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!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cowboy Up

A few weeks ago an article in the Boston Globe caught my eye. I cut it out and have had it sitting on our counter for a few weeks, and I've been thinking about it a lot. It is about "Cowboy Ethics" and stems from a book by James Owen entitled "Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West." The Wyoming Legislature recently passed a bill instilling this code into state law. While only symbolic with no criminal penalties, it is meant to serve as a reminder of how people should act towards each other.

The Ten Principles of the code are:
1. Live each day with courage
2. Take pride in your work
3. Always finish what you start
4. Do what has to be done
5. Be tough, but fair
6. When you make a promise, keep it
7. Ride for the brand
8. Talk less and say more
9. Remember that some things aren't for sale
10. Know where to draw the line

It all sounds simple enough. But to be loyal, to live with courage, to know the value of friendships, to keep your promises? That takes work, even in the best of times. It's not an easy creed by which to live. No one is perfect (although my 6 year old daughter announced last night at dinner that she is pretty close while the rest of us are struggling). It's always good to be given a reminder like this of what is important, and to let the junk just go. Shoot-outs in the town square are no longer the status quo, so just moving on from the junk is probably the better alternative. Seek out those who embody what you believe to be significant, and learn from them. Kindness. Humor. Consideration. Authenticity. Imagination. Fidelity. Truth. Empathy. Respect. Insert your favorite cowboy quality here. Embrace all those cowboys and cowgirls around you. They are onto something with this code.

Be good. Be strong.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It's a Hilly Ride

You've all heard it before. Life is filled with ups and downs, cycling between highs and lows, some good days and some not as good. The experience of running the marathon for Dana-Farber is much the same, filled with some long uphill climbs and some easy rides down when you can sit back and enjoy the view.

One of the best “miles” of the training experience has been the success of last Friday's 80's benefit party for Dana-Farber. Not only was the fundraising aspect a hit with over $3000 contributed to fund cancer research at Dana-Farber, but a great community of friends came together to have fun while also supporting this important cause. Everyone truly embraced the 80's theme. There was a lot of laughing, some serious singing, and even a little break dancing. Local stores experienced a run on blue eyeshadow, and scarily enough, 80’s attire is currently readily available again in stores. Be forewarned: leg warmers are primed to make a comeback. The hits of the decade brought us onto the dance floor. Mullets and big hair shared the spotlight with turned up collars and alligator shirts. We saw representatives from the hair bands of the 80’s and people who jumped right off the pages of the Preppy Handbook. Thankfully, the many groups were able to peacefully co-exist all in the name of charity and there was no need to take it out back after the dance!

It was a great success all around. I am so thankful for the generosity given to the marathon challenge program, but maybe a little more grateful for the examples of kindness and friendship to which I was witness. I am continuously amazed by the selflessness and generosity that has been shown by our community, and am incredibly humbled to have had the opportunity to share this experience with such good, kind people. There are not words that I can come up with express my sincerest thanks to "Team Jennie" and everyone who supported this event.

In the midst of all this crazy fun, however, have been some tough days that are vivid reminders of why I am running. These are the uphills that pop up just when you think you are cruising along at a steady pace. Anniversaries and birthdays seem to be the steepest of the hills, and today is another of those kinds of days. Today is Molly’s 39th birthday. There is no doubt that I would have already talked to her this morning, and would have spoken to her another couple of times as the day went on. Maybe we would have talked about her birthday but probably more about report cards and weather and funny kid stories and what we were making for dinner and the really funny pictures from Friday night. It’s those conversations that I miss the most, and I think about them every day. She would have loved to be here on Friday with Mom and Katy and Mary, dressed up and dancing the night away with the girls.

This experience is one that can so be so uplifting and gratifying, but when I take a moment to think about the reasons why I chose Dana-Farber to represent, it is also heartbreaking. I know the hills will continue to pop up, but I also know there will be some flat stretches along the way, too. And maybe those hills will eventually feel less steep. We’ll get up over the hill today, and hope that there isn’t another one right behind it. We try to remember to coast when the day is good and enjoy the easy downhills. And when we are faced by the big ones, just drive those knees and get up and over that hill one step after another. There is always another ride down on the other side.

Thank you, thank you "Team Jennie" for everything.

Be good. Be strong. And today, for Molly, be sweet.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Catching up

Days until marathon: 35

5 weeks from today, I will be eating my pre-marathon breakfast getting ready to head to Hopkinton for the start of the 2010 Boston Marathon. It's really been a pretty quick ride overall. I hope the weather is better than it has been this weekend. The amount of rain that has fallen since Saturday is unbelievable! It's still pouring this morning, with a very gusty 40 mile an hour wind blowing. All of this rain should make for some green, green grass and lots of spring flowers. For some reason, the "Spring Forward" time change has had the opposite effect on me, and I am enjoying the peace and quiet of a dark house this morning.

With all that has been going on outside of training for the marathon, I've been somewhat negligent recently about updating my training so I thought I'd take a few minutes to do that. I've figured out that I have run about 500 miles since October in preparation for April 19, and while that number seems big, I still worry that it might not be enough! I've completed TWO 20-mile runs so far, so I have one more really long run to finish the weekend of March 27. The runs went pretty well. Pace was decent, and I was less sore after the second run than the first, which means the training is helping! I have been pretty good about continuing to go to yoga class each week, and staying on top of riding the bike, too. The running group I am a part of at the local Y has gone back to 2 days a week, and I feel like the winter training with the group has been incredibly beneficial. No major injuries to report. Only some off and on tightness in my right hip area. Stretch, stretch, stretch. I just bought my third pair of running shoes, and these will be the pair that make the 26.2 mile trek on Marathon Monday. Just plugging along, checking off the days and weeks of the training program.

As far as fundraising goes, my expectations for this year have been blown away, and continue to rise. So far, 94 different people have contributed $10,950 to Dana-Farber to fund cancer research. You all have asked me to honor and remember 118 people who have been diagnosed with cancer, and I will wear their names on my Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge singlet with pride on race day. Because of overwhelming generosity and support, I have decided to increase my overall goal to $14,610. That is $4 more than the money raised last year. In all honesty, I really didn't believe that it would be possible to top that. Because of all of you, we are getting close. And for every dollar raised, closer to a cure.

The past few weeks have been emotionally trying with anniversaries and birthdays and scans and doctors appointments. There is still yet another difficult day in that Molly's birthday is next week, but I am buoyed by the energy surrounding this endeavor. Mary had stable scans last week. The 80's party is set to roll on Friday night. I will see some of my family this week. The rain will end and the sun will shine. Winter is slowly ending it's hold, and spring is coming. I keep putting one foot in front of the other, literally and figuratively, and we get through today and onto tomorrow.

Many, many thanks for your support.

Be good. Be strong.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Blessing for John

Today is my brother John's birthday. It is the first birthday since he died last May, and it's been a much harder day than I thought it would be. It's just all so real today, and we are all truly feeling his absence.

My Dad shared this blessing with us today in honor of John's birthday because so much of it reminded Dad of John. It's a beautiful tribute to a beautiful soul.

My wish for you
I wish you not a path devoid of clouds, nor a life on a bed of roses,
Not that you might never need regret,
nor that you should never feel pain.
No, that is not my wish for you.
My wish for you is:
That you might be brave in times of trial,
when others lay crosses upon your shoulders.
When mountains must be climbed and chasms are to be crossed,
When hope can scarce shine through.
That every gift God gave you might grow with you
and let you give your gift of joy to all who care for you.
That you may always have a friend who is worth that name,
whom you can trust and who helps you in times of sadness,
Who will defy the storms of daily life at your side.
One more wish I have for you:
That in every hour of joy and pain you may feel God close to you.
This is my wish for you and for all who care for you.
This is my hope for you now and forever.

-- anonymous Irish blessing

Be good. Be strong.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Feel the warmth!

It happened. That first day when you start to realize that the winter will, in fact, be coming to end! Yesterday, the temperature got up into the 50's. The sun was shining and the blue sky was clear. The neighbors came flowing out of the house. Bikes were ridden. Sticks and sand were swept from the streets. The roads were crowded with walkers and runners. Friends had lunch on their deck. Kids slept long and hard after a day of running outside and inhaling the fresh air. There were even some convertible tops down and a sunroof might have been opened. Some people had on shorts. Moods were a bit lighter. Smiles came a little easier. We appreciated it and soaked every minute of it up. It was our first sign that spring will be here, eventually. Probably not this week, or even this month. But it is close.

Days like today are my favorite part of winter....the reminder that it is almost over and that no matter how long it feels, spring follows winter every year! Don't pack up the winter gear yet, but get out there and enjoy it while we have it!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Get your 80's On

In a whirlwind of planning the last couple of weeks, some very lovely ladies and friends here in Marblehead have put together an 80's-themed party to help raise money for my run for the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge. The event is scheduled for March 19 at the Gerry 5 here in town for anyone that is interested in joining the fun. They'll be music, food, a cash bar, a bunch of great opportunity drawings, and prizes for the best 80's attire. Tickets are $30/person, $50/couple in advance, or $60/couple at the door. All of the proceeds will go directly to fund cancer research at Dana-Farber. With the help of the kindness of many local stores and vendors (of whom will be recognized once everything is final) and of these terrific friends, it will be meaningful and fun night . If you are interested in coming, please let me know and we'll get you the details! My email address is jfsheridan9@gmail.com

As this event has gotten rolling, and I've seen the generosity and kindness of so many people again, I have been reminded of one of the biggest lessons I have learned throughout the past year...the importance of community. Neither my husband and I are from this area, nor do we have any family within 900 miles. Picking a town to put down some roots in the Boston area was almost like throwing a dart at a map. There were factors such as schools or commute that played into the decision, but it mostly came down to what looked nice and what we could afford. We didn't know a single person when we moved to the Swampscott/Marblehead area 10 years ago, and we are lucky to say that we have been so overwhelmed and pleasantly surprised by the strength of the community in which we decided to live. People move around so often nowadays, and many people don't live near "home" anymore. If you are a "transplant" it becomes so important that your friends and neighbors and teachers and classmates and teammates become your extended family and your support when your family can't be there. And that you help take care of each other. We've been the beneficiaries of this support as we navigated through the past couple of years, and are so thankful that we landed where we did 10 years ago.

This event that has been planned is a prime example of the strength of this community. Without a second thought, these women, who I first met because our children have gone to school together, got this ball rolling because they just wanted to help. To do something to make this fundraising effort a success this year. When I decided to run the marathon last year, I set my goal at $7500 and I thought that might be a long shot. Asking people to donate isn't easy, so I only approached people I knew well. It turns out that many of those kind people then asked others to contribute, who asked others, and so on. When it was all said and done, the total amount raised last year was just over $14,000. It was unbelievable. And this year, not only have people been sharing the story of this run, but these great people have planned an event to help raise even more money for this cause that is so important to me and my family. I am so appreciative of the generosity that has been shown in support of this endeavor the past couple of years, and really looking forward to March 19. This benefit party is such a great opportunity for our friends and neighbors and families to get together to have a great time, and to appreciate this community that has been so kind to us. I hope you can join us!

Many thanks to Kate McSherry, Kim Malary, Liz Scroope, Kathy Doody, Allison Burke, Dana Rieckelman, Heidi Clough, Lynn Brennan, and Jen Finnigan for putting this all together. Ya'll are good people!!