Gratefully Yours

Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” To those of you who have helped me raise over $3000 for Team for Kids for this year’s ING New York City Marathon, you have made possible one of the major experiences of my life and the motivation and encouragement of countless children who will benefit from your donation. Thank you! One of the many beneficiaries of your kindness left me a voicemail the other day… this is who you have helped.

Still haven’t had a chance to contribute? Meet Kristen Kasarjian, an amazing friend of mine running the race for the same amazing charity. Please help her reach her goal, since I’ve already reached mine! Anyone who donates at least $100 to her campaign can still sponsor a mile in mine (I’ll think of you during the marathon in the mile of your choice)… Just let me know when you do. In the meantime for me, lots of training continues, as I keep running to prepare for the 26.2 mile course I get to complete on November 4. Today, I ran 16 miles, and I get to train in some of the most beautiful areas. Here’s your bird’s eye view into some of my favorite runs so far. Thank you, thank you, thank you for making it all worthwhile. I can’t wait!

An Early Run at Bard
An Early Run near Bard College
Run in Palisades Park
Run in Palisades Park
Sunlight in Palisades
Sunlight in Palisades
Back in the city
Back in the city
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Run with Me

On Skydiving for Pearls, you can pretty much count on the fact that I love to seek out peak experiences. Bucket list items, challenges, excursions from the realm of safety and predictability. Why? Because when I push my boundaries now in the relatively secure confines of experimentation, then the real, unavoidable trials will later meet a stronger and more stubborn foe. As a bonus, I’ve discovered priceless joy and peace in activities I once feared or disdained.

That said, some strange part of me wants to suffer through these adventures like the heroine of Hunger Games or some similarly daring and adventurous paragon of courage. In hindsight, I think that same odd spirit in me relished dreading skydiving, as the only one of my group of twelve friends who honestly never wanted to try it. Despite my initial fears, I loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Although it may take some time to gather the motivation (and money) and feel the drive to try it again, if I had to choose one day of my life to keep and loose the memories of all the rest, I would save the day where I plummeted from that very tiny plane. Hands down.

Recently, I’ve chosen a new peak to pursue that I also kind of dreaded: running in the 2012 ING New York City Marathon. In some strange imaginative portion of my brain, I expect to hate it, push through it, and succeed. Running for an extremely worthy charity, I also have the fabulous temptation of fearing not only injury, dehydration, heart and cardio concerns, and nutrition but also raising the required amount of $100 for each of my 26.2 miles.

Somehow despite the obstacles, including some ridiculous runs on which I’ve strayed onto wooded paths and tiny, busy highways, I had fun today on my four mile run. Achieving something new always feels great, but after my five miler on Monday and standing all day at rehearsal yesterday, I did not expect the sense of relief and renewal I experienced at the end of a surprisingly peaceful time. The nourishment of my food afterwards felt real and incredible, and I appreciated the dining commons at my summer gig at Bard Summerscape with no palatable annoyance at the influx of kids at their sports camps or the increasing predictability of food offerings. No. Those black-eyed peas and local baby plums amused me to no end, and my body teems with a consistent life and vigor I haven’t felt in a few years.

Does this make me a runner? We shall see. In the meantime, lucky me who gets to enjoy pursuing what I know will be a hard-won goal this November. As for the charity, I’ve chosen to run for Team for Kids, an organization that provides coaching, motivation, and inspiration for children in New York City, across the United States, and in South Africa. Focusing on inner city (can you imagine running in the city without a coach as a child?) and/or low-income schools, they give kids an opportunity to stay active, prevent childhood obesity, qualify for scholarships, and feel the genuine rush of health and of achieving something real.

So it appears the silly, grinchy side of me who longs to suffer will at least have to wait while I enjoy living as an example for the children I hope to help with Team for Kids. For my friends with me upstate at Bard and in the city later this summer and fall, please join me in a run if you like and can suffer my still slow pace. For everyone else, please consider contributing to Team for Kids in support of my run. I have a birthday upcoming on August 3… Feel free to think of it as a gift. I know I do.

Donate to Team for Kids

The Weather Monster

If you haven’t heard already, I’ve decided to run in November’s ING NYC Marathon for Team for Kids, a great cause promoting fitness for children in low income schools and preventing childhood diabetes. Please take a moment to visit my fundraising page, read about all of the great work Team for Kids does, and consider contributing to help me reach my goal.

As for my other goals? At the top of the list of course lies finishing. I also would ideally love to run the entire race, although as my first ever running event, I will happily walk if needed to arrive at the finish line. Truthfully, as a fresh-faced marathon newbie, I feel nervous to begin training for this next major Skydiving for Pearls adventure. How will I manage keeping my nutrition and energy elevated, with my regularly low blood sugar levels? Will I stay motivated and injury free? And seriously – rain? Cold weather in the fall and early spring training? Can’t I just run this thing on an indoor track somewhere?

Today I faced my first fitness challenge with a bit of a weather monster. Everyone has their dragons to slay… Mine? I hate the cold. That said, I also adore skiing! Vacationing in Okemo, VT has brought me a lot of fun, and we had a tremendous day on the slopes yesterday. Moguls kept me on my toes, and my body had an excellent workout. Still, I felt a bit unsure on shorter skis than usual and rarely ski without taking a private lesson, so I signed up for the following morning at 8:30 AM private. Early, but cheaper and with far fewer people on the slopes.

When I left our studio this morning, I thought the freezing rain might stop soon. Not so much. Kevin, my fun and knowledgeable instructor, helped me work on my turns, edges, and balance. Despite my fogged-up sunglasses (I promptly bought new goggles after my lesson ended), I loved challenging my mind and body to improve upon a sport I enjoy and revisit only once a year at best. Honestly, I can’t wait to go back out this afternoon and try out my new techniques… After the rain stops.

Racing down my final hill in my lesson, the hail stung my face and made my glasses almost unusable. The cold began to seep through my soaked ski pants, and I realized the water from the wet ski lifts had permeated down to my now quite cold skin. As I contemplated whether more expensive gloves might protect my hands better, I considered my upcoming marathon training. I will not likely want to run in freezing rain, but with the marathon in early November, I probably won’t.

Having enjoyed today’s lesson despite close to the worst weather conditions I can imagine, I learned another lesson I hadn’t quite expected. All of the things that can go wrong pale in comparison to the potential for growth, fun, and new experiences. Weather doesn’t matter really, and even the cold doesn’t sting quite so strongly when the heart starts racing for a fun sport or a good cause. I imagine the children who benefit from Team for Kids learn that truth well. Having slayed my morning weather monster, I feel much more confident and can’t wait to start running for those kids. This marathon, and training for it, might actually provide me with as much fun as the challenge itself, no matter the weather.

Skiing in Okemo

Rouge AIDS Walk 2011

AIDS Walk NY 2011
Yes, I went rogue today and completed my AIDS Walk route two days prior to the actual event. With so many diverging events, rehearsals, and commitments, I realized late in the game that I simply cannot do them all while adhering to my professional responsibilities and paying my rent. Singular day off, meet rogue AIDS Walker.

Having at least one friend with HIV, I find myself somewhat unable to ignore the facts. Despite medical advances and prolonged life spans for most victims, a cure for AIDS does not yet exist. Carrying complicated and painful side effects for some and an unrealistic pricetag for most, these drugs have quieted the storm but not solved the epidemic.

On Sunday, thousands of people will walk to support funding for continued research, honoring those who have died and those who live yet affected by AIDS and HIV. I, having walked the official full six mile route today, will sign in to validate my donations, walk up to my church job, and join my amazing team of friends for brunch afterwards. I’ll miss the celebrities (this year AIDS Walk NY boasts participation of “Modern Family stars Eric Stonestreet, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Broadway Star Audra McDonald, Matt Bomer of White Collar, Two and a Half Men’s Conchata Ferrell, Glee’s Dot-Marie Jones, Project Runway alums Mondo Guerra & Jack Mackenroth” in their lineup, and last time we walked past Tim Gunn), the festivities, and the fun freebies along the way, but I’m happy to have found the time and a way to make it work. Hopefully with our help, so will the researchers dedicating their lives to a cure. Donate today, if you can.

AIDS Walk Team lotsafun in 2009
AIDS Walk Team lotsafun in 2009