Sunday, December 28, 2008

I did it!

I finished the 20 mile training run (more like 20.8 miles) with the team yesterday morning.

MAN, it was cooooold, too. It never really got above 40 degrees and my calves sure felt it.

I'll elaborate more later, but my poor house has been neglected of any and all cleaning for the last few weeks, so when I'm not feeling so guilty about dirty toilets and piles of laundry, I'll share more about the practice run.

Oh, and race day is 3 weeks from today!!!!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

This wasn't supposed to happen

I'm missing practice tomorrow.

I never thought that it would happen.

Let me explain.

My knee is simply not permitting me to put in the miles that my training schedule requires. It all started with last week's 18 mile training run. At about mile 7, my knee started to bother me. By mile 9, I know something was really wrong. By mile 13, I was swearing like a pirate and willing myself to just make it back to the ramada in one piece. I finished, but I wasn't in good shape.

It felt like someone was sticking a white-hot poker into the front of my knee, with pain shooting down my shin into my foot. Defeated, confused, upset, and panicked might begin to describe now I was feeling.

See, this was supposed to happen in week 2 or 3 of training, not FIVE WEEKS before race day. So now instead of being excited for the race, I'm biting my nails, praying that I'll even make it to the start line. SO NOT how I pictured doing this....

It was an emotional day anyway- December 11 (thursday) was the anniversary of my granddad's death. While I try not to dwell on it too much, it still twinges a bit on that day, and I think about him more than usual. Also, on the way to practice the morning of the 13th, Martina McBride's version of "Oh Holy Night" came on the radio. There's a long story associated with this song, but all I really need to say is "Mouse Puppet Karaoke", and the appropriate family members will understand what I'm saying. Sorry for the inside joke.

Anyway, that carol reminds me of Granddad, and I have not heard it on this station before or after that day. I've heard Trans-Siberian's "Sarejevo" song (or whatever it is) way too many times, but not this one.

SO.......on the way back to the ramada, and before coach Rick caught up with me, I started to cry and pretty much break down upon realizing that maybe Granddad sent that song to me to cheer me on for practice. I know it sounds SUPER cheesy and corny, and maybe a stretch, but I believe that's what he did.

It was so disheartening to realize that I was injured, sidelined, on the DL. But what about people with blood cancers? It's not like they can just rest for a couple weeks and be fine. They endure WAY more pain than a sore knee. Come on, chemo? Not really comparable to "runner's knee", now, is it? So, suck it up, I said to myself.

However, it's not that easy. I will be sitting out this practice, lump in throat and pain in heart, but with faith that I will be out there soon, rejoining my teammates in an effort to beat this bastard called cancer.

I apologize if this post sounds as self-centered as I feel as I'm writing it. However, this injury has done more damage mentally than physically I now it's just getting over the mental hurdle that I will be ok for race day, and that the pain will subside in time for race day.

Failure is not an option.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

What better day than to talk about SHOES....and other things.


Well, when I was growing up, we'd always take a walk after Thanksgiving dinner. My Aunt lives on Bainbridge Island, and when sometimes we'd spend the holiday with her. Walks along the beach are among some of my favorite memories of Thanksgiving. That and fart noise contests with my Dad and Jerry (I'll spare you the details).

I ordered a new pair of shoes from Fleet Feet last week. That's the thing about training for a marathon- your shoes can only sustain 400-500 miles, then it's time for new ones. Our coaches told us to get new shoes around Thanksgiving, then start breaking them in for "Game Day".

I'd love to take a walk after dinner today, although given the pouring rain and lightning and thunder, it probably won't happen......

There's lots to be thankful for this holiday. In these hard economic times, so many friends and family members have shown their generous support for this cause. I am thankful for the ooprtunity to participate in Team in Training, and thankful for the friends that I have met through the process.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

And for a laugh, check out this blog about when professionally decorated cakes go oh so wrong:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

TNT isn't just about running, you know.

For me, it has been, but are two (soon to be 3) other events that you can participate in to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma.

Triathlons: Swim 1km, bike 53km, then run 8km. I'd do this one too, but I don't swim. Maybe someday.

Biking (also known as Century Rides): Bike over 100 miles. I witnessed this yesterday (more to come)- simply amazing.

AND, coming in the 2009 season, hiking: Hike across the Grand Canyon, or hike the Rocky Mountains or Smokey Mountains.

Yesterday, after our training run and some breakfast, I decided to head down to the finisher's tent of the El Tour de Tucson. Over 8,000 people participate in this bicycle event, over 500 of them from Team in Training. They started at 7:30 in the morning, and rode 109 miles. Yes. 109 miles. I was lucky enough to witness the winners cross the finish line (in 4 hours)- they had police escorts, pace cars, etc. You know when you watch the Olympics or other events on TV and they have a motorcycle cops and cars, with lights on escorting the riders in the lead? Yeah, that. About a minute later, a pack of 5 chasers came in, followed by a thunderous ROAR of at least 200 bikers, all fighting for the lead. Insanity wouldn't even begin to describe it.

So, when you do a Team in Training event, there's a "Finisher's Tent" near the finish line. This is where you go to check in after your event and to get some food and sit down, check your bike in, etc. I was lucky enough to see all of the TNT riders come streaming in after they'd ridden 109 miles. It was so much fun to hand out sandwiches and water, soft drinks and chips to these people who worked SO HARD to raise money and then complete this endurance event.

How lucky am I to live in a city where we host a TNT event? And this is a BIG event as far as cycling goes- we had people from chapters all over the country: Silicon Valley, San Francisco, L.A., San Diego, Desert Mountain States (Phoenix and Arizona), North/Central/South Texas, Ohio, Illinois (30 people came from this chapter!), Long Island, Northern Jersey, and my favorite: Central Pennsylvania (they put big plush Hershey Kisses on their helmets to identify themselves. Loved it).

I left sometime around 4pm, and maybe half the riders were in. That's a long time to be on a bike, but how satisfying to finish and know that you made a difference in cancer patients' lives.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


48- Days it's been since I've updated this blog (I know, I KNOW!!!)
63- Days until my marathon! (Wow. That's not very many)
6912- How many people died of a blood cancer during those 48 days (That's too many)
2520- How many dollars people have contributed to my fundraising (I'm over my goal!!!)
140- Miles I've run over the last 48 days.
14- Miles I ran yesterday (that's the farthest I've gone to date!)
2- Number of rattlesnakes encountered during training
4- Scabs formed under my sports bra from long runs
-30%- Rate of return from my 401K. Yes, that's a negative sign in front of the 30.
26- How old I turned on October 25th. :)'s been awhile, and I apologize for my silence. Rest assured this won't happen again- this cause is much too important to be quiet during my training.

A bunch of stuff has happened over the last month and a half- I've run farther then I ever thought possible, completed a 10 mile race, achieved my fundraising goal, got a new pair of shoes (time to start breaking them in for marathon day!!).

Last week was recommitment day- the day that we tell Team in Training "I will do this. I am committed to raising $2500 and completing this marathon in honor and memory of those who are afflicted with blood cancers". This is when Team in Training starts incurring expenses on our behalf- they pay for our race day registration (that's over $100), our hotel room, our race day jersies, pasta party shirts, etc. It was so exhilerating to check that box that said "I have already raised $2500 and am recommiting".

Thank you thank you THANK you to those who have contributed. Especially in these hard economic times, the number of people who need assistance from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is staggering. I know you're sick of hearing (reading?) it, but every dollar counts. Jennifer and I went to the U of A tailgate, selling red and blue mardis gras beads for just a few dollars a piece. We had 288 beads. We made $400. People contributing just $1-2 apiece, and look what we did. That's pretty cool.

Oh, and my new running shoes? They're pink. I'll save my rave about my favorite running store for another post.

I'm still up and running, no pun intended.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I just discovered something

If I've spoken to you about the race, I may have told you that there are over 23,000 people participating.

I was a bit off.

In 2007, over 32,000 runners participated in the marathon and half marathon.

Holy crap.

And there's an expo two days before the race, complete with "Official Race Souvenirs".....that's where we pick up our numbers and timing chips- for those of you who can't be there in person, you'll be able to view my results online! I'll have a chip on my shoe that will track my progress/time and you can look it up by bib number/name.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Six Miles, Suds, and Sunburns

Well, after running hills last week, my coaches decided that we needed a recovery day, to let our taxed muscles rest and.....well....recover! So they said we were "only" going to run 6 miles. Um, ok....sure....ONLY 6 miles? Coach Brian said that we should feel really good at the end of it, with a lot of energy. I immediately thought that I'd pushed myself too hard last week, because there was no WAY that this was going to feel like a leisurely jog.

I was wrong.

I never thought that I'd think running "only" 6 miles was a breeze, but it was. We finished in just over an hour (good pace time!) and I felt fantastic. I STILL feel fantastic (sort of, anyway, I'll get to that).

The best part about finishing a long run is the washcloth- Louanne, our marathon coordinator, greets us at the finish with a washcloth that has been soaking in ice water for who knows how long, so it's COLD. To wipe your face and put it on the back of your neck feels Ahhhhhh-mazing.

But let's put things in perspective for a moment: Six miles, I'm so awesome, right? Well, the Nike runners (their marathon is Oct 18th) ran TWENTY MILES yesterday. Yes. Twenty. In fact, we didn't even SEE any of them, they started at 5:30 so they were at a completely different part of the trail. Wow. Twenty miles. All to beat cancer! My 20 miler will be right around Christmas......a blessing and a curse, I suppose.

SO......I couldn't stick around too long, because a group of us were having a car wash to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I ran home, showered, crammed in some breakfast, and I was off again, to the gas station right by campus (wow, that brought back memories).

We hadn't even put out SIGNS and people were already lined up to get their cars washed! We got lucky because it rained on Friday and cars were looking pretty dirty......

So, this was the first car wash I have *ever* participated in. I managed to go through high school and college and never do one....but here I am, almost 26, and I have my sleeves rolled up ready to wash some cars.

Let me share with you a list of things that I learned/observed:
1) Wear real shoes (that you don't care about). Flip flops/sandals were a bad idea because they were slippery!

2) Sunscreen is always your friend. I managed to get away relatively unscathed (I kept reapplying, Mom, don't worry) but others weren't so lucky.

3) A car wash for donations is just that. People can donate whatever they feel like, or they don't have to donate at all (but we like it when they do). There will always be a few people who decide not to donate, and all you can do is wash their car with a smile, thank them for stopping by, and move on.

4) You'll see one of everything, from donations to cars. People donated $40, some donated $0. We washed (among others) an older Mercury Comet (convertible), a Camaro Z28, and a 2003 Corvette.

That's just a few things on the list.....we had a LOT of fun, and we had so many people helping us who weren't fundraising themselves (family members, etc). People were more generous than not, and it was so amazing to see all of the support! Hey, even coach Rick stopped by (after running 20 miles) and got his car washed.

When all was said and done (washed?), we each got $50, which was awesome!

So I think today will be a recovery day from the recovery day. :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My apologies

For the lack of posting the last few weeks- it's been a whirlwind of a time, and I feel like I'm just settling back into a routine.....

So, let's recap, shall we?

Saturday, September 6th
We ran 6 miles and it felt good, but Jennifer and I seemed to fight it for the first few miles. Our coaches noticed that we were running "sloppy" (they seriously used that word!). I think we were still sort of recovering from the race on Monday (that brutal 8 miler), and our muscles were a lot tighter than we expected.

It's at this point that I started icing my knees after a run on Saturday, and eating breakfast soon after a run, usually with a teammate or coaches. I feel so much better when I eat right away, I don't crash when I get home.....

Wednesday, September 10th
At this point, we've entered into phase II of our training, the strength phase. We'll be introducing hills and speed training into the mix. Today we met in Ried park to do speed training and run a few miles- coach Rick and I warmed up for a bit, then sprinted (ok, not sprinting all out, but we were running pretty fast!), jogged, sprinted, rinse and repeat for 4.25 miles. The point of these is to get our muscles into the anerobic phase, and then recover and make our muscles absorb as much oxygen as possible so we can utilize it better during the endurance events. (at least, that's how they explained it, all I know is that it made me embarrasingly tired!).

Saturday, September 13th
This Saturday was an 8 miler, and it went really well. While we took it slower than we had been, I finished feeling like I could have gone further, which is where the coaches want us to be. Today was also the fluid loss analysis clinic. We weighed in before we ran, kept track of how many ounces we took in (or deposited, depending on bathroom stops) weighed in again when we were done, and then our coaches analyzed the numbers and let us know if we were taking in or losing too much liquid. My results were that I had the potential to gain THREE AND A HALF POUNDS during the marathon. Um, no. Not gonna happen. Coach Rick thinks the #'s might be off, so we're going to try again next month.

Monday, September 15th
Hill training day!! Oh boy! I met with Coaches Rick and Lauren and some other teammates and we hiked up Tumamoc Hill. I don't know the distance, but I do know that it was an 18% grade, if not steeper. It was INSANE, but I was fine, and I wasn't sore the next day! We ran down which was so much fun, too, and it was right as the huge full moon was rising over the Rincon Mountains- picture perfect.

The rest of the week was less than stellar- I came down with some sort of bug and spent my time attempting to recover in time for Saturday.

Sunday, September 20th
Time for a change of scenery- we went to Sabino Canyon and ran some more hills- it's a 3.7 mile out and back (7.4 miles total), and it was breathtakingly beautiful. Teammate Jennifer wasn't too thrilled about the "Beware: High Mountain Lion Activity!" signs, but I assured her that I'd never seen one. The way in was rough, but the time it took to go out FLEW. I remember run/walking Sabino in 2005, and it seemed to take forever, but this time seemed to take no time at all. Hell, I remember going partway with my parents and getting tired before a mile (that's when I was REALLY out of shape....)How quickly our perceptions of mileage and time change when we start doing long distances!

Which brings us to today, Sunday. I am only a few dollars short of the $2000 mark and I couldn't be more thrilled. Everyone has been SO GENEROUS with their donations and I am so thankful and grateful for everyone who has supported me. Every dollar you donate will make a difference in someone's life.

It's so important that we find a cure for these blood cancers- they affect way too many people. In fact, by the time you're done reading this post in my blog, one person will have died from a blood-related cancer and two more will have been diagnosed. That's too many, so I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for donating to help get these numbers to a big fat goosegg.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Blessed be the tie that binds

Unfortunately, though, these days, most of those ties involve cancer. Stupid cancer.
In reaching out to those around me, and sharing my personal stories with cancer (the blood cancers, anyway, don't get me started on the others, those hit even closer to home), it seems that almost everyone knows someone who's had a blood cancer: they've had a family member battle it, or they themselves have had it (there's a woman on my team who is in remission for Lymphoma and she ROCKS). These diseases affect everyone, and it sucks. Cancer sucks.
There's a bunch of stuff on my mind and it's probably too scattered to put in one post, so I'm just going to recap the weekend for now, and then wrangle these lottery ball thought patterns into something coherent and share them later.
Saturday: 6 miles. I shortened my inervals to running 7 minutes and walking 1. I finished with a mile pace time of about 10 and a half minutes- not bad, but the coaches still seem to think it's too fast still. UGH. Oh, and it was windy so it felt like I was running uphill.....bleh.
Anyway.....OH! I almost forgot- when I finished practice last week, I got back to the ramada where everyone checks in-out and there was a pair of socks waiting for me:

Aren't they NEAT???!?!?! So APPARENTLY, they were an incentive gift because I reached $500 already! They were SUPER proud of me and were really excited about the progress I've made with my fundraising. So, those of you who have contributed already, THANK YOU so much. As of right now, I have $975!! (my website says otherwise, because some checks are being sent in). Only $1525 to go!

Sunday was spent reading books 1 and 2 of the Twilight series. Addicted? Probably. Vampires. Who knew?

Monday: What better way to spend Labor Day than run an EIGHT MILE RACE????! What a GREAT IDEA. Um.....

Ok, really, I had fun because I ran it with my coach, Lauren, and teammate Jennifer. But holy crap, this course had some hills. Here's the course profile:

We decided to run it to practice our intervals and hill training......which meant we were automatically in the "Not in it to win it" category. But we were towards the bottom of the stack, which was quite the test for me to put away the competative streak (ok, so it's more than a streak) and run my own race. It wasn't easy, for multiple reasons, but I stuck with the intervals and I finished! Go TNT chicks!

Here's me finishing- No, I'm not showing tons of leg under the skirt, the spandex underneath are pink. :)

Speed Racer!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Week 4- another 5 miler done.

I feel good, if not a little tired (surprise!!)

This was the 4th Saturday practice we've had and it wasn't too hot (we've been meeting around 6) but it was SUPER HUMID, so we were sweating in no time, but I did have my handy dandy hydration belt! It has two 10-ounce bottles and a little pouch for energy gels and such. (I apologize for the atrocious spacing, another thing I have yet to figure out). ANYWAY, mine's blue, but I wanted pink, but TriSports was out. I try not to pout about it, but it's hard.
I ran with my friend J again and it was nice to have a companion- it really helps pass the time and sets your cadence. The Nike team was out there too (they're training for a marathon in San Fran in October, so they're up to 10-12 miles these days). It was so neat to pass them- we would cheer each other on, then we would keep trudging.

We've adapted to the run/walk method of completing a marathon. Let's face it- I'm not training to win this race, and probably 90% of the people who are running it will walk at some point. Our coach told us that by running for x number of minutes and walking for 1 or 2, we would shave some serious minutes off of our time. Yeah right, you say. Well, coach Rick took about a half hour off of his time when he did run/walk.

Ugh, ok, FINE. I'll WALK. But only for 1 minute, and I'll run for 10.

Worked like a charm. It was awesome. While the legs were a bit heavy at the end, we weren't doing "The Marathon Shuffle", as Rick calls it.

I find myself becoming anxious and wanting to increase the mileage, like, NOW........Not like I could DO 10 miles tomorrow, but I want to start. I don't know why, I guess I'm just itching for the longer distances, since it IS a marathon, and it IS over 26 (don't forget the .2!) is "only" running 5 miles going to help? I know, I know, it's rhetorical. I know the answer, I'm just throwing the question out there.

I think next week will be good in the sense that we're changing directions on the path, so a change of scenery will be welcome. However, J will be at Sea World in wonderful San Diego, so I must toe the line alone on this one. We'll see what happens.

After that we're going to start doing hills- so we'll run Sabino Canyon a few times.

Not familiar with Tucson? (The 520, as I like to call it) Check out Sabino Canyon at:

It's 3.7 miles out and back (so, I guess it's more like 7.4), and it's a wonderful place- so beautiful and ALIVE. There was some flash flood damage from last year's monsoon season and it was closed for a long time, so I'm eager to return.

Yes.....Arizona has monsoons and flash floods. We get regular rain from June-August, so don't give me that "It's a dry heat" crap. Come visit me mid-July through late August. We'll see what's dry, because it certainly won't be you. :)

And not marathon related, but something else that's near and dear to me: Marching Band!

Last week was band camp for the Pride of Arizona, the University of Arizona's marching band. I was in it for four years, 2001-2004, and I miss it a lot. In fact, it's always this time of year that I start dreaming about it too. Like the other night, I dreamt that we were performing for the president and I couldn't find my music and plume (you know, those big feathery things on the hats [also known as a shako, and Todd wants his back]).....

Marching band kids (I can say "kids" now, I graduated!) work so hard. At the U of A, they easily put in 20-25 hours a week for 1 class credit. Practice from 3-6 MW, 3-10 on Friday, 8-noon on Saturday, then back on campus at 5 or so for a game, then they *might* get home before 11. Maybe. But they love it, *I* loved it. I still do and always will.

I am lucky enough to be with someone who understands this- he was a drummer on the snare line at U of A (not an easy feat- tryouts are killer), but as irony would have it, we didn't know each other then- we met after we'd both graduated from college. Anyway- he gets the need to stop by that final night rehearsal of band camp and see the show so far. He gets needing to go by the warm up drills before a game. Everybody who was ever in this marching band gets it.

So, on that note, I leave you with the cheer of the trombone section in the Pride of Arizona.

"Don't stop, get it get it!"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A small note about Comments

I've fiddled around with my comment settings.

If you aren't a member of Blogspot, you can still leave a comment, just do it as anonymous and then sign your name in the comment. :)

I've also changed it so that comments don't have to wait to be moderated by me, they'll just appear instantly, so you can see if yours posted or not. Instant gratification!

Hope everyone has a great Sunday.

I have a feeling today is going to involve some chores. Ugh.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Much Better!

Today's run was a total 180 from last week.

While I had to get up an hour earlier (4:30 am), it was great because we got a treat this morning- Mark Wallis, a certified Chi Running instructor, hosted a workshop on improving our running stride and cadence, making us more efficient runners. I learned a LOT and was eager to put these new skills and tips to use.

Here's Mark's Chi Running website- it's really good stuff!!

We hit the path at about 7:15, and it was warming up quickly, but it felt good. I was wearing my new hydration belt (I'll add a picture of this later) and was eager to test it out. A few small leaks, nothing big, and we were off.

I ran with a fellow teammate, and we chatted the whole way, which was really nice- we had a good pace and cadence set, and we were done before we knew it.

At about 1 mile from the finish, we ran into Mark, and he ran with us and gave us some more pointers as we were running, which was so awesome- he complimented our form and reminded us to swing our elbows back (swinging my arms too far forward is left over from my sprinting days, now I'm supposed to bring my hands far enough back to tickle my ribs!).

My legs started to get pretty tight towards the end- my quads felt like bricks, and I could feel myself just getting plain tired. Having the water with me helped a lot, but I mean, I'm not used to running this distance quite yet, so my body is still adjusting.

We finished, high-fived, and went to slurp down some gatorade. Now, I've always thought gatorade was just ok..... But when you run 5 miles and your body is craving electrolytes, gatorade is DELICOUS. Seriously, it was the best thing I'd ever tasted. Sad, I know. It's the simple things, people.

Had an awesome piece of quiche after at Beyond Bread. It had havarti in it. You put havarti in anything, I'm totally game. Oh, and let me add that I was 13 when I found out that quiche is pronounced KEESH, and not KWI-CHEE (life was so much easier after that).

I think the best part is that I don't feel like I'm going to crash now that I'm home, so I'll probably take a shower because I smell pretty ripe.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Can't even form a sentence

Work is insane for me right now and I'm so exhausted; I can feel my body going through a transition. While I'm not sore after my runs, I'm so tired, which is almost worse. When you're sore, you know it, and you're forced to move slower, but when you're tired and NOT sore, you think you're ok until you start to do something...... In my case, it was running stairs. Normally I never have a problem with them (well, they don't give me any more trouble than anyone else), but on Monday, I was halfway up my first set of 9 flights (we do this 3 times on Mondays) and my legs were totally dead, just totally screaming in protest, and it sucked. A lot.

Today's workout was a bit better, although I can notice myself not being able to go as "all out" in cardio class as I used to. It's ok, I'm not going to beat myself up over it, but it's hard to maintain that mentality when anyone who knows me fairly well will say I'm a pretty competative it's difficult to force myself to "take it easy".....

Again, not what I expected when I entered into training, and again, not a complaint, just an observation.

Tomorrow we have a clinic on running and walking basics, and I'm eager to go and get some tips.

This weekend is a 5 miler, and we're sharing the river path with the folks training for the Nike Women's Marathon. I'll make a separate post about that later (shhhhh, don't tell, but I really want to run that one too!), but check it out at this website:

A marathon? Ok. In San Francisco? I'm listening. A Tiffany's necklace waiting for you at the finish line? Yes, please! Running it with TNT and combined with everyone else, you raise over $18 MILLION for blood cancer research and patient services?? I'm *so* in (provided I survive Phoenix!).

And on that note, it's time to watch some Michael Phelps and go to bed.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Monkey Business

I started mountain biking a few years ago, and I threw myself into it head first, kind of like I did with this marathon. I joined a 24 hour relay team, not fully realizing just WHAT I was getting myself into, but thinking it would be fun (and it was!). But after that, I actually needed to LEARN how to mountain bike (the old "once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget" does not apply to mountain biking).

But what struck me more than the actual act of biking itself was the amount of time and energy (not to mention money) that went into just PREPARING to mountain bike. First, you have to get your bike ready: lube the chain, check the brakes, air up the tires, pack spare tubes....then you have to get your gear ready: Camelbak (or other hydration, an absolute necessity in Arizona), energy gels, sunglasses (with different lenses depending on the weather), socks and shoes (are your cleats clean??), helmet, gloves, arm guards, and you get the idea......ugh.

Riding at night? That's a whole separate mess- then you get to deal with mounting lights and charging batteries (but be careful not to OVER charge them!) and securing cords and wires.

Ok, time to put the bike rack on, then the bike, and securing it, etc.

Now, let me pause here and say that I am NOT I love my bike (her name is Clementine, because I know that's what you want to know) It's just the nature of the sport- they even make really cool bags to tote around all of your gear!

A good friend of mine (who talked me into mountain biking to begin with) turned to me mid-light-mounting session and said, "You know what, Elsbeth? Biking is all monkey business. That's all it is, monkey business" and we had a good laugh and then hit the trail. Again, not complaining or dogging on it, but it is monkey business. We joked about it later- It takes 4 hours to prepare for a 2 hour ride, and that includes commute time.....

I have a point, I promise!

When I started preparing for this marathon (a whopping two weeks ago), I thought, "Ok, I probably need some new shoes, no big deal, maybe a bra, too." (or brar as I like to say)


I got new shoes, and I love them, but I got a blister, so I got insoles. Well, now I need to break IN the insoles so I can start running in them (They squeak like crazy, too, I feel like such a goofball at my office). Oh, cotton socks? No way, in fact, you can't wear ANYTHING cotton. Ok, have the socks and shoes and other proper attire (or so I thought).

Then we get to practice and as the runs are getting longer, we're needing more gear. Hat and sunscreen are a must (did I mention we're in Arizona?), then you need body glide (when you're running this many miles, bits and pieces you didn't know could chafe get so raw you want to cry), and a hydration belt is also a must. Got your salt packets and gels? Hope so!

Ok, NOW we're off.

I was totally wrong in thinking that running was "just" an activity where you throw on your shoes and iPod and go out and just jog for a bit. Well, you can still do that, but I now know that marathon training is a total 180.

So now that I've accepted that running is a bit more expensive than I anticipated, I know I'll be facing a mental wake-up call as well. I'm expecting this to happen sometime in the next couple of weeks, as we're increasing the distances and adding (dun dun duuuunnnnnnn) HILLS. I know there are going to be moments where my sanity is going to come into waver, but my motivation never will.

I know I'll be crawling after a morning practice, and wincing in pain as I take off my shoes, and probably complaining a LOT more than necessary, but as my coach put it "I don't have cancer, so I'm good".

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Off and running

Literally and figuratively.

This weekend, my fundraising "officially" kicks off with my letter and email campaign. Check your inboxes! (Or, if you're reading this, maybe you got my email and have stopped by, so welcome to my blog!)

Yesterday was our second Saturday practice- every Saturday we run together as a team at a park in town. We run along a paved path along a "river" (there's water in it maybe a few times a year, after it rains, then it dries in another day or two......but every 10-20 years it floods...).

We run out and back's, to a certain landmark and back.

Today my distance was 4 miles. Not bad, I thought, I can do this- I ran over three on Thursday and felt great, so let's go!

Off on a slow run, trying to set my cadence and what is THIS???!?! A sideache? You're !@#$% kidding me, right? I haven't even gone a half a mile yet, so what's the deal? I kept running, albeit a bit slower, then one of my coaches caught up with me and asked me how I was doing, then we chatted, which helped distract me, and I was grateful for the conversation.

But this foreboding feeling started to set in: What if I really can't do this? What if I ALWAYS get sideaches and can't run any faster and I end up just TOTALLY hating running marathons? What if I can't make my fundraising goal? What if what if what if?

I pushed those thoughts aside and listened to my coach as he gave me some great pointers on rhythmic breathing and chi running, and it started to make sense, and before I knew it, we were done with our 4 miles. Really? Wow.....

I went home and took about a two hour nap- as my boyfriend put it "I'd hate to see you after a real marathon...." Oh boy.

Another quote on my training calendar says "Bad days are flukes, good days never are".

While not a REALLY bad day, it was not good enough to keep the "what ifs" at bay.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


That's a response I get a LOT when I tell people I'm in training for a marathon.

Other popular responses include:
1) "You're crazy"
2) "Oh, the Phoenix Marathon? How far is that one?" (more on that later)
3) "I could NEVER do that....."

I want to address the "Why" first.

A marathon is something I never EVER ever EVER thought I would do. Ever.

Well, things change.

The two posts below describe the wonderful lives of two men who lost valiant and courageous battles with two different blood cancers, Leukemia and Lymphoma.

I miss them both. A lot. I'm not sure I ever really "properly" grieved for either of them, both for different reasons. There was the feeling of never really getting to say "Goodbye", the guilt of not seeing them often enough before they passed (it's the coulda-shoulda-woulda's that get ya every time), not to mention the memories that come flooding back when you see their handwriting in an old birthday card....the list goes on.

So when I heard about Team in Training and what they did, I initially balked. Me? A distance runner? Uh, no thanks. I ran track in Jr. High and the farthest I would go was 200 m. (that's a half a lap of a standard High School's track) Sprints, man. Long distance running is a WHOLE different ballgame.

But then I learned what Team in Training DOES- basically, you agree to raise money for an AWESOME cause (The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) and they provide the resources for you to acheive an endurance event goal. Seriously, check it out! Watch the videos and tell me you don't want to do this.

And after watching a friend go through her training and complete the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco (that course is SO COOL), I sat on the idea for about three years, then finally made the commitment when I went to an information meeting in Tucson. There were two people there who touched me deeply- Gene, one of the cycling coaches, was diagnosed with Lymphoma in 1980. If you know anything about these diseases, the survival rate back then wasn't so hot, but he made it, and he's doing just great, and is SUCH an inspiration to us all.

The other person was Betsy, mother of beautiful Alex, who succumbed to Lymphoma when she was just 13 years old. She stood up and bravely told her story and I sat there and thought "what am I waiting for?", so I signed up and 45 minutes later, I'm sitting numb in my car, on the phone with my boyfriend telling him "I just signed up to run a marathon"......

So, in response to "Why", I guess my answer would be "Why NOT??". If I can raise money to make a difference and to find a cure and provide patient services to people and families with Leukemia and Lymphoma (and other blood cancers), then I waited three years too long. It might be too late for my Granddad and Uncle, but with everyone contributing, we might be able to save someone else's Granddad and Uncle.

Better late than never, right?

And the feeling I'll have when I cross the finish line (somewhere in between pain and nausea), will be the satisfaction of knowing that I could and I did.

So why not?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ralph Smith

aka Uncle Ralph


Ralph Madigan Smith was born on August 5, 1954, in Twin Falls Idaho, the youngest of three siblings, the two older being identical twin sisters, Virginia and Veronica (my Mom).

He was a vibrant boy, the life of the party, fun loving and outgoing. Uncle Ralph also loved to ski (something I also inherited from the Smith side of the family), and spent a lot of time in Sun Valley, and eventually came to memorize the runs like the back of his hand.

After graduating from Pullman High, he went to Evergreen State College where he was editor of the school newspaper and obtained a degree in journalism.

People remember him as a hilarious and very loyal friend. Once you met him you were his friend for life, and this applied to everything he did: later in life he moved to Canada and became a social worker in Children's Services and rescued literally hundreds of children from abusive homes. He was a true champion of the underdog as well as an incredible social activist. He also enjoyed sailing (as in the top picture) and spending time in his cabin on the lake, but most of all he cherished his family: His wife, Maria, stepdaughter Palmira, and youngest daughter Jesse.

In July of 1993, he was diagnosed with Acute Myleogenous Leukemia and immediately began chemo. I remember visiting him in the hospital in Vancouver, B.C., and while the seriousness and magnitude of his disease could be seen and felt, he was always the first to smile (in fact, he was ALWAYS smiling) and say a joke, anything to lighten the mood. Jokes about missing hair and other side effects were always at the top of the list.

Here he is with Jesse.
He fought valiantly, receiving a bone marrow transplant and several other treatments, but sadly he passed away in April of 1994, just four months shy of his 40th birthday.
His wake was filled with family and friends, all coming together to celebrate him and his life. There were lots of jokes and fond memories shared.

Uncle Ralph chose to have Van Morrison's "It's So Quiet in Here" played at his wake. I was in fifth grade when he died, so I'd never even *heard* of Van Morrison, let alone really understand the song. Now that I'm 25, well, it's an awesome song, just like Uncle Ralph. :)

Here are the lyrics:

Foghorns blowing in the night
Salt sea air in the morning breeze
Driving cars all along the coastline
This must be what its all about
Oh this must be what its all about
This must be what paradise is like
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
The warm look of radiance on your face
And your heart beating close to mine
And the evening fading in the candle glow
This must be what its all about
Oh this must be what its all about
This must be what paradise is like
So quiet in here. so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, yeah, so peaceful in here
All my struggling in the world
And so many dreams that dont come true
Step back, put it all away
It dont matter, it dont matter anymore
Oh this must be what paradise is like
This must be what paradise is like
Its so quiet in here, so peaceful in here
Its so quiet in here, so peaceful in here
A glass of wine with some friends
Talking into the wee hours of the dawn
Sit back and relax your mind
This must be, this must be, what its all about
This must be what paradise is like
Oh this must be what paradise is like
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
Big ships out in the night
And were floating across the waves
Sailing for some other shore
Where we can be what we wanna be
Oh this must be what paradise is like
This must be what paradise is like
Baby its so quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, so peaceful in here
So quiet in here, you can hear, its so quiet
And while Uncle Ralph is sorely missed, he is remembered with loving hearts.

Bill Hoggatt

aka Granddad.
December 25, 1923- December 11, 2000.

I will fill in more when I get the chance,.

I don't even know where to start when it comes to talking about him. I got my love for the desert and strong connection to this land from Granddad. He loved to golf (he had THE coolest golf cart- think 1970's and yellow fringe) and he adored gardening, setting up irrigation drips in his backyard to water his cucumbers and tomatoes. In Casa Grande. In the 100+ degree heat.

Granddad was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 1985, after several misdiagnoses and several months of symptoms. He underwent chemotherapy and went into remission, however he relapsed two more times (and entered remission two more times). However, on the third relapse, he courageously decided that hospice care was the best option for him. He started home hospice care on December 1, 2000 and passed away 10 days later, on December 11, surrounded by his wife, Katie, and two children, Jim (my dad) and Barbara (Aunt Barbie)

Not a day goes by where I don't think about him and miss him. He was stoic, gentle, smart, and very wise. He also made the best bread- he believed in making it by hand. My sister has inhereted this amazing skill, baking loaves and sharing with friends.

I'd like to share a poem that I read when I first moved down to Arizona, less than a year after he passed away. It's called "Whatever Became of Me" by Richard Shelton, a professor here at the U of A. I think of Granddad whenever I read it.

Please follow this link to read it (I'd copy and paste, but something about copyright infringement, you know...)

And now some pictures :)

Grandmother and Granddad in Hawaii for their 50th wedding anniversary

This is how I remember him. :)

I think this is a goat.....and I totally dig the pants.

Taken in 1978. This picture is also on my fridge.

Granddad and a baby Elsbeth, taken in 1983 in Bellevue, Washington.

I always got to help blow out the birthday candles. (Birthday cake on Christmas!!)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Embarking on a Journey

Hi, I'm Elsbeth.

I'm in training to run a marathon in January of 2009.

I joined Team in Training to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and have commited to raise money while I train for my marathon.

Stay tuned for more links and info, but welcome to my blog!