My journey - battling lymphoma

Recently I celebrated my 46th birthday. I love celebrating birthdays! Then I participated as a co-captain for our local "Quabog" Relay For Life and the Pack 57 Rocks! Cub Scout Team. This was the time frame that I had discovered an uneasiness in my stomach and growth in my spleen and stomach. After weeks of monitoring, my husband Steve took me to the doctor who felt the lumps and ordered a CT scan. The CT scan showed a massive area, my spleen enlarged to twice its size and an additional growth lower in my stomach. Next was the localized CT guided biopsy and subsequent PET scan. The biopsy showed positive for lymphoma and most likely Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma.

This is my online journal sharing my experience through battling this cancer that has abruptly entered my life for no apparent reason. The story is documented here if you want to start from the beginning, you can check the archives on the side bar.

As a top competitive master athlete this year winning my age group at the Marine Corps Marathon and placing 3rd in the New England Trail Running Championship I have been truly excited with my results of late and am a truly driven athlete. Driven by goals.... my goal right now.... to beat this "thing"!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Spreading the word of survivorship & Sharing HOPE

Sharing my story has really been a way for me to reach out to others and give hope to those that may be facing a cancer diagnosis and a way to connect with other survivors in sharing strength. When you open up and share your life, others can really be inspired to be strong, be strong as a caregiver, and know that there is hope. Working for the American Cancer Society - I know there is hope, there are cures to be found and better treatments every day. When I was diagnosed, I felt armed with all the right information and that is so critical for survival on so many different levels.

Here is a shortened version of my story I shared in San Francisco before leading the group in the opening lap of the McKesson hosted Corporate Relay on Justin Herman Plaza right by the Pier. There were more than 400 in attendance in the crowd.  It was a beautiful Relay and so many great people opened up to me and thanked me. It is pretty great when you can make an impact on so many in a short period of time.

Check out the photos below that were taken that day by me and my husband Steve.... :) Congratulations to all those survivors out there and the many participants recruited --It was an incredible experience for me to be out there sharing the HOPE.

 Let's FINISH this fight!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon is my favorite marathon. 

To qualify for Boston is a badge of honor. It is the "Grand Daddy" of them all. When you say you have run the Boston Marathon you can feel the deserved respect. It isn't an easy marathon to train for, even though the marathon distance is still just 26.2 miles. :)  Living in the Northeast, in the snow and the cold just gives it an extra challenge. I am an avid skier and  every weekend is coaching, teaching and skiing with my family. Running takes a back seat and I "give myself a rest" and slide down the mountain on skis instead. :) Ski training isn't a cross training choice for running and really doesn't compliment the regime, but skiing is my other sport and a family activity that we love so much!

The other reason I love the Boston marathon is the rich history. It resonates with me, being a history buff from New England. This year more than ever as I followed The Boston Marathon on Facebook.  The page shared photos of Johnny Kelley (who I met in 1993 in Athlete's Village - when he was in his 90's) & Clarence De Mar (we have a marathon named after him here in New Hampshire) & Joan Benoit Samuelson (I met her at the Tufts 10K for Women and taught her niece skiing at Mt Sunapee) and Bill Rodgers (I met him in Boston and at the Woodstock 1/2 marathon) and finally I got to meet & talk to Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run Boston this year at the Expo. How cool is that?! :) These names are famous in the running world and their stories are tightly woven in the history of the Boston Marathon. So cool to meet them in person!
Kathrine Switzer & I at the Boston Marathon Expo 2012

I would like to share with you a brief personal history of running the Boston Marathon:

The Rookie
Each year since I started running marathons in 1989 - my running goal has been to qualify for Boston. There were were some years that even though I qualified I didn't run because it was so hard to train in the winter - but I am proud to say I have now run the Boston Marathon 8 times! I qualified with my very first marathon - running the 1989 Montreal marathon in 3:35. It was so awesome that I qualified -- I just had to do Boston that first year! Sad to say the only thing I remember about that race was the blisters on my feet, and how I couldn't fit in my long runs in and just ran it to finish.:) I don't have any photos of me running, or the trip.  And I can't find the medal - I have moved so many times.... I hope it shows up somewhere. :(
  Finish time: 3 hours 51 minutes

The Basketball Player

I remember 1993 because I was coaching Varsity girls basketball at Woodstock High School in Vermont, and working at the recreation center as the Aquatics Director. My friend Christina Paugh and I had a great time on this road trip to Boston, stayed at a cheap hotel and bargain shopping in the city. I may have a few photos of this trip, but will have to look harder in my boxes that I seem to drag everywhere I go. :) Again, most of my training was sprinting with the girls at practice, no long runs, but I qualified, so darn it, I was going to do it! But sprinting with the girls just wasn't enough -- this one was tough! 
Finish time: 4 hours & 16 minutes 

The Marathon Mom

Baby Schuyler in his jogging stroller :)
This Boston marathon I ran 6 months postpartum.I qualified for Boston 2000 and was able to get a deferral because I was pregnant with my son Schuyler. Schuyler was born on 10/10/01 with a C section, where my lower stomach was cut so he could arrive to the world safely. I trained diligently through my pregnancy. I remember wearing a skin suit and riding my bike at 8 months pregnant with my friend Petra - she will tell you the story of how strong I was all the way through those 9 months. I would walk at a fast pace in hopes that my baby would come, but he was 5 days late! My training for Boston was hampered because of the C section being pretty painful recovery, but I did it! I was breast feeding Schuyler just prior to going to the start line -- it was one of the toughest marathons that I had ever run (at that time) & I boast my "Post Partum Marathon" quite often. :) I have a photo of Schuyler with Frank Shorter from the Expo -- but I just can't seem to fine it (Probably with all those other missing medals!) :)
Finish time: 4 hours 10 minutes

The Runaway

PR - 7th Master - The Noreaster

Boston 2007 
It was quite a few years before I ran Boston again. But this time I was back with a vengeance. I was going through a divorce & running was my getaway. I ran before ski teaching & went to spin classes at 6 am. I was thin & feeling strong. I had just met the man of my dreams & Steve was waiting for me at the finish line. I could feel his energy. This was the year of the pending Noreaster that threatened cancellation of the marathon. It was raining at the start, cold, wet & everyone was piled on top of each other in the tent at Athlete's village. I remember the crowds were very small that year because of the cold weather and the finish line was very quiet. Steve found some "friends" and cheered me across the line. So in love. I placed 7th master, but didn't realize it until I got home just how well I did that year. It was so amazing and I have this beautiful crystal trophy engraved on my shelf to show my achievement.  This race is not only my PR in the marathon, but my PR in the half marathon with a 1:25.
Finish time: 3 hours 05 minutes 59 seconds

Fast Master!
Boston 2008

This was the year of the LOW number. Your qualification time determines your bib number and my time was SO darn fast I was crazy excited about my low number. 3800 -- how cool is that? I felt so out of place with all those fast girls in the front corral, but I was smiling ear to ear! :) It was great to experience the Expo with my true love, we had just married in October & crazy in love! As a top ranked master runner in the mountain running and marathon arena - I really had my hopes up for a fast finish. This early spring marathon is always I challenge as I have mentioned before, but this course really feels like home to me now

Finish time: 3 hours 19 minutes 35 seconds
With my true love - Boston Expo 2008

The DetermiNator
I ran my first American Cancer Society DetermiNation marathon in Burlington, VT that past year after missing Boston 2009 due to a family commitment to ski in Snowbird. :) This Boston was eventful as I met some of the most amazing runners through the American Cancer Society DetermiNation team. Charlie, Cara, & David will be friends of mine for life! It was so fun to be a part of this group & Boston was even MORE meaningful - dedicating my run to a friend & cancer survivor Mary Beth - who since has passed away. I had a fan following with the outreach I was making for the fundraising & it was a nationwide support of friends and colleagues that pushed me forward to the finish! Fighting cancer & raising money to create a world with more birthdays -- I was feeling the passion for running and for fighting cancer through my running! I remember dedicating each mile to someone who had been affected by the disease and carrying those names with me along the route for strength. 
The Dream Team 2010
Finish time : 3 hours, 23 minutes, 17 seconds
The gear

Spleen Free!
Many said I was crazy, pushing myself to run after my spleen being removed 6 weeks before this Boston, because they thought they found more cancer. It was the focus and drive of running that kept me healthy & sane during my lymphoma diagnosis & treatment. I was determined to run & again raising money for ACS and running for DetermiNation. It was tough missing 3 weeks of training, so I "banked" my miles early running 50 plus mile weeks.. It was mentally tough not knowing what I could do and if and when I would feel crappy. But the weather was ideal and I was very fit, feeling healthy once again after my 6 months of chemotherapy behind me. Charlie, David & Cara - The "Dream Team" was there to support me, and Matt & Jill joined the team and gave even more support. I was so proud to be a strong athlete cancer survivor and an inspiration to others. Can you see it in my smile?  I finished strong and happy!
Finish time: 3 hours, 30 minutes, 53 seconds
Boston 2011 "Spleen Free"


The Survivor 
Not only am I now a cancer survivor of not quite 2 years since my diagnosis, but I survived this crazy Boston Marathon 2012 - in the "Extreme Heat Year" where the temps were pushing mid 80s and everyone was searching for shade   . Pushing for a post cancer PR, my miles and training prior were in tune with a goal of 3:19. I really had the training behind me running all through the winter with a crazy 109 run streak and getting in 3 long runs too. It was tough out there. I had my Wonder Woman costume made by my sister, and the skirt was DRENCHED! The water tunnels, the water hoses from all the houses on the route, plus dumping the water from the aid stations on my body helped me to keep cool, and try to keep my pace. It was exhausting and I was bummed every time I looked at my Garmin to see the slower pace. My goal was adjusted many times, and I was happy to finish as well as I did. It has been a real tough one to recover from too -- my legs still hurt after 3 days now. But proud to have finished my 8th Boston Marathon with a "BQ" for my age group and impressive time  with the consideration of the crazy heat! 
Finish time: 3 hours, 47 minutes, 10 seconds
Boston 2012 - still strong at mile 8
DetermiNation Boston Team 2012

I love the Boston Marathon, not only because it is "home", not only because of the crowds, or because of my own history with the race -- but because it is a statement about running. It is a statement that I am a strong runner - I can face the odds - I have the strength, not just to finish 26.2 miles - but to qualify - and then dedicate myself to finishing The Boston Marathon, the grand daddy of them all. Looking forward to next year -- Marathon Monday - Patriots Day - with the Dream Team - to run another marathon - another Boston Marathon.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Dailymiler of the week: Nancy E

Guess who is dailymiler of the week! ME! 

dailymiler of the week: Nancy E.

Every week we pick one inspiring dailymiler to be featured on the blog. This gives you a chance to learn the stories of members of the dailymile community. Check out past dailymiler’s of the week. Do you know someone that would be a great dailymiler?Nominate them!
“No one can hold you back from doing all the things you want to do. Just keep your goals in sight, listen to your body and take one day at a time. Some days will be better than others, but every day is a blessing – so make each day the best it can be.”

Those words of wisdom, put together on a run one day, have empowered Nancy E. Cook, our dailymiler of the week, through the tough times she has faced as she’s dealt with lymphoma these past two years. As she was beginning chemo therapy, she was planning to run the Chicago Marathon. The race was to be roughly two-thirds of the way through her treatments. A lot of people told her running through treatment was impossible. Nancy ignored the naysayers and continued training, listening to her body and pushing herself as much as she could. As the chemo treatments continued she got weaker and weaker, but she was determined to complete her goal.

“When I was in chemo,” she said, “I had bad days (usually three) and then slowly I’d regained my energy.”

Despite her difficult situation, Nancy made it to Chicago and ran a respectable 3:57 with her friend Cara. “I was in a Wonder Woman costume,” she reported. Cara was dressed as Batgirl.

Nancy was an accomplished athlete before cancer struck. She competed in her first triathlon in 1984. She went to the Olympic Distance Nationals twice and qualified for the World Championships for the 1/2 ironman once. She has competed in four Ironman triathlons. Her PR is 11 hours. “I kept trying to qualify for Hawaii,” she said, “but kept missing it by ‘one’ slot.”

She ran her first marathon in 1989. She finished 7th master in Boston in 2007 with a 3:05:5. Two years later, she was first master at the 2009 Marine Corps Marathon. She finished third in the New England Mountain running championships. She also ranked in the sport category in New England mountain bike racing and competed in cyclocross when in Colorado.

Just after Nancy finished her cancer treatments at the end of 2010, she had a bit of a setback. Her doctors thought they’d found more cancer in her spleen so they removed it. The biopsy taken after surgery came back negative. She was cancer-free. She has undergone blood tests every four months to check for more cancer, but so far has remained in remission. She will continue testing for two years. Her oncologists say the chances that the lymphoma won’t come back are good at that point.

Is she afraid of a relapse? “I worry when my stomach feels weird and my runs aren’t up to par,” she said. Even so, she continues to live life, to tell her story and to run. “I run because many cannot even get themselves out of bed in the morning. It is for all those that are suffering from this disease that I continue to fight as hard as I can.”

She’s had ample opportunity to share her story. She has spoken on stage many times, spreading hope, sharing her struggle, inspiring many to get up and do the things they love to do despite their cancer. In a little over three years, as a part of the American Cancer Society’s DetermiNation fundraising team, she has raised more than $10,000 for cancer research.

Six weeks after her spleen was removed Cook competed in the 2011 Boston Marathon. She finished in 3:30. This past September she ran her first ultra, the Vermont 50. She was the fourth female to finish, covering the 50-mile course in 8:30. “The ultra was the ultimate in endurance for me and showed that I can be the Wonder Woman that my friends like to call me.”

How is Wonder Woman doing now? “I am doing great!” she reports. “Positive attitude will get you there!” She surrounds herself with her heroes – her husband, who has been there for her every step of the way, her son Schuyler, stepson & daughter Stephen & Samantha, and her DetermiNation and Relay For Life friends. “There is nothing better than celebrating life,” she says, “and I do it all the time.” On dailymile and as a San Francisco Marathon ambassador she has truly felt the support of her virtual teammates!

Nancy will be back in Boston next month, toeing the line for her eighth start in Hopkinton.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Crazy Survivor - Giving Back - Sharing HOPE

It will be 2 years in July that I was in the doctor’s office and I heard those words “You have cancer”. It has been a little more than a year that my chemo treatments ended, they thought they found more cancer in my spleen and removed it.  It could be that I continue to be in denial and “running” has helped me deal mentally and physically with being faced with cancer. Am I running away from reality? Maybe.
But maybe not. Maybe that is the best way I know how to deal with the stress and working to make my body healthier. People thought I was pretty nuts running throughout my treatment, finishing the Chicago marathon 2/3 of the way through chemo and then finishing Boston 6 weeks after they took my spleen. Maybe I am crazy. A crazy survivor that is!
Everyone deals with this disease differently. Most get scared, some get depressed, some get angry, and some just want to fight back. Or in my case and most cases we experience all of the above. And when do you call yourself a survivor anyway? In my mind, any day after you hear those words --- you are a survivor. After you walk out that door no matter what the next months bring, you are a survivor. After you are done treatments – you are a survivor. They killed it all and they say there is no more cancer? You are in remission and now it feels like it – you have earned your wings – a survivor
So what does it mean to give back? Why give back as a cancer survivor?.  I remember after finishing Boston last year with all that adversity and still a healthy 3:30 finish time (20 minutes faster than my age “BQ” – Boston qualifier) – I amazed myself – dressed in my Wonder Woman outfit and all. After “it” was all done, I didn’t continue to blog much, I felt my story was “over” – but what I realized is that my story was taking on a new life. A life of a survivor. Fighting Back & Celebrating Life.
What message can I send to others as a cancer survivor – a STRONG survivor. One of my quotes through my cancer journey was “If you have hope, you can share hope, and if you inspire others they will in turn inspire you”. This past week in Dallas – I read it on a Relay For Life Survivor tshirt “I AM HOPE” – Loved the message! I want to inspire and spread hope. This is forefront in my mind. I want to share my story and help anyone that may need my words to build up their own hope- I want to share it.  In less than one year I have felt the strength of spreading hope. Not just from speaking and sharing my story, but from first hand experiences. First I reached out and encouraged my friend Barbara who had breast cancer a few months after my diagnosis.  Then another friend from college, Cheryl was faced with stage 4 breast cancer and a double mastectomy after her chemo. Both of these women proved to be amazing “Wonder Women” in the face of cancer. I was so proud of them. My friend Sasha was stricken with grief when she lost her friend Crissy. I reached out to comfort her and carry Crissy’s ribbon on my “Cape of Hope” Again just recently my friend Susan informed me she is facing a breast cancer diagnosis and is “joining the club”.  Then at Mount Snow I was introduced to my friend, a fellow ski coach Mike's mom. She was so worried and stressed with her diagnosis. After talking to my husband and me she felt so much better and had hope that everything would be ok - and she would be able to get through it. Last but not least I found out today that my dear friend Lily, the sister of fellow Dream Team Boston marathoner, Charlie, was diagnosed with cancer this week. This news struck me hard this time. When will it stop! :( Each and everyone of these people have truly inspired me and have made me even stronger and so blessed to have them as friends -- and I am so glad to be a live to be there for each one of them & share that there is hope.
Wonder Woman in Chicago 2010 
We need to keep fighting. We need to keep raising the much-needed funds to find a cure and give strength and answers to our friends, who ever they are to get through their own battle with the disease. We need to advocate for affordable health care and laws that support the fight against cancer.
Please continue to raise the dollars and share your story of why you run for the American Cancer Society DetermiNation  team. Share the hope of more birthdays for more people. It will be my 8th Boston marathon, my 27th marathon and my 8th DetermiNation effort.  So far we have raised almost $8500 as the Dream Team !  I looked at the group of people who are running for DNation in Boston -- at least 3 other cancer survivors in addition to me - are sharing their stories, sharing hope ---- on the line to raise funds for the Society and fight back. The others all have a personal connection -- very close connection -- and are repeat runners -- fighting each year to find a cure.
Charlie & Lily at Boston 2011

Wonder Woman in Boston 2011
The Cape of HOPE

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It was only ONE year ago......

Next week will mark my one year anniversary since the end of my chemo treatment.  It was only one year ago that I was in Northampton at Dr. Mullally's office with that chemo dripping in my arm.  I packed up my computers, my books, my iPad, my Nano and Steve drove me to the office.  I had just finished the Chicago marathon a couple weeks prior and I was smiling from that success.  I had printed out a photo of me in the Wonder Woman outfit and Cara as BatGirl - put it in a frame for the Doc.... he has placed it in a prime location right above the chair where I regularly received my chemo.

It was only a year ago - I was bald and wearing my blonde wig trying to fool everyone around me that I bleached my hair and was trying to look young! Or so I remember that lady commenting behind my back... I had no eye brows, no eye lashes, but I had a smile a mile wide because I was so loved by my husband, my family and friends.  I remember all the self portraits I took during that time and am glad I did because I really didn't feel very well.  It was the last week of treatment and I felt like celebrating - although wine didn't taste very good...  so we curled up and went to sleep early most nights.

We took a photo of us with the doc in the office after waking up from my treatment, as it was a norm that I fell asleep near the end and just got cozy with a blanket and pillow in my favorite chair  with the smiling nurses checking on me every once in a while to be sure I was still feeling ok.  :)

My hair is finally growing back to "almost ponytail" length -- and it is a nice brown color with a little curl to it.  Much more curl than I have ever had before.  Although chemo wasn't the end of my "treatment" having my spleen removed at the end of February would really be the official end -- this is a truly monumental time for me.

My recovery from the Chicago marathon --- and then to finish treatment.  That was all that was going on in my mind at the time.  :)  Yay!  HUGE accomplishments!

Fast forward to today.... in 4 days I toe the line for my 24th marathon in New York City.  I have never run the NYC marathon before and it will be quite the amazing adventure!  Ramon from DNation asked me to speak for the Friday night dinner so we are headed down on Friday.  Then staying with our friend Tabi who we know from Mount Snow.  It is supposed to be 50's and tail wind -- yahoo!

Info for NYC - Bib
Blue Wave#1 Corral#11 11/6/2011 9:40:00 AM 

Drum roll please!!!!  My total amount raised for DetermiNation is $1550 for this event and I am so thankful to all my donors!  I had 2 friends that gave $200 plus and the last donation was 206.50 to put me right at the $1500 mark.  My grand total for all 6 DetermiNation events I have raised money to support the American Cancer Society is $9283.80 !  Yay!  Today was the day that the group of INGNYC DNation runners reached the $1 million dollar mark!  An incredible feat of passion in the fight against cancer -- raising money so there will be less cancer and more birthdays!   Coming from a girl who LOVES her birthday --- celebrating life -- this means so much to me!  So excited to meet all the other runners when we get down there on Friday.

Tapering has been crazy this week with the freak snow storm that came to town.  2 feet of heavy wet snow that has destroyed trees, falling down on wires, cables and into the roads in our area.  We have been without power for 3 days--- no water for showers that is readily available (we only run the generator for small periods of time to keep the food from spoiling).  So I haven't been running much -- got to get out more in the end of the week if life gets back to normal at all.  This storm has truly brought our neighborhood together -- looking out for one another, helping people with clearing trees, and sharing the warmth.  I feel ready for New York -- strong, happy, healthy and thankful.

After all - it is that time of the year we remember to be thankful -- although after having cancer, I am so incredibly thankful ALL YEAR ROUND!
Steve & I celebrating our 4th wedding anniversarynumber and start time:

"Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back!"

It is not too late to donate --- I am working hard to hit that $10,000 mark - so please if you can help support my efforts in the fight against cancer it truly means the world to me...  more than ever.
Nancy's DetermiNation NYC marathon website

Thank you!
Please leave a comment if you stop by!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Vermont 50 miler - It's all about Survival

It was mentioned somewhere in my reading about ultra marathons, that when it gets to these long miles it really isn't about the "racing", it is about survival.   It struck me as amazing that after one year and a few months since diagnosis that I am embarking on a new journey, a 50 mile run / race - that will challenge my soul once again.  

I found this quote today while reading on the web -- it is so appropriate for my state of mind right now:

Some day you won't be able to do this anymore, today is not that day' - Anonymous 

It has been a 'crazy' year and I think back quite often to the challenges that I faced during my diagnosis, treatment and now recovery.    I lumped it all in the same experience and pushed myself to run Chicago, then Boston, now this 50 miler on the Vermont trails and mountains.... It was all blurred together, recovery from each treatment, building up my white blood cells to get slammed again.  I remember it all too well in fact.  I refused to sit down, I ran, I trained - set my goals - completed those 2 marathons with a HUGE smile on my face.  And now am so proud to look back and see what I accomplished. :)  

DetermiNation is a big word in my vocabulary these days.  I am proud to be a runner.   I am proud to be running faster than ever.  I have some marathon milestones accomplished through some big challenges to share... I am reminded of all of this in prep for the VT50 and looking back at the 26 marathons I have completed. 

2002 - Boston Marathon 6 months post partum.  Schuyler was born on 10/10/01 by way of C-section.  Losing that baby fat, healing from the C Section --- all quite challenging indeed. In addition living in New Hampshire at the time it was tough to get out there training in the winter months for an April marathon.  I had waived my entry (back when it was allowed to waive) - because of my pregnancy.  It was a "slow" Boston for me (4;20) -- but I finished and ran right to my baby boy.  Very cool indeed.  

2007 - Boston Marathon during my D time... the divorce years were tough (so worth it once I found the man of my dreams!) and I focused on my running early, late and whenever I needed a break.  It was the determination of an athlete to get through the tough times in your life.  The best thing about my 2007 race was my result surprised me --- I flew!  3:05 was the time.... I was 7th master in the year that they were going to cancel for a Noreaster that was predicted.  Wow.

2010 - Chicago Marathon - There were plenty of "nay-sayers" that were in disbelief when I told them I would run Chicago after being diagnosed with stage 4 diffuse large B cell lymphoma.  I was a runner.  It was how I managed stress, life balance, self confidence and more.  It was a part of my healing ---- to run --- every day if I could (which I couldn't during treatment week) and I did take plenty of days off.  But I stuck to my goal of running that marathon, figured I would walk if I had to.... supported by SO many people.  My friend Cara running beside me as BatGirl - introducing me as Wonder Woman to all as we ran - sharing my story of survival -- 2/3 of the way through chemotherapy.  Tingly feet & hands, a little sick to my stomach (love my ginger people!) - but I did it.  3:57 (a BQ for me!) was our finish time. Yay!

2011 Boston Marathon - It's not over until it is OVER .... so the docs thought they found more cancer and said that the best thing to do is to remove my spleen.  But .... I was signed up and running Boston... raising money for the 5th DetermiNation campaign in less than 3 years, and darn it!  Stupid cancer was not going to foil my plans again.  I built up my miles previous to the surgery - knowing I would need some time off... so I piled on those miles (55 plus for 3 weeks) - and then surgery --- and then Boston bound!  My Dream Team was there -- my hair was coming back ---- I finished that marathon in 3:30:27 (29 min faster than my BQ time).  

So today here I am ready to run a 50 miler.  Ready to pour it on in the mud, trails, hills and back woods of Vermont.  The early start --- maybe a 10 hour day?  Maybe a 9 hour day?  Maybe faster?  I just know that I am built to survive -- I am determined!  11 days and counting....  VT50 here I come!  It is all about survival and I am a SURVIVOR! :)  

You can see what I have accomplished in the past --- I think I am ready!  What do you think?  Please leave a comment below! :)  Thanks for stopping in!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Yes I am a DetermiNator!

Recently I was asked to write about why I run and raise money for the American Cancer Society through the DetermiNation program.  As a crazy Relayer (a person dedicated to Relay For Life through work & volunteerism) --- my work with the ACS has me promoting the Relay experience on a daily basis - and yes I do bleed "purple" and drink the Kool Aid quite often.  It is "cult-like" to be in the Relay Family and it feels real good to meet others all over the world that are passionate about making a difference by raising the much needed funds to fight cancer, walking around the track, celebrating survivors, caregivers and the memory of those we may have lost.  Through my experiences at Relay and building this passion and it was about time that I share my passion of running with my passion for fighting cancer.  I knew about the Charity Runner program, and looked forward to seeing what I could accomplish by dedicating my marathons to a cause & organization that I believe in.

The American Cancer Society Charity Runner program began in Illinois and my friend / colleague Ann has spearheaded the efforts of promotion and building up the nationwide support of this avenue for raising funds to fight cancer through ACS.   I admire her energy and leadership to bring this forward to more events across the country.  It has been amazing to watch it grow!  Now with the name DetermiNation it truly hits home to the endurance runners everywhere that are out there DETERMINED to find a cure!  Look out --- ACS has now signed up one Determined lady! 

Because I am a crazy runner --- 4 Ironman triathlons and more than 20 marathons under my belt -- I had some great marathon finishes behind me before I transformed into a DetermiNator. :)

So you ask Why DetermiNation?
I love to run. 
I love to compete. 
I love setting goals and SMASHING them to pieces!  
I love marathons --- ok it can be quite draining and sometimes agonizing to have to dig so deep to push yourself for 26.2 miles, but the amazing endorphins you build up to carry you (AKA: Runner High) to the finish and the pride of wearing that finisher medal compares to nothing else.  
I love medals.  I love to win.  I love feeling like a crazy runner - when people don't understand you because you just can't stop running, training and sign up for yet another marathon.  

I love to make a difference.  I love to show others that being a strong athlete can also be a platform for advocating for better healthcare, better treatments, more research and tools for making a better quality of life for anyone who faces this disease.  

So after my 3rd DetermiNation marathon which happened to be Boston, I had signed up to do Chicago, again as a DetermiNator --- and was diagnosed with diffuse Large B Cell lymphoma.  And for some crazy reason - it just made me want to run more, show everyone that cancer would NOT beat me.  No way.... and on top of that I am going to bring more attention to the fact that I am fighting cancer, not only in my chemo treatments, but out there training for the Chicago marathon and raising the funds for the American Cancer Society.  It feels even more powerful to train as a cancer survivor - to show others the strength and determination it takes to be in the best shape and hit all my goals!  

Sharing the entire history below -- links to each story on my blog with each experience if you really want a good read.... :)

My first ACS DetermiNation event was VT City in Burlington Vermont - May 2009
Raised - $1340
3:19:59 - 216th overall place of 2119 competitors
21st woman - 4th in age

My second ACS DetermiNation event was Marine Corps Marathon in DC - November 2009
Newspaper article in the Republican about me in the MCM
Raised $1100
1st place in age - Master Woman

My third ACS DetermiNation event was the Boston Marathon - April 2010
Raised $1560

3:23:17- 7.46 min/mile
5291 overall - 712 woman - Overall- 41th master!  

My fourth ACS DetermiNation event was the Chicago Marathon - October 2010
Raised $1800
3:57;58 - 7807 overall of 36,088- 1974 woman of 16,142 and I was 135 in age
*NOTE - I was 2/3 of the way through my chemo treatments on 10/10/10

My fifth ACS DetermiNation event was the Boston Marathon - April 2011
Raised $1933.80
3:30:27 (8:02 min/mile) - 7816 overall of , 1445 woman of 10,074, 101 in age group out of 1597 in 45-49 age
*NOTE:  This marathon was 6 weeks after the removal of my spleen in order for a biopsy to be done in case of more cancer.
More Boston statistics 

My sixth ACS DetermiNation event will be the ing New York City Marathon - November 2011
Goal:  $1500  Currently raised: $852

Total (in less than 3 years!) = $8587.80  

Hope to hit the $10,000 mark soon!  PLEASE help me spread the word we can fight this disease!  Here is the link to my donation page for the ing NYCM with more of my story. 

 You can help me make my goal and you can make a difference too.  Thank you so much for reading my story of strength and DetermiNation.  As long as I am running marathons I will be a part of this DetermiNator team!

My Fundraising Tips?

1. Ask - if you don't ask they can't give
2. No could mean - not now - don't be afraid to ask again
3. Thank everyone that gives immediately - amazing the repeat donors when you treat them right!
4. Thank people publicly so others see it and may want to donate too!
5. Keep it up front and visible with the link everywhere so people know where to go to make a donation. 
6. Share your story - keep it real
7. Thank people even when they say no.
8. Communicate to everyone and keep them engaged in your training, your campaign to raise funds and to be connected to the efforts all around
9. Ask again! - count down your days till the big race and include how much money you have raised and how much to get to your goal.
10.  Celebrate with everyone that you touch through your outreach -- your completing the marathon or endurance event is something that they want to hear about and feel a special part of - so don't forget to share your results!

Above photo is of me at the Big Fourth in Springfield MA on July 4, 2011 -- I was 3rd woman overall and ran a PR 5K with a 19:56.  6:20 minutes per mile.  Very proud of myself that day! :)

Until we find a cure.