My Fundraising Page

Running the Lake
Jun 07, 2013 by Jeff Levin

Seriously. If you told me 4 months ago that I’d be someone who ran around Lake Merritt, I’d have laughed in your face. Running the 3.2 miles around the lake not only seemed highly improbable but totally insane, and the people who did it seemed devoted to a fitness god I could never find faith in.

Well, hallelujah! This week, I not only ran around the lake, I ran to it and back for a total of 5.2 miles of running. Not bad for 5:30 am on a Tuesday. However, running the lake, for me, is like finding myself in a foreign country with its own strange culture. It’s incredibly surprising how many people are out and about the lake before the 6 o’clock hour; and, the diversity is very representative of Oakland as a whole. From spritely teenagers dashing about to ancient sages hobbling, enthusiastic ladies shouting around at their boot camp to homeless men whispering about the weather, and I even saw one guy, sharply dressed, doing tai chi and smoking a joint.

Geese are everywhere. They’re nasty, ornery, and leave poop all over the place that has to be quickly dodged while running, like a spontaneous game of hopscotch. My sense is that nobody can do anything about them since Lake Merritt is the United States’ first wildlife refuge, since 1870. Essentially, the geese own the lake, they seem to know it, and just let us pass through.

I think a lot about the history of the lake as I run around it and I try not to bore my TNT teammates with too much while running. First off, it’s really not a lake, it’s a tidal estuary, since it is a partially enclosed body of brackish water with fresh water flowing in. It used to be a sewer, but thankfully, somebody named Sam Merritt, who happened to be a mayor of Oakland decided to clean it up (for the record, we’re still cleaning it up. The goose poop probably doesn’t help). Well, people like having a lake in the middle of town, and over the next few years, laid the foundation for what we have today. It’s the jewel of Oakland, complete with lights, a Fairyland for the kids, and recently renovated running paths from measure DD. I’m stoked to use those new paths, joining the amazing early morning people of Oakland, dodging goose poop, huffing and puffing and trying to kick cancer’s ass one lap of the lake at a time.

My Son Calder is Born!
May 25, 2013 by Jeff Levin

The birth of my son Calder on 4/22 has slowed me down a little bit. Before he was born, I was edging up toward running 10-12 miles a week. Now, with the sleep deprivation and overall lack of time and energy, I’m lucky to knock out 6-8. This week is the worst, so bad I’m too embarrassed to document it. Still, with all that said, I feel good about where I’m at with my training. Since my sister died, as of 5/24, I’ve run a total of 77.5 training miles. The real training with Team In Training is about to begin and I feel like this marathon is something I can really do... sorta. It’s been a long time since I’ve pushed myself outside my comfort zone like this; where I’ve done something that truly scares me. Most of these types of things I did in my 20’s: skydiving, scuba diving, bungee jumping, surfing double overhead waves over off shore reefs in the middle of the south pacific, bombing down hills on skateboards in traffic congested cities, going back to school for my Masters degree, and proposing marriage. But all of them have been immensely rewarding. My sister never thought twice about doing things like this. She was an ass-kicking survivor who’d jump into any fire that looked like it led somewhere greater. I’m know that if she were around that she’d be the one convincing me to run and not the other way around.

However, my overall relationship to running has not gotten any better. Many of my close friends and family members ask me how it’s going and if I like running any better, and, it’s without any hesitation that I answer, “No.” Sometimes I suspect that I’m not a fitness person like my sister was, just like she did not have my overwhelmingly intense love of food and drink. But, I’ve come to think of running as the inverse of drinking. With running, you start out feeling like hell and everything hurts; you’re sweaty, hot, and you want to give up, lay down, and cry. Then, at then end, you have this moment of clarity and calm. With drinking it’s the exact reverse. Also, I notice that there’s a seesaw effect with the two. There’s only so much running and drinking one can do. If I run more, I drink less. And, drinking doesn’t help me grieve.

Regardless of the alleged benefits to my health and wellbeing, I continue to run because it allows me to get inside my sister’s headspace. As I find myself edging closer to a level of acceptance about her death, it is more her essence I feel when I run and less her voice in my head. The only other time I sense this is when I eat sushi. Laura was probably the only other person I know (besides our Mom) who loved sushi as much as I do. However, a sushi lunch is an expensive communion, whereas running is free and can be done at 5 am.

But this running shtick is entering a phase where me and mine are no longer center stage. While the push to do something like this is motivated by my grief, the bigger picture is that the the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is enabling all the doctors, researchers, and support staff that helped my sister in her year of struggle against leukemia, to help future patients survive. The money that comes through here, will fund the research to save someone else’s sister. I’ve been told by Team in Training that now that I’ve met my minimum fundraising goal, ALL the money raised from here on out goes directly to research for cures. Without a doubt, if my sister was here today, she’d say, “Let’s cure some f-ing blood cancer here, people!”

Outfits, Skunks and Self Transformation
Apr 13, 2013 by Jeff Levin

To date, I’ve run 46 training miles. If my sister had survived her leukemia and was running with me, I’m fairly certain that she’d ask me certain questions about my running. Without a doubt, her first comment would be on my running outfit. She’d probably say something like, “I’m not saying you look lame (which is what she is saying), it’s just maybe some of these clothes are a little old.” I would have argued that, “Well, they were work out clothes, so who cares,” But I would know what she meant.

Because, seriously; I look like your average lame-O dad from the 1970’s. I am wearing my grandfather Ben’s blue sweatpants. Under whatever ratty T-shirt is next in the rotation is my brother-in-law’s worn through blue hoodie which he gave to my NZ friends. It lived on the southern hemisphere for 5 years and came back to the US to be my painting smock for another 1/2 decade. All that, and, my long hair is in a bun. Laura would have commented on all these things. Being a greater consumerist than I was, she would have been more apt to buy stuff. I hate buying stuff, almost to a fault. She would have invited me to get a haircut; then, if we ran together enough she would have found some random holiday occasion to give me a new running outfit, so I’d look as good as she did. (I know this because, back when we did yoga together she bought me nice yoga clothes. I can only assume the same for running.)

The second thing my sister would have laid into me about would be running in the middle of the street. I would have told her my standard narrative: running in the street is better for my joints, it makes me feel so much more punk rock, I’m like Rocky... But really I’m afraid of skunks. The second week I started running, I was out plugging along at 5am, and at about 1.2 miles, I see in the distance, a black dog walking out of our local rose garden. As I get closer I notice this “dog” has a white stripe down the side. At about 8 feet away, I realize this is not a dog staring at me but a very large cat; then, intuitively, I know no cat could be that big. Finally, another 2 feet along, I can clearly see it’s a skunk. Luckily I was running, and I just had to pivot and run the other way. So, now I run in the middle of the street. This way, I can see skunks coming at me with a very wide berth.

I know what my sister’s final question would be, “Why are you running if it sucks for you.” While I can clearly see it is helping me, running is not something I enjoy. However, I’m running because I need to be a better man, even if it means doing something unpleasant or uncomfortable. When someone close to you dies, you just have to do something that takes you out of your comfort zone. We have to become MORE than we are to deal with something like this. We have to look at where our integrity is deficient and become better people.

Grieving demands transformation. Being bound with Laura, she has made a transformation, and we are compelled, by our spiritual bind, to transform along with her... this is what I think about at 5:30am: running, looking dorky, avoiding skunks, feeling like hell... having conversations with my sister in my mind...

I am running for my sister
Mar 15, 2013 by Jeff Levin

On Valentine's Day this year, my sister died from Acute Myeloid Leukemia. It was a year long, hard fought battle. My sister was always feriously tenacious. I know that if she had survived, that she would be running with me this October. There was a big chunk of time where Laura and I used to run together and I started again after her funeral. It has been the only thing that has significantly helped me move forward through the grieving process.

Laura and I used to run up and down the HB strand. Sometimes we'd run slow and have long conversations about everything. Other times, I berate her in a funny accents to get her to run faster. It never worked since it left us laughing too hard and struggling to breathe and keep pace. One time in particular we convinced each other to jump in the ocean. For the sake of storytelling panache, let's say it was winter. We jumped in and bounced around the waves for a bit, declaring all manner of expletives. We drove home soaked, but impressed with our own bravado. It was one of those moments where life smacks you in face.

I'm running this race because it's the kind of crazy thing we would convince eachother to do, because running gives me the emotional clarity to move forward with my grief, and to raise awareness and money for the battle against the disease that took her life.

Jeff's Fundraising Page
Mar 12, 2013

Teams are made up of individuals. Without them, there is no team.

Welcome to my Team In Training home page.

I have a mission-to help find cures and more effective treatments for blood cancers. To accomplish that mission, I’m participating in a sports endurance event as a member of The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team In Training. Like the other members of TNT, I will be raising funds to help find cures and better treatments for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma. I’m improving the quality of my life by participating and with your support, I can help improve the quality of life for patients and their families as well.

Please make a donation in support of my efforts with Team In Training and help advance the research for cures.


Supporter Comments

    "Hooray for my magnificent children. I am extremely proud to be your father. I love you both mucho mucho. Dad"

    Bob Levin

    Tue Mar 12 05:19:52 EDT 2013

    "To carry on her brave fight....Jeff it's an honor to support you. Love BZ"


    Wed Mar 13 09:51:19 EDT 2013

    "Run Jeff Run! We love you guys. Love, Sam, JT, and Jax"

    Sam Thompson

    Mon Mar 18 02:34:20 EDT 2013

    "Jeff, You are an inspiration and I know Laura will be alongside you for every stride!"

    Katie Simms

    Mon Mar 18 03:21:26 EDT 2013

    "This is a wonderful idea. Good luck with the run Jeffrey!"

    Kendall McClellan

    Wed Apr 03 11:48:35 EDT 2013

    "You GO Jeff!!! And may she have you laughing across the finish line."

    Connie Hubbell

    Sun Jul 28 04:04:58 EDT 2013

    "We are so proud of you! Go Jeff! Love---Mom & Dad"

    Mom & Dad Hix

    Wed Oct 16 11:54:26 EDT 2013

    "For Laura."


    Fri Oct 18 12:50:39 EDT 2013

    "Jeff - What a positive place to put your grief. We commend your spiritual alchemy, and our thoughts and sympathy are with you and your family. Meg and I were lucky to have met Laura a few times, but I remember her best from our game of Durak, sitting on the floor of your Portland apartment with a bottle of wine. Run on, brother."

    Shawn and Meghan Mayer

    Sun Mar 17 06:47:10 EDT 2013

    "Laura was such a bright, shining star. "

    Deanna Hoover

    Fri Mar 15 11:22:11 EDT 2013

    "Dear Jeff, You and your sister were so lucky to have a loving relationship. Laura is shining her beautiful smile on you and your family. I feel very fortunate to be friends with your family. Thank you for doing the run to help find a cure! Love and hugs. Louise"

    Louise Nussbaum

    Fri Mar 15 09:47:12 EDT 2013

    "What a wonderful way to honor her memory, Jeff and Katy. I am so pleased to support this anyway that I can. Sincerely, Michaela"

    Krin Michaela Walta

    Fri Mar 15 09:45:33 EDT 2013

    "Much love to you! "

    michelle lemieux

    Fri Mar 15 09:14:43 EDT 2013

    "We wish we could have seen you run today!! Congratulations, we are proud to be your friends."

    Heather Gould

    Sun Oct 20 07:45:20 EDT 2013

    "WOW, you are an inspiration to us all. We both love you, and thank you for including us in a good cause. "

    Tom & Paula

    Wed Sep 18 05:35:46 EDT 2013

    "Go Jeff go!!"

    Lauren Avery

    Wed Jul 17 03:59:30 EDT 2013

    "You are a Rock Star!"


    Tue Jul 09 07:38:40 EDT 2013

    "Jeff - Your blog is great. Good luck with the 1/2 marathon. James & Eric OAP customers"

    James Wagner and Eric Kupers

    Sat Jul 06 02:26:41 EDT 2013

    "Hello Jeff, Way to go buddy, I miss Laura and I am deeply sadden over it all. I love you. I too am running for a Kenyan child to have a chance to go to school, as I run I often bring you and Laura with me, as we know she was and still is a great motivator. Blessing my friend. Love too you and the family. Kathy Jurgensen"

    Kathleen Jurgensen

    Tue Jun 18 11:30:15 EDT 2013

    "Jeff, You are amazing. Good luck with the running.. Love Barbara and Mark "

    Barbara And Mark Langdorf

    Sun Apr 14 11:31:37 EDT 2013

    "Go Jeff Go!!!"

    Claudia & Bruce Kaplan

    Fri Apr 05 02:03:43 EDT 2013

    "Laura made a differnce in our lives with her great yoga teachings at Yoga Shakti in Huntington Beach. Patricia went on to become a yoga teacher herself. She is missed, but her spirit is carried on in the wind via her children and her wonderful and amazing brother, The Prince of Happy Yoga, Jeffrey. Aloha from Kaua'i!"

    Patricia and Thomas Biehn

    Tue Mar 26 07:03:42 EDT 2013

    "GO JEFF! all the best, your old neighbor on bannockburn - holly levin"

    Holly Levin

    Mon Mar 25 02:00:38 EDT 2013

    "Jefe -The Weatherses will be with you stride for stride. Loss wounds. Time heals. Run towards that peace. Much love to you, good friend. Linda and Jim"

    Linda & Jim Weathers

    Sun Mar 24 08:33:54 EDT 2013

    "Hi Jeff, We are sorry to hear about your beloved sister. We had a close friend with acute myeloid leukemia. We know the roller coaster ride of this tragic disease. We send our love, support, and sympathies to you and your family. Kyle and Jon"

    Kyle Miura and Jonathan Pang

    Fri Mar 22 11:18:06 EDT 2013

    "Run, Jeff, run. "

    Joshua Sloat

    Mon Mar 18 06:20:28 EDT 2013

    "Jeff, this is a wonderful way to honor your sister. Love, cousins Cookie and Bill Sloat"

    Bill and Cookie Sloat

    Mon Mar 18 05:36:29 EDT 2013

    "I know that your light will shine forever! Peace and Blessings to you, your friends and family. Love Suzanne Silver"


    Sat Mar 16 06:43:30 EDT 2013

    "you will always be in my heart. xoxo"

    Liz Waters

    Sat Mar 16 09:47:40 EDT 2013

    "will always be in my heart"


    Sat Mar 16 02:23:10 EDT 2013

My Fundraising Total

Raised: $3,493.25 | Goal: $3,600.00
97 %

Make a Donation

We are sorry donations are no longer being accepted for this participant for this event.

My Thanks To

BZ $200.00
Barbara And Mark Langdorf $120.00
Oakland Acupuncture Proje... $118.25
Mom & Dad Hix $100.00
Tom & Paula $100.00
Claudia & Bruce Kaplan $100.00
Patricia and Thomas Biehn $100.00
Linda & Jim Weathers $100.00
Bill and Cookie Sloat $100.00
Katie Simms $100.00
Sam Thompson $100.00
Liz Waters $100.00
Louise Nussbaum $100.00
Bob Levin $100.00
Shawn and Meghan Mayer $75.00
Kathleen Jurgensen $50.00
Lauren Avery $25.00
Loren Ettinger $25.00
John Zay Maschio $25.00
Kendall McClellan $25.00
Gideon Banner $25.00
Kyle Miura and Jonathan P... $25.00
Max Track $25.00
Joshua Sloat $25.00
Daniel Mayer $25.00
Dayle $25.00
Krin Michaela Walta $25.00
Emilie Linick $10.00
Deanna Hoover $10.00
Jeffrey V Levin $10.00
Heather Gould  
Connie Hubbell  
James Wagner and Eric Kup...  
Holly Levin  
Deanna Hoover  
michelle lemieux  
Aunt Wilma and Uncle Alan