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
I had a good friend who I lost touch with in the last couple of years. She googled me and found this blog. She got concerned, though, because there hadn’t been any updates since June. In an email to me seemed to be afraid that something had happened to me.
So to Angela, and everyone else, I’ve been fine. In fact, I ended up enjoying the Team in Training experience so much I did another event as a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I did the Santa Barbara Half Marathon in early November. It also went extremely well, and raised another $2,500. That means that between the two events in 2007 I raised over $9,000 for research into blood cancers. Yay!
I also learned something very important about myself through these events. I sent it out in a note to my supporters over the holidays, but I wanted to share it here, too:
During the holidays it’s common to look back on what has happened in our lives the previous twelve months. As you know, this May I celebrated my fifth year of being and complete remission and good health from leukemia by running a marathon, the San Diego Rock N’ Roll Marathon on June 6 to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I enjoyed the experience so much that I ran another half marathon as a fundraiser, The Santa Barbara Half, in early November. I can’t express enough thanks to you for contributing and to help raise funds for leukemia research.’
“But, there’s one other thing about completing these events that make me very grateful….
“I spent many years in recovery not truly understanding what I was supposed to “get” out of having leukemia. You hear about people who after recovering climb Mt. Killamanjaro or something, or have a renewed understanding of life. I never got that, and always thought I had “missed” something.
“I realized something about myself through my two events this year – there’s a lot of similarity between going through chemotherapy and completing an endurance athletic event. Both have stretches that, even with the best of training (or, conversely, the best of medical treatment), require a LOT of strength, perseverance and determination to make it to the finish. To complete either means a lot, to complete both means even more, and to appreciate the strength and perseverance one actually has from life experiences is, well, as they say, priceless.
“THANK YOU for helping to make this, and the over $9,000 raised for leukemia research, possible.
“The best of health, happiness and peace to you and your loved ones in 2008.”
And one final thought — Watch this space in 2008 for more to come. Here’s a hint: I just bought a road bike…..
I’m hoping to be able to blog periodically through the weekend, shorter messages than what I normally do, adding pictures when appropriate.
It’s now Friday evening, and I’m flying out of SFO to San Diego. We’ve been delayed for 2 hours, so I’m here in the boarding area…. Waiting….. I travel a lot for work so I know, you can’t get frustrated by travel troubles. Things are going to work out the way they’re going to, whether you get upset or not. So might as well just go with it.
I’ve been getting a lot of calls, emails, cards, and other messages from a lot of people wishing me support the last couple of days — family, friends, co-workers, It’s been terrific and I’ve really appreciated it, but it has also has had the effect of slowly making me a bit more nervous.
I’ve been finding myself a little antsy the last couple of days. Between the packing, and the messages of support, I’m realizing: It’s here. It’s coming. I’ve been thinking of doing one of these for years, and have been planning for at least a year mentally, and training the last 5-6 months. I know physically I’m ready as I’ll be, and I know it will be a good experience. But still…. The closeness of the event is getting to me.
Also, there’s the fear of the unknown. I’ve never done one of these, and I have never run more than 20 miles. I know from a training standpoint that I’m ready, but there are so many things that you hear about that could happen.
Finally, there’s the internal mind game that is coming back. There’s a part of me mentally that has kept me from doing a number of things in life, that is somewhat controlling, saying “You can’t do that. That’s not you.” I suppose in some ways in some things we all have that little voice, but for me it’s kept me from doing things outside my comfort zone, like athletic things.
I’ve been keeping it at bay for this training season, mostly because I’ve been so motivated and focused on the five year anniversary, and the fundraising, and knowing that the TNT program will take me through it. And none of that has changed. But the “You can’t”s have returned in the last couple of days.
This afternoon on the way home from work and before getting home, I finally broke through. I know I don’t have to let my own internal limitations keep me from enjoying the weekend, and appreciate all the good things that will happen this weekend. It’s like, it was the “You can’t”s last chance. And they’re not going to win this one. And, going full circle on this, the support of everyone reminds me that I can do it and I will enjoy it.
Enough psychobabble. I’ll get in pretty late into San Diego tonight, but will get a good night’s and morning’s sleep tomorrow. They say two nights before the marathon is the time to get lots of good rest, since it’s hard to sleep the actual night before, and marathon day provides a lot of adrenalin and starts very early.
OK, so this wasn’t a shorter message. Will keep you posted.
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.
I’ve learned a lot about myself this season, and from writing this blog. I’m certain that as the days come up to the marathon I’m going to have a number of epiphanies and lessons learned about what I’ve gone through. So, I’m going to start a new category of posts – what I’ve learned from this season. I’ll start with a couple here.
The first is that long distance running, even running very s-l-o-w-l-y as I am, isn’t nearly as hard as it seems daunting before you start. The first 20 minutes is about how you’d imagine – I hate it, it feels terrible, I want to quit. Then, something interesting happens. I get into a rhythm, a pace, both physically and mentally. The breathing isn’t labored; it’s steady and even. I get into a nice stride that is easy and I repeat endlessly. And mentally, all the “I want to quit” impulses end. It doesn’t feel hard and not doable. I can go on like this for hours, literally and figuratively. This was a nice surprise.
But perhaps the biggest, most important lesson I’ve experienced has been on the longer runs, but most especially in Monterey. Like I said previously, it was a very good experience for most of the run, until the last half mile, when I ran out of steam and was sooo ready for the end. All that I said about it not feeling doable ended, and the “I want to quit” stuff came back with a vengeance. Note to self for the marathon: be wary of that milestone.
But prior to that, particularly in the second half, miles 10 or so and beyond, when things were going well, I realized something really great, that I wish I could feel every moment of every day.…
It felt so good to be alive at that moment. And I was alive – pushing my body physically to limits it’s never been, feeling the energy of the moment, feeling gratitude for all the people who’ve supported me in my training, being outdoors in easily one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and snapping pictures of it endlessly- here are a few more:
Perhaps I’ve had these moments before, but in the spiral that is our lives I haven’t appreciate them as I should. I’ve been to those locations before, so it’s not just being at the coast of Monterey. I’ve done athletic things before, but never anywhere near this scale. I’ve appreciated my recovery before, but it’s never been five years out, and I’ve never had the change to almost say “cured.” In Monterey, the perfect storm of opportunity created the chance to feel the full extent of the beauty that life had to offer in that moment.
Very few experiences are like the ones I get when I run long distances, such as in Monterey. I’ve begun to feel it most times I run over an hour or so. It’s a shame everyone can’t experience the feeling of being alive like this. I know that the people in whose honor I run would have loved to have this experience. I have it for them.
We may live each day, but only on very good days do we feel alive. May we feel that way every day.
On Saturday, May 12, we had our biggest and last major run before the Rock N Roll Marathon on June 3. This was 20 miles. Yes, that’s 20.
I was a little worried before the run. I had only run 14 miles as the longest, due to the injuries. I had asked the TNT coach his opinion, and that morning, he said, it would be best if I ran the full 20, if I was feeling well. So I did….
Luckily, the long run is in one of the most beautiful places in the world, starting in Monterey and continuing through Pacific Grove and down the area. We started in Monterey, near Cannery Row and along the water, seeing harbor seals and other animals….
Here, you run along paths for several miles through beautiful ice plants along the ocean….
And I met new friends along the way…..
(That was a mural on the history of the area along the run….)
For many miles we ran long the beaches past Pacific Grove, with incredible blue water….
And by Pebble Beach golf course along the water. Green fees for the low low price of several thousand dollars, no doubt….
It was a truly spectacular run. It really helped to run in this area.
Not that it was all great. I did run six miles more than I had ever run. I was fine, mostly, taking pictures and going along fine, until about mile 19, with about a half mile to go.
I didn’t take any pics at that time. I was sooooo ready for it to end. That last half mile was really tough.
But another great thing about this run – when you finish, you take a dip in the ocean.
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What I’ve learned is, very cold water on the legs help them to recover much more quickly. Professional athletes use ice baths after strenuous workouts all the time. So after this long run, we were encouraged to get into the water – northern California oceans are about 50 degrees, so just a little water is plenty.
Over all though, the last half mile can’t take away how great it was. It was really special.
On Saturday, March 31, we had our long coached run. It was at a local town in the hills on the SF peninsula west of Palo Alto, Portola Valley. It was to be a 10 – 12 mile run.
It started off okay.
Then we got to a turning point for the 10-12 mile trail. Note the soon to be ironic smiley face.
Here’s where things got interesting. As I knew from previous years as a volunteer, this training run had a lot of hills, going up trails in the area. I didn’t know how many or how intense. After the smiley face, we went up a hill.
And boy was it a hill. Check out the incline in the pic.
It was about 30 yards of fairly steep incline. The next pic is of people having traversed (walking mostly) the hill, and coming to the other side.
You’ll note there are no pics of me. The point of this run, along with understanding hills, was to build endurance. Most all the runs I’ve done so far had very few or minor hills. This one had about 6 or so miles of hills in it. So it kicked my behind, aerobically. No pics of me. Only a few pics overall, actually.
The other tough thing about the hills – going down. After several miles of steep declines, the knees start to hurt. They hurt through the entire remainder of the run, and into Sunday. Luckily it didn’t last, but it made the experience tougher.
I ended up missing the turn off for the 12 mile, but I ended up doing the 10 mile trail. They tell me it was actually 10.7 miles, by GPS. It felt really really really long.
Finally, at the end the last couple of miles were relatively flat, with only a few minor hills.
And at the end, I was able to notice the flowers along the trail. Being the week before Easter and spring is here, the lupines were blooming. I love lupines – my beloved Texas bluebonnets are in the lupine family, and the ones out here in CA look like them. I miss seeing the bluebonnets this time of year, covering entire fields in blue.
Finally I make it to the end of the run. It was really, really tough. The uphill part was bad aerobically, with the lungs burning; the downhill was very tough on the knees. I know it is good for me in the long run, so to speak, but it took a couple of days to get over.
Character building, I think they call it.
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.
Does anyone else think that time is getting shorter and more complicated at the same time?
I still struggle with making sure I find adequate time to train with the very hectic work schedule. I was in Denver and Orlando last week, but managed to get in runs in both cities during the week, both after flying in. My practice is to fly in early in the day if possible, and either get to the hotel gym for a treadmill or other cardio equipment, or find a place to run outside, particularly if I have a rental car.
So Tuesday, 3/21, after landing in Orlando I did go to the hotel gym and did an hour of cardio. Then on Thursday 3/23, after checking in I was able to find one of the city parks not far from my hotel, and I ran five miles there. It’s a great way to make sure I get exercise and rest on the road. Keeps me disciplined. Often before on the road I’d get fatigued, and the tendency to just eat the hotel/restaurant food and sleep would win out, and I’d get no exercise. This has been a pattern for a number of years. I hope I keep this up after I finish training.
Then on Saturday 3/25, on our schedule was what’s called an “on your own” run, meaning there’s no coached run that weekend. So I went to one of my favorite trails, Sawyer Camp Trail outside of San Mateo.
This running path along San Andreas Lake/Crystal Springs Reservoir off Highway 280 on the peninsula south of San Francisco was the closest path to me when Sam and I first moved to the Bay Area, to Millbrae just a couple miles north of the trail. Remember when I talked about starting and stopping, and starting and stopping, etc., running programs over the years? This trail is where I first started running when I moved here. The trail is paved, and marked in ½ mile increments looping along the edge of the lake for six miles. The lake is one of the water sources for the city of San Francisco and other communities along the peninsula, so they don’t allow boats, swimmers, fishing, or any of the normal lake activities – it’s fully fenced off from the path. This makes it quite scenic, with the still calmness of the water undisturbed by boats or the other usual agitators. And what makes it more serene and idyllic is that deer are allowed in the fenced off areas along the lake, and in the protected hills on the other side of the trail going along the road. It’s not uncommon to turn a corner and see a deer and its spring newborn calf grazing along the water’s edge or on the hillside. They’re mostly unnerved around people, and if calmly observed from a safe distance they don’t seem to mind people observing them on the trail. Some of my family back in Texas who enjoy deer hunting may be quite frustrated, but it makes for an incredible experience.
So that Saturday, I decided I’d run six miles. And with the past Saturday, as I got into it, I felt comfortable running a bit more. So I extended the run to seven miles. I must say, increasing mileage isn’t as difficult as I once thought it would be. You get into a mental repetition, the back and forth, into a zone where it’s not as painful or difficult as you would think. The hardest part of running so far is the first mile or two. I really, really don’t want to do it. But after a few minutes, I get used to the breathing and the pace, and get to that mental attitude where it seems right.
Sure, I sweat, and pant to a degree, but I can keep up a conversation. I bring water along, and I’ve noticed that after an hour I need some liquid energy such as that packet of Gu (a sugary gel your eat during a longer run or other endurance event to provide immediate energy). Without those I get a bit foggy, and with them the running is easier. But I’ve noticed that after about 15 minutes it doesn’t matter whether I’m at 30 minutes into it, or an hour and 30 minutes. As one of the other honorees have said, it’s just putting one foot in front of the other. And repeat.
And on that Saturday, I repeated for 7 miles. On a beautiful course. Life is good.