To Make a Donation to the 2016 team

Please visit my fundraising page to make a donation to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute ( Please help me reach my goal of $50,000 to fund important basic cancer research! With your support, we have already provided over $366,000 to Dana-Farber researchers over the past 9 years. Please give as generously as your means allow!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Keep Calm

I never thought I'd be writing this post 5 years later.  I never imagined the turns that life would take that would bring me to this day, two days out from running the Boston Marathon for the fifth time in Memory of Molly, Mary, and John.   

In Memory.  Those words knock me down every time.

As the marathon gets closer, I get more emotional and spend a lot of time thinking back about the people, the experience, the miles.  People ask a lot what I think about when I run.  I don't usually run with music, so my train of thought is kind of all over the place when out on the roads for an hour or three at a time.  I make "to-do" lists, negotiate with myself, solve all kinds of problems, try to not think about how much further or if something hurts, enjoy the scenery, and very often think of the many, many reasons I am out there running.  I jump from one thing to another from minute to minute, mile to mile.  My thinking in the days leading up to the marathon has been very similar to when I am out running....all over the place. I've been jotting down notes about what I wanted to say in one last post before the start, and there is so in the same vein as when I am's a kind of train of thought rambling (and I mean rambling) reflection.....

I am going to start and finish by saying thank you.  Thank you, thank you.

I would not be running for the fifth year if it was not for the support of so very many people, from so many different times in my life and many whom I have never met.  My kindergarten teacher.  My kids' kindergarten teacher.  College roommates. Friends of Molly, Mary and John.  Kids who I have coached.  My soccer teammates from U12 up through high school.  My husbands' family.  DFMC teammates.  My parents' grade school and high school classmates.  Friends of friends of friends.  The amazing Ride for Life ladies of Chattanooga.  Gina B who ran and garnered support.  March Madness pool participants.  Neighbors.  Friends.  Family.  Over 400 different people have contributed over the five years.  400 people who know the impact of cancer.  It's humbling and I am honored and constantly overwhelmed by it.

I started out 5 years ago with a goal of around $8000.  I was afraid of that number, and wasn't sure I was going to get there but I thought I would give it a try.  I had good reason to give it a try, and went past it that year, and every year since.  As a matter of fact, as of today "Team Jennie" has raised over $150,000 for innovative cancer research at Dana-Farber.  $150,000.  This money is making a difference and it is because together, we have collectively made gifts to these amazing researchers who are using these funds to bring us to a world where cancer is not taking lives.  I can't write a check for $150,000 but I can run and I can ask for help, and I am so thankful that it has been given so generously.

We have a group of team members affectionately recognized as "Living Proof."  They are cancer survivors who run the marathon.  As we gather marathon morning for a team picture, these heroes among us are gathered for a picture and it brings me to tears as they are surrounded by a sea of applause from their teammates who are honored to be lining up beside them.

On my singlet, I wear the names of over 150 of your family members and friends who have been diagnosed with cancer.  Some are "in honor" and many are "in memory" and all are meaningful and important and I think it makes my legs feel a little lighter over the miles.  Thank you for sharing your stories with me...I do think about you and about these amazing people who cross the finish line with me.

People need to put their shopping carts back when they are finished with them.  This drives me crazy.  Don't leave them in the middle of the parking lot, please.

Once you get moving when it is 20 degrees outside, it isn't so bad if you are dressed correctly.  Don't get me wrong...I don't like it, but I never, ever, ever thought you would catch me running outside when the temperature was below freezing but I've made it through 5 winters with only a little bit of complaining.  Okay, maybe a lot.  But it really isn't too bad.

I am so thankful for all of the kindness and the generosity that has been shown, but in all honesty, I am do not at all like the reasons that brought me to this run to fund cancer research in memory of my young and fantastic sisters and brother.  My family got knocked down by this disease, but we are not going to be beaten by it.

On average, I run about 500 miles during each training season.  Probably easier to take the train.

As we were heading out for our last long run last weekend, many people were gathering at a local church for the funeral of a young mother in town who lost her life to cancer.  I did not know her, but know many that were her friend.  Any relief or excitement felt after finishing that last long run was tempered by the mourners exiting the church, a vivid reminder of exactly what that last long run, and every training run, was for.  I saw a friend who had been at the funeral right after we finished running, and she said to "go kick cancer ass."  That's what we're doing.  I just don't want any reminders like that.  It's too much.

Don't get a puppy in the middle of winter.

I should have started doing this when I was younger.  I am impressed by the college students and recent college graduates that are members of this team.  When I was that age (throughout my 20s), my exercise was mostly throwing darts and walking home from a bar.  I was an expert napper.  At this age, training gives me an excuse to go to bed at 8:30 (which I often do even when I am not training), but I kind of think there wouldn't be so many body parts screaming at me after the long runs.

I don't feel very comfortable asking for donations, and hitting the "send" or "post" button before sending out my fundraising letter or making a post on Facebook always causes me to pause.  But what I always come back to is how important this is and that the funds aren't going to me.  It all goes to for cancer research, and that makes it much easier.  Given the number of times I post, you must be chuckling but it's the truth.  It is outside of my comfort zone, but we are the advertisers of this research program and you aren't inundated with TV ads or commercials...a few emails and Facebook posts aren't too much when we are helping to cure cancer!

PLEASE don't run/walk with traffic.  Run on the opposite side of the road FACING traffic.  It's so much safer.  The one downside to running on that side....never trust that people who are coming up to an intersection to make a right hand turn are going to look right, which is where you are running.  They are often looking to the left to check for oncoming traffic, and not for pedestrians coming from the right.  Almost been hit many, many times.

The DFMC team has a fantastic support network with each other, but we also have incredible and dedicated staff members, volunteers, and a coach who help out throughout the season. They make this so much easier for us...and they make us feel like stars in the process when they are digging in and doing so much work behind the scenes to make this crew successful.  THANK YOU for the encouraging messages, the water stops, the cheering sections, the cookies, the well-organized information, emails, training plans, answers, etc.  Our team goal is $4.6 million dollars this year, and we are well on our way.

Say "hello" or "good morning" or just give a smile or a little wave to people you pass when out walking or running.  Don't put your head down and avoid eye contact.  It's a buzz kill.

Maybe I am naive, but throughout the years of treatment and surgery and relapses that Molly, Mary and John went through, I always had hope.  Hope that that one new drug would work.  Hope that surgery would successfully remove all signs of cancer.  Hope that the next best thing was around the corner.  It helps you get out of bed in the morning...feeling like there is something better.  If you don't have that, what do you have?  I still have hope.  For my parents.  For my kids.  For my friends.  For all of us.  That is what keeps me running.

I got a wonderful opportunity to go in a talk to three third grade classes yesterday about the marathon and training.  One of the classes had started their own challenge to collectively walk or run a marathon during a few minutes of recess each day.  Over two weeks, they completed almost 9 marathons, and their enthusiasm and excitement really was contagious.  They were a clear reminder of what can be fun about running, and how lucky I am to be able to use something that is so good for me mentally and physically to do something important to help others.

Without my family, I would not be who I am today.  I have tried many times to explain in words what my parents mean to me, and how despite everything they have been through, they still find time to laugh.  They find time for others.  They find time to support me.  They created a family where each of us never stops believing in the other, and they did so by setting a strong example of kindness and strength and fun and respect.  My sister, Katy, and I are sticking together more than ever.  There is a part of who we are that is forever missing, and our adult lives are forever changed because of the absence of Molly, Mary and John.  Our plans are altered, but we have each others back.  We all always did, and always will.

My husband and kids keep believing.  They are my biggest supporters and looking for those faces at Mile 18 keeps me plugging along.  My children learned a lot of hard lessons at a very young age because of cancer, and they learned that life isn't fair.  But we have to keep moving forward.  And have dance parties.  And celebrate their aunts and uncles, and the legacy they left for them and for their cousins.  It takes a lot of time away from the house to train each season, and I am blessed to have the understanding of this crew every time I head out the door.  And when I need a nap after I come back in.

So, THANK YOU.  Those words are not big enough to encompass the gratitude I feel for all of the support that has been shown to me, my family, and this cause.  This result of $150,000 is not for me, nor by me.  It is for all of us, and it has been done by all of us...we as a team have reached this amazing result.  I'll be thinking of this tribe of cancer ass-kicking people who have carried me to today, and to Monday, and through each of the days from the beginning of this journey until now.

Be Good.  Be Strong.

With so much gratitude and hope,

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