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:  http://tinyurl.com/ccdzmf9

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!http://on.self.com/T1u0K6"

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 http://tinyurl.com/ccdzmf9.  

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,