February 22, 2009

Resources and Races

by Suzy

Been digging out of the big backlog I racked up last month, when every spare moment was dedicated to running, or fundraising, or otherwise preparing for the Cure JM event and race in Carlsbad. And we're moving right on to the next thing, a fantastic dance party for kids - a fundraising event coming up on March 1. Our pals are doing the lion's share of the work (THANKS Dorinda, Bernadette, Becca, Kirsten, Amy, and everyone else!), but of course it adds to my load as well.

I'm out of town on a job at the moment (Bahamas!) and between the preparations to leave, the actual travel (loooong), the jet lag and a little tummy bug that accompanied me to the islands, I hadn't been able to really run. I tried a couple days ago, but pooped out. I was just depleted; no energy and no reserves.

I was finally able to pick it up again today, and around mile 3 I started thinking about resources, and how important it is to conserve them. A couple of days earlier, thanks to jet lag and a little parasitic visitor, I'd been left with none; I couldn't really run and it was a terrible feeling.

Then I started thinking about our upcoming event, the next race, and beyond. There is so much I want to do... but I do realize that I have to pace myself in this, just as I have to pace myself in running. And, just as in training for a long race, I have to pull in ALL my resources to get the job done. That's where you come in, my friends.

We are so blessed to have so many incredibly loving, supportive, action-oriented friends. Here's just a short list of what you have done to help us:

Way back in June, before running was even on the horizon, I sent out a simple email appeal, asking for support for Cure JM on Mielle's behalf. You all sent over $3,000 at that time.

In July, Dianne, Lisa and Jessi hatched a plan for a multi-family yardsale to raise funds for our medical expenses, as well as Cure JM. It grew into a huge community event, and dozens of friends helped - making lemonade, playing music, standing in the hot sun and haggling for hours on end... it was unbelivable. We raised over $5,000 and the accompanying newspaper articles increased awareness about JM.

In January, of course, I ran the Carlsbad Half Marathon, something I never, ever thought I would do. Again, friends were there beside me - Kirsten, Steph, Nicole and (in spirit) Claudia. As you probably know, we raised over $16,000 for Cure JM!

In short, we've done a lot, and we've had a TON of help from dozens and dozens of people.

I don't plan to stop fundraising efforts anytime soon, and at the same time, I want to use my resources (YOU!) wisely and respectfully.

So, here is my pledge: I won't stop asking for the help that is critical to improving the lives of Mielle and the other children with JM... but I promise to make the process as fun, entertaining, and inspiring as possible!

February 17, 2009

I am the family dog

by claudia

OK, in a sense, I have been for a while - finishing the leftovers off my children's plates here and there, but now I have taken it to a whole new level. Where in the past, we would take the kids (3 and 7) to the Park to help them get the Wiggles out, I have now turned the tables and introduced a new version: "Walking the Mama":

This Sunday, there was a short break in the relentless downpour we've been having the past few days, so the entire family ditched the PJ's for some rain-gear, my husband and kids hopped on their bicycles, and rode along with me as I went on a run. They got to follow a new trail they had not discovered yet, we had beautiful views of the San Francisco Skyline, got to chase some ducks, race through huge puddles on the way, huddle together under some trees when the rain picked up again, and got to see an enormous rainbow unfolding right overhead. Everyone had fun, it was lovely.

It is amazing how this running-thing has not only transformed me, but also creates new traditions and habits for my entire family now.

PS: my husband went for his first run with me a week ago while the kids were in school (actually, it was really nice, kind of like having a little date) and has now purchased his first pair of running-shoes.

February 15, 2009

At It Again

by Suzy

Yep, that's right, there is another race on our horizon. The See Jane Run Half Marathon, right here in Alameda, on May 30. And we have new mamas running with us, which is more delightful than I can express!

We just started over again with the same training schedule, so we're working our way up... did 4 miles today in the cold, windy rain. Well, ok, it actually wasn't that bad b/c we caught a nice break in the downpour - got lucky. But I'm still soooo impressed with everyone who braved the elements for today's run. Thanks gals!

February 2, 2009

On the Virtues of Getting Passed

by Nicole

Yup, we did it! We finished our first half-marathon. These impressions were written before Suzy's blog (below!) was posted, so excuse any repetition. Also, a huge thanks to all who sponsored me/us (or who still want to!) -- and hey, if you're local and you're female (you don't have to be a mama), join us mamajoggers for our next half! We've set our sights on the See Jane Run half-marathon in May, right here in our hometown of Alameda.

But about the race.

First and foremost: Who knew so much pain could be so much fun?

Well, apparently thousands upon thousands of people knew very well, thank you. Both the marathon and the half-marathon were sold out, and it showed. Mostly, it showed in the pre-race lines for the porta-potties. Hundreds of porta-potties, huge lines at each one. Think cattle. Early-morning, very cold, cattle.

Team Mielle (Suzy, Kirsten, Stephanie, and I -- with Claudia cheering us on remotely) had made a solemn pact to stick together for most of the race. (Unspoken subtextual agreement: if you have a kick at the end, any kind of kick -- more power to you, and go for it.) This worked until -- the very first water station. We all thought we muttered the same thing, but it turns out two of us muttered "water" and two of us muttered "potty" -- they sound remarkably similar, when you think about it. And then next thing we know, Stephanie and I had lost the other girls in the crowd. No sign of them at all. (That would be the "potty" contingent.) One mile in! So much for togetherness.

Thank goodness for long hair-pin turns, because some consternation later, all were reunited.

The course was just breath-taking. Most of it wended along the coast, with surf crashing and cliffs rising. When it was not coast, it was refreshing eucalyptus-lined streets of quaintly coastal Carlsbad, or lovely rolling hills (right over highway 5 and into the parking lot of a mall, ahh). It threatened to rain. It threatened to sun. (Said sun would have been deadly to the four of us, sporting cotton long-sleeved Cure JM t-shirts that would have extinguished us in sweat by mile 5). Instead, it overcasted. And stayed overcast, beautifully overcast, all along the race -- until, just for the post-race festivities, the sun broke out in full glory. Who ordered that up?

This sounds wrong to even me, but the first seven miles felt pretty easy. I mean, it was hard not to be moved -- and moved along. There were hundreds of people lining the course, cheering us on. The Cure JM water station at mile 3 was huge, spirited, and featured my very own spouse and progeny (and Suzy's as well) looking extra cute and proud and doling out hurried hugs. Bands played along the way. People handed us packs of GU. (Disgustingly-textured, deliciously-flavored, magical fuel-like stuff in little packets. Mmm.) What could be better? (Now, if we could just muster this level of support every run we train...)

However, and inevitably -- Mile eight: started to feel questionable. Miles nine and on: a struggle. For those counting, that's five miles of struggle. Five miles where my brain was thinking: I'm really not having fun any more. Can I do this? (Oh look, there's my family again, that helps!)

Really, really not knowing if I could finish at all by mile 11, at just under mile 12 I heard a magical phrase from a helpful onlooker: "Everything's downhill after the stoplight." I focus on the stoplight. I drag my legs to the stoplight come hell or high water. And then -- a voice inside me says: let's get this last mile over with as quickly as possible, because truly, I don't know how much longer I can last. And thus negatively motivated, I let the downhill take me (my high school coach's voice in my ear, "Just glide it down the hill, don't fight against it"). I coast into it and I see other people, very true, fighting the downward momentum, trying to control against it. I relax and go and almost inadvertently start to pass people. And then the hill ends but I keep up that pace; I try another Coach Nawrocki trick and attach to someone just a touch faster than me, become a gadfly, stick onto the back of him like velcro, and I ride that momentum much longer than I think I can.

And suddenly it dawns on me: I'm kicking! I have a kick! I have a kick at 13 miles! And because that has never really been true before on our long training runs -- I'm usually pretty sapped by the end and just thankful to be able to drag my legs to the finish -- I relax just a bit and go with it.

I realize also that I have lost my girls.

But then, out of the corner of my eye, from behind me comes another, matching bright blue blur of motion. It gains on me, it passes me, and it keeps going. It is Suzy, it's something like the last half mile, and she is fairly sailing. Sailing ahead at a rate that I could never, kick or no kick, hope to match at this point. "Go Suze!" I just manage to choke out as she passes, and she kind of... was that a *giggle*? Yup, here at mile twelve-point-something, a bona fide Suzy-giggle, half self-conscious and half proud. And I think of Mielle and of all the hours Suzy has put into this -- training for this run, pulling the four of us in with her, doggedly fundraising, painstakingly making t-shirts, producing cards, spear-heading our mamajog website, planning the next event -- and I just grin. Grin and tear up a bit and keep running my ass off with no hope in hell of catching her.

And thus it happens that my favorite moment of my first half-marathon is this: being passed. Being passed by a woman possessed. Possessed by love for her daughter.

Does it get any better than that?