That that don't kill me, can only make me stronger. I need you to hurry up now, cause I can't wait much longer. Kanye West, Stronger

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Million Dollar Marathon Team

I just found out that the Nike Women's Marathon Team is over halfway to its goal of being the first marathon team to raise $1 million!

For me personally, I am finding the running to be the easy part, the fundraising is the much harder. 26.2 miles is nothing compared to $3,900. Hard? yes, impossible? NO!

My latest fundraising attempt has been to list all my surplus belongings on eBay. At this point, my book shelf is pretty empty, but not too many bidding bites.

Fortunately, my adorable nephew just donated $100! His piggy jar must be looking pretty empty! But he wants to help out kids his age fighting cancer, so they can start school in the fall just like him!

How cute is he?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

One is the loneliest number

I am home this weekend, so I have to do my runs alone! Tear.

Running with the amazing people I have met at TNT helps the miles (14, 15, 16) slip away without so much as a huff or a puff.
Unfortunately, I have become so used to running with other people that I am having trouble doing the solo runs. I guess I am just not the type to be alone with my thoughts and sort out my life while running. I'd rather just talk about reality television.
So, if you hadn't already guessed, I didn't finish the 16 miles I would have run if I stayed in NYC, but I am trying to make up for it by running extra miles each night.

We have been mixing it up a lot at practice: hills runs, getting out of the park and running down the West Side Drive across the Brooklyn Bridge to Prospect Park. I enjoy the change of scenery, but most of all I enjoy the camaraderie we have as a team working toward a common goal. That sounds so cheesy.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Eating on the run!

Running a marathon certainly gives this phrase a new meaning!

I never thought I would eat while working out, but actually, it's counterproductive not to fuel your body on long runs. The probably is, it's not exactly easy to eat while moving. I didn't think this would be a problem, I am a very good eater. However, you have to consider several things:

Carrying the food

Unwrapping it while moving

Not choking

Getting rid of the wrapper/container without littering

The other issue is that your body doesn't really enjoy having to multitask. It is working hard enough to keep you moving forward, adding the extremely energy consuming process of digestion is asking a lot.

That is why it essential to find the most easily digestible sources of energy possible. Which unfortunately seems to mean, carbohydrates highly processed into sugar and chemical filled gels.

There are lots of things, some even contain real fruit puree, but most seem pretty synthetic. The problem with things like dates or 100% fruit leather is the fiber. Fiber while running is not a good idea.

Selecting a gel, Gu, power shot block, sports bean or power bar is kind of fun at first.

At every long run we display what we found, trade a cran raspberry cliff shot block for a blueberry one. Show off the new flavor of Sports Beans made by Jelly Belly.

However, in the end, you just wants something that will give you the boost you need without screwing with your stomach.

My first few runs of more than 6 miles I tried the power gels. The Double Latte flavor gave me a good buzz, and the gel was easy to swallow, but queasiness ensued moments later.

My next experiment was with the Clif Shot blocks (which are supposedly a bit more natural). These immediately reminded me of Shark Fruit Snacks from my childhood. So yummy. We now trade Shot Block Flavors like I traded shark snacks for Gushers in third grade. But they are really big, quite chewy, and again the stomach was not very happy with me.

So this week I tried sports beans made by Jelly Belly. Basically they are massive Jelly Bellies enhanced with a few vitamins and electrolytes. Man they are good, like a perfect 100 calorie movie snack. But as my coach said, I eat the beans because I love eating them, but they don't really give me any energy. I concur. These were probably the worst on my stomach so far.

So here are a few things I am going to try in the future:

Gu gels, which are much better on the stomach than the power ones I hear.

Carb-boom gels, very mild on the tummy and all natural--hard to find

Honey packets stolen from Starbucks--no frills!

I also have to invest in a fuel belt. I have tried to keep it no frills by carrying my water and safety pining my gels to my shorts, but it is time to admit that the pretentious looking belts are hand when you are running for 3 hours!

Here's to Good Eats!

The emotional battle--a must read :)

The mental battle is often discussed in running, but when you are raising money for a society, such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, there is also an emotional component.

After last Saturday’s practice we had Connection to the Cause. It was a mid-season event that allowed us to meet many of our honored teammates that are in remission or battling blood cancer.

It was definitely an emotional experience, but it was amazing to hear just how much of an impact the Team in Training program has on the lives of cancer patients.

The cost of hospital care is outrageous. Parking at a NYC hospital alone is $35 a day. Imagine having two check-ups a week after a bone marrow transplant, as if just getting to the hospital in NYC traffic wasn’t enough!

However, I am happy to say that one of our honored teammates explained that after two years of ineffective chemo, her only option was a bone marrow transplant. Not only is she happy and healthy after years of struggling, but the LLS paid for her entire 27 day hospital stay1

We also met Aiden! One of my honored teammates was diagnosed at age 3 and now at age 6 is 6 months in remission! He stood on stage and said, “My name is Aiden. I had cancer once.”

It was adorable!

One thing I learned is that cancer can occur very unexpectedly. Gretchen was 20 when she was diagnosed, and had no idea she was sick prior to a blood test. Dave, another honored teammate, joked that he knew he had cancer when he no longer had to wait to see the doctor. The doctor was waiting for him!

While obviously it was an emotional day, it was wonderful.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Message from Katie Davis--my five year old honored teammate!

Dear Nike Runners & Walkers,

I wanted to send you a word of thanks and encouragement as you get in to your
loooooooooooooooong runs! I am so excited to be your honored teammate. Let’s see,
since I last talked to you, I turned 5 on July 1st, I had my quarterly checkup and learned I
was still in remission. I have to continue daily chemotherapy but my doctor said he
thinks it will be okay for me to go back to school in the fall! I can’t wait, I would have
been really sad to miss out on kindergarten. This summer I have been learning how to
swim (my twin Olivia got to learn last year but I was way too sick). Today, I lost my first
tooth! I can’t wait to see what’s under my pillow tomorrow morning!

All of these things are possible because of people like you, who are working so hard to
raise money to help find treatments and cures for leukemia. If it wasn’t for all the
progress that has been made, I wouldn’t have the chance to experience any of these
normal “kid” things because I wouldn’t have had the chance to beat this. You’ve given
me the gift of life and the ability to be a pretty healthy 5 year old and for that I can’t
thank you enough! I am so proud that you are a member of my team and I hope that
thinking of me helps to motivate you while you work so hard to get ready for Nike. It’s
going to be great, believe me… I know, this is my second year! My big sister Emma
even crossed the finish line last year with the team – and my whole family can’t wait to
cheer you all the way to the end!

I drew you a picture you can look at whenever you need to be reminded how much I love
and appreciate you for helping kids like me.

Kate Davis

The magic of mission moments

Saturday was my first long run in 3 weeks! So I was pretty nervous to see how my body would take it. My previous long run had been 8 miles, so I was hoping I would find it within me to do 9 miles.

So at 8 am we stood on the terrace, and Coach Ramon pumped us up. In fact, he asked that we run two miles longer than our previous long run. Apparently by now we should have a good base to our running, and tacking on an extra mile shouldn't affect us physically...just mentally.

While getting in a mental mindset for running can be difficult, our mission moment that morning was all it took!

I have had a hard time relating the mission moments in this blog because they are so powerful. However, one of our honored teammates, Dave, just ran the 1/2 marathon only months after a second round of chemo. His grandfather died of blood cancer, his mother battled it and won, and he is still fighting. But I have seen him at every practice!

His mother was in from Florida to see her son run. She is a very small woman, so she stood on the park bench to discuss how much Team in Training meant to her. She said that every year, as a girl, she would watch the Boston Marathon with her father. It was a family tradition and one of the few chances she had to bond with her Dad. When her father died of cancer, her mother really didn't allow her children to show emotion.

It wasn't until the next Boston Marathon that Dave's mom truly had the opportunity to grieve. Running and crying now go hand in hand, she said.

So she thanked us and told us she loved us and loved what we were doing.

While it is hard to really impart how touching her speech was, I can tell you there wasn't a dry eye in the park.

As we all tried to get ourselves together, Coach Ramon jumped on the bench and said, "after that you all should add 5 miles to your run!"

So off we went.

I ran with two other girls. I planned on running the first full loop (6 miles) with them, and then doing the lower 4 mile loop, if I could. We slowly made it around once, and I knew that if I went off alone, I might not make it. So I decide to do the upper 5 mile loop with them, leaving them when we got back to the terrace. I was actually fine, my legs started to get a little sore around mile 9, but I made it to mile 9 (OMG) and kept going.

By the time I had made it 11 miles, I figured that doing 1 more mile to complete the second loop was not going to kill me.

So I actually ran 12 miles! I am hoping it wasn't a fluke, but at this point I can hardly wait for the Queens half marathon next month!

Shaking in my sneakers

So my first practice back, I was just as nervous as my first. After missing seven practices, I had no idea how I would perform. I stressed about the upcoming hill workout until practice finally started at 6:35. It was a hill workout. The description was clear cut, run up and down Cat Hill until the coaches tell you that you can stop.

Okay, actually I was fine. I enjoyed running from the Boat House to Cleopatra’s Needle and back, over and over. But I was more than happy to stop on cue.

Back from 2 weeks of bliss

Clearly I didn’t have time to blog while I was in Europe. In fact, I only checked my e-mail twice in the entire two and half weeks! This was quite a change considering I usually check my e-mail twice before 9am.

However, I did manage to run for 30-45 minutes about 4 or 5 times a week while I was away. I have to say the scenery was quite beautiful. In Germany, I ran along the shore of Lake Constance, through lush flower bushes and bountiful orchards. The air was cool and fresh at night, and the sleepy town of Vasserburg was completely safe to run late at night. In fact, one night I was running at around 10:30, it was almost pitch black, but up ahead I saw a little bon fire. As I approached I realized there was about 30 5 and 6 year old kids sitting around it. Then as if they sensed me approaching, then all rose and started sprinting down the street ahead of me with two adults. I have no idea where they ended up or why these little wood nymphs were up so late, but they were sure fast!

In Naples, I ran along the sea from port to port. It was stunning to see all the huge yachts in the water. The city, much like New York, was full of action late into the night, so I had plenty to take in as I ran with the lighted hills of the city embracing me like a jovial, happy to be alive, hug.