Catch up

27 July 2014

Dear Adoring Fans,

Do you ever get really behind on things and try to catch up starting with the oldest things first and you never seem to get caught up? Yeah, me too. I am going to start with the newest thing today and work my way backwards.

I’m training for triathlon #3 with Team In Training! On September 7, 2014 I will be in Washington, D.C. to compete in The Nation’s Triathlon. It’s a 1500m (.9 miles) swim, a 40km (25 miles) bike ride, and a 10k (6.2 mile) run. I’ve been training all summer and am down to the last seven weeks before the event (remember way back in the first paragraph when I said I was behind on lots of things? Ummm. Updating my blog and getting going on my fundraising is high on that list.)

So here’s the important part: my goal, as always, is to raise funds to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This season I am aiming high: $5,000. We are already halfway there, but I have a deadline of August 17 and need your help to reach my goal. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO MAKE A SECURE, ONLINE DONATION TODAY.

(Fun fact: Since my first event with TNT back in 2005 together, dear fans, we have raised over $36,000 to support The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Holy cow! Let’s go for an even $40,000!)

Here’s the other important part: I do these events in honor and memory of an awful lot of people. That list is why I keep coming back for more events, and why I keep asking you for money. My personal “honored teammates” are my friend Jan Riggs (Jan will be at the triathlon with me in September! Huzzah!) and my Uncle Kenny, as well as my friend Robb, all pictured in the header image of my blog.

But last fall, just before the Nike Women’s Marathon (race report coming! I promise!) I found out that Jude, the two-year-old son of my friend and teammate Barb, had been diagnosed with leukemia. Barb’s mother had Hodgkin’s disease at 23 and although they successfully treated it, she passed away years later from a secondary cancer that resulted from the treatment for Hodgkin’s. When I heard that Jude had been diagnosed it just seemed like a cruel joke. But Barb and her family have taken it in stride and I’m happy to say that Jude is doing really well. He just finished the first phase of his treatment and has moved on to what they call “maintenance.” That sounds better, but it’s still pretty awful: 5 days of steroids each month, oral chemo, monthly spinal taps, regular doctor visits–and this all goes on for three more years. It isn’t what a two-and-a-half year old should be doing. So in addition to doing this for Jan, Kenny, Robb, and all of the others on my list, I am dedicating this triathlon to Jude, especially.

Jude enjoying a rocket pop.

Jude enjoying a rocket pop.

My training is going pretty well, if a little sporadically. I was in Colorado earlier this month for about a week and a half, leading a young birder camp for the American Birding Association. This Wednesday I head into the field again, this time for 2 weeks here in southeastern Arizona, to co-lead another young birder camp. I didn’t get to train at all when I was in Colorado, and I suspect I won’t do much more than one or two runs during this next camp, but I’m trying to make up for it beforehand (question: does birding count as cross training?). Here’s what this past week’s training looked like:

  • Saturday: 28 mile bike ride, 2 mile run
  • Sunday: rest
  • Monday: TURD (Totally Unscheduled Rest Day)
  • Tuesday: 8 mile run, 1400m swim
  • Wednesday: ??? Can’t remember. It is all a blur…rest day, maybe?
  • Thursday: 29 mile bike ride
  • Friday: 8 mile run
  • Saturday: 2 mile run, 1950m swim.
  • Sunday: 26 mile bike ride, 2 mile run
Look, Ma! There's water in the Santa Cruz!

Look, Ma! There’s water in the Santa Cruz!

Fundraising Update: We’re getting there! So far, thanks to your generous support, we have already raised $2825 this season, 56% of my ultimate goal of $5,000 by August 17, 2014. Please consider making a donation to help support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in its mission to find a cure for blood cancers. Any amount helps, from $5 to $500–just click here to go to my fundraising page to make a secure, online donation (or contact me if you’d prefer to send a check). And if you are unable to make a financial contribution, your moral support is just as welcome.

That’s all for now–stay tuned for more, and thank you. THANK YOU. Thank you for your continued generosity, for your encouragement, and for your unending support.

Go Team!

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Triathlon!

Jeez, but I have neglected this blog. I owe you a race report from San Francisco last fall, as well as just an all-around update on what I’ve been up to lately. For now, though, here are some highlights:

  • I am in the midst of training for the 2014 Nation’s Triathlon in Washington, D.C. on September 7, 2014.
  • I am doing this race in honor and memory of so many people. The list sadly continues to grow each year: my friend Jan (who will be coming to my race this year!!), my Uncle Kenny, my grandfather Arthur, my great aunt Ruth, my friend Robb, and all of the many people you have asked me to run/ride/swim in honor or memory of. I continue to do races and fund raise for them all. This year, in particular, I am training for Jude Anderson, the two-year-old son of one of my teammates here in Tucson, who was diagnosed with leukemia as I was training for the Nike Women’s Marathon last fall.
  • How can you help? My goal is to raise $5000 by August 17 to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society–one month from today! We’re already more than halfway there. Please take a minute to make a secure, tax-deductible donation. (If you’d like to send a check, just email me).
  • I’ll write a real post soon.
  • THANK YOU!

Jude enjoying a rocket pop.

Jude enjoying a rocket pop.

finisher

Me at the end of the 2011 Nation’s Triathlon.

Thar’s a Bahr!

Weekly miles run: 28.7
Total mileage this season: 444.55
Fundraising total: $3150 (63%)
Bears encountered: 2
Awards received: 1

Dear Adoring Fans,

I found out last week that one of the women that I run in honor of, who has already successfully battled both lung and breast cancer, was just diagnosed with lymphoma. I have a big, long list of people in whose memory and honor I run, but this past week I have been thinking about her in particular.

I usually save my fundraising update for the end of my post, but in light of that, I am going to jump right in and ask for your support, because it is so, so needed. At the beginning of this season I said that I wanted to raise $5,000 to bring my total raised for TNT since 2005 to $25,000, for the 25th Anniversary of TNT. Well, I finally sat down and did the math, and friends, to date, since 2005, together we have raised $35,659 to help find a cure for blood cancers. Can you believe that? Words seem inadequate, but thank you, just the same.

This season, so far we have raised a spectacular $3,150. That’s well over half-way to my goal of $5,000. Thanks so much to everyone who has donated last month to help me reach my mini-goal of $3,000. My next goal? To reach $4,000 by midnight on October 4, 2013–THIS FRIDAY. That’s just a measly $850–surely we can do it. (And fair warning: my next mini-goal will be to reach $5,000 before gun time on October 20). If you have already donated, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. If you haven’t yet, please consider making a contribution to help find a cure. No amount is too small, truly. It all adds up.

I’ve been traveling quite a bit for the past month and a half, which has made getting my miles in a little bit challenging. For a few weeks I was contemplating dropping back to the half marathon distance, but now that I’m on the other side of most of my travel (as well as my long run yesterday), I’m excited to run the full marathon on October 20th.

In early August I got to spend time in the field co-leading VENT’s Camp Chiricahua, working with my friends Michael and Louise to lead a great group of 13 young birders from across the country, exploring the birds and habitats of southeastern Arizona. It was a great group, and there are so many good memories, but here are a few of my favorites (click on any of the images to make them bigger):

Ringtail! We found this little fella one night when we were out herping/owling.

Ringtail! We found this little fella one night when we were out herping/owling.

Baby greater short-horned lizard. Is there much cuter than this in the world, I ask you? I think not.

Baby greater short-horned lizard. Is there much cuter than this in the world, I ask you? I think not.

Western Hercules Beetle. This male flew in and hit me square in the back. He was big.

Western Hercules Beetle. This male flew in and hit me square in the back. He was big.

Blue-throated Hummingbird at the Southwestern Research Station, Portal, AZ.

Blue-throated Hummingbird at the Southwestern Research Station, Portal, AZ.

Hiking at Cave Creek.

Hiking at Cave Creek.

Just before camp started I found this sweet girl roaming the streets of my neighborhood. It was a long story, but she is now in a good home.

Just before camp started I found this sweet girl roaming the streets of my neighborhood. It was a long story, but she is now in a good home.

From Camp Chiricahua I headed to California for a visit and to spend my birthday with C. My birthday was a low-key affair, but celebrated with a delicious dinner and some kayaking the following day on Lake Almanor. I was honored to receive one of the 2012 Partners In Flight Awards for Outstanding Contributions to Bird Conservation, and although I wasn’t able to be at the conference for the awards ceremony (on my birthday, no less), they patched me in and I got to hear the entire conference sing me happy birthday. It was actually pretty neat, and although of course I would have rather been there in person, this was a close second. Some friends accepted the award on my behalf and then brought it back to California and after transferring it to about three different folks, they got it to me. (For the non-birder readers among you, that is a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, a bird that I have worked with in both Sonora and Arizona).

I couldn't be at the conference in person to accept my award, but through the wonders of technology, I was able to be there on the phone.

I couldn’t be at the conference in person to accept my award, but through the wonders of technology, I was able to be there on the phone.

One of C’s coworkers is a runner, she gave me some ideas for routes for my long runs while I was up there visiting. I decided on a 16 mile route where I parked my car in the middle and then ran 4 miles out and then 4 back to my car, refueled, and ran 4 miles out and back the other way. The first four miles went great. I turned to head back to the car and at about mile 5 I heard a loud crashing in the woods. Now, the woman who recommended this route told me that she’d seen a bear there, so that is immediately where my head went. The only other thing that would make that much noise running through the woods is a person, and there weren’t any people around. I got a little nervous and initially slowed down and talked loudly to the bear, telling it to move along. After a minute or two I realized that I needed to get back to the car one way or another, so I kept running. At mile 7, I looked up and saw what I thought was a large boulder in the middle of the road, maybe 25 yards ahead. “That’s funny,” I thought. “I don’t remember driving around a large boulder. ” Well, of course, the boulder then raised its head and looked at me, and a black bear and I were staring each other in the face. It promptly turned tail and loped off into the woods, and I was left behind, running down the road and talking loudly to myself/the bear as I went. “Oh BEAAAAARRRRRRR! I’m HEEEEEEEERRRRRRRE, running down the ROOOOOAAAAAAAAD. It’s just me! How about you stay in the woods and I’ll stay on the road and we’ll all be good?” I think I also sang The Bear Song (if you’ve been to Girl Scout Camp, you know the one). Well, suffice it to say that I did not get eaten. But after that 8 mile adventure, I didn’t feel comfortable running down the road for another 4 miles and back, so I drove to another spot with a road that got some traffic (and hence not many bears) and finished the run.

The weekend after my birthday C and I drove down to Monterey, where we went out on a pelagic trip with my friend Debi of Shearwater Journeys. I have spent plenty of time on boats in the Gulf of California, but this was my first pelagic on the Pacific. The weather wasn’t the best, but I still saw four new life birds, as well as a couple of life mammals (blue whale–good heavens, they are large! and Risso’s Dolphin). I did a beautiful 14 mile run along the ocean and into Pacific Grove, got to spend a night visiting with friends down in Davenport and Oakland, and generally enjoying the California Coast.

Pelagic!

Pelagic!

Black-footed Albatross--lifer!

Black-footed Albatross–lifer!

After returning to Arizona, I took a whirlwind trip to Lakeside, Ohio, to lead a young birder event at the Midwest Birding Symposium for the American Birding Association. (I also did a 16 mile run while there and was reminded about that thing called “humidity.” At the end of my run I looked like I had just stepped out of a swimming pool.) Flying to the east for a long weekend isn’t something I generally recommend, but the event was a lot of fun, and I was so impressed by the young birders who participated.

Ethan Rising, Nathan Martineau, and Doug Whitman at the 2013 Midwest Birding Symposium.

Ethan Rising, Nathan Martineau, and Doug Whitman at the 2013 Midwest Birding Symposium.

Now I’m back in Arizona for three whole weeks. Three whole weeks! I almost don’t know what to do with myself! This weekend was our longest training run, and I ended up doing 21 miles, and feeling great! I ended up with a nice blister on one of my toes, but considering the fact that I was out there running for 3.5 hours, that’s not too bad. I’m going to head out for about 7 miles later this evening, and then the taper will officially begin. The week before the race, assuming the government doesn’t shut down, I’m headed down to Chiapas, Mexico, for a bird conservation conference. I get home from that and immediately turn around and fly to San Francisco for the race. More whirlwind!

This is what 21 miles looks like.

This is what 21 miles looks like.

So that’s what’s been going on in my life lately. How are you?

August!

Weekly miles run: 37
Total mileage this season: 212
Fundraising total: $1795 (36%)

Dear Adoring Fans,

Well, apparently two consecutive blog posts is all I can manage. I skipped the month of July entirely in terms of blogging. Fortunately, I more or less kept up with my training, even though I wasn’t writing about it.

It’s been a busy summer, so in some ways it isn’t a big surprise to find ourselves here in August already, with the marathon just two months away. In other ways, where did the summer go? I’ve been traveling a ton since I last wrote. On some of those trips I managed to get in runs; on others, not so much. The field season and marathon training don’t always go hand in hand, but I’m mostly making it work. The monsoons are definitely here, which means we’ve had some cloudy days (good), but the humidity is high (bad–my coach said it was 66% today, which I know, I know, my eastern friends will scoff, but it is enough that every tiny bug that I ran into on my run this morning stuck to me). Overall, it’s been nice running weather, though.

Before I get into any of that, though, I want to update you on two things:

  1. My Honored Teammate, Jan: after a very rough winter and spring that involved lots of time in the hospital, I am very happy to share that Jan is doing much better and is well enough to travel and enjoy some much needed vacation with her family this month. Every time I feel like slowing down or walking on a training run, or when my alarm goes off at 4am and I don’t really feel like getting out of bed to run, I think of everything that Jan has had to go through and just keep going, because I can, and because the money we are raising is making a real difference.
  2. Fundraising: There’s a more complete update at the end of this message, but the long story short is that we are 36% of the way to my overall goal of $5,000. I am trying very hard to reach this goal in the next three weeks, so If you haven’t yet, please consider joining my team by making a donation.

Okay. On to the pictures!

In early July I made a trip up to Mineral, California to visit C. and Louie the Dog. Louie’s hair has grown out a lot since his shave back in March, and with the weather warming up, he was getting pretty hot on our walks, so we brought him down to Chico for another haircut, this one not quite as drastic. (Aside: if you are looking for a groomer in the area, we were really happy with Carol’s Dog Grooming).

In late May/early June I headed up to Mineral to visit C. and Louie (posing for before-and-after pictures here).

In late May/early June I headed up to Mineral to visit C. and Louie (posing for before-and-after pictures here).

In the middle of July I drove up to Albuquerque for a meeting at my regional office. On the way I stopped off at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge to look for the Rufous-necked Wood-Rail that had showed up about a week earlier. This is a bird that is normally seen in Central and South America and it was the first record for the United States. It even made the CBS national news!

Rufous-necked Wood-Rail!

Rufous-necked Wood-Rail!

My friend Michael drove all night from San Diego to see the wood-rail, and after seeing it and doing a little more birding at the refuge, he and his friends turned around and drove back.

My friend Michael drove all night from San Diego to see the wood-rail, and after seeing it and doing a little more birding at the refuge, he and his friends turned around and drove back.

In late July I spent a week in Colorado, co-leading the American Birding Association’s Camp Colorado, a field course for young birders. This is one of my very favorite things I do each year, and this year was no exception. We had a wonderful group of 20 talented young people from across the U.S. and as far away as South Korea, and we spent the week exploring the birds and habitats of Rocky Mountain National Park and other spots in Colorado. Before camp started, I got to visit with some friends, which was an added bonus.

Can you believe I have known these two goofballs since they were two?

Alani (in the suit) and Samuel: Can you believe I have known these two goofballs since they were two?

It was great to get to visit with Matt one evening.

It was great to visit with Matt one evening.

I stumbled on a swift fox family while I was scouting locations for Camp Colorado and managed to get this video (and play around with iMovie a little bit–apologies in advance!)

A bullsnake pokes its head out of a tree at the Crow Valley Campground, Pawnee National Grasslands, Colorado.

A bull snake pokes its head out of a tree at the Crow Valley Campground, Pawnee National Grasslands, Colorado.

Horned Lark, with lunch.

Horned Lark, with lunch.

Common Nighthawk, by day.

Common Nighthawk, by day.

Campers looking for Mountain Plovers and Burrowing Owls.

Campers looking for Mountain Plovers and Burrowing Owls.

Hiking in Phantom Canyon.

Hiking in Phantom Canyon.

Bighorn sheep!

Bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain National Park.

The last day of camp at the airport--the Georgia contingent prepares to head home.

The last day of camp at the airport–the Georgia contingent prepares to head home.

As wonderful as bird camp was, I didn’t have any time to run, but once I got back to Tucson I jumped right back in. This week I ran almost 40 miles, including two 12-milers. My runs at the beginning of the week were a little rough, but by this morning I was feeling good and had a great 12.5 mile run, including lots of hills, which is good practice for San Francisco.

Me and my Team after our long run this morning. Can you tell I just ran 12.5 miles?

Me and my Team after our long run this morning. Can you tell I just ran 12.5 miles?

Fundraising Update: After a spectacular start, things have slowed down a bit, but together we have already raised  $1750. That is 36% of the way to my overall goal of $5000! Thanks so very much to everyone who has donated so far. I have a fairly significant birthday coming up at the end of the month, and there is nothing I would like more than to reach my fundraising goal. If you haven’t yet, please consider joining my team by making a donation to help support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in its mission to find a cure for blood cancers. Any amount helps, from $5 to $500–just click here to go to my fundraising page to make a secure, online donation (or contact me if you’d prefer to send a check). If you aren’t able to make a financial contribution, you can help by sharing my website with your friends and family. And moral support is always appreciated!

Go Team!

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Monsoon Teaser

Weekly miles run: 30
Total miles run this season: 58
Fundraising total: $1250 (25%)

Dear Adoring Fans,

A blog update two consecutive weeks in a row! Alert the press!

With the summer temperatures creeping up, we are starting our long Saturday runs earlier and earlier. Today we met at 5:30 (which meant getting up at 4:30), and honestly, it was so hot by 7am that I wish we’d started even earlier. I think next week we’ll push things up to 5am.Today we started to increase our  mileage, running for 90 minutes (which for me is about 9 miles). The longest I’ve run since last December is about 6 miles, so the last three or so miles were not the most fun I’ve ever had, but I finished. I ran with some of the women from my team on the way out, and then with my friend Rick on the way back (thanks for walking with me when I needed a break, Rick!) But I’m not complaining; I can feel myself getting back into the swing of things, and my mid-week runs have been feeling better and better and I’ve been able to go farther in the same amount of time. I’m not quite back to my standard pace, but I’ll get there. Tomorrow I have a 60 minute run on the schedule, so although I am sure my legs will be a bit tired for the first few miles, it’ll feel good to do some running and get the kinks out.

At the beginning of practice this morning we were all gathered up to do some stretching and hear news and updates. Each week our coaches give a little prize to the teammate who has made the most progress on his or her fundraising in the preceding week, and I was happily surprised to hear my name called! So thank you to all of you, loyal fans, for your generous support. I got some snazzy new shoelaces and energy chews, which I will definitely make use of as the season progresses.

Incentive to find a cure for cancer!

Incentives to find a cure for cancer!

Rick and Jennie post-run.

Rick and Jennie post-run.

After I got home I was able to do my very favorite thing after a long run: I took a shower and then took a nap. Oh, it was so, so nice. And then I drove over to my favorite post-run place to eat and I got a bowl of my favorite soup for lunch, so I’m feeling pretty contented right now.

Not completely awake after my nap.

Not completely awake after my nap.

The other bit of excitement here in Tucson is that we had the first rain of the season. Yesterday morning when I went out for my run I could really feel the humidity (aside: when I say it is humid in Tucson, I mean it was Tucson-humid–that is, the humidity was 31%.  I know that this is not REAL humidity, but work with me, people). Running in humidity isn’t near as much fun as running when it is dry, even when it is only 31%. This afternoon I woke up from my nap to see all of these Face.book posts about rain. I looked outside. It was partly sunny with no sign of rain at my house. I stepped outside onto the front porch and everything was dry, but it had that hot, wet pavement smell. You know the one? It reminded me of childhood summers, waiting underneath the eaves of the house for the rain to stop so we could keep on riding Big Wheels or bikes or playing wiffle ball. But I didn’t see any rain. About a 1/2 mile away from my house, though, as I drove to get lunch, the first fat raindrops hit my windshield. It was just a few at first, but then there were enough to use the wipers. It was more like a short drizzle that, in the words of my friend Rick, mostly just turned the dust on your windshield into mud, but it counts as far as I am concerned. It rained here in Tucson today.

Monsoon? Not quite, but soon!

Monsoon? Not quite, but hopefully soon.

Fundraising Update: We’re off with a bang! So far, thanks to your generous support, we have already raised $1250 this season, 25% of my ultimate goal of $5,000 by August 1, 2013. Please consider making a donation to help support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in its mission to find a cure for blood cancers. Any amount helps, from $5 to $500–just click here to go to my fundraising page to make a secure, online donation (or contact me if you’d prefer to send a check). And if you are unable to make a financial contribution, your moral support is just as welcome.

This is truly team effort, and I couldn’t do it without you.

Go Team!

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Nike Women’s Marathon Take 5!

Dear Adoring Fans,

I am writing this from a Holiday Inn in Casa Grande, Arizona. I’m here for the next few days helping researchers from Hawk Mountain Sanctuary with a vulture research project. Over the next few days we’ll be trapping Turkey and Black Vultures and putting satellite transmitters on the Turkey Vultures to track their movements. I’ve never had a vulture in the hand before, so it should be exciting, if a bit smelly. Ideally there will be little to no vomit involved (vultures have this truly charming defense mechanism whereby they yack all of the dead stuff they’ve been eating all over you. Effective? Yes.) So tomorrow morning at 4am we’ll be heading over to the trap site, and fingers crossed, before lunch time hopefully some of the transmitters below will find a long-term home strapped to the back of a few vultures.

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These solar powered satellite transmitters weigh just 45 grams. We’ll be attaching them to the Turkey Vultures so we can learn more about their movements.

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Turkey Vultures are our primary target.

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We may also catch some Black Vultures (both are present in the area).

But I’m not writing to you to tell you about vulture vomit. In fact, this is mostly just a placeholder post until I have time to sit down and really write about what I’m doing, but I was too excited to wait. In the meanwhile, here is what you should know:

  1. The 10th Anniversary Nike Women’s Marathon is happening on October 20, 2013, and I will be running in it (it will be my 5th time doing this race)! (!!!!)
  2. This year, 2013 is the 25th Anniversary of Team In Training. In honor of this momentous occasion, I am trying to raise $5,000 to help find a cure for blood cancers. This will bring my “lifetime” total raised for TNT to $25,000 since I started doing events in 2005. Can you believe we’ve raised that much together over the past nine years? Can you believe I have been doing this since 2005? Amazing.
  3. I need your help, dear friends, to reach this goal. Please consider making a secure, online donation at the link to the right. No amount is too small, and together we can do so much. You can make a secure, online donation here.

Thank you, as always, for your wonderful support. And stay tuned for more details, both about my training and the vultures!

2012 San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Race Report!

Dear Adoring Fans,

I can’t believe it is already September and I haven’t posted my race report from my marathon back in June (aside: every time I type the word “marathon” my fingers automatically add a terminal ‘g’, so it says “marathong.” What’s that about?)

Where was I?

Oh, yes. The marathon. I ran it!

On the beach by Torrey Pines State Park.

The marathon coincided with a meeting I had for work, also in San Diego, so it worked out perfectly. I drove out with my co-workers, participated in the meeting, had a day to do some sightseeing, and then met up with my team the following day. My meeting was at the San Diego Zoo, and we got this amazing behind-the-scenes tour of the bird exhibits, which was kind of realizing a lifelong dream of mine (no joke, when I was in elementary and middle school I spent hours and hours paging through a coffee table book about the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park. My dad got me a computer program that took you on a virtual tour of the zoo and I’d sit there entranced in front of the computer, reading about all of the animals.)

On the day between my meeting and meeting up with the rest of my team Christopher and I went on a nice hike at Torrey Pines State Park, visited the Birch Aquarium, and spent a little bit of time just enjoying the shoreline scenery and seeing the San Diego sights. He had to fly back to Tucson before my race, unfortunately, but we made the most of our time before he had to leave.

On to the race. Although this was my sixth marathon, I hadn’t run one since 2008, so in many ways I was feeling like it was my first one. I felt confident in my training, and was very hopeful that I’d be able to meet my goal of running the race in under 4 hours 15 minutes. That said, I was still nervous. The race expo was enormous and kind of overwhelming, and I was glad to be there a day early to avoid at least a bit of the crowd. I got my race bib, timing chip, and goody bag, along with a few other things at the expo, but mostly it was just so crowded all I wanted to do was leave.

Jennie and Scott in the hotel lobby before the race.

One thing that was special about the race was that some of my family was able to be there. My uncle and his wife and one of my cousins, who live in the Bay Area, and my mum, who came down from Portland, OR, were all there, which was really nice. My mum came to the Inspiration Dinner the evening before the race. Her father is one of the people I run in memory of, as well as her brother, so it was meaningful to have her there with me.

Race day dawned bright and early. I met up with my teammates down in the hotel lobby. My training partner, Scott, was unfortunately injured and decided to just run the half, so I decided to try to run the race with a pace group. I really wanted to break the 4:15 barrier, and the closest pace group they had was aiming fro 4:10, so that is where I decided to run.

The shuttle dropped us off at least a half a mile downhill from the start, so the day began with an uphill walk in the dark. The start area was crowded, but my team found a spot to gather and wait for the sun to come up. The lines for the port-o-potties were long, so I began the standard drill–get in line, use the port-o-pot, get in line again.

The race started in Balboa Park, where we’d spent the previous day sightseeing, so everything felt at least a little bit familiar. The start was a little hectic–the lines for the bathrooms were so incredibly slow that the race started while I was still in line. I was in the 15th or 16th start wave, so I had a little bit of time once the initial gun went off, but I still ended up jogging to the start, and getting there just after my wave left. As a result, I also forgot to start my Garmin for the first mile or so. Alas.

I spent the first couple of miles just trying to gather my wit about me. The stressful start was not ideal, and I found myself running a bit fast. I didn’t want to burn out early, but I also wanted to find the 4:10 pace group, so I tried to run just slightly faster than my goal pace, hoping to catch up with them. Right around mile 4 I saw a man carrying a “4:10” sign on a stick, and a group of runners surrounding him who had “4:10” bibs on their back, just like me. Phew. I settled in for the long haul.

Honorees.

I’d never run with a pace group before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I don’t know if my experience in San Diego was typical, but the guy leading us was fabulous. For starters, he ran the entire marathon holding a 4′ dowel rod with a sign on top of it. He didn’t just run the pace that we needed, but also coached us all along, got the crowd to cheer for us, and just generally made the whole experience fun. He’d check the time, tell us how we were doing in terms of the goal, tell us to shake out our arms now and then, remind us take it easy on the uphill, and every so often he’d holler at the spectators and ask how 4:10 looked, which always resulted in lots of inspiring cheering. It was fantastic.

And I felt great. I was running strong, averaging about 9:30/mile.

Running through the park down towards the city was nice because it was the same route that I’d walked and driven over the past few days, so I knew what to expect. One of the biggest highlight from the first half of the race was running through Qualcomm Stadium. We could look down onto the field, and they had a special “congratulations” screen for us as we ran by. There was also someone playing the big organ next to the Japanese Gardens, which was a neat treat. The day was overcast and cool; there was some concern that it would be sunny and hot, but the weather was really pretty perfect for a long run.

Much of the first half of the race happens on the highways (they close ’em down for the race). The challenging thing about this is that the camber that makes water run off of the highways to improve the situation for cars in wet weather provides a challenging surface for runners. I’d heard from folks who had done the race in the back about major knee issues resulting from this, and had been warned to try to stay down by the shoulder, where it was flattest. Our pace group leader was great and made sure to remind us of this, and to keep the group down in this area. There were some hills during the first half, but nothing too major, and certainly nothing as steep as the hills in the Nike Women’s Marathon. I was still feeling really good.

5k time: 28:27

10k time: 56:46

Half marathon time: 2:03:59

We were right on schedule for a 4:10 race, with a nice cushion for those last miles, when things were bound to get rough.

From the downtown areas we headed north, towards Mission Bay. I was starting to get tired, and my calves felt a bit sore after the highway running, but I was still feeling pretty strong and proud of myself for hanging with the 4:10 group. I saw teammate Matt along the way, as well as our amazing TNT staff person Louanne cheering participants on, and that gave me a nice lift as the mileage went up.

As we got to Mission Bay, the running path started to narrow. We were running on a path that went around the bay, things started to bottleneck, and my pace group began to spread out just a little bit. That little bit kept extending and extending, and after speeding up several times and trying to weave around people in front of me in an effort to keep up, I found that I was tiring myself out. In spite of my best efforts, by mile 19 I had gotten separated from the group, who I could see in the distance, moving farther away. It was very disheartening.

Miles 20-22 were rough. I hadn’t walked at all up to this point, except briefly through water stops, but I walked an awful lot of mile 20. This was the point where I was asking myself, “Jennie, why do you keep doing this to yourself? The only reason you are here is because of YOU. Why, Jennie? WHY?” I forced myself to eat even though I was feeling queasy, drank more water, and by mile 22 was starting to feel better and started running again.

The course took us out and around Fiesta Island for miles 23-25. I had heard from my teammates that this was a desolate, awful part of the race–no one to cheer you on, nothing interesting to look at, etc., so I had kind of psyched myself out before it even began. The reality, for me, turned out to be that this was one of the most beautiful spots of the race–beautiful habitat, birds calling and flying everywhere, and just peaceful quiet surrounding everything. The runners were really spaced out, after the bottleneck of miles 18-21, and I felt like I could breath. I felt 100 times better at mile 24 than I did at mile 19.

As I finished the island loop, I could look ahead and see the finish line. Unfortunately it was still 2 miles away! Those were two awfully long miles, but I definitely had caught at least a little bit of a second wind. I knew I was really close to my 4:15 goal time, although due to my Garmin mishap at the start of the race, I wasn’t sure. At that point I just sort of put my head down and went for it.

Jennie and Uncle Rick at the finish line.

Jennie and Uncle Rick at the finish line.

The last 1/4-1/2 mile was lined with cheering fans, and that really helped me keep moving forward. I heard the announcer call my name, and then, suddenly, it was over. I had finished my 6th marathon.

Official time: 4 hours, 16 minutes, 8 seconds.

I hadn’t quite made my goal time, but it was still a personal record, so I was very happy about that, especially given how lousy I felt for miles 20-22.

I made my way through the chute, got a banana and some water, checked in at the TNT tent, and met up with my family. My uncle Rick had run half of the half marathon relay (Go Rick!), so we compared finishers medals and experiences. I hadn’t seen Rick, his wife, or my cousin Kate before the race (or in a number of years, for that matter), so it was especially neat to see them, and my mum, there at the finish line.

Jennie and Mom.

Jennie and Mom.

Physically I felt pretty okay. I was a little bit shaky on my feet, and my calves were definitely more sore than I’d expected them to be, but I was able to walk the long distance between the gear check and the TNT tent without too much of an issue.

After visiting with my family for a bit, we made plans to meet up in a few hours and I took the shuttle back to the hotel. On the shuttle I sat next to a woman who had been there to cheer on her daughter; we talked a bit, and it turned out she was a multiple myeloma survivor, and her name was Jan, just like my honored teammate Jan. It was a kind of strange coincidence, and it got me thinking about Jan, my Uncle Kenny, my friend Susan, and all of the many others whose names are on my race jersey. I may have been questioning my sanity around mile 21, but thinking about what all of my honorees have had to go through, well, suffice it to say that there are more marathons, century rides, and triathlons with TNT in my future.

Back at the hotel I took an ice bath and then a shower, and gently stretched and put my legs up a bit. My family came and picked me up and we all went to my other cousin’s house for dinner. I was really, really happy to find that my cousin’s wife had a foam roller, so I did a little bit of foam rolling, especially on my calves, which were beginning to feel more and more sore, and that really made a difference. My achilles tendons were feeling things the most, which I think was the unfortunate result of the cambered highway, but the rest of me was feeling reasonably good, with the exception of the usual blisters on my feet. I have come to accept the fact that as long as I am a distance runner, my second toenails will constantly be in a state of coming off or growing in (sorry for that visual, but it’s the truth).

Coach T, Jennie, Scott, and Coach Rick at the San Diego airport, waiting to board our flight.

The next day my teammates and I flew back to Tucson, another successful TNT event under our belts. So what’s next for me? I probably won’t be doing another TNT event in 2012, but stay tuned for 2013. This December I’ll be running the Ole Man River Half Marathon in New Orleans with my cousin, Chris, and am looking forward to that. Possible TNT events include the Arizona Distance Classic half marathon, here in Tucson in March, and the inaugural Nike Women’s Half Marathon in Washington, D.C. in April. Watch this space!

There are a bunch of folks I’d like to especially thank, including Teresa and Rick, my amazing coaches; Louanne, our staff person and the heart and soul of Team Tucson; Matt S., who came out to San Diego on his own dime just to cheer his teammates on, even though he didn’t run this race; my Uncle Rick, who gamely laced up his running shoes and did a solid 8 miles without really training for it–he definitely deserved that finishers medal; my cousin Kate, my mom, and Sunnie, for making the trek down to cheer us on (and to Sunnie for taking most of these pictures!); and my training partner, Scott–although we were not able to run the race together, I wouldn’t have gotten to the start line without you!

Finally, I want to thank all of you who made donations to my fundraising for this event, or who sent encouraging messages.

Ready for the next race!

Together we raised a fantastic $2410 to help find a cure for blood cancers. I have been fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society fairly continuously since 2005, and many of you have supported me through every event. A simple “thank you” seems very inadequate, but I still say it. Thank you for your continued generosity, for your encouragement, and for your inspiration. Together we have raised about $20,000 since 2005 to help find a cure for blood cancers and make the lives of patients and their families better. Running a marathon is cool and all, but THAT is the truly impressive thing. I think it was Betty Reese who said, “If you think you’re too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.” That’s the truth. From a $5 donation to a $500 donation, every single dollar counts and together we are really making a difference. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

Go Team!