Jan 25, 2010 by Ilyanna Kreske
me and my littlest supporter
We did it! On Sunday, June 9th, I completed the Steamboat Springs 1/2 Marathon in 3 hours and 51 minutes. Around the same time, my fundraising total for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society hit $2,761 -- 110% of my original $2,500 goal.
I can't begin to express my gratitude for your support as I worked to accomplish this huge (and somewhat uncharacteristic) goal. There is no question that your help and encouragement got me to the finish line. And I have to tell you -- I was not the fastest, sleekest, or most accomplished athlete in the event, but I was definitely the most enthusiastic and cheerful! I knew I already had won, even before they fired the starting gun. You see, thanks to you and many other generous folks, the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Team In Training raised more that $110,000 dollars for the Spring season. That means lives were saved, research was funded, families and friends were assisted - even before I took my first step.
The race itself was surprisingly fun. We had a pep talk in the hotel lobby, then got on a bus and rode to the starting line before dawn. Everyone on the bus kept remarking about how long it was taking to get there, as we all slowly realized how very, very far we were going to walk or run. Aside from an absurd number of porta-potties, the starting line was fairly non-descript, and the air was cold until the sun came up. There was a one-hour delay due to some transportation issues, but as soon as we got underway I became aware of just how beautiful the scenery was. Being a (slow) walker, I had the road essentially to myself, and I was able to enjoy the sound of a distant river, at least three different kinds of songbirds, the reassuring crunch of gravel as I toodled down the road, and the sight of gamboling calves running circles around their more sedate dams. The locals were fabulous, setting up cheering stations along the way and offering just as much enthusiasm to me as they had the speedsters at the head of the pack. One pair of water-hander-outers were about six years old, and I had to turn them around as they ran up the course behind me, away from their grown-ups. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and I had a spring in my step for quite a ways after I left them behind.
I made good time, even running a few sections, and despite the heat (an uncharacteristic 90 degrees under cloudless skies and relentless sun) felt good for most of the race. I was able to cheer on other Team In Training folks as the full-marathoners began passing me, and I did my best to offer encouragement to all the runners who were faltering. Karma came full circle around mile 11, when I hit my own personal wall and the cheer stations boosted me. That and a little Lady GaGa and other hard-rocking tunes on the iPod. I have to say, mile 12 was pretty much the hardest mile I've ever walked.
When I finally reached town, I was delighted to see my mom and dad, who gave up their day to come cheer me on and brought me to tears with their proud smiles. Finally, I crossed the finish line, received my medal, and got a great hug from Anita, who had sucessfully completed her 10K hours earlier. After some stretching and cold water, we all celebrated with fried pickles and sandwiches at a nearby restaurant (don't knock the pickles -- I've never tasted such salty fried deliciousness in my life!) and Anita and I headed back to the hotel for a much needed nap. When I woke I was pleased to find that I was only mildly sore, and filled with a sense of accomplishment and pride I seldom reach.
pictures are available on Flickr at:
So, we did it, and we did it well. Thank you.
Who's up for a full marathon?
WOW! I have to revise my statement from just minutes ago. We're up to $2,635. I'm in tears. Thank you.
Twenty-bazillion dollars! - June 1, 2010
Well, not quite that much, but I have raised a total of $2,610 dollars! When I started this journey four months ago, raising even $2,100 (the minimum required) seemed nearly impossible. Now, with your incredible generosity, I have not only surpassed that mark, but also my personal goal of $2,500. Today counts six days 'til the big race. I'm nervous, but knowing you're there for me buoys me when I get down. I can't begin to thank you enough. Your support -- in every way -- has encouraged me to do something I never thought possible, while saving who knows how many lives at the same time. I am humbled and truly grateful.
We Are the Champions, My Friend! - May 15, 2010
I DID IT! Sure, the race is still three weeks away, but today was our longest training day, and I finished 11 (ELEVEN!) miles! Yes, I feel tired and sore and drained, but it was almost the full amount, and I could have kept going. I admit -- I was crying when I crossed the line. This has been an amazing, transformational event for me, and I now know I can do it. In addition, I received an incredibly generous anonymous donation, which put me over my fundraising minimum and puts my personal goal almost in reach. We did it! Thanks to everyone who has supported me in this effort.
A Rising Tide of Anxiety - May 8, 2010
Just a few weeks to go, and I'm getting nervous. I re-read the training schedule, and I realized I missed some steps. My Saturday workouts haven't been all that tey should be, either distance or speed. 13.1 miles is looking really, really long. I'm full of doubt about whether I can complete the course, especially in a decent (less than six hours) time frame. I've made so much noise about this, and it's become so important to me. Plus I'm still hundreds of dollars away from my goal. Failure is the thing I'm most afraid of, and this time it's so public. I've been trying to console myself with the knowledge that I've raised almost two thousand dollars, but that's not enough right now.
HOLY COW! May 6th, 2010
I just took a look at the calendar, and it's just four weeks 'til the big day! Wow. The weeks have passed far faster than I could have expected. It's been an amazing journey so far. I have to admit I'm a little worried about raising enough money to make my minimum, but like a friend told me recently -- I still have weeks to go! Time stretches in funny ways.
Bright and Shiny Objects
Had a number of folks show up for the Stella and Dot jewelry show/party and several bought some beautiful pieces.And for every piece sold, the stylist donated 5% to LLS. Everyone's a winnah! It was fun to have everyone over, and as an added bonus, our house is really clean. Thanks to my family who support me in everything I do. And if you want to buy anything, go to: www.stelladot.com/eboule and enter "Yanna" as the hostess.
May Day, May Day!
What a great day! Anita and I chose to sleep in (these early Saturdays are a little tough after a long week!) and instead we walked around City Park with our four legged friends. It was a beautiful walk, and we both felt good at the end. Having a good friend with you makes everything easier, faster, and more fun! I'm a lucky lady. I'm a little concerned about making my donation minimum, but the jewelry party tomorrow should help.
April 24 - Off On My Own
I played hooky this morning. The weather prediction called for dreary and wet, and Anita already had told me Friday that she intended to walk on Sunday instead. I had good intentions of getting up at 6:30 and joining the TnT folks for the weekly group training, but I just didn't feel like gearing up so early. Instead I slept in (if you can call leaving a warm bed at 7:15 a.m. on a Saturday "sleeping in") and walked by myself around Denver's City Park. It was possibly my favorite walk so far. I had the turbo-boost of my four-legged pal, so we set a brisk pace, and got to see my neighborhood from a new perspective. Yes, it was dreary and cool, and we got spattered with occasional rain and drips from the trees, but it felt joyously spring-ish, and there were lovely flowers and honking geese and century-old trees to admire. I didn't take my iPod, and enjoyed the sounds of the birds and wind so much I felt sorry for the folks who were running with earphones. All around the park are some of the older and fancier homes, and I was able to admire fountains and sculptures as I walked by. Yes, the breeze on my face was cold, but it was invigorating, and I found myself laughing and thinking about what a wonderful adventure my whole life is, and how grateful I am for my health, wealth, and happiness.
April 17 - the longest day
We're in the home stretch now. We walked three hours, and I could have gone farther and faster. We've built up, rested, and endured. I still haven't had any blisters, although I did visit the podiatrist about sore bunions. I've tested food and drink for race day, forced myself to eat a bowl of oatmeal at o-dark-hundred every week - long before either my brain or stomach was ready - and walked an unfortunate number of miles with no bathroom in sight. And you know what? I'm LOVING it. I feel strong and capable and ready for the race now. Every week we hear from survivors and family members about how the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has made a difference, even saved lives. So every step, every discomfort, is insignificant in the face of what I -- WE -- are accomplishing. My biggest challenge now is raising funds. I have arranged to host a trunk show for Stella & Dot jewlery on May 2nd, and will speak tomorrow to the staff at Noodles restaurant about doing a restaurant night. Every step, every dollar, makes a difference. Thanks again!
April 10 - Resting week
Yesterday was the start of a "rest" week. We're supposed to take it easy this week to give our bodies a chance to rest and heal before ramping up again in preparation for the big race. Yesterday Anita and I easily walked 3 miles in an hour - something I would have struggled with a couple of months ago. And this morning, even though we're supposed to be taking it easy, I couldn't help myself. Teddy (the dog) and I walked around the golf course. For once she didn't spook at the chain link fence around the zoo, we heard the lions roaring, and we walked three miles in 45 minutes! I was amazed. Last fall it took me an hour and fifteen minutes to cover the same distance. It's wonderful to have such concrete evidence of my improvement.
It's also great to have such a wonderful coaching/mentoring staff. Team-In-Training is an AMAZING group. They are with the athletes through everything, from fundraising to health/nutrition, to -- most importantly -- emotional and pyschological support. I can hardly praise them enough. If ever you want to try something you never thought possible, I highly recommened TnT. Their events include running or walking marathons, triathlons, bike rides, Grand Canyon hikes -- you name it, they do it, and they're with you every single step (or stroke or pedal) of the way.
Thanks again for the recent surge of support -- we're getting closer and closer to the finish line, and I'm grateful for your help.
April 3 - HALFWAY!
Holy cow! We're halfway there! Anita and I have been walking for eight weeks, and we have about eight weeks 'til the big day. Today we walked SEVEN MILES! That's about half of what we'll do on June 6th -- and I am totally confident that we can do it (although I may need to download a book to listen to for at least part of the way.) And, thanks to you, I've raised about HALF of my goal of $2,500. Wow.
Of course, I've been taught never to do anything by halves, so today I am sending out an update letter asking for the other half. If you haven't yet donated but intend to, please do so soon. And even if you can't give money, THANKS. Because your support isn't half bad, it's ALL good.
March 27th - The Princess and the Snowflake
Winter is dragging on, teasing with occasional warm days and then slapping reality back on the calendar with snow or sleet or just cold. I used a family get-together as an excuse not to go out today, but in reality I didn't want to get cold and wet in the six new inches of snow all over the place. Wednesday was even worse -- enough snow that Denver shut down, and we had a snow day. Needless to say, I did not venture out that morning.
The weather is affecting my attitude. Every icy patch, every drip down my neck (how do trees aim so well?) is an excuse to stay in, hunker down, and watch another episode of Weeds. Fortunately, I have you to inspire me. I have gotten many notes and comments from people personally affected by blood cancers, and even more wonderful, positive, supportive comments from people who care about this crazy adventure I'm on. So, despite my urge to hibernate, I put on my shoes and some headphones, and beat the weather -- from the comfort of my very own treadmill. I may not have gone as far as I would have outside, but I cranked up the speed and the volume, and walked, not as if my life depended on it, but because _someone's_ truly does. Thanks for reminding me.
March 13 - Farther than EVER!
We started at REI and walked the Cherry Creek trail Saturday. It was cold in the shade, but wonderful in the sun. I don't know if it's the training, or the good weather, or having some quiet time, but I felt great, and had a great walk. When I got home and googled my path (I'm not ready to shell out a gazillion dollars on a watch that will track my distance, speed, and elevation changes!) I learned that I'd walked about 6.3 miles. Combine that with the 30 minute dog walk before I left home (yeah, I'm a glutton for punishment) and walking around downtown at the St. Patty's day parade afterward, I calculate I walked about 7.5 miles on Saturday - and I felt good! Unfortunately I think carrying Violet around and holding her up for the parade was a little too much -- my back was very sore Sunday morning. I've been stretching and that helps, as did this morning's walk (in the dark. Stupid daylight savings!). Now for the hard part -- more fundraising! Lots of friends and family have been incredibly generous, but I still have $1600 to raise to meet my personal goal. So, if you haven't taken the time to donate, please do so soon, and if you have, please let your friends know about this wonderful, life-saving cause. Thank you!
March 10, 2010 - Stronger, Longer
Training Saturday morning was lovely - a spring day, no ice on the path, and 1.5 hours to go as far as we could. I walked with Anita and our new friend Vicky, who keeps us entertained with stories the entire time we walk. We went 1.5 times around Washington Park, which by our calculations was between four and five miles. Honestly, I could have gone farther and a little faster, but Anita set the pace, and we're in this together. I've been working on my speed during the week instead. In any case, we're going longer each weekend (to the point where we have to be on site for next week's training at 7 a.m. - on a Saturday!) and I really feel like I'll be ready come June. The most encouraging thing of all have been the wonderful, caring messages that are coming in with the donations. Almost everyone has known someone who was affected by a blood cancer, and the list of people for whom I walk is growing. It's really good to know that we're making a difference.
March 3, 2010 - My New Coach
Since the sun was shining this morning, my son talked me into walking him to school. It's a wonderful false spring day (snow is expected Friday), so he hopped on his scooter and took off. I was right behind him - at first. After a few blocks I was beginning to feel like a boxer, going as fast as I practically could with the kid surging ahead (you have WHEELS, kid, of course I can't keep up!) and occasionally circling back around to encourage me to go faster, do better. I have to say, I think he has a future in coaching. We made it to school in record time, and the dog and I both got our morning workout. Just don't tell my new coach that I took it easy getting home . . .
Feb 27, 2010 - Getting stronger
Today was cool and intermittently sunny for our walk. Unfortunately, there was a lot of ice in patches on the trail so we weren't able to walk as fast as last week, but I think we did about three miles in just over an hour. I'm feeling stronger and healthier. I think the walks my dog takes me on are helping, too. the biggest change for me is that I'm feeling more confident. I'm not losing weight or changing size (that isn't my goal anyway) but I'm developing a new relationship with my physical self. I've always lived in my head - now I'm starting to accept my body as the other half of me. It's a good feeling. Today's motivational reading was about a four year old girl with leukemia. She's undergone something like 120 chemo treatments in two years, and has 10 left. Thinking about my own four year old girl, I am so grateful for the blessing of health. All the more reason for me to stay healthy. I just hope that, in doing this, I can raise enough to make a real difference.
Feb 22, 2010 - Fish out of water
I participated in my first group training event Saturday. It was cold and wet and icy, and I totally dreaded going outside. The other participants (real athletes - mostly doing a full running marathon) were intimidating in their tights and specialized spandex suits. I was TOTALLY out of place in my jeans and salmon-colored fleece jacket, but I headed out anyway. I was grateful to meet two other walkers, and while Gail set a fast pace, Vicky entertained us with her life story. After only an hour I'd made some new friends, and definitely got a good workout in (we even broke into a jog -- twice!) I didn't realize until this morning how hard we worked; my thighs are sore. The Team approach is really going to help me work harder and longer than I would by myself.
Feb 6, 2010 - Blisters for Bucks!
Hey there! Thanks for visiting my Team In Training page. As I mentioned, I'm training to walk a half marathon (13 miles - in under five hours!) to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society LLS.
I'm doing this in part because my friend Anita asked me to, but it's also a very good cause. Funds are used to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma from taking more lives. I am completing this event in honor of all individuals who are battling blood cancers, but especially for a young woman from my hometown who recently survived a bout with lymphoma. I learned from that experience both how many people are affected when one individual falls ill, and how much support is needed in those awful circumstances. I hope I can, in my own little way, help prevent other communities from facing those same awful circumstances. Patients battling these illnesses are the real heroes on our team, and we need your support to cross the ultimate finish line - a cure!
I would really appreciate a donation to support my participation in Team In Training and help advance LLS's mission. You're welcome to visit my web site often, and check back frequently to see my progress.
Your support means the world to me!