When ICE Isn’t Enough, Get the Road ID App

Road ID Review Cover

I often think about how important it is to have In Case of Emergency (ICE) in your phone. If you don’t think it is, think again. It may be the only way authorities know who to contact in the event of, well, an emergency. I know first-hand ICE works and police and emergency medical personnel do check your phone for it. A little over two years ago, my Mom went for a run in the park and none of us knew she would never come back. If it wasn’t for her having me as an ICE contact in her phone, who knows how long it may have taken for the police officer who arrived on the scene to find out who to call. I was able to alert my family within minutes of the police finding her and we knew exactly which hospital to go to. No question of who my Mom was or who to contact. It breaks my heart that my Mom passed away on that day, but I am thankful we were notified as soon as possible thanks to her ICE contacts in her phone. Until then, I had never thought about ICE, but you can bet it’s in my phone now. And my phone is password protected, which would do me next to no good in an emergency situation. So, what do you do when ICE isn’t enough? Get the Road ID App!

Having suffered a blood clot in my leg (DVT) and lung (PE) just over a year ago, I’m faced with a potentially life-threatening medical condition if I find myself in a dangerous situation. I am taking blood thinners, which means if I were to get in an accident – a car wreck, slip on the ice and hit my head while running, or get knocked unconscious for some reason – not only would I be at a higher risk of bleeding to death than someone not on blood thinners, but medics would have to treat me differently from the start. My ICE contacts know about my medical condition, medication and history of blood clots – but they’re locked away in my phone. My mom’s phone was easily accessible. Mine is not. Is yours?

I usually wear or carry a medical ID/alert tag with me, but there are times I don’t. The one thing I do always carry with me is my cell phone. You can pretty much bet where you find my phone, you will find me – right?! But it won’t do me any good if I can’t speak for myself and my phone is locked with no way to access it. I recently discovered that the Road ID (yes, the same people that make the ID bracelets) has a free app designed to not only let your ICE contacts be known regardless of a phone lock, but keep you safe on the run too.

Using a simple photo feature, you can create a lock screen that has your name, location (if you want it) and up to three ICE contacts and their relation to you. There is also a place to include important information. You can include as little or as much information as you want to. Mine looks something like this:

lock screen

What if you don’t have a medical condition to worry about? You just never know, that’s what I would say to you. My Mom was healthier than she had ever been in her life and something still happened on her run (or shortly thereafter) that caused her to become unresponsive. She could not speak for herself. I read stories (more often than I want to) about runners and cyclists getting hit by cars. What would you do if that happened to you – or someone you love – and it comes down to a life or death situation that required immediate action? Put ICE in your phone and at least consider changing your lock screen when you are out on a workout if you don’t want it there all the time. I keep mine there all the time because of my medical history.

The second feature of the Road ID app is the eCrumb (or electronic breadcrumb) tracking feature that I also find invaluable to runners, walkers, cyclists and anyone who may be out and about on their workout.

Basically, what it does is tell someone (via text directly from the app) that you are going for a run. YOU set a timer for how long you anticipate being out (don’t worry; you can add time as you go right from your phone). You can notify up to five people of your run and they can track you in real time via a text link that is sent to them. They do not need to have the app.

ecrumb set up

Let’s say you’re out on your run and you stop moving for more than five minutes, the app will send the person (or people) on your list a notification that you stopped moving via a message you can customize. This feature comes with a very load alarm that lets you know if you have been inactive for five minutes so you can extend the time (or disable the alarm) and the text will not go out (like if you stop for a restroom break and it takes longer than five minutes). Road ID suggests you customize the alert message to say something like, “Please call or text me to see if I’m okay” in case an unintentional alert is sent out. I have told my husband if he calls or texts after an alert message and he doesn’t get an answer back in a couple of minutes, something is wrong! With the alert, the app sends a link to your contacts (that you sent the “I’m going for a run/bike ride” message to in the first place) with the last known location and tracks your phone for the next 30 minutes after the alert is sent out.  The eCrumb tracking location services update about every minute while you are using the app.

It’s free. And to me it is invaluable for the peace of mind. Two messages could mean the difference between help in an emergency and no help “I’m going for a run” and “Something is/might be wrong.” We do it anyway by leaving notes at home or texting a family member to say we are going out for a run, but why not have an actual way to find us now if the worst circumstance occurs? Road ID suggests this app not replace your physical Road ID, but it is a tool to be used in conjunction with your wristband in case you would get separated from your phone in the event of an emergency.  If you download the app, Road ID will send you a coupon to use for a Road ID.

What is your safety and the safety of your loved ones worth to you? Take a moment to think about it and consider downloading this app. Currently it is only available for iPhone, but Road ID is working on an Android version too.

Tell me about you. Do you carry some sort of ID with you when you run? Would people be able to access your ICE contacts in an emergency? Have you used this app or a similar one? Will you? Do you have a Road ID or will you consider getting one? Do you tell someone when you are going for a run or ride?

Until the next mile marker,

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Please Note: I was not asked by Road ID to review this app or compensated in any way. I have very strong feelings about being safe while out on the run – or anytime – and wanted to share this tool with my readers. I use the Road ID app and chose to review it myself. 

Writer for Hire: Why I Need a Blog School Scholarship

Writer for Hire

I feel like the last two years of my life have been mostly a nightmare. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some good times, but for the most part, I wish to declare a do-over and wake up in a different reality. I wish I could open my eyes one morning and find out that Mom isn’t really gone – just returning from her four mile run at the park and sending me an excited text to tell me how it went. That the pain in my calf and then side wasn’t a blood clot that broke lose, traveled though my heart and lodged in my lung almost costing me my life – just plantar fasciitis and out of shape lungs. That the job I had tried for two years to land wasn’t the one I also lost less than three months after being discharged from the hospital due to my inability to handle what had happened to me and an intense career – just a trial run in what would be the real thing down the line after I was on my way to recovery. Now here I am, almost a year after losing my job, trying to find my path not only in a career, but in life – a writer for hire, which is why I need a Blog Genie Blog School Scholarship.

I’ve been blogging since 2009 when I first started running. I remember my first post (click if you dare) vividly. It was a welcome-to-my-life post and I fervently refreshed the page every five seconds waiting for someone to read it. No one did. For a long time. I read blog after blog after blog that impressed me with its style, design, content and comments. I would comment when I read something I liked, that inspired me or made me think. And then one day, one of those bloggers commented on my post and I felt like a million dollars. Slowly, my blog began to grow and I gained a small but loyal group of followers. These people, who are still with me today, are the ones that helped shape my blog into what you see now.

I’ve earned ambassadorships like that of FitFluential where I learned on a near daily basis (and continue to learn) how to be a better blogger and influential fitness leader – even when I feel anything less than that. I’ve earned several blogging awards, which have all helped my blog to grow over the years. I have received numerous products and books to review as well as developed some amazing relationships with brands, race directors, and fellow runners and bloggers. I remember when I used to think none of these things would happen on my blog.

I’ve gone through a transfer to Word Press and two design changes, all thanks to Rita at Blog Genie who brought my blog out of the bland, flat, cookie-cutter look that so many blogs have in the beginning. She helped capture the essence of Words to Run By and built a beautiful site where I could continue to talk about running, writing and remembering, part of my re-brand with my most recent design change. I began to focus on writing good content – without a full-time job to consume my time, I could write freely and compose posts with greater attention to detail and composition.

My most treasured accomplishments are those I have made in writing, including guest posting on other sites and a (albeit small) paid writing opportunity involving blood clot awareness. I felt like my content suddenly mattered, which inspired me to begin a second blog totally devoted to blood clot awareness – Blood Clot Recovery Network.

I’ve put countless hours, sleepless nights, significant amounts of money (self-hosted is not free after all) and even tears (okay, a lot of tears sometimes) into making Words to Run By what it is today.

And yet, I know it can still be better, which is why I am applying to Blog Genie’s Blog School’s Scholarship Giveaway. Blog School is an intensive six month program designed by Rita to make your blog the best it can be – and it starts soon! This is the part where I am completely transparent with you – and even now, that’s not always easy – I want this scholarship because no, I do not have a job yet and let’s face it, life is expensive. Blog School is a luxury I can’t afford right now, but would love to participate in the program to build even better content, improve SEO marketing, gain readers, page views and comments and maybe even make money writing on my blog or through my blog.

Even more important than needing the scholarship due to financial hardships, though, is what I believe Blog School can do for my blog. I want to make my writing – and I write primarily on my blog – my business. I believe I can do it, I want to do it, but I also know I need the tools to be successful in building an even better blog. And, I also know I just don’t have them on my own, which is why blog school is of vital importance in helping me reach my blogging goals. What I do have is the time, the commitment, the devotion and the passion to get the most out of what Blog School has to offer. I’m not afraid to work hard and at this point, there’s nowhere to go but up right?! I’ve had a lot of setbacks – and I believe Blog School can be the launching pad into what will be the next – and hopefully greatest – chapter in my life.

Until the next mile marker,

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Commit to Be Fit 5K Race Report: My Second First 5K

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Event

Commit to Be Fit 5K

Date

June 28, 2013

Location

Downtown Columbus, Ohio

Finish Time and Pace

45 minutes 18 seconds; 14:35 minutes per mile

Why It Matters

This was my first official race since I had a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung) just over a year ago. It took me 363 days to run again and 13 months to race again. My second first 5K.

 

I’ve had a lot of firsts when it comes to running – and a lot of firsts I would have never experienced without it in the first place. There as my first 5K, my first half marathon, my mom’s first 5K, my sister’s first half marathon, my first marathon and my first attempt at the Goofy Challenge in Walt Disney World. For all of these first have come many rewards – I gained self-confidence, patience, a new appreciation for myself, health and happiness. I also gained friendships that, while based in running, have pulled me through some of the worst times in the last two years of my life. I’ve learned a lot about myself and others – both positives and negatives.

Through running, I learned that I am stronger than I ever thought I was and even so, it was not until I was gravely injured by a blood clot in my lung last summer that I realized what true strength was. While I survived against the odds – partially in thanks to running and the shape my cardiovascular system was in – the thing that helped save me was also the think I could no longer do no matter how much I wanted to. I was ready to give up. For all running had given me, it hurt too bad to know things would never be as they were.

It took me 363 days to run again since my blood clot. From a distance, I watched people I used to run with continue on in their training and accomplish their goals. People would ask me from time to time “When are you going to run again?” And then later, tell me, “Get out there and try, go for it, you can do it, you did it before.” For me, it was never about that – it was about recovering from something that nearly claimed my life, damaged an eighth of my lung, and left me on oxygen, completely devastated and unsure if I would ever live a normal life again. There were days when I was convinced I wouldn’t make it one more second, hour, or step and days when it didn’t seem so bad. I started training slowly – very slowly, even for me – and with the support of my family and a core group of friends, I started run-walking.

And today, against what truly were all odds, I ran the Commit to Be Fit 5K – my second first 5K.

Honestly, I was dreading this race. I couldn’t sleep the night before, wasn’t hungry and had to force myself to at least hydrate. I’m training for a Quarter Marathon in August, but that seemed so far away – the 5K was not at all far away and I felt not at all ready. I knew in my mind I could cover the distance, but I was also afraid it would be painfully slow. Once change in the humidity or air quality would cripple my still healing lung and put me at a slow walk at best. I was dreading it – more than any half, more than any marathon.

It seems to me there is always more preparation that goes into a 5K than a larger race. I always find myself rushing around to get ready and get to the start line, only to start running and be done before my body even had time to warm up. The morning of the race was no different. Even though I had done everything right – laid out my clothes the night before, got my bib ready and packed my bag – I was running late and suddenly drew a blank of where to park in a town I have lived in all my life (okay, I struggle with directions, but it’s not like I ever raced here before).

Still I met up with my friends and we made it to the start line with about 10 minutes to spare. The field was small – like really small – and I wasn’t feeling any less nervous at the prospect of standing out in a too small crowd. I tried focusing on the perfect weather – 60’s for temps, no humidity, blue skies and plenty of shade. We were off right at 7:00 a.m. and I was feeling pretty good right out of the gate.

I ran that first mile at a 13:26. About 3 minutes faster than any of my training miles and I know I took it too fast out of the start. I felt myself get caught up in the excitement of the race and really pushed it. With such a small field, it was more than easy to do. We were across the finish line in 5.8 seconds and I was off! By the second mile I was definitely winded and having trouble talking when my running partner, Duane, asked me how I was doing. We slowed down considerably so I could catch my breath and re-group. But damn, it felt good to run that close to a 13 again (until the second mile at least).

Miles 2 and 3 were a 15:15 and 15:08 respectively, which is still quicker than I have been running in training. Duane kept me going (not to mention laughing) when I wanted to give up, which was at mile 2 when I realized I couldn’t breathe. He constantly reminded me to think about the fact that I was out there doing it when I almost didn’t have that chance. No matter how slow we went, I knew we would finish, but I was surprised to finish in under an hour. I told myself I didn’t have any expectations and just doing it was enough – that was a hard goal to set for me, but one I am glad I did. My body felt good, a little tired and my breathing is still horrible. I have a long ways to go to be able to build up the cardiovascular endurance I once I had. I am hoping that comes with time and continued healing.

The magnitude of this race didn’t hit home for me until I ran down the finish chute. When the race director saw me he raised his hand to give me a high five and said over the announcer, “Is that Sara?! Sara, if you don’t mind, I’m going to embarrass you a moment and say a year ago at this time you were on oxygen and now look where you are.” I kicked into [my] full speed to finish and burst into tears the moment I crossed the line – promptly forgetting to stop my Garmin as I had planned.

I was immediately surrounded by my training partners – Duane, Judi and Jay. The people who have truly supported me in my recovery and return to running. It was an amazing feeling and I am truly grateful to be able to not only call them training partners, but friends.

Here we are at the finish line:

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And I couldn’t be happier to have earned a medal:

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I know, in terms of healing and especially in running, I still have a ways to go, but I am confident I will get there. There will be setbacks, I’m sure (as with anything), but this race gave me the confidence I need to keep trying. I hope to have many more second firsts in my future, starting with this one.

Until the next mile marker,

 

I woke up yesterday fully convinced I was done with running

done with running cover

I woke up yesterday fully convinced I was done with running. Not just, “I’ll take today off and back at it tomorrow” done, but really done. Never to run again done. “I’ll take up biking,” I thought and maybe that will be fun. Or maybe it won’t be fun, who knows.

The truth is, running has been nothing but difficult for me since I got sick. Not that it was ever easy – I’m not a natural-born athlete by any means – but I got to the point where I could knock out four or five miles without much of a second thought and feel really good about myself afterwards.

That hasn’t happened in I don’t know how long. Before the Goofy, for sure, which happened over a year ago. I’m convinced my health problems were beginning even back then and in part, impacted the way I was running in that race and the pain I was feeling then.

Nothing is easy any more. Not even getting out of bed on some days. I take that back. It’s easy to become bitter, angry, sad and jaded by all that has happened to be in the last two years. It’s easy to say, “Forget it. I hate running.”

And that’s exactly what I said yesterday morning. Still, I met my friends for a four mile run, convinced I would run a mile or so and give up and walk back to the car and finally have proof that I was done running – the proof being that I couldn’t do it.

That’s not what happened, though. And I was more surprised than anyone.

We set out on the run, 2:1 run-walk intervals and by a mile and a half in while I was still going; I was greatly concerned that I wouldn’t be able to make it to two miles, let alone four miles. The sun had risen and the humidity felt like it was increasing with each step, making it harder for me to breathe. Yet, I somehow made it to two miles and then we turned around and headed back. Back is always easier, in my opinion, there is an end in sight.

It was a little into mile three when I really started to feel the run. Until then, I realized, I was actually enjoying the run. Whoa. I thought I hated running. We slowed down for the last half a mile or so – due to the increasing sun and humidity – and walked it in. I felt like I could run, though, which if I remember correctly from my glory days was a sign that I had trained well. Fatigued, but not to the point where I could run another mile or so if I had to. I felt that place again, for the first time in a long time.

And suddenly I realized running has never let me down. People in running have let me down, my own performance has let me down, injuries, bad weather, poor training and failure to plan have all let me down, but running in and of itself has never let me down. If I go out and give it my all, running gives back. Even on days when I try and perceive a failure, running doesn’t let me down because small improvements to my body and ability to run are being made that even I can’t see until a day like yesterday.

And, after a day like yesterday, a single clear and persuasive thought is ever present in my mind. This isn’t easy, it’s not supposed to be easy, it wasn’t easy before and it won’t be easy again. I am reminded of, “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.”

So, if you’re out there struggling to run, work out, eat right, lose weight or hey, even get out of bed in the morning; no, it’s not easy by a long shot, but it can be done. Don’t ever give up.

What about you? Share your thoughts in the comments below! How are you overcoming obstacles in running or in life? What keeps you going when you want to give up? At the lowest point you can remember, what reminded you that all hope was not lost?

Until the next mile marker,

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If You’re a Runner and it Hurts, See a Doctor

Maybe it is because I am studying to achieve my RRCA Coaching Certification or because of my personal experiencing coaching sometimes less experienced runners, that it becomes a very big (not to mention personal) issue when I see others not only giving bad advice, but actually discouraging individuals who may be injured from seeing a medical professional. This is a huge concern and major problem in my opinion. If you’re a runner and it hurts, see a doctor.

see a doctor graphic

As you may know, I’ve been having trouble sleeping. I know I shouldn’t (because then it makes it nearly impossible to fall back to sleep), but I tend to get online when I am awake at night and write, check email or work on this blog. In the early hours of Saturday, I woke up to a Facebook message from a friend asking me to check out a post in a popular running forum. His concern was that one of the people looking for advice may have been experiencing a blood clot.

I immediately found it (Please note, names have been concealed to protect the not-so-innocent). My main concern is highlighted in red (and no, it is not the glaring typo, because I make those too).

Forum concern don't see a doc original edited

If it hurts, see a doctor.

It says, “don’t see a doctor, they might just advise you not run at all.” And there are Likes after it. I think something in my brain exploded. And, even though I was furious and it would have been easy to tag this one particular person in regards to what I see as a grave error, I responded with a link to Could You Have a Blood Clot? and advised that Jennifer please see a doctor just to be sure, especially if she was continually experiencing intense pain.

WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU ADVISE SOMEONE NOT TO SEE A DOCTOR? Because you might not be able to run. Because you might have to take a break. Because you might hear what you don’t want to hear. Because it very well could impact your training. Because the months and months you spent training could have to take a back burner to a bigger flame. Because no one, not even myself, thinks it could happen to them.

I understand. Really, I do.

BUT IT IS NOT WORTH IT. No race, no training schedule, no event is worth what I went through. Jennifer describes “experiencing intense pain in [her] calf. [That had been] hurting since [her] last run on Wednesday which was 6 miles.” This post was three days later.

I ran two miles on a Saturday and by Sunday night I was in the hospital with blood clots in my leg and lung that nearly claimed my life. I had intense calf pain. I was convinced it was a muscle pull due to an extended break or laziness or anything else. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In 25% of the people who experience a pulmonary embolism (or blood clot in the lung), the first symptom is sudden death. A pulmonary embolism comes from a blood clot, most often in your calf. This is serious, people. And I am outraged.

Sure, Jennifer could be experiencing muscle soreness. She could have pulled or torn a muscle. Her body could be fatigued or dehydrated.

Or it could be a blood clot.

I realize I don’t know any other thing about Jennifer’s training or injuries or well, anything. But just what if. Even if it’s not a blood clot, even if it’s nothing, I will always, always recommend my runners, my friends, my family; my acquaintances get it checked out. Listen to your body. It won’t lie to you. It tells you when something is wrong, sometimes gravely and sometimes not. Take the time to find out. You can always decide not to do what the doctor recommends if you believe your training is more important. You can’t just bounce back from a blood clot or something worse.

I don’t know what happened in Jennifer’s case. Maybe her doctor would have encouraged her to rest, not to run or to walk it off. Maybe her doctor would have ordered an imaging scan to rule out clots. Maybe her doctor would have determined it was nothing. Maybe her pain is gone now. Maybe none of this would even make a difference. Who knows? I do know most people wrongly assume athletes or runners or active people do not suffer from blood clots. And that simply is not true. 

I do know many, many posts in this forum centered around injuries and please don’t misunderstand me, there is absolutely nothing wrong with engaging in a forum or website to find out about potential injuries, but always, always follow up with a trained medical professional. It could save your life.

What about you? What do you think about the advice given in this case? Do you tend to seek professional medical advice or shrug it off if you can until the pain is unbearable (we’ve all been there)? Do you see bad advice being given in running forums, especially pertaining to medical issues? Does this type of advice make you angry like it does me?

Until the next mile marker,