From a Marathoner with Love

Closed Central Park

Dear Friends, Fans, and Family,

To those of you who’ve supported me by donating funds to Team for Kids, running with me, or cheering me along my training, thank you. I couldn’t have come this far without you.

As you know, this part of the world has been ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, and I have no words to express my sadness and heartbreak for the victims of this storm. That it has begun to polarize our community about such a life-affirming event as a marathon further breaks my heart. So many of us have spent months training for a challenge designed to makes us stronger and raised donations for very worthy causes, and I believe in this marathon and that it should continue on Sunday. I believe we each should run with our heads held high, celebrating 26.2 miles of this amazing city and the inhabitants who now fight daily to keep it running in every way.

Although I think it practical and important to keep the marathon’s spirit, income and revenue rolling despite this difficult time, my heart does truly goes out to my friends especially in Staten Island, Long Island, lower Manhattan, and NJ, as well as those affected in other localities. Throughout the days leading up to the race and on Sunday, volunteers are encouraging runners to donate to help victims of the disaster. As participants, may we use this moment as a call to volunteer our time or donate as we can and not turn away from those who need our help. As spectators, please meet us with a cheer rather than a protest for our months of hard work.

Let’s not turn our backs on each other in this time of need. If you need disaster relief or volunteers elsewhere, please post where we can help in the comments. If you have a donation to give, please begin with the Red Cross Hurricane Sandy Relief here: http://www.redcross.org/hurricane-sandy. If you’d rather give to another similar organization, this Huffington Post article provides some good tips for giving well to the disaster relief efforts.

If you’re interested in giving also to Team for Kids, please send your donations in the way of my friend Kristen Kasarjian’s page. She’s running for the same charity I am and still needs to reach her goal. We all have goals, after all… Some of us want to finish a race, some want to replenish our incomes so we can pay our bills, some of us want heat, water and electricity, some of us need a new home. It’s the energy and beautiful stubbornness behind people like marathoners that make this city great. Please don’t hide behind the glow of your television, computer, and smartphone while criticizing people bringing revenues and hope to a city we love. If you want to help, unplug along with those who have no choice and look for an opportunity. I promise you, there are plenty… and if I can help, please tell me how.

Join Me for My Birthday!

Rarely do I invite the world to an event, but in this case, I believe it’s a just cause.

Join me today, August 3 (my birthday!), in celebrating youth and fitness. This year, I’m running the ING New York City Marathon on November 4. It’s my first race ever, and each Saturday, I run more than I’ve run in my life at one time. This week, it’ll be 8 miles! I’m learning so much about nutrition, motivation, and my own limits and can only imagine what it might benefits I might have reaped if I had learned these things at a young age, like these kids in Team for Kids’ running programs. It would mean so much to me if you could take a moment to check out my website at Team for Kids and consider joining me by making a donation. Reaching my fundraising goal would be the best birthday present ever.

http://www.runwithtfk.org/Profile/PublicPage/7834

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