January 30, 2009

Finally, the RACE!

by Suzy

Wow, where to even begin? There is so much to tell about the weekend as a whole, the Cure JM events, the other families, the kid's race...

More about all that to come, but let's cut to the chase and get right to the main event, the half marathon on Sunday morning! Mamajoggers met up bright and early, squealed a bit over the fabulous embellishments Kirsten and Steph made to their Cure JM shirts, gathered some snacks, piled into the rented PT Cruiser (oh yeah!) and made our way to the shopping center parking lot that was the starting point of the race. A little traffic, a little bit of weird looping around due to the race-related road closure, then we parked and walked through the shopping mall (weird!) to get to the right area.

I had a really thrilling moment when we were approaching the start; we turned a corner or something and suddenly we could see all of the thousands of runners stretched out into the distance. Soooo fun. A sea of people. And about 90% seemed to be waiting in line at the porta-potties. Dozens and dozens of porta-potties - maybe hundreds? -- and lines of people for each.

We found the area for our "wave" (the race was divided into waves depending on your estimated pace, to help avoid traffic jams, jostling, etc. - we were Wave 5), stretched a bit, and waited for things to get rolling. It was a delightful surprise when the lovely Julie Caine strolled up, camera in hand. Julie generously joined us for the weekend to shoot the events for Cure JM, cheer us on, and generally be a fantastically supportive friend to my whole family, and I'm so grateful. Anyhow, she had no idea what wave we were in, so she just dove into the throng and eventually found us out of at least 9,000 people. It was so great to see her smiling face and pose for a few snaps! At this point, I was feeling super giddy and excited, so glad to see the day finally arrive, swept up in the excitement of the huge crowd and the anticipation. I am so glad that we had already run 14 miles as part of our training, because I wasn't nervous at all about the actual running part. I felt confident; I KNEW I could do it - it was just a matter of how much it would hurt! I was hopeful that it wouldn't hurt too much, but prepared to just do it (uh, thanks, Nike) no matter what.

We started moving forward, Wave 5 moving to the start line! There was an announcer giving a rolling commentary on things to keep the crowd amused, and I was glad to hear him mention Cure JM a couple of times - and when we walked past his booth to get to the start line, I waved my hat around to get his attention and another mention - and got it. Yeah! It's kind of like when you're a kid and you try to get the truckers to blow their big horn when they drive by, and they actually do it. Strangely satisfying.

Finally, we started! Woo hoo! It was really crowded and Steph made a comment like "I just don't want to lose you guys". I thought, pshaw! We couldn't possible lose one another! And within the first mile, due to a miscommunication about stopping for water/potty, we lost one another! Such a bummer - Kirsten and I were left behind, Nicole and Steph swept forward. K and I started booking it to try and catch up, and we did before too long... and all was right with the world again. ; )

Around mile 3 we passed the water station manned by Cure JM. Needless to say, it was AWESOME to see all those blue Cure JM shirts and hear all their cheers. Lenny found me and gave me a kiss. I found Mielle and gave her a kiss, and I was relieved that she seemed to be having a good time among the crowds and the chaos. We were still kind of giddy so we flew through the station pretty quickly, and it was only after we passed through that I realized I'd forgotten poor Lucien in all the excitement, and he got NO kiss. Such is the life of the second child... poor little guy! (Lenny's sister Angel was there and was loving on him, so he was doing just fine.)

At this point the course ran along the ocean, so it was stunningly beautiful. Waves crashing, beams of sunlight streaming through holes in the clouds, the whole bit. We just chugged along for quite a while; don't know about the other gals, but I was still kind of buzzing from all the excitement.


Potty break just before the halfway mark, and then the turn-around (it was a there-and-back course). Things still felt really good and we planned to keep on going until we hit the Cure JM water station again. At that point, we'd have about 2.5 miles to go.

For me, it is just at that point in the race where the feeling of heaviness kicks in. On the training runs, the last couple of miles on all of the final long runs were pretty tough. To hit the Cure JM water station at that point in the race, to see all those smiling, cheering faces, was an indescribable feeling. I found Mielle, who was standing along the route ringing a cow bell. Gave her a big hug and a kiss and this time found Lucien, too! It was the best possible timing for a big spiritual boost, the culmination of all my training and imagining and hoping, and love for my daughter, and the immeasurable gratitude I have toward the people that have worked so hard to help children with this dreaded disease. This amazing moment uplifted and rejuvenated me.


Then we kept on running. I still felt tired, but somehow energized at the same time. It's hard to describe, because the fatigue was still there, but... it just didn't seem to matter. I was floating. I was in some kind of alternate reality. I still had energy to wave and hoot when onlookers read our shirts and I was still chatty with the ladies. I noticed that they'd gotten sort of quiet and I worried that my peppy-ness might be really annoying! But I couldn't contain myself. Despite the fatigue, I felt absolutely wonderful.

When there was maybe a mile left, there was a pretty steep little downhill section. At this point, our group split up - Nicole broke away, I was behind her, and Kirsten and Steph stayed back a bit. At the bottom of the hill, I realized how close we were to the finish, and I actually felt like I had some kick left in me - a totally new experience for a long run! In runs past, it was all I could do to just zone out, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and wait for it to be over. But this time I could feel that I had something extra still in me.

I had to go with it. I always had this idea of our group crossing the finish line all together, but we'd already separated and I felt like I simply had to go with what I was feeling, just to see what I could do. So I did. I cranked it up as much as I could, and it felt like flying.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think I was actually running all that fast, but... for me, at that point in the race, to do anything beyond a trudge-with-a-little-bounce FELT like flying. And I'm pretty sure I had a big silly grin on my face the whole time.

And then I finished, and in a few moments came Nicole, and a few moments after that Kirsten and Steph. Hugs, elation! Medals! Snacks! And no good place to stretch (the one major flaw in the design of the race). But we made do. As you can already tell, I was enjoying my best runner's high ever (it lasted about 4 days).

So... Half Marathon Mission Accomplished. Later, big fat juicy burgers, fries, fruit, beer. A toast, to Mamajoggers... and a big, heartfelt THANK YOU to Kirsten, Steph, Nicole & Claudia, their families, and EVERYONE who supported us in this endeavor. It was a raging success in more ways than we ever could have anticipated. As ever, I am humbled and grateful.

January 27, 2009

On Accomplishments

Kirsten’s Total Carlsbad Stats

1 Half Marathon
2:29.30 My recorded race time
5,399 Place I came in for the Carlsbad ½ Marathon
10:27 My average ½ Marathon pace
5:32 Average pace for the overall woman winner of the Carlsbad ½ Marathon
12:26 Average pace for the woman winner in 80-99 year old category
1 Turkey Trot
2 New friends
4 Months of training
5 Morning runs under full moons
54 Days I ran
6.8 Average miles per run
368.67 Recorded training miles
$15,175 Raised for Cure JM

Thanks to my Garmin which I started using December 7th, I also can include the following (since Dec. 7th):

16,019 Calories burned on runs
24.24 Hours and minutes I’ve spent either alone or with friends, running
10:00 Average pace (which I ran on a 7.7 mile run)...my best time yet

And now
4 Friends of mine who plan to join Mamajoggers for the See Jane Run 1/2
97 Days until the Avenue of the Giants Marathon
124 Days until See Jane Run ½ Marathon

January 25, 2009

Mamajoggers KICKED it!!

by Suzy

Wooo hooo! More to come, but for now, we did it, we did it, we did it, we did it! And it was sooo good!

Run , run like the wind

by Claudia

My friends, I am sitting at the airport waiting for my flight for my out-of-town work-assignment. You are running the 1/2 marathon as I am typing this. I wish it wasn't my fingers moving on the keyboard, but my feet pounding the pavement right alongside of you.

I am running along with you in my thoughts, cheering you on in my head (I guess airport security would drag me out of here by my hair if I did it out loud).

Enjoy this big race-day - you certainly earned it! Sending lots energy and good thoughts your way...run, run like the wind!

January 24, 2009

Race Day Eve

by Suzy

Wow, I can't believe that race day is here! The last week has been a blur... after we conquered 14 miles I kinda stopped thinking about the running part of things and concentrated on fundraising, making shirts, cards, etc., and the time flew by. Now, here we are, the night before the race.

We arrived in Carlsbad yesterday and have been busy attending Cure JM events, meeting other families, and learning more about the research that Cure JM funds. Very motivational, let me tell you. More about all of this later (some evening when I do NOT have a 5 am wake-up call).

But I will say that it has been moving, inspirational, heartbreaking, and uplifting -- all at the same time. For example... at dinner tonight we sat with a girl who is 10 and has been battling JM from the age of three. She has a number of complications and is still struggling. She was silent, withdrawn, and generally seemed totally beaten down. I recognized that look; I've observed it at times in Mielle. It was devastating to see this girl; I found myself wishing I could see her smile, just once. But she never did.

So tomorrow, the race isn't just for Mielle. It's also for this other child, and all the JM kids I've met this weekend. I'll keep them all top of mind and close to my heart as I run.

I'm not worried about the miles at all. A very unexpected turn of events; I used to be TERRIFIED at the thought of the miles. Rationally, I realize that it could turn out to be one of those hard runs, and if it is I'll just suck it up; I'm DOING it no matter what. But I feel so confident and at peace that it's going to be smooth, and wonderful. I'm just so excited that this day has finally come.

Stay tuned!

January 14, 2009

14 Mile Mission ACCOMPLISHED!!

by Suzy

First of all, can I just say WOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOO! We did it! 14 miles. I kinda can't believe it, even now, a few days later. It's really amazing to think that it works - the training, I mean - and that I really could go from 0 to 14 in a matter of a few months.

I've talked about my anxiety about this particular run, the longest in the training schedule - heck, it's even longer than the actual race distance. To top it off, I found the 12.5 mile run to be pretty rough, and even my recent shorter runs had felt difficult. So I had a lot of worry weighing me down. And then, something really lovely happened. Once we actually started running, none of it mattered.

We picked a new and beautiful run to help inspire and distract, so we drove over the bay to Sausalito. An absurdly large full moon was still in full glory as we drove, reflecting on the water as we made our way. The sun had just risen when we parked next to a marina full of houseboats, and the sky was brilliant orange and pink. So lovely.

It was chillier than we thought - actual frost on the ground! - but it was actually a nice distraction as we hustled to try and warm up over the first few miles. One stretch of the run was along a busy street, but most of it was on trails that meander along and follow the outline of the bay. We settled into luxurious, long, uninterrupted conversation, the type we rarely get to enjoy these days, what all the kids, chaos, etc. And amazingly enough, it didn't seem to long before we had reached our turn-around point in Tiburon - we'd gone well over 7 miles already, and everyone was feeling great!

Once more glance at the sweeping views of the bay and San Francisco, and we turned around for the second half. At this point, everyone was feeling pretty exuberant that things were going so smoothly. We were worried about Steph in particular, because she's had some problems with her ankle, but she was smiling and feeling great.

I've said this before, but it's really strange how different things feel from run to run. Sometimes it's just so hard, lead weights in the shoes and a strong headwind coming at you no matter what direction you're facing. This time, it was the opposite. It felt very serendipitous - everything just fell into place. There were a few small hills, and hills have been known to kick our butts because most of the time, we're running on totally flat ground. But this time, on the second half of our there-and-back route, we'd be jogging downhill and actually say things like, "Wow, this is great! This hill didn't seem so big when we came UP it!" Now, how crazy is that? But that's how it was.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't easy. Especially the last mile or so. It hurt, and we stopped the instant Steph's fancy-pants Garmin watched told us we'd gone 14 miles.

But it was very, very manageable. And enjoyable, even. Which was SO unexpected! Here we are - still smiling.





Soooo... after the run, we stopped in a cafe so the coffee fiends in our group could get a quick fix... we were in a hurry because Nicole had to get back for a previous commitment, but the "specials" board looked so good, and we were all so ravenous after the run, that we decided to eat there. What an excellent, excellent decision.

I ordered something called the "frooty tooty", which consisted of eggs, sausage, and pancakes packed full of fresh fruit. I added a side of hash browns and WOW. I literally squealed with delight when the food arrived. Yes, the food you see was all for me, and yes, I ate every last bite. The Garmin told us we burned something like 1700 calories on the run... and I'm pretty sure I got them all back in one fell swoop. And it was lovely.

January 12, 2009

The Last But Not Least to Post...

by Stephanie

So I'm finally posting as part of this lovely group of women jogging for a JDM Cure....I don't have any unusual or compelling reasons why I haven't gotten around to it yet - just the daily life demands we all have in our own colors and flavors. We just logged our 14 mile run yesterday and I actually finished - hallelujah. Over the holiday break, I injured my ankle somehow while running and I hadn't really run in over 2 weeks. I was beginning to feel like the door was closing and I was going to get shut out of this activity and experience I had come to depend on. But then, in one of life's little twists, my ankle just stopped hurting and the door flew open and I went 14 miles.

For me, running is now not just about losing weight or getting fit. It's about things it was never about before - release and friendship, strength and good vibes, companionship and new places - all in a couple hundred or maybe thousand steps out the door. Not only do I get to feel good by helping a good friend, I get to make myself something I've never been - a real runner. I'm a single parent, so for me, these runs with my friends are the "How was your day" chats that serve as my reset button. And no matter how fast I run or how far I run, whenever I run with these women, I end up in a very good place....

January 11, 2009

Humbled

by Suzy

It's early, it's dark. I've slept badly. We're running 14 miles today, and it's been on my mind for days. My last couple of short runs have felt hard, so what's 14 going to feel like? I'm GOING to do it, but I've been wondering just how uncomfortable it will be!

14 miles is longer than the actual 1/2 marathon, and it's the longest run in the training schedule. It will probably be the last time for quite a while that I will run a distance that is greater than I've ever run before. I'd been thinking that this would feel sort of sad, like a certain element of excitement to the whole running thing will be gone. And all along, I've been so happy about what a wonderful experience running has been, but also wondering just a little if I'm in some kind of "honeymoon" period - the excitement of something new - that would wear off.

So I was laying in bed awake, feeling nervous and wondering for the 100th time if my alarm had failed and I'd blown it. Then I started thinking I would just get up early and write about how I feel before this milestone. When I pulled up the blog page, I saw the little fundraising thermometer run all the way up to 93%. A new donation! I excitedly went to the FR page to check it out - and found it was from the Sherman family, with this: "We all decided to donate to Cure JM in honor of Mielle instead of getting gifts on the 8th night of Chanukah."

The Sherman family: Sherry, Jeff, Micah and Joshua. Joshua is one of Mielle's old preschool buddies. Sherry was one of the folks that stood in the blazing sun for hours haggling and selling mountains of donated merchandise when we had a fundraising yardsale over the summer. At that time, Micah and Joshua decided to donate their used toys for our yardsale, instead of holding one of their own and earning money for themselves. This is a lovely, generous, thoughtful, community-minded family.

Okay, people, I'm in tears now. I mean, honestly. That those boys would give up presents for Mielle... it's just too much.

All along I've had this sense that these friends who are running with me, and those who are supporting me in this effort, are so amazing because (after all) it's not even their kid that is sick. Now, I realize that I was wrong. Mielle may be my daughter, but she has found her way into the hearts of so many others, and she belongs to them as well.

So I say, thank you to everyone who has helped. And special thanks to the Sherman family, whose timely contribution will help inspire me get through the next 14 miles.

Now I gotta go brush teeth and get this party started. Don't want to leave the gals hanging at 6 am...

January 8, 2009

A Friendly Face

by Kirsten

It is no easy thing to wake up at 5:30 a.m. each morning to run. But it’s really the only time I have to do it, so it’s that or nothing. And trust me, I need all the inspiration and positive self talk I can get to make it happen. These days, it’s the picture of Claudia dripping wet after her run that gets me out the door. I printed it out and it’s taped next to my bed. The alarm goes off and it’s dark out. And cold. And I have every excuse not to run; I have so much work, I need my rest, I ran yesterday, I *might* be getting sick, it’s cold, it’s dark, I hate running by myself; anything. But no matter how hard it is to get myself out of my warmed up bed, I have never regretted going for a run. That said, each morning, in those first minutes after the alarm goes off, I contemplate the different excuses in my mind. But then I see Claudia’s face which kind of makes me laugh. And I know that even in the dark, even if it’s raining, that’s the smile I need for the day.

What I love about running isn’t always the run itself. And it’s never the part where I have to peel the covers back. It’s the part where I’m done and I get to also offer the world, my own friendly face.

January 3, 2009

Rain? What rain?

by Claudia

I may not be running the miles just yet, but I am getting my badass-points elsewhere these days (can you say "badass" on "the Internets"? I guess I just did): this morning, I got up for a 7 am run (well, I actually slept right through the alarm blaring until 7:45), got dressed and ready to head out before my husband had to go to work, all the while hoping that it would stop raining.

It just kept pouring more and more, and I was getting more and more grumpy at the thought of
a) having gotten up early for NO reason and
b) needing to run INDOORS on the treadmill, because I would otherwise have no daycare-options for the kids today

So then, while contemplating using the time to shop on the internet for a nifty little rainjacket, I decided that, really, nothing was stopping me from going out for a run.

So I dug up a stylish little waterproof potatosack-like poncho-thingie (size XL, and the equivalent of wearing a family-size tent, with no ventilation or anything) out of the bottom of the closet, threw it on and headed out the door.

After 2 blocks, I was completely drenched, water running out of my pantlegs, and gushing out of my shoes.

Since my glasses where totally wet and fogged up anyhow, I just shoved them up onto my head (car-shapes are large enough for me to be able to see, after all, and all I needed to worry about is not to be taken out in someone's driveway or while crossing the street) and kept going.
And - hey - I now could see the enormous puddles ahead of me BEFORE stepping into them (not that it wasn't already a wee bit late for that one).

Towards the end of my run, my rain-poncho was wet inside and out, and my ipod started freaking out from having gotten wet through the soaked through sleeves (the volume kept jumping from really quiet to deafeningly loud - the poor thing is sitting out to - hopefully - dry).

So there - I did it. 3 miles in the pouring rain, against headwinds, blind as a bat, and at 9.25 min/miles. I was just so happy I had gotten out after all. Nothing can stop us now.


January 1, 2009

Spectator Sport

by Claudia
I have been doing a lot of "watching people run" lately: on the 9.5 mile run, my right knee started to give me some serious grief (it felt a lot like someone jamming an ice-pick into my right kneecap), so that I had to drop out after 5 miles or so.

But that's not really what I want to write about today: A few days before the beginning of Winter Break, I picked up Mielle and my daughter from School, and as we were about to leave, Mielle remembered that she had left her sweater on a bench across the schoolyard. Without hesitation, she turned around and ran - and I mean RAN - all the way across to the other side of the yard to retrieve it, and then promptly raced back. The best part was, that it was obvious she didn't give it a second thought.

I have not seen Mielle run in over a year now, and seeing this was the best gift I could have possibly received this Christmas.