Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mission Accomplished and a Grand Total

Drumroll awesome family and friends donated $1,000 to the Fitzgerald Cancer Fund!!!!  I delivered it to them today.  :)

I started this mission on January 1st and completed it on June took me a bit to finish collecting and actually drop it off...summer brain set in.  :)  Thanks to everyone who followed my mission, trekked to races with me, supported me along the way, and sponsored me!  I have an amazing group of family and friends!  I love you guys and I couldn't have done it without you!!

In addition to the money we raised for the Fitzgerald Family my race fees have...

-contributed to local high school scholarship funds
-donated to the Salem High School cross country team
-helped build a new playground
- raised awareness of esophageal cancer
-raised money for the family of a local fallen firefighter
-supported efforts to promote physical activity in children
-helped kick cancer's ass

Things my mission has taught me along the way...

Life Lessons
If you see something that moves you to do something...DO IT!!
One person can make a difference.
Doing something for someone else makes you feel good and helps you to realize the world is bigger than your small part of it. 

Running Lessons
I am capable of running 7 miles.
I am capable of running faster.
My children will not suffer by me leaving their whining selves to get a run in.
A goal helps me focus and pushes me further than I would push myself.

I haven't decided yet what I am doing with the blog.  Having it definitely pushed me to keep running on days I didn't want to!  My next challenge is the Wicked Half Marathon in September which I have to complete in order to finish the Salem race Series in November.  That is going to be much more ugly than running 10 races and might not be blog worthy.  We'll see! 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Race Awards :)

One unexpected bonus of running all of these races is that I ran many I probably would never had considered.  I am a creature of habit.  :0  Who knew that some of these races would become some of my new favorites!  So I started thinking about each one and came up with some race awards.

Best Reason Not to have Too Rockin' of a New Year's Eve~  The Frosty Four

My First Ever Trail Run~  The Snowshoe(less) Classic

"The Hell Race"~   Olde Salem Greene Cross Country Race 
(This one is like childbirth.  You forget how bad it really is over time.)

Most Fun I've Had Running in a Noreaster Along the Ocean~  Ring Around the Neck 
Tied for Best Race Shirt~  Fast Chicks 5K and Ricey's Run

 Best Ending~  Patrick Downey 5K (aka all downhill!!)

 Prettiest Route~ Tri-ROK 5K

 Toughest Race to Complete~ Melody Miles

 Most Inspiring Race~   North Shore Cancer Run

Race shirt swag

A little more swag

Nine of my numbers.  I lost one.  ;)

In the meantime I am collecting some last minute cash and will let you know how much I've collected.  A Grand Total is coming soon!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Race Number 10...It's a Beautiful Day!

Bright and early this morning I ran my final race to raise money for the Fitzgerald Cancer Fund.  Very fitting that it was the North Shore Cancer Run!!  It was a bright and sunny day.  As I came across the finish the speakers were blasting It's  Beautiful Day by U2.  I thought to myself that it really many people running and walking to raise money and tell cancer to get lost. 

The end of the race mingled with the walk.  I saw families in matching shirts honoring their loved ones with names and pictures on their backs.  Children and the elderly...all walking..each one with a different story of cancer..  Last year my family did the 6M walk as my aunt was at Mass General kicking cancer's ass.  :)  Since last year, many more people in my circle have been diagnosed..and it sucks.  Time for it to go!!

I have a few draft posts that are coming soon...but I can tell you that so far my fundraising has surpassed what I expected when I started this journey six months ago...THANK YOU for helping me help the Fitzgeralds!!!!!!!

And Kick Butt We Did!!

I actually look like I am running...and not shuffling. 

My Number

Friday, June 22, 2012

Nine down...and ONE to go!

I started this mission on January 1st. In 6 months, I've run nine races and I am one away from my goal.  :)

The races I've run so far...

The Frosty Four
The Snowshoe(less) Classic

Olde Salem Greene Cross Country Race

Ring Around the Neck 5M
Fast Chicks 5k
Patrick Downey 5k
Tri-ROK 5k

The Melody Miles 5M

Ricey's Run

My last race is Sunday, June 24th...the North Shore Cancer Run!!  I had shirts made to celebrate.  :) 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Time to Say Thanks...

I am one week away from my last race to raise money for the Fitzgerald Cancer Fund.  I have a few races scheduled after that...but nothing compared to how many I've run in recent months.  I'm having some fun with my last few blog posts...but I wanted to send out some thank yous before I get caught up in finishing. 

A big thank you to all of the race organizers out there for organizing some awesome road races throughout the North Shore.  I am lucky to live in such an active and awesome community!!

Thanks to all of the random runners I've met along the way.  Lots of people encouraged me during races...complete strangers.  Somehow those kind words always came at exactly the right time.  Funny thing is, now I am much more likely to encourage someone on the course who looks like they could use some.  :)

To Danielle, Sue, and Kate who ran as many of the races as they could...and snapped photos when they came.  I apologize for that hot and hilly...somewhat brutal...5 miler I convinced you all to do!!

To all of the random strangers I asked to take my picture at the end of a race.

To Mike Toomey from Toomey Sports Running Center who runs the Salem Park and Rec running clinics.  I think I owe my new-found speed to those track workouts!

To my dad and mom who came over many Saturday mornings so I could get to a race while my husband was at work.

To Eric for holding down the fort while I was out running...and for our brand new Garmin!

To my boys for asking me how my run was when I got home and telling me I should sit down and have a drink of water (before I turned back into Mommy).  :)

To all of YOU...yes YOU...for following my blog and offering kind words of support along the way. You all ROCK!!

I think this may be the closest I get to giving an awards speech...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Race for Ricey in the pouring rain. :)

The Race for Ricey honored Jim Rice, a local fallen firefighter.  He was killed in a fire 2 days before Christmas. All of the money raised from the event went directly to his wife and three young children.

 It was pouring rain...and still tons...244 to be exact.. of people turned out! It was an out and back course so I got the see the fast people and all of my friends that ran too. There were lots of local fire departments there which made me smile. They also had a kids one mile fun walk to the fire station and back.  Lots of kids toughed it out in the pouring rain.  Great community event!  They had awesome raffles and great shirts. I love a good race shirt...and a finishing time of 31:51!  ;)

Before the Race

And after.  :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Hot and Hilly

I was writing this post in my head while I was running it. It was titled "I Came in Last...My Biggest Fear".  I decided I would embrace my lastness and be proud I opted for 5 miles rather than the 5k.   I actually didn't come in last, but I was pretty close.  :)

Race 8 was the Melody Miles. There were high school students along the route playing all kinds of instruments. I would like to say I listened to them, but this race required tunes by Jay Z and Kanye West to get me through.  I did hear a few as I passed when a song was ending.

The night before the race, I went to pick up the packets for myself and three awesome friends who ran this one with me. I got there and my packet wasn't there. It hadn't gone through online.  I had to register at the race and was soooo tempted to opt for the 5k rather than the 5 miler. It was hot as all get out and a few days before I slipped down the stairs causing a throbbing foot....but guilt got the best of me and I circled "5M".  Almost 200 smart people did the 5k, but only 63 did the 5 miler.

I was pretty convinced after mile one that this blog post would be about me coming in last...waaaay last. I ended up being third to last...I'll take it. It was a hot and hilly race, not huge hills, but rolling hills...and lots of them! This would have been bad if it also wasn't also close to 90 degrees and humid. I hit the second water stop, which I assumed was mile two and didn't see how I was going to finish three more miles. Then I discovered the Mile 3 sign a few hundred feet down the road. Two more miles were doable. I took it as a sign that I would finish.

I was expecting my time to be around 1:05, but I came in at 59:16. Once again, I'll take it!! As I was sitting in the curb trying to keep my pre-race crackers down, I heard my name be called over the speaker.  I won a raffle for new Asics sneakers up to $130 at my favorite running store!!

My awesome raffle prize donated by New England Running Company.    :) 

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Tri-Rok a 5k

What a great race!! I am a creature of habit, so I tend to stick to the the races I have run in the past.  My mission is pushing me to make some changes and run some new races.  This was a beautiful one!!  The second mile was along a narrow gravel road with beautiful farms on either side. The horses seemed to be enjoying the entertainment of everyone running by. I sooo wanted to stop and watch them, but I had a race to finish!!

 The view would have been slightly more enjoyable had I not been sucking air for the entire race. ;)  The past two races, I have missed a sub 33 time by 6 and 4 seconds.  This morning I got my sign that today was my day. I had been nervous...trying not to put pressure on myself which could backfire on me pretty easily.  I arrived at the race and discovered it was chip timed. It would record my actual time once I crossed the start line until I finished. If there was a day to get in under 33 minutes...this was it!!

I forgot my Garmin and they were not calling out times... so I felt like I had to push hard. I did stop for water at mile two and walked a few steps to catch my breath. I trailed a woman most of the race. She had long legs and looked like running was effortless. Pretty sure I didn't look anything close to that behind her!! As we approached mile 3 I was speeding up and she seemed to be slowing down. As we turned into the park, I passed her and sprinted to the finish. The clock was showing 32 minutes and change, and I knew I met my goal!!  My official time was 32:16.

 Funny I got to my car, the woman I passed was parked next to me. Awkward...She smiled and commented about our competition at the end. I apologized (although I don't think I had to) and I explained my goal and the fact that I couldn't see the clock so I was slightly panicked I was going to miss it again. I've never done a race in this town before and I am loving much that I am doing a 5 miler there on Saturday.  :)

My boys were still in their jammies when I got home.
Noah took this one.  :)  It was an hour later and I was still not feeling back to normal.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's Day...

A blog is an interesting thing.  It gives you a glimpse into a stranger's life.  It can make you think about something in a new way...or give you a glimpse into other people's reality.  I don't know the Fitzgerald family personally.  I learned about them in our local paper and began following their blogs.

This Mother's Day, I thought of Kezia and how she wouldn't have her baby girl with her on Mother's Day. I learned through her blog that Saoirse was also diagnosed the previous year...on Mother's Day.  In her very short time as a mother, Mother's Day hasn't been about flowers, or gifts, or kisses...and that just sucks.   

And so here is my race...Race Number Six...for the Fitzgerald family.  :)  I hope that knowing your little girl isn't forgotten and has impacted me (and many others) in so many ways gives you a small amount of comfort. 

Closing in on the finish line


My racing buddy

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Fast Chicks 5K

I made it to the half way point!  Five races down and five to go! 

This is a new race and I have to admit I ran it for the shirt.  C' could I not!  So cute!!  I'm not really a fast chick, but after today I am a faster chick.  I did this one at a pace of 11 minute miles...which is my fastest pace so far since I've started running again. I have to admit I wasn't feeling so well for this one.  I was battling a massive headache, but since I am running for Saoirse, I never doubted I would do the race.  Excedrin, water, and I was good to go!

The race was organized by a local moms group to raise money for a new play structure.  It was an all women race except for one man (the rooster) who won a spot through a raffle. I love the creativity and the kids in the jog strollers and watching from porches got a kick out of the guy who actually wore a rooster costume.  Each finisher got a rose as they crossed the finish line.  I have a feeling this is going to turn into a popular race.  Well organized, family friendly, cute shirts, flowers, and they had music blasting!

Before we started one of the organizers, who by the way was wearing her baby in a baby bjorn (love it!!!), thanked us for running.  She reminded us that although kids may look up to celebrities and reality tv stars, we were the ones they see everyday and today we were showing them we are strong and making a difference in our community. The purpose of the race was to celebrate the strength of women, their spirit, and their ability to impact their community.  She said is much better than I am...I was too busy welling up to recall the specifics. Yes, that makes two races in a row where I had to fight back tears.  Not really sure what is up with that. 

Rockin' the purple adidas kicks

Even the signs were cute

Having my picture taken by a very nice stranger. 

Next up....the Patrick Downey 5K next weekend!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


(This is a little late, but I had a crazy week.)

Something has been shifting, and today I noticed it...finally!!

 First the details... This was a 5 mile race with most of the miles along the rocky coast. It was beautiful...had it not been pouring rain with strong winds. ;) The rain started as we were leaving the house and it rained the entire time, but the downpours held off until the last half mile. I felt really good at each mile marker which caught me off guard.  I am used to fighting to finish, making sure I still have something left to actually get across the finish line. I noticed that I felt faster and my legs felt good. I decided when they yelled out my time at the first mile marker that I could do this one faster than my 5 miler in November. It seemed possible.

Mile 2 was across the causeway with open ocean on either side. I took my hat off for fear of losing it in the wind. I started to doubt a better time, but I was still ahead of a 12 minute pace. I refused to stop for water fearing that if I missed coming in under an hour by a few seconds I would be kicking myself. The end result was that I cut 3 minutes of my previous 5 mile pace and finished in 57.11.  Now I know I'm not breaking any world records, but for me that was a decent pace!  

This was an emotional race for me.  Around mile 3 I came across a boy who was probably 12 and was going back and forth between sprinting and walking.  I told him "good job...slow down a bit and you've got this one". He struck a jog and stuck with me. Pretty sure I  had a target on my back.   :) He came up beside me near the end and made small talk.  He gave me some words of encouragement in his 12 year old way and then sprinted around a corner to the finish as I cheered him on.

 I also got to high five a crowd of preschoolers lined up along the kind of crowd!! I felt like a rock star!  I also passed other runner during this race.  I caught up to the person in front of me and I knew I was picking up speed the last 1.5 miles. As I passed her, she said " Good job girl, way to finish." I wanted to hug her!! Whoever you are...thank you so much for those words...I needed them!!

The changes have been subtle, almost unnoticed until today. Today I realized I wasn't running to try to finish, I was running for a better time. All of this training is working and I think my head is starting to make some changes.   What I lack in speed I make up for in determination.  :)  Race Four is in the books!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

What's the plan, Stan?

Miles for Markie wasn't in the cards for me. I had foot pain and swelling for a week after the golf course race (thank you downhills) and then got sick. So I have revamped my race schedule. On paper it's looking like two in April, three in May and two in June. :0

The Frosty Four- DONE
The Snowshoe-less Classic- DONE
Olde Salem Greene Cross Country- DONE

Up Next:
April 22- Ring Around the Neck 5 miler
April 29- Salem State Wellness Fair 5k

May 5- Fast Chicks 5k
May 13- Patrick Downey 5k
May 29- Fueled By Fitness 5k

June 2- Ricey's Run
June24 NSMC Cancer Run

I also have a flex race built in just in case. The Rockport Father's Day 5/10k. I am actually thinking about the 10k option for this one if I can be consistent with my running.

I have a packed schedule for a few reasons. The first is that I want to get the donation to the Fitzgerald family as soon as possible to help them kick childhood cancer's ass. They have plans in the works. :) The second is that I think it's fitting to end with a race that is raising money to forward cancer treatment and research.

I may not be the fastest runner out there, but what I lack in speed I make up for in determination. Thanks for following my journey. :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Are we having fun yet??

Race Three is in the books!  It was another tough one at a local golf course, which really just means one hill after another.  :)  I haven't run this one since 2006 and I have to admit I remember it being somewhat easier.  However, I was only a little slower 6 years later.  That gives me hope. 

The rain cleared and the conditions were better than I expected. I did leave my fancy new kicks at home for this one...wouldn't want to get them muddy!  I am looking forward to some road races that take place on an actual road at some point...but for now here is a photo of me crossing the grassy finish line!  I got out, saw lots of great people, got my workout in, and raised money for a great cause!  I have to admit that 3 days later as I type this, my legs are still hurting from all of those hills!  :0

Finally at the finish!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hills of March

I'm guilty of not blogging in a bit.  Apparently, January, February, and March are not busy race months.  :)  We have had such a mild and snow free winter that I have run more this winter than any other.  Sick kiddos got in the way of running for a few weeks, but I am back on track.  I am finding some ways to be more consistent with my running. 

Race number three is coming up on Sunday.  It's the Olde Salem Greens Cross Country Race.  Loosely translated...hills.  I did this race a few years ago and it was tough.  Mile two is at the end of the course, but you have to do another loop for the 3rd mile.  I remember thinking I was done...but really had a mile to...or this race could be harder than I remember.  Time will tell!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Still Here

I am still here...and I am still running.  :)  I'm actually running quite a bit and it feels really good.  We've been blessed with a mild winter, so most of my runs are outside runs, which makes me smile.  I am not a fan of the dreadmill, but can do miles on it in a pinch.

I've changed up my race schedule a bit.  A house of sickies and not wanting to travel for a race led me to drop the valentine's race.  My next one is the Salem Olde Salem Greene cross country race.  I've been doing some hills to prepare.  February and March are quieter than I remember as far as races go.  I have one for March and the it picks up in April.  I'm been out of the road race loop for awhile.  I do have a master list of about 15 races coming up.  I'll post the next 7 races soon.  I love seeing all of the races on about motivation to train!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Lesson Learned....

I've been thinking a lot about what I want my boys to learn from what I'm doing and why I am doing it.  My oldest son is not a fan of my running...well at least my running without him anyway.  ;)  He is really good at getting my mommy guilt going, yet I leave the house and run anyway.  I try to show them how important it is to help others.  We donate supplies to the local animal shelter.  We recently ran a kid's race for the Special Olympics and we put money in the Salvation Army bucket every time.  I hope that these small things help them realize they can make a difference.  

I want them to be the kind of kids (and adults) who see something that isn't fair or see someone hurting and try to help.  They don't need to solve the problems of the world.  For me, asking someone who trips if they're ok,  helping someone who has dropped something rather than laughing, or setting up a lemonade stand for a cause important to them is more than enough.  I hope that they are strong enough to defend someone who can't defend themselves from hurtful actions or words...on the playground, in the classroom, on the playing field.

I think about the world today and it doesn't seem to spew kindness.  I stopped watching the news when I had kids and realized how much crazy shit goes on in the world around us.  It might sounds corny, but a little kindness goes a long way.  One of my favorite inspirational stories that has saved me on many a "banging my head off the wall" kind of days as a teacher is this one: 

While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean. As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.

He came closer still and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
The old man smiled, and said, “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The young man listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the back into the ocean past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”

And making a difference in the life of one person is a beautiful thing.  :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cancer is the common thread...

I've been thinking lately about what sparked that inner "I need to do something." feeling.  This isn't the first time I've gotten it, and I was mulling it over one night when I couldn't sleep.  :)  It's a feeling I get that I have to do something...anything.  After thinking about it I discovered the common thread is cancer.  I found it really interesting that there was a common thread...

The first time was when I discovered a pre-k student of mine was in recently in remission and his oldest sister (a middle schooler) was also battling cancer.  The family had to travel back and forth to Boston a lot and they were a large family.  It seemed so I organized a raffle at the school.  We raffled off brand new new bikes and raised money for the family.  The Salem's Children Charity learned about what we were doing and donated hundreds of dollars in gas and restaurant cards in addition to what we raised.   I realized it feels really really good to be able to help someone.  I also learned that there are tons of people out there willing to pitch in. 

The second time I raised money for the Jimmy Fund by walking the route of the Boston Marathon.  Now I have to admit that on this one, the thrill of experiencing the marathon route pushed me to walk 8 hours more than the cause.  However, it was incredibly moving...seeing the posters of people fighting for their lives at each mile marker.  There was little fanfare (not sure why I was expecting crowds like at the actual marathon...maybe because walking 26 miles is still pretty challenging) and it was more introspective than I had anticipated.

The third time cancer really pissed me hit too close to home when my aunt was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia almost a year ago.  Doctors thought she would need a bone marrow transplant at some point during treatment.  F U cancer....we're on it!  We held a local bone marrow drive and added close to 500 people to the bone marrow registry!  "We" were a team too numerous to count who pulled together and hosted an event with an amazing turnout.  I knew we might not find a match for my aunt, but anything is possible!  It was equally important to get as many people in the registry as possible so that someone out there waiting might benefit.  My aunt ended up receiving a stem cell transplant and is in remission. 

By the way?  Are YOU in the registry??  It's simple and painless.  Go to 

Then several months ago I was reading the local paper and read the Fitzgerald's story.  I followed them on facebook and through their blogs.  They lost their little girl and that feeling came back.  You suck cancer.  You are unpredictable and turn people's lives upside down in an instant.  You know no one is too young...and to be honest I was pissed at the unfairness of it all.  I'm a mom and a teacher...children are a big part of my life and it made my heart hurt to imagine it.

I hope that by running I am letting the family know that their little girl touched people she didn't even know.  That 5 months from now I'll still be running in her honor.  I also hope that the money I raise will help the family get on their feet, or create a foundation in their daughter's name, or whatever else they might need. 

So I took that "feeling" and this time I ran with it...and will continue to run with it for eight more races!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Snowshoe Classic...minus the snow!

That race was TOUGH!!  It was a 3.5 miler through the woods single file and over hills around a golf course.  I actually liked the trail part...the massive hills I could do without.  I think I could have made up some time on the trails, but passing was impossible and I slowed down quite a bit (to say the least) on the hills on the end.

Having said all was pretty awesome!  It was a beautiful sunny day and I was surrounded by great people on a Saturday morning.  :)  I got a 3.5 mile run in a day I probably would have not run at all.  I raised money for a family that can use it.  All in all a great day!  Here are some pictures...just to prove I actually do run these races.  :0

My running partner in crime.  :)
See?  I'm slow...but I'm doing it!
The socks speak for themselves  :)
Putting on my mismatched socks reminds me every race of why I'm running.  I'm running for something so much bigger...and I'm giving cancer the middle finger at the same time.  Thanks to everyone who is donating!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Game on.

Game on.  Tomorrow morning is race number two...the Snowshoe Classic in Salem.  It's a trail run, something I've never run before.  I'm looking forward to a challenge and this course will definitely be a challenge.  It's a tough 3.5 mile course on trails and over hills.  The only good thing is that we don't have any snow here, so I won't be needing snowshoes, just my running shoes! 

As a teacher I love a good snow day and have been known to do a snow dance with my kids if snow is in the forecast.  ;) This winter there's been no dancing and no snow.  In fact it will be close to 50 again here for race day.  I'll take it!  I'll post pictures tomorrow after the race.  Happy Friday!!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

It's not a miracle that I finished, but rather I had the courage to start it...

Happy New Year!  Race Number One is DONE!!  I have to admit that lack of running this week had me a little nervous.  I ended up running a little faster than my last race...which is probably why this one felt harder even though it was a shorter distance.  Note to need to train.  :0

Here are some photos from the race.  It was a beautiful sunny morning!  Great day to get out and run.  There were so many familiar faces and Wicked along with the Park and Rec did a great job!  My two friends ran as well.  Paying it forward is contagious.  I also have to say that doing something for someone else just makes me feel good.  More on that later...

We saw a group of woman wearing shirts with this on the back:   It's not a miracle that I finished, but rather I had the courage to start it...exactly!

Rocking mismatched sock in memory of Saoirse