Monday, December 17, 2012

On the current state of the world royally sucking

In memory of Commander William R. Hand, as well as those who were lost in Newton, CT.  
**I wrote this post in two sittings, a week apart from one another.  I thought the ideas ended up coming together well, but I'll forgive you if you disagree.**

Life is short, (fill in the blank).  Sometimes I feel like my head will pop off from the sheer volume of ideas I have for filling in that blank.  What to do with my life, what to do when I grow up, what to do with my weekend, what to do after dinner. It's completely overwhelming if you think about it too much.  Every once in awhile, I look around and think that everyone else in the world is clearly much happier, funnier, prettier, wealthier, skinnier, more successful, more relaxed, etc. etc. etc. than I am.  Ok.  I think that more than once in awhile.  It's pretty easy to do, you know?  Be petty, forget about all of the good things that you have right in front of you, and all around you, and inside of you, and focus on what you don't have.  

"The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel"

I found this quote, and couldn't help but think about all of the Facebook posts, and tweets, and Instagrams that people (me included) post every day about the great movie they're going to, or the awesome meal they're making, or their flowers they got/new shoes/job promotion/kitten/baby/wedding.  How many people are out there posting about how they burned dinner, didn't meet their deadline, had a fight with their husband, are sleep deprived because of their baby, or didn't get a second date?  We are only seeing their highlight reel.  

I've been working on focusing on being present in everything that I do in my life.  Normally, I'd roll my eyes at anyone that told me to "be present in the moment," but in light of some pretty heavy, awful stuff that's been happening in my world and yours, I'm pretty much willing to try anything to keep myself focused on what doesn't currently make me want to cry.  Even last night at the concert we went to, a member of the band the Lumineers literally implored the hundreds of millenials, with our collective need to Instagram, Facebook and Tweet every waking moment of our lives, to "put away your phones and just be present."  I tried not to smack the phone out of hand of the teenager in front of me who continued to record and take pictures for the entire concert.  Instead I felt sad that she was missing one of the best live shows I'd ever been to.  I was struck by the irony of trying to record memories.  She ended up just watching the concert on a screen.  

That being said, I would be lying if I said that I WANTED to be fully present in every moment of my life.  I definitely wanted to be anywhere but in the here and now when I heard about Newton on Friday.  I thought about the many lockdown drills I'd done with my own students during my years as a teacher; the nightmares I had for months after Columbine when I was in high school myself.  In the moment when I saw the first news about the shootings, that familiar feeling of dread in my stomach and pain in my heart hit.  Hard.  I did not want to be present; I wanted to hide from the world under some blankets with my favorite bear, and pretend like I never learned that the world is not what it seems when you're 6 years old.

That same feeling struck me again tonight when I clicked on the P Blog to read Curtis' daily update on Lizbeth.  Oh how I wish I could unclick.  I do not want to be a part of the present right now. I want to rewind to two years ago in December, when Lizbeth invited me over to her house to decorate for Christmas.  She takes decorating very seriously, and has wonderful taste.  She had the most beautiful decorations, including a tiny tree out by the front door that I thought was the sweetest thing.  I remember thinking that I was so busy and so stressed out about school, and I really just didn't have time to be there.  In spite of my best, most selfish efforts to not live in that moment, that will always be one of my most special memories with Lizbeth.  It was not documented on Twitter, and I didn't post a status update about it.  That memory is stored in my heart and my mind where it will stay.  

I know that many of you who read this also feel overwhelmed by the bombardment of sad news from every direction.  Today, I'm giving myself permission to be sad.  I won't try to pretend like things are ok, and I won't even try to comfort myself too much with thoughts of all of the good in the world (yes, I know it's out there).  And if you need to be sad for today, I'm pointing at you and giving you permission as well.  

I always thought it was a load of crap when I heard at funerals or memorials, "so and so wouldn't want you to be sad."  As long as I'm being sad today, I'm also going to be selfish and say that I DO want SOMEONE to be sad when I'm gone.  If you're sad, that means you've experienced loss.  It is normal.  It is right.  If you're not sad, then there was no loss of that person's love, their laughter, their spirit, their kindness.*  I better damn well be a loss to someone.  I'm trying really, really hard to make it so someone is sad when I'm gone.  

So today, please allow yourself to be sad for what you've lost.  Or what you know to be unfair.  Or the suffering that you wish others were not going through.  

Tomorrow I will focus on new babies, and heroism, and the love of family, and the holiday spirit.  For tonight, I'm going to cuddle up under a blanket, read a book, and let my sadness hang out for a bit.  But just a bit.  

Peace and love, 


*Just so we're clear, sadness comes at different times and in different forms for every person.   I never mean to offend.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How are you living your moments?

First, let me apologize for not posting for soooo long.  I've been running.  A lot.  Ok so clearly that's not all I've been doing, but sometimes it sure feels like it!  I'll start by giving you a quick update on my marathon training.

I've been running 4 times a week, going to track workouts with Coach Bob on Tuesdays, and doing my long runs on Saturdays.  As always, Brian has been a huge support, and my friends and family have been cheering me on along the way.  

Last weekend, Brian and I drove to Michigan to spend Thanksgiving with his family.  We had a great time, playing hilarious games (Tiiiiimmme's Up!), eating delicious food, and seeing cheesy/awesome movies (truth time: I may or may not have paid money to see the last Twilight movie.  And I may or may not have loved it.). 

I felt so bad because pretty much as soon as we arrived on Thursday, I headed out the door again for a 4 mile run.  Brian's parents are lucky to live in a pretty rural area, and it was a beautiful sunny day.  I started out doing sprints, but ended up doing a fartlek.  Yes, that's really what this type of run is called.  Fart-lek.  It means "speed play" in Swedish, and you basically vary the speed of your running throughout the entire workout.  Since I wasn't running with anyone that I could chase/race with, I decided to choose different landmarks along the way that I would speed up and run towards.  Once I got to the landmark, I would slow down and run easy until the next landmark I chose.  It was a pretty challenging workout, especially since the landscape was not completely flat and the cows at the nearby farm were out in full force (made for some AWESOME deep breathing).  

I got back from my run just in time to eat Thanksgiving dinner (those Chapmans are early eaters on Turkey Day!), and I was more than happy to eat the weight of my head in mashed potatoes.  I have a very big head.  

Two days and lots of carbs later, I was back on the road.  This time, however, it was 30 degrees with a 16 degree wind chill (instead of 60 and sunny), and it was snowing.  Ummm, no.  I do not do that nonsense.  There is a reason we moved south instead of north.  There is a reason I was more than happy to spend 5 sweaty months in Central America.  

The thing is, I did do it.  I did 9 whole freezing cold windy snow/ice pelty muddy dead deer carcassy (it was way gross on the side of the road) miles of it.  NOW let me tell you about the weekend before, and you'll understand why I had no problem freezing my cheeks, all four of them, off to do that run.  

Two weeks ago, I went to Oklahoma to visit Lizbeth.  I was really looking forward to my visit, since I hadn't seen her since the day she left for Oklahoma back in July. I had been following her journey via text messages and her blog, but wanted badly to be there with her and catch up on everything we'd missed chatting about over the past 4 months.  

I arrived on Saturday, and Liz's dad Jay picked me up from the airport.  When I arrived at Jay and Jo's home, everyone was gathered in the living room to watch the Oklahoma Sooners play West Virginia (they won- Boomer Sooner!  See, I learned something :) ).  Liz was resting in her mom's room, and I was greeted with "I've been waiting since 8 o'clock for you to get here!"  Classic Lizbeth.  We sat and talked for a bit, and I caught her up on all of my job and wedding planning news.  I showed her a pic of my pretty pretty bridesmaid Emily Herron in the dress I picked out for the ladies, and she gave her stamp of approval.  As we talked, Liz began to get tired and eventually had to go to sleep.  She'd had a rough few days, and was still not feeling great.  

The rest of the weekend was spent sitting with Liz, telling her about all the good gossip from home (Maryland), and just holding her hand.  I got a chance to spend time with her mom and dad and Curtis, and I can honestly say I've never seen such an amazing group of people gathered around someone in a show of absolutely unconditional love.  I hope that I can inspire that kind of love from the people in my life, and in turn give it back to them.  

I watched Lizbeth work so hard to do the most basic things, and it gave me so much strength.  I never doubted what an amazing and beautiful person she is, but my visit was a chance to see that side of her from a different angle.  She is so so brave.  Her spirit is truly special.  

Since my visit, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on my own life and how I want to spend my moments. Because that's what life is.  Just a series of moments that go by and don't come back.  

Liz has inspired me to spend my moments in hope, and not in fear.  Liz has inspired me to spend my moments getting over it, not fixating on it.  Liz has inspired me to spend my moments striving to be better, not worrying about what I cannot do.  Liz has inspired me to measure my moments in "I love you"s.  

Liz and Curtis wrote Brian and I a card when we got engaged.  I'm pretty sure this is the only marriage (and life) advice we'll ever need.  Take note:

Congratulations!  You are about to begin the greatest adventure of your life.  It will be awesome...always remember:
1) Tomorrow is a new day
2) Respect is most important
3) Tell the other how much you love them everyday
4) No one is perfect but we are all (double underlined!) unique.
5) Don't forget to have date nights!

Love, Lizbeth and Curtis

This is on our refrigerator, and I'm pretty sure it will be getting its own frame soon.  

Not much else to say after that.  Some of you are so sweet with your encouragement of my marathon training.  Please remember that I am not amazing.  I am not awesome.  I just put one foot in front of the other.  The real hero is in Oklahoma City.  I hope she knows it.  

Desiderata- Max Ehrmann 1927

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

Peace and love, 


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oh really Bob? Challenge accepted.

Misery, thy name is Bob.  Let me tell you about my running week.  On Saturday, Brian and I headed out to our go-to long run spot, the American Tobacco Trail.  It's an old railroad that they turned into a trail as part of the national Rails-to-Trails system.  Because it used to be a train track, it's pretty much nice and flat with a few looong, gradual hills here and there.  Perfect for a long, easy training run.

I ran 7.5 miles, and just barely finished before the first lead runners came down the trail for the American Tobacco Trail 10 miler!  Those were some speedy people!  We hung out for a bit to cheer on the lead pack, and in the meantime, met a very nice guy who is a member of the North Carolina Road Runners club.  They're the local running club that sponsors a lot of the races in the area and holds weekly group runs and track workouts.  I told this guy about my training and he surprised me by telling me that he's run the National Marathon/USA Rock 'n' Roll marathon in D.C. three times!  He told me that he really liked the race, but that the last 6 miles or so were pretty dead and not too scenic.  Luckily, I've done a LOT of reading about this race and was ready to hear that kind of assessment of the course.  Don't worry, I plan on planting supporters along the last 6 miles or so to cheer for me/run with me at the end of the race :).

And now about Bob.  This very nice man suggested that I go to the weekly NCRR track workouts, because a coach named Bob would be happy to work with me.  I thanked him and headed home, excited to email Bob and learn more about how I could improve my speed and my overall marathon time.  

When I emailed Bob, I explained to him that I wasn't looking to win the marathon, I would just like to finish under the 5.5 hour course time limit.  I wanted to get faster, but realized that I wouldn't be qualifying for Boston anytime soon.  He emailed back with a questionnaire that required me to list things like my fastest 5k time, fastest 10k time, fastest half marathon time, gender, age, height and weight.  I quickly filled out the form and sent it back.

Not too long after, I received an email that went like this:  

Looking at your history, if you don't mind I'd like to ask you a few questions and make a few comments only to help you understand a few things about running faster.

I noticed that you have been running for 8 years and weigh 165 lbs. 

**Note:  normally this would be unthinkable for me to tell people/everyone/the internet how much I weigh, but the truth is, I'm not ashamed of it (anymore).  If you know me well, you know I've struggled with weight and eating issues most of my life, and I'm proud to say I'm dealing with it and seeking advice from people who can help me take care of myself in a positive way.  Clearly I'm not a slug, as I've run three half marathons and many other races.  No reason for me to be ashamed of what I am :).  I work hard to be my best every day, and that is only getting better as I get older!  On to the rest of Bob's note...

How much did you weigh when you started? Has your weight varied much over the years because of pregnancy or some other reason? Do you have children or anything else that impacts your running negatively?

The reason I ask is because the easiest way to get faster is to get lighter. 

Now Bob, first, let me say thank you for your insight.  It hadn't occurred to me that I am not the skinniest of runners and that losing weight might improve my running!  Stroke of freakin' genius there, Bob!  

Ok, but seriously with all sarcasm aside, I truly think that Bob was trying to be helpful, as he went on to explain how weight affects your running, and how he has struggled as a "yo-yo dieter" all of his life.  The feminist in me wanted to shoot off an email that basically said "HECK WITH YOU" old man!  You don't know me!  But I realized (with the help and advice of my sisters and my mom) that I could go one of two directions with this.  I could get pissed off that Bob had been insensitive to the weight and self-image issues that I have (unbeknownst to him), forget going to the track workouts, and train on my own, or I could allow Bob's slightly backwards yet (I believe) genuinely well-meaning advice to motivate me.  I chose to take his words and run with them, literally.

I took my time and wrote a note back to Bob that ended like this:  

If you think you can work with a slow, slightly chubby but eager and determined student, I would love to come out for track workouts.  I am a little intimidated by speedy people, but I want to try.  

Which brings me to this evening.  I showed up to the track at the local middle school and immediately had bad flashbacks.  It was like my 8th grade track unit all over again, only with better hair and less acne this time (thank goodness).  There were lots of fit people running around the track, and I as I stood their watching them and shivering in the chilly wind, a tall, lanky, older man walked up to me.  Our convo went something like this (brace yourself, y'all):

Bob:  You must be Emily!  Nice to meet you.

Me:  Yes!  Hi, nice to meet you too!

Bob:  You don't look like you weigh 165 lbs.!  


Me: Oh thank you, lots of people say that when they learn how much I weigh (awkward silence, dumbfounded look, supersideeye)

Bob:  You must just be very muscle-y! (Cheerful look like he just doled out the biggest compliment ever)
Me in my head:  You are about to get a swift kick to the knee, grandpa

Me:  Haha yes, I like to think it's my large brain!  (even more awkward silence)

We stood there as he greeted the other runners who were making their way by us on the track.  One lady jogged past, and Bob greeted her cheerfully.  She was much older than the rest of the running contingent at the track, but was holding her own as she glided along.  Bob quickly explained to me that she was in her 70's, and then looked me square in the eye and said (I kid you not), 

"That old lady can run a faster 5k than you can.  How do you feel about that?"

Ummmm, freaking great, Bob!  Freaking spectacular, as it has ALWAYS been a dream of mine to get beat out in a foot race against a lady who probably had a Victory Garden and remembers when sanitary napkins were a. called sanitary napkins and b. came with straps and buttons.  GAAAAAHHHHHH!!  POINT.TAKEN.BOB!!!!!

And from that moment, it was on.  No way was Bob Barker on steroids over here going to discourage me from reaching my goal.  Again, I truly believe that Bob had every intention of being funny and helpful, but this is not usually the style of encouragement that oooooh, you know, actually encourages me.  Today, something was different.  Today I was running for the chubby girls.  

I took my 6 minute time test, where I had to run as far as I could in 6 minutes.  I ran with determination and a sense of wanting to prove something.  And you know what?  I ran pretty darn fast for me.  I think Bob was even the slightest bit impressed :).  

I will go back to Tuesday track workouts, not because I want to run to lose weight, and not because I want to be the fastest person on the track so I can feel "good" about myself, but because I have a goal that is JUST for me, and I want to reach that goal.  

It's the same goal that it's been since I started training.  Train for a marathon so I can bring a greater awareness to the need for more funding for Ovarian Cancer research.  Finish the marathon to prove to the people who have been generous enough to donate that I love and appreciate their support.  Run to make Lizbeth proud.  

If I lose a few pounds along the way, that's fine.  If I stay exactly the same size, that's all right too.  I'm not about changing myself on the outside, because I know that this journey has already changed me so much right where it counts- in my heart.  

And to all the other "chubby" girls out there, don't let the Bob's get you down.  Get out there and do your thing anyway, and don't forget to be so insanely proud of everything in your life that you've accomplished.  I know I am :)

PS- I think I like Bob.  I think we're going to be good friends.  I think I'm going to get my butt kicked by him.  And I think I'm ok with that.

**Want to support this chubby runner and show your love for Lizbeth?  Donate today!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bow ties, bike flips and bAmazing donations (ok not a word, but I tried hard...)

So this week has been FULL of good news and I'm really excited to share it all!  The first good news was that Lizbeth's test results came back showing that her CA-125 tumor marker is down by 30%!  This is a good indication that the newest round of chemo is working to shrink her tumors!!  So awesome!  She is such a fighter and deserves to see that all of her efforts and the efforts of her wonderful doctors are working.  

The second piece of awesome news came from the president of my alma mater, Dickinson College.  To give you some background, President William G. Durden, also an alumnus, is pretty much a legend at Dickinson.  He's known for several things, including his love of one of our founding fathers, Benjamin Rush, his love of the phrase "engage the world!" and is INTENSE love of bowties.  
Doesn't he look dapper?!
Anyway, he's extremely smart, extremely driven, and extremely approachable.  I have many good memories of him from Dickinson, including his bow tie tying tutorials that would often run on the college tv station.  

On Thursday, I saw a post on Facebook from the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, asking people to "like" a picture of an official OCRF bow tie so that OCRF could win a competition being held by BowTie Cause.  BowTie Cause is a foundation started by former NFL player Dhani Jones to support his friend who was battling lymphoma at the time.  The bow ties sold by BowTie Cause are all custom ties that represent a charity organization, and a majority of the proceeds from the sale of each bow tie go to the designated charity.

I thought about President Durden and his affinity for neck accessories, so I figured, what the heck.  I sent him an email, telling him about my experience at Dickinson participating in philanthropic work with my sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, and how that love of service has stuck with me ever since.  I told him about Lizbeth, and what I was doing to help bring awareness to ovarian cancer research.  I also appealed to his good sense of fashion and asked if he would consider purchasing a bow tie to wear at one of his public events.  Well I truly almost fell out of my chair when not five minutes later, I got the following email back:  

Emily—thanks so much for your wonderful message and thank you for your engagement in issues that matter. Of course, I shall buy a bow-tie. Never been known to resist one! I am purchasing it as I type. All the best. BD

I was truly blown away.  For a man with a million things on his plate at all times to email me back so quickly with the promise of promoting this cause was truly humbling to me.  And THEN I got the following email just a few minutes after the first:

Emily—just ordered! BD

Just awesome.  I shared this with my fellow Dickinsonians, and everyone was just as excited as I was!  I have such a renewed sense of pride in my college and all that it stands for!  Look out for Bill Durden rockin' his OCRF bow tie at an event near you!!  Oh, and if you'd like your very own OCRF bow tie, you can purchase one HERE.  $39 of the $57 purchase price goes DIRECTLY to OCRF.  What a great gift for that stylish person in your life :).  

So more on why this whole bow tie thing is a really really big deal.  Just last year, FOX Sportscaster Ken Rosenthal started Bow Ties for Charity, and wore the bow ties of different organizations to bring awareness to each cause.  Check out a picture of him wearing the OCRF bow tie HERE!!  This year, the top four charities that have the most "likes" for the picture of their bow tie on Facebook will have their bow tie appear (on Ken, of course :) ) during this year's Major League Baseball World Series.  What an amazing opportunity to bring awareness to ovarian cancer!  

I'm asking you now, if you have Facebook (and I'm pretty sure the only people I know that don't have Facebook at this point are my parents, and that's ok with me...), please go HERE, and "like" the photo of the  OCRF bow tie!  We need as many likes as we can get to make sure that the good work of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund is shown on televisions across the WORLD!!  Make it happen, people!

And last but not least, we are only $170 away from hitting the $2,000 mark for OCRF Team Hope!!  This is truly incredible considering this whole endeavor started almost exactly ONE MONTH AGO!!!  Sorry, I'm just a little excited about all of this :).  

If you haven't donated already, or would like to help us make the push to $2,000, please consider giving today.  If you have a friend or family member that you would like to honor, make sure to say so on the donation form and their name will show up on the wall of donors on my page.  Here's my fundraising link:

Ok ok really last but not least, I finished a 7 mile run this weekend at a respectable pace, so I was super pumped about that.  The weather was gorgeous and the fall colors are just starting to come out, so the conditions were just right for a great run.  We also saw some poor guy do a pretty skilful flip off of his bike into the woods while we were running.  No worries though, he popped right back up and was fine.  Dude should consider a career in stunt work!  

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend, and are looking forward to a promising week ahead!

Peace and love, 

Monday, October 15, 2012

"I AM fit! I'm just slow!" and other lessons from training for a marathon

It's been a lovely two days of rest.  I'm not gonna lie, Sunday (cross train), Monday (rest) and Friday (rest) are my favorite 3 days of my training plan.  They're not my favorites for the reason you may think, though.  I love these days because they give me a chance to reflect on what the heck I just accomplished (a whole lot) and what's still ahead (ok, a heck of a lot more!).  

They give my good old quads, calves, hips and hamstrings time to let me know that while I might have asked a lot of them over the past week, they are there for me and are ready to step up for the next mileage/speed increase I'm about to ask of them.  It's nice to know that even though it may seem like a bad idea to run up that giant hill- because let's be honest, your legs are cursing you, your lungs are screaming and your brain just wants to take a nap- your body actually thanks you later for the challenge.  It's always a good kind of tired knowing that you abused your body in the right way.   

I sat down this afternoon with my revised training plan, and taped the various pieces of paper together.  Yes, I am pretty old school so I literally cut up two different plans with scissors and taped them back together, while crossing out and adding parts in order to adjust for the extra weeks I have between now and March 16th.  Most marathon training plans are somewhere between 15 and 20 weeks, so I'm lucky that I have some cushion time just in case I need to repeat a week's mileage/get sick/get injured. Fingers crossed none of that actually happens, but it has before so I'm building it into the schedule this time.

You can totally see the tape!!

It's pretty terrifying to see my mileage build from around 15 miles a week all the way up to a peak of 40 a few weeks before the actual race.  I'm trying to trust the process and do the whole "train smarter not harder" thing, but it's still intimidating.  I'm even reading a book called "Marathoning for Mortals" by John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield, all about, well, running a marathon if you're not an elite athlete.  I think my favorite passage is John's description of wearing a heart rate monitor for the first time.  After his race, he and the creator of the monitor that he was testing  looked over the data, only to find that it said he ran at 80% of his maximum heart rate for over 5 hours (that's pretty impressive).  The creator's comment was that the data were clearly wrong, because "do you know how fit you'd have to be to keep your heart rate at 80% for 5 hours?"  John's response was, "I am fit!  I'm just slow!"  

Yup.  That's one of the mantras I repeat to myself as I run/jog/slog/whatever you want to call it through my Saturday runs.  This past Saturday I covered 6.5 miles, my pace was great, and my legs felt awesome at the end.  The only thing that almost threw me off were my thoughts about how it would feel to finish the race on marathon day.  I thought about how awesome it will be to see Lizbeth at the finish line, and maaaaan, that was enough to make the trail in front of me go blurry for a few minutes.  Those happy tears definitely got me through the last 1/2 mile with a little extra speed (even if I couldn't quite see where I was going!).  

Liz has several more rounds of chemo to get through, but the new cocktail she's been given seems to be a big step up from the last one.  My thoughts are with her every single day, and I can't wait to hear about all the good days she has ahead!

In the meantime, I'm brainstorming all sorts of ideas for fundraisers for Team Hope!  Here's a sneak peak at one I'm working on:
Colored Pencil Bracelet! Complimented by OCRF bracelet, of course!

I have to give credit for the idea to two awesome ladies who volunteered at Mary Open Doors, the non-profit I worked for in Belize last year.  Anna and Savannah made tons of these bracelets to sell to raise money for different organizations, and I wear mine a lot.  I absolutely LOVE my bracelet, and get compliments on it all the time!  What do you think?  I've already gotten to work on them, and I'll let everyone know once I have some finished!  

In other super awesome way cool news, I got my race kit in the mail the other day from OCRF Team Hope!  They sent me a load of swag, including a FANCY Team Hope Tri top, some sweet running socks, a running hat (it even fits my big head!), a really really really nice hydration belt with a pocket for keys, gels, etc. and an ID tag (I like this adjustable version so much better than the velcro belt ones I have now), some OCRF sticky notes, and a bag to stash all of my gear in on race day.  Thanks to OCRF Team Hope for all of your support!  
Ooooh fancy swag!  

Speaking of support, let's keep those donations coming!  We're over 25% which is incredible! We still have a ways to go to get to $5,000, so think about giving even a $10 donation today HERE!

Have an awesome week, y'all!

Peace and love, 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sometimes life's a beach- sometimes it's that other b-word

This weekend we got to spend some time at the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where Brian and I will be getting married next fall.  It was a beautiful weekend to camp, and we even managed to get a six mile run in on Saturday morning!  Gorgeous scenery has a way of making a run a little more manageable :).  

While I sat on the beach on Saturday, I read through the October issue of SELF magazine.  If you haven't gotten your copy yet, I'd recommend picking one up today.  It has such great information on cancer detection, treatment, and the realities of what life with cancer is really like.  

SELF even named the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund one of the three Best Cancer Charities to donate to, noting that 90% of your donation dollars go directly to fund research.  You can see most of the 2012 Women's Cancer Handbook online here.  Check it out for helpful tips and inspiring stories!

The weather back in Raleigh has been chilly and gray.  I needed a little pick me up today, so I wore my favorite bracelet- it's the one Lizbeth gave me before we left to go live in Belize.  It has all sorts of inspirational words on it, and it reminds me that sometimes you just have to have faith and trust that things will work out.  Lizbeth promised me it would be the adventure of a lifetime and that I wouldn't regret it for a second, and of course, she was right.  I will continue to have faith and trust that things will work out for the best for her as well!

I know that she's been having a rough time with the second round of chemo, and can use all of the encouragement she can get.  If you don't already have her address and would like it to send her a card, please send me a message and I'll get it to you.  She would love to hear from you!

We're up to $1,305 raised for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, with lots more to go!  Feel free to pass on the link to my fundraising page to anyone you think might be interested in donating to this important cause!  
My Team Hope fundraising page- donate here!

Peace and Love, 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Think Pink (and Teal)!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so here's a reminder to do your breast self-exams and get your mammogram to keep yourself (and your ladies) healthy!  The CDC recommends that women between the ages of 50-74 get mammograms once every two years, and if you are between the ages of 40-49 to speak with your doctor about when and how often you should get a mammogram.  

If you aren't sure how to do the self exam or would like more information, Susan G. Komen has a very comprehensive explanation here.  I know that Lizbeth would want you to get yourself checked out, as breast cancer is unfortunately no stranger to her family.

As you look around at all the pink this month and appreciate the much deserved support that is given to breast cancer awareness, remember that there are lots of other colored ribbons that might not be as visible, but are just as important to the person struggling to fight the disease that color represents.  

Every day, researchers are learning more about ovarian cancer, what causes it and how to treat it.  Recently, a study found that a particular type of breast cancer tumor is actually MORE similar to an aggressive form of ovarian cancer than to other types of breast cancer.  

Why is this exciting news?  This discovery suggests that these two types of cancer might be genetically similar.  This means that the ovarian cancer could potentially be treated with the same drugs already being used to successfully treat breast cancer.

Since 1998, the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund has given out almost $45 million dollars in grant money to researchers that use the funding to make important discoveries like this.  Every dollar donated brings us one step closer to solving the mysteries of ovarian cancer and eliminating it completely.  

The OCRF was even featured in this month's issue of SELF magazine!  Here's a quote from the OCRF Facebook page (which you should definitely "Like" if you haven't already!)

"Check out SELF Magazine's 12-page “Women's Cancer Handbook 2012” in their October issue for great information on risk and prevention, survivor stories, and more. On page 130, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund is proud to be listed as one of the 
best cancer charities. And, visit the SELF website for a listing of cancer organizations and their events. OCRF, the Toyota SheROX Triathlon Series and our Team Hope are mentioned!"

So awesome!!

Running Times

My running has been going really well, although this crazy heat and humidity has been no help whatsoever!  I mean, it's October, people- where are the cool, brisk evening runs I've been looking forward to?  I think I've seen about four leaves that have changed color so far.  This southern weather is going to take some getting used to!  At least in Belize it was blazing hot AND there were palm trees, so it was a little less confusing.  Except at Christmas, when it was 85 degrees and sunny and my church outfit was a sundress and flip flops.  Just weird.  

Anyway, thank you to everyone that has been so supportive of my efforts to train for this marathon, especially my awesome fiance, Brian.  We FINALLY set a wedding date (9/22/13) and I'm looking forward to making a trip to see Lizbeth and do some dress shopping (she offered so I'm taking her up on it!  We all know she'll be honest about how I look!!).  

Please keep showing your support for Lizbeth and Team Hope by making a donation to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund on my Team Hope website  

To date, we have raised $1255 and are on our way to our goal of $5,000!!  I'm working on some exciting fundraisers (feeling crafty!) so please check back in for updates!  

Have a great night, everyone!

Peace and love, 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Running through the rain

It's a rainy day here in Raleigh, and as I was running through the gray drizzle this morning I thought about how much Lizbeth loves a good rainy day.  She's always so funny about the weather and temperature.  When she had the office next to my classroom, I'd come in and complain that I was freezing cold, and she'd be sitting there in short sleeves saying how fabulous it felt.  Then I'd see her in the afternoon walking around outside with Ellen (on one of their many after-school walk/talk sessions) in her tank top and shorts, enjoying the hot sunshine.  I would go to her house to visit and seriously consider bringing my winter coat (brrr!), and she would be cool and comfortable and ready to chat for hours.  After a few minutes of sharing stories with her, I'd always forget that I was chilly anyway.  

I know that on rainy days like this, it's so easy to complain that your outdoor plans were ruined, or you have to remember an umbrella to go anywhere, or (like me!) your frizzy hair is just hopeless for the next 24 hours. What many of us forget to do is reflect on how much the rain allows us to appreciate the sunny days.  We miss the opportunity to allow ourselves a quiet day inside to read a book or get some cleaning done without feeling guilty about not being out "in the gorgeous weather."  We immediately think about all the things that we CAN'T do on a rainy day, and forget to look back on what we did to appreciate the last sunny day, or what we will do to take advantage of the next one.

I don't know what the weather is like where you are today, but take a minute to reflect on all of the sunny days in your life, appreciate the day that you are living, and look forward to the gorgeous ones ahead.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A tight sports bra does not a bad day make! Or, why sometimes you just have to suck it up and keep going

GREAT news!!  We have raised $920 since last Wednesday!!  We are so close to 20% of our total goal.  If you haven't made a donation yet, consider giving $10 to help get us closer to our first 20% goal!  Lizbeth is so excited about this fundraiser and race, and I'm excited to be doing it for her.  Here's the link to the donation page:

Lizbeth started chemo again.  This time she is getting a different "cocktail" of drugs to try and shrink the tumors.  The chemo drugs plus the drugs they give you to combat nausea and other side effects can make you pretty loopy.  I've gotten several texts from Lizbeth, and while they're not her usual crisp typing and grammar, her spirit, determination and sense of humor comes through in all of them.  

As I ran around Lake Johnson last night, UP and DOWN the hills (they're short but brutally steep), I felt really great and was able to keep up a good pace.  I felt like I had tons of energy, even at the end of my run.  

Today was a completely different story.  I did not eat well, and in the craziness of the day I pretty much forgot to drink my 64 oz. of water.  I stopped to pick up some new running gear since I haven't really bought anything new to run in since, ooooh 2007 or so.  What can I say, I liked my gear and we had been through a lot together.  

So when I headed out on the trail today, tired, pretty dehydrated, wearing snug not-even-close-to-broken-in gear, with an Amy's burrito sitting in my stomach like the huge brick of rice and beans that it was, I did not have a good feeling about my impending run.  About 5 minutes (yes minutes, not miles) in, I looked down at my Garmin and realized that it definitely was not keeping the correct pace/miles since there was no way I was running a 24 min. mile (I'm slow, y'all, but come on).  Add that to the list of "reasons your run will most definitely suck," and I had mentally bit the dust by the end of mile one.  I stopped and walked.  At first I felt pretty defeated, but I thought about how running is pretty much like everything else in life.  Some days will be A-MAZING, some days will be meh, and somedays your new sports bra will just be too tight.  Ok maybe not the last one.  But seriously.

I let myself be frustrated, I let myself feel sorry for myself, and then I got over it.  I thought of all of the runs I've done that have been those magic runs where you go 10 miles and feel like you can go 10 more (or hopefully 16.2 more...).  I thought about the days when it was 30 degrees out and the freezing air kept you moving until you warmed up and realized how much you LOVE running in the cold (and HATE running in any weather over 75 degrees).  I even thought about my hilly run yesterday that just so happened to be my fastest time yet on that route. And then I thought about the text I got last night, which loosely translated out of the chemo fog said, "I so miss you, could you come see me? It's taken me thirty minutes to write this.  Love to you and Brian."

Are you KIDDING ME?!  Liz was so determined to send that text (and write her blog post today, which you should read at if you haven't seen it yet) that she most likely DID spend 30 minutes trying to get it right and get her feelings across.  And for her to be sending love to ME when she's going through what she is is simply incredible to me.  Let's just say I started running again.  Immediately.  

"Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity."
- Henry Van Dyke

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hey runnin' crew!

So I went to bed last night excited about Tuesday's run and the possibility of raising more money for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.  I woke up to almost $900 in donations raised!!  As of tonight we've raised $920 for ovarian cancer research!!  I almost fell over when I saw that number.  And while we're on the subject of awesome news, I have recruited two more people to run this race with me!!  My good friend (and bridesmaid!!) Emily and her boyfriend Craig will be running their very first marathons on March 16!  Emily was also a co-worker of Lizbeth at North Point High School and according to her, Lizbeth has her to run her very first marathon (*Em is a XC coach at North Point and ran XC in college.  She's run a lot of races but this will be her first 26.2!!).

I have to say I'm not at ALL surprised that so many people have come forward to show their support for Lizbeth in this way.  I can't overlook all of those that show their support in other ways, though.  By sending a text, a phone call, an email, a Facebook message, a card, a package or even a visit to Lizbeth, you are showing her how much you love her.  That's what matters.  Please keep it up!!

I went for a short run today.  I used to really dread/fear/dislike training for races.  I would use it as a way to stay in shape, stay occupied, stay sane, but every time I'd go out for a run, it was always with a sense of hesitation and resentment.  I just didn't really want to do it.

Since I started this adventure (less than a week ago!!), I've met each day of training with joy, love, hope, and even excitement.  This has all been possible because of Lizbeth.

It might seem like I am doing this for her, but in reality, she's doing much more for me.  Somehow, someone who is facing something that most people would be devastated and defeated by is living each day with positivity and love.  If that's not inspirational...

So am I allowed to be cranky in the morning when I'm tired and have to go to work?  Sure.  But does that feeling last very long?  Absolutely not.  I just think of Lizbeth and how lucky I am to have her as an inspiration.  I have always admired her for absolutely not giving a sh*t (excuse my language, but you know it's true :) ) about what anyone else thinks.  That is one of many lessons I have learned from her that I am still striving to bring to my daily life.  I can't wait 'til I can live that philosophy as well as she does.    

Liz's latest word of the day on her blog was "superb."  That pretty much encompasses what kind of person she is, and what kind of person we all strive to be.  Have a superb night!
Peace and Love,


Monday, September 24, 2012

There's a reason it's called CANcer- not CAN'Tcer

No running for me today, so here are some other important updates:

I heard from Liz today, and she reported that there IS in fact a newspaper of lower quality than the Maryland Independent.  Hard to imagine, but I got a good laugh out of her assessment of the local OK City paper, and I was glad to hear some funny news from her :).

Unfortunately, ovarian cancer does not get nearly as much press as its better-known counterpart.  I'm so thankful for all of the research and awareness for breast cancer, but it definitely highlights the need for more funding for other types of cancer research.  I hope that one day there will be just as many walks, runs, fundraisers, teal ribbons  and people out there showing support for ovarian cancer research!    

If you are wondering who might be at higher risk for ovarian cancer, I gathered some information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to share:

"There is no way to know for sure if you 
will get ovarian cancer.  Most women 
get it without being at high risk.  
However, there are several factors that 
may increase the chance that you will 
get ovarian cancer, including if you:

•  Are middle-aged or older.

•  Have close family members 
(such as your mother, sister, aunt, 
or grandmother) on either your 
mother’s or your father’s side 
who have had ovarian cancer.

•  Have had breast, uterine, or 
colorectal cancer.

•  Have an Eastern European 
(Ashkenazi) Jewish background.

•  Have never given birth or have 
had trouble getting pregnant.

•  Have endometriosis (a condition 
where tissue from the lining of 
the uterus grows elsewhere in 
the body).

If you have one or more of these 
factors, it does not mean you will get 
ovarian cancer.  But you should speak 
with your doctor about your risk."

Keep in mind that this list is not all inclusive, and there are always exceptions.  Remember, if you suspect something is wrong with YOUR body, be your own advocate and get a medical opinion.  

As I get mentally ready for another week of running, I think about how wonderful it will be to have Lizbeth cheering for me as I run on March 16.  I know she will be there because she's a fighter and she has all of us that love her.  Looking forward to it more than anything.  

Peace and love, 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I'm so OVA cancer!!

Our fundraising efforts have really taken off!  I hope we can keep up this momentum, because we are already SO close to reaching 20% of the $5,000 goal!!  Please help keep this effort moving forward and make a donation today at my Team Hope fundraising page !  

Did you know September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month? As some of the ad campaigns for ovarian cancer advise, "Ovarian cancer whispers.  Listen." Here are some of the most common symptoms of ovarian cancer: 

-feeling bloated
-prolonged indigestion
-abdominal pain or constipation
-a feeling of fullness even when you haven't eaten a lot
- back pain

These symptoms can be signs of other problems, but if you suspect that something is not right, get yourself checked out and be your own advocate!

The official color of Ovarian Cancer awareness is teal, so I'm already on the hunt for some awesome teal-colored running gear :).  The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund's Team Hope has some pretty nice looking running tops, and I found some awesome vegan teal nail polish from Color Club for $8 a bottle.  That's a really reasonable price and the BEST PART is that 50% of the proceeds of the sale go directly to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund!  Here's the link if you'd like to order some with me:

Now for a running update:  

I saw a picture online that had this saying on it:  It's not's liquid awesomeness!

I think this will definitely need to be my new running motto!  Yesterday was the first of my "long" runs, and I headed out to the start of the American Tobacco Trail in Apex, NC to find a nice flat running surface.  My friend from college, Kristin, offered to run with me, and I gladly accepted!  It's SO much better to have a running partner to chat with along the way.  It makes the miles fly by and you realize that yes, you can actually hold a conversation without tripping and/or passing out from lack of oxygen :).  

We met bright and early at 8 AM and Kristin brought along her gorgeous 11 month old daughter, Madeline. I'm so mad I forgot to take pictures, because this little munchkin was absolutely adorable in her running stroller!  She was such a good running buddy, too, and sang to us as we made our way down the trail.  I like to think people were smiling and waving at all three of us as we ran past, but I'm pretty sure it was just for Madeline :).  I was definitely a hot sweaty beast for most of the way!

We finished our run, and I headed home to stretch, foam roll, and ice.  I've had some major problems in the past with my IT band, and it almost took me completely out of my last half-marathon, so I'm determined to train smart this time around.  I did find out yesterday, much to my disappointment, that foam rolling your IT band really does nothing to help it stretch out.  I guess that makes sense since it's a tendon and will stretch about as much as a "truck tire" according to this source.  Oh well- I'll roll every other muscle in my body and ice the heck out of it anyway!

Today was cross training day, so I did some work on the elliptical and bike, and worked on some hip strengthening exercises (to help my IT band).  Tomorrow will be a glorious day of rest, which is actually pretty essential to training for distance races (both for your muscles AND for your mind!).  

My weekly plan looks something like this:  

Sunday:  Cross train      Monday:  REST    Tuesday:  Run    Wednesday: Pace Run (run your marathon pace)   Thursday:  Run     Friday: REST   Saturday:  Long Run

I'm not doing a lot of speed work, because well, I'm honestly just trying to finish :).  I'll work it in here and there during my weekly runs, but I don't want to over do it and mess with the IT band of doom!

I heard that our dear friend Lizbeth had a good Friday and Saturday, which makes me SO happy to hear!  It's such motivation to think of her while I'm running, and I know that as the miles get longer, her bravery and strength will be the reason I will not give up.  

Thanks for checking in, and have a great week ahead!

Peace and love, 

Friday, September 21, 2012

We Made it to the Moon...Now Let's Cure Cancer!

Woke up this morning to see two awesome things!  First, ANOTHER donation came in over night, which brings our 1.5 day fundraising total to $265!!  Remember, if you want to make your donations anonymous, I understand and respect that.  But if you want me to tell everyone how AWESOME you are and let Lizbeth know that you are standing there with her, be sure to fill out your name when you make your donation.  In the meantime, I'll keep everything that shows up at anonymous our secret unless you tell me otherwise.  Either way, you are a rock star and I can't thank you enough!!

The second piece of awesome news this morning was this story from

"Launching a New War on Cancer"

The MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston as announced its "Moon Shots Program" and has  chosen Ovarian Cancer as one of its 5 targeted cancer types to focus on.  The goal of Moon Shots is to significantly reduce the number of deaths from these 5 types of cancer by the end of the DECADE.  Just like President Kennedy promised that we'd go to the moon by the end of the '60's, these determined scientists have promised to make deaths from ovarian cancer "as rare as dying of pneumonia."  

The coolest part is that YOU can have a stake in making Moon Shots a reality.  Because guess who gives funding to researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston??  That's right, the OVARIAN CANCER RESEARCH FUND, the non-profit I am raising money for by running a marathon!! Ahhhhh sooooo exciting!!!

So go ahead and start your weekend off right by making a donation to OCRF at my page,  By doing this, you will have personally helped to make the Moon Shots program a reality, and helped to get rid of deaths from ovarian cancer by the end of the decade!  

Peace and Love (and Happy Friday!),