Thanks for stopping by. I know a lot of Team in Training people are sent over here because I’m still an honoree, or honored patient, for the Peninsula Run Team. Others may be wandering here from some google search of APML or some other term (I get a lot of hits from “sea turtles” interestingly). Whatever the reason, welcome. I have gone inactive on this blog for about the past year, and wanted to update. And to give special mention to some of the TNT participants who’ve particularly inspired me lately.
The last entry here, about a year ago, showed some pretty nasty injuries from a bike accident. I did decide to not recommit for that season after that incident. I had been getting a bit further behind in training (and being new to cycling I needed all the training I could get). I also had some job troubles at that time as well. I’ll come back to cycling at a later point.
But I have stayed active with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, both with TNT and with Walk the Night at work. Right now, I’m an honoree for the Fall Peninsula Run Team, and have spoken at several information meetings each season. I’ve spoken at some track workouts and have worked a few waterstops during some of the longer training runs. Here’s a picture.
After having the difficulty with the cycling program I began to question if working with TNT and for LLS was still what I wanted to do. But I have continued. And this weekend, I had an experience which reminded me why I continue to work with runners/fundraisers for TNT.
I worked a waterstop at a training run at Portola Valley, where the participants ran anywhere between 8 and 12 miles depending on what event they were doing. It was a beautiful day, just beginning to be a bit warm at the end of the run. The program has many athletes of differing abilities, but having ran my first few events a couple years ago I’m always more impressed with the less experienced runners.
There was one, named Alissa Winzeler, who made a big impression on me. The runners went by our water stop on two occasions, once on the way out and another on the way back to the finish. On the way out Alissa looked good, and was in very good spirits. On the way back, she had run several miles, more she said than she’d ever run before. And she was crying. A lot of runners have physical ailments which may hurt them. And while she did have some aches, she said she wasn’t crying because she was hurting. She said the whole experience of the run, along with everything else going on in her life (she mentioned she was in the middle of a move this weekend) really moved her. She seemed a bit overwhelmed by the experience, thinking she wasn’t sure if she could complete this run, and making it through it. I saw her again at the end of the run, as she was finishing. She was still overwhelmed and tearful. I couldn’t have been more proud of her.
Here’s why I was so proud of her and her accomplishment, and this is why I love this program. Alissa is VOLUNTEERING her time and her energies to fund raise (she’s already met her minimum), and going through this program. Allissa didn’t have to fundraise. Heck, with her moving this weekend, she probably shouldn’t have taken the time to run. But she did. She ran farther than she ever had in her life, pushing herself further to achieve, being and doing more than is required. And all the while, doing something that raises funds for research into blood cancers, so others can live. That’s FANTASTIC.
She’s a better person for doing it, and the world is a better place for her doing it. She should be very proud of herself right now.
Allissa — and all other TNT participants — should be very proud of themselves right now. Because I’m proud of all of you. Thanks for all you do.
I’ll likely not update this again in the near future, but I’ll keep it up as an archive, and come back to it and update again at a later date.
This has been a very hard post to write. I’ve been putting it off.
While the last couple of seasons I’ve had a number of personal honorees I ran for, and still are a part of me and inspire me, I’m dedicating my training and my event to Travis.
I introduced Travis Wallace at this post. He was a nine-year survivor of leukemia and a fellow honoree for Team in Training. Travis had a tremendous spirit and zest for life. In the time since his last battle, he got married to a woman who I think is just terrific, Amy. Amy and Travis became very active in Team in Training. Not just as an honoree, but both of them became active participants, running in several marathons and half marathons. They also became mentors to other runners, and captains to help set up the program.
The picture below is my absolute favorite picture of Travis. It perfectly demonstrates his contributions to TNT and the people who he touched in it. Even though he was an honoree, it wasn’t about himself. It was about the cause, helping others understand the cause, and motivating them to make it through their events and succeed in their dreams. He touched hundreds of people in this program, just like this one instance captured forever in this photo.
If any of you ever wondered what makes Team in Training so special, this is it. People with gifts and talents helping others to meet their dreams, while helping to raise funds to help a worthy cause to find cures and make the lives of others better. Travis was one of those who people who made this happen.
Another is Travis’ wife, Amy. She was particularly helpful to me during my marathon last June in San Diego. It ended up being a very hot day, and I had a lot of difficulty with the heat and my water and sodium intake. I was basically sweating like a pig.
Amy ran with me for about 3 or 4 miles, giving me fluids and other refreshments, and just being there, encouraging, being very perky and friendly as she usual was. I really honestly wouldn’t have made it without her. I’ll always fondly remember her and another captain Carolyn who also ran with me that day.
I took a picture of both of Amy (on the left with the alien deely bobs) and Carolyn taken during the marathon:
Amy left just about after this pic was made because she wanted to finish with Travis, who was running a half marathon that day. He did well and finished.
Earlier this year, Travis and Amy gave birth to a beautiful daughter, McKenna.
A month after McKenna was born, about March, Travis found out he had relapsed.
He started treatment almost immediately. He went — for the third time in his 32 years of life — into the hospital and started chemotherapy. He found he would need a bone marrow transplant. He began a search and was able to find a suitable donor.
While in and out of the hospital, Travis spent time with McKenna. For his wedding anniversary, Travis took Amy on a very special trip. Here’s Amy’s words from her blog:
June 24th was our second wedding anniversary. We spent the night in Half Moon Bay at the Ritz where Travis proposed three years ago. It was awesome! We had massages, a great dinner, wine and champagne and an amazing time together, watching the sunset and walking on the beach. That’s the way to live!
On Thursday Trav chartered a helicopter and surprised me with a tour of San Francisco. We flew from the peninsula up through and around the city, under the Golden Gate bridge, down the coast and back up over the mountains. We even saw a whale off the coast of Half Moon Bay. It was amazing! My husband is incredibly romantic. Sorry ladies, he’s mine!
Here’s a pic of them on that special day:
A few days later in early July Travis went back into Stanford for his bone marrow transplant (BMT). He had to have more rounds of really harsh chemo to get ready for it. The BMT went well, and it was starting to take. But because of the harshness of the chemo Travis underwent, he developed both kidney and liver failure.
He struggled. But it was too much for him to overcome, even as young and strong as he was. He passed away on August 21.
In the last couple of years, Travis married a terrific beautiful person, ran marathons and helped others to run marathons, raised money and awareness of his struggles and the need for leukemia research, had a beautiful baby girl, and lived life to the fullest. If quality of life is the measure, Travis lived a great life.
A couple weeks before, I had contacted Amy to ask if I could train and ride in honor of Travis this season. I sent an email, and was afraid to take up too much of her time. This is what she wrote back:
We are absolutely honored and thankful to be a part of your training and help you with your fundraising. Please feel free to share with your friends, family and others, Travis’ story and website. Trav and I hope to ride along side of you in a century someday.
Well, Travis and Amy are riding with me this season. I’ve already on many occasions thought of Travis and Amy riding with me, encouraging me as Amy did in the marathon. They’ll be with me both during all the training and at the event.
The world is a little worse off without Travis here.
If you would like to see pictures of Travis and his family or read his story, please visit his caring bridge site: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/traviswallace
After two successful running events in 2007, a full marathon in June and a half marathon in November, and enjoying some well deserved time off from any training, I have decided to do another event.
Only this time, on a bike.
I’ve signed up to cycle the el Tour de Tucson this November — 109 miles around the perimeter of Tucson.
First, I was looking for something besides running to do. I always wanted to get back into cycling — I had a bike for about a year about 25 years ago when I started college. But that was on a bike with a banana seat and streamers. I’m mostly not kidding — it was a very rudimentary bike, unlike current road bikes with multiple gears. Also, I was living with my parents in a very rural area on flat mostly empty roads in Texas, unlike cycling over hills and in urban areas around San Francisco. So I figured, what a better way to get back into it than joining Team in Training again? You get terrific coaching, training on some of the most beautiful areas of the world (the San Francisco Bay area), and lots of advice and assistance. They could take a novice cyclist and turn them into an experienced cyclist by the end of the program. It was definitely the way to get back into it.
But more than anything, I want to raise more funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The needs are still there — another person dies from a blood related cancer every nine minutes. There’s still a lot to do. I have more people for whom I’m running this season who I’ll introduce you to.
And, now it’s six and one half years disease free — in full remission with no evidence of the disease. I CAN get out there and cycle. Why not?
So, get ready to join me as the season progresses.
I’m a little behind on the blog — we’ve been training for most of the month of August. I’m learning A LOT — something every time I’m on the bike. Like, how to shift. And how to make it up a hill. Hills will be my friend. Someday.
I’m training with the San Francisco Cycle Team, and they’ve all been TERRIFIC to work and train with. Here’s a pic from when I was on a training ride with the team a couple of weekends ago, in Golden Gate Park.
Do I look like I’m having difficulty shifting? I was. But behind me in yellow in the pic above was my awesome Honoree Captain, Michelle, who rode with me and gave me terrific advice and support. That ride was 20 miles; we did another 20 miles this last weekend.
But I’m enjoying this SOOO much.
And, it helps to think on whose behalf I’m doing this.
I have a special honored patient for whom I’m cycling this season — Travis Wallace. I talked about him last year in this post, but there’s been more since then. I’ll talk more about him and his family in a later post.
Suffice to say, Travis will inspire me to train and will help me make it up the most steep hills this season.
Wow. Today’s Monday, and the marathon is this Sunday, June 3. I’ll be flying out Friday evening to San Diego. Here’s the website for the marathon, if you’re interested — San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon
I’ll be bringing the camera, and my laptop. I’ll be blogging over the weekend, including after the event. Check back to this blog Sunday and Monday.
As I get closer, the butterflies commence. I have run several miles several times since the Monterey run, and I’ve felt ready…. I can tell I am processing the run/walk in the way that I’ll be able to do it for several hours. I get into that “zone” and stay there. Still, I know what it was like to have some problens on mile 19 in Monterey, and know it will happen again. While ready for it, I can’t help thinking about it.
So a few things keep me going, and let me know I’ll make it.
The first is all of you — the many diverse family, friends, co-workers and others who have honored me by donating for me. I am proud to say that, with the last few donations, and when the matching funds from work is counted, I will have surpassed $6,000 in donations. Thank you to all — you’ve made this all worth it.
Another thing that will keep me going is remembering the honored patients, friends and family I’ve introduced you to will be there (go to the link at their names below their pictures to go to that blog entry) —
and others who have been mentioned privately to me — I’ll remember them all.
Another that will stick with me is remembering an origami crane.
One person from AIG in the SF office, Mary Hancock, who made a donation also gave me a little goodie bag for the marathon. In it were some sunscreen packets (nifty!) an AIG cap, and an origami crane. The origami crane was also in purple, one of TNT’s colors. (Mary whas been a past participant, having walked the San Diego Rock N Roll marathon a few years ago for TNT.)
We got to talking about the origami crane, and we started talking about he history of it. While origami cranes have been around for centuries, it has a history in the 20th century involving leukemia.
In 1956 a young Japanese girl in 1956 named Sadako Sasaki was running a race and collapsed. Turns out, she had leukemia. As a toddler, she had been in Hiroshima and had been exposed to radiation.
According to a Japanese legend, the crane lives for a thousand years, and a sick person who folds 1,000 origami cranes will become well again. So, in an attempt to find a cure for her leukemia Sadako started on a quest to fold 1,000 of the cranes. While she passed away before getting to 1,000, she is remembered as a symbol of peace, along with the crane itself.
The ironies in this story really struck me. Here’s a young girl who discovered she had leukemia while running, while we run to find a cure for leukemia. Also, she attempted to find a cure for herself through legend, while we attempt to find a cure through funding scientific research.
Here’s hoping that the money we raise for research can help to keep other young girls like Sadako to be able to run later in life and survive leukemia.
I’ll be taking the crane with me on the run.
One of my very good friends from many years back with whom I’ve kept up – Susan – told me recently that she was very proud of me for all I’m doing training for a marathon, being a recovering (recovered?) patient.
I thought that was very odd, for a couple of reasons. First, Susan herself has done a fundraiser/endurance event for Team in Training – she did the Treasure Island Triathlon in San Francisco in 2002, and at that time I was one of her honored patients in whose honor she ran. I saw her do it, and have a picture of the two of us just prior to the event.
Susan did an Olympic distance – no small feat herself. Training for a tri is very demanding, with many days twice daily training events. I was as much proud of her as she is me now.
The other reason I always find it odd for people to tell me how proud they are of me for how far I’ve come, is that I still feel like I haven’t gone through anywhere near what other people have gone through, who inspire me. I’ve already introduced you to two honorees, Doug and Carol. Another is Travis.
I’ve known Travis for several TNT seasons. He was a speaker at a recent honoree event, and it reminded me of what so many other people have gone through – are going through – will go through some day, without better treatments.
While in high school, Travis had a form of leukemia. He underwent chemotherapy, and went into remission. About 4 ½ years later, he relapsed. This time he had to have both radiation and a bone marrow transplant, after being lucky enough to find a bone marrow donor. The BMT required SIX MONTHS straight in isolation. He mentions that he had vomiting over 40 straight days while there.
But he made it to remission, and currently has no evidence of the disease himself. He has gotten married, and leads a healthy full life. He’s been both an honoree and a participant for TNT for several seasons.
Travis is a reminder of me of just one of the countless examples – ones whose stories we may not have heard – of people who have struggles that go beyond what we can comprehend. And right now, there are people in hospitals all around the country – Stanford, UCSF, MD Anderson, everywhere – who are going through similar or worse. I run in honor of all of them as well. The patients of all ages, parents, spouses, children, grandchildren, friends – all of whom struggle with this.
I used to feel like my story wasn’t as good as others, that other people have struggled more than me, and perhaps with the good outcome I had (no radiation, no BMT) that I wasn’t as meaningful a story as others.
Then I realized it – my story is a good story for participants to hear: my story symbolizes the hope that new treatments can change deadly diseases to ones with positive outcomes, that allow for cures. We need more stories like mine, and research that TNT funds can help make those happen. So I don’t feel as undeserving to be an honoree anymore.
I mentioned in the last post how I ran 7 miles at Sawyer Camp Trail on a recent Saturday. On the trail going in the other direction were many runners and cyclists. But on this day were a lot of walkers. I quickly realized this was a training walk for another Team in Training group, the walk team. See, along with the run team, there is a group that prepares for walking a marathon, with special workouts and coaching focused on walking an endurance event. And as you do when a TNT participant sees another in a practice session, I acknowledge them in the way we’re told to do when we sign up (if you’re not in TNT I won’t spoil the surprise for you). That kept me motivated to keep going as well.
And finally I came to someone I talked about earlier in the blog (see at this link) , Carol. Carol spoke at the initial kickoff to this TNT season, and she’s an honoree this season for the walk team. I was doing a run/walk program that day, so fortunately I came upon Carol as my walk time began, so I walked with her and we talked.
She’s quite the inspiration. Remember a couple of blog posts ago I was saying how I am in awe of those going through treatment and still participate in endurance events? Carol was doing that same thing that very day. She’s currently in treatment, and she says when she feels up to it she participates with the team. So, today she “felt good enough” to walk 12 miles. I could barely walk down the halls when I was in treatment, and here she’s walking 12. Amazing. As I left from talking with her she yelled out at me, “You’re my inspiration.” Wow, pot, kettle, black. You amaze and inspire me.
Which brings me to another reason why I run this season. It’s something that I’ve been thinking of during these long runs. I run because I can. I’ve been through a lot, and through some things that many don’t make it through. I did. I can run. So I must.
It feels good when I run. I feel alive when I run. Energized, goal oriented, successful. Enjoying the beauty of life, including my own health.
Yes, I run for Carol, and for Samuel, and Justin, and Peggy, and my aunt Martha, and countless others. But I also run for me.
Let me introduce you to someone else in whose honor I will run.
My brother Terry is a school superintendent in Abbott, Texas, a small town south of Dallas. We grew up about 5 miles from Abbott in another small town. In a small town you share the good times (you should see a wedding in a community where most are of Czech descent — seems like the entire town is invited and comes out for a big bash) and the not so good times. Lots of terrific people there, who care a lot.
Terry told me about someone named Justin Waters.
I didn’t know him, but Terry did. Here’s what Terry had to say about him:
He was around 8-9 when he was first diagnosed with leukemia. His family goes to our church and I personally taught Justin in my Confirmation class. …
Justin did [go into remission] and then went another 4 plus years before it becoming active again. He and his parents were told that a bone marrow transplant was his only hope for survival. So he went on the transplant registry.
Luckily, in April of 2005, a match was foungd in Germany of all places. So he was given the marrow and improved immediately. He spent a lot of time at home, but in April 2006, he left the house to go to his Senior prom. Later in May, he walked across the stage to receive his high school diploma from West High School.
Unfortunately, his lungs were attacked with a form of fungus. So, late last year, 2006, he went to Houston to have a lung transplant since the fungus had about destroyed the lungs.
A donor was found and he was doing great again. They even talked of him coming home for a day or two to celebrate Christmas with his family. That never happened though because he started having seizures and a brain scan revealed that he had lesions on the brain — caused by this same fungus.
Finally, Justin succumbed to all the diseases on January 19th at the age of 19.
I will be deeply honored to run in Justin’s honor.
I introduced Doug a while back, but had great news about him today. Two things —
1) He leaves tomorrow for Rome. Lucky him… He’s attending the Rome Marathon as a honoree/cheerleader/supporter for the TNT marathon training team he has been working with. And, spending a couple of weeks there.
2) Much, much more importantly, he had his most recent testing and found out he’s still disease free.
Doug has a chronic form of lymphoma. Living with a chronic disease in remission is tough, so to have another report that everything is free and clear…. that’s so terrific.
Here’s a link to his bio, for more info. It’s a great story.
And Doug deserves it. He is a tireless volunteer/honoree for TNT. Since he has retired, his whole life is attending TNT events, and being an incredible inspiration for those who don’t have a connection. He’s doing something for TNT almost every day, every weekend, every training session for several TNT teams at a time. So many people have been inspired to excel and achieve because of him.
Enjoy Rome, Doug! Looking forward to pictures.
I never met Samuel Sandoval. He was not here on this earth that long. He was born in April 2003. He was a happy healthy baby until he was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) in early 2004. He then began treatment.
His treatment was not easy. Even though our ages and conditons were quite different, I can relate to what he went through in a few ways. One of the things we shared in our treatment was the need for multiple bone marrow biopsies. I’ve already talked about my challenges with them; Samuel had the same problem. After speaking to a Team in Training group last fall his mother came up to me and said Samuel also had a number of unsuccessful attempts, and a lot of pain. At that age Samuel couldn’t speak; his mother said hearing my story was the first time she understood what Samuel had gone through. I know how he felt. I was an adult at the time; I can only imagine what it was like for him and what he was thinking.
Unfortunately, our stories diverge. Only after a few weeks of chemotherapy, Samuel lost his battle. Just a few weeks before his first birthday.
I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Samuel’s mother, Helen. She’s a funny, dynamic person. She’s run a half marathon for TNT already, and is the Honoree Captain for the Peninsula Run Team that I’m training with.
I know it’s still difficult for her. But she gives of herself and her story so much for the cause, and she graciously allowed me to use Samuel’s story. She’s a very brave person I admire greatly.
I run in honor of both Samuel and Helen.
This blog entry has been very difficult to write. Let’s hope we don’t have to hear many more stories like this going forward. We need the Samuels of the world to run with us.
There’s another person who’ll be with me when I train for and run the marathon — Peggy Cwik.
Peggy was the first person from AIG Consultants I met in person after I was hired. She was flown out to San Francisco to do my orientation in June 1999. And what a refreshing personality she provided; quite an interesting beginning.
Peggy has a life spirit and sense of humor of her very own. While she would often be cynical and quick witted, she had a heart of gold. She was a very hard worker, and was loved by her fellow consultants, her clients, and everyone. What she didn’t tell that many people was regularly she volunteered at a local nursing home almost every week.
I loved working with her, traveling with her, and talking about AIG and her life with her.
Then comes the surprise – just last spring we heard she was taking a few months off to begin chemotherapy for uterine cancer. She struggled most of 2006. And just after the first of the year, she relapsed, and finally succumbed to her illness.
Here’s hoping, just like with Aunt Martha, that the funds raised for Team in Training and the Society will help find treatments and cures that can help people with the life spirit Peggy had to live the life they desire. I’m running this season for you, too, Peggy.