Sunday, April 27, 2014

Teaching Cancer to Cry - For Bobby and Ezra

As I mentioned in my earlier post tonight my 4 hours in Hopkinton before the race were all about meeting and catching up with the other 700 DFMC runners. Balancing the needs of 2 munchkins, 2+ start-ups, the sanity of a husband and pooch, PLUS the polar vortex winter weather, I decided early on not to try and make one of the training runs in Boston. This made things a little lonely, but definitely saner, and all the more important to soak up as much as I could glean from the other runners while waiting for start time.

When I arrived, I settled into a circle of chairs and as I was puttering and eavesdropping caught sight of the back of a shirt as it went by "Teaching Cancer to Cry"

It triggered something in me, but I couldn't place it then. It just resonated and echoed my constant "kicking cancer's butt" motto of both this race and my mindset about cancer. The shirt sat down nearly in front of me and I met Bobby - who after a few sentences, opened a rush of memories and the real reason Teaching Cancer to Cry rang such a true tone in me.

Bobby was running for Ezra. The Ezra who taught me to dance with cancer with his amazing post from 2012:

I don't question these things any more, just suck them in and enjoy the light, the laughter, the love. Thanks Bobby for bringing Ezra right to me. And thanks again Ezra, for your words that helped so much. Glad we were all in the "same" place for a few hours. :-)

#DFMC25 - Boston Marathon 2014 Race Report

The Swift-Herzog DFMC25 team travelled down to Boston early Easter morning after a quick examination of the Easter Bunny’s gifts - new hiking backpacks, water bottles, bread bunnies, and, of course, the traditional chocolate and jelly beans for breakfast. It was a beautiful morning to travel.

Somehow all that sugar did not make for a crazy car ride and we were cruising into the Back Bay by 11, very excited to see our host for the next few days, Lisa “Lili” Cloitre. Lisa is a friend of mine since 1st grade, and an amazing supporter herself of Dana Farber through her Pan Mass Challenge rides and SwimAmerica swims. Hey, between the two of us we could probably make a pretty decent Dana Farber Ironman Team or maybe Half-Ironman...but I digress. :-)

While the rest of the gang went off to burn some energy at the playground, I was off and running to get my bib number and check in at DFMC25 headquarters - ie get all those last few details done and taken care of. I snuck a peek at Boylston Street and knew I just had to go back, not alone, but with Brynna at least, so after a yummy lunch, Bryn, Nate and I left Lili and Grif “napping” and headed towards the finish line where Nate caught the perfect picture.

Nothing like 6yo energy and smiles to sum up all of the feelings of Boylston St just perfectly.  

Then on the way back we stumbled across a pack of obvious elite athletes talking on the corner and I just had to interrupt to get this picture of, um, yes, MY current running idol, Kara Goucher and Bryn. Kara was so amazingly gracious and kind to do it too. Felt like my race had been blessed after that encounter.

Last, but not least, the ribbons went onto the singlet. Ended up with about 70 names. An amazing source of strength and encouragement throughout Monday’s run - thank you all for their stories and the love that carried each one.

With all the details taken care of, now it just come down to waiting. Waiting until bed time, waiting for the busses to leave, waiting to get to Hopkinton, waiting at the DFMC church. I was very, very patient, but I was definitely ready to run! Thank goodness I was getting tweets, emails, donations, words of encouragement from all of you and from my fellow DFMC runners. Being in VT, I don’t get to come down to the training runs they offer to support the runners, so those 3-4 hours were a wonderful catch up and inspiration.

Then it was time to head to the starting line (finally!!) The temps were warm even at 10:45, so I soon left my long sleeved shirt in one of the donation bags and worried a bit about my capabilities to deal with the “heat”. Running in temperatures over 50 degrees had not been part of my training this winter. We were the 9th correl in the the third wave - pretty far down the street and there were people ahead as far as you could see.

As soon as they started the wave though, we got moving - walking and then running steps from the starting line. Perfectly coordinated BAA, yet again!

Boston is a tricky course - the elevation gain is negative for the first 16 miles, giving you a false sense of easy cruising, often at split times you haven’t seen in training yet. Then the hills hit in Newton, 4 of them, nothing that wasn’t comparable to those regularly in my hill repertoire in VT, but still hard if you don’t rein yourself back a bit. So that’s what I tried to do from the very start - feel like I was running slow, slow, slow - and enjoy the trip.

The Boston course is lined with fans, 2-3 people deep from the start to finish. Each town takes their role very seriously and the town lines and centers were huge parties. I missed Julie so very much right then. All these celebrations for a city we both “grew up” in, met our life partners in, and would always love. Our paths never crossed during each of our 10 years there, but those years were integral to who we were when we did meet in VT. Somehow I knew that she would have been there at my side, running and celebrating our Boston Strong, while doing our best to kick cancers butt too. A touch of grey on an otherwise, beautiful, beautiful day.

The miles cruised by and I was soon in the shade of Wellesley College and the sound chamber of 100’s of cheering Wellesley women - as I promised myself and a few others, this time I did do the high-fives and gave a few kisses. Nothing like a tunnel of female power to push you over the halfway mark. Thank you ladies!

Then I got the best cheers of the day: Lisa and Nate got my gang to Wellesley and not only did I get my hugs and beautiful smiles from Grif and Brynna, but high tens from everyone. My second half started on a huge high! 

As I ran out of Wellesley, I spotted a bank temperature sign: 69 degrees. Wow. I was drinking, fueling, and running a steady, reasonable pace, that included walks along each water stop every mile, but my body was just not ready for the heat. I got a funny little chill run through my body at about 19 miles and made the decision: I’m going for a finish, not for time and started to walk/run at shorter intervals. My Vermont runner side is a little mad that I didn’t crush all of those hills, but as Lisa told me at 23 miles, “You look SO much better than everyone else” I think the decision was the right one for many reasons, not the least of which, I really, really got to enjoy the journey of those last 6 miles from BC to the finish. Even took some pictures.

Citgo sign getting bigger at 1.5 miles to go! Almost there!

I savoured that last mile. First, thanks and high fives with the DFMC gang at Mile 25. Waving to Fenway - Go Sox! Cruising the downhill into my first Boston neighborhood, Kendall Sq. Down and under Mass Ave and around the corner onto Hereford and up to Boylston - a silent thank you to Engine #10 as I rounded the corner on to the home stretch. Got a funny little worry looking down that corridor, but then utter defiance took over: This is OUR finish line! I must not have been the only one thinking this, as I made my way closer the crowds would roar in waves, the sound wave pushing us along on its crest. Then across the finish line, just under my goal of 11 minute miles in 4:45.09.

It was a really, really great day.

Thank you, thank you, thank you all for your virtual watching, cheers, and incredibly generous donations. I’m pushing $12,000 raised and have checks ready to send that will get me solidly over that hurdle. Donations are still welcome though (through September!) and I’m still focused on getting to $15,000. So, if you have friends, family, anyone who might donate to the ‘cause, please don’t hesitate to forward this along or post on Facebook/Twitter/Google+! Any amount and publicity helps and is so appreciated.  Donations can be made either at my DFMC webpage or through the mail. Checks should be made out to "Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge" and sent to me at 35 Crombie St, Burlington, VT 05401.

Many hugs and thanks from Vermont, Kerry

Thursday, April 17, 2014

#DFMC25 Why I Run.

Over $10,000 this week - what a milestone! Thank you all who have believed in both my ability to conquer this marathon challenge and in the DFMC mission. There is still plenty of time to contribute, both before Marathon Monday and afterwards! Until then, some pictures of the two incredible spirits that I miss so much every day. 

Why I Run.

We run with their love with us, always and forever.
Be Love. Be Loved. Always Blessed.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Taper Crazies and One Week To Go!!

When I was a swimmer at UNH, I had the privilege of being trained by a coach who knew how to do a taper. For two years, I peaked and then tapered two weeks for the AmericaEast championships and for two years, I nailed my times, PR-ing in every event each year. Those taper weeks though, were misery. Nothing felt right both in the pool or out. I was over energized and grumpy. Lord help everyone around me - luckily I lived in a single the first year and had a former swimmer as a roomie the second year.

Rowing never had the same sort of taper events - mostly because we were often preparing for races all season, not focusing on one particular event or maybe because those tapers were not done as well as my UNH swim coach's workouts. I'll never know.

What I do know is that I've had the taper crazies for the last week or so. Running has felt awful at times, I'm grumpy, and I've even been planning the next training cycle. All true signs that I think I did something right this time in spite of this winter's extra long cycle of ice, snow, and bitter cold. We'll see if that's really true on Monday!

Yup, Monday, one week from tomorrow. We are already getting weather reports from Matt Noyes of NECN and it's looking like shorts and singlet weather in the high 50's and partly cloudy....have I even worn shorts yet this year? Will test the singlet tomorrow when it's 77 and make sure any important parts are not going to get worn away after 26.2 miles.

I'm also hitting the big time fund raising $9243.20 by the official total, but about $650 in checks are headed their way, which means I'm very likely to break into the $10,000 realm on or before Marathon Day and it would be really great to hit the half-marathon mark $13,100 by then. Donations don't have to be large. Every little bit helps. Every little bit gives a little kick in cancer's butt and lets it know that we are coming after it, just like I'll be coming after that Boston Marathon finish line. Slow, but strong, and never ever stopping.

Thanks so much to my amazing 80+ supporters already. Let's get it to 100 by Marathon Day and onward to $15,000! Thank you again and again!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Over half way!

I'm past the $7500 mark. Over $8000 and headed towards the Newton Hills! It's getting real. Boston in 3 weeks. Until then, this beautiful song. Go buy it. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

3 Weeks to go!! - Update Letter!

It’s a bit hard to fathom right now here in Vermont, with 6+ inches of snow still on the ground, a lake frozen solid, and temps just climbing into the 30’s today, but there are just over 3 weeks to go until April 21st and the 2014 Boston Marathon!

It has been a very, very long, cold, snowy and icy winter. Definitely a challenge for marathon training, but I have managed to keep to my long run schedule with minimal changes and will basically complete the “real” training this weekend with a second 20+ mile run tomorrow am. I am overjoyed to say that temps are supposed to be in the 40’s and winds under 10mph! Balmy!

Kudos and thanks also go to my amazing donors - I’ve raised $6898 so far. Nearly ½ the way to my ultimate goal of $15,000. It’s definitely not too late to donate and 100% of any donation you make goes directly towards innovative research and new understanding of all types of cancer. When you give to the DFMC team you are directly funding experiments that could be the foundation of the next chemotherapy, the next diagnostic, and the next therapeutic treatments that we aren’t even aware of yet.

Celebrating the strength, love and joy Julie Kelliher and Brian Swift gave to us all is why I run, but they are just two of the many incredible individuals I have known and know who live or lived with cancer. Too many of us find ourselves, our loved ones, confronted with a cancer diagnosis, and while years of study have brought amazing therapies to many types of cancers, there are still more that need their cure brought to light by new research and new therapies. This is what the DFMC team runs for and is why I am again taking on the challenge.

Thank you so much for any amount you can give and for supporting my run and the DFMC team. You can make a donation either at my DFMC webpage or through the mail. Checks should be made out to "Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge" and sent to me at 35 Crombie St, Burlington, VT 05401. In addition, when you make a donation, I will attach a ribbon to my singlet in honor of an individual or individuals of your choosing. Those names, each story, and the love that connects them to me gave me such purpose and courage throughout the 2009 DFMC. I know I will need them in 2014 too!

It's official: my bib number is 26391 and I will be in the third wave departing Hopkinton at 11am. Using my name or bib number you can follow me on the webpage the day of the race or AT&T has an Athlete Alert program as well:

Please email me too if you will be watching anywhere on the course April 21st and let me know about where you will be. Expect a hello and likely a big hug too! My goal is to run strong, but also to enjoy every crazy, wonderful moment of this challenge and amazing course.

Finally, a last shout out to Nate, Brynna, Griffin and Hailey-dog for their patience and support through the last two months of ever increasing miles and hours on the road, but I think they get it.

Momma goes runningIMG_3097.jpg

Friday, February 14, 2014

Mentally going long

As I wrote on Sunday, I've had to rejigger my training a bit to stop the excuses and to ensure that I get in the miles both during the week and on my long run days. 'Cause that's pretty much what marathon training is - getting in the miles and making them "good" miles so you get stronger and can go longer.

I'll be honest, it's been hard this time around.

I'm chalking a bit up to age. Definitely my slower time per mile is due to the additional 5 years on this body (not to mention the extra 20lbs and additional child birthed), but that's physical and if there is anything those ladies at have told and showed me, there are things you can do (speed work anyone?!?) to get back to those 30 something speeds.

Nope, this has been mental.

Don't know really how to describe it, but the best description is: I'm bored. I switch up routes, I throw in some great podcasts (yes, that's me, giggling down the road with Dimity and Sarah and with the WaitWait gang) I've got music that within the first bars, no one, I mean no one, can stop their feet from moving. I meet friends along the route to run with. I even take the most-opinionate dog for part of the run.

I just haven't been able to find my long run mojo.
Anyone else lose this?
Did you find it again?

It's not that I can't do the runs, I'm just not able to start cruising around mile 6 and just let the miles go one by one past me until I either hit that last struggle or cruise the last mile at race pace. I came pretty close during last weeks 15 miler. Maybe it was the fact I was back on Cilley Hill and that I can run that road in my sleep, but it was the first run where I was cruising, body moving, mind at rest or at least paging through the thoughts mindfully.

I'll take that as a good sign. We'll see if I can do it again this week.