Giving Back: The Marine Corps Marathon 2017

Source: military.id.me

On Sunday October 22, 2017 I will be running the Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Virginia to support our veteran service members of the armed services. I’ve chosen this cause, and by extension the Semper Fi fund, to raise awareness and contribute to because for far too long so many of us, while well-meaning, offer little, save lip service, to those who put their lives on the line daily to protect the freedom we enjoy. This has never been more true than today. We live in an uncertain and volatile world and where in the past many may have viewed signing up to be a marine, soldier or joining the Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard or Reserve as just a job, and even then I would have begged to differ, today it represents so much more. In fact, I would argue that if anyone goes in with that notion, they are all too soon disabused of the idea when duty calls.

Never before have we, as an American society, been privy to the chaotic and stormy domestic and global political climate as now. Our armed services, true to form with the respect and honor they deserve stand ready and able to defend our inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We honor and applaud that every memorial day,  4th of July, veterans day, and flag day to a lesser degree. So much have been said in honor of their fight and of the many who have lost their lives and those who have returned injured and in many ways unable to fend for themselves and/or be a regular contributing member of society anymore.

The Semper Fi fund 501(c)(3) nonprofit and its program America Fund, gives us an opportunity to pay – pun intended -more than lip service and to literally put our money where our thanks are. The fund utilizes charitable donations to provide immediate financial assistance and lifetime support for wounded, critically ill and injured members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.

The basic ideal that drives the fund’s efforts is simple: as much as these American heroes have sacrificed, they deserve the best care and support available in their hour of need. Injuries are often severe, and the road to recovery or rehabilitation can be long and costly. We have the remarkable opportunity to improve their circumstances by as much as 50%.

Please consider making a contribution, no matter how small; Individually we cannot achieve as much as what we can do when we come together. My goal of $1500 is a small part of the bigger picture of making sure all our injured veterans & their families in need are cared for.

Click on this link:

https://runsignup.com/Race/14046/Donate/EAgGYJk8jpKxHz5X

Thank you so much. Our injured veterans and their families and I appreciate your support!

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Why a Charity Run is Good Running Karma

Source: yeuchaybo.com

Life can be very hectic. Often, we have so much going on making it’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind. We’re busy and have jobs, families, studies, exercise and various other things going on –sometimes simultaneously. Because of this mad rush of a lifestyle, many of us are left with little time for others. The concept of giving back seems more like an ideal and, though worthy enough, is not chief on our list of priorities.

We’ve all heard about “giving back to the community” and the truth is this can and does take many forms chief among them charitable donations, which is more than a feel-good sentiment. Charitable donations have the potential to make a huge difference through effecting change and having a major impact on the targeted community.

The running community has its fair share of causes to run for. For every major race from a 5K to a full marathon among others there are a variety of causes put forward for runners to partner up with. Some of these causes include research and support for many illnesses and diseases such as various forms of cancer, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Parkinson’s etc. In addition, there are options for causes that involve support for veterans, children education, individuals recovering from substance abuse, homelessness and many others. Many organizations work alongside race organizers to offer spots for participants who choose to fundraise as an entry means to the particular race. Runners who choose this option stand to benefit personally as well as gain the benefit for recipients of the funds they raise.

5 major benefits to running for a charitable cause include:

(1) the personal satisfaction of adding meaning to your miles and the rewarding knowledge that you are making a difference one step at a time and contributing to a cause that needs your help.

– There’s an opportunity here to choose a cause that’s close to your heart, either because someone close to you have been affected by it or for some other personal reason.

(2) the financial contribution gained for the cause chosen.

(3) raising awareness about and for the particular cause, which potentially means more exposure and thus more donors.

(4) gaining knowledge about the cause selected and an added affinity and sensitivity to issues underscored by the organization.

(5)  becoming part of a larger community and team that provides support such as training plans and fundraising instructions and tips and encouragement, team swag, and pre-race and race-day amenities.

Whether you were on the fence about it or never gave it a thought before now, I hope I’ve made a good case and gone some way in convincing you to run for a good cause this summer or for the upcoming fall season. It would actually be a nice addition to your runs this year and go a long way in completing your goals on high note of accomplishment.

runforcharity.com

Back In the Game and training for a half-marathon PR

 

It’s been forever since I’ve trained for a half-marathon. So long in fact that this past week found me searching out advice on the best approach to training for a goal time come October 8. The chips are down and I’m back in training mode and ready to run. This is sure to be different from what I’ve become used as I’m now focusing on shorter tempo runs and speed work minus the famed long runs. Although, I’ll still be doing a bit of the long runs, only not as much, as I have another race–my yearly charity run–that same month. Double Yikes! I have never ran a half and full marathon in the same month before. Even so, my goal is centered on the half and so training is geared towards increasing speed and performance for 13.2 miles.

It’s incredible how quickly the year is flying by. My plea remains, “Why the rush?” I’m only just beginning to embrace Summer and all that it means. Never mind the temperate weather patterns we’ve been experiencing. I’d love to hang out here a bit in the sun, kicking the waves and dallying in the sand under the blue skies. Alas, that seems but a fleeting reality, which I’ll have to grab before it is but a distant memory. Pretty soon it’ll be August and then we’ll start counting down the weeks to race day. For now, I’ll hunker down in training and try to catch some waves on the weekend as much as I can–after training of course. Here’s a quick look at what my half-marathon training will look like:

  • Mon – 3 easy miles and cross training (body pump gym class)
  • Tues – 5 mile tempo run (increasing by 1 mile weekly)
  • Wed – 5.5 miles speed work (intervals or hills)
  • Thur – 6-8 miles (half-marathon pace on weeks where tempo run is on Sat otherwise off day)
  • Fri – cross training (cycling/yoga/rowing/abs workout/weights)
  • Sat – 10 mile tempo run (increasing every other week to accommodate for marathon training at marathon pace)
  • Sun – rest day
Naturally, a lot of this running is being done during late evenings on account of work as well as to escape the summer heat. It’s simply a bonus that I happen to enjoy night runs. Additionally, I have the added challenge of fitting in my cross fit training into this tight schedule. Since I’m fully committed to each of these projects, it’ll be interesting to see them all meld together into a perfect training plan that produces the results I’m striving for. I’ll admit my energy and anxiety levels are doing battle for prominence but this is my plan and I’m sticking to it.

Cancer, A Cause to Run for

breastcancermarathon.com

             breastcancermarathon.com

Every month in these United States we advocate, support and highlight a form of cancer and the strides we have made in the fight against it. This dreadful disease can take many forms and insinuates itself into almost every part of the human body; from breast cancer, which we highlight this month, along with liver cancer, to colon cancer and pancreatic cancer among others, we are made aware of the far-reaching effects of cancer as no one remains unaffected by it. For this and other reasons, running is an ideal platform to support the fight against it.

In the month of October most of the western world and organisations like The American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen Foundation, Avon, Memorial Sloan Kettering  and others sponsor, support and/or organize walks and runs that highlight the great work: research, successes and stories of women around the globe living and battling breast cancer everyday. The goal is to bring awareness, increase knowledge and encourage early testing, diagnosis and treatment.

Running is all about utilizing good health to achieve great results. Since we need to be fully functional to do it, it makes sense to use this platform as a means by which cancer research and education can become part of mainstream discussion; particularly breast cancer for us women who are more susceptible to it.

Last weekend, there were walks, around the country and thousands of women came out in support of this worthy cause, raising the bar on the discussion and actively walking out their struggles with breast cancer in the company of family, friends, advocates and supporters. The good news is that many of us were actively involved and got out there as part of the movement. That’s a great start. The weekend before when I ran the Chicago marathon for St Jude in support of the work they do in the field of childhood cancer, I was gratified with all the support and cheers for St Jude. However, I see it in a wider context now, people are deeply affected by cancer and beginning to realize that unless we all unite in the fight against it, chances are very good that one of us may become its next victim.

In this vein, we should strive to become a part of the solution. As runners, what better way to do this than to get our family, friends and supporters behind us to run for a great cause. Cancer is that cause and there are a lot of running opportunities this month and going forward. Most races provide the option to run for or to donate to a favorite charity to run. Just sign up, fundraise or donate, then run – the easiest part. I promise the rewards last beyond the finish line.

pinkribbon

The Chicago Marathon, my running sweet spot

source: bankofamericachicagomarathon.com

@ the start line          bankofamericachicagomarathon.com

Last Sunday 40,400 runners crossed the finish line in Grant Park at The Chicago Marathon. We weaved a determined and exhilarating path through the streets of Chicago, from the downtown area through the suburbs and neighborhoods, out to the medical district and back. Runners came out in their numbers, each wanting their moment of glory, some with personal goals, others as part of a collective effort to raise money for a favorite charity. Whatever the reason, we embraced the warmth, cheers and encouragement of over 1.7 million spectators and thousands of volunteers to cement this, at least in my mind, as the most superbly organized marathon event I have run thus far.

The New York City Marathon runs a close second to Chicago because of its phenomenal crowds and volunteers and because..well, it’s New York. I don’t for one second take for granted how challenging it must be to pull of an event of this magnitude in any city. We, runners, are just super thrilled that organizers of these racing events have the experience and know-how to make it happen and thus afford us these epic moments. Because this was my second time around in Chicago, I was prepared for am amazing race. I had such a good time last year even with a slight injury; this year I had no such encumbrance and felt that as long as I was well rested I would do well. While circumstances did not permit such ideal conditions – I missed my flight on Friday and got in Saturday afternoon, which is an entire blog by itself – for various reasons, many having to do with optimal training (no over-training this time), better rest, hydration and diet in the weeks leading up to race day – all somehow conspired to make sure I ran amazingly well.

bankofamericachicagomarathon.com

bankofamericachicagomarathon.com

Chicago is a beautiful city with a diverse populace and a common passion, or so it seems – a love for running and the marathon. Because I always credit the success of a race in large part to its spectators and volunteers, I truly appreciated the huge turnout on both counts. I maintain there is nothing in the world quite like running down the home stretch of a race to the tune of a roaring crowd urging you on while suddenly hearing your name announced over the loud-speaker as you approach the finish line. That is one of the remarkable moments, and there are others, that we, runners, run for. That and the medal of course.

Like ever race though, this one was different and special. Foremost was my reason for running, I felt so motivated to run for the kids at St Jude’s to the extent that I kept up an average 7:45 min/mile pace for most of the race. My intent was to try for a negative split but I ended up running faster in the first half, then fluctuating a bit, then dropping down to a 8min/mile until mile 24 where I was able to up the anté and run my fastest time through the finish line. I finished at 3:27:11 – my fastest Marathon and a personal best. I was/am thrilled. However, like most type A personalities, I’m quick to see that I could have done better. Because I  was scared of running out of energy, for the first half and a bit beyond, I consciously reigned in my enthusiasm, which was probably wise, as it ensured I finished strong, but it’s also possible I could have put out just a little more, since at the finish I felt reasonably strong.

me @ around mile 15.5 in Chicago's medical district

me @ around mile 15.5 in Chicago’s medical district

Oh well.. hindsight remains what it is while I remain committed to improving that time. My next big race is the Boston Marathon in April while I volunteer at New York City Marathon next month. In the meanwhile before Boston, chances are looking really good for another race.

2016 Bank Of America Chicago Marathon Medal

2016 Bank Of America Chicago Marathon Medal

Chicago Marathon for the Kids of St Jude

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I’ve always maintained that running is not for the fainthearted. If you’re looking for easy, effortless, comfortable and safe then I posit that running won’t work for you. In the years that I have been on the roads, trails, track and treadmill, I have never not been challenged, called out, exerted, pushed and stretched beyond my limits. Through it all, I’ve experienced excitement, sadness, anger, disappointment, success, and every other emotion except boredom and the desire to quit. What I’ve discovered though is that nothing gives me greater satisfaction than running to make a difference in the lives of others.  While I’m all into PRs, racking up medals and destination marathons, these all fall short of a transcendent purpose (and I really do not mean to sound lofty) which adds meaning and value to life. Running for a worthy cause adds true meaning to my miles, it removes me from the center and places focus on the always worthy cause.

I never take this opportunity and gift lightly; opportunity because here is where I get the chance to use the running platform to highlight something close to my heart and do my bit in transforming our world, as I like to say, one step at a time, gift because as long as I understand that I have been blessed with this ability to in turn be a blessing, I will continue to find meaning and value in running. Additionally, it will continue to fuel my passion to get out there; to defeat the hurdles, overcome the obstacles and cross the finish line time and again. In running, motivation works side by side ability to ensure success. I’m convinced that those runners who are in their eighties and still going strong must have buckets of it.

Choosing a cause or charity to run for is relatively easy though not so much at the same time. You’d think, there are tons of them, what’s the big deal? Well for one thing, too many choices can make for difficult decision-making. I try to keep it simple by sticking to causes for children and then choosing those that I feel some connection to. Truth is, that’s the hardest part because almost everything affects us whether directly or indirectly these days. It’s the price we pay for the global village we live in.

This year, I latched on to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. They are such a prominent force for good in this world with the amazing work they do through providing care and conducting research in childhood cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Words fail me when I think of the suffering and pain of so much of our children, we cannot continue to live unaffected lives; at some level, at some point, we must get involved and take a stand. However we choose to do so is our decision, it’s only important that we do.

In that spirit, here is the link to my fundraising page on St Jude’s website with a lot more information on what they do and the impact your gift can make.http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=3992776&pg=personal&fr_id=57054

Please support the cause and share. There are only a few more days left for donations for Chicago Marathon and helping get me to the finish line. I’m thrilled to be a part of Team St Jude Heroes!

Life Happens; Incidentally there’s Training, Marathon Fever, Boston Registration and 9/11 Memorial Tributes

blisstree-911

blisstree.com

Last weekend after two weeks of endless pain from having oral surgery done, I ran away to Georgia. I’ve always been able to retreat to the peachy state to re-establish a measure of peace and some semblance of balance in my life. Why run? Well.. figuratively speaking of course, since it was all I could do to get my thoughts together and I was on the verge of freaking the hell out considering my Chicago run coming up early next month. I tell you, not being able to eat and run nor sleep is no fun, but especially sucks when you’re smack dab in the middle of training. So here I am freaking out, wasting away ( losing weight), and I take off to Georgia to primarily attend a wedding and get a run in during my short stay. Sunshine, peace and quiet, friends, big roads and less traffic, wide open spaces, the Savannah River and the blanket of nature provided the necessary salve to my aches and pain. Returning to New York I find myself in Marathon city in the thick of training, Boston registration looming and Sept 11 memorial tributes.

Not surprisingly I came back on the mend after discovering the miracle of wine – I’m of the view it preserved my sanity. Back home, back in running form, and really I just dive in, back to the gym and back to getting Chicago ready. I’m working on bumping up my diet even though my mouth is still tender and eating is such a pain; but a runner has to do what she has got to do. Quite a bit on my agenda in the next couple months, there’s the Chi marathon, registering for Boston 2017 and volunteering at NYC marathon and of course training doesn’t stop as.. hopefully Boston’s up. All this as the weather cools down and we enter the training period I like the least. I will try not to anticipate that at this time.

We’re sweltering a bit these days but I’m not complaining, I’m gonna squeeze as much sunshine as I can out of these last fall days with the hope that it’s not gonna be too bad moving forward. So steamy days aside, where I just hunker down at the gym, it’s good getting back in the game and enjoying the vibes of the city. This is Marathon season and no city does it like New York as New Yorkers prepare for the largest running event of the year. It’s an exciting time to be in the city and to be a part of the New York City Marathon. But before that, I run Chicago and past experience does not lie. It was a phenomenal run and I plan on making that happen again.

While Marathon fever is in the air, New Yorkers are very somber this weekend with remembering the attacks on the World Trade Center and the City of New York 15 years ago. It’s a sad but also strong time for the city that will go down in history as a time when the state of New York rallied together to foster hope, community and support to all those affected that tragic day. We remember and pay tribute to all those who lost their lives then and subsequently in relation to those events. While all this is going down this weekend, I have my long run planned for later, which I always do in remembrance of the victims of 9/11. I’m reminded that I have the opportunity to run, which is more than they will ever have. I am thankful.

Making My Miles Count

chicago-marathon-logo

Two years ago I made a commitment; a promise to myself to use running for more than personal gain; to – in some way – be a blessing to the wider community. Turns out, once a mind is made up it becomes relatively easy to forge ahead. Enter my miles-4-a-cause project this year: The Chicago Marathon for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. St. Jude is  a hero of mine, they provide free treatment for children with cancer and research, diagnose and treat other types of childhood diseases. I’ve often wished they had a presence here in New York so I could do some volunteer work with them; as it is, Tennessee is not next door so I’ll just have to settle for what I can do right here.

Running is a great platform to highlight the phenomenal work St. Jude does. These days most races provide the opportunity to run for a good cause and are pretty much open to all runners. It’s as easy as picking the charity of your choice, registering with them and building a fundraising page, which you then share with friends and other interested parties. Better still, social media has made fundraising so much easier as you’re able to reach a wide audience with relatively minor effort. The only challenge is being comfortable with asking others for help. Ideally you begin by encouraging, enlisting and persuading family and friends and then extending your reach to friends of friends and so on. 

Some organizations provide incentives for your efforts but really when I’m running for a cause, there is no way I want to benefit from this except to feel good crossing the finish line knowing that my running has made a bit of difference in someone’s life. The medal, possible PR and celebrations are strictly bonuses then.

The Chicago Marathon is on October, 9; that gives me a few months to work hard at garnering as much support as I can for a pretty amazing cause. Wish me luck! And please click on the link below to give to St. Jude and become a St. Jude Hero by saving a child’s life today.

Support us here: http://fundraising.stjude.org/site/TR/Heroes/Heroes?px=3992776&pg=personal&fr_id=57054

 

screen-shot-2014-04-04-at-6-09-45-pm

 

A Check-In with our 2016 Running Goals

2016-predictions-930x527

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you could spend the rest of your life running up and down the field and never score.” – Bill Copeland

We’re back in “running” business! It’s always a struggle to get runners to rest up, mainly because we’re too afraid of losing momentum. We often think that we will have to fight our way back in as the body can become quite use to being on vacation. There may be some merit to that but only to the extent that a break amounts to weeks or months off. Surely it can’t mean one will suffer a setback if he or she takes a well-deserved couple of weeks off? In fact, struggle or not, coming back from my two weeks off feels great and based on my running this week, its all good. You can breathe and rest easy now; two weeks will make you not break you.

Also, we can get ready for better running weather, for it’s May and we’re on the brink of summer – how did that happen? In any event, this is a good time to stop and reassess or check-in regarding our running goals for this year. Yep, the very same ones we were all excited and up in arms about around January 1st of this year. You’re totally entitled to a bit of guilt if you’re nowhere where you want to be, but know that it’s ok. You’re here, healthy (hopefully) and so happily you can give it another shot.

A big goal of mine was running the Boston Marathon so.. check – not the desired result – but it’s done. Even so, there are other races on my agenda, others I still have to do. What is interesting to note is that as I cross one item of my list, it actually has bearing on my other goals in a real way. Take for example Boston, I have now decided to run it again next year, to earn my medal this time, if my registration is accepted. As a result of this decision, I’ll try for a better qualifying time in Chicago this year. It’s a little crazy how it never stops with me; it’s as though there will always be another goal, another race. Maybe there always will be, but goals do many things, chief among them is to inspire us to give of our very best and even if we fail, we get up, stomp the dust off and try again.                                                          

In the upcoming months, (half the year is almost up, unbelievable), I have two, maybe three, big races and a few smaller ones while I have my heart set on a 5k and Half-Marathon PR. Additionally, I have a charity goal to fulfill which I will do at the Chicago Marathon. Because summer is usually an all-round hot time, I will be limiting my runs to fun, short ones with one destination marathon in July.                                             

I jokingly say that my life is a scatter plot, with my running all over the graph. But despite how it seems, it keeps me focused and happy – the world could go to pieces around me, as long as I’m running, it’s fine. LOL! I’m kidding! It’s really not that bad, just a tad bit crazy (my friends would say). Regardless, I’m no fine running example as I have fallen off the goal wagon a time or two. For yet another year, I’ve been terrible with keeping count of my miles while I can’t seem to start the tri program just yet. I try to convince myself that maybe I will in the summer but in the meantime between getting a handle on my health ( making sure I’m fit as a fiddle) and getting coached to improve my time, and working and keeping up with my volunteer activities, I’m a little stretched for time. While I’m not complaining, since that’s the way I like it, I would love time to slow down just a tad and maybe someone up there can add a few more hours to my days? Just saying.

Marathon Training, Fundraising & Just Because

 

TCSNYCMarathon_r31

Approximately sixteen weeks to Chicago and eighteen weeks to The New York City Marathon. I mean WOW! Where did the time go? Am I alone in thinking that we’re not the only ones running here, that so is time! That being said, technically, I should to be in marathon training mode, which means I’m suppose to be running practically everyday working on mileage, speed, strength and endurance. In reality, I figure to take the next couple weeks to myself and run for sheer enjoyment – just because it’s Summer, it’s hot, it’s pretty and because there’s the inescapable fact looming that I’m about to embark on some crazy running; two challenging marathons in two successive months.

Rest assured, I’m not crazy, people do this all the time – not really. Not ordinary people anyhow, but then you’ve probably already figured out that normal does not describe me. Not to worry, it’s not my first time, only the second..wink..and I’ve already figured my strategy is more mental than physical. See, I’m training for a marathon so I’ll just keep running..joke..but really, it’s just a shift in focus after the first run as the next is within two weeks. This is ideal as it works to keep the momentum going. With enough sleep, training and cross-training, the right diet and proper hydration, I should be fine. In fact, I predict they’ll be runs of a lifetime, providing I stay injury-free. My past record notwithstanding, I aim to stay positive; run a few races between now and then and try to maintain top form. With God on my side, I can’t lose now, can I.

team-UNICEF-banner

On another related note, I haven’t been all-ensconed in fundraising efforts for my project – Team UNICEF re the NYC Marathon – as I should be. I’ll have to be a bit more brazen in my approach if I am to reach the $3500 goal that is allotted me. While I’d love to raise more, it being for such a great cause and all, I’ll settle for being within target range for now. If you’re reading this, please feel obligated to help a runner and sister out; plus you’ll earn bragging rights for a good cause and get your name on my running-T on marathon day. I also have a few cool T-Shirts for very generous donors and a couple pom poms for you if you go the extra mile and show up to cheer me on race day. It rarely gets better than this but I’m sure you deserve it!

 

Running for causes aside, I really treasure each opportunity I get to make a difference while running. Being a force for change is something we can all benefit from; hence why I think I take running and training so seriously leaving very little time to enjoy the sport. So excuse me while I fix that before doubling down for some record running in the coming months.

Be a trooper and support my cause here:   https://www.crowdrise.com/unicefnyc2015/fundraiser/loricaldon

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