken them thinking they belonged to one of the kids.

You think when they got on the bus they might have asked if they belonged to anyone. Well now I had no shoes and had to get home. It was a cold February day and I had to cross a snowy cold parking lot scattered with gravel in my socks. Then drive home and walk through the snow in the drive way with no shoes.

So I had not been ice skating since that day about three years ago. Then I started training for the Boston Marathon and did not want to slip on the ice while skating and hurt myself.  I had visions of a broken wrist from falling. I did not want to take the risk.

So I was back at the rink yesterday. I wondered if I still could skate. When I was growing up my ankles were so weak I had trouble standing on skates. When I started running my ankles got strong enough so I could stand on skates.  It took many hours of practice to achieve what I call skating. I did all that practice at the same rink I was now standing on.  Would my CMT still allow me to skate.

Well I had visions of injury and doubts I could still skate. There was only me and the skate guard.  As I watched her step onto the ice I saw she had the practiced and graceful strides of an accomplished skater.

I took my first tentative steps.  I take tiny steps as I skate, just short glides to move. Anything more and I start to lose my balance. The skate guard repeatedly lapped me. How I envied her skill. Yet I made it around the oval many times during the 25 minutes I skated.  I think because my feet pronate my ankle bone rubbed against my skate. It was rubbed raw by the end.

I did not have all the skill I used to have, but I made it without injury. I think if I go more often I will regain more of my old skill. Iwills never glide around with the easy grace of most skaters, but I can still do it. The CMT affects my coordination and balance so this is just one more thing I cannot do well that other people take for granted. Still I know I am lucky to be able to skate at all and I am thankful for it.

I know it may seem like a silly thing, but ice skating was a hard one skill. Even though I am not good at it and look ungraceful I still like it.  I like to challenge myself sometimes by doing things I am not very good at, just because I can.

*************************************


Author Chris Wodke at Duathlon National Championship 2013




Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 140 members in 27 states. We also have members in Australia, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Staycation


Christmas Display at Milwaukee County Domes

"Every successful person in life began by pursuing a passion, usually against all odds."- Robert Kiosaki


I am a bit of a workaholic. I work very hard at work and then when I get home. I started a new position within my company in February. I am in charge of procedures for all the power plants in Southeastern Wisconsin for my company.

Because the program was new I was reluctant to take vacation while I was training technical writers and getting the program off the ground.

So the day before Thanksgiving I was told I have 184 hours of vacation. My boss told me I would only be able to roll 80 hours over to next year.  It was use it or lose it.

So I found myself with 104 hours of vacation to burn in December. I already had plans to go to Dallas between Christmas and New Years. But that left a 1 1/2 weeks to burn.

What to do? Since I only had a few days notice it was not really possible to plan a vacation as much as I wanted to.  Besides with holiday bills and a furnace not working the expense did not see worth it. Besides I am going to Spain in May so I have that trip to look forward to.

I never stay home on vacation. I love to travel and have been to about  35 countries, but for the first time in many years I would be doing a staycation.
My leisure time sometimes is not all that relaxing. It seems like I always have a never ending lists of tasks to accomplish. Activities like training for triathlons, marathons, running Team CMT, writing a book etc may not seem all that relaxing. My playtime is often work time.

Well this staycation was not different. I decided to stay home and tackle getting ready for Christmas and do some home improvements. But I promised myself I would also make time to have some fun. I was really in need of a break.  I thought about down hill skiing but with temperatures hovering around zero that was out. I wanted to visit a couple of the historical sites here in Wisconsin, but found out they were closed for the season.

So  I did some small fix it chores,  after a trip to the hardware store, I painted three hall ways. I even got all my presents wrapped, Christmas letter written and my cards mailed.  But I did have some fun.
First I slept in and got some much needed rest. Then one morning. I made these ginger pancakes.  I had plenty of time to work out. I also had some fun.  I picked a few activities off the fun list I had made. I went to the Milwaukee County Domes to see the Christmas show. The Domes are three huge glass domes with gardens inside. One is a seasonal or show dome, one is a desert and one is tropical.  The day I went it was  2 degrees outside. What a treat to see the flowers. I always feel relaxed after a visit.

I also spent two days making jewelry.  I have two more days of staycation before I fly out to Dallas. After packing I am going to go ice skating at the Petitt National Ice Center. It is an Olympic training center for speed skaters. The 450 meter oval is open for public skating and when I have been there during the day I almost have the whole oval to myself.  I am so proud of the fact I can ice skate. My ankles were never strong enough as a kid to skate. Running long distances have made me strong enough so I can now skate.

So I will celebrate my last days of staycations with a little bit of fun and a little bit of work (packing).  Hopefully I am getting more balanced and not so much of a workaholic.

********************

Chris Wodke at Paratriathlon National Championship 2013

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 137 members in 27 states. We also have members in Australia, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.


Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Making Choices


My Nephew Dan


"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."- Viktor Frankel

These words are some of the most powerful I have ever read. Viktor Frankel was imprisoned in a concentration camp in World War II.  As a psychologist he discovered this response in those that survived the camps. They felt life did not owe them anything, on the contrary they owed life something.  They survived because they found meaning in the incredible suffering they endured. Many set a goal to survive their experience so they could give witness to what had been done to them. They made a decision to resist their captors and to survive despite what happened to them.

Lots of bad things big and small happen to us in our lives.  The choices we make about those things define us and set the course for our lives.

I was thinking of this today because of three people in my life; my friend Gyldnis, my niece Brittany and my nephew Dan.

I had dinner with Gyldnis a few nights ago. She is fighting breast cancer. The good news it was caught really early. Through all of the treatment she has remained positive. She was just telling me she made a choice to stay positive. She shared how the experience has changed her life.  She wants to write a book about her cancer journey and help other patients. She feels she has found a real purpose for her life.  She made a choice to take the negative of cancer and share her story so other's will be prepared when cancer strikes their life.
My nieces, Brittany, Courtney, and Caitlin

My niece Brittany graduates this Monday with her Master's degree in counseling. She talked about majoring in pharmacy, but settled on Meteorology. She struggled with Calculus and could not pass this required course to advance in her major. She later told me it was her Dad that wanted her to do this major. She made the decision to switch to phychology so she could do graduate work in counseling. She shared with me how she told her high school guidance counselor that she wanted her job. Brittany just finished a school internship so she is on her way to making that happen. When I visited last year, she shared with me all the testing methods and other things she was learning in school. I could see her joy and passion for this work. I was so proud of her for following her heart. You can never be happy in your job unless you love your work.  I am so glad she has found something she loves so much and is so good at.

My nephew Dan graduated today with a Master of Business degree in accounting from Texas Tech. When Dan applied for graduate school he asked me to give him feedback on his essay. I was so moved by his story I did not change a thing. Dan was diagnosed when he was very young with Cerebral Palsy. With our family history, I think  he really has CMT.  CMT is often Miss-diagnosed as CP or other conditions. Dan's right foot was turned 90 degrees and he had tight calf muscles making walking difficult. Even though he is right handed, he could not use his right hand due to his condition.

His essay talked about the challenges he faced and how hard he worked to overcome them. He talked about hours of practice of soccer so he could make a select soccer team. He talked about spending hours teaching himself to type and write with his left hand. I was so impressed by the drive and maturity he displayed. He could have made excuses or given up. Instead he made a decision to work hard and let nothing stand in the way of his success. I am so proud of him.  I know he will continue to work hard to achieve the goals he has set for himself.

I can't wait to see what the future holds of all three of them.

I made the decision myself when I learned about my CMT. I never asked "why". I decided I was blessed to be running and to use that gift. I wanted to raise awareness of CMT, raise money for CMT and prove that those of us with CMT can live full active lives.  While I wish I did not have CMT, it has led to tremendous growth and opportunities.  I feel so blessed despite having CMT.

Sometimes I see members of our community sitting by and waiting for a cure. I realize how difficult life is for many of them. But remember every day you are given a choice. What choice will you make? What will your response be. In your choice may be your power and growth. I hope like Gyldnis, Brittany and Dan you will choose well.

**********
Team CMT Founder Chris Wodke

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 137 members in 27 states. We also have members in Australia, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.





Sunday, December 8, 2013

Soup Sunday

" Our greatest glory is not in ever failing, but in rising every time we fall."-  Confucious


Like most parts of the country Milwaukee had a snow storm today. As a runner I really pay attention to the weather so I can decide if it is an outside workout day or inside. No running was not the training plan for today. Just an indoor bike ride and some strength training.  It was just starting to snow as I got out of the gym this morning. Even though I have some Christmas shopping to do, with the storm it was the perfect day to stay in, cook, bake do home projects and make some jewelry. Since I have so many holiday projects that needed to be done, I did a very simple soup today.  

I love Thai food. In 2001 I spent 3 1/2 weeks in Thailand doing a small group tour in the southern part of Thailand.  I remember two nights we spent in a National Park that was an hour boat ride on a lake. We stayed in thatched roof huts perched over the lake. It was quiet and beautiful and like everywhere in Thailand we had the most amazing food.   I saw some really beautiful beaches and even did a little diving. I also remember the warm smiles of all the Thai people I met. I cook Thai food often at home and it always brings back great memories of that trip. I hope someday soon I can go back to Thailand and explore more of Asia. In the mean time I will just have to settle for Thai food.

Thai Ginger Soup

1 Carton Swanson Thai Ginger soup
2 Tablespoons Canola oil
½ cup chopped Yellow Onion
1 stalk of Celery finely chopped
1 Carrot cut into match sticks
1 can Chinese Straw Mushrooms
1 can lite coconut milk
2 Cups shredded chicken or Turkey
Rice Noodles softened

Heat oil in soup pot; add onions, celery and carrot.  Once the vegetables begin to soften add the Swanson soup and mushrooms. Bring to just below a boil, add coconut milk and chicken.  Heat just until mixture comes to a boil. If desired add a bit of Thai chili sauce for extra spice.  If using the rice noodles follow package directions to soften the noodles. Add to each bowl when serving the soup.


Serves 6

********************
Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 137 members in 27 states. We also have members in Australia, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Building a Race Resume




National Paratriathlon Sprint Championship Austin 2013

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."- John Quincy Adams

Last April the USAT announced there would be an ITU event for paratirathletes in San Diego. In order to participate in the event you had to apply and present a race resume. I had never heard of a race resume so I asked Amanda Duke the USAT Paratriathlon  Manager about it.  I have since learned that Team USA membership for Paraduathlon and Paratriathlon is based on a selection process which means you need to submit a race resume.

Basically it is the listing of races you have done and your placement. Well at least the good stuff. I have done lots of 5 and 10 K races, but they really don't matter to USAT. So those are not on this resume. I could use this resume for trying to get sponsors I suppose as well if I was inclined.

 So I realized I needed to start keeping track of my duathlon and triathlon races and my placement. I also got more diligent about asking to be scored as a paratriathlete. I actually had a really good year in 2013. Here is my race resume for the last two years.

Boston Marathon
April 15, 2012
2nd Mobility Impaired Division
 5 hr 27 minutes

Boston Marathon
April , 2013
Particpant
Estimated finish  5 hrs 20 minutes

Cap Tex Tri
May 26, 2012
1st Open Physically Challenged Division
Paratriathlon National Sprint Championship
1:39:43

Cap Tex Tri
May 27, 2013
2nd Open Physically Challenged Division
Paratriathlon National Sprint Championship
750 m swim, 20 K bike, 5K run
1 hr 46 minute

Pleasant Prairie Triathlon
June 23, 2013
1st Paratriathlon Ambulatory Division Sprint Triathlon
750 m swim, 20 K bike, 5 K run
1:43:47

Pewaukee Lake Triathlon
July 14, 2013
1st Paratriathlon Division
500 m swim, 14.8 mile bike, 5 K run
1:41:33

Midwest Regional Paratriathlon Championship
July 21, 2013
Omaha, Nebraska
750 m swim, 20K bike, 5K run
1st Place Female
1:41:08

USAT Age Group National Championship
August 11, 2013
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
750 m Swim, 20K bike, 5K run
1 hr 41:07
32 out of 44 women


Chicago Triathlon- Paratriathlon Mid-east Regional Championship
August 25, 2013
750 m Swim, 14 mile bike, 5K run
1st place Female TRI 3
1 hr 51:45

Tri Rock Sprint Triathlon Lake Geneva
September 14, 2013
500 Meter Swim, 14.8 mile bike, 5K run
1st place Female Paratriathete
1 hr 49:05


USAT National Duathlon Sprint Championship ( Age Group)
October 26, 2013
Oro Valley, Arizona
2.5 K run, 17 K bike, 2.5 K run
1 hr 14:25
8th 55-59 Age Group
Qualified for Team USA and to compete in World Championship in Pontrevedre, Spain 2014

I now only race USAT  or ITU certified events because those are recognized for selection.  My goal is to be selected as a paratrithlete for Team USA and compete at the World Championships and maybe, just maybe at the Paralympics in 2016 in Rio.  The parlympics is a real long shot, but every race I do builds experience and my resume toward reaching my goal.

I have a reason for every race I do and it may have nothing to do with placing well. I ran the Age Group National Triathlon Championship here in Milwaukee because I wanted the experience of participating in a high profile race with age group athletes. I thought that intense competition would be good preparation for a World Championship appearance. In May of 2014 I will be racing at the Duathlon World Championships in Pontrevedre Spain. The experience here in Milwaukee will come in handy, I just did not know I would be able to use it so soon. The experience will be great if I get to the paratri World Championships or the Paralympics. I won't be intimidated by the race because I will have been there and done that.

My goal all depends on the new ITU Paratriathlon Classification system due to be announced in January of 2014.  I have heard rumors the category where I fit as a CMT affected athlete may be dropped. I have pleaded my case to the USAT committee reps and with the ITU. We have offered experts.  Time will tell.  My gut tells me I will once again be left on the sidelines. I hope they prove me wrong.

Even though I finished 8th at the National Duathlon Championship, I cannot be competitive at the highest levels due to the effects of my CMT.  As a paraduathlete I would complete against athletes with similar challenges.  At that level I have a chance to be among the very best in the world. It is chance any serious athlete would want. It is what keeps me working so hard.

Sometimes it feels a little hollow to be the first place paratriathlete when I am the only one in the category, however at Omaha I would have been first in my age group and I almost always finish in the top half of my age group.

I know that it is more important that I am still active and competing. I know first hand the benefit of staying active in slowing the progression of my CMT.  Having a race on my schedule motivates me to keep working out.

I hope we will be included in the new standards. It is important to me personally, but. it is so important for those affected by CMT to push themselves and stay active. Being an athlete helps to restore a sense of control and accomplishment that can be stolen bit by bit by CMT.  Being able to compete in these type of events will bring more challenged athletes into the sport. I want them to know the joy and accomplishment I feel everytime I race. I know what a blessing it is and how fleeting it might be.

I plan to keep competing, using races to raise awareness of CMT and being a role model for the CMT committee, if the ITU will just let me. After all I have the race resume for it.

************************
Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 137 members in 27 states. We also have members in Australia, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.







Sunday, December 1, 2013

Soup & Salad Sunday

" From a little spark may burst a mighty spark."- Dante

Turkey Wild Rice Soup


Just about this time I am getting tired of turkey and dressing and I am looking for something to do with left over turkey.  This soup is one of my favorites and is a great way to use up some of my left over turkey.
I use wild rice because it is more nutrition dense then rice. Feel free to substitute brown rice.

Turkey Wild Rice Soup
7 ounces portaella mushrooms sliced.
3 tablespoons butter
2 stalks celery
1/2 cup chopped white onion
4 tablespoons flour
5 cups chicken broth
1 Bay leaf
2 teaspoons powdered sage
2/3 cup wild rice
7 ounces Turkey cut into small pieces
1 Cup fat free half and half
Parmesan cheese to garnish
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter and saute mushrooms. Add celery and onions and cook till they start to soften. Add the flour, slowly blend in about half of the broth, making sure the flour is mixed in. Add remainder of broth.  Add bay leaf and sage.  Add wild rice and simmer until the rice is cooked ( about 20 minutes).  Add the half and half. and turkey and heat until turkey is warm.
Garnish each bowl when serving with Parmesan cheese.
Makes  6 servings

I added some chopped tomato since I had a couple sitting on my kitchen counter. I had picked them right before the first frost and they have slowly been turning red.

The salad recipe I got from my niece Courtney. She and her fiance Kevin were in Milwaukee for a visit. We went to a kitchen supply store so they could get bottles for a Christmas project and then to the spice house to buy some spices for some other Christmas projects. They made this salad for Thanksgiving and brought me some. I was blown away when I tasted it and duplicated it for my Soup and Salad dinner.

Carrot Pomegranate Salad
This salad is also beautiful.  The toughest part was dealing with the pomegranate. I watched a You Tube video to figure it out.

Seeds from 1 Pomegranate
 large carrots shredded
1 sweet apple ( although I think granny smith would be good) chopped
1/4 cup Raisins
1/4 cup craisians
 1 teaspoon of lime zest
Juice from one lime
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil

Toss together the pomegranate, carrots, apple, raisins, lime zest and craisians.  Blend together lime juice, honey and oil. Adjust sweetness by adding more honey if needed.

Serves 4

I have been trying to eat healthier so that is why I have been doing so many soups and this week a salad. Soups and salads like this are a great low calorie way to add fruits and vegetables into my diet.  It may be a little thing, but eating healthy will make me stronger. I should be less prone to injury and sickness and hopefully have some good performances next season.

**************************

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 137 members in 27 states. We also have members in Australia, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Team CMT Celebrates Thanksgiving



" Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something."- unknown


Several Team CMT members kicked off their Thanksgiving by raising awareness of CMT by participating in several road races.  They could have been inside in the warm smelling that Turkey cooking, but they chose to brave the cold to represent Team CMT.

The events were largely family affairs and it is really great to see not only our Team CMT athletes out there, but there family members as well.

Team CMT Appleton
We had two Team CMT members represent us in Appleton Wisconsin
Dawn Frizell and Chris Steinke booth rane in the Turkey Trot in Appleton, Wisconsin.


 For Dawn it was a double holiday as she and her family celebrated Hannukkah and Thanksgiving. She says she thinks she needs to run a bit more to run off all the indulgences of the day.

For the Steinke family the Appleton race was a family event. Chris was joined by his family at the Appleton event.


I loved seeing the support Chris got from his family and he looks great in his Team CMT shirt. You all look awesome.  The support of family member's is so important.

Team CMT- Milwaukee
Milwaukee always comes through and Thanksgiving was no different.



Team CMT member Kevin Klein and his son Henry celebrated their Thanksgiving at the Mayor' Turkey Day 0 K in Kenosha Wisconsin. I've done this race in the past and it is a lot of fun.  Thanks guys, you look fast. Henry took 8th in his age group.  Way to go

Team Washington
Last but now least we have the OConnor family.   They ran the Turkey Trot in Longview, Washington. They said it was 3.5 chilly miles.

 Team members Alyson and Brooke were joined by soon to be members Jake and Jim. Alyson are one of two Mother Daughter teams and Brooke is our youngest member. Looking forward to having Jake and Jim on the team.

I am so thankful for all your effort  Thank you to everyone that has put on a Team CMT uniform this year for an event, shared blog posts, raised money for CMT research and recruited members for the team. I am so blessed to have all of you working with me.

At my bike class on Wednesday night the instructor asked all of us to name something were are thankful for. I said I was thankful because I could swim, bike and run. I have so many things to be thankful for.

Here are just a few from my list:
-Hereditary Neuropathy Sponsorship of Team CMT
- The 138 members of Team CMT
- Being able to still be active and participate in runs and triathlons.
-Publication of "Running for My Life" Winning for CMT.
-Spot on the US Team

It has a great year for the team. We have grown and are doing more and more events. Keep racing, posting pictures and telling everyone about it. Raising awareness of CMT is so important as we work to find treatments and a cure.
I want you all to be able to keep racing for many years.

*************************
Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 137 members in 27 states. We also have members in Australia, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Race Around the World Race Report


Age Group Award International Institute 5K Run Around the World

"Use what you love, to fight what you hate."- Will Harris, Trainer and International Consultant


My new coach Heather Haviland wanted me to run a 5K as a time trial. My race time would be used to design my workouts.

I haven't run a 5 K for two years. The last 10 K I did was just a few weeks before the Boston Marathon last year.   I picked the International Institute for a number of reasons. First I knew it would be a small race and I like small races. The RACC race in Waukesha drew 1300 runners the same day.  This run a few hundred.
Small runs mean easy parking, easy packet pick up and no big crowd at the start.

I could have waited to do a run on Thanksgiving day, but I had very personal reasons for running this race.
The International Institute helps new emigrants get a start in Milwaukee. Their big fundraiser is Folk Fair.  All the area ethnic groups put on an indoor festival of food, exhibits, marketplace and dancing.

I made my first trip to Folk Fair as a young girl with my parents and grandparents. I still have the tiny jewelry box I bought from the Japanese booth.  My mom sister and I went every year on Sunday to Folk Fair right after Church. We would hit the International Cafe with all the food booths, then shop, see the cultural booths and go to the dance shows. I always admired the dancers and wanted to perform with them so badly.

Well one day I got my wish and I first joined the Slovak Tatra dance group then the Czech Slovak group.

Here I am in one of the costumes I used to perform. It is my personal costume and was restored by my dance director Sonka Tostrud. It is from the same region as my great grandparents.  I was so proud to represent my heritage every year. I would often think of the sacrifices they made to come to this country to make a better life for their family. They left behind all their family and friends. I am so proud of them and of being part Slovak!

Folk Fair was at one time a really big event. As many as 8000 people could be in attendance when we danced our main show in the arena.  People would come in by the bus load from all over the Midwest.There was also a huge beer garden which held several thousand.  It was so much fun. I danced for over 10 years. Even though it was some times stressful I loved it.

The venue ended up being moved to its present local a few years ago due to cost. The event has gotten smaller and smaller. I got busy with graduate school and other things so I have not danced in a number of years. I don't think I could fit it into my schedule now anyways.

Still the race was a chance for me to be part of the event again. Race entry included admission to Folk Fair. The race was also one of a number of races around the world run at 9 am on Sunday. Venues included Finland, South Africa and Cyprus.

It was 10F at the start and if I had not promised my coach a race time I probably would have stayed home. It was also windy. The kind of wind that cuts right through you.

I did my warm up  and was ready when the gun went off. The gun shot was done by two Folk Fair performers in Colonial army uniforms.  The course was flat but the pavement was not in the best shape and really uneven. Not good for me since my ankles turn easily on uneven surfaces.

One of the fun things about the race was it was run on the race track of the Milwaukee mile.  It was over quickly and I had a time of 31:04. Much slower than I would like. Every race is just a reminder of how slow I am getting the the toll the CMT is taking. Still I know I am lucky to be running at all.  I have realized you don't have to be good at something to really love it. I am using running and triathlon to fight the thing I hate;CMT.

The scoring was super fast. Two screens were set up for race results. I typed in my bib number and found out I was 2nd in my age group. I thought they were only giving awards for the top runner so I did not plan to stay for the awards.  While they were figuring out awards I took a trip through the international cafe. I had a wonderful piece of apple strudel and some Serbian bread. I strolled around and looked at all the bakery. I went through the cultural exhibits. Such good memories. I wandered back to the coffee house were the awards were to be held. I thought I would hang out and watch since I was not ready for the cold walk back to my car. To my surprise they were making awards to the top three places. The towel in the picture was my 2nd place age group award. I think I was supposed to get a coffee mug. I am OK with the towel since I can use it in Computrainer class.
Well I did my time trial and I survived the almost single digit temperatures. All in all a good day.

**********************


Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 137 members in 27 states. We also have members in Australia, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.