Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Walk in the Park


Almost every day, I walk from the same bus stop to my apartment after work. It's a lovely walk through my neighborhood so most days, I look forward to it. Today was no different, except I was particularly appreciative of the walk. The air was crisp, the sky was a clear blue, the tree-lined street was proudly displaying the colors of fall, the sun was beginning to set and it's rays lit the trees so that they sparkled. There's a reason that fall is a favorite season for many, myself included.


As I walked toward the park, I passed a community garden and walked around to see what was growing. My knowledge of gardening and farming leaves much to be desired but I do appreciate it and hope to find a desire to learn more about it someday. In the meantime, I'll admire the gardens of others from afar and salivate over the rows of brightly colored fruits and vegetables at the Farmer's Market.


Since I'm completely engrossed in Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin's Three Cups of Tea, I've stopped to read at the park the last couple nights. It works out nicely to have a park so close to my apartment. Tonight, people were out enjoying a little touch football and frisbee. I was enjoying the company of my book, the sounds of laughter, and the spectacular sunset. This evening was a gift.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Life in Art

I've told many people about the beautifully talented photographer and professor, Steve Johnson. I visit his photo journal regularly, some might even say obsessively. But the way he captures a moment is simply breathtaking. Steve, thank you for sharing your talent and adding so much beauty to my life.

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Since returning from San Francisco, I've one song consistently running through my mind. It's not a new song but it was the theme song for the event and I thought I'd post the lyrics so you could join me for the Melissa Etheridge marathon that's taking place in my brain.

I Run For Life
Written By Melissa Etheridge
2005, The Greatest Hits The Road Less Traveled

It's been years since they told her about it
The darkness her body possessed
And the scars are still there in the mirror
Everyday that she gets herself dressed
Though the pain is miles and miles behind her
And the fear is now a docile beast
If you ask her why she is still running
She'll tell you it makes her complete

CHORUS

I run for hope
I run to feel
I run for the truth
For all that is real
I run for your mother your sister your wife
I run for you and me my friend I run for life

It's a blur since they told me about it
How the darkness had taken its toll
And they cut into my skin and they cut into my body
But they will never get a piece of my soul
And now I'm still learning the lesson
To waken when I hear the call
And if you ask me why I am still running
I'll tell you I run for us all

CHORUS

And someday if they tell you about it
If the darkness knocks on your door
Remember her remember me
We will be running as we have before
Running for answers
Running for more


Here's a statement Melissa made about the song from her website:

"Ford asked me to write a song for their "Race for the Cure" initiative to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer charities. I wanted to write a song that was personal; climb into people's emotions and portray a woman who has had breast cancer but is out of it. The first verse is about a survivor. The second verse is from my own experience and the last verse is for those who have not been diagnosed or don't know anyone with breast cancer yet. We are all running for answers and to make the situation better."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Nike Women's Marathon 2007

Dear friends & family,

I did it! With your support and love, I completed the Nike Women's Marathon this past Sunday. I can't believe it's over; it was an amazing experience. San Francisco is a beautiful city and what better way to see it than to follow a marathon course. (Okay, there might be a couple other options!) I didn't have a big "wow" moment at the finish line, rather, the reality of this accomplishment has been setting in a little bit each day. This is likely to be a long email so if you'd rather skip to the pictures, I'll understand. :)

Here are some facts from the event:

23,500 total runners
5,400 TNT runners (those that raised money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society)
$3,830- total raised on my behalf for the LLS
$180,000- total raised by my team
$18.5 million- total raised by all TNT teams from around the country!

All these numbers were announced at the Pasta Party on Saturday night. When we entered that party, we were greeted by all the TNT/LLS staff & coaches who were cheering from the front door all the way down the long staircase and into the convention center. I wish I could accurately describe this experience but words and even pictures (see below) fail me. It was the first of many moving moments that would occur that night. We took in all our carbs while pictures of our honored patients scrolled by on the large screens above. John "the Penguin" Bingham (columnist for Runner's World), Joan Benoit Samuelson (1st gold medalist for the first ever women's Olympic marathon), & Amy Bartlett (a recent non-Hodgkins Lymphoma survivor) gave inspirational, motivational, and emotional speeches. It was the perfect way to remind us why we were all there, why we all signed up to complete 26.2 or 13.1 miles the next morning. For anyone interested, you can Amy has a blog worth checking out- ichoosehope.com.

Me In The Midst OF An Overwhelming Greeting From TNT/LLS Staff & Coaches

Me & Jen (My Running Partner) At The Pasta Party


I was up bright and early on Sunday morning and surprisingly enough, didn't feel nervous. Although, by the time we reached the Start Line and found my family, I was anxious to get the show on the road since I was going to be out there for HOURS! We started at Union Square, passed through Fisherman's Wharf, the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, the "Great" (or "Not-so-Great," in my opinion) Highway, around Lake Merced & back down the Great Highway to the Finish Line. My dad, mom, & sister, Melissa, were able to be there for the whole weekend and I'm so grateful! It was great to see them at the Start, mile 3 and at the Finish Line cheering me on. At the recommendation of my assistant coach, I put my name on my singlet and when my family wasn't nearby to cheer for me, many others stepped in the to say "Go, Amy!" I have to say, it was such a help to hear that from complete strangers. There was so much support for all the runners/walkers, you couldn't help but smile.

A Few Teammates & A Coach Outside The Nike Tent Just Before The Start

Coach Doug & Me Waiting For The Start

The Official Start Line


Many of you have asked about the dreaded hills of San Francisco. Well, the 2 largest hills weren't so bad because I was expecting them plus, once we reached the top we were greeted with spectacular ocean views. It was a challenging course and there were more than just those 2 hills but they were smaller so sometimes I didn't realize I was going uphill, I just thought I was feeling tired. Physically, it was difficult. I was hoping to have some adrenaline thing kick in but so such luck. Instead, I had unexpected aches and pain appear at unexpected times. For example, a blister on the ball of my right foot developed around mile 15 and later, I discovered it was actually a bruise with a blister on top. And the last 5 miles, I was fighting some really bad cramping in my left calf, a result of favoring the right foot. Even with these unexpected pains, it was worth it. I finished a freakin' marathon! There were several moments when I thought about all of you. You had supported me and in some cases, told me your stories of leukemia or lymphoma. I had only one commitment, to endure through 26.2 miles. I knew many of you were thinking of me and that gave me the motivation and desire to keep going.

100 Yards From The Finish Line

The Beautiful Nike Finish Line

Theresa, Me & Jen- Teammates Just After the Race


I've learned so much through this experience and I'm so glad that my friend, Rania, dragged me to the TNT informational meeting last May. I highly encourage you to look into training for an endurance event with your local TNT chapters. I am lucky to have had this opportunity to meet so many inspiring athletes, patients and cancer survivors, to raise money for a worthy cause, and to challenge myself like never before. Thank you for your support, encouragement, advice, phone calls, emails, cards, and belief. I couldn't have done this without you, it was definitely a team effort! Thank you for being a part of my team and part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society team.

With love and gratitude,
Amy

P.S. I have more pictures so let me know if you would like to see them and I'll send you the album once they are all collected. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

26.2

I'm alive! I'm currently at work and don't have much time or energy to write but for anyone still reading my blog, I wanted to at least let you know that I completed the course. I am officially a marathon finisher! I'm exhausted and everything hurts but it was worth it. I'm still processing the whole weekend and I'll write more later. Until then, here are a couple pics from the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco.

100 yards from the finish line!


This is me with two of my teammates, Theresa & Jen, after the race. We all finished!


I have so many people to thank. Today, I'll start with my family that was able to come and cheer me on and those that called me over the weekend. You don't know how much that meant to me. Many more thank yous to come...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bon Voyage...well, almost.

In just 2 days, I fly out to San Francisco with my team! It's really almost here and I'm starting to get nervous. How do I know this? Because I'm procrastinating and all I want to do is sleep. I have many things to do like shopping (mainly picking up some GU), laundry, packing to figure out, papers/emails from Nike and the Society to read before take off, oh, and I need to work out! Add to this my rather full work schedule (i.e. I haven't had a day off since 10/7) and I'm a little busy. Busy with a car is one thing, busy without a car (in KC) is a whole 'nother deal. Somehow, it will all get done. It always does. And if I forget anything, I'm sure I can find it in the little town of SF.

I am looking forward to the weekend and the marathon but I must admit, I'm also looking forward to it being over. I can't wait to have my life back. Until then, I'm trying to be present throughout the final moments of this experence. I probably won't blog again until I return but if you're looking for something to do Sunday morning, feel free to send a good thought my way.

Cheers!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Today...

...I'm at work so feel free to call me. I'm open to any and all distractions.

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...is the one week mark! Unbelievable. One week from this very moment, I'll be in the midst of the Nike Women's Marathon. I've had my last Saturday run, which we did on our own since it turned out to be quite the stormy morning, and our coach says we're ready. This week, we have a very light training schedule and while I'm looking forward to that, it feels strange. I'll be drinking lots of water, eating well, and going to bed early every day. Jealous? My rock star life simply must be put on hold for this week.

A couple more thank yous for generous donations to the LLS~

Greg & Sionnie LaFollette
Danielle & Jeremiah Frink

Thank you, friends!

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...my friend, Will, who's in the studio with us this week, talked about his grandparents. Their names are Thelma and Hardy. How great is that?! Oh, and Hardy is one of 18 natural born children, no multiple births. Those were the days...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

One Down, One To Go

When I took on this marathon challenge, I made two commitments to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and to myself.

1- I agreed to raise a minimum of $3800 for the cause. I set the goal a little higher, $4000 seemed like a nice round number.
2- I agreed to follow a training schedule and complete a 26.2 miles in honor of those touched by blood-related cancers.

Last night, I went to a team meeting and found out that my first goal has been reached. I was so excited! Thanks to the many wonderful people who made contributions to the Society on my behalf, I've raised just over $3800. What an honor it is to have such generous people in my life.

Now, there's just one more goal to reach in this adventure. Workouts this week have been strong and knowing there's just a week and a half remaining, I have all the motivation I need to keep going. Every day, the excitement builds and yet some disbelief is still present. Is it really possible that in eleven days I'll be on a marathon course in San Francisco and that this five month journey will have come to an end? That's crazy...and not worth focusing on at the moment. Instead, I'm going to enjoy these upcoming days and attempt to be as present as possible in each moment.

Today's thank you goes to the one and only, Laci Scott!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Happy Birthday, Luke!

I miss you and love you and hope you're having a fantastic day!


Monday, October 8, 2007

Thanks & Football

This is exciting, I have more people to thank! THANK YOU, MICHELLE BARTO & KELLY JACKSON!

The current total is $3554, that's 89% of the goal! There's still time, in fact, I think there will be at least another day to make online donations. (I'll find out more at a meeting tomorrow night.) So, if you haven't already, give, give, give!

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Monday Night Football- I'm off to watch Buffalo play at home. Go Bills!

*Edit- I am NOT watching the game because it's NOT on NBC. I am NOT happy. Since when is Monday Night Football on ESPN?! My whole family is watching the game. I am NOT watching the game, I do NOT have cable. Did I mention I am NOT happy?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

2 Weeks From Now...

I will be a marathon finisher! I'll be honest, I can't wait to make that declaration! I'm really looking forward to the weekend: the experience of walking/running alongside 15,000 other people, many of whom are there to support the same cause, hearing the total amount of money raised for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, seeing my mom, dad & sister at the finish line, getting to know San Francisco. I've even excited about all the emotions (& pain) that I'll feel throughout the event. I have an idea of what I'll be feeling at each stage but you never really now until you're in that moment. It's all part of the great adventure.

I have just 2 days until all the money is to be raised and turned into the office. I have amazingly generously people in my life. This generosity has been displayed in many ways, one of which has been financial. Fundraising is pretty new to me, I usually shy away from asking people for money, especially this much money. This was an opportunity to challenge myself for an organization that I knew helped many. I've learned a lot and I'm grateful for the overwhelming response from my family and friends. At this moment, we've raised $3,354! I can't thank you enough.

I have people to thank that I don't even know. The last 2 weekends, I've gone out with teammates to boot block, meaning that I stood at a well-traveled intersection with a sign, wearing my TNT t-shirt, and asking passersby for donations. It's actually pretty fun. People are glad to give a dollar to help find a cure for cancer, someone even gave me a $10 bill yesterday! Admittedly, it's also funny to see how hard some people try to avoid making eye contact with you. :) I still have about $450 to raise in order to reach my minimum committment so perhaps I'll be at an intersection near you!

To my ever growing list of people to thank, today I add:

Dre Baly
Debbie Schnitzer
Melissa, Luke & Andrea W.

The next 2 weeks will be focused on final preparations. I look forward to my workouts and taking advantage of these last strength building opportunities. And I look forward to the final fundraising steps, as well. Thank you for reading my ramblings. Your support and participation in my life are priceless.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Observations Between 5pm and 7:30pm

I left my apartment about five o'clock this evening to begin my grocery shopping journey. Generally, this is a two hour task but tonight, it was a bit longer. Here's a bit of what occurred in this span of two and a half hours:

- At 5:07pm, I boarded the bus that passes through my neighborhood, cart in hand. I'm armed and ready for this journey.
- On this bus, a woman compliments my cart and proceeds to list it's many uses. I found this rather humurous.
- We actually encountered traffic in my neighborhood...this is unusual.
- At 5:19pm, I boarded a second, rather crowded, bus. Also, unusual...at least, for me.
- Most passengers were headed home and several were adorned with iPods. There are times that I wish I had an iPod but I can't relate to those that must have direct sound at all times. I like silence sometimes or just the natural sounds of the day.
- One 20-something guy generously gives up his seat to a woman. Lovely.
- Bus arrives at my stop at 5:50pm. On my walk from the stop to the store, a mom and her two young boys deboard their bus. The boys are in matching school uniforms and they have at least one more bus ride before they arrive home. There is something so beautiful about a mom and her children traveling via the bus. She must be a strong and patient woman. Motherhood- the hardest job on earth. Motherhood while depending on public transportation in Kansas City- harder than that.
- I repacked my groceries to fit in my cart and was back at the bus stop by 6:26pm where I ran into an old bus-riding friend.
- Another crowded bus...weird. It's also a malfunctioning bus, as every time the driver needed to extend the ramp for passengers in wheelchairs, it wouldn't go back into gear. She quickly figured out that if she restarted the bus, everything worked fine...until the next time the ramp was used.
- Some were getting frustrated with the bus (not the driver) because they were trying to make connections and we were running significantly behind schedule. At this point, I overheard this little exchange:
Guy #1- "I tell people all the time, if you're in a hurry, you ain't enjoying your life."
Guy #2- "I tell people, if you're in a hurry, don't take the bus."
- Later, I overheard a different guy saying: "Responsibility is a hell of a lesson to learn. It took prison for me to get it."
- Of course, I'm one of the people who missed a connection due to our lateness. Thankfully, it was a beautiful day so the uphill walk with a full cart of groceries was enjoyed.
- Oh, and my final observation of this journey: there were 2 girls walking in front of me, one in a pair of shorts and her thighs never met. I hate her.

Are your trips to the grocery store at all similar?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Pressure's On!

As you know, in less than 3 weeks, I'm participating in my first marathon with a goal to raise $4000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Well, I just found out that my FUNDRAISING DEADLINE IS OCTOBER 8TH, just 1 week away! Somehow, I missed this detail and thought I still had a few weeks. Some of you have mentioned that you plan to make a donation, well, now's the time.

Throughout this 4 month journey, I've had the pleasure of meeting people who have battled and won their fight against blood related cancers, some who are in the midst of their fight, and others who have lost loved ones to leukemia or lymphoma. On Saturday, one TNT alumnus told a story about the finish of her first marathon. When she crossed the finish line, a small boy stood quietly holding a sign that read, "you did this for me." That's what it's all about. Also on Saturday, a young girl, about 4 years old, came with her parents to encourage and support us in our training. She has leukemia and I imagine, they wanted us to know who we were helping. They didn't say a word. Their presence was enough.

Your contributions are helping these children as well as many adults. I'm hoping to raise the final 20% this week. Will you help? There is no donation too small, every dollar counts. Please, consider making a donation today and feel free to pass along my fundraising website to your friends and family. Website no longer active.

Thank you to all who have partnered with me and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. New additions to this list of generous partners are:

Jeff & Amy Turner
Greg Bish

THANK YOU!