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Earlier in the week, during one of those more lucid moments (they only occur after 10 a.m.), I had the bright idea of running to practice on Saturday.   I would have driven to practice if I had to make the decision yesterday morning at 6 a.m.  It meant getting up even earlier on a Saturday morning, running across the bridge, through a few neighborhoods and into the park to meet up with my team.  Yesterday was supposed to be a shorter run and I should have turned around after running the bridge but then I would miss the mission moment.

Which belonged to the lovely Sandy.

Sandy was diagnosed with CLL a few years ago (CLL = chronic lymphocytic leukemia – white blood cells grow abnormally & crowd out the healthy red blood cells).  As I knew nothing about blood cancers before joining Team in Training, I am becoming well versed in all things leukemia & lymphoma related.  The ‘chronic’ portion of CLL refers to a kind of “wait & see” treatment plan.  You’re never really sure when it may become full blown.  Instead, there are monthly doctor visits to track cell counts, among other things.

Because her stats have been normal, Sandy has not had to go through chemo.  Yet.  But the moment her counts are in the danger zone, there will be a quick counter attack of chemo followed by a possible bone marrow transplant.  (If you would like information on becoming a bone marrow donor – check out the National Marrow Donor Program.)

I am not quite sure how she handles it, knowing that at any moment her life could drastically change.  (True for all of us, but most of us still operate under the “it couldn’t happen to me” philosophy.)  Her family has run in several marathons with Team in Training & she finds solace in knowing there is a group of people fundraising & running for her.

If I have learned anything from this experience, it is that research is king.  Time & money, its servants.  Last week, Coach E shared there is some new drug going through FDA testing but all signs look like it is going to have a 90% plus success rate for the blood cancer it will treat.  (I apologize for the lack of memory over details – I’m better at remembering numbers.)  Research for this new drug has been going on for the last 25 years.

To say “it’s an exciting time” for cancer research may be inappropriate, but these discoveries give hope to people.  It gives them hope that life isn’t over or shortened when they are diagnosed with cancer.

If you would like to donate to help fund research for leukemia & lymphoma, you can do so here.  (Shameless plug, I know.)


It has been hard for me to follow up my last emotional post.  Everything else seems trivial when compared to the gravity of Luca’s situation.  I know what its like to sit at work, incapable of thinking about anything else.  The bad thoughts followed by an inner reprimand (you receive what you send out to the world) and the hopeful meanderings.  A never ending cycle.

I am in need of good news.

  • I received my buccal swab kit yesterday.  It is back in the postman’s hands this morning.  Not only that, but there are about a dozen people I’ve spoken with who requested their kits last week.  I imagine the Bone Marrow National Registry (BMNR) being overwhelmed with the increase in potential donors this week.  With all the different avenues of awareness the past few weeks, I can’t help but think the BMNR is offering overtime to all its employees to test the mass of buccal swabs coming in.
  • A former player signed to play volleyball & will begin her freshman year playing for the college she wanted to play for when I coached her.  A pretty significant event but more so because three years ago, she was run over by a car pulling out of a driveway.  She broke her ankle, several ribs, & her collarbone, tore her ACL and broke her entire lumbar (L1-L5).  Her resiliency, determination & faith are astounding.
I would love to add to the list my new running shoes have solved all my running problems but I’ll have to see how they work tonight (and if I need more time to break them in).  Patience with things is not always my strong suit.

When I joined Team in Training, I had very little knowledge about blood cancers.  I have a friend who is in remission for Hodgkins but he has only ever mentioned it in passing.  He has never shared the details and I met him long after he was in remission.

I could have joined a training program for any number of good causes; I was not emotionally attached to this one.  Even though I thought running with a reason would be far better, more satisfying & more motivating than running just to run.

Meet Luca.

About a month ago, a high school friend started posting daily photos of her son Luca.  Luca who went from this vibrant curly haired boy to a boy with a shaved head and tubes in his nose.  There is a photo of his dad with newly bare scalp.  Photos sleeping.  Reading books.  Being cradled by his parents, grandparents.  It has been incredibly touching.

Luca was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia – AML – acute myeloid leukemia.  His first round of chemo has not been successful.  As they continue the second round, hoping for a better outcome, they are also furiously searching for a bone marrow donor for a possible transplant in September.  Ten weeks away!!  (I have more time to train for my half!)

Luca is about 18 months old .  I am not even sure he has the words to describe what he feels, much less understand what is happening.  I cannot even begin to imagine what his parents feel or how they make it through each day.  I can only relate what its like to hear your dog has cancer.  But a beautiful vibrant little boy?

Consumate researcher that I am, I have learned much about bone marrow transplants the past few days.  I always envisioned the transplant process to be incredibly painful.  NOT TRUE.  In most cases, the process is similar to donating plasma or platelets.  In a quarter of transplants, a surgical, outpatient procedure takes place with general or regional anesthesia.  A bit sore for a few days after the surgery but then you’re back to normal.

I could bore you with statistics but really, what is needed is donors.  You can go here to find out if you are medically eligible to be a bone marrow donor.  You can register for the free test kit here.  A couple of cheek swab samples later, you are placed on the donor list for any potential patient in need.  And since ethnicity plays a major role in transplant success, there is a HUGE need for multi-racial donors.  You can check out Mixed Marrow for additional information & statistics.

I encourage you to register to become a potential bone marrow donor – I sent for my free kit yesterday.  Luca is half Turkish, half Caucasian – if you know anyone who is half Turk, half Caucasian, please beg them to become a potential bone marrow donor.



All photos taken by Luca’s family.

88 days in.  88 days to go.

It’s insane to think I have been consistently training for 88 days.  My long run this week is for 80 minutes and next week it jumps up to 110 minutes (that is 1 hour & 50 minutes!).  At some point in September, I will be out for 150 minutes (2.5 hrs).  Totally blows my mind.

Running is still a struggle – had my slowest time running the monster last night.  During my modified couch to 5k training last fall, I hit a major plateau around week 8.  The only thing I remember about week 8 is I felt I was back at week 4.  Buttahcup had a similar issue around the same time in the program.  I ran through the plateau & eventually it subsided around week 10.  I wonder about this moment:  is my week 12 in this training similar to that week 8 plateau?

Mentally, it is also a challenge because I start out wondering if its going to be a bad run.  It’s like playing goalie in soccer & being afraid I was going to miss the ball & let down my team.  My 2nd grade coach told me the ball had to pass through 10 other players before it got past me.  Huge relief.

But in running, it’s only me.

On the heels of last Saturday’s greatest run, I have been in major struggle mode all week.  After a lot of complaining, I attempted to run on Thursday but at mile two, I decided to hang up my running shoes.  Thinking I would benefit with a rest day, I was jazzed to run Saturday morning.

the Narrows Bridge

Seven days after my best run, I was ready to run a new route over the Narrows Bridge.  My legs had other ideas.  The first response to any running issue is “it’s a mental problem.”  (“90% of running is mental.  The other 10% is mental. – Ray Zahab)  I cannot tell you what is inside my head this week or why its effecting my feet.  But it has.  To clarify, I am not injured but apparently suffer from some mental damage.  Specifically the connection between my brain & legs.

view from mid bridge

It doesn’t help I am watching Dog Whisperer and all I can think is if my head were in the game (be calm assertive – AM the pack leader!), my “dogs” would fall in line.

It has been a really great week for all things running other than the small problem of not being very good at it.  I registered for my first marathon – Big Sur April 2012.  And one of my TNT running buddies is going to do it with me!  Totally stoked.  Also, I’m closing in on the halfway mark of my half marathon training & have less then $700 to fundraise for Team in Training.

So, if I could just get out of this funk, I’d be golden.

I fell for Big Sur in college.  It was this romanticized, mystical Beatnik hangout on the California coast.  The summer before my last year in college, after having been wooed by the Romantics and falling head over heels in love with the real life characters of Kerouac’s books, Big Sur seemed to call my name.

Last October, I read an article in Runner’s World about the 25 best marathons for beginners.  The Big Sur International Marathon was on that list; it may have been on the top of that list.  The race is run mid spring – this year it was held May 15th.  By October 2010, the race was sold out.  Eight months until the starting line & the race was sold out!

Like any good girl scout, I put a reminder in my Outlook calendar for July 15th: register for Big Sur.

All week, I have been eating a steady diet of Big Sur marathon footage from youtube for lunch.  The anticipation for Friday has been killing me.  I’m pretty sure this is the slowest week recorded in history.

The race is 10 months away & I’m already memorizing the elevation drops & gains and figuring out where I can find a two mile hill (with a 700 foot elevation gain) to practice on.  And if I can get to sleep tonight at a decent hour, I may hear my alarm when it goes off tomorrow morning so I am ready to register at 7 a.m. when the registration opens.  (Kinda like waiting in line for tickets to R.E.M.’s supposed last concert in ’95.)

Granted, I haven’t even run 13.1 miles & I’m already daydreaming (salivating) for the next big challenge.

Ah, life is a gate, a way, a path to Paradise anyway, why not live for fun and joy and love or some sort of girl by a fireside, why not go to your desire and LAUGH… (Jack Kerouac, Big Sur)

** As of 7:10 a.m. this morning – I am registered to run Big Sur next April!! **

There was no mission moment shared on Saturday but someone made a comment that struck a chord with me.

We were introduced to two girls who finished the spring season of team in training; they ran the Seattle Rock’n’Roll Full Marathon a few weeks ago.  As people were being introduced (name, race event), someone said they were running “just a half.”  One of the girls immediately corrected her, hence the cartoon above.

It was a big moment for me because I continue to struggle with the inferior concept of just a half marathon.  I’m asking (and sometimes begging – thank you!) for donations.  Although people are donating to a great cause – the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – they are donating in support of me running just a half.

Thirteen point one miles.  It seems like such a small number.  Anyone can run 13.1 miles.  It’s just 13.1 miles.

But it’s not just a half, it is a half marathon.  And I’m going to run it.

I’m going to run it.

Who would have thought?

Having given the fundraising requests a wee bit of a break the past few weeks, I’m about to get annoying this week.  The good news is that I’ll only be annoying for a few days & then I’ll go back into hiding for a few more weeks.

When I left the northwest to move to the south, I was totally bummed to learn how little a baseball town Charlotte, NC really was.  I was a HUGE baseball fan.  HUGE.  I did get to meet Jose Cansceo while he did his time with the Charlotte Knights (in hopes the White Sox would pick him up). Dude had the biggest forearms I have ever seen on anyone.

In those early days of Charlotte life, two friends bought me a Mariners baseball hat for my birthday.

After countless days spent at the pool & numerous miles running on the road, this much loved hat is about to be retired.

Fundraising.  Hats.  …the point?

My next hat is up for auction.  Specifically, I am accepting bids for the team – college or pro – you wish me to wear.  This hat will be worn every day while I train & it will also be worn during my half marathon on October 16th.  All my race photos will have your team/school on display.  And all you have to do is have the highest donation bid.  (You only place your donation if you are the winner.)  I will take care of purchasing the hat.  (My only other request is that it should be fairly easy to purchase the hat over the internet.)

The final winner’s donation goes to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for blood cancer research.  Not only will you choose the team, you’ll be helping out a great cause & it’s tax deductible.

Win.  Win.  Win.

Bidding starts …now and will be open until noon (PST) Friday, July 15th.  You can get in touch with me in various ways to make your bid (email, comments here, twitter, facebook) but I will be posting updates on facebook pretty regularly (and that is the part where I’ll be a little annoying until Friday).

Obviously, as a Coug, I should be gut wrenchingly upset to wear a UW hat.  But I’m not.  Really, there is only one team that will make this incredibly hard for me.  The hat will appear in race photos I plan on purchasing.  Fellow fans will revel in our (un)common bond.  It makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it.  Fortunately, I have only a few friends who are hardcore fans of this team – so I’m hoping the rest of you will step up.  And maybe I’ll share the only team I hate later this week.

Whether you are an AllBlacks fan, a Stars fan, a Yankee, a Heat fan, a Panther, a Barca fan; whether you shout out War Eagle or Roll Tide …get ready to place your bid!  Starting bid is $10.


I have finally gotten past the three digit countdown.  (Insert your own cheering section here.)  It’s all double digits from here.  Well, until its not.  Yes, I am counting down.   I am that nerd.

When I started, I had 176 days until I set foot on the half marathon course in San Francisco.  And although it seemed doable, it was also in the far off future.  But as May turned into June (108 days to starting line) and June turns into July (77 days to the starting line by the end of the month), the number of days left is dwindling down to holy crap Batman!!  It’s unnerving and exciting at the same time.

I have 99 days left:  99 days to raise $900 and 99 days to run 13.1 miles.

As common running wisdom has it, you don’t train until you run your distance: under-training is better than over-training.  Which is scary as all get out when you approach the starting line.  I mean, how will I even know if I can do it?  I am also the person who loves to be overly prepared.  There will be a leap of faith when the horn beckons runners forth in San Francisco.

Although there is this undercurrent of the unknown when I look into my crystal ball, there is also a part of me that has no doubt I’ll be running the entire race.  I will have to continue to work my tail off to get there but working hard has never been my problem.

Again, I have been reminded of my progress this week.  I am 11 weeks into training.  I have run over 160 miles & expect to hit 200+ miles by the end of July.  My easy runs have moved into the 4 mile range instead of the 3 mile range.  It was taking almost 2.5 miles before I found my running zone and now it appears after about a mile.

Progress.  Good.

So, in light of progress, I will be upping my long run tomorrow to over 6 miles.

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on the road