December 2, 2010

Big Sur Race that is not in Big Sur

I ran another race in November - the Big Sur Half Marathon, which is not in Big Sur at all, but in Monterey and Pacific Grove. It was my 6th half marathon in the two years that I've been running, and I was psyched to post my fastest time yet - 2 hrs, 6 mins. That is not particularly fast in the world of running, mind you, but -- it is for me! I was thrilled.

As usual, I wasn't able to train quite as much as I'd planned, so I wasn't holding out much hope for a notable time. I just wanted to enjoy a much-needed weekend away with friends and have fun on this most spectacular and scenic race course. But when my awesome running-mate Nicole looked at her watch at the 8 mile mark and noted that if we maintained our pace through the end of the race, we'd both set new personal bests, I just thought, "hell yeah!" and went for it.

I was tickled to see my friends Carolina and Rob along the race course, and Carolina snapped the above photo. I just love it so much. She really captured the joy I felt during that race. It was so beautiful, and I so needed to run, to push myself hard physically in order to clear out my mind and refresh my spirit. It was a fantastic weekend.

July 2, 2010

Kicked that race...

right where I wanted to - in the arse!

Things got off to a grumpy start when we arrived for the race. Everyone had to pick up their timing chip that morning, at the race, and it was a complete mess. Crazy lines, nobody knew what was happening, we had to split up to get in the right lines, and then suddenly it was 5 minutes before the start and I still didn't have my chip. Grrrrrr! Finally got it but then couldn't find any of my gals. GRRRRRRRRR! So frustrating! About 30 seconds before the horn sounded I did find them... so happy!

It was a pretty warm day, but we still had a bit of fog at the start and I was hoping it would stick around. I ran the first 7 miles or so with Nicole and our buddy Rebekah, but they made a pit stop and I just wanted to keep going. For the first time, I had a really specific time goal in mind - 2 hrs 15 minutes. My previous best was 2:19 in Austin, but I had never really focused on my times that much. So I figured that if I actually applied myself, and managed to avoid the porta-potty line, I could probably do it. Especially since the route is my home turf - I run it all the time - and it's flat as a pancake. So anyway, I broke off around mile 7 and ran the rest alone.

I felt pretty great for most of this race; I was still floating from all the birthday love, and during the time I ran alone I just kept thinking about Mielle, and all the amazing kids I've come to know through our experiences with JM... Dominic, Grace, Morgan, Connor, Gary, Mason, Megan, Parker, Kya, Sienna, Gracie, Brielle, Kristen, Amanda, Kendyl, Selma, Emma... the list goes on and on. I felt pretty strong but whenever it waned a little, I'd just think about those kids and it literally fueled me.

Once I was to mile 10 or so, I was sure that I would beat my goal time so I spontaneously revised it to 2 hrs 10 mins. That would be close. I chugged along as hard as I could those last three miles and felt pretty good because I was passing a lot of people; I was getting tired but at that point, it's so close... so I just kept pushing and pushing, past all the familiar landmarks of my regular runs -- up Shoreline, past Park Street, Willow, Grand, the Crown Beach parking lot with our favorite water fountain... and finally around the curvy path to the finish at Crab Cove. I still had some kick left in the end and crossed the line in 2 hrs, 10 mins, 40 seconds. I just missed 2:10 - but still - Woooo hooo! (Next time I'll try for 2:05.)

So I gotta say that the champagne sponsors totally redeemed this race, after the organizational fiasco of the "race day chip pickup"earlier. The slogan of this particular event is "I run for chocolate and champagne", but last year - by the time I finished - they were running low on the bubbly and I got about 1/3 glass. This year, things were different, and it was so nice! The champagne was flowing freely - we all had glass after glass, even the non-runners. It was so very festive! So we kicked back, waited for the rest of our peeps to come in, and then just basked in our glory for a bit. Nothing like a nice little champagne buzz on a sunny day after 13.1 miles! Sweeeeet.

Doesn't Mielle look great?
The medals were teeny tiny this year. Maybe they used the $$ they saved on extra champagne?

Gorgeous Nicole.
Hot, tipsy mamas! Awwwwwww yeah!

June 4, 2010

Race number 5!

by Suzy

Tomorrow is my fifth half marathon in the 1.5 years I've been running! Let me tell you, those are words I NEVER thought I would speak! But here I am, and I'm excited, and proud.

Training was not as consistent as I would have liked, but I pushed myself to get out there even when it would have been easy to blow it off, because I really really wanted to feel prepared for this race. And I do feel prepared. My AWESOME birthday experience really gave me some mental and emotional momentum and I hope I can keep on riding that wave tomorrow! Going for a PR, people! (aka "personal record" - are you impressed with my running-speak?)

Here in Alameda we have a big local issue concerning a proposed parcel tax to fund the public schools. State funding is basically a joke these days, and it's been cut after cut after cut for years. There is no more to cut, and there is no other way to get the money than a parcel tax. So although it's not a perfect solution, many of us feel it is the ONLY solution available right now, and people have been working like mad to try and get this measure to pass. So mamajoggers felt drawn to making a statement at the race, and we'll be wearing these:

I'll wear my E with pride! But at the same time, I have to say that at my core, I'm always running for Cure JM, and my kiddos. It'll always be Mielle, all the other JM kids, and sweet Lucien in my heart, propelling me forward.

Send me good power vibes tomorrow because I want to kick this race in the arse!

Blown Away

by Suzy

Okay. I asked a lot of people to sponsor me for the race in Austin in February, and many, many people did. Therefore, I did not want to ask for more so soon. However, I did want to share news about our Pip Squeak event, and the fact that Mielle is doing soooo much better these days. So I sent out this email:

Hey there - Just a quick note to tell you that Mielle continues to do well these days! We are down to very small doses of her two most troublesome drugs, and we continue to taper. She is still on some powerful immunosuppressants and even in the best case scenario, it will be sometime before she is drug-free, but she is not really suffering any side effects right now, and her strength and energy are great. We still have blood draws every couple of months, but we stopped the weekly injections a few months ago. She still sees her specialist in Chicago as well as her great doctor at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, and we are so grateful to be in a better place.

On the flip side, I learned of another recently diagnosed case of JM right here in Alameda. That makes three - for a disease that strikes three kids out of a million. The news hit me like a punch in the stomach. I just got really sad, because I have a sense of what that family must endure... but I tried my best to channel all those feelings into more activism for Cure JM.

So! On May 22 we held the second Pip Squeak A Go Go event (a dance party for all ages!) here in Alameda. We couldn't have gotten it off the ground without the amazing Dorinda and Bernadette - and of course, the Devil-Ettes - and we never would have pulled it off without the help of so many friends that volunteered in every way imaginable! We had rockabilly Quarter Mile Combo and go go dancing upstairs, and Cowboy Jared, shopping, face painting and raffles downstairs. It was a busy weekend with a lot of competing events, but we pulled in a great crowd and raised around $4,000 for Cure JM.

We're quickly following that up with yet another race - the See Jane Run Half Marathon right here in Alameda - coming right up on June 5! This will be my FIFTH half marathon in the 1.5 years that I've been running! To tell you the truth, the training has been kind of tough - I feel more tired this time around - but I'm determined to make a good showing. It's on our home turf, after all!

Last but not least, tomorrow (June 2) is my 40th birthday. I choose to view this as an opportunity for a fresh start - a chance to take what we've begun here and just keep on moving forward. Through my experiences with my children, my life - and I - have changed in ways I never, ever could have imagined. So. New decade, new me. I just want to take the positive and keep on - ahem! - running with it. I'd be tickled to drum up a little more dough for Cure JM for this race, and I just set up a fresh fundraising page: If you are in the position to help, it would be the icing on my birthday cake.

I sent it out around midnight and then I went to bed. I thought it would be AWESOME if we rustled up another $500 or so before the race.

Well. When I woke up I was floored to see that something like $1100 had been donated! Wh-aat? I was so excited that I leapt out of bed and went for a final quick training run. I was just riding the wave of love and I know it's cliche to say this, but my heart was bursting. Bursting!! (Plus, I made a new playlist with lots of awesome Queen songs - I have to say, it felt great to run down the street with my bursting heart on my 40th birthday blasting "We are the Champions"!) And it just continued on all day. I had a wonderful birthday and did lots of lovely things, and every now and then I would check my email and be delighted all over again to see another donation. It truly was the icing on my cake!

Now, the race is tomorrow and we are at nearly $2300 (and thanks, Nicole, for putting out the call to your peeps as well, and thanks to Nicole's peeps for answering!) I honestly can't believe it. Once again, I am blown away by the support we get from y'all. I feel like I say this a lot, but I hope that doesn't dilute the impact: Thank You. Thank You. From the bottom of my heart, Thank You.

May 23, 2010

Pip Squeak A Gone Gone!

Thanks to the Devil-Ettes for serving up so much luv yesterday at Pip Squeak A Go Go!

And thanks to Quarter Mile Combo, Cowboy Jared, and everyone else that participated in our event. We taught a bunch more people about Juvenile Myositis and raised over $3500 to boot! More photos to come...

May 22, 2010

It's Pip Squeak Day!

All the errands have been run, prizes collected, volunteers lined up, flyers printed, last-minute details locked down. We're ready for the event and EXCITED! In all the planning, I kinda forgot how much FUN it's going to be!

Here's a shot of the hard copy newspaper:

The photo features Mielle with the other two Alameda girls with JDM. Three girls in Alameda with a disease that strikes 3 kids out of a million, each year... hmmm...

May 21, 2010

Pip Squeak and Press!

We've been running around frantically preparing for our big Pip Squeak A Go Go benefit for Cure JM (details). Today we managed to get a little local press, which makes me soooo happy. I just wish I could figure out how to make this story catch on in a bigger way... I'll keep trying. In the meantime, I'm excited for the event tomorrow and I hope we are able to raise loads of cash! And I'll be saying it many times, in many ways, but I may as well begin now: THANK YOU to everyone who is helping, donating, volunteering, and attending! Here's the post about last year's event...

May 14, 2010

Running Rut

by Suzy

Yep, it's true. I'm in a rut, have been ever since Austin (and maybe even before). Just can't get myself back into a regular rhythm. Too much life happening, not enough sleep happening, and running buddy schedules have all completely diverged so there's been way too much solo running (yet still not enough solo running, if you know what I mean). I'm kinda dragging my arse for every run these days. Just getting out the door is the monumental feat at the moment (and it's absolutely the hardest part of the run).

I know it'll come back; it's an ebb and flow, ebb and flow. The trick is to stick it out long enough... til the flow flows once again! I'm doing my best.

May 6, 2010

"See Jane Run" is coming up!

Our next race - right here in Alameda, the all-women's See Jane Run Half Marathon, is coming right up... race day June 5! Mamajoggers are doing our best to get our training in so we won't embarrass ourselves! Hope you can come out to cheer us on!

May 3, 2010

Dawn Runs

by Suzy

The days are longer now, so even a 6 am run ain't as dark as it used to be (and, truth be told, I haven't been making it out for many 6 am runs lately, thanks to my boy's newly erratic sleeping patterns) but anyway... a few months ago I brought my camera with me on an early morning run. I really wanted to share how magical it can be to be out at that time, and what a treat it is to see the light change over the course of the run.

And returning home, stretching in the backyard, morning in full swing, beautiful golden light everywhere, and the view of my favorite palm tree:

April 8, 2010


Oh shoot. I thought I had posted about Austin, but I didn't.

So. The race was hard! I didn't look too closely at the course leading up to the race, but the night before, at around 10:30, I read the little description that came with the registration goody bag. Oh no - hills! And all of them after mile 8! Noooooooo!

Have I mentioned recently that Alameda is utterly, completely FLAT? I think I could chug along for quite a while on flat ground, but hills are another story completely. We have to get in the car and drive somewhere to train on hills, and that doesn't happen too often. So I was a little thrown at this news. But actually, I'm glad I didn't know sooner - I already felt that I hadn't trained sufficiently for this race, and the knowledge of the hills just would have made me even more nervous, without increasing my ability to improve my training... at that point, it was just one of those "it is what it is" kind of things.

Anyway, it was awesome to meet up with all the other Cure JM runners in the pre-dawn hours of race day.

Shari Hume, one of the cofounders of Cure JM (first row, third from left), really likes the "fist in the air" look; the group was happy to oblige.

Then there was nothing left to do but just, well, do it. My mamajog buddies weren't able to join me on this one, so I ran with Shari for a bit but she's just a TAD more advanced in the running department (she qualified for and ran Boston!) and much faster than me, so after a couple miles she had to leave me in her dust. I ran the rest by myself, which was just fine, actually. There was plenty of entertainment along the way, both official and unofficial, and I just kept chugging along. Around the halfway mark, the Cure JM cheering section was waiting:

I finally show up, hug my girl (and my boy, and my husband), and rev up the crowd before I leave (I figured that my little parlor trick of increasing my hand to the size of a frying pan would get them really excited):

Then it was just 6.7 or so more miles of one foot in front of the other. Right as scheduled, the hills started at mile 8. Okay. Just do it. And do it again. And again. Okay, got it.

I knew I was getting close to mile 11, and I was pretty sure I'd read that course leveled out again after that, so I was getting excited... only two more miles to go, and they'd be flat... I was starting to get pretty tired so it was a welcome thought... well. Imagine my feelings when I turned a corner to see the 11-mile post, and a another big old hill stretching right on up behind it. Ugh. Okay. Just do it... and I did... gave myself another pat on the back and another "hallelujah, that must be it for the hills" moment.

Well. Clearly, my memory about what I'd read of the course was ALL wrong. After slogging along another mile, I was looking forward to sighting the 12-mile post - a most welcome sight for the half-marathoner - evidence that you're ALMOST THERE!

Well. Once again, I turned a corner, and this is what I saw:

Now, this image is small, but if you look very closely, right near the center is the 12-mile marker. And it's hard to miss the big old hill stretching on up beyond.

To the planners of the Austin Half Marathon course: this is just plain rude. Putting a big old hill this late into the race is one thing, but to map it so that the thing is heralded by the 12-mile post - normally a beacon of hope to weary hoofers - come on, really? Just. Plain. Rude.

So I moped and whined on the inside for a minute or so, then just bucked up and did it. I didn't run fast, but I did run it. No walking. And then, finally, finally! the course leveled out - even went at little downhill, I believe, although at that point I was a little too delirious to tell you for sure - curving past the historic capital building and finally FINALLY to the finish!

And it's the coolest medal I've gotten yet.

All photo credit goes to the fabulous Julie Caine, with the exception of the 12-mile hill of torture - that one was mine. Special thanks to Ms. Caine, who once again donated her image-making talents to Cure JM - you are the best! And if you want to view more photos from the race, or from the amazing Cure JM educational forums and events that took place the previous day, check out our Flikr stream. Over $180,000 was raised for continuing research of juvenile dermatomyositis... thanks once again to everyone who helped, and WAY TO GO Cure JM!!

January 31, 2010

Unexpected 12

by Suzy

I had been hoping I could run today, but felt unable to fully commit (with being sick and all). Just getting out at all would have been an achievement, but if it felt ok, I thought I would try and go 5-ish, then do a long run a little later in the week - and hopefully feel more prepared for the upcoming race. But I still wasn't sure whether I'd manage to run at all today.

Felt alright upon waking, then checked in with Nicole and confirmed she would join me - and I was very pleasantly surprised when Kirsten and Steph were able to come as well. We ran around 4.5 and then the ladies dispersed for coffee, work, kids, etc. I felt I had a little more in me, so I decided to keep going on my own and see where things led.

So I kept on chugging. I felt pretty good, considering how little I've been running, and how sick I've been feeling. I just kept on.

My mind began to wander. Just before setting out, I'd received a wonderful email from dear family friends (and I hope they won't mind my sharing it):

"We think of you often, with love and prayers. Suzy, hope you are feeling stronger for your run - just imagine us and all of the people who love all of you pushing you along, giving you energy..."

So I did that - I imagined them, and all the people that love us, pushing me along and giving me energy. I thought about the donations that have been coming in, and how moved I am by the support of our family and friends, and of perfect strangers.

I thought about all the recent notes on the Cure JM message board from newly diagnosed families - heartbreaking, because I have some sense of what lies ahead for them. I thought about what a horrible time Mielle has gone through with her treatment, and about other kids that have had even worse times - much, much worse. I thought about how helpless I've felt at various times over the past two years, and how confused, and how conflicted over the terrible decisions we've had to make.

I thought about other things happening lately, in regards to my special-needs son, that make me feel overwhelmed and hopeless and paralyzed with anxiety... and somehow this all coalesced into a single solitary drive to keep on RUNNING. I thought, "hell with it... I don't care about being sick, and barely running for weeks... I'm tired of feeling anxious about it... I'm running damn 11 miles today."

Somehow, pulling this long run out of nowhere today became some kind of statement for ME - a way to regain some control. A way to say "Screw you!" to everything that is causing me to feel confused and anxious and sad. A way to affirm the love and faith that's been placed in me by everyone that has donated on our behalf. A way to honor Mielle and the other JM kids, as well as my son Lucien - to show them that sheer force of will can be powerful, and nothing is impossible.

It's kind of silly, really, because in truth, nobody's really going to know or care whether I did or didn't run 11 miles today... except, of course, ME. I'd know. And for myself, today, I needed to feel triumphant. So I ran the damn miles.

And when I hit 11, I figured one more would be even better - really get me within striking distance of the half marathon. So I kept going to 12.

It was hard, and I'm more tired and more sore than I'm accustomed to from a long run. But I did it. I'm back in the game, baby!

January 29, 2010


by Suzy

Okay, y'all. Between traveling, and being sick, and traveling again, and the holidays, and being sick again, and traveling AGAIN, and then being really really sick, and still not better, I haven't run much lately. And I'm not exactly bursting with confidence about the next race, coming up in Austin in a mere two weeks. (ouch).

My beloved training schedule has been kicked to the curb by life. I'm not prepared. It's weird, because for quite a while there, I was doing enough miles and I knew I could pretty much knock out 10 or 12 or 13.1 at any time, not really such a big deal. I got a little used to it. I may have even taken it for granted... which is something I really, really try not to do these days - about anything - after our experiences of the past 2+ years. But there you go; we are flawed creatures and we can't help ourselves, can we?

And I'm behind in my fundraising, also. I'm trying to kick it into gear now. I'm throwing a hail mary.

I'm pretty sure that if I can get one more long run in before the race, I'll be ok. Just waiting to be healthy enough...

If anyone is feeling sorry for me, please express your sympathy with a donation! And if you don't feel one bit sorry for my whiny butt, that's fine too... please express your disdain with a donation!