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!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Breaking records

Last winter

Not land speed records by any means, but weather records!  Last year at this time, we were under multiple feet of snow.  And we had been for weeks and weeks.  It seemed like every other day we got another storm and it didn't seem possible that the giant mounds of plowed snow would melt before summer.  I know we have many days of winter left, but the "winter" days we've had so far are few and far between in Massachusetts. We are currently standing at the record for least amount of snow in a season, although I think another 1/2 an inch or so will end that.  While it hasn't been a great winter for skiers or outside skating rinks, maybe it's just time for a "nice" winter for those of us who don't fully embrace the cold.  It's definitely been a very kind weather winter in my books so far and I love every day the thermostat jumps out of the 30s.
Same spot this winter

With all of this spring weather, I've been able to get outside for almost all of my runs, including most Tuesdays at the local track. I didn't get on the outdoor track last winter AT ALL.  It was covered with snow from December until March so any speed work was done on the treadmill.  Which means not a lot of speed work was done.  It's been exhilarating and kind of fun to be outside pushing the speed once a week, and despite the work, I have been loving every second of it.  I've been able to spend more time on the local rail-trail which was also out of the question last year when it was buried under the 80 inches of snow we had had by this date last year.  Not that I obsess about the weather, though!

The other thing that has been "record setting" for me has been attendance at the DFMC group runs.  During the training seasons prior to this one, I had trouble getting to a lot of the weekend runs due to kids activities and scheduling conflicts on the weekends.  Last year, I needed the hours alone for the long runs to think and grieve and exhaust myself.  But this year, the timing is easier with our schedules so I've been heading to towns in and around Boston to get the miles done but more importantly, to appreciate more fully the bigger experience of the DF marathon challenge....my teammates.

Sun shining on the track this month...no snow!

Truth be told, the group runs were intimidating to me (and honestly, kind of still are).  Walking into a group setting where I didn't know anyone and trying to meet people is out of my comfort zone.  It was easier to walk out my front door and just run.  I really wanted to try to be more involved and get to know more of the other runners this year, so I've been trying to attend as many of the team runs on the weekends as I can.  So far, I've been to 4 which is about how many I got to in total over the past 3  years.  And it has been great. And what I need.  It pushes me outside my little protected comfortable space, and as such, I've met some really great people. Depending on pace and time spent at water stops, I've had the opportunity get to know a variety of different people each week and have really enjoyed each of them. 

Having company while you are out doing 14, 16, 18 miles doesn't hurt, either, and not much else to do out there but chat!  Even this past weekend, although I ended up kind of in no man's land without any other runners around for most of the run, I still had the opportunity to talk a little with some of the amazing volunteers who man the water stops out on the course.  I am really grateful for the kind people I've met so far, and look forward to getting to know more team mates as we get closer to Marathon Monday. 

Training so far has been on track.  I really can't complain, so I won't!  I am knocking on wood right now that things continue this way until the marathon...no injuries, no mental breaks, no major weather fiascoes.  I have 3 more "long" runs (anything under 14 miles now qualifies as a shorter run!) left with a couple of "rest" weeks and then the taper period before the big day. 

14.5 miles down, 11.6 to go!
We are just under 8 weeks from the Boston Marathon.  So far, the fundraising total stands at $11,088.  This is a little bit more than halfway to my goal of $20,000 for this year, and I thank you so very much for the support again this year.  Reaching out and asking for your support is not completely within my comfort zone either, but I am less shy about it now tbecause the goal of the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge extends beyond this running season and this event.  "A World Without Cancer" is not just my goal for this year or this marathon, but for life.  The generosity shown to this cause in honor of my siblings has been phenomenal, but now is not the time to stop.  We need to continue the efforts at full speed building on momentum until we meet this goal.  If your means allow, please consider a gift to Dana-Farber and the Marathon Challenge team.  We all benefit from the innovative and cutting edge research.  Every single one of us because cancer doesn't discriminate

To contribute online, please visit my personal page at www.runDFMC.org/2012/jennies and follow the link.

Always with gratitude for your kindness and generosity.

Be good. Be strong.

Training Update (it's been a while) for those of you who are interested:
1/19: 4 miles
1/20: Stationary bike
1/22:  10 miles
1/23:  Yoga
1/24:  Speed work at the track (3 x 1600m)
1/25:  Stationary bike
1/26:  7 miles
1/28:  15 miles
1/29:  5.7 miles
1/30:  Yoga
1/31:  6.3 miles with hill repeats
2/1:  Stationary bike
2/2:  4 miles
2/3:  Stationary bike
2/4:  17.1 miles
2/5:  5 miles
2/7:  Speed work (6 x 800m)
2/8:  4 miles
2/9:  8.4 miles
2/11:  11.6 miles
2/12:  Stationary bike
2/13:  4 miles
2/14:  Speed work (12x400m)
2/15:  Stationary bike
2/16:  8.4 miles
2/17:  Stationary bike
2/19:  18.8 miles
2/20:  3 miles

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Go All In


"Life is a crap shoot.  Unpredictable.  And there is no telling....no rhyme or reason.  So it becomes a matter of what we all make of our lives.  The relationships we forge, the love we share, and the promises we keep."
~Mary Frances Firth (Nov. 10, 1975-Feb. 7, 2011)
 
One of the lessons Mary felt she learned throughout living with cancer was the incredible importance of family and friends.  A truer friend could not be found, and those bonds were only enhanced throughout the many ups and downs she experienced beginning with her diagnosis.  In response to the words of Lance Armstrong "So if there is a purpose to the suffering that is cancer, I think it must be this:  it's meant to improve us"  Mary wrote that what she thought was to be improved was the relationships she had with her family and friends.  That was her silver lining, as it has been for all of us, even when finding anything shiny seems impossible.  Mary fully recognized that life was about loving each other as best as you can...no conditions, no lies, no wavering.  To her, you went all in.  And the reward of that wager was knowing the genuine love of so many people. 

We shouldn't need a reminder, especially one that comes from the loss of a young, vibrant, beautiful girl like Mary, but quite honestly, we do.  It's easy to lose sight and put focus on other things, to forget the people that shouldn't be forgotten, to get wrapped up in ourselves and our lives.  Our relationships...with our family and our friends...are what truly matter.  Every single day.  We need to remember what is important, and to get out of our own way and to recognize the people in our lives that matter.  It's work to maintain, but that doesn't mean it's hard....it's friendship!

That's what I've thought about all day today, and have been witness to in many ways today. True friendship and genuine hearts.  Our family, today and every day, is surrounded in friendships that have stood through hardship and weathered the storms.  Certainly not all come out intact when all is said and done, but it allows for some clarity to see who is most meaningful in your life, and to foster and build those relationships.

One of the gifts I feel most fortunate to have received is the friendships that I now have that began with Mary, Molly, or John.  Many of their friends are now my friends, and having these wonderful and kind people in my life is such a welcome treat.  Our mutual care for another brought us closer, and I thank you to you all for staying in our lives.   Your messages, your cards, your notes, and for remembering birthdays and days like today bring comfort and peace. 

I am lucky beyond words to have strong friendships with my husband, my parents and my sister, my unwavering cousins, aunts, and uncles, and my extended in-law family. "Family" and "friends" are not always synonymous so I am grateful every day for the rewards I reap from each and every one of you.  We've held each other up, and will continue to do so...dancing and laughing with each other through it all.

I am so grateful for my friends, to all of you who have picked up and carried the heaviest part of the friendship the past few years when I couldn't do it.  Daffodils, balloons, coffee, text messages, hugs, emails, meals, walks, and the many, many, many other ways you have lifted my spirits....I am lucky to know such kindness in my life.

So, let today serve as a reminder.  Build relationships.  Share love.  Keep promises.  Go all in. 

Full moon dancing tonight.

Be good.  Be strong.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Why Dana-Farber?

In the fall of 2008, I was reeling from the death of my sister, Molly, six months earlier, and my brother, John, had recently moved back to town to again begin treatment for the recurrence of a brain tumor for the third time.  I was in search of a way to help.  And I found the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge.

For those of you who don't live in the Boston area, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute may not be familiar to you.  I think it is important to understand as much as you can about this institute and to realize how their work might just affect you or your family, if it hasn't already. 

For those of you in New England, that name is as commonplace as the Boston Red Sox, Dunkin Donuts or Lobster rolls.  Dana-Farber is consistently rated as one of the top 5 cancer centers in the country and the top center in New England.  It is world renown for the exceptional care given, the cutting-edge research conducted, and the excellence of the staff.  

So, why the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge?

For one, every single cent of money raised goes directly to research.  100%.  For cancer research.  Unfortunately, not all donations to non-profits go where you think, and it was important to me that I know that ALL of the contributions in honor of the marathon challenge were going to fund innovative, cutting edge cancer research.  Not to fund lawsuits over using the name "for a cure" or to pay enormous salaries.  Or for first class travel.  Or copying expenses.  100% directly to scientists and doctors to continue their research.

Secondly, I was trying to find an organization whose work would span across different hospitals, states, countries, genders, and ages.  I wanted to make sure the organization could profoundly affect my friends and family who lived outside of the greater Boston area.  And I found that in Dana-Farber.  Their work has impacted treatments for many, many different types of cancers.  And has altered outcomes for pediatric patients and adult patients alike.  And the work they have done has been shared throughout the world to advance the research in places around the world.

Over the course of ten years, Molly, Mary and John were treated at Johns Hopkins, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Duke University, the National Institutes of Health, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute in Seattle, Vanderbilt University, Massachusetts General Hospital, and a variety of smaller community hospitals in multiple states.  While no one in my family was directly treated at Dana-Farber, but I feel sure that their treatment was affected by work done at this hospital.  John's treatment at Mass General was because MGH is an outstanding partner within the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.  And I know Mary's was, too, because the doctor that was in charge of the treatment protocol at NIH was a Dana-Farber fellow and expanded on his research over the past years.  The impact is not local...and is for everyone.

And thirdly, the Boston Marathon is my hometown marathon.  By applying for a spot on this team, I would be allowed the opportunity to participate in an event that was close to home while helping to give back to an institution that has helped so very many people, near and far.  I would be able to run with a team whose mission was the same as mine.  To continuously find inspiration, support, and kindness from the other runners out pounding the pavement to reach the same end.  To run for those we love.  In Boston, in Massachusetts, in the United States, and beyond.

So, that's why.  And it is why I am proud to be a team member for the fourth consecutive year.  An amazing institute.  ONE HUNDRED percent of contributions go to research.  World reaching results.  All types of cancer.  People of all ages.  It's name, Dana-Farber, is synonymous with excellence.  And that's why your help makes a difference...here in Boston, in Tennessee, in Maryland, in Montana, in Missouri, in Sweden, in Australia.  Wherever you are.

We're running as fast as we can in the right direction.  Please consider a contribution to this valuable and important cause if you can.

www.runDFMC.org/2012/jennies

Be good.  Be strong.