Friday, November 1, 2013

Here we go again...

Hard to believe the Baltimore Running Festival Marathon was only 3 weeks ago… seems like a lot longer!

The weekend following my race, I met up with the team for the final group training run… Part of the team was in San Francisco running the Nike Women's Marathon in support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. All of the proceeds of that race go to support the work of LLS, so it is one that is near and dear to all our hearts.

But those of us who remained in the National Capital Area met up at the Iwo Jima War Memorial, so the runners who would be doing the Marine Corps Marathon the following weekend would have a chance to do a trial run, climbing that hill up to the memorial.

I went out with the team for a few miles. Not too many as my blisters were still healing…

Last weekend I found a great place around mile 22 and spent 5 hours cheering myself hoarse and watching my friends/teammates dig deep into that place that provides the strength and determination to just keep going even when you're exhausted and everything hurts.

And I found myself feeling sad…. I love being a part of this. Even though I will never be a fast runner. I love the running community, and the Team in Training community… and I miss them when I am not involved.

So, even though I find the fundraising to be a struggle (more of a struggle than the training, in fact!)… I have signed up for spring season with the team. I will endeavor to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, to support their good work…. funding research to find a cure for all types of blood cancers, and providing support for patients and their families.

I would, as always, be so grateful to have your support on my journey. If you're able, please feel free to donate using the link to my fundraising site. All donations, large or small, will be enormously appreciated… If you are not able, I welcome words of encouragement and support… offers of companionship during training runs… etc.

thanks in advance,

Sunday, October 13, 2013

race day is over, but the fight continues...

Baltimore Marathon was yesterday... I'm too sore today to be experiencing the post-marathon let down, but I know it is coming. In a day or too I will start feeling blue. Lonely for my teammates, and missing the weekly runs with friends. Also missing having that goal to work towards...

But the fight to find a cure for blood cancers, and to improve the lives of people living with blood cancers, continues. For this reason, my fundraising site will remain open for a few more week. If I have inspired you at all with my tales of training and suffering, blood, sweat and tears (oh, yes... there were tears on the course yesterday)... please think about making a donation to further our cause.

As you may be aware, the region has been rain-soaked for about a week now. But miraculously, the rain let up for the duration of the Baltimore Running Festival yesterday. Woke up to grey skies and light sprinkles, but no deluge... thank goodness.

The race started later than any I've ever done before, so I had time to eat breakfast and chat with the coaches and teammates before heading over to the start line. I was not in the queue for the portajohns when the race started (as I was a few weeks before in Philadelphia!!!)

And in spite of having had a couple weeks of feeling a bit run down, oh and having an ear and throat infection... I was feeling pretty good.

So good, in fact, that I powered up the first 3 miles of hills without even thinking about it... So good that coming into the 13.1 mile mark I realized I had just beaten my half marathon PR by 2 minutes... So good that I made the mistake of eating one of the half bananas they were handing out on the course.

And then things all went downhill around mile 15. The banana did not sit well, and I was nauseated for the remaining 11 miles. Still managed to reach the 20 mile mark with a marathon PR on the horizon. But for the final six miles I struggled. Everything hurt. Nothing tasted good and nothing sat well in my stomach, so I was not taking in the calories I needed.

When I came across Coach Jack, and told him I thought a PR was still possible... he ran me in. He pushed to me pick up the pace. He chose running targets for us to catch and surpass. He encouraged me to make myself throw up just to get past the nausea... and when I hit that point where I realized I just couldn't sustain a pace that would get me to my PR goal, he was supportive anyway.

I missed my best race time by just 6 minutes.... But it would probably have been a lot more if it weren't for Jack.

I'm so grateful for the support of my coaches and my team.  And proud of what we have accomplished as a team this season.

I hurt today... but I'm so glad I decided to join TNT once more, in the race to find a cure.

Friday, October 4, 2013

lots to catch up on...

so, since i last wrote, it's been a busy couple of weeks.

before i get started, let me just celebrate with you for a moment. Philly was a PR for me!! by almost 7.5 minutes!!

exclamation point!!!

the following weekend, we did our 20 miler... met a new friend, talked a lot, and suddenly 20 miles were done and i was feeling great! tired and hungry, but great.

last weekend, it was fundraiser party time... i hosted a "win a wine collection party"... which is pretty much what it sounds like. i threw a party where people made donations, and one lucky guest went home with a whole bunch of wine.

everyone drank a whole bunch of wine too... so everyone was a winner! and it pushed me that much closer to my fundraising goal. (just 300 more dollars to go! there's still time to help get me there!)

we also had a Stella & Dot friend there, selling jewelry and donating 25% of her commission to my fundraising. my sweetheart bought me a necklace... a win, win, win situation!

this past week though... boy, have i paid for the three previous week. i have been exhausted and sore, to the point of not getting in my miles. which is not good for the morale just days before my race. but sometimes you just have to listen to your body and let it rest.

tomorrow is the last team run before race day.

more soon...

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Philly was fun...

had a great time running the Philadelphia RNR Half Marathon this weekend... it was cool and sunny, the course was pretty, I had a friend to run with, and we got to run up the stairs at the end like Rocky Balboa...

felt pretty great, like all this training is actually paying off. who would have thought?!!

then i made the mistake of looking at the Baltimore Marathon elevation chart, and get this... it starts with a 3 mile climb.... followed by a 3 mile descent... a little bit of flat in the middle, then another hill.


feeling daunted.

so, i went out to run some hills last night. and this evening.... just 25 days to go.

i'll be ready.

now i just have to get to a serious move on with the fundraising.

**claps hands, throws them in the air and shouts "YES!**

Friday, September 13, 2013

a great big thank you

to the anonymous person who so generously donated $100 to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society via my fundraising website  this afternoon.... thank you so much.

advances made in research to find a cure for blood cancers has led to advances in treatments for other cancers as well....

your donation will help to save lives.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

oh hey! i'm racing in 4 days... how did that happen?

so... i signed up to run the Rock & Roll Half Marathon in Philadelphia with my friend Lisa about 7 months ago.... and promptly forgot all about it.

get this... it's this weekend! good job Competitor Group sent me some e-mails or i would have missed it altogether.

fortunately, i'm scheduled to run 12 miles on Saturday anyway... so, i'll just tack on an extra mile, and some crowd support and some music,  a new race t-shirt and a shiny new medal... and call it training. why not?!

my experience of Philly is limited to a quick stop in the airport. looking forward to seeing a little bit of the city from the ground.

and thank goodness the temperatures are expected to drop, because this 95 degrees and humid nonsense is totally getting me down.

the dogs and i went walking with the neighbours this evening, after the sun went down... and it was still 87 degrees. we got a mile in, and a little romp in the back yard before they were banging on the doors to be let back inside for some ice cubes and some AC.

Friday, September 6, 2013

29km run tomorrow (sounds even more impressive than 18 miles)

clothes are laid out for the morning...

camelback is filled, snacks are in the pockets...

towel and bag of ice cubes are prepped...

banana bread is baked and cooling.

guess i'm about as ready as i'm going to be for our 18 miler!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

wrung out...

a weekend away to catch up with old friends can be just what the doctors order... a chance to reconnect and recharge.

as an expat, those special occasional weekends back "home" are essential to my mental health... but they can be pretty hard on my physical health.

there's the too much to eat and drink factor, the not much sleep factor, and the almost missing my flight due to heavy traffic super stress factor... all of which wreck havoc on my wonky immune system.

an excess of stress and fatigue has lead to sores in my nasal passages, sores on my gums, swollen and painful joints, foggy thinking and difficulty concentrating.... and an all encompassing tiredness. i'm scheduled to run 5 miles this evening, but it's just going to have to wait til tomorrow.

on another note... I'd like to send a big thank you to my dentist, Dr Ryan Reeves for his generous donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and helping me reach my fundraising goals.

you can help too, just click here... and make a donation on my website.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

we be jammin!

so, i've been making a lot of jam lately... it's peach season, how can i resist?!!

however, no matter how many jars of jam i am capable of making, i am only capable of eating so many...

for everyone who makes a donation of $10 or more to my fundraising website , i will send you a jar of homemade jam.

current options are as follows:

  • low sugar peach jam
  • low sugar peach and ginger jam
  • low sugar peach and basil jam
  • low sugar peach and geranium jam
  • peach and habanero jam
  • strawberry and jalapeno jam
  • meyer lemon and ginger marmalade
 leave a note on the website letting me know what flavour you'd prefer :-)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

it's been a good week for running... and other things.

I am not usually terribly social during the week... not that I'm anti-social, just busy with work and life and dogs... and then there's a few evening runs to squeeze in, so there isn't much time for going out...

Last week was an exception. Thursday night I skipped the run and went to an outdoor concert, drank sangria and stayed out way past my bedtime. Friday night I went out to another concert, danced my butt off, and didn't get home until 1am... and Saturday morning, as usual, I got up at 5:30 to go meet the team for our long run.

This week I was scheduled to run 16 miles.  Given that we have teammates that are training for different races, and different distances, not everyone was running that far. In fact, it was only me and one other person... and he runs faster than me on my best days.

So I told myself that I would just get out there and see how it went. I knew I would have company for the first 8 miles. (4 miles west on the W&OD trail, and then back to the start... followed by 4 miles east, and back)... at the midway point, I would evaluate how I was doing and decide whether or not to break up my weekend miles into two shorter runs.

But at the midway point, I was feeling great... In fact, feeling better, stronger, smoother, more comfortable than I had been all season. One of my teammates decided to add a couple extra miles to his run, and kept me company for 2 of my second 8.  And then one of my coaches rode his bike out to meet me and kept me company for the final 3.  I finished strong and feeling good... really tired and really hungry, but good. Best run of the season!

Sunday morning it was raining... and I decided to see if I could coax Remsen out for a run on the trail along 234. We have not been successful in the past. The first time I took him out on the trail he didn't last 5 minutes until the noise of the trucks caused him to absolutely panic. The second time I couldn't get him out of the car. But he's come a long way in the past year, so I decided to give it a try. He did great! Unfazed by the rain, unfazed by the traffic... we went about 3.5 miles in total, and he promptly put himself back to bed when we got home. 

This evening we went out again, and ran a little over 4 miles. There was a lot more traffic, and it was hot... and there were cyclists on the trail. But he handled it all like a champ. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

some runs are good, and some runs just aren't....

i was scheduled to run for 50 minutes last night. for me, that means approximately 5 miles, depending on a number of factors... you know, the usual things like: how hot and humid is it? will i be running hills or not? am i well rested and hydrated? has it been a stressful week at work? have i been eating well, and how are the planets currently aligned...?

well, last night all factors were against me... it was hot and very humid, i started my run at the bottom of a hill, it's been a stressful week and i've not been sleeping well... and i struggled for all but the last two miles. my legs were cramping, sweat & sunscreen were dripping in my eyes and stinging, i felt nauseous... i slowed down, and then i slowed down to a walk. i stopped and tried to stretch out my calves... i drank more water and walked some more.... eventually, i decided i'd had enough and turned around for home.

then miraculously the temperatures dropped and it started to rain lightly, my stomach settled, my legs loosened up, and i was able to run.

and there were cute little bunnies...

not a completely terrible run then after all.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

it's all about the numbers

So... since I started training for this marathon (having not run at all in about 7 months), I have run a little more than 200 miles.

By the time race day comes, and I hit the finish line... I will have run more than 450 miles.

I need to raise another $1700 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society by race day.

Race day is just 64 days away.

A marathon is 26.2 miles.

If I raise $26.2 per day between now and race day, I'll just about make my fundraising goal.

If you want to help me reach my fundraising goal, you can help by donating here:  and by asking your friends and family if they would like to donate too.

Progress in research to find a cure for blood cancers can only be made if we help to make it happen.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

how did the month slip by already?

it's been a very hectic month... turmoil at work, mostly.  so i've been coming home knackered, walking with the dogs, tending to my gardens, and trying to get my mid-week runs in once the temperatures have dropped a little in the evenings. this means i've been running at dusk, with the bats and cicadas for company...

this morning was the usual Saturday morning run with the team. now that the miles are getting up there, it will be more and more important to make it to the team runs. we had a cool and drizzly 14 miles along the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, starting at Fletcher's Boathouse...

i struggled a bit for the first 8 miles, but then i found my stride, and the last 6 was great.... i like running there. it's pretty shaded, slow and steady incline on the way out means a slow and steady decline on the way back, which allows for a fast finish :-)  always good for the spirits!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

long drive, short run...

because of the geographic make up of the National Capital Area team... we do a lot of trying to please everybody at least part of the time. that means not only finding trails with parking and access for water stops (and toilets if we're lucky), and the capacity to handle a large group of runners... but also finding them in places that are convenient to northern Virginia and Maryland.

essentially, it means a lot of driving to get to and from training... most of the time. for me, at least.

last Saturday was no exception... it took me an hour and a half (leaving at 6am) to get to the site of our team run in Maryland... then an hour and a half of running, a little parking lot post run chatter, and then an hour and a half to get home. oof!

but, i so appreciate the support and camaraderie of training with a team... i need that.

it's been hot and humid, with makes me feel lethargic and unmotivated. having the team to be accountable to makes training possible.. for me, at least.

tonight, it will be a hot and steamy 5 mile run on my own. next Saturday, we're up to 10 miles.
it's all going so fast! October will be here before we know it.

must start to make the push on my fundraising. that's the hardest part for me... i just have to keep reminding myself, i'm not asking for money for me... i'm asking for people who are fighting for their lives, or for their families who are struggling to pay hospital bills and mortgages... they really need it, and i can help.

so can you. if you are able, please click on the link to my fundraising page and make a donation. all donations are tax deductible. every little bit helps.

thank you...

Friday, June 28, 2013

away for the weekend...

Although I have been a mentor for every TNT season I've run but the very first one... this season I decided not to volunteer for that position. It is very rewarding to help my teammates reach their goals, but it can be quite time consuming... time that I just don't have for the moment.

One of the perks of not mentoring is that you can choose to attend group trainings, or not... as it suits you.

Last weekend it suited me to go to Toronto to visit friends. Saturday morning I got up early and headed out to the neighbourhood track to log my scheduled miles. I don't normally run on a track, the idea of counting laps doesn't really motivate me... but this track was really wonderful.

There were people playing soccer. People throwing balls for their dogs. A bootcamp class... kids playing... a couple runners on the track, and some leisurely walkers.

If all tracks were like this one, I might find myself more inspired to run the track more often....

Saturday, June 15, 2013

who are you running for?

today was our honoured teammate picnic... an event we hold early in each season, where all of the team comes together, along with friends and family members, and talk about why we're doing this...

some of us talk about the people who inspire us to get up early every Saturday morning for months to train... who inspire us to go out and ask everyone we meet to help us in our fundraising efforts, to help us find a cure for blood cancers.

some of us talk about our personal connections to blood cancers... our own stories, or those of our children or parents or close friends...

there are usually tears, and cheers and sometimes laughter... today was no exception.

we also ran 5 hot and sweaty miles.

feels good.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

how running marathons saves lives...

it never occurred to me that the title of my blog might sound a little presumptuous until my cousin EJ told me that she was proud of me for saving lives. at that moment i put out some minor efforts to clarify that in fact it won't be me saving any lives.

it will be the researchers and doctors who are able to further their work with the money raised that will save lives. it will be the LLS who provides the necessary support -- emotional, psychological and financial -- to the patients and their family that will save lives. it will be the generosity of you, of family and friends and complete strangers who are moved to contribute to this cause that will save lives. me running a marathon won't save any lives.

coming back to the running of marathons though... i know that i am fortunate in that i am healthy. physically, i am capable of running a marathon. or, i will be with the help of the Team In Training coaches and training program. it's going to be hard. it's going to hurt. i'm going to struggle.

but it is nothing compared to the struggles of someone who is undergoing treatment for cancer. it is nothing compared to fighting for my life. because in the end, if i am unable to cross the finish line at 42.2 kms (26.2 miles)... i will have another chance to reach that goal. i will train harder next time, and eventually i will succeed.

me running a marathon won't save any lives. in the end, my real contribution is made by asking you to make a donation. 

you may not know anyone who suffers from a blood cancer such as leukemia or lymphoma... but i am willing to bet that you know someone who has had cancer. and if you're lucky enough that you don't... chances are that you will at some point in your lifetime.

Just remember, if there is progress made in research for any
cancer it will help all cancer research.

so i am asking. that's how i am going to help to save lives.

running companions.... some of us need them.

I am not the kind of runner that just LOVES running. I like running. I like how I feel after I've completed a good run. I like how it clears my head. I like how when I'm running regularly I feel fit and strong. But, sometimes when I am on a set training schedule, the largest obstacle to lacing up the shoes and getting out there is that fact that it can get lonely.

Some days I really enjoy the solitude. But some days I just need a friend.

The last time I trained with the team, I had only one dog. And while she's more than happy to come out for a 5 mile hike, she's not a runner. Physically, she's not designed for distance. And like me, she suffers when it is hot and humid. She's an ambler, a "let's stop and sniff, sit and watch the other runners/hikers, have a snack, cool down..." kind of dog.

We now have two dogs. The second was bred to chase bears and boars. Meaning... he can go far and he can go fast. And he can go for days. The first half mile can be a bit choppy, until he gets into the groove of running. He's accustomed to the stop and sniff, and pee on every other tree pace of our daily walks. But once he gets going, he's a great companion.

As long as there are no children on the trail.

Whatever Remsen's story before he came to us, it was not happy, and children are a source of deep and immediate fear for him.

Last night was our first trail run together in quite some time (as I have not been running). We went to a small local park that includes soccer fields at each end, and a 1 mile loop of wooded trail in the centre. First loop was pretty smooth. Second loop we came across a family with 5 children under the age of 10, lots of laughing and talk and running and swinging of sticks... and Remsen panicked.

We shot off the trail and into the woods at high speed, and kept going for about a quarter mile before he calmed down enough to realise they weren't following us.

Fear can do that to dog. Fear can do that to a person too... but sometimes changing course, for whatever reason, can take us to some pretty great places.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Getting back to it...

It's been quite some time since I posted here, but that is primarily because it has been quite some time since I have been training with the Team. After five seasons, I was a little burnt out on the fundraising and needed a break.

That is not to say that I've not been running... I've completed quite a few more half marathons on my own. But, it's time to get back to the Team, back to the mission of LLS, and back to a more consistent and planned training schedule. Also... back to running full marathons.

As usual, my timing is impeccable. I swore up and down that I would never again train for an autumn race in Virginia. The heat and humidity in July through September saps me of energy for everyday living, never mind getting up early to run 18 miles. But... it's time.

A few weeks ago an old friend from university got back in touch with me. The last time we corresponded was more than a year ago, shortly after she was diagnosed with Leukemia. She (understandably) fell off the map for a while, and it was so great to hear from her and learn she is doing well.  That e-mail was the push that I needed to get me to lace up the shoes and log some long miles, in celebration of her return to good health.  And to raise some funds to help find a cure for blood cancers.

I missed the festivities of kick-off last week... today is my first official training run of the season, and of course it falls on the holiday weekend, so we're running on our own. After a week of steamy hot weather, the temperatures plummeted last night... so it will be a lovely cool morning to get out with my dog for a slow and easy 3 miler.

140 days til race day...  thanks for joining me on the journey.

If you're able, please consider making a donation to support the mission of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and help to find an end to blood cancers.