It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post that has said much of anything. I now have a much greater appreciation of all of those blogs that I find when I’m googling things like “protein pumpkin pancakes,” “low sugar granola” and “crock pot butternut squash and bean soup”….There are a multitude of amateur and professional writers populating the internet everyday, with an end result allowing me to find a recipes for the ingredients in my fridge, an opinion on how to treat my hip pain or what fundraising events raise the most money at any moment. I am not quite as adept at maintaining the flow of information. I have, however, been mentally writing this post for the last several months, because I’ve had this thought continue to pop into my head over and over: We are really serious about this run.
It first crossed my mind on Christmas Eve. For those of you have been watching, this was long before the incredible onslaught of snow that New England has endured. In fact, the beginning of the winter was so warm and snow free, I had been thinking that we were getting an excellent year to train for Boston. As I walked home from work in the cool, but tolerable and pleasant weather, picking up a few things from the small shops that line Charles Street, it started to rain. I still owed my training plan a 4 mile run, but given that it was a light misty rain, I thought, “maybe I’ll give it an hour, and see what happens, this is New England after all, it’s bound to change.” A hour later, instead of blowing over as I’d hoped, the light and tiny droplets and turned into a full, heavy pour. Prior to being accepted to the DFMC for this year’s marathon in Boston, I might have taken that as a sign that I should just stay home, warm and comfy, with a glass of wine…..but I didn’t stay home. I threw on my running gear, tied my shoes and ran. And I ran fast, blowing down Commonwealth Avenue feeling my shirt gain weight as the wicking fabric held on the cool rain, stomping through puddles and continuing on with water sloshing in my shoes. It didn’t matter that I was getting soaked, that it was holiday, that I worked a full day….I was going to get every bit of training in.
This has been, no joke, our most thorough attempt at marathon training. When we were accepted to the DFMC team in September, I gave some hard thought to what might make us successful in our two pronged goal: 26.2 miles and $20,000 for cancer. I had put on 15 pounds since our first marathon and that needed to go– so we gave up alcohol and eating out for 8 weeks and I meticulously watched everything that went into my mouth. Every time I walked past the counter of goodies at work I resisted, I stopped buying snacks and got used to having a hardy bag of carrots mid-day. We also needed to start getting in shape, , so I downloaded a 12 week long 10k training program to complete before our official 18 week Boston training program began and it became a no excuses plan. These runs were a commitment. Since that time, we have run in “feels like minus 11” weather with the wind blowing us backward. We have run on the treadmill for over 2 hours because the snow was so dense you couldn’t walk outside. We’ve run over and over the ice-covered Newton Hills trying to stick to the thin sliver of exposed pavement left on the carriage roads that pass up and over Heartbreak Hill and down to the Newton Firehouse. On many weekends, this has been the only place that was clear and “safe” for us to run (with “safe” in quotations because there are a few segments that route where the carriage roads were complete covered with uneven snow and it was a choice between risking a sprained ankle on the bumpy slippery ice or running on the road with cars whizzing by.) We learned that our cell phone batteries do not last over 11 miles, in sub 30 weather, and that it is still possible to run with three pairs of pants, but it feels a bit heavy and miserable. This is not to say that our training has been perfect, it has had a couple of hiccups: we both got the flu– there was no running when Mark’s had a fever of 101.9F—and there were a couple of blizzards that really did make it impossible to get out and do the full long run (in fact, we signed up for TWO 20 mile races and BOTH were canceled), and my old friend, Mr. RightHipPain has made a few appearances, but for the most part we have stayed the course.
Mark and I have put a similar effort into the more important goal—fundraising. We have put on four events. In November, the Children’s Piazza in Beverly opened their doors and provided coffee, tea, free passes and the use of their waffle iron (not to mention getting us a waffle batter donation) for “Waffles and Wonderment.” I spent enough time planning our January event, Sips and Sweets, that I felt that I was planning a second wedding reception, right down to using my sewing machine to perforate drink tickets, spray painting wine bottles sparkling black as centerpieces and making my own labels and signage—but we had an amazing night where local businesses’ donations of delicious sweets were paired with generous pours from Sip Wine Bar and Kitchen. We painted Boston skyline for charity with the Paint Night for Innovative Cancer Research in February and then headed back to man the waffle iron at the Piazza for Brunch and Play in March. In each of these events, generous vendor donations have meant that participants have gotten MORE than the value of their admission price and we’ve been able to mail in money for cancer research. The profits from these events combined with our friends, family, and coworkers’ magnanimous contributions, now total over $8,000 and we are a little over 40% of the way to our goal. As a team, the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge is about half way to the goal of 5.2 million dollars. In Boston terms, that means that we’re in Wellesley and haven’t even started the climb of Heartbreak Hill or reached the city streets.
Along the way, we have there are many people who have made this experience more powerful. My cousin finished chemotherapy at the beginning of this year and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that as he regains his strength that the rogue cancer cells will not reappear. At our group runs we’ve met a woman who beat cancer twice, a father who has run for his daughter for the last several years and the inspiring volunteer who lost her son at 8 years old son to cancer after three years of treatment including chemotherapy and arm amputation. She has met us for every frosty, miserable run with smiles, hugs and oatmeal cookies, and has shared her family’s story in a way that makes me want to do even better. Outside of the Dana-Farber events, every time I tell someone I’m running for cancer research I learn about their mom, sister, uncle, or brother, friend or colleague who has fought or is fighting cancer. It brings the American Cancer Society’s statistic home: one in three women and one and two men will have cancer in their lifetime. The research that the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Cancer Research supports is crucial to changing these numbers and changing peoples’ lives. And that is why we are so serious about this particular race. There are so many people battling this problem, from the patients fighting with every bit of energy they can muster to the scientists spending long hours at the bench creating new medications, strategies for treatment, detection methods, and preventative measure. The very least that I can do is to continue to put one foot in front of another and call others to the front.
So with that, please hear my battle cry and donate. One hundred percent of all money raised though the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge goes to cancer research. One hundred percent goes towards discovering ways to understand, prevent, treat and cure cancer. Do this for yourself, your loved ones, or someone you know. Know that in asking you, I’m not just sitting around, I’m working heard so that your every dollar means something in minutes per mile and steps on a long well trodden course.