Thursday, October 29, 2009

Five oh-five oh five: A summary.

That was my official Nike chip time! 5:05:05 I beat my PF Chang's time by 6 minutes!

I apologize for my selfish lack of updates (yet again). Recovery has been physical and mental.

This race was, in a nutshell, the hardest thing I have ever done (physically) in my entire life. Hands down. Now, does it compare to chemo or radiation or nausea from chemo or anything else that a cancer patient goes through? Not even close.

Art, I'm sorry, I didn't see your comment until tonight!

It was a race day full of lessons learned, tears (happy and sad), survivors, celebration, fog, Tiffany & Co. necklaces, family, friends, and HILLS....woe is me, the hills...... And damn, it....was....tough.

However, I finished, I'm not injured (the ego might be a little bit bruised) and I'm still reeling from the emotions of the trip.

We had such a great trip, though- the race seemed almost like a secondary part- "Oh yeah! I'm running a marathon tomorrow!". We ate seafood, took cable car rides, went shopping (hellooooo, four-story Niketown!), ate more seafood, ran 26.2 miles, took ice baths, drank in an Irish's all good.

I'm alive (and still training- Las Vegas Rock N' Roll Marathon is in 5 weeks! What was I thinking??)
Here are a few teaser pics until I provide my race report!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The calm before the storm

First off, we received some news about one of our honored teammates, Gabbi. She's a smart and vivacious 13-year old who was diagnosed with Leukemia when she was just two years old. Needless to say, she kicked that cancer to the curb and went on to excel in school, including competing in scholastic competitions in Washington DC!

Well, last week, her neck was in some serious pain so they took her to the doctor and she ended up having to go to Phoenix for more specialized care. Turns out she had a compression fracture in one of her cervical vertebrae (ouch!) and was given a neck brace to wear for two weeks. Doctors think that this might have been caused by osteoporosis, which is a nasty side effect of her prior chemotherapy. Of course, she had to have a bunch of blood panels done to make sure the cancer hadn't returned, and they were all clear (thank God). But the stress of going through that? AGAIN?

Now hold the phone.

Seriously? This little baby fought the battle of her life before she was three years old, and now, ten years later, she is still battling because of this cancer? Now how is THAT fair?

Just another thing to let us know that these diseases wreak havoc and they aren't done yet. They're still out there, threatening and taking lives. I'm not okay with that, not at all.

Gabbi was on all of our minds as we warmed up for our run in the dark at 5 am. Having missed last week's 16 miler, I was very anxious to make it up this week. I'd been gearing myself up mentally for it and was rearin' and ready to go.

16 miles was a really big mistake.

Without getting into all of the nitty gritty, I'm nursing a sore IT band (same thing that dropped me on my 18 miler last season ). Again, THIS WASN'T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN. I keep running (no pun intended, ha ha) over in my head what happened, what I did wrong. I bought a new pair of shoes the week before but I didn't wear them since they were a re-design of the old pair and I didn't want to "test" them on a long run, so did dead shoes do this to me (again?). Did I have poor form and weak abs? Had I been overcompensating on the right side because I was favoring the left (where my biopsy was done?).

I came back, shed a few tears into a cool washcloth, then I put on my big girl panties and sucked it up. I really let pride get in the way this time, and this 16 miler was a very humbling way of bringing me back to earth, let me tell you. I should have just followed the schedule and let the 16 miler be history, but instead I insisted on doing it and have now put myself out of even considering 18 miles next week. BAD IDEA.

So, here's the bottom line. It happened, there's nothing I can do to take it back. All I can do now is take care of myself, and focus on the 20-miler and race day. That's it. I refuse to ruminate and think about "coulda shoulda woulda".....It is interesting, though- three of the mentors all got injured on the 16 miler. We're dropping like flies. These next few weeks are going to be recover and nurse-it weeks.

We got news this morning that Gabbi is doing better, although a neck brace isn't easy to deal with when you're in middle school. She is such a strong young woman that has been through so much, and if I could have just a FRACTION of her courage and strength, I know I'd be ok. In fact, I KNOW I'll be ok.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Results are in!

The dermatologist called and said that my demon freckle was benign, no further treatment needed! Yay!

I've been off my feet for the last 5 days like a good girl. Not enjoying it, but under the guise that I will do this right the first time rather than push myself and end up getting injured (or infected!).

I went to practice on Saturday morning to cheer on my team and I'm glad I did, since the heat snuck up fast, and my teammates looked.....tired. I handed out the washcloths that had been sitting in ice water to the weary runners- they really did triumph that morning, and I know people with blood cancers appreciated their efforts. I know I did.

So, while I wasn't running this weekend, a teammate snapped a picture of me a few weeks ago in Sabino Canyon! Thanks, Susan!

I'm going to try out my foot at cross training class tomorrow. We'll see how it holds up!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A slight hiccup (aka a pipe wrench in the works)

So, if you haven't met me in person, there's something you should know- I'm really pale. Like, SUPER pale. I don't tan; I never have unless I get a sunburn and it peels and then it turns into a tan.

So, living in Arizona for eight years has done some damage, and I knew it, so I finally put on my big girl panties and went to the dermatologist. Better safe than sorry, better to catch something early, yadda yadda yadda....and wouldn't you know, there was a naughty little mole on the pinkie toe of my left foot. Seriously? My PINKIE TOE??

Long story short, the Dr. ended up lopping it off right then and there, followed by a "No physical activity or exercise for one week". My response? "Does that include running?" I mean...I WAS planning on running 16 miles on Saturday.....not anymore..... ::le sigh::

Seriously if I knew she was going to take it off immediately, I would have waited to go to the Dr. I thought they'd reschedule, but who knew that they could numb you up and slice off a dime-sized chunk of skin in under 5 minutes? Not me!

Anyway, I'm being a total drama queen. Everything's fine, I'm just a little sore (and grumpy since I can't run). I just feel like such a chump and that I'm letting my team and honored teammates down since I'm "Out of Order" right now.

I'm going to use this time to turn inward and really focus on myself and my mission (and the Team/LLS's mission). It's so easy to get caught up in the race aspect of it and lose sight of why we're all really doing this. Today is my friend Cathy's three-year anniversary of being in remission. She's a lymphoma survivor who ran PF Chang's with me in January (and who kicked my butt in every single practice- she's a power house!!). I'll be wearing her name on my jersey to celebrate her as well has honor those who we've lost, like Granddad and Uncle Ralph.

"And even the rain, when it falls, is coming home"

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A month's worth of updates

Wow, a new entry! :)

Training has been going well!

Five weeks ago, I started an eight week program of track workouts with our local running shop, Fleet Feet which is designed to make your body more efficient when it comes to running....and ultimately make you faster (I won't lie, this is my main goal- to get faster [without injury]).

We meet at a track, do a 1 mile easy jog, half a mile of drills (jumps, bounding, butt kickers- literally), and another half mile of sprinting the straightaways and jogging the curves).....whew! And that's just the WARM UP! Then we get into our timed practices. 6-8 of 200 m runs, with a specific time goal (based off of our mile time trial the first week- I did it in 7:55! I didn't think I could run that fast). The objective of the timed goal is to get our bodies into this very specific "zone" of using the oxygen as efficiently as possible and pushing our limits so that we can gain endurance.

Well....a few weeks go by and while track practice was going great, my Saturday runs were.....well, they were sucking. I was fighting my pace and all over the place mentally. On a hill run I forgot to take nutrition for an hour and 45 mins....(normally I take it every 45 mins...) and didn't realize it until I felt so horrible and was basically delerious that Coach Rick found me and literally had to talk me in "See that tree? Once we get there we're going to run for a little bit, ok?". I was so grateful for him and his help, and he is such an awesome coach and selfless man......but I hope I never have to have him coach me like that again. Other runs were just slow and dumpy....I felt really out of my groove, and I became unsettled, impatient, discouraged, and sort of mad....

So two weeks ago I couldn't make it to track practice and felt super guilty and lame (the sessions are on Thursdays, by the way).....but come Saturday morning's run, I felt transformed. We did 14 miles and I felt like I was last few miles were averaging 9:20-9:30 (I walk a minute in between miles, so my overall pace is a bit slower)....I couldn't believe it, I was simply floored. Holy crap. Track practice WORKS.

Yesterday's run, enter stage left, calf pain. What the heck? Where did THIS come from? It's not cramping, it just flat out hurts. So I'm working with a foam roller and a stick to work out some of this pain. It made for an uncomfortable 11.4 miles yesterday....well, the humidity didn't help either....I averaged 10:45/mile which includes my water bottle refill times, etc, so I'm pretty happy....

I bought some compression calf sleeves on Friday in hopes of decreasing my recovery time from the longer runs, and boy am I glad I did.....they really made a difference and I'm seriously considering running in them next weekend for our (dun dun dunnnnnnn) 16 miler.

I'm about $300 short on the fundraising front, and I'm really excited to be so close!!!

Let's hope I can chill out and just train injury free these next few weeks.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

More hills and even less sleep

So this morning was a 10-miler in Sabino Canyon. Warning: whining ahead.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I only got about 2 and a half hours of sleep last night. My alarm went off and I hit snooze, then shot out of bed, realizing that I was late already. I had considered sleeping in and making up the run later, but I figured it would be good practice for race day eve. One never really gets the amount of sleep they should the night before they run a marathon, so I thought that this would be good practice. Wrong.

I started off strong, but just ended up totally petering out and finishing the miles for the sake of just being done. I switched to a timed interval, running 7 minutes and walking 1, which helped me fight off complete and utter exhaustion. A few more wrenches in the works were a different hydration belt out for a test drive and a dropped metronome.

Since the heat has increased and my need for liquid intake has increased exponentially, I've realized that two 10 ounce bottles are not enough, even with refill stations along the way. Jennifer lent me her belt with 4 bottles (8 oz each) so I could take it into the canyon and experiment with it. I'm so glad I tried it before I dropped $50 on now it's back to the drawing board....

You know how I've been running with a metronome to stay on pace? Well, it clipped to my old belt perfectly and stayed put. Not so much with this new belt. About 10 steps into my run, it came flying off, turned off, and reset itself. :( ::Whine::

When I finished my run, my coaches said they'd noticed that I was struggling a bit today. I agreed. It happens. Coach Rick told me last season: "Bad days are flukes; good days never are". I'm subscribing to that today. I'm glad I went out and practiced with the team and that I got some good hill training in, but I'm even more glad I came home to take a nap right after.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Double digits and double vision

No news means good news, right??


So you'll forgive my lack of updates? Pretty please?

I think today I'll go for an entry that is vignette style, as my friend Stuart used to say.

  • I can't believe how fast we broke into the double digits. Holy crap. I remember when ten miles was MONUMENTAL (notice the word mental in there) and it still is, but it came through our schedule like a steam locomotive, and there's no sign of stopping!
  • July 4th's run was, in a word, sweaty. The night before, we were treated to a spectacular show of thunder and lightning, accompanied by some torrential downpours. So not only was there actual WATER in the Rillito River, there was some nasty humidity to go with it.
  • What goes well with murky water and humidity? BUGS, of course! About 3 miles into our 10 mile run, I looked down and noticed that my arms and legs were covered in tiny bugs that had tempted fate and landed on my sweaty limbs. Fatal mistake (for them). They got in my teeth and eyes, too. Fun times. After I was done, I looked down into my shirt and bra and there were plenty of bugs there too. Everyone looked the same coming in- drenched in sweat, and covered in bugs. None of us really seemed to mind, though- we wore the bugs proudly. :)
  • I couldn't be happier with how my training is going at the moment. While I'm still not on pace to qualify for Boston (that's fine with me), I am really proud of how consistent I'm pacing, no matter how I feel or hurt, whether it's mile 2 or 12, I'm still within 20 seconds of my previous mile! And I feel GREAT! ::knocks on wood:: Let's hope this sticks around, okay?
  • I'm just under $500 shy of my fundraising goal, which is amazing. I cannot thank you all enough for your support. I am truly honored to be running for such an important cause, and that you hold this cause as close to your hearts as I do. Thank you.
  • Last week's run was a 12-miler. Coach Daz ran with me miles 5-12, and I was thankful for that. Normally I don't mind running alone- I actually almost prefer it. I get into my zone and just go. It's pretty cool. However, this day, the heat and sun really got to me. I was wearing my purple training jersey and it was just plain too hot. I actually ran out of water (that was my fault, folks) and was pretty uncomfortable. I got a huge cheer from the rest of the team when I finished, though, and boy was I glad to be done.....I get home and download my run, expecting my mile paces to have tanked in the last quarter of the run. Nope. 10:30's. The whole time (except when I refilled my hydration belt). Woah. Talk about muscle memory!
  • Tonight is the first night of an 8-week track workout program put on by Fleet Feet. It's not so much speed work as it is working on endurance and stamina. It's a laps and drills- running straightaways and jogging curves, etc. I'll talk about it more once I know what's going on!
  • I got hooked up with a Pearl Izumi T-shirt that says "Legs, the alternate energy source" :) Dig it!

That's all I've got for now, I've got to get to practice.

Happy running!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Highs and Lows

My apologies for the lack of updates again. I don't really have any excuses except laziness.

We've hit the longer miles sooner than we did last season, which is simply a factor of time. Last season, we had an extra six weeks to train, so the coaches had us spend a few weeks at the 6-8 range before hitting the double digits. Not this season! Six weeks INTO the season we're already at 8-10. Craziness.

Last weeks' run was an 8-miler along the Rillito River and what an awesome run it was. It was, do date, the best training run I've ever had. I found my groove, I settled in, and I hauled. Ok, well I hauled for ME. But even more? I was consistent- I'm pacing right around 10:30, which I am totally okay with. I'm aiming for a 4:30:and change time this race, which I'll need to maintain a 10:18/mile to achieve. I still have a ways to go, but it's a point of reference...

For my birthday, Todd gave me this awesome GPS watch that pretty much does everything except the laundry (damn!). I have it set so that I can run intervals based on distance- I run for a mile, it beeps and tells me to walk (it doesn't need to tell me twice, believe me), and then after 1 minute, it beeps again and tells me to run for another mile. Rinse and repeat 26 times. FUN!!

Since I've been training, I've been right around a 10:30/mile pace. Good runs, bad runs, runs where my foot cramps, I'm always at a 10:30! So now I need to take these numbers and figure it all out- I want to be smart about this. Last marathon, I lost a LOT of time walking. I was running a 7 minute run/1 minute walk interval, but also walked through the water stations, so I was walking a LOT. In hindsight, I should have blown off the interval walks if I'd just went through a water station, but I didn't know any better. I've heard that you always knock an easy 15 minutes off your first marathon time since you know the I'm hoping to do that and then just plain go faster!

So I changed my interval t0 1 mile run/1 minute walk to be somewhat consistent with water station placement, so that I can train to run all the way in between water stations, walk through them, and not lose any time walking in between (unless placement is more than 1 mile).......I don't know, it doesn't make much sense to me either.

I'm going to meet with Coach Rick to discuss "strategery" as I put it. He just ran a PR in Seattle yesterday, a 4:38! He turns 55 on Tuesday, the same day he's going to shave off HALF of his beard and wear until his half-Ironman in Vegas. He made a deal that if he reaches his fundraising goal by June 30, he'd shave half of his beard. Well, people waited until he was running the Rock N' Roll Marathon to donate, so when he came back to his hotel room to shower and rest, he'd discover that he had only two days left with his whole beard (which he's had since 1984). Its' last supper will be held atop the Space Needle.

So, armed with this new pace and knowledge that I might be able to achieve a 4:30 (it's a lofty goal for me, I won't lie), I set off to conquer some hills.....because, well, San Francisco might have a few I've heard....

Mentally? I came to a grinding, screeching halt.

I know, I know, I'm such a drama queen.

What happened? Sabino Canyon happened. Now, Sabino and I have a history. Last year, this was the place where I really did a number on my IT band, but didn't know it until a week later at my 18-miler, where I ended up having to stop at mile 16 in tears and a lot of pain. I made the mistake of running it in "dead" shoes. Shoes that LOOKED fine, but had logged way too many miles and weren't supportive enough. That among with other small physical things stopped me dead in my tracks about 6 weeks before race day.

Yesterday was my chance at revenge. I was in new(ish) shoes, my core was stronger than ever (thanks, Rohan!), and I had some intense chi running lessons under my belt......bring it on.

Well, I wake up to an overcast day, and it's muggy. At 6 am, it's already 82 degrees, and 40% humidity......not ideal. We start out, and I can feel the humidity just sucking the life out of me. First mile, not bad, 10 mins! Ok, slow down a bit, you still have 6.4 miles.....

Let me explain about Sabino Canyon- it's an out and back course, 3.7 miles each way, and going in, it's pretty much all uphill- with the last mile gaining about 340 feet. It doesn't SOUND like a lot, but holy crap, you really feel it.

So I just struggled with these hills, the humidity, the was certainly a wakeup call. I was all over the place mentally and just not really feeling great. I was so disheartened at how slow I felt like I was going, and how hard these hills were, and how would I ever be able to run hills in San Francisco if I couldn't run these, etc etc. I'd worked myself up into a pretty decent funk, and then I reached the top. Three older me who'd passed me on the last torturous stretch (and encouraged me along the way) were resting at the top. I asked them if this is where I was supposed to play the theme to "Rocky" and they started to sing it as I came around the little roundabout and raised my arms above my head.....

And then it was time to run down. Wheee!!!! I tried really hard to control the downhill part as to not overexert my IT band. I'd put on my knee brace as an afterthought and I'm kind of glad I did- it provided a little extra stability both mentally and physically.

Was I glad it was over? Yes.

It's going to take some mental "beefing up" for these hills. More than I thought. All day yesterday and today I've been mentally checking in with my knee, not knowing if it's injured or if I'm just being hypersensitive to it.....

My average pace for Sabino was an 11:30/mile. Less than stellar but not bad considering the circumstances, I admit. So now it's working on speed ON hills and not injuring myself in the process.

I think I can do that....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

6 Miles

Yesterday's run was interesting. I ran the entire six miles and only walked once about one mile into it so I could stretch out a little bit. The rest of the run I just felt like I was fighting it and really struggling to keep my pace and not just totally crap out.

It went quicker than I thought it would, and was greeted with a cold washcloth (whoever started doing that for the team, you have my eternal gratitude). I hit Trader Joe's on the way home and it was all I could do to not fall asleep on the way home- I was SO TIRED! I came home to surf our new cable channels (yes, we waited until the last minute to ditch our rabbit ears) and fell asleep for a few hours!

The interesting thing? When I downloaded my run and looked at my pace, I was only 14 seconds/mile behind last weeks' run (the run where I felt like a total badass). So I guess I wasn't going quite as slow as I felt....

I woke up early this morning and wrote my weekly mentor email and caught up on some other business (like watching the NASCAR race- pretty exciting!!). And wouldn't you know it, I fell asleep on the couch AGAIN (while watching Mythbusters of all things).

I have no idea why I'm so tired, but this napping thing is unusual for me.

Maybe next week will be a bit better. Call me sick, but I look forward to the longer miles. Next week is 8 and I'm eager to see what I can do.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rock N' Roll!!

Look what I just registered for!

Complete with run-through weddings and running Elvi.

I took a gamble and went all in. I signed up for the race but don't have a hotel or plane reservation yet! GAME ON!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Meet Me Downtown Pictures

See? I told you I'd post pics!

Here's me and Teresa (Lil' T)- she was a mentor for my PF Chang's season. We're wearing matching Fleet Feet shirts, too! So....she ran 10 miles that morning (the race was at night) and she still managed to kick my butt. She makes running seem so effortless.
Notice that my arm is sparkly? That's compliments of......(see below)

My beloved Mashed Potato Queens (not to be confused with the Sweet Potato Queens)- they showed up in full regalia to support the race's cause (to bring business into downtown and support the Fox Theater). Plenty of glitter was shared.....and they wear shirts that say "Distill my beating heart". I've known them for years, and work out with several of them at my gym.

Todd took this photo (he's getting really good at this!) I love it because my form has improved so much (it's not perfect) and I really look like a runner!

The finish line went underneath a footbridge and Todd was waiting for me- I was seriously sprinting against the clock......

There I am trying to beat the clock! ARGH, I wanted to beat 29 so badly! Oh well, maybe next year. :) (I'm right below the N in "FINISH")

Overall, it was a great time. I can't wait to do it next year!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

5k update!

What a fun night! Of course, I got caught up in the excitement and went out way too fast. At one point, I noticed that I was pacing an 8 minute mile. Woah, slow down.......but I'd already kind of run out of I fought through the second mile, and part of the third, and then I kicked into high gear. I'd resolved to finish the race in under 30 minutes if it made me puke or I could see the finish line and I just went for it, and I was racing the clock.

Spectators near and at the finish line knew what I was doing, and they could see the big timer, so they cheered even louder as I neared the finish line. Todd got an awesome overhead picture (to be loaded later) of me JUST getting to the finish line at (get this)......28:59. WOOHOO! So I probably crossed at 29:00 or 29:01....

A new PR!

Of course, all kinds of doubt went through my head as I was running all out during this race..."How can I run a marathon if I can't even make it through a 5k?" "WHY do I do this??" "I'm not going to be able to do a marathon with hills if this course makes me want to puke".

Not pretty, and I know the training will take care of that mentality (hopefully), but it was eye-opening for sure.

In the meantime, I'm going to revel in my success at the 5k and be proud of myself. I analyzed my form in the pictures, and you know what?? I LOOK like a runner! Holy crap! :)

So today it's off to a pool party and then home to relax and prepare for the week ahead.

Life is good.

Have a good Sunday, and happy running. :)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The beat goes on

So today marked our second week of practice, and it's going really well.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, I've been trying to settle back into "work, cross-training, running, clean the house" mode. So unfortunately, my blog can get put on the backburner. My apologies again.

So....where were we?
Ah, the 23rd....First practice and boy, what a great one. It was cloudy and cool, and humid (ugh). Almost everyone was there and it was great to feel the energy and enthusiasm of a new season. We ran a whopping 2 miles while the Seattle team (Their event is at the end of June) was doing 18!! The first-timers were all bug-eyed at that number- I remember feeling that way too. We reassured them that by the time they worked up to it, those distances wouldn't seem so bad.

Today's practice was a bit smaller, due to a communication breakdown (good Led Zeppelin song, by the way). Some people thought that it started a half hour later, so people were still trickling in as the rest of the team took off to do their 2-3 miles. I ran a little bit with the team, but turned back early so I wouldn't burn myself out.

Why, you ask? I'm running the Meet Me Downtown 5k tonight! This is the race that started it all for me last year. I saw a flier for it in 2008 (the race was on 6/7/08) and thought that it sounded like fun, so I signed up, knowing that the last 5k I ran had been about 6 years earlier. Um, get the idea. But wouldn't you know it, I had so much fun that I did another 5k the week after that! I was hooked. Slow, but hooked.

Then a couple weeks after that I got a flier for Team in Training and thought "huh. I remember when my co-worker ran a marathon with them and it seemed like fun....." maybe I'll go to the meeting just to see what it's all about....and yadda yadda yadda, the rest is history.

So, I paced a 10:17 mile for this race last year, with a finish time of 31:58, however that's a rough estimate. What happened at the race was interesting- so many people signed up right before or the day of, that the officials were sort of blindsided by the sheer volume of people that showed up. Not only did they run out of water at the hydration stations, but we had to STAND IN LINE to finish the race!!! So not only did I get a finish time of 31:58, but about 20 other people did as well.....I'm anxious to beat my "personal record" (sorry, trying not to snort at myself as I type that) and excited to had a little more experience under my belt! :)

Oh, and if anyone fancies themselves as a birder, I saw a beautiful bird this morning. It had a red breast and black cap/back. It wasn't a cardinal or a finch. It was probably the size of a robin, but it wasn't a robin. Any ideas?

Sunday, May 17, 2009


That's right, the Fall 2009 Season for the Desert Mountain States has officially begun: GO TEAM!!!

The kickoff meeting was fantastic- we had balloons and streamers, all purple and green, and some very generous and fantastic raffle prizes, compliments of Fleet Feet and the Running Shop. Also with us were Gabbi and Gene, two of our honored teammates, who talked about their experiences with cancer and Team in Training. Gabbi is now 13 (I think, she's growing up so fast) and will celebrate here NINTH year in remission next month.

Gene is one of my personal heroes- he was diagnosed in the late seventies and is the sole survivor of his wing in the hospital when he was in treatment. Now here he is participating with the team and has signed up for the Moab Century Ride AND the Malibu Triathlon. This man is amazing- he's completed two triple crowns as well (When you do a Triathlon, Century [100+miles] and Marathon with TNT). When he spoke at the informational meeting I attended to register for the P.F. Chang's Rock N' Roll Marathon, he got very emotional talking about his survival. I will never forget him yelling through his tears, "I'm not supposed to BE here!!!". Well, THAT certainly put things in perspective- it was so amazing to hear his story, and he was so brave to share it. That season he biked 107 miles in El Tour de Tucson AND ran P.F. Chang's Rock N' Roll. He's a machine. And a hero.

I have quite the diverse group of mentees!! Two are training for the Nike Women's Marathon (same one I'm doing) and two are training for the Adidas Dublin Marathon. Yes, that Dublin. The one in Ireland.

The excitement is palpable and our first practice is next Saturday, the 23rd. We'll be sharing the trail with the San Diego and Seattle teams. San Diego is beginning their taper as their event is the 31st (two weeks from today!!). Next week, Seattle will be running their 18-miler in preparation for their event day on June 27th. We'll be in the upper miles soon enough!

The heat has hit us early this year- we had our first 100 degree day last week (or the week before, I can't remember). Last Saturday, we broke the record with 102. Ugh. I love the desert, don't get me wrong, but damn. It's hot.

I can't wait for practice to start! :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Today is one of "those" days

I went back and read all of my old posts, chuckling to myself at the "Wow, FIVE MILES!!!" references. I really had no idea what I was in for, but I wouldn't change that for the world....little miss "I'm going to RUN the ENTIRE marathon!" ::snort::

Then I get to the entry about Granddad, and I just get so sad. I miss him so much, that it kind of hurts sometimes- it physically aches. I see the beautiful desert around me, and as the weather starts to warm up, I think of him and how "at home" he felt in Arizona. Of course, I'm sure he'd have a thing or two to say about the urban sprawl, as it's quite spectacular.

I see seed packets and garden equipment, which remind me of his attempts at growing tomatoes and cucumbers in the full AZ sun. And he succeeded, from what I can remember- he was such a good gardener.

He'd also trained a family of roadrunners to come by for a snack (ground beef) at the same time every day. He loved it. I'll never forget him telling me that sometimes he'd be taking a nap and if they came for their snack and he wasn't there, they'd rap rap RAP on the door with their beaks to "let him know" that they'd dropped by. Pokey, the desert tortoise, was also a fixture in their backyard. He wandered into the yard one summer and Granddad said that he was probably just "passing through". Well, Granddad took such a liking to him that when he tried to leave, he boarded up the fence so that Pokey became more of a......'permanent resident' in Casa de Hoggatt, wandering around from cactus to tree to plant.....and hibernating in the winter (this is very common in southern Arizona).

I look back on these memories and am heartbroken that I'll never get to share the desert with him again. I can tell he's around- these breezy evenings when it's still in the upper 90's and the cicadas start to chirp and the mourning doves start their songs.....I know he's here. However, it's not the same. Then I get angry. Stupid STUPID lymphoma. How DARE you rob me of my Granddad? Seriously? MY Granddad?

I heard once: "You can't change what happened but you can change what happens next". I think I need to remember these words when I have days like this, because these days are hard.

I miss you, Granddad.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

One Year Ago

One year ago today, we lost Marisa. Only a few short months after her passing, five of her family members signed up to train for the Nike Women's Marathon.

The following was written by a fellow TNTer.

"Our Honored Teammate MARISA ANN GALLEGO August 20, 1991 – April 18, 2008 Marisa Ann Gallego was an excelling junior, at Mountain View High School.

On May 29, 2007, Marisa Ann Gallego was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) which is a fast growing cancer of the blood and bone marrow. She had to undergo five rounds of chemotherapy. The chemotherapy left Marisa unable to fight any type of infection. She was in and out of the hospital after her diagnosis. Marisa was in remission in November, December and January. In February, Marisa was to have her stem cells harvested and frozen in the case that the cancer would return.

Unfortunately the Leukemia had returned and again Marisa was given chemotherapy, the chemo did not put her in remission so she got another round within two weeks. Her blood count would not return to normal, she was transferred to the Bone Marrow Transplant Center were she was to receive a blood cord transplant, but as they prepared her they found that her heart was failing. They put her in ICU on April 16th and put her in on a ventilator to give her heart a break, her organs began to shutdown and on April 18th we learned that her Leukemia had returned and her breathing tube was removed.

Marisa was sixteen years old. Marisa was a very special young lady she touched the lives of all those she met. Even with all the pain she was going through she always had enough strength to give everyone that would come her way a smile."

I got a chance to meet Marisa's family, and they gave me a bracelet that said "iMAGine a cure", the MAG standing for Marisa Ann Gallego. I wish I could have known her- the way her family describes her is so full of love and joy.
Hearing her story and seeing her family's grief is just one more reason that I continue to do this- I need to keep training to stop this from happening.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bribery?? ME??!!?!?

Ok, well, maybe just a little.

Here's the deal: For the Nike Women's Marathon, I have committed to raising $2,925. That's a lot of money, especially in this day and age of our craptastic economy.

So.....I want to throw in a little incentive for you to donate! For the next seven days, everyone who donates will receive a special surprise from me. I'm not going to reveal what it is, because that's no fun. But trust me, your act of donating will not go unsung.

The thing is, I strongly believe that fundraising is not a four-letter word. Lately, however, I feel like I'm raking my fingernails against a chalkboard every time I invite people to donate to this cause. And believe me, I've been on the other side of it as well. "If I have anything leftover after paying bills I'll donate" or how about "I get paid next week, I'll do it then".....and 'then' never seems to come.

For the Nike team this year, we aren't mentors but Captains- we have Team Captains and Mission Captains. Team Captains will be assigned a group of participants and help them fundraise and try to enhance their experience as a Team in Training Teammate. They plan group fundraisers, help the coaches with random tasks (or odd jobs), and attend the weekly clinics for fundrasing, nutrition, etc. Mission Captains are there (training right with us) to enhance the mission experience- to bring mission moments and create a long lasting relationship with our honored teammates. They cultivate our cause and remind us of why we're doing this- something I'm sure will come in handy when we're running 20 miles in the 100+ degree heat.

ANYWAY (I hope you're still with me!!)- I am a Team Captain and I really want to be there for my mentees as much as possible. The sooner I reach my goal, the sooner I can focus my FULL attention on my teammates. This is where you come in and where I would be so thankful for any donations that come in. ::trying not to sound like I'm begging::

I reached my goal so quickly last season and would love to achieve that again. Your support has been nothing short of amazing and inspiring- it feels so great to know that people are here to cheer me on through the highs and lows. Imagine how thrilling it would be for me to able to do that for 7 or 8 other teammates! To be able to share with them the knowledge that we are all doing something (with you) to stop this (as Rick would say) bastard cancer. These diseases need to go away, and soon. With the economy the way it is, the government isn't giving out much funding in the way of new development and research to find cures, so it's up to us to provide the funds.

No amount is too big and certainly no amount is too small. Seriously, every penny counts. EVERY PENNY. This isn't a cheerful funny post, but it's an honest one. I really need your help. Please.

I'll step off of my fundraising soap box for now.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I stink.


I had a REALLY good workout at the gym this afternoon- I take a cardio-circuit class three days a week. It consists of a lot of cario work (about 45 minutes worth), 10 minutes of free weights and 5 minutes of abs. It's killer. We do base/suicide runs, pliometrics (that's a fancy word for jumping around a lot) and stairs. Oh my lord, the stairs. My gym is in the basement of the building I work in (how convenient!). The downside? My office is 8 stories tall. Add the basement and that's 9 floors' worth of stairs we're running. Some days we'll do them three times in a row, then jump on the bikes and so a mini spin class. You get the picture. When I got back into it after I'd run PF Chang's, I actually passed out in the middle of class because it was so tough (or I was so unprepared). It was 99% the latter but I like to brag it was the former.

Anyway, I've been really intense about this cardio class in hopes that my core will be up to par come training time. I've formed this theory in my head that part of I reason I got injured last season was because I stopped going to cardio class and I let my middle get all soft. When you're running, optimally, your core is engaged most of the time and if your core is weak, other parts start to compensate and injuries happen. That's the super simple way of saying it.

So, without trying to tire myself out TOO much, my goal is to keep going to class at the gym and add the training in when it comes time. I've already made a deal with the instructor though- no stairs on Fridays (at least, not for me). While the stairs are an AWESOME workout, it usually takes a full day to get back to baseline, and with our LSD (Long Slow Distance, you hippies) runs on Saturday, it's just not something I'm willing to risk. The other stuff (weights, jumps, abs) I'm fine with. Just no stairs.

I had one of those "at least I'm not going through chemo" moments today in the middle of class- we were in the middle of 20 base runs (one run counts as running the length of the room and back again) and my legs were jello-0 jigglers. I had a side cramp and was really REALLY tired and I thought to myself "Are you F#@*#@ kidding me? You ran a marathon and you're tired from THIS? What about the patients with Leukemia and Lymphoma? What about chemo and radiation??" So yeah, I sucked it up......I know, it sounds corny right? It's just, whenever I struggle with something and think "I am NEVER going to make it", I do remember why I'm doing it, and the little boos of energy that follows is a feeling I wouldn't trade for anything.

How fortunate I am to get to volunteer to run for those who can't. That *I* am being supported by YOU to do something so amazing- not to run a marathon, but to find a cure. Thanks so much.

Monday, April 13, 2009

God Save the Queen

So, where did the 26.2 mile distance originate from, exactly? (I'm sure this question has just been BURNING in your minds the whole time).

Greek legend states that the distance originated when the messenger Pheidippides (think they called him Dip for short?) was sent from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the Persians' defeat in the Battle of Athens. The accuracy of this story is in debate, with contradictions stating that he actually went from Athens to Sparta and back again, which would have been over 240 km, not 42. I still like the story. Except for that little part where he collapsed and died after running it (who doesn't feel like that?) but whatever. Details.

The marathon didn't become an Olympic sport until 1896 (women's wasn't introduced until 1984) and the distance that we know today to be the actual marathon (26.2 miles) wasn't finalized until 1921.

This is my favorite part: in 1907, the Olympics were held in London, and the original course had been set and published in the newspaper. The final distance: 25 miles. Then came protests because the last few miles contained tram lines and cobbled streets, so they re-routed those areas and the distance was increased to 26 miles, 586 yards. Then the Royal Family wanted the finish line to be in their immediate view, so the reversed that final lap around the track (you know, when they enter the Olympic Stadium and then run around the track?) to clockwise, and that made the race 25 miles, 385 yards.

Coach Brian told me this story, and how at mile 25, you can hear people shout "God save the Queen!!" because (although as we know now, it's not the *real* reason) if the original course had remained, they would be done by now.

I was SO EXCITED to get to mile 25 when I was running PF Chang's, so that I would get my chance to take part in tradition. And wouldn't you know it- I was so tired at that point, I don't even remember seeing the sign, let alone hearing people shout the salutation. Oh well, maybe next time, right?

Either way, it's a fun story and it's an interesting history.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Another Season!

So the fall season is fast approaching and we're going to begin our recruiting at the end of the month. The actual training will begin in early June.

I highly encourage everyone to attend an informational meeting to REALLY see what Team in Training is all about.

Go to the Team in Training website:

And at the very top, there's a box to put in your zip code ("Find your chapter"). Enter your zip and it will take you to your local chapter (Desert Mountain States, for example)

There you'll find a list of events that your chapter is offering coaching support for as well as a list of dates and locations for the informational meetings.

Endurance training not your bag, baby? I am still urging you to go to these meetings- TNT could always use volunteers- from handing out water to athletes to helping check in participants at the end of an event or even sending out mailings and making phone calls- TNT needs your help. You don't have to sign up to run a marathon to get involved, and the local coordinators will be so thankful to have someone they can call upon.

Last year I worked the check-in tent for El Tour de Tucson- a 112 mile biking event that TNT members from all over the country take part in. I wrote about it here:

To be there front and center helping participants achieve their goals is so amazing. And trust me, the participants really appreciate it. To hear a "Go Team!" when you don't think you can go any further, or to have someone in Team colors hand you water or Gatorade feels amazing. Uplifting is an understatement. And if you're the one helping, it will feel even better. Trust me.

SO, find your chapter, find a meeting close to you and check it out- there's no pressure, but I think it's a good idea to really get immersed in what we're all about.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I was doing some sobering math problems this morning as I drank my orange juice and pretended that I was feeling better than I really was.

So, my marathon took me 5 hours and 10 minutes (about).

During that time, SIXTY TWO people died of a blood-related cancer.

124 were diagnosed in that same window of time.

At about every half mile (a little less) that I reached, someone died and two people were diagnosed. It's kind of hard to wrap your head around.....

That's too many. Way too many.

I'm on a quest to obliterate those numbers.

Friday, April 3, 2009

And so it begins....

That's right. It's official.

I am a mentor for the 2009 Nike Women's Marathon!

I've got a nasty NASTY cold right now so it was really uplifting to see that my page had been enacted. (I'll make it pretty later, but it's UP!!)

Let's do this.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Toying around with the idea of a half marathon

It's at the end of this month, but I'm nervous I've lost too much of my "running muscle". I gave my knee some ample time to heal from the full marathon, and have been doing some intense cardio at the gym 3-4 times a week. Throwing myself into a half at this point seems like a bad idea, but something's drawing me to it....

There's also a 4 mile trail race next weekend at Old Tucson studios! Ever seen Tombstone, Frisco Kid, Gunsmoke (the TV show), or any John Wayne movie? They were all filmed at Old Tucson Studios! What a rich history, huh?

It's weird knowing that another TNT season has already started (Rock N' Roll San Diego and Seattle), and that I'm not a part of it. It's also amazing how easy it is to blow off a weekend run since there's no team to hold me accountable!! :) Although, I can't deny how nice it is to sleep in on my Saturdays. I know that I will NOT have that luxury come Nike training time. With the season beginning in late May and going through October, we'll be starting around 5am to avoid doing a 20 miler in 100+ degree heat. Ugh! But I still get a little twitterpated thinking about it, only a couple of months to go! San Francisco, get ready!

In other news, for the locals reading this, Fleet Feet has finally moved to their bigger store on Tanque Verde! They're right across from Udall Park and in the same business strip as Zona 78 and Frost. I helped them move most of their inventory on Valentine's Day (at night) and we all had a blast. During the month of March, they're hosting a "Grand Re-Opening event" at their store, so go check it out and say "hey". Enter for your chance to win shoes, hydration systems, GPS watches (!!!), you name it. Check out their page for clinic dates with Zoot, Keen, and Superfeet (my favorite!)

One of the many unfortunate side-effects of this crappy economy is that local businesses are falling prey to the big box stores. Pete and Jeanne (the owners) are amazing people, as made clear by the huge amount of support they've received from the Tucson running community. To be EXPANDING right now speaks volumes. For three years in a row, now, Fleet Feet Tucson has been rated one of the top 50 running stores in the country. Boy are we lucky!

I cannot say enough about their story and their philosophy (or FITlosophy, as they like to say) of making sure you have the best equipment for YOU. It's all about how YOU run and what your body does naturally (for me, I pronate), and addressing it by the type of shoe (neutral vs. motion control) and making sure you have weather-appropriate attire. In Tucson, nothing is more important.

For the non-locals, Fleet Feet is a franchise, so check for one near you!

And that's about it for now. See you out there!

Monday, February 2, 2009


I went to bed feeling excited but nervous (what else is new?). Woke up at 1:30 because I was so err....hydrated.....and couldn't go back to sleep until 3:30. Alarm went off at 4:30 and I was up. I had laid out everything the night before (per the advice of my coaches) and went into "game face" mode. Methodical and deliberate, checking and double checking- gels, body glide, timing chip, etc.
I tried not to cry leaving the hotel room- Todd gave me a hug and a kiss and walked me to the door. I opened it and found a good luck sign taped to my door signed by all of my coaches wishing me good luck, and Lifesavers candy (because we're saving lives!). That sent me over the edge- I cried a little in the elevator, then met up with my team in the lobby. Met up with Jennifer and before I knew it, our shuttle had arrived. The Tucson chapter was one of the first to leave, and as we stood up and left, the lobby erupted into applause and cheers of "Good Luck!" and "Go Team!".
It was still dark out, and very eerie as we approached the starting area. We did some looseners, checked our gear bags, then stood in the port-a-potty lines multiple times until it was time to get in our corrals (Moooooo). We just entered our corral when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see Todd and my parents and was SO HAPPY to see them. They had coordinated to pick up Todd from the hotel and ride around together and try to find me along the course.
Oh hai- I'm about to run 26.2 miles. (My mom is in the pink)

My awesome face tattoos (the other side is a Block A to represent my U of A roots. The finish line is on enemy territory aka ASU, so I needed to represent)

Me and Jennifer in our baggy warm up clothes and "Holy Crap" smiles. I look scared because I am.

Then (and I admit, it was a BIT anti-climactic) the race started and we were off on a very slow jog. It only took us 4 minutes to cross the actual start line, which we later found out, was because the Cardinals were playing the Eagles in the NFC championship game, so a few thousand people who were originally going to run the full ended up running the half (different starting time and line).

The early miles were crowded but exciting- several cheers of encouragement and lots of "Go Team!!!" to go around. Then? The (in my eyes) unexpected and worst happened. My knee started to hurt as bad as the day I injured it. I could not believe that this was happening. I'd been running 10-12 miles with no problems since the injury, and then on race day at mile 2 it feels like someone's sticking a steak knife into my knee?? What is THAT? I tried not to let on that something was up, because I didn't want to slow down.

Coach Rick caught up and ran with us for a little bit. He could tell something was amiss and told me to listen to my body and take some Tylenol if needed, then he was off to find more of our teammates. See, the thing with the coaches is that they aren't running the race, they're running to coach US, so while we think 26.2 miles is awesome, they easily put in over 30 on a race day, cutting the course, doubling back, finding every one of us to make sure we're doing ok.

Then came mile 5 and look! It's my fan section!

The bands every mile were a godsend, as were the cheerleading squads all over the course. They'd read the fronts of our jerseys and then cheer us on by name which was so awesome. For every "Go Elsbeth" I got three of "Go Elizabeth!!" but I didn't care. Seriously, the fact that they were trying and recognizing ME made me feel so amazing.

Me knee was still hurting, and I realized that we were on a tilted part of the road, so once we moved towards the middle (DUH) where it was level I felt like a million bucks. Then we flew. Seriously, we flew. I looked at my watch and we were pulling 9:30-10 minute miles. I felt great.

Fast forward to mile 16 and that's when the wind and heat started. This strong STRONG headwind and it stopped us in our tracks, and the miles started to go by very slowly. We were hitting all of the water and Cytomax stations, taking salt packets and gels just trying to keep up our strength for the last ten miles. The cheers were still there and we kept going, but it just felt like it was taking FOREVER.

Then at mile 19, there they are again!!!

Then came the 5 hour pace team. You can sign up to run with a team in order to stay on track for a certain time. The team leaders run the whole time with a sign on a wooden dowel, so that the teammates can see their leader and stay on track. Because we were doing a run walk combo, we started to play leapfrog at about mile 22. We'd pass them, walk, get passed, run, pass them, lather, rinse, repeat. Then at mile 24 they passed us and I *knew* that we wouldn't see them again. I had worked so hard and had faced so many challenges, and was so disheartened that I wouldn't make my goal time.

But then I kind of realized, that even if I wouldn't make 5 hours, I had still accomplished a hell of a lot, so suck it up, and keep going.

At about mile 22, it really started to hurt. That was the point that I realized that even if I WANTED to go faster, I couldn't. My legs and feet wouldn't let me. It was simple as that. I was going as fast as I could.

We crossed the river and saw Sundevil Stadium (aka Scumdevil Stadium!). 2 miles to go. I don't remember them. I was that tired. Then we reached mile 26, we are SO CLOSE, and we saw Coaches Brian and Lauren. I wanted to cry, I was SO happy to see them. Brian stuck with us and ran us in, and we saw Todd and my parents again.

The reason We're laughing is because my dad had just cheered "You're more than halfway there!!!"

And there it was, the finish line. They announced our names as we crossed the finish line and then it was hugs and tears. We'd just run a marathon. Holy. Crap.

The end was neat because we got our finisher's medals, pictures taken, and then tables and tables of food. Bananas, Popsicles, chips, you name it. I couldn't look at ANY of it, I felt so sick, so I went to the Team in Training tent to check in and there was Todd waiting for me. I was so relieved to see him. We found my parents and I got my gear bag to change my shoes (it felt sooo goooood to put on my sandals!). At that point, I practically had to be carried around- my feet hurt so bad.

We got back to the hotel, I took COLD ice bath, then a shower, then Todd took me to a bar for some GREASY food and a beer. Nothing had tasted so delicious.....After that we went to the victory party for a great dinner (hey, I ran a marathon, I'll do what I want, ok??) and then retired to the lobby with a few teammates to have drinks with the coaches. I've never been more proud of all of us, it was so great to bask in the victory glow (while wearing our finisher's medal!!!).

And now, it's done. (For the time being). I'm resting my knee and taking it easy and looking forward to running Nike in October.

So, thank you AGAIN for your support! I'll still be updating about this and that, but stay tuned!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Happy Superbowl Sunday!

Part II is in the works, I PROMISE.

However, the Cardinals are in the Superbowl, and I need to focus my energy elsewhere. ;)

So, with that said (and I'm sorry, Art)


Sunday, January 25, 2009

PF Chang's Rock N' Roll Marathon, Part I- the calm before the storm

We arrived to the hotel on Friday afternoon- right downtown, kitty corner from the convention center (and a few blocks north of the Hard Rock Cafe!!). Coach Rick was there to meet us in the lobby and fill us in on a few details. We were assigned to the 18th floor. Out of 31 (yeah, this is a big hotel). We wheel our luggage over to the elevators and hop on, and just as the door is closing, I'm reaching for the "18" button, I realize that the elevator we're on only goes to 17!!! Uh....ok. So Todd and I ride up and get off, expecting to find the "18-31" elevator......but nothing. So back down we go- turns out the 18-31 elevators were on the other side. Derp.

We get settled into the room which was beautiful, and soak it all in. Huge flat panel TV, everything pristine and crisp, and an awesome view!

I was SO anxious to get my corral number changed, that we hopped over to the convention center early so I wouldn't have to wait in line on Saturday (when a majority of the 35,000 plus participants pick up their numbers). I showed my ID, turned in my confirmation sheet, and there I was, participant 9047 with race bib and computer timing chip in hand, and VERY overwhelmed. So many people, so much information to take in- how to properly place my timing chip on my shoe, my gear check bag, zip ties, tags for gear check bags, etc. I thought changing my corral was going to be an ordeal- they don't care if you're moving down, but moving up can be pretty difficult. But not today- I explained that I needed to move from 9 to 8 and they slapped a green dot with an "8" in it, no questions asked. Allrighty, then!

Then it was off to pick up my official t-shirt and goodie/gear check bag. Everything was so streamlined and official- parts of my bib (which is my race number that I safety pin to my shirt) tore off to serve other purposes (how resourceful, huh? And it made it harder to lose things). One small square was my t-shirt ticket- I turned it in to get my official "Marathon" t-shirt. The other part that tore off was my official ticket to attach to my gear check bag. Ok, get this (I loved this part). Every participant is given a goodie bag as they enter the expo- there's all sorts of stuff in there- flyers for upcoming races (Rock N' Roll Seattle has just been introduced!), samples of sports drinks and shaving gel (um, ok), etc. But that exact bag is also the same bag you use on race day to pack extra clothes, nutrition, sandals, and other stuff you may want after the race. You seal it up, attach your tag to it, and then drop it off to the row of UPS trucks at the start line. While you're racing, they're driving your stuff to the finish line! It's the simple things. I was highly amused. parents arrived in town the same afternoon, so we all walked to the Hard Rock Cafe and enjoyed a nice (albeit loud) dinner sitting next to a corduroy jacket that John Lennon wore in the 60's. It was great to have them in town- I was feeling pretty overwhelmed still. Even though this was the weekend that I had been training for during the last 6 months, I was still a bit shell shocked and it was comforting to have them close by. Todd also provided a much needed "grounding source" for me. His ability to remain calm and not get swept away with hype is the perfect yin to my yang- when I don't know what's going on, or if I'm in an unfamiliar situation, I can go from 0 to freakout pretty quickly. In fact, the running joke was that I was "Anxiety Girl" all weekend.

Friday Evening: Jersey Decorating Party!!!! One of our honored heroes, Alex, passed away from Lymphoma in 2006, and her mother was with us all season training alongside the team. That night, she gave us all patches that said "Alex's Angels" and our chapter name on them (Go Desert Mountain States!! Woohoo!!). Ok, so here's another thing about TNT: people LOVE to decorate these purple jerseys- glittery fringe, pictures, puffy paint up the wazzoo, you name it, it's probably been on a TNT jersey. I went the simple route with a hot pink "elsbeth" on the front, and the names of my honored heroes on the back. Uncle Ralph and Granddad, and (unfortunately) the many others who have either survived or lost their battles with blood cancers.

Art, you were on there too. :) One of my honored heroes.

This is where I feel so conflicted. Let me preface this by saying, I LOVE Team in Training, I am so thrilled to be able to train and raise money for such an important cause. HOWEVER: I absolutely *hate* that this is how it has to be. I love being able to run in honor and memory of everyone, and I am proud to be their warrior, but I looked at the list of names on my shirt (and on the ribbons that I carried with me), and I could think was "This is too many people". TOO MANY PEOPLE. I get mad, then sad, then righteous, then overwhelmed, then inspired, then back to being sad again. I feel guilty for hating this part of it. There shouldn't be ANY names on my jersey- or it should be of people who have all survived, not perished from this stupid cancer....But if we don't do this to find a cure, who will? It makes me cry. Stupid cancer.

A quick trip to Coldstone after decorating, then off to bed. Here we are pre-pre-race!

Saturday morning, we all met for a group run at 8am. Turns out every other chapter met in the lobby with the same idea! I chatted with a few girls from the New York City chapter in the elevator. They thought the weather was GREAT, and thought I was crazy for wearing running tights, gloves and long sleeves, but hey, it's all in what you're used to, right? As the different chapters took off in different directions, shouts of "Go Team!!" echoed all over the hotel and sidewalks- it was awesome.

Then, that night, we had the Pasta Party. I was NOT prepared for this at.all. We met my parents in the lobby, and joined the rest of our chapter, all of us wearing our bright yellow "Hey, we're Desert Mountain States!" t-shirts. I could hear this faint roar of noise but had no idea what it was. Mentor Teresa told us not to worry about it, and led us up the escalator to the grand ball room. We were practically knocked over by a solid wall of sound. Every single coach had line up a la "Soul Train" and were cheering us into the ballroom with whistles, cowbells, noisemakers and a tambourine (thanks to Coach Lauren!!)

It looked like this:

A look back to everyone who was behind us. We were the first ones in out of 2000 people. Amazing.

A very surprised Elsbeth and very calm Todd. See his shirt? Yeah, dig it.

Coaches Sarah (Sierra Vista), Lauren, and Brian (he qualified for Boston in December!!)

I'm sorry this one's blurry, a better version is on its way. From left to right: Coach Rick, Mentor Betsy (Alex's mom), me, Coach Sarah, Coach Lauren, Coach Brian. Our coaches were smart. They brought earplugs. :)

The gigantic ballroom that sat over 2000 people, 1065 of which were Team in Training participants.

We got our dinner (which was DELICIOUS), and sat down, soaking it all in. Then we noticed that pictures of honored teammates and heroes were being shown on the screen. Queue the instant tears: pictures of Uncle Ralph and Granddad appeared on screen. I had no idea that they would show them- I'd forgotten that I'd emailed them to Louanne and was so touched that they were there. Mom and Dad were appreciative as well.

So, Team in Training raised over $3.2 million for the P.F. Chang's Rock N' Roll marathon (hereto for now referred to as the PFCRNR), the Tucson chapter contributing $90,000 of it. Since the inception of PFCRNR, Team in Training has raised over $22 million!!! Thank you so much for your support- you are helping save lives, giving a voice to those who don't have one. You have helped ME become a runner for these people, to have one of the most special experiences in my entire life. Words cannot express how grateful I am for your support.

We had several inspirational speakers, including John "The Penguin" Bingham, columnist for Runner's World magazine (, and the chosen speaker (they pick one TNT participant every dinner) was our very own Betsy Stuetze, Alex's mom. There wasn't a dry eye in the place when she talked about her beautiful daughter and her fight for her life.

Then the dinner adjourned and it was off to bed to wake up and meet in the lobby at 5:45 am. I finally had my "holy crap, what am I doing?" moment at our team meeting after dinner when I realized that in 12 hours, I would be running 26.2 miles.

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's done

5 hours, 11 minutes, and 10 seconds. 5:11:10

As I say a lot on this blog, holy crap. It was hot (almost 80 degrees at the finish) and painful (no blisters, though!) but I finished and was able to stick to my interval for the most part.

It was an experience that will never happen again- my FIRST marathon. The magic of the first one has come and gone, but will always be in my heart and the back of my head as I train for more.

IPROMISE I will post a more extensive entry, but I don't have the time right now. There will be pics too!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Last full day in Tucson!

And boy, is it already busy.

After work is going to be crammed with laundry, jersey decorating, packing, and trying not to get hurt (this is harder than it sounds, BELIEVE me).

At our team meeting on Tuesday, our wonderful coordinator, Louanne, told us that the Tucston chapter alone raised almost $90,000. Holy crap. So, to my wonderful contributors and supporters: THANK YOU. You have helped save lives and helped give me a voice to create an awareness about these horrible blood cancers.

We also got our purple race day jerseys (I opted for a shirt, not a singlet- I've been running in shirts the entire time we've been training, so to change it up on Game Day is a bad idea in my book).

I think I really underestimated the amount of information and who needs-to-be-where-and-when stuff that was going to be involved.......we get packets when we check into the hotel, then another packet when we check in at the expo (did I mention I need to change my CORRAL?? Moooooo) to pasta and victory parties and timing chips and gear backs......AACK! Seriously, just get me to the starting line in one piece with my sunglasses and visor and I'm good. Really.

I'm facing feelings of intense anxiety accented with bits of an excited rush (no, I didn't just pee my pants).

Tomorrow we'll go up to Phoenix to check into our hotel (along with 1,200 other TNT participants). We're staying across the street from the Convention Center and it's Arizona's largest hotel, as of September 2008 (when they opened). Check it out!

My mom and dad will be in town too, so we'll get to meet up with them! I'm so excited that they've come down from Idaho to support me- Todd's going to drive them around so all three can take pictures of my FLYING by them. Ok, not flying, but they'll get a taste for the event and the bands (a Buddy Holly tribute band will be there!)

Saturday is a group run in the morning just to get a feel for everything, then we'll walk over as a team and pick up our packets (And I'll change my corral!!!), race numbers, timing chips, and I will spend some hard-earned cash on some well-deserved souvenirs. :)

Saturday night is the pasta party (The Desert Mountain States Chapter will all have matching bright yellow t-shirts, so look for us!)- I'll elaborate more on this afterwards, because I've never been to one, so I don't really know what it's about.

Then Sunday, it's on the shuttle at 5:15 to get to the starting line for when the gun goes off at 7:40.

run run run walk run run some more walk some more drink water and cytomax, eat a salt packet, run run run run run walk run walk walk walk. Rinse and repeat for about oh....5 hours.

Then? The finish line. How glorious (and probably emotional) that will be.

I'll post more if I get the chance, but I just wanted to check in and say holy CRAP, this is really happening, and thank you ALL for your support.

Monday, January 12, 2009

6 days and counting

Tomorrow is our send off meeting/party, where we get our race-day jerseys and information for the hotel.

I will be arriving in Phoenix on Friday afternoon, off to the expo to change my corral #, then soaking it all in until Sunday morning!

Now is the time where I go shopping for "discard warm-ups"- clothes that I can wear while I stand in the corral an HOUR before the race starts and toss aside as we begin running and NOT care that I never see them again. Goodwill lines the streets the first few miles and collects the discarded items to take to their stores. Kinda neat, huh?

I can't believe it's almost here. It seems like only yesterday I called my mom and said, "Um, I just signed up to run a marathon". Now, almost 6 months later (I signed up on July 19th), I am checking "Run a marathon" off my to-do list of life. However, this isn't a one-time thing, I'll be running another one soon!

Let's just focus on this one for now, huh?

Oh, and Phoenix is going to be CRAZY crowded that weekend- Barret-Jackson is going on (you know, the classic car auctions you see on the Speed channel? Might I add that I REALLY want to go to this as well?), some NFL playoff game (holy crap, the Cardinals might go to the Superbowl!), and a marathon with 32,000 participants and even more spectators and volunteers. If you decide to enter Phoenix, may the force be with you.

More later,