“It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment.”
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero
The personal blog and website of Kristen Cincotta
September 14th, 2015 by kscincotta
“It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment.”
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero
September 13th, 2015 by kscincotta
As I mentioned yesterday, my friends and family have responded to my fundraising plea for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day with immense generosity. As a result, I was able to meet my fundraising minimum within two weeks of sending out my primary fundraising letter. In fact, I am currently sitting at $2680 (including two offline donations that haven’t posted yet), a number that blows my mind. Literally, all I have done to raise that money, besides raising awareness through my training, is send out fundraising letters. It is a testament to the size of the hearts of my donors that WE have raised that much money, so quickly.
Because I view this as a team effort from top to bottom, I wanted to acknowledge all of my donors to date in this public forum. No matter the size of the donation, all of them matter and all are appreciated. So please join me in thanking the following people for their commitment to the cause of ending breast cancer forever:
Mom’s former colleagues – some of the MOST generous people I know!
Friends (from all walks of life!)
Fellow 3-Day Walkers (and friends, obviously!)
[I wanted to call these ladies out separately because they are all ALSO fundraising for their own 3-Day walks. Links to their fundraising pages are included!]
Many of these folks have left me incredibly touching words of encouragement and dedications for their donations. Bonnie donated in honor of her aunt and Sarah donated in honor of her grandmother, both of whom were breast cancer survivors. I am honored to walk for them, just as I walk for Mom, Marcia, and several others.
So, what happens now that I’ve reached my fundraising minimum? WE KEEP GOING. There are 33 days left for me to reach my personal fundraising goal of $5000. That means I need to average just over $70 per day until the walk steps off on October 16th. That’s not an insignificant challenge but one that I think is very much in reach. If you would like to help me reach this goal, you can do so by clicking here (or on the widget in the sidebar… or on the image at the bottom of this post… ). If you’d prefer to mail me a check, let me know via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will send the directions for how to do that.
You may have noticed that I didn’t post the amounts that any of my donors contributed to my fundraising cause. That is because I believe that all donations, regardless of size, are worth equal acknowledgement. A $20 donation from one person may reflect a week of skipped Starbucks just to be able to contribute while $100 from someone else may be a drop in the bucket. What matters is the commitment behind the donation, not the amount of it. A commitment to more breast cancer research that WILL save someone’s life. A commitment to better screening and treatment for those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it. A commitment to improved education around cancer for all of us. I may be the one walking the miles, but all of us are a part of this movement. Thank you for taking this ride with me!
Click the image to visit my fundraising page and make a donation!
September 12th, 2015 by kscincotta
The Atlanta 3-Day is less than five weeks away. Thanks to the incredible generosity of my friends and family, I have already hit my fundraising minimum. In fact, everyone was SO generous, I reached that important milestone within two weeks of sending out my fundraising letters (WOW!). Words cannot express how grateful I am to everyone who has donated to date. This is an important and personal cause for me, and it touches my heart to see everyone come together to support the great work of Susan G. Komen in the fight against breast cancer.
HOWEVER! The walk is still five weeks away. That means there is still more time to raise money, and I don’t intend to stop trying until the clock runs out. My current fundraising goal is $5000, as it has been every time I’ve done the 3-Day. I would LOVE to hit this goal for a fourth time. But I can’t do it alone. So, to that end, I’m sharing my fundraising request here as well. Please read this to see why this cause is so important to me, especially this year, and what you can do to help. And if you know of anyone else who might be interested, I would be forever grateful to you for passing this on.
Shortly before my mom died of breast cancer last year, she told me something that I didn’t know. Unbeknownst to me, back in 2010, she had planned to walk in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day with my friends and me when we walked in memory of our friend Marcia’s passing. Marcia was my best friend’s mom. Marcia had gone through her cancer treatment alongside my mom for two years, enduring all of the ups and downs together before she sadly passed away in April of 2009. We walked to honor her relentless optimism throughout her battle and my mom wanted to be a part of that.
Unfortunately, that plan was derailed before it even got started. Mom’s cancer came back early in 2010, just as we were all starting to train and fundraise. She traveled to Boston with us in July and cheered us all on as “team mom”, never letting on that she had once hoped to be walking with us. Even then, she held out hope that she would eventually be well enough to walk those long 60 miles herself someday soon. Like me, she wanted to opportunity to give back to the breast cancer community that had benefitted her so much over the years. She wanted to take some responsibility for her own fate by raising money for the cancer research that had already prolonged her own life by several years beyond what her doctors expected.
Mom never got the chance to walk with me. While her health ebbed and flowed over the next few years, life kept me away from the 3-Day. I didn’t know she hoped to walk with me and I didn’t make the time to take on the fundraising and training challenges. When she told me her secret wish just a few weeks before she died, I knew immediately that I had to walk again. Whether by her side, with her cheering me on from the sidelines, or in her memory, I was determined to walk the 3-Day again. And this October, with her spirit guiding my feet over the streets and hills of Atlanta, I will do just that.
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day is a 60 mile walk over the course of three days that raises funds for Susan G. Komen for the Cure and breast cancer research. A Susan G. Komen for the Cure grant has impacted virtually every major advance in the fight against breast cancer in the last 32 years. The money that we raise through the 3-Day will truly help to save the lives of untold numbers of women. In order to participate in this event, I must raise at least $2300 and would love to raise $5000. This is a huge goal and I cannot reach it by myself. Please consider making a fully tax-deductible donation to help me reach my fundraising goal today.
If you would like to contribute, you can do so one of two ways. If you prefer to take the traditional route, you can mail a check to me at home (email me at email@example.com for my address). The check should be made out to “Susan G. Komen 3-Day” in the amount that is right for you and then I will do all the legwork to get your donation processed. If you prefer to donate online, please visit my personal fundraising page at www.the3day.org/goto/kscincotta to process your donation. Donations made online can be made as one time payments or in installments for up to four months. As you consider your donation, please keep in mind that many companies have matching gift programs, an easy way for you to double the size of your contribution!
The Atlanta 3-Day steps off in less than 60 days. That is not much time for me to reach my fundraising goals. But I am confident that together, we can get there. I am doing all of the walking. I just need your help with the fundraising. My mom never got the chance to do this walk. This year, I am walking for her. Please help me get there.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this letter. I hope that you will join me in taking part in this incredible adventure. Please share this information with anyone that you think might be interested. If I have learned one thing during my time with the 3-Day, it is that everyone, everywhere has been touched by breast cancer in some way. This is something that has affected all of us and together, we are working towards achieving the ultimate goal of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day: a world without breast cancer.
All my best,
Kristen Sager Cincotta
Clicking on the above image will also take you to my fundraising page. Thanks!
July 14th, 2015 by kscincotta
This post is part of a series of posts that will document my 16 weeks of training for the Atlanta 3 Day in October. To read the rest of the posts in this series, please click here.
The first two weeks of training for the 2015 Atlanta 3 Day are officially in the books! It’s been hot and busy around here, but I’ve been doing my best to follow the training plan that I laid out in this post. In the interest of accountability, I’m going to do my best to use these Training Tuesday posts to recap how my previous week (or weeks) went. So let’s get to it!
Week of June 29th – July 5th
In general, the first week went well, although that isn’t really a surprise since it was basically the same running routine I’ve been loosely following for the last six months. I did miss my mid-week run on Thursday though due an uncooperative baby and some really exciting family news, although I justified that as being part of my “taper” ahead of the Peachtree Road Race. At this early stage in training, I can get away with skipping some runs here and there, but as the weeks go on, I’m really going to have to buckle down and get in my miles. Otherwise, the wheels are going to come off at the 3 Day and that’s just not okay with me. If I’m injured and can’t walk, that’s one thing, but if I don’t make it those 60 miles due to my own laziness? Nope. Not ok.
Ran 2.98 miles (plus 4 sets of strides) before work + 30 minutes of core strength before bed
Got in my miles super early and was treated to the most spectacular sunrise. This felt like a great omen for how the rest of my training is going to go!
30 minutes of core strength
At the beginning of June, I joined a 30 day core strength challenge on Facebook that KICKED. MY. BUTT. This was the last day of the challenge and I was ready to be done with it. The challenge was sit-ups, crunches, leg raises, and planks, with an increasing number of reps of each as the month progressed. On the last day, I did 125 sit ups, 200 crunches, 65 leg raises, and a 2 minute plank. I’m stoked I completed all 30 days (on time!) and I am definitely much stronger through my core than a month ago, but PHEW. That was a lot of work!
Wednesdays are always marked as running days on my training schedule, but I’m considering these Wednesday runs as my “bonus” runs each week. If I can complete them, I will. But my husband runs on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, so my only options for these runs are pushing the running stroller after work or on the treadmill at the gym at my office. By making these runs “optional”, I’m building in some schedule flexibility for when life things come up as well. In this case, I got caught up at work and didn’t have time to run. Oh well.
This SHOULD have been an early morning run. However, Dash woke up right when I should’ve been heading out the door and just did not want to go back to sleep. So I got stuck. I thought about making it up at the gym after work but I forgot to bring my gym bag with me. TWO of my cousins had babies on this day and a large group of us were keeping up with all of the excitement via group text all day long. So I was just a tad distracted this entire day. I decided to just consider it a mini-taper before the Peachtree and settled in to look at pictures of the newest Reeves babies.
At a minimum, this should’ve been knee PT, and preferably a make up run, especially since I didn’t have to work. But I decided to use my rare day off to sleep in and I just didn’t get another chance during the day to get my run in. In the afternoon, we all headed to the Peachtree Expo, where I volunteered for the Atlanta Track Club. Love being surrounded by the energy of a race expo!
Peachtree Road Race 10k (which, by my Garmin, was 6.5 miles – WHOOPS!)
One of my favorite races every year. Splashed down Peachtree in a thunder storm and finished in a solid 1:04:50. Still a few minutes off from my pre-pregnancy PR, but a solid effort. More details to come in an actual race recap soon!
One hour of “Yoga for Runners” from Yoga Today
A few years ago, I purchased three hour long yoga videos from Yoga Today that I absolutely love and “Yoga for Runners” is my favorite of the three. It felt GREAT after giving it a solid effort at the Peachtree the day before.
Total Planned Miles: 12
Total Completed Miles: 9.48
Total Cross Training workouts: 3/3
Total knee PT: none (unacceptable, Cincotta!)
Week of July 6th – 12th
Week 2 brought with it my first back-to-back long training walks! I was able to finish both of them at a much faster pace than I expected, which was a big confidence boost. Of course, pace doesn’t matter AT ALL on the actual 3-Day. In fact, if you’re walking too fast, you’ll miss all of the best of the event. But I’m a busy person and those training walks are going to get really long, really soon. The faster I can bang out my training miles, the better!
Ran 2.95 miles (plus 6 sets of strides) + upper body strength before work
Got up early and got it done. I was surprised at how quickly I was able to complete my planned upper body workout, especially given that I was still sore from yoga the previous day.
I had every intention of running over to pick up Dash from daycare after work because we had a new water meter installed and I was working from home all afternoon. However, the workmen didn’t come back to check the installation and turn our hot water back on until almost 5pm, which was way too late for me to run over. In fact, they were so late, I didn’t make it to daycare at all. Hubs had to pick up Dash on his way home from work instead. Super frustrating.
Ran 3.29 total miles of speed work (10 min warm up jog over to the track, 6 x 1 minutes at 5k pace with 2:30 minutes of recovery, 10 min cool down jog home)
This workout felt SUPER easy. I hit paces that were WAY faster than expected (I averaged an 8:20 pace!) and I felt like the recovery intervals were too long. It was encouraging, to be sure, but I’m clearly underestimating what I can do. Speed work should be challenging and this just wasn’t.
I received some pretty tough news at work on Thursday morning, so I was strongly thinking about pounding out some stress (and making up my Wednesday run!) by heading home from work early and running over with the stroller to pick up Dash from daycare. But when I left work, it was literally 100 degrees. Yeah, that wasn’t happening.
I had planned to do a second strength workout plus some knee PT before work but the baby woke up super early and didn’t really want to go back to bed. So I skipped it.
Walked 5.06 miles early in the morning
Got up early to get these miles in before my day really started. I walked 2.5 sort of slow miles around the neighborhood with my “OG” training partner, Shenanigans, and 2.5 miles on my own. I decided to explore the undeveloped northern stretch of what will be the Eastside Beltline trail extension and had a blast. I walked along trails and abandoned railroad tracks and felt like I was miles and miles from home. I would never go this way if I was running due to the uneven terrain, so this was a nice treat.
|With my best girl and original training partner!||The future Beltline!|
Afterwards, I headed to the Peachtree Road Farmer’s Market and helped Komen Atlanta distribute upcycled “market totes” made from old Race for the Cure t-shirts. Anything to spread the word and increase Race awareness!
Walked 6.25 miles pushing Dash in the stroller followed by an hour of Ashtanga yoga
I expected that pushing the stroller would really slow me down (since it definitely slows down my running pace) but Dash and I really cranked on these miles. He was such a trooper too. Not too long ago, he would start fussing if he had to be in the stroller for more than 15 or 20 minutes, and today he hung in there like a champ for an hour and 39 minutes. Must be all that “base building” we’ve been doing walking around town and festivals for the past four months!
Yoga was tough but I was glad I got it done. I needed to stretch after pushing it for 11 miles of walking this weekend.
Total Planned Miles: 6.25-ish running, 11 miles walking
Total Completed Miles: 6.24 miles running, 11.31 miles walking
Total Cross Training workouts: 2/3
Total knee PT: none (you’ll be ticked off when your knee implodes, Cincotta!)
June 30th, 2015 by kscincotta
After a bit of a blogging hiatus while I figured out the whole “working mom” thing, I am thrilled to jump back into active blogging in order to announce that I’m walking in the 2015 3 Day for the Cure in Atlanta!
Ok, so “announce” is a bit of a dramatic word. Most of my friends and family have known that I’m walking again for quite some time now. But it’s been five years since my last 60 mile go around, so I felt like this sort of deserved it’s own “Tada!” moment. So officially, I will be walking 60 miles in 3 Days here in Atlanta in October!
For those who aren’t familiar with the 3 Day, this 60 mile walk (spread across, yes, 3 days) benefits Susan G. Komen at the national level. That means that all of the money that is raised goes to fund breast cancer initiatives, and most importantly to me, cutting edge breast cancer research. While the majority of the money raised through local Race for the Cure events generally stays in the area where it was raised to fund community-level breast cancer programs, the 3 Day funds RESEARCH. As a scientist myself, I know the power of those dollars. And this year, I will again be helping to raise those dollars by walking a lot of miles – both during the event and in the next 16 weeks leading up to it.
I will be posting more in the future (hopefully A LOT more) about the fundraising side of this adventure. For tonight, though, I want to focus on two things: my training plans and my pitch to all of you to join me!
Training Plans – Running and Walking!
While it is certainly not required, it is very important to me to walk all 60 miles of the 3 Day in October. In order to do that, and to do it with a smile on my face, I will need to train. And that means walking, walking, walking.
I’m not going to lie – I’m predominantly a runner these days, so the idea of slowing down to log some walking miles isn’t super tempting. But, running and walking really do use different muscles. Plus, there are gear challenges with the 3 Day that aren’t really a factor with running, even at long distances (have you ever run with a fanny pack??). So walking some serious miles over the next 16 weeks is going to be crucial.
That being said, I LOVE running races. I probably “race” too often, but I can’t help it. I love the energy of it, even at small community 5Ks, and I don’t want to lose that over the next four months. I’m also hoping to run a half marathon early next year, if not before the end of this year. So that means that even as I log more walking miles than I care to think about right now, I still want to maintain at least some level of running fitness throughout this journey.
Over the last couple weeks, I’ve spent some time playing around with training plans, including the 16 week plan that the 3 Day coaches recommend. After a good amount of time with my calendar (and talking things through with my husband!), I’ve finally landed on a somewhat convoluted plan that I think will let me get in enough walking miles to be fit for the 3 Day while still running enough to make me happy. Here’s the basic gist of how it will all work:
Note: Most running plans feature one weekend long run followed by a recovery day. On the 3 Day, we walk 20 miles on three consecutive days. As a result, the most important feature of 3 Day training is walking long miles on back to back days so that your body becomes acclimated to bouncing back quickly. So running weeks will be one long run, usually on Saturdays, and walking weeks will be long walks on both Saturdays AND Sundays.
So, most weeks will look like this:
And my full walking weeks will look like this:
More or less. There are some weeks where I’ll have to get creative, but for the most part, that’s what I’m hoping to do. My mantra word for the second half of 2015 is EXECUTE. I am fully committed to executing this plan.
Every week, I will try my best to post a recap of my training for the previous week. In the past, posting regular training recaps has really helped to keep me accountable and I expect that to be true again. I’m also hoping that when all of you see how hard I’m working to prepare for the 3 Day, you’ll be more motivated to help me reach my not insignificant fundraising goals. Wink,wink.
My Challenge to YOU
As all of us 3 Day veterans can attest, no one ever walks the 3 Day alone. Even if you start out alone, you are quickly absorbed into the pink bubble, surrounded by supportive “teammates”. As of right now, though, I don’t have any formal teammates, which is a first for me. I have a number of friends that I’ve met through the 3 Day who will also be walking in Atlanta (including some that I’ve never met before, despite “knowing” them online for five years!). So I know I won’t be alone. But I would love to have some official teammates as well.
Walking 60 miles in 3 days sounds like a huge feat. Raising $2300 in order to have that privilege can seem impossible. But I am here to tell you that it isn’t. I strongly believe that just about anyone can meet this challenge (and even if you don’t, your efforts in the attempt are still SO VALUABLE). My family members have recently become Fitbit-obsessed. I’m hoping that some of them kick it up a notch and take on the 3 Day with me. I also know a number of people who are on “get fit” kicks of their own. What better way to motivate yourselves than to take on the 3 Day?
Honestly, there are as many reasons to do the 3 Day as there are people who have walked it over the years. Whatever your reason, if you feel a pull in your heart to get involved, I strongly encourage you to do so. You will not regret it. The theme for the 3 Day this year is “Do Something Huge”. Make this your something huge.
If you choose to join me, the team I envision will be relatively informal. As a three time 3 Day vet, I can help answer any questions you may have and of course, we’ll celebrate together on the event in October. But your training will be up to you to execute (or not) as you wish, as will your fundraising. The primary focus of our team will be support and encouragement. This will be a 100% NO PRESSURE team.
I know a lot of people have expressed to me that they’re intrigued by the challenge that the 3 Day offers. Or that they’d love to do something, anything, to help in the fight against breast cancer. So this is your chance. Come walk with me in October. You can do it. I know you can.
If you would like to join my team, you can do so by clicking here. While you can sign up anytime between now and the event in October, I highly encourage you to register soon in order to give you ample time to fundraise and train. If you have any questions, you can shoot me an email here or tweet at me here. Or you can always just leave a comment on this blog post.
Thanks for joining me on this adventure! Whether you choose to walk with me or just to support from afar, we are all in this together. So thanks!
While I am not kicking off my formal fundraising efforts just yet, my fundraising page is ready to accept donations. If you would like to make a donation in support of my efforts, you can do so by clicking on the link above or by using the widget in the left-hand corner of this page. Thanks!
October 3rd, 2014 by kscincotta
Wow, finding time to write while working and raising a newborn is hard!
Even harder, it turns out, is finding the time to train for a half marathon. I had high hopes a few weeks ago that I’d be able to keep up a pretty easy training schedule, especially once we fell into a routine with work and daycare. Ha! I’m learning the hard way that newborns have a stubborn way of not sticking to a routine. They also have a stubborn habit of not letting you sleep. And when your only chance to run is in the morning before work and you’re faced with a choice between going for that run or grabbing an extra hour of sleep, well, you know where this is going.
That being said, I have managed to go for a number runs over the past five weeks, slowly stretching my “long” run out to five miles. Not nearly as many runs or as many miles as I had planned to have run by this point, but it is what it is. I wish I could say that I was running free of any residual knee pain, but unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Even after all of the this time, my IT band feels tweaky on most of my runs. Not enough to stop running, but enough that I’m noticing. I can’t really run on back to back days and I have to be diligent about stretching, foam rolling, and icing after every run. I also should be doing my PT strengthening exercises multiple times a week, but that definitely hasn’t been happening, despite my best intentions. But I’m working through it. Fingers crossed, if I keep doing what I’m doing (and add in those PT exercises… ), I will still be able to run the Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving.
Speaking of racing, tomorrow morning, I will make my “grand” return to racing. I will be racing in the Atlanta Track Club’s Cartersville 10k. The conditions should be PERFECT – temps in the mid-50s, clear skies, relatively flat course. Normally, I’d be chasing a PR (I’m seriously jonesing to drop that last minute off my 10k PR and get below one hour!). But that’s not going to happen tomorrow. So far, I’ve only run one five mile run since I’ve been “back” (and actually, since last October!) so racing six miles is going to be an adventure. I know I can finish the distance and I’m not really worried about my time. In fact, I’m so not concerned with time that I turned the time prompts off of my RunKeeper app. The half marathon course time limit is based on a 16 min per mile pace and I know I can do that, so there’s really no point to focus on pace. Just distance.
So here’s what I’m hoping happens tomorrow: I hope that the race goes well enough that I feel like the half marathon is doable, but not so well that it doesn’t motivate me to recommit to my training. I need to be better about training or I really am going to re-injure myself again. And that is the last thing that I want. So yes, I want tomorrow’s 10k to kick my butt a bit. Just enough to get moving again with some discipline and dedication.
As far as said training, here’s my general game plan for the next eight weeks:
Monday – 3 mile easy run, plus core conditioning
Tuesday – PT exercises
Wednesday – 5 mile easy run, plus core conditioning
Thursday – Barre3 class online (here)
Friday – PT exercises
Saturday – Long run (adding a mile each week, with one step back week in the middle somewhere)
Sunday – Yoga at home (I have a few videos that I love and rotate through), PT exercises
That shouldn’t be too hard to manage. It’s only three runs per week, plus conditioning that can all be done at home, with a focus on core and my PT exercises. At some point, I’d love to work in actual Barre classes in person, pilates with my friend Laura, and some actual cardio cross training, but those things are going to have to wait until after this training cycle. For now, the above plan is going to have to be sufficient. I just need to recommit to making it happen. Hopefully writing it here will help keep me accountable.
But before all of that can happen, I have to finish my race tomorrow. I’m nervous but excited. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve pinned on a bib and my new sneakers are aching to finish this race. Wish me luck!
September 4th, 2014 by kscincotta
Today, I went for a run. I also went running twice last week. For someone who’s blog is ostensibly about running, that shouldn’t be anything noteworthy. But between my knee injury that developed last fall and my pregnancy, it actually is a big deal, at least for me.
I am four weeks post partum and was given the go ahead by my doctor to start “gentle” exercise a week ago. My guess is that my doctor what my doctor means by “gentle exercise” is a bunch of walking and maybe some easy yoga and upper body weights. However, because I am registered for a half marathon on Thanksgiving day (just over 12 weeks away!), I’ve been anxious to get back out running again. I am not an idiot and I’m not jumping back into eight mile sweat sessions or crazy speed work at the track. I am going to take my time and start with short distances, walking whenever and however much is necessary. I have a tentative training plan that I am going to try to follow to prepare for the half, which I’m going to write about in my next post. But first, since I haven’t really written about it yet, I wanted to fill in the blanks about what all has happened with my running since the Atlanta 10 Miler last October.
Running While Pregnant and Injured, Stage 1 – Resting, Resting, Resting
Just before the Atlanta 10 Miler in October, I wrote about my frustrations with some pain in my right knee that developed during the 13.1 Half Marathon earlier that month. After pushing through a couple of weeks of light(er) running following the 13.1 race, it became clear that this knee injury wasn’t going to just magically go away. So I promised my husband that after the 10 Miler, I would rest for at least a month, something I very much did not want to do at that time.
Although I’ve been running in some form for the last 4-5 years, I’ve only really felt like a serious runner since early 2012. Everything was finally clicking last fall and I was starting to see some real improvements in my finish times (a sub-28 minute 5K!). So, knowing that my husband and I had just begun trying to expand our family, and having no idea if I would be able to run during my pregnancy (despite grand visions of myself running right up until my due date!), the thought of voluntarily not running for an “extra” month was pretty scary. I had a sneaking suspicion that my one month break could easily become ten months or more. What if I lost everything I had worked so hard for? What if I never make it back to running? It felt like my relationship with running was still sort of precarious and taking a short break that could very well become a much longer break was taking a risk that might end the relationship forever.
Regardless of all of that, though, I couldn’t deny that my knee was seriously messed up. It was to the point where it hurt throughout my day, not just when I was running. Walking down stairs was a particular challenge. As much as my heart wanted to keep running, I knew that I needed to rest my knee. So begrudgingly, I agreed to rest for at least a month. Little did I know that the start of this rest period would coincide almost simultaneously with the start of my pregnancy. In fact, based on how an OB traditionally “dates” a pregnancy, the first day of my pregnancy was actually five days BEFORE the Atlanta 10 Miler. Which means that my self-imposed injury rest period happened to correspond with my exhaustion-filled first trimester. When it was clear a month later that my knee was still not better, I was actually perfectly content to continue my hibernation on my couch for another month. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I had ZERO energy to do anything, let alone try to go running. So I didn’t.
Running While Pregnant and Injured, Stage 2 – Rehab!
Once I got past Christmas Day (the lowest point in my pregnancy, health-wise, honestly), I started to feel much, much better. I never actually got sick during that time, but I was incredibly run down and just felt achy and blah. So when all of that started to lift, it was like having a whole new lease on life again. I knew that I had a pre-paid entry to the Atlanta Track Club’s Resolution Run 5K on New Year’s day and I was suddenly curious if my knee and my newly pregnant self would actually be up to running that race. So I cautiously tried for a short two mile run on December 30th, just to see how everything felt. And the answer was that while I felt GREAT during my run, my knee still felt like my knee cap was going to pop off at any time. To say I was disappointed that I would have to DNS the race would be an understatement. There were a lot of swear words involved.
At that point, I knew that I needed to see an orthopedist and that minimally, I could probably expect to be referred to a physical therapist. I wanted to be able to realize my dreams of pregnant running greatness, but even more so, I just wanted to be able to maintain some sort of fitness during my pregnancy for general health reasons. I was also nervous that suddenly carrying a lot of extra weight on a bum knee might do even more damage. It was definitely time to get a bit more proactive on the injury front.
After a relatively quick examination, my orthopedist finally identified what was really going on: inflammation of my right IT band, likely due to running on a sprained left ankle all last fall which altered my gait. Whoops. Because of my pregnancy, we couldn’t confirm the diagnosis with x-rays or anything, but my doctor was fairly confident. As expected, she referred me to PT for six weeks, with a strict no running rule. She did, however, encourage me to use either the bike or the elliptical at my gym to help break up some of the scar tissue and to get some form of cardio. So that became my routine for most of January and all of February – weekly PT appointments at the crack of dawn, PT exercises at home, and non-running cardio and light weights at the gym. Oh, and I also started prenatal yoga which I continued to do weekly right up until my due date.
I was a little nervous about how being pregnant would affect my ability to complete my PT. However, totally by chance, my physical therapist was just back from her own maternity leave and was fabulous at coming up with stretches and exercises that I could do with my growing my belly. Plus, she was great to talk to about all kinds of pregnancy and parenting questions that I had. even though I loathed getting up so early in the morning, I actually really looked forward to our sessions. All in all, it was a great experience, and I definitely noticed a distinct improvement in my knee pain. Things were looking up!
Running While Pregnant and Injured, Stage 3 – Racing!
I had my final PT appointment on March 6th. At the time, I began eyeing the ATC’s Atlanta Women’s 5K on March 29th as my comeback race. I knew with only three weeks to “train”, I wasn’t going to be setting any PRs (even though I’ve PR’d this course twice before!). But with stretching, foam rolling, ice, and a healthy application of KT tape, I was able to run relatively pain-free for the first time in months. Of course, I was starting to get a bit bigger at that point, making running a bit more a challenge in that respect, but knee-wise, things were coming together. I picked up my number and my race shirt and let myself get excited for my first race day in five months.
And then it rained and rained and rained. The race itself still went on as scheduled, but with the slickness of the roads, both Mike and I felt that it wasn’t worth the risk of me slipping and falling just to say that I finished this race. I was super bummed – the Women’s 5K is one of my absolute favorite races (like I said, I’ve PR’d there twice!) and I was really looking forward to finding my race legs again. But it was definitely the right choice to skip it this time around. So for the second time during this pregnancy, I DNS’d a race.
However, I didn’t let that stop me. I still felt good enough to keep running, so I did. Throughout the month of April, I ran a few times a week, in addition to some light weights at the gym and prenatal yoga. I was super busy during this time with work, baby prep, and lots of volunteer work for both Komen Atlanta and the ATC, so it wasn’t easy to fit in gym/running time, but I made it happen. I really wanted to be healthy and fit during this pregnancy (mostly in the hopes of an easy recovery), and I also still really wanted to run a race while I was pregnant. There are a ton of races here in Atlanta in the month of April (at one point last April, I ran in three races and walked one more event in a 10 day span!) so it was just a matter of picking the right race.
For me, the right race ended up being the Inman Park Festival’s Rocket Run 5k. This race was in one of my favorite areas of the city, benefitted a great cause (Mary Lin Elementary School), had a later start time, and, most importantly for me at this stage, was untimed. Between my injury and being 27 weeks pregnant, I knew I had lost a lot of speed and I wasn’t too keen to see a clock reminding me of that. The goal here was just to finish and to be able to tell Dash that we ran a race together. Moreover, because Mike wasn’t concerned about his finish time, he ran beside me the whole time, which ended up being really helpful. The race was hilly and I needed all the encouragement I could get. But I hung in there and was proud to get across that finish line!
Running While Pregnant and Injured, Stage 4 – Taking it Easy
After that, it became clear that running in my third trimester just wasn’t meant to be. I didn’t enjoy my runs and I didn’t want to put myself in a situation where I would come to resent something that I loved before my pregnancy. The elliptical at the gym was much gentler on my body overall, so I moved my workouts there instead. By doing that, I was able to continue my cardio and light weights up through about 36 weeks, which I was pretty darn proud of. I know it pales in comparison to what some other running bloggers have been able to do during their pregnancies, but that’s ok. I did what I could do and I listened to my body. I probably should have made more time for my knee PT exercises, but oh well.
As far as racing, I was actually registered for the Komen Atlanta Race for the Cure in early May but knew I wasn’t going to be able to run that race (I was at my cousin’s wedding that weekend). I was also registered for the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th but at 36 weeks, the thought of squeezing my big belly onto a MARTA train to the starting line just to trudge six miles in oppressive heat and huge crowds was wholly unappealing. Instead, I got my race fix and fulfilled some of my ambassador duties for the Atlanta Track Club by volunteering twice at the race expo. All together, I DNS’d four races while I was pregnant. Oh well. There will always be more races to run.
And speaking of more races to run, when I was caught up in the excitement of the Peachtree Road Race expo, I made the bold move of registering for the Atlanta Half Marathon, on Thanksgiving day. Now that I’m able to run again, I’ve laid out a tentative “training” plan to work my way back. Over the weekend, I’ll write up what that plan entails, my goals for this race, and my progress so far. But for now, my early morning run is dictating an early bedtime tonight!
August 22nd, 2014 by kscincotta
Seventeen days ago, my husband Mike and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary by welcoming this guy into the world:
As most of you know by now from social media, his name is Dashiell Reeves Cincotta and we affectionately call him Dash. Although my pregnancy was easy, Dash’s birth was not. I don’t feel comfortable sharing all of the details of his birth story in this public forum, but suffice it to say, three days of contractions (two days worth of which were induced following my water breaking) does not make for fun times. The length of time between when my water broke and when Dash was born also led to some nervous moments immediately after he arrived as well. Thankfully, everything turned out for the best and everyone has been doing well since then.
We have now been at home for two weeks, slowly figuring each other out and learning our new family dynamics. My mother-in-law was here for the first week and was hugely helpful, especially when it came to letting me catch up on sleep and recover from labor and delivery. She was joined by my father-in-law and brother-in-law last weekend, making them all Dash’s first visitors. While it was great to be surrounded by so much love and support, I think that by the time everyone left, both Mike and I were ready to be on our own as a small family and try to find our own new routines. The past few days have been a wonderful mix of happy baby snuggles (I could let this guy sleep on my chest for days!), frustration over seemingly cause-less baby wails, proud parenting victories (no crying during bath time last night!), and a love between all of us that grows exponentially with each passing day.
During the time since Dash was born, the world said good bye to Robin Williams. His passing led to a lot of discussion about the need for open dialogue around depression. In that spirit, I can honestly say that while things get better every single day, being a new parent has been a hard adjustment for me. I knew it would be physically exhausting, but the emotional toll it has taken has been a surprise. The best way to describe how I feel is this: I feel homesick. Not for a place, but for other times. I loved being pregnant and now realize that I wasn’t prepared for it to come to such an abrupt end. Our lives pre-Dash were easy and free, if a bit quiet in recent years. Shenanigans was the center of our universe for a very long time and I hate the idea that she is feeling neglected due to a change she had no say in. The thought that I can never go back to those times hurts my heart immensely, as it always does following a major life change. I also miss my mom more than I thought humanly possible. Knowing that, for the first time ever, my life has moved on to a stage that she will never be a part of makes everything that much harder. I am leaving her behind with my old life and that thought breaks my heart on a daily basis.
All of that being said, with each passing day, things get a bit easier. Sleep certainly helps, as does having a wonderfully supportive partner. I’ve also done better this week about getting outside for some fresh air and exercise most days. I can’t wait until next week when I can start running again, even though I know it will be challenging. Writing things out, as I’m doing here, also helps me to make sense of things. Returning to some of these old habits is a helpful reminder that not everything in life has changed and even those things that have changed, haven’t necessarily changed for the worse. Life just looks a bit different now and that’s ok.
As for Dash and I, we’re taking things one day at a time. We fall deeper in love with each other by the minute and I find that if he sleeps for too long, I actually miss him. Even with all of the emotions that I’ve been wrestling with, I have rarely felt overwhelmed by Dash himself. Holding him and realizing that I really do have the ability to comfort and soothe this tiny person in a way no one else does has been incredibly reassuring. I am genuinely amazed that he finds my singing voice soothing. Spending time looking into his big, curious eyes and feeling him snuggle into me has been very comforting to me in much the same way that holding Mike’s hand has always made me feel better in times of stress in the past. I already find myself wishing Dash would grow slower and stay this tiny forever, even as I simultaneously long for the days when he can take care of himself a bit more. I have not for one second regretted our choice to become parents.
I promise that not all of my blog posts going forward will be quite this personal, or even this Dash-heavy. But since I know a lot of people are checking in on me and are curious how I’m doing, I thought I would share a more thorough update. From here on, though, things will be back to blogging business as usual, as time and Dash allows. Next week starts my official “training” for the Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving Day, so you can expect to see training updates popping up regularly (hopefully weekly!). I’m not fundraising for this race, since completing this race is enough of a challenge for me at this point, but I always have my eye on the cancer advocacy world and will try to mention different events and opportunities as I learn about them. I’m already thinking about posts around the Stand Up to Cancer telethon on September 5th and both the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Atlanta walk and the Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure in October. I’m also confident that I’ll be tying on my Komen Atlanta and Atlanta Track Club volunteer shoes soon enough. So there will be plenty to write about in the months to come. Plus you never know when I’ll throw in some Dash updates, so definitely check back regularly.
For now, though, a deep and sincere thanks to everyone for their well wishes and supportive words. While we haven’t been able to respond to everyone’s texts, tweets, emails, phone calls, cards, and Facebook messages, we have read and appreciated every single one!
All of the gorgeous photos in this post were courtesy of Allison DePalma Photography
July 30th, 2014 by kscincotta
If you’re checking in for a Baby C update, he’s still not here. He’s taking his sweet time deciding when to come into the world, just like his Mom did!
But hey, while you’re here, I’ve got another great cause that I wanted to write about today. I can’t help myself, you all know that.
Anyways, I regularly get emails from Dr. Susan Love’s Research Foundation soliciting qualified participants for an array of breast cancer-related studies through their awesome and unique Army of Women initiative. Admittedly, most of the time, I don’t pay enough attention to the details of each study to find out if I’m qualified for the studies. But with not much to do these days but wait for Baby C (and get some actual work-work done from home), I’ve actually been taking the opportunity to look at some of the things that land in my inbox on a daily basis. And lo and behold, this Army of Women study caught my eye today. I’m not qualified for this study (I’m too young and can’t get to the study site easily) but with a large family and a number of friends from the Buffalo area, I figure that there’s a good chance that someone in my extended network will be. So I decided to share the details here and even if you’re not interested personally, maybe you’ll take five minutes to share the details with your network as well.
Please note that I’m not posting this particular call to action because I think it’s the best or most worthwhile of the many Army of Women studies. I’m posting this one in particular because I know a lot of people with connections to the Buffalo-area and geographic barriers are often some of the hardest to overcome when recruiting participants for a study like this.
Project Title A Pilot Study of the Flaxseed Effects on Hormones and Lignans: Role of Race, Genes, and Gut Microbiome
Researcher Susan McCann, PhD, Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Study Summary The purpose of this study is to determine whether adding flaxseed (a food high in compounds that can change hormones) to a regular diet changes hormones that are related to breast cancer risk and if the effect of flaxseed differs between African- American and Caucasian women.
Who Can Participate? You can sign up for A Pilot Study of the Flaxseed Effects on Hormones and Lignans: Role of Race, Genes, and Gut Microbiome if you meet ALL of these MAIN criteria:
• You are a woman between 45 and 75 years of age.
• You have stopped having your menstrual periods (you are postmenopausal).
• Your last menstrual period was more than 12 months ago.
• You have never been diagnosed with any cancer (basal and squamous cell skin cancers are OK).
• You have never had gastric bypass surgery.
• You have NOT taken estrogen or other female hormones (hormone replacement therapy, nonprescription hormones, or herbal supplements for menopausal symptoms) within the past 2 months.
• You do NOT eat flaxseed or take a flaxseed supplement regularly.
• You are NOT allergic to seeds or nuts.
• You have NOT taken antibiotics in the last 3 months
• You live near or are willing to travel (at your own expense) to Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York
• You self-identify as:
o Non-Hispanic White OR
o Non-Hispanic Black
After you RSVP, the research team will contact you to ask additional questions to be sure that the study is a good fit for you.
What Does Participation Involve? If you sign up for A Pilot Study of the Flaxseed Effects on Hormones and Lignans: Role of Race, Genes, and Gut Microbiome, the research team will contact you to confirm that you are eligible. If you choose to participate in the study, you will be asked to:
• Be randomly assigned (like the flip of a coin) to eat 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed per day for 6 weeks or to maintain your usual diet. Two months later, you will switch into the other group for 6 weeks.
• Complete an interview about your diet, health habits, medical history, reproductive history, and other information related to a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.
• Attend 5 morning visits throughout the duration of the study at the Prevention Center at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. At these visits, you will be asked to provide a blood sample and have your height, weight, and body fat measured. You will also be asked to bring a urine sample from the night before and a small sample of that day’s bowel movement that you collected at your home. The research team will provide the containers for these samples, and instructions on how to collect them. The research team will also call you periodically to ask you everything you ate and drank in the past 24 hours.
Where? Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York
July 29th, 2014 by kscincotta
Since today is my due date, I thought I’d start with a quick Baby C update, but then I wanted to post about something that I think is really important – my friend Michelle’s IndieGoGo campaign to raise money for medical supplies for the medical aid workers trying to contain the deadly Ebola virus outbreak.
But before we get to Ebola, an update on me! I have somehow gone an entire 40 weeks with almost no posts about my pregnancy. That was entirely by accident, due to a number of circumstances beyond my control. However, if you’ve been following my #100HappyDays challenge, you’ve seen plenty about all of our last minute preparations. At this point, we’re feeling prepared, if not yet ready. I’m not sure anyone ever feels totally ready for this magnitude of a life change. But we are prepared. We’ve taken birthing classes, breastfeeding classes, a baby basics class, even infant CPR. We’ve both had haircuts, eye appointments, and dental cleanings. The dog has had a bath and her most recent shots. The baby’s room is FINALLY done and we think we have everything we need for these first few weeks. Mike has been diligently cleaning every inch of our house and every linen/baby outfit he can find (truly, that’s all been his efforts and I could not be more grateful!). Heck, I even got my nails done last week so they’d look halfway decent in those new baby photos. So we’re prepared.
Baby C, however, doesn’t seem to be quite ready to make his big appearance just yet. I haven’t had any signs of early labor that I’ve recognized as such, so we’re thinking he’s going to take after his mom and come into the world a little behind schedule. But that’s ok. I’ve been lucky to have a fairly comfortable, non-eventful pregnancy so I’m not sitting here in misery. I’m excited to finally meet this little dude who’s been wiggle-worming his way around my insides for the last nine months, but I’m actually fine with waiting for him to be ready to enter the world. For now, I’m finishing up some things from work (from home at this point, thankfully!), taking care of some things around the house, and just generally taking it easy. We’ll be sure to spread the word to excited and anxious friends and family once there’s actually news to tell, I promise.
Now, onto my friend Michelle’s IndieGoGo campaign. Doctor Michelle is my college roommate and is easily one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met (and I know some pretty impressive people). She is Harvard-trained in emergency pediatrics and global health and has lead medical outreach efforts all over the globe. Of the many places where she has worked, Liberia has captured her heart. She speaks passionately about her experiences there and the wonderful people that she’s gotten to work with. Her great pride in how far they have come is clearly evident.
Sadly, Liberia, and its neighboring countries of Sierra Leone and Guinea are currently facing one of the worst Ebola outbreaks that the region has ever known. To use Michelle’s own words from the IndieGoGo campaign page:
In a world where conflict and war is raging on across so many countries, this is a war with no sides and no fault. There were no instigators, there will be no winners but the victims are many. The number of people killed by Ebola in this three-country region is more than half the total number of deaths from all prior outbreaks in Africa combined. Healthcare workers are on the frontlines where the sick flock, their safety is in jeopardy while they charge straight into danger to care for their own people.
Ebola is a highly contagious virus with no cure and no vaccine that spreads easily through contact. In the people that it affects, it starts out like any cold with fever and vomiting but turns into deadly internal bleeding. Ebola infection has claimed the lives of 12 brave healthcare workers and infected over 30. Only 1 in 3 infected with the virus are expected to survive this deadly disease, making the frontlines of healthcare in Liberia as deadly as armed conflict. Yet these brave individuals put their lives on the line to treat emergencies, pregnant women, children and those with chronic disease. Healthcare cannot come to a halt while Liberia waits for Ebola to go away.
As in all developing countries, medical supplies are scant and an outbreak like this taxes the few resources that the healthcare workers do have. To help ease this burden, Michelle has created an IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds for the healthcare workers in her beloved Liberia. You can read more about their needs on the IndieGoGo page, as well as more detailed information about how these funds will be distributed. But keep in mind this one number: $2.50 is enough to provide a healthcare worker with one set of protective equipment. That’s it.
Michelle’s initial goal for this campaign was to raise $10,000 in two weeks. Her friends and family blew that out of the water in the first day. So, as is Michelle’s relentless way, she raised her goal. She is hoping to raise $250,000 in the next 30 days. I hope that you will consider giving to this important effort. You can do so at the link below:
I am lucky that when Baby C decides he’s ready to enter the world, he will be doing so in a well-equipt medical facility where his risk of contracting scary infectious diseases is nonexistent. The same cannot be said for the healthcare workers in Liberia that Michelle considers to be family. Please consider making a donation to this most worthy campaign today!