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!), 


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Slow and Steady FINISHES the Race

Happy Friday Eve, y'all!  I just got back from a short run, and am ready to settle in for an evening of relaxing and Parks and Recreation!  Before I tell you about my run, let me share with you some EXCITING news:  in less than 24 hours, we have already raised $190 to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund!  A-MA-ZING!!  I exchanged a few messages with Lizbeth today, and she is SO excited about our fundraising efforts.  

I was so hyped up after I finished my first blog post last night that I didn't get to bed until after midnight.  When I did finally get to sleep, I woke up a few hours later to find that we'd already gotten our first donation!!  Point being, the amount of energy and love surrounding this effort is simply outstanding (please excuse the excessive use of exclamation points and smiley faces you're sure to encounter in this blog) and I cannot wait to see what happens between now and March 16th!

So in order to fully appreciate my choice to run a marathon in order to raise money to support Lizbeth, I'll give you a little background on my running history.  When I was in elementary school, I was a pretty chubby kid (shocker, right? :) ).  I can distinctly remember my gym teacher, Mr. Chichester (yes NP friends, Mr. C was my K-5 gym teacher and he was just as awesome then as he is now!!), making us run the mile for the Presidential Physical Fitness Test.  Anyone else have hellish flashbacks of that time of your life??  

I struggled to finish, and definitely was one of the last kids to do so.  I pretty much hated running.  Things didn't get much better in middle school (worse, if we're referring to hairstyle mistakes that I'll never live down).  I was SO pumped to have foot surgery in 8th grade, because guess what gym unit I'd be missing?  Yup, track and field.  Score.  I literally had anxiety attacks about running the hurdles in front of boys, so this was extremely convenient timing.  

The closest I got to running in high school was sprinting (if you could call it that) from base to base when I played softball and chasing the tennis ball that I'd just missed.  Again.  It wasn't until the END of college when I finally decided I could probably try training for a 5k.  And this was only because my older sister Kristen had signed up for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler and I really admired her- and still do.  I also suckered several of my friends to run with me.  It's kind of my M.O. so if I start asking you if you've ever considered running a marathon, watch out!

Once I had my first very slow 5k behind me, I got the fevah, the running fevaaaah :).  I started signing up for smaller races like the Twin Bridges race in Atlantic Beach with my good friend Katie, and then moved up to the Broad Street 10 miler in my beloved *cough* Philadelphia.  

Hold on a sec.  Let's just keep in mind that when I say "race" I mean "Emily tied her shoes, proceeded to put one foot in front of the other, and plodded her way to the finish, all while attempting to breath/not pass out/not choke on water/not hold up traffic/not embarrass herself."  

You heard it here first:


And that's ok.  There is a quote I love that says 

"Dead last finish, beats did not finish, which greatly trumps did not start. Have the courage to start." 

That's pretty much my motto.  I do try to get faster, but for the most part I'm fine with just finishing.  And I have finished quite a few races including two 3 half-marathons, 2 10-milers, several 10k's and a handful of 5k's.  All very, very slowly.  And that is how I like it, and that is how I intend to run this marathon**.  So if you're a running purist who says that us pokey ploddy runners take away from the real glory of the marathon, I am here to tell you that that's not the point.  Not even close. I will run every inch of that 26.2 mile race to bring attention to the battle against ovarian cancer that so many amazing women are fighting every single day.  One in particular will be in my heart every step of the race.  Sounds like a pretty glorious reason to run slowly, right?

What shouldn't be slow is the race to find a cure for ovarian cancer.  YOU can help speed up that race by donating to the OCRF today!  Even $10 is a HUGE help and will get us closer to finding a cure for this disease.  Please take a minute to visit my fundraising page and consider making a donation to show your support and love to Lizbeth.  She deserves all that we can give her.  

Peace and love, 


**There IS a 5.5 hour course limit on this race, so I'm gonna try not to be TOO slow...I hear they have something called a sag wagon to scoop you off the course...eek!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

I've known Lizbeth Frazer-Fatig since I was in middle school.  My mother was lucky enough to work with her at Barnhart Elementary School in Waldorf, Maryland.  Back then, Lizbeth was just one of the many caring teachers that Mom worked with who took the time to say hi to me whenever I visited.  Imagine  my surprise when almost ten years later, that same smiling face walked up to re-introduce herself to me and welcome me to my new job at North Point High School.  I never could have known what kind of friend Lizbeth would turn out to be and how much I would come to depend on her during my time as a teacher.  

Now if you know Lizbeth, you know that she has many moods.  There's happy Liz, hyper Liz, raunchy Liz, fired-up Liz, and compassionate Liz.  But no matter how much time you spend around her, you will rarely ever see quiet or sad Liz.  Every day I went into work, I knew I'd be greeted with "Hi Em!" and some entertaining story of what Colleen and Argyle had done the night before, where Curtis was travelling, what jerk had cut her off on her drive to work this morning, or how she was going handle a particularly challenging student that day.  

Watching Lizbeth work the halls of NPHS was truly inspirational.  Mostly because she could strike fear into the heart of a ne'er do well gum chewer while simultaneously giving a hug to one of the many students who loved her dearly.  Everyone there knew that she was there for one reason alone:  her students.  If it wasn't good for her students, you would hear about it.  If you did wrong by her students, you would most definitely hear about it.  And if you want to know what loving your job so much that sometimes it hurts looks like, I can tell you.  Those rare occasions I saw quiet or sad Liz?  They were almost always because she felt like she wasn't doing everything she could to help one of her children.  I can personally attest to the fact that there wasn't a damn thing this woman wasn't doing for those kids, but no matter what, she always wanted to do more. She's like that with her family and her friends (who might as well be her family in her eyes) as well.  She is just that kind of person.  

I could really and truly go on with stories of Lizbeth (mostly all good, some that I know I'm not allowed to tell for fear of long-distance retribution, Sooner style :) ), but for now I'll tell you about a day this past summer.  Lizbeth and I had spent the last two months consoling each other over the loss of our dogs to cancer, and as always she was a complete rock when I needed someone who understood exactly what I was going through (she always seemed to know).  

I knew she hadn't been feeling well for awhile, but hadn't been able to visit because I'd been travelling.  She was scheduled to get tests done, and I knew she was really nervous.  I tried to assure her that the doctors were just using an abundance of caution and that she had nothing to worry about.  She worked out regularly, ate extremely well (often putting me to shame during our shared lunch times at school), and didn't get sick very often considering how much time she spent around germy students.

The day she got her test results back, I got a Facebook message explaining that what I had so optimistically told her not to worry about was exactly what was happening.  The doctors had found masses on her ovary, liver and lungs.  I went over to see her, and was met with the same matter-of-fact attitude that I had come to know and adore from her.  She was packing for Oklahoma to go be with her family, and yes of course she would like me to come over tomorrow and help.  That night, I sat with my friend and watched her step gracefully forward into her new reality.

Fast forward a few months, rounds of chemo, a new "hair" do, hundreds of letters, Facebook posts, text messages and emails from friends, and Lizbeth is fighting on as we knew she would be.  For those of us that know Lizbeth personally, I think we can all agree that if anyone is going to beat cancer, it's going to be her.  She's too damn feisty to let anything get in her way (and if you've ever been on the phone with her while she's driving, you know what I'm talking about).  

Lizbeth is doing her part to beat this disease, which is why I decided it was time to do mine.  Before I try to convince you to give up your hard earned money to support this cause, I want you to know some facts about ovarian cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control:

-There is no known way to prevent ovarian cancer
-There is no simple and reliable way to screen for ovarian cancer
-Each year, over 20,000 women in the United States alone will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer
-There is no known cure for ovarian cancer

Please visit the CDC website for more information on symptoms and facts about ovarian cancer

Here's the good news.  There are men and women out there working hard to make this disease disappear for good.  That is why I'm supporting the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund by running the USA Rock 'n' Roll Marathon (yup, all 26.2 miles) in Washington, D.C. on March 16, 2013.  My fundraising goal is $5,000, which is completely possible with your support.  I will be doing this in Lizbeth's honor, to recognize the amazing and inspirational journey that she is on and to let her know that we are all right there with her and will always be there to support her. 

If you're wondering what your donation will go towards, here is what the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund does.  It supports research:

     • to find better tests that can diagnose ovarian cancer earlier and more precisely, 
     • to understand what causes ovarian cancer, and
     • to develop improved treatments. 

Please read more about what this organization does at their website,

Take a minute to ask yourself what Lizbeth has meant to you.  Did she offer you support in your first (or second, or tenth) year of teaching?  Did she help out one of your own kids on their journey through school?  Did she call you on your birthday or just send you a text that said "I love you"?  Did she post a picture on Facebook that made your day?  Well now is your chance to say thank you for being a special person in your life.  Please show Lizbeth your support by donating to the OCRF on my page, 
Every day I'll update you on our fundraising efforts, my running adventures, more information about ovarian cancer and what's being done to stop it in its tracks, and of course our friend Lizbeth.  
Make a donation today (you could be first!!) and then pass this story on to a friend.  Help me raise $5,000 by March 16 to help towards our common goal of getting rid of ovarian cancer!  

And by the way, I've already logged 10 "official" miles since Sunday, just in case you think I'm not serious about this whole "kicking cancer's butt via marathoning" thing :).  

Peace and love, 

My Ovarian Cancer Research Fund fundraising page