Friday, December 30, 2011

Running backwards....remembering 2011.

 If you've been following the blog, then you already know the year 2011 was a busy one for me with 6 races and an amazing trip to Vietnam. 

Camelback Mountain
Jen & Me, matchy matchy,at the finish
line at ASU's Sun Devil Stadium
The year started off with a bang in January with my best marathon time yet in Arizona. Sub 4 hours!  Plus, my good friend Jen was running the half so we got to spend the weekend hanging out and catching up.    

 Only a few weeks after my personal best, I ran again in New Orleans. The Big Easy was not exactly easy, but I still finished with a pretty darn good time and had the chance to enjoy some amazing Lousiana cuisine. (One of my favorite parts about running a marathon is that I don't feel bad about eating whatever I want afterwards).

NOLA Garden District

Pig butt
No rest for the weary... in May I ran another marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio.  I wish I was as winged as all the pigs in the Flying Pig marathon.  It was probably the most painful race for me to date with the rolling hills of Ohio torturing me, but it by far had the best medal.  I mean, it has a pig's butt on the backside! Hard to top that. 
After Cincy, I decided it was a great idea to take up tennis.   FYI, this is not a great idea, runners.  I think that it was the cause for some severe knee pain which necessitated a few months of physical therapy. But now I'm as good as new....assuming of course, I keep on doing the PT exercises. Which, of course I haven't since I was cleared by my doc in November.  (shhh...don't tell him!)  Fortunately, I've only a run a few times since November.  Not that I'm proud to admit this, but in my defense I did run 5 marathons and participated in a 200-mile relay all between January and don't judge me.  Seriously, I must have been nuts to do all that in a year.  2012 less nuts. 

My new Honey Badger friends. Some tried
to make their own pancakes for breakfast. Don't worry, we're still friends.
So after a tennis-filled summer, which I am entirely horrible at, I was onto that 200 mile-relay I just mentioned in Portland, Oregon.  In hindsight, it was a great experience and I now have a few new friends because of it.  During the race though...I wasn't convinced I would ever want to do that again.  It was running up and down all kinds of hills, in the wee hours of the morning, with virtually zero sleep except a few winks here and there in a crowded hotel or van.  Oh, and did I mention that you don't really get to shower either?  I mean, does that sound like fun to any of you?  Didn't think so.  But a few months removed from the fatigue and my own stench, I see that it was an awesome experience that I'm glad I had.  My new friends made it more than worth it!  Can't wait for another race-cation in 2012!  Oh, wait, I'm supposed to be less nuts...        

My sis and niece
cheering me on in Chicago

Then it was the fall... with a marathon on my very own windy city, Chi-Town.  This was the most fun I've had running a marathon so far.  It was nearly my slowest race ever, but I totally didn't care.  The crowd support and that specifically of my friends and family made it the most amazing marathon I've done to date.  I loved, loved, loved it, is all I can say.   

A few weeks after Chicago, I headed south to Savannah, again with my running mate Jen.  Some of you may remember that Jen and I like to match when we run our races. We had matching shirts and headbands in AZ (see above), and once again, had sparkly matching headbands and inadvertently had matching shirts and jackets!  Also along for the trip was my boyfriend Todd, and his friend John, who are both photographers and took some pretty cool shots of race day and our explorations around Savannah. (see my last blog post) : )   Who can complain about some pretty nice weather, great southern food (again my favorite part), and great friends?  Plus this was the third Rock-n-Roll series event for Jen and me, so the awesome Triple Crown "Heavy Medal" from the Rock-n-Roll race series was headed our way.   

Savannah was my last race for 2011.  Shortly after that I split the U.S. for Vietnam with my roommate for some well-deserved time off from exercise for both of us... (she is a uber-dedicated swimmer, does it waaaay more than I run, and is awesome at it!!)  We did take some time one morning during our trip for some exercise. She went for a workout in the ocean while I went for a jog on this amazing beach in Nha Trang.  The whole time, I kept asking I really running on this amazing beach in Vietnam??  And yep, I actually was.   

Nha Trang beach = amazing.
Somewhere in that water are Genevieve's swim goggles.

Running took me a lot of places last year, literally and figuratively.  Running lead me to new places I've never been before, like the Oregon west coast and the sweet Savannah south.  But it also led me to meet new and incredible people.  It was running with fellow RUS runner, Miri, that got us a blurb in Fitness magazine , which is how I met our amazing photographer who has since become someone very special in my life.  I met all the hysterically fun Honey Badgers on the Hood to Coast adventure.   While I don't plan on running as many races in 2012, I am excited to see where life and that "race within me" will take me this new year.  Where will your inner race lead you this new year?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Midnight Train (plus a Bus, Plane, Ferry, & Trolley) to Georgia

Last weekend I completed the Inaugural Rock-n-Roll Savannah Marathon. Jen and I were together again since our last race together in Arizona in January. This race secured us the Triple Crown Heavy Medal for doing 3 Rock-n-Roll events in one calendar year. To commemorate the event, we came equipped with our very own entourage of professional photographers, Todd and John. Somehow, we got access to the VIP tent as well. We need to travel with these guys more often.

My roommate warned me about inaugural races and I quickly realized why. Getting to the Expo on Friday night was quite the ordeal. The race was Saturday so we arrived Friday. The race organizers decided it was a grand idea to put the expo in Savannah's new civic center on Hutchinson Island...which had only one road in and one road out. After sitting in non-moving traffic for a bit, we ditched the idea of driving and decided to take the ferry across, which was a brilliant idea in hindsight. So, after taking a nearly every mode of transportation available to someone in one day (a bus, a train, a plane, a car, a ferry and a trolley), I finally made it from Chicago to the hotel with my race packet in hand, ready to go directly to bed and get up 6 hours later to run 26.2 miles.

First, I'll comment on the race course before getting to the fun travel stuff. Excluding the expo, the race itself was well organized with plenty of aid stations. There were lots of folks out in the wee hours of the chilly morning wishing the runners a friendly Southern "Good morning." My favorite part of the course was running in the historic district of Savannah, where at times, the trees were like canopies over the street, with Spanish moss hanging down, the sun glinting through the moss. It was really beautiful. Despite that, I was still envious of the people I saw with mimosas out there cheering us on, because a mimosa would have been pretty darn nice right about then. It was also pretty awesome running out by Savannah State University. The marching band was out there loudly cheering the runners on, creating a great "rock star" moment.

My least favorite part.... miles 21-24 which took place on Truman Parkway. Nothing like ending your last few miles on a desolate stretch of highway running directly into a strong, blustering wind. As often happens when I encounter strong winds, I was cursing under my breath. I had also come to the conclusion that Truman Parkway was the devil. All I wanted in the world was to get off that stupid highway. So even though I was exhausted and being propelled back by the wind, I pushed forward mumbling profanities to myself like a crazy person.

Then finally....the homestretch was in front of me. And suddenly also Todd and John who materialized out of nowhere. (eh hem...where were you guys earlier???) Todd ran alongside me down the finish line corral. I, of course, totally didn't notice he was there because I had tunnel vision and just wanted to get past the finish line so I could stop running. I think worth noting is that he was pretty winded after running a block or so with me. ; ) Once I stopped, a bee line it was to the VIP tent where Jen was waiting for me. She was relaxing after finishing her half-marathon with a pretty good time. We're both sure that after getting VIP treatment, we can't go back to just being "regular" runners. The question is how can we keep getting this VIP access? Let me know if you have any tips on this.

Ok, enough about the race. Here's all about our trip to Savannah. We weren't able to get a hotel in downtown Savannah, so we decided to stay at the beach on Tybee Island instead. We found a quaint place called the Georgianne Inn pretty much right on the beach. The owner, Nick, was more than accommodating, staying up late waiting for us to arrive after the whole expo debacle. We got the best of both worlds, experiencing the beach life and still being able to enjoy the historic downtown. Seriously stay there if you're ever in the Savannah area. It's a quick 25 minute drive to downtown. And the beach has a great sunset.

So onto my favorite part.... the food. Every place we had dinner ended up being pretty fabulous. Friday night, we hit a french place called Circa 1879. Great steak tartare and we had an awesome cassoulet. Post-race on Saturday, we had an amazing dinner at 700 Drayton. The decor was beautiful and modern, while still giving you the feel of an old mansion. It was probably the best crab bisque and crab cakes I've ever had. Jen and I also shared a pork tenderloin special that was amazing and Todd was pretty excited about the pan seared sea bass.

After dinner we took the Ghosts and Gravestones trolley tour. Some parts a bit cheesy, but a great way to see some of the historic sites of Savannah, while not having to walk it (important after running a marathon). You also get hear some interesting ghost stories while you do it. Looking for more ghosts, we headed to the Bonaventure Cemetery Sunday morning. We had hoped to see the famous Bird Girl statue from the cover of the book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, but it had been moved to a downtown museum. Bummer. We still enjoyed our visit as evidenced by our photos. I think we got some pretty good shots for our album cover when we decide to form a band.

After the cemetery, we sadly had to drop Jen at the airport so she could return home to L.A. So me and the boys continued our sightseeing at Fort Pulaski. John, who is Polish, informed us that Casmir Pulaski had fought at the fort during the Revolutionary War, or something along those lines. Fortunately, we met Jason. He was a civil war buff from Florida, who set us straight, informing us that the fort was actually used in the Civil War, so Mr. Pulaski likely didn't fight there. (We love you for trying John!) Just to confirm (because who the hell are we to trust Jason??) we did some Goggling and discovered that Pulaski died during the Revolutionary War after being wounded in the battle of Savannah. So I guess those Confederates thought he was a pretty cool guy and decided to name their fort after him.

Sunday night we had dinner at the Olde Pink House. The place was listed as one of the top places to visit in Savannah and was rumored to be haunted. I was a little concerned that it would be total tourist trap with just so-so food and was happily proven wrong. While the menu was clearly southern, (I mean come on, we started with fried jalapeno mac-n-cheese), it was delicious. The jumbo sea scallops melted in your mouth, the filet mignon was cooked to pink perfection, and even the fried lobster tails disappeared somehow from John's plate. Our server was great and took us on a tour of the olde house. Sadly, no ghost encounters for us, but hearing some of the stories from staff members, we were definitely feeling the heebie jeebies!

Monday, we said goodbye to Savannah, and were on our way back to Charleston. (A more reasonable air fare and only a 2 hour drive). We had just enough time for lunch in Downtown Charleston before having to head to the airport for our flight. We lunched on the back patio at the Blind Tiger Pub, which catered to those looking for all types of ethnic fare. The starter menu had edamame, hummus with tzatziki, AND perogies. The crab cake sliders were not too shabby and the reuben was pretty darn good too. And $2.50 bottles of Newcastle beer? I mean, that's just stupid to say no to that. It's like we were saving money!

So 11 states down, 39 to go. I think after a busy 2011, I will take it easy until my next registered race in April 2012; the Country Music Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee! Grand Ole Opry, here I come! To see the states I've finished, here's a map of them. Green means done, yellow means coming up, and blue means still working on it.
Stay tuned for some grumbling winter running blogging. : ) Hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Midwestern Pride

I've now been a midwesterner for 9 months! I'm having so much fun exploring the new scenery around me.

On Sunday, I joined Kristine and Mark in Chicago for the Chicago Marathon. Unlike Kristine and Mark, though, I turned the Chicago Marathon into a Chicago (Half) Marathon. A half marathon was more in line with my training level at this time. I decided to run the first half of the course because my Chicago-based friends told me it was the more scenic half. And boy was it! The crowds were so enthusiastic and there were a lot of interesting performers along the course keeping us runners entertained.

I ran my 13 miles with my friend Katie. Katie and I were co-coaches at Girls on the Run Manhattan. Like me, Katie moved across the country for a new job this year and also decided to turn the Marathon into a Half due to constraints on her training while starting a new job in a new city. But we're GOTR coaches at heart and wanted to exemplify the lessons we taught our girls - keep active and reach your goal as best you can. At the end of our run, we had gotten in a 13.1 mile workout and had a great time catching up on our lives (we hadn't seen each other in almost a year!) and taking in the scenes of downtown Chicago. We're each looking forward to our next fitness goal!

And speaking of GOTR, I've added a new link to the Charities section of this website. In addition to supporting GOTR through my SoleMates fundraising page, I've added a link to the GOTR Twin Cities general fundraising page. For two cities as cosmopolitan and fitness-friendly as Minneapolis and St. Paul, it's about time GOTR had a presence here! I've joined a committe to start up a chapter of GOTR that will serve girls in the Twin Cities. If you'd like to help with the start up effort, please consider making a donation to the start up funds or email if you'd like to volunteer to help out. I think we can make a big difference in the lives of many girls here in the Twin Cities and I'm excited to be a part of that effort!

Finally, I've temporarily removed the American Cancer Society funraising page link. When I have a new page link, I'll repost it. In the meantime, if you'd like to support ACS, leave a comment here and I'd be happy to connect you with some amazing people who are working hard to raise funds for this amazing organization. This month is Pink Month (National Cancer Awareness Month) so it's a great time to support organizations that fund resarch and patient support projects.

If you're in the Twin Cities at any time, join me for a run!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bigger IS Better!

So I finally did Chicago's marathon after living here for 12 years. And I have to say that it was by far the most fun I've had running a marathon. It was also the largest marathon I've run with nearly 40,000 participants. I went into the race not having trained as well as I would have liked thanks to some knee issues (and maybe some laziness); plus I was also coming off of a week long cold, so I decided I would just run it easy and at a comfortable pace. And that's exactly what I did with my second slowest finishing time yet. But I totally don't care because I had a blast!

I did have the perk of starting in a seeded corral thanks to my time running in Arizona. However, the downfall of being in the last of the seeded corrals is that the front of the open corral with people running an 8 min mile is directly behind you. So out of the gate, I was getting passed quite a bit. But still, I was having fun!

The energy was apparent throughout the city. I've never done a race where there is so much spectator support along the entire course. People were cheering nearly the entire 26.2 miles. I always love reading the signs they have out there, they keep me entertained. Of course, I then can't remember what they said when I'm finished, but I know I laughed at many of them. "Worst Parade Ever" must have been one of my favorites since it is the only one I can remember right now. I also enjoyed the ones that just had a giant head of the person running on a stick, usually with a picture that they would probably untag themselves in on facebook.

But my favorite part I think was seeing so many of my friends and family along the course. My roommate saved the day by bringing me some energy gels (which I stupidly forgot) at mile 8. Thank you Genevieve! I also saw lots of Honey Badgers from the Hood to Coast relay along the course. And my adorable niece gave me a last little boost of motivation at mile 23 where my sisters, dad and grandma were also waiting. I don't think your family and friends truly understand how awesome it is to see them out there cheering you on unless they've done it before. And no matter how many marathons I do, it still helps me tremendously to know they're out there supporting me. Sadly, I missed my boyfriend on the course (he was there, but I didn't see him and he didn't see me) but he was waiting for me at the finish with his photographer press pass. A great perk of the job! I think you can tell which of the photos here he took.

All I can say about Chicago's marathon is.... it was awesome. And I can now check Illinois off my list. 10 down...40 to go.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Honey Badgers DO Give a Sh*t

So it's been nearly 2 weeks since the Crazy Nastyass Honey Badgers finished the Hood To Coast relay in Portland Oregon. Our team of 12 honey badgers ran 200 miles beginning on Mt. Hood just outside of Portland and ending on the beach in Seaside, Oregon. For 30 hours, we hardly slept, we hardly ate, and we ran a lot of miles just to have bragging rights that we finished what is called the "Mother of All Relays."

Now some of you may be familiar with the you tube video of the Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger (narrated by Randall). If you're not, you should be because it's hilarious. This fearless animal was the inspiration for our team name plus many jokes and witty quips before, during and after the race. As observed by Randall, the Honey Badger just doesn't give a sh*t, a mentality we embraced in many aspects, since we certainly didn't give a sh*t that this race was 200 miles non-stop over 2 days, including dark, creepy nights, up and downhill. But as you know, those of us who are dedicated to the Race Within US, DO give a sh*t about some things, like raising money for our favorite charities. And one badger in particular, Miri Frankel, showed that she gave a sh*t about the American Cancer Society by raising over $2000 for them! Great job Miri! Your team is very proud of you!

It's impossible to write about all the badger moments, as there were too many. I have to admit it wasn't fun every single second. As team captain, I certainly had my moments where handling the logistics and questions became overwhelming. I would like to thank my teammates sincerely for all their help planning things and enduring with a joke and a smile the many moments I was a cranky badger. You are all fantastic, amazing people! But there were fantastic, indescribable moments.... Like the run I did during sunrise, down a gravel road lined with giant evergreens, where the morning mist was just coming up off the ground. It was awesome, even if I could hardly see with all the dust in my eyes from vans driving by to get to the next check point. My final run, which was the longest and hilliest of the runs I had to do, was so picturesque, I thought I had walked into a postcard. I know that my teammates all have their favorite moments as well, like running in the dead of night with only the eerie glow of their headlamp to light the way, or running top speed down Mt. Hood.

The best thing I can say about this race is that I made many new awesome friends. You definitely get to know each other well, maybe too well, when spending so much time together. And inevitably, as I often find happening when people become really comfortable together, the conversation turns to poo. One of my favorite quotes from the race...The Honey Bucket (coincidentally named port-o-potty) is the one place the honey badger does give a sh*t. I laughed my crazy nastyass off with all of the team in the time we spent together before, during and after the race. We saw Portland, ate tapas, drank wine, perfected our jazz hands, hiked to see waterfalls in inappropriate shoes (apparently flip flops or Chuck Taylors aren't good hiking shoes?), and made pancakes together...sort of. I use the word "made" loosely, Mark.

So thank you Amy, Betty, Robin, Jay, Darren, Bethany, Vera, Susan, Sangeeta, Mark and Miri for being a part of the team. And to the honey badgers we lost along the way, Cory and Heather, thank you for your help and support along the way and during the race. You were missed!

Up next for RUS members, Miri, Mark and myself, plus honey badger Jay..... the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. It seems it will also be a mini honey badger reunion as Vera, Susan and Bethany are joining Sangeeta in Chicago to cheer on the runners. I can't wait to see your nastyasses and hope that it is not a rare occasion in the coming future. Until then....
Hugs and kisses,
Captain Cranky Honey Badger (by the way, someone else is captain next time, I already call "not it!")

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thank you Catherine....

Blog followers, I am saddened to inform you that Don't Bully My Breed president and founder, Catherine Hedges passed away yesterday. As I mentioned in my last post, she had been fighting cancer for several years, and unfortunately her body could not continue the fight. She went peacefully with her boyfriend, Curt, by her side.

Curt and the DBMB volunteers are committed to continuing Catherine's work, taking in those animals that need help, fighting against breed-specific legislation and educating the public about Pit Bulls. Please help them continue on with her mission by making a donation in Catherine's memory to I never met Catherine personally, but shared many emails with her over the past year working together with her to join the efforts of The Race Within US with those of DBMB. I found her to be an inspiration and truly thank her for saving so many animals, including two of my favorites, Bruce and Lexus. Because of her kind heart and dedication, they are still around to become my adorable niece's protectors and best friends.

Thank you Catherine, you will be missed by so many.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Catherine, DBMB Founder needs your support

Hi blog followers,

I just received an email from Don't Bully My Breed that founder and president, Catherine, has taken a turn for the worse. Catherine has been battling cancer for some time now, and she has taken and sudden and unexpected decline. DBMB has asked that we all give Catherine some privacy at this time, but you can show your support by vising and making a donation to help her continue to take care of the animals she has shown such dedication too. She has dedicated so much of herself to the health and wellness of these animals when her own health was declining. Please donate whatever you can to help care for these animals while Catherine takes this time to fight and care for herself.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

GOTR Twin Cities Kick Off!

You might recall my post from last month about the launch of GOTR in the Twin Cities.

I'm so excited that GOTR is launching a Twin Cities chapter starting with the upcoming fall season! Welcome to the Twin Cities, GOTR! I reported in July that the GOTR Twin Cities Kick-Off Event would be held at Summit Brewing Company. However, the location has had to be changed to O'Gara's Bar & Grill instead. Attendees are invited to mingle and share experiences, ask questions and get to know fellow GOTR supporters. I'll be there -- and if you're a TC reader who is interested in volunteering with GOTR, I hope you will join me tonight!

Here are the full details:
Thursday, August 4th from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
O'Gara's Bar & Grill
164 Snelling Avenue North
St. Paul, MN 55104
Suggested donation: $20

Monday, July 18, 2011

Heart o' the country

Ahhh...the country; fresh air, rolling hills, fields of green, and blistering heat. That pretty much describes my run this weekend in my hometown of Milan, Illinois. Not to be confused with the fashion mecca of Milan, Italy. Although I did see some great fashions, like shirtless men in overalls. I was back visiting my parents and headed out early Sunday morning to try (unsuccessfully) to beat the heat. At least I had some nice scenery as I was boiling, well, what I could see of it. I had a contact lens malfunction that morning and was running with only one lens in. It's a miracle that I didn't roll down a gravel hillside since my depth perception was way off.

I often forget how quiet things are in the morning once you get out of the city. I could almost hear my sweat hitting the pavement. (By the way, I think there is a certain point when you are just so sweaty, that even slathering yourself with Body Glide won't prevent chafing. Curse you sports bra!) And the people you pass along the way are so friendly, always ready with a wave and basically veer off into the oncoming lane of "traffic" (I use that word loosely) to give you running space.

Another thing that I miss out on living in a city apartment is the ability to hose yourself off after a sweltering run. There are no garden hoses at my apartment, but at my parent's house on the farm, there is always a hose hooked up and I was grateful for that as I doused myself with it after my run. Well, after that first shot of hot water from the part of the hose that had been sitting in the sun ran off.

Of course, there are perks to running in the city, like plentiful water fountains, public restrooms in case of emergencies, and shady tree lined sidewalks. There are pros and cons to both city and country running, but a change of scenery is always a pro in my opinion. Especially when it looks like this.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Running...

Had me a blast... Summer running.... happened so fast. For some reason that brings to mind the tune to Summer Nights from Grease. Although, admittedly, I'm not having a blast, and this summer running is certainly not fast. After a 12 mile run on Saturday morning in the Chicago summer heat, I was nothing but slow and miserable. I had forgotten the importance of hydrating before a run on a hot summer morning, since I really haven't run in any super hot temperatures yet this year. But I was brutally reminded immediately after finishing when I felt like a train was barreling through my head. Heck, I'm just now starting to feel normal again 2 days later.

I'm already dreading those 20 milers coming up this summer as I prepare for Chicago's Bank of America Marathon in October. Although, somehow, a 197-mile relay in Oregon has been incorporated as part of my training. How the heck did that happen? And more importantly, how am I going to train in Chicago for a mountainous run from Mt. Hood to the Pacific coast? I did have a nice rolling hill run in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan last weekend, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to do more than one set of rolling hills to have even a slight chance at not keeling over during the Hood to Coast Relay. If any of you have ideas on where I can find some hills in the Chicago-land area, let me know.

So my mantra this summer...hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. And try to drag my arse out of bed earlier than 10 a.m. to beat some of the intense heat. Of course, I could follow the lead of Bob, owner of Bob-San Sushi (which is delicious, by the way) and run at 3 a.m. after strategically hiding bottles of water throughout my pre-mapped course. I'll be looking for his ponytail during the Chicago Marathon and maybe if I look tired and pathetic enough I can get some post-race sake out of him. Sake counts has hydration, doesn't it?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Running Free

On Monday, July 4th, I ran the Red White and Boom! Half Marathon through the streets of Minneapolis. What a day! The atmosphere was festive and a lot of runners were dressed for the occasion, some in red, white and blue outfits and others in costumes - and others yet in red, white and blue costumes!

The weather was pretty hot so I didn't push myself to run too fast. I fell into an easy pace and enjoyed the crowd. I met a friendly older man who was a race walker wearing a red t-shirt that said "Ask me about Race Walking." So I did. He helped me get through 2 hilly miles with his stories about race walking events he'd participated in. His goal is to secure the world record in the 50K (which, by the way, is longer than the marathon) for the 95+ age category, a category that currently has no contenders. Sir, you'll probably never read this, but I wish you luck and hope to read one day that you've reached that goal! Then, at mile 12, I ran into my new friends Beth and Julie Elliott, dressed in matching red and blue tutus. Seeing them made me smile! We finished the last mile together and celebrated our accomplishment.

My next big race is the Hood to Coast with Kristine, Mark, and Betty, as well as 8 other friends. As a relay team, we'll run 197 miles from Mount Hood through Portland to the Pacific coast of Oregon. It is only 7 weeks away! I'm thrilled to be running it in support of American Cancer Society as part of ACS's DetermiNation athlete fund raising program!

As you might know, I'm raising money for ACS in honor of my Aunt Susie, who was a tireless advocate and fundraiser for ACS until she sadly lost her battle with cancer. In addition to continuing the legacy that Aunt Susie started with her support of ACS, here's another reason why I hope you'll consider making a donation to ACS using this link: I passed a store today that caught my attention because it had a big pink neon ribbon in its window. The store, called Underneath It All, specializes in fitting post-mastectomy breast cancer survivors with bras, swimwear, sleepwear and tops. On the homepage of the store's website is this inspiring poem:

"Our wish for you...
Comfort on difficult days,
Smiles when sadness intrudes,
Rainbows to follow the clouds,
Laughter to kiss your lips,
Sunsets to warm your heart,
Gentle hugs when spirits sag."

I hope my efforts will help ACS find a cure, or at least help bring more comfort, smiles, rainbows, laughter, sunsets and gentle hugs to those who need it while we continue the fight for a cure. I would be honored if you would consider making a donation to ACS, whether in memory of Aunt Susie or someone else you know whose life has been touched by cancer.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Oh Happy Day!

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I am not only a huge fan of the Girls on the Run program that helps set girls on the path to a "lifetime of self respect and healthy living", but also a volunteer and coach with GOTR's Manhattan chapter. Making a donation to GOTR or becoming a GOTR SoleMate athlete fundraiser (like me) is a huge help in ensuring that GOTR has the means to bring its curriculum to girls around the country. But volunteering with GOTR is also a fulfilling way to support GOTR - with the benefit of seeing the girls grow self confidence and excitement for running throughout the season.

After such a great experience with GOTR Manhattan, you can imagine my disappointment when I discovered that there was no GOTR chapter in the Twin Cities. So I am THRILLED to report that GOTR is launching a Twin Cities chapter starting with the upcoming fall season! Welcome to the Twin Cities, GOTR!

On August 4, from 6:00 - 9:00 pm, there will be a GOTR Twin Cities Kick-Off Event at Summit Brewing Company. Summit beer, root beer and local foods will be served while attendees mingle and share experiences, ask questions and get to know fellow GOTR supporters. I can't wait! And if you're a TC reader who is interested in volunteering with GOTR, I hope you will join me there on August 4!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Minnesota Nice

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I am running around the country raising funds for the American Cancer Society in memory and in honor of my amazing, inspirational Aunt Susie, a tireless advocate for ACS. Despite battling cancer and working more hours per week than most in order to cover treatment expenses, Susie was always smiling and always willing to support others who were affected by cancer. As of this morning, I am only $41 away from having raised $1,000 for ACS since the start of the year. Thank you so much to all who have supported ACS so far! If you haven’t yet made a donation, and would like to do so, I would be so grateful for your help in ensuring that Susie’s efforts on behalf of ACS continue on.

As always, I’m also supporting Girls on the Run. I think GOTR is a much-needed organization that helps young girls develop into strong women. As a shy kid growing up, I am thankful that I had a family that encouraged my creativity and curiosity. With that support, I discovered a love of running, which gave me the confidence to be more outgoing. I know those of you who know me personally are saying, “You, shy?” For me, running was a catalyst, so I think GOTR’s 12-week bi-annual curriculum that aims to teach young girls inner strength and confidence through running is an invaluable program.

As summer gets underway – and boy is it underway, with the past two days rising above 100 degrees in the Twin Cities – I am getting really excited about my first summer in Minnesota and my upcoming Red, White and Boom! Half Marathon. I’ve gotten to know some amazing new friends, coworkers and neighbors. And the Twin Cities feel so much more alive and happening now that people have emerged from winter hibernation. In recognition of my new hometown and my Minnesota RUS run, I’d like to tell you about two local organizations that I’ve discovered.

As I’m finishing furnishing my new apartment, I realized that I have some furniture that I don’t need or want to keep. So I’m donating it to Serenity Village, run by my coworker Monica and her husband Jeff. Not satisfied with anything short of total success, Serenity Village runs a group of “Wholeway Houses,” where men overcoming addiction can receive housing and assistance in kicking the habit for good, and in return, they provide outreach and ministry services in their local communities. If you are in the Twin Cities area and have unwanted furniture in good condition, consider donating it to Serenity Village! You can contact them here.

If you’re a northern Minnesotan, Clearwaters Life Center, has a similar program for aiding young adults and adults who are struggling with addiction and other difficulties. Clearwaters Life Center is run by my cousins Larry and Becky Dorman. They’ve dedicated their lives to helping others, and I’m sure they’d be grateful for any donations offered by readers of this blog. They also would appreciate volunteers for their various programs – whatever your talent, they will put it to good use!

Finally, if you’d like to join me in the Red, White and Boom! Half Marathon, I’d LOVE your company! :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Updated Map!

If you're wondering where you can find Kristine, Mark and me on the roads in the coming months, our RUS Map linked on the right column of this blog has been updated so you can track our progress as we zig zag around the country from state to state.

Some of the upcoming races include:

Minnesota's Red, White and Boom! Half Marathon, which Miri will run on July 4th.

Oregon's Hood to Coast Relay, a 197-mile, 12-person-team relay from Mount Hood through Portland to the Pacific Coast. Mark, Kristine and I are running the Hood to Coast on August 26-27 in support of the American Cancer Society as part of ACS's DetermiNation athlete fundraising program. You can support us using the link in the top right of this blog!

Illinois's Chicago Marathon, which Miri, Kristine and Mark will run on October 9.

Georgia's Savannah Rock-n-Roll Marathon on November 5th, 2012. Clearly Kristine is a fan of the Rock-n-Roll marathon series - this will be her 4th Rock-n-Roll run!

Tennessee's Nashville Country Music Marathon (Kristine) and Half Marathon (Miri) on April 28, 2012.

North Dakota's Fargo Marathon (Kristine) and Half Marathon (Miri) on May 18-19, 2012.

We hope to see you all on the road in one - or all - of these upcoming races!

Running Angry

I've apparently become what some might call the fifth Beatle of RUS. The forgotten one. I mean, Kristine and Miri are world famous now after appearing in Fitness magazine. I'm not jealous or anything. It was a great article and certainly brought needed attention to our group and the charities we support. But I didn't get mentioned at all in the article. I know, I know, it's a women's fitness magazine and I'm not, well, a woman. Still, they could have said something like "we'd be lost without Mark's inspiration!" It wouldn't be true, of couse, but c'mon girls, humor me next time! ;-)

Anyways, I spent the past month or so recovering from the Cincy marathon. Damn hills did a number on my calves and one of my knees. Recovering meant lots of beer and whatever unhealthy foods I was in the mood to eat. Afterall, one of the benefits of running is that I can eat and drink pretty much whatever I want. (I should also give a big thank you to my parents for the good genetics because my cholesterol is still off the charts good.) But I can't be couch potato forever, so last week I started training again for some races I'm doing later this year.

Aug 14 - An Ironman 70.3 triathlon in Benton Harbor, MI. 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run. Then two weeks later....

Aug 27-28 - The Hood to Coast Relay in Oregon. The mother of all relay races. 197 miles. Then six weeks later....

Oct 9 - The Chicago Marathon.

The kicker and the thing that surely will make training this summer totally stink is I'm going to try to run fast enough at the Chicago Marathon to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I've always thought the organizers of the Boston Marathon purposely set the qualifying times to be just out of my reach. Ten or so years ago I ran some marathon times that were within a couple of minutes of qualifying for Boston, but alas, I was never quite fast enough at the end of the races. (I did run Boston in 2001 using a friend's name and qualifying time, with his blessing, but it wasn't the same. It was also likely illegal, but let's not focus on that technicality.) As I've gotten older, my Boston qualifying time has gotten higher, but inexplicably, I've gotten slower. I don't know how or when it happened, but I'm just slower. To qualify for Boston these days, I've got to run a 3:30 which is an 8 minute per mile pace. I used to be able to run 8 minute miles all day. That was a slow jog back then. I can still run 8 minute miles well enough, but 26 of them in a row....That's the hard part.

Running faster means doing speed training, and speed training, well, it hurts! My heart and lungs feel like they are on fire and my legs get wobbly. And that's after running just a few 1/4 or 1/2 mile sprints and there's still seven or eight sprints to go. My so-called "speed coach" (who's just my buddy Dave in NYC) says that to maintain my pace at the end of the marathon when I'm tired means I've got to get stronger too. So this year I'll be doing sets of squats, lunges and burpees in between sprints. Doesn't sound fun. Dave says it will train me to run angry. I'm not sure what that means exactly. I suspect I'm mostly going to be angry when I'm training because I won't be relaxing on the couch with a beer in one hand and the remote in the other.

Peace out!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hospitals for Humanity...and for running

HFH has been bit by the running bug! Some volunteers and staff have chosen to participate in the Chicago Marathon this October along with other RUS runners, Miri, Mark, myself, and I suspect a few of you blog followers. Unfortunately, they missed the registration cutoff, so in order to participate, they've paired up with OE Runners, an official charity of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. I am honored and humbled that the Race Within US has inspired these volunteers and staff members to take on the challenge of a marathon, and personally intend to support them in their training as much as I can, and I hope that some of you fellow runners will share your training tips and encouragement with these runners as they tackle their first marathon. A great way to do this is to join our google group to start discussions on your favorite races and training tips. I encourage the HFH team and any other blog fans to join by emailing to be added to the group. Joining the group will also get you automatic emails of our blog postings, and seriously, who would want to miss out on that? You can also join our facebook group and share your tips and words of encouragement that way (just enter The Race within US in your facebook search bar and we should pop up).

In addition to needing your support and encouragement during training, these first time marathoners will also need your fundraising support. As part of the OE Runners team, they are required to raise a certain amount to participate, and, of course, the main reason they're doing this is to raise money for the HFH cause. You can help the out by doing the following: 1) Go to the HFH website,; 2) Click on the Donate button; 3) Enter your super duper top secret confidential payment information (it's a secure site); 4) Enter the name of your fav HFH runner or just "Chicago Marathon" in the memo section before you submit your payment; and then 5) Submit your donation. Weeee! Doesn't that all sound like fun?

So my first tip to the HFH team, should you happen to be reading this, is to find a good training program. I've used Hal Higdon's in the past, but some people swear by Jeff Galloway. (Sorry if I screwed up the spelling on those). The Galloway method is less daunting to some because it lets you walk a bit. Sometimes it's less scary if you aren't thinking you've gotta run the whole darn thing. Oh, and if you think those hydration belts are as uncomfortable and dorky as I do, let me know. For those of you training in Chicago, I've got some routes mapped out that allow you to hit drinking fountians throughout the city. And I know of a good washroom pit stop here and there as well (those will come in handy on those longer runs).

Good luck and welcome to the unique group of people crazy enough to run 26.2 miles on purpose even when no one is chasing you!

Friday, May 20, 2011

For the animal lovers....

This one is for you fitness and animal enthusiasts.... During this downtime of my training, I figured I would take the opportunity to remind you all of another charity I'm running for, Don't Bully My Breed. This one is near and dear to my heart, as my sister has adopted two of the most loveable dogs from DBMB, Bruce and Lexus. They have definitely become part of the family and they both seem to love the newest member of the family, my niece, Gabriele, as you can clearly see in these pictures.

The founder of DBMB, Catherine, is certainly an inspiration to me and I can only assume to so many others by dedicating so much of her time to helping those breeds of dogs who have gotten a bad rap, mainly because of the irresponsible people who have chosen to own these breeds for often illegal purposes. My sister's dog, Lexus, is proof that even dogs who have been abused and neglected (we were told she was used as a fighting dog) can be rehabilitated to be loving family members. Lexus went from being very afraid and nervous of other dogs, then finally being able to be around my little pooch, 8lb Dean, to eventually living happily with her "brother", the gentle giant, Bruce. So thank you Catherine for rescuing two of my favorite dogs and placing them in a happy home!

DBMB doesn't just help the dogs of the world, but they also have helped many horses and cats that have been neglected. But caring for these animals is often very expensive, as there is always vet care that is unanticipated and costly.

And now is a great time to donate, because DBMB has a generous donor who is willing to match all amounts donated up to $1,000. Please visit this link to read about the good things they are currently doing and to make your donation today. Remember, even that $20 you donate, becomes $40 if you donate now!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Red, White and BOOM!

The June issue of Fitness Magazine is out on newsstands! Kristine and I are so grateful to Fitness for giving a shout out to our blog and our efforts to raise money for our favorite charities through running.

If you haven't seen the article, go buy the issue! And if you are a Fitness reader, welcome to our blog!

Now it's time to get a new race on the calendar. And what better state to complete than my new adopted state, Minnesota! I'm going to join in with a couple of new friends, Melissa and Beth, to run the Red, White & Boom! Half Marathon. Appropriately named, the Red, White & Boom! will take place on July 4th.

The course winds first through the part of Minneapolis that sits on the east side of the Mississippi River, areas known as St Anthony Main and the East Bank. When I moved here, I was under the impression that Minneapolis was located only on the west side of the Mississippi River and that the east side of the river was the start of St Paul. I'm glad to learn I was wrong - with historical buildings, cobble stone streets and a lovely park alongside the Mississippi River, St Anthony Main is one of the most charming spots in Minneapolis that I've discovered so far! After running most of the 13.1 miles to the east of the river, the race course then crosses to the west side of the river to finish up in the Warehouse District of downtown Minneapolis, near the Stone Arch Bridge.

Midwesterners, why don't you join in the fun? If you aren't quite ready for 13.1 miles, the Red, White & Boom! allows runners to run in teams of 2, 5, or 10, so grab some friends and share the fun together!

As always, I'm running to support two charities that are near and dear to my heart. The first is the American Cancer Society. I am supporting ACS in honor of and in memory of my Aunt Susie, who lost her battle with breast cancer last year. For nine years, despite the ups and downs in her health because of her disease, her spirits always remained upbeat. She was always smiling and always willing to be a shoulder and an ear for anyone she met who was also battling cancer. She wasn't just my Aunt Susie; she was everyone's Aunt Susie. And I can think of no better way to honor her than to continue what she started in raising funds for American Cancer Society so that we can eventually live in a world where cancer is 100% beatable. I hope you'll consider making a donation, using the link above, in her honor!

Aunt Susie and I, above right, at the 2010 ACS Relay For Life at Citi Field. Aunt Susie was the featured speaker at the Closing Ceremony!

My second charity is Girls on the Run. As a GOTR coach for two years in Harlem, New York City, I saw firsthand the significant impact the GOTR curriculum had on the girls who participated in the program. GOTR is a 12-week program that teaches girls ages 8 - 13 healthy habits, teamwork and goal-setting and -achieving techniques while training for a 5K fun run. The program helps girls overcome the challenges and peer pressures that they face by focusing them on healthy activities that develop their self-confidence. This is important for all girls, but especially for girls in major cities, like NYC, where the peer pressures they face include the pressure to engage in sex or drug use. GOTR gives them the confidence to "just say no" and a safe place to ask questions or turn for support. You can read about some of my favorite GOTR experiences here, here, here and here. If you'd like to support GOTR with a donation, you can do so with the link above!

A collage, left, of photos from the Spring 2010 GOTR 5K Fun Run!

I hope to see you all out on the road sometime!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Exciting updates!

Since moving from NY to Minneapolis, I've had a rocky relationship with running. First, I missed a lot of training runs during the weeks that I was packing up my apartment in NY. Then I missed a lot of training runs while I was unpacking in Minneapolis. Sub-zero temperatures in the Twin Cities kept me off the roads during the harshest of winter months. Finally, the weather has thawed, and, being more settled into my new surroundingns, I have gotten back to a (sort of) regular running schedule. During the last few weeks, the inconsistency of my training has frustrated me nearly to the point of feeling unsure of my RUS goals.

Thankfully, Kristine's run last week at the Cincinnati Flying Pigs Marathon helped me get my enthusiasm and confidence back. For one thing, I'm always in awe of Kristine's seemingly limitless energy and ability to run marathons so frequently. How does she do it!? For me, the marathon is, at best, an annual goal that I work hard to be ready for in the Fall, knowing that I'll earn the right to be a little bit lazier during the cold winter. Her dedication to the marathon distance is inspiring!

In addition to Kristine, another Cincinnati Flying Pigs Marathon runner has jumpstarted my excitment about our upcoming RUS events - Women's 1st Place Winner Amy McDonaugh. Amy is a legally-blind mother of three. As a stay-at-home mom, she felt she needed to "get out of the house" and do something. So she took up running. And WON the 4th marathon she had ever run. If that doesn't make you feel like you can achieve any goal you set for yourself, I don't know what does.

So what's the exciting news? Kristine and I will be seen in Fitness Magazine's June issue! As part of a feature about sharing fitness goals with a friend, significant other or relative, Kristine and I spoke to the magazine about our goal of running in all 50 states for our favorite charities. Back in March, we got together in Chicago for a photo shoot to accompany the article (the three photos here are from the photo shoot). Though it was a frigid March day, we dressed for June. We shivered as we ran through the local parks smiling for the camera. Thankfully, our photog Todd kept us laughing throughout the day. You can see more of his work on his website. Thanks Todd!

We hope that you will all pick up a copy of the Fitness issue, out on newsstands next week, and read more about how Kristine and I work together to reach our running goals! And if you'd like to support our charities in our honor, we would truly be grateful. Our charities are visible on the top right side of this blog.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I'd totally run Cincinnati again....when pigs fly!

(I had to edit this post, once the back of the medal was brought to my it!)

Oh my! This was one hog of a course. Who new Cincinnati and parts of Northern Kentucky were so hilly? Certainly not me. I expected one big climb for a mile or so, but I was not prepared for the rolling hills. Uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill...over and over and over. I longed for a stretch that would be flat like a slice of bacon. Hell, I longed for a slice of bacon.

Speaking of pork, I had my pre-race meal at a gastropub in the downtown area, Nicholson's. I ordered a 9-hour braised pork shank that just fell off the bone. Need I say more? They had a really great looking menu and was sad that I didn't get a chance to try the fried pickles. They also have a serious selection of scotch and beers if that stuff fits your fancy. I did try this delicious Breckenridge Vanilla Porter. Apparently they make this thing called an Oreo Cookie that is a mix of the vanilla porter and Young's Double Chocolate Stout. Sadly, two pints of beer might have been too much before a race, so I didn't get to try it. But if an Oreo Cookie and some scotch isn't enough of a reason to get you in there next time you're in Cinci, the waiters also wear kilts.

I arrived Saturday in Cincinnati and the weather was perfect. Sunny, warm. The downtown area was busier than I had anticipated, probably because of the race and I think there was a Reds game that evening. At night, in Fountain Square outside my hotel, there were big screens on the side of business that were broadcasting the game. Lots of fans there in Cincinnati just hanging around the glowing fountain watching the game.

Sunday, the weather was a different story. The race started in darkness at 6:30 a.m. in front of the Paul Brown Stadium. It was raining, although the temperature was warm. Warm rain isn't so bad...until your shoes get soaked and you can feel your feet getting pruny and blistery. The rain did let up, but not before my feet were wet!

Aside from the rolling hills, the course was pretty nice. It was well organized with plenty of aid stations. Early in the course, we ran into Kentucky, through Newport and Covington. When I saw the sign that said "Welcome to Kentucky" my first thought was, hmmm....can I count this as Kentucky and Ohio? But considering only a few miles were spent there, I figured it wouldn't be fair to count Kentucky. We headed back into Cincinnati and through some of the surrounding 'burbs, like Fairfax and Mariemont. The big climb I anticipted was mostly through Eden Park. It was a pretty scenic part of the race, and I was disappointed that I didn't have time to stop and enjoy the Butterflies of Brazil exhibit at the conservatory. I was also disappointed we didn't run past the zoo so I could steal my new little penguin pet, already named Pip by my roommate. We ran through all parts of the city, from nice areas to not-so-nice areas. But there were spectators , aka "Squealers," along almost every part of the course, even despite the rain. Unfortunately, the last stretch of the race was on a not-so-scenic part of the course. And by this time, I was in a whole heck of a lot of pain. Those downhills sure do a number on the ol' knees! I don't really remember being in that much pain since my first marathon. I was squealing like a pig those last couple of miles. But somehow, once I saw that Finish Swine (yes, that is what they call the finish line), and was running through the lane with all the Squealers cheering, I was able to pick up some speed and fly like a pig that last mile to finish with a respectable 4:11:05. Not my best, but certainly not my worst. And considering it was so porking difficult, I'm more than happy with my finish. Plus, I love my awesome piggy medal. Check out the back of this medal!

So if you fellow runners are looking for a challenging marathon, the Flying Pig Marathon is for you. Oddly, this one was listed by Runner's World as one of the 10 best marathons for first-timers. To be quite frank, if this were my first marathon, I don't know if I would run another ever again! Yesterday, I was almost ready to say eight is enough!

My co-runner (who barely beat me) and I celebrated with a post race beer at the Hofbrauhaus in Newport, Kentucky. This is apparently an offical Munich Hofbrauhaus sanctioned establishment, not to be confused with those other imposter Hofbrauhauses around the world. Pretzels with bier cheese, brauts, kraut and mashed pototaes did a good job of replenshing all those nutrients lost during the race. Again, fried pickles on the menu that I did not get to try. Note to self, dine with people in the future that like fried pickles.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I am also running in the Cincinnati "Flying Pig" Marathon this weekend. Unfortunately, the charity I wanted to raise money for through RUS went kaplooey. Yep. Jamal Place. I've worked with Jamal Place on and off for years. For 18 years JP was a foster home for troubled boys on the near westside of Chicago. By every measure, JP was a success. But those successes were never enough to keep it properly funded so JP always struggled to make ends meet. Nevertheless, the incomparable Ann Deuel, JP's founder, always found a way to keep the doors open and a roof over the boys' heads. Every dollar donated was warmly appreciated and put to good use. But the state's budget crisis resulted in even deeper cuts to JP's funding and it was forced to close last month. It's an incredibly sad and frustrating situation for all.

I don't want to run in Cincy charity-less so I'm encouraging everyone I know to donate to Hospitals for Humanity, which Kristine discusses in her post below. I've had some contact with their staff recently and they are a dedicated and motivated group helping literally thousands of people around the world receive life-saving health care. I know times are tough and money is tight, but if you can hold off a month on getting that new iPhone, Northface jacket or botox, how about a donation to HFH so they can help those really in need? Any amount you can donate would be awesome!

Finally, I'm not looking to set a new PR this weekend. My running the last couple of months has been bad and slow. I tried to train through a cold which made it worse and last weeks longer. I haven't put in nearly the amount of time and miles necessary to run well this weekend. My goal is to finish and have fun.

Flying Pigs and Traveling Hospitals

I'm getting ready to take on Marathon #8 in Ohio this weekend, the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon. I'm looking forward to hopefully seeing some runners dressed up as pigs, although I won't be joining them in these festivities. A curly tail has never been a good look for me.

I realize that while I've been building momentum in my motiviation to run more races (I've got 3 more scheduled this fall), one of the more important reasons for doing all these races, to raise money and awareness for some great charities, has been losing steam. So I want to take this opportunity to let you all know the great things that one of these charities, Hospitals for Humanity has been up to.

I spoke recently with the CEO and founder, Segun Ajayi, about what HFH has been up too. They finished off 2010 with monthly trips to Haiti and have shifted their focus to Nigeria for 2011. They have already completed a medical mission in Nigeria just last month in March, and plan to return with missions in August and December. Also on the calendar are missions to the Phillipines in June and Jamaica in September. Part of their missions, in addition to treating those in need, is to assist with education and training of the health care providers in those areas as well as educating the people on preventative care. And these missions seem to be working. With the help of local officials, one of the cities in Nigeria they had previously visited saw a drop in patients from 20,000 to 3,000! This means that more people are getting care from their local providers and are not relying on these medical missions as their source of health care. To me, those numbers are amazing.

One of their latest initiatives is to raise funds for the purchase of mobile healthcare vans. These would, in essence, be mobile clinics that would travel to various parts of Africa providing specialized care, such as OB/gyn, pediatrics, opthalmalogy and some vans would even have surgical suites to do minor surgeries on site. The plan is to purchase three of these vans to start, and they range in cost from $80,000 to $100,000. As you can see with these hefty price tags, this won't happen without help from people like us.

In additon to these great missions and intiatives, they have created a specialized department, the Special Medical Services Department, to focus on individual cases that cannot be addressed by these medical missions. For example, they are currently working with the mother of a small girl in Africa who is in need of a hearing aid. HFH is partnering with a hearing aid company to provide the girl, and others, with these much needed devices and also have plans to send personnel over to fit and adjust the hearing aids. They are also working with Atlanta Medical Center to get a man in east Africa much needed open heart surgery and have found a surgeon who is willing to do the surgery for a fraction of the cost. But they can't accomplish these things without your donations!

Please visit my updated link on the HFH website to make a donation and/or to post some encouraging words for me and the rest of the Race Within US team!

Thanks again for all your support! Look for my all-about-pigs blog post next week!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Minnesota, Here I Am!

Last week, I had a great run with my friend Betty at the 4 mile Run for the Parks in Central Park, NY. Betty even earned herself a new, faster bib with the New York Road Runners. Way to go, Betty!

This week, I signed up for my very first Minnesota road race, the Y Run 5K at Lake Calhoun (pictured left). Lake Calhoun is about a mile from my apartment and I have been running there frequently since moving to Minneapolis. I was excited for the chance to race around the lake with fellow road runners!

The event included a 5K and a 10K, but I made my Minnesotan road race debut in the 5K. Though the weather was near freezing and windy, I had a great run, finishing in 25:51 - 50th place out of 350 and 3rd in my age group (though no age group awards were given). It was a motivating start to my mid-western running schedule! Next up, I'm running a 10K this coming weekend in Rochester, Minnesota and I'll be looking for a local half marathon to run after that. Anyone want to join me?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Comfort Route

This weekend I'm heading back to New York from Minnesota. The last time I was in NY, six weeks ago, I had a fantastic run through Queens with my friend and run buddy, Betty.

Since then, the snow in Minneapolis melted and I've found my groove for local running. In the past few weeks, I have run the trails around several of Minnesota's 10,000 Lakes... maybe one day I'll conquer all of them! I discovered some local run clubs to train with. And I have spent an afternoon running aimlessly, exploring, getting lost, and ultimately finding my way home.

But this weekend I'm excited to be back in NY running the 4 mile Run for the Parks in Central Park. I have missed running in Central Park with the New York Road Runners! It always inspired me that on any given weekend that the NYRR hosts a run, I'd be at the start line with 5,000 other early-rising runners. I've run so many races in Central Park, I know the hills and flats and turns and transverses by memory. For those of you who are less familiar with running in Central Park, NYC, this map is available for download on the park's website. If you care to get out at 8am Sunday morning for a nice 4 mile loop of the park, give me a shout out while we're on the course!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hello Midwest!

I moved to the Midwest. Yes, it's true! In January, I packed up my NYC apartment, traded my Subway Metrocard for a Subaru Forester, and moved 1,200 miles to the suburbs of Minneapolis. I started a new job, moved into a new apartment, and started learning my way around a new city.

And you know what has been the most daunting for me through all of this newness? Not knowing where to run! I mean, I've learned about certain popular run routes, mostly paths around local lakes, but I haven't been able to get comfortable with running solo through suburban streets or on trails meandering around a lake. I'm used to running on urban sidewalks or in parks that are always populated with other runners and where aid services, if needed, are within steps. That's not necessarily the case in my new neighborhood... not if I want to get out for the distance that I usually cover on my evening and weekend runs.

I'm signed up for the Office Max Hood to Coast, a 197-mile relay in Portland, Oregon in August, along with RUSers Kristine and Mark, as well as the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in October. I could use all the support and motivation I can get while I train in my new city for these races, and others that I'll add into the calendar in the coming months. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably already know about my involvement with Girls on the Run. I've also added a new charity to our charity section on the upper right box of this blog - the American Cancer Society. The ACS is a charity partner of the Hood to Coast and I'm raising money for it in honor of my Aunt Susie, who was a tireless advocate and fundraiser for ACS until she sadly lost her battle with cancer. Though partnering with the Hood to Coast ACS DetermiNation fundraising program is just the start to many years to come in supporting ACS, I hope my efforts help even a fraction as much as Aunt Susie's did. So if you haven't yet, and would like to, please give your support to one or both of my favorite nonprofit organizations as a charitable way to cheer me on!

And, if you know any runners in the Minneapolis area, please let me know!