April 29, 2009

About unexpected Gifts

by Claudia

A few weeks ago, it was my 40th Birthday. I used to really love a good party to mark that occasion, but around the time I turned into an adult that needed to show up for work in the morning, this somewhat changed. Now the main thing I want to do on my Birthday is just something different, something small, something I don't do every day. It could be having coffee in bed, having my kids sing HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me and draw me a crazy picture, a nice dinner with my husband, something that sets my birthday slightly apart from all the other 364 days of the year.

But this year, when my 40th was fast approaching and a lot of people asked me about what I had planned, I found that I hadn't really though about it...and yet, my Birthday ended up being so very special and memorable that I know I will never forget what I did that day:

I got up at an ungodly early hour, laced up my running shoes, and showed up at our favorite meeting spot in the local Park, at 5:30 am (since the clocks had changed just one night prior, my body-clock was convinced it was actually 4:30 am), where my fearless friend Kirsten was waiting, in the pitch dark, cold morning.

We went out for a beautiful run along the Waterfront, in almost complete darkness, with the full moon's bright reflection shimmering across the bay alongside of us. By the time we were about halfway into our run, we happened to turn around to see an enormous, gorgeous orange moon setting behind the San Francisco Skyline. It was so stunningly beautiful, and it seemed like it was all put on display just for us (after all, who else would be crazy enough to be out and about at this time in the freezing cold wind??!??!?!)....

When we reached the mark of the 6 miles we had planned to run, we both decided to rather keep going than freeze to death (it was still pretty cold and windy), so we just kept on going, only to realize that in the end, we had "accidentally" ran 8 miles, just to keep warm and finish our lovely chat. Painless. Fun.

For a lot of sporty people, this might not be that unusual of a way to start off your day, but had you told me a year ago how I would start off my 40th Birthday, I would have laughed really hard and called you crazy.

A year ago this time, I was so entangled into daily life and work that the only sporty activity I would make time for was chasing after my kids, up to the day when I had somewhat of a health-scare: in the end, it turned out to be just a very painful kidney stone, but the symptoms felt like I was having a heart attack, and it got me a speedy ride with an ambulance to the nearest ER. The main thought that was racing through my head as I was doubled over, waiting for the Paramedics to show up (thank you, Suzy, for racing right over to call 911 and hold my hand while I was freaking out!), was that I didn't want to suddenly kick the bucket and leave my children to grow up without their mom.

As a result I decided that by the time I turned 40, I would turn myself into the fittest and healthiest person I could become, so that I could be around for them for a very long time.

So....on my Birthday, I am grateful for the gift of a friend that rolls out of bed on a cold, dark, windy morning to go running with me.
I am grateful for the gift of being able to run 8 miles without even noticing, while holding a conversation. I am grateful for being able put this newfound ability to work as way to help Mielle. I am grateful for the gift of being able to redefine who I am and how I live. This year, I had a great and truly Happy Birthday.


Lucky me - I also got my handmade Card with a poem my daughter wrote for me....It goes something like this:

"Brothers, Sisters, A(u)nts
Uncles, Dads,
Grandma's and Grandpa's....
But no-one is so great
then the old smartie-pants."


Meet Barb!

by Barb, posting from Seattle, Washington

This shot was taken just after I got home from a 5 mile training run. Many of you know that I've joined Suzy and the other "Mama Joggers" who are raising money for the Cure JM Foundation. I'm registered for the See Jane Run Half Marathon in Alameda, CA on May 31, and have been training since the beginning of March. I'm also registered as part of a team for the Hood-to-Coast Relay at the end of August.

I've done similar events in the past, like the Marine Corps Marathon in 1998 to raise money for the Whitman Walker Clinic in DC, and the MS150 ride a couple of years ago. But this event is personal on so many levels and it would mean so much to me to have your support.

Mielle, the daughter of our good friends Suzy and Lenny, is afflicted with a rare autoimmune disease for which there is no cure. I had the privilege of getting to know Mielle when she was just a little baby. During my summer in San Francisco during law school, I always looked forward to leaving the cold foggy city behind and heading over to sunny Alameda. I would get to take long walks with Mielle in the sling, and read and play with her. I recall one afternoon Suzy came into the room laughing and asked why I always had such a goofy voice while reading to and playing with Mielle. I didn't have an answer other than it was worth looking and sounding like a goof to my adult friend in exchange for the wonderful smiles and responses I would get from Mielle.

So when we learned about Mielle's suffering, diagnosis and the devastating effects of her treatment, I was deeply saddened and felt helpless. But Mielle and her family weren't going to wallow in self pity. Instead they have gotten busy trying to raise awareness and funds for research to find a cure. Suzy's first run inspired me to get a new pair of running shoes and commit to two races this summer.

This is the point in the story where self doubt kicked in. It's been over a decade since I've done a running event, and in the interim I've had more knee surgeries and other health problems, not to mention the weight I put on in my 30s. I kept putting off that first training run, even though it was only a mile. If anything, law school teaches one to rationalize just about any point. For me, it was reasons for not going out for that first run (for others like former Bush administration lawyers, it was torture). Finally, I just did it. And to my great relief and surprise I did just fine and went further than a mile. Sure, I was winded immediately, and I won't be setting any time records. But I was moving, it felt good, and I knew I would be able to help Mielle, even if only in a small way.

Not all runs go well, and I'm bummed that I'm not there to train with the other Mama Joggers. But when I need motivation to make it to the next walk break, signpost or whatever marker I think of Mielle and her family and all that they must endure. And I'm inspired by the grit and grace by which they have responded. Then I know that I can and will make it to the next marker that I've designated to break up the training run into manageable chunks.

With your help, we can break up the fundraising goal into manageable chunks, and more importantly help find a cure and give Mielle and her family the hope and support they need. So please give what you can to Cure JM.

With much appreciation,

April 20, 2009

Who’s it gonna be?

by Kirsten

Steph and I ran 20 miles on Sat. Our last long run before the marathon on May 3rd up on Humboldt. And if you think I’m bad ass for running 18 on my own the other week, how about Steph breezing through 20 after 4 cocktails and sushi with friends the night before? She might disagree with the word “breezing” but she never buckled and never barfed and I don’t know anyone else who could do that.

It wasn’t easy, but we worked it out. At mile 14 the idea of still having 6 more to go was a bit daunting. At mile 16 we stretched and regrouped. At 18, we got a donut. Oh yes we did. And it was The. Best. Donut. Ever. We sat on the curb in the shade and ate. I had the giggles the whole time we sat there. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Geese were nibbling in the grass across the street. There was a slight buzz from the power lines above and a summer smell of warm pine needles. Our feet were pulsating just a bit. While it was starting to get hot, the breeze was still very cool and it swirled across our wrung out bodies and it felt like pure delight.

We sat for a bit and gathered strength for the last 2 miles and schemed about what it would take to bribe a friend into coming with us to the marathon to cheer us on and provide a donut at mile 18. We do after all have a lovely room at a great hotel that is already paid for and Steph will be driving...

Who’s it gonna be?

April 19, 2009

11 miles on a hot summer day

with Jan, Anna, Claudia, Amy, and Nicole

by Suzy

Wow, what a glorious day in San Francisco! A real summer day, in April no less! We ran 11 along the coast and through Golden Gate Park today; luckily we started early before things heated up too much - and before the park got to terribly crowded. So nice, as always, to take a long run in a new place - sunlight filtering through the trees, scent of eucalyptus, gorgeous blooming flowers along the way... yes, lovely.

The running itself felt really manageable to me, despite the fact that I've been a bit of a slacker the last week or two... phew! Although, I have to say that I don't get anxious about the long runs anymore, the way I did the first time around. I guess that is the trade-off that comes with a little (a very little) more experience. I've lost the incredible sense of adventure and uncharted-territory-excitement with each longer run, but it's been replaced with a sense of... well, I guess I would call it... confidence! Amazing! And it's nice that I can actually get some sleep the night before the run, rather than toss and turn the night away in nervous anticipation.

Hmmm, 11 miles ran today, and now it's 11 pm. Time for bed.

Hottie Anna before the run. Fantastic hair light.

First few miles along the ocean

Cutting into the park. Love that windmill.

The 11-mile gang: Anna, Claudia, Amy, Nicole, Jan, and me.

April 4, 2009

by Suzy

Ran almost 5 today while on a visit to family in Virginia. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't hard. It just was.

I've been using the Nike+ iPod gadget to track distances and times, and I was surprised at how slow my pace was on this run! It didn't feel slow... but, whatever. It's easy to get sucked in and get a little obsessive about the stats, but they don't actually matter one bit. The important thing is just to be doing it. Feels really, really good.

April 2, 2009

9.5 Redux

by Suzy

The same day that Kirsten ran her heroic, solo 18 miles, some of the rest of us ran 9.5 - one week earlier than indicated on the schedule. Why? Because Claudia and I were both scheduled to be out of town, and we just wanted to get the long run out of the way... so we hatched a plan to run it a week early. We weren't expecting anyone else to join us... but Nicole, Anna and Jennifer all did! Anna and Jen are training for their first half-marathon, so they are in that place of "every long run is the longest run I've ever done..." and they kicked it! Amazing ladies!

And Nicole... well... Nicole's characteristic quote is "I don't know how far I'll make it today. I -{insert various statements such as "have been sick and haven't run in 10 days" or "got two hours of sleep last night" etc. etc.}- and then she always freaking rocks it.

We ran the same 9.5 loop as the last training, because we love love love it. It's almost all along water, alternating between the bay with views of San Francisco, and a little lagoon path winding through a cute neighborhood. It changes a lot, so you constantly have the feeling that you've completed another segment, made progress. The weather was lovely, not too windy and not too hot, and everything is blooming right now. It was pretty wonderful.

A few days prior, Nicole and I ran a 3.7 segment of this same route, and it was a struggle for both of us. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - it's amazing how different things can feel from run to run. Mostly, though, I was struck by how awesome it felt to be getting back up into the higher mileage. I've really missed it - and I'm still completely shocked to be saying that!