Stephanie's LLS Fundraising Page
Oct 21, 2010 by Stephanie Walsh
What did I do??
With the help of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), I trained for and ran in the San Francisco Nike Women's Marathon on October 17th, 2010. LLS' mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. Team in Training (TNT) is an LLS program that prepares people to participate in endurance sporting events: marathons, half marathons, triathlons, 100-mile (century) bicycle rides, or hike adventures. In return, TNT participants have raised over $950 million to support blood cancer research and patient services.
LLS is an amazing organization that has benefitted thousands of cancer patients and families worldwide. I've chosen to fund raise for them because we are fortunate enough to have a healthy family and it's good to know that they are out there to help those who haven't been so lucky. Please give generously, and thanks for your support!
Oct 21:I did it!!!! On Sunday, Oct 17, I ran the half marathon in the San Francisco Nike Women's Marathon!! There were times leading up to race day when I really doubted myself - the knee pain, the sinus infection, the fall the week before the race. But on-going encouragement from my friends and family helped me to stay focused on my goal. I couldn't have done it without you!
The weekend was a whirlwind. We traveled on Friday, during which time I developed a killer headache, I believe due to my fall earlier in the week. Saturday a group of us went to Fisherman's Wharf to shop and eat before going to the TNT Inspirational Dinner.
The evening moved me to tears: At least a thousand volunteers, coaches, mentors, survivors, and family members welcomed 2,500 TNT participants to the convention center. They lined our path, cheering, thanking, and encouraging us. One man's sign touched everyone who passed: "I am a survivor because of you." We heard inspirational, uplifting, and sometimes heartbreaking stories from survivors and families touched by leukemia and blood cancers. It was incredibly moving and a wonderful reminder of why I had put in those countless miles running, numerous physical therapy appointments, and seemingly endless hours of stretching.
We lined up for the event in the dark at 6:00 on Sunday morning: approximately 20,000 women and 3,000 men. The energy was electric! Because of the knee problems I'd developed in September, I was limited to running the half marathon. I ran all 13.1 miles with my friend and fellow TNT participant Barb Baxter, a great source of encouragement and fun! Views of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the beautiful Pacific Ocean helped get us through the chilly and somewhat rainy run. We finished in 2 hours 37 minutes, averaging 12 minutes a mile. If someone had suggested that was possible a year ago, I would have said they were crazy, but with TNT's help I made it happen!
Thank you, all of you, for your on-going support and encouragement, and for your generous donations to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The event raised over $1 million to benefit LLS. The money will go to help find cures for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma, and to bring increased hope to the patients and families who are on the front lines of the battle against these blood cancers. If you didn't have a chance to give yet, there's still time - - please make your donation to LLS via this website by November 17th.
Thank you so much - I cannot express how deeply I appreciate your support, generosity, and on-going encouragement.
Participating in TNT was amazing. If you are considering it, even just a little, go to an information session. Have faith in yourself, commit to something bigger than yourself, and just do it. It will change your life.
Oct 14: Sorry for the long break in updates. The truth is that the last half of September and the first half of October were hard weeks. Physical therapy was going well (thank you Nancy E. for referring me to Mike Calabrese at UPMC - he's great!), but my allergies were horrible, and they evolved into a sinus infection; don't underestimate the importance of being able to breath when running! Zoe had foot surgery Oct 1 (another whole story), and carrying her up and down the stairs aggravated my knee. Randy was out of town for five days when I was at my worst in terms of illness, exhaustion, and additional knee pain. The good news is that with the miracle of antibiotics, Zoe's increased mobility, and my continuing physical therapy/massage therapy/accupressure/chiropractic care (yes, I'm doing it all!), my knee is good again. In truth, my knee was never bad. As I've learned, it's my hips being out of alignment and muscular discrepanies and weaknesses that cause my knee pain - my knees are only innocent victims of other skeletel/muscular problems!
This week is supposed to be an easy training week - just short, little runs. On Tuesday, I was almost finished a four mile run on a glorious afternoon - 70 degrees, beautiful foliage - when I took a spectacular fall on Highland Ave across the street from Taza D'oro. I ended up flat on my back, hoping I'd escaped notice of any passerbys. I saved my knees, but at the expense of my arm and shoulder. I've been feeling pretty beat up since. I'm off to my chiropractor now, hoping that he can put me to rights! Tomorrow it's off to San Francisco for the big event!!!!!
Sept 15: There's good news, bad news, and good news. The first good news is that I'm making progress with my knees. My friend Helen, who trained with TNT for the Nike Women's Half Marathon last year, heard about my knee problems and had some great advice. In addition to diagnosing me with patella-femoral syndrome (which I should have been able to figure out for myself since I'd been diagnosed with it years ago), she referred me to a great accupressure clinic, as well as a therapetic massage place. Now I have more targeted stretches and exercises, as well as some great clinicians helping me. This means I'll still be able to run in the event - Yay! The other news isn't really "bad," just a little disappointing, and that is that I'll be running the half marathon. Given the time off I've had to take, and the fact that my knees are still a bit fragile, I just don't have the time to train for the whole distance without doing very bad things to myself. I want this to be a fun, successful event, and that won't happen if I end up pushing myself too hard and making my knees worse than ever. And a half marathon isn't anything to sneeze at, right? Maybe this means that my first full marathon will be in Pittsburgh where my family and friends can be there to cheer me on - and that would be a wonderful thing!
The other bit of good news is that with the help of my friends, family, and neighbors, I reached my fundraising goal this week! Thank you to everyone for your support!! This is a relief and an accomplishment, too. You can still give - - 100% of what I raise over and above my fundraising goal goes to LLS' mission, and the cause is still a great one.
May 23: Today was my 2nd group run - 4 miles along the Allegheny River. It was really pretty and it's so fun to run with a group! We also started with a "Mission Moment" where someone shares why they are running. A 30-something guy told how he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgekin's Lymphoma when he was 12. He beat the odds by both surviving and by not having any negative side affects from his treatment meds which caused heart problems for some patients. Now there's lots more investment in research (thanks in part to groups like LLS), so his med has been replaced with something more effective and less risky. It was a happy reminder of why I'm running!
May 25: I am putting together a basket of gift cards from Highland Park businesses to raffle off for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. So far, so good - I have almost $200 worth of donations. Yesterday I stopped in at some HP businesses I didn't even know existed before (the HP Deli and Manno's on Mellon Street) and the owners were all great! 'll be selling tickets on Highland Ave during the yard sale & throughout the summer - be sure to get some!
May 27: I wiped out while running today - a persona first!! I was on the gravel path next to Reservoir Drive. I managed to save my knees by sacraficing a hand and hip - OUCH! A good samaritan saw, which was embarrassing, but he gave me a handiwipe and a bandaid for my hand which was great. It's nice to be reminded that there are so many nice folks out there!
June 4: Shin pain during my last two runs had been freaking me out - - I was really worried that I was just not built to do this. But good news! After purchasing a new pair of sneakers (thank you Elite Runner & Walkers in Robinson for the great fitting and TNT discount!) and trying out a run/walk training plan (doing today's 3 miles in 3-min-running/1 min-walking intervals), I am pain free! Yippee!!
June 10: The run/walk, new shoes, ice, and ibuprophen are working well! I've been achy after runs, but pain free, and running stronger, too. Sunday I ran at 5 a.m. It was dark and cool and quiet - just the birds and me. That day I spent 8 hours selling raffle tickets - first at the Highland Park Neighborhood Yard Sale, and later at the Bryant Street Festival. It was a tiring at times battling the wind and showers, but it paid off: I sold over $300 in tickets! Highland Park rocks!
June 11: Stacey at Stacey's Dynamic Salon in Highland Park has been selling raffle tickets. She has a friend with leukemia and wants to help so she's telling all her customers about the raffle. Thanks so much Stacey! You're awesome!!
June 14: I overdid it on my run Saturday and now my shin hurts again. This is hard - trying to stay motivated, increase the mileage but not hurt myself in the process (clearly I'm struggling with that), keep upbeat on the fund raising. Yikes! It's a lot! Fortunately physical therapy went well today. I'm hoping if I back off a bit on the miles this week I'll be back on track next week.....
June 28: Running in this humidity has been brutal! Even this morning at 7:30, it wan't more than 70 degrees out but so, so muggy, it was like swimming. It's hard to stay excited about training in this weather. However, I had a good 7.5 mile group run this weekend. We heard another motivational story about a 23-year-old somone knows who has recently been diagnosed with Hodgkins. Fortunately her chemo is going well, although she said the last treatment was the hardest - all her hair fell out and she feels terrible. But she's an upbeat person - her treatment is going well and she's already making plans for what's next - so inspiring!
July 5: Yesterday was our annual block party/4th of July celebration. Everyone had a blast - the homemade water slide, "anything that rolls" parade, BBQ, reading of the Declaration of Independence, and fireworks - it was all great! I explained what I was doing after the reading of the DOI. I collected round $100 in donations plus lots of pledges. It was fun explaining to people what I am doing and why. Everyone was very supportive - I love our street!
July 19: Yesterday was my longest run ever: 9 miles!!! Even though we started at 7:30 a.m., the heat and humidity were brutal! It's a good thing I was running with the group because otherwise it would have been hard to stay motivated! Thank goodness the weather is changing - hopefully it will be better in New England, too, where we're headed tomorrow for vacation. Yesterday I hit another milestone: half way to my fund raising goal! Reaching that milestone is great because it makes me feel like reaching my ultimate goal really is possible. Thanks to all my wonderful friends and family for helping me on this amazing journey!
July 28: This weekend I did a new personal long run of 10 miles. I ran along the coast in Connecticut where we were staying with our neighbors and some of their family. The run was gorgeous!!! I so miss the ocean. However, I got a killer blister on each foot on my fourth toe (between that toe and the little one). One I drained just fine, but the skin got ripped off the other one and it took longer to heal. Fortunately, I got some moleskin yesterday and today I was almost as good as new - good enough to run again which is what matters! This time I got to run a "Rails to Trails" route near my mom's house in southern New Hampshire. The trail is about 3.5 miles long, with a 5 K start and finish marked on it, so I ran a 5K out and back. As expected, I did much better on the second lap: 33 min going out and 31 minutes coming back. I am running my first 5K in a year on Sunday up in Maine with my friend Jenny. Perhaps I should head out early and try the course out as warm up??
August 13: Vacation is over!! While I didn't stop training (I ran 10 miles at the beach and 11 miles near my Mom's house, plus my shorter runs), keeping up was tough. The highlight was a 5K in York Maine where I broke my personal record by running a 28:47. Now, I've only run one other 5K, so it wasn't hard to break my own record, but the pace - 9:16 - was great for me! Usually I'm psyched to run a 10 minute mile! The credit has to go in part to my friend Irene who set a killer pace. I could only keep up with her for the first mile and a half, but that was enough to put me on track to do so well. Thanks Irene!!!
Now I'm home and training, and while my shin splints have faded to a mere whisper of there former painfulness, I am facing a new runner's bane: blisters. I'm using BodyGlide and moleskin with mixed results. I have a 13 mile run Sunday - I may just slap some Bandaids on and see how it goes....
August 17: I ran my first half marathon distance on Sunday: 13.1 miles!!! It wasn't as bad as I thought - just another long run. Fortunately it was a group run and there were lots of good people with whom to pass the miles. Dan told me the story of his 14 year old daughter who died of leukemia 4 years ago. She was hit by a car when she was 2 and never expected to be more than a vegetable. She recovered and developed into a really sweet, positive girl. She insisted on joining the family for its first 5K despite her physical limitations resulting from the car accident. And she encouraged her father to train for a marathon - which he was doing with Team in Training - when she was diagnosed with leukemia. It was a rare form and there was no standard treatment protocol. She was in and out of intensive care for 9 months before she died. Since then, in addition to supporting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through Team in Training, her family also holds a 5K each year in her memory: "Laurapalooza" - run, walk, or lollygag! It was a wonderful story, an amazing example of people overcoming tragedy and doing something positive. I love participating in Team and Training because it's inspiring, and it's so good to be part of something larger than youself. Go Team!
August 25: Last Saturday I couldn't do the long run with the team so I had to run 14 miles on my own!! I sent an email out to my runner friends and managed to recruit my neighbor Ellen who ran with me the first 7 1/2 miles. We had a great time running and chatting along the Allegheny River, from Washington's Landing to the Steeler's stadium and back. The second out and back (when I was alone) seemed longer and harder, but I persevered. The downside is that my knees are now killing me!! They'd been complaining for the past couple of weeks, since the long runs went up to around 12 miles. I tried to gnore them, but they are insistant! Yesterday I called the Team in Training Physical Therapist. His advice (as expected) was STRETCH MORE, as well as apply heat and ice, take buprophen, and DON'T RUN. I told him I was worried about falling behind but he told me not to worry - I was already in great shape in terms of mileage and we are still two months out. So I have been benched for now and am spending my days stretching, working (strange after being on vacation all summer), and stretching some more. Send stretchy happy knee thoughts my way!!
August 31: The first day of school for the girls and my 10th day without running. Yikes! I am still rehabbing my knees (actually, only the right one; the left one has improved so much it's now pain free). After a week of phone consults, stretching, and exercises, TNT Physical Therapist Jay L. from Panther P.T. saw me today before his roadtrip to NC. It was a great visit: he helped me improve my stretching technique and gave me more exercises. Happily, he thinks with the progress I've made, I will likely be able to start running again this weekend. Yay! Thanks Jay!
Also, we drew the winner for the Highland Park Gift Card Raffle yesterday. I got several neighbors together to witness the big event, and Aviva, our three-year-old neighbor, did the honors. Congrats to Randy's co-worker, our neighbors, and Piper's classmate - the Brodkey/Vesterlunds!!! Enjoy!
Sept 8: Yesterday I ran for the first time after a 2 1/2 week break to let my knees recover. It felt great! My knees were a bit stiff, but my legs were strong and I felt like I hadn't lost much aerobically. That's a big relief! Now I just have to keep up my stretching and physical therapy, and build up my miles over the next five weeks. Yikes!!! Only five weeks to go! Keep your fingers crossed and send me happy-knee vibes!
Sept 12: I ran 5 miles today with the team and ended up in pain. Urgh. Very, very frustrating. I have to talk to my physical therapist and our coach - - hopefully I'll still be able to run in the event, but I may need to cut back to the half marathon or even postpone to an event next year. I'm trying to be optimistic, but it's very disheartening!
Highland Park Gift Card Raffle Update
Thank you to everyone who supported my fund raising efforts through the Highland Park Gift Card raffle. The generous businesess in our community, which donated a total of $250 in gift cards, deserve a special thanks: The Bryant Street Market, Tambellini's, Iezzi's, Highland Park Deli, Manno's, Stanton Negley Drug Company, Stacey's Dynamic Salon, Taza D'oro, Food Glorious Food, and the Pittsburgh Zoo!!
Congratulations to the raffle winners, the Brodkey/Vesterlund Family.