To Make a Donation to the 2016 team

Please visit my fundraising page to make a donation to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.runDFMC.org/2017/jennies). Please help me reach my goal of $50,000 to fund important basic cancer research! With your support, we have already provided over $312,000 to Dana-Farber researchers over the past 8 years. Please give as generously as your means allow!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Do you BELIEVE??


Sending out wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year! Thanks to you all for the continued support and encouragement in this endeavor, and every day. I am so appreciative of the opportunity to be a member of the Dana-Farber team again this year, and I believe the efforts of all of the Dana-Farber team members are getting us closer to a cure for cancer. Believing and hoping are such prominent messages during the Christmas season, and are also the messages that get me out there running. I believe and I hope for a cure. Do you?

My best to you all.
Be good. Be strong.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

One week down, how many to go??

Week One of Training:
  • I got through week one of training after a slow start. I didn't do anything on Monday due to some time constraints. Nothing like kicking off an 18 week plan with a big empty spot on my log, but the rest of the week went as planned.
  • I ran 5.5-6 miles outside on Tuesday with hill repeats in the middle. It was "nice" outside with temperatures close to 40, so I took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors. I missed the group at the Y due to torturing my kids at the dentist that morning (upside was no cavities!!), so I was on my own to get in a good workout. I knew they were doing hills, and after much internal deliberation, I went ahead with a hill workout. It probably wasn't as hard as the group run, but it was tougher than I would normally do on my own!
  • Wednesday was cross-training with a ride on the stationary bike for 45 minutes.
  • Thursday was running group at the Y. We stayed inside because it was 14 degrees with 25 mile an hour winds. We did drills in the gymnasium to warm up and then 4 repeats of 800 meters at 5k pace/21 kettle bell swings/5 pull-ups, followed by a slow pace cool-down on the treadmill. The kettle bells and pull-ups beat me up! I am not used to doing much strength training AT ALL, although it is part of my goal for training this year. As a result, I have been feeling the pain when I cough or get dressed or try to pull the blanket up to go to bed! The last two days weren't pretty! The winter plan for the group drops us down to one day a week, but will include a lot of strength and drills, which I desperately need.
  • Friday was "rest" day which I spent running around like a crazy lady trying to get ready for Christmas and the arrival of family which may make up for the missed day on Monday! With only one more full day of school for my kids and a big snowstorm rolling in, I was inspired to try to get as much done as possible in the few hours I had free!
  • And Saturday, I did 10.75 miles around town, trying to beat the snow that started falling last night. I had planned on 10, but miscalculated the route before I went out. My long run next weekend is scheduled to be 11 miles, so I should be in pretty good shape to get that done. I had a good run averaging about 8:25 minutes/mile. If weather and time allows, I'll try to sneak in an easy 3-4 miles today on the treadmill or ride the bike. Or we may just bake cookies and eat them as quickly as they come out of the oven!! We've got a lot of snow on the ground right now (close to a foot), so hunkering down inside is looking like the winning plan.
I am looking forward to this week which brings the arrival of my family. We are all happy to have the opportunity to spend some time together for Christmas. This is the first year we will all be at my house for the holiday. I love having everyone around, and am so glad that we are able to pull it off this year. It's always good to be together. It's what the holiday season is all about.

Be good. Be strong.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

So, what's the plan?

I am a data/number person. I like to know what to expect, and I don’t like surprises. I like facts and concrete information. As it turns out, following a training program for a marathon (or any distance) is an especially fitting activity for me. I can plan exact distances, times, schedules, repeats, and paces. I log it all into a calendar, follow it, and monitor how the whole thing is going. It's all right there on paper, written down for me to track. While this planning doesn't always translate to the outcome I am looking for, it helps me prepare. Will it make me fast like Kara Goucher (as pictured). I bet not. But, it helps me get to the finish line! Most importantly for me is the mental preparation rather than physical. I can usually keep my legs moving as long as my brain is in it. I am much more easily defeated by too many negative thoughts than legs that won't move, and knowing what I am facing and how I have prepared to get to the end point makes it much less intimidating and much more doable. If I have a plan, I am pretty obsessive about following it, and as a result, I have some confidence that it will pay off in the end. I read magazines and books and online articles and emails. I talk to people and get their opinions about what works and what doesn't. I like whatever information I can get my hands on. I read, and go back and re-read again. Often more than twice. There is so much information out there, and it opens my eyes to new ideas and new plans. What to eat. How to be safe. What to wear. How fast to run around the track. How to run better up a hill. Good manners. What not to eat! This is not to say that a lot of it doesn't go in one ear and out the other, and there is certainly a lot of stuff I hope to follow, but don’t. But, I keep learning and over time adapt to what works best for me.

And so after training last year and running through until now, I will begin an 18 week marathon training program on Monday. I've put together a program that I believe works best for me, and what I think will help me cover the distance in April. I've taken parts of a few training programs and put them together to fit what works for me. The long run plan is by Hal Higdon, the addition of cross training is from the FIRST program out of the Furman Institute for Running, and the weekly runs are from Jack Fultz, the training advisor for Dana-Farber. My plan will be to run between 25 and 40 miles a week with 2 days of yoga/strength training and two days of cross training. I've found that not having consecutive days of running (broken up by the cross training) keeps me a little more motivated and prevents running burn out. One of my weekly runs will be at the mercy of Dennis Floyd, the coach for the Y Endurance group I have been running with and will cover the speed work included in my plan. Cross training for me is usually on the stationary bike although I would really like to add some lap swimming if I didn't feel completely intimidated by getting in the pool. I have added some stair climbing in an effort to strengthen my quads and hip flexors for the hills at the end of the Boston course, and am adding some other strength training in in hopes that it helps towards the end of the marathon when stopping to chat with the crowds becomes much more appealing than continuing to run. It's all printed and ready to go. Week 1 starts Monday. 126 days to the starting line in Hopkinton.

Be good. Be strong.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Weather Outside is Frightful


Well, not yet, but it is coming. Around our house, the weather is most commonly differentiated with the kids by little coat days (fleeces) and big coat days (parkas). We've had a very mild start to the cold season here, but starting this week, it is finally looking like we've made the permanent switch to "big coats" to great disappointment. With kids, the cold days are only fun if it is snowing. Much to my husband's chagrin, I have become "weather obsessed" since we've lived in the area. We've been in Massachusetts for 11 years, so one might think I've had time to get used to it (and get over it), but each year, I go through a little bit of a depression when the winter comes to stay. My blood is thin....I am a Southerner! As soon as the weather makes the final shift to winter, I keep on top of the daily temperature high and low, snowfall prediction, number of days since the temperature has gone above freezing, and just in case he was interested, I know what the weather is like in the places we used to live! So as the big coats came out of the closet, the winter weather watching began in earnest!

Another reminder of the impending winter weather came this evening during the monthly Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team meeting. Each month, there is an organized meeting at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute during which a variety of topics pertaining to this program are covered. Often, the discussions contain a lot of logistical information about fundraising, group runs, or marathon weekend. At each meeting, they also try to have an expert come in to speak about a running related issue...nutrition, training, injury prevention, etc. This week, the expert was the owner of a local running store (and also a US National Marathon qualifier) who came to talk about all the gear you need for winter running. Nothing like this sort of information to remind you that the 20 degree days are right around the corner! There are many in this group that believe there is no bad weather, just bad clothing. While I feel that I have gotten pretty good at determining how many layers to wear in different temperatures having run through the winter last year, I am not fully on board with the idea of running in snow storms or while there are many inches of snow covering the roads. I am more likely to wait until the trusty snow plows make quick work of the local roads before heading outside to run. In addition to the many clothing options out there, they also told us about the footwear items out there to make "snow running" a little easier. There are special snow shoes specifically designed for running that are a little smaller than regular snow shoes which allows you to maintain a regular running stride. There are also YakTrax which fit over your running shoes, and use metal coils instead of spikes to give you additional traction in the snow. I've decided that instead of investing in these "interesting" technologies that would make trudging through snow easier, I am going to put my stock in the recent prediction of a local retired meteorologist who claims we will have less snowfall than normal for the area this winter. While normally I tend to be distrustful of the local weather predictions (I believe they try to sugarcoat the forecasts in order to keep from driving people to leave the area in droves during the winter), I am hoping beyond hope he is correct. Either way, you can be assured that if there is snow on the roads, you will find me on the treadmill pounding out the miles in my regular old running shoes!

Like the kids make the switch from big coat to little coat, I have begun to make the changes for running, too. The shorts have been moved to the back of the drawer and the pants/tights to the front. The lightweight baseball hats have been put away and the wool running caps have been rescued from the attic, just as with the big coats. Winter is here, ready or not!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Thanks


As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John F. Kennedy

This week of Thanksgiving stirs a lot of different thoughts and emotions. Thanksgiving Day is traditionally a time to gather with family and friends, and to consider all the gifts in our lives for which we are grateful. It's almost too unreal to consider what changes our family has gone through in the past few years. In having lost Molly and John to cancer since we were all together as a family for Thanksgiving just 2 short years ago and to still be struggling with Mary's ongoing issues, finding reasons to be thankful can sometimes be difficult. For me, experiencing these tragedies has forced me to be more appreciative and grateful for the little things in the life. I pay more attention to many things that might have gone unnoticed before. These life changing events push me to appreciate the tiny moments in our lives instead of just living for the big ones. It is all of these little things that make up most of our days, and in turn, the bulk of our lives. Letting them go by unnoticed allows so much to slip by unconsciously. I feel like there have been so many days where I just go through the motions, without really considering what I am doing or what is going on around me. I try now try to stop and be thankful for all of the daily things I do that I may feel like chores. Walking the kids to school in the rain. Going for a run. Making a quick run the grocery store every day. Cleaning the bathroom. Getting up before the sun. And to express gratitude for the "little things" that really are gifts in my life: like having coffee with a friend, or a telephone conversation with my family every day, a clear night for the full moon, or the kindness of our good friends, the laughter of my kids, or even to have the chance each year to complain about the winter. And so, I am thankful this week for many things, even as we learn to negotiate through so many life changes. We do so with heavy hearts as the holidays have been a time that we as a family hold so dearly. It would, however, be wrong to not have learned from the past and so we seek to find the gifts in our lives each day.

I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Don't forget to stop and smell the turkey.

Be good. Be strong.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Remembering....



Off to the right side of this blog page is information about the inclusion of the names of your friends and family members who have been diagnosed with cancer on my shirt on Marathon Monday. The beginning of the list of names for 2010 is also there, and has starting growing already. Participating in this marathon is about all of these people more than anything else. While carrying these names with me won't bring about the cure that we are seeking or bring back those we have lost to cancer, it is a small way to honor them and the energy and fight they have given or continue to give. It also allows all of the spectators along the 26.2 mile course to see why the members of the DFMC team are out there every year. It makes this journey personal and real for all of us. Please leave a comment here or send me a message if there is someone you would like to remember. This picture is from the shirt that I wore during last year's marathon. There was also a list of names of a other friends and family members that I carried in my pocket that were last minute additions, and I didn't get in time to have printed on the shirt. The new shirt won't be printed until the week before the marathon in April, so there is still plenty of time to let me know.

As far as the running goes, my 18-week training program doesn't start until December 14. I have been maintaining a long run of about 10 miles on the weekends for the past few months so when that day in December rolls around, I am ready to get started. I'll build my long runs slowly until 3 weeks before the marathon when I will do the last big run before tapering off.

Thanks for following along, and for your support. This week, there have been contributions of $975 to Dana-Farber in support of my participation. Humbling to say the least.

Be good. Be strong.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wonder Woman turns 34

Today is my sister's birthday. Today M (aka, Wonder Woman) turns 34, and she put her all into this past year as I know she will give to the coming year. She has been living strong with a melanoma diagnosis for the past 3 years despite tortuous treatments and surgeries, including a total hip replacement when melanoma was found in her hip bone. In spite of all she has been through, M has the most upbeat and outgoing personalities of anyone I know, and she just keeps on plugging away EVERY day. She still finds a way to put others first and to give so kindly to her family and friends, when she has every right to focus all of her energies on herself. Recently, she found out there were a couple of pesky lymph nodes in her hip that were found to have some of these nasty disease cells in them so she is, again, facing additional treatment and is trying to find the best option for her. This involves visiting no less than 5 treatment centers in 3 states, and sorting through mounds of information meant for people with medical degrees, but she is going strong and will make the right decision. So, I am wishing you, Mary, a very happy birthday, and a fabulous year to come. Thank you for the gifts of inspiration and strength. You are why I run.

Friday, October 30, 2009

It's Official


So, there is no going back now! I am an official member of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team for the second year. Starting today, I have 5 months and 19 days to prepare myself to run 26.2, and to try to raise at least $8500 that will go directly to fund basic innovative cancer research at Dana-Farber. I am going to give this blog thing a try to keep people updated on my training and my progress, and to share any other random information that might be of interest! I've included information about the Barr Program, a link to my fundraising page, and a list of all of those in whose honor or memory I will run. Please feel free to share the names of any of your loved ones you would like to recognize.

My primary inspirations for joining this team are my siblings, Molly and John, who both lost their lives to brain tumors, and my sister, Mary, who lives each day with a diagnosis of melanoma. I am inspired by their strength and determination, and while I certainly wish our family was not affected in such a devastating way by this disease, I am grateful for the opportunity to run for them. It is a small way to honor them and everything they have been through.

I am going to call this initial post "complete." I don't want to share too much too soon, or bore anyone right out of the blocks! There is certainly more to come as we get closer to April 19.

As always, thanks for your support.
Be good. Be strong.